Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Help those who need help







Plea for Indian M'sians


Azly Rahman
Malaysiakini

Nov 26, 07 11:16am


The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil. We see before us a huge community of producers the members of which are unceasingly striving to deprive each other of the fruits of their collective labour - not by force, but on the whole in faithful compliance with legally established rules. - Albert Einstein in ‘Why Socialism?’ (1949)

What do I think of Western civilisation? I think it would be a very good idea. - Mohandas K Gandhi

Will Queen Elizabeth II of England pay for the 150-year suffering of Indian Malaysians? How would reparations be addressed in an age in which we are still mystified by newer forms of colonialism - the English Premier League, Malaysian Eton-clones, Oxbridge education, and British rock musicians such as the guitarist-astrophysicist Dr Brian May of the better-than-the-Beatles rock group Queen (and recently appointed chancellor of a Liverpool university)?


Who in British Malaya collaborated with the British East India company in facilitating the globalised system of indentured slavery? Will the current government now pay attention to the 50-year problems of Indian Malaysians?

We need to untangle this ideological mess and listen to the pulse of the nation. We are hyperventilating from the ills of a 50-year indentured self-designed pathological system of discriminatory servitude of the mind and body, fashioned after the style of colonialism.



We need a crash course in the history of reparation, slavery, and the declaration universal human rights. We need to understand the style of British colonialism as it collaborated with the local power elites of any colony it buried its tentacles in and sucked dry the blood, sweat and tears of the natives it dehumanised and sub-humanised.

We need to calculate how much the imperialists and the local chieftains gained from the trafficking of human labour - across time and space and throughout history.



In short, we need to educate ourselves on the anatomy, chemistry, anthropology and post-structurality of old and newer forms of imperialism. British imperialism has successfully structured a profitable system of the servitude of the body, mind and soul and has transferred this ideology onto the natives wishing to be "more British than their brown skins can handle".

We need to encourage our children to read about the system of indentured slavery - of the kangchu and kangani and how the Malays were also relegated to becoming ‘reluctant’ producers of the colonial economy. The Malays’ reluctance led to the British designation "lazy native".

We need to also learn from the Orang Asli and the natives of each state and how their philosophy of developmentalism is more advanced that the programmes prescribed under the successive five-year Malaysia Plans. A philosophy of development that respects and is symbiotic with Nature is certainly more appropriate for cultural dignity that the one to which we have been subjected; one that exploits human beings and destroys the environment under the guise of ‘progress’.

Caged construction

Our history lessons mask the larger issue of traditional, modern and corporate control of the means of production of Malaya. We see the issue of race being played up from time immemorial; issue of convenience and necessity to the sustenance of the status quo and the proliferation of modern local oligopoly and plutocracy.

Our history classes have failed our generation that is in need of the bigger picture; ones that will allow us to see what is outside of our caged construction of historicising. Our historians, from the court propagandist Tun Sri Lanang to our modern historians written under the mental surveillance of the ruling parties, have not been true to the demand of the production of knowledge based on social and humanistic dimensions of factualising historical accounts.

We need to study the political-economy of the rubber and canning industry and the relationship between the British and the American empire as industrialisation began to take off.
The Indians in Malaysia have all the right to ask for reparation and even most importantly they have the rights as rightful citizens of Malaysia to demand for equality and equal opportunity as such accorded to the ‘bumiputera’. Every Malaysian must be given such rights.

Failure to do so we will all be guilty of practising neo-colonialism and we will one day be faced with similar issue of reparation; this time marginalised Malaysians against the independent government of Malaysia. How are we going to peacefully correct the imbalances if we do not learn from the history of international slavery, labour migration and human labour trafficking that, in the case of Hindraf, involved millions of Tamils from Tamil Nadu province?
I once wrote a piece calling for all of us to help the least privileged of our fellow Malaysians - the Indians. The piece called for the leaders to stop fighting and to help each other as well.

I wrote a passage on the need to help each other in the spirit of selflessness and collaboration: “It is time for the other races to engage in serious and sincere gotong-royong to help the poorest of the poor among the Indians. It is time that we become possessed with a new spirit of multi-cultural marhaenism. The great Indonesian leader Ahmed Soekarno popularised the concept of marhaenism as an antidote to the ideological battle against materialism, colonialism, dependency and imperialism. The thought that the top 10 percent of the richest Malaysians are earning more than 20 times compared to the 90 percent of the population is terrifying. What has become of this nation that promised a just distribution of wealth at the onset of Independence?"

Not a Hindu problem

Now we have a better scenario - we have the rights group that is beginning to pull together,-close ranks and demand for their basic human rights that have been denied. Not only their rights to be accorded places of worship and economic justice, but also the rights to look at history and ourselves and interrogate what actually happened and who actually was responsible for the misery, desolation and sustained abject poverty to which they have been subjected.

It is not a Hindu problem - it is universal problem that cuts across race and religion. If we believe in what religion has taught us about human dignity and the brotherhood and sisterhood of humanity, we will all be speaking in one voice rallying for those who demand for their rights to live with dignity.

In Hindraf, I believe there are Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Catholics, atheists, Buddhists, Sikhs, Bahais, Jains, etc rallying for the cause. In other words there are human beings speaking up for peace and social justice. It is the right of every Malaysian to lend support to their demands.

We have let the Indians in Malaysia suffer for too long. We ought to have a programme of affirmative action in place. We ought to have a sound programme for alleviation of poverty for the Indians and radically improve their conditions through political action, education and cultural preservation. We ought to extract the enabling aspects of culture though and perhaps reconstruct the our understanding of the relationship between culture and human progress.

But can the current political paradigm engineer a solution to the problems of the Malaysian Indians, as long as politics - after 50 years - is still British colonialist-imperialist-oppressive in nature? We have evolved into a sophisticated politicallyracist nation, hiding our discriminatory policies with the use of language that rationalises what the British imperialists brutally did in the open.


But our arguments cannot hold water any loner. Things are falling apart - deconstructed. The waves of demands, the frequency of rallies and the excavating of issues drawn from the archaeology of our fossilised arrogant knowledge - all these are symptoms of deconstructionism in our body politics. It is like the violent vomit of a rehabilitating cocaine addict undergoing treatment in a Buddhist monastery somewhere in northern Thailand.

We cannot continue to alienate each other through arguments on a ‘social contract’ that is alien from perhaps what Jean Jacques Rousseau wrote about some 300 years ago - a philosophy that inspired the founding of America, a nation of immigrants constantly struggling (albeit imperfectly) to meet the standards requirements of equality, equity and equal opportunity especially in education.

How do we come together, as Malaysians, as neo-bumiputeras free from false political-economic and ideological dichotomies of Malays versus non-Malays, bumi versus non-bumi and craft a better way of looking at our political, economic, social, cultural, psychological and spiritual destiny - so that we may continue to survive as a species for the next 50 years?

As a privileged Malaysian whose mother tongue is the Malay language and as one designated as a bumiputera, I want to see the false dichotomies destroyed and a new sense of social order emerging, based on a more just form of linguistic play designed as a new Merdeka game plan.

Think Malaysian - we do not have anything to lose except our mental chains. We have a lot to gain in seeing the oppressed be freed from the burden of history; one that is based on the march of materialism. We are essentially social beings, as Einstein would emphasise. Our economic design must address the socialism of existence.

Let us restructure of policies to help the Indian Malaysians - they are our lawful citizens speaking up for their fundamental rights. Let us help restructure the lives of the poor before they restructure the lives of the rich.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

What happened to your promises?

Another open letter to PM

Colin A Pereira

Malaysiakini,Nov 20, 07 5:58pm

Prime Minister,

When you first assumed the post of prime minister, you appealed to the citizens of this country to work with you and not for you. Your tenure as the leader of this country has seen a greater openness and transparency in the workings of the government and in the media, although certainly falling short of what would be expected in a modern democracy celebrating 50 years of independence.

Your administration may be commended for being prepared to tread where previous administrations have been wary of doing so, such as in the setting up of the royal commission on the police force. It is perhaps for this reason that you were given a massive vote of confidence by the electorate in the last general election.

The time has now come to look into a once great and internationally-respected institution, the judiciary. The recent controversy surrounding a video purporting to show a lawyer brokering judicial appointments has once again raised questions about the integrity of our judiciary and whether it is facing a crisis of confidence. A police report lodged by the brother of the lawyer is shocking, not so much for the revelations it contains but for the fact that they are unlikely to surprise any of the stakeholders in the administration of justice.

It is commendable that the government has now agreed to set up a royal commission to investigate this saga on the video. However, its terms of reference must be wider than just investigating the video. It must look into the areas of judicial appointments, judicial corruption (both actual and perceived), backlog of cases, delayed judgments and ways in which the independence of the institution can be strengthened.

In short, the proposed royal commission must ensure that confidence in the judiciary is restored. If the government is serious about returning the Malaysian judiciary to its glory days, then it must also look into the remuneration of judges and their working conditions so that the very best will be prepared to accept an appointment to the bench.

The recent march by lawyers in Putrajaya appears to have irked both yourself and at least one of your cabinet colleagues. The issue ought not to be about the march but the message it intended to convey. As the president of the Malaysian Bar Council said, “When lawyers march, there must be something very wrong.”

If there are reservations as to the message that the lawyers were intending to convey, perhaps it is time that the voice of the judges be heard. There are enough good and courageous judges, past and present, who this country needs if it is to be a proponent of good governance, judicial impartiality, separation of powers and the rule of law.

Consider the words of the former lord president, the late Suffian Hashim, who in the aftermath of the 1988 judicial crisis said: “While there are judges whose integrity and impartiality have never wavered, the public perception is that the judiciary as a whole can no longer be trusted to honour their oath of office. When I am asked what I thought, my usual reply is that I wouldn’t like to be tried by today’s judges, especially if I am innocent.”

Consider also the words of former Court of Appeal judge Shaik Daud Ismail from a 2001 speech: “All along, people were confident the last place they could get justice is in the courts but in the light of certain cases before the courts and certain on-goings in some courts, they realised that the courts have let them down miserably. It used to be said that the tinting of judges’ cars was for security but now I say it is to hide my embarrassment.”

Also, consider what the late Suffian was heard saying during the 1988 judicial crisis: “For the first time in my life, I am ashamed to be Malaysian.”

The establishment of the royal commission is only a first step in restoring the credibility of our judiciary. It is therefore vital that its terms of reference are wide enough to cover every aspect of the way justice is administered in this country and for its recommendations to be implemented without delay. There must now be a will and an impetus for thorough reform.

If, as leader of this country you do the right thing, be assured that the entire nation will stand with you. If as a Malaysian, you do the right thing, be assured that no one will ever again say, “I am ashamed to be Malaysian.”

That, prime minister, will be your legacy.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Arresting the decline in university ranking

Provide opportunities to all to stop brain drain

I refer to the article “Academics take on new challenges” (Sunday Star, November 18).

Four non-bumiputra academicians were appointed deputy vice chancellors (DVC) for the various local universities on September 1 this year. This, we understand, is part of an exercise by the Higher Education Ministry is taking steps to recruit and promote more non-Malay academicians in local universities to improve the standards of these institutions of higher learning. This is not only encouraging but very timely indeed.

This positive action by the ministry is especially significant as it comes at a time when the international ranking of our universities is rapidly sliding year by year. In this year’s World University Rankings, all Malaysian universities, including our oldest and premier University of Malaya, have crashed out of the top-200 in the world.

This poor showing by our universities have frustrated and tend to jeopardise the government’s efforts to to lure foreign students and making the nation a educational hub in the region.The dismal performance even prompted the Prime Minister to comment “Our education may be cheap, but we must still have quality.We cannot accept cheap education but of low quality”.

It is noteworthy that these four DVCs have many years of service with their respective universities and it is only fair their experience and talents are being finally tapped for the benefit of the nation as a whole.The ministry and the university authorities concerned should allow them full freedom to carry out their tasks professionally in bringing about changes to higher education in our country.

At the same time it must be stressed that these promotions should not be just an isolated exercise which is politically motivated.Such recruitment and promotions of non-Malay professioals should be an ongoing policy,not just in universities but in all government and government-linked agencies.

In fact but all citizens who are eligible should be considered for such posts based purely on merit and not ethnicity or political alignment.There are many such highly talented,experienced and qualified Malaysians,both bumiputras and non-bumiputras,who are denied such priviledges due to certain unfair practices.Out of frustration they resort to the only way out by migrating to foreign countries that are quick to grab them with better offers for what they are worth.

It is a pity that every year we are losing many such highly capable professionals to other countries.This massive brain drain is already begining to affect us adversely in the global world where competition is purely based one’s capabilities and merits.There is no more handicaps for developing and poor nations as there used to be in the past.

To remain competitive in the world today,we need to tap the potentials of all citizens regardless of race,religion or political ideology.Marginalisation of our own talented citizens,based these parameters,is a sure way to our downfall as it will only benefit our opponents and competitors in the international arena.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Striving for excellence is sports

Improve basic standards first, then comes HPTC

I refer to “NSC's High Performance Training Centre plan in ruins”(theSun,Nov 16).

As expected The National Sports Council’s (NSC) plans to set up a High Performance Training Centre (HPTC) in Brickendonbury,London was rejected by the East Herts Council. Despite the public outcry over the original project costing RM490m, the government proceeded with the project on a smaller scale costing RM70m.It spent RM2m on preliminary work including payments to architect firms and expenses incurred on visiting Malaysian delegations to start off the project.

It is disappointing the NSC refused to heed the voice of the people. Despite their opposition and knowing well that the local government laws in England would not allow such a sports complex, it was regrettable that the NSC still went ahead with it and spent about RM2m of the taxpayer’s money.

It was disheartening that The East Herts Council,in rejecting the application, described the project as “inappropriate development within a green belt”. It was further embarrassing as it questioned the need for upgrading the football field to match FIFA standards as we only once made to the Olympics and never made it to the World Cup. However their main concern was that Brickendonbury houses heritage-listed buildings on a green belt any development would be against their national planning policy. Their decision not to allow the development of a green belt should be a lesson for us on the preservation of greeneries and heritage in our own country.

What is the NSC going to do next? Its Director General,Datuk Ramlan Abdul Aziz says there are 3 options available; appeal against the decision, submit a fresh application or abandon the project altogether. Judging by past experiences, I am sure that NSC will go for the second option – submit a fresh application and spend another few millions to process the new application.

What should we do next? As the East Herts Council has said, we have not even qualified for major competitions like the Olympics and World Cup.It may be an embarrassing remark but unfortunately true. Our status in the international arena is nothing to shout about. We should abandon the HPTC in Brickendonbury and focus our attention and energy to improve the basic standard in sports in the country. Until we achieve a reasonably acceptable standard, any number of HPTCs that we may build is not going to take us to the Olympics or World Cup finals.

Our priority should be to build up our sports from scratch, at the level of schools. Our once reputable name in sports has deteriorated to a level where even our basic standards are below par.

The standard of sports in schools, which at one time was the envy of many, is now in a deplorable state. Over emphasis on the “A syndrome” took away the glory that sports once enjoyed. Today the number of students who score straight A’s have increase tremendously but those excelling sports have dwindled miserably.

Many of our schools lack proper playing fields, badminton courts and facilities for other popular sports. The money spent on HPTC in a far away land could be better used to prop up these facilities in all schools especially those in rural areas here in our own country for our masses.

It would be more beneficial and cost effective to build numerous football fields, badminton courts and even sports complexes in all towns and kampongs throughout the country, which badly lack these facilities. Many existing open fields which used to be favorite places of recreation for our youngsters have been eliminated in the name of development. What is our own policy on the preservation of green?

Majority of sports heroes usually come from the masses and not from the rich and wealthy segment of the population. Unless we tap the great potentials that exist in the masses we will not succeed in selecting the best to represent the nation. There are no shortcuts to achieving world standards in sports – provide more facilities, take sports to the masses and bring back its glory of the yesteryears.

Dr.Chris anthony

Friday, November 16, 2007

Bersih rally : a yearning for change

The people have spoken,do the politicians have the will?

November 10 was a victorious day for all Malaysians. It was a day when more than 40,000 people of all ethnic groups, all age groups and from all walks of life, took to the streets to demand for electoral reforms for fair and free elections. At a time when race relations are under tremendous strain, this was indeed a rare occasion when all races forgot their diverse ethnic origins and came together as a single Malaysian race. It was a rare opportunity for all Malaysians to share in the common brotherhood of our beloved nation.

What was more amazing was that despite their numbers and the obstacles created by the police, the rally was largely peaceful. People came in the thousands, marched to the palace, delivered the memorandum to the King and finally dispersed peacefully. No major untoward incidents were reported. We salute the organizers, the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) for the wonderful job well planned and executed peacefully.

On the eve of the rally, the Prime Minister,Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, warned the people not to challenge his authority. It is unfortunate Pak Lah, who is known for his soft nature, has taken a confrontational attitude, like his predecessor, towards the people who were expressing their views on something so important - free and fair elections, the basic pre-requisite for a true democracy.

The rally was neither anti-government nor intended to topple the leadership, like in other neighboring countries. It was to express the people’s disenchantment of the way our Election Commission (EC) conducts the general elections. The EC is seen to be strongly pro-government and unfair to the opposition. There has been unfair delineation of electoral boundaries whereby opposition strongholds are unfairly represented. Then there is the issue of phantom and postal voters, all reserved for the ruling party.

Furthermore the ruling party blatantly abuses the government machinery and all available logistics to campaign for their candidates. They have total monopoly over the national print and electronic media. As far as memory takes us we have never seen opposition leaders on television. Even the major newspapers hardly carry any message by the opposition. This is total contrast to what we see in countries like United States,Britain and even India, where all political parties have equal access to the mass media in their campaigns to reach out to the masses.

Nobody is challenging the Prime Minister or the government. Nobody is trying to topple the government that has been duly elected. All we ask for is to ensure the elections are conducted in a fair and free manner, where the opposition is treated equally as the ruling party. Equal opportunities should be given to them to reach the rakyat.Is asking for these rights as provided for in the Constitution an unfair demand that constitutes a challenge to the authority of the Prime Minister and his government?

The government dismisses without tangible reason the rally as illegal and accuses the organizers for having caused a lot of hardship for the people. There were massive traffic jams that could have caused inconvenience to the people. Business too could have been adversely affected. At the same time no person with a sane mind would want to inconvenience himself to participate in demonstrations that also pose tremendous risk to him as well.

It must be stressed that it was the attitude of the government that made this demonstration necessary. If only the government adopted a more conciliatory approach to the problems posed by the people, this rally would have never been necessary. If only the government accepted the right to dissent and made avenues available for its expression, why should people resort to street demonstrations?

If only the government can meet the people's demands in a spirit of cordial dialogue, there would be no tension whatsoever. The police instead of ensuring the people's gathering goes on peacefully have unfortunately also taken a combative attitude against the very people whom they are tasked to protect.

Despite all these obstacles and risks the people came and they really came in droves. They braved the heavy downpour and the intimidating tactics of the police to join in the massive expression of displeasure with the EC. For every one person who turned up in front of Istana Negara, there would be scores of others who could not be present for some reason or another.

The government should be wise not ignore the massive voices of dissent against its policies, especially from the younger generation. It should take this mammoth rally as a wake-up call that many things are not right and take steps to right the wrongs.

The younger generation of Malaysians is fed up of race politics and is yearning for changes, changes to make our country at par with other democracies in the world. It is time for our leaders to reflect on the words of the one of the greatest politicians of all times, Abraham Lincoln, “You can fool some people all the time, all the people some time but you cannot fool all the people all the time”

The people have spoken and they have indicated they want a change for the better. Now it is up to the political leaders to effect those changes. The leaders of the major opposition parties, PKR,PAS and DAP must stop their internal bickering. They should put aside the religious and racial issues that divide the people and unite on the numerous common grouses we face as Malaysians. There are plenty of such grouses at stake – corruption, abuse of power, disgraced judiciary, ineffective police force, lackadaisical civil service, escalating cost of living, increasing crime rate and so on, which should unite us in our struggle to free our country from the clutches of these evils that are threatening to become our national cultures.

The Opposition has been given a second opportunity to mount a reasonable challenge against the ruling BN, at least to deny them a two-third majority in parliament. They should not allow this golden opportunity to elude by petty squabbles among them like in 1999.That would only benefit the mighty BN.

It may be timely they unite to form a opposition coalition and contest under a common banner and led by a leader acceptable to all parties. At present there is no doubt that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim(DSAI) appears to that leader. With is vast experience in politics and the humiliation that he was subjected to, he would have gained the wisdom to guide the opposition in the right direction. It would also be wise for DSAI to refrain from contesting in the coming election so that he can concentrate on uniting the opposition. He should be an icon for the united opposition party.

The ball is at the feet of our political leaders of opposition parties. Are they willing to rise up to the occasion and put the interests of the nation above their own? Their answer will determine the destiny of our nation.We hope and pray our leaders will not let us down.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Malaysian Indians at crossroads

Temple demolition a wake up call

We were overjoyed when at last Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) strongman, Datuk Seri S. Samy Velu spoke out strongly on an issue that has been plaguing the Indian community for so many years – indiscriminate demolition of temples. To Hindus, demolition of deities and temples that house them are acts of desecration and are considered sacrilegious. Our joy and hopes were very short-lived when the MIC president quickly regained his posture and returned to his “fold”, the Barisan National (BN).

Of late this practice of demolition of places of worship has become so rampant, with little or no consideration for the sensitivities of the Hindus. The latest of these is the demolition of the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in Kampung Rimba Jaya in Padang Jawa, near Shah Alam.

The 100-year old temple may need to be relocated alright but couldn’t it be done in a more civilized way? Why has it to be done just before Deepavalli, the festival of Lights, an auspicious day for the Hindus? Can’t the local authorities give in to the request of a very senior cabinet minister, which they always do in other instances? Do they need to use so much force against unarmed civilians? Do they need to arrest and manhandle lawyers at gunpoint? Why the arrogance and display of power against simple devotees in a temple?

In his strongest criticism so far, Samy Velu warned that the BN government risks losing the Indian votes if it does not stop this discriminate and inconsiderate action against the Indian community. As the leader of the Indian community his comments are long overdue. In fact I am afraid it may now be too late to stop this discriminative actions against the Indians by the UMNO-led BN government, of MIC is a major partner since its inception.

The MIC, by its docile and submissive stance, has long lost its voice and power in the coalition. Its leaders, including Samy Velu who had ruled the party for over 2 decades, have allowed the opportunities to slip by a long time ago. Is threatening with denying the Indian votes now going to work? The Malacca Chief Minister,an UNMO stalwart, has recently even gone to the extent to reiterate that they do not need our votes as they can win without us.

A number of incidences recently have highlighted the deplorable attitude of the government towards the Indian community. These have prompted the Hindu Action Front (Hindraf) to resort to legal action against the British government for being the indirect cause of their pathetic state in Malaysia today.

As Samy Velu said the vast majority of Malaysian Indians had stood by the Alliance and subsequently the BN in thick and thin. They are still loyal and would continue to be so if only they are treated with due dignity and respect. Their loyalty to the government was unquestionable. In fact this blind loyalty, that was occasionally a pain for the opposition, has contributed to a great extent for their pitiful state today.

From the beginning, it is undeniable that the Indians had contributed much to the development of the nation. They served at all levels in estates and the civil service, from the highest positions as managers and directors to the lowest as manual labourers.The medical, legal, railway and PWD were in fact monopolized by Indians whose exemplary services we still treasure till today. As directors, doctors, lawyers, nurses, teachers and even as manual workers and union leaders, they had given their relentless services to the nation of adoption they considered their motherland.

The blind loyalty to the BN is being repaid today in the form of discrimination, denial of educational and job opportunities, denial of land to erect places of worship, demolition of existing temples, passing of derogatory remarks and so on. On the whole they are being treated as second or even third class citizens in the very land they toiled to develop.

It is very extremely sad and disgusting to see the way Samy Velu,a very senior cabinet minister being snubbed by the Menteri Besar and other government officers in his attempts to stop the demolition of the temple in Padang Jawa. We understand he was even pelted with stones when he went to mediate the ongoing standoff between the MPSA authorities and the devotees at the temple.

We are also deeply disturbed by the way the lawyers were treated by the police when they went to the defense of the rights of the people who were unarmed and peaceful. They were manhandled by machine gun-bearing police, handcuffed and beaten. Imagine professionals being treated like criminals without any respect whatsoever as lawyers representing the affected residents.

The Malaysian Indians are now at the crossroads, uncertain of what the future holds for them as the path for the future is very obscure. The only encouraging sign that this Kampung Rimba Jaya tragedy produced was the reaction of the MIC leader. Does his outburst indicate that he and the MIC have finally come to face reality under which the Indians live? Has the MIC the political will to swim and sink with the Indians?

Our leaders contend that we are financially better now but we know as a community on the whole we were better off at the time of independence than now,50 years later. We have lost almost all we once had – positions and employment in estates and the civil service.Today even the distribution of newspapers by Indian vendors is being envied. With these losses, we seem to have also lost the respect that we once commanded especially from the other races. Poverty and its accompanying social ills are still a big problem among Indians. Unemployment and crime rate are highest among them.

We have brought up a younger generation of Indians with all the problems of the previous one minus the positions and respect. There are no opportunities for education, jobs and even in sports and recreation for the young. With the escalating cost of living, many are finding it extremely difficult to make ends meet let alone having access to proper housing, education and quality basic medical care.

The Indians have nowhere to turn to for help. The government that we were loyal to has rejected us.The party,MIC, that we trusted betrayed us.We try turning to God but even that we are prevented from doing so as they demolish our places of worship and the deities.Where else can we go?To the British?Can they and will they do anything?No way.That lives only ourselves and ourselves alone.Yes,we will have to rise up and fight for ourselves.As a community we must help ourselves to come out of our doldrums.There are only 2 million of us.Can't our leaders help us out of of our predicament?I am sure they can but each and every one of us must also help ourselves.

Samy Velu and the MIC leaders have a serious problem in their hands and they must search their conscience deeply to see whether they have brought any real benefits to their community. Do they sincerely believe, if the present state continues, there is a bright future for the future generations of Indians? All in-fighting for power and self glory must stop as we unite in our endeavor to uplift the morale and zeal of the Indian community.

We salute the younger leaders of the Hindu Action Rights Force (Hindraf) and lawyers like P Uthayakumar, P Waythamoorthy, M Manoharan, S Ganabathi Rao, Gengadharan and many other social workers and activists for their relentless work in protecting the rights and attempts to uplift the poor Indians. Samy Velu and the MIC must get down to the masses to tap the potentials of this capable and brave younger generation of Indians.

Let the temple demolition be a wake-up call for us.We must get rid of the so called “Crab Syndrome” that had inflicted our community and is the major cause of our failure. There is a need to change our mindset from one of dependence on the government to that of self-dependence. We need to maintain our traditions and culture but at the same time acquire modern scientific knowledge and skills to be competitive in a global society.

We must get our priorities right.Over indulgence in cultural and religious activities is not going to take us far in this highly competitive world.What we need is modernization in thinking and actions,while at the same time using our faith and culture as a guide in life. Unless we act now to take charge of our destiny, even God will not be able to help us.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Heed the voice on the people

Open letter to Abdullah Ahmad Badawi

Beth Yahp
Malaysiakini

Nov 13, 07 5:12pm

Dear Prime Minister,

Sept 26 saw 2,000 lawyers at the ‘Walk for Justice’ to defend the good name and protest the sliding standards of their profession. “When lawyers march,” said Ambiga Sreenevasan, president of the Bar Council, “something must be wrong.”

Last Saturday (Nov 10), 40,000 people from all walks of life and ages walked through rain-drenched Kuala Lumpur, skirting roadblocks, locked LRT stations, FRU batons, tear gas and water cannons, as well as weeks of misinformation and propaganda spread through the mainstream media and hacked alternative media. They marched to show their disappointment in the current electoral system and their hopes for reform.

Malaysian citizens travelled for hours through the night from all over the country to play cat-and-mouse in Kuala Lumpur with an intimidating array of security forces whose role was clearly not to secure our safety.

I saw men, armed only with shouted slogans, beaten with batons and shields and thrown to the ground. I saw an old woman in a wheelchair halted by a barricade of troops, wielding a deafening siren at her ears. I saw a child clinging to his mother’s shoulders being crushed back and back. He looked terrified and rightly so.

This was at Jalan Pasar, not Masjid Jamek where in spite of what IGP Musa Hassan described as police “restraint” (Sunday Star, Nov 11), unarmed marchers including journalists were beaten, tear-gassed and bombarded by chemical-laced water cannons. At Jalan Pasar, we faced two rows of riot police smashing batons against their shields. I saw and photographed people dropping to the ground around me.

This should be the journalist’s privilege; to be allowed to witness and report the uncensored fruits of that act of witnessing. But in this country, journalists and their editors are not even afforded this or any other kind of professional privileges and protection in order to carry out their jobs according to the journalists’ Code of Ethics. That is, among other things, to pursue factual accuracy and report objectively, without fear or favour.

Instead, journalism in Malaysia seems to be ruled by a Code of Fear and Favour. Here, our mainstream journalists and editors are directly or indirectly on the state’s payroll and are therefore accountable to the state. Those who aren’t are kept on a tight leash of precarious licences and legislation designed to pit self-censorship against financial ruin. Which the bosses will prioritise is a no-brainer.

It seems to me that our media professionals do their best to navigate these treacherous waters, getting by in terms of professional pride through little acts of bravery, defiance and subterfuge. The travesty of it is that, in a true democracy, they shouldn’t have to.

Our journalists and editors should not have to find themselves in the pitiful position of being cowed mouthpieces of the state, obediently failing to report once a news blackout is ordered or “reporting” factual inaccuracies of an astounding magnitude.

Like most of your state controlled media, Prime Minister Abdullah, Sunday Star reported only the IGP’s version of Saturday’s events. Journalism 101 requires a range of eyewitnesses to describe an event objectively. And yet only your ministers were allowed air-time; only aggrieved shopkeepers were interviewed and photos of traffic jams published to support our deputy PM’s lament that the march only served to disrupt traffic, create loss of business and “mar the general perception others have of our society.”

The police were depicted as being “forced” to use their batons, boots, shields, helmets, trucks, water cannons and helicopters against unarmed men, women and children (New Sunday Times, Nov 11).

This reconstruction of reality is one that I and 40,000 other marchers do not recognise. In spite of what we saw and experienced, we are told that we were only 4,000 in number and that 245 of us were detained as opposed to the 24 I later saw released at IPK (police contingent headquarters) in Kuala Lumpur. It was later reported in the NST (Nov 12) that the majority of detentions were pre-emptive, taking place outside Kuala Lumpur the day before. The reasons for arrest included being in possession of yellow T-shirts and bandanas.

Yes, there were massive traffic jams in KL that day and yes, I saw shopkeepers hurriedly pull down their shutters but only when the FRU and police amassed in battle formations at Central Market. However, logic tells us that the traffic jams were caused by numerous police roadblocks and other hindrances to public transport as much as by our march which was marshalled and orderly.

We were constantly told to keep to the pavements, not to throw rubbish, not to disrupt public property and even not to trample on plants along our way. Many people stuck in jams wound down their windows as we passed, smiling and shaking our hands. Others looked annoyed, of course.

I am sitting at my local late night kopitiam as I write this. It is filled with college students chatting and watching football with their teh tarik and cigarettes. I can see how successful your media machinery is, Prime Minister, from what they say. They use the word “riots” to talk about the march, when even a police spokesman described the event as, for the most part, peaceful (RTM2 news, Nov 10).

This is no surprise given the propaganda clips that have been running as a part of news bulletins on RTM1 and RTM2 for the past few months, intercutting flag-burning with demonstrators getting their heads bashed. These, as any advertising professional will confirm, effectively equates demonstrations of any sort with escalating acts of violence on both sides. “Ini bukan budaya kita” are the stern words of warning.

On TraxxFM, I have heard an oddly outstanding song about democracy being played frequently, a lullaby, sung in a soothing paternal voice, about how taking democracy to the streets leads to a loss of self-respect and violence which is not our way. This song is in stark contrast to the ones TraxxFM’s hip and humourous DJs usually play.

This psychological embedding seems odd, Prime Minister, in the year that we celebrate our 50 years of independence which was won by our forefathers who took their struggle for freedom, equality and justice to the streets, media and the discussion tables. They did so peacefully then, as we did so last Saturday.

Prime Minister Abdullah, one of the reasons we marchers; men, women, children, and even incapacitated old folks, braved confrontation in the streets of Kuala Lumpur last Saturday was to call for “equal access to the media” as part of Bersih’s push for electoral reforms. Other proposed changes include the use of indelible ink, clean electoral rolls and the abolition of untraceable postal votes.

I did not wear yellow on the march because even though I’m a sympathiser with the struggle for electoral reform, I am also a witness to both sides of the story. I wore my yellow ribbon of “press freedom” proudly, even though I am not a journalist. I am still wearing it now with the poignant realisation that I can only write this letter, without fear or favour, precisely because I am not a mainstream Malaysian journalist. Of course, whether any of your editors will publish it or not is entirely a different matter.

That little scrap of ribbon, like the seemingly frail ribbon of marchers patiently weaving their way from all over the city to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s palace last Saturday, is symbolic of something far larger and far more important than our aching legs, bruises or shivers caused by sitting uncomplainingly in the rain while the Bersih leaders delivered our memorandum to the King.

It symbolises what you have repeatedly encouraged us to celebrate and embrace: our “Merdeka Spirit” that causes the rakyat to come out in spite of fear and intimidation, to show their grave concern when the state of things seems very wrong indeed.

Despite ongoing attempts at historical revisionism, this is decidedly a part of our Malaysian culture. (Please refer to this website for reproductions of reportage from our own newspapers, The Straits Times, 1947: 'Mass Meeting Votes Against Elections'; and The Malaya Tribune, 1946: 'Malays and Rulers Demonstrate Against Union Plans'.)

With all due respect, Prime Minister, your admonition on the eve of the march, “Saya pantang dicabar”, is a rather odd thing for the leader of a democratic nation to say, given that the basic rule of democracy is the right of all citizens to challenge and to defend. Everyone is entitled to this right, whether in their living rooms or in Parliament.

Challenges and debates also constantly take place in the media whose fundamental role is to provide factual information and objective viewpoints by journalists and editors, as well as to allow equal access to publication and broadcast by proponents from either side of any argument. Only in this way can we, ordinary citizens, partake in democracy. Only then can we weigh up differing statements and opinions against accountable facts. We may be allowed to vote, yes, but how can we choose effectively without freedom of media access and information?

When this integral pillar of any democratic system is obstructed and belittled as it is in Malaysia, we cannot claim to live in a democracy. Our mainstream media then becomes merely a tool of the state used to hoodwink, brainwash and intimidate the people it should rightly be serving. Instead, we, the people, are spoon-fed, led and expected to go quietly like sheep to any foregone conclusion.

If we beg to differ, offer alternative information and viewpoints or even protest, we are called beruk (monkey). I rather think it preferable to be a monkey - curious, inventive and mischievous - than a sheep trotting meekly to my pen or to the slaughterhouse, nose pointed to the ground.

Prime Minister, we are indeed not Pakistan or Myanmar, as your Information Minister Zainuddin Maidin blustered on Al Jazeera (Nov 10), accusing them of presenting a contrary view to what has appeared on our Malaysian news and of only talking to the opposition, not government representatives - even as they were interviewing him.

This is a case of the pot calling the kettle black since almost no opposition figures are allowed to speak in our mainstream media although their images are used in conjunction with images of street violence, for example, to influence viewers’ opinions about them.

“Malaysia… is a democratic country,” Zainuddin fumed. But based on your state’s handling of the rakyat’s peaceful march last Saturday, Prime Minister, and your own media coverage prior to and about the actual event, it is hard to entirely agree.

Unfortunately for Malaysia, this is the perception that will be further broadcast internationally by journalists and editors who are, fortunately, less muzzled than their mainstream Malaysian colleagues.

Therefore, Prime Minister Abdullah, I sincerely urge you and your government, as our democratically elected leaders, to ‘Walk the talk’ and unmuzzle our journalists, editors and broadcasters. I entreat you to fully and fairly endorse and practice democracy in our country. That is, democracy for everyone, not just a powerful few.

The writer is author of prize-winning novel, 'The Crocodile Fury', which has been translated and published in several languages.

The Dr.Khir Toyo Broom Award

Public humiliation of officers not the way

Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo’s frustrations over poor productivity of his state agencies is understandable but his way of publicly rebuking two state government agencies for failing to collect assessment above the 50% mark required for 2006 is deeply regrettable.



Dr.Khir awarding the broom to Hulu Selanbor District Council chief,Tukiman Nail(picture from Star)

It is distressing to realize that Dr.Khir had to resort to such unethical means to punish civil servants who do not perform well. Isn’t it humiliating to award brooms to such high-ranking government officers? Doesn’t this demeaning act amount to showing total disrespect for the posts held by these senior officers? How will the Klang Municipal Council president and the Hulu Selangor District Council chief go back to face their subordinates after being publicly humiliated by such a derogatory treatment by their Mentri Besar? Dr.Khir’s contention that the broom is not meant to shame the officers but a reminder that the government wants all departments to buck up is unacceptable.

We are all for increasing the efficiency of our civil service which of late has adopted a lackadaisical attitude to work. However humiliating a senior officer publicly in front of his staff is not the way to improve the efficiency of any department. On the contrary such high handed, demeaning and humiliating tactics will only be counter-productive as they would adversely affect the morale of the officers and staff of the affected departments.

In this modern era, there are better and more humane ways that are more effective than awarding brooms to humiliate them in public. This is best achieved by instilling love and passion for the job not fear of authorities. There is a need to inculcate a sense of pride and belonging to one’s working institution. Productivity can only be improved by the concerted efforts of all categories of staff. Better working environment, caring, considerate and occasionally compassionate bosses go a long way to improve the morale of the workers. Those who excel must be appreciated and rewarded appropriately without favour or prejudice.

Above all there is a need to lead by example not by the maxim “Do as I say, not do what I do”. Political leaders must take the lead to demonstrate proper attitude in serving the rakyat.They should put the interests and welfare of the people before theirs. They should ensure that the all civil servants truly serve that rakyat and not the politicians. Politicization of the government machinery is the single most deterrent factor to their efficiency and productivity

Despite all these measures, there may be still those recalcitrant employees who need to be disciplined. There are definite provisions stipulated in the General Orders to initiate disciplinary action against those civil servants who do not perform up to expectations. These include warnings, transfers, denying salary increments, withholding promotions and so on. I am certain that conferring “Broom Awards” is definitely not a recommended method.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Monday, November 12, 2007

Malaysian universities continue to slide

PM concerned over slipping ranks

Malaysiakini
Nov 12, 07 11:02am

Malaysian universities have crashed out of the top-200 in global rankings, jeopardising the nation's attempts to lure foreign students, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said.

Malaysia's no-show in this year's World University Rankings has been branded a "national shame" by the opposition which said it showed the country was becoming less competitive.

"Three years ago, we had Universiti Sains Malaysia among the first 100 and another two universities in the top 200. Now, none of the Malaysian universities are in the top 200," Abdullah said, according to the state news agency Bernama.

"People will ask - if (foreign) students come to Malaysia, is it because it is cheap? If it is cheap, we must still have quality. We cannot accept cheap education but of low quality," he said.

Parlimentary Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang rejected other ministers' explanations that the poor results on the university rankings were due to the use of new methods to rate institutions.

He said that while the National University of Singapore had dropped from 19th to 33rd spot, Universiti Malaya had plummeted 54 places to 246th.

"Why is this so when both universities had started off on almost the same footing half-a-century ago?" he said this week, referring to Malaysia's independence from British colonial rule.

Malaysian Indians at crossroads

Plight of Malaysian Indians

We were overjoyed when at last MIC strongman, Datuk Seri S. Samy Velu spoke out strongly on an issue that has been plaguing the Indian community for so many years – indiscriminate demolition of temples. To Hindus, demolition of deities and temples that house them are acts of desecration and are considered sacrilegious. Our joy and hopes were very short-lived when he quickly regained his posture and returned to his “fold”, the BN.

Of late this practice of demolition of places of worship has become so rampant, with little or no consideration for the sensitivities of the Hindus. The latest of these is the demolition of the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in Kampung Rimba Jaya in Padang Jawa, near Shah Alam.

The 100-year old temple may need to be relocated alright but couldn’t it be done in a more civilized way? Why has it to be done just before Deepavalli,an important festival for the Hindus? Can’t the local authorities give in to the requests of a very senior cabinet minister? Do they need to use so much force against unarmed civilians? Do they need to arrest and manhandle lawyers at gunpoint? Why the arrogance and display of power against devotees in a temple?

In his strongest criticism so far, Samy Velu warned that the BN government risks losing the Indian votes if it does not stop this discriminate and inconsiderate action against the Indian community.

As the leader of the Indian community his comments are long overdue. In fact I am afraid it may now be too late to stop this discriminative actions against the Indians by the UMNO-led BN government, of MIC is a major partner since its inception.

The MIC,by its docile and submissive stance, has long lost its voice and power in the coalition. Its leaders, including Samy Velu who had ruled the party for over 2 decades, have allowed the opportunities to slip by a long time ago. Is threatening with denying the Indian votes now going to work? The Malacca Chief Minister,an UNMO stalwart,has recently even gone to the extent to reiterate that they do not need our votes as they can win without us.

A number of incidences recently have highlighted the deplorable attitude of the government towards the Indian community. These have prompted the Hindu Action Front (Hindraf) to resort to legal action against the British government for being the indirect cause of their pathetic state in Malaysia today.

As Samy Velu said the vast majority of Malaysian Indians had stood by the Alliance and subsequently the BN in thick and thin. They are still loyal and would continue to be so if only they are treated with due dignity and respect. Their loyalty to the government was unquestionable. In fact this blind loyalty of the Indians, that was occasionally a pain for the opposition, has contributed to a great extent for their pitiful state today.

From the beginning, it is undeniable that the Indians had contributed much to the development of the nation. They served at all levels in estates and the civil service, from the highest positions as managers and directors to the lowest as manual labourers.The medical, legal, railway and PWD were in fact monopolized by Indians whose exemplary services we still treasure till today. As directors, doctors, lawyers, nurses, teachers and even as manual workers and union leaders, they had given their relentless services to the nation of adoption they considered their motherland.

The blind loyalty to the BN is being repaid today in the form of discrimination, denial of educational and job opportunities, denial of land to erect places of worship, demolition of existing temples, passing of derogatory remarks and so on. On the whole they are being treated as second or even third class citizens in the land they toiled to develop.

It is very extremely sad and disgusting to see the way Samy Velu,a very senior cabinet minister being snubbed by the menteri besar and other government officers in his attempts to stop the demolition of the temple in Padang Jawa.We understand he was even pelted with stones when he went to mediate the ongoing standoff between the MPSA authorities and the devotees at the temple.

We are also deeply disturbed by the way the lawyers were treated by the police when they went to the defense of the rights of the people who were unarmed and peaceful. They were manhandled by machine gun-bearing police, handcuffed and beaten. Imagine professionals being treated like criminals without any respect whatsoever as lawyers representing the affected residents.

The Malaysian Indians are now at the crossroads, uncertain of what the future holds for them as the path for the future is very obscure. The only encouraging sign that this Kampung Rimba Jaya tragedy produced was the reaction of the MIC leader. Does his outburst indicate that he and the MIC have finally come to face reality under which the Indians live? Has the MIC the political will to swim and sink with the Indians?

We were better off at the time of independence than now,50 years later.We have lost almost all we once had – positions and employment in estates and the civil service. With that we seem to have also lost the respect that we once commanded especially from the other races. Poverty and its accompanying social ills are still a big problem among Indians. Unemployment and crime rate are highest among them.

We have brought up a younger generation of Indians with all the problems of the previous one minus the positions and respect. There are no opportunities for education, jobs and even in sports and recreation for the young. With the escalating cost of living, many are finding it extremely difficult to make ends meet let alone having access to proper housing, education and quality basic medical care.

The Indians have nowhere to turn to for help. They try turning to God but even that they are prevented from doing so as they demolish their places of worship and the deities.

Samy Velu and the MIC leaders have a serious problem in their hands and they must search their conscience deeply to see whether they have brought any real benefits to their community. Do they sincerely believe there is a bright future for the future generations of Indians? All in-fighting for power and self glory must stop as we unite in our endeavor to uplift the morale and zeal of the Indian community.

We salute the younger leaders of the Hindu Action Rights Force (Hindraf) and lawyers like P Uthayakumar, P Waythamoorthy, M Manoharan, S Ganabathi Rao, Gengadharan and many other social workers and activists for their relentless work in protecting the rights and attempts to uplift the poor Indians. Samy Velu and the MIC must get down to the masses to tap the potentials of this capable and brave younger generation of Indians.

We must get rid of the so called “Crab Syndrome” that had inflicted our community and is the major cause of our failure. There is a need to change our mindset from one of dependence on the government to that of self-dependence. We need to maintain our traditions and culture but at the same time acquire modern scientific knowledge and skills to be competitive in society. Unless we act now to take charge of our destiny, even God will not be able to help us.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Peacefull rally for electoral reforms

Adopt a conciliatory attitude

It's unfortunate the PM has taken a confrontational attitude to people who are expressing their views on something so important - free and fair elections,the basic prerequisite for a true democracy.

Nobody is challenging the PM or the government.Nobody is trying to topple the government that has been elected.All we ask for is to ensure the elections are conducted in a fair and free manner,where the opposition is treated equally as the ruling party.Equal opportunities should be given to them to reach the rakyat.Is asking for these rights as provided for in the Constitution a unfair demand?

If only the government can meet the people's demands in a spirit of cordial dialogs,there would be no tension whatsoever.The police instead of ensuring thIe people's gathering goes on peacefully,has unfortunately also taken a combative attitude against the very people whom they are tasked to protect.

We pray that all parties concerned would abide by the laws so that law and order will be upheld and the gathering will go on peacefully as planned.We hope the police will come hard on those out to create trouble and not those participating peacefully.

Patriotism is doing something for the love of the nation.There can be nothing more treacherous to our nation than being silent when faced with blatant injustice.

God bless Malaysia

Dr.Chris Anthony

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Guiding the young to act with restraint

Respecting the sensitiveness of others

I refer to “Let's be tolerant” (Star,November 6).

The advice by the Prime Minister and UMNO president, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to delegates to be cautious when raising sensitive issues at the current UMNO General Assembly is timely.

It was further encouraging that similar advice also came from other party stalwarts like its deputy president Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, vice-president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Youth chief Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein, Wanita chief Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz and supreme council member Seri Dr Rais Yatim.

We hope all delegates heed their advice to refrain from over-playing on sensitive issues. This is particularly important now at a time when ethnic relations are under tremendous strain. As the Prime Minister says the nation had achieved great success because the people had lived in unity for 50 years but now religious and racial issues have crept up, causing a great deal of anxiety among all. The increasing ethnic polarization is threatening the peace and harmony we used to enjoy and which was the envy of others.

The younger generations of Malaysians may not understand the trials and tribulations of the earlier generation to bring the nation to where it is today. It was no easy task as the nation was built by the sweat and blood of all the races. Many had even sacrificed their lives in the process. The peace and comfort we enjoy today are the fruits of their sacrifices and labor.

The greatest legacy they left us was the racial unity, without which we cannot be where we are today. It is our duty to teach our children to value the contributions of all those before us. It is vital for us all to convince our children the importance of preserving the racial harmony and unity that we have inherited from our forefathers. The most important prerequisite for maintaining this unity is tolerance for each other’s cultures and believes.

There is a need for restraint on what we say and do especially when they touch on the sensitivities of others. Children must be taught to understand and respect the sensitivities of other races. Free mingling of people of all communities from young, freedom of expression and open dialogue in a civil manner must be actively encouraged as these would help instill tolerance towards others.

There is a need for greater and more sincere commitment from the government, politicians and the people in general to step up the integration of the future generation. Racial unity does not freely fall from the skies nor can it be obtained by wealth and power, rather it has to be carefully and diligently nurtured and nourished.

It is extremely sad that after 50 years of independence we are still not able to accept each other unconditionally as fellow citizens in our country. We are still held back with racially based parties, each championing its own community. Isn’t it time to emphasize on a Barisan Nasional General Assembly instead an UMNO,MCA or MIC General Assembly? Isn’t it time for us to champion the needs of all Malaysians regardless of their ethnicity?

Our ethnic diversity is here to stay and as Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz says “We are all Malaysians. If we develop, we develop together. Similarly, if the country collapses, we collapse together. We have something good going on here. If it is good, let us not rock the boat”.

Yes, in the long run our restraint and tolerance of diversity would determine the stability of the nation. Our diversity was the basis of our national strength. Whether we build on this diversity or destroy it, depends entirely on us and we alone can determine our destiny.

Dr.Chris Anthony


Friday, November 02, 2007

M'sia belongs to us, not the gov't

M'sia belongs to us, not the gov't

Steve Oh
Malaysiakini

Nov 2, 07 7:56pm

Concerned Malaysians will find it hard to disagree with many of the sentiments raised in Madhatter's epitome (May the force be with you) on the state of the nation.

Surely the administration should also be concerned because never in the history of the country has so many top officials in positions of public trust been thrown into the negative spotlight in such quick succession.

From the head of the ACA to the top cop in the country and now judges, not to mention ministers and other high officials, all these very important people have been or are embroiled in scandals and allegations of corruption and abuse of power.

Even if the government is not worried, many Malaysians are, and rightly so. What will attract foreigners to the country is when they know that the judiciary is upright, the government is fair, the police are trustworthy, the people are friendly, the country is safe and honest and so on.

In a nutshell, while investors are attracted by economic considerations, political integrity is also important because today many investors subscribe to the rules of ethical investments. I have read before in some business journal that some investors would have considered Malaysia but bypassed it because of possible complications with corruption.

To suggest that foreigners will be put off by royal commissions is to think that foreigners are as naive as some Malaysian politicians. In fact, the opposite will be truer. When foreigners know that if something goes wrong in a country and that the country's government will act swiftly to redress the problem it reassures them because that is what they have seen in their own countries. They are used to the rule of law, not cronyism.

We see the most scandals in American society yet they have the most foreign investments. Why? Because the system of checks and balances ensures that the crooks will be caught and expeditiously dealt with. They don't mince their word. Even a president with his pants down gets into hot soup. No one is above the law. But in a country where everything gets swept under the carpet and nepotism thrives, that is what drives away the investors.

In a more democratic country, the government would be fighting to stay in office. But one thing it should not do is to browbeat all those who want to help. The prime minister has asked people to work with him so he should not contradict himself by coming down strong on those who are merely performing their duties and fulfilling their moral and civic obligations as much as he is doing his job. It is odd to scold people for doing what you asked them to do.

Malaysia belongs to all Malaysians, not the government, who is only acting as 'trustees' for the citizens to ensure that the country is properly administered. It was never meant that a government is above the people and can create havoc or hardships for them, nor do they have the right to unfairly intimidate the people. Such is an abuse of power.

The people are more important than the government because the people will be there for a lifetime but the government is made up of elected people paid to do a job for a salary from the public purse for their term in office.

The government exists not for itself but the people hence the notion of a parliamentary democracy, something which many politicians have yet to understand, and more importantly practise, if what we see in Parliament is an indication. Ordinary people are elected to posts of responsibility and power so that they can carry out their duties with the people's mandate. That power is not to be abused.

The day the judiciary is seen to be clean, efficient and trustworthy and free of judge-fixing then the people can decide for themselves if they would challenge the executive in many of the policies it has undertaken that are simply unconstitutional. This is the true test of a mature democracy.

All those poor young Malaysians being taught to be responsible in compulsory national boot camps - and some dying from accidents - is indeed subjecting the youth to a lesson in contradictions. "Do as I tell you but don't do as the adults do" is not the lesson they need. Sometimes I wonder if the tall twin towers are a symbol of that folly, that the nation is slowing sinking in a quicksand of double standards.

It is not that adults commit wrongs that is the problem. It is when they are not being punished that sends the wrong message to our young people. We teach young people to be responsible and warn them that they will be punished for their misdemeanours but don't apply the same standard in real life when adults in public office are alleged to have done something wrong.

When police investigate only the government's enemies but not the people's then that too is disturbing and another reflection of this double-standardness.

If found guilty, the assets of the corrupt should be confiscated. In fact, there should be a law to confiscate all the proceeds of crimes and corruption. This will send a strong message to everyone that crime does not pay, and if it does, those found guilty will be doing all the paying - paying back to the government all they have stolen, and paying for their crimes in spending time in prison.

Now we learn that poll reform group Bersih wants to hold a rally but it appears that their plan may be scuttled because a permit may not be given. It will be a sad day for the country if law-abiding citizens who merely want to improve a pivotal institution of the democratic process, the all-important electoral commission, by making their point at the rally, should be obstructed.

It will only prove to the government's critics that indeed it is afraid of changes that will remove its unfair electoral advantage because of unfair electoral boundaries. It makes nonsense of the ballot box if it is not fair. It puts paid to the people's hope of fair elections. Bersih is doing the Electoral Commission a favour and deserves our support.

Years ago it would be unthinkable to imagine that any other political party could form government but today a Malaysian has gone into space, a former prime minister accuses the government he left behind as "rotten" and "a police state", a former deputy prime minister has been sent to jail for sodomy though we all know it was a conspiracy, etc, and in the light of such unexpected and unimaginable events - anything is possible, even the change of government, if only for the better.

In a proper democracy, opposition is not a dirty word. It is a crucial check on the government to ensure it does not go astray. A democracy without a strong opposition is like a boxer with only one arm. A strong democracy needs two arms - one of the government and the other of the opposition.

It is time the government restores the rights of the opposition so as to improve the democracy Malaysia deserves. By repressing the opposition, the government is also repressing the rights of the citizens who need their representatives to bring their concerns to Parliament. There is a dire need to change the false perception that being against the government is synonymous with being against the country. Fortunately, this is gradually happening as political groups like PKR, which is Malay-dominated, become more influential.

That we have a law like the Internal Security Act used on innocent people like Abdul Malek Hussin is utterly incredible and reprehensible. It exposes the decadence of our political culture and our souls. The use of torture by the police is against international conventions and our sense of human decency. Those who tortured Abdul should have been charged. The ISA should be dumped.

It is such cruel acts of the government against their political opponents that will deter the investors, not the just decisions of the courts that redress the wrongs. The ramifications of Anwar Ibrahim's kangaroo court case still reverberates around the world in informed circles. They are what destroy confidence in the country.

The ill and unfair treatment of the opposition and dissidents in Malaysia must be seen as an attack on the democratic process of the country. When their voices are snuffed out by a biased speaker of the House, when the media blocks out their message, when they are put in jail, democracy is a farce. The unfair treatment of foreign labour will also attract bad publicity for the government.

If we fear God we should not fear man, who is but his agent to instil law and order in society. All temporal high officials are nothing more than the people we have placed to do a job. They are not 'gods' that pop down from the sky with special divine powers that we should fear them. Even if they are 'gods', they should know that a Higher God watches over them.

There are no gods in our midst, only demons. We should not be demonised by bad governance because Malaysians were not raised in a bad culture of evil but the good culture of truth, honesty and justice enshrined is so many public declarations such as the Rukun Negara, etc. Malaysians are not violent or evil people but kind and hospitable, generally law-abiding and family oriented, and deserve to live in a society that reflects their positive communal values and features.

I guess when the community has exhausted all lawful means to conduct its activities and the authorities continue to exasperate and obstruct their efforts they have no choice but to resort to what all peace-loving reformers have done - peaceful civil disobedience. I doubt the jails will have space for 10,000 peaceloving Malaysians who merely want to exercise their democratic rights to improve the political state of their country.

"Give me liberty or give me death," is a well-known saying. Is that not why not every politician, judge, policeman, journalist, and many others including ordinary citizens will never be corrupted because they value high moral values more than power, prestige and money, and will not join the company of the corrupt. They value their independence and freedom. Some principled judges, many Malaysians, are above cronyism and don't need the shelter of patronage.

Those drunken with power and the mad pursuit of money and pleasure-seeking that their offices afford them and renegade in the proper administration of their country will ultimately pay the price for their folly. It is a reminder for those in power that if they push the people beyond a certain breaking point, they will rise up in opposition.

Sukarno and Marcos squandered the chance to inscribe their names in history's hall of fame and instead today we see what they have left behind - impoverished societies, where their young women have to go abroad to slave for others and be abused. Today, in Zimbabwe there is no cooking oil, no water, no flour - only a slow lingering death among the people, thanks to Robert Mugabe. Such is the legacy of corrupt leaders. They leave behind a trail of suffering.

We must avoid falling down the slippery slope as they have. Our safeguard is a pure judiciary, a good government, a sane parliament, a free media and citizenry of courage and vision.

Indeed, God bless Malaysia.

Openness would act as restraint

We must cultivate a culture of openness and dialogue

The decision to stop the live telecast of the debate of the coming UMNO General Assembly is deeply regrettable. The reason given is that opinions and sentiments expressed by delegates at the assembly may be misinterpreted to cause uneasiness among other communities.

To my mind there should not be any issue that needs to be discussed in secret by members of any particular community. This would only be counter-productive to ethnic integration as it would only breed suspicion and hatred one another.Each community should be encouraged to air their grouses in a open and civil manner,bearing in mind the sensitivities of others.It is sad that after 50 years of independence we are still not able to accept each other as fellow citizens in our country.

Live debates,if moderated with restraint, would have positive effects in our multiracial country where ethnic relations are on the decline. It would act as a restrain on members from raising issues that would hurt the feelings of fellow citizens. Instead of educating our youth on the importance of tolerance and restraint, we would be doing a great disservice if we isolate them to discuss sensitive issues. This would only create fanaticism and intolerance to those alien to them.

This was clearly revealed at the last General Assembly when the debate was telecast live.It might have caused a lot of controversies but if the proceedings were not telecast live, it would not have received so much adverse reactions from the public and our leaders will never realize that race relations in the country is not that rosy as had been painted all these while.

Some of the delegates especially from the youth wing were oblivious to the likely ill effects that their statements could have on other communities. They were least bothered that what they utter at the meeting could deeply hurt the feelings of fellow Malaysians of other ethnicity. This is the result of a system that encourages living cocooned within their own community with little or no interaction with others.

Openness in the form of live telecast, could in fact restrain the delegates from uttering words and phrases that would be offensive to other races.Such live debates should be encouraged to cover not just UMNO but all political parties,including the opposition and even parliament and state assembly proceedings. What else can be a better restraint to our politicians than being aware that they are being watched by millions of fellow Malaysians?

Our leaders of all political parties must impress upon their members that the Federal Constitution guarantees the right of all the citizens and that all races are here to stay, in the land they consider as their motherland. Nobody is threatening to rob others of their rights as all they ask for is their own rights as enshrined in the federal constitution. We should not over-react to imaginary threats as that would only create chaos.

The increasing ethnic polarization is threatening the peace and harmony we used to enjoy and which was the envy of others.The only way out of our present predicament is open, rational and civil dialogue, bearing in mind the sensitivities, fears and anxiety of all the races. This may not be easy, and may take a long time, but with full commitment and the might of the government machinery we have a reasonable chance of achieving a certain degree success.

In the meantime, steps to educate the future generation should also be implemented now without any delay. Children from all races must be taught to understand and respect the sensitivities of other races. Free mingling of people of all races from young, freedom of expression and open dialogue in a civil manner must be actively encouraged as these would help instill tolerance towards others.

Our ethnic diversity is here to stay and in the long run only openness will act as a restraint on our words and deeds. Our diversity was the basis of our national strength. Whether we build on this diversity or destroy it, depends entirely on us and we alone can determine our destiny.

Dr.Chris Anthony

May the force be with you


May the force be with you

Malaysiakini

Madhatter
Nov 1, 07 5:53pm

Democracy and freedom of the media went out the door when Commercial Crime Investigation Department director Ramli Yusuff requested Malaysiakini journalists to leave his press conference.

It is strange that a man who wants the truth to be known should pick on the very people who have been getting the truth out into the public space. He may rue the day he did that when he desperately needs an avenue to defend himself in future, as one infamous opponent of Malaysiakini, now a critic of the government, discovered.

The latest police scandals, the apparent tit-for-tat actions of the parties involved, including factions in the police force and Anti-Corruption Agency are reason why the IPCMC (Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission) is long overdue.

Pak Lah has been derelict in his duty and appears to be incompetent. He should relinquish his role and take on the portfolio of foreign minister since he likes to travel abroad when business at home demands his attention. It is okay for him to take his new bride for a ride but not the people.

Judging the comments of ministers in response to the judiciary fiasco, one can't avoid concluding that incompetence and the lack of honesty are behind the government's reluctance to quickly resolve the Lingam video intrigue.

It is the only credible explanation when the views of the government are so divergent from ours on something so obvious as the Lingam video. Trying to defend the indefensible when the monkey has been caught with his hands in the coconut is another stroke of pure stupidity and self-delusion for which the government is renowned.

Current events in Malaysia speak of a government that is out of control because of Pak Lah's lack of leadership. Each time something of major public concern occurs, he hides behind the scene and lets his ministers or some other person manage the problem. Then he appears when the damage has been done by his ministers and appears the nice guy making all the right moves, correcting his ministers and taking the high moral ground. This is leadership by dereliction and deceit.

A good leader will come out in the open and lead from the front not the back. But this backpedaling method of Pak Lah happens too often. Perhaps Malaysiakini may dig its archives and list the litany of Pak Lah's backpedaling ways, and each time it is some bureaucrat who did not understand the government's stand and did the wrong thing, not Pak Lah's government.

Members of the royal family have better things to do than comment on the country's management. But for the Sultan of Perak, once the country's top judge to openly comment on the judiciary in response to the Lingam video scandal, manifests the growing impatience of Malaysians with the government's recalcitrance in forming a royal commission to sort out the judiciary. The government is only digging a larger hole for itself.

A royal commission should clean out the rotten apples in the judiciary. Lingam's video is a symbolic expose of what really occurs behind the scenes. Multiply it and the people can peer into how business is conducted by the corrupt in tandem with their links in the administration.

In typical style, the prime minister lambasted the Bar Council, whose lame response to his criticism of their actions also leaves much to be desired. The premier does not know how to do his job and has no reason to preach to the Bar Council which must show more backbone in dealing with the government. It is not proper for the government to tell the Bar Council, the country's best legal brains, what to do when its so-called law minister does not even understand the basic notion of natural justice.

The time has come when Malaysians have enough of government nonsense. Those elected goons acting like rajahs and dictators, overruling and stemming public debate on every important major issue of public concern have got to be stopped.

Another disgraceful politician is the speaker of the House. This man is supposed to uphold the Constitution and ensure there is proper parliamentary debate but his obscenely biased clamping down of opposition members is beyond belief. It has brought disrepute to the august house of the people and the speaker should himself be referred to a disciplinary board.

The Election Commission is another tool of the government when it is supposed to be neutral and fair. How can it claim to be an election commission when everyone knows that the electoral boundaries are so biased and skewed against democracy? Is it any wonder that the Barisan always wins the elections? An analysis of the voting results of past years will tell you that if the electoral boundaries were fairly delineated, as they should be if the EC has done its job fairly and professionally, Umno in particular would not have won as many seats as it has done.

The other crucial factor is the bureaucracy, those public servants who are under the people's payroll. Instead of performing their duties according to the highest code of conduct and professionalism and being above politics they act as if they are the servants and sycophants of the politicians. They simply have failed to understand that being a government servant is not the same as being a stooge of the ruling political party.

In Japan, for example, you see this separation of the politicians and the bureaucrats clearly. So no matter who forms the Japanese government, the bureaucracy is able to function smoothly and effectively and in fact there is even a joke that you don’t need the politicians to run the country in Japan. Also in developed countries, heads of departments and public servants have taken the politicians, including their ministers, to task if they are forced to do something that is unethical or unconstitutional.

But in Malaysia, the pengarahs (directors) are in bed with the politicians and is it any wonder that so many of them receive datukships and fancy titles. So how can the country progress with this sort of mentality - that all you have to do is be a good servant, not of the public but the politicians, and all will be well. This shallowness of the bureaucracy has been around for a long time and now the judiciary is in danger of falling into the same quagmire.

The government is so used to doublespeak and deceit that it is unable to think straight and that is why it is full of contradictions. Either the warlords in the Umno fiefdom are flexing their muscles more boldly or they are pathetically schizoid. Take for example, the shameful keris waving matter. Now they are coming out and saying that it will be a permanent part of their political culture. Shish! It shows their duplicitous nature.

The keris we all know is held in high regard as a symbol of Malay militancy. It is acceptable to use it decoratively in formal cultural attire. But when young political turks start waving it in the air accompanied by aggressive chanting and intimidating postures, you'd have to be an idiot not to get the message. The keris should be banned for any other use than cultural and when used like it was at the Umno assembly, should be deemed a provocative act.

Western kings and princes have a ceremonial sword as part of their attire but we don’t see their politicians waving swords at their political meetings do we? Well, they are simply more civilised and honest. But please politicians, spare us your dishonesty. If you want to wave a weapon at anyone and intimidate them and commit a felony, don't pretend and make dishonest excuses.

In a civilised country, someone who makes a verbal assault on another in a threatening manner can be charged in court. But in Malaysia, only the government's youth party, reminiscent of Hitler's Nazi youth groups, can do it and we know the outcome of such behaviour years later.

The country spends untold sums of money on religion, building mosques at taxpayers' expense, spending millions and millions on religious schools, yet corruption is so rampant and it affects every echelon of the economy. For years, every Malaysian knows that the traffic police are corrupt. Yet the government has not done anything to stop the corruption. It has not explained why religion has not bitten into the moral conscience of the police. The government has indeed failed the religious test.

The rift in the police force is denied but the proof is in the pudding. If there is no rift why is CCID director Ramli Yusuff being accused of amassing a whopping 27 million ringgit? Why is he alleging that he is being picked on because his officers exposed the collusion of other police officers with a top gangster? Who needs soap operas when the Malaysian police, judge-fixing lawyers and politicians provide so much entertainment?

Let's face it. Call an ace an ace and a spade a spade. The Malaysian government has been in power for too long and lost its moral compass. It is lost in the jungle of greed. Politics is the short route to personal power and riches and what they bring. The Zakaria Derios mansion is a monument of such obscenity. The only thing worse than a corrupt government official is the people who support him. I am not suggesting Zakaria is guilty of corruption but I would like to know the secret of his success.

The government should ask him to conduct seminars for the Malay business people whom Pak Lah has recently chided for their lack of success. It is strange and no coincidence that every time the elections are near that the prime minister picks on the Malays. It all started with Mohamad Mahathir.

But this time, the non-Malays and the Malays can't be fooled. The non-Malays know that Pak Lah and his cronies tell them one thing and another to their own people. They are masters of doublespeak and politicians are renowned for speaking with a forked-tongue. Even the Red Indians knew that, how much more clever the Malaysians.

More and more Malays now know that only a handful of cronies take the lion's share of the nation's wealth which is meant to be distributed among them more evenly. Mahathir duped them with his plan to establish a few super rich Malay tycoons. And Malaysians all fell for it. How silly.

It is like the man who wants to satisfy his lust and says he married another woman to keep her from getting poor. Why? Couldn’t charity help her in this modern age? And why are the needy women all young and sweet? How many men have married old and frail women, to help them out of poverty? Alas, the heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick!

The state of the nation is not healthy. Pak Lah's administration has failed the moral test. He himself has failed the test that he established himself. Judged by his own words and standards, he has failed. Tell me the truth, work with me, yak, yak, yak, but what do we get? The opposite! And now that the Bar Council has told him the truth - he scolds them. Shish.

Let’s face the truth. Politicians are not royalty, born to lead. They are given the chance to lead. Take away Pak Lah's role and what is he? Look at the high and mighty Mahathir. Where is he now? He is battling to stay alive and let's hope long enough to redeem himself. He is the architect, engineer, developer, real estate agent - the consummate maestro of the Malaysian Dilemma. He lived by it and now leaves this legacy for us.

The Malay Dilemma was a myth created by Mahathir to exploit the psyche of a victim's complex innate in the Malays of yesteryears. Under the British, only Mother England's interest mattered. Everyone else had to make a go of it. But cunning Mahathir made it out that the Chinese and the British put the Malays at a disadvantage. And after 50 years of Umno rule, what have changed?

Malaysians are stupid if they allow their country to be run like a mafia country. Now the gangsters are so bold. They gun down the police. But has anyone investigated if it was an inside job? Were the police walking into a trap? Were the crooks tipped off and the police sacrificed to warn off other honest cops?

We have spent millions to send a Malaysian to celebrate Hari Raya in space. Yet we couldn’t find enough money to provide the police who were involved in the drugs raid without the proper attire. Shish! Here is a government trying to join the space race but can't do a simple thing like providing bullet proof vests to its policemen on a dangerous raid. Why wasn’t this raised in Parliament?

Malaysians should not be stupid but angry that their country is being exploited by the people they elected to benefit them. The masses need to get the message out to the common folks everywhere. It took a long time to get 5,000 people to sign the petition to the King. It should have taken five minutes! Or five days. What's wrong with Malaysians?

But if I announce a free porn video, be sure I will have 500,000 people sign up. The young in Malaysia had better wake up and start to do something about their country, about their future. Don't be an idiot and think that because you know so and so and enjoy some benefits now that everything will be okay. Talk to those who once were Mahathir's cronies. Where are they now?

So you want to postpone the nation's problems to your grandchildren? Don't make the mistake of your parents and grandparents who did nothing. See what their inaction has caused them. The time is ripe now to rid the country of all those corrupt politicians who should not be allowed to get away with murder and having a great time at the people's expense.

Don't be fooled by the politicians who say the Chinese are the enemy, the Malays are the enemy, the Indians are the enemy. There is only one enemy. The one who is corrupt. Everyone else is your friend.

Save Malaysia and vote out the corrupt politicians and take part in every activity that you can to make your country a better place. Surely there must be some honest and decent politicians left in the government. Support them also because it is not the party that counts but the people whom you entrust to lead you.

Remember your future is in your hands and don't blame anyone if you suffer because you made the wrong choice. The last time many of us were fooled - but once bitten, twice shy. Do I need to say more?

"IF WE COULD SEE INSIDE OTHERS' HEARTS"

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