‘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.

Daunting times for Malaysia


April 24, 2015

Daunting times for Malaysia

By Leslie Lopez / Kuala Lumpur of The Edge Review

Najib Vs MahathirMalaysia’s risk profile is rising fast as controversy over the government’s debt-freighted sovereign wealth fund continues to snowball. Stability fears are growing amid concerns over Prime Minister Najib Razak’s hold on power, fragility in the economy and tensions among Malaysia’s multi-racial population over religious issues.

The problems combine to make the country Southeast Asia’s biggest trouble spot after post-coup Thailand, struggling under draconian military rule.  But the main focus remains the months-old controversy swirling around 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), a brainchild of Najib that is saddled with a debt of more than RM42 billion (US$11.62 billion).

The fund is struggling to service this huge debt load and analysts say any default on its borrowings, raised through international bond issues over the last six years, could undermine the country’s international ratings.

Most ratings agency have so far resisted openly voicing concerns, although Fitch warned in March that Malaysia had a more than 50 per cent chance of a downgrade from A- status, which would mean an added burden on government finances from an increased cost of borrowing.

The crisis surrounding 1MDB deepened this week with news that Malaysians may face hikes in their electricity bills of up to 20 per cent to raise funds to bail out the fund. Calls for an inquiry were also prompted on Wednesday amid media reports alleging that bank documents given by a 1MDB subsidiary, showing it had US$1.1 billion in assets, may have been faked.

1MDB has become a lightning rod in the campaign to remove Najib from office. Most notably, in recent weeks, former Prime inister Mahathir Mohamad has harangued Najib for the growing mess in the sovereign fund and describing Najib as unfit to lead the country.

Dr Mahathir has also piled on the pressure by reopening public debate into a number of personal scandals directly involving the Premier, including the unexplained murder of a Mongolian woman by two members of his private security detail and the lavish lifestyles of members of his family.

Najib has responded to criticism by saying he is judged by the country, not by his predecessor, and so far appears secure. But the political crisis is starting to spotlight deeper structural problems besetting the country.

“Malaysia’s troubles go beyond the personalities. The economy, its political system and its institutions need urgent reform, and, without all of this, Malaysia will continue to under-perform,” says Manu Bhaskaran, Chief Regional Strategist at Centennial Partners in Singapore.

The malaise is a product of more than three decades of policy missteps that began during Dr Mahathir’s 22 years in office. In that time, he pursued his own brand of command capitalism, with the government pouring billions of dollars into heavy industries and costly infrastructure projects that largely benefited cronies of the ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO).

He also put a check on dissent by cowing important institutions – such as the Judiciary and other regulatory agencies and the civil service – that largely became subservient to the National Front coalition government headed by UMNO.

That ambitious economic agenda is today in tatters. Over the years, the government has had to bail out many of the companies entrusted to carry out the big-ticket projects, while the push into heavy industries has been a major failure, with the collapse of the state-owned steel company, cement plants and ship-building facilities.

The limping national car project, Proton, is the sole vestige of Dr Mahathir’s ambitious economic blueprint and that too is struggling to stay afloat.

Economists and bankers say that the crisis unfolding at 1MDB is symptomatic of many economic fiascos that tarred the Mahathir administration: poorly conceived state-led ventures, often with questionable commercial merits, pushed through in a system bereft of proper checks and balances.

All of this has put the country’s US$303 billion economy on shaky ground. Even as it struggles with mounting household and government debt, Malaysia is one of the region’s biggest oil exporters and a recent downturn in prices has stripped the economy of a key growth driver. This is placing further strains on government finances, adding to fears of potential downgrades by international rating agencies.

The ringgit has also been battered to six-year lows against the US dollar and prospects of a further depreciation looms large as foreigners own nearly 40 per cent of the country’s ringgit-denominated debt.

The economic troubles have bred widespread public discontent towards UMNO, which dominates the coalition government that has held uninterrupted power since independence in 1957.

Independent polling outfit Merdeka Center recently reported that more than 60 per cent of Malaysians feel that Najib’s government is on the wrong track, compared with an approval rating of just 32 per cent.

This slump is the lowest since Najib took over the premiership six years ago and is largely due to sharp spikes in the cost of living, made worse with this month’s introduction of a goods and services tax – and by the attacks by his former mentor.

“The unrelenting Mahathir bashing of Najib is seriously damaging the National Front brand,” says Merdeka Center’s Ibrahim Suffian.

Dr Mahathir insists that his distaste for the Najib administration stems from the financial wrongdoings at 1MDB. But several politicians close to the premier argue that the animosity has more to do with Najib refusing to back several pet projects of Dr Mahathir, who is still revered within UMNO.

They include Najib’s refusal to build a new bridge to replace the causeway linking Malaysia and Singapore and the government’s refusal to provide Proton with a RM1.4 billion grant.There is also a strong political dimension to Dr Mahathir’s anger towards Najib. Close associates say that he believes the National Front, which suffered serious electoral setbacks in the 2008 and 2013 general elections, could be kicked out of power in the next elections, which must be held before mid-2018.

Dr Mahathir has genuine reasons to worry. The National Front’s stranglehold over Malaysian politics has sharply diminished. The coalition lost its long-held two-thirds parliamentary majority in 2008. Then at the 2013 election it lost the popular vote, securing only 47 per cent compared with the opposition’s 51 per cent.<

To restore its political clout, particularly among the country’s dominant Muslim Malay community, Najib has been pandering to rightist elements within UMNO, who have been pushing for greater cooperation with Islamic opposition Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS), which is determined to establish shariah law.

But Dr Mahathir believes UMNO’s dalliance with PAS could trigger a backlash from its coalition partners, particularly those in the Borneo states of Sabah and Sarawak, which together hold a crucial block of votes in parliament that could make or break the National Front at the next election.

The majority-Christian states are rich in resources and remain the country’s biggest producers of oil and gas. Now voters’ sentiments there are changing, with growing demands for more autonomy and a bigger share of natural resource revenues for the respective state governments.

The Trial of Henry Kissinger–by Christopher Hitchens


April 23, 2015

The Trial of Henry Kissinger–by Christopher Hitchens

I have just finished re-reading the late Christopher Hitchens’ book, The Trial of Henry Kissinger and have come to conclusion that it is time for Americans to call for an investigation of Mr. Kissinger’s activities when he was National Security Adviser and US Secretary of State. He is the last of the quartet (Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew and Attorney-General John Mitchell and Kissinger himself) who remains free. Mr. Kissinger must be held to account.  Listen this debate on the subject.–Din Merican

Malaysia’s “First Couple” (Rosmah and Najib)’s Lavish Ways make news in Indonesia


April 21, 2015

Malaysia’s First Couple (Rosmah and Najib)’s Lavish Ways make news in Indonesia

READ the Bahasa Version :

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/bahasa/2015/04/21/tempo-siar-artikel-kemewahan-najib-rosmah/

by FMT Reporters@ http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

najib-tempo

The lavish lifestyles of Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor were highlighted in an Indonesian magazine Tempo, just two days before the couple head to Indonesia for a formal engagement.

The article, containing excerpts of news pieces about the couple published in Malaysia and abroad, centred largely around the extravagant lifestyles the two led, ranging from Rosmah’s love of luxury handbags and jewellery to her trademark bouffant.

Also included in the piece was a more recent revelation by Malaysian Crime Watch Task Force (MyWatch) Chief R Sri Sanjeevan who uploaded onto Facebook, pictures of the couple’s favourite luxury watches, running into thousands of ringgit.

Tempo marveled at how the luxury watches owned by Rosmah were acquired by the couple despite her husband drawing a salary of only RM350,000 a year.

“Najib and his family’s lifestyle has courted the anger of Malaysians,” Malaysiakini quoted the article as saying. Also making it’s way into Tempo’s article was the unfortunate remark Rosmah once made prior to the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in Malaysia where she talked about how her hairdo costs a whopping RM1,200.

Echoing the criticisms of former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, the article also made a mention of the Hollywood-like lifestyle of Riza Aziz, the PM’s stepson who has snapped up property in New York and Beverly Hills, California worth millions.

The couple’s lifestyle has come under attack from politicians and the general public here in Malaysia and now it is becoming even more unfortunate that their reputation is preceding them as they make their way to Indonesia as well.

Prime Minister Najib Razak,snap out of your Lalaland


April 20, 2015

Prime Minister Najib Razak, snap out of your Lalaland

by Fa Abdul@www.freemalaysiatoday.com

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/highlight/2015/04/20/snap-out-of-it-najib/

No Hudud in MalaysiaOnce again our Prime Minister, Najib Razak emerged from his hideout to make yet another futile statement. This time around through a radio broadcast uploaded on http://www.najibrazak.com, he urged Malaysians to be wise in assessing the validity of information as he elaborately explained how we have become a nation living in the era of perception and not reality.

Thanks for your kind advice, Najib, but really, no thanks.With all due respect – I do not believe that Malaysians are misled by perception. In fact Malaysians are just tired of your sandiwara. And from my social circle, I have solid reason to believe that political supporters from both sides, Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat, not to mention fence sitters, are on the verge of giving up (if they haven’t already, that is).

While I still have some saki-baki respect for you as the leader of our nation, I shall take the liberty to draw out a clear picture to make you understand what perception is all about. I will try to make it as simple as possible so it is easier to understand, ya?

• Our Education Minister, Muhyiddin Yassin once said our schools were better than those in Germany and Britain – that was HIS perception. It later turned out to be nothing but an attempt to make our screwed up education system look good.

• Do you remember when former Home Minister, Hishammuddin Hussein Onn denied there was serious crime in the country at a time when ordinary citizens were being mugged and robbed in broad daylight? Well, that was HIS perception, which of course changed after his own daughter became a victim of a snatch theft.

• Next in line was chief of PERKASA, Ibrahim Ali who threatened to burn Bibles in his belief that it would protect the usage of ‘Allah’ among Muslims – that was HIS perception. The majority of Muslims thought it was ridiculous.

• The people thought you were a man of honour when you said you would scrap the Sedition Act – that was OUR perception which you so clearly proved wrong two years later.

• Tun Mahathir trusted you as the best man to continue his legacy of the Malaysia we all knew and grew up with – that was HIS perception, which sadly has also left him in a dire state.

You see, none of the perceptions mentioned above have anything to do with false information derived from an illegitimate source as you claim. So what are these “perceptions” you keep talking about, I wonder.

Our national debt has ballooned from RM263.6 billion in 2009 to RM740.7 billion in 2015. Is that perception? Two policemen who had no reason to kill a woman were sentenced to death for murder. Is that perception?

While unable to settle the debts of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) that amounts to RM42 billion, the government decides on its 7th private jet purchase. Is that perception? Abusing the freedom and rights of the people while giving speeches about being the champion of human rights. Is that perception?

A man – a father to be, jumping out of the window of a building and falling to his death for no apparent reason. Is that a perception?

Najib, oh Najib, none of the above are perceptions. It is not defined as perception if there are solid facts to substantiate the claims.But then again, if you feel so strongly that everything is merely perception, why don’t you get an independent body to investigate 1MDB and the many other questionable matters to prove us wrong? What is there to fear if you have nothing to hide?

While we are talking of perception here, perhaps I should point out to you that your biggest problem is not about the people having misperceptions. Instead it is about YOUR OWN PERCEPTION that you are running this country excellently.

Najib, snap out of your Lalaland. Face it, you have lost the confidence of half the population of Malaysia. While you think of yourself as “the chosen one”, you have failed to work your way back into our hearts in order to gain back our lost trust in you and your government.

So you see “Yang Berhormat”, there is nothing wrong with our perception. But yours… well, your perception is somewhat flawed.

By the way, would you like to know what my perception is? I will tell you anyway – I perceive this government today, led by you, YAB Datuk Seri Najib Razak as the worst in the history of the nation.Now that is something you can refute because it is after all my 100% perception.

“Sheep are domesticated to be defenceless. Malaysians are not sheep. We fight back.”

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