Chris Hedges Again


May 25, 2016

Chris Hedges Again–Daring and Upfront as always

Mr Hedges  is a radical thinker, dissenter, and public intellectual of our time. I have always enjoyed his books, lectures, and ideas. Political correctness is not in his lexicon. Here are two interesting lectures on contemporary issues which are of concern to all of us, except to  those who are beneficiaries of the capitalist-corporatist  system and neo-liberalism.–Din Merican

Here  is another from Chris:

Moving On in Vietnam, but Remembering Its Lessons


May 24, 2016

The Opinion Pages | Op-Ed Contributors

Moving On in Vietnam, but Remembering Its Lessons

http://www.nytimes.com

AS President Obama visits Vietnam, we are struck by the fact that most citizens of both countries have no living memory of a conflict that claimed the lives of more than 58,000 Americans and upward of a million Vietnamese.

As Americans who fought in that war, we are frequently asked about its lessons. There are few easy answers, in part because every conflict is unique and because we have learned that attempts to apply past lessons to new crises sometimes do more harm than good. But a few things are clear.

Vietnam POW John Mccain with President Richard M. Nixon

John Kerry commanded a swift boat as a young officer and received three Purple Hearts, the Bronze Star and the Silver Star for his acts of courage

The first is not personal to us, but a principle that applies to all who wear the uniform: We must never again confuse a war with the warriors. American veterans deserve our deepest respect, gratitude and support whenever and wherever they serve.

The second lesson is that our leaders need to be honest with Congress and the American people about our plans, goals and strategy when the lives of our fighting men and women are put at risk. (The mission of the first American combat troops deployed to Vietnam was described as “flood relief.”)

The third is to exercise humility in assuming knowledge about foreign cultures. During the war in Southeast Asia, neither America’s allies nor our adversaries acted in accordance with our expectations.

A fourth and final lesson of the Vietnam conflict is playing out before our eyes: that with sufficient effort and will, seemingly unbridgeable differences can be reconciled. The fact that Mr. Obama is the third consecutive American president to visit Vietnam is proof that old enemies can become new partners.

As veterans who were fortunate to serve in public office, we are proud of the contributions we made to the resumption of normal diplomatic relations between the United States and Vietnam. The process of restoring relations was arduous and required full cooperation by Hanoi in developing information about Americans missing or unaccounted for from the conflict — an effort that continues today.

But we have reached the point, more than 20 years after normalization, when our agenda with Vietnam is forward-looking and wide-ranging. Mr. Obama’s discussions with the Vietnamese will cover issues from security cooperation to trade and investment to education, and from the environment to freedom of religion and human rights.

This wider agenda reflects changes to the relationship that are well underway. Twenty years ago, there were fewer than 60,000 American visitors annually to Vietnam. Today, there are nearly half a million. Twenty years ago, there were fewer than 60,000 American visitors annually to Vietnam. Today, there are nearly half a million. Twenty years ago, our bilateral trade in goods with Vietnam was only $450 million. Today, it is 100 times that. Twenty years ago, there were fewer than 1,000 Vietnamese students in the United States. Today, there are nearly 19,000.

More remarkably, the Vietnamese Politburo includes two people who earned graduate degrees in the United States while on Fulbright scholarships. It’s appropriate, therefore, that this week, a new institution of higher learning will open in Ho Chi Minh City: Fulbright University Vietnam. One of us, Senator Kerrey, is proud to serve as chairman of the university’s board.

Nearly half a century ago, when we were serving in Vietnam, we would never have imagined that our country would one day work with the government in Hanoi to help save the Mekong River Delta by helping create an initiative to manage its ecosystem and cope with the effects of climate change. We could never have imagined that our two countries would be partners in a landmark trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is intended to raise labor and environmental standards while expanding prosperity in our country and all along the Pacific Rim.

It would have been even harder to imagine that the United States and Vietnam would be cooperating on security issues. And yet the United States has helped establish a new training center for People’s Army of Vietnam on the outskirts of Hanoi, where young Vietnamese soldiers will prepare for service in United Nations-sponsored peacekeeping missions.

The United States and Vietnamese militaries are in frequent contact, and our diplomats consult regularly about the controversy surrounding competing maritime claims in the South China Sea. Our government does not take sides on the legal merits of these claims, but we believe strongly that they should be settled peacefully and in accordance with international law and not unilaterally by any country seeking to assert hegemony over its neighbors.

Of course, the United States and Vietnam have different political systems and different approaches to some issues. But human rights are universal, and we have made clear to the leaders in Hanoi our strong belief that Vietnam will reach its full potential only if and when its people have the right to express themselves freely in the arenas of politics, labor, the media and religion. In our visits to Vietnam, we have been impressed by the eagerness of its citizens to take advantage of technology and to compete in the global labor market. We are convinced that the government in Vietnam has nothing to lose, and much to gain, by trusting its citizens.

Looking to the future, we know that mutual interests, above all else, will drive our partnership with Vietnam. But it is strengthened, as well, by the natural affinities between our societies. These include family ties, a tendency toward optimism, a fierce desire for freedom and independence and a hard-earned appreciation that peace is far, far preferable to war.

Malaysia: Light and Political Change will come but Quando’


May 24, 2016

Malaysia: Light and Political Change  will come but Quando’

by Dr. Lim Teck Ghee

Once upon a time, not long ago, many Malaysians – the majority,  in fact- believed that change was possible through politics. That was our age of innocence and naivete.

No longer now it seems, given the current plague of scandals and chicanery, and the burgeoning tools of repression and authoritarianism exercised by a government desperate to prevent the fallout from the twin crisis of IMDB and donation to the Prime Minister’s account from spiralling out of control and toppling Najib from his position.

The fish rots from the head

The fish rots from the head. The rot has also set well into the rest of the body politic. No political figure or body either from or associated with the Barisan Nasional coalition has been immune from the sense of disillusionment, betrayal and alienation that is pervasive among members of the public as a result of what is taking place in the country. This can be discerned from the feedback; some expressed angrily, others sorrowfully, seen on a daily basis in the readers’ columns of the social media.

Today even this last outlet where Malaysia’s rakyat can find voice to express their innermost feelings and concerns on matters of the state and the political shenanigans of the day is at risk.This is because the Government through its minions in the civil service can punish by preventing us from traveling outside the country for “disrespecting or insulting the country’s leaders” according to the Immigration Department  Director-General, Dato’ Sakib Kusmi.

“The Malaysian international passport is a travel document issued by the Government under the aegis of the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong. So, the government has the discretion to either issue, defer or revoke the travel document,” he was quoted in an email to a local daily.

His superior, the Deputy Minister for Home Affairs, clarified. “Only for people who commit offence (sic) against the Constitution, for example sedition, religion, race, and threat to national peace and harmony and national security.”

In less convoluted terms, what Nur Jazlan Mohamed, son of Dato Mohamed Rahmat, the notorious Minister and former Malaysian Ambassador to Indonesia during the Mahathir Administration, who not so long ago seen as a relatively sensible leader with liberal pretensions until his promotion to higher office, is stating is that should the government deem you or what you say/write as a threat to the government – no matter how unfounded or incorrect the view of the authority – it has the right to take away your passport and prompto you cannot travel.

But according to the government – you should not complain. After all you still have your other freedoms and rights intact.

Hence, you can always fight this decision by challenging the government in our – above board and above reproach – independent court at your own time and expense. And while it is fought in the court of law, the ban remains. Meanwhile the Immigration Department and Home Affairs will conveniently pass on the defence of its position to the salivating posse of lawyers, eagerly waiting their call to national service for a suitable fee paid out from the taxpayers’ pocket.

Genesis of ‘Political Apathy’

Some analysts, after surveys on political attitudes and behavior, have noted how most young Malaysians appear to be apathetic about the country’s politics. In explaining this finding, they have blamed it on the history of ‘political apathy’ as well as on the country’s relative prosperity, Asian respect for authority, and the campus politics ban imposed in the 1970s to squelch radicalism.

In fact, the main culprit for what appears a tidak apa attitude towards politics and political change is the Barisan Government itself which has held the reins of power since 1957.

Clearly measures such as the travel ban imposed on Maria Chin Abdullah, Bersih chief, who was prevented from travel to Seoul to receive a human rights award, are not only to deter her and other NGO leaders.

They are part of the arsenal of anti-dissent weaponry used by the authorities to send a message to the larger population who may not be apathetic to what is taking place and who may be thinking of opposing the government. They are intended precisely to breed the apathy which is part of the mental conditioning required to ensure the sustained silencing of voices and shackling of minds that want a vibrant democracy.

The ‘apathy’ has little or nothing to do with cultural values and respect for our leaders and even less to do with the level of affluence of our society. But it has everything to do with making sure that the Barisan stays in power indefinitely and kills off dissent aimed at toppling a rogue or unjust government.

And increasingly this is being done by bludgeoning, hijacking or co-opting all the other levers and instruments of authority that are entrusted to facilitate access to our basic freedoms of expression, information, thought, assembly and movement supposedly enshrined in the Constitution.

Gone a long time ago is the separation of power of the executive, legislative and judiciary in Malaysia. Gone too are the checks and balances preventing the monopoly and abuse of power by the executive branch.

But as seen from the example of authoritarian regimes elsewhere around the world, ‘apathy’ can turn to outrage and action when it is least expected.The Indian teacher Yogananda said: “It doesn’t matter if a cave has been in darkness for 10,000 years or half an hour, once you light a match it is illuminated.”

Light and political change will come to Malaysia. The question is quando (when).

Here is a short clip from CNN’s Fareed Zakaria about a country whose Late King purportedly donated USD681 million to Prime Minister Najib Razak. I am trying to obtain the entire presentation. –Din Merican

http://edition.cnn.com/2016/04/08/opinions/why-they-hate-us-zakaria/#

 

Ex-DAP Chair Tunku Aziz in the News


May 24, 2016

Ex-DAP Chair Tunku  Aziz  lodges a Police Report against Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad

by Anne Muhammad

http://www.malaysiakini.com

Former Transparency International stalwart Tunku Abdul Aziz Tunku Ibrahim has lodged a Police report against ex-Premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad, with regard to his recent remark that the Agong is “likely under house arrest”.

Tunku Aziz said he made the report because he believed Mahathir’s remark may pose a threat to Malaysia’s national security. “Mahathir’s remark was an unsubstantiated allegation that could affect the state of our national security. That’s the reason why we are lodging a police report today. We hope the authorities will take action before this situation gets out of hand. It could be very dangerous,” he told reporters outside the Dang Wangi District Police Headquarters today.

Tunku Aziz was accompanied by a few representatives of Jaringan Melayu Malaysia (JMM). He also claimed that Mahathir had made various allegations against Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak with the sole purpose of removing him from power.

“The pressing issue here is he (Mahathir) is utilising our constitutional laws for his own political agenda. For the sake of national harmony, Mahathir’s antics should not be taken lightly and I urge the authorities to take immediate action,” he added.

Tunku Aziz, who is currently the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) advisory board chairman also stressed that he had lodged the report in his individual capacity.

Mahathir had made the remark in question when he revealed he was unable to secure an audience with the Agong to submit the more than one million signatures collected for the Citizens’ Declaration.

“We have got 1.4 million signatures, and we’ve been trying to show them to the Agong. But as of now I’ve not been able to meet the Agong because it’s likely that he’s under house arrest.The rulers may be confined to their palaces,” Mahathir had claimed.

Chris Hedges: America 2016


May 23, 2016

Chris Hedges:  America 2016

Erudite “ChrisHedges  is an American journalist, activist, author, and Presbyterian minister. Hedges is also known as the best-selling author of several books including War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning (2002)—a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for NonfictionEmpire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle (2009), Death of the Liberal Class (2010), the New York Times best seller, written with cartoonist Joe Sacco, Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt (2012), and his most recent Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt (2015). http://www.wikipedia.org.

I like his views about government-big business– big bank partnerships.  His comments also seem to resonate well, especially among young American voters since The Bern (Bernie Sanders) has been making headlines in the US  primaries by giving Hillary Clinton a run for her money. So I thought I should share them with you on my Double 7 Day. And of course, I expect responses from all of you.–Din Merican

 

 

 

Mayor Sadiq Khan: A Londoner First


May 23, 2016

Mayor Sadiq Khan:  A Londoner First

by Farouk A. Peru

http://www.malaymailonline. com

Last week, Malaysia sank to an even lower level of political discourse than usual with two Penang Barisan Nasional reps vying for the top prize of most unintelligent comment.

One is the Penang Opposition leader herself, Jahara Hamid, who got jittery when she realised there was a Taoist shrine in a park. According to her, this shrine will confuse the Muslims. They would probably see this shrine, then inexplicably fall prostrate before it.

Another candidate for most unintelligent comment is Bertam assemblyman Shariful Azhar Othman. He needs eateries to have either “halal” or “non-halal” signs. Signs like “pork free” would confuse him ostensibly because he thinks pork would be freely distributed, perhaps?

While Malaysia languishes at the bottom of the political pit, history has been made. London has just elected her first Muslim mayor, Sadiq Khan.

Not many Malaysians have heard of him before this but his is a success story. The son of humble Pakistani immigrants, one of eight children, his story is a climb to the heady heights of fame and fortune. He was already a financial success before involving himself in politics.

He was part of Gordon Brown’s exiting Labour Cabinet holding two ministerial posts before and now finds himself the mayor of London. You can read his entire life story all over the Internet.

Despite the worldwide positive reaction, Sadiq Khan’s victory is not so easily formulated. Muslims, especially among all other groups, were obviously quick to laud Khan’s victory as a new era for Islam. Personally I think they are being overly optimistic. It is not as simple as: “The world has now changed. Look, a Muslim is now the mayor of London.” This is what it looks like from the outside but the truth is far more complex.

For a start, let’s take note of the fact that Khan did not win by a landslide. He achieved 44 per cent of the vote while his nearest competitor, the Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith, achieved 35 per cent. This is a not big margin at all.

It shows that Goldsmith had more than a third of voter support. Considering Goldsmith’s previous performance, this is a record when compared to Khan’s and the only reason Goldsmith would even get that many votes is that Khan belongs to a minority group.

What is perhaps even worse is that Goldsmith achieved this by using underhanded tactics in his campaign. He was actually chided by senior Conservatives for his tactics. One of his more blatantly racist claims actually suggested that allowing Khan victory would be surrendering London to terrorists!

London has not come a long way at all. It has made progress but not by far.That brings us to another important point which Malaysian Islamo fascists realised a few days after Khan’s victory. Sadiq Khan is a Pakistani Muslim but he is far from the conservative version of an Islamist.

He did not win the elections in order to turn London into a Muslim city! Rather, he is very friendly to all faiths. There is even a picture of him dressed in Hindu garb which, to my amusement, was circulated with much regret around the Malay-Muslim social media.

What took the biscuit, however, was the revelation that Khan supported same sex marriages some years back. This information completely removed him from being any semblance of a Muslim media darling!

We should really ask ourselves, why were we so elated in the first place when a Muslim was elected as the mayor of London? Would it make any difference who gets elected as long as the person was capable of doing his job?

 

Beneath Malaysia’s façade, lies a dangerous, widespread, and fundamental rot (photo from malaysia-chronicle.com). Read: http://www.christopherteh.com/blog/2015/03/closing-of-the-malaysian-mind/

Malay-Muslims should also ask themselves, would they find it acceptable if a member of the rakyat who was not a Malay was appointed the mayor of KL? It would not even be a Chinese or Indian if we were to look for a Sadiq Khan equivalent. Rather it would be a specific type of a minority. Perhaps a Sikh. Would it be acceptable if a Sikh was appointed the mayor of KL? If not, then we have no business applauding Khan’s victory

We should also ask ourselves why there was little news last year when another Muslim mayor albeit of only a borough, Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman was sacked from office. Rahman was mayor for five years until it was found that he was guilty of election fraud in 2015. That did not make the headlines of Muslim news, I’m sure.

In order to make a better world, we need to beyond tribal kinship and focus on performance. Only then can the right people be chosen for the job and benefit us all.