Malaysia’s 2017 SEA Games Cock Up–Getting the Indonesian Flag Wrong


August 21, 2017

Malaysia’s 2017 SEA Games Cockup–Getting the Indonesian Flag

by FA Abdul

http://www.malaysiakini.com

Image result for The Indonesian Flag at Independence Day--August 17, 2017

COMMENT| A young journalist working for a local media company, Wai Wai Hnin Pwint Phyu walked into the training room in the Pazundaung district of Yangon the other morning, feeling somewhat upset.

Image result for Getting the Indonesian Flag wrong in 2017 SEA Games

The Cock Up. But the Magnanimous H.E. President Jokowi Widodo said we should not make a mountain out of a molehill. But we in Malaysia should not make this kind of mistake. Actually, this oversight is inexcusable.

“Fa, what you think of SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur?” she asked in her limited English.

“I think we struggled to make it happen. Why do you ask?” I said.

“I am not happy. I am very angry,” said Wai, her face sour.

Since we had a good half-hour before beginning the training session, I pulled out two chairs next to her – one for me and one for our translator – and prepared myself for a story.

Before I could ask her what made her upset, Wai showed me a picture on her handphone. It was of a big group of Malaysian supporters clad in Jalur Gemilang.

“What picture is this?” I asked, curious.

“This is a picture of Malaysian fans, taken during the 2013 SEA Games in Myanmar during the Malaysia-Singapore football match. See how happy they are supporting their country inside the stadium.”

I looked at her, confused.

“Do you know where the Myanmar fans were when our Myanmar football team fought Laos?” she asked, her eyes turning red.

“Where?” I asked worriedly.

“Outside the stadium,” she answered shortly as she showed me a picture of hundreds of fans with Myanmar flags outside the stadium.

 

Image result for Malaysian Hooligans at 2017 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur

Malaysian crowd unfriendly towards our Singapore neighbours

According to Wai and allegations on social media, only 500 tickets were made available by Malaysia for the Myanmar fans during the Myanmar-Laos match at the UiTM Stadium, which has a capacity of 6,000 seats. Although there were a lot of empty seats during the match, no additional tickets were made available for the remaining fans. As a result, they had to camp outside – some climbed fences and some on trees, to catch glimpses of the match.

From time to time, someone from inside the stadium would ring someone waiting outside, to give updates on the match – that was how their fans outside the stadium celebrated all of Myanmar’s three goals.

Myanmar fans who were stranded outside were purportedly only allowed to enter the stadium 10 minutes before the match ended.

“This picture is going viral in Myanmar. It is making many people angry at Malaysia. Myanmar treated Malaysia so well during the 2013 SEA Games but Malaysia is treating Myanmar so bad in 2017 SEA Games. Why?” Wai asked an honest question.

I was lost for a reply.

“There are thousands of Myanmar people working in Malaysia. This is not fair for them,” she added.

“I agree, Wai. This is not fair….if it is true.”

“You always support your Malaysia,” Wai said. She did not sound too happy. “Look at this report in your own media.”

The news report was about the bus driver of the Myanmar women’s football team who apparently was arrested for theft during a match.

“The Myanmar team had already complained on social media that they were feeling scared of the way the bus driver was operating the bus while on the way to the stadium. And then after beating Malaysia 5-0, the Myanmar team who were tired and hungry had to wait almost two more hours because they could not find the bus driver. Nobody knew he was arrested,” Wai explained.

“That’s really bad,” I said, scratching my head.

Driving without a licence

“You know what is really bad, Fa? The report also says that the bus driver had no driving licence at all!”

My jaw dropped.

“How can Malaysia hire someone without driving licence for our athletes? What if something bad had happened while he was driving recklessly?” Wai was really upset.

I scrolled the Facebook page showed by Wai and was displeased to read chains of angry comments.

“If you are not ready for this, you don’t need to be a host. Shame on you Malaysia!

Image result for Malaysian Hooligans at 2017 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur

Tony Fernandes and AirAsia Staff–The Bright Side of Malaysia

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“Everyone is angry at Malaysia. Me, my father, my boyfriend… everyone. We always like Malaysia because Malaysia is beautiful country, many of our relatives work in Malaysia and we have friends like you from Malaysia. But this time, we don’t like Malaysia.” said Wai, unhappily.

I apologised to Wai on behalf of Malaysia. She smiled, assuring me that it was not my fault that her countrymen were treated in such a way. However, deep inside, I know she is still very much upset.

With hundreds of millions of ringgit spent to ensure the 29th SEA Games unfolds perfectly, I wonder what went wrong.

Do the stories going viral in Myanmar hold any truth? Perhaps Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin should look into it.

As I was writing this, I received a text message forwarded by my son. It was an invitation for all Malaysian football fans to support the Malaysian team in the Malaysia-Myanmar match on August 21 in Shah Alam – the tickets all sponsored.

And I begin to wonder if Myanmar football fans in Malaysia will be able to purchase tickets for this match today – or whether they will be left allegedly stranded outside the stadium once again.

Sigh.

So much for the spirit of sport…


Martin Khor looks back at the East Asian Financial Crisis 1997


July 5, 2017

Martin Khor looks back at the East Asian Financial Crisis 1997

http://www.thestar.com.my

It is useful to reflect on whether lessons have been learnt and if the countries are vulnerable to new crises.

IT’S been 20 years since the Asian financial crisis struck in July 1997. Since then, there has been an even bigger global financial crisis, starting in 2008. Will there be another crisis?

The Asian crisis began when speculators brought down the Thai baht. Within months, the currencies of Indonesia, South Korea and Malaysia were also affected. The East Asian Miracle turned into an Asian Financial Nightmare.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/14/Suharto_resigns.jpg

Despite the affected countries receiving only praise before the crisis, weaknesses had built up, including current account deficits, low foreign reserves and high external debt.

In particular, the countries had recently liberalised their financial system in line with international advice. This enabled local private companies to freely borrow from abroad, mainly in US dollars. Companies and banks in Korea, Indonesia and Thailand had in each country rapidly accumulated over a hundred billion dollars of external loans. This was the Achilles heel that led their countries to crisis.

These weaknesses made the countries ripe for speculators to bet against their currencies. When the governments used up their reserves in a vain attempt to stem the currency fall, three of the countries ran out of foreign exchange.

They went to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for bailout loans that carried draconian conditions that worsened their economic situation. Malaysia was fortunate. It did not seek IMF loans. The foreign reserves had become dangerously low but were just about adequate. If the ringgit had fallen a bit further, the danger line would have been breached.

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Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamed and Finance Minister Daim Zainuddin introduced selective capital controls and pegged the Ringgit at RM3.80 to USD1.00.

 

After a year of self-imposed austerity measures, Malaysia dramatically switched course and introduced a set of unorthodox policies.These included pegging the ringgit to the dollar, selective capital controls to prevent short-term funds from exiting, lowering interest rates, increasing government spending and rescuing failing companies and banks.

This was the opposite of orthodoxy and the IMF policies (The Washington Consensus). The global establishment predicted the sure collapse of the Malaysian economy. But surprisingly, the economy recovered even faster and with fewer losses than the other countries. Today, the Malaysian measures are often cited as a successful anti-crisis strategy.

The IMF itself has changed a little. It now includes some capital controls as part of legitimate policy measures.

Image result for Korea and The East Asian Financial Crisis 1997

The Asian countries, vowing never to go to the IMF again, built up strong current account surpluses and foreign reserves to protect against bad years and keep off speculators. The economies recovered, but never back to the spectacular 7% to 10% pre-crisis growth rates.

Then in 2008, the global financial crisis erupted with the United States as its epicentre. The tip of the iceberg was the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the massive loans given out to non-credit-worthy house-buyers.

The underlying cause was the deregulation of US finance and the freedom with which financial institutions could devise all kinds of manipulative schemes and “financial products” to draw in unsuspecting customers. They made billions of dollars but the house of cards came tumbling down.

To fight the crisis, the US, under President Barack Obama, embarked first on expanding government spending and then on financial policies of near-zero interest rates and “quantitative easing”, with the Federal Reserve pumping trillions of dollars into the US banks.

It was hoped the cheap credit would get consumers and businesses to spend and lift the economy. But instead, a significant portion of the trillions went via investors into speculative activities, including abroad to emerging economies.

Europe, on the verge of recession, followed the US with near zero interest rates and large quantitative easing, with limited results.

The US-Europe financial crisis affected Asian countries in a limited way through declines in export growth and commodity prices. The large foreign reserves built up after the Asian crisis, plus the current account surplus situation, acted as buffers against external debt problems and kept speculators at bay.

Just as important, hundreds of billions of funds from the US and Europe poured into Asia yearly in search of higher yields. These massive capital inflows helped to boost Asian countries’ growth, but could cause their own problems.

First, they led to asset bubbles or rapid price increases of houses and the stock markets, and the bubbles may burst when they are over-ripe.

Second, many of the portfolio investors are short-term funds looking for quick profit, and they can be expected to leave when conditions change.

Third, the countries receiving capital inflows become vulnerable to financial volatility and economic instability.

If and when investors pull some or a lot of their money out, there may be price declines, inadequate replenishment of bonds, and a fall in the levels of currency and foreign reserves.

A few countries may face a new financial crisis. A new vulnerability in many emerging economies is the rapid build-up of external debt in the form of bonds denominated in the local currency.

The Asian crisis two decades ago taught that over-borrowing in foreign currency can create difficulties in debt repayment should the local currency level fall.

To avoid this, many countries sold bonds denominated in the local currency to foreign investors. However, if the bonds held by foreigners are large in value, the country will still be vulnerable to the effects of a withdrawal.

As an example, almost half of Malaysian government securities, denominated in ringgit, are held by foreigners.

Though the country does not face the risk of having to pay more in ringgit if there is a fall in the local currency, it may have other difficulties if foreigners withdraw their bonds.

What is the state of the world economy, what are the chances of a new financial crisis, and how would the Asian countries like Malaysia fare? These are big and relevant questions to ponder 20 years after the start of the Asian crisis and nine years after the global crisis.

 

Martin Khor (director@southcentre.org) is executive director of the South Centre. The views expressed here are entirely his own.
Read more at http://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/columnists/global-trends/2017/07/03/the-asian-financial-crisis-20-years-later-it-is-useful-to-reflect-on-whether-lessons-have-been-lear/#EEkW3MiZXu87cFZM.99

Malaysia pays lip service to Rukun Negara


June 11, 2017

Indonesians are united by Pancasia, Malaysia pays lip service to Rukun Negara

By Dr. Chandra Muzzafar

http://www.freemalaysiatoday. com

The decision of the Indonesian government to make Pancasila Day, which falls on June 1, a national holiday is part of a renewed endeavour to protect and enhance the national ideology in the face of current challenges.

Image result for Pancasila

President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has reaffirmed his total commitment to the Pancasila by calling upon all Indonesians to embrace its values, which, in his words, “is in every drop of our blood and every beat of our heart. (It is) the cement of our national unity. I am Jokowi. I am Pancasila”.

The Pancasila is part of the preamble to the Indonesian Constitution of 1945.As a manifestation of renewed commitment, Jokowi has issued Presidential Regulation No 54 /2017 to establish workshops all over the country to teach the public values embodied in the Pancasila.

The significance of these values will be brought to the fore by linking them to the eradication of poverty, the closing of the gap between the rich and poor and the implementation of social welfare programmes.

In general, the five principles of the Pancasila – the belief in one God; humanity; unity; consensus; and social justice – will be translated into concrete policies and programmes which impact upon the lives of the people.

A number of groups have come out in support of Jokowi’s effort. These include Islamic mass movements, professional bodies and political parties.

The Muhammadiyah, Peradi (Indonesian Advocates Association) and the Democratic Party of Struggle are among them.

In fact, the largest Islamic grassroots movement in the world, the Nahdlatul Ulama with 93 million members, had even asked for the banning of the Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia, regarded by many as an extremist group misusing Islam, because its “divisive politics is against the Pancasila”.

It is remarkable that there is such a strong commitment to the Pancasila among the people in the nation with the world’s largest Muslim population. It should be remembered that even in 1945, when Indonesia proclaimed its Independence, there were religious leaders who argued for an “Islamic State”.

But there were also other prominent freedom fighters with impeccable Islamic credentials who supported Pancasila as an inclusive, progressive idea that would best serve the interests of the new nation.

The Pancasila, they insisted, was in harmony with the substance of Islam. One of them was Wahid Hasyim, the father of Abdul Rahman Wahid (Gus Dur) who became the fourth president of the Indonesian Republic in 1999.

Gus Dur, himself a religious scholar of repute, was one of the most eloquent defenders of the Pancasila against its so-called “Islamic” critics.

If we compared the situation surrounding the Pancasila with the challenges confronting the Rukun Negara, we would be struck by at least three differences.

Image result for Malaysia's Rukun Negara
The Man who makes a Mockery of Rukun Negara–The Corrupter

One, the ulama in Malaysia are less than lukewarm towards our national ideology or philosophy. With the exception of a couple of scholars, the vast majority of religious personalities, including those in academia, have not endorsed the initiative by the group of activists that is seeking to make the Rukun Negara the preamble to the Malaysian Constitution. And yet, the five objectives of the Rukun Negara, like its five principles, resonate with the substance of Islam.

Two, unlike Indonesia, hardly any professional group has expressed its support for our preamble initiative. This includes the legal fraternity and academic associations. Our initiative has not even reached grassroots communities in Malaysia.

Three – and perhaps the most important difference – our national political leadership has been nonchalant towards the move to make the Rukun Negara the preamble to the Federal Constitution.

Of course, it does pay lip-service to the Rukun Negara now and then but the truth is that our national philosophy has had no role in the formulation of public policies or laws since the early eighties.

There has been no mass public awareness programme on what the Rukun Negara’s objectives and principles mean to the people and their lives. Even opposition political parties have not bothered to respond to our invitation to dialogue on our initiative.

If these groups have reservations about our initiative, we would be happy to clarify them. In fact, we have elucidated a number of issues raised by certain individuals and groups.

To reiterate: making the Rukun Negara the preamble to the constitution will not undermine any of the provisions of the constitution, especially those pertaining to the Special Position of the Malays and the indigenous communities of Sabah and Sarawak or the status of Islam as the religion of the Federation.

To assuage these fears, we have even proposed that at the end of the preamble, a clause be introduced which states explicitly that the preamble will in no way affect any of the present provisions of the constitution.

More than addressing misgivings, we have since the launch of our initiative on Jan 23, 2017, sought to convince Malaysians why making the Rukun Negara the preamble to the Malaysian Constitution is crucial.

As a nation, we need goals and guiding principles that help bind us together, that we can all identify with whatever our differences.

This is particularly critical at a time like this when ethnic, religious, class and even territorial divisions are becoming more pronounced. The Rukun Negara is the only document we have with lucidly articulated goals and principles that can serve as a unifying platform. However, to play this role, it has to be anchored in the constitution.

We should realise that compared to Indonesia, the divisions in our society are in a sense potentially more perilous. The Indonesians have responded to their challenge by re-dedicating themselves to the Pancasila. Can we afford to procrastinate?

This is why we, the few hundred Malaysians who have endorsed the move to anchor the Rukun Negara in the constitution, hope that the Conference of Rulers would support this initiative and request the federal cabinet to take all the necessary steps to make this a reality.

Once the legislative process is completed, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong should announce to the people that the Rukun Negara is now the preamble to the constitution. After all, it was the fourth Yang di-Pertuan Agong, who on Aug 31, 1970, presented the Rukun Negara to the nation as its guiding philosophy.

Fareed Zakaria GPS–Trump’s First Overseas Trip as 45th POTUS


May 30, 2017

Fareed Zakaria GPS–Trump’s First Overseas Trip as 45th POTUS

 

America first, geo-economic logic last


April 27, 2017

America first, geo-economic logic last

by Gary Hawke, Victoria University of Wellington

http://www.eastasiaforum.org

Image result for tomahawk over syriaTrumponomics–Military Power over Geo-Economics

The Trump Administration has introduced a new set of challenges to the international economy. It has profoundly changed the role of the United States in international economic diplomacy, ceasing to be a champion of multilateralism.

Within the first 100 days of the Trump administration, reality has overwhelmed a good deal of campaign rhetoric, and individuals experienced and skilled in conventional public management have prevailed over some who epitomised revolt against elites. But ideas that challenge longstanding US positions on the world economy and international integration remain at the core of the Trump administration.

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Get the Message, Theresa May?

Bilateral trade balances have long been known to be an inappropriate policy objective. Yet the Trump administration is pursuing this without any sound argument. Its belief is that only bilaterally balanced trade (or an excess of US exports) is ‘fair trade’. This nonsense is reinforced by concentrating on trade in goods, ignoring surpluses on services trade. And the capital account is ignored entirely.

Trump expands the idea of bilateral balance to the trading relationship with every other country. He insists on what Gary Hufbauer has called ‘mirror-image reciprocity’. Every component of a deal, every individual tariff rate, any provision about rules of origin for specific products, and any condition for foreign investment must be no less favourable for US exporters than the corresponding rule applied to the United States. This is misplaced concreteness has gone mad.

The idea of a win-win overall deal is rejected. The very idea of complementarities between economies is ignored. That this is endorsed by the chair of the newly established National Trade Council Peter Navarro, who holds a Harvard PhD in economics, is a conclusive argument for an enquiry into Harvard standards.

Two of Trump’s executive orders on trade deficits and trade laws would both fail the most elementary of economics examinations.

Under the Trump Administration, history is no more respected than economics. It has been argued that the WTO and its predecessor GATT were intended to apply only to developed economies. Those who were at the Havana conference in the 1940s and those who negotiated with developing economies in the Uruguay Round saw no such belief among their US colleagues.

This is a thin disguise for wishing to continue using subterfuge rather than economic logic in consideration of so-called ‘countervailing duties’ and ‘anti-dumping penalties’ against China. The idea that there is an indisputable definition of a ‘market economy’ is absurd, but then so is the underlying idea of dumping. Artificial lowering of prices with the intention of raising them after forcing a competitor out of business should be countered — if it were ever properly detected.

Even more absurd is the notion that ‘over capacity’ is something that requires government intervention. Consumers gain from cheap products. When producers cannot sustain output levels at such low prices, the appropriate response is for the least efficient producers to exit. In the case of steel, ‘least efficient’ is probably not the same as ‘Chinese’.

Most concerning is an attack on the WTO dispute resolution system. US opposition to it predated the Trump administration. The Obama administration vetoed the reappointment of a judge to the Appellate Body for the little-disguised reason that his decisions were uncongenial.

US resistance to the dispute resolution system has never been far from the surface. It is often rationalised by a constitutional principle that only the US Congress can create laws which bind US citizens. Some US judges can nevertheless make positive use of international reasoning, and previous administrations have recognised that membership of international institutions could require them to persuade Congress to amend US law or to compensate a foreign party.

The language in the final statement of the WTO dispute resolution system is in no way an exemption of the United States from the dispute resolution system. The words of the dispute settlement understanding that a ruling can’t ‘add to or diminish the rights or obligations’ of a member country — relate to member countries’ commitments, not US law, and their interpretation is not a US prerogative.

Rhetoric about a ‘rules-based international order’ or the ‘modern liberal international order’ is now entirely empty when set beside the declared intentions of the Trump administration. Again, the problem is deeper than Trump. No country can be an effective advocate of the rule of law when its partisan politics dominates the choice of its most senior judges. Fundamentally, the United States has to adjust to no longer being able to dominate global affairs.

Economic integration now has to be led by countries other than the United States. But successful integration elsewhere will cause responses within the United States as businesses miss profitable opportunities and as voters see that they are missing out on consumption and employment gains.

Gary Hawke is retired Head of the School of Government and Professor of Economic History, Victoria University of Wellington.

International Finance Ministers Discuss Growth Strategies at The George Washington University


April 26, 2017

International Finance Ministers Discuss Growth Strategies

GW-hosted event, “Growth Strategies in a De-Globalizing World,” brought finance ministers from Colombia, Indonesia and Paraguay.

Finance ministers Mauricio Cárdenas, Sri Mulyani Indrawati and Santiago Peña

Finance Ministers Mauricio Cárdenas, Sri Mulyani Indrawati and Santiago Peña discussed their countries’ growth strategies, including focusing domestically in an uncertain global market. (Logan Werlinger/GW Today)
April 20, 2017

 

https://gwtoday.gwu.edu/international-finance-ministers-discuss-growth-strategies

As the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Group spring meetings loomed, the George Washington University on Wednesday hosted international finance ministers and other experts to discuss the global economic landscape and implications for countries trying to grow in a “de-globalizing” world.

The event—hosted by GW’s Institute for International Economic Policy, GW School of Business and the Growth Dialogue—brought together the current finance ministers from Colombia, Indonesia and Paraguay and was moderated by Danny Leipziger, GW professor of practice of international business and managing director of the Growth Dialogue.

“The world is not in a good place,” Dr. Leipziger said in framing the discussion, adding many “warning signs” show countries’ difficulties with growing their economies, particularly at a time when others, including the U.S., are questioning globalization.

Does that mean that countries’ development strategies need to shift? And if so, how? Many agreed that looking inward is important during times of global uncertainty.

“We have to rely on domestic forces,” said Mauricio Cárdenas, Colombia’s minister of finance and public credit, adding infrastructure and brokering national peace and stability are important factors in growing his country’s economy.

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Sri Mulyani Indrawati of Indonesia

Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Indonesia’s Minister of Finance, added that while increasing revenues is important for a country, so is a good spending plan when every dollar counts. “How you spend it, and how you spend it better, is going to also be very critical,” she said.

Looking at trade inter-regionally could also be an important tactic if engaging with the broader globe is difficult, said Santiago Peña, Paraguay’s minister of finance. Many countries in Asia have been able to do this and have coped better with global changes, he said.

Panelists also said growth worries are compounded by uncertainty surrounding some of the rhetoric and policy actions of the Trump administration with respect to globalization and declarations that certain countries have a trade surplus with the United States.

“I hope that GW is also playing an important role in this location because you have a moral responsibility to continue pushing back the policy trend which is worrying for many countries in the world,” Ms. Indrawati said.

Adam Posen, president of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, had some advice for the finance ministers with respect to engaging with the United States.

“One just has to assume for the next couple of years at a minimum that the U.S. is going to be, at best, a bad actor,” when it comes to trade and other international partnerships, he said.

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