Thursday, November 30, 2006

All-round Doubts About MAS' Success.

MAS' reputation has reached such a low level that even our Honourable Members of Parliament have openly expressed doubts about the 'profits' recorded by the national carrier. Some have even urged the government to be more transparent about the airline's profit. What a turn of fortunes for a one-time trailblazing superstar of an airline for whom even the sky was not the limit.

There was a glorious past in MAS' chequered history when profits were taken for granted and its Golden Service was world renowned. What happened to all that? Now even a simple declaration of profit is questioned and MPs want to know whether the profit posted by the national carrier was attributed to the sharp increase in ticket prices or other surcharges! They are of the opinion that the airline made a quick recovery because it raised ticket prices, retrenched workers and sold assets including the MAS headquarters building.

"Everyone can make a profit in business if they raise ticket prices ... so we want the government to be more transparent about MAS' profit," said Datuk Raja Ahmad Zainudin Raja Omar (BN-Larut) in the Dewan Rakyat. The government however maintained that the profit gained by MAS was "the fruit of the airline's turnaround plan" implemented about a year ago," and it has been restored and is now able to cut costs and the profit will increase.

Through all this, 'close-one-eye' MP for Jasin Mohd Said Yusof managed to squeeze in a demand for MAS to revise downward its fares following the significant fall in the world's crude oil prices!

After five consecutive quarters of losses, MAS recorded a net profit of RM240.7 million in the third quarter ending Sept 30. It posted a net loss of RM366.4 million in the same quarter last year.

Group revenue during the quarter under review rose to RM3.63 billion against RM3.07 billion a year earlier.

The profit is partly attributed to a one-off gain of RM194 million from the sale of MAS' headquarters here and compensation received from the government. The company also saved cost after it cut unprofitable routes and reduced workforce.

The airline said passenger and cargo yields also improved tremendously since the implementation of its turnaround plan.

Its net loss in the first nine months of this year was RM257.9 million from RM532.6 million in the same period last year.

MAS is targeting to cut losses to RM620 million this year and to post a profit of RM50 million next year. It also expects to turn in a net profit of RM500 million in 2008. (-- BERNAMA)

***** Posting a RM500 million profit in 2008? Isn't that a little too optimistic? I'm sure that among the readers of this blog there will be some who are in the know about the aviation industry and especially on issues pertaining to MAS. It would be really great if you could enlighten us on what the real situation is and where MAS is heading.


Spending RM40,000 On A Seminar For 50 People Is Peanuts, Says Selayang Municipal Council President!

Of course that mother-of-all-wastrels, Selayang Municipal Council president Zainal Abidin Azim can say what he likes. After all it is not his hard earned money. It is the ratepayer's blood and sweat that he is squandering.

The gumption of that man is quite incredible. Among the gems in his statements:

1) The three-day, two-night stay at the Awana Golf and Country Resort for MPS councillors and department heads was a working trip aimed at fostering good ties.
2) A
ccommodation for the seminar was being provided on a twin-sharing basis, which showed that the council was prudent with its expenses.
“I don’t think spending RM40,000 on a seminar for 50 people can be considered an expensive venture!”

***** Why, I would like to know, is it that only in a luxury surrounding such as the
Awana Golf and Country Resort can good ties be fostered? Can it not be achieved at the workplace? Or does the 'fostering' require more 'conducive' surroundings like those purportedly used by a certain political pair?

Why spend forty thousand ringgit on a totally purposeless seminar which can be held at the council building itself? Will the president or the other monkeys calling themselves councillors have gone ahead with this luxury meeting if they had to bear the entire expense? Just because they have control over the ratepayers' money, do they have the guts to splurge like this. They are nothing but a bunch of greedy freeloaders and should be condemned as such.

Yesterday's related post here: Profligacy, Thy Name Is Selayang Municipal Council.

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Two Prominent Malaysian Politicians Honoured.

I suppose it must be a good feeling, once in a while to get a little recognition for the dedicated work put in by our tokoh2 politik. Two such leaders were recently honoured. You can read about their contributions and the rationale for the awards and honours here:

1) Samy Vellu Gets Asean Engineering Award

2) Zam Receives Eminent Journalist Award 2006

Heartiest congratulations to the above leaders and here's hoping that more and more of our honest and upright politicians will be duly honoured by responsible organizations and groups, on behalf of an eternally grateful Malaysian public. It is the sincere wish of this blog to see that the Malaysian Dental Association now bestows similar high honours on its most notori.., sorry, most eminent member YAB Khir Toyo.

Readers of this blog are invited to submit the names of deserving, selfless and conscientious politicians for further recognition, awards and honours.

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Najib Advises Media Not To Use Conflicts To Draw Audience. In Other Words Don't Tell The Truth All The Time.

Don't Be Wholly Truthful. That in essence summarizes Najib's 'advice' to the media. With his very accomplished talent in doublespeak, our DPM in a roundabout way is exactly preaching that line to the media practitioners. Of course acting like the benign leader that he tries so very hard to portray, he doesn't threaten or bristle with anger.

I especially like that part where he says, "the media should have the freedom to report but with restrictions, the reports must be balanced and fair, the reports must have objectivity, and the reports must state the truth about any matter." It's laughable that one can state the truth but the freedom to do it must have restrictions! Basically what he implies is that you can be as truthful as you want to be, provided it doesn't involve us big shots. In case we are mentioned in any issue or conflict, please give a 'fair and balanced' report, truth be damned. It is ironical when he says that the 'reports must have objectivity.' How does one exercise objectivity if one's inherent right to report on any subject neutrally is being sought to be restricted? Read the Bernama report here and be amused:

*** Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak Wednesday night advised media practitioners not to use conflicts to draw audience but to write reports with full responsibility.

He said media practitioners should not draw audience by blowing up any conflict or issue.

"Journalism institutes in other countries teach one of the importance of drawing audience by writing reports on fights or conflicts. Small conflicts are intentionally blown up to sell the newspapers," he said at the Malaysian Press Night 2006, here.

Najib said the Malaysian media, on the other hand, should exercise responsibility in shaping society in its own mould.

"This does not mean that the Malaysian media cannot report on conflicts but the method of reporting should be exercised with a sense of responsibility and in the name of the truth," he said.

Najib also outlined four points that were necessary to create a responsible media that could convince the people of the reports it produced.

He said the media should have the freedom to report but with restrictions, the reports must be balanced and fair, the reports must have objectivity, and the reports must state the truth about any matter.

He also expressed the hope that the media would be a good partner of the government in the effort to develop the mind of society towards achieving the national mission.

****** Najib wants the media to be a 'good partner?' And that too in the achieving of the 'national mission'? I wonder what that truthfully is?


Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Profligacy, Thy Name Is Selayang Municipal Council.

IT LOOKS like local governments and councillors have not learnt anything from the recent negative publicity surrounding their actions. It has in fact become worse, especially where the Selayang Municipal Council (MPS) is concerned.

It seems that the boardroom isn't good enough for it to hold its full board meeting and seminar. The Awana Genting Highlands Golf and Country Resort (AGHGCR) seems more suited for the three-day event beginning Sunday.

All in all, some 50 staff, including heads of departments would be attending the event and staying at the hill resort. The entire cost, between RM30,000 to RM40,000, is borne by the MPS.

A source said the council had booked 40 double deluxe rooms for the three-day, two-night stay in AGHGCR. The package comes with five meals a day and a convention room for the seminar.

Residents are fuming mad.

Ahmad Fadzil, 46, a resident in Pinggiran Batu Caves, wondered why was it so hard for MPS to understand that such trips were a waste of taxpayers' money. “There are several potholes and numerous streetlights are not lit in my area,'' he said. “The money should be to good use such as rectifying these problems, not on working holidays.''

DAP Selangor state exco member M. Batumalai, who is also a resident of Bandar Country Homes, Rawang, agrees. “The money could be used to help poor people in the area or even food problems in Rawang,'' he said. “It is unethical for MPS to abuse public funds like this,'' said the 39-year-old who has been a resident in the area for the past four years.

Bandar Country Homes Residents' Association chairman Soong Beng Khoon said it was fine to hold a seminar since there were six newly-elected councillors for the 2006-2008 term. “But full board meetings are where residents' issues are discussed. Why not begin this by making it more convenient and cheaper by holding it at the MPS building premises itself?''

MPS president Zainal Abidin Azim could not be contacted for comments. (TheStar)

***** So the gravy train goes on and on, unimpeded, uncorrected and undisciplined. Speaks volumes of the non-governance prevalent in Selangor today. These wastrels are spending thirty to forty thousand ringgit of the people's money AND no one can stop or question them! The MPS president remains nonchalantly unavailable for comment, perhaps until the gala event is over. After all the Auditor-General's query on this monumental waste will only come after five years, so why worry now?

What is the Capo di tutti capi of Selangor, Don Toyo doing about this? Or must even a council matter be referred to the PM before action is taken? When will the scourge of toyolism and its evil perpetrators be finally banished from the once pristine land of Selangor? The State and the residents have been inflicted with so much punishment over the years, I sometimes worry if the damage done is reversible.

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100 Local IT Graduates To India For Two Weeks Training. How Useful Can It Be?

Some 100 local graduates in information technology (IT) would be sent to Bangalore, India for a two-week stint in industrial training next year.

Higher Education Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed said this was made possible through a joint-venture between the ministry and Infosys Technology Limited (Infosys), an India-based international company involved in information and communication technology company.

"Infosys has its own training programme where the company takes in 1,000 graduates in India for training every year. Of the 1,000 trainees, we managed to get a quota of 100 for Malaysian graduates to join in the training which will begin in February next year," he told a press conference here Tuesday.

He said with the shortage of quality workers in IT, such a training would help raise the standard and capability of the local work force in the field.

Mustapa said he also noticed that not many students were keen to pursue IT studies in local public institutions of higher learning adding that this was on the presumption that they would have problems getting jobs after completing their studies.

Earlier in his speech, Mustapa said the drop in the number of IT graduates in the country was because of the attitude in the society which only looked at the aspect of employment opportunities. "Because of this bad perception, there is a drop in the quality and number of IT graduates," he added.

Infosys Technology Limited also has operations in Atlanta, London, Toronto, Zurich, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Beijing and New Delhi. The company has about 66,000 employees worldwide.

***** Firstly let me make it quite clear that I have nothing against enabling our IT grads to train overseas especially India. I do recognize that they are world leaders in the field and any cooperation with them will most definitely benefit us. I've also read of the excellence associated with the training party, Infosys Technology Limited (Infosys).

My doubts centre mostly on the time being spent for this training, a mere two weeks. The Indian grads who are also undergoing the same training are probably used to the system there and perhaps may require a shorter duration. When we come from a more or less alien environment compared to the locals there and maybe even a different system of learning, I wonder if such a 'condensed' training package will be worth the investment financially? As a layperson, somehow two weeks for me seems a trifle short for something as sophisticated as Information Technology. Perhaps an IT savvy reader could elaborate on this.


UiTM Grads In Demand. Where? From Which Lucky Country Is the Demand From?

UNIVERSITI Teknologi Mara (UiTM) graduates are more marketable than their counterparts from other public universities.

Higher Education Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed said it had been found that UiTM graduates were able to secure jobs much more easily.

The university has an enrolment of 90,000 students pursuing diploma and degree courses at its main campus in Shah Alam and branches nationwide.

"They hold the edge as many have a good command of English and entrepreneurship skills," he said.

"The other factors are that their courses adopt a more hands-on approach and are tailored to market needs."

However, Mustapa told Ismail Mohamed Said (BN-Kuala Krau) he did not have any figures on the number of unemployed graduates from UiTM.

To a question whether the government planned to re-establish Institut Teknologi Mara (ITM), Mustapa replied in the negative. "UiTM carries the same objectives as ITM. The only thing different is the name." Mustapa said at present, there were 50,800 UiTM students pursuing diploma courses.

To another supplementary question by Datuk Raja Ahmad Zainudin Raja Omar (BN-Larut), the minister said Bumiputera students who failed to gain places in public universities could apply to UiTM.

He said new courses like medicine and pharmacy were being planned while the need to increase the number of lecturers was also being looked into. (NST)

***** Firstly it is only reasonable to expect of all people, the Minister of Higher Education to know the figures for unemployed graduates. That is the very basic information that he should be equipped with, especially when he is answering questions pertaining to his portfolio in Parliament.

One should not make lofty claims of great demand and say that the grads from UiTM are more marketable than other public varsities and in the same breath plead ignorance on even the figures for unemployed graduates there! Relevant statistics must be provided to back up any such claim if the minister's clarifications and speeches are to be taken seriously in the future.

As it is there are already many questions regarding the expansion plans for UiTM.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Who Initiated This Mega-Merger? "Don't Bother About It" Says PNB Boss!

Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) will support any kind of synergy that it believes will enhance efficiency and offer better value for the company, said its president/group chief executive, Tan Sri Hamad Kama Piah Che Othman.

He said PNB had undertook consolidations in the past, like the case of Island and Peninsular Bhd.

"So this (RM31 billion proposed merger between Sime Darby Bhd, Golden Hope Plantations Bhd and Kumpulan Guthrie Bhd) is not unheard of," he told reporters. "Maybe, this is the biggest so far because you are talking about three giants in the industry," he said.

Synergy Drive Sdn Bhd, the proposed special-purpose vehicle, would emerge as the world's largest listed oil palm plantation player if the deal, said to be the biggest in South East Asia, is successful. It would then be listed on Bursa Malaysia in place of the three companies which in turn, would be delisted.

Asked who initiated the merger proposal, Hamad said "Why so much interest in that. I don't think we want to bother with that. The most important thing is the result. We want to see enhanced economic value created."

He said post-merger, PNB would still remain as the major shareholder in the company. "Hopefully, we can better penetrate the world market in concerted efforts and get the market share we expect," he said.

According to Hamad, there would be cost-cutting measures to achieve a significant level of synergy.

"When you combine the resources as one effort and under one leadership, then you can see where you are going next. You can see we are quite big, but for world standard we are still small," he said.

Asked if there would be retrenchment of the 107,000-strong staff due to job redundancy, he said PNB would leave it to the boards of various companies to decide. "They will know more about the position and the impact on these people. The thing is when you are together under one roof, cost-cutting will come in handy.

"Definitely, we cannot have three research houses," he said. However, he said, PNB would not simply retrench the workers.


***** Shall we heed the word of the wise man from PNB and refrain from asking who initiated the merger, who stands to gain the most from this and who most importantly will lose? Who? Who? And who? I'm trying to second-guess here. Any bright spark out there with more than mere guesses and assumptions? The readers of this blog will be most interested to know.


Ananda Krishnan's Multimillion Dollar House.

Malaysian tycoon T. Ananda Krishnan's stunning new multimillion dollar Kia Ora homestead near the rural town of Scone, about 330km from Sydney, is to be entered in the Australian House of the Year contest after recently winning the prestigious 2006 Housing Industry Association Hunter Home of the Year Award.

Kia Ora means "Welcome" in the Maori language.

The house, with its large open plan and modern design impressed Hunter Home Award judges who described it as "sensational and practical" at the presentation of awards in Newcastle, about 120km from Scone. The award-winning house commands stunning views of the historic Kia Ora Stud in the coveted Segenhoe Valley, in the Hunter Valley District.

Ananda is believed to have acquired the 1,800-hectare property about three years ago. The house, designed by Paul Berkemeier, will now be entered in the Australian House of the Year contest which will be decided in Sydney on May 12.

Scone builder Jeff Towler, who spent more than two years building the homestead which features ingenious use of local materials, said it was by far the most challenging project he had worked on. "It was so difficult because of the incredible attention to detail required, and that is what really sets it apart from other houses," Towler said.

The house has a large open deck space, a heated swimming pool, two fireplaces, beautifully landscaped gardens with stunning native plants, and breathtaking views from all sections of the house. Towler said it was a pleasure to work for Ananda who knew exactly what he wanted and set high standards.

The Segenhoe Valley, where Kia Ora Stud is situated, is renowned for producing thoroughbreds and Kia Ora has, for over 80 years, produced some of the best in Australia. A programme of pasture development implemented under Ananda's ownership has optimised the potential of this outstanding horse property.


***** Am posting this bit of trivia as it's been a very very busy day and am hard-pressed for time.


What Makes Al-Arqam Tick?

This headline in the NST got me thinking: Al-Arqam promises members super power.

Members of the revived Al-Arqam movement were led to believe that they could possess powers that would bring down aeroplanes by simply pointing at them. They were also told that they could only fight the Jews effectively if they were members of this sect.

These "teachings" at a shoplot in Shah Alam were recorded by undercover officers fromthe Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) who infiltrated this group several months ago. The undercover officers had mingled with the members and attended sermons at their regular meetings which were usually attended by about 100 members.

The officers reported that the members were made up of families who came from Kelantan, Terengganu, Johor, Negri Sembilan, Pahang and as far as Sabah. They were said to be educated, drove posh cars and also spoke fluent English.

New recruits were taken to Nilai to receive "blessings" from Ashaari Muhammad, the former leader of the sect. The whereabouts of Ashaari, also known as Abuya to his followers, are still unclear. For the past three years, the sect used a different name to recruit members. The sect is now called Zikir Agung.

Most of the leaders and followers are ex-members of Al-Arqam from 10 years ago. Even their chants and prayers are similar to what was used then.

One of the prayers was: Ahli yang berjuang dalam perjuangan ini akan mendapat power daripada Allah seperti mana yang diberikan kepada Rasulullah. Kemuncak kematangan Karomah atau power inilah apabila tunjuk kapal terbang dengan jari dan niat jatuh, maka jatuhlah.

(Those who fight in this battle will receive the same power bestowed upon the Prophet by Allah. The pinnacle of this miracle is when you point a finger towards an aeroplane intending it to fall, and it will fall.) (NST)

***** What struck me was the fact that sane, educated people could simply be taken in by claims of being bestowed with super powers! I therefore did a little 'Googleing' and came up with some interesting info on religious cults not unlike Al-Arqam.

"People who end up in cults are normal people. They are usually intelligent, open-minded and honest. They're willing to make sacrifices for the greater good of the group. They're interested in self-improvement and in the improvement of the world. The best kinds of people, in a way, are targeted by cults. Their very decency makes them desirable as cult members."
--Dr J W West,
Professor of Psychiatry, University of California.

The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines a cult as "a system of religious worship; devotion, homage to person or thing". Nowadays, in the public mind, the word "cult" is more likely to be associated with brain-washing, manipulation of followers, public scandals over cult leaders' sex lives, murder and mass suicide, rather than religious worship.

One of the difficulties of defining a religious cult is that it is an organization in a condition of gradual change. A religious cult may be encountered in its early, middle or late stages of evolution. At its beginning the cult consists of a small group of people focused around a benign leader to whom individuals are attracted. At its end, it can become a manipulative, exploitative, multi-national organization. What most people mean when they speak of a cult, is a New Religious Group (NRG) which has acquired the characteristics of mid-late stage evolution.

It is possible, by using an evolutionary line, to identify at which point the group you are in or are considering joining, has evolved to, and how it might be expected to develop.

There are approximately 40 characteristics of cult life. However, in identifying a NRG which has evolved into a dangerous cult, it is really only necessary to observe the lifestyle of the leader and the attitude of members to the leader, to make a diagnosis. By the time a NRG has evolved to its mid-late stage, the leader is authoritarian, declaring herself or himself to be divine and is considered to be so by many of the members. Following the leader is believed to be the only route to enlightenment or salvation - as defined by the cult. The leader lives in luxurious circumstances at the members' expense, removed from the main body of the group. The leader is largely inaccessible except to a privileged few. The leader makes prophecies of future events which the group prepares to encounter. The members manifest almost unquestioning submission to the leader treating him or her like a celebrity or saint.

Not all religious cults will pass through each stage and stages will overlap:

  1. People encounter an attractive, small group within which a leader has emerged or is self-appointed
  2. The leader is charismatic and people focus around him or her
  3. The followers gradually isolate the leader by elevating him or her
  4. The group enlarges and members form emotional bonds, united by common aims and activities
  5. The leader begins to change, flattered by the attention of the followers. Drained by the constant demands of the followers, she or he develops a distorted view of her or himself. The leader lacks peers with which to measure herself or himself against. The leader considers there is no earthly authority to which she or he is answerable
  6. The group continues to grow to the point where formal organization becomes necessary
  7. The group applies for charitable status. It runs businesses. By now, the annual financial turnover of the group is substantial
  8. The group is highly structured with several people in positions of power over others
  9. The leader begins to live away from the main body of the group
  10. People desiring power and control gravitate to the leader and form a clique around him or her
  11. The clique protects the leader in order to protect its own interests. The leader is now out of control - testing her/his autocratic powers to their limits. The power clique attempts to prevent followers from recognizing the deterioration in the leader. People on the fringes of the organization are mostly unaware of what is happening at the centre.
  12. News begins to leak out to the membership. The leadership comes under attack both from outside and within the group
  13. Law suits are served by the organization against those publicly expressing criticism of the group. Former members challenge the group with counter suits.
  14. The leader and power clique resort to increasingly extreme and desperate measures in order to maintain their position and silence opposition.
  15. The catastrophic denouément - public scandal, imprisonment, attempted murder, murder, suicide.
  16. The emergence of the re-formed group in a more repressive form than the original.
All along this evolutionary line people are joining and leaving the organization.

Aside from fulfilling needs, a group comes to have a strong hold on followers through the religious element in the leader's teachings. Most people learn religious ideas from a young age when, because of their openness and vulnerability, the ideas penetrate deeply. Thus, the use of old religious ideas in NRGs touches an irresistible chord in many and renders members more impressionable.

-- A feeling of being chosen and therefore special.
-- Being ready to give up everything for spiritual development.
Ignoring warnings that you may be making a mistake.
Embracing the need to endure suffering and humiliation.
Being prepared to make sacrifices.
Relinquishing attachments to family and friends.
-- Becoming a more powerful person.
-- Accepting fear as a method of reinforcing teaching.
Giving to the group and accepting a life with few possessions.
Being drawn to the inner circle of a group by the possibility of miracles.
-- Not requiring proof of the leader's validity.
Adopting a childlike dependency on the leader.


Self Improvement -- Person feels deficient compared with others.
Self knowledge -- Feel confused. Don't know themselves.
Self understanding -- Don't understand why they are as they are.
Want to make a difference in life -- Feel ineffective.
A sense of purpose -- Feel purposeless.
A sense of direction -- Feel aimless.
Meaning -- Life seems meaningless.
Answers to questions -- Why am I here?
A better way of living -- Current way of life is unsatisfactory: job, housing, relationships.
The companionship of like-minded people -- Lonely.
A structured way of life -- An unstructured life of doubt, uncertainty and insecurity
Personal guidance -- Don't know what to do with themselves and feel there is no-one they can ask who they have confidence in. Looking for someone to tell them what to do.
A sense of self worth -- Feel under-valued.
To be of service in ways which are meaningful to them -- Feel useless and unnecessary.
To feel optimistic -- Disillusioned; have suffered many setbacks.
To love and be loved -- Poor relationship experiences.
To be recognized and accepted -- Receive little attention from others. Feel rejected.
To feel special -- Feel inadequate and unacknowledged.
Power and control -- Feel powerless; at the mercy of others and circumstances.
To be influential -- Feel overlooked; nobody listens.
To travel, explore and have new experiences -- Leading a dull life with few opportunities for change.
Learn new skills -- Low self esteem.

These wide ranging needs suggest the reasons why people are attracted to a group and their reason for staying. Often it is so hard to leave because the follower is held hostage by their own needs. The follower has already learnt that outside the group their needs are not met so there is little attraction to leaving. If a person is to be encouraged to leave they have to identify their needs and know that these needs can be met, not in a way that others think they should, but in a way that feels right for them. People stay even when they begin to have an idea that all is not well, because the group has become the only place which meets their deepest needs and longings.


Anyone considering joining a New Religious Group would do well to first examine their personal needs one by one, as listed above. Then, explore ways in which these needs can be met which are self-empowering rather than subjecting themselves to the power of others.


Monday, November 27, 2006

RTM Will Not Telecast Parliamentary Proceedings Live - Until MPs Learn To Behave Perhaps?

Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) will not telecast the parliamentary proceedings live despite constant requests by the opposition, Information Minister Datuk Seri Zainuddin Maidin said Monday. That is of course the government's right, whether to telecast or not.

However what I found intriguing were the reasons given for this reluctance to 'bare all.' Lord Zam explained that the decision was made in the 'interest of safeguarding harmony' in the country because besides the high cost involved, the people would surely not be able to accept the behaviour of the MPs and the conduct of the proceedings which had political and racial intonations.

Seriously, that statement gives the impression that the hallowed halls of Parliament are teeming with racists of every bent with a proclivity to tear the 'harmony' of the nation into tiny shreds every time they open their mouth and speak in the Dewan! That they might even perform a few tricks we naively associate only with lesser primates may be an unmentioned cause which adds to the reluctance of the government. Since the opposition, to quote the minister, has been 'constantly' requesting the telecasts, it can also be reasonably inferred that they have nothing to hide and therefore racist blabber and political circus clown acts must be the sole monopoly of Barisan MPs. Not surprising if you think of the badut2 in attendance these days.

Lord Zam further sermonized that "the time has not come for RTM to telecast the parliamentary proceedings live because our society has not attained a mental maturity where it is insensitive to racial issues!" Either that or some of our elected reps have the mental capacity and maturity of 4-year-olds and therefore cannot be unnecessarily exposed to the real world as the clownish cretins with racist leanings they are.

Why should the government prevent us from viewing the goings-on behind closed doors? Or are they shielding these reps and their antics from us? In which case at least for the next General Election, Barisan should ensure that only quality be the overriding criteria for selection of potential MPs. This current batch, especially from Umno are a terrible embarrassment.

Zam did make several good points though; He reminded the young generation to prepare to become future leaders who were acceptable to the multiracial society in the country. The young generation, he said, must be broad-minded, rational and open-minded because the country's history had never shown that the quality of leadership was focused on the strength of just one race.


Movie On Botak Chin - Eulogising A Criminal?

This is what Deputy Internal Security Minister Datuk Fu Ah Kiow had to say on the idea of a film about the notorious, late and very dead, Botak Chin. (Courtesy The Malay Mail)

He said any Malaysian in his or her right frame of mind would not want to glorify such a character. “Moreover, Malaysians would not be interested in watching a glorified criminal,” he said.

However, he clarified that his Ministry was as yet unable to comment on the movie. “It is not fair for me to give comments on behalf of the Ministry on this matter. It isn’t exactly a national issue but we will definitely look into it. “That will come after we receive details on the movie,” he said, adding that they will need more information from the filmmakers, instead of newspaper reports. “I can’t comment on the ‘what ifs’. The facts need to be clear and only then can we give full comments.”

In a faxed statement on Friday, Astro Shaw, whose subsidiary Karya Anggun is expected to produce the film, with a working title of Botak, stated that the company and its subsidiaries are working on a few projects, most of which are in the research stage. It also said that announcements on each project will be made accordingly and only upon the approval of the various projects by the relevant parties.

Comments from the Home Ministry could not be obtained yesterday.

Last week, The Malay Mail front-paged the impending production of the movie and quoted its executive producer, Dominique Hee, as saying that the project is in the early stages of pre-production and that casting for the film has already begun. The principal photography is said to be scheduled for July and August next year.

According to the Press release issued by Sony Pictures, the movie will feature the exploits of Gang 306, headed by Botak.

Botak was described as a charming yet cold-blooded killer who detested both the triads and the cops and decided to take the law into his own hands. The film’s tag-line reads — ‘Every society gets the criminals it deserves’.

It is expected to be helmed by Dukun director Dain Iskandar Said.

News of the impending production has sparked debate due to the subject’s controversial nature. Several quarters have lauded the project as a bold move while others have preached caution as the movie could be construed as glorifying a convicted criminal.

The local filmmaking community has also questioned whether the producers have obtained approval from Bukit Aman, as is the norm for any venture that involves the portrayal of the police. So far, Bukit Aman has yet to receive any application from the filmmakers.

Chin terrorised Kuala Lumpur in the mid 1970s with a series of robberies, bloody inter-gang rivalries and run-ins with the police. Some people believed he was also a Robin Hood, robbing the rich to give to the poor.

Chin was hanged for his crimes on June 11, 1981.

****** So after the Chin Peng movie debacle, will this film meet the same fate? A question that I would like to pose is, whether there is anything inherently wrong in making a movie on a bad guy? You know, some kind of unwritten rule or pantang. It's not as if that after the screening, hordes of young chinamen are going to roam the streets gunning people down or robbing banks! I personally feel that as long as the Royal Malaysia Police is not put in a bad light or any unfair or damaging political imputation is made and if reasonable care is taken to not exaggerate his deeds/misdeeds it should be OK.

For all you know it might even invigorate and breathe some life into our lethargic movie industry with a new genre of films - Malaysian baddies. And if Bollywood were to capitalize on it we might even have an international audience with the next blockbuster, "From Bentong To Batang Kali - The Life And Times Of Bentong Kali" starring Shah Rukh Khan!


Beware The Arabization Of Our Schools.

It had to happen. When Islamic radicals are allowed free rein in our school system and the education departments stacked with those of the faith who don't know where to draw the line, the creeping arabization of our schools was an inevitability. For these 'educationists' who are unable or unwilling to see beyond their green tempurung, it is ok to forcefully impose their religio-cultural worldview, norms and values on others who have absolutely no interest in or love for whatever is being dished out.

These warped 'warriors' of the faith have currently targeted even the Year One classes as this report in TheStar shows.

Compulsory Arabic exam upsets parents.

Parents of Indian students of SK Sri Baki in Senawang are upset that their children, who are in Year One, were forced to take Arabic in school.

Many of the pupils were forced to sit for the examinations even though there were no classes for the first six months, reported Malaysia Nanban.

The school had said that Arabic was a compulsory subject and the children had to sit for the paper.

The parents had sought an explanation from the headmaster, who said the matter was under the control of the State Education director.

The officer in charge of languages in the state education department, Ustaz Hafizi, said headmasters were compelled to introduce Tamil, Chinese or Arabic to children of other communities.

The upset parents complained to state MIC chief Datuk T. Rajagopalu, and said they would forward their complaints to the Education Minister.

***** Is this the type of Malaysia the government is touting as tolerant and overflowing with muhibah? Should not the education ministry come down hard on this kind of 'semi-fascist' adventurer? Is the ministry truly unaware of the goings-on in schools or is it just pretending to and closing one eye, Jasin style, to the pahala garnering missionaries infesting our school system?

Teach all the Arabic you want to those who feel that they genuinely need it, but please spare those to whom Arabic is of no consequence and won't lose any sleep if the language were to become extinct or disappear from the face of the Earth today.

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Some Schools Have Introduced Apartheid.

A primary school in Ipoh has been ordered to stop the practice of placing pupils of the same race in the same class.

State Education director Datuk Mohammed Zakaria Mohd Noor said the headmaster had been told to revert to the system of streaming the pupils according to their academic achievements. Zakaria said the matter came to light following a complaint.

“I checked with the school and found that the headmaster did this because he wanted to make full use of the limited resources and facilities in the school,” he said yesterday. The headmaster does not have a hidden agenda by putting pupils of one race in a class. It is to facilitate the pupils’ timetables for their religious and moral lessons,” he added.

He stressed that the headmaster was not practising “religious segregation.” As such, I have told the headmaster to stop the practice and revert to streaming pupils according to their performance in school,” he said. The school would have to accommodate all the pupils by having a timetable suitable for their religious and moral classes, he added.

According to the complainant, her son had been slated for the “B” Class instead of the “A” Class although he was among the top 10 pupils in the school. She said the best class was reserved for pupils of a particular race although some of them had fared worse in the examinations than her son. “It is difficult for me to explain to my son why he is not in the first class,” she said. I don’t want him to grow up having misconceptions about the various races in the country, or that discrimination is a common practice. This is wrong. This is not good for unity,” she added. (TheStar)

***** Unfortunately this is not the first school that has introduced this form of open racial segregation and neither will it be the last. The excuse of 'facilitating' religious classes is a silly one and meant to cover-up a serious wrong. It is an attempt to hoodwink the public into thinking that the measure was aboveboard. Isn't it a coincidence that in all this facilitating being done, the Malay pupils are always placed in the top class while the others are lumped together in the lower classes? This is the work of a racist and religious bigot and the authorities should not shield him or give excuses on his behalf. A misfit like him should not have been allowed to be a headmaster in the first place.

However there are dozens of his ilk both male and female, administering schools throughout the country and happily overseeing racial segregation. Some parents just keep quiet or privately complain to friends and family for fear of retribution. Only last week someone had emailed me and asked me to highlight in this blog, a similar scenario in a primary school in Cheng, Malacca. However because the details were scanty I did not post on it. So it does happen everywhere and parents should boldly come forward and expose these 'educated' racists and practitioners of apartheid.

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Tan Sri Murad Mohammed Noor - Penawar For The Nation.

I have posted on Tan Sri Murad Mohammed Noor previously and had then described him as a man light years ahead of his time. In today's NST he spoke about education, the NEP, Umno and the nation. He has the credentials and the sincerity to be a very successful leader of this country. That report here.

He’s been around long enough to know what exactly needs to be done, and this former educationist has some strong views on race relations too, writes SU AZIZ.

"WHEN you look at someone, do you think about whether he is Chinese or Indian?" asked the bright-eyed, 76-year-old gentleman in front of me. "It shouldn’t even cross your mind unless it is out of superficial curiosity." Yes, Tan Sri Murad Mohammed Noor believes that we should think of ourselves, first and foremost, as Malaysian.

Murad was our director-general of Education for 10 years until he retired on his birthday on April 10, 1985. As a full-time educationist, Murad was directly involved in establishing the International Islamic University and spearheaded a study in the 1970s which detailed the problems of school dropouts. The study, famously known as the "Murad Report", highlighted ways to address this problem.

"Remedial education. That is the way to tackle the problem," explained Murad. "Before you can remedy a situation, you must first know what the illness is. Every teacher is a remedial educationist. "If a student cannot read, then teach him to read. Don’t let it go and expect someone else to pick up the pieces."

Murad applies this same logic to a pressing issue of our time: racial polarisation. "How we can remedy our racial issue is perhaps by pointing out to them (our children) the various factors that can make them feel Malaysia is their country. "Point out opportunities, feed them knowledge and yes, using the same language also helps."

So education is key then? "Positivity is vital. As a teacher who imparts knowledge, teach them how to contribute towards the nation and how to appreciate the multi-racial aspect of our country."

Born in 1930, and educated in Kedah, Universiti Malaya, Singapore and Britain, Murad lived through one of Malaysia’s most turbulent periods — the 1969 race riots in Kuala Lumpur. This riots led to a state of Emergency, the suspension of Parliament until 1971 and the NEP (New Economic Policy).

Thirty-six years on, we can only imagine how difficult it must have been in those early days after May 13, to rebuild the nation. Murad was one of those people who helped pull Malaysia out of those dark times. "It was tough but not impossible to restore peace quickly," explained Murad. "This was because the NOC (National Operations Council which was established to govern the country provisionally) that drew up the NEP and Tun Abdul Razak (our prime minister then) were adamant about promoting national unity... to prevent May 13 from ever happening again."

The NEP’s aim was to help eradicate poverty among the Malays through rapidly expanding our economy and "to wipe out the identification of race with economic function. "Our country recovered much faster than other countries that faced the same situation. This is due to the co-operation of all races. Everybody felt the same way, they never wanted the incident to happen again. May 13 shattered our beliefs. It shook us," said Murad. "Everybody was aware of the danger but we got on very well. This was because of the NOC’s rigid control of the situation.

"At the Umno general assembly, some of them lost their cool. They used strong and emotive words. To me, that was unnecessary. It could be misunderstood, and was it necessary to do that? It could create ill-feeling between the races. Why do we want to backtrack? Bury the dead, this is what I say. Move on from there. I was very pleased when our deputy prime minister said he will ensure that such things will never be said or happen again. He will and should nip it in the bud."

Murad said post-May 13, education played a vital role in re-building the country and it still could. "Do you know how? Children in our (national) schools suffered from uncertainty then. This is also the problem we face today. We should be able to break the racial barrier through education. We have tried for almost 50 years to do so.

"Admittedly, we (educationists) succeeded in making Bahasa Malaysia the common language in schools but speaking a language alone will not instill racial harmony. I speak English but that does not make me an Englishman! Let the educationists go back to handling the education of our children. Right now, they (the policy makers) don’t allow it.

"During my time, a director-general could decide on everything except for the policies. Today, the Cabinet decides on every tedious thing. When then can they concentrate on the more important policies or issues concerning our education system?"

Murad started as a teacher in Kedah in 1957. "When I started (teaching), it was the time when our government decided that Bahasa Malaysia should be the medium of communication instead of English. I was told to go and teach the students and I did that, armed with only the English textbooks that I had to translate myself. Back then, what the teachers said was more important than what the parents said. Teachers were bodies of knowledge.

"Now, everybody is a teacher. It may seem so simple but in fact, it is complex. Today, there is the Internet, sophisticated television programmes and so on. Teachers today no longer play that important a role in a student’s life.

"We (educationists) cannot force unity externally. Then it is superficial. It has to come from within, we should teach our children that we share a common country. That this is ours."

Throughout the interview, Murad noted down his thoughts. ("It comes from being a teacher, you see.") Today, he is still active in research and currently has been asked to evaluate the sekolah rakyat (religious schools). Murad is also chairman of the Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris Council and a senior non-independent director of IJM Corporation Berhad. There are also the numerous talks that he is asked to give. "I enjoy that. This is because in the past I was told what to say and now I am allowed to say what I want."

With slightly more time on his hands now, Murad indulges in another love — cooking. "I prefer cooking European food. Not for the taste. I don’t eat much, you see. But it is not so messy. Malay food is a big production, and all that cleaning up!"

Having had to read so many reports and files when he was working, he now enjoys reading biographies and classics, plus — as a pile of books were placed in front of me — cookery books.

Having brought up two sons and two daughters, Murad now spends a lot of time with the youngest of his four grandchildren.

"I used to enjoy travelling but nowadays, they (the airport officials) take the joy out of it with all these paranoid checks.

"I also enjoy doing what I am doing now — talking to journalists!"

After a thoughtful moment, he asked, "Do you know what an abstract noun is? It describes something you see but cannot touch."

Would the word Malaysian fall into this category? "I wish to see one nation, which was what I set out to build in the first place. I passionately believe in the preamble of education.

"I long to see a nation of greater morals with higher civic- consciousness, a nation that can call their neighbour, neighbour, irrespective of their race."

Related post: Let The Teachers Teach.


Saturday, November 25, 2006

Whither Thou Goest, Singapore Malays?

The media in Singapore recently highlighted the grave concerns of some Malay professionals over the community's future as the island state moved rapidly into the mainstream of global competitiveness. They said the minority Malays might be pushed further behind and face a much worse situation than now.

Even though many Malays are successful, the overall statistics are not in their favour. In education, the Malays, who accounted for about 14 per cent of the 4.2 million population -- lag far behind from the Chinese and Indians.

According to the General Household Survey 2005 published in June, the percentage of Malays, who received polytechnic or university education, risen to 8.6 per cent last year compared to 4.9 per cent in 2000. These figures when compared to the Chinese had increased to 27 per cent from 20 per cent and Indians to 31 per cent from 20 per cent.

The income gap among the races had also widened. Statistics showed the Malays' monthly income rose to S$3,400 last year from S$3,200 while that of the Chinese to S$5,600 from S$5,200 and the Indians to S$5,200 from S$4,600.

"All indications are that the situation will worsen over time," said Association of Muslim Professionals chairman Imram Mohamed. The Malays need to find ways to reverse the trend "if we are not to end up as a largely under-class community, having to depend on handouts from others," he said at the association's 15th anniversary celebrations recently.

The media also reported that a significant number of Malays in prisons and drug rehabilitation centres were low-income earners and problematic Malay youths.

Imram indicated the reasons for the Malays' fate in the republic.

"Our community has not responded well to the new economy and they're not geared to meet the challenges of globalisation and stiff competition," The Straits Times quoted him as saying. It is true that Singapore had moved at a feverish pace into the mainstream of global economy. According to the A.T. Kearney Report/Foreign Policy Magazine Globalisation Index 2005, Singapore was the most globalised nation, outpacing Ireland, Switzerland and the United States.

Imram wanted the Malays to change their mindset to be more competitive and urged the government to raise the wages of low-income workers so that they could absorb the impacts of globalisation.

Community Development, Youth and Sports Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, however, said wage increases and protection from competition were not the solution. "The long-term solution remains more education and creating more professionals," he said.

He said the Malay-Muslims could move faster by seizing the opportunities available. "In order for a minority community to do well in a multiracial and globalised environment, we need to engage with other communities and we need to integrate with the mainstream of social life... that's where you can successfully compete," he was quoted by the daily.

The issue drew attention from the Malay analysts and social activists. Among them are Ramli Puteh who said most of the unemployed among the low-skilled were the Malays. "We should be more proactive -- seek solutions to issues before they become a problem," he wrote in Berita Harian. Efforts made so far, he said, were more towards rehabilitating those who had plunged into problems. Many Malay associations, concerned over the Malays' fate, had organised various programmes to help the community face the competition.

Dr Vivian was confident and had seen the proof that the Malays could also succeed with the emergence of many Malay professionals. "You have achieved what you have achieved on your own merit... without affirmative action, without quotas, without special rules," he added.

-- By Jackson Sawatan (BERNAMA)

***** Right there in that report lies a great lesson for the Malays here in Malaysia. Don't wait to learn the hard way. Take a leaf out of the Singapore Malay experience. Think seriously of the importance of the points highlighted - change of mindset in a globalised age, seize the opportunities that arise, protection from competition is NOT the solution but education is, engage with other communities and integrate with the mainstream of social life, implying the need to eschew the sikap 'katak dibawah tempurung.' The alternative is to be swept away by the forces of globalisation and no one, not even the government can save you.


Chong Lim - A Malaysian To Be Proud Of.

Composer Chong Lim's Malaysian background has helped him compose some stunning music with "Arabic flavour" for the opening and closing ceremonies at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha next month.

"Having spent my youth in Malaysia I am familiar with Malay and Arabic music which I have incorporated in my four pieces for the Doha Games," he said.

"I was thrilled when I was asked to compose pieces for Doha. It was a great honour to do something for Asia," said the Ipoh-born musical director, composer, producer, arranger and keyboard player.

"It was a big challenge for me and a fantastic opportunity to showcase my multiracial Malaysian heritage," he said.

Lim, a household name in Australia for his amazing work with Kylie Minogue, Tom Jones, Sir George Martin of the Beatles fame, John Farnham, Olivia Newton-John, Guy Sebastian, Elton John and many other international stars, composed the music for the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games and the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games opening and closing ceremonies, winning international acclaim.

He is musical director for Channel 7's "Dancing With the Stars" series, Australia's highest rating TV show, watched by millions each week. He also performed with Olivia Newton-John for Australian-born Princess Mary of Denmark at her wedding.

Despite his heavy workload, Lim, a former student of St Michael's Institution, Ipoh, said he would love to do special performance in Malaysia if given the opportunity. "I will be holidaying in Penang for about three weeks after the Doha Games and would be happy to hear from anyone in Malaysia if they have ideas for a performance in Kuala Lumpur," he said.

Lim, who will be in Doha as musical director, said the Doha Games would be a bigger spectacular than the Sydney Olympics and Melbourne Commonwealth Games. About 7,000 performers will showcase their talents at Khalifa Stadium and it will be watched by about three billion people internationally.

The closing ceremony line-up is expected to include Hong Kong's Jacky Cheung, Bollywood's Sunidhi Chauhan, Lebanese Star Magida El Roumi and Spanish tenor Jose Carreras.

--By Neville D'Cruz (BERNAMA )

***** Truly an achievement that Malaysians can be proud of. A genuine and outstanding example of Malaysia Boleh. As with other such great Malaysian successes, it had to be realized overseas. Now that's saddening.


How Accurate Is This Article?

I came across this very forthright report in Malaysia Today. I'm publishing it here in case you have not read it. It is quite damning in its assessment of the situation in Malaysia. More importantly I wish to get your feedback on the points raised in that report. How accurate is it? Does it truly reflect the Malaysia of today? Or does the author have any sinister intent?

Malaysia: Ruling party uses Islam to incite hate. (By Adrian Morgan, Spero News)
On Wednesday November 15 the ruling party in Malaysia, UMNO ((United Malays National Organization), began its 57th three-day-long annual conference at the Putra Center, Kuala Lumpur. Issues brought up at the conference served to reinforce the racial apartheid which has been a bedrock of Malaysia's politics since its independence from Britain on August 31, 1957.

UMNO was founded on May 11, 1946. Its core belief is that of the "ketuanan Melayu" an ideology which states that the Malay people, who are all regarded as "Muslim" are the original and defining populace of Malaya, and thus should have special status and privileges. This is in defiance of logic, as native peoples, the Orang Asli, have lived in the peninsula of Western Malaysia, particularly in Kelantan State, long before the Malay Muslims arrived in the 14th century.

UMNO cannot rule on its own. Despite its bias towards Malays and Islam, it has to share power in a coalition, called the Barisan Nasional or "National Front". This includes the MIC, the Malaysia Indian Congress, which has been in existence since 1946, and also MCA, the Malaysian Chinese Association, which has been the second largest partner in the Barisan Nasional coalition since 1996. There are ten other smaller parties in the Barisan Nasional (BN).

UMNO has ruled uninterrupted since independence, in association with other parties. Any political problems which beset Malaysia can therefore be laid at the door of UMNO.

Demographically, Malays comprise 50.8% of the population of 26 million, followed by Chinese 23.8%, Indigenous 10.9%, Indian 7.1%, and non-Malaysian citizens 6.8%. In religious terms, 60% of the population is Muslim, with Buddhists comprising 19.2%, Christians 9.1%, Hindus 6.3%, and Confucians (Taoists) 2.6%. The other faiths comprise only 2.8% of the demographic.

Because of the bizarre apartheid of Malaysia, all citizens are given an identity card, called MyKad, at the age of 12. This card states the holder's race and religious status, details which are then held at the National Registration Department (NRD). All Malays are automatically classed as Muslims.

No Muslim is legally allowed to convert from Islam. The Islamic courts (Syariah Courts) control issues such as apostasy and issues of marriage and other issues. The NRD will not allow recognition of a person's conversion out of Islam, unless such a process has been authorized by the Syariah Courts. And so far, these courts have refused to allow any Muslims to apostasize.

Famous converts such as Lina Joy and Kamariah Ali are still battling with the courts for their rights to be acknowledged as "non-Muslims". Such rights do not exist in Malaysia. Article 11 of the country's constitution states that anyone can follow any religion of their choosing. However in 1988, an amendment (1A) was made to Article 121, which stated that the civil courts have no no jurisdiction over "any matter" which falls under the jurisdiction of the Islamic Courts.

The 13 states of Malaysia have mostly adopted the Control and Restriction Bill, which gives a fine of 10,000 ringit ($2,653) or imprisonment for up to one year for "persuading, influencing a Muslim to leave Islam for another religion." On August 23, a week before independence, Mohamed Nazri Aziz, the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, ordered that the "constitutional law" which forbids others to spread religions other than Islam to the Muslims must be streamlined nationwide.

Aziz said that the states of Sarawak, Sabah, Federal Territory and Penang had not yet adopted the legislation, saying: "There is no reason for these states to delay adopting the law. The Federal Constitution must be fully adhered to but religion is a state matter which is under the purview of the respective state governments. Therefore, to enforce the Federal Constitution on religion would require all the government of the states to amend their constitutions and adopt the law first." He added: "Why (do we have) to interpret (the constitution) when it is clearly said that (non-Muslims) are not allowed to spread religions other than Islam to the Muslims?"

In March, Aziz had said that anyone who criticised Islam would be tried under the Sedition Act, a legacy of British colonial rule, which existed in Malaysia before its independence in 1957. The penalty for transgressing against the Sedition Act can be three years in prison, with an additional fine of up to 5,000 ringit or $1,350.

Article 3(1) of the constitution states that "other religions may be practiced in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation". For those of other religions, there is little sense of harmony, and many feel under attack both from politicians and Islamists.

On August 26, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who is head of UMNO and also is Minister of Internal Security said people should not even question the contradictions of the constitution. "My advice to everyone is to stop (raising such issues). Do not create a situation that can lead to difficulties. Difficulties will make everyone apprehensive," he said.

Badawi continued: "Adhering to the articles will not create any problem. Discussing these articles again.... this will cause a storm if left unchecked. I have stated that there is no necessity to amend Article 121 ... there is no necessity to amend Article 11. These cause problems between one side and the other." Badawi condemned the Article 11 Forum, a multi-faith grouping of eleven organizations, which had campaigned to change the Islamo-supremacist aspects of the constitution.

The issue of UMNO's adherence to the apartheid ideology of "ketuanan Melayu", despite its union with the Chinese MCA and the Hindu MIC, were bound to be exploited in its 57th annual conference.

The elderly head of the Youth Movement of UMNO (ABIM) made the biggest gesture of racial/religious supremacy. Last year, he waved a ceremonial sword, or keris at the conference. And this year he did the same (pictured). On the eve of the conference, Hishammuddin Tun Hussein pledged to defend the sovereignty of Islam and the rights of Malays. Hussein is also the Education Minister. Hussein condemned a proposal which had been made, to form an Inter-Faith Commission.

The president of ABIM, Yusri Mohamad, confirmed at the conference that UMNO Youth would "defend the sovereignty of Islam" as specified in the Federal Constitution's Article 11 and 121 (1A). Mohamad said: "His (Hishammuddin) caution to the Article 11 Group, and groups who are actively stirring religious and sensitive issues should have raised awareness that the Malay-Muslim community's status is constantly under threat."

Mohamad said that demand for freedoms, such as the right to change faiths and the formation of an Inter-Faith Commission showed no respect for Muslims' "sensitivity".

Another speaker on the first day of the conference, UMNO veteran Tan Sri Mohamed Rahmat, secretary-general of the party, also spelled out the racism and Islamofascism of UMNO. He warned the other affiliates within the Barisan Nasional to avoid testing the Malays' patience, and even invoked the threat of "amuk" - a Malay tradition of ritual insanity and killing.

He said: "Please, don't test the Malays; in another word that they know 'amuk'. We don't want to reach that level. In the present situation, the Malays can still take it but efforts to enhance the Malays' economy need to be intensified."

He said that members of other races and religions had to make sacrifices, until Malay Muslims were compensated for their (imagined sacrifices). The reference was a dig at the Chinese, who hold most of the wealth.

Rahmat said: "If the Malays' economic power cannot be balanced out, we will face worrying situations....Don't let it reach a situation where the Malays start questioning 'with the sacrifices we have made, what have we got?'. That's also the question that is very important to be answered."

He advised the other Barisan Nasional parties not to question the "Malay Agenda" or "ketuanan Melayu". He said: "We hope MCA and Gerakan (another Chinese party) adopt the BN spirit. There is no need for us to champion racial interests and be extremely racist, because they will not bring profits."

Rahmat said that meetings had resolved previous contentious issues. He said; "We didn't discuss sensitive matters outside, used the media and press. It would have appeared we were quarrelling. It's something not right."

The Prime Minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, also said that he would take strict action against any group which dared to question the status of Islam in Malaysia. He warned against any attempts to use Islam to promote intolerance, but also said that he would protect the Islamic (Syariah) courts from being undermined.

Badawi supports a notion of Islam which is called "Islam Hadhari", or "civilizational Islam", which believes that a quasi-moderate Islam can be used to promote culture and development in Malaysia, and could be exported as an example to other nations.

He said on Wednesday, November 15: "Unfortunately, some parties had misinterpreted Islam Hadhari as an excuse to become more conservative and more radical. Long-accepted cultural practices like wishing (well) other Malaysians of different religions in conjunction with their festivals had now been deemed taboo."

"Have we reached such a level of intolerance? Joint open houses are now condemned. When did we become ultra-conservative? This is not Islam Hadhari. Such an outlook threatens the unique tolerance for which Malaysian Muslims are renowned for and this should not be allowed to happen."

Badawi spoke of the issue of SMS messages which had recently been circulated, which had falsely alleged that mass Christian baptisms of Muslims had taken place. He said that "of late, we see increased polemics on issues related to race and religion. And it has reached a level where it is now worrying."

The following day, Badawi tried to reassure people that there was not a "worrying" level regarding race and religion. He told reporters on Thursday, November 16: "Not worrying level as far as I am concerned but it is time to remind the people and to lay down the ground rule and that is exactly I have said (at the conference)."

"If it has come to such a level as has been described, it will be even more difficult to control at that time."

Badawi was asked about UMNO Youth's rejection of an Inter-Faith Commission. He replied that the cabinet had discussed the matter before. He said: "The word we used was we postpone. We've no plans to revive the matter. It is as good as not having it. To me, I will meet them, I also want to meet the (Islamic) religious groups. After that, I will meet the non-muslim groups. That's important."

On Saturday, November 19, the president of the Chinese MCA party, Ong Ka Ting, said that Badawi had given a "clear message that no one race can rule the country alone. The way we fought for Merdeka (independence) together, Umno, MCA and MIC, and the concept of kongsi kuasa (power sharing) as consented by our party veterans must be upheld."

Ong, who is the Housing and Local Government Minister, said: "The PM has again demonstrated the spirit of a leader for all Malaysians."

Despite such official support, the 57th annual conference on UMNO, which had been broadcast throughout Malaysia, has raised more questions than it has allayed fears.

Articles published by Reuters, Asia Times and Associated Press suggest that the issues of race and religion are creating more problems than UMNO and Barisan Nasional representatives will publicly admit.

Even Badawi's son-in-law has exploited racial divisions to subject the Chinese groups, already resented for their success in the economy, to further mistrust. 31year old Khairy Jamaluddin is deputy chief of UMNO's youth wing, ABID. In September, he said that Chinese political groups would exploit any splits within UMNO. When questioned about this, he had responded: "What is there to apologize for?...I am only defending my race."

The sight of Hishammudin Tun Hussein waving a keris in the air, broadcast through the nation, also raised concerns. One UMNO delegate at the conference, Hashim Suboh, had said: "Datuk Hisham has unsheathed his keris, waved his keris, kissed his keris. We want to ask Datuk Hisham, when is he going to use it?"

The threats made by Tan Sri Mohamed Rahmat to force the non-Muslims (Chinese) to make sacrifices financially to assist the Malay Muslims, who have failed to make economic progress, only highlights how destitute the ruling party's economic policies really are.

UMNO had formerly been led by Dr Mahathir Mohamad (Prime Minister from 1981 to 2003). He had been a hardliner who blamed Jews for Malaysia's problems, but still had encouraged economic development. This year Mahathir has been deliberately forced into the shadows by Badawi, seen as a liability with his rash statements and intrusions on matters of policy. Following a recent heart attack, Mahathir has become further marginalised.

In the face of rising Islamization, UMNO is failing to address the nation's problems realistically. Relying upon Hindus and Chinese to stay in power, its acceptance of the policies of destroying Hindu temples since April, and more recently the destruction of a Taoist temple in Bukit Mertajam, Penang, only serve to alienate the minorities in the so-called multi-racial state. The Nine Emperor Gods Taoist temple was relocated last year because its land had been sold to a property developer. It was demolished on Friday, November 18. Police fired shots at Chinese protesters as they supervised the destruction of the temple.

On Wednesday November 22 the cabinet questioned the wisdom of allowing the UMNO conference to be broadcast live. The Deputy Prime Minister, Najib Razak, said that at least three of the speeches from the conference could "be classified as extreme."

He told reporters: "The Cabinet has come to the opinion that there are more negative than positive implications in opening the proceedings to a live telecast. It paints an inaccurate picture of the general assembly."

On May 13, 1969, race riots between Chinese and Malays began in Kuala Lumpur. These only subsided in late July, after at least 196 people had been killed and many women had been raped. As a result of the riots, parliament was suspended until 1971.

The government had then blamed the introduction of the New Economic Policy, or NEP, for the conflict. This policy of affirmative action to promote Malay Muslims into jobs, at the expense of the Chinese, was intended to last for only 20 years, but has been indefinitely prolonged since then.

The speeches at the UMNO conference have only reminded the nation that the conditions which led to the 1969 racial situation are still in place.

Abdullah Badawi has asked for meetings with editors of Chinese-language and Malay editors of newspapers, where he is expected to ask them to "tone down" their reporting of religious and racial issues.

Lim Kit Siang, leader of the DAP (Democratic Action Party), the main opposition party, said on Friday, November 18: "If a Malaysian Chinese or Indian politician had warned of riots, being prepared to shed blood or even going amok, the Internal Security Act would have been invoked."

Malaysia's 49 years of independence have been marked by the Islamist and racist policies of UMNO. The Malay Muslims are given special rights in its policy of "ketuanan Melayu", the "Malay Agenda". It seems that only now is it starting to realize that such a racist agenda - when actual ethnic Malays only comprise 50.8% of the population - can only help to destroy a country, not to build it up.

(Adrian Morgan is a British based writer and artist who has written for Western Resistance since its inception. He has previously contributed to various publications, including the Guardian and New Scientist and is a former Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Society.)


Friday, November 24, 2006

Klang Municipal Council (MPK) Councillors Sworn-in Under Tight Security, Like Criminals.

Have you ever heard of a swearing-in ceremony of any local council or perbandaran which took place under heavy security? That too in Malaysia? But it did, in the 'developed' state of Selangor. Apart from Royalty and leading members of the government, the only ones who receive this type of tight security are criminal elements in prisons.

So where do you think that our councillors fit in? Among the leaders or the criminals? What was the Perbandaran so afraid of? Media people who might report on the oath-taking? Or perhaps they were mortally scared of the innocent victims of their collective greed showing up and exposing our Berkhidmat Untuk Negara councillors for what they really are and that the 'swearing-in' might become a 'swearing-at'?

Didn't the councillors feel ashamed that they were given police protection to shield them from the very people they ostensibly represent?

Read the Bernama report here:
The swearing-in ceremony of the 18 Klang Municipal Council (MPK) councillors for the 2006-2008 term was held Friday under tight security, with roads leading to the MPK building here heavily guarded by about 40 policemen and the council's enforcement unit personnel.

While policemen, traffic policemen and Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) officers mounted road blocks at the perimeter of the building, MPK's enforcement unit personnel guarded every access into it and the hall where the swearing-in ceremony took place.

The ceremony began at 9 am and proceeded without any untoward incident. It was later followed by the first meeting its new councillors, where its 2007 budget was debated.

An MPK official said the security measures were taken to avoid any untoward incidents.

The swearing-in ceremony was originally scheduled for Oct 19 but faced postponements until today due to controversies surrounding some of the designated councillors, who apparently had failed to submit building plans for the construction of their houses here.

***** Total disgrace is the only description I can give for this wilful and shameless waste of taxpayers' money.


End Of The Road For A Greedy Malaysian Doctor.

A Malaysian doctor, Yap Cheng Kwee, was sentenced to 12 months and three months imprisonment respectively for selling sleeping pills without a licence and possession of illegal drugs.

District Judge Kow Keng Siong ordered the sentences to run concurrently and set S$120,000 bail pending appeal. He also ordered that Yap's passport to be retained.

Noting that the amount of Dormicum sleeping pills was very significant, Kow said that Yap had acted in an unprofessional manner.

"It's an offence even in your country," he said.

Yap, 50, admitted in court on Nov 9 to selling 10,000 sleeping pills to a suspected drug trafficker in August.

He was arrested in an islandwide Subutex bust at a carpark at Woodlands Town Centre on the night of Aug 17.

Officers from the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) found a total of 10,000 Dormicum pills in his haversack during the raid. He was also found to be in possession of 16 tablets of triazolam sedative, an illegal drug. -- BERNAMA

****** What could possibly have possessed this person who belongs to a supposedly noble profession to become a drug pusher? No amount of financial difficulty or any sort of adversity would prompt a normal person especially a doctor to peddle drugs for profit. Either he must be heading towards insanity or has a pathological desire for accumulating wealth. How else can one explain the terrible wrong done by this man which is against everything that the Hippocratic Oath and the medical profession as a whole stand for?

This person should be judged by a higher standard than that for a layman and punished accordingly. It should serve as a warning to the few remaining 'adventurers' hiding behind the respected designation of doctor.


Racist Blabber At Umno General Assembly. BN Leaders Say Semuanya OK!

As expected Barisan National leaders rallied behind the Prime Minister after a few senseless buffoons made racist speeches at the Umno General Assembly which unfortunately for Umno was live telecasted, thereby making it very difficult for their pemimpin to deny. But disown the rabid utterances, they did in style, with Najib even 'leaving' it to the 'authorities' to take action against the loudmouths. (I wonder who these unnamed 'authorities' referred to by Najib are?) So sparing the Umno leadership more discomfiture, BN leaders led by Samy Vellu came up with the following semuanya ok statement.

MIC President Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu Thursday said that Barisan Nasional (BN) component party leaders had accepted Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's clarification on the controversial remarks made by some delegates at the just-concluded Umno General Assembly.

Samy Vellu said that BN leaders, including MCA President Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting, Gerakan President Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik and Information Minister Datuk Seri Zainuddin Maidin and a few other ministers had raised the issue at the Cabinet meeting Wednesday.

"We accepted the Prime Minister's explanation and concurred that we will continue to work together as usual," he told reporters after chairing a MIC Central Working Committee meeting at the party's headquarters here Thursday.

Samy Vellu said that ministers from Umno, including Minister in the Prime Minister Department Datuk Seri Mohamad Nazri Aziz and Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim had also aired their views on the matter.

"In the end, we agreed that we must look after the interests of all the people in the country. Three or four speeches made at the assembly can result in racial problems if they are not taken care of," he said.

Samy Vellu said that mutual respect was needed among the races and the stand was conveyed to the Prime Minister. "I believe with his vast knowledge and experience, the Prime Minister knows how to resolve the problem," he said.

When asked about the Prime Minister's clarification at the Cabinet meeting, he said, "Its better you ask the Right Honourable Prime Minister himself."

On the Cabinet decision on live telecast of political parties annual general assemblies, Samy Vellu said a number of ministers felt that it was "damaging the future. No need. I personally feel it's not necessary. This is dangerous," he added.



Bungalow Development At Bukit Gasing - Can We Believe DBKL?

The plan to develop 142 bungalow lots on a 15.2-hectare site in Bukit Gasing here, causing public uproar, has yet to be approved by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL).

Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Ruslin Hasan said a decision on the application for the development would only be made after DBKL's Sensitive Areas Environment Committee had considered all the technical information at hand. He said the committee was in the midst of arranging a meeting on the matter that would be chaired by the secretary-general of the Federal Territories Ministry. "The feedback received will then be presented to me so that a decision can be made based on existing guidelines," he told reporters here Thursday.

He said the technical information needed was in the process of being gathered and the whole exercise was expected to be completed in a month.

Ruslin said that development work by Gasing Meridian Sdn Bhd in Taman Gasing Indah, which borders Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya, only involved soil tests. "The work done covers only a small area and as such does not need any approval," he added.

The mayor said the application would be rejected if studies showed that the area had no granite but only stony and sandy soil and shale, which would make piling work difficult. He added that DBKL was concerned about development in hilly areas and on slopes as it was against government policy and to avoid tragedies.

The design plan for the development of the 142 bungalow lots was approved by the Selangor Urban and Rural Development Department in the early 1970's. The initial plan was for the building of 71 lots of bungalows of 25,000 sq ft in size each.

"However, on May 25, 2005, the land owner presented a new design plan to increase the number of lots from 71 to 142," Ruslin said.


***** Is this more obfuscation from the DBKL? Can or do you believe the Mayor? Why should we, when all these years legally sanctioned rape of the green areas has been allowed to go on with impunity?

It's the usual bullshit. First a harmless statement about soil tests going on, no approval yet, committee to assess and then suddenly the piling machines are brought in and it's too late to do anything. Somebody, somewhere makes a huge pile, politicians get their cut as do the Perbandaran big boys and semuanya ok.

Who are the corporate bigwigs involved in this Gasing Meridian Sdn Bhd? This time I know who to ask. The same person who exposed the Kampung Berembang greed merchants - Nathaniel Tan.

Related post: DBKL - Another Greedy Bungler.

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