Archive for category Kee Thuan Chye

‘The Heat’ Bounces Back as the Media Takes a Beating

By Kee Thuan Chye
msn.com
15.2.2014

The Heat is back. I wouldn’t say, with a vengeance, but certainly with plenty of critical substance for the reading public to think about. And well-researched information that is essential for every citizen.

On the front page of the newsweekly’s comeback issue of February 8-14, it vows to continue to “speak up against corruption, injustice and the forces that seek to divide our nation”. And its inside pages carry enough fire to show that it has not been cowed by its seven-week-long suspension by the Home Ministry.

Indeed, one of its top articles is headlined ‘It’s time for greater freedom of the press’. Although one might quibble that the headline is not quite accurate because you can’t have greater freedom when there is no freedom to begin with, the body of the article clearly spells out where The Heat stands on this issue. And quite rightly, too, because it is this lack of freedom that caused its suspension. Read the rest of this entry »

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Shut the Mouths that Threaten May 13

By Kee Thuan Chye
news.malaysia.msn.com
21 Jan 2014

It’s disturbing, to say the least. Street protests staged by Umno and/or groups affiliated to or inspired by it invariably espouse the threat of violence and express racial venom. The most recent ones, held on January 18 and 19 in Penang, are further indications of this trend.

These were staged to protest against Lee Khai Loon, the PKR state assemblyman of Machang Bubok, for publicly mocking Prime Minister Najib Razak’s statement about the drop in price of kangkung. But the proceedings turned ugly when race was made into an issue when it was never one in the first place.

To begin with, Lee’s satirical flashmob on January 16, which culminated in his stuffing kangkung into the mouth of an effigy of Najib, was not a racial act. It was instead an act that summed up public disgust for the prime minister’s apparent failure to empathise with the rakyat, who are struggling with the problem of rising costs. Many Malaysians indeed blame the Government for contributing to the rise because it cut petrol and sugar subsidies and raised electricity tariffs.

On top of that, Najib made the extra howler of saying that although the price of kangkung has come down, the people do not praise the Government for it, but when prices go up, they are quick to blame the Government. For that, he was widely condemned. And on social media, he was satirised as well. Even the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) picked up the story. Read the rest of this entry »

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Najib Wrong to Blame Malaysians

by Kee Thuan Chye
Yahoo! News
Jan 14, 2014

Prime Minister Najib Razak is wrong to blame Malaysians for the country’s standing in comparison to Japan and South Korea. He says Malaysia is not as developed and economically advanced as those two countries are because Malaysians lack strong will and fighting spirit.

This is bullshit.

He should instead blame his own party, Umno, and its partners in the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition. If it were not for the New Economic Policy (NEP) and its continued existence to this day, almost a quarter-century past its original termination date of 1990, we would not be in the state we’re in now.

The NEP made us economically less competitive. Investors were reluctant to put money into ventures for which they had to yield 30 per cent share to partners who brought hardly anything to the table.

The NEP triggered a massive brain drain that is now recognised as one of the factors weakening our hopes of becoming an advanced nation. Read the rest of this entry »

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The ‘Allah’ Issue in Perspective – Part 2

By Kee Thuan Chye
news.malaysia.msn.com
14 Jan 2014

Yesterday, I looked at the ‘Allah’ issue from the time it started to what it has become today, and how we are now trapped in a web of confusion spun from diverse interpretations of the Court of Appeal’s decision on the use of the word ‘Allah’ by The Herald, as well as the “one-policy, two-countries” implication arising from Prime Minister Najib Razak’s 10-point solution.

In the midst of such confusion, how do we judge who is right – those who claim that ‘Allah’ is exclusive to Muslims or those who insist that it is their constitutional right to practise their religion the way they have been doing it for ages, including referring to God as ‘Allah’?

How do we deal with the rising fervour on both sides, Muslim and Christian, as they seek to defend what they think is right? With Father Lawrence Andrew, the editor of The Herald, who said on December 27 that Christians would continue to use ‘Allah’ in all Selangor churches, and with the Solidariti Umat Islam Klang members who protested in public against his statement?

How do we deal with Perak Mufti Harussani Zakaria’s demand for the arrest of the Malays who turned up at a church in Klang to show solidarity with Christians? Read the rest of this entry »

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The ‘Allah’ Issue in Perspectiv​e — Part 1

By Kee Thuan Chye
news.Malaysia.msn.com
Jan 13 2014

As the ‘Allah’ issue rages on, particularly after the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) raided the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) and seized 300-plus copies of the Bible in Malay and Iban on January 2, let’s take a moment and look at it in perspective.

How did it start?

Not, as falsely claimed by former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, because Malaysia has become more liberal and Malaysians are testing the limits of their “new-found freedom”. Not, as he says, because some groups “purposely come up with something to annoy people” or that they want to run down other religions.

That is the usual kind of poppycock for which he has of late been fond of spinning.

The whole mess started in 2009 with Syed Hamid Albar, who was home minister then, banning the Catholic weekly The Herald from using the word ‘Allah’ in its Bahasa Malaysia section. Prior to that, there had been no issue. Christians in Sabah and Sarawak had been using it for ages, long before they joined the Federation of Malaysia. No one had raised a hue and cry. Read the rest of this entry »

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M’sia as advanced nation: Are we ready?

By Kee Thuan Chye
Free Malaysia Today
January 13, 2014

Come 2020, Najib – if he’s still PM then – might have the dubious honour of proclaiming Malaysia an advanced nation, but the reality could be far from that.

COMMENT

As we begin the new year and realise that we are only six years away from the magical 2020, when – as Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has promised – we will become an advanced nation, it might be apt to speculate whether we are ready for it.

From where we stand today, it doesn’t look likely that Malaysia can meet the per capita income and GDP criteria to be considered an advanced nation by then, but if – by some miracle – we manage to, does it mean that, economics aside, we will truly meet the grade of what being an advanced nation is?

I’m looking at it from the layman’s point of view, and what I see now doesn’t convince me that we will. Where we will fail miserably is in the socio-cultural aspect.

We are too tidak apa (in the Malay sense), too chhin chhai (in the Chinese sense), too lax. And while this may be a virtue when it comes to personal relations and avoidance of bickering over trivialities, it is a failing when it comes to performance, achievement and continued success.

We also prefer to take the easy way out, also to avoid conflict. And we generally like to lepak, some even to ponteng. Read the rest of this entry »

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When He’s Alone, What Does Najib Think About?

by Kee Thuan Chye
Yahoo! News
31.12.2103

I wonder, when Najib Razak has his private moments, what does he think about?

Does he think about what a liability his wife, Rosmah Mansor, is turning out to be? About the bad press that has been mounting against her and her allegedly extravagant spending and her use of the government jet to go to Qatar? And now her son’s purchase of a RM110 million condo in New York City?

Lavishing that amount of money at a time when Malaysians are being compelled to pinch pennies is obscene. It also shows up the glaring contrast between the lifestyles of the ruling elite and those of the common people. While the ruling elite forces us to tighten our belts in the face of rising prices, its own family members appear to be having a whale of a time.

It may be claimed that Rosmah’s son, Riza Aziz, came to great wealth through his own talent and initiatives, like investing successfully in Hollywood movies such as The Wolf of Wall Street, and is therefore entitled to his enjoyment of luxuries, but the next question that begs to be asked is: Why, in the midst of the brain drain Malaysia is suffering, does he not come back instead to contribute his talent and wealth to developing his own country? And helping his stepfather to achieve the goal of making Malaysia a high-income nation? Read the rest of this entry »

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Journalists, Fight for Your Freedom!

By Kee Thuan Chye
Yahoo! News
21.12.2013

The scourge is upon us. The Government is getting unreasonably authoritarian by suspending the publishing licence of the news weekly The Heat. We are seeing the beginnings of a return to Mahathirism, to the culture of fear that former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad imposed on us. It’s time to nip it in the bud before it gets more grim.

I call on the media and all journalists to do their part to stop the tyranny against media freedom. Stand up and take back your right to freedom of speech and expression. Push for the repeal of the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) which accords power to the Home Ministry to grant and revoke licences.

A friend of mine who works in the media suggests a sympathy strike by all journalists, with media owners in tacit support. Is that doable? Or is it too much to ask? Read the rest of this entry »

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Will ‘The Heat’ wilt from Government heat?

– Kee Thuan Chye
The Malaysian Insider
December 17, 2013

The relatively outspoken weekly newspaper The Heat has been given a show-cause letter by the Home Ministry and reportedly told to tone down its fervour. And this has come about only three months since the paper sparked to life in early September.

This shows how tightly the Government still controls the media, and how difficult it is for any print publication to be critical of the ruling party. It also blows to bits the promise that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak made in September 2011 that he wanted to establish in Malaysia “the best democracy”. Unless, of course, he has a radically different understanding of “democracy”.

The online news website The Malaysian Insider had reported that the action taken by the ministry was believed to have been prompted by The Heat’s front-page article on Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor’s “spendthrift” use of public funds – on overseas trips, utilities in their official residence, the hiring of consultants, the use of the Government’s private jets, allocations for the Prime Minister’s Department. Read the rest of this entry »

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IGP, What is Seditious in Mariam’s Article?

By Kee Thuan Chye
news.malaysia.msn.com
2nd December 2013

I cannot see a fellow writer being threatened by someone in public authority for what she writes and not stand up for her. I’m therefore saying that the recent warning issued by the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) to political commentator Mariam Mokhtar against writing articles that could be deemed seditious is highly unwarranted and deserves to be censured.

Now, if the IGP was giving her friendly advice in saying she should not write articles that were seditious, he might have good cause to do so. Even if the articles she has written so far have not proven to be so. But that does not seem to be the tone and tenor of what he said a few days ago.

What makes his remark deserving of censure is what he added: “She had better watch out or we will go after her.” That comes across, undoubtedly, like a threat. And it’s inappropriate coming from someone like the IGP. Read the rest of this entry »

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Rosmah oh Rosmah … Ready, Get Jet, Go!

By Kee Thuan Chye
Yahoo! News
Nov 24, 2013

Rosmah oh Rosmah, you are so endearing that Malaysians love you. So much that they are questioning why you used the Government’s jet to fly to Qatar for the International Business Women Forum earlier this month. And why you took with you the MP Azalina Othman, your hubby’s special adviser Shahrizat Abdul Jalil and several ministers’ wives.

Minister Shahidan Kassim said you went on “official business”, and that the Cabinet approved your use of the jet. Your own special officer Siti Azizah said you went to Qatar in the national interest.

She even explained what she meant: “It was not for personal reasons. … [Rosmah] does not represent the Government, but she went there for the sake of the Government’s interest. She is the prime minister’s wife, she went to give the keynote address [at the forum]. So she made the address not as a government representative, but in the national interest.”

Not a government representative and yet doing it in the national interest? Hmmmm … can what, right? Why not? Even many ordinary Malaysians go overseas to do things in the national interest without their even knowing it what, right? Like when they go on holiday and tell the foreigners they meet what a nice country Malaysia is or how delicious Malaysian food is. That’s in the national interest. That’s boosting tourism. Read the rest of this entry »

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Show us your income tax returns, Najib

By Kee Thuan Chye

Dear Najib,

You have come out to call tax evaders traitors. That’s a very strong word. If you had used it on corrupt public officials and politicians, especially government ministers, that would have been more apt. It would have struck a resonant chord. It would also have indicated your seriousness in fighting corruption within your ranks.

As it is, according to your minister Paul Low, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) arrested nine politicians who were reported to be involved in corruption between 2010 and August 2013, and only five have been charged. That’s a pretty low number over the course of four years. The minister did not clarify who these politicians were, but one would presume that they were part of the ruling party.

It may well be that Malaysian politicians, including those holding public office, are generally clean, but the unofficial allegations that have been brought up from time to time tell us a hugely different story. You may be aware of them yourself – allegations about this minister living beyond his means, like building a palatial home, and that minister receiving kickbacks or laundering money for his so-called “adopted son”. And of course the biggie surrounding Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud and his relatives, some of whom were caught on video earlier this year by the international NGO Global Witness allegedly offering logging licences in return for profit.
Read the rest of this entry »

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What Good Things Has the Govt Done for Malaysians?

By Kee Thuan Chye
Yahoo! News
22nd Nov 2013

I wanted to write something positive about the Federal Government. But I could think of only two good things that it has done in the last few months.

One of them – making English a must-pass subject at the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examinations starting in 2016 – I had written about at length before. The other is the introduction of financial education in the school curriculum starting next year with Primary 3 students and in 2017 for secondary schools.

This is a welcome move by the Education Ministry, although it is being done with the collaboration of Bank Negara, which seems to have initiated the idea. I wish we had this when I was in school; it would have helped me understand money and what to do with it. This is something important to learn from young, and I’m happy for our young that they will soon be getting that benefit.

If I had learned how to save, invest, manage my finances and plan for the future, I might not have squandered the money I earned in my youth. I could be owning numerous units of property now or earning substantial revenue from investing in businesses. Today, I wouldn’t still have to slog to eke out a living.

So much for that. But for my project, I figured that if I wrote only about this good thing being done for our young, I might manage just one-quarter the length of an article. That would be too short. But I did want to write something positive. So what could I do? Read the rest of this entry »

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For New Straits Times to Be Truly Repentant …

By Kee Thuan Chye
msn.com
20.11.13

Last Friday, the New Straits Times ate humble pie and apologised to four NGOs for having defamed them in a front-page report it published last year that carried no substance and offered no evidence whatsoever to support its accusation that they were involved in a plot to destabilise the Government.

The newspaper now acknowledges that the report, written by Farrah Naz Karim, was “groundless” and “false”, and that it “should not have been published”.

When it came out on September 21, 2012, I was appalled by its blatant disregard of journalistic ethics – in fact, of any kind of ethics. I thought it pathetic that the newspaper had sunk so low. This was the worst transgression the paper had committed perhaps since 1998, when it carried on its front page a couple of stories that were editorials rather than news reports aimed at assassinating the character of Anwar Ibrahim after he was sacked by then prime minister Mahathir Mohamad for accusing the latter of paranoia and resisting the need to weed out corruption and cronyism. Read the rest of this entry »

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After the Good Start, Let’s Do it Right

By Kee Thuan Chye
Penang Monthly (November)

Two months ago, I wrote in this column about the issue of English and asked whether our government would give the language the importance it deserves and get our students to learn it wholeheartedly. Since then, we’ve heard the good news that the Government has decided to make English a must-pass subject at the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examinations from 2016.

This is a good start. At the very least, it sends out the message to students to take the language seriously when at present many of them don’t. The official sanction should also get things rolling and prompt education planners to prepare for the 2016 target. It may be only three years away, but a short deadline can sometimes be as effective as a longer one, if not more so. It’s all about having the will to do it. And speaking of will, students are more likely to find the will to improve their English when they are pushed to do it than when they are led to believe that English is irrelevant to their daily lives or even harmful to their own culture and identity.

Even so, supporters of English are sceptical, and understandably so. Read the rest of this entry »

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Don’t Talk Big, Mahathir, You Brought Down Our English

By Kee Thuan Chye
Yahoo! News
15.11.2013

Not that I want to knock Mahathir Mohamad, you know, I’ve knocked him so many times before, but I cannot tahan laa when he tries to act innocent and say things should be like this or that now when he never did anything when he was prime minister to do the right things himself. In fact, for some things, he did the opposite.

Take what he now says about our graduates not being able to get jobs because they fail at interviews – because their English is poor. Now, let me ask him, when he was PM, did he do anything to make Malaysian students learn the language seriously other than learning Maths and Science in English? No, he didn’t!

He didn’t have the guts to go one step further and give more emphasis to learning English in schools. He floated the idea of bringing back English-medium schools but that petered out. He was only testing the idea. When it didn’t work, he pulled back, like a tortoise head into its shell.

He didn’t even make passing English at the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) exam compulsory. In fact, English ceased to be a must-pass subject in 1974, when he was education minister. He said Malay students might fail the whole SPM if English was a must-pass. Instead of spurring them on to master the language so that they would pass it and SPM as well, he gave them the easy way out. After that, succeeding generations of students couldn’t be bothered with English. He was responsible for that mistake. The National Union of Teachers protested, but did he care? Read the rest of this entry »

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Laugh, Perkasa, and Be Effing Happy!

By Kee Thuan Chye
Yahoo! News
5/11/2013

The disclaimer at the beginning of the show tells it all: “This programme is intended for immature audiences only. This programme is NOT intended for educational purposes, merely to stimulate FUN. If you are easily offended, mudah tersinggung or terkeliru, probably best to close the window right now.”

This is That Effing Show, described by its producers as “a satirical news show that laughs, pokes fun and points out the (often) obvious and not-so-obvious absurdities of Malaysian socio-political life”. Created by a bunch of clever, creative and concerned young people, it has been coming out regularly on the web TV network PopTeeVee since 2010.

By its own description, the show is a parody of Malaysian life, done in good humour, which means it is not to be taken seriously. Those who are easily offended or confused are warned not to watch it. This being clear, the show should therefore not expect any complaints against it except aesthetic ones – like perhaps it failed to generate fun or to entertain, or that the technical production was sub-standard, or that its actors performed badly.

Perkasa, however, is taking it very seriously. The Malay rights organisation has taken exception particularly to the series’ recent segment, ‘That Effing Show #95: Allah, Apa Lagi?’, and its complaint is not on aesthetic grounds. Perkasa has even made not just one but nine police reports against it! Read the rest of this entry »

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It is a Right, Not a Privilege, So What Now?

By Kee Thuan Chye
1.11.2013

All Malaysiakini asked for was publish a daily newspaper in English of 40,000 copies to be sold only in the Klang Valley. But this was not acceptable to the Home Ministry, which rejected its application in August 2010. Why? What was the Government afraid of?

Sure, as an online news website, Malaysiakini had distinguished itself as a provider of news that the mainstream media often hid from the public for fear of offending the Government, and it had won tremendous support from truth-starved Malaysians who wanted to get “the other side of the story”, the side that exposed the Government’s shenanigans and deceptions. But the number of copies it was asking for its print version was relatively low, and with its distribution restricted to the Klang Valley, where there is a concentration of supporters of the Opposition, the newspaper would be mostly preaching to the converted anyway.

Besides, it was entering a market in which English-language newspapers owned by ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties, like The Star and New Straits Times, were already long entrenched and wielding considerable influence on their readers.

In any case, the Home Ministry did not give any grounds for rejecting Malaysiakini’s application. But when Malaysiakini brought the case to the High Court for a judicial review, the Minister had to state his reasons in an affidavit.

The case was heard in October 2012. The Government’s lawyer submitted that the granting of a publication permit was a privilege, not a right. But the judge disagreed. Read the rest of this entry »

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Police Reputation Going Down the Toilet?

By Kee Thuan Chye
Yahoo! News
24.10.2013

Hahahaha! So the story now is that some policemen lost their guns while they were taking a pee, izzit? And this was revealed in Parliament by the guy who has just been elected Umno vice-president!

Did the guns drop into the toilet bowl and got flushed down?

Well, Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi did not provide the gory details when he was giving his written answer in Parliament to a question raised by Opposition MP Tian Chua about the Auditor-General’s having reported that the police lost 44 loaded firearms between 2010 and 2012.

However, Zahid did also reveal that some guns were lost when cops got mugged. Woh! Cops getting mugged? Imagine that! If cops can get mugged, what hope is there for ordinary people?

Cops are crime-busters. They are supposed to apprehend muggers. How do they get mugged instead? Are they not fit to be cops? How did they get hired in the first place? Is that why crime is on the rise? Read the rest of this entry »

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What Now After the Umno Elections?

By Kee Thuan Chye
23.10.2013

Mohd Ali Rustam lost badly in his bid for a vice-presidency at the Umno party elections last weekend. He managed to win only seven votes out of a possible 191. With the new system of electoral colleges, this means he got votes from seven divisions, as each division made up one electoral college.

In terms of number of votes from individual delegates, he obtained 15,294, which works out roughly to only about 10.4 per cent of the total of 146,500. Significantly, the people who voted are Malays, so Ali Rustam can’t blame the Chinese for his loss this time, as he did for his loss at the recent general election (GE13).

Not only is this poetic justice; it is also a vindication of the fact that the outcome of GE13 was not, contrary to what Umno President and Prime Minister Najib Razak claimed, due to a “Chinese tsunami”. Barisan Nasional (BN) did worse at GE13 because other races rejected it, including the Malays.

In Ali Rustam’s case, he stood in the parliamentary constituency of Bukit Katil, which was made up of 53 per cent Malay voters, 41 per cent Chinese and 6 per cent Indian. So for him to blame the Chinese was simply unfair as the majority of the voters were Malays.

For his Umno vice-presidency defeat, whom is he going to blame? The delegates who didn’t vote for him? Because they might have considered that in 2009, he was disqualified from contesting the same position for engaging in money politics? And that last year, he threw a lavish wedding for his son and incurred a hefty food and beverage bill of RM600,000, which prompted investigations by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC)? Read the rest of this entry »

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