The Passing of my friend Manan Othman


January 19, 2017

The Passing of my friend Manan Othman

by Bernama/www,malaysiakini.com

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COMMENT: Al-Fatihah. I am deeply saddened to learn this morning via Malaysiakini-– the web- paper I follow closely daily without fail for its bold, fair, accurate and timely reporting– of the passing of my friend Manan Othman  (pic above).

I am always affected when men and women of my generation die. This is because I am reminded on my own mortality.  At the same time, their passing urges me to use my remaining years in the service of humanity, in the pursuit of peace, stability and economic and intellectual development in ASEAN and Cambodia. For that, most people, especially cynics, will say that I am a dreamer. Anyway, here I am doing my bit at The Techo Sen School of Government and Internati0nal Relations, The University of Cambodia in Phnom Penh.

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I knew Manan in the 1970s. At that time, he was with SEDC Terengganu. He rose to prominence in Malaysian politics as a member of UMNO 1946. Manan got his chance at public office when Tun Hussein Onn was our Prime Minister. He was a loyal supporter of YBM Tan Sri Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and because of that he paid a heavy political price for siding with Ku Li.

After 1987 when Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad consolidated power after beating Ku Li for the Presidency of UMNO, and formed UMNO Baru, Manan was sidelined. As a result, we lost an able UMNO Minister for good. All UMNO ministers today with the exception of Dato Seri Mustapha Mohamed, our MITI Minister, pale in comparison.

My wife Datin Dr. Kamsiah Haider and I wish to convey our deepest c0ndolences to his widow, Datin Nora Abu Hassan,  their three children and eight grandchildren on his passing. Fond farewell, Manan, and thanks for your friendship and generous counsel.–Din Merican

Bernama reports:

Former Agriculture Minister Abdul Manan Othman died while undergoing treatment for a lung infection at the Gleneagles Hospital, Ampang, at 7.12pm yesterday. He was 81.

His eldest son, Nadzrin, 53, said his father was admitted to the hospital on Monday after falling unconscious.

Speaking to Bernama when met at his residence in Desa Sri Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur, Nadzrin said the funeral prayers would be held at Masjid Bukit Damansara before he was laid to rest at the Bukit Kiara Muslim cemetery at 10am today.

Abdul Manan was Agriculture Minister from 1980 to 1984 and had held the posts of Deputy Primary Enterprises Minister, Deputy Trade and Industry Minister and Primary Enterprises Minister before that.

He leaves behind wife Nora Abu Hassan, 78, three children and eight grandchildren.

Bernama

 

Obama’s Legacy–Optimism


January 15, 2017

The Optimism of Barack H. Obama

Americans will miss Mr. Obama’s negotiating skills on tough issues and the dignity and character that he and his family brought to the White House.–New York Times

Barack Obama is leaving the White House with polls showing him to be one of the most popular presidents in recent decades. This makes sense. His achievements, not least pulling the nation back from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, have been remarkable — all the more so because they were bitterly opposed from the outset by Republicans who made it their top priority to ensure that his presidency would fail.

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Many Americans celebrated the election of the first African-American President as a welcome milestone in the history of a nation conceived in slavery and afflicted by institutional racism. Yet the bigotry that president-elect Donald Trump capitalized on during his run for office confirmed a point that Mr. Obama himself made from the start: that simply electing a black president would not magically dispel the prejudices that have dogged the country since its inception. Even now, these stubborn biases and beliefs, amplified by a divisive and hostile campaign that appealed not to people’s better instincts but their worst, have blinded many Americans to their own good fortune, fortune that flowed from policies set in motion by this President.

That story begins on Inauguration Day in 2009. That’s when Mr. Obama inherited a ravaged economy that was rapidly shedding jobs and forcing millions of people from their homes. The Obama stimulus, which staved off a 1930s-vintage economic collapse by pumping money into infrastructure, transportation and other areas, passed the House without a single Republican vote. Republican gospel holds that government spending does not create jobs or boost employment. The stimulus did both — preserving or creating an average of 1.6 millions jobs a year for four years. (A timely federal investment in General Motors and Chrysler, both pushed to the brink during the recession, achieved similarly salutary results, preserving more than a million jobs.)

Mr. Obama’s opponents have had trouble accepting that any of this actually happened. They have not learned the simple truth — a truth clear in the New Deal and just as clear now — that timely and significant federal investment can make a real difference in people’s lives. Or accepted that compassionate and well-designed government programs can do the same. Driven by ideology or envy, or maybe both, Republican leaders have now pounced upon the demonstrably successful Affordable Care Act of 2010, a law that has improved the way medical care is delivered in the United States, providing affordable care for millions and driving the percentage of Americans without insurance to a record low 9.1 percent in 2015. Despite the law’s clear successes, Mr. Trump and Republican congressional leaders have nevertheless declared it a failure, hoping to justify a repeal that would rob an estimated 22 million people of health insurance. The point of following this destructive course can only be to destroy a central Obama legacy — even though doing so will drive up costs and cause havoc in the lives of the newly uninsured.

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With no help from Congress, Mr. Obama has also managed to make progress on issues where nobody gave him much of a chance, notably climate change, which both he and his secretary of state, John Kerry, placed very near the top of their to-do list. Against heavy odds, Mr. Obama first managed to persuade the Chinese to join the effort. This demolished the critics’ argument that he was asking America to do all the heavy lifting. It also made possible the Paris agreement in December 2015, in which 195 nations agreed on a plan that they hope will reduce greenhouse gases that are warming the atmosphere and threatening the viability of the planet itself.

Americans will miss Mr. Obama’s negotiating skills on tough issues and the dignity and character that he and his family brought to the White House. Beyond that, they will also miss an impassioned speaker whose eloquence ranks with that of Abraham Lincoln. The way he has defended the founding precepts of the United States while also arguing that those precepts have to be broadened to achieve a new inclusiveness has been especially striking, as have his remarks delivered at moments of national tragedy.

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His 2015 eulogy in Charleston, S.C., after a Confederate flag-waving white supremacist slaughtered nine African-American parishioners at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, was redolent with history. As always, he viewed the horror through the prism of a seemingly innate optimism about the country’s ability to set aside hatred and move toward a more perfect union.

Mr. Obama never would have gained the office without that unflagging optimism, which inspired a generation of young voters who saw in him a new kind of leader. So it seemed fitting that he would end his farewell address in Chicago on Tuesday with them in mind:

“Let me tell you, this generation coming up — unselfish, altruistic, creative, patriotic — I’ve seen you in every corner of the country. You believe in a fair and just and inclusive America; you know that constant change has been America’s hallmark, that it’s not something to fear but something to embrace; you are willing to carry this hard work of democracy forward. You’ll soon outnumber any of us, and I believe as a result the future is in good hands.”

In Memory of a Sarawakian Warrior and Unifer


January 13, 2017

COMMENT: I share the sentiments expressed by Dr. Lim in his article. Truth be told, I did not have the opportunity to meet and know the late Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem, but from my Sarawakian friends and others, I was aware that he was a fiercely Sarawak-centered (Sarawak for All Sarawakians) and a politically strong leader who could resist UMNO’s dominance when he held high office.

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His Excellency YAB Tun Taib Mahmud should be complimented for choosing Tan Sri Adenan as his successor. Throughout his political career, Governor Tun Taib was able to keep UMNO out of Sarawak and unlike Sabah’s Musa Aman, Tan  Sri Adenan too could confine UMNO to Peninsular Malaysia. Now I hope that Tun Taib can  appoint a successor who will put Sarawak first and prevent UMNO from establishing a foothold in his resource rich and prosperous state.–Din Merican.

In Memory of  a Sarawakian Warrior and Unifer

by Lim Teck Ghee

When Tan Sri Adenan Satem stepped into Tun Taib Mahmud’s shoes as Chief Minister of Sarawak, few expected him to be more than a stopgap for the emergence of more ambitious and pushy politicians in Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), the dominant party in the state.

The fact that Taib had not relinquished power but had moved into the position of Governor seemed to indicate that the state’s post- colonial “White Rajah” would be pulling the strings; and that Adenan would serve as a doormat leader.

Image result for iban soldierSarawak’s Most Decorated Soldier

Add to this the concern over Adenan’s health following his heart surgery in 2012 and it is not surprising that most analysts were predicting little or no change in the status quo with regard to the East Malaysian state in its relations with a UMNO dominated federal government, or the way in which the state’s interests have been ravaged by the kleptocratic rule of the previous state government.

As the nation (an Sarawak in particular) mourns his passing it is clear that what Adenan did with his new lease of life is nothing short of extraordinary. His achievements in his short span of three years as Chief Minister place him at the topmost rung of our nation’s leaders with even his most staunch political enemies hailing his governance reforms and regretting his untimely demise.

Adenan was much more than a Sarawak leader. He has set the bench mark and shown the way for the rest of the nation’s leaders on the true measure of leadership in at least four important ways.

In his own state, he embarked on a series of policy reforms from restrictions in timber concession licences to abandonment of the controversial Baram Dam project, recognition of the Unified Examination Certificate for admission in the state’s public universities and civil service and other sensible measures. All the states in the Peninsula, and in Sabah, can learn from Adenan’s reforms in the state which are based on the interests of the rakyat, accountable government and transparency.

Secondly, by moving quickly and decisively on the devolution of federal power to the state in accordance with the 1963 agreement, he helped to defuse pro-separatist sentiments which have been growing in the state.

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His reminder on various public occasions for the Federal Government – e.g: “We are not happy. I can tell you we are not happy, with the present arrangement… I told the Prime Minister himself, I do not want, in the coming General Election, to be seen defending the Federal Government if they do not concede, if they do not give us concessions on our requests” – will serve as a reference point for Sarawak-Putrajaya relations whichever government comes into power at the state and federal level in the next election.

Thirdly, by his actions he has shown that it is possible to uphold the legitimate interests of minority communities and to resist playing up to racial and religious concerns. His public pronouncements on the importance of inclusion and defence of so-called pendatang communities have undoubtedly shamed and silenced purveyors of the ketuanan doctrine previously emboldened by the absence of challenge by opportunistic politicians.

Finally, but not least of all in importance, is his reputation for non-corruptibility and refusal to use his office for personal gain and enrichment.

Adenan fought for justice and good governance. He fought for peace and unity . In doing so, he sacrificed his health and shortened a life span which could have been extended by a lot more years had he chosen to stay outside the political fray. .

The country’s politicians should honour this great Malaysian by ensuring that the battles he fought end with victory.

‘We have lost a great son of Sarawak’


January 11, 2017

‘We have lost a great son of Sarawak’

Netizens, including politicians, speak highly of the Sarawak chief minister who died at 1.20pm today.

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By popular acclaim, the late Chief Minister of Sarawak, Tan Sri Adenan Satem, was a strong leader who stood up for the rights of all Sarawakians. He will be sorely missed. Dr. Kamsiah Haider  and I wish to express our heartfelt condolences to his bereaved family.

His passing will no doubt have decisive impact on the politics of this fiercely nationalistic state. My inclination on this sad day is to dedicate Al-Fatihah to the Late Tan Sri and pray (doa) that there will be a smooth transfer of power. I also hope that Sarawak will have a successor Chief Minister who will be strong enough like Tun Taib Mahmud and Tan Sri Adenan to resist any move by UMNO to establish  a branch in Sarawak.–Din Merican

Tributes have begun pouring in from netizens, including politicians, following the news that Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem passed away at 1.20pm today.

Many Twitter users spoke highly of the PBB President. Sarawak United Peoples Party (SUPP) president and local government minister Sim Kui Hian said: “We have lost a great son of Sarawak who devoted his whole life to the rakyat.”

Political leaders from the Barisan Nasional poured out their grief on Twitter with Prime Minister Najib Razak revealing that he would be heading to Sarawak.

MCA president Liow Tiong Lai echoed similar sentiments saying: “Malaysia lost a great leader today.”

Deputy Education Minister P Kamalanathan tweeted: “Greatly shocked. Great loss to all #Malaysians. My sincere condolences to the family and the people of Sarawak.”

Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin expressed condolences to Adenan’s wife Jamilah, family and Sarawakians. Sabah lawmaker Rahman Dahlan said Adenan’s struggles for a better Sarawak would be continued.

“Our sincere condolences to the family members of CM Adenan & the people of Sarawak. His struggles for a better Sarawak will be carried on.”

The public, too, have been taking to Twitter to express their condolences over Adenan’s passing. One user with the Twitter handle Ahmad Tarmidzi described Adenan as a true Sarawakian fighter.

“He fought for us, Sarawakians,” he tweeted, adding that he prayed the senior politician would be placed with the pious.

Another user Miz_PhinzSJ said it was a sad day for Sarawak because the state had “lost a good leader”. Meanwhile, Twitter user syazwan said Adenan was his own man.“I actually like Adenan Satem. He is more his own man than I thought he would be as CM. Great loss.”

The Passing of America’s Sweetheart of the ’50s: Debbie “Tammy” Reynolds


December 29, 2016

The Passing of America’s Sweetheart of the ’50s: Debbie “Tammy” Reynolds

http://www.bbc.com

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Debbie Reynolds, who starred opposite Gene Kelly in the 1952 musical Singin’ in the Rain, has died a day after the death of her daughter, Carrie Fisher.

The US actress, 84, had been rushed to hospital with a suspected stroke.Her son, Todd Fisher, said the stress of his sister’s death had been too much for her and in her last words, she had said she wanted to be with Carrie.

US actress Bette Midler said Reynolds was “devoted to her craft” and that her death was “too hard to comprehend”.

Actress Debra Messing said Reynolds, her on-screen mother in sitcom Will and Grace, had been an “inspiration”.”A legend of course,” she wrote in a statement. “The epitome of clean-cut American optimism, dancing with Gene Kelly as an equal, a warrior woman who never stopped working.”

Actor Rip Torn, who worked with Reynolds in her Las Vegas stage show, said: “I was blessed to work with this remarkable woman for 45 almost 50 years. That makes for a very rare bond and unique relationship.

“She was generous to a fault, never caring who got the laugh from the audience. I will always love her.” Veteran comic actress Carol Channing agreed: “She was beautiful and generous. It seems like only yesterday she was having lunch here at the house and we were discussing the possibility of working together in a new show.”

For Star Trek actor William Shatner, Reynolds was one of the last of the Hollywood royalty. “It breaks my heart that she is gone,” he wrote. “I’d hoped that my grieving was done for 2016.

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Reynolds had been at her son’s house in Beverly Hills – apparently discussing the arrangements for Carrie Fisher’s funeral – when she was taken ill.

She was admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre suffering from breathing difficulties and her death was confirmed a few hours later. It is thought she suffered a stroke.

Carrie Fisher, renowned for her role as Princess Leia in the Star Wars series, had died aged 60 the day before, after spending three days in a Los Angeles hospital.

She never regained consciousness after suffering a massive heart attack on board a flight from London to Los Angeles on Christmas Eve.

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Carrie and Todd Fisher
Speaking to the Associated Press news agency about his mother, Todd said: “She’s now with Carrie and we’re all heartbroken.”

Celebrity news site TMZ reported that Reynolds cracked while discussing plans for Carrie’s funeral with her son, telling him: “I miss her so much; I want to be with Carrie.”

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Reynolds married singer Eddie Fisher in 1955 and had two children, Carrie and Todd. The couple divorced in 1959 after news emerged of his affair with movie star Elizabeth Taylor.Reynolds married twice more.

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The actress has a sometimes strained relationship with her actress daughter, who wrote about it in her semi-autobiographical novel Postcards from the Edge. The pair stopped speaking to each other for many years but became closer later in life.

In an interview last month with US radio network NPR, Fisher said her mother was “an immensely powerful woman” whom she admired “very much”.

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As people gathered to pay their respects to the actress at Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, one couple, Jose and Daniela Barrera, appeared to speak for many after a year marked by celebrity deaths.

“It’s just, you know, a sad time I guess,” Jose told the Reuters news agency. “With the closing of the year and so many deaths in the year, it’s just sad.”

“It was so sad,” added Daniela. “It was a shocker. I mean, what were the odds of this happening? It was incredible finding out, sad.”


What is your reaction to the passing of Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher just one day apart? Have you been affected by any of the issues raised in this article? You can share your experience via haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.

The Passing of John Glenn, the last genuine American hero–A Tribute


December 10, 2016

The Passing of John Glenn, the last genuine American hero–A Tribute

by Dale Butland

Columbus, Ohio — World War II and Korean War hero. First American to orbit the Earth. Kennedy family friend and confidant. The only four-term senator in Ohio history. An astronaut again at the age of 77.

Newspaper writers and evening news broadcasters will detail John Glenn’s one-of-a-kind biography — and most of them will surely observe that his passing on Thursday (December 8, 2016) at the age of 95 marks “the end of an era.”

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“With John’s passing, our nation has lost an icon and Michelle and I have lost a friend. John spent his life breaking barriers, from defending our freedom as a decorated Marine Corps fighter pilot in World War II and Korea, to setting a transcontinental speed record, to becoming, at age 77, the oldest human to touch the stars. John always had the right stuff, inspiring generations of scientists, engineers and astronauts who will take us to Mars and beyond — not just to visit, but to stay. …

“The last of America’s first astronauts has left us, but propelled by their example we know that our future here on Earth compels us to keep reaching for the heavens.”–President Barrack Obama

To me, John actually personified an era — one that, like him, has largely passed from the scene and may never again be recaptured. It was a period whose values were forged during the Great Depression, tested in the bloodiest war and expressed most clearly at the personal level by the interlocking virtues of modesty, courage and conviction.

Beginning in 1980 and continuing for nearly two decades, I was lucky enough to work for him, including as press secretary and director of his final re-election campaign in 1992. We were also friends, and I will cherish having been able to speak with him shortly before he died.

Despite his international celebrity, the ticker-tape parades and the schools and streets named in his honor, John never let any of it go to his head. He dined with kings, counseled presidents and signed autographs for athletes and movie stars. But he never pulled rank, rarely raised his voice and remained unfailingly polite and conscious of his responsibilities as a hero and a role model until the day he died.

The courage John displayed wasn’t merely physical, though he certainly had plenty of that. Anyone who flew 149 combat missions in two wars as a Marine fighter pilot — and then volunteered to become a Mercury 7 astronaut at a time when our rockets were just as likely to blow up on the launchpad as they were to return home safely — obviously had physical courage to spare.

But for me, even more impressive was John’s personal and political bravery, especially when it came to defending the values and friends he held dear.

Perhaps the best example of what I’m talking about occurred in an incident that, to the best of my knowledge, he never publicly disclosed.

Following his 1962 spaceflight, John and Robert F. Kennedy became such close friends that their families sometimes vacationed together.

By 1968, John had retired from the Marine Corps and taken a job as president of a major American corporation’s international division.

“We were living in New York, and they were paying me $100,000 a year, which at that time was real money,” he told me. “For the first time in our lives, Annie and I didn’t have to worry about putting our kids through college or helping our parents financially as they got older.”

That spring, Mr. Kennedy decided to run for president and John readily agreed to campaign for him.

John’s employer, however, wasn’t keen on having its highest profile executive publicly supporting Mr. Kennedy. So John was soon summoned to an “emergency meeting” of the corporate board where a resolution was to be passed barring any board member from “engaging in partisan politics in 1968.”

When the meeting was called to order, John rose from his seat to say that there was something his colleagues should know before taking a vote.

“Bob Kennedy asked me to campaign for him and I told him I would. And I will, because he is my friend. And if keeping my word means I can’t be associated with this company any longer, I can live with that.

“But if that’s what happens, we’re going to walk out of this room and you’re going to hold your press conference and I’m going to hold mine. And we’ll see who comes out better.”

No vote was called and the meeting was quickly adjourned.

John’s politics, of course, aren’t the point of this story. To me, it was his fierce determination to keep a promise to a friend, even at the expense of sacrificing the first real financial security he and his family had ever known. It’s the kind of courage we don’t see much anymore.

When John passed away, we lost a man who many say is the last genuine American hero. Not because others won’t do heroic things, but because national heroes aren’t easily crowned or even acknowledged in this more cynical age.

He belonged to an earlier and more innocent era — when we trusted our institutions, thought government could accomplish big and important things, still believed politics could be a noble profession, and didn’t think that ticker-tape parades were reserved for World Series or Super Bowl champions.

But the last “good” war ended almost 70 years ago. The Cold War is almost 30 years past. The space program has lost its luster. The clarity with which John saw honor and moral responsibility seems almost quaint today. And the time when we could all cheer for the same national hero may now be past.