A Momentary Respite for the Ringgit and Malaysian Stocks as 1MDB remains the No.1 Problem

July 2, 2015

A Momentary Respite for the Ringgit and Malaysian Stocks as 1MDB remains the  No.1 Problem

by Bloomberg @www.themalaysianinsider.com

MalaysiaLooking Great from the Outside but Rotting Inside

A rally in Malaysia’s currency and stocks after the nation avoided a Fitch Ratings downgrade may be short-lived if it doesn’t clean up an indebted state investment company and reduce threats to its current-account surplus.

The ringgit will probably still weaken to 3.8 against the dollar by the end of this year, according to Credit Suisse Group AG and United Overseas Bank Ltd Malaysia would be among the most fragile nation’s in the region should a recovery in the euro area stall because of Greece, Credit Suisse says.

“Continued weakness in the ringgit is perhaps the best barometer of sentiment towards Malaysia and the ringgit continues to hover near its post Asian Financial Crisis peg of 3.80,” Weiwen Ng, an economist at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd, wrote in a note Wednesday.

“Malaysia continues to be caught in changing domestic and external cross-currents.”

Before Wednesday’s market rebound, foreign funds had been cashing out of the Malaysian stock market at the fastest pace in Asia this year, while the ringgit had weakened to the lowest level in a decade.

Investor confidence has been battered by growing scrutiny on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s management of debt-ridden 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), as well as faltering export and state revenue after commodity prices slumped.

The challenge is to ease investor concerns quickly enough to prevent an exodus of funds whenever the US Federal Reserve starts to raise interest rates.

‘Adverse developments’

“Foreign investors will likely be uninterested in Malaysia until we see improvements in the negative factors” which include 1MDB and weak corporate earnings growth, said Alan Richardson, a Hong Kong-based money manager at Samsung Asset Management, which oversees about US$112 billion (RM421.58 billion). He spoke a day before Fitch affirmed Malaysia’s credit rating on June 30.

“It’s a maelstrom of adverse developments.” Malaysia has taken steps to pare down 1MDB’s debt of RM42 billion (US$11 billion) as of March 2014 and is winding down the company’s operations through possible sales of land and power assets. The government has explicit guarantees for RM5.8 billion of 1MDB debt, and Fitch said there is a “high probability that sovereign support for 1MDB would be forthcoming if needed”.

“Malaysia will need to better control its off-balance sheet liabilities and improve its governance standards,” Chua Hak Bin, an economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Singapore, said before the Fitch decision. “Having a public debt ceiling of 55% of GDP is pointless, if the limit is sidestepped with government guarantees and support letters.”

Domestic procurement

Najib chairs 1MDB’s advisory board and has resisted calls from former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to step down as the country’s leader over the debacle.

Keeping the current account in surplus will also be key to boosting confidence in Malaysia, said Wellian Wiranto, a Singapore-based economist at Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. With Southeast Asia’s third-largest economy running a fiscal deficit starting from 1998, Najib in January tried to pre-empt concerns about the possibility of a current-account gap as well.

He unveiled measures that may keep more money in the country including encouraging government-linked companies to invest domestically and increasing local goods and services in government procurement.

“Investors realising that Malaysia will not go into twin deficits is likely to lead to a recovery in the currency, international reserves and funds flow,” said Gerald Ambrose, who oversees the equivalent of US$3.6 billion as managing director of Aberdeen Asset Management Sdn in Kuala Lumpur.

A possible complication: this year, Indonesian and Malaysian governments and companies have sold more foreign-currency debt than they did in the whole of 2014 as a global bond rout pushes up yields and their currencies weaken. That raises concern it will become costlier for them to service foreign-currency debt as the dollar gains.

The ringgit fell to 3.7887 per dollar Monday, near the 3.8 level the currency was pegged at from 1998 to 2005. It closed 0.7% higher Wednesday after Fitch also raised its outlook on the sovereign to stable from negative.

Malaysia at the edges of religious fanaticism with Hudud

July 2, 2015

Malaysia at the edges of religious fanaticism with Hudud.

by Markus Russin


Political expediency may deliver up harsh punishments that nobody wants except politicians

The political debate in Malaysia appears to be trapped in menace as the specter of Kelantan’s barbaric hudud law, which advocates 7th-century punishments including amputation for theft and stoning to death for adultery, among others, continues to loom over the country.

Najib and Hadi-The HudsNajib courts disaster with Hudud

A paper by the Malaysian Islamic Development Department, known as JAKIM, that was discussed on The Malay Mail Online a few weeks ago has further aggravated the already tense situation by stating that the highly controversial law, if implemented at the national level, should apply to all citizens of Malaysia regardless of religion and in spite of the fact that hudud must never exist in the first place.

For the time being, hudud can still be avoided as it has not even become law in Kelantan yet, let alone on the federal level. Its recurrent appearance on the political stage, however, shows that it is merely the symptom of an underlying disease, rather than the absurd product of a few twisted minds that can be trivialized or even ignored.

This disease is never directly addressed by the nation’s highest officials who insist on putting a God for whose existence there can never be any proof at the center of their concerns instead of a populace that, unless one adheres to solipsism, is very real and increasingly isolated from the rest of the world due to the dangerous Islamic ideas of its leaders.

That Malaysia might eventually – and quite soon – collapse on a social, cultural and humanitarian level is not solely caused by the current threat of hudud. And dodging this legal madness alone will not prevent further disintegration in a country that is already plagued by deplorable chasms separating ethnicities, religions and political groups.

Malaysia has arrived at a critical point in its history and whether or not it can survive in the future will be a direct result of the decisions made by its highest officials today.

What might happen to a Malaysia with hudud during the next few decades is of course difficult to predict and would depend on a myriad of factors. Yet, attempts at drawing a picture of the future as it could develop is crucial in order to understand what is at stake for a nation that could be the beacon of understanding and humanitarianism within Southeast Asia, but has consistently failed to live up to this expectation.

This is a rough sketch of such a future. The most likely development that has been in the making for decades is perhaps the secession of Sabah and Sarawak from the Peninsular part of the country. Justified complaints that any implementation of hudud would violate the Malaysian constitution and therefore potentially nullify the historical agreement that bans the governments of the Bornean states from leaving the federation have spread during the current controversy.

Tan_Sri_Harussani_ZakariaThe Ayatollah of Perak

That secession is considered a real threat by the elite around Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak was clearly expressed by the updated Sedition Act, which explicitly outlaws the promotion of independence for Sabah and Sarawak. From a humanitarian point of view, however, leaving Malaysia and forming an independent nation would probably be the only sensible decision for Bornean policymakers.

Independence would open the gates for a degree of open-mindedness and social inclusiveness that the current political mainstream and obsession with Islam in Putrajaya renders completely impossible. Although Islamic tendencies will remain to be a problem – particularly in Sabah – the newly founded nation would have the potential to become the freest country in Southeast Asia and rise to be a catalyst for positive change in the region. In particular, it would further isolate the religious dictatorship of Brunei whose sultan seems determined to reinvent his country as a humanitarian wasteland.

The comparatively small population of Malaysia’s eastern states might result in a challenging economic situation for a nascent nation. It would therefore be paramount to openly welcome immigrants and nationalize them quickly. Particularly if hudud should ever hit Malaysia on the federal level, an influx of ethnically non-Malay migrants from the peninsular states can almost be guaranteed. Many of them might arrive without any regrets at all as they would be leaving behind a homeland that has never really wanted them in the first place.

Ethnically Malay citizens of the western states might consider Borneo as well; and furthermore find another safe haven in Indonesia, particularly if the current Indonesian president Joko “Jokowi” Widodo can lead the country farther away from its oppressive past and strengthen its economy. The virtual lack of a language barrier paired with the option to live a moderate form of Islam that is becoming increasingly discouraged in Malaysia or drop the religion altogether could attract many.

No matter where exactly its individual citizens would attempt to build a better future, huge parts of the economic and intellectual elite would leave Malaysia. In an analogous manner, international investment would move out under hudud because neighboring countries in the region would offer equal or even better opportunities minus the legal barbarism. Sadly, it is probably this last concern that will prevent hudud on the national level because money tends to speak more directly to the hearts of the powerful in Putrajaya than human suffering.

What would a Malaysia look like in which the numbers of ethnic minorities, intellectuals and wealthy citizens will be seriously reduced? It would be a country in which only the most radical elements remain, a breeding ground for Islamism that might eventually become potent enough to topple the current pseudo-democratic government that created it. Malaysia’s future could turn into a partial re-enactment of the sad fate of some Middle Eastern nations that were on a promising path in the middle of the last century, but then were violently pushed back into darkness by religious fanatics.

Of course this is a very gloomy prognostication and perhaps a quite extreme version of what the future might bring. Yet, certain elements of this development can already be felt in Malaysia today.

Apart from the obvious necessity to never allow hudud or anything related to become even a tiny section of the law, the inevitable change that Malaysia needs goes right to the core. Islam must be dethroned as official religion of the federation. And it must not be replaced with any other religion.

When the JAKIM paper mentioned above poses the question how “citizens of a country that exalts Islam as religion of the state assume that it is their human rights to not be placed under the influence of Shariah laws,” it inadvertently exemplifies the problem. Integrity, happiness and opportunity to live a fulfilling life are withheld from Malaysia’s citizens under the current circumstances and therefore the very foundation of the nation is flawed.

The assumption that the state is obliged to do anything for the institution of Islam is based on a constitution that has become the source of racism and religious intolerance on the highest political levels. Such a constitution – and in fact every constitution – needs to be challenged. It needs to prove anew at any point in history that it can create the best possible living conditions for the citizens affected by it and thereby the best possible society.

It is not politics that needs to bend over backwards in order to please an ancient way of oppression that has lost touch with reality. It is religious institutions that have to show that they are not outpaced by humanitarian progress.

Malaysia’s elite can no longer ignore the truth that Islam needs to be challenged, needs to be reformed and in its current form will cause the country to fall apart. If politicians care more about the wellbeing of their citizens than their own political power, there is no other conclusion.

Malaysia has already been pushed dangerously far towards the abyss of religious fanaticism. It is now time for those in charge to talk human rights instead of hudud.

The author, who has lived in Indonesia and Malaysia for the last year and a half, will commence as a graduate student in International Studies at the Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies of Waseda University in Tokyo.

Kedah’s Kassim Ahmad : Modern Day Hang Jebat

July 1, 2015

Kedah’s Kassim Ahmad : Modern Day Hang Jebat

by Shahril Ahmad@www.freemalaysiatoday.com

Malay scholar and public intellectual Kassim Ahmad may have unwittingly cast himself into the role of Hang Jebat by his latest blog post.

kassim-ahmadAt 80+ he remains a fighter and seeker of Truth

In his 1964 dissertation, Perwatakan dalam Hikayat Hang Tuah, Kassim had dared to challenge traditional Malay thinking by contending that Hang Jebat, not Hang Tuah, was the true Malay hero for his earnestness in defending honour and principles, even if it meant turning against the Sultan.

Fast forward 51 years to last weekend, and we find Kassim challenging Malay thinking once again. The occasion this time was a press conference last Friday following a meeting of the UMNO Supreme Council. Party President Najib Razak told the gathered press that the 59-member council had decided to postpone UMNO’s general assembly and elections by another 18 months and that the decision complied with the party’s constitution.

The purpose, Najib said, was to enable the party “to focus on service to the rakyat, to reduce tensions within the party and to prepare for the 14th general elections.”

“The question UMNO members and the rakyat ought to ask,” Kassim writes, “is whether the reasons are valid. Will the general assembly prevent service to the people? Will it really be an obstacle in the party’s preparations for the next general election?”

“I think otherwise,” he says. “The general assembly will cure everything.” It will, he suggests, provide government leaders with a platform to brief delegates. It will also provide the delegates the opportunity to reprimand party elders and propose moves that the party should take.

“All this will only serve to improve service to the people and strengthen UMNO to face the next general election,” Kassim adds.

Kassim thinks that deferring the general assembly will only increase criticism of Najib’s administration.“It seems that Najib and the Supreme Council are afraid to face the delegates,” he says. “They appear intent on hiding certain weaknesses.”

“Yet, truth emboldens us while wrongs raise fears,” he says, adding that the UMNO leaders must be brave enough to receive constructive admonishment and suggestions from party delegates, claiming that it will strengthen the party and bring it greater victories in the future.

Malay folklore tells the tale of the covenant struck between Sang Sapurba, of royal descent, and local chief Demang Lebar Daun, who abdicated his throne in favour of the former.

Agreeing that his descendants shall henceforth be the subjects of Sang Sapurba and his descendants, Demang Lebar Daun made one request – that his descendants be treated well by their new rulers.

“If they offend,” Demang Lebar Daun was supposed to have said, “they shall not, however grave their offence, be disgraced or reviled with evil words. If their offence is grave, let them be put to death, if that is in accordance with the divine law.”

Sang Sapurba agreed. “In turn, your descendants shall never, until the end of time, be disloyal to my descendants, even if my descendants oppress them and commit evil.”

The pact was agreed to, but with the provision that if either side departed from the terms, so would the other.

Fast forward now to the age of Hang Tuah. Perhaps it was Sultan Mansur Shah who broke the pact when he sentenced the loyal Hang Tuah to death.

Raja adil raja disembah, raja zalim raja disanggah (A just king is a king to venerate, a despotic king is a king to repudiate),” Jebat bellowed as he ran amuck.

And so it is told that the Sultan, on learning that Tuah was still alive, summoned him and ordered the killing of Jebat. Tuah, ever loyal to the Sultan, obliged. Jebat, despite his loyalty to his comrade, would succumb.

Dictionary.com defines “democracy” as “a government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.”

Kassim Ahmad knows this. To him supreme power in UMNO lies with its delegates. Which is probably why he questioned the decision of the body which by name is supreme – the Supreme Council of UMNO – to cast aside the general assembly.

To him also, council members would have been like Tuah, showing misplaced loyalty to their leaders at a time when the people whom they were elected to serve had genuine concerns that needed to be addressed.

Who else then to play Jebat, anti-hero to the masses but defender of the honour and principles of true democracy? Stand proud, Pak Kassim. Hopefully, you will not stand alone.

UMNO tangguh Perhimunan Agung kerana Perdana Menteri Najib takut menghadapi kenyataan

Oleh: Kassim Ahmad

27 Jun, 2015

Dalam satu kenyataan semalam, Presiden UMNO Najib mengumumkan Majlis Tertinngi (MT) UMNO telah menangguh Perhimpunan Agung Tahunannya sehingga 18 bulan untuk menumpu kepada perkhidmatan kepada rakyat, mengurangkan ketegangan dalam parti serta membuat persediaan untuk mengahadapi pilihanraya umum ke-14.

Soalan yang perlu ditimbulkan oleh ahli UMNO dan rakyat, adakah Perhimpunan Agung menghalang perkara-pekarang yang disebut oleh Najib sebagai alasan penangguhan? Betulkah Perhimpunan Agung akan menghalang perkhidmatan kepada rakyat? Betulkah Perhimpunan Agung akan menghalang persediaan untuk menhadapi pilihanraya umum akan datang? Saya fikir sebaliknya. Perhimpunan Agung akan membaiki semua itu.

Najib the Bugus Warrior Bugis Ayam

Dalam Perhimpunan Agung, Presiden UMNO dan Perdana Menteri bersama-sama menteri-menteri lain boleh memberi taklimat kepada para wakil dan seterusnya kepada rakyat . Para wakil boleh menegur, bertanya dan memberi cadangan kepada ahli-ahli MT dan Jemaah Menteri. Ini semua akan membolehkan ahli-ahli MT dan Jemaah Menteri memberi perkhidmatan yang lebih baik kepada rakyat serta memperkuatkan UMNO untuk menghadapi pilihanraya umum akan datang.>

Sebaliknya, penangguhan akan menimbulkan banyak masalah dan menambah kritikan rakyat kepada kepimpinan Najib, seperti yang telah disuarakan oleh bekas Perdana Menteri Tun Dr. Mahathir.

Kita nampak Najib dan MT takut hendah menghadapi para wakil. Ada kelemahan-kelemahan yang hendak mereka sembnyikan dari para wakil dan rakyat. Tetapi, seperti kata pepatah, berani kerana benar, takut kerana salah. Kita nasihatkan beranilah berdepan dengan para wakil, sampaikan taklimat tentang keadaan Kerajann dan parti, terima teguran mereka yang membina dan cadangan mereka yang baik. Ini akan memperteguhan parti dan akan membawa parti mencapai kemenangan yang lebih besar di masa hadapan.

Saya membuat kritikan ini kerana saya sayang kepada UMNO. Saya juga ahli UMNO sejak 1986. Saya ahli, tetapi saya bukan pakturut. Tuhan Sendiri mengarah saya menyerukan kebaikan dan melarang kejahatan. Persis inilah yang saya kena lakukan. Saya harap Najib dan Majlis Tertinggi UMNO akan dengar kritikan saya.

KASSIM AHMAD seorang penulis bebas Malaysia. Lama web beliau www.kassimahmad.blogspot.com


Do Employers in Malaysia discriminate ?

July 1, 2015

Do Employers in Malaysia discriminate ?

By Lee Hwok-Aun and Muhammed Abdul Khalid (http://thebside.my/)

For a Full Report read: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13547860.2015.1055948.

Lee Hwok AunDo employers discriminate by race? The question typically elicits immediate and impassioned reactions from opposing ends.

Of course companies discriminate, some assert. It’s a known – even accepted – practice: Q companies prefer to hire Q people. It’s too hard to find suitable candidates from the Q group. The public sector practices pro-X policies, so the private sector reciprocates by favouring Y. Everyone has an anecdote to support their case.

No way, others retort. Why would profit-minded firms hire based on identity? They are only out to get the best quality person for the job. It wouldn’t make sense to prefer one race over another. If Z applicants do not get opportunities, it’s because they are less qualified. Anecdotes are supplied too.

This verbal and anecdotal dueling never ends. Both sides have valid but not decisive arguments, though positions are often exaggerated by personal bias and emotional baggage. Resolving the debate, while trying to avert combustion, requires objective empirical enquiry across a large sample of employers and employees.

Let us first specify the context. Sometimes we speak in code, but face it, the predominant images of labour market discrimination that form in our minds pit Chinese-owned private sector businesses against Malay graduates and a Malay dominated public sector against the non-Malay workforce.

How do we detect whether employers privilege one group and exclude another? We could ask them how they recruit, or ask graduates about their experience finding a job. However, their answers will very likely be biased. Racially discriminating employers will likely not reveal their true intentions, while graduates who feel they have been discriminated may overstate their grievance or may not be fully informed about the circumstances behind their rejected applications.

What about the effect of quality? If Chinese graduates are preferred in the private sector and Malays in the public sector, is it because of race, or is it academic attainment, compatibility of person with organisation, or other factors?

In a recent study, Muhammed Abdul Khalid and I tried to disentangle these gnarled issues. We conducted a field experiment that observes real decisions made by employers on persons they call for interview. Instead of asking employers whether they discriminate, we sent fictitious Malay and Chinese résumés to real job advertisements, then recorded the ones that got called back for interview and compared those with the ones that did not get called.

We ensured that the Malay and Chinese applicants in our pool were similarly qualified. We controlled for quality, in the way that experiments isolate the effect of the determinant in focus by controlling for – in other words, taking away – the effects of other determinants.

Here’s how the experiment went. We generated a pool of fictitious résumés of fresh degree graduates – credible job applicants with invented names and addresses. Résumés were clustered by quality, based on cumulative grade point average (CGPA). Those with CGPA of 3.1 -3.9 were considered “above average”, and those in the 2.2-3.0 range we classified as “below average”. Those with higher CGPA tended to be more impressive in terms of extra-curricular activities, language abilities and other positively regarded attributes.

Since we used CGPA to indicate quality, we chose not to include foreign university graduates. Foreign universities, especially in English-speaking countries, are more highly regarded; holding a foreign degree thus corresponds with being a higher quality applicant. To remove this overlap with CGPA as the quality marker, we confined our applicant pool to graduates of local universities – both public and private institutions.

Our research assistants sent four applications to entry level online job advertisements for engineering and accounting positions, one for each combination of race and quality: above average Malay, above average Chinese, below average Malay, below average Chinese. In total, we sent 3012 resumes to 753 jobs in the private sector. We attempted to apply to public sector jobs as well, but unfortunately could not proceed due to insurmountable technical hurdles

We then recorded callbacks for interview, and observed whether résumés of one race are significantly more likely to be called, after controlling for quality. Just to be clear, let me state again the basic scenario we are scrutinizing: when employers evaluate job applicants that are comparable in all aspects except for race, are they more inclined to one race over the other?

We also compiled data on the companies to which we sent job applications, and derived a profiled for each company based on the group holding a majority of directorships and shareholdings and therefore most likely to exercise control. The main categories that emerged were Chinese-controlled, foreign-controlled (including foreign-local joint ventures), and Malay-controlled, with a smattering of Indian-controlled and mixed-controlled companies (where no group clearly exerted control).

Similar experiments have been conducted and validated around the world, notably in the UK, US, India, and France. All of them find the presence of discrimination, to varying extents, based on race, ethnicity, gender, or caste.

Ours is the first study in Malaysia employing this method. And what did we find? Race matters – a lot. Chinese applicants are much more likely than Malay applicants to be called for interview. Quality also matters, but much less so.

The numbers give us a better sense of our main findings. As shown in the first line of the table, Chinese applicants on the whole registered a callback rate of 22.1 – that is, for every 100 Chinese résumés sent to job ads, 22.1 got called for interview. For every 100 Malay résumés sent, only 4.2 got called for interview. The ratio of these callback rates indicates strong preference for Chinese graduates. For every Malay applicant that gets called, 5.3 Chinese applicants get called. Discrimination was significantly larger in engineering jobs than in accounting jobs.

The gap is smaller, but still large, for higher quality résumés. An above average Chinese applicant is 4.5 times more likely to get called than an above average Malay, while the corresponding ratio for below average Chinese and below average Malays is 6.5.

These findings robustly indicate that private sector employers discriminate in favour of Chinese fresh graduate applicants and against their Malay counterparts. This is not surprising, although the magnitudes probably exceed our hunches.

Resume quality Chinese  callback rate

(per 100)

Malay callback rate

(per 100)

Chinese callback rate per Malay callback rate
Overall 22.1 4.2 5.3
Above average 23.5 5.2 4.5
Below average 20.7

Since publicizing these findings in November 2012, two broad criticisms have recurred that are worth discussing here. The first criticism denies that discrimination could occur or tries to explain it away, based on personal or company experience. However, such views overlook important aspects of our research and the extent to which we control for quality.

We have noticed that people, especially employers, refer to scenarios or experiences of filtering out Malay applicants before the interview stage because their academic records, on average, fall short. Sadly but truly, the educational achievement gap between groups remains substantial at graduation from university.

However, this study precisely addresses the issue by ensuring that equivalent numbers of Malay and Chinese applicants attain high CGPAs. Our data show that even top of the class Malays, graduating with CGPAs above 3.6 from the more reputable local universities, are considerably less likely than even below average Chinese graduates to be called for interview.

Another criticism asserts that the study merely confirmed what we “already know” and is thus worth little. True, we may have already known that discrimination existed – but only from personal observation, experience, hearsay, or presumption. Now we have empirical proof, from sample of over 3000 job applications and 750 companies.

More importantly, though, let us not be too convinced and comfortable that we already know all there is to know on the matter. Indeed, we found out much more than we thought we knew. Within the Chinese and Malay applicant pools, personal characteristics besides race impact on the prospects for interview.

Take Chinese proficiency, which is often divisive in discourses on graduate employment. Actually, it should be a more unifying issue. Our study finds that Malays who declare proficiency in Chinese language are more likely to be called for interview than Malays who do not. Chinese proficiency is also an advantage for Chinese applicants, of course.

We also found that type of university or tertiary institution makes a difference, but not entirely in line with common perceptions of “unemployable” public university graduates. Malays holding degrees from Universiti Malaya, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and Universiti Putra Malaysia – the major and more established public universities – enjoy better than average prospects for getting an interview.

The outlook for University Teknologi MARA (UiTM) graduates varies across job type. In engineering jobs, they are evaluated on par with peers from major public universities, but UiTM accounting graduates are viewed less favourably. On the whole, it is Malay graduates of private institutions who face the slimmest chances of getting called for interview.

Of course, this study would not be quite complete without examining if a hiring company’s profile affects job applicant’s chances. Well, it does, but it is not a simple, caricatured story of Chinese companies obstructing Malay entry. For accounting positions, Malays applying to Chinese-controlled companies are less likely to be called back, compared to Malays seeking work in Malay-controlled or foreign-controlled companies.

For engineering jobs, our results are most interesting. A foreign-controlled company is least likely to call a Malay applicant. However, a Malay engineering graduate has a better chance of getting an interview in a Chinese-controlled firm than a Malay-controlled firm.

We trust and hope our work has shed cool light on a heated and nationally vital subject. Undeniably, this study has limitations.

This research just examines discrimination in selection for interview, not the job offer stage, let alone employment and promotion, which impact further on our economy and society. Investigating discrimination at those levels is exceedingly more controversial and difficult, if not impossible, since it will involve research assistants posing in person as job candidates.

Nonetheless, our findings have broader implications. Our evidence of discrimination means that qualified Malay applicants are potentially being overlooked and excluded from job opportunities. Also, if discrimination occurs at this stage, it probably occurs at later stages as well – although the magnitude is likely to be less than what we observe in this study. Employers are more likely to discriminate at this early job application stage, because there is much less information about job applicants than employed personnel, and the process is impersonal and removed from scrutiny.

More importantly, though perhaps frustratingly for some readers, this research does not directly address the burning question: why do employers discriminate? We too would dearly like to know, but our chief objective was to probe and measure discrimination, and that’s made for a big enough project.

Before generalizing anecdotes or pondering why discrimination occurs, we ought to investigate its form and prevalence, and this field experiment has produced a careful, methodical and objective gauge of this phenomenon.

While we have not produced data to empirically inform why employers discriminate, we have highlighted the complexities of the problem and the need for further investigation.

Our findings demonstrate that factors not revealed in résumés have a major bearing on graduates’ selection for interview – whether related to attitude, compatibility of applicant with company, past hiring experience, or other factors and combinations of factors. Perhaps some employers expect Malay applicants to not socially fit into the company and hence do not bother calling them for interview. Perhaps they feel a need and justification for private sector to counterweigh the pro-Malay policies public sector. We cannot confidently evaluate these arguments without further study. Emphatically, we must not be hasty to blame the discrimination we detect on malevolent motives and racial stereotyping, prejudice or bigotry.

Clearly, there’s more work to be done in this thorny, fertile field. We hope that the cause will be taken up by the academic community, private organizations, governments,… indeed, all of society. These are shared problems demanding shared solutions.

*Dr Lee Hwok Aun is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Development Studies, Universiti Malaya. Dr Muhammed Abdul Khalid is now Research Fellow at Malaysian Institute of Economic Research 

Muslim MPs ask where Malaysia is headed

July 1, 2015

COMMENT: We know the answer. So do these Muslim lawmakers. What is the point of Din and Ly2talking now, since we need urgent and drastic action. Malaysia has become a failed “Islamic state”(Mahathir’s version). Our country is divided along religious and racial lines.

The evidence is for all to see. Fortunately, the maturity of Malaysians in general has prevented our country  from  going into a state of “religious war” under this weak and corrupt leadership of chicken Najib. But then for how long?

It is amazing that the Prime Mnister is not able to discipline his Minister of Religion, Jamil Khir Baharom, a bigot from my home state Kedah, and overzealous officials in JAKIM and JAWI. Just sack all of them.

Have these Muslim lawmakers cared that these institutions have persecuted my good friend, 80-year old public intellectual Kassim Ahmad for expressing a contrarian view on Hadith and Nik Raina of Borders Book for selling Irshad Manji’s book which was not banned at the time when JAWI officials raided her bookstore in Mid-Valley, Kuala Lumpur a few years ago. Both these individuals are innocent and should not have been dragged to the sharia and civil courts.But they were humiliated and made to look like common criminals.

What about those religious policemen, snooping into the private lives of Muslims? Of course, they exempted themselves and our political bigwigs. Our ulamas and conservative Muslim intellectuals insult Muslim women and dictate how they should live their lives and how they should dress. We have a Housewives Club which tells them to be prostitutes to satisfy their husbands’ sexual appetites. What a shame. These developments are giving Malaysia a very bad international image.

Talk is cheap. Truth be told ,they have no conviction and the guts to stand on reason and logic and tell Najib to stop playing religion and race for his politics of survival. Cowards die a thousand times. So, there is only one way left for reasonable and tolerant Malaysians to react, and that is to vote them all out in the next General Elections.Din Merican.

Muslim MPs ask where Malaysia is headed

by Joseph Sipalan

Muslim lawmakers from both sides of the political divide have raised concerns over the seeming trend of Muslims imposing their beliefs on others, questioning if this is reflective of a wider agenda that is backed by Putrajaya to turn Malaysia into an Islamic state.

The federal lawmakers noted that the federal government appeared either unable to stop or even condoning of incidents in which Islamic sensibilities are imposed on the larger society by religious authorities and individuals.


“This issue bothers me because as our forefathers taught us, religion should be about faith and (is) personal,” UMNO’s Pulai MP Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed told Malay Mail Online via text message.

“I suspect the longer-term objective of these groups is to usurp power through religious means and therefore avoid being legitimately elected. While I respect their motives and intentions, the elected government of the day must control the actions of these groups and act in the interest of all the citizens of the country,” he added.

Chicken Najib 2

On Wednesday, the Malaysian Bar criticised Deputy Education Minister Datuk Mary Yap for reportedly saying that non-Muslims should consume food and drink discreetly and outside the view of fasting Muslims, in response to outrage over a “joke” told by a teacher in Kedah to non-Muslim students about drinking urine.

The Kedah incident is reminiscent of a 2013 incident in which a Sungai Buloh primary school encountered controversy after non-Muslim students were pictured eating in a toilet during Ramadan.

DAP’s Bukit Bendera MP Zairil Khir Johari argued that such posturing over religion would ultimately lead up to ridiculous rulings that benefit no one.

“Should we ban Ramadan bazaars so Muslims don’t need to look at food? When our Hindu friends fast for Thaipusam, do we go out of our way to accommodate them by not drinking or eating in front of them?” he said when contacted.

Zairil admitted that there is “no quick solution” to the religious polarisation the country is facing, but stressed that the first step to fixing the situation is to take governments and political parties out of the equation.

“It’s not even about tolerance here. The problems are cropping up today because of the incessant politicising of ethno-religious nationalism, so much so that the state flexes hegemony, thus influencing the people.

“Why do we even have JAKIM (Malaysia’s federal Department of Islamic Development) when Islam is a state issue? That’s a fundamental question because the authority of JAKIM appears to go against the 9th schedule of the Federal Constitution.

“I am suggesting that matters of faith should belong in the realm of civil society and not the state,” he said.

Nur Jazlan insisted that there is no place in Malaysia for state-sanctioned enforcement of Islam, claiming that the “collapse” of Islamist party PAS ― which is facing a split after delegates elected a new leadership made up entirely of the ulama or clergy class at their recent Muktamar – is proof that the public wants moderation over religious orthodoxy.

“The best way to develop Islam is to teach and encourage personal observations, and not enforce it to the whims of others, especially unelected ones,” he said, without referring to any group or individuals.

The Kedah school incident cropped up amid growing concerns of creeping Islamisation in Malaysia, in which the norms of the increasingly conservative Muslim majority are gradually being imposed on the rest of the country both directly and covertly.

Incidents that support the view include Muslim protests against Oktoberfest-themed events open only to non-Muslims, uproar over a gold-medallist Muslim gymnast over her leotard, and at least four reported cases of arbitrary dress codes at government departments and agencies that denied entry to non-Muslims over their dressing that was deemed indecent.


Gani Patail, Abu Kassim and Gang told to file defence by July 6, 2015

June 30, 2015

Gani Patail, Abu Kassim and 9 others given another 7 days to file their defence


 Lawyer Rosli Dahlan has given Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail, Tan Sri Abu Kassim and 9 others who are facing a suit for abuse of power and malicious prosecution, another week to file their defence despite they having missed the court’s deadline.

Rosli’s lawyer Parvinder Kaur Cheema, said her client only gave the defendants a week, instead of two weeks as requested by Gani’s lawyer Tan Sri Cecil Abraham. “The defendants must now file their defence by July 6 following the extended deadline as agreed by both parties,” she told The Malaysian Insider.

On May 28, High Court judge Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera instructed Gani and the rest of the defendants to file their defence within 30 days so that trial could proceed.The judge had also fixed the next case management on July 29

Parvinder said the deadline for the defendants would have expired yesterday. She said Abraham had made a verbal request that the plaintiffs gave them more time since he and his team were moving to set up their own legal firm.

The Malaysian Insider understands that the senior lawyer, formerly with Zul Rafique & Partners, would begin operating his own legal firm sometime in mid-July with a group of lawyers.


Rosli and former Commercial Crime Investigation Department chief Datuk Ramli Yusuf filed suits in November 2013 against Gani and the rest for, among others, alleged malicious prosecution over corruption charges.The courts have cleared them of the charges.

In a landmark ruling in April last year, Vazeer Alam dismissed the application to strike out Rosli and Ramli’s suit, saying the matter must go to trial. Vazeer Alam had remarked that the A-G, who holds public office, cannot escape suits when they involve allegations of abuse of power.

“I am afraid that the notion of absolute immunity for a public servant, even when mala fide or abuse of power in the exercise of their prosecutorial power is alleged, is anathema to modern day notions of accountability,” Vazeer Alam had said.

Both Rosli and Ramli are now claiming damages to the tune of about RM176 million. Ramli, in his RM128.5 million suit, had also named former Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan and 10 others for wrongfully bringing two charges against him.

Rosli, in his suit, is claiming more than RM47 million for conspiring to arrest and charge him in court over an alleged failure to declare his assets. Rosli named Gani, Musa and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief commissioner Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed in their personal capacities.

The lawyer alleged that Gani had a role in the malicious prosecution.On April 1, a three-member Court of Appeal bench, chaired by Datuk Abdul Hamid Sultan, also dismissed the defendants’ appeal to strike out the suit.

The defendants then filed a leave application in the Federal Court on April 28 to appeal against the Court of Appeal ruling. Subsequently the defendants also filed an application to stay the High Court order which directed them (on May 28) to file their defence. However, proceedings in the apex court last week had been adjourned to a date to be fixed.