Musings on a nation gone half-mad


April 14, 2019

Musings on a nation gone half-mad

Opinion  |  Azly Rahman

Published:  |  Modified:

 

 

https://dinmerican.wordpress.com/2019/04/14/musings-on-a-nation-gone-half-mad/

COMMENT | Like all of you esteemed readers, I sometimes do not know what to make of the world we are living in. Especially that of our beloved country. But think about it, we must.

The wealthy and the powerful are having a field day, during the remains of their day perhaps, in a world ever changing wherein information wants to be free and the cybernetic world can help the maddening masses bring mad leaders down. In my half-wide awakeness, these past few days, I thought of these:

Malays and the syndrome of Harry Houdini

Reading about the state of things, I see academics continue to sell their soul to the forces of idiocy, to the deep state of decadence guised as traditional authority! Academics loyal to the power of hegemonic-idiocy, possessed, diseased hearts and minds, unfit to be teachers of ethics in society.

But that is their right to be intelligent or to be ignorant. Their right to give advice, to make things better, or to make matters worse. Their right to be ideologues, intelligentsia, or purely intelligent beings who will not sell their soul for any pound of gold. To be a sophist or to be a Socrates.

In my musings, I thought of these: No society will need monarchs to protect it, if each member takes pride in being a natural-born aristocrat with a free spirit.

Malays are too slow in releasing themselves from the shackles of feudal fear and mentality. Move faster. Question authority! Malay feudalism is merely a social construct borne out of a historical accident, lasting as long as the rakyat continue to surrender their mind, body and spirit.

Modern-day slavery continues to define our economic condition. The system of social injustice prevails, like a cultural logic of late capitalism gone illogical.

There is this cultural disease in Malaysia, manufactured. It is self-fear. Like a selfie of a one’s fear. Fear of other races instilled in the Malay mind is for the benefit of the powerful, political, and the feudal. For survival.

Malaysians must understand that today’s war is not about race and religion, but about class: of the powerful versus the powerless. Of the have-a-lots versus have-nots. A long war ahead, to redefine the way of the world and act upon it.

Too much bad history has plagued this most-obedient-people in the world. Only when Malays are taught critical reasoning, critiquing feudal ideology, and “liberation theology” will they be free.

The political and the feudal deep states have been using the old British colonial strategy of divide and enslave in order to maintain the status quo. In the Malay tradition, the idea of blind loyalty to feudalism must be dismantled. It is unfit for Malay intelligence of the Industry 4.0 era, especially.

In all cultural traditions, there are enabling and disabling aspects. Extract, reflect upon, revise and reconstruct those which are useless to the advancement of human cognition and liberation.

There is now a battle of cognition over culture in the Malay psyche. I presume a liberated Malay mind will never kowtow to any monarch, politician, ayatollah, or any master of slavery. We must end this form of mental imprisonment.

We must, especially, set the youth free. But freedom for Malay youth does not mean freedom to join Mat Rempits or neo-Nazi groups. That will be suicidal freedom.

There is this malaise in the south. This idea brought me to a related notion of hegemony and false consciousness. “Bangsa Johor” is an invented “nation” living in an oxymoron: being fearful of feudalism, yet showing absurdist freedom.

Today’s grand hypocrisy

In countries ruled by “Muslim monarchs,” you seldom find true Islam, mostly hypocrisy. Abuse of Islam is everywhere. Look around. In Malaysia, the more politicians claim Malay-Muslim parties will defend and protect Malay-Muslims, the more you find national robbery done nicely. Even the Pilgrimage Fund, the holiest of holy investment body, got robbed holistically, done religiously.

In today’s political chaos, we need a Napoleon with the heart of Socrates, the mind of Plato and Cicero, to return. In today’s politics, the Malay masses is the ageing Hang Tuah, blind-obedient, watching Jebat and the King fight over wealth. People are helpless, drained by the hope they held for 60 years. After a year of regime change, hope is slowly turning into yet another period of hopelessness.

In the case of the recent U-turn decision on the Rome Statute, are you justified to pull out of the Rome Statute when one has always wanted to be known as a “Third World warrior”? Aren’t we tired of claims of political conspiracy and coup d’état when the real issue is of no principle and the leaders involved could not make a stand? However dumb and dumber a president is, at least Americans have two terms maximum to suffer. Malaysia?

Let us take seriously the comical North-South Malaysian Cold War brewing. Today’s Pakatan Harapan–Johor government squabble is opening up an exciting dialogue on the role and responsibilities and limits of the monarchy.

The debate on the balance of power, the nature and future of the monarchy, and the growing voice of the people in deciding who is abusing power and what then must the rakyat do – these are demonstrations of a mature Malaysian democracy. Cultivate this wisely, but surely.

The wealthy and the powerful

Wealth and power have intoxicated those who are supposed to make Malaysia a better democracy. Arrogance will be overthrown. Race, religion, and the royalty will no longer be conveniently used as weapons of disharmony when information is set free.

It’s crucial now that our education system be transformed to teach the history of the people more than the history of the monarchy. In the Age of Post-Humanism, The Age of Kings will give way to The Age of Reason and Malay Enlightenment.

Over the decades, the intelligence and rationalism of the Johoreans have been eroded by this sense of false consciousness. Power and wealth held by the display of the sword, gold, and mental and physical enslavement cannot be sustained.

There was never a “protection of Malay rights”. Only a licence and reason to plunder, propped as an absurd symbol of tradition. The 1MDB fiasco and many others swept under the carpet or yet to be uncovered, are testaments to the magnitude of plunder.

Never in my life have I humiliated my mind by kowtowing to any form of modern and traditional authority. Never will. I

I believe Johoreans should be obsessed with books, and not just with football. The latter can be a passage to mind control and mob mentality. Besides, there is no Bangsa Johor. There is only Rakyat Malaysia.

Our goal as a nation is to treat each citizen with equality under the shadow of the Constitution’s supremacy. Young Johoreans, who do not know history, are cemented with fear, football, and false consciousness. Free them!

Thomas Jefferson revisited

Thomas Jefferson, statesman, author, an admirer of the Enlightenment thinkers and, most importantly, the author of the American Declaration of Independence did not want King and Religion to be foundations of the new nation.

In the case of what is happening in the Islamic world, we see chaos. Islam hates hypocrites. So, why do hypocrites appoint themselves as defenders and rulers of Islam?

In difficult cognitive times like these, I seek refuge in the work of, amongst other philosophers, the humanists such as Rousseau, Montesquieu, Voltaire, Diderot. And Marat and Robespierre.

Will we ever get out of this madness? Like Harry Houdini, the escape artist?

This is the question of our times. We are in a black hole.


AZLY RAHMAN is an educator, academic, international columnist, and author of seven books available here. He holds a doctorate in international education development from Columbia University, New York City, 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.

 

 

Building a place called trust– Time to Talk Less and Do More


March 20, 2019

https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2019/03/471024/building-place-called-trust

 

 

THERE is a little known place in the Scottish Hebridean islands in the United Kingdom called the Isle of Skye. It is said to have rugged and mountainous landscapes graced with deep lochs. No highrises, no discarded waste. The scarcely scattered white-washed cottages in this place show one how nature has ruled over human creation.

Image result for Datuk Dr. Anis Yusal Yusoff

But beyond the physical attributes, there is something more to this isle than its landscape. It embodies the epitome of TRUST. One magazine wrote that on the corners where paths cross, there are ‘product boxes’ where people leave their homemade jams and free-range eggs. Passers-by come, take what they need and leave their payment. Doors in homes are left unlocked. One can leave cars there with the windows open, and the only thing that will enter is the rain.

This is called integrity. This is called good governance. This is what I envision for our country. This is what I pray that one day every nook and cranny of Malaysia will become and that we do not take what does not belong to us, and we guard and protect with all we have, what is given to us to honour.

The example of Isle of Skye is the basis upon which we approached the National Anti-Corruption Plan. It isn’t just a plan, as cynics and critics would say, plucked from the air. The goal of the Plan is to create a corruption-free society governed by the principles of integrity, accountability and transparency.

The focus of the Plan is clear — and that is to ensure every agency and ministry in the public sector institutionalizes good governance in every part of their work. Why focus on the public sector, one may ask? The answer is simple. If public governance is not strengthened first, we cannot move to ask others to put their houses in order.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad launched the Plan on Jan 29. It essentially identifies six key corruption-prone risk areas; political governance, public sector administration, public procurement, legal and judicial, law enforcement, and corporate governance.

Again, the process of ascertaining these was done through public surveys, interviews and research. We engaged many components of society — public and private sectors, civil society and the media. The Plan is an amalgamation of information we received from this work and on completion, we had independent anti-corruption specialists review our work.

I think it is important that we also understand why we had listed out the nature and points of corruption. A content analysis of about 20,000 reports received by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission from 2013 to 2018 found that more than 80 per cent were concerned with four causes; administrative failures (36.43 per cent), conflict of interest (33.12 per cent), weak internal control and non-compliance (18.97 per cent), and lack of transparency (6.45 per cent).

When we look at the areas prone to corruption from the same data we had, we found that the procurement sector recorded the highest number of complaints (42.8 per cent).

That’s why a special section in the Plan focuses on public procurement.

Beyond the Plan, our greatest challenge remains, as the government and people of Malaysia, our understanding of the roles of our government, private sector and public. I constantly argue that we have a somewhat warped view of this and frankly we are not alone here in Malaysia. To some, it is almost like watching the movie Matrix.

A lot of things in movies like Matrix are used as metaphors for our fixed views of ‘reality’. Rarely do we observe the world for what it is. It is much simpler to build a perceived order, load our preconceptions and baggage onto them to the point it simply becomes conducive and comfortable for us.

When we become fixated on a certain world view, and when that world view is simply wrong we open ourselves to the ramifications that come with living a lie, and that is exactly what we are going through today — the bite of reality of having condoned a culture of corruption for decades.

I often use the examples of nations such as Somalia, Zimbabwe and Myanmar which all have comparatively high CPI (Corruption Perception Index), coming in at 180, 160 and 132, respectively, to further demonstrate my point. Such positions within the CPI have ultimately left these countries in shambles economically, socially as well as politically.

Meanwhile, Malaysia ranks 61 within the index.  Admittedly, we are a far cry from achieving the corrupt-free status enjoyed by nations, such as Denmark, New Zealand and Finland, which rank 1, 2 and 3, respectively, on the index.

Attitudes and mindsets cannot be measured by Key Performance Indicators. They are intangibles.

The real engine to any delivery is mindset. Mindsets are defined by the culture we ultimately inculcate in this system. It is defined by the Isle of Skyes that we each develop in the little areas we are in charge of in our daily lives at work.

This culture has to be instilled, has to be imbued and built in every part of our society.

That is how we build a place called TRUST.

Datuk Dr. Anis Yusal Yusoff is the deputy director-general of the National Centre for Governance, Integrity & Anti-Corruption, Prime Minister’s Department

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Ethics in business: When broken souls walk our corridors


March 19, 2019

Ethics in business: When broken souls walk our corridor

http://investvine.com/ethics-in-business-when-broken-souls-walk-our-corridors/

Education: In pursuit to nowhere
By Firoz Abdul Hamid

Have you ever been brought down to the depth of your chaotic heart and soul that you feel so broken, lost and alienated in all that surrounds you? A place where the heart never feels at home, or at peace, or in synch with all that others say identifies with you as a being. Only those who have been there will know how broken this place is. How endless in its hopelessness this place looks. And mostly how inescapable this place seems.

I have seen many who have visited this place. But visiting it has made the many I have met such great achievers, and mostly such wonderful beings that a normal trajectory could have never endowed them with such depth of gentleness, unpretentiousness and genuineness. Yet, I have also met those who have visited this place who have turned out to be dark troubled souls – those who truly believe in all their being that destroying and abusing others – be that mentally, emotionally or physically – really is their birth right.

Look around us – take a step back – ponder why people cheat on their partners, employees on their employers, employers on their employees, governments letting down their constituents, markets abusing the system and, alas, people hurting people.

This week alone has laid before me destruction of the human soul to such a proportion that if we cannot and do not find it in our souls to recapture our essence, we are but doomed to great destruction to the point of no return.

Ethiopian Airlines wreckage

READ ON :https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-47605265

 

The Ethiopian Airline Boeing 737 that crashed during take-off, killing all of its 157 people on board, and then on March 15 the cold-blodded killing of Muslims during their Friday prayers in Christchurch, New Zealand, begs the question – who allowed this plane to fly and then what society created a monster who would go so deep down into the darkness of his soul to then feel absolute numbness before committing such a crime, respectively. If one is sober with sound moral judgement, one will not and cannot in his/her making as a human being commit crimes – be that in a home environment, work environment or in public.

Ethics In Business: When Broken Souls Walk Our CorridorsWe each go through our daily grinds, really condoning the little bribery to enforcements, the pandering to houses of power, turning the blind eye when signing off JUST THAT one time in our board or cabinet meetings, not knowing those things have consequences. That we are even unable to discern what we do has consequences, which may or may not directly affect us, is a reflection of the state of our souls, the state of our hearts, the state of the society that enables this. That we think it is fine to seek loopholes not to pay the fine or the tax, or stay silent when wrong happens before us is not a reflection of what is outside, rather it is of what is inside us.

This, I would argue, is the new and postmodern mental illness. An illness so covert in suits and eloquence of Ivy School language and speech that we in the public and private sector are simply not equipped to discern and confront. They come in many forms – in form of C-suites, boards, politicians, educators, legislators, key decision makers, and this list really is inexhaustible. They were once called narcissistic by psychologists. No more. I would argue that the ones who would sell and allow substandard planes to fly (especially after a history of a similar crashing earlier), hate to be perpetrated in societies for their own political future or even good work of colleagues to be diminished for self-preservation suffer from post-modern mental illness. Those who do not bat an eye lid signing off the embezzlement of billions of dollars of public funds. And even those whose entire source of existence is just to see the wrong in everything and not be part of the solution is a problem societies need to address.

In my own country today I see my government putting forth plans after plans, initiatives after initiatives to improve our wellbeing. Yet within and without this same system we have those who are insistent upon keeping with the old, and finding ways to circumvent the credibility and governance intended of these plans. This, I would say, is our greatest threat today. Not our lack in plans for carbon emission, or good governance or sound economic outlook – rather the lack of people able to see beyond the darkness of their souls to aspire goodness for all. In Arabic this is called “maslahah” – for the benefit of the public interest.

If there is one project leaders in every parts of our societies need to embark on – spanning from our dinner tables to our schools to our board and cabinet rooms – is healing souls, saving those conspicuous who walk our streets and important places in our public and private sectors from destroying us collectively. To have sophisticated programmes that identify and heal these people and until this is done not allow them near anything that looks like power. If we do not and cannot address this, no amount of plans and initiatives no matter the sovereignty and market can save us all. No number of changes in elected representatives can save us. This I am certain to the point of the clarity of what my name is.

As Qasim Chauhan says – you are what you hide from others, these unsaid thoughts, emotions and secrets, make you, YOU.

(Firoz Abdul Hamid is an Investvine contributor. The opinions expressed are her own.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Educating Malaysian Politicians


March 2, 2019

Educating  Malaysian Politicians

Opinion  |
By  Nathaniel Tan
Published:  |  Modified:

 

COMMENT | Ooi Kee Beng, the executive director of the Penang Institute, is something of a titan among Malaysian public intellectuals. Of all his many achievements, my personal favourite is the choice of URL for his website – truly brilliant: http://www.wikibeng.com.

Image result for ooi kee beng

 

He recently wrote an article entitled ‘Limiting the political class should be the ultimate goal for reformists’. By the second paragraph, I was excitedly looking forward to comments on problems that I agree are at the heart of what ails us as a nation.

By the end of it, I was not entirely sure the article ultimately delivered as much as it could. Being not as qualified as Ooi, it took me a while to reach the end – the language being a little more turgid than I am used to.

Innocent jab aside, I think buried beneath some very complex concepts, Ooi touches on some important points, to which I would presume to add my two cents.

https://thomasfann.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/canweovercomemoneypolitics.jpg?w=687&h=321

 

I think the first important point Ooi makes is that Malaysia’s core political problems are cross-partisan. I agree with his assessment that our problem is a politico-cultural one.

The fancy term aside, I would surmise this as such: that there exists a Malaysian political culture, which is practised with impunity on both sides of the aisle. I have always hated cynicism, so I obviously would never agree with the oft-heard statement that “all politicians are the same”.

That said, it would be naive to ignore certain truths – among them, that many (not all) politicians share certain traits, especially in Malaysia.

 

There is no space here to describe all these traits in detail. Some of the more important ones include the way politicians think about money, about corrupt or semi-corrupt political financing, and about an abusive relationship between government and partisan politics.

Optimal reform paths

Needless to say, it would be best for Malaysia if we could get rid of some of these bad practices and political culture. The question is, obviously, how?

Ooi writes: “Politicians are here to serve the public, more or less the way civil servants are supposed to do. Politicians should not be superstars; they should not be celebrities. And their ultimate goal should be to make themselves redundant.”

I am sure Ooi is neither naive nor an excessive idealist. I think the most interesting discussions about political reforms are short on “shoulds” and long on “hows”.

I think it is less useful to discuss what politicians should be (a nearly endless list), and more useful to understand why politicians act the way they do, and how we can most effectively influence their behaviour.

I feel the biggest missing piece in Ooi’s article is the question of incentive structures. Politicians should not be superstars, but almost all of them aspire to be one – not just in Malaysia, but worldwide. That should come as no surprise, as the reasons are fairly obvious.

National elections do not (again, disregarding the “should” here) differ as much as we might think from, say, high school elections. Democracies are in essence popularity contests.

Here, one cannot help but think of two quotes on democracy popularly attributed to Winston Churchill (inaccurately, it would appear) concerning how it is “the worst form of government except for all the others”, and that “the best argument against democracy is five minutes of conversation with the average voter”.

Image result for Americans elected Trump

November 6, 2016 –The Day Donald Trump fooled America

 

The latter view is, of course, a little condescending, but it speaks to the heart of democracy’s many imperfections. How can we forget, after all, that we live in a world which  Americans elected Donald Trump as President of America?

Identifying correct structural incentives in politics and how to transition to them would be a worthwhile lifetime’s work. Here, I think we can only say that Malaysian politicians act and talk the way they do because they believe the system will reward their actions.

If we want them to act differently – to behave more like the statesmen Ooi talks about – the crucial pivotal point is whether we can reform Malaysia’s political system so as to create different incentive structures.

Are by-elections a waste?

Space will perhaps permit us to briefly discuss two other contemporary matters Ooi raised in his article: by-elections and the Economic Action Council (EAC).

Ooi writes: “By-elections being treated as general elections is a case in point. These are often minor events really, but since they happen so often, they are easily used by the political class to sustain a sense of political campaigning in the long period between one general election and the next. That way, they help distract from the hard technocratic work that good governance should be.”

In essence, I heartily agree. We all know that whoever is elected in Semenyih today will, legislatively speaking, have little or no impact on the major currents of Malaysian politics.

The vast resources that Malaysian political parties pour into by-elections suggest almost the exact opposite, however – the somewhat haphazard announcement of new toll policies being an example of how Pakatan Harapan was acting as though entire states or the federal government itself was at stake.

In this Ooi is fairly accurate in his description of how the political class seems to calculate things very differently, and generally in a way that does not benefit the nation.

To such political classes, what outside observers may consider a small, temporary spike in perception after the by-election (whether positive or negative towards one political coalition or the other) is exaggerated to become matters of near life and death.

This disproportionate view causes politicians to act in ways which may sacrifice long-term gains for short-term ones – though again, this is a political phenomenon which is not limited to Malaysia or to by-elections.

A radical solution to the problem of distracting by-elections is for the government to boycott them, as the ultimate pros and cons list may look different if you remove the narrow interests of the political class.

Ooi also comments on the EAC, describing it as “an attempt to rebalance politics and technocracy such that the former is reduced in importance, and the voice of experts and technocrats made directly relevant to the formulation and implementation of policies”.

 

I agree with Ooi that such rebalancing is good but am not entirely convinced that this is what the EAC represents.

There are, after all, five politicians on the EAC and there was political controversy over who was appointed (or not appointed) and why. Instead of ad hoc appointments such as the EAC, which may appear to some as having an element of vague arbitrariness, perhaps there are alternatives.

Zero experience

If we truly want to go down the technocrat route that Ooi advocates, perhaps we should consider something akin to the American system.

Under our Westminster system, the cabinet is chosen predominantly from members of the legislative – generally consisting of high-ranking party members who have won a seat in parliament. Their expertise in their given ministry is often a secondary consideration, if at all.

In America, the cabinet is appointed not from elected representatives in the legislative but theoretically from a pool of experts in a given cabinet portfolio.

This ensures that each federal portfolio is headed by a recognised expert in the field, as opposed to someone who may have as little as zero experience in the portfolio he or she is chosen to head.

Ooi’s discussion of the political class and political culture definitely touches the heart of what ails Malaysian politics today. He is also right to ask whether the grip corruption and negative practices have on Malaysian politics can be loosened.

Again, I believe the key, however, lies in questions of incentive structures in Malaysian politics. In looking at reforms and innovations in the field of incentives, we should consider a wide range of options, including the most fundamental questions of how we choose our leaders.

Image result for wong chin huat penang institute

Ooi’s colleague at the Penang Institute, Dr. Wong Chin Huat, has written extensively on innovating our electoral system. This is definitely one way to make some major changes with regard to political incentive structures.

Hopefully, think-tanks will continue to look into how we can influence political behaviour, not by depending on the goodness of politician’s hearts but by reforming the structures and landscape in which they operate.


NATHANIEL TAN is media and communications director at Emir Research, a think-tank focused on data-driven policy research.

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

Malay uber alles, above everybody else


December 27, 2019

Malay uber alles, above everybody else

Opinion
by  S. Thayaparan

 

COMMENT | After Harapan won the last election, I assumed we had some breathing space.

“So I urge young Malays to plan their lives properly. Don’t make the same mistake I did. Malaysia is a sick Muslim country that teaches you the wrong things.”

– Zaid Ibrahim

The recent comments by BN secretary-general Nazri Abdul Aziz on the Semenyih campaign trail about the racist inclination of the UMNO grassroots on their fear of non-Malays leading certain ministerial portfolios is neither shocking nor unexpected.

All this is part of the Malay über alles strategy of the far right and the foundation of mainstream Malay politics. Non-Malay political operatives in Pakatan Harapan, now that the coalition has achieved federal power, have to be careful about how they define their power because everyone has been told not to spook the Malays.

Furthermore, because Bersatu was not the powerhouse Malay bloc that Harapan had hoped for, the old maverick has had to resort to all sorts of stratagems to entice UMNOmno political operatives to step into his tent.

All this, of course, plays into the hands of UMNO and PAS who can now freely explore their racial and supremacist ideologies without fear of losing their non-Malay base because the MCA and MIC are out of play.

Two years ago, former minister Zaid Ibrahim, encouraged young Malays to leave this country because of the policies of BN. This, of course, caused a stir. As always, whenever Zaid says something, he does so without political consideration. He spits it out because he knows that outlier Malay voices think this way.

There were the usual calls to stay and fight by those in the intelligentsia who supported the then opposition Harapan. I was sceptical. In a piece exploring what Zaid actually said – there is always confusion because some pundits do not bother to refer to what he said, instead relying on what others claim he said – I wrote:

“If you want people to stay and fight for their rights, you must be able to demonstrate that staying and fighting is something that is worthwhile. We are not yet at the stage where you can point to incremental changes (elsewhere) and say that this is progress. We are a developed country with narratives that are evidence that religious and racial plurality is something we had, but lost like many Islamic state narratives in countries all over the Middle East.”

After Harapan won the last election, I assumed we had some breathing space. To my thinking and I suppose some people who voted for Harapan, we believed that if we begin the process – however incrementally – of dismantling the Malay uber alles ideology, we could at least set the foundation for a brighter tomorrow for future generations. This kind of thinking is not based on any idealist impulses. This is pure self-preservation. People sometimes confuse capitulation with pragmatism.

But as the days drag on, I see very little hope or evidence that things are going to change. While I received the usual hate mail for my last piece from the usual suspects, I received many emails from Malays overseas, who claimed that what Zaid two years ago was the right thing to do.

Many young Malays ask me how they can overcome a system which is against them, but which people think provides privileges for them? Zaid said it best: “They will continue to make you intellectually poor by stifling you, giving you no freedom to grow and develop your minds.”

As one young Malay activist told me, there is this bubble we exist in. There is some freedom in the political/activist circles, but it slowly evaporates depending on where you go. Non-Malays, although they face discrimination, do not have to look over their shoulder all the time in case they are targeted by the religious bureaucracy or they are sanctioned for making racially provocative statements which are in reality egalitarian statements.

Assimilation

Umno political operatives make an argument about how “immigrants” assimilate in the West “Western” culture and norms, so why can’t the non-Malays do it here too? This is a silly argument because assimilation of Western culture generally means assimilating democratic and egalitarian norms and not sublimating culture to Islam and racial hegemony which is what is expected of the non-Malays here.

Please note, I am not saying that the “West” is perfect, only that assimilation in the West means submitting to a whole different set of values which are more aligned to democratic first principles, rather than being pak turuts (yes-men) which is how someone like PAS leader Abdul Hadi Awang and the rest of the Malay political elite sees the non-Malays. Are there extremists in the West pushing a right-wing Judeo/Christian agenda? Yes, but we should note the blow-back this agenda receives.

Say what you like about Nazri, but he is saying exactly what the Malay grassroots believe, and keep in mind this is the base that Bersatu and other Malay power structures in Harapan want.

How can you change this sort of thinking? How long will it take? A generation? Two generations? The non-Malays are losing the numbers game and in a couple of decades, will there be any young Malays who would even think of migrating because of a totalitarian government?

People often ask what can they do. I have no idea. I cannot point to alternatives in mainstream political parties. Young people who have left the country and who correspond with me, tell me the same thing. There are no mainstream alternatives in the Malaysian political landscape. One Malay power structure is the same as the next.

Lawyer Latheefa Koya correctly points out that Nazri’s comments are an insult to Malays, but so is claiming Malays need a party to defend them, that Islam needs to be protected, the Malays are under siege and the DAP is working to destroy Malay rule in Malaysia.

If Nazri is being investigated for sedition, then perhaps, the mainstream political system in Malaysia is seditious.


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

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

Warning!Everything is going Deep: The Age Of ‘ Surveillance Capitalism’


February 3, 2019

Around the end of each year major dictionaries declare their “word of the year.” Last year, for instance, the most looked-up word at Merriam-Webster.com was “justice.” Well, even though it’s early, I’m ready to declare the word of the year for 2019.

The word is “deep.”

Why? Because recent advances in the speed and scope of digitization, connectivity, big data and artificial intelligence are now taking us “deep” into places and into powers that we’ve never experienced before — and that governments have never had to regulate before. I’m talking about deep learning, deep insights, deep surveillance, deep facial recognition, deep voice recognition, deep automation and deep artificial minds.

Image result for thomas friedman

Some of these technologies offer unprecedented promise and some unprecedented peril — but they’re all now part of our lives. Everything is going deep.

We sure are. But the lifeguard is still on the beach and — here’s what’s really scary — he doesn’t know how to swim! More about that later. For now, how did we get so deep down where the sharks live?

The short answer: Technology moves up in steps, and each step, each new platform, is usually biased toward a new set of capabilities. Around the year 2000 we took a huge step up that was biased toward connectivity, because of the explosion of fiber-optic cable, wireless and satellites.

Suddenly connectivity became so fast, cheap, easy for you and ubiquitous that it felt like you could touch someone whom you could never touch before and that you could be touched by someone who could never touch you before.

Around 2007, we took another big step up. The iPhone, sensors, digitization, big data, the internet of things, artificial intelligence and cloud computing melded together and created a new platform that was biased toward abstracting complexity at a speed, scope and scale we’d never experienced before.

So many complex things became simplified. Complexity became so fast, free, easy to use and invisible that soon with one touch on Uber’s app you could page a taxi, direct a taxi, pay a taxi, rate a taxi driver and be rated by a taxi driver.

That’s why the adjective that so many people are affixing to all of these new capabilities to convey their awesome power is “deep.”

On Jan. 20, The London Observer looked at Harvard Business School professor Shoshana Zuboff’s new book, the title of which perfectly describes the deep dark waters we’ve entered: “The Age of Surveillance Capital.”

“Surveillance capitalism,” Zuboff wrote, “unilaterally claims human experience as free raw material for translation into behavioral data. Although some of these data are applied to service improvement, the rest are declared as a proprietary behavioral surplus, fed into advanced manufacturing processes known as ‘machine intelligence,’ and fabricated into prediction products that anticipate what you will do now, soon and later. Finally, these prediction products are traded in a new kind of marketplace that I call behavioral futures markets. Surveillance capitalists have grown immensely wealthy from these trading operations, for many companies are willing to lay bets on our future behavior.”

Unfortunately, we have not developed the regulations or governance, or scaled the ethics, to manage a world of such deep powers, deep interactions and deep potential abuses.

 

Two quotes tell that story: Last April, Senator Orrin Hatch was questioning Facebook C.E.O. Mark Zuckerberg during a joint hearing of the commerce and judiciary committees. At one point Hatch asked Zuckerberg, “So, how do you sustain a business model in which users don’t pay for your service?”

Zuckerberg, clearly trying to stifle a laugh, replied, “Senator, we run ads.” Hatch did not seem to understand that Facebook’s business model is to mine users’ data and then run targeted ads — and Hatch was one of Facebook’s regulators.

But then Zuckerberg was also clueless about how deep the powers of the Facebook platform had gone — deep enough that a few smart Russian hackers could manipulate it to help Donald Trump win the presidency.

Image result for Zuckerberg

When faced with evidence that fake news spread on Facebook influenced the outcome of the 2016 election, Zuckerberg dismissed that notion as a “pretty crazy idea.” It turns out that it was happening at an industrial scale and he later had to apologize.

Regulations often lag behind new technologies, but when they move this fast and cut this deep, that lag can be really dangerous. I wish I thought that catch-up was around the corner. I don’t. Our national discussion has never been more shallow — reduced to 280 characters.

This has created an opening and burgeoning demand for political, social and religious leaders, government institutions and businesses that can go deep — that can validate what is real and offer the public deep truths, deep privacy protections and deep trust.

But deep trust and deep loyalty cannot be forged overnight. They take time. That’s one reason this old newspaper I work for — the Gray Lady — is doing so well today. Not all, but many people, are desperate for trusted navigators.

Many will also look for that attribute in our next President, because they sense that deep changes are afoot. It is unsettling, and yet, there’s no swimming back. We are, indeed, far from the shallow now.

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook, Twitter (@NYTopinion) and Instagram.

Thomas L. Friedman is the foreign affairs Op-Ed columnist. He joined the paper in 1981, and has won three Pulitzer Prizes. He is the author of seven books, including “From Beirut to Jerusalem,” which won the National Book Award.

 

@tomfriedman Facebook

 

 

 

interactions and deep potential abuses.

https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-31/html/container.htmlImage result for thomas friedman

 

Two quotes tell that story: Last April, Senator Orrin Hatch was questioning Facebook C.E.O. Mark Zuckerberg during a joint hearing of the commerce and judiciary committees. At one point Hatch asked Zuckerberg, “So, how do you sustain a business model in which users don’t pay for your service?”

 

Zuckerberg, clearly trying to stifle a laugh, replied, “Senator, we run ads.” Hatch did not seem to understand that Facebook’s business model is to mine users’ data and then run targeted ads — and Hatch was one of Facebook’s regulators.

But then Zuckerberg was also clueless about how deep the powers of the Facebook platform had gone — deep enough that a few smart Russian hackers could manipulate it to help Donald Trump win the presidency.

When faced with evidence that fake news spread on Facebook influenced the outcome of the 2016 election, Zuckerberg dismissed that notion as a “pretty crazy idea.” It turns out that it was happening at an industrial scale and he later had to apologize.

Regulations often lag behind new technologies, but when they move this fast and cut this deep, that lag can be really dangerous. I wish I thought that catch-up was around the corner. I don’t. Our national discussion has never been more shallow — reduced to 280 characters.

This has created an opening and burgeoning demand for political, social and religious leaders, government institutions and businesses that can go deep — that can validate what is real and offer the public deep truths, deep privacy protections and deep trust.

But deep trust and deep loyalty cannot be forged overnight. They take time. That’s one reason this old newspaper I work for — the Gray Lady — is doing so well today. Not all, but many people, are desperate for trusted navigators.

Many will also look for that attribute in our next president, because they sense that deep changes are afoot. It is unsettling, and yet, there’s no swimming back. We are, indeed, far from the shallow now.

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook, Twitter (@NYTopinion) and Instagram.

Thomas L. Friedman is the foreign affairs Op-Ed columnist. He joined the paper in 1981, and has won three Pulitzer Prizes. He is the author of seven books, including “From Beirut to Jerusalem,” which won the National Book Award. @tomfriedman Facebook

 

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A23 of the New York edition with the headline: Warning! Everything Is Going Deep. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe