Malaysia’s ideological disease terrorises all the same


Aren’t we tired of supporting leaders and government who do not have a clear and comprehensive understanding of sustainability? In Malaysia, we are destroying the environment, as if there is a Planet B we can move to.

Malaysia’s ideological disease terrorises all the same

March 24, 2019

by Dr. Azly Rahman

http://www.malaysiakini.com

 

COMMENT | My previous column warning of inciteful preaching, which reached 30,000 readers in three days, was removed from Facebook for “violating community standards.”

As if there is a contagious ideological disease plaguing those who do not understand what the message of peace looks like. Somebody didn’t like my message of peace. Fine. I’ll continue writing. I’ll continue to wage peace using the internet, still a powerful medium of dialogue.

Image result for j. ardern of new zealand

There was some consolation though: Such a beautiful Friday prayer session I saw live from New Zealand. Poignant and filled immensely with the message of peace. Such a beautiful display of respect and love by New Zealanders  including Prime Minister J. Arden being there to comfort Muslims who lost their loved ones.

In a 2017 study on the “most Islamic country in the world,” New Zealand was at the top spot, and Saudi Arabia in comparison, was 47th in the list. This is the meaning of an Islamic state and the Islamicity of it: social justice, human rights, sustainability and personal freedom – the antidote to terrorism, to ideological diseases.

Religious aggression

I thought of this question this week: of peace, conflict, and the root cause of terrorism, as well as where the country is going to when it comes to environmental degradation.

How shameful America is when it comes to gun control laws, compared to New Zealand’s ban on assault rifles.

Of course, the issue is complex because it is about rights: to bear arms, and how American are so institutionalised about amendments that protect this and that right. But I do believe that gun control begins with parents banning toy guns in the house – violence need not be a plaything.

We are living in a world where a contagious disease of a different kind exists: ideology. Of the link between consciousness, culture, and economic conditions. This manifests in violence that has become more structural or unseen, engulfing the minds of the masses.

Consider the advancement of terrorism in our region, as Islamic State moves its operations to Southeast Asia. Poverty and lack of exposure to liberal education are the main causes of the rise of terrorism. Address these, as they contribute to the advancement of this ideological disease.

My advice to Muslims: Preach not about Islam if you still have a poor understanding of the wisdom of it. Of the concept of the four branches of knowledge, shariat-tariqat-hakikat-makrifat. Just live a life based on that.

If every Muslim preaches to himself/herself and to the family first, we don’t need preachers preaching jihad.

Private religion. The thousand-year-old Holy War seem to be reenacting globally in newer forms and styles, with the semiotics and semantics of terror. And now, we want to bring back IS fighters, lack the will to prosecute polluters and harbour hate preachers. What’s wrong with us?

Environmental aggression

Consider the environmental terrorism we are witnessing. Of what happened recently in Pasir Gudang.

Malaysians need to know the companies that pollute rivers and dump waste. They need to also know which powerful people own them. The pollution in Pasir Gudang could have killed dozens of schoolchildren and citizens. Which company is responsible?

The government should go after companies that pollute and poison the rivers, as well as the ones that destroy our rainforests and mangrove reserves. Name the companies involved in destroying our environment and which powerful and wealthy people own them.

The media should be more active in exposing the interlocking directorships of these corporate criminals destroying us. Name the company that dumped poison into Sungai Kim Kim near my hometown. Who owns it? Johoreans want to know!

Unless the Pakatan Harapan government doesn’t care, it must help citizens fight ecological terrorists – the companies that destroy our environment. States such as Johor seem to be ravaged by mindless industrialists who do not care about environmental impact.

Aren’t we tired of supporting leaders and government who do not have a clear and comprehensive understanding of sustainability? In Malaysia, we are destroying the environment, as if there is a Planet B we can move to.

Parent action groups in Malaysian education and NGOs must help parents and citizens in Pasir Gudang go after those responsible. Our children must be given the right to demand a saner, cleaner, and safer planet.

Economic aggression

As we speak, we are reading more about how gung-ho our economic plans are. Bordering on economic terrorism, a nucleus in this contagious ideological disease.

You pour in billions of ringgit into Kedah, for example, and let East Malaysia continue to live in poverty?

Is this the new regime’s smartest developmentalist ideology? Or the same old system of patronage? I grab power, I design projects, my party members benefit. This ideology of developmentalism is not sustainable if it continues to create haves and have-nots in society.

Worse, these projects created and monopolised by politicians are to ensure their children will be well-fed for seven generations. A shrewd Machiavellian will have the different groups fight over crumbs and illusions, while he orchestrates the biggest robbery.

Race and religion

While all these racial and religious issues are being played up, huge businesses dealings are being made by politicians. As usual.

We have to teach the masses to see beyond false consciousness, to identify this contagious ideological diseases. In Malaysia, politicians use religious preachers as spiritual trouble makers, to blind the people of real race and class issues.

Terrorism can only be eliminated when all religions are seen as equal and practical, and class divisions and poverty ended.

The more you give power and your ears to the TV preacher, the more he’ll become big headed. All television evangelists wish to make money, whether you call it Peace TV or God’s Cable Channel. Big business for the gullible.

Today, everybody wants to push their own truth, not knowing that everyone is a truth in itself to be constructed. At my age, the dialogues of religion, spirituality, existentialism happen only within me, bored I am of public forums on truth.

All religions need not be defended if the devotees keep their understanding to themselves and enjoy the journey. You bring in a radical preacher into your country, he’ll bring his country’s violent conflict to mess up your society.

Politicians hiding behind the gown of religious fanatics and hate speech champs have no moral direction. Vote them out! Let us continue to support each other in fighting hatred and hate speech. Begin at home. Educate for basic respect for others.

Wage peace

What is the root cause of terrorism? The manufacturing and creating of deadly crises, so that the global arms industry – of light arms to massive smart bombs – may flourish.

Poverty, rock-logic religion, the lack or total rejection of liberal education, and for the inciters, power to influence and the huge appetite to be megalomanic preachers – these are the root cause of the ideological disease.

Power given by the ignorant and powerless to worship those who are masters of deception, perception, and religious and ideological militancy – this is what fuels the deadly cells of violence. That contagious ideological disease we’ve been talking about.

But today, my heart goes to those in Christchurch massacred after Friday prayers. By a terrorist. By a force growing larger than the IS, in due time: white supremacist terrorists. A global contagious ideological disease finally been diagnosed as how it should be.

Wage peace, not war. Contain the ideological diseases spreading like wildfire. This is rent we must pay for living in this increasingly violent world.


AZLY RAHMAN is an educator, academic, international columnist, and author of seven books available here. He grew up in Johor Bahru and holds a doctorate in international education development and Master’s degrees in six areas: education, international affairs, peace studies communication, fiction and non-fiction writing. He is a member of the Kappa Delta Pi International Honour Society in Education. Twitter @azlyrahman. More writings here.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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John Dean: I Testified Against Nixon. Here’s My Advice for Michael Cohen.


March 2, 2019

Image result for john dean and richard m.nixon

 

There are several parallels between my testimony before Congress in 1973, about President Richard Nixon and his White House, and Michael Cohen’s testimony this week about President Trump and his business practices. Setting aside the differences regarding how we got there, we both found ourselves speaking before Congress, in multiple open and closed venues, about criminal conduct of a sitting president of the United States. This is not a pleasant place to be, particularly given the presidents involved.

There are some differences: Unlike Mr. Cohen, who testified in public for a day, I testified for five days. His prepared statement was about 4,000 words; mine was some 60,000 words. Nielsen reports over 16 million people watched his testimony. I am told over 80 million people watched all or part of mine.

Polls varied widely after my testimony. One said 50 percent of Americans believed me, 30 percent did not, and 20 percent were not sure. Another poll had 38 percent believing the president, who denied my statement, and 37 percent believing me. The instant polls on Mr. Cohen’s testimony vary by party affiliation, as was the case with my polls. But 35 percent found him credible. I believe that number will grow.

While my testimony was eventually corroborated by secret recordings of our conversations made by Mr. Nixon, before that it was other witnesses who made the difference. I was surprised by the number of people who surfaced to support my account. The same, I suspect, will happen for Michael Cohen. The Mafia’s code of omertà has no force in public service. I have heard no one other than Roger Stone say he will go to jail for Donald Trump.

Mr. Cohen should understand that if Mr. Trump is removed from office, or defeated in 2020, in part because of his testimony, he will be reminded of it for the rest of his life. He will be blamed by Republicans but appreciated by Democrats. If he achieves anything short of discovering the cure for cancer, he will always live in this pigeonhole. How do I know this? I am still dealing with it.

Image result for John Dean and Richard M.Nixon

Just as Mr. Nixon had his admirers and apologists, so it is with Mr. Trump. Some of these people will forever be rewriting history, and they will try to rewrite it at Mr. Cohen’s expense. They will put words in his mouth that he never spoke. They will place him at events at which he wasn’t present and locations where he has never been. Some have tried rewriting my life, and they will rewrite his, too.

Image result for John Dean and Richard M.Nixon

Even now, with proof beyond a peradventure of a doubt in hand, it is difficult to comprehend what a scoundrel we selected, twice, to be President of the United States. It is difficult, too, for men who thought they ought to know him well, men such as Elliot Richardson, and Richard Kleindienst, and perhaps even Gerald R. Ford. It is difficult for Henry Petersen, who didn’t think he needed to know the President to trust the President. They thought he was, at least, their friend.

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1974/11/friends-richard-nixon/309443/

I am thinking of people like Mr. Stone, the longtime Trump associate who worked on the 1972 Nixon campaign and so admires the former president that he has a tattoo of the man’s likeness between his shoulder blades. Mr. Stone, whom I never met while at the White House, has been indicted as part of the inquiry by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, on charges of lying to Congress about his efforts to contact WikiLeaks during the 2016 presidential campaign.

He prides himself as a political dirty trickster, and he has never met a conspiracy theory he did not believe. Mr. Cohen can be sure that Mr. Stone will promote new conspiracy theories to defend Mr. Trump and himself, even if it means rewriting history. Presidential scandals tend to attract a remarkable number of dishonest “historians.”

There is one overarching similarity that Mr. Cohen and I share. He came to understand and reject Mr. Trump as I did Mr. Nixon.

Mr. Nixon first called on me regarding Watergate some eight months after the arrests of his re-election committee operatives at the Watergate. We had 37 conversations, and when I felt I had his confidence, I tried but failed to get him to end the cover-up. The day I told Mr. Nixon there was a cancer on his presidency was the day I met the real Nixon. I knew I had to break rank.

Mr. Cohen has likewise come to see Mr. Trump for his true nature. At the very end of his testimony before the House Oversight Committee, he sought permission to read a closing statement.

He thanked the members, and again accepted responsibility for his bad behavior. He then told the legislators, “Given my experience working for Mr. Trump, I fear that if he loses the election in 2020 that there will never be a peaceful transition of power, and this is why I agreed to appear before you today.” This was the most troubling — actually, chilling — thing he said in his five hours before the committee.

Since Mr. Cohen’s warning came in his closing words, there was no opportunity for committee members to ask follow-up questions. So I double-checked with his lawyer, Lanny Davis, if I had understood Mr. Cohen’s testimony correctly. Mr. Davis responded, “He was referring to Trump’s authoritarian mind-set, and lack of respect for democracy and democratic institutions.”

Indeed, what is most similar about my and Mr. Cohen’s testimony is that we both challenged authoritarian presidents of the United States by revealing their lies and abuses of power. Mr. Trump is the first authoritarian president since Mr. Nixon, and neither he nor his supporters will play fair. Mr. Cohen will be dealing with these people the rest of his life.

John W. Dean, who served as White House counsel under Richard Nixon, is the author of “Conservatives Without Conscience,” which he is revising to discuss Donald Trump and his followers in collaboration with Bob Altemeyer, a retired professor of psychology at the University of Manitoba, a leading expert on authoritarianism.

Reflections on Achieving the Global Education Goals


February 15, 2019

Reflections on Achieving the Global Education Goals

Project Syndicate Logo

In today’s deeply interconnected world, the benefits of strong and inclusive education systems are far-reaching. A quality education gives people the knowledge they need to recognize the importance of safeguarding the planet’s finite resources, appreciate diversity and resist intolerance, and act as informed global citizens.

https://www.project-syndicate.oryO8cnaCfxvpRj6xZQWIVfABNo8v98hSxJ6_Tzc6M

 

NEW YORK – Throughout my life, I have seen the power of education. I have witnessed how quality education for all can support the creation of dynamic economies and help to sustain peace, prosperity, and stability. I have also observed how education instills in individuals, no matter their circumstances, a strong sense of self, as well as confidence in their place in the world and their future prospects.

We know that each additional year of schooling raises average annual GDP growth by 0.37%, while increasing an individual’s earnings by up to 10%. If every girl worldwide received 12 years of quality education, lifetime earnings for women could double, reaching $30 trillion. And if all girls and boys completed secondary education, an estimated 420 million people could be lifted out of poverty. According to a 2018 World Bank report, universal secondary education could even eliminate child marriage.

In today’s deeply interconnected world, the benefits of strong and inclusive education systems extend even further. Education gives people the knowledge they need to recognize the importance of safeguarding the planet’s finite resources, appreciate diversity and resist intolerance, and act as informed global citizens.

The United Nations Millennium Development Goals, created in 2000 to guide global development over the subsequent 15 years, gave new impetus to efforts to ensure education for all. From 2000 to 2015, primary-school enrolment in the developing world rose from 83% to 91%, reducing the number of out-of-school primary-school-age children from 100 million to 57 million. Moreover, from 1990 to 2015, the global literacy rate among people aged 15 to 24 increased from 83% to 91%, with the gap between men and women declining substantially.

But much remains to be done. Globally, at least 263 million children were out of school in 2016. This includes half of all children with disabilities in developing countries. Furthermore, half of all children of preschool-age – the most crucial years for their cognitive development – are not enrolled in early-childhood education.

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The situation deteriorates further in conflict zones, where girls are almost two and a half times as likely to be out of school as their peers in stable countries. And this does not cover the estimated 617 million children and adolescents of primary and lower-secondary-school age – 58% of that age group – who are not achieving minimum proficiency in reading and mathematics.

To help close these gaps, the successor to the MDGs, the Sustainable Development Goals, also emphasizes education. SDG4 commits the world to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all – essentially to harness the power of education to unlock every person’s potential. Despite the scale of the challenge and the diverse barriers that can restrict and disrupt learning, we know what an effective strategy would entail.

First, to be a true force for change, education itself must be transformed in response to the realities of accelerating globalization, climate change and labor market shifts. While advanced technologies – such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and blockchain – raise new challenges, they may be able to play a role in improving educational outcomes. Digital skills must be part of any curriculum, and new alliances with the tech sector – which can provide valuable insights into these topics – should be actively pursued.

Second, an inclusive and lifelong approach, focused on reaching the most marginalized and vulnerable populations, is essential. As UNICEF’s Innocenti Report Card 15 shows, this does not mean sacrificing high standards. In fact, as the report points out, children of all backgrounds tend to do better when they are in a more socially integrated school environment. Such an inclusive approach will require sharing best practices and investing in what is proven to work. Meanwhile, development partners must provide long-term support that emphasizes capacity-building and institutions, and balances humanitarian, economic, and security imperatives.

For education systems and services to be truly inclusive, however, they must also leave no one behind, such as refugees. UNESCO’s latest Global Monitoring Report estimates that refugees have missed 1.5 billion school days since 2016. While eight of the top ten hosting countries, including several low- and middle-income countries, have shouldered considerable costs despite the strain on education systems to ensure that refugees attend school alongside nationals, most countries either exclude refugees from national education systems or assign them to separate facilities. This entrenches disadvantage and hampers social integration. The two landmark global compacts on migration and refugees adopted by UN member states last December point the way toward addressing this challenge.

Achieving the needed educational transformation will require far more financing than is currently on offer. As it stands, the global annual funding gap for education amounts to nearly $40 billion. Closing this gap will require not just increased domestic financing, but also a renewed commitment from international donors.

Everyone has the right to an education. Upholding this right – and achieving SDG4 – will require well-designed strategies, coupled with a prolonged commitment to implementation and effective cooperation among all relevant stakeholders. The UN and its agencies will continue to support such actions, as we strive to ensure that no one is left behind.

 

 

Remembering Tunku’s words on his 116th birthday by Lim Kit Siang


February 8, 2019

Remembering Tunku’s words on his 116th birthday

by Lim Kit Siang

https://www.malaysiakini.com

MP SPEAKS | Today is the 116th anniversary of the birthday of Malaysia’s first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman.

Thirty-six years ago, on Feb 8, 1983, on his 80th birthday, Tunku issued the clear public message that plural Malaysia should not be turned into an Islamic State.Image result for tunku abdul rahman

Four days later, on Feb 12, 1983, on the occasion of his 61st birthday, the Third Prime Minister  Tun Hussein Onn publicly supported Tunku’s call.

In fact, Tunku told Parliament on May 1, 1958: “I would like to make it clear that this country is not an Islamic state as it is generally understood; we merely provided that Islam shall be the official religion of the state.”

It is most appropriate to remember this history when we watch the MCA president Wee Ka Siong turn and twist in his histrionics to justify something the founding fathers of MCA, whether or not Tan Cheng Lock or Tan Siew Sin would have approved, the political co-operation with PAS under the leadership of Abdul Hadi Awang – who is reviving Islamic State rhetoric and espousing the most toxic and vicious brand of politics of lies, hate, fear, race and religion to sow suspicion, distrust and hatred among the races and religions in Malaysia.

Wee need not reply to the question whether he is aware that he would have lost his deposit in Ayer Hitam parliamentary seat in the 14th general election under the Hadi’s dictum that Muslims must vote for Muslim candidates, for all Malaysians know the answer.

DAP has never denied that we had worked with PAS in the Barisan alternative from 1999 to 2001 and Pakatan Rakyat from 2008 to 2015, but DAP’s co-operation with PAS was based on principles – not opportunism or expediency.

DAP leaders believe that Malaysia should be an international showcase of inter-religious and inter-civilisational dialogue, tolerance and understanding instead of being an example of a “clash of civilisations”.

To achieve this, Malaysians must engage with a political Islam that recognises Malaysia as a plural society and believes that Malaysia’s greatness comes from the leveraging of the assets and best qualities from the diverse races, religions, languages and civilisations that meet in confluence in Malaysia, building tolerance, trust and confidence among the races and religions and not sow suspicion, distrust, fear and hatred among the races and religions.

DAP leaders were prepared to pay a heavy price to achieve this national goal, including being defeated in the 10th general election in 1999 when Karpal Singh and I were defeated in the Jelutong and Bukit Bendera parliamentary seats, respectively.

This is when the voters succumbed to the Gerakan/MCA propaganda against Barisan Alternative with the politics of lies and fear that a vote for DAP was a vote for PAS and an Islamic state, and that if I was elected, the Chinese could not eat pork, take alcohol and go to temples, while beautiful women woud not be able to find jobs and that there would be a chopping of hands and feet.

The Barisan Alternative would not have been formed if PAS was not prepared to respect the opposition of DAP, Parti Keadilan and PRM to an Islamic State, focusing instead on the common objectives of restoring justice, freedom, democracy and good governance in Malaysia.

After the 1999 general election however, PAS leaders disregarded the opposition of the other component parties of Barisan Alternative to an Islamic State.

The issue confronting Barisan Alternative was whether the PAS leaders were prepared to abide by the BN consensus and respect the DAP’s opposition to an Islamic State in a multi-racial and multi-religious Malaysia was not compatible with parliamentary democracy, power-sharing in a plural society, human rights and individual freedoms, women’s rights and social tolerance.

DAP had no hesitation to break our co-operation with PAS in 2001 when PAS reneged on the common Alternative Front manifesto “Towards a Just Malaysia”.

 

When the second DAP-PAS cooperation occurred with the formation of Pakatan Rakyat on April 1, 2008, after the “political tsunami” of the general election that year, it was based on a joint commitment “to uphold the rights and interests of all Malaysians, regardless of religion or race, as enshrined in the Constitution”.

But Hadi’s insistence to raise the Islamic State issue caused a crisis in Pakatan Rakyat, which was saved from dissolution after a late-night meeting of Pakatan Rakyat leaders on Sept 28, 2011, resulting in a joint statement by the leaders of the three parties in the coalition reaffirming their resolve to continue giving priority to Pakatan Rakyat’s common policy framework and consensus.

This common policy framework and consensus excluded Islamic State and hudud and there was the clear understanding that any policy change in Pakatan Rakyat would need the agreement of all three component parties.

Before the 13th general election, DAP rebuffed PAS overture for Hadi to replace Anwar Ibrahim as Prime Minister-designate of Pakatan Rakyat.

After the 13th general election, the Islamic State and hudud issues re-surfaced and Pakatan Rakyat faced its demise in 2015 when Hadi persisted with the goal of implementing hudud in violation of the coalition’s common policy framework.

Now Hadi condemns DAP as an “enemy of Islam”. But during the Teluk Intan by-election in May 2014, Hadi was full of praise for DAP and recalled that it was DAP that defended PAS when the Kelantan government fell in 1978.

Although BN was working with PAS then, BN did nothing to help them.

Hadi said in the Teluk Intan by-election: “Only DAP defended us that time and we are grateful to them.”

At that time, PAS followed the true teachings of Islam and was a strong opponent of corruption and abuses of power – but subsequently, Hadi took PAS through a major transformation by giving former prime minister Najib Razak support for turning Malaysia into a global kleptocracy!

DAP is always a “friend of Islam” which is moderate and tolerant which will make Malaysia a world top-class nation and not an extremist and intolerant Islam which divide Malaysians and will destroy the Malaysian dream.

I had wondered why Hadi has suddenly attacked DAP as an “enemy of Islam”.

Image result for hadi awang the hippo

The reason is quite obvious – to divert public attention from Hadi’s withdrawal of his legal suit against Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown and an out-of-court settlement which allowed the original Sarawak Report article on Najib giving RM90 million to PAS to remain online and Unretracted.

This bring us to the question of why MCA is co-operating with PAS when Hadi is reviving the Islamic State rhetoric and espousing the most vicious and toxic politics of lies, hate, fear, race and religion to divide Malaysians in post-GE14 Malaysia?


LIM KIT SIANG is the MP for Iskandar Puteri.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

 

Trump, Macron, and the Poverty of Liberalism


January 24, 2019trump macron

Trump, Macron, and the Poverty of Liberalism

by

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/trump-macron-inequality-and-trust-by-kishore-mahbubani-2019-01

If liberals want to defeat populists, there is only one route: regain the trust of the voters that form much of their base. The choice for liberals is clear: they can feel good by condemning their opponents, or they can do good by attacking the elite interests that have contributed to their opponents’ success

 

DAVOS – No Western liberal would disagree that Donald Trump’s election was a disaster for American society, while that of Emmanuel Macron was a triumph for French society. In fact, the opposite may well be true, as heretical as that sounds

.The first question to ask is why people are engaged in violent street protests in Paris, but not in Washington, DC. I have personally experienced these Paris protests, and the smell of tear gas on the Champs-Élysées reminded me of the ethnic riots I experienced in Singapore in 1964. And why are the protesting? For many, at least initially, it is because they didn’t believe that Macron cared for or understood their plight.

Macron is trying to implement sensible macroeconomic reform. The proposed increases in taxes on diesel fuel would have reduced France’s budget deficits and helped lower its carbon dioxide emissions. His hope was that a stronger fiscal position would increase confidence and investment in the French economy so that the bottom 50% of society would eventually benefit. But for people to endure short-term pain for long-term gain, they must trust their leader. And Macron, it appears, has lost the trust of much of that bottom 50%.

By contrast, Trump retains the trust and confidence of the bottom half of US society, or at least the white portion of it. At first sight, this seems strange and paradoxical: the billionaire Trump is socially much further from the bottom 50% than the middle-class Macron is. But when Trump attacks the liberal and conservative US establishments, he is seen as venting the anger of the less well-off toward an elite that has ignored their plight. His election may, therefore, have had a cathartic effect on the bottom 50%, which may explain the lack of street protests in Washington or other major American cities.

And these Americans have much to be angry about. Most tellingly, the United States is the only major developed society where the average income of the bottom half has not just stagnated but declined markedly, as Danny Quah of the National University of Singapore has documented. Even more shockingly, the average income of the top 1% was 138 times that of the bottom 50% in 2010, up from 41 times higher in 1980.By contrast, Trump retains the trust and confidence of the bottom half of US society, or at least the white portion of it. At first sight, this seems strange and paradoxical: the billionaire Trump is socially much further from the bottom 50% than the middle-class Macron is. But when Trump attacks the liberal and conservative US establishments, he is seen as venting the anger of the less well-off toward an elite that has ignored their plight. His election may, therefore, have had a cathartic effect on the bottom 50%, which may explain the lack of street protests in Washington or other major American cities.

And these Americans have much to be angry about. Most tellingly, the United States is the only major developed society where the average income of the bottom half has not just stagnated but declined markedly, as Danny Quah of the National University of Singapore has documented. Even more shockingly, the average income of the top 1% was 138 times that of the bottom 50% in 2010, up from 41 times higher in 1980.

There is no single explanation for why inequality in the US has rocketed while the economic interests of the bottom 50% have been ignored. But we can obtain at least a partial answer by looking at the two principles of justice that Harvard philosopher John Rawls articulated in his famous book A Theory of Justice. The first principle emphasizes that each person should have “an equal right to the most extensive liberty,” while the second says that social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that they are to “everyone’s advantage.”

The undeniable fact is that Western liberals have emphasized the first principle over the second in both theory and practice, prioritizing individual liberty and worrying far less about inequality. They believe that as long as elections take place and people can vote freely and equally, this is a sufficient condition for social stability. It follows, therefore, that those who fail economically do so because of personal incompetence, not social conditions.

Yet there was no doubt when China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001 that “creative destruction” in developed economies would follow, entailing millions of job losses. These economies’ elites – whether in the US, France, or elsewhere – had a responsibility to help those who were losing their jobs. But no such help was forthcoming.

For this reason, liberals may have made a strategic mistake by focusing their anger on Trump himself. Instead, they should ask themselves why much of the bottom 50% trusts him (and may yet re-elect him). And if they were honest, liberals would admit that they have effectively let the bottom half of society down.

If liberals want to defeat Trump, there is only one route: regain the trust of the voters that form much of his base. This will require them to restructure their societies so that economic growth benefits the bottom half more than the top 1%. In theory, this can be done easily. In practice, however, major vested interests will invariably seek to block reform. The choice for liberals is clear: they can feel good by condemning Trump, or they can do good by attacking the elite interests that contributed to his election.

.If liberals can do the latter, Trump’s election would be seen by future historians as a necessary wake-up call, while Macron’s merely created the illusion that all was well. These historians might then conclude that Trump’s election was ultimately better for American society than Macron’s was for France.

 

 

Hadi, Le Hypocrite as Malaysian Prime Minister– GOD Save US from Bigotry


January 23, 2019

Hadi, Le Hypocrite as Malaysian Prime Minister– GOD Save US from Bigotry

by Dennis Ignatius

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

At a party political campaign meeting in Cameron Highlands in support of the Barisan Nasional candidate, PAS president Hadi Awang insisted that it was the religious duty of Muslims to vote only for Muslims so that they could bring an “Islamic voice” to Parliament. He urged Muslim voters to trust only Muslims to represent them because non-Muslims apparently have no concept of sin and heavenly reward. Presumably, that makes them unfit to sit in Parliament.

Hadi, of course, is a bitter foe of DAP (although he was happy to embrace them when it suited him). His comments, however, speak to wider issues on race and religion in Malaysia and cannot be allowed to let stand.

Where was the Islamic voice?

In the first place, if an “Islamic voice” in Parliament is needed, Hadi and his cohort of Islamist politicians are hardly the ones to represent it.

For years Hadi and the whole bunch of PAS and Umno members of Parliament aided and abetted the cover-up of the 1MDB scandal, the biggest scandal in our history. Billions of ringgit of taxpayers’ money, money belonging to the voters of Cameron Highlands, Muslim and non-Muslim, was looted and squandered on high living, debauchery and partying all over the world. Expensive champagne, paid for with taxpayer funds, was flowing in distant playgrounds while the voters in Cameron Highlands had to struggle to earn a decent living.

Where was the “Islamic voice” of Hadi when all this was going on? Instead of speaking up for the voters and defending their rights in Parliament, Hadi was defending the kleptocrats and dismissing the 1MDB scandal as fake news.

A concept of sin without integrity

As a multiracial, non-religious political party, DAP, of course, takes no position on concepts of sin and heavenly reward. Nevertheless, DAP has a far better track record when it comes to integrity, justice and public service than religiously-inclined parties like Umno and PAS. Indeed, it was this commitment to integrity, justice and public service that led DAP on a long and lonely quest to expose the 1MDB scandal while Umno and PAS were doing their best to cover it up or look the other way.

Of what use is a concept of sin and heavenly reward if it does not lead to integrity, honesty and respect for truth here on earth? Umno was rejected by the people because it came to be seen as a highly corrupt party that was more interested in earthly rewards than heavenly ones. Did the millions in cash and jewellery found in Najib Razak’s house reveal nothing to Hadi? Even now, as the new Pakatan Harapan government uncovers scandal after scandal, PAS keeps insisting that Umno is the right party to represent the people simply because it is a Muslim one.

Is Hadi so blinded by his disdain for non-Malays and non-Muslims that he’d rather have a corrupt and discredited Malay-Muslim party in power than a clean and honest coalition of Muslims and non-Muslims in office?

And let’s not forget that the biggest victims of Umno’s abuse of power and the conniving silence of PAS were the Malays themselves. Even cherished institutions like Tabung Haji, LTAT and Felda that were set up specifically to help Malay-Muslims were mismanaged or plundered by Umno cronies. Nothing was sacred to them. All the talk about “bangsa, agama and negara” was simply a cover to enrich themselves.

Non-Muslims

Amazingly, after suggesting that non-Muslims were not fit to represent the citizens of Cameron Highlands in Parliament, Hadi had the audacity to appeal to non-Muslims to support the Umno candidate because Umno “has already proven that it respects their rights”.

Is Hadi delusional? Has he forgotten that under Umno our democratic space was vastly reduced, our economy was mismanaged, our sovereignty was endangered through unsustainable levels of debt, and the country itself became the world’s biggest kleptocracy?

Hadi himself has persistently advocated a kind of religious apartheid state where non-Muslims would be barred from holding high office, reduced to “dhimmitude” in their own country and subject to a form of shariah law that is so harsh that even Muslim countries shy away from it.

Hadi has done nothing to earn our trust and everything to earn our disgust. He’s the last person that anyone should listen to when it comes to casting their vote. If anything, voters can’t go wrong rejecting any candidate that Hadi endorses.

At the end of the day, our nation’s interests are surely better served by people with integrity and a proven track record of public service rather than by people who may have a concept of sin but are utterly lacking in integrity and a commitment to good governance and respect for diversity. Better non-religious politicians committed to serving the people than hypocritical ones hiding behind religion.