Imagining A Different Future

May 31, 2015

Imagining A Different Future

by Dr. M Bakri Musa
Morgan-Hill, California

Much is at stake for Malays. Only those lulled by Hang Tuah’s blustery Takkan Melayu hilang di dunia (Malays will never be lost from this world) would pretend otherwise. History is replete with examples of once great civilizations now reduced to footnotes. At best they are but objects of tourists’ curiosities, as with the Mayans.

melayu2UMNO Malays

It is unlikely for Malay civilization to disappear; there are nearly a quarter billion of us in the greater Nusantara world of Southeast Asia. There is, however, a fate far worse, and that is for Malaysia to be developed but with Malays shunted aside, reduced to performing exotic songs and dances for tourists.

There are about 17 million Malays in Malaysia, comparable to the population of the Netherlands. Their colonial record excluded, the Dutch should be our inspiration of what a population of 17 million could achieve.

Consider Rotterdam, Europe’s busiest port. One expects that title to go to a port in Britain, Germany, or Russia. Then consider the following famous brands: Shell (petroleum), Phillips (electronics), Unilever (consumer goods), Heineken (beer), and ING (financial services). Those are all Dutch companies.

Hosts of eminent organizations like the International Criminal Court and International Court of Justice are headquartered in the Netherlands. More remarkable is this. That country is behind only America and France in agricultural exports, despite a quarter of its land being below sea level!

Compare that to Malays and Malaysia. Malays are in political control; non-Malays cannot challenge that; it is a demographic reality. We have a land mass ten times that of the Netherlands, and none of it underwater, except when it rains and our rivers get clogged with pollution. Then it seems the entire country is underwater, paralyzed and gasping for air.

Imagine if we could achieve even a tenth of what the Dutch have done! That should be our goal and inspiration, not endless reciting of Hang Tuah’s immortal words or the incessant hollering of Ketuanan Melayu.

We are being hoodwinked by the government’s glossy publications and our leaders’ rosy accounts. Take the “Malaysian Quality of Life 2004 Report” produced by the Prime Minister’s Department. At 113 pages, it is full of glossy pictures of well-trimmed suburban neighborhoods, neat kampong houses, and of course the iconic Petronas Towers. There is also a picture of earnest executives engaged in videoconferencing, highlighting the latest technology gizmo.

The cover features the responsible minister, Mustapa Mohamed, beaming against the backdrop of a lush, luxurious golf course. That image reveals more of the truth, perhaps unintended; the golf course is exactly where you are likely to find these ministers.

Malay_1Performing exotic songs and dances for tourists.

Visit the minister’s kampong in Jeli, Kelantan, and the reality would be far different. I have no data specific on Jeli but a recent study of Pulau Redong and Pulau Perhentian, islands off Trengganu, would shock anyone. A fifth of the villagers have no formal education; half only primary level. This in 2011! Their average income is less than what Indonesian maids earn. As a needless reminder, those villagers are Malays.

More shocking and reflective of the malaise, two-thirds of the respondents expect “little” or “no change.” They have given up hope. So much for UMNO’s grandiose promises on “protecting and enhancing” the position of Malays!

When those high-flying UMNO operatives visit the east coast they lodge at the exclusive Chinese-owned Berjaya Resort, with taxpayers footing the bill. There they could partake in video conferencing. For the islanders, however, fewer than four percent have Internet access. There is a thriving tourism industry but those jobs are out of reach to the residents for lack of skills and education.

Those islanders’ world is a universe away from that of their fellow Bumiputras like former Women Affairs Minister Sharizat Jalil with her ultra-luxury condos courtesy of hefty Bumiputra discounts and generous “soft” government loans.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (L) and his wife Rosmah Mansor (R) arrive at the airport in Tokyo on May 24, 2015. Najib is on a three day visit to Japan.   AFP PHOTO / Yoshikazu TSUNO

The grumpy and prematurely aging Prime Minister Najib and his First Lady Rosmah Mansor

Tun Razak’s New Economic Policy, Mahathir’s Vision 2020, and now Najib’s 1-Malaysia all have the same aspiration of turning Malaysia into a developed nation. For Malaysia to be developed however, we must first develop its biggest demographic group – Malays. So long as Malays remain backward, so will Malaysia. Tun Razak’s NEP recognized this central reality. Vision 2020 and 1-Malaysia are eerily silent on it.

Despite this glaring omission, Vision 2020 caught on, Mahathir’s domineering personality snuffing out potential criticisms, at least while he was in power. Najib is not so blessed personality-wise; hence his difficulty selling his 1-Malaysia even to his party members!

Solving Malaysia’s problems would necessitate us to first address those of the Malays. The accepted assumption is that by solving Malaysia’s problems, those of the Malays would automatically be resolved, the rising tide lifting all boats. Less appreciated is that a rising tide lifts only those boats that are free to float. Those trapped under low bridges or with short anchor rode would be swamped. For a rising tide to be a benefit and not a threat we must first ensure that all boats are free to float; otherwise they would be doomed.

Liberating the Malay mind is equivalent to freeing our prahus (boats), of giving them adequate anchor lines or moving them away from under bridges and other encumbrances. Today there are just too many Malay boats that are being hampered. We must first free them; otherwise the rising tide would do them no favor. It would only swamp them.

This essay is adapted from the author’s book, Liberating The Malay Mind, ZI Publications Sdn Bhd, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, 2013

Book Review: Burma’s Spring–Real Lives in Turbulent Times

May 31, 2015

BOOK Review

Burma’s Spring: Real Lives in Turbulent Times

Rosalind Russell,Burma’s Spring: Real Lives in Turbulent Times
London: Thistle Publishing, 2014. Pp. xxvi, 173.

Reviewed by Chit Win.


This new book by Rosalind Russell brings colorful but ordinary Myanmar stories to life from an outsider’s perspective. As the sub-title suggests these are “Real Lives in Turbulent Times”. Burma’s Spring shows the spice and flavor of Myanmar’s nascent transition. For non-Myanmar readers it may seem to deliver the expected: stereotypical perceptions of the military regime and the suffering inflicted on the people. But Russell goes further by covering not only the struggle and sacrifice of prominent figures like Aung San Suu Kyi but also tales of unsung heroes that we have overlooked. We learn of their lives, their beliefs and, more importantly, their hopes, in a journey that introduces readers to everyone from undercover journalists to undercover officials, from a housemaid to a girl band, from a monk to the 969 movement.

Burma’s Spring starts with the double life of Russell herself as an undercover journalist for Reuters sent in to cover the monks’ uprising in 2007, also known as the Saffron Revolution, and as an undercover reporter for The Independent. She was known as Phoebe Kennedy, the pseudonym that she used while accompanying her spouse, who was head of an international aid agency in Myanmar in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis in 2008. Whether it was worth risking her own welfare and the agency’s reputation to produce Burma’s Spring, whether it was ethical to do so, and even whether it is now worth her exposing herself will depend on the judgment of the reader. But one thing is quite certain: her book highlights the difficult position of aid workers and their families in controlling the temptations to risk an aid agency’s relationship with the host country. It makes me wonder how a Myanmar government official would react to reading Burma’s Spring.

The book gives a mixed picture of Myanmar society prior to the ongoing period of reform and liberalisation. Discussion of the fears of the military about “R2P”—jargon for the “responsibility to protect”—in the wake of Cyclone Nargis and of the struggle of “the Lady” and other activists offers readers the usual information that they will learn from the international media.

But Russell extends our understanding of Myanmar society by introducing us to her main characters Mu Mu, a Kayin migrant worker, and Zayar, a fixer for Phoebe Kennedy whose dream is to become a journalist. Mu Mu was Russell’s housemaid. And Russell tells us about her life as a migrant worker who travelled to Bangkok and was pressured by her family to send regular remittances and never to come home. Her hopes of taking a short cut out of poverty were hampered when she failed in the effort that, having had nothing to do with politics and ethnic conflict inside Myanmar, she made to become a refugee. In the meantime, her boyfriend—also a migrant worker from her hometown—betrayed her so that he could fast-track his place on the waiting list to be resettled in Canada by marrying a Kayin refugee. On the other hand, Zayar, whose wife wanted him to become a common salary man, chose instead to struggle as an amateur reporter in Yangon and worked hard to make sure that Phoebe Kennedy was exposed to real stories.

We also get a taste of the resilience of the “MeNMa girls” and Darko’s “Side Effect” punk group against the backdrop of what is still a conservative society. These groups struggled to distinguish between creativity and indecency. Then there is Min Wai, a fortune-teller who has to play his role carefully when predicting good and bad karma and acting as a social counselor in a superstitious society. We get to know Monk Owen,born on the eve of the 8.8.88 uprising, and how he came to be exposed to a modern education that supported his desires to change Myanmar. Taken together, these characters help sketch a portrait of Myanmar’s society in the mind of readers.

Russell’s book offers insights for Myanmar readers about changes that they do not notice or changes that they may consider unimportant. It also shows the differences between views from inside and outside with regard to recent changes in Myanmar. For a regular traveler to Myanmar, the changes in Myanmar mean visas on arrival, fewer travel restrictions, money exchange counters, ATMs, mobile phones and air-conditioned taxis. These changes are mostly physical. For people like Mu Muand Zayar, the awakening of their hopes and the economic and political breathing spaces are really the most significant changes in recent times. In relating Mu Mu’sdecision to go back and settle in Myanmar, Russell has clearly reflected the feelings of some among the vast Myanmar diaspora.

Burma’s Spring may disappoint some Myanmar readers for not including a chapter on Naypyitaw, the new capital which has profoundly affected the lives of Myanmar people—especially public servants and their families—since its establishment in 2005. And I really doubt whether the general public in Myanmar have the same view as Russell, who portrays the MeNMa girls or the punk bands as important markers of social change. What is important to an outsider may not be so important to an insider. It is also something of a pity that Phoebe Kennedy could not persuade senior government officials to come out of the closet and reflect on their experience as servants of the system, which is so very human.

In summary, Burma’s Spring serves its purpose for multiple readerships. It is pleasant reading on the good and the bad guys, with a twist in the tail. For serious readers, it will garnish their understanding of Myanmar. It would be interesting to read any book reviews from Myanmar, should the book be translated into the Myanmar language. A note of caution is that Burma’s Spring should not to be confused with The Burma Spring: Aung San Suu Kyi and the New Struggle for the Soul of a Nation (2015) by Rena Pederson. The latter obviously focuses on the Lady while the former brings real stories from real lives. Stories so real, yet so often overlooked.

Chit Win is a PhD candidate in the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific.


Pederson, Rena. The Burma Spring: Aung San Suu Kyi and the New Struggle for the Soul of a Nation. New York and London: Pegasus Books, 2015.

The Insecure American

May 31, 2015

The Insecure American

by Paul Krugman

Dr Paul KrugmanAmerica remains, despite the damage inflicted by the Great Recession and its aftermath, a very rich country. But many Americans are economically insecure, with little protection from life’s risks. They frequently experience financial hardship; many don’t expect to be able to retire, and if they do retire have little to live on besides Social Security.

Many readers will, I hope, find nothing surprising in what I just said. But all too many affluent Americans — and, in particular, members of our political elite — seem to have no sense of how the other half lives. Which is why a new study on the financial well-being of U.S. households, conducted by the Federal Reserve, should be required reading inside the Beltway.

Before I get to that study, a few words about the callous obliviousness so prevalent in our political life. I am not, or not only, talking about right-wing contempt for the poor, although the dominance of compassionless conservatism is a sight to behold. According to the Pew Research Center, more than three-quarters of conservatives believe that the poor “have it easy” thanks to government benefits; only 1 in 7 believe that the poor “have hard lives.”

And this attitude translates into policy. What we learn from the refusal of Republican-controlled states to expand Medicaid, even though the federal government would foot the bill, is that punishing the poor has become a goal in itself, one worth pursuing even if it hurts rather than helps state budgets.

But leave self-declared conservatives and their contempt for the poor on one side. What’s really striking is the disconnect between centrist conventional wisdom and the reality of life — and death — for much of the nation.

Take, as a prime example, positioning on Social Security. For decades, a declared willingness to cut Social Security benefits, especially by raising the retirement age, has been almost a required position — a badge of seriousness — for politicians and pundits who want to sound wise and responsible. After all, people are living longer, so shouldn’t they work longer, too? And isn’t Social Security an old-fashioned system, out of touch with modern economic realities?

Meanwhile, the reality is that living longer in our ever-more-unequal society is very much a class thing: life expectancy at age 65 has risen a lot among the affluent, but hardly at all in the bottom half of the wage distribution, that is, among those who need Social Security most. And while the retirement system F.D.R. introduced may look old-fashioned to affluent professionals, it is quite literally a lifeline for many of our fellow citizens. A majority of Americans over 65 get more than half their income from Social Security, and more than a quarter are almost completely reliant on those monthly checks.

These realities may finally be penetrating political debate, to some extent. We seem to be hearing less these days about cutting Social Security, and we’re even seeing some attention paid to proposals for benefit increases given the erosion of private pensions. But my sense is that Washington still has no clue about the realities of life for those not yet elderly. Which is where that Federal Reserve study comes in.

This is the study’s second year, and the current edition actually portrays a nation in recovery: in 2014, unlike 2013, a substantial plurality of respondents said that they were better off than they had been five years ago. Yet it’s startling how little room for error there is in many American lives.

We learn, for example, that 3 in 10 non elderly Americans said they had no retirement savings or pension, and that the same fraction reported going without some kind of medical care in the past year because they couldn’t afford it. Almost a quarter reported that they or a family member had experienced financial hardship in the past year

And something that even startled me: 47 percent said that they would not have the resources to meet an unexpected expense of $400 — $400! They would have to sell something or borrow to meet that need, if they could meet it at all

Of course, it could be much worse. Social Security is there, and we should be very glad that it is. Meanwhile, unemployment insurance and food stamps did a lot to cushion unlucky families from the worst during the Great Recession. And Obamacare, imperfect as it is, has immensely reduced insecurity, especially in states whose governments haven’t tried to sabotage the program.

But while things could be worse, they could also be better. There is no such thing as perfect security, but American families could easily have much more security than they have. All it would take is for politicians and pundits to stop talking blithely about the need to cut “entitlements” and start looking at the way their less-fortunate fellow citizens actually live.

A version of this op-ed appears in print on May 29, 2015, on page A23 of the New York edition with the headline: The Insecure American

What’s new on the 1MDB Scandal: Financial Restructuring or Bailout?

May 31, 2015

What’s new on the 1MDB Scandal: Financial Restructuring or Bailout?

by Tony

tony-pua2MP SPEAKS: Second Finance Minister Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah announced on Friday that Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) and Bandar Malaysia will be “established as standalone companies, with full autonomy and accountability for their operational and financial performance”.

However he emphasised that “the Ministry of Finance (MOF) will remain a key shareholder in TRX and Bandar Malaysia”.

While the statement sounds rather innocuous as we see the disastrous 1MDB suffering from RM42 billion of debt being wound down, what does establishing these two properties as “stand alone companies” under the MOF actually imply? ‎By the natural logic of the statement, it would mean that the MOF would acquire the shares of the companies owning these assets – KLIFD Sdn Bhd and Bandar Malaysia Sdn Bhd respectively.

On top of that, we are made to understand that the motive behind the action is to relieve 1MDB of its overwhelming debt burden. If we were to put two and two together, we can only deduce that the government will assume the debts arising from these two assets, and perhaps even pay 1MDB more based on their revalued and inflated asset prices.

Hence the plan to make TRX and Bandar Malaysia independent entities is in actual fact nothing innocuous at all. Instead it is a blatant attempt to bail out 1MDB with billions of ringgit of taxpayers funds!‎

Paying revalued prices?

As at 31 March 2014, the 70 acres Tun Razak Exchange land belonging to KLIFD Sdn Bhd has been revalued to RM2.7 billion. [1]  It is uncertain if the land has been pledged as a collateral for any loans taken by its parent companies.

At the same time, the 495 acres Sg Besi military airbase land (right) sold to Bandar Malaysia Sdn Bhd has been revalued to RM4.29 billion [2] while the property has been collateralised for a RM2.4 billion loan [3].

In addition, the federal government has also given a guarantee to 1MDB Real Estate Sdn Bhd to raise a RM800 million [4] bond to fund the airbase relocation.

If the government is to assume all the liabilities of the 2 companies, it would cost us RM3.2 billion, before even taking into consideration other contingent liabilities such as payments to Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera (LTAT) for the RM2.1 billion relocation contract.

However, if the government is even more generous, the taxpayers might have to fork out a whopping RM7 billion based on the “revalued” asset prices of these properties. If, on the other hand, the government decided to acquire TRX and Bandar Malaysia at their revalued asset prices of RM7 billion and still relieve 1MDB of their associated loans of RM3.2 billion, then Malaysians will be forking out a total of RM10.2 billion just for these transactions alone.

Pay them cost only

Such a move will be a massive travesty because the federal government sold these 2 properties to 1MDB for only RM194 million and RM1.69 billion respectively, totalling less than RM1.9 billion. If we were to pay the inflated RM7 billion or worse, RM10.2 billion to buy back these properties from 1MDB after only selling these land to the company at bargain basement prices less than 4 years ago, it would be nothing short of a daylight robbery.

It would only be fair for MOF to reimburse 1MDB only for the cost which have been Ahmad-Husni-Hanadzlahincurred for the development of the land, amounting to less than RM200 million to date as well as the cost of the land – RM1.9 billion.

Any amounts in excess of the above would mean Malaysians have been cheated into financing and bailing out the misadventures of 1MDB. We call upon Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah to explain transparently how the government intends to make TRX and Bandar Malaysia separate independent entities owned by the MOF.

[1] KLIFD Sdn Bhd financial statements 31 Mar 2014 p23
[2] Bandar Malaysia Sdn Bhd financial statements 31 Mar 2014 p24
[3] Bandar Malaysia Sdn Bhd financial statements 31 Mar 2014 p26-27
[4] 1MDB Real Estate Sdn Bhd financial statements 31 Mar 2014 p33-34

TONY PUA is DAP national publicity secretary and Petaling Jaya Utara MP.

The ‘guardians’ have betrayed the nation’s trust

May 31, 2015

MY COMMENT: There is a Malay saying that describes most aptly what is happening in Malaysia today under the Najib administration. It  goes like this: Harapkan Pagar, Pagar Makan Padi ( literally it means in English, depend on the gatekeeper, the gatekeeper steals the rice). Yes, Najib and his Cabinet as gatekeepers and their officials have betrayed us.

We all have spent countless hours on this blog discussing the need to protect this intangible capital called TRUST that underpins personal and social relationships, business and public administration and the need for our government to be open, transparent and accountable; we  emphasized the importance of sound management of our economy and fiscal responsibility; we comment on corruption, fiduciary duty of company directors and public officials.

We raised  concerns about our ballooning national debt  now close to RM600 billion (and that does not  include private sector and household debt), and the Malay economy. We have warned the recalcitrant Prime Minister cum Finance Minister that Malaysia is in a financial crisis. This crazy debt financed spending which is justified as being good for sustained economic economic growth must stop if we are to avoid joining Greece which has difficulties in paying its creditors including the IMF.

The 1MDB financial scandal involving debt to the tune of RM42 billion by a single entity is already having a negative impact on public and investor confidence in the way the Najib administration manages our country’s finances and makes and executives public policy.

The ringgit has already taking its toll  against the US dollar on foreign exchange markets. This is because the Najib administration has consistently refused to explain what happened to the proceeds of the RM 42 billion and tell the truth.  Even our Auditor-General is taking his time to come out with his report.  The top managers of 1MDB too have acted irresponsibly by not turning up for a meeting with the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee to answer questions on 1MDB activities and financial accounts. The time is now to come clean on 1MDB and other matters, if you have nothing to hide. Don’t treat us Malaysians as dumb and stupid people.

I hope my readers around the world will read about what has been happening in Malaysia since 2009  when Najib Razak took over the reins of power as Prime Minister from an equally inept predecessor.

Don’t be taken in by the highly paid consultants and propagandists.If possible come and visit to the country and talk to civil society leaders and those outside officialdom. Yes, we have impressive skyscrapers and modern shopping centers but underneath all that is a nation without a soul  and compassion for the struggling middle class and the poor.

It is a sad reflection of the quality of Malay leadership right down the line. Added to the image of the Lazy Malay native is that of  a corrupt, unscrupulous and greedy plutocrat. May you learn from the Malaysian experience to know that rampant corruption, abuse of power and professional incompetence will destroy a nation and its moral and ethical foundations. We are not “a City Upon a Hill” but a nation deep down in  a coal pit   –Din Merican

The ‘guardians’ have betrayed the nation’s trust

 by Awang Puteh

The current polemic in this country, specifically on the ongoing saga relating to the financial affairs of a particular government-owned investment company and other trust agencies in Malaysia reminds me, to paraphrase what one western author wrote more than two centuries ago:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way–in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

The situation is clearly ruinous for our country. It affects not only the sentiment among the business community, but much worse, and more detrimental, is the negative repercussions on the psyche and motivation of the entire Malay community, young and old, in towns and in the kampungs, given that the scandal involves almost entirely Malay politicians and professionals, and sacrosanct Malay Muslim trust agencies.

It truly saddens me; the betrayal by these Malay professionals, who are the trustees for the community, have supremely failed to protect the interests of the community. It is unimaginable that they have the audacity to betray the trust of the poor Malays who painstakingly saved their hard earned savings with the sole aim of financing for their pilgrimage.

Regardless of the heavy hand of sinister influence and pressures assumed to be exerted by the gamut of players in the political world, these professionals’ first and only fiduciary responsibility is to exercise the duty of care in the best interest of their depositors and stakeholders. They are ultimately responsible to no one else but Allah and their community. That is the true measure of their mettle as Muslim professionals.

One is prompted to ask if these “guardians” have an ounce of morals? From their irresponsible acts, which are currently being uncovered and peeled like onions, they are akin to slowly driving nails into the Malay’s flesh. They are, in actual fact, traitors to this nation.

The money lost can be recovered, those assets that have been sold can be substituted, but the loss of trust and pride are priceless, and possibly will take a very long time to be redeemed.Worse, it has a negative and long-lasting impact on the future of the honest, educated, and hard-working, Bumiputra professionals and managers.

We have come a long way in developing Malay professionals and managers, but the ill-advised action of the select few has destroyed what we toiled so hard to achieve. The great men of yester years sacrificed and invested their sweat, tears, and blood to be successful, and to become a role model and inspiration to the poor and underprivileged Malays.

Ungku AzizThe Malay professional class was truly professional then; although the majority depended on the public sector, a sizable group managed to seek independence in the private sector, even outside the country working for major banks and corporations, as well as consultancies.

Lembaga Tabung Haji (LTH–The Pilgrims Fund Board) is a classic example. The idea of the establishment of the institution came from among the luminaries of Malay thinkers and intellectuals — a real hero — Royal Professor Ungku Aziz.

And the first Managing Director of the first board of management of LTH was the highly respected Kedah-born Malay professional Tan Sri Hanafiah Hussain who was the first Malay to become a chartered accountant, and the founder of the first Bumiputra accounting firm (Hanafiah Raslan and Mohamad).

They, and other Malay professionals then blazed the path for LTH to be not only one of the richest and profitable trust agencies in the country, but one of the most respected Haj institutions in the Muslim world.

The same goes for Permodalan Nasional Bhd. Its first chairman was another highly respected MalayGovernor Ismail Ali — the late Tun Ismail Ali, the first Malaysian to be appointed as Governor of Bank Negara Malaysia, and once the Executive Director of the World Bank in Washington D.C.

We had class, flair, and panache in those days.However, the current leadership of these institutions are nowhere near when measured against these great Malay professionals and managers. The current cohorts, albeit not all, are in reality, in full frankness, individuals sorely  ethical principles and devoid of moral convictions,wanting  in observance of tenets of good governance and selfless service to the nation. They have let us all down miserably. They are disgrace to the nation, and, in particular, to the Malays. Their meek rebuttal or justifications are an insult to the entire Malay community.

While it may be perfectly understandable and unsurprising about those acts pulled off by these politically-appointed individuals or pseudo-professionals, the blatant betrayal by the professionals in these now tainted institutions cannot be forgiven.

Arul, Lodin and NajibSeparation must be made between genuine and pseudo-professionals. The latter are not professionals but have been put to run these important, and sacred institutions, for none other than political reason. We have seen many government-linked investment companies, and government-linked companies, led by this kind of people, instead of real professionals. The former, while they are truly professionals, are sometimes no better, given their abject poverty in morals and ethics.

Professor Syed Husseib AlatasBecause of them, the entire Malay professionals are being seen as untrustworthy, incompetent, and a slave to their political masters. Their “bebalism” — or collective stupidity, as coined by another great Malay intellectual, Professor Syed Hussein Alatas, has grievously tarnished the reputation of their cohorts, and the younger generation. Kerana nila setitik rosak susu sebelanga.

To me, this is the worst outcome of the entire saga. Not the impact in terms of monetary or financial repercussions, but the long-term damaging psychological and sociological impact on Malays.

Is there any possibility of redemption left? Is there hope for the Malays? Yes, we can do two things to regain back the trust.

First, the entire top management and Board of these tainted institutions must resign, or be sacked immediately, and if any legal transgressions have been committed, they must be brought to justice. We should not have much sympathy for them.

Second, and with immediate effect, only those Malay professionals with high integrity and who are well credentialed, with demonstrated capability, hardworking, and honest, should be allowed to serve in the position of responsibility in these trust institutions.

Samad AliasNo politicians, no court-jesters, no shady characters, and definitely no inefficient and corrupt individuals should ever again be allowed to run these trust agencies. No two ways about it if we are serious to regain and re-build the trust and the confidence again. Importantly, the trustees of this nation and its institutions must not forget their amanah, and they must not betray the heavy trust reposed upon them, nor take advantage of their position.

It’s worth reminding what Sheik Haji Abdullah Fahim sagely said half a century ago: Jangan pula ada pemimpin kita mengaut kekayaaan di atas belakang rakyat…sesiapa yang berjuang dengan nama Allah dan berniat baik sentiasa dalam keredhaanNya, tetapi, sesiapa yang lupakan niat, khianat, dan tamak akan dimurkai Allah, akhirnya menjadi hina.

*Awang Puteh is a researcher for a major think tank.

Najib Razak advised to stop fooling the Malaysian Public

May 30, 2015

Najib Razak advised to stop fooling the Malaysian public

by FMT

Arul, Lodin and Najib

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak appears unwilling to emulate the leaders of developed nations, preferring to follow the ways of crass leaders who don’t care about the welfare of their people and the future of their countries, political analyst Aspan Alias comments in his latest blog posting.

He also alleges that Najib seems to persist in insulting the Malaysian public’s collective intelligence, “lowering it to the level of his own intelligence”. Aspan makes these remarks in reference to Najib’s apparent belief that the calls for his resignation have been coming only from certain groups with questionable motives.

“Najib finds it difficult to admit that it’s no longer possible to fool the Malaysian public,” he says. “He still cannot accept that he’s looked down upon not only by Malaysian society, but by the international community as well.

“He still believes that the talk about public pressure for him to resign is a fiction made up by people who do it out of sheer joy of seeing him suffer.” Aspan contends that it is not in human nature to derive joy from applying pressure on someone. He says the calls for Najib’s resignation are made out of necessity.

The same, he adds, applies to the rest of the Cabinet. “It’s their failure to carry out their duties that presses the people to call for their resignation.” He alleges that all the members of the Cabinet have been guilty of allowing Najib to do as he pleased in his role as Finance Minister. “It’s only now that we hear some of them agreeing that Najib must answer the public’s questions,” he says.

Recalling reports last March that the Cabinet unanimously approved the RM950 million standby credit for 1MDB, Aspan remarks that the Cabinet members could be considered even more irresponsible than Najib.

“They talk about defending the interests of religion, race and the nation, but we can see that they have no religion, that their race has lost its identity, and that the nation is in  total disarray.”