Malaysia-China relations–Leveraging the Business Connection

October 29, 2015

Malaysia-China relations–Leveraging the Business Connection

By Dr. Lim Teck Ghee

Although the solutions to our economic malaise have to be rooted in our own structural reforms – political and socio-economic – there is no doubt that the China connection can make a difference – a big difference!

The British-China relations–Triumph of Business Sense over Political Ideology

Malaysia does not need protection by or from any sheriff – old and new. But we badly need Chinese trade and investment if we want to grow our jobs and sustain our current consumption and lifestyle.–Dr. Lim Teck Ghee

The extraordinary British press coverage of Chinese President President Xi Jinping’s current visit to Britain is worth reading as to what the British are saying about themselves and the state of the world.It prompts us to take a serious look at ourselves today. It is about time we review our commercial relations with the rest of the world.

Many local media columnists in Britain were outraged that  David Cameron’s government was making such a big deal of the visit. As a Fortune magazine article succinctly put it:

Britain is sucking it up big time this week, having finally learned to kowtow after a 218-year trade relationship in which it has tended to be the one handing out the humiliations. ((Geoffrey Smith, A weakened Britain finally learns how to kowtow to Beijing)

Why did the British Prime Minister David Cameron, Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn, Her Majesty The Queen and others – roll out the red carpet for the Chinese leader? Why did Her Royal Highness Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, wear a symbolic red gown in a banquet dinner in Buckingham Palace where Queen Elizabeth and the Duchess of Cambridge were said to have “showered Xi and his wife with the fairy dust of royalty ancient and modern”?

The Queen  Honoring XiKate and XiObviously, it is not because of any newfound love of the Chinese. Put it down to the realities of the global economy and Britain’s declining competitiveness.

Why the Need to suck up to China?

Veteran Labour MP Paul Lynn remarked in Parliament that Britain was behaving like a supplicant fawning spaniel that licks the hand that beats it. But the fact is that the British taxpayer has to pay for his salary and allowances; and the country’s treasury badly needs an injection from the world’s largest economy if the ordinary British citizen is to not bear the burden of higher taxes and continued loss of jobs.

The Chinese economy is now worth $17.6tn, marginally higher than the $17.4tn the International Monetary Fund estimates for the US. For the first time since 1872, when it overtook the UK, the US has been knocked off the top spot by China. The IMF calculated these figures by using purchasing power parity (PPP) which compares how much you can buy for your money in different countries.

And this is among the bag of goodies that Xi is bringing to Britain on this current state visit:

• £30 billion of business agreements, including a one third stake in the UK’s first nuclear plan for a generation.
• an expected big jump in Chinese tourists to Britain with easier visas. Each Chinese tourist typically spends £2,688 on an average visit, totaling about £500 million a year.
•further increases in Chinese student enrolment in Britain. Presently accounting for nearly 90,000 of the 310,000 higher education non-EU students, the fortune and health of many British higher education institutions, and their student-related housing and service industries, depends on the expansion in Chinese student numbers.

The Lesson for Malaysia—Not TPPA

U.S. President Barack REUTERS/Hugh Gentry

Secret Deals at Malaysia’s Expense–TPPA?

Here lies the lesson for us too in Malaysia as we face an increasingly bleak economic future with many analysts noting that the amber lights have been flashing for some time with the sharply devalued ringgit, decline in foreign investment, high levels of individual and household debt, rising cost of living, and falling business confidence.

Capitalizing on our China Connection

Although the solutions to our economic malaise have to be rooted in our own structural reforms – political and socio-economic – there is no doubt that the China connection can make a difference – a big difference!

Just as the British, and other nations, are attempting to strengthen relations with the largest market in the world, Malaysia can do much more to take advantage of China’s progress. And our policy makers do not need to reinvent the wheel or borrow from the British in establishing a higher level of Malaysia-China partnership and cooperation.

The following proposals on Malaysia-China relations, for example, are from the “Transforming the Nation: A 20 Year Plan of Action” report prepared by the Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia (Huazong) in July 2012. They appear to have been largely ignored

• A comprehensive review of existing policy towards China in all sectors – economic and non-economic – with a view to broadening linkages and cooperation for the mutual benefit of both countries. This review should incorporate inputs from the private sector, civil society and other key stakeholders.
• Inter-university exchange programmes to increase students’ knowledge and experience of the two countries. Scholarships and other forms of assistance should be granted by local foundations to sponsor students.
• Expansion of cultural tourism. Government’s role in the development of Malaysia as a halal hub aimed at attracting Muslim tourists from China should be expanded

It has been rumoured that some time later this year will see a visit from a high ranking Chinese leader to Malaysia – perhaps Xi himself. Will we see a round of mainly indifference or even China and Chinese bashing? Or will we capitalize on the rise of China to salvage our sinking economy the way the British are doing?

Fortunately our relationship with China – for a start – is not on the same level as the one which Britain has had. Our relations with China begun with the Second Prime Minister, Tun Abdul Razak’s visit to China and we have yet to fully capitalize on this ground breaking relationship.

Hopefully this observation from a British commentator on the Guardian website will give pause to our local hotheads blowing hot air on anyone or anything associated with their definition of pendatang:

He doesn’t need lil’ ole us to make him feel important. He’s president of the world’s biggest superpower. I hope he’s gone away feeling we did make an effort and the UK is a country worth bothering with. However much it seems to irk some people, there’s a new sheriff in town and I hope they’re nicer to us than we were to them when our star was in the ascendancy and we owned half the world (and went to war with them when they tried to stop buying the opium we liked flogging them.)

Malaysia does not need protection by or from any sheriff – old and new (and the TPPA). But we badly need Chinese trade and investment if we want to grow our jobs and sustain our current consumption and lifestyle.

A Muhyiddin-led UMNO-Abad-21 in the works?

October 29, 2015

A Muhyiddin-led UMNO-Abad-21 in the works?

by Malaysia Chronicle

UMNO TrioThe UMNO Trio

Amid red-hot talk embattled Prime Minister Najib Razak was about to sack 7 top leaders including UMNO Deputy President and former Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, political sources believe veteran power broker Mahathir Mohamad was preparing to lead a high-powered team out from the bitterly-divided ruling party.

If true, the move will shatter UMNO, shake its members out from their complacency and punish Najib for bringing the once-mighty party to its lowest point since it took control of the federal government in 1957.

“There is now a lot of cross talk and spin flying around. But who is really sacking whom – that is the question. There is a lot of power-play behind the scenes but for sure, something major is up. It is not an exaggeration to say UMNO is on the point of implosion,” a political source told Malaysia Chronicle.

An aide to Dr Mahathir’s had denied rumors that began swirling last week that the 90-year-old former premier, who ruled Malaysia from 1981 to 2003, would resign on Tuesday.

Despite the resignation denial, bets are on that Dr M may spring a shock next week. “The fate of Dr M and the other 6 will be decided next week. I would brace for an earth-shaking announcement. Otherwise, you won’t have the Najib camp in such a panic today, they are clucking around like headless chickens,” the political source said.

“The joke now in the inner circles is that UMNO wants to get rid of Najib and they are secretly cheering Dr M on. It’s DAP with its own political agenda for the next general election that wants Najib to stay on and Najib’s only staying by the grace of his cash-is-king ways with the UMNO division heads.”

UMNO 7 and the ‘ultimate’ game

Indeed, Tengku (Teiku Ku Nan?) Adnan, the UMNO Secretary-General and a staunch Najib loyalist, had today followed hot on the heels on the comments from a junior-level leader Jamal Mohd Yunos, who had called for Muhyiddin’s sacking.

Ku Nan said 7 members could face suspension, and some from party positions, for going against party president Najib. However, Ku Nan refused to name the 7.

The group is being investigated for reportedly making public statements badmouthing UMNO and Najib’s handling of debt-ridden state investment firm 1MDB.

“We have a disciplinary committee, we have our own ethics code which they should adhere to. We can’t take all of this nonsense anymore. To us, if you don’t believe in the party struggle, you leave the party, it’s okay,” Ku Nan told reporters outside Parliament on Wednesday.

“We are tired and sick of some of our members who come up with statements that are not supposed to be meant for the public. The investigation is taking place, the findings will be tabled to the presidential council and then the disciplinary board … Once this process begins we will suspend their membership and their positions.”

“After this committee has completed the findings, we will table it to the presidential council. Once the presidential council says okay, we will bring the matter to the disciplinary committee. But once that process goes, we will suspend their membership and suspend whatever positions they have,” added Ku Nan.

It is still unclear if Mahathir, Muhyiddin and the other 5 who may include former Sabah minister Shafie Apdal and even Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh, will wait for Najib to sack them or resign in protest on their own accord.

“Dr M won’t leave like that, he’s waiting to be sacked. He is playing the ultimate game,” the political source said.

Umno will be rocked to the core

Some political analysts believe Dr M’s departure, as well as the other 6, would have no impact on UMNO.

“The effect of him (Mahathir) quitting would be rather minimal (this time), if not followed up with some other action. He’d probably start a new group though they may not call themselves a party, or they might, we don’t know,” political analyst Wong Chin Huat was reported as saying.

But this may be too sanguine a view. Muhyiddin is the incumbent UMNO No. 2 and Dr M has a special place in the hearts of the Malay community.

Najib-Razak-and-Rosmah-Mansor-Thumb-DownUMNO badly needs a Leadership change to stay relevant

According to political observer Prof Dr Samsu Adabi Mamat, Muhyiddin’s sway in the party was still strong despite losing the DPM’s post. His sacking from UMNO would split the party down the line.

“UMNO division heads must face up to this if they wish to get rid of Muhyiddin. This is because Muhyiddin not only has strong influence in UMNO but also carries with him the sentiment Johor of voters. It will cause severe internal divisions within UMNO and make Umno appear to be even weaker,” Prof Dr Samsu told Malay daily Sinar Harian.

“Muhyiddin’s removal should be avoided. Preferably this matter resolved amicably. Perhaps as party president Najib could reach out to Muhyiddin.”

Sinar Harian had in an earlier report quoted Jamal as saying that more than 100 party division leaders had held closed door talks to discuss ousting Muhyiddin and a group of of “wolves in sheep’s clothing”.

Muhyiddin was sacked as deputy PM after publicly critiquing Najib’s handling of a controversy surrounding 1MDB and allegations the Prime Minister had channelled USD$700 millionin to his personal bank accounts through 1MDB-linked entities.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission has since said the funds were “donations” and not connected to 1MDB while Najib has dismissed these allegations as part of a plot to discredit him. – Malaysia Chronicle

Book Review: A Prince in a Republic–Sultan Hamengku Buwono IX of Yogyakarta Sultanate

October 28, 2015

Book Review: A Prince in a Republic

by Muhammad Yuanda Zara

John Monfries,
A Prince in a Republic: The Life of Sultan Hamengku Buwono IX of Yogyakarta, (Institute for Southeast Asian Studies, 2015)

Sultan Hamengku Buwono IX of Yogyakarta Sultanate (ruled 1940-1988) is one of the greatest Javanese rulers. He enabled his sultanate to survive and thrive through four different political regimes which surrounded it. More than 20 years after his death, his legacy is still apparent.

John Monfries, a scholar and former Australian diplomat in Jakarta, has written a significant book exploring the complex life of a figure that very much influenced Indonesian politics for half a century.

Born as Dorojatun in 1912, the Sultan was educated at Leiden University. Given the widespread hostility to feudalism in the early phase of the Indonesian revolution (also known as the Indonesian war of independence, 1945-49), it seemed that Yogyakarta Sultanate would come to an end. Angry masses had forced the aristocracy to retreat in Surakarta (Central Java) and East Sumatra, and one may have thought that Yogyakarta would be the next. But the Sultan managed to take advantage of the revolution to save his monarch and draw support to his existence by showing incessant support to the Republic of Indonesia whose independence was declared by Sukarno on 17 August, 1945.

It was very likely that the Sultan, with the positive reputation he received due to his devotion to the revolution, would assume key posts on the national stage. However, he only occupied minor positions during the 1950s, his ‘decade of disappointment’ (p. 234), due to his opposition to many of Sukarno’s policies. After the 1965 coup, together with Army General Suharto and another civilian leader Adam Malik—called the ‘triumvirate’ by Monfries— the Sultan began to create a post-Sukarno Indonesia, the “New Order.”

New Order economic policies advocated domestically and internationally by the Sultan included eradicating vested interests in the economy, opening up the country to foreign investment, and encouraging private enterprise. Warmly welcomed by the public, these policies radically contrasted with Sukarno’s neglect of economic issues.

Despite this success, the Sultan’s appointment as Suharto’s vice president (1973-78) soon became a source of dissatisfaction. According to Monfries, the Sultan had no real power and was only tasked to carry out symbolic functions. He withdrew into the backstage of Indonesian politics by his resignation in 1978.

Feudalism, democracy and state management

Monfries critically examines one of the biggest achievements of the Sultan: his success in securing a Javanese monarchy in the form of the Sultanate within an emerging democratic state. Despite the fundamental difference between the two, he proved that their amalgamation is possible in the Indonesian context. This is mainly due to the fact that during the revolution the Javanese sultan turned into a widely popular Republican leader and a well-known anti-Dutch patriot.

This fame, according to Monfries, ‘became the bedrock of his subsequent impeccable reputation’ (p. 323). Monfries points out several reasons for this popularity, which also differentiated the Sultan from other native rulers in Java and Sumatra who failed to defend their kingdoms’ existence in the face of the so-called social revolution. These reasons included the optimal use of his status as a Javanese sultan to appeal Javanese society, his continuous support of independence, his loyalty to the Republic, and his support for pro-Republic militia (pp. 161-2).

Moreover, Monfries explores another key point in the Sultan’s life that greatly shaped Indonesian politics: his administrative capabilities, which were one of the main reasons for his various appointments between 1946 until 1978. For Monfries, the Sultan’s oratory skills may seem dull in comparison to Sukarno, but he had what Sukarno lacked, namely the skill to ‘organise and run meetings, to follow through agendas and seek consensus’ (p. 45). This skill proved important during the post-independence period, when the Sultan was involved in hundreds of meetings concerning, among other things, the cabinet, the Indonesian scout movement (informal education for the youth held mainly outdoor, which focuses on the development of useful skills, co-operation, and learning by doing; it is like the scout training for boys and girls introduced by renowned British Army officer Robert Baden-Powell), and aid assembly with foreign governments and organizations, with varying degree of success.

The Sultan owed these skills both to his time studying with the Indology Faculty at Leiden, where he learned to become middle-level public administrator, and also from his own experience as a reformer of the bureaucracy in his own sultanate.

Myth breaker

Numerous Indonesian accounts on the Sultan’s contributions see him as a legend, encircled with historical myths. Unlike these works, the main strength of Monfries’s book is the author’s position as a myth breaker.

Monfries demystifies at least three widespread beliefs about the Sultan. First, in his coronation speech in 1940 the Sultan stated: ‘I have had an extensive Western upbringing, yet I am and remain above all a Javanese’. This catchphrase is so well-known that many Indonesians nowadays see it as nationalistic sentiment of a Javanese ruler, while others interpret ‘Javanese’ here as ‘Indonesian’. Monfries doubts this claim because no adequate proof exists to suggest that the Sultan ‘thought of himself as anything but a Javanese prince.’ (p. 81)

Second, in other part of the speech, the Sultan declared that he ‘will work for the interests of the Land and People’. In the Indonesian version of the speech, the ‘Land and People’ was translated into ‘nusa dan bangsa’ (homeland), thus implying that the Sultan felt concerned with the whole of Indonesia. However, Monfries suspects that this was originally a Dutch term, Land en Volk, and in 1940 its meaning was obviously Yogyakarta principality, not the entire country. Therefore, a Javanese king would not intend to ‘represent citizens of the Indies outside his principality.’ (p. 81)

The third and perhaps the most popular myth concerns the Mataram Canal and the romusha (forced labour, ‘勞務者’) question. In 1944, the Japanese occupation forces built a thirty kilometre long canal in Yogyakarta, known as the Mataram Canal, intended for irrigation, provision of fresh water, and prevention of flood. In Indonesian accounts, it was said that the canal was the proof of the Sultan’s excellent ability to prevent the Japanese sending thousands of Yogyakarta youth abroad to become romusha. Instead, these young men were employed in the canal project. Monfries argues that this interpretation is an exaggeration. Monfries offers some reasons: Yogyakarta’s problem of rice was not much worse compared to other regions in Java and the Sultan was not involved in romusha recruitment (pp. 109-110). For Monfries, the Sultan’s contribution to the project should be acknowledged but not overstated.

Methodologically speaking, this book is a noteworthy answer to the accusation that biography tends to be elitist. Monfries does not isolate the Sultan as the sole hero, but connects him to wider phenomena and larger sociopolitical groups. So, the Sultan’s life did not just tell about the life of a king, but also the experiences of less privileged communities and actors outside the kraton (palace) walls in modern Indonesia. These people included the Javanese employed as forced labourers, Chinese minority, and the Indonesian communists.

But it is surprising that Monfries’s work ignores the role of the Sultan’s wives in political decision-making process. He seems to take for granted the traditional view on the role of wives in Indonesia, in particular Java (the absence of public involvement and total dedication to household matters).

In fact, some contemporary reports stress that the Sultan’s fifth wife, Sumatran born Norma Musa (they married in 1976 after one of his four wives passed away), played a major role in his life outside the kraton walls, and was perhaps the Sultan’s political advisor. Given that the Sultan spent most of his work time in Jakarta, that Norma’s cleverness was widely known among Republican politicians, and that she was an insider in political circles in Jakarta (she was once personal assistant of President Sukarno), this vice president’s wife deserves more attention.

Nevertheless, overall Monfries’ study fills a gap in the English language scholarship on 20th century and contemporary Indonesia. More importantly, it offers new perspectives in understanding key political problems in 20th century Indonesia, including the fragile existence of monarchy in a democratic country, the civilian-military dichotomy in a developing country, and the fate of a freedom fighter in post independence nation-state building.

Suggestions for Further Reading 

Atmakusumah (ed.). Tahta untuk Rakyat: Celah-celah Kehidupan Sultan Hamengku Buwono IX. Jakarta: Gramedia, 1982.

George McTurnan Kahin. Southeast Asia: A Testament. London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003.

P.J. Suwarno. Hamengku Buwono IX dan Sistem Birokrasi Pemerintahan Yogyakarta, 1942-1974. Yogyakarta: Kanisius, 1994.

Sri Sultan: Hari-hari Hamengku Buwono IX; Sebuah Presentasi Majalah TEMPO. Jakarta: Grafitipers, 1988.

Sutrisno Kutoyo. Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwono IX: Riwayat Hidup dan Perjuangan. Jakarta: Mutiara Sumber Widya, 1996.

Y.B. Sudarmanto. Jejak-jejak Pahlawan: Dari Sultan Agung hingga Hamengku Buwono IX. Jakarta: Grasindo, 1992.

Muhammad Yuanda Zara is a researcher at NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust, and Genocide Studies (Amsterdam) and a PhD Candidate at Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research, at the University of Amsterdam. 

Book Review: Margaret Thatcher by Charles Moore

October 28, 2015

Margaret Thatcher by Charles Moore

Margaret Thatcher It is not easy to assess objectively a book of more than 800 pages about events in which one played some part oneself. This second volume of Charles Moore’s authorised biography of Margaret Thatcher is no bedside book, nor would it fit easily into a briefcase for reading on the train. Nor am I convinced that organising the chapters by theme, rather than telling the story as a series of consecutive events, makes it any easier for the reader.

On the other hand, if the prime purpose of biography is to bring its subject to life, there can be no doubt that Moore has succeeded. The book is an immensely detailed account of Thatcher’s life, as she saw it, from the summer of 1982 in the aftermath of the Falklands through to the general elections of 1983 and 1987.

During the 13 years I worked for Margaret Thatcher, I found her on the whole to be reasonably predictable, provided one remembered that she was the daughter of a grocer from middle England, a devout nonconformist Christian and a scientist by training. The scientist in her came out when she would stop a discussion on a policy issue with the words: “Gentlemen, shall we have the facts first and then the discussion.” But she would always be thinking of the moral imperative, not merely what was expedient. So she opposed economic sanctions against the old apartheid government in South Africa, despite the abuse that brought upon her, because she knew sanctions would bring poverty and violence to the very people they were supposed to help.

As a journalist, Moore observed Thatcher throughout her time as Prime Minister. Then, having been commissioned as her official biographer, he moved from watching her on the field of political battle to looking over her shoulder. He goes deep into her uncertainties: not just over her colleagues’ loyalty, but about whether they were even capable of carrying through complex legislation such as that required for the privatisation of BT.

Moore’s technique is compelling, but at times I think it leads to a loss of objectivity about the world she inhabited. The uninformed reader might come to believe that the whole of government was a sprawling battle between Thatcher and a changing cast of advisers without responsibilities on the one hand, and a deadbeat civil service and the mostly overrated ministers more concerned with their personal ambitions than their briefs, on the other.

In reality, while Thatcher was Prime Minister, government across the board went calmly on. Policies were developed, green papers were firmed up into white papers and Cabinet committees approved draft legislation without any help from the advisers clamouring for the ear of the PM.

Early on, Thatcher wisely consulted outsiders, notably business people of substance. However, as Moore’s narrative shows, those were progressively replaced by largely sycophantic individuals of little experience but great ambition who fed her insecurities and fears with tales that her colleagues were constantly plotting to bring her down.

Margaret Thatcher

Nowhere was this more clear than over the motor industry. In 1981, I had helped Keith Joseph to develop a strategy that comprised both a progressive privatisation of British Leyland and Jaguar (as opposed to a shutdown), and brought Nissan, a world-class manufacturer, to Sunderland. When I took over the Department of Trade and Industry in 1983, I returned to the task – only to be frustrated, as Thatcher took advice not from me, although it was I who had to carry it through Parliament, but from her troupe of advisers. As Moore recalls, I told her that while I would do any job in government or none, I would not carry a title and responsibility if she chose to take the advice of others who took neither. That she accepted, but it was not long before I was moved to be chairman of the Conservative Party, where I had to put up with another pack of meddlers.

For me, the best parts of this book are not about the battles Margaret Thatcher was encouraged to pick with me over the motor industry, nor the hysteria generated within the entirely successful general election campaigns of 1983 and 1987, but those in which I was not a player.

Gorbachev was taken aback by her almost flirtatious approach

Above all, I was enthralled by Moore’s account of her early meetings with Gorbachev. She was still sore with President Reagan over the Falklands and the US invasion of Grenada in 1983, which perhaps prompted her to look more closely at this rising and rather unusual Russian. She was open-minded enough to see that Gorbachev was far more realistic than others in the Kremlin about the Soviet Union’s relative weakness, and the dangers of conflict with the West. He was taken aback by her hard line alternating with an almost flirtatious approach, and by her instinct for capturing the attention of ordinary people on her visits to Russia.

Moore also captures her frustration and anger when she realised in talks with China over the future of Hong Kong that it was the Chinese who held all the trump cards.

This book should have been subtitled “Uneasy Lies the Head that Wears the Crown”. For volume three, I would suggest: “Under the Great Oak, Acorns Seldom Grow”.

Margaret Thatcher Charles Moore cover

On Leadership–Rafidah Aziz

October 28, 2015

Former Trade Minister Rafidah Aziz is right to advocate a mindsetDin Merican@Rosler change to enable Malaysians to think critically, have a passion for learning, undertake research, open their minds to new ideas by love of reading. Malaysian have to become global citizens.

The question is where to begin? My simple answer is that we should not be spending millions of ringgits on producing glossy master plans and blueprints prepared by foreign consultants (like Mckinsey and others) , which are  not read and understood and implemented by our Ministers and civil servants.

Permandu CEO, Idris Jala should no longer talk about transformation of the Malaysian economy, while that is important; in stead he should make the re-education of our inept and self-serving ministers and top civil servants and timid GLC chief executives as matter of priority. We need ethical leadership so that we have the capacity to implement much-needed administrative and structural reforms.

ITT Harold GeneenOur Ministers, senior civil servants and others in business have to be taught to lead by example. We need competent individuals, men and women in leadership roles, be it politics, business, public administration, and academia, who are knowledgeable and respected for their character, intelligence and conceptual skills, not a bunch of apple polishers, sycophants and jaguh2 kampong (village champions), who cannot think beyond their narrow self interests.

If we wish to operate in the blue ocean, instead of navigating the Pahang River, then we should educate our politicians and civil servants on good governance and ethical leadership. Everything starts at the top. There must be cultural change if we are to be a respected member of a global community. Being a developed nation requires us to think beyond GNI/GDP terms.

Our politicians, civil servants and business leaders, as champions of the status quo, are major obstacles to change. We need enlightened leaders who understand what leadership means. To me, to be a leader one must have impeccable character imbued with a high sense to duty to our King and country. –Din Merican

Time to change Malaysian Mindsets, says Rafidah Aziz

by Jennifer Gomez

RafidahMalaysia must identify what has made it fall behind and determine whether such factors were reality or people’s perceptions, outspoken former minister Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz said today.

She said the country must take stock of what areas needed to be transformed, adding that transformation could not take place in conferences, seminars or laboratories.

“You must have a developed country that is matched by a society that can think forward, that is not lagging behind in terms of expectations of a developed country,” she told reporters after speaking at a conference by the Malaysian Institute of Accountants in Kuala Lumpur.

The former minister of international trade and industry added that mindsets needed to be transformed first, and that Malaysia had to move away from politicising important issues.

“Mindset moves everything.We are politicising education to the disadvantage of our future generation, we are politicising issues based on the racial divide. We are politicising issues based on the gallery we speak to which is very divisive, we are politicising issues, which are far removed from the good of the people and the country.”

Najib-Razak-and-Rosmah-Mansor-Thumb-DownAntithesis of Moral and Ethical Leadership

Rafidah has of late been vocal on social media about current issues affecting Malaysia, including the country’s political turmoil and lack of confidence towards the government.

She has urged national leaders to provide clear answers to alleged wrongdoing involving the government, and only yesterday said Malaysia, which once enjoyed rapid economic growth, needed to rebrand itself.

Rafidah today said the school system must also be revamped so that students were taught correct values such as integrity and honesty.

Asked about Budget 2016 meeting the targets of becoming a high-income nation, Rafidah said there should not be too much excitement about it, given that it was just financial planning for one year.

She said instead, there should be more concern about longer term strategies to move towards 2020.

“The budget is just an annual allocation of funds, collection of revenue and programmes and projects, residual from previous years.I am not concerned so much on the quantitative aspect, money spent and projects done. I’m more interested in the mindsets of the people.

“Are the mindsets oriented towards first world mindsets?Are we readying the young to be the workforce of the first world? Are we readying the young to be able to interact globally?” she asked, adding that there was only five years left to achieve this.

Human Rights Watch–Tun Dr. Mahathir blamed for current state of Malaysian Politics

October 27, 2015

Human Rights Watch–Tun Dr. Mahathir blamed for current state of Malaysian Politics

by T, Avineshwaran@

International non-governmental organisation Human Rights Watch (HRW) has taken a jab at Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. claiming that the former Prime Minister bears responsibility for the current state of political affairs in the country.

Human Rights Watch Asia Director Brad Adams said he was old enough to remember the Dr Mahathir years and the oppression he caused during his premiership.

Mahathir the Architect“Dr Mahathir used the Internal Security Act (ISA) and civil defamation. He and (former Singapore Prime Minister) Lee Kuan Yew decided that the best way to deal with political opponents was to bankrupt people, keep them in criminal proceedings so they are busy defending themselves and can not engage themselves in politics,” he said during the release of the HRW report titled “Creating a Culture of Fear: The Criminalisation of Peaceful Expression in Malaysia” at the Park Royal Hotel here Tuesday.

Adams said that Dr Mahathir upped the ante when he went after former Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. “He is the father of all this in Malaysia and for him to stand in public and complain about lack of freedom of speech or democracy is really unacceptable.He should just be quiet and apologise for what he has done,” said Adams.

Adams said that HRW was trying to arrange a meeting with the senior officials in the Attorney-General’s Chambers, Foreign Ministry and Prime Minister’s Department.

Kulup Najib“It should be a genuine conversation with them. I am sure the Foreign Affairs Ministry will advise us to stay out of the country’s internal affairs, but there is no such thing as internal affairs. We only believe universal human rights. When the Prime Minister took office in April 2009, he pledged to “uphold civil liberties” and “regard for fundamental rights of the people.However, things changed when the ruling coalition lost the popular vote in the 2013 general election,” he said.

The 143-page report documents the Government’s use of a range of broad laws to clamp down on peaceful expression, including debates on matters of public interest.The report also highlights alleged abuses of the legal process and looks into laws such as the Sedition Act, Printing Presses and Publications Act, Communications and Multimedia Act, Peaceful Assembly Act and several provisions of the Penal Code.