Cancer -Like Anti-Semitism has spread throughout the Islamic World


February 17, 2019

Cancer -Like Anti-Semitism has spread throughout the Islamic World

by Dr. Fareed Zakaria

https://fareedzakaria.com/columns/2019/2/14/anti-semitism-has-spread-through-the-islamic-world-like-a-cancer

(c) 2019, Washington Post Writers Group

Ilhan Omar (Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.)

In recent weeks, attention has focused on two freshman Democratic members of Congress, Ilhan Omar (Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), both of whom are Muslim and have made critical statements about Israel and its most ardent American supporters. Their tweets and comments have been portrayed by some as not simply criticisms of Israel but rather as evidence of a rising tide of anti-Semitism on the new left.

I don’t know what is in the hearts of the two representatives. But I believe that Muslims should be particularly thoughtful when speaking about these issues because anti-Semitism has spread through the Islamic world like a cancer. (Omar and Tlaib are not responsible for this in any way, of course, but they should be aware of this poisonous climate.) In 2014, the Anti-Defamation League did a survey in more than 100 countries of attitudes toward Jews and found that anti-Semitism was twice as common among Muslims than among Christians, and it’s far more prevalent in the Middle East than the Americas. It has sometimes tragically gone beyond feelings, morphing into terrorist attacks against Jews, even children, in countries such as France.

It might surprise people to know that it wasn’t always this way. In fact, through much of history, the Muslim Middle East was hospitable to Jews when Christian Europe was killing or expelling them. The great historian Bernard Lewis once said to me, “People often note that in the late 1940s and 1950s, hundreds of thousands of Jews fled Arab countries. They rarely ask why so many Jews were living in those lands in the first place.”

Image result for the jews of islam by bernard lewis

Bernard Lewis and Henry Kissinger

In his seminal book, “The Jews of Islam,” Lewis points out that in the Middle Ages, when polemics against Jews were commonplace in the Christian world, they were rare in the Islamic world. In the early centuries of Islamic rule, he writes, there was “a kind of symbiosis between Jews and their neighbors that has no parallel in the Western world between the Hellenistic and modern ages. Jews and Muslims had extensive and intimate contacts that involved social as well as intellectual association — cooperation, commingling, even personal friendship.” One shouldn’t exaggerate the status of Jews back then — they were second-class citizens — but they were tolerated and encouraged to a far greater degree in Muslim societies than in Christian ones.

Things changed in the Muslim world only in the late 19th century, when, according to Lewis, “as a direct result of European influence, movements appear among Muslims of which for the first time one can legitimately use the term anti-Semitic.” Muslims worried that the British, who came to rule much of the Middle East, were favoring the small non-Muslim communities, especially Jews. Muslims began importing European anti-Semitic tropes such as the notion of blood libel, and noxious anti-Semitic works started to be translated into Arabic, including the notorious “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

What supercharged all these attitudes was the founding of Israel in 1948 and the determination of Arab leaders to defeat it. In their zeal to delegitimize the Jewish state, men such as Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser promoted all kinds of anti-Semitic literature and rhetoric. Arab states became vast propaganda machines for anti-Semitism, brainwashing generations of their people with the most hateful ideas about Jews. Even the supposedly secular president of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, declared in 2001 that Israelis were “trying to kill all the values of the divine religions, with the same mentality that brought about the betrayal and torturing of Christ and in the same way that they tried to betray the Prophet Muhammad.” Religious states such as Saudi Arabia were just as bad, if not worse.

Decades of state-sponsored propaganda have had an effect. Anti-Semitism is now routine discourse in Muslim populations in the Middle East and also far beyond. While some Arab governments have stepped back from the active promotion of hate, the damage has been done.

It should be possible to criticize Israel. As Peter Beinart has written, “establishing two legal systems in the same territory — one for Jews and one for Palestinians, as Israel does in the West Bank — is bigotry. . . . And it has lasted for more than a half-century.” It should be possible to talk about the enormous political influence of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC. I recall senators privately worrying that if they supported the Iran nuclear deal, AIPAC would target them. (Of course, this is true of other lobbies and is not the only reason senators voted against the deal.) These are legitimate issues to vigorously debate and discuss in the United States, just as in Israel.

Unfortunately, by phrasing the issue as the two new representatives sometimes have, they have squandered an opportunity to further that important debate.

 

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

POTUS His Excellency Donald J. Trump 2019 State of the Union Address


February 6, 2019

POTUS His Excellency Donald J. Trump 2019 State of the Union Address

 

President Donald Trump delivered his 2019 State of the Union address on Tuesday. Read the President’s speech as prepared for delivery and released by the White House.

 

Madam Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, the First Lady of the United States, and my fellow Americans:
We meet tonight at a moment of unlimited potential. As we begin a new Congress, I stand here ready to work with you to achieve historic breakthroughs for all Americans.
Millions of our fellow citizens are watching us now, gathered in this great chamber, hoping that we will govern not as two parties but as one Nation.
The agenda I will lay out this evening is not a Republican agenda or a Democrat agenda. It is the agenda of the American people.
Many of us campaigned on the same core promises: to defend American jobs and demand fair trade for American workers; to rebuild and revitalize our Nation’s infrastructure; to reduce the price of healthcare and prescription drugs; to create an immigration system that is safe, lawful, modern and secure; and to pursue a foreign policy that puts America’s interests first.
There is a new opportunity in American politics, if only we have the courage to seize it. Victory is not winning for our party. Victory is winning for our country.
This year, America will recognize two important anniversaries that show us the majesty of America’s mission, and the power of American pride.
In June, we mark 75 years since the start of what General Dwight D. Eisenhower called the Great Crusade — the Allied liberation of Europe in World War II. On D-Day, June 6, 1944, 15,000 young American men jumped from the sky, and 60,000 more stormed in from the sea, to save our civilization from tyranny. Here with us tonight are three of those heroes: Private First Class Joseph Reilly, Staff Sergeant Irving Locker, and Sergeant Herman Zeitchik. Gentlemen, we salute you.
In 2019, we also celebrate 50 years since brave young pilots flew a quarter of a million miles through space to plant the American flag on the face of the moon. Half a century later, we are joined by one of the Apollo 11 astronauts who planted that flag: Buzz Aldrin. This year, American astronauts will go back to space on American rockets.
In the 20th century, America saved freedom, transformed science, and redefined the middle class standard of living for the entire world to see. Now, we must step boldly and bravely into the next chapter of this great American adventure, and we must create a new standard of living for the 21st century. An amazing quality of life for all of our citizens is within our reach.
We can make our communities safer, our families stronger, our culture richer, our faith deeper, and our middle class bigger and more prosperous than ever before.
But we must reject the politics of revenge, resistance, and retribution — and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise, and the common good.
Together, we can break decades of political stalemate. We can bridge old divisions, heal old wounds, build new coalitions, forge new solutions, and unlock the extraordinary promise of America’s future. The decision is ours to make.
We must choose between greatness or gridlock, results or resistance,vision or vengeance, incredible progress or pointless destruction.
Tonight, I ask you to choose greatness.
Over the last 2 years, my Administration has moved with urgency and historic speed to confront problems neglected by leaders of both parties over many decades.
In just over 2 years since the election, we have launched an unprecedented economic boom — a boom that has rarely been seen before. We have created 5.3 million new jobs and importantly added 600,000 new manufacturing jobs — something which almost everyone said was impossible to do, but the fact is, we are just getting started.
Wages are rising at the fastest pace in decades, and growing for blue collar workers, who I promised to fight for, faster than anyone else. Nearly 5 million Americans have been lifted off food stamps. The United States economy is growing almost twice as fast today as when I took office, and we are considered far and away the hottest economy anywhere in the world. Unemployment has reached the lowest rate in half a century. African-American, Hispanic-American and Asian-American unemployment have all reached their lowest levels ever recorded. Unemployment for Americans with disabilities has also reached an all-time low. More people are working now than at any time in our history — 157 million.
We passed a massive tax cut for working families and doubled the child tax credit.We virtually ended the estate, or death, tax on small businesses, ranches, and family farms.
We eliminated the very unpopular Obamacare individual mandate penalty — and to give critically ill patients access to life-saving cures, we passed right to try.
My Administration has cut more regulations in a short time than any other administration during its entire tenure. Companies are coming back to our country in large numbers thanks to historic reductions in taxes and regulations.
We have unleashed a revolution in American energy — the United States is now the number one producer of oil and natural gas in the world. And now, for the first time in 65 years, we are a net exporter of energy.
After 24 months of rapid progress, our economy is the envy of the world, our military is the most powerful on earth, and America is winning each and every day. Members of Congress: the State of our Union is strong. Our country is vibrant and our economy is thriving like never before.
On Friday, it was announced that we added another 304,000 jobs last month alone — almost double what was expected. An economic miracle is taking place in the United States — and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics, or ridiculous partisan investigations.
If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation. It just doesn’t work that way!
We must be united at home to defeat our adversaries abroad. This new era of cooperation can start with finally confirming the more than 300 highly qualified nominees who are still stuck in the Senate — some after years of waiting. The Senate has failed to act on these nominations, which is unfair to the nominees and to our country.
Now is the time for bipartisan action. Believe it or not, we have already proven that it is possible.
In the last Congress, both parties came together to pass unprecedented legislation to confront the opioid crisis, a sweeping new Farm Bill, historic VA reforms, and after four decades of rejection, we passed VA Accountability so we can finally terminate those who mistreat our wonderful veterans.
And just weeks ago, both parties united for groundbreaking criminal justice reform. Last year, I heard through friends the story of Alice Johnson. I was deeply moved. In 1997, Alice was sentenced to life in prison as a first-time non-violent drug offender. Over the next two decades, she became a prison minister, inspiring others to choose a better path. She had a big impact on that prison population — and far beyond.
Alice’s story underscores the disparities and unfairness that can exist in criminal sentencing — and the need to remedy this injustice. She served almost 22 years and had expected to be in prison for the rest of her life.
In June, I commuted Alice’s sentence — and she is here with us tonight. Alice, thank you for reminding us that we always have the power to shape our own destiny.
When I saw Alice’s beautiful family greet her at the prison gates, hugging and kissing and crying and laughing, I knew I did the right thing.
Inspired by stories like Alice’s, my Administration worked closely with members of both parties to sign the First Step Act into law. This legislation reformed sentencing laws that have wrongly and disproportionately harmed the African-American community. The First Step Act gives non-violent offenders the chance to re-enter society as productive, law-abiding citizens. Now, States across the country are following our lead. America is a Nation that believes in redemption.
We are also joined tonight by Matthew Charles from Tennessee. In 1996, at age 30, Matthew was sentenced to 35 years for selling drugs and related offenses. Over the next two decades, he completed more than 30 Bible studies, became a law clerk, and mentored fellow inmates. Now, Matthew is the very first person to be released from prison under the First Step Act. Matthew, on behalf of all Americans: welcome home.
As we have seen, when we are united, we can make astonishing strides for our country. Now, Republicans and Democrats must join forces again to confront an urgent national crisis.
The Congress has 10 days left to pass a bill that will fund our Government, protect our homeland, and secure our southern border.
Now is the time for the Congress to show the world that America is committed to ending illegal immigration and putting the ruthless coyotes, cartels, drug dealers, and human traffickers out of business.
As we speak, large, organized caravans are on the march to the United States. We have just heard that Mexican cities, in order to remove the illegal immigrants from their communities, are getting trucks and buses to bring them up to our country in areas where there is little border protection. I have ordered another 3,750 troops to our southern border to prepare for the tremendous onslaught.
This is a moral issue. The lawless state of our southern border is a threat to the safety, security, and financial well‑being of all Americans. We have a moral duty to create an immigration system that protects the lives and jobs of our citizens. This includes our obligation to the millions of immigrants living here today, who followed the rules and respected our laws. Legal immigrants enrich our Nation and strengthen our society in countless ways. I want people to come into our country, but they have to come in legally.
Tonight, I am asking you to defend our very dangerous southern border out of love and devotion to our fellow citizens and to our country.
No issue better illustrates the divide between America’s working class and America’s political class than illegal immigration. Wealthy politicians and donors push for open borders while living their lives behind walls and gates and guards.
Meanwhile, working class Americans are left to pay the price for mass illegal migration — reduced jobs, lower wages, overburdened schools and hospitals, increased crime, and a depleted social safety net.
Tolerance for illegal immigration is not compassionate — it is cruel. One in three women is sexually assaulted on the long journey north. Smugglers use migrant children as human pawns to exploit our laws and gain access to our country.
Human traffickers and sex traffickers take advantage of the wide open areas between our ports of entry to smuggle thousands of young girls and women into the United States and to sell them into prostitution and modern-day slavery.
Tens of thousands of innocent Americans are killed by lethal drugs that cross our border and flood into our cities — including meth, heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl.
The savage gang, MS-13, now operates in 20 different American States, and they almost all come through our southern border. Just yesterday, an MS-13 gang member was taken into custody for a fatal shooting on a subway platform in New York City. We are removing these gang members by the thousands, but until we secure our border they’re going to keep streaming back in. Year after year, countless Americans are murdered by criminal illegal aliens. I’ve gotten to know many wonderful Angel Moms, Dads, and families — no one should ever have to suffer the horrible heartache they have endured.
Here tonight is Debra Bissell. Just three weeks ago, Debra’s parents, Gerald and Sharon, were burglarized and shot to death in their Reno, Nevada, home by an illegal alien. They were in their eighties and are survived by four children, 11 grandchildren, and 20 great-grandchildren. Also here tonight are Gerald and Sharon’s granddaughter, Heather, and great‑granddaughter, Madison.
To Debra, Heather, Madison, please stand: few can understand your pain. But I will never forget, and I will fight for the memory of Gerald and Sharon, that it should never happen again. Not one more American life should be lost because our Nation failed to control its very dangerous border.
In the last 2 years, our brave ICE officers made 266,000 arrests of criminal aliens, including those charged or convicted of nearly 100,000 assaults, 30,000 sex crimes, and 4,000 killings.
We are joined tonight by one of those law enforcement heroes: ICE Special Agent Elvin Hernandez. When Elvin was a boy, he and his family legally immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic. At the age of eight, Elvin told his dad he wanted to become a Special Agent.
Today, he leads investigations into the scourge of international sex trafficking. Elvin says: “If I can make sure these young girls get their justice, I’ve done my job.” Thanks to his work and that of his colleagues, more than 300 women and girls have been rescued from horror and more than 1,500 sadistic traffickers have been put behind bars in the last year.
Special Agent Hernandez, please stand: We will always support the brave men and women of Law Enforcement — and I pledge to you tonight that we will never abolish our heroes from ICE.
My Administration has sent to the Congress a commonsense proposal to end the crisis on our southern border.
It includes humanitarian assistance, more law enforcement, drug detection at our ports, closing loopholes that enable child smuggling, and plans for a new physical barrier, or wall, to secure the vast areas between our ports of entry. In the past, most of the people in this room voted for a wall — but the proper wall never got built. I’ll get it built.
This is a smart, strategic, see-through steel barrier — not just a simple concrete wall. It will be deployed in the areas identified by border agents as having the greatest need, and as these agents will tell you, where walls go up, illegal crossings go way down.
San Diego used to have the most illegal border crossings in the country. In response, and at the request of San Diego residents and political leaders, a strong security wall was put in place. This powerful barrier almost completely ended illegal crossings.
The border city of El Paso, Texas, used to have extremely high rates of violent crime — one of the highest in the country, and considered one of our Nation’s most dangerous cities. Now, with a powerful barrier in place, El Paso is one of our safest cities.
Simply put, walls work and walls save lives. So let’s work together, compromise, and reach a deal that will truly make America safe.
As we work to defend our people’s safety, we must also ensure our economic resurgence continues at a rapid pace.
No one has benefited more from our thriving economy than women, who have filled 58 percent of the new jobs created in the last year. All Americans can be proud that we have more women in the workforce than ever before — and exactly one century after the Congress passed the Constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote, we also have more women serving in the Congress than ever before.
As part of our commitment to improving opportunity for women everywhere, this Thursday we are launching the first ever Government-wide initiative focused on economic empowerment for women in developing countries
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To build on our incredible economic success, one priority is paramount — reversing decades of calamitous trade policies.
We are now making it clear to China that after years of targeting our industries, and stealing our intellectual property, the theft of American jobs and wealth has come to an end.
Therefore, we recently imposed tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods — and now our Treasury is receiving billions of dollars a month from a country that never gave us a dime. But I don’t blame China for taking advantage of us — I blame our leaders and representatives for allowing this travesty to happen. I have great respect for President Xi, and we are now working on a new trade deal with China. But it must include real, structural change to end unfair trade practices, reduce our chronic trade deficit, and protect American jobs.
Another historic trade blunder was the catastrophe known as NAFTA.
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I have met the men and women of Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, New Hampshire, and many other States whose dreams were shattered by NAFTA. For years, politicians promised them they would negotiate for a better deal. But no one ever tried — until now.
Our new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement — or USMCA — will replace NAFTA and deliver for American workers: bringing back our manufacturing jobs, expanding American agriculture, protecting intellectual property, and ensuring that more cars are proudly stamped with four beautiful words: made in the USA.
Tonight, I am also asking you to pass the United States Reciprocal Trade Act, so that if another country places an unfair tariff on an American product, we can charge them the exact same tariff on the same product that they sell to us.
Both parties should be able to unite for a great rebuilding of America’s crumbling infrastructure.
I know that the Congress is eager to pass an infrastructure bill — and I am eager to work with you on legislation to deliver new and important infrastructure investment, including investments in the cutting edge industries of the future. This is not an option. This is a necessity.
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The next major priority for me, and for all of us, should be to lower the cost of healthcare and prescription drugs — and to protect patients with pre-existing conditions.
Already, as a result of my Administration’s efforts, in 2018 drug prices experienced their single largest decline in 46 years.
But we must do more. It is unacceptable that Americans pay vastly more than people in other countries for the exact same drugs, often made in the exact same place. This is wrong, unfair, and together we can stop it.
I am asking the Congress to pass legislation that finally takes on the problem of global freeloading and delivers fairness and price transparency for American patients. We should also require drug companies, insurance companies, and hospitals to disclose real prices to foster competition and bring costs down.
No force in history has done more to advance the human condition than American freedom. In recent years we have made remarkable progress in the fight against HIV and AIDS. Scientific breakthroughs have brought a once-distant dream within reach. My budget will ask Democrats and Republicans to make the needed commitment to eliminate the HIV epidemic in the United States within 10 years. Together, we will defeat AIDS in America.
Tonight, I am also asking you to join me in another fight that all Americans can get behind: the fight against childhood cancer.
Joining Melania in the gallery this evening is a very brave 10-year-old girl, Grace Eline. Every birthday since she was 4, Grace asked her friends to donate to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. She did not know that one day she might be a patient herself. Last year, Grace was diagnosed with brain cancer. Immediately, she began radiation treatment. At the same time, she rallied her community and raised more than $40,000 for the fight against cancer. When Grace completed treatment last fall, her doctors and nurses cheered with tears in their eyes as she hung up a poster that read: “Last Day of Chemo.” Grace — you are an inspiration to us all.
Many childhood cancers have not seen new therapies in decades. My budget will ask the Congress for $500 million over the next 10 years to fund this critical life-saving research.
To help support working parents, the time has come to pass school choice for America’s children. I am also proud to be the first President to include in my budget a plan for nationwide paid family leave — so that every new parent has the chance to bond with their newborn child.
There could be no greater contrast to the beautiful image of a mother holding her infant child than the chilling displays our Nation saw in recent days. Lawmakers in New York cheered with delight upon the passage of legislation that would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother’s womb moments before birth. These are living, feeling, beautiful babies who will never get the chance to share their love and dreams with the world. And then, we had the case of the Governor of Virginia where he basically stated he would execute a baby after birth.
To defend the dignity of every person, I am asking the Congress to pass legislation to prohibit the late-term abortion of children who can feel pain in the mother’s womb.
Let us work together to build a culture that cherishes innocent life. And let us reaffirm a fundamental truth: all children — born and unborn — are made in the holy image of God.
The final part of my agenda is to protect America’s National Security. Over the last 2 years, we have begun to fully rebuild the United States Military — with $700 billion last year and $716 billion this year. We are also getting other nations to pay their fair share. For years, the United States was being treated very unfairly by NATO — but now we have secured a $100 billion increase in defense spending from NATO allies.
As part of our military build-up, the United States is developing a state-of-the-art Missile Defense System.
Under my Administration, we will never apologize for advancing America’s interests.
For example, decades ago the United States entered into a treaty with Russia in which we agreed to limit and reduce our missile capabilities. While we followed the agreement to the letter, Russia repeatedly violated its terms. That is why I announced that the United States is officially withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or INF Treaty.
Perhaps we can negotiate a different agreement, adding China and others, or perhaps we can’t — in which case, we will outspend and out-innovate all others by far.
As part of a bold new diplomacy, we continue our historic push for peace on the Korean Peninsula. Our hostages have come home, nuclear testing has stopped, and there has not been a missile launch in 15 months. If I had not been elected President of the United States, we would right now, in my opinion, be in a major war with North Korea with potentially millions of people killed. Much work remains to be done, but my relationship with Kim Jong Un is a good one. And Chairman Kim and I will meet again on February 27 and 28 in Vietnam.
Two weeks ago, the United States officially recognized the legitimate government of Venezuela, and its new interim President, Juan Guaido.
We stand with the Venezuelan people in their noble quest for freedom — and we condemn the brutality of the Maduro regime, whose socialist policies have turned that nation from being the wealthiest in South America into a state of abject poverty and despair.
Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country. America was founded on liberty and independence — not government coercion, domination, and control. We are born free, and we will stay free. Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.
One of the most complex set of challenges we face is in the Middle East.
Our approach is based on principled realism — not discredited theories that have failed for decades to yield progress. For this reason, my Administration recognized the true capital of Israel — and proudly opened the American Embassy in Jerusalem.
Our brave troops have now been fighting in the Middle East for almost 19 years. In Afghanistan and Iraq, nearly 7,000 American heroes have given their lives. More than 52,000 Americans have been badly wounded. We have spent more than $7 trillion in the Middle East.
As a candidate for President, I pledged a new approach. Great nations do not fight endless wars. When I took office, ISIS controlled more than 20,000 square miles in Iraq and Syria. Today, we have liberated virtually all of that territory from the grip of these bloodthirsty killers.
Now, as we work with our allies to destroy the remnants of ISIS, it is time to give our brave warriors in Syria a warm welcome home.
I have also accelerated our negotiations to reach a political settlement in Afghanistan. Our troops have fought with unmatched valor — and thanks to their bravery, we are now able to pursue a political solution to this long and bloody conflict.
In Afghanistan, my Administration is holding constructive talks with a number of Afghan groups, including the Taliban. As we make progress in these negotiations, we will be able to reduce our troop presence and focus on counter-terrorism. We do not know whether we will achieve an agreement — but we do know that after two decades of war, the hour has come to at least try for peace.
Above all, friend and foe alike must never doubt this Nation’s power and will to defend our people. Eighteen years ago, terrorists attacked the USS Cole — and last month American forces killed one of the leaders of the attack.
We are honored to be joined tonight by Tom Wibberley, whose son, Navy Seaman Craig Wibberley, was one of the 17 sailors we tragically lost. Tom: we vow to always remember the heroes of the USS Cole.
My Administration has acted decisively to confront the world’s leading state sponsor of terror: the radical regime in Iran.
To ensure this corrupt dictatorship never acquires nuclear weapons, I withdrew the United States from the disastrous Iran nuclear deal. And last fall, we put in place the toughest sanctions ever imposed on a country.
We will not avert our eyes from a regime that chants death to America and threatens genocide against the Jewish people. We must never ignore the vile poison of anti-Semitism, or those who spread its venomous creed. With one voice, we must confront this hatred anywhere and everywhere it occurs.
Just months ago, 11 Jewish-Americans were viciously murdered in an anti-semitic attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. SWAT Officer Timothy Matson raced into the gunfire and was shot seven times chasing down the killer. Timothy has just had his 12th surgery — but he made the trip to be here with us tonight. Officer Matson: we are forever grateful for your courage in the face of evil.
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Tonight, we are also joined by Pittsburgh survivor Judah Samet. He arrived at the synagogue as the massacre began. But not only did Judah narrowly escape death last fall — more than seven decades ago, he narrowly survived the Nazi concentration camps. Today is Judah’s 81st birthday. Judah says he can still remember the exact moment, nearly 75 years ago, after 10 months in a concentration camp, when he and his family were put on a train, and told they were going to another camp. Suddenly the train screeched to a halt. A soldier appeared. Judah’s family braced for the worst. Then, his father cried out with joy: “It’s the Americans.”
A second Holocaust survivor who is here tonight, Joshua Kaufman, was a prisoner at Dachau Concentration Camp. He remembers watching through a hole in the wall of a cattle car as American soldiers rolled in with tanks. “To me,” Joshua recalls, “the American soldiers were proof that God exists, and they came down from the sky.”
I began this evening by honoring three soldiers who fought on D-Day in the Second World War. One of them was Herman Zeitchik. But there is more to Herman’s story. A year after he stormed the beaches of Normandy, Herman was one of those American soldiers who helped liberate Dachau. He was one of the Americans who helped rescue Joshua from that hell on earth. Almost 75 years later, Herman and Joshua are both together in the gallery tonight — seated side-by-side, here in the home of American freedom. Herman and Joshua: your presence this evening honors and uplifts our entire Nation.
When American soldiers set out beneath the dark skies over the English Channel in the early hours of D-Day, 1944, they were just young men of 18 and 19, hurtling on fragile landing craft toward the most momentous battle in the history of war.
They did not know if they would survive the hour. They did not know if they would grow old. But they knew that America had to prevail. Their cause was this Nation, and generations yet unborn.
Why did they do it? They did it for America — they did it for us. Everything that has come since — our triumph over communism, our giant leaps of science and discovery, our unrivaled progress toward equality and justice — all of it is possible thanks to the blood and tears and courage and vision of the Americans who came before.
Think of this Capitol — think of this very chamber, where lawmakers before you voted to end slavery, to build the railroads and the highways, to defeat fascism, to secure civil rights, to face down an evil empire.
Here tonight, we have legislators from across this magnificent republic. You have come from the rocky shores of Maine and the volcanic peaks of Hawaii; from the snowy woods of Wisconsin and the red deserts of Arizona; from the green farms of Kentucky and the golden beaches of California. Together, we represent the most extraordinary Nation in all of history.
What will we do with this moment? How will we be remembered? I ask the men and women of this Congress: Look at the opportunities before us! Our most thrilling achievements are still ahead. Our most exciting journeys still await. Our biggest victories are still to come. We have not yet begun to dream.
We must choose whether we are defined by our differences — or whether we dare to transcend them.
We must choose whether we will squander our inheritance — or whether we will proudly declare that we are Americans. We do the incredible. We defy the impossible. We conquer the unknown.
This is the time to re-ignite the American imagination. This is the time to search for the tallest summit, and set our sights on the brightest star. This is the time to rekindle the bonds of love and loyalty and memory that link us together as citizens, as neighbors, as patriots.
This is our future — our fate — and our choice to make. I am asking you to choose greatness. No matter the trials we face, no matter the challenges to come, we must go forward together.
We must keep America first in our hearts. We must keep freedom alive in our souls. And we must always keep faith in America’s destiny — that one Nation, under God, must be the hope and the promise and the light and the glory among all the nations of the world!

Thank you. God Bless You, God Bless America, and good night!

Personal Reflections of a Malaysian Member of Parliament


January 30, 2019

Personal Reflections of a Malaysian Member of Parliament

Image result for William Leong

by William  Leong,MP

A donkey carrying baskets was told by his shepherd master to flee when enemies approached. The donkey asked if the enemy would put another pair of baskets on him and if not, why flee.

In a change of government, the poor change nothing beyond the name of their master.–The Shepherd and Aesop’s Fables

Nothing Changed Beyond the Name

There will be many analyses of the Cameron Highlands by-election result. It is obvious Pakatan Harapan did not win sufficient Malay support and there was a lower voter turnout compared to the 14th General Elections. In the ultimate analysis, the result is a reflection of Malaysians agreeing with Aesop’s donkey. Other than a change of the Prime Minister and name of the coalition, the Pakatan Harapan government has not implemented the promised substantive reforms. The danger arising from the Cameron Highlands result is PH will be engaged in a race to the bottom of ethnic extremism with UMNO-PAS. With it comes greater ethnic tensions and deeper ethnic cleavages. All of us, Malaysians, like Martin Luther King Jr. have a dream. We have all been inspired by the song “We Shall Overcome.” It has become the anthem against injustice. It is a song about a promise: “We shall overcome someday. Deep in my heart, I do believe.” But in the light of recent events, May 9 was not the day. We shall have to overcome on some other day.

Nothing Changed Beyond the Name

Elite Capture of the Government Inequality and racial politics in Malaysia is inter-related. The country’s persistent and growing inequality between the rich and the poor, economic deprivation suffered by various groups and deepening social fragmentation is due to racial politics. Race-based politics have been perpetuated by the political and economic elite in order to maintain their wealth, influence and control of political and economic power.

Inequality and race-based  politics in Malaysia is inter-related. The country’s persistent and growing inequality between the rich and the poor, economic deprivation suffered by various groups and deepening social fragmentation is due to race- based  politics. Race-based politics have been perpetuated by the political and economic elite in order to maintain their wealth, influence and control of political and economic power. The country into a dysfunctional state is also due to elite capture of the BN government. It is a result of the political-economic elite’s insatiable  It is a result of the political-economic elite’s insatiable greed.

The political-economic elite uses the political power in their hands to control the government institutions responsible for distribution of resources and to ensure that policies that benefit them are retained at the expense of a dis-empowered majority. The political-economic elite through political patronage maintain a system to establish monopolies and activities to extract rent. They manipulate politicians and administrators to cater to their narrow economic interests through inequitable practices that tend to discriminate against other groups.

A massive rural development fund was launched by the Ministry of Rural and National Development in 1959 by Tun Abdul Razak then Deputy Prime Minister, since then UMNO politicians became not only interested in the business of politics but also more interested in the politics of business – generating income, wealth and influence in the business of rural development. The development projects were won by UMNO politicians and subcontracted to Chinese contractors.  It came to be planted in the minds of many young Malays and aspiring entrepreneurs that there seemed to be a shortcut, a “political way” to make the materialistic leap to become rich rather quickly.

1.Upward social mobility is by climbing the rungs of the political ladder and money politics was born. Following the first Bumiputera Economic Congress in 1965 and the second three years later in 1968, detailed strategies and programmes were made to implement the nationalist economic agenda which culminated in the New Economic Policy in 1971. The evolution of the Bumiputera Commercial and Industrial Community (BCIC) progressed in tandem with the protracted affirmative action under the NEP.

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Terrence Gomez and K.S. Jomo have pointed out that most Malay businessmen wanted state intervention to preserve their special privileges. They contended that such Bumiputera capitalists were rent-seekers rather than genuine entrepreneurs. They regarded the activities of these Bumiputera capitalists as unproductive and a hindrance to economic development.

2. The Najib administration in its failed attempt to implement the New Economic Model admitted to the scourge of political patronage and rent-seeking behavior of these political-economic elite. 3. The National Economic Advisory Council (“NEAC”) in its publication “The New Economic Model for Malaysia Part 1” stated as follows:

“Ethnic-based economic policies worked but implementation issues also created problems. The NEP has reduced poverty and substantially addressed inter-ethnic economic imbalances. However, its implementation has also increasingly and raised the cost of doing business due to rent-seeking, patronage and often opaque government procurement. This has engendered pervasive corruption which needs to be addressed earnestly.”

Terence Gomez in his book “Minister of Finance Incorporated: Ownership and Control of Corporate Malaysia” has drawn attention to the disturbing development that control of corporate Malaysia has been taken over by the Government-Linked Investment Companies (“GLICs”) which included Khazanah Nasional Berhad, Permodalan Nasional Berhad, with the Ministry of Finance at the apex of the structure. Gomez has pointed out that the nexus involving politics and business has fundamentally shifted from UMNO politicians to the office of the Minister of Finance which was then concurrently held by 4 the Prime Minister during the time of Najib Tun Razak.

4 Gomez in a recent article “Patronage is king in new Malaysia” voiced his concern that under the Tun Mahathir administration, control of the GLICs have been removed from the Ministry of Finance and transferred to the newly created Economic Affairs Ministry while Khazanah Nasional was placed under the Prime Minister’s Department.

At the Congress on the Future of Bumiputeras and the Nation, Tun Mahathir stressed the need to reinstitute thepractice of selective patronage targeting Bumiputeras.

5. Gomez posed the question whether PH will carry out divestment of the GLICs businesses to create a new breed of powerful well-connected business groups, even oligarchs.

Fallacious Racial Arguments

Racial Myths Debunked

It is based on the argument that by the elite’s predominance, the elite is able to provide for those “included” in the dominant racial group while excluding those in the “Other” racial groups. It is only in this manner, so the argument goes, that members of the “in” group can be assured of improvement to their economic well-being and survival at the expense of the “Other.”

Scholars have explained that ethnic tensions are created by ethnic activists and political  entrepreneurs making blatant ethnic appeals to outbid moderate politicians, thereby mobilizing members of their ethnic group, polarizing society and magnifying inter-ethnic dilemmas. Non-rational factors such as emotions, historical memories and myths create a vicious cycle that threatens to pull multi-ethnic societies apart.

6. The political-economic elite have perpetuated these myths and fallacies to maintain their dominance and influence. They hijacked and abused the NEP and racial preferential policies for their personal gain while the objective of creating an independent Bumiputera entrepreneur class remains unrealized.

The corruption, plundering and kleptomania exhibited by the previous BN regime have shattered the fallacies of racial politics. These political elite not only stole from the national coffers but also robbed the till of sacred institutions established to promote Bumiputera well-being such as FELDA, MARA, Tabung Haji and others. By their misconduct the myth that only ministers and government officials from UMNO or endorsed by UMNO can be trusted to take care of the Malays has been debunked. The deception sustained throughout the years that the personality, integrity and capability of the elected representative are not factors for consideration as long as he is a Malay from UMNO has also been fully exposed. The fiction that non-Malays cannot be trustedto take care of the Malays is being dispelled with the appointment of non-Malays as the Finance Minister, Attorney-General, Chief Justice and others. In the process, it is revealed those who benefited the most from the distrust, suspicions, hatred and fear among the various ethnic groups are the political-economic elite themselves while the largest group of the impoverished after 5 decades of the NEP continue to be the Malays and Bumiputeras.

Centripetalism put into practice

The changeover from BN to PH have allowed PH elected representatives, government agencies and institutions to depoliticize ethnicity by resolving the people’s problems on cross-ethnic basis. Malay constituents can take their problems directly to their non- Malay PH elected representatives without having to go through the local UMNO division chiefs. The non-Malay constituents similarly can approach their Malay PH elected representatives without having MCA or MIC local leaders as intermediaries. The constituents enjoy the confidence that the matters are resolved on an objective basis and not subject to ethnic interests or considerations.

In this way politicians can take moderate positions that accommodate all ethnic groups and avoid extreme or divisive positions. In the process the politicians gain support from across the ethnic divide. This process is now endangered if ethnic extremists are allowed to take central stage again  and the space for moderates diminishes.

Patching Up the Tattered Myths

On May 9, the Pakatan Harapan government was given a golden opportunity to restructure the  policies putting an end to divisive racial politics. It was a chance of a lifetime to put right the growing inequality of income, wealth and well-being of Malaysians irrespective of race and religion, to enhance social cohesion, provide for all their right to flourish and live the life they value in dignity and restore the nation to its rightful global economic order. It was bought and paid for by the blood, sweat and tears of those who sacrificed their careers, reputation and freedom over 20 years, for some stretching back 40 years or more.

It is therefore tragic that Tun Mahathir and the Pakatan Harapan government did not fully grasp the opportunity offered. Instead, Tun Mahathir and his administration have stopped at only changing the personalities. They have not gone further to carry out the much-needed reforms.

Recent events show, Tun Mahathir does not fully embrace the Pakatan Harapan reform agenda. He has now embarked on a contest to win Malay support from UMNO and PAS by showing that Bersatu is a better champion of Malay rights. In doing so, Tun Mahathir is building a roof of Malay dominance to cover the Pakatan Harapan foundation of multi-racial and multi-cultural beliefs. Tun Mahathir is stitching back and patching up the tattered myths of racial politics. He is resuscitating the old political-economic elite and attracting new ones to come under the Bersatu umbrella. Tun Mahathir is now working to replace UMNO hegemony with a Bersatu hegemony:

 On 1 st November 2018, Tun Mahathir  defended the NEP and its race-enteric preferential programme in opening the Congress on the Future of the Bumiputera and the Nation 2018. He defended the practice of awarding contracts by “direct negotiations” and to continue doing away with meritocracy;

On 1st November 2018, Dato Sri Azmin Ali, the Economic Affairs Minister in his parliament winding-up speech during the debate on the 11 h Malaysia Mid-Term Review said  NEP and said that the PH government will continue with the spirit of the NEP and to realize its objectives;

On 23 rd November 2018, in the wake of UMNO and PAS objections, the cabinet reversed its decision to ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). The decision left Gun Kut, a member of the United Nations committee member monitoring the implementation of ICERD dumbfounded. He said the cabinet decision made Malaysia to be seen as accepting racial discrimination;
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By 15th December 2018, a total of 16 MPs have quit UMNO and Bersatu proposes to accept them into its fold. These defectors have not shown they have changed their political philosophy or shed their UMNO culture.

On 29th December 2018, Tun Mahathir at the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia’s 2nd General Assembly (the “Bersatu General Assembly”) hammered home the final nail in the coffin of multi-racial politics and inclusive policies.Tun Mahathir in his speech at the Bersatu General Assembly said the time has not yet come for multi- racial political parties. Tun Mahathir reprise Malay fears of the other ethnic groups. He reminded the Malays that they would be left behind economically by the other races in their own motherland. He said the Malays need to hold on to political power to save their race. To retain their freedom. To do so, they have to unite behind Bersatu. They have to ensure the government is led by a Malay dominant party. The Malays need to sacrifice themselves for the greater good of their race and for their children’s future such as he is prepared to do, even to the extent of being called a racist.

the other races in their own motherland. He said the Malays need to hold on to political power to save their race. To retain their freedom. To do so, they have to unite behind Bersatu. They have to ensure the government is led by a Malay dominant party. The Malays need to sacrifice themselves for the greater good of their race and for their children’s future such as he is prepared to do, even to the extent of being called a racist.

Although, Tun Mahathir is asking the Malays to march to the beat of a different drummer, he is nevertheless, using the same ethno-nationalist drums beating out the same sounds of “blood and soil” that UMNO uses. In fact, Tun Mahathir pointed out in his speech, Bersatu is the UMNO of 2003.

Back on the Road to Serfdom and Mediocrity

It cannot be doubted that Tun Mahathir is sincere and earnest in his belief that social cohesion and addressing inequality among the different ethnic groups are to be achieved through the racial preferential policies of the NEP and Malay political dominance. There is, however, a viable alternative in the form of needs-based affirmative action and inclusive policies but these are not being taken up. Sadly, we are being taken back down the road to serfdom again. New Malaysia instead of being a society in search of excellence, will continue to perfect mediocrity. Instead of good governance and accountability, political patronage and rent-seeking will continue to thrive. Instead of social cohesion, there will be further social fragmentation, greater mistrust and deeper ethnic division among the citizens than before.

Dreams of equality and social justice have become another case of blowing in the wind. We nevertheless must soldier on in the struggle for justice and freedom. We only lose when we give-up. The original verse in “We Shall Overcome” becomes more relevant to Malaysians.
“ If in my heart I do not yield,
I do believe,
I shall overcome someday”

This article is the personal opinion of the author and is not to be taken as the position of the political party or of any groups or that this opinion is endorsed by them.

William Leong Jee Keen, MP
Member of Parliament Selayang

28 January 2019

Shamsul A.B, “The Economic Dimension of Malay Nationalism.” 2 Gomez Edmund T and K.S. Jomo (1999), “Malaysia’s Political Economy: Politics, Patronage and Profits.

Cambridge University Press”
The New Economic Model Part.1

Edmund Terence Gomez, “Minister of Finance Incorporated: Ownership and Control of Corporate Malaysia.”

Terence Gomez, “Patronage is king in new Malaysia”  Malaysiakini 12 January 2019.

 

Walls, Partisanship and the Shutdown


January 9, 2019

Newsbook

Newsbook

By Concepción de León

 

Eighteen days into the partial government shutdown, President Trump is preparing to deliver a national address on immigration to make his case for a border wall again. These three books offer perspective on the current shutdown: the inner workings of the government offices affected, the political precedent for the present bipartisanship and the debate over a border wall.

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THE FIFTH RISK
By Michael Lewis
221 pages. W.W. Norton & Company. (2018)

Lewis has a reputation for livening otherwise dry material, and according to our reviewer, “you’ll be turning the pages” of this story about government bureaucracy. The fifth risk in his title (after an attack by North Korea or war with Iran, for instance) is project management, or rather the mismanagement he details within the Trump administration. Key government positions remain unfilled, and others are occupied by nonexperts in their respective offices. “The Fifth Risk” provides insight into how government offices function, particularly under the current administration.

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THE RED AND THE BLUE
The 1990s and the Birth of Political Tribalism
By Steve Kornacki
497 pp. Ecco/HarperCollins Publishers. (2018)

 

In this book, Kornacki argues that the political battles between President Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich, including a 21-day long government shutdown over budget disagreements, set the stage for the political divisions of today. “The early Clinton era is presented as a parade of confrontations — over welfare, balanced budgets, health care — that, for a time, emboldened Gingrich’s showdown wing of Republicanism,” wrote our reviewer. The government shutdown of 1995-96 is the longest on record, and this book explains the political tensions that caused it.

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WALLS
A History of Civilization in Blood and Brick
David Frye
320 pp. Scribner. (2018)

The idea of building walls to protect and separate societies is not new, and in this accessible history, Frye chronicles walls from ancient Greece to Berlin to China. He explains that early walls were built as protection from neighboring tribes, and how the walls in China assured traders safe passage. In addition to exploring walls’ role in the development of civilization, Frye also reckons with the psychological impact they can have on the migrants and refugees they keep out.

Follow New York Times Books on Facebook and Twitter (@nytimesbooks), sign up for our newsletter or our literary calendar. And listen to us on the Book Review podcast.

 

 

 

Related Coverage

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/08/books/trump-shutdown-wall-immigration.html

 

 

 

As 2018 comes to an end


December 23, 2018

As 2018 comes to an end

 

QUESTION TIME | While 2018 draws to a close, bringing with it a time for reflection, some serious questions are being asked as to the state of the country and what it means when Malaysia’s oldest party, UMNO, faces collapse from within as elected representatives desert it in droves for what they think are greener pastures.This will cause problems in Pakatan Harapan, for it threatens to significantly alter the delicate power balance within the coalition, which may see a sudden burgeoning of power for Bersatu with all its attendant implications. And then there are the power shifts within PKR itself. All of these spell uncertainty ahead.

But even so, things are much better right now than a year ago, despite the many problems that need to be resolved. If the challenge of removing BN after 61 years has been successfully overcome, surely the ones facing the nation right now can be more easily settled.

One year ago, the nation was already in the throes of election fever. There was desperation, despair, denial, and fear on both sides – fear that they might lose the elections with all implications for both sides. And the rakyat worried like never before about whether the unbridled kleptocracy would end or not.

In the end, they took the right and brave decision to throw out a corrupt and thieving government, paving the way for a former prime minister of 22 years to return to the helm for the interim and de facto Harapan leader Anwar Ibrahim to take over the reins later.

That unprecedented overthrow of UMNO-BN was, without doubt, the highlight of the year with all the drama of a 92-year-old waiting at the palace to be installed as the next prime minister as agreed by the Harapan coalition.

Along with that drama, there was another one unfolding which saw Anwar finally getting an unconditional pardon and released from jail. There was much jubilation and elation at Harapan’s victory, and everyone admired Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s energy and persistence throughout the process, something remarkable for a man his age.

Inevitable problems

But the inevitable problems began to surface. First, it was the cabinet composition and then the formation of the Jedi-like so-called Council of Eminent Persons headed by the controversial Daim Zainuddin (photo).

It was clear that this council, with a declared lifetime of 100 days was more powerful than the cabinet itself and was making many decisions which should rightly have been decided at the ministerial level.

Daim’s reports to Mahathir still remain confidential, with the public in the dark about the measures recommended by the council. Despite the council no longer sitting, Daim still continues to exert considerable influence in government, leading to discomfort among some members of Harapan.

After subsiding for a while, the problem of “frogging” – leaping from one party to another – has resurfaced with a vengeance with some 17 UMNO MPs having resigned and a handful joining component Harapan parties, mostly Bersatu.

There is considerable discord over this party hopping, with PKR and DAP clearly against it while Bersatu is as clearly for it because of the small number of MPs it has and the potential for such moves to increase its numbers and influence. Bersatu has even set up a vetting process to consider who should be admitted.

Far-reaching consequences

This is going to be a serious problem for Harapan going forward, because it has the potential to cause far-reaching changes within the ruling coalition which will alter its balance of power and may even set off a race among coalition members, except DAP, to get some of the defectors into their fold.

As much as there is uncertainty now over what will happen to Harapan and the reforms and changes it promised, it is still far better than the situation a year ago, with ominous consequences for the country if BN-UMNO was yet again re-elected.

In the end, faith prevailed and collectively we turned away from the abyss that faced us by voting out an allegedly kleptocratic government and averted near-certain disaster.

Subsequent events have shown that we were right about the magnitude of the problems facing the country, and that steps are necessary to ensure we, as a nation, don’t face a similar problem in future.

If everybody involved in the reform movement remembers the past and how near we were to a colossal breakdown of epic proportions in government due to extensive and ingrained corruption, outright pilferage of borrowed money, and the constant raising of race and religion as issues to mask deficiencies, then they will realise the need for reform to stop corruption and theft.

That would mean not allowing into government anyone who is even remotely connected with the previous government’s unprecedented kleptocracy, no matter how small the role they played in that. That means no hopping MPs.

And that means standing up for these reforms and facing up to those who now want to forget them. Only that will ensure a better Malaysia going forward, even if there is some initial cost to this vital long-term benefit that we need in order to sustain this country of ours as a viable nation.


P . GUNASEGARAM wishes all Malaysiakini readers and subscribers a merry Christmas and happy new year. His column will resume next year. E-mail: t.p.guna@gmail.com

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