Renown Scholar Wang Gungwu on China


July 22, 2017

Renown Scholar Wang Gungwu on China

Understanding China is critical since it is a dominant player in our part of the world and a global power with a well articulated agenda for regional stability. As a member of G-20, it is building strategic partners in ASEAN, Latin America, the EU, Russia, and Africa. While Trump’s policy is America First, President Xi embraces globalisation. Listen to Professor Wang Gungwu for some valuable insights.–Din Merican

 

Indian Muslims: Think before like MIC you leap into the heap of empty promises


July 19, 2017

Indian Muslims: Think before like MIC you leap into the heap of empty promises

by Rais Hussin@www.malaysiakini.com

Islam is an emancipating religion. It seeks to liberate minds and bodies from the shackles of the old order. Blessed are those who use Islam to free themselves from the chains of slavery.

Image result for The Chulias of Penang

It is not the place here to speak about the various versions of servitude in India. It is more appropriate to talk about how Indians born and bred in Malaysia, through time, have found their liberation here.

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The Emancipated Mamak

If Dr Mahathir Mohamad is held up as a model of emancipation, with his father being a stern headmaster in Kedah, he has shown the extent to which a hardworking and diligent man can reach the pinnacles of power: the premiership.

When power slipped from his hands between 2003 and 2016, Mahathir did not give in or up. He returned to his core principles, forming strategic and horizontal alliances with Pakatan Harapan de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim, even the Democratic Action Party, and Amanah, all of whom had been his nemesis before, to create a common front to save Malaysia.

He proposed, they agreed. And as he said to Nurul Izzah Anwar in London, “The past is the past. Let’s look to the future.” Coming from a 92-year-old man, the word “future” could mean a small window of opportunity to change Malaysia.

But it could also mean, once Malaysia is positively transformed from a kleptocracy back into a democracy, the world is ours for the taking. Why?

Look around. The Muslim world is in a dejected state. Turkey and Indonesia may have their own strengths, but they don’t have the unique resources of combining Islam side-by-side with the Anglo-Saxon institutions in the country, with ardent agreement to work closely with Sabah and Sarawak. Malaysia does.

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The Mysterious Mamak

And, if Malaysia is not the laughing stock of the world, then it stands the chance to be a top Muslim power. One where Malay, and Indian Muslim leaders, work side-by-side with our non-Malay and non-Indian brothers.

A fake olive branch

This is why Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s overture towards Indians and Indian Muslims should be rejected wholesale.

In areas where the rights of Indians have never been truly respected, such as Cameron Highlands, where the waters from the dams can actually flood the areas twice, with nary a solution from MIC’s former President G Palanivel, the key is to bid him and others of his ilk a permanent goodbye.

Thanks for your service, but no thanks. Indian Muslims do not need to rise up like Hindraf. The Indian Muslims’ power rests with their ability to hold various levers of power in the government.

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The Mamaks have thrived in Malaysia for Generations without Najib Razak

Chief Secretary to the Government Ali Hamsa is an Indian Muslim too. The Indian Muslims should encourage him to use all the powers within him to encourage Indian Muslims to work in the government. But if he cannot make a pip or a squeak, then the olive branch extended by Najib to Indian Muslims is not real.

Lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah is an Indian Muslim. If he has his conscience, he should explain why there is alleged evidence of him receiving RM9.5 million to be the special prosecutor of the government on the second trial of Anwar Ibrahim.

The same goes for Treasury Secretary-General Mohd Irwan Serigar. Why did he cancel the planned sale of a 60 percent stake in Bandar Malaysia to Iskandar Waterfront Holdings and China Railway Engineering Conglomerate?

If he truly believes Islam is a religion that seeks to liberate and improve the welfare of all, this is the place to start. If he doesn’t  pander to more Indian Muslim NGOs to support the Najib government, he is proverbially signing his death warrant.

The waves from the people are unstoppable. Mahathir and Anwar Ibrahim have reconciled their differences. The ground has shifted back to 1981 when both of them teamed up to turn back the tide of PAS.

Lim Kit Siang and Lim Guan Eng have also seen the writing on the wall, and done likewise. They know DAP cannot ignore the experience of Mahathir, Muhyiddin Yassin and Mukhriz Mahathir. Together, all three carry powerful human networks that can help all Malaysians including Indian Muslims.

‘Yenge poh renge?’

Cozying up to Najib now, especially when he is weak, and will get weaker, is an exercise in futility. Even the head of MIC Dr S Subramaniam merely averred recently that Najib had done more than Mahathir for the Indians – but he couldn’t explain why, how, when, or, how much. Because nothing was really done! Election trinkets are not serious developments to help Indians or Indian Muslims.

Under Mahathir, capable Indian Muslims were promoted. One must surely know Nor Mohamed Yakcop who is the current Deputy Chairman of Khazanah Nasional Berhad. As recorded in a book by former editor of The Star Wong Sulong, Nor Mohamed was one of the pivotal figures who kept the financial speculators at bay during the Asian Financial Crisis.

Indeed, look at what Professor Jomo Kwame Sundaram, himself a Muslim, was able to achieve together with Professor Chandra Muzaffar of JUST World Trust. Both were the intellectual lights of the Malaysian academic scene, and still are.

Forget not the many Indian Muslim businesses that have prospered and mushroomed over the years throughout Malaysia. Indian Muslims as a collective community has indeed contributed much to Malaysia and its growth.

Indian Muslims in Malaysia can rise, and have risen. But reaching out to Najib, a politically beleaguered Prime Minister, is not the way forward.

In fact, we should ask the Prime Minister: “Yenge poh renge?” That’s Tamil for “where are you going with this?”. And, clearly, he is going nowhere.

Indian Muslims must be smart enough to know: God helps those who help themselves. The Malaysian people are rejecting Najib to help improve their own lot. Indians and Indian Muslims must not lose this God-sent opportunity.

Rediscovering Jose Rizal


July 14, 2017–The Bastille Day

Rediscovering Jose Rizal

by Ivan Labayne

http://www.newmandala.org/rediscovering-rizal/

Image result for jose rizal wallpaper

 

Significant ironies surround Jose Rizal, my country’s national hero. On the one hand, he is ubiquitous. He is literally erected in monuments in almost every province, and inscribed in every peso coin most of us use every day. On the other hand, one can argue that there’s a lack of understanding of, even interest in, the life and works of this illustrious figure, whom a biographer once tagged as the ‘First Filipino.’

One can try to impress by mastering some trivia about him. For instance, one can recite his full name, or the order of his siblings. Nowadays, even knowing the exact date of his birthday can count as impressive.

For those of us who have gone to school, Rizal’s two novels, Noli me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, are primary avenues for learning about the national hero. Sadly for me, I was not able to make the most out of these minimums set by the education system for teaching Rizal.

This is quite a shame for a literature grad. Reading Noli and Fili during high school might have appeared as a chore to me when I was younger. It is not that I shirked or napped in our classes: the lack of genuine interest in the novels is more likely an effect of our beloved education system’s playing out its favourite game of rote learning and textbook-worshiping. Thankfully, I was more attentive during our Philippine Institutions class (The Life and Works of Jose Rizal) in college.

I remember reading both Noli and Fili in the abridged comic versions which are available in bookstores for less than a hundred pesos. During senior year in high school, discussions of the Fili were more intense and less deplorable compared to those of Noli a school year earlier. Reporters were assigned for each chapter and after the discussion, a quiz would be given. This compelled the class to actually read the chapters. That is why I have stronger memories of characters and events in Fili than Noli: the Physics class with Placido Penitente and the schoolboys, Simoun’s foiled bomb-explosion attempt, his death and the throwing of the chest at the end. In our P.I. (the compulsory Philippine Institutions) class, I remember the discussions focusing less on the literary texts than the social contexts of Rizal’s life and his creations.

It is a pity for me not having read these novels—not just as a Lit major, not just as a student, but as a Filipino. At a time when schooling, accessing and reading books is becoming more like a privilege, and the study of literature and the arts is becoming less popular and discouraged, we can just resign and totally relegate Rizal’s novels to the shelves, forgotten except by nerds.

I am not resigning. Not that I have finally started going back and rereading these novels. We are getting there. Precisely this renewed and altered interest in Noli and Fili was spurred months ago when I encountered two books that touch on them, albeit differently.

Benedict Anderson’s Why Counting Counts: A study of forms of consciousness and the problems of language in Noli and Fili took the arduous task of counting the occurrence of particular linguistic terms—racial or ethnic terms, political vocabulary among others—in the two novels. This microscopic approach sought to turn away from one that relies on ‘selective and often tendentious short quotations from the novels in order to force their author into particular politics’ (80). As an alternative, Anderson looked at contexts: the characters using the terms, the interlocutors and the context of the conversations.

Meanwhile, Vicente Rafael’s merely used a scene from Noli me Tangere to bookend his discussion of encounters between the indios and the colonising Spaniards in Contracting Colonialism: Translation and Christian Conversion in Tagalog Society under Early Spanish Rule. Early in the book, he commented on a scene in Noli where Padre Damaso was giving a sermon to the indios: ‘they “fish out” discreet words from the stream of the sermon, arbitrarily attaching them to their imaginings… the drift away from the content of the sermon only pulls them back with ‘redoubled attention. … It is as if they saw other possibilities in those words, possibilities that served to mitigate the interminable verbal assaults being hurled from the pulpit’ (3). This generally set the tone for the book and prepared us for much of its argument: how the colonisation process was not received in a standard, let alone deferential manner by the indios.

I mostly recall Damaso as the malicious and lecherous priest who scandalised us with his treatment of, and relationship to, Maria Clara. I hardly recall him giving a sermon, much more a sermon where the band of listeners yawns. I may have missed really immersing myself in Rizal’s novels when I was a student and simply submitted to the prescribed contents of school work. Now I am thanking other reading exposures which haunt me with the presence of Rizal in them, beckoning me to go back to San Diego as a text the way Crisostomo Ibarra returned there as a fleshly being at the onset of Noli.

‘Indio’ Over ‘Filipino’

How can seemingly trivial details prompt us to tease out less simplistic reflections on Rizal’s work? Anderson looked at the terms designating races and ethnicity in the two novels and here I would like to focus on the key distinction between the ‘indio’ and the ‘Filipino’. Said Anderson: ‘In the novel’s 354 pages, the use of Filipino to mean something not confined to creoles occurs only about 14 times, and never emerges from the mouths of either Tasio or Elias (both of which Anderson tagged as ‘politically conscious’ characters). When Elias described himself, what he says is ‘Soy un indio,’ not ‘Soy un Filipino.”‘ This points us to the way racial categories were stratified in the twilight decades of Spanish occupation. As Anderson also clarified, the peninsulares were the pure-bred Spaniards, born in Spain; the creoles were pure-bred Spanish but born in the Philippines; mestizos are interracial ones and indios as the pure ‘Filipinos.’

As much as the term ‘Filipino’ is yet to be used to collectively refer to the people of the country, an official term for this country (now ‘Philippines’) is also absent. Actually, the term ‘Filipinos’ was already used but it referred to the creoles; hence, Spaniards, not Filipinos like Rizal.

Can we not compare the way the word ‘indio’ was employed and owned by the colonized people to the way terms such as ‘queer’ or ‘the N-word’ were appropriated by oppressed groups in contemporary times? While the colonisers bandied about the tag ‘indio’ in a derogatory way, we can say that the Filipinos huddled around this designation in order to collectively identify themselves.

Following this, an anecdote by Ambeth Ocampo reported by Anderson becomes revealing: ‘when Rizal signed his consent to the document decreeing his execution, he crossed out the word “chino” describing himself and substituted not “Filipino” but “indio”’ (48). A cute reaffirmation of what we know already: Rizal’s allegiance to his fellow people, the indios then, we Filipinos today.

To Lay Bare and to Unsettle

How can we approach Rizal? Is there an essential Rizal which institutions such as schools, mass media and the government deliver immaculately to the public?

Towards the end of his book, Rafael recalled the ambivalence in the word ‘exponer’ Rizal used in the Preface to the novel. It could mean ‘to lay bare’ (i.e. the social cancer) but also ‘to put in danger, to hazard, to expose to chance’ (216).

There is no Rizal-at-his-core to be discovered. No Rizal’s essence to be fathomed. Only a Rizal to be used as guide to the continuing formation of one’s own belief, a Rizal to be continually read and discovered as a prospective guide to one’s life practices, a historical figure we can lay bare only to be further unsettled.

Rafael then went back to the sermon and the mood of ‘general paralysis’ it ironically inspired: ‘the Governor snores, the principales nod off, the rest of the clergy are rendered powerless to halt the chaotic stream of words from the pulpit.’ All these contribute to the ‘confounding of the social order’. The act of translation and imposing authority does not happen without a crease, without interrogations or refusals; the colonised do not simply defer.

The same process can be emphasised as the Philippines remembers Rizal’s 156th birthday. Given how bloody the current regime is turning out and how fast paced and ephemeral events are seeming, there is hardly an excuse for snoring and yawning like Damaso’s audience. But the potential to ask questions, to refuse and interrogate remains. We need to be more keen and critical in ‘laying bare’ and making sense of events, perhaps using Rizal’s heroism and his teachings about our history as a starting point. We can always go back to the basics, the so-called ‘foundational’ texts—in this case, the Noli and the Fili. But we can also detour and hunt texts that will inevitably lead us to their real foundations, enabling us to see them in renewed and heightened interest.

Clearly, we do not need a new designation where we can all band together, a term to replace ‘Filipino’. What is more urgently needed is the asking: what does it mean to be ‘Filipino’; who are our fellow ‘Filipinos’, and why band with them?

Ivan Labayne is part of the art collective Pedantic Pedestrians. He obtained his BA and MA in Language and Literature at the University of the Philippines-Baguio. His works have appeared in ‘Daluyan’, a UP literary publication, and the Ateneo de Manila’s peer-reviewed journal, ‘Kritika Kultura’. He blogs at ivanemilabayne.wordpress.com.

 

Tribute to Jose Rizal at 150 by vhive

Jose Rizal’s Last Farewell– Mi Ultimo Adios

Farewell, dear Fatherland, clime of the sun caress’d
Pearl of the Orient seas, our Eden lost!,
Gladly now I go to give thee this faded life’s best,
And were it brighter, fresher, or more blest
Still would I give it thee, nor count the cost.

On the field of battle, ‘mid the frenzy of fight,
Others have given their lives, without doubt or heed;
The place matters not-cypress or laurel or lily white,
Scaffold or open plain, combat or martyrdom’s plight,
‘Tis ever the same, to serve our home and country’s need.

I die just when I see the dawn break,
Through the gloom of night, to herald the day;
And if color is lacking my blood thou shalt take,
Pour’d out at need for thy dear sake
To dye with its crimson the waking ray.

My dreams, when life first opened to me,
My dreams, when the hopes of youth beat high,
Were to see thy lov’d face, O gem of the Orient sea
From gloom and grief, from care and sorrow free;
No blush on thy brow, no tear in thine eye.

Dream of my life, my living and burning desire,
All hail ! cries the soul that is now to take flight;
All hail ! And sweet it is for thee to expire ;
To die for thy sake, that thou mayst aspire;
And sleep in thy bosom eternity’s long night.

If over my grave some day thou seest grow,
In the grassy sod, a humble flower,
Draw it to thy lips and kiss my soul so,
While I may feel on my brow in the cold tomb below
The touch of thy tenderness, thy breath’s warm power.

Let the moon beam over me soft and serene,
Let the dawn shed over me its radiant flashes,
Let the wind with sad lament over me keen ;
And if on my cross a bird should be seen,
Let it trill there its hymn of peace to my ashes.

Let the sun draw the vapors up to the sky,
And heavenward in purity bear my tardy protest
Let some kind soul o ‘er my untimely fate sigh,
And in the still evening a prayer be lifted on high
From thee, 0 my country, that in God I may rest.

Pray for all those that hapless have died,
For all who have suffered the unmeasured pain;
For our mothers that bitterly their woes have cried,
For widows and orphans, for captives by torture tried
And then for thyself that redemption thou mayst gain.

And when the dark night wraps the graveyard around
With only the dead in their vigil to see
Break not my repose or the mystery profound
And perchance thou mayst hear a sad hymn resound
‘Tis I, O my country, raising a song unto thee.

And even my grave is remembered no more
Unmark’d by never a cross nor a stone
Let the plow sweep through it, the spade turn it o’er
That my ashes may carpet earthly floor,
Before into nothingness at last they are blown.

Then will oblivion bring to me no care
As over thy vales and plains I sweep;
Throbbing and cleansed in thy space and air
With color and light, with song and lament I fare,
Ever repeating the faith that I keep.

My Fatherland ador’d, that sadness to my sorrow lends
Beloved Filipinas, hear now my last good-by!
I give thee all: parents and kindred and friends
For I go where no slave before the oppressor bends,
Where faith can never kill, and God reigns e’er on high!

Farewell to you all, from my soul torn away,
Friends of my childhood in the home dispossessed !
Give thanks that I rest from the wearisome day !
Farewell to thee, too, sweet friend that lightened my way;
Beloved creatures all, farewell! In death there is rest!


Mi Ultimo Adios

Adios, Patria adorada, region del sol querida,
Perla del Mar de Oriente, nuestro perdido Eden!
A darte voy alegre la triste mustia vida,
Y fuera más brillante más fresca, más florida,
Tambien por tí la diera, la diera por tu bien.

En campos de batalla, luchando con delirio
Otros te dan sus vidas sin dudas, sin pesar;
El sitio nada importa, ciprés, laurel ó lirio,
Cadalso ó campo abierto, combate ó cruel martirio,
Lo mismo es si lo piden la patria y el hogar.

Yo muero cuando veo que el cielo se colora
Y al fin anuncia el día trás lóbrego capuz;
Si grana necesitas para teñir tu aurora,
Vierte la sangre mía, derrámala en buen hora
Y dórela un reflejo de su naciente luz.

Mis sueños cuando apenas muchacho adolescente,
Mis sueños cuando joven ya lleno de vigor,
Fueron el verte un día, joya del mar de oriente
Secos los negros ojos, alta la tersa frente,
Sin ceño, sin arrugas, sin manchas de rubor.

Ensueño de mi vida, mi ardiente vivo anhelo,
Salud te grita el alma que pronto va á partir!
Salud! ah que es hermoso caer por darte vuelo,
Morir por darte vida, morir bajo tu cielo,
Y en tu encantada tierra la eternidad dormir.

Si sobre mi sepulcro vieres brotar un dia
Entre la espesa yerba sencilla, humilde flor,
Acércala a tus labios y besa al alma mía,
Y sienta yo en mi frente bajo la tumba fría
De tu ternura el soplo, de tu hálito el calor.

Deja á la luna verme con luz tranquila y suave;
Deja que el alba envíe su resplandor fugaz,
Deja gemir al viento con su murmullo grave,
Y si desciende y posa sobre mi cruz un ave
Deja que el ave entone su cantico de paz.

Deja que el sol ardiendo las lluvias evapore
Y al cielo tornen puras con mi clamor en pos,
Deja que un sér amigo mi fin temprano llore
Y en las serenas tardes cuando por mi alguien ore
Ora tambien, Oh Patria, por mi descanso á Dios!

Ora por todos cuantos murieron sin ventura,
Por cuantos padecieron tormentos sin igual,
Por nuestras pobres madres que gimen su amargura;
Por huérfanos y viudas, por presos en tortura
Y ora por tí que veas tu redencion final.

Y cuando en noche oscura se envuelva el cementerio
Y solos sólo muertos queden velando allí,
No turbes su reposo, no turbes el misterio
Tal vez acordes oigas de citara ó salterio,
Soy yo, querida Patria, yo que te canto á ti.

Y cuando ya mi tumba de todos olvidada
No tenga cruz ni piedra que marquen su lugar,
Deja que la are el hombre, la esparza con la azada,
Y mis cenizas antes que vuelvan á la nada,
El polvo de tu alfombra que vayan á formar.

Entonces nada importa me pongas en olvido,
Tu atmósfera, tu espacio, tus valles cruzaré,
Vibrante y limpia nota seré para tu oido,
Aroma, luz, colores, rumor, canto, gemido
Constante repitiendo la esencia de mi fé.

Mi Patria idolatrada, dolor de mis dolores,
Querida Filipinas, oye el postrer adios.
Ahi te dejo todo, mis padres, mis amores.
Voy donde no hay esclavos, verdugos ni opresores,
Donde la fé no mata, donde el que reyna es Dios.

Adios, padres y hermanos, trozos del alma mía,
Amigos de la infancia en el perdido hogar,
Dad gracias que descanso del fatigoso día;
Adios, dulce extrangera, mi amiga, mi alegria,
Adios, queridos séres morir es descansar.

 

Malaysia: Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad is a Statesman and a Patriot


July 11, 2017

COMMENT: As I see it, there are two sides of Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. He is a technocrat-manager, and he is also a politician. It is easy to get your wires crossed when you judge him. I experienced this cognitive dissonance every time I commented on him, and painfully too. As a person, the Tun is gentle, kind and considerate. As a politico, he can be as tough and unbending as a nail of reinforced steel.

Image result for tun dr mahathir

Tun Dr. Mahathir –Technocrat-Manager and Politician and Prime Minister

I am familiar with the man as a technocrat-manager because I had the privilege of working for him directly in 1970s.  I also had worked for Tun Ghazalie Shafie (Wisma Putra), Tun Ismail Bin Mohamed Ali (Bank Negara Malaysia and later when he became successor to Tun Tan), and Tun Tan Siew Sin and Tunku Ahmad Yahaya (Sime Darby Group ) in 1960s-1990s.

What do these outstanding personalities have in common? To me, they were thoroughly professional, smart, decisive and demanding bosses who did not suffer fools easily. More importantly, they judged me for my work and fidelity to the institution, not for my loyalty to them, or capacity to flatter them. In fact, I was afraid to even compliment them for fear of being misconstrued. Of course, they all had their strengths and failings, but there was no doubt in my mind that they were patriots who served Malaysia with distinction. They led by example, and had a great impact on my professional career.

Then there is Tun Dr.Mahathir, the politician, the Senator, Member of Parliament (Kubang Pasu) and Prime Minister of Malaysia (for 22 odd years). I knew him when I was growing up in Alor Setar, Kedah too. But I have great difficulty in understanding his decisions and actions, although I understood and accepted his Vision 2020,  Look East Policy and other economic and social policies.

Up to a point, I was even willing to accept his rationale for wanting power. I remember him saying that he needed the power to get things done. Indeed, he got the power he wanted and he certainly got things done. Look around and you can see for yourself his many accomplishments. He has left an indelible mark on our national landscape.

I know that Prime Minister Najib Razak is trying to erase them.  I heard from my friends when my wife Dr. Kamsiah and I visited Langkawi recently that Najib’s cronies were trying to eliminate some landmarks of the Mahathir era in Kuah. How  low and immature one can get.

Unfortunately, the Tun had too much power. With unchecked powers, he systematically brought all institutions of governance under the control of a powerful Executive Branch, a legacy he left to the present Prime Minister Najib Razak to fully exploit.  Now, it is next to impossible to replace the incumbent Prime Minister for corruption and abuses of power. Even national elections can be rigged.

Image result for Tom Plate's Conversations with Mahathir

 I can change my mind too. When Tun Dr. Mahathir put his Deputy Prime Minister Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim in jail on trumped up charges of sodomy in 1998, I had a change of heart and  became critical of his political leadership.  I even wrote what I thought of Tun Dr. Mahathir the Politician in Tom Plate’s book’s Conversations with Mahathir Mohamad. I have remained steadfast to my views on the Political Mahathir.

But I will never stoop so low as to condemn our Fourth Prime Minister and deny him his place in our national history. He is a truly outstanding statesmen and role model for Malaysians of my generation, especially those from Kedah.  He belongs with Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra, a fellow Kedahan, in my pantheon of heroes. –Din Merican

Malaysia: Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad is a Statesman and a Patriot

by Rais Hussin@www.malaysiakini.com

It was John Maynard Keynes who said: “When the facts change, I change my view”. The philosophy served him well.

Image result for john maynard keynes the economic consequences of the peace

Keynes could see ahead of time. When France and its allies punished Germany with reparations after World War I, Keynes knew that Germany would rise again to seek its revenge. He even wrote The Economic Consequences of the Peace [The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1919) is a book written and published by John Maynard Keynes.[1] Keynes attended the Paris Peace Conference, 1919 as a delegate of the British Treasury and argued for a much more generous peace. It was a best-seller throughout the world and was critical in establishing a general opinion that the Versailles Treaty was a “Carthaginian peace“. It helped to consolidate American public opinion against the treaty and involvement in the League of Nations. The perception by much of the British public that Germany had been treated unfairly in turn was a crucial factor in public support for appeasement. The success of the book established Keynes’ reputation as a leading economist especially on the left. When Keynes was a key player in establishing the Bretton Woods system in 1944, he remembered the lessons from Versailles as well as the Great Depression. The Marshall Plan, after the Second World War, was a similar system to that proposed by Keynes in The Economic Consequences of the Peace.–wikipedia]

True enough, within a short generation of 20 years after the conclusion of the Versailles Treaty in 1919, Nazi was led by Hitler, wrecking damage on the whole of Europe. Did Keynes insist on more revenge against Germany? No. True to form when the facts change, he changed his opinion.

After Second World War, Keynes was among the few to insist that Germany has to be integrated into Europe to keep the whole region safe.

Statesmanship is about peering into the future. Under Dr Mahathir Mohamad, well before Malaysia knew what was Vision 2020, he had spoken at the Malaysian Business Council in 1990 on the importance of creating a country that was morally and economically strong.

In contrast, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak has run the ship aground with allegedly the brazen RM44 billion mismanagement, of which the likes of Khairul Azwan, the Umno Youth vice-chief, is still in denial. It is as if 1MDB is “Pi Mai Pi Mai Tang Tu” (Come and go, come and go, and it’s OK too).

Well, too bad for Najib. Mahathir did not earn his “Tunship” by sheer ingratiation. If he did, the award would have been withdrawn given the government’s accusations that he has sold the country down the river with a wave and a bye.

Between 1981 and 2002, a full 22 years, Malaysia was the only one to have grown by leaps and bounds. Even at the height of the Asian financial crisis in 1999, Malaysia never so much as ask for a single dollar from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Yet, had IMF come into the picture, the bumiputera economic program, right down to how the government payroll would be spent, would come under the scrutiny of IMF.

Almost overnight, the sovereignty and independence of Malaysia were saved, which is more than any Malaysians can ask for from their leader.

In contrast, at the height of the Global Economic Recession in 2009, what Najib did was well-nigh irresponsible. Instead of building our country’s human capital, allegedly some RM44 billion or more, were borrowed and squandered, saddling Malaysia with even more debt.

Khairul Azwan–The Super Ampu Najib character

Khairul Azwan (photo), being a junior politician, some believe juvenile too, can only claim that Mahathir is not worthy of the title of being called a statesman. If not Mahathir, then who?

‘Upset Mahathir can support Anwar again’

Khairul Azwan is upset that Mahathir can support Anwar Ibrahim again. Well, when the facts change, Mahathir’s opinion too. And the facts that have changed are these: Najib has allegedly mismanaged the funds that were leveraged on the name of 1MDB, and avoided coming head to head with Mahathir for a public debate. If there is nothing to hide, Najib must debate with Mahathir.

In avoiding the need to face Mahathir head on, the likes of Khairul Azwan have had to step to the fore to defend the Prime Minister. But how can Khairul Azwan even suit the role granted that most Malaysian had never heard of his name until today?

Is he crying out to attract attention? Like he did when he lodged a police report against three impeccable “Tan Sris” that include Zeti Akhtar Aziz, Abdul Gani Patail and Abu Kassim Mohamed for attention. And attention he got when he was instantaneously rewarded with a senatorship by Najib.

Is he now crying for attention so that he will be given a parliamentary or state seats to contest? Is he eyeing a ministerial position or who knows, the coveted Menteri Besar post of Perak? Khairul Azwan knows loyalty to Najib has instant rewards or remuneration.

He had experienced it first-hand. Time to accentuate his loyalty to Najib for instant rewards while negating the interest of the people or the nation?


RAIS HUSSIN is a supreme council member of Parti Peribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu). He also heads the Policy and Strategy Bureau of Bersatu.

Thailand: Lese Majeste losing its magic


June 29, 2017

Thailand: Lese Majeste losing its magic

by Pavin Chachavalpongpun, Kyoto University

http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2017/06/28/lese-majeste-losing-its-magic/

Image result for The New Thai King

Following the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej in October 2016 and the enthronement of his unpopular son, now King Vajiralongkorn (pic above), the Thai Palace has continued to work intimately with its traditional ally — the military — to strengthen the position of the monarchy in politics during this volatile transitional period.

In the past months, Vajiralongkorn has vigorously intervened in the political domain. He ordered the amendment of the constitution to increase his power and to more easily facilitate his frequent visits overseas. The junta enthusiastically granted Vajiralongkorn’s wishes, and saw an opportunity to exploit the monarchy for its own political advantage.

 

The new king spends most of his time in the outskirts of Munich. Yearning for a quiet life in Germany, Vajiralongkorn soon discovered the aggression and intrusion of the European media. He has been constantly hounded by the paparazzi. On at least two occasions, images of him and his mistress in skinny tank tops revealing massive fake tattoos on their bodies emerged on the internet and appeared on the cover of a German tabloid.

These photos and video clips undoubtedly damaged the reputation of the newly crowned monarch and shook the political stance of the junta. It prompted the military government to introduce drastic solutions to stop the proliferation of the video clip and photos — threatening to block access to Facebook in Thailand and banning prominent critics of the monarchy.

Accordingly, the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society issued an order in April this year prohibiting Thais from contacting three critics of the monarchy — historian Somsak Jeamteerasakul, ex-journalist Andrew MacGregor Marshall and me. Thais were told not to befriend or follow us on Facebook, as well as not to click ‘Like’ or share our content online. Those violating the order could be charged with lèse majesté, a crime of injury to royalty punishable by 3 to 15 years in prison.

Shortly after the issuance of the order on 3 May, six Thais were arrested and charged with lèse majesté. Among them were university Professor Saran Samantarat and well-known lawyer Prawet Prapanukul. The lèse majesté law, as defined by Article 112 of the Criminal Code, has consistently been employed to attack enemies of the royal institution. This pattern of repression over the years has become normalised as a vicious device used to undermine opponents.

But overusing the law could be counterproductive to the military government and the monarchy itself. The sharp increase in lèse majesté cases indicates that the law might have lost its royal magic. It also suggests the rise of anti-monarchy sentiment among some Thais. More than 100 Thais are currently doing jail time on lèse majesté charges.

Vajiralongkorn has been on the throne for only 6 months, but his short reign has already seen the highest numbers of lèse majesté cases and the harshest punishment against violators of this law. Two weeks ago, a Thai court delivered a 70-year sentence to a Thai man accused of making a fake Facebook page and repeatedly offending the monarchy. He admitted his guilt and his sentence was reduced to 35 years.

The junta is relentlessly searching for ways to intimidate the public regarding any negative comments about the new king. Cyberspace has since become a primary battlefield, with the monarchy and the junta both hoping to win the war using the lèse majesté law as their desperate weapon.

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The His Majesty King Bhumibol was highly revered. He was charismatic, divine and enjoyed moral authority.

Of course, they are bound to lose. Under King Bhumibol, lèse majesté was used in a limited manner, at least prior to the 2006 coup that overthrew Thaksin Shinawatra. After 2006, the use of lèse majesté was more widespread, visibly becoming a political instrument against critics of the monarchy.

Bhumibol was highly revered. He was charismatic, divine and enjoyed moral authority. Royalists exploited those qualities of Bhumibol to justify cases of lèse majesté and harsh punishments against violators.

But Vajiralongkorn is not Bhumibol. Vajiralongkorn’s lack of charisma, divinity and moral authority makes the lèse majesté law less authoritative. As the new king behaves badly, the law becomes less sacred.

The military and royalists have arrived at a political deadlock. They are stuck with Vajiralongkorn. In the short term, there might be some attempts on the King’s part to construct a new public image, for example through a campaign like ‘Bike for Mom’. But such images of a supposedly engaging monarch stand in stark contrast with other darker portrayals of Vajiralongkorn — as a king inclined toward violence, an eccentric lifestyle and erratic moods.

It is too late for the palace to remake Vajiralongkorn’s personality. It is too late for the military and the royalists to refrain from using the lèse majesté law to defend the status of the monarchy. And it is too late to prevent Thais from talking openly about their king today.

Pavin Chachavalpongpun is Associate Professor at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University.