Musings on a nation gone half-mad


April 14, 2019

Musings on a nation gone half-mad

Opinion  |  Azly Rahman

Published:  |  Modified:

 

 

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

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

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

Malays and the syndrome of Harry Houdini

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today’s grand hypocrisy

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

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

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

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

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

The wealthy and the powerful

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thomas Jefferson revisited

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

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

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

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

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


AZLY RAHMAN is an educator, academic, international columnist, and author of seven books available here. He holds a doctorate in international education development from Columbia University, New York City, and Master’s degrees in six areas: education, international affairs, peace studies communication, fiction and non-fiction writing. He is a member of the Kappa Delta Pi International Honour Society in Education. Twitter @azlyrahman. More writings here.

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

 

 

For Kambing’s sake!


April 13, 2019

For Kambing’s sake!

 

 

 

 

Daim Zainuddin has advised the government not to take people for granted and treat them like idiots. “I have real faith in people, they are smarter than you think. If you are honest with them, they will understand. Do not take the rakyat for granted. People don’t like it if you treat them like idiots,” he said in an interview.

Even if we already know this, statements like this, coming from Daim who is close to the centre of power, do not help Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) image.

Disgruntled voters are saying in derogatory terms that the PH government is a one-term government. The honeymoon is long over and the feel-good factor is disappearing over the horizon. If people power could boot out decades of Barisan Nasional (BN) rule, it can do the same with the current government in the next general election. People now know that they can change governments by the collective power of their votes.

The BN government was good at treating people like village idiots. The blue water tanks gift is a good example. In the last two elections, thousands of blue water tanks were distributed to rural areas in Sabah and Sarawak. The blue water tanks were synonymous with BN rule.

Plastic tanks do not deteriorate and the kampung folk who were given the blue water tanks in GE-13 received the same in GE-14. What the people wanted was clean piped water and good roads, not another round of blue water tanks with a BN logo. Whenever you see huge truckloads heading for the rural areas, you know it’s election time.

While there are thousands of examples of BN’s arrogance and treating people like idiots, the same is being repeated by the PH government.

Idiocy has reached a dangerous level in Malaysian elections. Electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0 has called upon the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to investigate former Melaka chief minister Idris Haron for allegedly committing an election offence during the current Rantau by-election campaign.

Bersih said Idris’ promise to sponsor two goats for a feast in Taman Angsamas in the Angsamas polling district during a ceramah was tantamount to bribery.

The poor goats are now being used for election bribery. For Arians like me, it’s the greatest insult. The goat is the eighth in the 12-year cycle of the Chinese system. People born in a year of the goat are generally believed to be gentle, mild-mannered, shy, stable, sympathetic, amicable, and brimming with a strong sense of kindheartedness and justice. Being made the sacrificial lamb in a by-election is the greatest insult to the goat’s reputation.

Have we not “goat” better things to say and do? Does the constituency not have any real issues such as the need for better schools or more jobs? You are not talking about hundreds of goats for the slaughter, but two. Are we bankrupt of ideas? The voters deserve better.

If it’s not about a goat, it’s about race and religion. The goat was a short respite in an idiotic race to the finishing post.

PKR president Anwar Ibrahim has expressed hope that Rantau voters will not let Dr S Streram Sinnasamy’s race be an issue in the coming by-election and that they will see him for the work he has done.

“Why are we shunning him just because he is an Indian?” asked Anwar before reminding voters of all the good work he had done for the people.

Image result for daim zainuddin

So now the election boils down to an Indian and two goats. In an idiot’s narrative, the story ends when humans devour the goat in a celebratory feast. But is that the end of the story?

It was reported that former prime minister Najib Razak has been slapped with an extra tax bill of around RM1.5 billion by the Inland Revenue Board (LHDN). A financial daily quoted sources which said that a letter was sent to Najib by LHDN over backdated tax amount for the years 2011 to 2017. LHDN’s investigation assessment showed that Najib had not declared taxable income of close to RM4 billion for the period. Why is Najib not the main by-election issue? Why is “Bossku” still roaming freely?

Parliament is not spared the Malaysian idiocy. Recently, the entire opposition staged a walkout after a heated shouting match during Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng’s winding-up speech in the second reading of the Supplementary Supply Bill 2019.

The walkout was triggered after a shouting match between the opposition, the finance minister and government backbenchers, after Pengkalan Chepa MP Ahmad Marzuk Shaary (PAS) called Lim “pondan”. The Malaysian narrative has expanded to an Indian doctor, two goats and “pondan”.

Labelling someone as “pondan” or LGBT could have serious consequences if Lim were to visit shariah-compliant nations such as Brunei. But our tourism minister saved the day for Lim.

According to media reports, Mohamaddin Ketapi denied the existence of LGBT people in the country. Ahead of attending the ITB Berlin travel fair, he told German reporters that he wasn’t aware of LGBT people in Muslim-majority Malaysia.

Yes, we are all being treated like idiots. Could it be that we elected idiots to represent us in the first place?

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

Singapore: Indonesia’s Money Laundromat


March 26, 2019

Singapore: Indonesia’s Money Laundromat

By: John Berthelsen

https://www.asiasentinel.com/econ-business/singapore-indonesia-money-laundromat/

On March 18, Indonesia’s Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati announced that the country’s Directorate General of Taxation will go after Indonesian wealth parked overseas, saying data indicate Indonesians have illegally moved Rp1.3 quadrillion (US$91.3 billion) worth of assets outside of the country.

Image result for shenton way singapore

Sri Mulyani doesn’t have far to hunt, and multiple sources say her US$91 billion figure is a relatively paltry portion of the total. She can send her investigators to Singapore, an hour and 50 minutes away by any one of 35 flights a day, where, according to a 2014 Cornell University Southeast Asia Program study, at least 39,000 Indonesians worth US$4.1 million each were residing “semipermanently” and had stored non-home financial assets. The study put the total amount of Indonesian money in Singapore at a minimum of US$93 billion. According to one study, however, as much as an astonishing US$380 billion has been spirited out of Indonesia alone – 40 percent of Singapore’s total banking receipts.

Image result for 1mdb malaysia

Among the other dictators, crooks, strongmen and satraps who are believed to have deposits – or have had – in the Singaporean banking system are Zimbabwe’s 95-year-old former President Robert Mugabe, the late Philippine strongman Ferdinand Marcos, the jailed Taiwanese President Chen Shui Bian, the disgraced former French Budget Minister Jérôme Cahuzac, former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and many more.

On March 17, 2009 – a decade ago – this reporter was present when the Burmese junta leader Thein Sein, the head of what was then one of the world’s most repressive and poverty-stricken countries, flew into Singapore for a ceremony in which an orchid was named for him in the island republic’s magnificent botanical gardens. Another was named for Thein Sein’s wife. The common wisdom in Singapore is that the orchid honor was bestowed because of the amount of money Myanmar’s generals had laundered out of their benighted country and deposited in Singapore’s banks.

The volume of hot money that moves through Singapore’s banking system, unimpeded by the Monetary Authority of Singapore and protected by a comforting tangle of banking secrecy laws, seems at odds with the country’s public stance of incorruptibility. An attempt to fix a parking ticket would have the miscreant hauled off to jail.

The late Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, confronted in 1986 with corruption on the part of Housing Minister Teh Cheang Wan, who was integral in helping him transform the country from British colony, refused to look away. Teh committed suicide rather than face trial.

For decades, Indonesia has been in a half-hearted war to repatriate its money, at one point in 2007 blocking the delivery of Indonesian sand used to expand Singapore’s coastline in an effort to force the island nation to agree to an extradition treaty to get back bankers who stole US$13.5 billion from 48 ailing banks during the 1997-1998 Asian Financial Crisis and moved the money into Singaporean banks. They have never succeeded.

In the 2008 global financial meltdown, Indonesia’s Century bank failed, with US$1.5 billion allegedly stolen by the bank’s president, Robert Tantular, according to lawsuits filed in Singapore and Mauritius. The Indonesian Bank Deposit Insurance Corporation, which is designed to provide an insurance cover for failing banks, allegedly poured in another US$750 million. In the end, the bank was recapitalized and renamed twice more, with massive fund flows out of the country again to Singapore. Tantular was prosecuted for the theft, but inexplicably was freed in December 2018 with half his time served, provoking a new investigation by the country’s Corruption Eradication Commission.

With global watchdogs increasingly cracking down on Switzerland, Singapore has become known as the go-to bolt hole for money flowing in from Cyprus, Russia, Dubai and Qatar. It is an emerging destination for private wealth management – a code word for hidden money. Its banks are known as among the safest in the world. It has never had a bank failure, although it shut down two Swiss subsidiaries during the mess created by Malaysia’s huge 1Malaysia Development Bank scandal.

As authorities have put pressure on Swiss authorities to open the doors to the alpine nation’s bank records, Singapore has developed its banking secrecy laws to protect money flows, blocking regulations developed by the 36-country Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on publication of bank customer information. According to a 2017 Boston Consulting Group report, these tight banking secrecy laws had attracted as much as US$1.1 trillion in foreign funds into the banking system.

The access by less-than-respectable money seems to have reached its apex with the long-running 1MDB scandal, during which now-deposed Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and his confederate, Low Taek Jho, spirited billions of dollars through the Singaporean system. Najib famously moved US$681 million sent to him by Jho Low through the Kuala Lumpur-based Ambank in 2013, using part of the money to finance the successful 2013 election won by the Barisan Nasional, and then moved the remainder back out to subsidiaries of Swiss banks, both of which were suspended from doing business in Singapore.

The full story of the magnitude of theft from 1MDB and the money’s passage through Singaporean banks is told in two recent books, “The Billion-Dollar Whale by Wall Street Journal reporters Tom Wright and Bradley Hope, and The Inside Story of the 1MDB Expose by Clare Rewcastle Brown. Both books tell a ring-around-the-rosy story of billions of dollars that moved with impunity from a long string of shell companies set up in Caribbean hidey holes, zipping through the Singapore banking system without any problems until authorities in the United States and other jurisdictions started calling attention to the process.

As Brown writes, “Ironically, at a time when our ability to connect and communicate instantaneously should enable us through forensic accounting to track suspicious transactions and assure there is no hiding place for them, things have got worse, not better. As long as national legal systems are limited in their ability to monitor and supervise extra-territorial transactions, and as long as international cooperation remains ineffective and deficient, then sending money offshore will continue to deprive national treasuries of the revenues they need, leaving domestic populations worse off and in many cases impoverished,”

There is no better proof of that than the billions of dollars that have moved out of Indonesia, and the ease with which it has been hidden in Singapore or moved on to other obscure corners of the world.

 

MP Nik Nazmi brings back memories of the Anwar-led 2008 Pakatan Rakyat


February 16,2018

Nik Nazmi brings back memories of the Anwar-led 2008  Pakatan Rakyat

By Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad  the MP for Setiawangsa.

https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/464186?fbclid=IwAR25cGcttcKWep_VuYlXm9uT0Vhj3nuWoO3kgVCarZFwiZ2X8e8PkOTaVB0

Image result for Anwar-led 2008 Pakatan Rakyat

MP SPEAKS | This week, seven former UMNO MPs joined Bersatu. Bersatu has also declared its entry into Sabah, contrary to its pledge before the 2018 election.

I have consistently said that I am against this—and many of my colleagues in Pakatan Harapan feel the same way.

Let us focus on the challenges facing us in the present and how to move forward into the future. One thing that we need to do is to be willing to listen to all arguments—including the ones we don’t necessarily agree with.

It has been argued that these defectors are needed to shore-up Malay support for Harapan.

It has also been argued that the move is necessary to counter the emerging UMNO-PAS alliance, which is allegedly increasingly popular on social media as well as to strengthen our coalition’s standing in rural areas — such as the East Coast and Northern Peninsula.

It is true that Harapan did not win the popular vote in the last election—garnering only 48.31% of it. Indeed, much of the 50.79% of the vote that Barisan Nasional and PAS won was from Malays in the East coast and Northern Peninsula Malaysia as well as from Muslim Bumiputeras in Sarawak.

And it does appear that Malay sentiment towards Harapan is not exactly glowing. Although much of this is driven by the shrill and manufactured voices of UMNO and PAS surrogates, there is genuine concern among many Malays that the community is under threat: both politically and socio-economically.

Defections will not guarantee Malay support

But is taking in defectors from UMNO the best way to assuage these concerns?

Why can’t the various components of Harapan evolve so that we can, finally, access, engage and win the support of all Malaysians, including the rural Malays?

Why do some of our leaders seem intent on taking short-cuts, rather than the path of hard (but ultimately rewarding) work? Have we totally abandoned the idea of bipartisanship?

Why do some Harapan leaders assume that the Malay community will necessarily be impressed by taking in these defectors? Is the rural Malay community that monolithic? Is quantity really that more important in governance and politics rather than quality?

But if taking in defectors is not the way, how should Harapan resolve its “Malay dilemma”?

Image result for Anwar-led 2008 General election anwar poster

Negara ini bukan  Tun Dr.Mahathir punya. Ini adalah Malaysia–Negara kita semua. 2008 GE Tagline–UBAH SEBELUM PARAH

One way is to double-down on conservative Malay politics, including turning back on reform because it will allegedly weaken the community. This is the path that PAS has taken. That was their choice to make and theirs alone, but it also means they are no longer the party of Dr Burhanuddin al Helmy, Fadzil Noor and Nik Aziz Nik Mat.

Image result for dr syed husin ali

Dr.Syed Hussin Ali-The Intelletual behind PKR

The alternative is to stick to the progressive, inclusive promises we made via the Buku Harapan.

Our GE-14 campaign manifesto was a document that all Harapan parties agreed to. But it was also a platform that addressed the aspirations and problems of all segments of Malaysian society, including the Malays.

The Buku Harapan can be executed. We couldn’t deliver all of the 100 day promises—but it doesn’t mean that it cannot be realised. The same applies to the other pledges.

Some things may need to be sequenced, but they must be done if the country is to survive and thrive. We should not simply cast the Buku Harapan aside due to political exigencies.

Harapan won because it gave Malaysians hope

It is cynical and disingenuous to say that Harapan won only because of the 1MDB scandal and the anger towards Najib Razak. That’s simply not true.

Our critics—but also our own leaders, legislators and supporters—should give us more credit than that.

Malaysians voted for us not only out of anger over BN’s scandals and mismanagement, but because they believed that Harapan had a better vision for the future of the country. They voted for us because Harapan gave them hope. What I am saying is this: Harapan should learn to take “yes” for an answer.

Malaysians gave us an adequate majority on May 9

There is no need to worry about our parliamentary majority (which is adequate to govern). Unless some quarters have some political calculations to undermine the Harapan consensus.

Image result for dr syed husin ali

As I have said many times before, a two-thirds majority is sometimes more trouble than it is worth.

It is only moral and just that constitutional amendments—when they become necessary—be done via a bipartisan consensus, by talking and working with the Opposition and civil society.

Harapan should roll up our sleeves and get down to the business of governing the country. And “governing”, means reforming our economy and making it work for all Malaysians.

Malays will benefit from progressive politics

Part of this involves winning over the Malays to the idea that progressive politics and governance is in their interest. And it is.

Who makes up the majority of the urban poor? The Malays.

Who makes up the majority of low-wage earners? The Malays.

Who makes up the majority of the petty traders struggling to earn a living? The Malays.

Whose families are the majority of those struggling to service high household debts? The Malays.

Who are the majority of smallholders struggling from low commodity prices and delays in government payments? The Malays.

Delivering an economy that solves the plight of these segments of society, even in a non-racial manner, will do more to win over Malay voters than trying to outflank UMNO and PAS on the right – or luring opposition crossovers.

The voters in these constituencies did not vote for Harapan. They knowingly chose the vision that BN and PAS had for Malaysia. Their MPs moving over to Harapan will not likely make them feel any differently.

Instead, solving the bread-and-butter-issues of the voters will go a long way in addressing their racial and religious insecurities.

Harapan should trust our defend our Constitution

We must also learn to trust our Constitution and our system of governance, even as we repair both from decades of abuse.

Setting up the latest incarnation of the National Economic Action Council (NEAC) is the Prime Minister’s prerogative and so is its composition — although there were some interesting omissions.

The members who were selected are distinguished and respected in their several fields — one wishes them every success.

But the NEAC’s emergence has — fairly or unfairly — led to speculation over the performance of the Cabinet. There are perceptions — again, fairly or unfairly —that attempts are being made to circumvent the normal process of Cabinet-based governance in the management of Malaysia’s economy.

It is easy to dismiss these criticisms as grouses, but they have a real impact on how voters view this current Pakatan Harapan government.

If we lead, the people will follow

I hope this is something that the leaders of our government and alliance will take into account moving forward, especially when dealing with defectors and in how the administration’s agenda is to be executed.

The ends do not justify the means. Like it or not, processes sometimes matter as much as outcomes.

Malaysia needs solutions that work for the many, not the few. We need policies for these day and age. Too often we seem to be indicating of going back to the economic prescriptions of Old Malaysia.

Sticking to the spirit of Buku Harapan is the way forward.

This will go a long way towards winning over Malay fence sitters and not side-line our non-Malay and politically liberal supporters.

While UMNO and PAS embark on a journey rightwards, we should not dance to their tune.

But we must allow them the space to be a functioning Opposition that keeps us in check.

That is what leadership is. Pakatan doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel. Let’s be sure of who we are, what we want to do and where we want to go. If we are sincere, the people — including the Malays — will follow.


Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad is the MP for Setiawangsa.

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

Reflections on Achieving the Global Education Goals


February 15, 2019

Reflections on Achieving the Global Education Goals

Project Syndicate Logo

In today’s deeply interconnected world, the benefits of strong and inclusive education systems are far-reaching. A quality education gives people the knowledge they need to recognize the importance of safeguarding the planet’s finite resources, appreciate diversity and resist intolerance, and act as informed global citizens.

https://www.project-syndicate.oryO8cnaCfxvpRj6xZQWIVfABNo8v98hSxJ6_Tzc6M

 

NEW YORK – Throughout my life, I have seen the power of education. I have witnessed how quality education for all can support the creation of dynamic economies and help to sustain peace, prosperity, and stability. I have also observed how education instills in individuals, no matter their circumstances, a strong sense of self, as well as confidence in their place in the world and their future prospects.

We know that each additional year of schooling raises average annual GDP growth by 0.37%, while increasing an individual’s earnings by up to 10%. If every girl worldwide received 12 years of quality education, lifetime earnings for women could double, reaching $30 trillion. And if all girls and boys completed secondary education, an estimated 420 million people could be lifted out of poverty. According to a 2018 World Bank report, universal secondary education could even eliminate child marriage.

In today’s deeply interconnected world, the benefits of strong and inclusive education systems extend even further. Education gives people the knowledge they need to recognize the importance of safeguarding the planet’s finite resources, appreciate diversity and resist intolerance, and act as informed global citizens.

The United Nations Millennium Development Goals, created in 2000 to guide global development over the subsequent 15 years, gave new impetus to efforts to ensure education for all. From 2000 to 2015, primary-school enrolment in the developing world rose from 83% to 91%, reducing the number of out-of-school primary-school-age children from 100 million to 57 million. Moreover, from 1990 to 2015, the global literacy rate among people aged 15 to 24 increased from 83% to 91%, with the gap between men and women declining substantially.

But much remains to be done. Globally, at least 263 million children were out of school in 2016. This includes half of all children with disabilities in developing countries. Furthermore, half of all children of preschool-age – the most crucial years for their cognitive development – are not enrolled in early-childhood education.

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The situation deteriorates further in conflict zones, where girls are almost two and a half times as likely to be out of school as their peers in stable countries. And this does not cover the estimated 617 million children and adolescents of primary and lower-secondary-school age – 58% of that age group – who are not achieving minimum proficiency in reading and mathematics.

To help close these gaps, the successor to the MDGs, the Sustainable Development Goals, also emphasizes education. SDG4 commits the world to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all – essentially to harness the power of education to unlock every person’s potential. Despite the scale of the challenge and the diverse barriers that can restrict and disrupt learning, we know what an effective strategy would entail.

First, to be a true force for change, education itself must be transformed in response to the realities of accelerating globalization, climate change and labor market shifts. While advanced technologies – such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and blockchain – raise new challenges, they may be able to play a role in improving educational outcomes. Digital skills must be part of any curriculum, and new alliances with the tech sector – which can provide valuable insights into these topics – should be actively pursued.

Second, an inclusive and lifelong approach, focused on reaching the most marginalized and vulnerable populations, is essential. As UNICEF’s Innocenti Report Card 15 shows, this does not mean sacrificing high standards. In fact, as the report points out, children of all backgrounds tend to do better when they are in a more socially integrated school environment. Such an inclusive approach will require sharing best practices and investing in what is proven to work. Meanwhile, development partners must provide long-term support that emphasizes capacity-building and institutions, and balances humanitarian, economic, and security imperatives.

For education systems and services to be truly inclusive, however, they must also leave no one behind, such as refugees. UNESCO’s latest Global Monitoring Report estimates that refugees have missed 1.5 billion school days since 2016. While eight of the top ten hosting countries, including several low- and middle-income countries, have shouldered considerable costs despite the strain on education systems to ensure that refugees attend school alongside nationals, most countries either exclude refugees from national education systems or assign them to separate facilities. This entrenches disadvantage and hampers social integration. The two landmark global compacts on migration and refugees adopted by UN member states last December point the way toward addressing this challenge.

Achieving the needed educational transformation will require far more financing than is currently on offer. As it stands, the global annual funding gap for education amounts to nearly $40 billion. Closing this gap will require not just increased domestic financing, but also a renewed commitment from international donors.

Everyone has the right to an education. Upholding this right – and achieving SDG4 – will require well-designed strategies, coupled with a prolonged commitment to implementation and effective cooperation among all relevant stakeholders. The UN and its agencies will continue to support such actions, as we strive to ensure that no one is left behind.

 

 

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


February 3, 2019

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

The word is “deep.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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interactions and deep potential abuses.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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