The case for vernacular schools

By Center for Policy Initiatives (CPI)

Umno vice-president Hishammuddin Hussein is anticipating that the motion on vernacular schools will be the hottest topic at his party’s general assembly to be held next fortnight (Nov 25-29).

The call to abolish vernacular schools, termed Sekolah Rendah Jenis Kebangsaan – SRJK (C) for those using Mandarin as medium of instruction and SRJK (T) for those using Tamil – is expected to dominate the debate by Umno delegates.

Among the SRJK vocal critics are Umno’s Cheras division chief Syed Ali Alhabshee and Petaling Jaya Utara deputy division chief Mohamad Azli Mohemed Saad.

Urging their abolishment, Syed Ali said vernacular schools are seen as the platform for fostering thick racial sentiments. He was reported by FMT on Oct 7 as saying that such a negative development could bring about division and discord between the people of various races in the country.

Syed Ali is an advocate of single-stream education where all primary schools must teach in the national language, Bahasa Melayu, in the Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK). Read the rest of this entry »

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Call on Cabinet on Friday to appoint Joseph Pairin as Chairman of RCIIIS Implementation Committee and not RCIIIS Review Committee to demonstrate that BN has the political will to resolve the 40-year old illegal immigrants problem in Sabah

The Cabinet, as its weekly meeting on Friday, should appoint Sabah Deputy Chief Minister, Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan as Chairman of the Implementation Committee for the Report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Illegal Immigrants in Sabah (RCIIIS) and not just a Review Committee into the findings of the RCIIIS to indulge in another bout of merry-go-rounds purportedly to compile recommendations on what actions should be taken by the Federal Government on the RCIIIS Report.

The Pairin RCIIIS Implementation Committee should be given all necessary Federal and Sabah State government powers to immediately implement the recommendations of the RCIIIS, and all the relevant Federal and State Ministries and departments should come under its purview and direction.

The Pairin RCIIS Implementaiton Committee should be given two months to present a report to Parliament on the RCIIIS recommendations which it could not implement, state the reasons and seek parliamentary authority for the steps and measures which should be taken to deal with these aspects of the RCIIIS Report.

This is the only way to demonstrate that the Barisan Nasional has the political will to once and for all resolve the 40-year long-standing illegal immigrant problem in Sabah. Read the rest of this entry »

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Pairin special committee on Report of RCI on Illegal Immigrants in Sabah (RCIIIS) the latest chapter of the 40-year Great Betrayal of Sabahans as it is proof of continued lack of political will with solution of long-standing problem completely out of sight

On Saturday, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak finally announced that the Cabinet at its Friday meeting on November 14, 2014 decided that the Report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into illegal immigrants in Sabah (RCIIIS) will be made public by the beginning of next month and that a special committee headed by the Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan would be formed to look into the findings and compile recommendations.

Although Najib’s announcement was hailed by Barisan Nasional leaders in Sabah, the formation of the Pairin special committee on RCIIIS is only the latest chapter in the 40-year Great Betrayal of Sabahans as it is proof of the continued lack of political will to resolve the long-stand problem with the solution of a problem which had spanned over two generations completely out of sight!

At the opening of the 29th PBS congress in Kota Kinabalu yesterday, Joseph Pairin Kitingan said the people have high hopes for the Federal Government to put to rest the long-standing issue of illegal immigrants in Sabah and many were looking forward to learn about the findings by the RCIIIS and the solutions to the issue.

He said: “Effective implementation is needed, including stern enforcement. It also requires a strong political will. We need to eradicate the perception among illegals that they have the right to encroach on Sabah.”

Fat hopes indeed, as such political will are completely absent, or it would not have taken some seven months before publication of the Report of the RCIIIS.
Dare Pairin state when he expects the long-standing problem of illegal immigrants in Sabah to be resolved? In 2015, 2016, 2017, before or after the 14th General Elections, 2018, 2019 or even 2020? Read the rest of this entry »

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Call for three-day extension of Parliament for a full debate on “Are Malays and Islam under threat?” as this concerns not just Malays and Muslims, but all Malaysians who want a successful Malaysia

With the approach of the UMNO General Assemblies 2014 from Nov. 25 to 29, there is a build-up of the rhetoric and hysteria that “Malays and Islam are under threat”.

National laureate A. Samad Said made a most pertinent point when he pointed out that despite claims of a growing threat against the Malay community, the country’s leadership has remained in the hands of Malays and is still led by a party which claims to represent the Malay community.

I agree with Pak Samad that it is most peculiar that allegations of Malays under threat are constantly being played up, which is why he advised the Malay community not to be too obsessed about claims that Malays are under threat.

Pak Samad had asked the most relevant question:

“How are Malays under threat? How can religion (Islam) and Malays be threatened when those in power have been Malay for over five decades?

“What have they (Malay leaders) been doing for five decades (if Malays can be under threat)?”

What Pak Samad prescribed is most apt, and I don’t think it could be gainsaid by anyone, that if the country’s more than five-decade-old UMNO Malay leadership cannot put the Malay community at ease, then it should surrender power to let other Malays rule. Read the rest of this entry »

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MCA and Gerakan Ministers should explain why they have not raised any objection at Friday’s Cabinet meeting to the unconstitutional proposal to set up a Syariah Federal Court with the same powers as the civil Federal Court

MCA and Gerakan Ministers should explain why they have not raised any objection at Friday’s Cabinet meeting to the unconstitutional proposal to set up a Syariah Federal Court with the same powers as the civil Federal Court.

This unconstitutional move by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom to have a parallel court system at the federal level
was reported on Thursday’s Berita Harian, and MCA and Gerakan Ministers – as well as other Cabinet members – were remiss in their constitutional oath and political responsibilities in failing to object to such a proposal at Friday’s Cabinet meeting and to demand that all Federal Government involvement in such an unconstitutional development be halted immediately.

Instead, the MCA and Gerakan Ministers have chosen to ask their lowly representatives who are neither in Parliament or any State Assembly to raise objections, knowing that such voices would be ignored completely – when the right and proper place for such objections to be raised is the Cabinet on Friday.

The establishment of a Syariah Federal Court with equivalent powers of the civil Federal Court goes against the very structure and foundation of the Merdeka Constitution of 1957 and Malaysia Constitution of 1963, stipulating that the Constitution is supreme and that any law, whether federal or state, primary or secondary, enacted before or after Merdeka, which infringes the Constitution is void. Read the rest of this entry »

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As its traditional market shrinks, can Umno capture the new one?

by Sheridan Mahavera
The Malaysian Insider
16 November 2014

The math is against Umno. If the party does not change its ways and focuses only on pandering to its traditional vote base of kampung folk, it is unlikely to survive beyond the next election.

This prognosis comes not from a political analyst or a Pakatan Rakyat leader, but from its own leaders in Umno Youth.

The term mathematics is what Umno Youth exco member Shahril Hamdan used to describe the changing face of the Malaysian voting public, which is becoming more urbanised and younger.

Shahril was echoing what his boss Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin said at the movement’s town hall meeting yesterday – Umno’s support base of rural voters, its fixed deposit, is a “shrinking market”.

The emerging market is the millions of youth who are moving to urban areas in their respective states to make a living, Khairy said.

By his estimates, up to 70% of the five million new voters who will cast their ballots in the next general election will be youths. Read the rest of this entry »

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Release Sabah RCI report now, not next month, Pakatan MPs tell PM

Ida Lim
Malay Mail Online
November 16, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 16 — Instead of next month, Putrajaya should release the long-awaited report on Sabah’s illegal immigrants issue immediately, in time for the document to be tabled in Parliament before it ends in two weeks, several Pakatan Rakyat (PR) MPs said.

The lawmakers said they want the report, which contains crucial findings by the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on the influx of immigrants into the east Malaysian state, to be dissected, debated and passed by federal lawmakers in the legislative house.

DAP’s Lim Kit Siang, a veteran politician who has been fighting the issue for a good part of his career, even called it “completely unsatisfactory” that the federal government had chosen to sit so long on the RCI’s report, when it was already completed in May this year.

He pointed out that the issue has haunted Sabah for decades now, and has caused the state “grave” security, social and economic problems.

“It is not a signal that the government is serious and sincere in resolving the longstanding issue of illegal immigrants in Sabah, which has completely changed the political demography in the state,” he told Malay Mail Online when asked to comment on Putrajaya’s decision yesterday to make the report public early next month.

“And it would appear that the whole thing – the release – was timed to be made after Parliament and Sabah state assembly meeting,” the Gelang Patah MP pointed out. Read the rest of this entry »

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ISIS uses beheadings, other violent acts to crush civilians, UN report says

by Zachary R. Dowdy
November 14, 2014

UNITED NATIONS — Beheadings, stonings and mutilation are common weapons of terror employed by the Islamic State in its campaign to subdue civilian populations that have come under its control in Syria, according to a UN monitoring group.

“ISIS has perpetrated murder and other inhumane acts, enslavement, rape, sexual slavery and violence, forcible displacement, enforced disappearance and torture,” according to a 15-page report released Friday by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic. “These acts have been committed as part of a widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population in Aleppo, Ar-Raqqah, Al-Hasakah and Dayr Az-Zawr governorates.”

It documents the group’s violation of international humanitarian law and commission of both war crimes and crimes against humanity as defined by the Geneva Convention.

The report is among the most extensive to document the savagery attributed to the Sunni Islamic group whose origins, the report said, stem from the evolution of an Al Qaida offshoot, Al Qaida in Iraq, which established itself in 2004 and rebranded itself as Islamic State in Iraq in 2006. Read the rest of this entry »

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Pak Samad: After five-decade rule, how are Malays under threat?

The Malay Mail Online
November 15, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 15 — National laureate Datuk A. Samad Said rubbished claims today that the Malays are under threat, pointing out that Malaysia has been under the community’s rule for more than five decades now.

The renowned Malay poet and activist told Malaysiakini in an interview that he finds it odd that some from the community are obsessing over the loss of power to the country’s other minority groups, especially when Malaysia is still being governed by the Malays.

“I hope the Malay community is not too obsessed about claims that Malays are under threat,” Samad, or Pak Samad as he is fondly known as, was quoted saying by the news portal.

“How are Malays under threat? How can religion (Islam) and Malays be threatened when those in power have been Malay for over five decades?

“What have they (Malay leaders) been doing for five decades (if Malays can be under threat)?” he reportedly said.

The news portal then quoted him saying that if the current Malay leadership cannot put these fears to rest, then it should hand over the reins of the government to others.

“Let other Malays (rule). They (Umno) have been there for five decades, not one decade,” he was quoted saying. Read the rest of this entry »

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Is another ferocious bout of “Chinese-bashing” in the works at the Umno General Assemblies at the end of month

It gives me great pleasure to launch Nurul Izzah Anwar’s book “Masa Depan, Masa Kita” in Chinese.

Second-term Member of Parliament, Nurul Izzah, who has the distinguished record of sending two UMNO Ministers packing, represents the hopes and dreams of a better Malaysia for all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, region, age or gender.

The launching of her book in Chinese today is significant for it underlines one essential quality of a Malaysian leader or icon – he or she must not be an exclusive leader for one race, religion or region but must be an inclusive leader who can reach out to all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or region.

This is particularly significant as recent years have witnessed an unprecedented upsurge of the rhetoric and politics of hatred, intolerance and extremism causing the worst racial and religious polarization for over four decades.

This was why I had expressed the hope yesterday that the amicable resolution to the nearly year-long Selangor controversy over the seizure of the Malay and Iban Bibles, together with Malaysia’s assumption of the ASEAN Chair for 2015 with the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak promising to promote moderation in ASEAN, would usher in a virtuous cycle of moderation and establish Malaysia as a regional and international model of moderation.

But this is not to be, for these hopes – that Malaysians would avoid narrow communalism just as ASEAN should avoid narrow nationalism – were dashed yesterday itself firstly by the hysterical paper by the former Univeristi Teknologi Mara (UiTM) at the Johor Umno convention that “If Umno loses, Malays may never rule again” and secondly, the new twisted, irresponsible, dangerous and wicked theory of “shades of racism” by an UMNO Minister, insinuating that the Malays were not welcomed in Pakatan Rakyat-run Penang. Read the rest of this entry »

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Building schools for all Malaysians?

By Azly Rahman
Nov 14, 2014

I am hoping that either the Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat will take up the idea of this new brand of schooling to propel to country into a new era of educational reform as we approach 2015.

The initiative should be started by the Selangor government run by Pakatan to showcase what the BN regime has not been able to do in meeting the schooling and human capital needs of the 21st century, as well as for national unity. I have been writing about this model for years and have even proposed to educational leaders from both governmental camps. I call this initiative Akademie Renaissance (AR) Schools and would like to see it come to fruition in my lifetime.

This initiative will propel the state of Selangor into a major phase of educational reform, partnering in its effort to showcase the nation and other countries a model of a truly global school that harmonises technology, culture, and total human development from the level of kindergarten to graduate school.

It will have its mission in preparing children to become global citizens and experts in the fields of study they will choose as a career, through a systematic process of schooling of the highest standards, from kindergarten to high/secondary schools.

The educational objective is to create ‘academies’ that will become ‘feeder schools of choice’ (specialised) to prepare students for entry into top Asian, American, British, and other world universities of high standing in which English is the medium of instruction. The initial project will be the building of secondary/high schools. Read the rest of this entry »

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Feted abroad, but Ambiga gets banned from Sabah

by Anisah Shukry
The Malaysian Insider
15 November 2014

Just a day after receiving an international award in Hong Kong, prominent lawyer Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan has been banned from entering Sabah ahead of her planned visit to Malaysia’s eastern-most state.

A letter informing the former Bar Council president of the ban was waiting for her when she returned to Malaysia yesterday, after she was presented the Lifetime Achievement Award at the fourth Euromoney Legal Media Group Asia Women in Business Law Awards 2014 ceremony in Hong Kong on Thursday.

The letter, from the Sabah Immigration Department, was in response to Ambiga’s own letter to them on Tuesday, informing them of her intention to visit Sabah on November 25 for a programme with the new people’s movement, Negara-Ku.

“I had written to them because I don’t want to fly all the way there just to be told I’m not allowed in. It was just a formality, to confirm there was no restriction.

“But then they wrote back and said they had rejected my application – even though I wasn’t even applying for their permission to enter Sabah,” the Negara-Ku patron told The Malaysian Insider. Read the rest of this entry »

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Let the amicable resolution to the Selangor issue of the seizure of Malay language Bibles and Malaysia’s assumption of ASEAN Chair usher in a virtuous cycle of moderation and establish Malaysia as a regional and international model of moderation

Congratulations are in order to the Selangor Mentri Besar Azmin Ali in resolving the nearly year-long Selangor controversy over the seizure of the Malay language Bible with the return of the seized copies of the Bible to the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM).

The amicable resolution to the issue of the seizure of Malay language Bibles and Malaysia’s assumption of the annual rotating ASEAN Chairmanship for 2015 are two welcome developments which should be the basis to usher in a virtuous cycle of moderation and establish Malaysia as a regional and international model of moderation.

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak said in the handing-over ceremony of the annual rotating ASEAN Chair in Naypyitaw, Myanmar yesterday that Malaysia, as chairman of ASEAN, would promote moderation as a shared value in order to address conflict and find solutions to issues concerning regional peace and security.

He also called on ASEAN to avoid narrow nationalism which could go against the spirit of an ASEAN community. Read the rest of this entry »

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GMM: Can democrat Islamists curb extremism?

Free Malaysia Today
November 14, 2014

Global Movement of Moderates hold roundtable discussion on the moderate approach of democracy versus war.

KUALA LUMPUR: Democrat Islamists can be a solution to curb extremism worldwide as they provide a moderate approach in today’s global world through the ballot box, said academicians and politicians.

International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) lecturer Dr Maszlee Malik said Democrat Islamists, made famous after the Arab Spring, allowed Muslims to control their fate through the ballot box rather than war or in the hands of leaders who were dictators, thus ending any grievances they might have had.

“The idea of democrat Islamists has existed for a long time. Radical groups emerge because they found there was no hope for Muslims to enjoy justice, human rights and good governance,” he said at a roundtable discussion on Democrat Islamists organised by the Global Movement of Moderates (GMM) together with IIUM’s Fiqh Department.

Chairman of London-based Al-Hiwar TV channel Dr Azzam Tamimi, said that the success of the Arab Spring was a promising event that allowed for democracy in the Middle East and at the same time made the militant group Al Qaeda into an irrelevant movement.

“The success of the Arab Spring as we saw in Tunisia and Egypt was very promising, showing that this is the way forward. Some of the leaders of Al Qaeda were actually stressing fear that this model was succeeding, because it was proving them wrong,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »

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PKR, PAS support cut by Selangor MB saga, DAP intact, survey shows

by Zulkifli Sulong
Features and Analysis Editor
The Malaysian Insider
14 November 2014

PKR and PAS’s image took the heaviest beatings over the Selangor menteri besar (MB) imbroglio, compared to the DAP which was largely unaffected, a survey by Universiti Malaya’s Centre for Democracy and Elections (UMcedel) has found.

The findings were released by UMcedel director Dr Amir Saifude Ghazali for the survey that was conducted after Mohamed Azmin Ali was sworn in as menteri besar in September.

Across the major ethnic groups in Malaysia’s wealthiest and industrialised state, most people surveyed agreed that PKR and PAS suffered the most drop in support, with figures for PKR higher than for the Islamist party.

The UMcedel survey showed 52% of Malays in Selangor agreeing that the MB saga had reduced support for PKR, the lead party in the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) pact, while 25% Malay respondents disagreed.

Chinese and Indian perceptions of PKR due to the impasse was also substantial, with 46% of Chinese and 45% of Indians agreeing that the multi-racial party was the most affected by the crisis.

PAS came a close second,‎ with 42% of Malays surveyed agreeing the Islamist party’s support was affected by the imbroglio, while 33% said there was no impact.

Among the Chinese, 43% said support for PAS was affected, while 41% of Indians surveyed also believed that the party’s support had been eroded. Read the rest of this entry »

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Isis and al-Qa’ida ‘agree to end fighting and join against their opponents’

Kashmira Gander
13 November 2014

Al-Qa’ida has been fighting with Isis since the latter separated from it as an offshoot

Militant leaders from the Isis and al-Qa’ida terrorist groups have agreed to stop fighting each other in order to join against their opponents.

Isis, which calls itself the Islamic State (IS), and al-Qa’ida’s Syrian affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, have been engaged in bitter fighting for more than a year in an attempt to dominate the bloody rebellion against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The accord set between the extremists groups in northern Syria last week could spell problems for the US-led coalition in its fight against Isis, as it complements its air strikes by arming “moderate” rebel factions to fight on the ground.

Now, if the two terrorist groups fulfil their agreement and unite as one force, this would further weaken US-backed rebels – who are viewed as relatively disorganised.

The agreement follows signs that the two groups had cooled their feud with informal truces, the Associated Press reported. A high-level Syrian opposition and a rebel commander have since told the news agency that the accord would see them halt fighting and to open up against Kurdish fighters in a couple of new areas of northern Syria. Read the rest of this entry »

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Islamic State leader urges attacks in Saudi Arabia

Reuters/Daily Times Pakistan
November 14, 2014

BEIRUT: Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi called for attacks against the rulers of Saudi Arabia in a speech purported to be in his name on Thursday, saying his self-declared caliphate was expanding there and in four other Arab countries.

Baghdadi also said a US.-led military campaign against his group in Syria and Iraq was failing and he called for “volcanoes of jihad” the world over.

Reuters could not independently confirm the authenticity of the speech – an audio recording carried on Islamic State-run social media. The voice sounded similar to a previous speech delivered by Baghdadi in July in a mosque in the Iraqi city of Mosul in July, the last time he spoke in public.

It followed contradictory accounts out of Iraq after US. air strikes last Friday about whether he was wounded in a raid. The United States said on Tuesday it could not confirm whether he was killed or wounded in Iraq following a strike near the city of Falluja. Read the rest of this entry »

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‘Tis the season of forgetfulness over financial scandals

12 November 2014

So much has happened over the years that one is forgiven for forgetfulness about what went wrong or right in Malaysia.

Malaysians have seen a series of financial scandals, each that seem bigger than the previous one.

Right now, the focus is on 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). Everyone is concerned about its debts and the government’s liability if it fails. That includes Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Tun Daim Zainuddin, and rightly so, as the two men navigated Malaysia through tough economic times in the past.

But what about the huge gaping hole called Perwaja, not to mention Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and PKFZ during Dr Mahathir’s long 22 years in power. Or Maminco or Bank Negara’s forex scandal if that ever strikes one’s minds.

Weren’t they scandals that hogged the headlines in the past, only to be quickly dismissed by the government of the day and either government guarantees or public funds poured in to bail them out? Read the rest of this entry »

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Who can count more than two Ministers in the Najib Cabinet who are committed moderates in the great battle between moderation and extremism – the raison d’etre for the foundation of Najib’s Global Movement of Moderates?

I said yesterday that the “ruckus” in Parliament on Monday created by the Selangor UMNO/Barisan Nasional chief, Datuk Noh Omar, the UMNO/BN MP for Tanjung Karang had thrown up a teaser – whether the majority of UMNO Ministers, MPs and leaders are like Noh Omar, who are not prepared publicly to endorse Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s Global Movement of Moderates (GMM) initiative and yet deny being an extremist.

Actually, the “ruckus” had done more, as it also raised the fundamental question how Najib’s GMM initiative could have any chance of success when it is impossible to identify more than a handful of committed moderates in Cabinet and UMNO/BN leadership!

For instance, how many Ministers and UMNO/BN leaders are fully committed moderates dedicated to the moderate agenda of the GMM campaign, as repeatedly spelt out by Najib in various international forums in the past four years, as follows:

“The fight against extremism is not about Christians versus Muslims, or Muslims versus Jews, but moderates versus extremists of all religions. We therefore need to rally a coalition of moderates; those willing to reclaim their religion, and pursue the path to peace.”

I cannot count more than two fully committed moderates in the Cabinet who are willing to take up the cudgel of moderation against extremism and rally behind a coalition of moderates to reclaim their religion and pursue the path to peace. Read the rest of this entry »

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Negara-Ku starts roadshow to reclaim Malaysia from extremism

by Jennifer Gomez
The Malaysian Insider
12 November 2014

New people’s movement Negara-Ku is set to carry out its “reclaim Malaysia” agenda nationwide with a roadshow beginning in Malacca tonight to return rationality, open and civil discussion, moderation and harmony to Malaysia.

“Kembalikan Negaraku” or “Return My Country” aims to take back Malaysia from racism and extremism, and provide a platform for safe debates, even on controversial issues such as the court’s recent decision on Negri Sembilan’s Islamic enactments on transgenders.

More than just focusing on issues themselves, the movement’s founder and chairperson Zaid Kamaruddin said they wanted to promote a climate where Malaysians could discuss matters without getting emotional.

Their aim was to also put forward the fact that all differences could be discussed with the Federal Constitution as a reference.

Zaid also said the roadshow was not just about promoting the movement but to draw all other civil society groups that wanted to promote healthy relationships among communities. Years before Negara-Ku, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak launched his 1Malaysia concept when he took office in 2009 but the slogan has since petered out.

“We support all other efforts that promote the coming together of Malaysians, to be able to express what they want,” he added. Read the rest of this entry »

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