The Sum of All Brexit Fears


December 29, 2018

The Sum of All Brexit Fears

The Leavers lied: The costs of withdrawing from the European Union were always destined to outweigh the benefits. Alas, the responsible, imaginative, and inclusive political leadership needed to minimize the damage is nowhere in sight.

 

LONDON – Day after day, week after week, most British citizens think that the turmoil over their country’s proposed exit from the European Union cannot get any worse. But, without fail, it does. Turmoil turns into humiliating chaos; a political crisis threatens to become a constitutional crisis.

Meanwhile, the date of the United Kingdom’s departure from the EU gets closer. It is fewer than 100 days until the UK leaves, and at the moment there is no deal in sight that is acceptable to both Parliament in Westminster and the European Commission and European Council in Brussels.

The problem began with the 2016 referendum vote to leave. Unfortunately, despite plotting and planning for this outcome for years, Leavers had no idea what quitting the EU would actually entail. Their campaign was rife with delusions and dishonesty. Leaving, they said, would mean a financial bonanza, which the UK would inject into its National Health Service. Negotiating a trade deal with the EU after departure would be easy. Other countries around the world would queue up to make deals with Britain. All lies.

The Brexit talks themselves, when they finally began, were hampered by the incompetence of the ministers put in charge. The UK’s negotiators were long on ideological certainty and short on workable solutions.

Moreover, the red lines that Prime Minister Theresa May laid down at the very beginning made their work more difficult. We must not only leave the EU, she argued, but also the single market and the customs union. We could not accept any jurisdiction by the European Court of Justice. We must be able to end the freedom of European citizens to come to the UK to staff our hospitals, pick our crops, fill gaps in our professional services, and increase our prosperity.

One of the central problems to emerge from this mish-mash of nonsense was how to avoid re-establishing a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland if the UK stayed within May’s red lines. Such a border would (as the head of Northern Ireland police noted) jeopardize the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which brought peace to Northern Ireland after three decades of violence.

Recent negotiations have stalled on this point, because a successful outcome must square a circle. Britain has already accepted that Northern Ireland will have to stay in the customs union until the UK has concluded a long-term trade deal with the EU. Until then, there will have to be an insurance policy – a “backstop” – against possible failure. But hard-liners within May’s Conservative Party, and Democratic Unionist MPs from Northern Ireland, on whom May depends for her parliamentary majority, will accept only a backstop with a time limit, which is no real “stop” at all.

At the root of May’s difficulties is a simple truth that she and others are unwilling to accept. It is well-nigh impossible to negotiate an exit deal that is both in the national interest and acceptable to the right-wing English nationalists in her party. This became crystal clear during a grim week for the government earlier this month.

After May and her advisers concluded that the exit deal she had negotiated with the EU would be defeated in Parliament by a large majority, they suspended the debate before voting took place. May then announced that she was going to talk to other EU presidents and prime ministers to get the sort of reassurances that might satisfy her right-wing critics.

Those critics have operated increasingly like a party within a party. Halfway through May’s frantic diplomatic safari, they announced that they had gathered enough support to trigger a vote of no confidence in her leadership of the Conservative Party. She won the vote with about two-thirds support, but with her authority badly dented.

Capping an awful week, European ministers made clear that they were not prepared to reopen the agreement with Britain to renegotiation. They could offer “best endeavours” and “good will,” but no more.

So what happens next? May’s supporters think she is determined; others reckon she is simply obstinate and blind to reason. She has continued to put off any debate on her own proposals. Critics say she is trying to push any vote as close to the exit date as possible, in order to pressure MPs to support her plan. “Back my plan or face the disaster of no deal,” she seems to be saying. “Support me or we’ll jump off the cliff.”

But pressure is building for Parliament to take control of the process and work through a more acceptable range of options. Is there a majority in favor of May’s deal? Is Parliament totally opposed to crashing out of Europe with no deal? Should we seek a Norway-style relationship with Europe and aim to stay in both the single market and the customs union, at the cost of continuing to accept free movement of workers? Should we try to postpone the date of our EU departure until we have sorted out what exactly we want? Should there be another referendum, passing the final decision back to the people?

A fog of political uncertainty hangs over Britain after Christmas. Only four things seem clear. First, the Conservative Party will have growing difficulty accommodating its fanatical English nationalist wing. Second, to save the UK from disaster, Parliament will have to get a grip on the process. Third, life outside the EU will, in any case, leave Britain poorer and less influential in the world. And, lastly, whatever the outcome, Brexit will be a divisive issue for years to come.

The Brexiteers lied. The costs of leaving the EU were always destined to outweigh the benefits. Alas, the responsible, imaginative, and inclusive political leadership needed to minimize the damage is nowhere in sight.

Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong and a former EU commissioner for external affairs, is Chancellor of the University of Oxford.

Marina roasts Lim Kok Wing over his tweet in support of Mahathir


December 29,2018

Marina roasts Lim Kok Wing over his tweet in support of Mahathir

ttps://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2018/12/29/marina-roasts-lim-kok-wing-over-his-tweet-in-support-of-mahathir/

PETALING JAYA: Vocal activist Marina Mahathir today rebuked Lim Kok Wing over his tweet supporting Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, after previously telling the senior politician to “shut up to protect his legacy”.

The renowned educationist had today tweeted that Mahathir was “absolutely right in saying that we just need to set our hearts and minds on achieving greater goals to be a great nation”, tagging Mahathir, Education Minister Maszlee Malik and Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman in the tweet.

In a reply two hours later, Marina, who is Mahathir’s daughter, called on Lim to stop what he was doing in buttering up the prime minister.

 

Do stop it @limkokwing! Where were you last year? Who was it who told Dad to shut up to ‘preserve his legacy’?

“The point is, would he have (apologised) if we hadn’t won GE14? Hmmmm?” she asked in her tweet.

Lim had, in May 2015, been appointed as Najib’s public relations campaign coordinator.

His appointment, believed to be to help burnish Najib’s image, was announced amid the 1MDB scandal, which had put Najib under the spotlight for alleged corruption.

Mahathir had, in a blog post without mentioning names, said a friend had attempted to persuade him to cease criticising Najib. He blogged that the friend had warned that if he continued doing so, he would lose his legacy.

Marina Mahathir, who is Mahathir’s daughter, calls on Lim Kok Wing to stop what he is doing in buttering up the Prime Minister.

PETALING JAYA: Vocal activist Marina Mahathir today rebuked Lim Kok Wing over his tweet supporting Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, after previously telling the senior politician to “shut up to protect his legacy”.

The renowned Bodekist had today tweeted that Mahathir was “absolutely right in saying that we just need to set our hearts and minds on achieving greater goals to be a great nation”, tagging Mahathir, Education Minister Maszlee Malik and Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman in the tweet.

In a reply two hours later, Marina, who is Mahathir’s daughter, called on Lim to stop what he was doing in buttering up the prime minister.

“Do stop it @limkokwing! Where were you last year? Who was it who told Dad to shut up to ‘preserve his legacy.

’If PH hadn’t won, would you have snuck into our house uninvited at Raya to apologise? Just stop it,” she tweeted using her handle @netraKL.

Image result for lim kok wing

A Twitter user @jonathanfun then pointed out that most businessmen had “behaved the same way” under former Prime Minister Najib Razak’s term in office and then switched sides after Barisan Nasional fell, citing the case of AirAsia boss Tony Fernandes.

Marina replied the tweet by saying that Lim was “one of the worst”, and that she “couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw him skulking about our kitchen… #cantstandbullshit”.

“Tbelieved to be to help burnish Najib’s image, was announced amid the 1MDB scandal, which had put Najib under the spotlight for alleged corruption.

Mahathir had, in a blog post without mentioning names, said a friend had attempted to persuade him to cease criticizing Najib. He blogged that the friend had warned that if he continued doing so, he would lose his legacy.

 

An Appraisal : Amos Oz, a Writer Who Loved the Dream of Israel and Charted Its Imperfect Reality


December 28, 2018

By Gal Beckerman

 

Israel, born out of a dream, a yearning, and then forced to face, for better or worse, what reality brings, found in Amos Oz a writer who combined both the country’s essential idealism and the ability to see the cracked nature of what had been wrought.

Mr. Oz, who died on Friday at the age of 79, was Israel’s most significant cultural ambassador for nearly 50 years, perennially mentioned as a candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature. But what he most proudly championed was modern Hebrew itself, the form of the language that Zionism revived. Mr. Oz never stopped professing an enduring love for its mongrel qualities. He thrilled at the chance to work in a tongue that had deep biblical references embedded in the root of nearly every word, but that also borrowed heavily from Yiddish, Russian, English and Arabic.

This new-old language was the perfect vehicle for the role Mr. Oz came to embody, a sort of sociologist and psychologist of the Israeli soul. “I bring up the evil spirits and record the traumas, the fantasies, the lunacies of Israeli Jews, natives and those from Central Europe,” Mr. Oz said in a 1978 interview with The Times. “I deal with their ambitions and the powderbox of self-denial and self-hatred.”

His biography suited him well for this job — he was in many ways the quintessential new Jew that Zionism had hoped to create. As a teenager, he left Jerusalem on his own, changed his last name from Klausner to Oz, which means courage in Hebrew, and moved to a kibbutz, one of the socialist farming communities where Israelis lived out their truest fantasies of cultivating themselves and the land to become robust and hearty.

Inspired by “Winesburg, Ohio,” Sherwood Anderson’s collection of realist stories about small-town life, Mr. Oz began writing in his twenties about the characters he saw around him in his kibbutz. Those stories eventually made up his first collection, “Where the Jackals Howl,” published in 1965. Anderson, he would later say, “showed me that the real world is everywhere, even in a small kibbutz. I discovered that all the secrets are the same — love, hatred, fear, loneliness — all the great and simple things of life and literature.”

As a writer, Mr. Oz kept returning to the rural, communal life of the kibbutz in a spare, modernist style that focused on the complexities of interpersonal relations, from his 1973 novel, “Elsewhere, Perhaps,” to his 2013 story collection, “Between Friends.”

But his breakthrough, both in Israel and internationally, was a far more psychological work, “My Michael,” a 1972 novel, his first book to be translated into English. It is told from the perspective of Hannah Gonen, a young woman misunderstood by, and alienated from, her husband. Mr. Oz follows her sexual obsessions, which seem to emerge from a need to be seen — creating a sort of “Madame Bovary” set against the backdrop of white Jerusalem stone. Hannah describes one moment early in her relationship with Michael, her then-boyfriend, when he unbuttoned his coat and drew her inside it to the warmth of his body: “He felt very real. So did I. I was not a figment of his thoughts, he was not a fear inside me.”

Mr. Oz’s masterpiece is his 2004 memoir, “A Tale of Love and Darkness.” It was unlike anything he had ever written, telling the story of his own coming of age in Jerusalem with precision and brutal honesty. He captured the mystical air of the city, how it was transformed with the birth of the state, his own bookish youth and his mother’s depression, which led to her suicide when Mr. Oz was 12. In the memoir, he remembers his mother telling him: “I think you will grow up to be a sort of prattling puppy dog like your father, and you’ll also be a man who is quiet and full and closed like a well in a village that has been abandoned by all its inhabitants. Like me.”

It’s an extraordinary book that will endure as one of the greatest works in modern Hebrew. In many ways, through this memoir, Mr. Oz perfected what he had tried to do again and again in his fiction — to capture the coming together of the personal and the political, with neither of the two elements suffering from the collision.

Mr. Oz’s politics defined him to the international audience he often dazzled with his metaphors to explain the conflict (“the only solution is turning the house into two smaller apartments”; “I would say that the patient, Israeli and Palestinian, is unhappily ready for surgery, while the doctors are cowards”). He became a critic of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza following the Six-Day War, and was a mainstay of the left who insistently argued, in essays and opinion pieces and speeches, that the only solution to the conflict with the Palestinians was to create two states for two peoples.

Given how he envisioned the future of his country, his voice became an increasingly marginalized one in Israel in recent years, even as his stature continued to grow around the world. The native-born, kibbutz-influenced, adamantly secular, left-leaning Israelis of European descent who dominated Israel throughout much of Mr. Oz’s life have had to make way for Sephardic and Russian Jews, and the Orthodox, putting Mr. Oz increasingly in the position of an aging lefty, a prophet with fewer people willing to listen to him in his own country.

In his last novel, “Judas,” shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, he explored, by revisiting the story of the New Testament traitor, what exactly it means to be out of step with your own society. “Anyone willing to change will always be considered a traitor by those who cannot change and are scared to death of change and don’t understand it and loathe change,” he told me when I interviewed him in 2016. He felt himself a man possessed of moral clarity but denigrated for it in a country that could not make the difficult decisions he thought were necessary.

For all his frustrations with Israeli society and its direction, he was always an optimist, a man who had gone all in on the Zionist experiment and saw no reason to believe that perfection was ever on offer.

In his final essay collection, “Dear Zealots,” published at the end of last year, he wrote that he was, “afraid of the fanaticism and the violence, which are becoming increasingly prevalent in Israel, and I am also ashamed of them.” But this didn’t get in the way of his love of Israel. “I like being Israeli. I like being a citizen of a country where there are eight and a half million prime ministers, eight and a half million prophets, eight and a half million messiahs. Each of us has our own personal formula for redemption, or at least for a solution. Everyone shouts, and few listen. It’s never boring here.”

A version of this article appears in print on of the New York edition with the headline: Writer Who Grasped Depths of the Israeli Soul. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

 

And the newsmaker of 2018 is…


December 28, 2018

And the newsmaker of 2018 is…

Image result for The Malaysian People

https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/458052

Published:  |  Modified:

 

POLL | Over the past 18 years, Malaysiakini has without fail named a top newsmaker as we bring the curtain down on the year.

A newsmaker is defined as “someone whose actions make news headlines, who effects the course of public discourse and creates an impact in Malaysian politics, for better or worse”.

Malaysiakini has nominated 15 candidates for the Newsmaker of 2018 award.

A total of 3,445 participated in the seven-day poll. They voted by indicating their preference for each of the nominees – 0 being the lowest and 10 the highest.

And here’s their verdict…

https://pages.malaysiakini.com/topnews2018/en/newsmakers.html

Yesterday: Top 10 news of 2018 – Malaysiakini readers’ choice

Previous newsmakers

2017 – Mahathir Mohamad

2016 – MO1

2015 – Mahathir Mohamad

2014 – Passengers and crew of MH370 and MH17

2013 – Rosmah Mansor

2012 – Ambiga Sreenevasan

2011 – Bersih supporters

2010 – Ibrahim Ali

2009 – Teoh Beng Hock

2008 – YOU

2007 – VK Lingam

2006 – Mahathir Mohamad

2005 – Joint award – Rafidah Aziz and Mahathir Mohamad

2004 – S Samy Vellu

2003 – Husam Musa

2002 – Zainuddin Maidin

2001 – Rais Yatim