Malaya-Singapore Relations: Old Bilateral Issues have resurfaced under PH Rule, says Diplomat Bilahari Kausikan


February 22,2019

Malaya-Singapore Relations: Old Bilateral Issues have resurfaced under PH Rule, says Diplomat Bilahari Kausikan

Former diplomat Bilahari Kausikan said after Barisan Nasional was replaced by PH in the 14th general election last year, “old bilateral issues almost immediately resurfaced”.

Mr Kausikan said the fundamental reason for Malaysia’s continued provocative acts towards Singapore is because of the republic’s system of a multiracial meritocracy, which greatly contrasted from the former’s race-based policies.

Political instability in the ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition and its failure to capture Malay support are aggravating relations between Malaysia and Singapore, said former Singaporean diplomat Bilahari Kausikan.

Mr Kausikan said after Barisan Nasional (BN) was replaced by PH in the 14th general election last year, “old bilateral issues almost immediately resurfaced”.

He was referring to recent disputes on maritime boundaries and joint airspace control, as well as ongoing negotiations into the price of water Malaysia sells to Singapore.

“These issues are not new and they cannot be resolved,” Mr Kausikan said in a public lecture at the National University of Singapore.

“To resolve an issue, both sides must want to resolve it. Whereas in this case, the other side’s interest is to keep them alive to use them to rally support. “It would be wrong to place too much emphasis on the personality of (Prime Minister) Dr Mahathir (Mohamad) although that was undoubtedly a factor,” he told more than 200 attendees.

“More importantly, the new Pakatan Harapan government is fundamentally incoherent.

“It’s falling apart,” said Mr Kausikan.

He cited a Merdeka Centre research last year which found a three-way split of Malay votes for PH, UMNO and Islamist party PAS, meaning that the support of Malaysia’s largest ethnic group looks to be fiercely contested by the three groups.

The results, said Mr Kausikan, reveals the instability of the ruling pact, which will grow further as it desperately tries to rally greater Malay support if it hopes to retain power in the next general election.

Using Singapore as a bogeyman or whipping boy to rally the Malay ground is a time-tested tactic,” he said.

“Dr Mahathir used it when he led UMNO, he uses it now that he is head of Bersatu.

“This is not just a matter of personality or historical baggage.”

In his lecture, Mr Kausikan also said he expects Malaysia’s political scenario to remain in a flux for some time because of infighting within PH and the growing threat of Islamic fundamentalism.

Show of Might

The Former Policy Adviser to Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs urged the republic’s incoming new leadership to maintain the country’s military capabilities, saying that a show of might is crucial in its dealings with Malaysia.

This is because Malaysian leaders will always seek to undermine and subjugate the city-state.

“Even though Singapore is now accepted as a sovereign state, it is not a situation which Malaysia is entirely comfortable with,” Mr Kausikan said at the lecture titled ‘Singapore’s relations with Indonesia and Malaysia’.

Today, the governments of our neighbours deal with Singapore as a sovereign nation only because we have developed capabilities that have given them no other choice.

“It is not their preferred way of dealing with a small, ethnic Chinese-majority city-state.

“They would prefer us to accept a subordinate role as do their own Chinese populations,” he said.

Singapore’s new leaders must, therefore, continue to “establish red lines,” which send a clear message to Putrajaya that the country is equipped and ready to use its military might in the event it is forced to a corner. The threat of use of force is as much part of diplomacy as negotiations.

Diplomacy is not just about being nice.“It is essential to establish red lines because it is only when red lines are clearly understood that mutual relations can be conducted on the basis of mutual respect.”

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Mr Kausikan said the fundamental reason for Malaysia’s continued provocative acts towards Singapore is because of the republic’s system of a multiracial meritocracy, which greatly contrasted from the former’s race-based policies.

“The basic and enduring issue is not what we do, but what we are – a multiracial, meritocratic small city state that performs better than they do and we must always perform better.

“The very existence of our dramatically very different system, too close to be ignored or disregarded, that does better than their system, poses an implicit criticism of their system to their own people.”

https://www.todayonline.com

 

No Place for fake degrees


February 18,2019

No Place for fake degrees

Opinion  |  James Chai

Published:  |  Modified:

 

COMMENT | When I was applying for jobs last year, I realised how easy it was for me to fake my credentials. I could have easily said I graduated from Harvard University, Stanford University or the University of Cambridge without ever having set foot in those institutions.

There is only the odd chance of a prospective employer asking for my academic transcript, or taking the trouble of seeking confirmation from those universities. Most of the time, what I put into my CV is taken as true and valid information.

But to have the audacity to fake my credentials, I would have to pass two tests: one, the personal test of my own integrity; and two, the practical test of assuming that the prospective employer is dumb enough to not check.

And for some jobs, like the legal profession, faking your credentials could land you in jail.

What it takes to lie

In any case, you would have to have immense audacity to assume that your prospective employer is fool enough to not discover your fraud.

In the case of a minister, this prospective employer is the people. Although many ministers would likely defend their fraudulent colleagues by suggesting that it is the Prime Minister instead, I would beg to differ.

The cabinet’s power and legitimacy flow from the people – any decision should originate from the people’s will, and ultimately be directed towards the benefit of the people.

The government cannot use ‘the people’s will’ at its convenience, and retreat behind the veil of ‘Prime Minister’s prerogative’ when it’s harmful to them.

And so, to fake your credentials to assume the executive position of a member of cabinet, you must have enough audacity to assume that the people are fools who will not discover your fraud.

Which brings me to my main point about the recent fake degree fiasco – the minister’s attitude towards us.

Of course, it raises questions about the competency for the job and the integrity of the minister in question, but nothing is more significant than the explanation of how these ministers view and treat the people.

Smoke and mirrors

Politics is an elite sport. Politicians run the whole show on their own, and only go down to the ground when they need votes during elections. Most of the time, the people do not know what is going on behind the scenes.

During the premiership of former Prime minister Najib Abdul Razak, the people were  helpless when questions about the 1MDB heist were left unanswered for many months.

There is nothing that could have done between elections but to hold a series of protests to no avail. The response of asking the electorate to use the ‘proper channels’ by writing letters to the government is futile, flimsy and useless.

The irony is that the most important element in the democratic process – the people – are excluded from it most of the time.

Granted, the complexity of government means that it would be impractical to seek the people’s opinion on every single issue. However, what the democratic process requires is that elected representatives act on the trust of the people.

So the last thing we need is for ministers to lie to us about their credentials to earn the position to govern our lives.

‘A good politician doesn’t need a degree’

In the face of the recent exposés, the most common defence is that to be a good minister, there is no need for a university degree. I have two responses to this.

First, a minister occupies the highest executive office of the land. Those involved in the fake degree saga thus far are either ministers, deputy ministers, menteris besar or state exco members.

It is sensible for us to not only demand the highest level of competence but also the highest standard of ethics.

Although it is widely accepted that a university degree doesn’t guarantee success in office, it remains a barometer of ability and credibility – which is why many jobs continue to use it as a prerequisite.

It is only sensible then to expect the highest standard of ethics when occupying a role in government.

This is because it is in our national interest to be represented and run by the best our society has to offer, so that we collectively become the best versions of ourselves.

Extended hypocrisy

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Second, the defence reeks of hypocrisy because the ministers involved in the fake degree saga do not believe in the defence themselves.

If it is true that a degree is not necessary, then why would the ministers take the additional effort and risk to fake their credentials in the first place?

They only do so because they believe that degrees have an impact on people’s perception of their abilities and credibility.

Being commoners outside the system is frustrating. Most of the time our grouses are not heard, and it is hard to expect the ministers to always have our interests in mind.

To now know that we had to find out for ourselves that our ministers have been lying to us – this is hard to bear.

We must demand the government come clean on the matter because this fundamentally affects their relationship with us as a people.

And we will be damned if we have to hear another declaration that “at least they didn’t rape or steal.”


 

JAMES CHAI works at a law firm. His voyage in life is made less lonely with a family of deep love, friends of good humour and teachers of selfless giving. This affirms his conviction in the common good of people: the better angels of our nature. E-mail him at jameschai.mpuk@gmail.com.

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

https://www.malaysiakini.com/columns/463752?fbclid=IwAR2_FVgQSccXkUZ7N12OE9jxQLGlY3EH6ZXeGWSHPcQlSs_Xg6CMX15QxQs

Cambodian Minister: Incident should serve as lesson for everyone


February 17, 2019

Cambodian minister: Incident should serve as lesson for everyone

Bernama  |  Published:

The incident involving 47 Malaysians detained at the Banteay Mancheay prison in Cambodia should serve as a lesson for everyone, said Special Duties Minister in the Cambodian Prime Minister’s Department Othsman Hassan.

He said such a mistake should not be repeated in the future as the lucrative salary offered was too good to be true.

“If it is true that such lucrative salary to be paid, certainly the Cambodians will be employed first,” he said this during the symbolic handover of 47 detainees from the Cambodian government to the Malaysia and Sarawak governments in Siem Reap today.

Othsman represented the Cambodian government while Malaysia and Sarawak were represented by Sarawak Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Fatimah Abdullah.

Also present were Santubong MP Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, Temporary Charge de Affairs at the Malaysian Embassy in Phnom Penh Ruzaimi Mohamad and director of the Sarawak regional office of the Foreign Ministry Deddy Faisal Ahmad Salleh.

Meanwhile, Fatimah expressed her gratitude to the Cambodian government for providing good cooperation to the Malaysian government during the negotiating process to bring home all the detainees.

“With the power of Almighty Allah we have met with people such as Datuk Othsman and his friends who are sincere in helping us to secure the release of the detainees, as well as the Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah and Foreign Ministry secretary-general,” she said.

Fatimah said the Malaysian government was in the midst of arranging the transportation to bring all 47 Malaysians home.

“Initially, we are planning to bring them home in stages, but it is better if all can return home in one group,” she said.

 

Marzuki looks to Dr M to save him from scandal


February 10, 2019

Marzuki looks to Dr M to save him from scandal

 

by Joceline Tan

ttps://www.thestar.com.my

The fake degree firestorm that is threatening to bring down the Deputy Foreign Minister could not have happened at a worse time for Bersatu. 

DEPUTY Foreign Minister Datuk Marzuki Yahya’s political career was on the rise, especially after he was appointed to the key post of secretary-general of Bersatu.

But the ground seems to be crumbling under his feet ever since the news broke about his fake university degree. The Kedah-born Marzuki is fighting for his survival even as the cruel world of social media has pronounced him guilty and is demanding that he resigns from his Foreign Ministry job.

There is a firestorm of public opinion out there over what has been dubbed the “Scam-bridge scandal”.

Nobody, including Marzuki himself, had questioned post-May 9 media reports that he graduated from the prestigious Cambridge University.

But when the scandal broke, Marzuki clarified that it was Cambridge International University in the United States which, to his further embarrassment, turned out to be a degree mill.

By then, the issue had acquired a life of its own, beyond his control or that of his party.

The prevailing opinion on social media is that if he cannot be honest about something as simple as his academic background, how can he be trusted on affairs of state?

It has been pointed out that if this was the private sector, the person would have been fired without further ado because it is a question of his Own credibility and personal integrity.

The question on everyone’s lips is whether Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad will take the necessary action to safeguard the image of his government and party.

As former Jelutong MP Jeff Ooi pointed out, the collateral damage to Bersatu is high given that Marzuki is the party’s Secretary -General.

It is not only the party of the Prime Minister, Bersatu is supposed to be the backbone of Pakatan Harapan, and it aims to replace Umno as the party of choice for Malays.

“It’s messy and it looks quite indefensible because he is not a small fry. He has a big post and is the face of our Foreign Ministry,” said Ooi.

And as some have pointed out, where is Malaysia going to put her face when Marzuki comes face-to-face with, for example, Singapore ministers, many of whom are genuine Oxbridge products.

“I have known Marzuki since our days in UMNO Youth, and he never claimed he was from Cambridge University. My personal experience with him is that he is always supportive and has integrity as a politician,” said Bersatu supreme council member Akhramsyah Sanusi. But Akhramsyah, who is also Mara Corp chairman, admitted he was shocked by the public furore.“I want to stress that he was chosen as a deputy minister mainly for his experience and sacrifices for the party.

“We want our leaders to be of the highest integrity but I also believe in giving people a second chance,” said Akhramsyah. The Marzuki scandal could not have happened at a worse time for Bersatu which is facing a pivotal by-election in Semenyih.

It also opened the floodgates to greater scrutiny of the educational background of other Pakatan leaders including two Mentris Besar, both of who are from Bersatu.

Several Pakatan leaders have jumped to their defence, saying that one does not need a degree to be an effective politician.They are perfectly right except that the issue here concerns the integrity of politicians who have fake qualifications.

Marzuki is also on the threshold of possibly being declared the real winner for the Tasik Gelugor parliamentary seat in Penang.

Marzuki, who lost the seat in the general election by only 81 votes, applied to the courts for a recount on the grounds there were 297 unreturned postal votes and 689 spoilt votes.

The scandal has cast a pall over the court application. Those familiar with Dr Mahathir do not expect him to ask Marzuki to resign.

The elderly leader has a track record of defending the indefensible for as long as the person is his loyalist.But this is New Malaysia. If Dr Mahathir decides to save Marzuki, he will not get the same docile reaction from the public as during his first round as Prime Minister.

Nevertheless, he will have the last say as the Prime Minister and chairman of his party.

The fake degree scandal underscores the perception that Bersatu is seriously short of qualified and capable people to fill government posts. This issue is one more reason why Dr Mahathir should reshuffle his Cabinet sooner rather than later.

It will be awkward for Marzuki to continue in foreign affairs Ministry. If Dr. Mahathir decides to keep him, he may want to put Marzuki where he does not have to represent the country.

Perhaps the most baffling thing about this whole rigmarole is that in the Internet era, where almost everything one does has a digital footprint, there are still people who think they can get away with faking their academic qualifications.

“Let this serve as a lesson for New Malaysia,” said Ooi.

 

Read more at https://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/columnists/analysis/2019/02/09/marzuki-looks-to-dr-m-to-save-him-from-scandal-the-fake-degree-firestorm-that-is-threatening-to-brin/#0tA6A5g6P6eutgzf.99

The deafening silence of PH leaders after defeat in Cameron Highlands


 

February 4, 2019

The deafening silence of PH leaders after defeat in Cameron Highlands

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Malaysia must continue to speak up on issues such as moderation, good governance, people’s livelihood, sound policies and progressiveness.

But Pakatan Harapan’s victory has now given us another problem.

PH politicians who used to champion moderation, economic wellbeing, good governance and the environment have become silent.

Umno, as an opposition, does not even know how to advocate these issues and continues to harp on Malay supremacy and privileges to stay relevant.

Similarly for PAS. Their preoccupation with religiosity and obsession with Muslim leadership regardless of competency and integrity.

It would have been more tolerable and palatable if UMNO and PAS, despite their racial and religious orientation, have fought more for “livelihood issues” by articulating better policies and economic management.

But it is not to be. They have essentially used race and religion as conduits to power rather than to build a better Malaysia.

As for PH, they have largely forgotten where they came from.

The smarter ones among PH have become frontbenchers. Hence, they don’t provide checks and balances anymore. In fact, they are even afraid of being criticised now.

The back benchers among PH, except for a few, have also become silent or disinterested. I have got an inkling that many of them are just trying to be nice guys – you know, don’t rock the boat and wait for their turn.

Who then is fighting for Malaysia today? Who has pointed out the drastic increase in vehicle insurance premiums lately?

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Who is studying whether the proposed increases in water tariff is justified? Who is following up on whether the current toll rates and electricity tariffs are “overpriced”? Who is looking at Lynas now? Who is concerned with continued environmental degradation and encroachment of our forests and catchment areas?

Who is monitoring the many construction mishaps and accidents in the country? Who is tracking inflation, cost of living, unemployment and wages?

Who is taking an interest in death in custody and unjustified use of certain draconian laws? Who is highlighting and criticising some of the ill-conceived policies being proposed and implemented by PH?

When BN was in power, we had no shortage of criticisms of government’s shortcomings and misdeeds. We justifiably highlighted many malfeasance and bad policies. Today, how many politicians do the same? Former Prime Minister Najib Razak has pointed out a few shortcomings here and there but he lacks credibility.

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The Quiet Foreign Minister of Malaysia has  gone cold when our voice on pressing global issues needs to be clearly articulated.

As I see it, many of the present politicians don’t even want to take an interest to know what is going on, much less to evaluate and criticize.

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Malaysia’s Defense Minister Mat Sabu takes to the skies.

Many said May 9 was a watershed for genuine change and a new Malaysia.

Unfortunately, many are now telling me May 9 was not a watershed for change but an indication that we, as a nation, cannot really , or unwilling to, change. It is as if we are a handicapped country forever caught in the quagmire of political elitism, vested interest, cronyism, race and religion.

Food for thought, did Zimbabwe change after Robert Mugabe?

TK Chua is a FMT reader.

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

Malaysia and Israel


January 29, 2019

Malaysia and Israel

by Dr. Mahathir Bin Mohamad

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1. Malaysia does not recognise Israel; has no diplomatic relation with it, does not allow Malaysians to visit Israel and does not allow Israelis to visit Malaysia.

2. This is the only country in the world that Malaysia treats in this manner.

3. In the first place Israel was created from a slice of Palestinian land, without a referendum or a plebiscite being held.  The Palestinians were expelled from Palestine without any compensation for the land and homes seized by the Israelis.

4. Then Israel seized more Palestinian land so that Israel became bigger. The Israelis then built numerous settlements on Palestinian land without the consent of the Palestinian nation. Palestinians are barred from these settlements.

5. When the Palestinians resisted and threw stones at Israeli tanks and armoured cars, the Israeli soldiers fired live bullets at the Palestinian children and arrested many of them.  The arrested people were detained for years without trial.

6. The detainees were used to exchange with Israeli soldiers captured by the Palestinians.

7. The Gaza strip is blockaded by Israeli forces.  Relief ships carrying food, medicine and building materials were siezed in international waters and forced to go to Israel. In one incident 10 activists were killed.  These acts by the Israelis is blatantly against international laws.

8. When the Palestinians fired futile rockets at Israel, the Israelis dropped bombs and fired missiles at Palestinian towns and villages.  Schools and hospitals were destroyed, patients and children killed or maimed.

9. The blockade of Gaza is illegal but no country has condemned Israel for breaking international laws and moral codes.

10. Today Israel declares that Jerusalem is its capital.  When Palestinian slapped Israelis soldiers, they were shot and killed and many were detained.

11. A high wall has been built to divide Palestinian villages and towns. Palestinians cannot visit relatives without being subjected to humiliating checks at many check-points created by the Israelis.  The Palestinians are not allowed to travel on roads built by the Israelis on Palestinian land.

12. Thousands of Palestinian have been killed or wounded through Israeli military actions.

13. The whole world can see the injustice and the oppression of the Palestinian by the Israelis.  But Israel is not even criticised by the people who talk so much about freedom from oppression and the rule of law.   Israel seems to be privileged.

14. If anyone criticises Israel or the holocaust he is immediately labelled “anti-Semitic”.  The implication is that he is inhuman or immoral.  But the blatant inhumanity of Israel is not condemned.

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15. Malaysia is not anti-Jew or anti-Semitic. The Arabs are also Semitic people.  But we reserve the right to condemn inhuman and oppressive behaviour anywhere, by anyone.  We have condemned the Myanmar people for their treatment of the Rohingyas.  We have criticised many countries and people for inhuman acts.

16. Many people and many countries have condemned us.  But we have not been labelled nor have we labelled people who speak as a matter of right in a free world.

17. Malaysia bans two Israeli athletes – the US bans citizens of five Islamic nations and plans to build a wall against South Americans. Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic ban refugees. Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban referred to Syrian refugees as “Muslim invaders.”

18. Israel is a criminal state and deserves to be condemned.  We know the strong backing for Israel.  We cannot act against Israel beyond refusing to recognise it.  We maintain we have a right to bar Israelis from our country.  When the world condemns us for this we have a right to say that the world is being hypocritical. Their talk of human rights and the rule of law is so much empty words.

19. I appeal to those who sympathise with the Palestinian cause to voice their condemnation.  Terrorism is not the answer.  A proper strategy is needed to bring justice to the Palestinians.