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

April 25, 2015

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

by Koh Jun Lin@www.malaysiakini.com

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

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

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

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

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

Stagnant when religious orthodoxy ruled

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

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

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

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

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

The ASEAN Non-Alignment Option

April 25, 2015

Between a Rock and a Hard Place: The ASEAN Non-Alignment Option

by John Teo@www.nst.com.my

AS the annual ASEAN Summit opens in Kuala Lumpur this weekend, there is a certain sense ofASEAN Summit KL 2015 foreboding about where the world is headed and ASEAN — which is often described as the most successful regional grouping in the developing world — along with it. This comes on the heels of the commemorative Afro-Asian Summit that Indonesia just hosted. It is a throw-back to the era of Sukarno, when the country’s first President fancied his country (and himself) a leading light of the emerging “Third” World.

A newly democratising Indonesia must now look towards the future. And, that future surely means ASEAN retaining its centrality in the wider region, with Indonesia as its natural “first among equals”, propelling ASEAN’s economic dynamism to a higher plane, so it remains the fulcrum through which critical regional issues are coursed.

ASEAN must zealously safeguard its position as a critical region in an increasingly critical part of the world, where the interests of rising and existing global superpowers may soon intersect. Nobody now questions the rise of China, and while whether the United States is on a trajectory towards absolute decline is still debated on, there is also no question that China’s rise has already meant the relative decline of US global influence. It is absolutely crucial that ASEAN plays right this coming contest for regional and, indeed, global influence between China and the US.

Obama and XiThe two global giants seem determined to make everyone else choose, so there will likely be no easy middle path that traditionally is how ASEAN saves its own skin to live another day. It has been successful till now by taking this default position and it seems still a good position going forward, if ASEAN can negotiate the tricky tightrope. The eye-watering sums in the region of US$50 billion (RM181 billion) that China has just announced it will channel to strategic, but violence-wracked Pakistan are a foretaste of China’s increasingly unbeatable economic sway worldwide.

How much more will China be prepared to commit to an equally, if not more strategic, Southeast Asia right in its own backyard? But, if China is increasingly able and willing to buy its way into the hearts of countries the world over, will an increasingly wary and, perhaps, even insecure US — unable to match Chinese economic diplomacy — seek to throw a spanner in the works instead?

China is not gaining itself unalloyed favours with its newly expansive territorial claims in the South China Sea that overlap those of several ASEAN states, including Malaysia’s, and backing up those claims with building activities that create new facts in the disputed sea. In so doing, China may have already succeeded in driving a wedge into the very heart of ASEAN, making its maritime territorial contests a diplomatic minefield that every succeeding ASEAN chairman must delicately negotiate at each summit meeting.

ASEAN will do itself no favours either if it falls one way or the other for the equally delicate dance for influence that the US and China are performing and trying to get ASEAN, or bits of it, to join in lock-step. Ironically, diplomatic non-alignment — the by-product of Afro-Asian solidarity — may have fallen by the wayside with the end of the Cold War, but its spirit may yet prove rather useful now for ASEAN in the opposing offensives that both China and the US deploy to gain friends. Seeking cover under “international” rules and norms may be a safe default position for ASEAN under normal circumstances, but we cannot be under any illusion that global rules are written by powerful nations, usually after victories in wars. The US flouts such rules when it suited the country — even when those rules were largely written at its behest — so rules apply to lesser countries and not necessarily the powerful ones, such as China.

Huge White, the Australian strategic thinker, arguing for the US to “share power” in the region with China in his book, The China Choice, writes that China has willingly accepted US primacy in this region “for as long as Beijing believes that it works for China, and no longer”. He further argues that as China’s rise reaches a tipping point, preserving US regional primacy becomes increasingly untenable. Until and unless such Sino-American strategic “rebalancing” happens, ASEAN’s best policy should remain with its time-tested hedging. Thus, while high-principled clarity out of this latest ASEAN Summit on dealings with the major powers may make its unsurprising appearance, the muddied waters of the South China Sea may not become clearer soon.

The writer is a Kuching-based journalist

Read More : http://www.nst.com.my/node/81554

Stop flattering Najib, Envoy Zahrain told

April 23, 2015

Stop flattering Najib, Envoy Zahrain told

 by FMT Reporters

He should stick to diplomacy and stay out of politics, says Khairuddin Abu Hassan.

Zahrain Hashim khairuddin abu hassanPETALING JAYA: A former UMNO official has denounced the Malaysian Ambassador to Indonesia, Zahrain Hashim, for issuing a public statement in defence of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s allegedly lavish lifestyle.

“He has crossed the line that separates diplomacy from politics in his eagerness to flatter Najib,” said Khairuddin Abu Hassan, who was recently sacked from his position as Vice Chairman of the Batu Kawan UMNO division.

Zahrain, in an interview with Utusan Malaysia, reacted to a magazine article about the spending habits of Najib and his wife, Rosmah Mansor, by implying that they could afford an expensive lifestyle because the Prime Minister is of upper-class birth.

Khairuddin said in a press statement today that Zahrain seemed oblivious of the current political developments in the country and the moral issues being raised in connection with questions regarding Najib’s suitability as Prime Minister and Umno President.

“Perhaps Zahrain is forgetful,” he said. “Recently, Najib’s brothers issued a statement defending their father, former prime minister Tun Razak Hussein, from any insinuation that he accumulated wealth during his tenure.”

The statement from Najib’s brothers came after the New York Times quoted the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) as saying: “Neither any money spent on travel, nor any jewellery purchases, nor the alleged contents of any safes are unusual for a person of the Prime Minister’s position, responsibilities and legacy family assets.” The PMO’s statement was a response to questions about Rosmah’s spending.

“Even if the Prime Minister comes from a noble family with a lot of money,” Khairuddin said, “he must, if he wants to be an effective and successful leader, display a moderate lifestlye. That would be more in keeping with Malay culture. The Malays look highly upon people of high birth who live moderately.

“Unfortunately, some UMNO leaders have forgotten this. They love to exhibit a lavish lifestyle. Such ostentation has invited all kinds of negative perceptions among the rakyat.”

Khairuddin reminded Zahrain that he used to be a member of PKR, whose leaders would often criticise UMNO leaders for their extravagance.

“I hope Dato Seri Zahrain would focus only on his responsibilities as our Ambassador to Indonesia and restrain himself from getting involved in Malaysia’s domestic politics,” he said.

Khairuddin also took issue with Zahrain’s insinuation that one of former premier Mahathir Mohamad’s son, Mokhzani, got rich by taking advantage of his father’s position. He said Mahathir’s children found success after decades of hard work. “They did not become rich in their youth,” he added.

Khairuddin, who shot to fame with his Police and MACC reports against 1MDB, is seen as aligned to Mahathir’s camp. He has become a frequent critic of the Najib administration, occasionally releasing press statements in his individual capacity.

In today’s statement, he referred to the current political battle between Mahathir and Najib, claiming that the ex-premier’s criticisms were motivated by a sincere wish to ensure that voters would continue to support UMNO and Barisan Nasional.

TEMPO stands firm on the Najib-Rosmah Article

April 23, 2015

COMMENT: You cannot expect TEMPO, a respected magazine in Indonesia, to stand down on its article on Najib-Rosmah’s lavish spending habits. 

The magazine is known since the days of Goenawan Mohamad to be fiercely independent and thorough in its reporting. I feel sorry for our Ambassador to Indonesia Dato Seri Zahrain Hashim  who has to defend our first couple, now in Bandung to  attend the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Asia- Africa Conference.

Goenawan (right) is the founder and editor of Tempo (“Time”) magazine in Indonesia, which wasGoenawan M of Tempo twice forcibly closed by the Suharto‘s New Order administration because of its vocal criticism of the authoritarian regime. In 1999, Mohamad was named International Editor of the Year by World Press Review magazine. In 1998, he was one of four winners of the CPJ International Press Freedom Awards, and in 2006 he received the Dan David Prize award. The World Press Review awarded him its International Editor of the Year Award in 1999 (wikipedia).

It is fortunate that TEMPO did not report on the missing rm27billion in 1MDB.  Read http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/296182  –Din Merican

TEMPO stands firm on the Najib-Rosmah Article


Purwanto SetiadiIndonesia’s premier current affairs magazine Tempo is standing by their article on Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor’s lavish lifestyle entitled ‘Hidup mewah sang perdana menteri’.Tempo senior editor, Purwanto Setiadi (left), said the magazine believes its sources for the story and although from secondary means, they (the sources) were vetted carefully before the said article was published.

“Like previously, we choose our sources (of the news) carefully. As of today, we believe in the source which was used,” he said when contacted by Malaysiakini.

Purwanto, who is the magazine’s editor for international news, was commenting on Malaysian Ambassador to Indonesia Zahrain Mohamed Hashim’s statement that he wanted to meet Tempo editors to correct alleged misconceptions contained in the article. Purwanto, who is also on Tempo‘s editorial board,  pointed out their article had also quoted the Malaysian Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) as dismissing the sources for the article as used by Tempo.

However, Purwanto said if Zahrain or the Malaysian government had other versions, Tempo was open to publishing it.

Step-son’s luxury properties

Zahrain, Purwanto added, was welcome to visit the magazine’s office again, his second visit after a recent one. “It is an honour if he comes occasionally,” said the senior editor.

Tempo had reported on the lavish lifestyle of Najib and Rosmah in a special issue following the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Asia- Africa Conference currently being held in Banding, Indonesia for which Najib flew in today to attend. The write-up touched on Rosmah’s (centre above) penchant for luxury handbags and jewellery, and Najib’s step-son Riza Aziz’s wealth used to purchase luxury properties in the US. The article also mentioned Rosmah’s RM1,200 hairdo expense.

26th ASEAN Summit hosted by Malaysia is a logistical nightmare

April 22, 2015

Published: Wednesday April 22, 2015 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Wednesday April 22, 2015 MYT 7:20:00 AM

26th ASEAN Summit hosted by Malaysia is a logistical nightmare

by S Paul

ASEAN SUMMIT KE-26I READ with concern the report “Tale of two locations at this ASEAN Summit” (The Star, April 21). [Read http://www.thestar.com.my/Opinion/Columnists/Mergawati/Profile/Articles/2015/04/21/Tale-of-two-locations-at-this-Asean-summit/ ]

Malaysia is playing host to the 26th ASEAN Summit this weekend. All the previous 25 ASEAN AnifahAman2summits were held in one location but Malaysia has chosen to be different. The said meeting will be held both in Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi, which is giving everyone a massive headache.

In these trying times, the Government has time and again pleaded with the rakyat to be frugal and advised us to spend prudently. At the same time, the Government should “walk the talk”. Hence, I cannot understand why the Foreign Affairs Ministry has chosen to incur unnecessary expenditure not only for its officials but also the members of the other ASEAN delegations, media personnel and the ASEAN Secretariat personnel.

 Mind you, some 3,000 officials and secretariat staff will be involved in the summit so one can imagine the cost, as well as the inconvenience, in moving from one location to another. The Foreign Ministry owes the rakyat an explanation.


Make Malaysia and the World a Better Place for us and Humanity

April 20, 2015

Make Malaysia and the World a Better Place for us and Humanity

I thought I should begin this Monday with a remainder from the Late Michael Jackson to our leaders and politicians that they have a sacred duty to make our country a better place for all. If they can do that, Malaysia can contribute to making the world a better place.

There are many of us still living in a state of poverty; with billions of ringgit spent of education, we are still denied good schools for our children and grandchildren. They make big bucks for themselves, live lavishly and burden wage earners with taxes including the latest  being GST. We here deserve a better deal.

Najib-Razak-Hopeless-ObamaPrime Minister Najib Tun Razak should not forget that we did well during the era of his illustrious father, Tun Abdul Razak Hussein.  He, on the other hand, is messing up our country in a big way.–Din Merican