Principled Politics of our Time


September 25, 2016

 Principled Politics of Our Time

by Dr. Munir Majid

http://www.thestar.com.my

 

Image result for alain juppe

ALAIN Juppé may not be a household name in Malaysia but the principled politics of this former French Prime Minister (1995-1997) in his country’s fraught national environment is worthy of note.

Despite France’s reputation for being the most pessimistic nation on earth, he projects himself as a prophet of happiness. He attunes himself to the promise of a happy national identity.

He strongly argues the diverse and mixed society is not a threat to France. He is against calls for a ban on burkinis (a preferred swimming costume among Muslim women). He proclaims: “I won’t turn people in France against each other.” Notably, in the Islamophobic climate in France, he holds to the concept of integration against assimilation.

Juppe is not a starry-eyed idealist however. His clear integration carries fixed rules: charter of secularism, reorganise Islam in France to ensure French funding and preaching, firm line on immigration control with annual quotas set by Parliament.

For him: “The role of a political leader is not to add to the unhappiness of the times, or to darken the situation even more.”Juppé is a Gaullist, fighting against Nicolas Sarkozy to win nomination of his party, Les Republicans, for next spring’s presidential election.

Sarkozy is riding the wave of popular sentiment to win nomination by speaking out against Muslims, immigration and all things not lily-white.

Jean-Claude Juncker, perhaps better known in Malaysia as President of the European Commission, sees the need for better explanation of European values against blatant nationalism, the galloping populism that is gripping Europe.

The values of freedom, tolerance and democracy, and the rule of law are a high point for humanity which must be defended. In Britain, after Brexit, some segments of the populace have taken that vote as a democratic mandate for racism.

Polish people, one of the most hardworking in the country’s labour force, have been beaten and, in one case, murdered on the streets of Essex. As of last week there had been 31 attacks on Poles since the Brexit referendum: in Plymouth, Yeovil, St Ives, Harlow and Leeds, among others.

Image result for Juncker

Juncker is very clear the whole European polity must fight against discrimination and racism. The British Government and laws, of course, do not countenance these attacks.

But there is undoubtedly a strong undercurrent of intolerance and hate in much of Europe which not insignificant numbers of politicians are exploiting and whipping into huge waves of all possible illiberal tendencies.

There are brave, liberal and true politicians who are willing to stand against these waves, for the values of the liberal and tolerant order that recognises the total and full rights of all citizens, not a regime that reduces some of them to the status of semi-citizens, a regime that hounds them to the periphery of national life. People like Juppé and Juncker have a tough fight ahead. But they are in it.

In America we see the rise of Donald Trump as nominee of Abraham’s Lincoln’s party to be President. That is how close illiberalism and intolerance can get to the seat of power to wreak disastrous outcomes: this in America, but not forgetting Europe or anywhere else.

Image result for Trump the demagogue

There are grave dangers of Trump-style fear and demagoguery, and Nicolas Sarkozy’s hard-line brand of national-identity politics, surfing on a fear of Islam and cultural difference. Don’t forget, not too long ago Sarkozy was a respectable centrist politician and President of France. That is how strong the dangerous currents are.

Image result for colin powell on trump

Former Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell may call Trump “a national disgrace” and an “international pariah” (in a leaked email to a former aide in June) but his rise reflects what is happening in America as well.

What the Democratic Party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton calls the “basket of deplorables” – whether half or all of them – are his supporters, who are American. They are there ready to be turned into overt racists and jingoists by cleverly exploitative politicians like Trump.

There is an argument claiming these Trump supporters are the uneducated underclass – the lumpenproletariat – who have been under-served and under-provided in an economy of huge disparities of income and wealth. This may be so. But as many as half of them? Is American society that poor?

There are actually perfectly “normal and respectable” Americans ready to be had, to go down that racist, Islamophobic and jingoistic path. Quick to blame others. Fast on the draw to exaggerate and to caricature.

These are the people – and there are many of them in the American Congress – who have been against Barack Obama these past eight years he has been US President because he is black.

They have been driven by the power to show, even if a majority of Americans may support Obama, they can jam it and make it difficult, sometimes impossible, for him to do his job – not infrequently against America’s own interest.

These are the people who are so anti-Muslim just beneath the surface that they are quick when scratched to jump and point at the Islamist threat to America. On the other hand they do not see gun laws and the police shooting blacks as any threat to American society.

They are irrational. They are emotional. They are one plus one equals to two people. The type one plus one equals to two populist politicians lap up. Politicians with no principles. Politicians who do not understand the complexity of things.

It is all too easy to whip up xenophobia among them. Looking at all this from Asia, we have no cause to be complacent. Indeed, we have our own dark spots in many countries.

Image result for Najib Razak the Corrupt

Taking just Malaysia, we have to defend our democratic, liberal and tolerant tradition. If we allow our populist politicians to ride roughshod over it there will be hell to pay not too far down the road.

It is deeply disturbing the way “liberal” has been turned into a bad word. As if it meant licence and excess, and therefore has to be snuffed out. To be replaced by what? A plutocratic religious order?

Exhortations and many actions point to this. Whipping up a frenzy.It is also deeply disturbing that the consensus on a multi-racial and multi-religious society in Malaysia is being challenged by some quarters. Again, to put what in its place? A uniracial, monocultural polity?

These are big issues principled politicians should take a stand on – like Juppé and Juncker.

Individuals and commentators, and groups like the G25, can make their point, but even they are attacked for being “liberals” who know nothing about religion – by those who claim to know everything.

But even groups like the G25 and those from civil society will ultimately be ineffective if leaders in the formal political system do not take up their cause. Or they have to get into politics.

Let us remind ourselves. When we talk about Vision 2020 we must not just talk about the economic targets. All this was to happen in a country and society that was “democratic, liberal and tolerant.” In a system with “strong moral and ethical values.” Go back and read that statement in 1991 – and hopefully be revived.

Image result for Tun Ghazali Shafie and Rukun Negara

Our King and Rukun Negara

Go back to Rukun Negara in 1970. The aspirations and principles expressed for our society, even if just after the May 1969 racial riots.

Look at them closely: Belief in God; loyalty to King and country; democratic way of life; just society; liberal approach to rich and diverse cultural tradition; rule of law; good behaviour and morality.

They were strong expressions that go back to the Federal Constitution espoused by the two greatest political leaders this country has ever had – Tun Abdul Razak Hussein and Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman – both of whom had the strength of character and leadership to define the future, even as they sought to repair the damage done to the country in 1969.

Image result for Tun Razak and Tun Dr. Ismail

We owe it to them – and to ourselves – to make sure the country does not deteriorate. As we look at what is happening in our country, at what is happening in Europe, America and elsewhere in Asia, our politicians particularly must arrest populist tendencies and provide principled leadership to secure the future, and not just fight among themselves for the next piece of cake.

Tan Sri Munir Majid, chairman of Bank Muamalat and visiting senior fellow at LSE Ideas (Centre for International Affairs, Diplomacy and Strategy), is also chairman of CIMB Asean Research Institute.

Sarawak Report: Tarek Obaid Questioned


September 24, 2016

SARAWAK REPORT

Tarek Obaid Questioned In Saudi EXCLUSIVE

 

Tarek Obaid Questioned In Saudi EXCLUSIVE

Sarawak Report has learnt that Saudi Arabia has added to the list of countries taking an interest in investigating 1MDB, after the Saudi national and shareholder/director of PetroSaudi International, Tarek Obaid, was pulled in for questioning in recent days.

This will surprise those who have expressed the opinion that certain well-connected people related to 1MDB are ‘above the law’ in Saudi, as has appeared to have been the case so far in Malaysia.

Saudi Arabia has been placed in a delicate position by this scandal, ever since the Malaysian Prime Minister chose to claim that the $681 million and other sums which entered his accounts, were a ‘donation’ from an anonymous Saudi Royal.

One BBC report and a UK Telegraph article had indicated that (according to their sources) the ‘donor’ was Prince Turki a seventh son of the previous King Abdullah and co-founder of PetroSaudi.

The country’s Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir had originally given his opinion that this was unlikely to be the case. However, subsequently, during a diplomatic meeting and accompanied by the Malaysian Foreign Minister he told a Malaysian TV team that he now understood the donation to be true:

“We are aware of the donation and it is a genuine donation with nothing expected in return. We are also fully aware that the attorney-general of Malaysia has thoroughly investigated the matter and found no wrongdoing. So, as far as we are concerned, the matter is closed,”

Nevertheless, a recent US Department of Justice indictment has confirmed the longstanding suspicion that the money in fact originated from 1MDB.

PetroSaudi’s “story” – claimed official state backing for ‘Royal’ company

Enjoying the fruits - Obaid partied with fellow Saudis on board a yacht with nude women in July - scandalising Turkish media

Enjoying the fruits – Obaid partied with fellow Saudis on board a yacht with nude women in July – scandalising Turkish media

The Saudi incorporated company PetroSaudi has, of course, played a crucial role in the diversion of much of 1MDB’s missing cash, according to the evidence.

The DOJ referred heavily to the company’s active role, during what it calls the first “Good Star Phase” of the scheme to use 1MDB to steal billions of Malaysia’s public money.

In return for a massive injection of over $300 million into the $100,000 dollar company and also kickbacks sent by Jho Low to Tarek Obaid (initially $105 million), PetroSaudi agreed to ‘act as a front’ for the siphoning out of the rest of the $1.83 billion paid by 1MDB into their ‘joint venture project’.  That money was sent to companies owned by Jho Low, principally Good Star Limited.

The DOJ indictment refers to Obaid (the CEO of PetroSaudi) as having deliberately lied to banks and officials from 1MDB by saying that Good Star belonged to PetroSaudi, thus providing a cover for the misappropriation of the cash by Najib Razak’s nominee Jho Low. In particular the court filing cites an example where Obaid signed a false statement, which assisted Jho Low in siphoning a sum of $330 million into his Good Star account, which had been meant for the joint venture:

“On or about May 12, 2011, the 1MDB-PetroSaudi JV issued to 1MDB a Notice of Drawing (the “Notice”). The Notice was signed by the PETROSAUDI CEO on behalf of the 1MDB-PetroSaudi JV and requested that 1MDB transmit $330 million to the Good Star Account.

Obaid ‘PetroSaudi CEO’ later asked for the money to be sent to Good Star, proving he knew it was not part of the joint venture to which the money was supposed to have been sent:

“On or about May 25, 2011, the PETROSAUDI CEO sent 1MDB a letter on behalf of PetroSaudi and the 1MDB-PetroSaudi JV. This letter confirmed that the account at RBS Coutts in Switzerland had received the $30 million and the $65 million wires referenced in the table above. However, the PETROSAUDI CEO requested that 1MDB send to RBS Coutts a “SWIFT CLARIFICATION” explaining that the beneficiary of these wire transfers was actually “Account No. XXX.2000” (the Good Star Account) and not “Petrosaudi International Limited.”

Separately, it has also been revealed that Tarek Obaid sent a letter in 2015 to 1MDB officials, in order to support their claim to investigators in Malaysia saying that Good Star was a subsidiary of PetroSaudi, clearly now proved a lie.

May 2015 - Tarek wishes to confirm Good Star was owned by PetroSaudi, which the DOJ confirms was a lie

May 2015 – Tarek wishes to confirm Good Star was owned by PetroSaudi, which the DOJ confirms was a lie

Quasi Sovereign’/ ‘Ultimately owned by King Abdullah’

As the Saudi authorities scrutinise this rogue behaviour by their own national, they might also be interested in understanding exactly how the directors of this ‘royally related’ company were peddling its connections on the global stage, presenting PetroSaudi as a “quasi official’ arm of the state.

Indeed, 1MDB Executive Director Casey Tang had informed his board that the company was “ultimately owned by King Abdullah”, which was a lie.

Sarawak Report has been examining documents and emails showing how PetroSaudi’s two key directors, Tarek Obaid and the British/Swiss national Patrick Mahony presented the company to prospective business partners, including former UK Prime Minister and then Middle East envoy Tony Blair.

According to a document they sent to several major companies called “PSI [PetroSaudi International] Story’ the company enjoyed unique and semi-official status, given that Obaid’s fellow shareholder was a son of then King Abdullah. “Governments have been very welcoming to PSI because they feel they are working with a quasi-sovereign entity (given that it is a vehicle of the Saudi Royal Family)”, the document explains:

“PSI’s aim is to approach nations with strong ties to Saudi Arabia and use the friendly relationship with these governments to give it access to oil and gas reserves. Governments have been very welcoming to PSI because they feel they are working with a quasi-sovereign entity (given that it is a vehicle of the Saudi Royal Family) and one that understands them. So PSI has had privileged access to many hydrocarbon regions in the world

The prospectus, which was written in 2009 goes on to brag how this tiny shell company, which as yet barely operated any oil concerns at all, could use the muscle of Saudi Arabia to protect its interests, thanks again to its ‘quasi sovereign’ role:

“…many countries will get a company in but then bully it around once it is there and has sunk billions of dollars in the ground. This will not happen with PSI because these nations do not want to get on the wrong side of the Saudi Royal Family or the Kingdom (many of these countries depend on Saudi aid, they are fellow Muslim nations, etc.). Therefore a partnership with PSI is also good protection on investments made in what can often be difficult operating environments….  Furthermore PSI has full support from the Kingdom’s diplomatic corps when entering and operating in these countries.”

Was the Saudi Arabian Government and the King aware that this seventh prince and his pals were promoting their company in such a way, boasting of guaranteed access and state support?

Expand text

With such a pitch it is easy to see why the tiny company appeared to be the ideal front for the scammers managing 1MDB, in particular Jho Low, who sought to present their deal as a ‘state to state’ venture between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.

Image result for jho low

PetroSaudi sent Jho Low the story pitch shortly after they agreed to partner in early September 2009.

Mahony sent Jho Low the pitch

PSI Director Mahony sent Jho Low the pitch

Likewise, time and again the directors of PetroSaudi made in plain in their dealings with other companies that their primary asset was supposed ‘unique access’ and guaranteed backing from the crown and state of Saudi Arabia.

Leveraging Royal connections – ‘Access Capitalism’

This was how directors explained their company’s role to China’s Sinochem for a JV proposal in 2009:

“PSI shall be responsible for … leveraging the royal and political connections of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia available to PSI to obtain privileged access to O&G Projects in certain regions in the world….  PSI shall continue to leverage the above mentioned connections to closely manage the politics of the projects to facilitate their smooth operations…”.

And again in July 2010 to the team of Tony Blair, who agreed to become a consultant to PSI, seeking out investors and business partners, in return for $65,000 a month (and a 2% success fee), To Tony Blair Associates PSI explained that the attraction for business partners was the opportunity “to leverage off of the shareholders of PSI’s contacts to access government contracts in infrastructure and other areas in the Kingdom

The fact that PSI was making such claims of unique access and guarantees might come as a surprise to Government and Royal officials in Saudi Arabia.  They certainly didn’t want to broadcast what they were up to – the ‘PSI Story” insisted that their prospective partners needed to “understand the sensitivities around how PSI is leveraging off of the Kingdom’s relationships“.

Yet. in a pitch for investors into Venezuela in December 2009 they elaborated further on their business model:

PSI can capitalise on the political connections of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to get  advantaged access and provide the necessary drilling services…. Venezuela will have “support” from the most important oil producer in the world – KSA.” PSI explained in a power point presentation.

Don’t say Government to Government!

Sarawak Report has already reported the extent to which PetroSaudi were deeply nervous of making any such claims in public.

Image result for jho low

Najib had attempting to make full use of the supposed official connections of PetroSaudi when he was announcing the so-called Joint Venture with 1MDB in 2009 and insisted on the involvement of Prince Turki being included in publicity.  However, Tarek’s brother Nawaf (an official with a job in the Saudi Government) anxiously warned that the press statements must remove any reference to the venture being ‘Government to Government’ in the press releases.

“You have to say it is private” cautioned Nawaf, “as the Malaysians say their company is government!”

Tarek took his brother’s hint he added three words (in bold) to the draft press release

“PSI, based in Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia, is a private company mandated to carry out investments which can strengthen the relationships between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and key countries worldwide.”

Meanwhile, Mahony had expressed hope that the international press would not pick up at all on the PetroSaudi 1MDB joint venture announcement, plainly because it would raise eyebrows that such a tiny company had landed such a big deal amid so much fanfare raised by Najib regarding country to country relations between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.

Now officials back home are fully aware of the game being played by Obaid and his PetroSaudi colleagues, as they attempted to exploit their shareholder Prince to raise billions of investment on the promise of ‘access’ in Saudi Arabia. What action they take remains to be seen.

Brother Nawaf's warning email to PetroSaudi's Tarek Obaid at the announcement of the 1MDB joint venture

Brother Nawaf’s warning email to PetroSaudi’s Tarek Obaid at the announcement of the 1MDB joint venture.

A Trump Presidency possible: Preparing for Donald J. Trump


September 24, 2016

A Trump Presidency possible: Preparing for Donald J. Trump

Embassies that once assumed Clinton would win struggle to know what to expect from her rival

Image result for donald trump the next president of the united states

The End of Obama’s Neo-Liberalism–It was good while it lasted

Donald Trump’s September surge in the polls has set off alarm bells in capitals across Europe and Asia that are ill-prepared for a Republican victory in November.

Although he was barely present in New York this week as world leaders descended on the UN, the Republican candidate was a constant theme of conversation on the sidelines of this year’s General Assembly.

“Everyone is freaking out that he might actually win,” said one senior European official in New York this week. “It would make Brexit seem easy to deal with.”

Many governments in Europe, Asia and Latin America have been openly critical of some of Mr Trump’s foreign policy positions, with French president François Hollande going so far as to say last month that the Republican nominee “makes you want to retch”.

However, until recently they were working under the assumption that Hillary Clinton would win comfortably in the autumn. Now, with Mrs Clinton holding a lead of little over two points in the polls, they suddenly find themselves having to adjust to a very different election, where a Trump victory is at least a possibility.

“Until recently, the main question we were asking was what sort of impact the election rhetoric would have on a Clinton administration, in terms of trade deals, military intervention and so on. But the polls are telling us we have to at least seriously entertain the idea that he has a chance to win,” said one Australian official.

Image result for Can we trust Hillary Clinton

My Answer: Why not? She is no different from Mr Trump. It’s Politics–Din Merican

If Mr Trump’s views on Russia have been the most controversial aspect of his foreign policy approach in the US, in Europe and Asia it is his scathing criticism of traditional alliances that has garnered the most attention. At various stages in the campaign, the Republican candidate has suggested the US might not defend NATO allies and has said Washington should spend much less on defending Japan and South Korea.

Diplomats in Washington say that in the run-up to the Republican convention in July, representatives from the Trump campaign, including co-chairman Sam Clovis and then campaign manager Paul Manafort, told them that Mr Trump’s statements about America’s allies were less policy proposals and more opening statements in a negotiation.

In recent weeks, however, embassies in Washington have been receiving instructions to get a more precise understanding of the priorities of a Trump White House and who would be the senior officials in the administration.

“We have been told we need much more detailed planning about what a Trump administration would mean, the specific policies we should expect and who the key players would be,” said one Asian official. “But even at this stage, this is almost impossible to say.”

One of the complications in this election for foreign governments has been the rift between Mr Trump and large parts of the Republican foreign policy establishment, a section of which is openly supporting Hillary Clinton. Most of the small group of foreign policy advisers currently working with Mr Trump are much less well-known, giving diplomats in Washington little insight into the campaign’s thinking.

Mr Trump did receive some praise from the one leader who he met this week in New York, Egyptian president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, who said the Republican candidate would “no doubt” make a strong leader. Asked about Mr Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims entering the US, Mr al-Sisi said that “during election campaigns many statements are made and many things are said; however, afterwards, governing the country would be something different.”

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair warned on Tuesday about the consequences of the US pulling back from its global role in ways that Mr Trump has often proposed.

“Can you imagine the soccer game where the referee decides to go back in the changing room? The first few moments, everyone says that’s great, and they’re away. After a time, it’s chaos,” Mr Blair told a Reuters event in New York. He added that Mrs Clinton was someone of “enormous wisdom, common sense and integrity.”

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang took the diplomatic route. “No matter who gets elected, I believe China-US ties will grow steadily and in a positive direction,” he told the Economic Club of New York.

New Mindset required to uplift varsity standards


September 24, 2016

New Mindset required to uplift varsity standards, says my  Academic Friend, Dr. James Gomez@Bangkok University, Thailand

by Pratch Rujivanarom
The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/Universities-face-hard-test-to-lift-standards-30293472.html

Image result for Professor James Gomez
Bangkok University’s Dr. James Gomez
ACADEMICS have highlighted the challenges that higher education institutions within the region face in trying to meet international standards, including syllabus problems, system diversity, a lack of international staff and limited government support.

With the ASEAN Economic Community officially set up this year, improving the quality of education remains one of the community’s main goals.  This topic was the focus of a forum titled “Can Asean be a Global Higher Education Destination?” at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand recently.

Prof James Gomez from Bangkok University said many universities in ASEAN were restructuring to become international institutions to improve the quality of education and, more importantly, rebrand themselves to attract more students.

“Many university administrators chose internationalisation for increasing the university brand value, because it ensures the financial viability of the institutions by attracting more students,” Gomez said.

However, he said most universities usually directly translated syllabuses from the national language into English, so the curricula were not truly internationalised. He said another issue was that syllabuses were usually drafted by nationals, which resulted in a focus on issues particular to the home country instead of a truly international emphasis.

“From my experience in the field, most of the international university staff typically work in the language institutions or international colleges of the universities and are not stationed at the main faculties or executive positions that can guide the university’s policy,” he said.

Assoc Prof Nantana Gajaseni, Executive Director of the ASEAN University Network, said there was great diversity and disparity between educational systems in ASEAN states, so it was hard to harmonise a standardised system within the region.

‘Diversity makes credit transfers hard’

“The major challenge of internationalisation of higher education in Asean is the system diversity and quality recognition of the education. This disparity is making student and credit transfers among [ASEAN countries] and beyond the region hard,” Nantana said.

Gomez added that there was a lack of international staff in the region because of low salaries, the lack of research grants and government regulatory barriers. “There is the income gap between the rich countries in the region, such as Singapore and Malaysia, and the rest of the region. This income gap makes fewer international staff choose to work in these [lower-income] countries,” he said.

“Another barrier is the limitation of research grants. For instance, Malaysia limits applicants for its grants to Malaysian citizens only. Furthermore, consideration for research scholarships usually focuses on the national perspective only and it is hard for the researchers to apply for funds to study the international perspectives.”

Wesley Teter, UNESCO senior consultant for the Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education, related his experiences teaching in China, where government regulations could be a barrier for international staff. In his case, strict information restrictions imposed by the Chinese government made academic research more difficult, reducing the appeal for international researchers.

Nantana said another big problem for internationalisation was budgetary. She said high-income countries in the region such as Singapore and Brunei had an easier time encouraging the internationalisation of their universities, but for poorer countries the task was difficult.

“There are many problems from shortages of budgets in low-income countries such as the lack of infrastructure. Even in Thailand, the state has just let public universities rely on themselves to find revenue and does not grant governmental support anymore,” she said.

“However in my view, an abundant budget does not ensure quality education and successful internationalisation … I believe that the mindsets of university administrators and professors need to change as well to suit global education.”

Tunku Aziz glorifies crooked Rosmah Mansor at the expense of United Nations


September 21, 2016

This statement (below) smacks of sour grapism from the former UN Adviser on Ethics. What relevance has the decision by UNESCO to defer its decision to award for her work in countering extremism through an educational system initiated by Permata to do with US Foreign Policy and UN corruption, I wonder.

Tunku Aziz, in his capacity as MACC Commissioner, should look at corruption in our own backyard as typified by Rosmah Mansor and her pliable Prime Minister husband before commenting on the United Nations, his previous employer.

Image result for Tunku Aziz at The United Nations

I was told that Tunku Aziz was engaged by then Secretary-General Kofi Annan to be his ethics adviser as a favour to Tan Sri Razali Ismail, who was then President, United Nations General Assembly. Lord Mark Malloch Brown, Kofi Annan’s Deputy, ought to know  Tunku Aziz well.–Din Merican

“Datin Seri Rosmah has earned, by her dignified reaction, the admiration of right-thinking Malaysians who appreciate and value her commitment to the fight against violent extremism through the right system of education…World recognition of the sort we have just seen is not worth bothering about; the true reward is reflected in the well being and happiness of the children right here in Malaysia who are being given an opportunity to become good national and, by extension, world citizens. A thought has crossed my mind”.–Tunku Abdul Aziz 

 

Tunku Aziz  glorifies crooked Rosmah Mansor at the expense of United Nations

Corruption is no stranger to the UN System.

When I was appointed in 2006 as the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser, following a UN resolution to set up an Ethics Office at the UN Headquarters in New York, I began for the first time to realise the pervasiveness of corruption that had taken hold of this organisation in spite of Kofi Annan’s strenuous efforts.

The Iraq Oil for Food Programme was just one small example; there were others relating to the UN Peace-Keeping-Operations that would make the most laid-back and sanguine among us sit up and be jolted into a sense of outrage and indignation. It is institutional moral arrogance that is at the heart of the problem.

As far as the UN and its multifarious agencies are concerned, while corruption is not officially tolerated, confronting it seriously is discouraged as that might demoralise the staff numbering in their thousands.

That is the kind of argument that has sustained this unwieldy, arrogant and insufferably complacent organisation for much of its near irrelevant existence.

Image result for Rosmah Mansor

It is fair to say that the UN has given international organisations as a whole an unsavoury reputation. So, it came as no surprise to learn that in its typical bumbling, merry way, UNESCO, co-host of September 22, 2016 event since deferred to 2017 to honour Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor for her work in countering extremism through an educational system initiated by Permata that she set up in 2007, has seen fit to allow the advisory board of the organising committee to be swayed by what its chairman Professor Tudor Parfitt describes as “interventions” by the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.

Lest we forget, these were the self-same newspapers that proclaimed shrilly that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction even as a group of UN appointed weapons inspectors declared that no such weapons existed.

That did not stop Iraq being attacked by warmongering criminal George Bush.

The consequences of the US war, sanctified by nothing more compelling than rotten lies and subterfuge were, in the event, counted in the millions of innocent Iraqi victims.

Look around the Muslim world to see what American democracy has done.

Image result for Rosmah Mansor

The decision to review the award to Datin Seri Rosmah is a sad commentary on the credibility of Professor Tudor Parfitt and his committee. They are pathetically malleable and easily persuaded to take this ethically unprecedented action on pure speculative, unsubstantiated reports by two newspapers whose less than rigorous professional standards are a matter of international public record.

Image result for irina bokova unesco

The decision to review the award to Datin Seri Rosmah is a sad commentary on the credibility of Professor Tudor Parfitt and his committee. They are pathetically malleable and easily persuaded to take this ethically unprecedented action on pure speculative, unsubstantiated reports by two newspapers whose less than rigorous professional standards are a matter of international public record.

My brickbat is reserved for UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, UN Secretary-General aspirant, whose diplomatic skills are in serious question as a result of her inept handling of this affair, and her judgment is highly suspect.

I very much doubt whether she will ever have the moral authority to lead the world organisation by standing up, like Kofi Annan did, to US bullying.

I suppose she has come from the same mould as the outgoing Mr Ban, the man who has led a moribund UN during his unremarkable leadership.

Bokova who has shown a complete lack of sound diplomatic skills cannot surely be entrusted to carry out the duties of the world’s most difficult diplomatic job.

Datin Seri Rosmah has earned, by her dignified reaction, the admiration of right-thinking Malaysians who appreciate and value her commitment to the fight against violent extremism through the right system of education.

World recognition of the sort we have just seen is not worth bothering about; the true reward is reflected in the well being and happiness of the children right here in Malaysia who are being given an opportunity to become good national and, by extension, world citizens. A thought has crossed my mind.

If UNESCO is so fastidious about how kosher the funding of Permata is, then maybe, just maybe, the United Nations Organisation would wish to reject Malaysia’s annual assessed contribution. Just a thought as I said.

Malaysia Outlook

 

Listen to the Brilliant Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore


September 19, 2016

Listen to the Brilliant Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore

I admire and respect Singapore’s  Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam for his intellect, eloquence  and  leadership. He is a living example of what a meritocratic society can produce, irrespective one’s race, colour, religion  and political bent. It is a culture of integrity and competence that makes Singapore what it is today. Malaysia pales by comparison.

DPM Tharman’s official resume (below) is impressive.–Din Merican

The Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore

Home

DPM Tharman has served as Deputy Prime Minister in the Singapore Cabinet since May 2011. He was also appointed Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies on 1 Octöber 2015. He is in addition Chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), Singapore’s central bank and financial regulator.

He has spent his career in public service, in roles mainly around economic policy and education. He served as Minister for Finance for eight years, over 2007- 2015. He was Minister for Education for five years, over 2003-2008. He spent much of his earlier professional life at the MAS, where he was the Managing Director before entering politics in 2001.

Among his current responsibilities, he leads the Skills Future initiative, which seeks to build the skills of the future among Singaporeans, and empower them to learn at every stage of life.

He was appointed by his international peers as Chairman of the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC), the key policy forum of the IMF, for an extended period of four years from 2011, and was its first Asian chair. He is also a member of the Group of Thirty, an independent global council of leading economic and financial policy-makers and academics.

He chairs the International Academic Advisory Panel that advises the Government on strategies for the university sector. In addition, he chairs the International Advisory Council of the Singapore Economic Development Board.

Besides his responsibilities in Government, he chairs the Board of Trustees of the Singapore Indian Development Association (SINDA), which seeks to uplift educational performance and aspirations in the Indian Singaporean community. He also chairs the Ong Teng Cheong Labour Leadership Institute.

He was first elected as a Member of Parliament in 2001 in Jurong GRC, and has been reelected three times since. He was elected to the Central Executive Committee of the People’s Action Party in 2002, and was appointed 2nd Assistant Secretary-General in 2011.

He did his schooling in Singapore, before studying at the London School of Economics and Cambridge University for undergraduate and masters degrees in Economics. He later obtained a masters in Public Administration at Harvard University, where he was named a Lucius N Littauer Fellow.

He is an Honorary Fellow of the London School of Economics. He was also made the fifth Honorary Fellow of the Economic Society of Singapore, in  2010.

Married to Jane Yumiko Ittogi, a lawyer by background and now actively engaged in community work and the non-profit arts sector. They have a daughter and three sons.

Copyright @ The Government of Singapore. All rights reserved.