Deputy Foreign Minister Marzuki Yahya -It’s not just about the degree


February 13, 2019

Deputy Foreign Minister Marzuki Yahya  -It’s not just about the degree.

 

It’s not the gift but the thought behind it that counts. Similarly, in the recent brouhaha about the veracity of various ministers’ degrees, it is not so much the degree but how it was dished up to obfuscate others that matters.

We can see four things in the discussion about the academic credentials of our government leaders.

1. The rakyat’s frustration

People are fed up with the lies perpetuated during the former UMNO-Barisan Nasional (BN) administration. When they voted in the new Pakatan Harapan (PH) government, they did not want their lawmakers to be a carbon copy of the former UMNO-BN ministers.

This wish may take a while to come true. It is disappointing to see PH politicians support their colleagues who mislead the nation about their academic qualifications instead of demanding their resignation.

Instead of demanding truthfulness, honesty and integrity, it appears that PH politicians are falling into the same UMNO-BN trap of defending the indefensible.

If you were promised a gold Rolex watch for 20 years of service to your company, would you be happy with a knock-off from Petaling Street?

If you told your employers in your CV that you were from MIT and they later discovered that you graduated from Menglembu Institute Teknoloji instead of Massachusetts, you would be sacked.

If you are about to be anesthetized for major dental work, wouldn’t you want someone who is qualified to do it instead of someone who picked up their skills from YouTube and then paid for a dud certificate in dentistry from an internet degree mill?

Politicians should learn to tell the truth in Malaysia Baru. The people are not stupid.

2. Lack of shame

Deputy Foreign Minister Marzuki Yahya may not have said that he graduated from the University of Cambridge, England, instead of an unknown institution in the US. Was it laziness on his part, or did he bank on Malaysians seeing the word “Cambridge” in “Cambridge International University” and jumping to their own conclusions?

He must be aware that a paper qualification from a degree mill is inferior to that gained from a reputable institution. Fake degrees do not require a period of intense study. So what was his intention in this issue?

3. The significance of degrees

When people lie about their degrees, they belittle those who worked hard for theirs. A degree, among other things, shows that you have devoted three or four years of your life to a particular subject. It shows you had the discipline to complete your studies, get out of bed to attend lectures, complete assignments on time and fulfil both course requirements and practical work.

For many people, a degree is more than just a piece of paper. It is a life-changing experience, their ticket to lifting themselves and their families out of poverty. Their parents may have pawned their mother’s and grandmother’s jewellery to pay for their education, or their father may have remortgaged the house. I know of one family which lived on rice and gravy for three years.

 

For many people, a degree is more than just a piece of paper. It is a life-changing experience, their ticket to lifting themselves and their families out of poverty. Their parents may have pawned their mother’s and grandmother’s jewellery to pay for their education, or their father may have remortgaged the house. I know of one family which lived on rice and gravy for three years”.–Mariam Mokhtar

 

4. HIT: Honesty, integrity and truthfulness

If people lie about their degree, what else could they be hiding? Their degree is probably just a small thing in their life. When they enter public office, what sort of big issues would they be prepared to cover up?

It’s not so much the misrepresentation of the degree; it is rather the attempts to mask its quality, i.e. academic content and which university issued it which are unacceptable.

A person who wishes to serve the public and to be a public figure must be accountable and possess integrity. Those who lie have none.

They may claim that they are hardworking people even though they do not have proper qualifications, but would they have gotten their positions if they had not made such false representations? Other, more qualified and more capable, persons could have assumed their role instead. So those who misrepresent their degrees do the public a grave disservice.

In the end, it is the people’s loss as they do not have a person with integrity to lead them.

Think of Winston Churchill, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Richard Branson and Steve Jobs. They did not have degrees but they did not lie about having one, either. They led their nations and companies through their actions.

The problem in Malaysia is that we are seduced by power and position and, it appears, degrees from prestigious universities. Politicians know it, and that is how they pull the wool over our eyes.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.

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Siti Kasim: An Inconvenient Woman


February 13, 2019

Siti Kasim: An Inconvenient Woman

Opinion  |  S. Thayaparan

  Our government does not seem to realise that we have a serious terrorist mentality bred with extreme prejudice inside our society, which needs to be eradicated. This is a serious problem today.—Siti Kasim.

“If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.”

― Abigail Adams, The Letters of John and Abigail Adams

COMMENT | For those of us who view religious extremism, which is reaching critical levels as the existential threat facing this country, Siti Kasim is the raised middle finger to the religious bigots, fascist crypto-Islamists and race supremacists who have control and influence in this country.

Whether fighting for the rights of women, indigenous people, the LGBTQ community or opposing radical Islam, Siti Kasim has made herself a target for the religious bureaucracy and political operatives in the establishment.

While most Muslims who do not support the darker paths of Islam are content to hope for a moderate agenda from the political and religious elite, Siti openly advocates a progressive agenda for all Malaysians.

In this interview, Siti reminds us why people who read are dangerous to the established order of things, and continues in her efforts to save Malaysia from the political and religious class who view her as a real threat to their dominion.

Siti Kasim is an inconvenient reminder that the progressive forces in this country that could save Malaysia are being marginalised, and that speaking truth to power is problematic in these partisan times.

Do you think the persecution you face is based on the fact that you are a woman questioning religious dogma?

Yes, being an outspoken woman does not sit well with the patriarchy culture of radical Islamism. Also, a woman who does not conform to their view on how a Muslim woman should be.

How do you cope with the harassment you receive?

I try to ignore and focus on my causes. Of course, I can’t run away from reading the nasty messages sent to me, but I take it in my stride and believe that what I am doing is right for my country and my fellow Malaysians. The supportive messages I receive give me the strength to continue, and I know I am on the right path. I thank God for giving me a strong constitution to face all the negativity thrown at me.

What do you think is the Attorney-General’s Chambers’ (AGC) role in the current charges against you?

I am not sure what is the AGC’s role in the current charges against me. (Note: This interview was conducted before the AGC dropped the charges against Siti Kasim for showing her middle finger to hecklers in a forum.) From what’s stated by OCCI Fadzil, he received the endorsement to charge me from the previous AGC. I believe it’s selective persecution against me by certain quarters within the government.

How do you engage with Muslims who believe in the Islamist mode of thinking and believe that sanctions against you are justified?

You have no hope of engaging with them. These are people who are indoctrinated in radical Islamism. The teachings, the mentality of which is no different from that of Talibanism and ISIS terrorists. Only Taliban and ISIS terrorists will sanction others for being different from them. The only difference between them and the Taliban and ISIS is that they have no power or weapons to carry out their threats. When they have those, the country will be torn asunder.

Yet our government does not seem to realise that we have a serious terrorist mentality bred with extreme prejudice inside our society, which needs to be eradicated. This is a serious problem today.

Malay-Muslims are participating in and leading terrorist organisations all around the world. We have groups like Skuad Badar, which is nothing more than a terrorist organisation without weapons terrorising people. We have people like Amri Che Mat and Pastor Koh disappearing in plain daylight and never to be heard again. We should be terrified. Not talking about it is not going to make it go away. We need to tackle it head-on with extreme conviction.

Does being a “liberal” Muslim who appeals to a certain demographic bring with it more problems when engaging in the Islamic discourse?

It should not be. Remember our Rukun Negara has the word ‘liberal’ in it, and it was written by Malay leadership at a time when Malay society needed to progress. In fact, most of the liberal Muslims I know have more knowledge about the Quran than the majority of the Malay population because liberals read more on their own and don’t depend on the cleric class to tell them about their religion.

Do you think that Mujahid Yusof Rawa (photo) is doing enough to offer a counter-narrative in the Islamic discourse in this country?

No. They are still not facing the fact that our religious-bent Malaysian education system is delivering to us every year a more radicalised Islamist generation who are intolerant and increasingly militant in mindset. It is no surprise that PAS is increasing in strength, and UMNO has to be more radical Islamist than before in order to gain Malay votes.

We need to change this mindset by changing education to go back to our secular humanist roots. The roots that made the Malays progressive and more developed in the 80s.

What do you think is the most important issue facing the Orang Asal community in this country and what has the Harapan government done to address this issue?

First, I’d like to correct the usage of Orang Asal and Orang Asli. The ‘Orang Asal’ term is used for Sabah and Sarawak indigenous people, whilst Orang Asli is for those in the peninsula.

The Orang Asli are largely forest or agriculture based, although several individuals have achieved levels of educational and economic success comparable to those of the dominant population.

Nevertheless, it is no hidden secret that the Orang Asli rank among the most marginalised of Malaysians today, not just in terms of numbers, but in their ability to determine their own fate.

The once politically autonomous and independent people are but a pale likeness of their ancestors.

Much of this has to do with the fact that the Malaysian nation state does not recognise the Orang Asli as a separate people – that is, as distinct groups associated with particular territorial bases and requiring ‘government’ on a different basis from that of the other communities.

But, as can be discerned from their demands, the Orang Asli are not, at least not yet, seeking self-determination in the sense that they want to secede from the Malaysian nation-state. Rather, the desire is to exercise full autonomy in their traditional territories, both in the control and ownership of their lands, and in the determination of their way of life and in the way they deal with the dominant society.

The issue of Orang Asli land rights is but the most visible and deeply-felt manifestation of the principal problem facing the Orang Asli viz-a-viz the unwillingness of the state to recognise the Orang Asli as a distinct people.

Using the ‘land rights’ problem as a strategy for Orang Asli political mobilisation is rational because the issue is deeply felt among the communities, easily identifiable, and it is the source of much social stress for the Orang Asli.

With the recent suit which our federal government initiated against the Kelantan state government, it can be seen that the Pakatan Harapan government is attempting to correct the wrongs. We have also seen more Orang Asli senators being appointed when they came into power.

From our engagement with the current government, we can see there is a lot more improvement than before, at least with the current minister in charge of Orang Asli Affairs. We hope the Harapan government will continue with its determination in trying to solve our Orang Asli problems.

Do you believe that Harapan has a moderate Islamic agenda?

They have, but they do not know how to go about it. They do not have the leadership for it. The political will is missing. I will be talking in more detail on this subject in my column soon.

Do you think it is important for non-Muslims to speak up when they witness Islamic transgressions or does this make the situation worse?

Yes. We need them to stand up for fellow Malaysians, and Malays who are being persecuted by the conservative Islamist authorities, to ensure Malaysia will always be the home for their children and grandchildren to live in and prosper. When any public policy is based on any religious ideology, every citizen must have the right to speak up about it.

Is the press doing its part in highlighting Islamic provocations?

No. It has not done enough to highlight and criticise.

Why do think “moderate” Muslims are afraid to speak up?

Just look at the social media comments by their so-called fellow Muslims against anyone who does not conform to them. The amount of vile comments, threats of sanctions, harassment, persecution and even threat of physical harm by the Islamist elements in Malay society are enough to scare away and silence many Muslims.

Do you think the Malay community needs Islamic departments at state and federal levels?

Under ideal conditions, the answer would have been ‘no’, but in our environment we need a federal department that can monitor and revamp radical Islamic teaching that is going on today to abolish them. That should be their job. We don’t need them to do dakwah (proselytisation). No government should be using tax money to propagate any religion.


S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy. A retired barrister-at-law, he is one of the founding members of Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessar

No shortcuts to personal betterment


February 8, 2019

No shortcuts to personal betterment

Opinion  |
Published:  |  Modified:

  COMMENT | Columnist Julia Yeow summarised it pretty well: A degree may not define a man, but lying about it does.

Malaysiakini journalist Zikri Kamarulzaman meanwhile was one of the first to comment on this controversy, making an eloquent argument as to why having integrity is better than having a ‘degree’.

It does raise eyebrows a little bit, this apparent obsession we have about degrees and titles that leads us to go so far as to fake them.

This may also behind the phenomena where Malaysians add fake Datuk, Datuk Seri, and Tan Sri prefixes to their names on their business cards.

I suppose psychologically speaking, it must boil down to some level of personal insecurity, coupled with a proclivity to pursue shortcuts towards recognition and ‘glamour’.

We might consider such behaviour par for the course amongst conmen and hustlers, but surely this behaviour is worrisome if found in the highest levels of our government.

I’m sure this has been said to death by now – a lack of education is worrying, but not more worrying than a lack of integrity.

Counting the red flags

If I may be so bold, I think lack of intelligence is not evidenced by the lack of a degree, but by the fact that someone would choose to buy a degree from Cambridge International University.

Such a decision indicates that either the individual did not think that he would get caught, or worse yet, the individual did not realise he was buying a degree from a fake university – one where stated school ‘fees’ suspiciously do not come with some term or yearly based breakdown.

In the off chance it may be useful, here are a few indicators that the university you are buying a degree from may not be the most reputable.

(At time of writing, it appears the Cambridge International University’s website has been taken down; but luckily for you, good reader, I am possessed of a good memory, and at least one screencap).

Red flag number 1: All the faculty members have multiple degrees, stated as degree (eg “PhD”) followed only ever by a location in parentheses – e.g, “(London)”

This appears to presume that there is only one university in London, or at least only one university that gives out PhDs. Should there be any lingering doubt as to the fact that this is not true, please allow me to disabuse you of them.

Red flag number 2: In aforementioned ‘location universities’, Auckland is spelt Aukland, and Scotland is spelled Scottland.

Red flag number 3: Photos of faculty members that may be more at home at either the cast list of a 80s high school movie, or a mail order bride website.

Of scrutiny and seppuku

One would hope that the leaders of our great nation would not be the type of person susceptible to scams with the sophistication level of a Nigerian 419 email scam.

One would also hope for our leaders to be cognisant of the times we live in, where our every movement and claim is subject to the incisive, unforgiving scrutiny of the great internet masses.

Underestimate these detectives at your own peril.

How people respond to being found out is also a test of character.

A strict boss would demand seppuku, but I don’t think we need to start handing out tanto swords just yet.

That said, trying to twist and turn after having being given the lie invariably makes things worse, as does making rather irrelevant arguments such as how lying about one’s degree is not worse than raping or killing (after all, that comparison would apply to stealing billions from the nation, arguably).

When caught in flagrante delicto, a politician’s only hope for survival is ‘insaf dan bertaubat’ (repent and atone).

Chua Soi Lek did it, and he survived magnificently.

The path to betterment

I have met countless individuals with little or no higher education, whom I believe beyond doubt are my intellectual superiors.

They have always been humble, down to earth, and honest people – people who have earned respect not by the words that precede or follow one’s name, but by the words they have read, and the words that they speak.

It is right to aspire to better oneself – with or without external recognition.

Part of that journey, one we should all be on, is identifying the right path to betterment – a path that is by nature devoid of shortcuts.

It’s a hard journey to figure out, and I would never presume to know all the answers; but I think I will be presumptuous enough to say with some confidence that said path does not pass by Cambridge International University.


NATHANIEL TAN is Director of Media and Communications at Emir Research (www.emirresearch.com), a think tank focused on data-driven policy research, centered around principles of Engagement, Moderation, Innovation and Rigour. His odd degree has also been the subject of some scrutiny.

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

Intuition Is The Highest Form Of Intelligence


January 25, 2019

Intuition Is The Highest Form Of Intelligence

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Image: R~P~M/Flickr

Intuition, argues Gerd Gigerenzer, a director at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, is less about suddenly “knowing” the right answer and more about instinctively understanding what information is unimportant and can thus be discarded.

Gigerenzer, author of the book Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious, says that he is both intuitive and rational. “In my scientific work, I have hunches. I can’t explain always why I think a certain path is the right way, but I need to trust it and go ahead. I also have the ability to check these hunches and find out what they are about. That’s the science part. Now, in private life, I rely on instinct. For instance, when I first met my wife, I didn’t do computations. Nor did she.”

I’m telling you this because recently one of my readers, Joy Boleda, posed a question that stopped me in my tracks:

What about intuition? It has never been titled as a form of intelligence, but would you think that someone who has great intuition in things, has more intelligence?

My “gut instinct” is to say yes, especially when we are talking about people who are already intellectually curious, rigorous in their pursuit of knowledge, and willing to challenge their own assumptions.

Let me put this a bit simpler. If all you do is sit in a chair and trust your intuition, you are not exercising much intelligence. But if you take a deep dive into a subject and study numerous possibilities, you are exercising intelligence when your gut instinct tells you what is – and isn’t – important.

In some respects, intuition could be thought of as a clear understanding of collective intelligence. For example, most web sites are today organized in an intuitive way, which means they are easy for most people to understand and navigate. This approach evolved after many years of chaos online, as a common wisdom emerged over what information was superfluous and what was essential (i.e. About Us = essential).

Theo Humphries argues that intuitive design can be described as “understandable without the use of instructions”. This is true when an object makes sense to most people because they share a common understanding of the way things work.

You might say that I’m a believer in the power of disciplined intuition. Do your legwork, use your brain, share logical arguments, and I’ll trust and respect your intuitive powers. But if you merely sit in your hammock and ask me to trust your intuition, I’ll quickly be out the door without saying goodbye.

You might say that I’m a believer in the power of disciplined intuition. Do your legwork, use your brain, share logical arguments, and I’ll trust and respect your intuitive powers. But if you merely sit in your hammock and ask me to trust your intuition, I’ll quickly be out the door without saying goodbye.

Although this may be a paraphrase of his thoughts on the subject, Albert Einstein has been widely quoted as saying, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

Sometimes, a corporate mandate or group-think or your desire to produce a certain outcome can cause your rational mind to go in the wrong direction. At times like these, it is intuition that holds the power to save you. That “bad feeling” gnawing away at you is your intuition telling you that no matter how badly you might wish to talk yourself into this direction, it is the wrong way to go.

Smart people listen to those feelings. And the smartest people among us – the ones who make great intellectual leaps forward – cannot do this without harnessing the power of intuition.

For over 10 years, I have been a ghostwriter/coach, helping leaders to conceptualize, create and share original ideas. I have created and led dozens of personal and corporate development programs, and am a LinkedIn Influencer with over 850,000 followers

 

The good old dancing days at Universiti Malaya


January 22,

The good old dancing days at Universiti Malaya

by Anas Zubedy

I am among the fortunate few who spent their university life at Kolej Kediaman Zaaba, the 7th residential college at Universiti Malaya, during the mid-eighties.

We were lucky to have a very outstanding college master in Prof Omar Farouk, who created an environment for performance where young Malaysians could grow, test out our leadership talents and potentials and be at our best. A place where we could transit into good citizens.

At the university level, we had the wonderful and very capable Deputy Vice-Chancellor Mohd Yunus Mohd Noor and our very respectable and awesome Vice-Chancellor Royal Prof Ungku Abdul Aziz who not only were willing to defend our college master’s approach but went all out to support him.

With this solid support from the university, Omar could provide us with an open environment where diversity and inclusion thrived. Respect for others is the norm. We were encouraged to always work our way to the top, do the best and be the best! Work hard, play hard! Excel in whatever we do!

We were able to run and manage not only national level projects but also international level ones. We were perhaps the most active college in the country. Our projects were recognised internationally and were even honoured in newspaper editorials.

Yet, we were labelled by the group of people who felt that we were too western, too worldly. We were told that we were not Islamic enough. Ungku Aziz, Yunus and Omar’s names were ridiculed during Friday prayers. Big groups of people came to demonstrate.

Why? Simply because we wanted to have our “dinner and dance” events at hotels. It was not relevant to them that the dinner and dance was to celebrate, reward and award those who had worked hard and did the college proud in projects, sports, social activities, etc.

To them, dancing is bad and mixing of the genders should be avoided. And, they see it as their right to impose their thoughts on others too.

How far are they willing to go?

Our master and college members were pelted with rotten eggs. They spoke rudely to a kind and well-mannered elder, Omar, who was ever willing to discuss and listen to their views and agree to disagree.

Image result for The  University of Malaya

When my team and I were managing a project to promote Kelantanese arts and culture, lives were threatened and we had to deal with bomb hoaxes – simply because they felt that Kelantanese culture is against their religious beliefs.

That was when we were in the eighties. Have we gotten any better today?

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DWizPgOUQAEfPai.jpg

We need to stop, think, reflect and choose where we want this nation to head to. In fact, at certain levels it is not an overstatement to say that we are becoming a society with a sick mentality: where a dance party is now seen and promoted as though it is an orgy!

Unfortunately not. Today the problem has gone national. A video clip showing the chief justice and attorney-general dancing to the tune of “Lets Twist Again” with the law minister and members of the Bar has sent some people into conniption.

We need to stop, think, reflect and choose where we want this nation to head to. In fact, at certain levels it is not an overstatement to say that we are becoming a society with a sick mentality: where a dance party is now seen and promoted as though it is an orgy!

We need to engage with these people especially the leaders and influencers and help them pay attention to what is crucial.

Let me use the Zaaba experience to unpack this.

The dance parties represented an extremely small amount of time, energy and focus to those who were at Kolej Zaaba. The rest of the time, it was hard work, delivering performance, adding value and doing good.

But if one pays attention to only that few hours of dancing instead of a whole year of work, that is being myopic, petty and senseless. Ditto the Opening of the Legal Year 2019 dinner.

Inability to pay attention to what is crucial and the core is a huge social and human problem that leads to bad results. The militant Muslims for example pay attention to fighting while in reality in his 23 years of his prophethood, the Prophet spend not more than three days in actual fighting.

That should give an indication about Islam’s position on fighting. Yet, fighting defines the lives of the “jihadist”.

We need to choose what we are paying attention to.

If you still do not get it, among the products of Kolej Zaaba are the current chief secretary to the government, the foreign ministry’s secretary-general, the Election Commission chairman, top surgeons at the National Heart Institute and countless more.

So please do not focus on the dancing. Pay attention to the hard work and results.

Image result for ungku aziz

To Ungku Aziz, Omar Farouk and the late Yunus, thank you for the opportunity. Thank you for paying attention to what is crucial and giving us the environment to be good Malaysian citizens.

May all of us guide ourselves with love, logic and wisdom. Love, because love makes us fair with our hearts; logic, because logic makes us fair with our minds; and wisdom, because wisdom leads us to combine our love and logic in the way of God and for the benefit of mankind.

Anas Zubedy is a businessman.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.

 
 
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Book Review: The Sustainable State: The Future of Government, Economy and Society


 

January 12, 2018

 

 

By: Cyril Pereira

Can planet Earth survive Asia’s economic drive?

 

The Sustainable State is Hong Kong-based environmentalist and author Chandran Nair’s second book, following Consumptionomics, published in 2011. Both call for urgent recognition of the looming ecological disaster for humanity. The book launch in Hong Kong’s trendy Lan Kwai Fong district on Nov. 13 was billed as a conversation between Nair, and Zoher Abdool Karim, the recently retired TIME Asia editor. Nair’s manifesto dominated. A bemused Zoher was the smiling prop. The audience could have gained more from meaningful interlocution.

Chandran Nair has been the town crier on environmental disaster for 20 years. He faults industrialization, capitalism, free enterprise and liberal economics, for destroying the ecosystems of rivers, forests, air and water on so vast a scale, that life itself is the price paid by the poorest across the developing world. Malnutrition, starvation, and lack of access to potable water, plagues many societies at subsistence level.

Resource curse

The developed world prospered from early industrialization to capture vast resources via conquest and colonization of Asia, Africa and Latin America, he writes. The poorest societies hold the richest deposits of minerals, fossil fuels and land for plantations of rubber, palm oil, tea and coffee. Pesticides and insecticides from Monsanto and others destroy their soils and ruin their water systems. They have also been too frequently run by kleptocrats.

What he calls the “externalities” of capitalist trade – environmental degradation, pollution, social dislocation, disease and malnutrition, impact the poorest disproportionately. Therein lies the supreme irony. Nair wants these externalities of economic activity priced and charged directly to corporations. He also wants individual accountability for wasteful consumption computed for carbon footprints and taxed to discourage waste.

Responsible development and consumer habits need to be enforced, if we are to survive our collective un-wisdom. How the corporations and individuals would agree to these principles, and the respective methods to calculate the amounts to pay, are undefined. Nair does not expect the culprits to volunteer. By the legal trick of defining corporations as ‘persons,’ companies can argue rights protecting individual citizens, under national Constitutions.

Migration to cities in Europe progressed over an extended period, without too much social disruption. Rural migration to cities in the developing economies is too rapid, within a compressed time-frame. Slum populations struggle without sanitation, proper housing, access to fresh water, electricity, or schooling for children, in too many cities across the developing world. This hollowing-out of rural populations is wasteful.

Rethink development

A whole new raft of public policies needs to evolve for ecological balance. Development plans to retain rural manpower and incentivize agricultural food security, are absent. Urban dwellers have to pay higher prices for natural produce, instead of buying packaged food in supermarkets. Efficient public transport systems have to be built to prevent city traffic gridlock. Electric vehicles have to replace fossil fuel engines.

Nair’s nightmare is the adoption by developing countries of the Western model for economic growth. India and China will constitute 30 percent of the global 10 billion by 2050. Add Africa, Latin America, and the rest of developing Asia to that, and the consequences of feckless industrialization, along with wasteful urban consumption, are too obvious. Nair advocates a radical overhaul of the development mindset.

Prescriptions from the developed world peddled by the World Bank and the IMF, in Nair’s mind, exceed Planet Earth’s healing capacity. Natural resource depletion and poisoning of the earth, water and air, must be stopped now. Hurricanes and typhoons destroying habitats and flooding societies, are increasing in frequency and ferocity. The consequences are all too real for climate change deniers.

Related image

Plastic Pollution in the World’s Oceans: More than 5 Trillion Plastic Pieces Weighing over 250,000 Tons Afloat at Sea

The weight of floating plastic in the oceans will soon exceed that of the global fish stock. This poison has entered our food chain, killing us slowly while choking sea life. Human overpopulation, food cultivation and de-forestation, wipes out wildlife at the rate of 30,000 species per year, according to Harvard biologist E. O Wilson. Now our collective irresponsibility will kill the oceans too.

Prioritize social equity

If replicating the Western growth model is madness, what are the alternatives? Nair moves into contentious territory on this. He calls for strong government and a revised development agenda. Rather than Hollywood-movie lifestyles, he suggests inclusive policies for all citizens to ensure clean water, electricity, sanitation, universal education and gainful employment as minimal benchmarks. Modest prosperity benefits all.

Social equity, well-being and protection of nature cannot be achieved without political legitimacy and effective rulership. Governance has been hijacked by Big Biz and sponsor politicians. Lobby groups target lawmakers. PR companies spin fakery for corporations and politicians. The mass media is co-opted through advertising and ownership. All at the expense of gullible citizens, led to believe they have some say every five years.

Strong state works

Nair contrasts the dysfunctions of India with the success of China. He skates on thin ice where individual rights and freedoms can be ignored, for the collective good. He says only a “strong” state has the mass mobilization capacity to marshal people, resources and investment, for sustainable development. To Nair, Hong Kong is a weak state unable to address basic public housing. He jests that a boss imposed by Beijing can fix that.

The European Union is a strong authority able to mandate socially responsible policy across its constituent members. Britain and the US are weak states floundering for effective governance, polarized by divisive populist politics. Nair is less interested in ideologies of the Left or Right, than in the State as effective authority for the common good. He wants the institutions of good governance strengthened at every level.

Oddly, Nair dismisses world governance as the solution. The United Nations, overly compromised by funding dependency and too timid to upset powerful voting blocs, is not his answer. Where then will the needed global course-correction come from? The issues Nair raises are urgent. Are we doomed to self-destruct by default anyway? If he has an answer, Nair has not articulated it in his books, or his public campaigns. Perhaps there might be a third book for that.