Friday, 24 June 2011
19 June 2011
1. Malaysia's post-colonial history began with optimism and a grand hope in 1957. When Tunku Abdul Rahman, the first Prime Minister of Malaysia, proclaimed our Independence at the Merdeka Stadium in the unforgettable words that "Malaysia is a parliamentary democracy with an independent judiciary," he had a vision of a happy people in spite of the formidable economic problems we needed to solve. After that dawn of independence, there was a search of how we could achieve this happy society, Fulfilling the needs and aspirations of all Malaysians which was to continue for the Generations to come. He symbolized the concept and conviction of generational responsibility in his vision.
2. Tunku Abdul Rahman and his generation were dedicated leaders, not for power but a sense of duty to the present and the future. They were not in politics for the money or for themselves. Indeed, even after they had assumed power, they never used their position to benefit themselves or their families, nor did they build loyal cronies who would act as their financiers or hold any wealth unlawfully earned at the expense of the people.
3. The guiding philosophy was responsibility of public office. Public office was seen as a duty, not as an opportunity. The public office was also part of their sense of political commitment to create a Malaysia that was fair, just, cohesive, and balanced. This was combined by a deep conviction of generational responsibility for those who would come after them.
4. One of the greatest losses in public life and in politics today in Malaysia is that loss of generational responsibility. Everything seems to be surrounded by greed and the desire to be billionaires. This had led to a pyramid of cronies within the incumbent political parties and their associates in business. It is this combination of the hierarchy of political cronies and business cronies that led to the centralization of power in the incumbent political leadership and in the office of the Prime Minister.
5. This power in one individual allowed the manipulation of the political system; I mean by this the institutions of power including the media. In exchange for the centralization of power greed and self-interest was encouraged by example and in the guise of racial loyalty deserving rewards. This is the case in all the parties within the power structure. This state of affairs is one of the most dangerous and difficult to dismantle because there has been three decades of centralized power.
6. The political style that has dominated in these lost three decades has been "double-think" and "double-talk". One of the features which is alarming in this plan to maintain status quo is the encouragement covertly of racial and religious obscurantism. The underlying theme was a policy of using a balance of racialism and religion on the one hand and talks of unity on the other hand in order to make the people hostage to the status quo of power. As a result, racialism and racial concerns seem to have a grip on all aspects of our lives, in politics, economics, education and employment, irrespective of the present reality which has got nothing to do with race or religion. We are deliberately made to feel that we are hostage to these forces.
7. Freedom of speech and expression of our political concerns to change the atmosphere are restrained by how it will be interpreted by those who want to deny us the right to differ. Article 10 of the Constitution which guarantees this freedom is almost non-existence or subject to fear of retaliation or defamation. Legal suits intended to silence legitimate concerns of public responsibility are increasingly used. Unfortunately, our judicial system has forgotten the fundamental importance of Article 10 to the democratic life of Malaysia. Common sense seems to have been taken out of the law.
8. On the economic front, income inequality in Malaysia has widened. Some studies suggest that Malaysia's inequality is wider than Thailand's or Indonesia's. Historically, the concern was about ownership and control of the economy. It was the view of some that if ownership was de-racialized or balanced at the top, economic justice would follow. It is no longer a valid premise for the future. Income inequality is no longer a problem between races; it crosses the racial divide and it is a problem of the majority of Malaysians who feel the pressure of inflation in almost every essential aspect of their lives, challenging their wellbeing of themselves, their families, and their future. Today and the in the near future, this is the most serious challenge we face. It is not an easy challenge to overcome. It is a time when Malaysia needs leadership of the highest quality and of those who have the moral courage to change and re-think our economic policies.
9. It is in these circumstances that we face the serious problem of rising food prices, inflation in price of houses compounded by shortage in housing for the vast majority of young Malaysians. Lack of economic expansion to give all levels an opportunity to use their talents to seek work that is commensurate with their contribution, their needs of daily life, and to narrow the inequality gap, is the threat of the future. Therefore, we should be concerned about the justification of the removal of subsidies that affects the low income because that will further widen the inequality and open the society to social disorder and disintegration, and increase social in cohesion. It is in this context that I raise the issue about Independent Power Production Companies (IPP). The privatization contracts are today protected by the Official Secrets Act, and therefore we are unable to really know whether or not the public and PETRONAS, as trustees of the public, are directly or indirectly subsidizing these companies and the tycoons who are benefitting at the expense of the public.
10. Related to the question of the withdrawal of subsidies is the deficit that the Government suffers from in managing the economy. This question cannot be separated from the way that the Government has managed the nation's finances. If the deficit is as a result of wastage, corruption and extravagance in the use of public funds, then the solution to the problem should not be passed on to the public. What is needed is a reexamination of the management of the country's finances before taking any drastic steps that would affect the well-being of the people. We need to know the reality behind the apparent subsidies that are given to the public and its relationship in the totality of the management of the public finance. Only after we know the truth – and the whole truth – should any change in the policy of subsidies be implemented, as the consequences would have life-changing impact on the livelihood of the people. In the circumstances of rising inflation in food, stagnation of the economy and income, we should not do anything that would widen the disparity of income which would cause social instability.
11. The challenge today is for the return to generational responsibility in politics and public office. This can only be achieved if we have democracy and parliamentary power which is responsible. Democracy was the basis of the founding of the state of Malaysia by the Constitution in 1957. When it was briefly suspended in 1969, the leaders of that generation were uneasy, and they restored democracy as soon as possible.
12. That is because they realized that democracy has an intrinsic value in creating a citizenship that is not made up of sheep but of responsible citizens. Only responsible citizenship that understands democracy can bring about stability, cohesion and economic prosperity. During those days, it was ingrained in that generation of leaders that democracy was not only a form but a value system that respected the essential institutions of democracy like the independence of judiciary, the supremacy of parliament subject to the Constitution, the respect for fundamental rights, and free speech. They also understood the meaning and primacy of the rule of law and not of men. They also knew that democracy is the common heritage of humanity that we inherited and have a duty to continue. The law that they understood was also from the common heritage of all civilized nations.
13. And one of our inheritances is the common law system of the rule of law which is enshrined in our constitution. They knew that the phrase "common law" meant the wisdom that is passed to us in the progress of law and the values that are encapsulated in the law governing public office and responsibility to society. That laws are meant to enhance democracy and freedom but not to maintain and continue political power that is inconsistent with the rule of law and the constitution.
14. Independence did not come with peace but with very difficult problems, particularly the management of the economy and transforming it to bring about a balance between all the racial groups. They realize that some of their problems had roots in the history of Malaysia. There was a serious imbalance between the countryside and the urban sector with racial dimensions which were too sharp. Indeed, poverty was also quite prevalent. There were open discussions and experiments.
15. Some of you may remember that one of the highlights of public debate was organized at the University of Malaya under the title, "The Great Economic Debate" every year. That disappeared with the changes in the University & Colleges Act and the decline of Universities' autonomy. The search was to eradicate a sense of inequality between the various peoples of Malaysia, whether because of one's identity and social origins, or for other reasons.
16. It was as part of this search that during Tun Abdul Razak's time, the Second Malaysia Plan was launched in 1971. We need to be reminded of the objective of that plan: "National unity is the over-riding objective of the country. A stage has been reached in the nation's economic and social development where greater emphasis must be placed on social integration and more equitable distribution of income and opportunities for national unity."
17. That dream was slowly eroded from the mid-1980. The hope that we had at that time is now challenged in the most serious way.
18. Recently, PETRONAS announced that it had made a 90.5 billion pre-tax profit. If we accumulate the profit of PETRONAS over the years, it would come to a mind-boggling figure of billions and billions. Yet, the greatest poverty is found in the petroleum producing states of Kelantan, Terengganu, Sarawak, and Sabah. This moral inconsistency in a way exemplifies how the nation's economy is mismanaged and how the institutions set up in the 1970's have lost their objective and commitment to solving the immediate and pressing problems of the nation.
19. PETRONAS was set up with the objective of serving the nation's interest as a priority. It was never intended to give PETRONAS a life of its own as an incorporated company for selected individuals to profit at the expense of the national interest, nor was it the objective to allow PETRONAS a cooperate existence independent of national interest. 20. What is needed is for institutions like PETRONAS is to have a national focus rather than maintain a multinational status. The aim of making PETRONAS a multinational cooperation at the expense of national interest is contrary to the Petroleum Development Act. PETRONAS should have a Petroleum Advisory Council to advise the Prime Minister on the operation of the law as well as the management and utilization of its resources as spelt out in the Petroleum Development Act.
21. Another example of the abuse of power is the privatization of certain government institutions which were set up as a public service to serve the people. Bernas is one example of a privatization of an essential commodity as a monopoly for a group of people and owned partially by two companies in Hong Kong. An essential commodity such as rice should not have been privatized for business purposes. We are the only rice producing country that has privatized and given as a monopoly to one company the importation and distribution of all rice products.
22. The reality today is Thailand and Indonesia are self-sufficient in rice and we are dependent on 30% of imported rice. But because it is a monopoly, imported rice is cheaper in Singapore than Malaysia. Privatization for the benefit of private individuals to profit from such an essential commodity is a clear abuse of power. It would not have happened in those days. But with the centralization of power in the office of the prime Minister who had the party under his absolute control, anything was possible!
23. I will suggest to you that there was a deliberate plan to centralize power in the leadership in a surreptitious manner. Unfortunately the nature of racial politics blinded us of the reality behind certain policies and conduct of leaders at that time. The decline of democracy, the abuse of power, and the mismanagement of our economy and the nation's finances, the economic waste, the lack of national cohesion in our economic policies led to the flight of capital in the region of RM880 billion over the years from the 1980s. That was the beginning the lost decades and the full impact of the consequences of the economic policies which has continued since then, is yet to have its full impact on our national lives. And when it does the consequences are unpredictable.
24. The centralization of power in the office of the Prime Minister and the Attorney general had a major role in this state of affairs. The challenge today is to reverse the centralization of power and restore the check and balance of a genuine democracy.
25. We need to reclaim as citizens of Malaysia our rights in a democracy; that power and authority are positions of trust and responsibility, not to serve personal interest or as an opportunity for personal enrichment. We need to reassert as politically active and responsible citizens the concept of social obligation and public service in those who seek political office. Power is duty, NOT a prize.
26. We need to rethink our economic policies. Particularly in the focusing on the national objectives that are urgent; economic policies is not only about wealth creation but needs to have a moral dimension which takes into account the wellbeing of all citizens as the ultimate priority over profits.
27. I have given you a broad sweep of the past and a bird's eye view of the looming problems of managing our economy as it is today. I hope this will open a dialogue which benefits all of us.
Monday, 20 June 2011
Neo Chee Hua Jun 14, 2011 01:18:04 pm
Baki peruntukan kerajaan untuk Projek Hospital Shah Alam hanya tinggal RM350 juta, namun enam syarikat yang terlibat dalam pembidaan semula menawarkan harga tender antara RM422.14 juta hingga RM489.65 juta. Dengan kata lain, kerajaan terpaksa membayar lebihan kos antara RM72.14 juta hingga RM139.65 juta - walau mana-mana syarikat yang berjaya membida projek tersebut.
Sumber yang dipercayai menunjukkan senarai harga pembidaan kepada MerdekaReview, bahawa Kementerian Kerja Raya pada asalnya ingin menyerahkan projek ini kepada Gadang Holdings Bhd. Namun demikian, kontraktor utama yang asal - Sunshine Fleet Sdn Bhd yang dikuasai anggota kerabat diraja Selangor - disyaki melobi Kementerian Kewangan di sebaliknya. Akhirnya Kementerian Kewangan mengarahkan Kementerian Kerja Raya untuk membatalkan keputusan pembidaan ini, malah meminta agar pembidaan semula dijalankan, untuk memberi laluan kepada sebuah syarikat yang tidak memenuhi kelayakan untuk dimasukkan ke dalam senarai pembidaan semula.
Dalam satu surat daripada Frontier Structure kepada Sunshine Fleet pada 23 Ogos 2010, Sunshine Fleet ditawarkan sub-kontrak bernilai RM30 juta seandainya Sunshine Fleet sudi membantu Frontier Structure untuk mendapatkan projek pembinaan. Ahli parlimen Shah Alam, Khalid Samad tampil untuk menyerahkan dokumen tersebut kepada Suruhanjaya Pencegahan Rasuah Malaysia (SPRM) Selangor pada 10 Jun 2011, mempercayai bahawa ini adalah "insentif" kepada Sunshine Fleet.
Projek Hospital Shah Alam tergendala lantaran daripada skandal kewangan yang melibatkan anggota kerabat diraja Selangor, yang mengakibatkan kes ini dibawa ke mahkamah. Kementerian Kerja Raya membekukan kesemua projek kontraktor, dan memulakan pembidaan semula pada November tahun lalu. Pembidaan semula ditamatkan pada Disember 2011, untuk memilih kontraktor yang layak bagi meneruskan projek ini.
Kerajaan menanggung kos lebihan
Menurut sumber, walaupun Kementerian Kerja Raya mengajak lapan syarikat untuk menyertai pembidaan semula ini, namun akhirnya hanya enam daripadanya yang menyerahkan harga pembidaan secara rasmi, dengan harga tawaran dan tempoh projek yang dijanjikan seperti berikut:
IJM (RM489,650,000; 24 bulan)
Gadang Holdings Bhd (RM431,668,000; 24 bulan)
Fajar Baru Capital Bhd (RM429,888,000; 24bulan)
Limbungan Setia (RM449,282,000; 28 bulan)
Ahmad Zaki Resources Bhd (RM422,143,410, 24 bulan)
Gamuda (RM478,800,000; 27 bulan)
Seorang yang mengetahui maklumat dalaman berhubung pembidaan ini memberitahu MerdekaReview, Gadang Holdings yang dimahukan Kementerian Kerja Raya telah berjaya untuk membida projek Hospital Shah Alam, menurut keputusan asal. Sebagaimana yang diketahui, harga bidaan yang dikemukakan Gadang Holdings pada asalnya berjumlah RM431.668 juta; dikurangkan menjadi RM410.87 juta kemudiannya, dengan tempoh pembinaan 24 bulan.
"Kementerian Kerja Raya pada asalnya mahukan IJM sebagai kontraktor, namun harga pembidaannya terlalu tinggi (RM489.65 juta), dan Kementerian Kerja Raya terpaksa menggugurkan pilihan ini. Walaupun harga yang ditawarkan Ahmad Zaki Resources Bhd adalah paling rendah (RM422.144 juta), namun projek yang dikendalikan syarikat ini sering bermasalah, maka ia tidak dipertimbangkan. Akhirnya, Kementerian Kerja Raya memilih Gadang Holdings Bhd," kata sumber.
Kementerian Kerja Raya telah memilih Gadang Holdings Bhd daripada enam buah syarikat ini selepas tamatnya pembidaan semula, dan menyerahkan nama ini kepada Kementerian Kewangan. Namun demikian, Kementerian Kewangan menghantar surat kepada Kementerian Kerja Raya pada 22 Mac 2011, menyatakan bahawa Kementerian Kewangan tidak meluluskan cadangan Kementerian Kerja Raya untuk memilih Gadang Holdings Bhd sebagai kontraktor untuk Projek Hospital Shah Alam.
MerdekaReview telah memperolehi satu surat rasmi bertarikh 22 Mac 2011, daripada Fauziah Yaacob dari Bahagian Perolehan Kerajaan di bawah Kementerian Kewangan, kepada Ketua Pengarah Kerja Raya. Kandungan surat tersebut menunjukkan bahawa Kementerian Kewangan enggan meluluskan Gadang Engineering Sdn Bhd (subsidiari kepada Gadang Holdings) untuk membida projek Hospital Shah Alam dengan RM410.87 juta.
Kos lebih tinggi
Pada masa yang sama, Fauziah Yaacob juga mengarahkan Jabatan Kerja Raya agar projek Hospital Shah Alam ditender semula secara tender terhad konvensional. Selain mengekalkan enam syarikat yang asal, Kementerian Kewangan juga meminta untuk memasukkan dua lagi syarikat, iaitu GM Healthcare Sdn Bhd dan Frontier Structure Sdn Bhd.
Sumber maklumat yang fasih dengan proses pembidaan projek memberitahu MerdekaReview, bahawa syarat untuk menjalankan tender terhad konvensional adalah lebih ketat, malah kos pembinaan akan menjadi lebih tinggi. Menurut sumber yang dipercayai, Jabatan Kerja Raya telah mengumpulkan pakar dalam bidang berkenaan dalam satu seminar yang berlangsung untuk empat hari berturut-turut- untuk mengkaji tender terhad konvensional ini.
Ia berakhir dengan kesudahan bahawa kos projek Hospital Shah Alam tidak akan kurang daripada RM450 juta dengan tender terhad konvensional. Ia bukan sahaja lebih tinggi daripada nilai baki peruntukan yang tinggal, iaitu RM350 juta, malah lebih tinggi daripada harga pembidaan yang ditawarkan Gadang Holdings, iaitu RM410.87 juta.
Apa yang menarik, GM Healthcare Sdn Bhd dan Frontier Structure Sdn Bhd yang disenaraikan Kementerian Kewangan - adalah bekas sub-kontraktor untuk projek Hospital Shah Alam. Kedua-dua syarikat ini bergabung untuk mengusahakan projek hospital ini. Bagaimanapun, setelah Sunshine Fleet menamatkan kontrak sub-kontraktor dengan GM Healthcare pada 11 Ogos 2010, dan selepas Sunshine Fleet kehilangan kedudukannya sebagai kontraktor utama, kedua-dua syarikat tersebut tidak lagi terlibat dalam projek ini.
Syarikat yang tidak layak masuk dalam senarai?
Ironinya, walaupun Frontier Structure dari Pulau Pinang adalah syarikat Gred-7 dengan kualiti pengurusan yang diiktiraf, namun ia tidak mempunyai pendaftaran sebagai kontraktor dengan Pusat Khidmat Kontraktor (PKK), dan tidak mempunyai kedudukan sebagai kontraktor kelas A. Namun, syarat kelayakan asas untuk projek Hospital Shah Alam adalah kontraktor tersebut mesti dari kelas - A. Satu lagi syarikat GM Healthcare mempunyai kedudukan sebagai kontraktor bumiputera kelas-A.
Persoalannya, mengapa Kementerian Kewangan meminta Jabatan Kerja Raya untuk menerima Frontier Structure Sdn Bhd untuk menjadi salah satu pembida, walaupun tidak berkelayakan?
Khalid Samad mendedahkan pada 10 Jun 2011, bahawa Frontier Structure telah menulis surat kepada Sunshine Fleet pada 23 Ogos 2010, menawarkan sub-kontrak bernilai RM30 juta kepada Sunshine Fleet, seandainya Sunshine Fleet membantunya untuk mendapatkan kontrak projek tersebut.
Dokumen yang diperolehi MerdekaReview menunjukkan Pengerusi Eksekutif Frontier Structure, Zainol Che Mamat benar mengutus surat kepada Pengerusi Eksekutif Sunshine Fleet, iaitu Tengku Arafiah (Adinda Sultan Selangor), menjanjikan bayaran wang yang tidak melebihi RM30 juta, sebagai "balasan dan pembiayaan bagi kos-kos yang berkaitan bagi YAM Tengku Putri untuk mencalon dan mencadang kepada Kementerian Kewangan Malaysia supaya kontrak di atas (Hospital Shah Alam) diberikan kepada Frontier Structure secara terus".
Wang berjumlah RM30 juta ini akan "dibayar secara berperingkat dalam bentuk pemberian sub-kontrak" kembali kepada Sunshine Fleet, mahupun mana-mana individu atau syarikat yang dicalonkan Sunshine Fleet atau Tengku Arafiah, menurut surat tersebut.
Pertemuan dengan pegawai kanan Kementerian Kewangan
Pada masa yang sama, dalam satu surat daripada Pengerusi Eksekutif Frontier Structure, Zainol Che Mamat kepada Perdana Menteri merangkap Menteri Kewangan Najib Razak, juga menyatakan bahawa syarikatnya pernah pada 26 Ogos 2010, bertemu dengan Ketua Setiausaha Perbandaharaan Wan Abdul Aziz, Setiausaha Bahagian Perolehan Kerajaan Fauziah Yaacob dan tiga orang lagi pegawai Kementerian Kewangan.
Sebagaimana yang diketahui, selepas Sunshine Fleet menamatkan kedudukan GM Healthcare sebagai sub-kontraktor, kedudukannya sebagai kontraktor utama projek juga ditamatkan Jabatan Kerja Raya kemudiannya. Frontier Structure sebagai rakan perniagaan terus berunding dengan Sunshine Fleet, berharap agar Sunshine Fleet membantu syarikatnya untuk mendapat kontrak Hospital Shah Alam secara terus.
Namun demikian, dalam satu surat daripada Pengarah Cawangan Kerja Kesihatan JKR, Husnani Abd Karim kepada Ketua Pengarah Kerja Raya pada 29 September 2010, Frontier Structure didakwa tidak mempunyai pendaftaran sebagai kontraktor dengan Pusat Khidmat Kontraktor (PKK), tidak pernah mendapat surat setuju terima tender terus dari JKR, tidak mempunyai pengalaman yang luas dan terbukti di dalam pembinaan hospital, tidak mempunyai staf dan kakitangan yang berpengalaman dalam pembinaan hospital dan sebagainya, sebagai alasan untuk menolak permohonan Frontier Structure untuk dilantik sebagai "kontraktor penyelamat".
Jadi, adalah sesuatu yang amat meragukan, apabila Kementerian Kewangan mengarahkan Jabatan Kerja Raya untuk menyenaraikan Frontier Structure sebagai salah satu pembida - setelah dikenalpasti bahawa syarikat ini tidak berkelayakan untuk menjadi kontraktor.
Friday, 10 June 2011
(A speech at the 4th Malaysia Student Leader Summit)
Thank you for inviting me to speak with you. I am truly honoured. I have played some small role in the life of this nation, but having been on the wrong side of one or two political fights with the powers that be, I am not as close to the young people of this country as I would hope to be. History, and the 8 o’clock news, are written by the victors. In recent years the government’s monopoly of the media has been destroyed by the technology revolution.
You could say I was also a member of the UKEC. Well I was, except that belonged to the predecessor of the UKEC by more than fifty years, The Malayan Students Union of the UK and Eire. I led this organization in 1958/59. I was then a student of Queen’s University at Belfast, as well as at Lincoln’s Inn. In a rather cooler climate than Kota Bharu’s. We campaigned for decolonization. We demonstrated in Trafalgar Square and even in Paris. We made posters and participated in British elections.
Your invitation to participate in the MSLS was prefaced by a an essay which calls for an intellectually informed activism. I congratulate you on this. The Youth of today, you note, “will chart the future of Malaysia.” You say you “no longer want to be ignored and leave the future of our Malaysia at the hands of the current generation.” You “want to grab the bull by the horns… and have a say in where we go as a society and as a nation.”I feel the same, actually. A lot of Malaysians feel the same. They are tired of being ignored and talked down to.
You are right. The present generation in power has let Malaysia down. But also you cite two things as testimony of the importance of youth and of student activism to this country, the election results of 2008 and “the Prime Minister’s acknowledgement of the role of youth in the development of the country.”
So perhaps you are a little way yet from thinking for yourselves. The first step in “grabbing the bull by the horns” is not to required the endorsement of the Prime Minister, or any Minister, for your activism. Politicians are not your parents. They are your servants. You don’t need a government slogan coined by a foreign PR agency to wrap your project in. You just go ahead and do it.
When I was a student our newly formed country was already a leader in the postcolonial world. We were sought out as a leader in the Afro-Asian Conference which inaugurated the Non-Aligned Movement and the G-77. The Afro-Asian movement was led by such luminaries as Zhou En-lai, Nehru, Kwame Nkrumah, Soekarno. Malaysians were seen as moderate leaders capable of mediating between these more radical leaders and the West. We were known for our moderation, good sense and reliability.
We were a leader in the islamic world as ourselves and as we were, without our leaders having to put up false displays of piety. His memory has been scrubbed out quite systematically from our national consciousness, so you might not know this or much else about him, but it was Tengku Abdul Rahman established our leadership in the Islamic world by coming up with the idea of the OIC and making it happen. Under his leadership Malaysia led the way in taking up the anti-apartheid cause in the Commonwealth and in the United Nations, resulting in South Africa’s expulsion from these bodies.
Here was a man at ease with himself, made it a policy goal that Malaysia be “a happy country”. He loved sport and encouraged sporting achievement among Malaysians. He was owner of many a fine race horse. He called a press conference with his stewards when his horse won at the Melbourne Cup. He had nothing to hide because his great integrity in service was clear to all. Now we have religious and moral hypocrites who cheat, lie and steal in office, who propagate an ideologically shackled education system for all Malaysians while they send their own kids to elite academies in the West.
Speaking of football. You’re too young to have experienced the Merdeka Cup, which Tunku started. We had a respectable side in the sixties and seventies. Teams from across Asia would come to play in Kuala Lumpur. Teams such as South Korea and Japan, whom we defeated routinely. We were one of the better sides in Asia. We won the Bronze medal at the Asian games in 1974 and qualified for the Moscow Olympics in 1980. Today our FIFA ranking is 157 out of 203 countries. That puts us in the lowest quartile, below Maldives (149), the smallest country in Asia, with just 400,000 people living about 1.5 metres above sea level who have to worry that their country may soon be swallowed up by climate change. Here in ASEAN we are behind Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, whom we used to dominate, and our one spot above basketball-playing Philippines.
The captain of our illustrious 1970’s side was Soh Chin Aun. Arumugam, Isa Bakar, Santokh Singh, James Wong and Mokhtar Dahari were heroes whose names rolled off the tongues of our schoolchildren as they copied them on the school field. It wasn’t about being the best in the world, but about being passionate and united and devoted to the game.
It was the same in badminton, except at one time we were the best in the world. I remember Wong Peng Soon, the first Asian to win the All-England Championship, and then just dominated it throughout the 1950. Back home every kid who played badminton in every little kampung wanted to call himself Wong Peng Soon. There was no tinge of anybody identifying themselves exclusively as Chinese, Malays, Indian. Peng Soon was a Malaysian hero. Just like each of our football heroes. Now we do not have an iota of that feeling. Where has it all gone?
I don’t think it’s mere nostalgia that that makes us think there was a time when the sun shone more brightly upon Malaysia. I bring up sport because it has been a mirror of our more general performance as a nation. When we were at ease with who we were and didn’t need slogans to do our best together, we did well. When race and money entered our game, we declined. The same applies to our political and economic life
Soon after independence we were already a highly successful developing country. We had begun the infrastructure building and diversification of our economy that would be the foundation for further growth. We carried out an import-substitution programme that stimulated local productive capacity. From there we started an infrastructure buildup which enabled a diversification of the economy leading to rapid industrialization. We carried out effective programmes to raise rural income and help the landless with programmes such as FELDA. Our achievements in achieving growth with equity were recognized around the world. Our peer group in economic development were South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan, and we led the pack. I remember we used to send technical consultants to advise the South Koreans.
By the lates nineties, however, we had fallen far behind this group and were competing with Thailand and Indonesia. Today, according to the latest World Investment Report, FDI into Malaysia is at a twenty year low. We are entering the peer group of Cambodia, Myanmar and the Philippines as an investment destination. Thailand, despite a monthlong siege of the capital, attracted more FDI than we did last year. Indonesia and Vietnam far outperform us, not as a statistical blip but consistently. Soon we shall have difficulty keeping up with The Philippines. This, I believe, is called relegation. If we take into account FDI outflow, the picture is even more depressing. Last year we received USD1.38Billion in investments but USD 8.04 Billion flowed out. We are the only country in Southeast Asia which has suffered nett FDI outflow. I am not against outward investment. It can be a good thing for the country. But an imbalance on this scale indicates capital flight, not mere investment overseas.
Without a doubt, Malaysia is slipping. Billions have been looted from this country, and Billions more are being siphoned out as our entire political structure crumbles. Yet we are gathered here in comfort, in a country that still seems to ‘work.’ Most of the time. This is due less to good management than to the extraordinary wealth of this country. You were born into a country of immense resources both natural, cultural and social. We have been wearing down this advantage with mismanagement and corruption. With lies, tall tales and theft. We have a political class unwilling or unable to address the central issue of the day because they have grown fat and comfortable with a system built on lies and theft.
It is time to wake up. That waking up can begin here, right here, at this conference. Not tomorrow or the day after but today. So let me, as I have the honour of opening this conference, suggest the following:
Overcome the urge to have our hopes for the future endorsed by the Prime Minister. He will have retired, and I’ll be long gone when your future arrives. The shape of your future is being determined now.
1) Resist the temptation to say “in line with” when we do something. Your projects, believe it or not, don’t have to be in line with any government campaign for them to be meaningful. You don’t need to polish anyone’s apple. Just get on with what you plan to do.
2) Do not put a lid on certain issues as “sensitive”because someone said they are. Or it is against the Social Contract. Or it is “politicisation”. You don’t need to have your conversation delimited by the hyper-sensitive among us. Sensitivity is often a club people use to hit each other with. Reasoned discussion of contentious issues builds understanding and trust. Test this idea.
3) It’s not “conservative” or “liberal” to ask for an end to having politics, economic policy, education policy and everything and the kitchen sink determined by race. It’s called growing up.
Don’t let the politicians you have invited here talk down to you. Don’t let them tell you how bright and “exuberant” you are, that you are the future of the nation, etc. If you close your eyes and flow with their flattery you have safely joined the caravan, a caravan taking the nation down a sink hole. If they tell you the future is in your hands kindly request that they hand that future over first. Ask them how come the youngest member of our cabinet is 45 and is full of discredited hacks? Our Merdeka cabinet had an average age below thirty. You’re not the first generation to be bright. Mine wasn’t too stupid. But you could be the first generation of students and young graduates in fifty years to push this nation through a major transformation. And it is a transformation we need desperately.
You will be told that much is expected of you, much has been given to you, and so forth. This is all true. Actually much has also been stolen from you. Over the last twenty five years, much of the immense wealth generated by our productive people and our vast resources has been looted. This was supposed to have been your patrimony. The uncomplicated sense of belonging fully, wholeheartedly, unreservedly, to this country, in all it diversity, that has been taken from you. Our sense of ourselves as Malaysians, a free and united people, has been replaced by a tale of racial strife and resentment that continues to haunt us. The thing is, this tale is false.
The most precious thing you have been deprived of has been your history. Someone of my generation finds it hard to describe what must seem like a completely different country to you now. Malaysia was not born in strife but in unity. Our independence was achieved through a demonstration of unity by the people in supporting a multiracial government led by Tengku Abdul Rahman. That show of unity, demonstrated first through the municipal elections of 1952 and then through the Alliance’s landslide victory in the elections of 1955, showed that the people of Malaya were united in wanting their freedom. We surprised the British, who thought we could not do this.
Today we are no longer as united as we were then. We are also less free. I don’t think this is a coincidence. It takes free people to have the psychological strength to overcome the confines of a racialised worldview. It takes free people to overcome those politicians bent on hanging on to power gained by racializing every feature of our life including our football teams.
Hence while you are at this conference, let me argue, that as an absolute minimum, we should call for the repeal of unjust and much abused Acts of Parliament which are reversals of freedoms that we won at Merdeka.
1) I ask you in joining me in calling for the repeal of the ISA and the OSA. These draconian laws have been used, more often than not, as political tools rather than instruments of national security. They create a climate of fear.
2) I ask you to join me in calling for the repeal of the Printing and Publications Act, and above all, the Universities and Colleges Act. I don’t see how you can pursue your student activism with such freedom and support in the UK and Eire while forgetting that your brethren at home are deprived of their basic rights of association and expression by the UCA. The UCA has done immense harm in dumbing down our universities.
We must have freedom as guaranteed under our Constitution. Freedom to assemble, associate, speak, write, move. This is basic. Even on matters of race and even on religious matters we should be able to speak freely, and we shall educate each other.
It is time to realize the dream of Dato’ Onn and the spirit of the Alliance and of Tunku Abdul Rahman. That dream was one of unity and a single Malaysian people. They went as far as they could with it in their time. Instead of taking on the torch we have reversed course. The next step for us as a country is to move beyond the infancy of race-based parties to a non-racial party system. Our race-based party system is the key political reason why we are a sick country, declining before our own eyes, with money fleeing and people telling their children not to come home after their studies.
So let us try to take 1Malaysia seriously. Millions have been spent putting up billboards and adding the term to every conceivable thing. We even have Cuti-cuti 1Malaysia. Can’t take a normal holiday anymore. This is all fine. Now let us see if it means anything. Let us see the Government of the day lead by example. 1Malaysia is empty because it is propagated by a
Government supported by a racially-based party system that is the chief cause of our inability to grow up in our race relations. Our inability to grow up in our race relations is the chief reason why investors, and we ourselves, no longer have confidence in our economy. The reasons why we are behind Maldives in football, and behind the Philippines in FDI, are linked.
So let us take 1Malaysia seriously, and convert Barisan Nasional into a party open to all citizens.
Let it be a multiracial party open to direct membership. Pakatan Rakyat will be forced to do the same or be left behind the times. Then we shall have the vehicles for a two party, non-race-based system.
If UMNO, MIC or MCA are afraid of losing supporters, let them get their members to join this new multiracial party. Pakatan Rakyata should do the same. Nobody need feel left out. UMNO members can join en masse. The Hainanese Kopitiam Owners’ Association can join whichever party they want, or both parties en masse if they like. We can maintain our cherished civil associations, however we choose to associate. But we drop all communalism when we compete for the ballot. When our candidates stand for Elections, let them ever after stand only as Malaysians, better or worse.
Now let’s have a discussion
* Speech delivered at the Fourth Annual Malaysian Student Leaders Summit, Nikko Hotel, Kuala Lumpur
Monday, 16 May 2011
Dato' Zaid Ibrahim
Apr 4, 2011
This speech was delivered at Amnesty International, London, in conjuction with the 50th anniversary of Malaysia's Internal Security Act - organized by The Solicitors International Human Rights Group and the Abolish ISA Movement UK - on April 2nd 2011.
The Internal Security Act, the ISA, is a source of constant consternation for Malaysian society. It is a piece of legislation that has succeeded in instilling fear into the hearts of every one of our citizens. So much so that parents no longer use the threat of the boogeyman to get their children to behave but rather the home minister and the ISA enforcer that will come and get them in the middle of the night.
When he took over as Prime Minister in 2009, Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak delivered a speech that was full of hope and of inspiration to many Malaysians. He promised to reach out to all parts of Malaysia; to all of those in our national discourse. He assured us that in pursuing our national agenda no one will be left behind. He also gave his solemn pledge that the Government will conduct a comprehensive review of the Internal Security Act and that the Home Ministry will announce the details shortly.
It is has been 30 months since and we are yet to see any progress of the promised review. I call on the PM to keep his word and to review the ISA and other oppresive “detention without trial laws” found in Malaysia. The Prime Minister will not compromise the security of the country by doing so; and no right thinking Malaysian would want our security to be compromised. On the contrary, the repeal and review of such laws will make our law enforcement more effective; as the Police will no longer able to detain first and decide later what to do with the individual detained. They will become more vigilant and more professional in the exercise of their work. At the same time it will lend credence to the pledge given by the PM to make Malaysia a developed economy and country. There is no developed nation in the world that has preventive detention laws as wide and as oppressive as those in Malaysia.
Preventive detention is detention without trial. The individual is punished without the benefit of an open trial before a court of law. Not only does it violates every known human rights principle, including the very basis of the legal system, that one is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty, itis also just plain cruel and unjust to do this to another human being. In Malaysia, it is more pernicious because the courts have been excluded since 1988 from exercising judicial review of the detention and the reasons given by the detaining authority.
We have enough laws to deal with subversives and those threatening public order under the Penal Code. If we have to incorporate new anti-terrorism laws to deal with terrorists, by all means do so. But he must be prepared to seriously repeal the archaic provisions we now have that allows for detention without trial; and no recourse to the courts.
Malaysia is in what appears to be a permanent state of emergency. We are still living under four emergency proclamations:
- the 1964 proclamation as a result of the confrontation with Indonesia,
- the 1966 Sarawak proclamation following a constitutional standoff,\
- the 1969 May 13 proclamation, and
- the 1977 Kelantan proclamation following a political crisis.
These four legislations in the country allow for detention without trial. The detention is usually for 60 days and the Home Minister can extend the detention for another 2 years. This 2 year extension can go on indefinitely. And no court of law can review the order of detention. Even though there is an Advisory panel that reviews the detention from time to time, this panel is far from independent and part of the Prime Minister’s office so the opinion of the Police and Home Minister will hold sway. The independence of the advisory Panel as envisaged under the Constitution was nullified by administrative orders and political expediency.
Let us look at these laws briefly. The Restricted Residence Act of 1933 was used by the colonial administrators to deal with gang fights and underworld activities at a time when Malaya was without an adequate police force. This was so the Police could detain such gangsters in a certain area where they can be monitored and their activities curbed. Today, the Government takes pride in having a Police Force second to none; so why do they need to use this legislation? A thorough investigation and successful prosecution will be a better option. There have been many serious allegations against the Police for involving themselves in gaming and other unlawful lucrative activities; and that corruption and abuse of power by police personnel are rampant. Who can forget, in 2008, when a Deputy Minister in the PM’s department accused the Inspector General of Police of being connected with underworld warlords. There was no response at all from the Police. A repeal of such instrument of abuse like the Restricted Residence Act will be a positive development for the Police force.
Another law that allows for detention without trial is the Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act 1985. Yes, drugs kill and everything must be done to curb this menace. But why detention without trial? If it is for the purpose of facilitating investigation; then why do we need long indefinite periods of detention? And why must the court be excluded from knowing the basis of detention that we need to exclude judicial review? This legislation can also be abused in many ways. Drugs is big business. So illegal big business will tempt those corrupt elements in the Police force with incentives in exchange for prosecution. If a nominal detention is the way out for these criminals then they will have no qualms in bribing the police.
Another legislation that allows for detention is The Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime Ordinance) 1969. Because Malaysia is still under Emergency Rule, laws meant to deal with racial riots of 1969 are still being used against ordinary Malaysians who are only protesting about a book or the price of food stuff. The PM must look ahead and learn to trust the people of Malaysia. He must revoke the Four Proclamations of Emergency that still subsist today. The people are with you to see the country going forward. They may have different views. They may even be misguided in some ways. But they are not trouble makers; probably wanting to express themselves in ways common to others in many parts of the world. The world is changing and there is no comfort to say that our country is different. The people want just laws; and they will reward the PM with real support where he can govern with consent of the people rather than by fear.
Finally, the detention laws that most people know of is the ISA. This outrageous charge not only violates a person’s right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty but permits incarceration upon the flimsiest accusation of someone just planning to commit a crime.
The ISA should be abolished outright as amendments have already been made to it on 18 separate occasions, and each time increasing its severity, for example extending the period of detention from 28 days to 60 days. Section 73, which previously required a detainee to be produced before a magistrate within 24 hours has been amended to now to provide the police with extensive powers of arrest without warrant.
According to the International Bar Association, the most draconian of the ISA amendments was the addition of Sections 8B and 8C in 1989, which expressly ousted the power of the court to review the decision of the Home Minister for ordering a detention up to two years and renewable repeatedly for an indefinite length of time. As provided in the foregoing amendments, even the right of habeas corpus has been specifically excluded from review.
The ISA is not necessary anymore. There is no insurrection or guerilla war in the country, and there is no uprising of any kind.
The ISA must be repealed.
But that does not mean we do not require protective laws. Unfortunately, the world we live in demands certain safeguards. The government should introduce a proper anti-terrorism act in its place. It should be fair and lawful. For the point of such laws are to protect the public without sacrificing our humanity.
The PM is a knowledgeable person and well read. He must know what ISA was meant to do and the country no longer needs such laws. Those Ministers in the Cabinet would have advised the PM differently perhaps. They have made sweeping statements alluding to the likes of America, UK and even Australia as countries which have detention laws. What they omit to mention are three simple facts. The detention is applicable only against suspected terrorists; they are for a limited period of up to 28 days on some countries and a lot less in Canada and Australia and that the Courts are available to challenge such detention. Malaysia, which has no history of terrorist attacks; should be following the practices of these countries.
Ladies and gentlemen. Lasting political transformation requires us to take a giant step away from the past. We need to evolve. Laws like the ISA, while possibly reflecting the best wisdom of the times, have no place in a modern and civilized society. Our Prime Minister has a tremendous opportunity. To start on a clean slate. To abandon those fears of the past and set the foundations for a new Malaysia. Because we do not need these draconian laws to govern our state. Because oppressing our people will only serve to erode our democracy.
Dato’ Zaid Ibrahim
16 May, 2011By Khairul Idzwan
It has been a year since Aminul Rasyid Amzah was killed by the police. Until today, there is no official apology from the police and the case is still in court, where the accused has been called to enter his defence, as a prima facie case has been established against him. But still, justice delayed is justice denied.
I was not at the scene of the incident, so I can not tell the truth behind the incident. However, I would like to give my personal opinion on the manner in which the police did the shooting.
This is not the first time the police shot suspects to death, as suspects who are under a remand order can also died in lock-ups. Remember Kugan Ananthan and Gunasegaran Rajasundram? Or should I remind you with two deaths at the premise of the police’s "brother", the MACC? Teoh Beng Hock and Ahmad Sarbani? To make things straight, I have nothing against the police or the authorities. I know they have a huge responsibility to ensure that Malaysians live peacefully. But not everything can be settled through shooting or killing, especially when the shooting causes the death of suspects.
In this particular incident, the reason for the police shooting is questionable. I don’t think the police needed to fire multiple shots in the first place. The boy was wrong for driving without a valid licence and snuck out from his house in the middle of the night without his parents’ permission. But can that be a justification for the shooting? Moreover, if I were in his shoes, maybe I would do the same. Just imagine, being chased by several people in motorcycles and accidentally knocking a car. Then, suddenly being chased by police patrol cars. Any "Ali, Ah Chong and Muthu" aged 15 would probably panic in such a situation.
The police had reasonable suspicion to arrest him. Section 24 of the Police Act provides that "if any police officer has reasonable grounds to suspect that a vehicle is being used in the commission of any offence, he may stop and detain the person" [Section 24(1)(b)]. Section 24(3) of the same Act further adds that "if the person fails to obey any reasonable signal of the police officer to stop the vehicle, the person is guilty of an offence and can be arrested without a warrant."
So, in my opinion, when the car had stopped, the police should have first told the boy to surrender. In some newspapers, they reported that the police shot the boy when he tried to run over the police while reversing the car. My personal opinion is that the statement is quite absurd. Based on several photos I have found in blogs, it is impossible for the car to go forward. So, logically, the police will go to the side of the car and not to the back of the car if they wanted to check the condition of the boy.
And some newspapers reported that the police found a long parang in the car. Is it just a cover up to justify the shooting? Nobody will ever know.
Nevertheless, the mother revealed another fact to reporters. The boy had already died before the car went over the side of the road and hit a house. This means that while asking the car to stop, the police had already shot the boy to death. I think this is intolerable. The police should not start firing at the car if they know that, by shooting it, they may cause death to the persons inside the car.
According to the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, intentional lethal use of firearms may only be made when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life [Article 9]. Article 10 further adds that the officials must identify themselves as such and give a clear warning on their intent to use firearms, with sufficient time for the warning to be observed unless by doing so, it will unduly place the law enforcement officials at risk, or would create a risk of death or serious harm to other persons.
The point here is, the use of firearms can only be justified if it is strictly unavoidable.
Even in criminal law, the defence of self-defence can only be invoked if he is in imminent danger, with no other means to save himself from that danger. In an English case, Rashford (2005) All ER 192, the question in that case was whether the defendant feared that he was in immediate danger from which he had no other means of escape; if the violence he used was no more than appeared necessary to preserve his own life or protect himself from serious injury, he would be entitled to rely on self-defence. The keyword here, besides imminent danger, is the proportionality of the attack.
Thus, did the police fire a warning shot before firing at the boy’s car, and subsequently at the boy? Next, did the boy fire back or use other means to attack the police and put the police in imminent danger?
The police have many powers in order to prevent crimes, but that does not includes shooting a suspect to death. According to Article 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence. This means that a person should be considered innocent until it can be proven that he is guilty. If a person is accused of a crime, he should always have the right to defend himself. Nobody has the right to condemn him and punish him for something he has not done.
So, is there any proof to show that the boy is guilty? Even under Article 11 of the UDHR, he is innocent until he is proven guilty. The police must also remember that a suspect is not necessarily guilty. The word suspect itself shows that the suspect is not yet guilty but that it is just suspected that he may have committed a crime.
A fatal shot will cause death to the suspect. If the suspect is dead, how can the police tender evidence to show that he is guilty? How can the investigation continue when the suspect himself is dead?
Khairul Idzwan read law in UiTM and is now chambering. He misses his law school days. He blogs at http://kairulizwan.wordpress.com.
Saturday, 14 May 2011
Newly Renovated with RM 52.7 facelift Puduraya Bus Terminal Leaking
The 36-year-old Puduraya Bus Terminal was opened on 16 April 2011 after undergoing massive renovations costing RM52.7mil.
The opening was delayed several times due to additional work on the base of the building.
On Monday 9 April 2011, water was found to leaking from the roof of the newly renovated Puduraya Bus Terminal, however The Star newpaper reported on May 12, 2011 that "Puduraya is not leaking"
Refer the link to The Star news reporting on May 12, 2011
The 33-second footage recorded by a passenger on Monday evening was posted on Facebook.
It showed two sprinkler system with water gushing out.
Two garbage bins were used to contain the water.
The footage posted in the social networking site Facebook and Twitter sparked a myriad of reactions ranging from amusement to anger and sarcasm.
Thursday, 12 May 2011
May 12, 2011-->May 12, 2011
Wong Chee Fui
Utusan Malaysia’s report of a presumed plot of Christianity usurping the place of Islam in the constitution has stirred volatile and ugly emotions. The report that appeared on its front page on May 7 is provocative and is likely to spark racial tensions.
As a mainstream national paper, it is highly irresponsible for Utusan to publish the article without fact-checking the source of the news.
The article does not offer any evidence of facts except for references to postings by bloggers, which does not appear to have been independently verified.
Quoting from a blog is a dangerous, if permitted, any rumour can be posted in any blog by anyone and subsequently used as a reference source for publication in mainstream media.
The fact that Utusan published an unverified article has been is ignored by the auhorities despite numerous police reports against it.
Instead of questioning Utusan over the article, the immediate response from the home minister was to order investigation.
The police were quick to launch an investigation based on a newspaper report without first investigating the authenticity of the report.
They seem to favour the irresponsible party whose unverified report have caused fear and instigated hatred.
The government hasn’t moved to take action against the paper, even when it has repeatedly published articles in the past that can destabilise the racial harmony in this country.
Utusan continues to act with impurity and enjoy a status that is perceived to be above the law. The government must swiftly reign in the paper.
Wednesday, 11 May 2011
Free Malaysia Today
Stephanie Sta Maria
May 11, 2011-->May 11, 2011
Utusan Malaysia's former senior journalist explains why the paper will never be investigated and why Malaysians should take it seriously.
KUALA LUMPUR: Many uncomplimentary descriptions have been accorded to Utusan Malaysia. The more common of those include “irresponsible”, “mischievous ” and “dangerous”. Of that trio, Utusan Malaysia’s former senior journalist, Hata Wahari, says that the third is dead-on.
The mainstream media, for as long as they pander to the government, enjoy immunity from public prosecution. But Utusan Malaysia has earned a special place within this untouchable clique simply by the virtue of being owned by Umno.
This privilege has spawned relentless attacks on the opposition and increasingly frequent inflammatory reports on race and religion. But while most urbanites can see right through
Utusan Malaysia’s thinly-veiled propaganda, its rural readership remains staunch believers. For this reason alone, Hata warned that giving Utusan Malaysia the brush-off would be a very bad idea.
“People should worry about the slander it publishes because it is taking root in the rural areas,” he told FMT. “KL and Selangor are multi-cultural and able to discuss Utusan’s reports among themselves to seek clarification.”
“But the rural community is predominantly Malay-Muslim. Who are they going to cross-check their facts with? Neither is there another Malay-language paper to counter Utusan’s reports. The only media they are exposed to is government-owned media.”
“The racial flames are being stoked there and one day it will explode. I’m very afraid of that. If anything were to happen, it will begin in the rural areas. I have said before that another May 13 is likely if Utusan is allowed to continue playing up rubbish issues.”
Hata, who is the president of the National Union of Journalists, was given the boot from Utusan Malaysia on April 21 for allegedly tarnishing the paper’s image with such statements. But the termination came as a relief as he could no longer stomach the editorial content that almost flaunted the paper’s role as an Umno tool. Yet he said it wasn’t always this way.
“When I joined in 1995, Utusan was a paper that focused on Malay grassroots issues more than political ones,” he recalled. “The then editor-in-chief, Khalid Mohammad, had more control over the editorial content and the then prime minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, was more open to editorial-related discussions.”
“The Awang Selamat column was used to put forth suggestions on how Umno could address the issues affecting the Malay community. It wasn’t meant to attack people or parties. And even then the column was pulled after two months because of poor response.”
Awang Selamat has since been resurrected and according to Hata, the current column for Mingguan Malaysia is written by the editor-in-chief while the senior editors take turns penning the column in Utusan Malaysia.
Editorial agenda set by Umno
The swing in Utusan Malaysia’s stance came shortly after the 2008 election when Khalid was replaced by Aziz Ishak. According to Hata, the latter does not question the editorial directives set by the Umno political bureau which reportedly sits every Monday night to discuss the paper’s agenda for the week.
Those present are the president Najib Tun Razak, deputy president Muhyiddin Yassin, the three vice-presidents – Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Hishamuddin Hussein and Safie Apdal – secretary-general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor and information chief Ahmad Maslan.
The agenda is then communicated to Utusan Malaysia’s editor-in-chief via the prime minister’s office. The paper will run an issue for three days before dropping it completely unless it receives strong public support from top BN ministers.
It’s a clever strategy because by the third day the other media would have snapped it up to continue milking it, which would leave Utusan Malaysia free to start the ball rolling on another issue.
But this strategy has come at a price. Utusan Malaysia’s circulation figures are steadily declining and the paper has reportedly been suffering losses of up to RM20 million since 2009. Figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulation showed that paper’s daily sales have shrank 20% between June 2006 and June 2010.
“Some 50% of Utusan’s sales are government-sponsored,” Hata said. “Thirty-six government ministries subscribe to Utusan and the government spends up to RM50 million annually on advertisements. These are Utusan’s only profits because most organisations are reluctant to advertise.”
As of June 2010, Utusan Malaysia recorded an average sale of 170,558 copies, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulation. Of the number, between 70,000 and 80,000 copies are distributed to newspaper vendors daily, but Hata claimed that nearly half of these are returned at the end of the day.
The highest number of unsold copies are in Kuala Lumpur.
Hata said that many vendors are also uncomfortable with Utusan Malaysia’s front page stories and either conceal the paper behind other publications or hide it under their tables.
“I live in Puchong and of the 15 newspapers vendors, only one carries Utusan,” Hata said. “Most non-Muslim vendors are more comfortable displaying Berita Harian which carries Utusan’s main story on later pages and on a smaller scale.”
“Even some Umno division leaders have admitted their discomfort with Utusan’s extremist stand because they have to answer to their multi-racial constituents. But the political bureau is unconcerned. All it wants is for Utusan to retain the support of the rural Malay loyalists which it is doing very well.”
Friday, 06 May 2011 09:01 Sui Thye
In conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the revocation of the citizenship of Mr. Lim Lian Geok, a ‘Justice for Lim Lian Geok’ campaign will be launched this coming Sunday the 8th of May, 2011 at 11.00am at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH).
Mr. Lim Lian Geok (1901-1985) was the most revered Chinese educationist in Malaysian history. A pioneer of the civil society movement, he was the President of the United Chinese Schools Teachers’ Association (UCSTAM), often more popularly known by its acronym, Jiao Zong, since 1953. Throughout the greater part of his life, Mr. Lim dedicated himself towards fighting for the cause of social justice and equality, as manifested in his constant calls to the then Federal Government for fair and equal treatment of all language streams within the country’s system of education. It was in line with this principled position of his that he strongly and consistently opposed the Federal Government’s move to forcibly switch the medium of instruction of Chinese secondary schools from Chinese to English. This courageous and principled position of Mr. Lim led to his citizenship and teaching permit being unjustly revoked in 1961.When he finally passed away in 1985, the Chinese community bestowed upon him the singular and rare honour of ‘The Soul of Malaysian Chinese’
The stripping of Mr. Lim’s citizenship is undoubtedly one of the biggest injustices ever committed in the post-independence era. It has left a deep wound in the psyche of those who believe in a multi-lingual and multi-cultural Malaysian society.Today 50 years on, we have decided to launch a campaign to right this historical wrong and to restore justice to a grave injustice. More specifically, this campaign has two main objectives:
(1) to urge the Federal Government to restore Mr. Lim Lian Geok’s citizenship that was in the first instance unjustly revoked, and
(2) to promulgate an Education Equality Act with a view towards ensuring equal and fair treatment to all schools that use different media of instruction.. Under this proposed Act, vernacular schools are to be treated equally along with national schools and that all forms of discriminatory practices against vernacular schools should be stopped.
The distinction between fully-aided and partially-aided schools, which forms the basis of such discrimination, must also be abolished.
The ‘Justice for LLG’ campaign will be jointly organized by 13 civil society organizations. They are Jiao Zong (UCSTAM), the KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, the Negeri Sembilan Chinese Assembly Hall, Persekutuan Persatuan-Persatuan Alumni Sekolah-Sekolah China Malaysia, the Federation of Alumni Association of Taiwan Universities Malaysia, the Federation of Hokkien Associations of Malaysia, the Federation of Eng Choon Associations of Malaysia, Nanyang University Alumni Association of Malaysia, Centre for Malaysian Chinese Studies, the Association of Graduates from Universities and Colleges of China Malaysia, the Federation of Lim Associations in Malaysia, Eng Choon Mei Shan Lim Association of Malaysia and LLG Cultural Development Centre.
As part of the campaign, we will be organizing a postcard signature campaign, public forum , exhibitions, movie screening and a theatrical performance, all of which are aimed at raising the awareness of the public as to the injustice done to a fine patriot and nationalist in Mr. Lim Lian Geok.
All members of the public are cordially invited to attend the campaign launch scheduled for this coming Sunday. Civil society groups that wish to participate in the ‘Justice for Lim Lian Geok’ campaign are also welcome. Already, as many as close to 260 organizations have either openly or through the adoption of resolutions called on the government to restore justice to the late Mr. Lim Lian Geok.
For more clarifications and information, please contact the joint secretariat at 03-26971971/2 or fax 03-26971970 or visit our blog at http://justiceforllg.wordpress.com.
Dato Dr. Toh Kin Woon
ChairmanCommittee of Justice for Lim Lian Geok Campaign
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication. The Malaysian Alternative Voices does not endorse the view and/or event unless specified.
Published in The Malaysia Insider
May 11, 2011
MAY 11 — We, the undersigned civil society organisations, condemn the irresponsible Utusan Malaysia reporting over an alleged call from Christian pastors to change Malaysia’s “official religion” to Christianity.
On May 7, 2011, Utusan Malaysia published a front-page story “Kristian Agama Rasmi?” that relied on ‘information’ provided by the blogs, Bigdog and Marahku, without verifying it, nor identifying their authors.
The blogs themselves did not state how the “information” was obtained — i.e. whether directly heard at the meeting where Penang politician Jeff Ooi was present or from secondary sources who were there.
Utusan Malaysia also did not offer an explanation for not naming these sources. The use of anonymous sources — usually, in consideration of the sources’ safety — must be publicly justified.
Notwithstanding this, Utusan Malaysia chose to run this as a front-page report, no less, and in so doing, gave the unverified story the credibility it did not deserve.
Further, the front-page story only quoted Ooi denying the allegation that he had sponsored the meeting. The subjects of the allegation itself — the pastors who allegedly made this call — were not interviewed.
The Christian meeting’s organisers, which included the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship (NECF), had already denied the allegations of such a call being made in a statement published in the online media. Utusan Malaysia did not refer to this statement at all, nor was there any indication that any attempts were made to seek clarification from the pastors, NECF or any other Christian organisations.
The denial was only reported on May 9, and even then, Utusan Malaysia continued to seek responses to the issue, from the prime minister, defence minister and home minister. Najib Razak called for “calm”, Zahid Hamidi called for political parties not to politicise religious issue, Hishammuddin Hussein said if the allegations are true, this is very “serious”, and Selangor PAS Youth said if the allegations were true, people should remember Islam’s status in the Federal Constitution as the religion of the federation. These comments give further undue gravitas to the “discourse” arising from what was a non-issue to begin with.
The fact that Utusan Malaysia is continuing to spin more stories from a completely unverified report implies mischief on their part, since there is a danger of various communities reacting further and inflaming an essentially emotive issue. Already, there are at least seven police reports lodged in response to what was mere rumour.
Accuracy and verification are an integral part of journalism. Sources must be named as a measure of accountability on the part of both sources and journalists and to allow readers to judge for themselves whether the information provided is true.
In passing off unverified information as fact and failing to quote the pastors against whom accusations were being made, Utusan Malaysia has failed these basic principles of journalism. Not reporting NECF’s side of the story was not only unethical and irresponsible but also deliberately misleading.
We call on journalists and civil society to speak up and reject unethical practices which cast journalism in a bad light and bring further erosion of public trust of the mainstream media. We must hold Utusan Malaysia accountable for these flagrant violations of media ethics. — aliran.com
* This letter was jointly-signed by the Centre for Independent Journalism; Charter2000-Aliran; 1 Muted Malaysia; and Writers’ Alliance for Media Independence.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication. The Malaysian Alternative Voices does not endorse the view unless specified.
Tuesday, 10 May 2011
The Malaysia Bar
Lim Chee Wee
The Malaysian Bar is deeply concerned about the report that appeared on the front page of Utusan Malaysia on Saturday, 7 May 2011, entitled “Malaysia negara Kristian?”
Without offering any evidence save references to postings by bloggers, which do not appear to have been separately and independently verified, Utusan Malaysia saw fit to publish this story. Given the highly controversial nature of the alleged story, it is incumbent on any self-respecting newspaper to ensure that its reporting is fact-checked. To have printed such a story without checking with the subjects of the alleged incidents is highly irresponsible on the part of Utusan Malaysia, and is nothing short of gutter journalism.
What concerns the Malaysian Bar further is the fact that Utusan Malaysia appears to be able to offer such so-called journalism in a climate of impunity. Instead of questioning Utusan Malaysia’s journalistic conduct and ethics, the immediate responses from the Ministers in charge of home affairs and communications were to order investigations into the alleged incidents themselves.
It appears that it is enough for the police to launch an investigation once a report has been made, without first investigating the veracity of such reports themselves. The whole process of making police reports has thus been turned into an avenue to invade the privacy of dinner parties and closed-door meetings, without first asking whether the maker of such reports has ulterior motives. People are then being made to respond to police investigations launched on the flimsiest of reasons and to defend their freedom of assembly and speech. This is a mockery of the principle of justice that someone who is accused of wrongdoing is innocent until proven guilty. This is clearly a dangerous erosion of the fundamental liberties enshrined in our Federal Constitution, and must be stopped.
By immediately investigating the alleged incidents rather than those who made the reports, the authorities have shown favoured irresponsible parties how they can wantonly instil fear and religious disharmony in the country. All they have to do now is to make unproven and unsubstantiated allegations in any compliant national newspaper and the law enforcement authorities will do the rest. In this way, the authorities are gullibly assisting those who seek to play up lies and falsehoods in order to artificially create religious conflict.
In creating and/or highlighting this “non-news” item, these irresponsible parties seek to manoeuvre and manipulate current events so as to give the impression that certain elements within a particular community are working to cause disunity and perpetrate treasonous activities.
This dastardly deed by such reckless parties must be seen for what it is – a naked and blatant act of deliberate provocation. The aim appears to be to cause fear through the creation of false news. The lodging of police reports throughout the country seeks to invite the police to investigate a particular community, thus heightening emotions. This then conveniently provides the authorities with a false justification to tighten control of blogs and other forms of electronic media, thereby muzzling free speech, open dialogue and informed discussions.
Any independent observer of the mass media would reach the conclusion that Utusan Malaysia is beyond the reach of the law. Although the Malaysian Bar opposes the use of oppressive laws, including the Sedition Act 1948 and the Printing Press and Publications Act 1984, the Government threatens to wield such laws against those who voice dissent, hence acting in what is perceived as an arbitrary, or even biased, manner.
The Malaysian Bar is concerned that no action has been taken against Utusan Malaysia although it has persistently published intemperate and wild accusations, written in inflammatory language, which threaten Malaysia’s social fabric. Utusan Malaysia continues to act with impunity, and thus appears to enjoy a status that is above the law.
We call on the authorities to instead investigate the Utusan Malaysia journalists and editors responsible for perpetrating such repeated attempts to instil fear and spread falsehood.
Lim Chee Wee
President Malaysian Bar
9 May 2011
By Melissa Chi
May 09, 2011
KUALA LUMPUR, May 9 — MCA Youth demand police investigate Utusan Malaysia’s Christian Malaysia reports, as well as two blog posts cited by the newspaper.
The youth wing of the Barisan Nasional (BN) party lodged a police report today asking for the Umno-owned newspaper and the blog posts to be investigated under the Sedition Act.
Dr Kow Cheong Wei, MCA Youth publicity chief, told reporters that the police should conduct a
thorough probe because race and religion had been abused.
“We do not want and will not allow any party to use these issues, whether Islam or Christianity or any religion to be a propaganda tool in this country.
“We objected to the Islamic state by PAS and now we will not allow any party that brings out any issues regarding religion. We were advised, according to today’s papers, by Datuk Seri Najib that everyone must be calm and I think we as the youth, we do not want to raise whatever words or any additional statements,” he said, adding that he expects the police to act on the matter immediately.
Kevin Koo, an MCA Youth central committee member, also a lawyer, had lodged the police report today on behalf of the Federal Territory and Selangor MCA Youth at the Dang Wangi Police Headquarters to investigate an article published by Utusan Malaysia on May 17 with the headline “Malaysia, a Christian country?” as well as the cited articles published in two different blogs.
Utusan carried the front-page article on Saturday claiming that the DAP was conspiring with Christian leaders to take over Putrajaya and abolish Islam as the country’s official religion.
The report, based on blog postings by several pro-Umno bloggers, had charged the DAP with sedition for allegedly trying to change the country’s laws to allow a Christian prime minister, pointing to a grainy photograph showing what they described as a secret pact between the opposition party and pastors at a hotel in Penang last Wednesday.
The National Evangelical Christian Fellowship (NECF), together with partners Global Day of Prayer, Marketplace Penang and Penang Pastors Fellowship, said the claims against their community were lies, and has refuted the bloggers’ allegations.
Similarly, DAP leaders have denied the report and have accused Utusan of lying and have lodged police reports over the matter.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had called for calm yesterday and to allow the matter to be investigated first before making conclusions.
Chiew Lian Keng, Federal Territory MCA Youth Chief, said if such articles continued to be published, Malaysians will end up in a climate of fear.
“We urge MCMC (Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission) and the police to investigate this case as soon as possible. According to Utusan, two bloggers had spread the statement so we want the MCMC to investigate the dissemination of the statement.
“We don’t want to see any racial and religious problems in Malaysia to continue. Our country is peaceful but if this continues, the public will be living in fear,” he said.
Monday, 9 May 2011
Apr 29, 2011
Monday, 09 May 2011 14:07
Introduction by CPI (Centre for Policy Initiatives)
Dr. Mahathir has derided the World Bank brain drain report as “useless and politically motivated”. The country should ignore his criticism as the ranting of a seriously flawed leader whose shelf life has expired and who has long lost his credibility to comment sensibly on any public policy subject. Prime Minister Najib Razak’s response has been equally disappointing. He must surely know – as any sane and reasonable person would – that the emigration of Malaysia’s highly educated and skilled has been disastrous and is an exodus the country can ill afford.
Malaysia’s Brain Drain: Government in Perpetual Denial
For some years now, various analysts have written about the brain drain from Malaysia arising from the country’s racist policies. Now the World Bank has finally come out with a definitive report detailing that the number of skilled Malaysians living abroad has tripled in the last two decades with two out of every 10 Malaysians with tertiary education opting to leave for either OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries or Singapore.
The report also studied the factors that would entice Malaysian currently staying overseas to return. The top picks were a change in the country’s race-based policies and fundamental reforms in the public sector with “Paradigm shift away from race-based towards needs-based affirmative action” and “Evidence of fundamental and positive change in the government/public sector” receiving 87 and 82 per cent positive responses respectively.
The brain drain report mainly focused on the human capital outflow of migrants with tertiary level qualifications. If it had taken into account the out-migration of those with upper secondary and other desirable vocational and other skills, the human capital haemorrhage from the country arising from the New Economic Policy and other racially skewed policies would be far worse than the report’s findings show.
The Past and Present Prime Minister’s Responses
What has been the response to the report? Not surprisingly, the chief critic has been Dr. Mahathir who has derided the report as useless and politically motivated. As Dr. Mahathir has been the main architect of the socio-economic policies that have been responsible for the brain drain, his reaction is predictable. The country’s leadership and citizenry should ignore his criticism as the ranting of a seriously flawed leader whose shelf life has expired and who has long lost his credibility to comment sensibly on any public policy subject – whether this relates to the New Economic Model or human capital development - and especially if it concerns governance issues of which the former Prime Minister has been fundamentally compromised and incorrigibly irresponsible.
The present Prime Minister’s response has been guarded but no less disappointing. Dato Seri Najib Razak, whilst acknowledging that the brain drain is “one of the problems that must be resolved”, has pointed to the recent pickup in foreign direct investment to argue that the Bank report was not “quite correct”. The Prime Minister is grasping at straws to deny the undeniable. He must surely know – as any sane and reasonable person in the country would – that the emigration of Malaysian talents has been disastrous to the economy and is an exodus the country can ill afford.
He must also be aware that the outflow of another generation of young Malaysians (this time, including many Malays) is presently taking place and will continue unabated so long as racial (and religious) discrimination, and the self enrichment and political bankruptcy of the UMNO elite and its cronies, remain unchecked.
Incentives such as lowered income tax and other material or monetary sweeteners promised by the Talent Corporation are not the solution. They do not address the sense of not belonging, social injustice and lack of belief in the country’s future that are at the heart of why Malaysians have chosen to abandon the country of their birth, and to seek what - for most migrants - are less materially privileged but more psychologically fulfilling alien lands, despite being cut off from families and friends.
The Reverse Brain Gain
There is a key related topic which the World Bank report failed to deal with – the lower quality human capital inflow that has replaced the outflow of highly educated, skilled and talented Malaysians. During the past 30 odd years, there has been a massive officially sanctioned influx of migrants, especially from Indonesia and the Southern Philippines aimed at ensuring ethnic and religious dominance of the Malays. Millions of poor, uneducated, unskilled or semi skilled migrants have been permitted – rather, encouraged – to work and stay in Malaysia, thus offsetting the skilled brain drain with a cheap labour influx. According to the 2000 Census, 1.3 million or about 5.9 percent of Malaysia’s population of 21.9 million was comprised of foreigners. This estimate does not include other categories of non-citizens, such as permanent residents, spouses on a social visit pass, and stateless persons born in Malaysia. The latter number, of which there are no officially available figures, could bring the total number of non-citizens living in the country to close to 4 million or more.
Should the higher figure be used as the basis of calculation of the foreign component of the population, and even if the high birth rate of the Malay population were taken into account, it would imply that up to 25 per cent or one quarter of the country’s present total population are unskilled or semi-skilled migrants who have settled in Malaysia recently, especially since 1970. The influx of over 4 million lower quality human capital at the same time that over one million highly skilled Malaysians have left the country is probably unprecedented in the history of global migration flows (for a profile of the countries where Malaysians have moved to, see table below reproduced from Lee Wei Lian,“A Snapshot of Malaysia Talent Outflow”.)
I have no doubt that many recent migrants to Malaysia are hard working and good people, and deserve to have their rights protected. However, they would never have been allowed into the country or given easy access to citizenship in the normal circumstances of any other country in the world. What has made the difference has been a racially obsessed regime with a political agenda to artificially bolster the Bumiputra component of the population, and to provide that component with citizenship and voting rights aimed at ensuring Malay dominance of the government and country.
The pro-Nusantara cheap labour, easy assimilation (if the migrant is a Muslim or has no objections to “conversion”) policy of the last 30 years and its socio-economic costs and benefit needs to be studied by the World Bank team as a logical complement to the brain drain one. I have no doubt that should this lower level “brain gain” study be conducted, its findings will more fully explain the economic decline that the country has experienced. It will also expose fully the crude demographic numbers game that UMNO under Dr. Mahathir and his civil service underlings have engaged in to ensure continued Malay hegemony.
Ketuanan Melayu forever – the Perkasa slogan - is not a new one. It has been the bedrock of UMNO’s ideology since Dr. Mahathir came to power and will continue to be that way until the Malay population comes to its senses and realizes that the non-Malay communities are not their enemy – it is Malay political leaders that have failed them and are now looking for non-Malay scapegoats to explain why poor Malays have been left behind in the country’s socio-economic development.
*** This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication. The Malaysian Alternative Voices does not endorse the view unless specified.