Malaysia: China’s Intervention is MCA’s Impotence and Najib’s Incompetence


September 30, 2015

Malaysia: China’s Intervention is MCA’s Impotence and Najib’s Incompetence

by Asiasentinel Correspondent

http://www.asiasentinel.com/politics/fallout-china-envoy-malaysia-walkabout/

The implications of a September. 25 visit by Huang Huikang, China’s Ambassador, to the epicenter of the Chinese community in Kuala Lumpur to cool off rising racial tensions are spreading and manifold, with what observers regard as troubling international overtones.

Domestically, the affair has demonstrated the impotence of the Malaysian Chinese Association, the biggest ethnic Chinese party in the ruling national coalition and showcased government fumbling as well.

According to some observers, it is also a demonstration to the region that China, a rising and restless superpower, will not hesitate to act to protect the interests of ethnic Chinese, wherever they happen to be – nationals or not. China is Malaysia’s second-largest trading partner and could be its biggest if goods transshipped through Singapore are counted.

Huang told local reporters that “with regard to the infringement on China’s national interests, violations of legal rights and interests of Chinese citizens and businesses which may damage the friendly relationship between China and the host country, we will not sit by idly.” 

Beijing Says It’s Fine with Us

While that might be regarded as a freelance, impulsive action by an envoy worried about the welfare of members of his race, he was later backed up with a statement from Beijing, an indication that the step was hardly impulsive.

While China has long practiced – officially at least – the “Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence” consisting of mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence,” those principles are increasingly strained in the South China Sea with Beijing’s island-building campaign which is intruding on the exclusive economic zones of the Philippines, Vietnam and potentially Indonesia.

Huang’s action, although relatively mild and minor, is being regarded by critics as a disturbing example of the new assertiveness that was demonstrated on a larger scale and a larger stage on Sept. 24 in New York, when President Xi Jinping told the United Nations that China will contribute 8,000 troops for a UN peacekeeping standby force, giving it a dramatic new role as one of the largest forces in UN peacekeeping efforts.

berthelsen huang 092915

Just a week ago, China joined Malaysia for the first Association of Southeast Asian Nations joint military exercise, sending 1,000 Chinese troops. There has also been a rising Chinese economic presence, with the Guangdong provincial government announcing recently that it intended to develop Melaka, now a sleepy coastal town, into a seaport to rival Singapore and build a series of industrial parks.

Malaysian Government Waffles, Fumbles

wisma_putraWisma Putra

The upshot of Huang’s trip also left  the Malaysian government looking rudderless and confused in the face of what many considered an unwarranted interference in domestic politics by the ambassador. First, the foreign ministry announced it had summoned the envoy. Then Huang said he hadn’t heard from anybody. 

Then it turned out that Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Hamzah Zainudin, serving as deputy foreign minister to Anifah Aman, who is traveling with Najib in New York, didn’t have the authority under rules of protocol, to summon an ambassador. Eventually Huang did go to the foreign ministry but the results of the meeting remained a mystery.

Anifah eventually issued a statement calling attention to what he termed “meddling”—not by the Chinese, but by several other Malaysian cabinet ministers who “had “taken action and made statements to the press” without consulting him. The handling of the issue has left the government – with its Prime Minister absent to take charge – without the opportunity to make a clear statement about its sovereignty.

“There was a bit of confusion there, they talk about protocol not being followed. But there is always confusion when you summon a big power like China,” said Zaid Ibrahim, a prominent Malay lawyer-turned-politician and independent voice.  “They could have handled it better. But on a country like China, you can’t blame them for that. They are probably unsure of what to do, to handle confusing signals.” 

Asked if the Malaysians were intimidated by China, he responded: “Everybody’s intimidated by China.”

Race Tension Drew Ambassador

Tan-Sri-Mohd Ali RastamRed Shirt Racism

Racial tension, always a factor in the Malaysian political discourse, had been in Malaysia spiraling upwards since a Sept. 16 rally by ethnic Malays bused in from the countryside and who, it later transpired, were paid to be there, possibly by forces close to the embattled Prime Minister Najib Razak, who has been fighting to keep his job in the face of multiple scandals.

So-called Red Shirt thugs began increasing the pressure on Chinese merchants and hawkers on Petaling Street, Kuala Lumpur’s most densely-packed Chinese area. An UMNO division chief named Jamal Md Yunos threatened a march into Petaling Street, ostensibly to root out fake goods, but was clearly aimed at intimidating the Chinese. At that point, Huang appeared for a stroll along the street, passing out mooncakes in honor of the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Najib at 58th MCA GAMCA failed to act

The subsequent events may well have driven the final nail into the coffin of the flailing Malaysian Chinese Association, the ethnic Chinese component of the race-based national ruling coalition led by the United Malays National Organization. According to a source with ties to the community, the hawkers and traders in the area repeatedly appealed to the MCA to take action to stop the threats of violence, to be met with confusion on the part of party leaders.  Some argued that it was time for the MCA to cut ties with the Barisan Nasional and Najib because of his financial and political support of the Red Shirts.

Faced with paralysis on the part of the party, the source said, the traders went to the Chinese embassy to ask for help, which resulted in Huang’s controversial walk through the area. Although subsequently Malay supremacists have threatened additional marches, there has been no action.  But the dithering by the MCA, long the traditional political home of the Chinese petty merchant community, is expected to cause continuing erosion towards the more assertive Democratic Action Party.

Tan Sri Robert Kuok on Malaysia


September 30, 2015

Tan Sri Robert Kuok* on Malaysia

Tan Sri Robert KuokTan Sri Robert Kuok–An Extraordinary Man

THERE is a bit of a romantic streak in South-east Asia’s richest man, it seems.

Four decades ago, Tan Sri Robert Kuok decamped Malaysia for Hong Kong. The ostensible reason: lower taxes in Hong Kong. What some say: a fierce dislike of Malaysia’s controversial New Economic Policy favouring the bumiputeras and the resulting cronyism.

Whatever his reasons, Kuok says of the country in which he was born: “I haven’t lost my affection for Malaysia.”

In a telephone interview with The Straits Times on Tuesday, the tycoon elaborated on his donation of RM100mil to build Xiamen University’s first overseas campus in Salak Tinggi, Selangor.

The largess was announced last week during a lunch with Chinese President Xi Jinping when the latter visited Malaysia. “It is a gesture of appreciation. I only wish Malaysia well,” said Kuok.

The magnate is known for being averse to media interviews and had not granted one to the international media for 16 years, barring one to Bloomberg in January this year. He may have marked his 90th birthday on Sunday, but showed little signs of his age except for some impact on his hearing.

Asked about succession plans for his HK$300bil (RM123.8bil) conglomerate Kuok Group, Kuok firmly insisted that it was a “private matter – a family matter, a company matter”.

“I will not poke my nose into other families’ (businesses), and I hope they won’t poke their noses into mine,” he said.

It was an acerbic retort to a recent cover story by Hong Kong’s Chinese-language Next magazine, which speculated that five of Kuok’s eight children were jockeying to take over the helm.

Unlike peers such as Li Ka Shing, Kuok has yet to announce who will head his empire, which includes three listed enterprises – Kerry Properties encompassing the Shangri-La chain of hotels, the SCMP Group which runs the South China Morning Post and Singapore-listed Wilmar International, the world’s biggest processor of palm oil.

Further incurring his ire was the magazine’s allusion to an “open secret” that Kuok – who is twice married – has a third family in Shanghai.

“I (only) wish that journalists who write those articles can find me a third wife!” he said irritably. On whether he would take any legal action against the periodical, he said: “Those are filthy productions, and if you want me to dive into dirty drains (with them), I hope I’m not that stupid.”

Kuok was more forthcoming in talking about the ties that continue to bind him to his home country.

“Our family enjoyed relative success due to the benevolence of the host country where my parents settled,” he said. Immigrants from Fujian, they ran a shop in Johor Baru selling rice, sugar and flour.

When Kuok senior died in 1948, the then 25-year-old Robert established Kuok Brothers with his brother and other family members. Its success would eventually earn him the moniker “Sugar King”.

Kuok, who was educated at Raffles College where he was classmates with Lee Kuan Yew, later moved his base to Singapore. Tracing those years, he said: “We were minnows in the pond, then we entered the lake where we grew to five to 10 pounds.”

By 1960, he was trading sugar and rice with China, skilfully navigating any political turbulence. “Later, the ocean – Hong Kong and China – attracted my attention and so the fish could become even larger,” he said.

His focus today is on China’s economic development, “instead of interfering in the politics of China”, he said, in apparent allusion to critics who say he is too cosy with Beijing leadership.

Staff from the SCMP for instance, have complained that under Kuok ownership, the paper censors stories it thinks the Chinese government would not like.

But, he said, like the giant leather-backed turtles of Terengganu which return to the same sandy beaches every year to lay their eggs, he feels the primal tug of home.

“Roots are roots, except that my other root is the root of my parents – and that is China. I am twin-rooted.” Asked about the sense of discrimination among the Chinese in Malaysia, Kuok demurred, saying: “This will lead only to highly controversial statements, which is not good for anybody. One must never hurt those Chinese who are living in Malaysia, never be the cause of any kind of inter-racial hostility.

“We all feel it, but there may come a day, with the proper platform (do we then talk about it).”What’s most important is the timing.”And the present is not the right time? The man laughed: “Certainly not this morning, to a journalist!” – ANN/Straits Times

Published: Wednesday October 9, 2013 MYT 5:14:00 PM–Still relevant from a self-made man with vision, compassion and superb business acumen

Malaysia-China Relations: A Storm in a Tea Cup


September 30, 2015

Malaysia-China Relations: A Storm in a Tea Cup

By Parameswaran Ponnudurai

http://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/diplomacy-09292015182941.html

Malaysia Dr Huang HuikangChina has again demonstrated its rising political clout in Southeast Asia—this time thumbing its nose at diplomats in Malaysia wanting to summon Beijing’s Ambassador in Kuala Lumpur over his alleged interference in domestic politics, according to diplomatic sources.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman had directed his officers last week to summon envoy Huang Huikang to seek an explanation over his statement that Beijing opposed any form of discrimination against races and would not tolerate violent demonstrations in Malaysia, which has been wracked by racially-charged events recently.

But Huang ignored the Foreign Ministry directive after private discussions with some Malaysian officials, reports said. Some see it as defiance and part of China’s growing assertiveness amid its rising economic and political influence in the region.

Huang made the eyebrow-raising statement last week when he visited a predominantly ethnic Chinese district of Kuala Lumpur as ethnic Malay supporters of the government of embattled Prime Minister Najib Razak threatened to march through the area to protest alleged abuses by ethnic Chinese traders.

The planned protest at the Petaling Street district was aimed at countering a mammoth rally which attracted many urban Chinese people calling on Najib, the leader of the dominant United Malays National Organization (UMNO) party in the ruling coalition, to quit over a corruption scandal.

While some believe Huang’s statement may have led the organizers to scrap the protest, they questioned the Chinese approach of disregarding basic diplomacy.

Move to reverse diplomatic protocol



anifah_amanUNWhen Malaysian Foreign Ministry officials contacted the Chinese Embassy in Kuala Lumpur to summon Huang to the Foreign Ministry, his aides told them he was very busy, the diplomatic sources said.

Huang’s aides instead demanded that the Foreign Ministry officers go to the Embassy to see him in a bid to reverse a longstanding tradition in international diplomacy, the sources said.

Huang then went to lobby Ong Ka Ting, the special Malaysian envoy for China, and several Malaysian ministers, who decided to let Huang off the hook. One of the Ministers, Nazri Abdul Aziz, has “admitted he made a mistake,” saying he had no intention to interfere in the foreign ministry’s affairs, The Star daily reported Tuesday.

barack-obama-dan-khairy-jamaluddinIt was not clear whether the ministers had consulted Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is in New York attending the United Nations General Assembly, about their action to roll back Foreign Minister Anifah’s decision, which has caused red faces among Malaysian diplomats taken aback by the sudden reversal by their political leadership.

Red Shirts-Pesaka“This is a big blow to Malaysia and national sovereignty,” said a diplomatic source. “The Chinese influence appears to have reached the top echelons of power.” Malaysian dailies reported that Huang met Domestic Trade Minister Zainuddin Hamzah for more than two hours on Monday and Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri for dinner a day earlier.

The local Sin Chew Jit Poh Chinese daily published a photo showing Nazri sitting opposite Huang at a rectangular dinner table, along with five other unidentified people.

Fuming

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Anifah, also in New York with Najib, is fuming over the move to rescind his decision. “I am disappointed that some cabinet ministers had decided to take certain actions and make press statements without consulting me first,” he said in a statement.  He said he had not canceled his instruction to call in Huang to the Foreign Ministry. “Unfortunately, their (the ministers) interference has caused a negative perception in the eyes of the public,” Anifah said.

“As a sovereign state, we should convey our stand clearly to China,” he said, stressing that he had consulted with Najib before making his decision. While Anifah said he stood by his decision, it is unclear whether the Foreign Ministry would indeed officially summon Huang.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Huang’s visit to Petaling Street during the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival was a “normal” activity, stressing that Beijing “adheres to principles of peaceful coexistence” and “does not interfere in other countries’ domestic politics or intervene in other countries’ internal affairs.”

“China and Malaysia are friendly neighbors, we hope that Malaysia can maintain national unity and stability and ethnic harmony,” he said at a daily news briefing in Beijing , according to news agencies.

Growing ties

Najib and XiMalaysia-China relations have improved rapidly in recent years with bilateral trade burgeoning last year to US$101.98 billion, according to the Malaysian national news agency Bernama. Investments have also risen. But close bilateral business ties should not stop Kuala Lumpur from ticking off China over any unbecoming behavior, some leading Malaysian politicians say.

“We need not be afraid to express our feelings for fear of jeopardizing economic relations and other interests that we cannot reprimand them when they go against diplomacy norms,” Khairy Jamaluddin, the youth wing head of UMNO, was  quoted saying. He said Huang had no right to meddle in Malaysia’s “internal” affairs.

Sovereignty claims

Some Malaysian officials have also spoken against China’s increasing encroachment into Malaysian waters in the disputed South China Sea. Beijing’s increasingly assertive moves to press its sovereignty claims in the vast sea have raised concerns among its other neighbors and the United States too.

China has been accused in the past of using its extensive financial might over Cambodia, its key regional ally, to prevent any statement being adopted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on the South China Sea that may be damaging to Beijing. “We hope Malaysia does not succumb to similar pressure,” said one diplomat who has been closely following the latest diplomatic spat.

Mr. Broom Giver goes to Kajang Jail for Corruption


September 30, 2015

steve-jobs-quoteHave a Conscience and Follow Your Inner Voice

COMMENT: Khir Toyo was once a powerful man. He thought he could do what he liked including dispensing insults to people. He abused power and betrayed the trust of the people of Selangor he pledged to serve. Now  he is a felon. What a turnaround in fate for this UMNO leader. There is no point expressing regret for past actions. As the Malay saying goes , nasi sudah jadi bubor.

Let Khir Toyo’s conviction and imprisonment be a lesson to corrupt Malaysian politicians that the law has long arms. It will get them sooner or later.  Allow me to leave them with a message from Mahatma Gandhi, my role model of frugal life and humility.–Din Merican

GandhiGandhi quote

Mr. Broom Giver goes to Kajang Jail for Corruption

Khir ToyoMr. Broom Giver gets what he deserves

by V. Anbalagan, Assistant News Editor

http://www.themalaysianinsider.com

Former Selangor Menteri Besar Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo ‎was sentenced to 12 months’ jail for abusing his power while in office to purchase a land and a bungalow in 2007. Federal Court judge Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin, who delivered the verdict, also upheld the decision of the lower court to forfeit the property.

He said community service as suggested by lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah was not appropriate in this case. “The instant offence, which is destructive of public confidence in the government, was not trivial in nature,” he said.

He said Dr Khir as public servant had abused his position to buy the property with inadequate consideration.

Dr Khir’s sentence begins today. Khir can apply for a pardon‎ before the Sultan of Selangor. Last week, the apex court dismissed Dr Khir’s appeal when the bench affirmed the conviction of the lower courts.

Judge Tan Sri Jeffrey Tan Kok Hwa, who delivered the unanimous ruling of the five-man bench, said the prosecution had proven its case beyond reasonable doubt. “All the ingredients of the charge had been proved, including whether he was a public servant,” he said in delivering the unanimous verdict.

Graphic for Toyo

Dr Khir was calm and composed when the judgment was read out in the packed room. The audience consisted of his family members, supporters and the media.He will serve his jail term in Kajang prison.

Dr Khir was previously on RM750,000 bail pending his appeal being exhausted.Shafee told reporters that Dr Khir would also likely lose his pension as former menteri besar and Pasir Panjang assemblyman.

The law states that any elected or former elected representative who is fined RM2,000 or jailed a minimum of 12 months will lose their remuneration. Shafee said pardon was an option but the defence was exploring other possibilities, which he declined to reveal.

It is learnt that an option was to seek a review of the Federal Court ruling on grounds that an injustice was caused to the accused.

“We were shocked by the finding of guilt by the Federal Court as we had hoped for an acquittal. We had also hoped for a lenient sentence after this court last week upheld the conviction,” he said.

Shafee said he had been instructed by Dr Khir to initiate contempt proceedings against The Sun newspaper for publishing two articles that attempted to influence the judges. In today’s judgment, Zulkefli said corruption in all manner and form could not be condoned and that a fine would not send the message.

“Neither would community service. In any event, community service is an option only in the case of youthful offenders and not applicable to the appellant (Dr Khir ),” he added.

He said imprisonment was the right and proper sentence although the prosecution did not appeal to enhance it.The judge said that in dismissing the appellant’s appeal against lenient sentence, the court also took into account public interest and that the punishment first imposed by the trial court was not manifestly wrong.

Zulkefli said the forfeiture of the property was ordered in accordance with Section 36 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1997. This legislation was used as the offence had been committed before Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act came into force in 2010.

“The said land was not arbitrarily forfeited. It was a lawful deprivation. There was no breach of Article 13 (1) of the Federal Constitution,” he said in reference to contention of the defence that the accused would be deprived of his property. Dr Khir and his wife are the registered owners but the court said the forfeiture was subject to the charge, if any.

Going soft on Light, Raffles, Swettenham and the Lot


September 30, 2015

Going soft on Light, Raffles, Swettenham and the Lot

by Dr. M Bakri Musa, Morgan-Hill, California

francis-light-monument-25826140Sir Francis Light of Penang

The British later replaced the Iberians (Portuguese and Spaniards)  and Dutch in Malaysia. Those colonialists carved up the Malay world among themselves, with Malaysia fortunately falling under the British while the larger archipelago going to the Dutch and the Philippines to the Spaniards.

I say “fortunately” considering the fate of the Indonesians and Filipinos. For whatever reason the British were much more benign, or less malevolent. Among the consequential differences, while our Indonesian brethren had to fight for their independence, Malaysians opted for the more civilized and considerably less traumatic route of negotiations. While Malays still harbor fond memories of their former colonial masters, with more than a few being unabashed anglophiles, no such sentiment exists among the Indonesians for the Dutch, or the Filipinos for the Spaniards.

Raffles Sir Stamford Raffles of Singapore

The British legacies in Malaysia were significant, among them a first class civil service, an independent judiciary, and an school system that later proved fortuitous with English becoming the language of science and commerce. The British also introduced rubber plantations. The country is still reaping the economic bonanza from that initiative.

Again here, the credit for the positive consequences for this particular colonial encounter cannot go entirely to the British or the Malays, anymore than the blame for the fiasco in Indonesia could be heaped upon the Dutch or the Indonesians. Instead the answer lies with the unique dynamics of the interactions.

While Malays had plenty of derogatory caricatures of the Dutch, no such epithets existed for the British. Perhaps the British had perfected the art of indirect rule while still maintaining their tight and uncompromising grip.

Whereas with the earlier encounter with the Muslim traders our acceptance of and integration with them were both “down-up” (from the peasants and rising up to the aristocrats and sultans) and “up-down” (from the rulers downwards), with the British it was strictly up-down, from the sultans to the rakyats.  Because of the feudal nature of Malay society, the transformation was rapid.

It could be that the British found kinship with our Malay system of nobility and felt compelled to preserve it. Granted, our Orang Kaya Di Hilir Perak (Wealthy Lord) is not quite on par socially, intellectually or wealth-wise (despite what the title implies) with the Earl of Lancashire, nonetheless the social pattern and dynamics remain the same.

Frank SwettenhamSir Frank Swettenham

The British were wise to appreciate that a system of subtle indirect rule was more in tune with the halus (refine) ways of our culture than brute occupation a la the Dutch or Japanese. The British charade was greatly eased by their heaping honors on our sultans, such as the Knighthoods of some ancient British Order or the occasional invitations to Buckingham Palace.

This was the same insight that General MacArthur effectively used in postwar Japan, except that he did not feel compelled to honor the Japanese Emperor with a Presidential Medal of any sort.

The British must have learned a thing or two from observing how our grandfathers controlled their buffaloes.  Tie a rope to the ring through the nose of the lead bull, then even a toddler could control the herd. The ring may be of gold and the rope spun of silk, but the underlying dynamics remain the same.

Although the Malay masses did not embrace the British colonials with as much enthusiasm as we did the earlier Muslim traders, we were not entirely hostile either, at least not to the level the Indonesians had for the Dutch. There were scattered armed insurrections and a few colonial advisors assassinated, but for the most part we were quite docile under the British. The British not interfering in matters pertaining to our faith (leaving that entirely and exclusively to the sultans) may have had something to do with our resigned acceptance of their rule. We did not protest much even when the British inundated the country with immigrant laborers from China and India.

Of course the British had to justify bringing in those hordes of indentured laborers; thus was born the myth of the lazy native. To put things in perspective, this unwillingness of the natives to take on dirty scud jobs in their own country is not unique to Malays. How else to explain the glut of Indians in Britain, Turks in Germany, and Mexicans in America?

It was only after the children of those tin mine laborers and rubber tappers became lawyers and doctors, having benefited from the superior education afforded by the colonials, did Malays become concerned that their country would soon be taken over by these immigrants.

Some would argue that those same superior colonial educational facilities were also available to Malays. This myth, like others, had just a tinge of truth to it to be accepted by many as the all-encompassing explanation for Malay educational laggardness during colonial rule.

penang-free-schoolYes, there were schools. The first was Penang Free School (PFS) that despite its name was not free. In addition to tuition fees there were other substantial ancillary fees. Being located in the city, for rural Malay students there would also be the additional and substantial costs for transportation. Urban-dwelling immigrants were spared such expenses. In my case back in the 1950s, nearly 150 years after the setting of PFS, bus fare was the single biggest cost for my schooling, far exceeding the cost of tuition, books, and uniforms.

It did not help that the British built just enough schools to sooth their social conscience after raking in obscene profits from the country. It would have helped entice Malays to enroll in these English schools if they had been named after our heroes and sultans, or in any way pay homage to our cultural sensitivity. Instead those schools had names like King George V School and Victoria Institution.

Just to make sure that Malays got the message that they were not welcomed, there were the Anglo-Chinese Schools. It was not coincidental that there were no Anglo-Malay Schools.

st-michael-institutionMost were not government schools but set up by missionaries expelled from China. They were eager to continue their evangelical mission among the Chinese, only this time in Malaysia. Such schools sported names like Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus. The surprise was that there were still Malay parents who willingly enrolled their children in such schools, as with the parents of the wives of the second and third prime ministers

Then there was the colonial mindset that fervently believed that the best education for Malays would be one that would allow us to continue with our subsistence living as peasant farmers and fishermen

If all of those were not enough, then there was the attitude of Malay parents who thought that sending their children to English schools was tantamount to turning them into brown Mat Salleh (White Man) and, horror of horrors, Christians. They would then sport such names as Matthew and Thomas instead of Mahmud and Tahir.

Those conditions created the perfect storm that prevented Malays from partaking in modern Western education. Later, when we realized that our children and community were left far behind, we suddenly became aware of our precarious situation in our own country. Then we started looking at those immigrants who hitherto had been content confining themselves to the tin mines and rubber estates in a radically different light.

Sultan Ibrahim of Johor Sultan Ibrahim of Johor

The Malay reaction to British colonialists could best be described as grudging accommodation, in marked contrast to our earlier enthusiastic embrace of Muslim traders. Our pseudo or resigned acceptance of British colonial rule was smoothed over by the willing co-operation (or more correctly, co-optation) of our elite, especially our sultans. The most unabashedly anglophile was the late Sultan Ibrahim of Johore (above). He must have loved the English very much; he married at least two of them.

If there were to be any segment of the Malaysian community that unabashedly embraced British colonialism it would be the so-called Queen’s Chinese. That term today sounds odd and quaint. They were the early Chinese immigrants who settled in the Straits Settlements of Penang, Malacca and Singapore. They easily assimilated into British colonial society, complete with their billiard playing and brandy swirling which seemed so out of place with their mandarin dresses, conical hats, and black pigtails.

Like the Sultans, these “Queen’s Chinese” were opposed to Malaysia’s independence. Unlike the sultans who kept their opposition silent, those Chinese were very vocal. There were also many Malays who were similarly not too enthused about independence, in particular Dato’ Onn Jaafar. His opposition however, was not with the principle but the timing, feeling that the country was not as yet ready.

In many ways the Queen’s Chinese embrace of colonialism was akin to the earlier Malay acceptance of Islam. Those Chinese successfully integrated into colonial life while maintaining at least outwardly their Chinese traditions. Consequently they were among the most successful communities at the time of independence.

We can only speculate as to the reasons for the muted Malay reaction to British colonialism. Perhaps our earlier enthusiastic embrace of Islam “immunized” us against the subsequent influences of similar monotheistic faiths. Or perhaps after our earlier sour experiences with the Portuguese and Dutch (typified by the expression “Dutch deal”) the British looked so much more tolerable in comparison.

At any rate it was enough for a critical commentator at the time, Munshi Abdullah, to lament what it was that made Malays not in the least curious and eager to learn from a society that was so far ahead of us. We were not even in awe at how British minds could build such wonderful things as a steel warship. They could make steel float! This lack of curiosity prevented Malays from taking advantage of what the colonials had to offer. And they had a lot!  We would subsequently pay dearly for that neglect.

Singapore’s Lee Hsien Loong’s Message to PAP MPs


September 29, 2015

Now on a more sombre and serious note read this from Barack Obama:

…development is threatened by bad governance. Today, we affirm what we know to be true from decades of experience — development and economic growth that is truly sustainable and inclusive depends on governments and institutions that care about their people, that are accountable, that respect human rights and deliver justice for everybody and not just some.

So, in the face of corruption that siphons billions away from schools and hospitals and infrastructure into foreign bank accounts, governments have to embrace transparency and open government and rule of law.

And citizens and civil society groups must be free to organize and speak their mind and work for progress, because that’s how countries develop; that’s how countries succeed

Note: I wonder what our Prime Minister Najib Razak might say to UMNO, MCA, Gerakan and other partners in Barisan Nasional. Let me suggest something for your consideration. You are welcome to add your own.

To those who lost the election, he would say take it easy.  He would talk his Ikan Bakar seller, Jamal and ask him to invite you to join his Red Shirt group and help to defend me, and protect maruah orang Melayu against pendatang cina.

Here are the 3 things from our Prime Minister, apart from tahniah for their success.

1.Carpe diem quam minimum credula ( seize the day and don’t worry about the future). Just forget your promises to those who were foolish enough to vote for you in GE13. Sapu semua before we lose in GE 14.

MACC won’t touch if you are loyal to me. They are toothless and dysfunctional. Don’t worry about Abu Kassim, the MACC Chief as he has been badly traumatised by 1MDB.

2. Gua tolong lu, lu tolong gua. Forget about integrity. We have the National Integrity Institute and my side kick, Dato Paul Low to worry about this.  They are doing a lot of research on this subject. But don’t expect the Institute to come with their recommendations any time soon.

3. Cash is King. If someone put loads of money into your personal bank account say it is a d0nation from those generous Arabs with loads of petrodollars to give you. If don’t  know what to say, get in touch with that Keruak fella from Sabah, Khairy Jamaluddin and Nazri Aziz. These guys know what I will say before I can speak. Don’t worry about me. In case you do not know, I am keramat. I am untouchable as long I can take care of Rosmah. Her ilmu is very strong. Even Harun Din, PAS Spiritual leader cannot get near her. –Din Merican

Singapore’s Lee Hsien Loong’s Message to PAP MPs

…integrity, honesty and incorruptibility are fundamental to our party. We must never tire of reminding ourselves of their importance.–PM Lee Hsien Loong.

PAP wins 2015 General Elections Led by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

PAP wins 2015 General Elections Led by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

It is a tradition for the Prime Minister to send a letter on “Rules of Prudence” to all the PAP MPs after an election. The context each time may be different but the subject remains constant, because integrity, honesty and incorruptibility are fundamental to our party. We must never tire of reminding ourselves of their importance.

2. Our party has won 83 out of 89 seats in the just concluded general election, with all seats contested. Overall, the PAP won 69.9% of the votes.

3. The people have endorsed what we have done in the previous term, and given us a clear mandate to take Singapore forward beyond SG50. Now we must fulfil what we have promised to do in our manifesto. We must never break faith with the people, but must always carry out our duties to them responsibly, address their worries and advance their interests.

4. Be humble in victory. As MPs, always remember we are servants of the people, not masters. Do not mistake the strong election result to mean that our efforts have succeeded, and that we can afford to slacken.

Much work remains to be done tackling issues which concern Singaporeans, and finding new ways to improve people’s lives. Listen hard to voter concerns, help them to tackle pressing needs, and convey their worries and aspirations to the government.

Persuade them to support policies which are in their own long-term benefit, while helping the government to formulate good policies and stay in close touch with the people.

Upholding our reputation and integrity

5. One vital factor that has enabled the PAP to retain the trust of Singaporeans all these years is honesty and integrity.The PAP’s reputation for clean, incorruptible government is one of our most precious assets. As PAP MPs, your personal standing reflects this high standing of the Party as a whole.

I cannot stress strongly enough that every MP must uphold the rigorous standards that we have set for ourselves, and do nothing to compromise them. Never give cause for allegations that you are misusing your position, especially your access to ministers. That would discredit both you and the Party.

6. As MPs, you will come across many different sorts of people. Many altruistic, public-spirited individuals will help you without wanting anything in return, spending time and money to get community projects going and to serve residents. But a few will cultivate you to obtain benefits for themselves or their companies, to gain respectability by association with you, or to get you to influence ministries and statutory boards to make decisions in their favour.

Gift hampers on festive occasions, entertainment, and personal favours big and small are just a few of countless social lubricants which such people use to ingratiate themselves to MPs and make you obligated to them.

7. You must distinguish between these two groups of people, and be shrewd in assessing the motives of those who seek to get close to you. At all times be seen to be beyond the influence of gifts or favours.

8. Be scrupulously proper in your contacts with government departments or public officers. Do not lobby any ministry or statutory board on behalf of anyone who is not your constituent or grassroots activist. Do not raise matters with public officers on behalf of friends, clients, contractors, employers, or financiers to advance their business interests.

Conduct business with government agencies in writing and avoid making telephone requests. If you have to speak, follow-up in writing to put your requests on record.

9. MPs are often approached by friends, grassroots leaders or proprietors and businessmen to officiate at the openings of their new shops or other business events. They usually offer a gesture, such as a donation to a charity or constituency welfare fund.

Though it may be awkward to refuse such requests, once you accept one, you will be hard-pressed to draw a line. As a rule, you should decline invitations to such business events. If you feel you should attend, please obtain prior approval from the Whip.

Separating business and politics

10. Separate your public political position from your private, professional or business interests. MPs who are in business, who occupy senior management positions in companies, or who sit on company boards should be especially vigilant.

You must not exploit your public position as Government MPs, your close contacts with the Ministers, or your access to government departments and civil servants, for your personal interest or the benefit of your employers. Your conduct must always be above board.

11. MPs who are employed by companies or industry associations may at times have to make public statements on behalf of their company or industry association. If you have to do so, make it clear that you are not speaking as an MP, but in your private, professional or business capacity.

12. Do not use parliamentary questions as a means to lobby the government on behalf of your businesses or clients. When you raise questions in Parliament related to your own businesses or your clients, be careful to first declare your pecuniary interest in the issue.

13. You may, however, speak freely to Cabinet ministers, who are your parliamentary colleagues. Ministers will listen carefully to arguments on principles, especially when they relate to the general policy of their ministries.

But ministers will not exercise their discretion to change individual decisions without very good reasons which they can justify publicly. Parliamentary secretaries and ministers of state who intervene in their ministries to reverse or alter decisions should promptly report the matter to their ministers to protect themselves against possible accusations of misconduct.

The government must always base decisions on the merits of the issues, and cannot yield to pressure from interested parties.

Directorships

14. MPs are often invited to serve on the Boards of private and publicly listed companies. This is a sign that the private sector values PAP MPs’ integrity and experience, and reflects the high standing of the party and of PAP MPs in general.

The party permits MPs to serve as directors, provided you keep your private and public responsibilities rigorously separate, and your private appointments do not compromise your duties and performance as an MP.

15. The public will closely scrutinise your involvement in companies, because you are a PAP MP. Conduct your business activities so as to bring credit to yourself and to the party.

Adverse publicity on your performance as a director, or lapses in the companies you are associated with, will tarnish your reputation as an MP and lower the public’s regard for the party.

16. You should not solicit for directorships in any companies, lest you appear to be exploiting your political position to benefit yourself.

17. You should not accept directorships where your role is just to dress up the board with a PAP MP or two, in order to make the company look more respectable.

18. Some grassroots leaders are businessmen who own or manage companies. You should not sit on any boards of companies owned or chaired by grassroots leaders appointed by you, so as to avoid the perception that you are obligated to them or advancing their business interests.

19. If you are offered a directorship, you have to decide for yourself whether to accept. The Party is not in a position to vet or approve such decisions.

20. Before accepting, consider the possible impact of the directorship on your political life. Ensure that the company understands that you are doing so strictly in your private capacity, and will not use your public position to champion the interests of the company, or lobby the government on its behalf.

21. Make every effort to familiarise yourself with the business, track record and background of the key promoters of the company. Satisfy yourself that the company is reputable, and that you are able to make a meaningful contribution. Specifically, just like anyone else contemplating a directorship, you should ask yourself:

a. How well do you know the company, its business strategy, financial status, shareholding structure and the underlying industry?

b. Do you know your fellow directors, the way the board and its committees fulfil their responsibilities, the reporting structure between board and management and the relationship between shareholders and the company?

c. Do you have sufficient industry, financial or professional expertise to fulfil your expected role and responsibilities as a Director? Do you understand your obligations under the law and the Code of Corporate Governance? Will you be able to discharge your fiduciary duties properly and without fear or favour?

d. Will you face any conflicts of interest, and if so can you manage them? If in any doubt, you should decline.

22. Once you have decided to take up a Directorship, please inform the Whip. Detailed reporting requirements are listed in the Annex.

Parliament

23. MPs are expected to attend all sittings of Parliament. If you have to be absent from any sitting, seek permission from the Government Whip. Please inform the Whip if you have to leave the Parliament premises while a sitting is on.

24. If you travel abroad, or need to be absent from Parliament for any reason, you must apply to the Speaker for leave, with copies to the Leader of the House and the Government Whip. You should also inform the Whip where you can be reached while abroad.

25. I have asked the Speaker to give all MPs, particularly new MPs, ample opportunity and latitude to speak in Parliament. Your first opportunity will be during the debate on the President’s Address at the opening of Parliament in January 2016.

Following that, at the Budget Debate, all MPs should speak up. Script your speeches or put your key points in note form to structure your presentation and help the media.

26. The public expects PAP MPs to express their views frankly, whether for or against government policies. During debates, speak freely and with conviction. Press your points vigorously, and do not shy away from robust debate.

However, please exercise judgement when putting your points across, and do not get carried away playing to the gallery.

27. Bring out questions and issues that Singaporeans and your constituents have concerns about, and grapevine talk for the government to rebut, but avoid unwittingly lending credence to baseless gossip. This will show that you and the party are in touch with the ground, and speaking up for Singaporeans.

Bringing up pertinent issues and questions in a timely manner helps ministers to put across the facts, explain the reasons for policies and decisions, and maintain public confidence in the openness and integrity of our actions.

28. Your honest, informed views are an important political input to ministers when they formulate and review policies. Ministers will accept valid, constructive suggestions, but they have to challenge inaccurate or mistaken views.

Over time, the public will see that PAP backbenchers are as effective as opposition MPs, if not better, at holding ministers to account, getting issues fully debated, and influencing policies for the better.

Important public occasions

29. On certain occasions, like the National Day Parade and the Investiture Ceremony for National Day Awards, the whole establishment, i.e. the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary, will be there. Those who cannot attend must have very good reasons. Those who have accepted the invitation must attend, otherwise they leave empty seats, which does no credit to them or to the party.

30. At all public functions and constituency events, punctuality is of paramount importance.

Gifts

31. You should not accept gifts which might place you under obligations which conflict with your public duties. If you receive any gifts other than from close personal friends or relatives, you must declare them to the Clerk of Parliament who will have the gifts valued. If you wish to keep the gifts, you must pay the government for them at the valuation price.

Fund-raising

32. Party branches should not raise funds on their own without permission, for example by soliciting advertisements for a souvenir magazine or a carnival.

If you intend to raise funds, please clear it beforehand with the organising secretary. When your branch embarks on a collective fund-raising activity, eg. a Family Day or Walk-A-Jog, you must follow the rules strictly.

Financial prudence

33. As MPs, you should manage your personal financial affairs prudently. Do not over-extend yourself or become financially embarrassed. This would be not only a potential source of personal embarrassment, but also a weakness which may expose you to pressure or blackmail.

34. In particular, be careful about making major financial commitments assuming that you will continue to receive your MP’s allowance. While MPs typically serve several terms, you cannot assume that you will automatically be fielded in future general elections, or that if fielded you will definitely be re-elected. There is neither tenure nor job security in politics.

Declaration of income

35. For your own protection, every MP should disclose to me, in confidence, your business and professional interests, your present employment and monthly pay, all retainers and fees that you are receiving, and whether your job requires you to get in touch with officers of government ministries or statutory boards on behalf of employers or clients.

Office holders need not do so because you will be subject to the reporting requirements of the Code of Conduct for ministers. This should be done by 31 October 2015.

General misbehaviour

36. The PAP has held our position in successive elections because our integrity has never been in doubt, and because we are sensitive to the views and attitudes of the people we represent.

MPs must always uphold the high standards of the party and not have lifestyles or personal conduct which will embarrass themselves and the party. Any slackening of standards, or show of arrogance or indifference by any MP, will erode confidence in him, and ultimately in the party and government.

New MPs can pick up the dos and don’ts from older MPs. You should conduct yourselves always with modesty, decorum and dignity, particularly in the media. You must win respect, not popularity, to stay the course.

Media publicity

37. I am releasing a copy of this letter to the media so that the public knows the high standards we demand of our MPs.

* Lee Hsien Loong, the Singapore prime minister, is Secretary-General of the People’s Action Party (PAP).