Archive for category 1Malaysia
May 15, 2016
Shortly after I arrived in Kuala Lumpur in 1991 as newly appointed bureau chief for the Far Eastern Economic Review, I was introduced to a Malaysian journalist then working here for The Straits Times in Singapore. We worked in a country well known for its disdain for the foreign media; and we were particular targets because our publications were deemed by the government to be biased against or even hostile to Malaysia.
Partly because of the common challenges we faced, but perhaps mostly because we enjoyed eating nasi kandar and roti canai at street- side stalls in Kuala Lumpur or on the many outstation reporting trips we took together, we became good friends.
A quarter of a century later, my close friend Kalimullah Hassan is no longer a journalist – neither am I. Our beloved profession has been much affected by the decline of advertising revenues and the rise of social media. But Kali, as all his friends know him, remains as passionate and concerned about his country as he was when we drove for long hours around rural constituencies in out-of-the-way parts of Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu covering by-elections.
So when I read his newly published collection of columns and recollections, many of those earnest discussions and arguments we had over steaming cups of teh tarik in the 1990s came flooding back to me. There is his great pride in Malaysia’s ethnic diversity, his deep concern about the divisive racist rhetoric of contested politics and the corrosive impact of patronage and corruption in high places.
Read the rest of this entry »
– TF Lee
The Malaysian Insider
21 February 2016
I watched Ola Bola and true to its reviews, it was heart warming.
I would recommend it to all Malaysians (including overseas Malaysians).
This film has set the standard for future local films with a message of unity and patriotism. Read the rest of this entry »
(2016 Chinese New Year Message)
Forty-six years ago, on New Year’s Eve marking the end of 1969 and the decade of the sixties, I wrote to the DAP founding chairman Dr. Chen Man Hin from political detention in Muar about the challenges of the future.
I ended my letter thus:
“It is our duty, the duty of every one of our members, branch, state and national leaders, elected representatives, to march in the frontline of the struggle to spread the word of a multi-racial Malaysia to Malaysians of all races, in both the urban and rural areas.
“Let us not shirk from our responsibility and duty to our nation, ourselves, our children and children’s children.”
This is in fact a challenge for all Malaysians for all times. Read the rest of this entry »
Time for UMNO leadership to consider Onn Jaafar’s proposal 66 years ago for UMNO to open its membership to non-Malays so that UMNO leaders can also be leaders of all Malaysians
The Minister for Communications and Multimedia, Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak asked why UMNO must open its membership to non-Malays, describing this as a non-issue because UMNO has never claimed to be a multi-racial party.
It is sad and pathetic that present-day UMNO Ministers and leaders are quite proud about their national blindspot and their inability to see or understand what the founding UMNO President Datuk Onn Jaafar saw very clearly and vividly 66 years ago in 1950, which was why he proposed that UMNO open its doors to non-Malays in order to lead in the building of a united nation.
How can the nation have a Prime Minister from UMNO who could also be Prime Minister for all Malaysians when the very ration d’etre of his political existence is to be the champion of one race against the other races?
This anomalous situation may be understandable and acceptable in the early years of the communal politics of plural Malaysia, but it should become increasingly anachronistic with passing decades of Malaysian nation building, especially based on the Rukunegara principles proclaimed in 1970 – which should see the old mould of the politics of race give way to the new mould of the politics of national issues of justice, freedom, good governance, integrity, progress and prosperity for all.
Onn Jaafar have the foresight and vision that we cannot build a united nation out of our diversity of races, religions, languages and cultures unless we go beyond the colonial tactics of “divide and rule” and create a common national identity where there is an overarching common national identity and consciousness, and where what is close to one ethnic community is not only articulated and championed by that ethnic group only but also by other ethnic groups transcending ethnic barriers. Read the rest of this entry »
Are UMNO Ministers and leaders prepared, 66 years after Datuk Onn suggested it, consider opening UMNO doors to non-Malays to become an inclusive Malaysian political party?
The pathetic statement by the Communications and Multimedia Minister, Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak that fielding more Malay candidates in the next general elections does not make DAP a multiracial party is the latest proof of the narrow-minded and petty mentality of the present UMNO leadership, which is completely bogged down by the politics of race and the failure of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s 1Malaysia Policy.
Malaysia is a plural society and the racial, religious, linguistic and cultural diversity of the country is a national asset and not a liability.
Malaysians will continue to be Malays, Chinese, Indians, Dayaks, Kadazan-Dusun-Muruts, Orang Asli or Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Taoists, Sikhs but the success of Malaysian nation-building will be measured by our ability to create an overarching common national identity where we are Malaysians first and race, religion, region and socio-economic status second – in othe words, where despite our racial, religious, linguisticm, cultural and socio-economic differences, we accept each other as Malaysians first above all else.
In this context, UMNO Ministers and leaders like Salleh Said Keruak should welcome DAP reaching out to get more Malay, Dayak, Kadazan-Dusun-Murut and Orang Asli support and emulate the DAP example to graduate from Malay to become Malaysian leaders instead of decrying such a development.
Is UMNO prepared to emulate the DAP’s example and reach out to all non-Malays and non-Muslims by welcoming them into UMNO ranks? Read the rest of this entry »
Time has come for realignment of progressive political forces to save Malaysia and to keep faith with the vision of an united, inclusive, moderate, democratic and prosperous Malaysia
(2016 New Year Message on 31.12.2015)
Twenty-eight years ago, many DAP leaders and Members of Parliament, including the late Karpal Singh and P. Patto, the Penang Chief Minister, Lim Guan Eng, the Deputy Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Dr. Tan Seng Giaw and I were incarcerated under the infamous Internal Security Act in Kamunting because we opposed the “shits” (to use the colourful vocabulary of the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi) of the lopsided highway privatisation contract which the then Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Mahathir Mohamad wanted to impose not only on Malaysians but future generations as well.
Today, while railing against these “shits” of the past UMNO administrations, of which the present top UMNO leader were themselves party to but had done nothing to ameliorate, the incumbent UMNO leadership is trying to impose even worse “shits” on the present and future generations of Malaysians through major betrayals of trust like the RM2.6 billion “donation” and the RM55 billion 1MBD twin mega scandals.
To fight the worse “shits” of the present, all forces and contributions are welcome, including those who were responsible for the “shits” of the past, like Tun Mahathir Mohamad.
The year 2015 had indeed been an “annus horribilis” for Malaysia. Read the rest of this entry »
Did Paul Low imply that the Najib Cabinet is not a “God-fearing” one, which is why the country is inundated with so many political, economic and nation-building crisis?
Yesterday, I had asked what the ”cryptic” speech of the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Paul Low at the Christmas high-tea reception organised by the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) really meant – when he said that if the government is
God-fearing, then there would be no need for him to be in the Cabinet.
To the overwhelming majority of literate Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or politics, it could only mean two things:
Firstly, the Najib Cabinet is not a God-fearing one, and needs God-fearing Ministers to ensure that it does not completely lose its moral compass; and
Secondly, Low is “God-fearing”, and he is either fighting a very lonely battle or in any event, fighting a losing battle among a handful of “God-fearing” Ministers who are committed to a national and sacred mission to ensure that the Cabinet keeps to the straight and narrow path of serving the people and nation and not just themselves and their cronies.
Who are the other Cabinet Ministers who are “God-fearing”, whether Muslim or non-Muslim?
Furthermore, was Low implying that the country was inundated with so many political, economic and nation-building crisis precisely because the Najib Cabinet is not “God-fearing”? Read the rest of this entry »
The Malaysian Insider
24 December 2015
Today is Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) birthday and Malaysia is one of the rare Muslim countries to celebrate the occasion with a public holiday thrown in. Not many celebrate it, let alone gazette a holiday for it.
Unlike Christmas, which is celebrated worldwide except in two countries this year and forever – Brunei and Somalia. It would appear that public celebrations of Christmas and in the case of Somalia, New Year, is inimical to their beliefs.
That is their excuse. And the limit to their citizens’ freedom and rights.
But we in Malaysia are a lot more fortunate. We have the freedom to celebrate diversity, celebrating Christmas and New Year despite the views of a narrow section of public that wishing Merry Christmas is not quite kosher. Read the rest of this entry »
Let Nik Aziz and Karpal be the example for all Malaysians to promote harmony, goodwill and tolerance across race, religion and culture so that Malaysia can be a model of peaceful multi-religious diversity for the world
2015 Christmas Message in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday, 24th December 2015
Christmas Day tomorrow in 2015 is especially significant as today is the birthday of Prophet Muhammad on Maulid-ar-Rasul, an overlapping which underlines religious diversity both in Malaysia and the world.
I am reminded of two events, the first the Monday incident in Mandera in northeast Kenya where Muslims protected Christians in a bus attack by Somali Islamist terrorists, telling the terrorists, “You’ll have to kill us all” and other, the January 2013 Thaipusam visit by the then PAS Mursyidul Am and Kelantan Mentri Besar, Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat to the DAP National Chairman and MP for Bukit Gelugor, Karpal Singh in the latter’s Penang home where Nik Aziz’s 82nd birthday was also celebrated.
Let Malaysians regardless of race, religion and region be inspired by both these events, in particular the example of the two great Malaysian leaders, Nik Aziz and Karpal Singh, to promote harmony, goodwill, tolerance across race, religion and culture so that Malaysia can be a model of peaceful multi-religious diversity for the world. Read the rest of this entry »
The Malaysian Insider
23 December 2015
It is really easy to get caught in the hype and commercialisation of Christmas.
Let’s be realistic here, Christmas no longer represents merely a religious holiday that marks the birth of Jesus, but rather an occasion for merrymaking with friends over food, that great unifier of mankind.
Of course, in Malaysia, our turkeys are halal-certified and our merrymaking involves being served orange juice in wine glasses. Read the rest of this entry »
17 Dec 2015
COMMENT | Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, hounded by scandal and facing open rebellion within his ranks, made an impassioned plea at his party’s general assembly last week for unity and support. He demanded loyalty and obedience from all. He invoked God, race and country to justify his leadership.
But what price loyalty and obedience?
Great leaders appeal for support on the basis of a great cause, in defence of righteous principles or to uphold great ideals. They inspire support by their vision, by their integrity, by their example, by their commitment to great national goals.
Prime Minister Winston Churchill, for example, in his nation’s darkest hour, inspired his countrymen to stand firm against Nazi tyranny despite the odds. Mahatma Gandhi summoned his nation to the great ideals of tolerance and respect for diversity and human dignity.
President John F Kennedy appealed, in his inaugural address, for sacrifice and commitment to make America that shining light upon a hill, an inspiration to the world. Nelson Mandela urged a nation divided by decades of apartheid to reconcile, to build a new nation based on justice and inclusiveness.
They invited their countrymen to join them in a great quest, and millions freely and willingly rallied to them.
Despots, dictators and demagogues, on the other hand, bankrupt of vision, devoid of principle, blinded by avarice and ambition, demand mindless obedience, blind loyalty and passive submission. Read the rest of this entry »
Syerleena Abdul Rashid
The Malaysian Insider
18 December 2015
Those in the corridors of power know that our country is not under any kind of threat.
They also know that a large majority of Malaysians regardless of ethnicity, religion and gender support the liberties bestowed upon us by our great Federal Constitution – even if it has undergone numerous amendments and omitted certain important details which made it rather different than its original intention.
In the midst of calls to foster greater union and camaraderie among citizens of this federation, there are those in high positions who continue to contradict calls for “social unification”. Read the rest of this entry »
Proof of utter failure in Malaysian nation-building when the sixth Prime Minister asked last week: Whether UMNO President should be an ultra or pro-Malay only and must be Islamic or not?
It is proof of the utter failure in Malaysian nation-building when the sixth Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak asked at the UMNO General Assembly last Thursday: Whether UMNO President should be an ultra or pro-Malay only and must be Islamic or not?
Has Najib forgotten or abandoned his 1Malaysia signature policy which he proclaimed with such fanfare when he became Prime Minister in April 2009 that the goal of 1Malaysia is to create a nation where every Malaysian perceives himself or herself as Malaysian first and race (whether Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan or Iban), religion (Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Sikh) or region as second.
Six years and eight months after becoming the Prime Minister with his signature policy of 1Malaysia, and after tens and even hundreds of million of ringgit spent on 1Malaysia promotional products, is Malaysia going forwards or backwards as far as Najib’s 1Malaysia policy is concerned?
That Najib is publicly asking the question whether he should be “an ultra or pro-Malay only” as UMNO President and Prime Minister is sad indication that he himself needs convincing as far as his 1Malaysia signature policy is concerned!
Najib’s UMNO/BN government is adrift and at sea, bereft of any direction or vision for Malaysia. Read the rest of this entry »
The outcome of the UMNO General Assembly over the weekend is that the Prime Minister and UMNO President Datuk Seri Najib Razak has emerged stronger while UMNO has become weaker.
This is good for Pakatan Harapan for the 14th General Election but not good for Malaysia in the next 30 months as the country stumbles from one crisis to another under a government paralysed by crippling denial syndrome and an administration which is fractured, inept and cut off from the realities on the ground.
This is why the UMNO General Assembly completely ignored four of the five biggest political and socio-economic scandals in the country this year – Najib’s RM2.6 billion “donation” and RM50 billion 1MDB twin mega scandals; the undemocratic and unconstitutional National Security Council Bill which usurps the constitutional powers of the Yang di Pertuan Agong, the Cabinet and 13 State Governments; and the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) adding to the hardships of low-income Malaysians, already sandwiched between rising costs of living and falling incomes.
On the fifth biggest scandal in the country, there was even an attempt at the UMNO General Assembly to hijack public funds to come out with a publication to glorify the Sept. 16 “Red Shirts” rally in Kuala Lumpur which turned the 2015 Malaysia Day into a “black-lettered” day full of negative vibes of inter-racial disunity, division and disharmony when it should be a day to celebrate the unity, union and harmony of Malaysians regardless of race, religion or region! Read the rest of this entry »
Abdul Azeez should return to Baling to publicly apologise for his “balik tongsan” and other offensive remarks in Parliament or he should be voted out in 14GE as betraying the trust of the Baling electorate
The UMNO Member of Parliament for Baling, Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahman made Baling infamous in Parliament when he betrayed the trust of the voters of Baling by making offensive remarks against other races and other MPs, like his derogatory “balik tongsan” remark in Parliament early this month.
Only those who have a narrow, extremist and intolerant mindset, completely at odds with the inclusive 1Malaysia policy, could regard the Chinese or any other ethnic group as inherently “disloyal” to Malaysia, and be so irresponsible as to flippantly hurl the derogatory term “balik tongsan” against the Malaysian Chinese, which was as good as telling them to “return to mainland China”.
Abdul Azeez made the remark in Parliament against DAP MP for Kota Kinabalu, Jimmy Wong, during the committee stage of the 2016 Budget debate on the Home Ministry, causing outrage among right-thinking Members of Parliament and Malaysians.
Although Abdul Azeez, as a result of the protest by the DAP parliamentary whip, Anthony Loke (Seremban), was forced to retract the offensive and derogatory term “balik tongsan” in Parliament, he was never remorseful for his most unMalaysian conduct for he never apologised for it.
Abdul Azeez should return to Baling to publicly apologise for his “balik tongsan” and other offensive remarks in Parliament or he should be voted out in 14GE as betraying the trust of the Baling electorate.
All genuine Malaysians, regardless of race or religion, must be offended by Abdul Azeez’s “balik tongsan” remark, for it shows the utter failure of Malaysian nation-building when an UMNO Member of Parliament could make such offensive and derogatory remark against other races in the country. Read the rest of this entry »
Hafiz Noor Shams
Malay Mail Online
September 29, 2015
SEPTEMBER 29 — I think I am well-exposed to foreigners’ opinions about Malaysia beyond the editorial stance of various foreign newspapers. I have friends of diverse national origins and I work for a global organisation where many of my colleagues are not Malaysians. I keep in touch with them regularly and so I get to learn of their personal and professional views about the country.
Everybody has an opinion. But do they know Malaysia?
They might be able to tell you where it is on the map. They would know the Petronas Twin Towers. They might know who Mahathir Mohamad or Anwar Ibrahim is.
But if you dig a little deeper you will realise most of them usually do not track our news closely. Read the rest of this entry »
Syerleena Abdul Rashid
The Malaysian Insider
25 September 2015
Soon after Datuk Seri Najib Razak took over the reins as prime minister from Tun Abdullah Badawi in 2009, for a fleeting moment in time, Malaysians felt somewhat hopeful that social transformations could finally happen in our country. With a new leader, came new promises and renewed hope.
When Najib launched the 1Malaysia campaign, the objectives were quite straightforward; the RM38 million (or at least the amount that was officially recorded) campaign sought to call for all government agencies and civil servants to embrace diversity and Malaysia’s multicultural society. Najib’s administration through the 1Malaysia campaign sought to heal the wounds of racial mistrust and turmoil by promoting “ethnic harmony, national unity, and efficient governance”.
Needless to say, the campaign has since met with heavy criticism from Malaysians due to the fact that ethnic relations in Malaysia have gotten worse in the last five years and the recent “red shirt” rally verified this. Of course, it doesn’t help that those from the ruling elite have since showed their true colours and forked tongues. Read the rest of this entry »
First to take the “Bina Bangsa” module should be Mahdzir himself and Malay-supremacist UMNO Ministers and leaders who continue to be racially-minded instead of trying to be Malaysian first and race second
The Education Minister Datuk Mahdzir Khalid has admitted his earlier mistake and said that the new “Bina Bangsa” module, once implemented, would affect both national primary schools and vernacular schools.
DAP Parliamentary Spokesman for Education, MP for Bukit Bendera Zairil Khir Johari had yesterday questioned the need for the “Bina Bangsa” module to be introduced only in vernacular primary school when the non-Bumiputera enrolment at national schools were at an all-time low.
Zairil said that contrary to general perception, national schools are actually now more mono-ethnic in its make up as compared to vernacular schools, especially Chinese schools.
He also said it was very “mischievous” for Mahdzir to imply that vernacular schools were an obstacle to national unity as such an assertion was without basis.
Zairil stressed that what the ministry should do instead is to look into the values that are imparted as well as the quality of education available, especially in national schools.
I am glad that the new Education Minister has taken heed of Zairil’s criticisms but there is an even more fundamental question about Mahdzir’s proposal of a “Bina Bangsa” module. Read the rest of this entry »
Syerleena Abdul Rashid
The Malaysian Insider
5 June 2015
Sometime in 1991, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed envisioned “Malaysians of all colours and creeds are free to practice and profess their customs, cultures and religious beliefs and yet feeling that they belong to one nation”. This dream was the essence of Vision 2020, or Wawasan 2020, as it is known in the national language.
Vision 2020 called for a united Malaysian society; one that indicated a progressive society where all of its citizens were more than able to embody compassion, civility and ethnic labels were a thing of the past. Malaysia in the year 2020 boasted an economy that was sound and healthy; there was fair and equitable distribution of wealth and development was spread out evenly throughout the Federation.
Now with only five years left before this vision becomes a reality, many of us can see how far off we really are. With only five years left, the vision of a colourless society seems far beyond our reach. Five years of catching up to a vision that has become some sort of a utopian concept that has lead this nation into a bitter cycle of suspicion and passive aggressive hostility.
The saddest part of humankind is that most of us are unable to shake off the “us and them” mentality and the harm we inflict upon other fellow Malaysians – be it physically and verbally, this is due to our own insecurities, humiliation and pain. Such feelings stem from our inability to understand human diversity – we want them to be like “us” and if they aren’t, there is no way we can accept them into our fold. Read the rest of this entry »
Best tribute to Karpal Singh is for all Malaysians regardless of race, religion or political affiliation to unite to Save Malaysia to defend constitutionalism, the rule of law and moderation as our national way of life and model for the world
Five months ago on Dec. 8, 2014, a group of 25 prominent Malays penned an open letter asking for a rational dialogue on the position of Islam in a constitutional democracy.
The 19-paragraph statement was signed by prominent people, including former secretaries-general, directors-general, ambassadors and prominent individuals, as they felt that it was high time moderate Malays and Muslims speak out as extremist, immoderate and intolerant voices do not speak in their name.
They called on the Prime Minister to exercise his leadership and political will to establish an inclusive consultative committee to find solutions to issues which have become more “difficult to address” because of the extreme politicisation of race and religion in this country by bringing together experts in various fields, including Islamic and constitutional laws, and those affected by the application of Islamic laws in adverse ways.
They also urged more moderate Malaysians to speak up and contribute to a better informed and rational public discussion on the place of Islamic laws within a constitutional democracy and the urgency to address the breakdown of federal-state division of powers and finding solutions to the heart-wrenching stories of lives and relationships damaged and put in limbo because of battles over turf and identity.
Although the open letter of G25 which has expanded to G44, drew widespread support from many quarters, including petitions online as well on twitter and FaceBook, it is most regrettable that after close to five months, the Prime Minister, who had travelled the world with his initiative of a Global Movement of Moderates calling for a “coalition of moderates” to reclaim their religion from extremists appears to be either indifferent or impotent about rising extremism at home. Read the rest of this entry »