If only Putrajaya’s words ever come true

COMMENTARY BY THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
19 October 2014

If only…

* Words count for something in Malaysia, then the cloud of pessimism that envelopes the country would long be gone.

But words have a hollow sound here, especially when they emanate from higher the political ladder.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak rightly said that political leaders must lead the way with moderation. And then came the letdown.
He said Barisan Nasional and Umno leaders rejected all forms of extremism. Really? Is Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi still a member of Umno? What about Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin?

What about the collection of Umno division chiefs who have pressured the authorities to use the Sedition Act as a dragnet to silence legitimate dissent in “moderate” Malaysia? Read the rest of this entry »

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Najib’s greatest disservice within 48 hours of Malaysia’s 187-vote election as non-permanent member of United Nation Security Council

Ironically, it is the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak himself who, within 48 hours, rendered the greatest disservice to Malaysia’s “first-class honours” of 187-vote election as non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) when he addressed the 43rd Gerakan National Delegates Conference in Shah Alam this morning.

After Malaysia’s election as non-permanent member of the UNSC for the third time on Friday, Najib had outlined five areas of priority for Malaysia to push in the UNSC, viz, advance moderation globally; advocate mediation as an approach to conflict resolution; promote UN peacekeeping operations; facilitate the peace-building process in strife-torn countries and pursue deliberations on the UNSC’s comprehensive reformation.

It is a clear that there is a major lacuna in Najib’s list of five priorities for Malaysia’s role as a non-permanent member of UNSC, for Malaysia cannot effectively or credibly advance moderation globally when moderation is in retreat domestically at home, or even worse, having to hide in nooks and corners as when his brainchild, the Global Movement of Moderates (GMM) had to ask the media not to report on its forum proceedings because of the “white terror” sedition blitzkrieg in the country.

In other words, freedom of speech, expression of opinion have degenerated to a stage where “moderation” – as understood by Najib through GMM – can be persecuted and prosecuted as “sedition” by Najib’s Attorney-General!

If Malaysia is to be an effective and credible member of UNSC to advance moderation globally, then it should add a sixth priority and elevate it as the second most important priority item for Malaysia – to advance moderation domestically in Malaysia, as otherwise, its campaign to advance moderation globally is dead even before it could get off the launching pad. Read the rest of this entry »

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Ridiculous to stop non-Muslims from using ‘Allah’, says Muslim Brotherhood leader

by Mohd Farhan Darwis
The Malaysian Insider
19 October 2014

Prohibiting non-Muslims from using the word “Allah” is ridiculous, says Kuwait’s Muslim Brotherhood leader Dr Tareq Suwaidan.

He said this was because there was no law or ruling within the Islamic realm which prevented the use of the word by non-Muslims.

“I have been following this development in Malaysia, this use of the word ‘Allah’… there is no law in Islam that says so,” he told a forum organised by PAS international committee last night.

He noted that there were many instances in Islamic history where non-Muslims had been encouraged to use the Arabic word “Allah”.

“Do not be confused, this is just wrong, I have hundreds. No, thousands of proof on this,” he said, in front of a crowd of 100. Read the rest of this entry »

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Amid fears over IS, academics claim ‘Salafism’ now usurping Malay culture

by Pathmawathy Subramaniam
The Malaysian Insider
October 18, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 18 — Academics warned today of the rise of “Salafism” in Malaysia, an ultra-conservative brand of Islam that they claimed has been seeping into local Malay culture and traditions, and driving the country’s dominant ethnic group further off the path of moderation.

Singapore-based sociologist Dr Syed Farid Alatas said that the Salafi movement — whose followers believe that the earliest teachings of Islam represent the purest form of the religion — defines Islam based on a “narrow point of view” and rejects the religion’s “intellectual traditions”.

The Salafi movement subscribes to the “most extreme of form of extremism”, the National University of Singapore (NUS) associate professor added, citing the growing influence of the Islamic State (IS) jihad in Syria and Iraq as an example.

“This is an imbalance of regulation and respect for the sanctity of personal life,” he told about 100 participants at a roundtable discussion on the threat of religious fundamentalism organised by the Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) today.

In the Malaysian context, Syed Farid added that there now appears to be “great deal” of rejection of previous cultural practices that were once accepted as the norm among Malay-Muslims here.

In its place, locals are now adapting to the Salafi way of life, which they accept as “legitimate and in line with Islam,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »

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2015 Budget (5) -The Debt Bombshell: New Revelations

2015 Budget (5) – A Critique
by Economic Observer
19th October 2014

In his speech, the Prime Minister studiously avoided any reference to the size of the public debt which now requires an allocation of RM 23.2 billion or almost 11 percent of the Budget to service the accumulated debt of the Federal Government now estimated to amount to RM 568.9 billion accounting for 52.8 percent of GDP, a level marginally below the established ceiling.

These numbers exclude the contingent liabilities of the Federal Government and other off budget borrowings.

Nor did the Prime Minister mention the level of debt carried by households, now in excess of 85 percent of GDP.

What is wholly inexcusable is the failure on his part to refer to the bombshell dropped in the Treasury’s Economic Report concerning the size of the nation’s external debt.

The Economic Report discloses that Malaysia’s external debt totals RM 729 billion, equivalent to 67.6 percent of GDP. This compares with a debt level of RM 335.6 billion or 31.1 percent of GDP before the revision.

This more than doubling of the external debt cannot be swept under the carpet. It is shameless in the manner in which the Prime Minister dealt with the issue. Read the rest of this entry »

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Second coming of the woman politician

Scott Ng | October 18, 2014
Free Malaysia Today

Malaysia has a new class of women leaders, and it’s time to take notice

COMMENT

Aung San Suu Kyi. Angela Merkel. Hillary Clinton. Margaret Thatcher. Dilma Rousseff. Gro Harlem Brundtland. Indira Gandhi. The last generation saw the beginning of the rise of women to prominent roles in government, sometimes to the pinnacle of their countries’ political structures.

But Asia has had the largest number of female chief executives in the world. Take Chandrika Kumaranatunga of Sri Lanka, for example. Her mother was the world’s first female Prime Minister, and she herself ascended to the role in 1994. Or Park Geun-Hye, who won South Korea’s latest presidential elections. Or former Thai premier Yingluck Shinawatra.

Malaysia finds itself with approximately 10% women representation in Parliament, just a few notches above Myanmar’s miniscule 6%. This is below the global average, and is not representative of the fact that women compose half of the entire human race, let alone the Malaysian population.
However, on the opposition side of the floor, we’re starting to see equity between the sexes with almost 30% of Pakatan Rakyat’s members of Parliament being women. And what women they are.

In the past, the torch for Malaysia’s female politicians was carried by Rafidah Aziz, former Minister of International Trade and Industry. A common sentiment was that if Rafidah had been a man, she would have long ago been a candidate for the illustrious post of Prime Minister. To a lesser extent, Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, was also a torch bearer for women politicians.

And then the political tsunami of 2008 happened and installed into power a new class of female politicians—young, driven by issues, passionate, intelligent, and most importantly, captivating. Nurul Izzah Anwar and Hannah Yeoh spearheaded this new movement, and they were joined a few years later by firecrackers like Dyana Sofya and Yeoh Bee Yin. These ladies have captured the imagination of the nation, speaking out strongly on the issues that matter not only to the youth, but the masses, powered by constant interactions with the communities they serve. Read the rest of this entry »

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1Malaysia does not need Tongkat Ali or Viagra

M. Kulasegaran
Malaysiakini
18th Oct 2014

At the 60th MCA annual general assembly held last December, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak said MCA has the numbers and potential to champion the Chinese community, but lacks the spirit to succeed.

“We need political Viagra. Our spirit on the ground is weak,” Najib told the assembly. His comments made MCA the butt of joke, especially in the social media.

It is therefore most ironic that yesterday, Gerakan president Mah Siew Keong said the 1Malaysia campaign, which appears to have run out of steam since the last general election, needed a lift similar to the aphrodisiac root Tongkat Ali, so that the campaign could be “long lasting”.

MCA leaders were laughed at for not being brave enough to rebut the prime minister for his insulting analogy.

Will Najib tell Mah off for making him the new butt of joke? Read the rest of this entry »

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2015 Budget (4) – The National Agenda: Increasing equity ownership of Bumiputeras

2015 Budget (4) – A Critique
by Economic Adviser
18th October 2014

In indicating a further RM 600 million to EKUINAS to enable it to increase Bumiputera corporate equity the Prime Minister observed that the Bumiputera have yet to achieve the 30% target.

He further noted their effective control over corporations is currently only around 10%.

The Prime Minister appears to be playing to the right-wing gallery in his party by making these assertions which are unsubstantiated.
No details have been provided or reference made to any rigorous study.

Even a cursory review shows that GLCs are almost entirely Bumiputera controlled. The GLCs listed on the stock exchange account for almost 30 percent of paid up capital. Read the rest of this entry »

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How a tiny fishing village became the gadget factory of the world, and why that’s just the beginning of its ambitions

By Steve Ranger
TechRepublic

It’s a hot summer evening in Shenzhen, but it’s still cool inside the Apple store. The young shoppers are checking out the phones and nodding along to the music by a British indie band of the early nineties. The music they’re listening to is not only older than they are, it’s also older than most of the mega-city of 12 million people, too.

A mere 35 years ago, Shenzhen was little more than a fishing village clinging to the coast, peering enviously at wealthy Hong Kong across the water. But then it was chosen to become the first of China’s special economic zones under Deng Xiaoping — an area where foreign investment and entrepreneurialism was encouraged.

Since then it has rapidly grown into a massive metropolis — one of the largest cities on the planet — and along the way it has also become the manufacturing heart of the global tech industry. If Silicon Valley is the world’s software epicentre, then Shenzhen is home of hardware. Read the rest of this entry »

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Was lack of “tongkat ali” the reason why the Cabinet abdicated from its collective responsibility from taking a stand on Nancy’s parliamentary answer on why Ibrahim Ali was not prosecuted for his threat to burn the Malay-language Bible?

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak was in Milan yesterday for the Asia-Europe (Asem) Summit, but this cannot be the excuse why the Cabinet had abdicated from its collective responsibility from taking a stand on the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Nancy Shukri’s parliamentary answer on why Perkasa President Datuk Ibrahim Ali was not prosecuted for his threat to burn the Malay-language Bible.

Had Nancy correctly reflected the common stand of all Cabinet Ministers on the issue binding every Minister in accordance with the principle of collective responsibility, or had Nancy given a wrong, incorrect and unacceptable response, especially with reference to her statements that Ibrahim was not prosecuted because he was defending the sanctity of Islam and his action was protected by Article 11(4) of the Malaysian Constitution.

Has the principle of collective Ministerial responsibility in Malaysia degenerated in practice to mean “that no one is responsible”?

Or, to quote the Gerakan President Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong, was the lack of “tongkat ali” the reason why the Cabinet abdicated from its collective responsibility from taking a stand on Nancy’s parliamentary answer on why Ibrahim Ali was not prosecuted, as it is inconceivable that Ministers, whether from Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah or Sarawak, who support Najib’s initiative of a Global Movement of Moderates could endorse the answer given by Nancy in Parliament – making them collectively responsible for her answer.

It is no use MCA, Gerakan, MIC, Sarawak, Sabah and even UMNO “moderate” Ministers praising Najib for his recent speech at the United Nations General Assembly against religious intolerance and extremism and even pledging “full and strong support” when as Ministers of the Najib Cabinet, they are not prepared to walk Najib’s talk by refusing to compromise with any form of extremism and religious intolerance, like Ibrahim’s immunity from the sanctions of the law for his threat to burn the Malay-language Bible. Read the rest of this entry »

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Religious, ethnic hatred top global threat for Malaysians, poll finds

by Boo Su-Lyn
Malay Mail Online
October 17, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 17 ― Nearly one-third of Malaysians see religious and ethnic hatred as posing the greatest danger to the world, according to the latest survey finding by Pew Research Center, a concern shared by Indonesia amid simmering religious tensions in both countries and the rise of violent militant Islamist groups.

The Washington-based research group’s Greatest Dangers in the World survey released yesterday showed 32 per cent of Malaysians who cited religious and ethnic hatred as the biggest global threat today.

In contrast, 22 per cent Malaysians surveyed pointed to nuclear weapons, 16 per cent said environmental damage, 13 per cent cited increasing income inequality and 12 per cent highlighted AIDS and other diseases as major global threats.

In neighbouring Indonesia, home to the world’s biggest Muslim population, 26 per cent of its people polled also cited religious and ethnic divisions as the main threat to the world compared to other Southeast Asian nations like Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines which are more concerned with environmental issues.

Concerns about religious and ethnic hatred ranked the highest in Malaysia among Asian countries, followed by Bangladesh (30 per cent), Indonesia (26 per cent) and India (25 per cent). Read the rest of this entry »

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2015 Budget (3) – Implementing GST

2015 Budget (3) – A Critique
by Economic Observer
18th October 2014

The Prime Minister has attempted to offer soothing statements concerning the scope and coverage of the GST.

He has listed a whole list of items that will be exempted. While the list may be impressive, the value of the items that will be exempted remains shrouded.

Such claims as “ Of the 944 goods and services in the basket of goods of the CPI, the prices of 532 items or 56% are expected to reduce up to 4.1%.” or “Meanwhile, about 354 goods and services may experience some price increase but less than 5.8%” offer little clarity. No indication is given about the burden to be borne by an average household or the percentage by which the CPI will rise.

The Prime Minister indicated that the GST will yield RM 23.2 billion in gross revenue. However, with the implementation of GST, the Sales and Services Tax (SST), will be abolished resulting in revenue foregone of RM13.8 billion.

He went on to state: “This means that after deducting RM13.8 billion and RM3.8 billion from a revenue of RM23.2 billion, the Government will have a balance of RM5.6 billion.”

He went on to claim that of the total, RM4.9 billion was being channeled back to the rakyat through assistance programs such as the increase in BR1M.

“Finally, net revenue collection from GST will only amount to RM690 million.” This latter statement is remarkable indeed and is designed to minimize the collection from this new tax.

The Minister has side-stepped pertinent questions concerning the impact of the GST on middle and low income households by referring to the tax reductions. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia 19 years behind South Korea, complacency, graft among culprits

by Lee Shi-Ian
The Malaysian Insider
17 October 2014

Malaysia are 19 years behind South Korea in terms of productivity, the Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce and Industry said today, naming graft, leakages, complacency and archaic labour laws as road blocks.

Its executive director Stewart Forbes said Malaysia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per worker productivity last year was equivalent to South Korea’s – but in 1995.

“Malaysia’s historic productivity growth was unimpressive although at one time, Malaysia, South Korea and Taiwan all started out on the same level playing field.

“Putrajaya is always quick to point out that Malaysia is better than Thailand or Vietnam or Indonesia. But why is Malaysia choosing the worst to make comparisons?

“Putrajaya ought to be comparing Malaysia to Taiwan, Singapore or South Korea. They should set the bar higher when making comparisons,” Forbes said. Read the rest of this entry »

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The regression of our society

– Joshua Wu
The Malaysian Insider
17 October 2014

I refer to the video on YouTube on the attack on Gerakan Hapus Akta Hasutan’s (GHAH) Penang coordinator Ong Jing Cheng as well as a few others during their peaceful gathering at Speaker’s Square in Penang.

“Unacceptable, abhorrent, repulsive, barbaric, uncivilized, undemocratic, illegal, insolent, untenable, quixotic, unscrupulous, boorish, cockamamie, craven, dastardly, egregious, odious, and asinine” were some of the words that flashed through my mind as I watched the seven minutes and thirty seconds video.

Aren’t the troublemakers worried about the civil and criminal repercussions of their actions? Read the rest of this entry »

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2015 Budget (2) – Economic Performance & Prospects

2015 Budget – A Critique (2)
by Economic Observer
17th October 2014

There exists a long held convention for the Annual Budget Speech to serve as a vehicle for reporting to the nation recent economic performance along with a candid account presenting near term prospects.

Sadly the Minister has chosen to ignore tradition.

In a speech of almost 30 pages, hardly a page and a half are devoted to a discussion of recent developments or the prospects for the year ahead. What little is said about recent performance consists of broad generalizations.

Growth merits a few lines; little is said about price developments, private consumption which is a measure of the people’s wellbeing.

Cynically much is made of the performance of the stock market but not a word is said about the growth in private debt or about the leakages that the economy has suffered through massive capital flight.

The reference to investment trends is based on data relating to approvals rather than actual investments. Read the rest of this entry »

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Alternative to Sedition Act is in Penal Code

– Adrian Lim
The Malaysian Insider
17 October 2014

I come from a Chinese Christian family. I have been labelled “pendatang” and “Cina Babi” all my life, but the Sedition Act is still irrelevant to me.

Well, many have said that Datuk Ibrahim Ali should be charged with sedition for threatening to burn the Christian Bible. There are also racists and even principals who have labelled the Chinese as “pendatang” or even “Cina Babi”.

Technically, these people have committed an offence under the Sedition Act for “promoting feelings of ill will and hostility between different races” – Section 3(1)(e) of the Sedition Act 1948.

Yesterday, Khairy Jamaluddin claimed that the walk against sedition has not made an impact because most Malaysians want safeguards against racially or religiously offensive speech.

Is that so? Do we not have safeguards in place?

In fact, I do not need the Sedition Act to protect me. I do not need the Sedition Act to criminalise people like Abdullah Zaik Abd Rahman, Ridhuan Tee, Zulkifli Nordin or the infamous Ibrahim Ali. Read the rest of this entry »

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Terrorising the Christian minority

Boo Su-Lyn
Malay Mail Online
OCTOBER 17, 2014

OCTOBER 17 ― De facto law minister Nancy Shukri sparked an outrage when she said that Datuk Ibrahim Ali was not prosecuted over his threat to burn Christian bibles because the authorities had concluded that the Perkasa president was merely defending Islam.

According to her, the Attorney-General’s Chambers had decided that Ibrahim’s alleged call for Muslims to torch Malay-language bibles containing the word “Allah” was in line with Article 11(4) of the Federal Constitution that prohibits the proselytisation of other faiths to Muslims.

Malaysian law does not address hate crimes per se; Ibrahim was investigated under Section 298 of the Penal Code that outlaws wounding the religious feelings of another.

News portal Free Malaysia Today quotes Ibrahim as saying at a press conference on January 19, 2013: “Muslims must unite to protect their religion. They must seize those Bibles, including the Malay editions, which contained the term Allah and other Arabic religious terms, and burn them.”

The Malay right-wing group chief was purportedly responding to a claim that Christian bibles were being distributed to students, including Malays, at a secondary school in Penang.

The government’s explanation that Ibrahim was merely trying to protect the sanctity of Islam gives the false impression that Islam is under attack in the country, and hence, it is fine to do whatever it takes ― even burning the holy books of a minority religious group ― to defend it. Read the rest of this entry »

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2015 Budget – Policy Challenges and Rhetoric

2015 Budget – A Critique (1)
by Economic Observer
17th Oct 2014

The Prime Minister-cum-Finance Minister in his opening remarks observed that economic planning and policies of a country need to be adjusted according to developments and challenges in the domestic and external environment.

He went on to add that Malaysia is in need of a move to be an economy based on knowledge, high skills, expertise, creativity and innovation.

A laudable statement indeed which will not be disputed or attract criticism. However, this statement is nothing more than a platitude and rhetorical in scope. It is patently clear what the challenges are.

The nation is grappling with the dangers associated with the continued brain drain, and the continued neglect of the education system. Read the rest of this entry »

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Cabinet must take collective Ministerial stand to endorse or dissociate from Nancy Shukri’s parliamentary answer that Ibrahim Ali is not prosecuted for his threat to burn Malay-language Bible as he was defending sanctity of Islam and protected by Article 11(4) of the Constitution

The Cabinet at its meeting today must take collective Ministerial stand to endorse or dissociate from the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Nancy Shukri’s parliamentary answer to the Penang Chief Minister and Bagan Member of Parliament Lim Guan Eng that Perkasa President, Datuk Ibrahim Ali is not prosecuted for his threat to burn the Malay-language Bible as Ibrahim was defending the sanctity of Islam and his action was protected by Article 11(4) of the Malaysian Constitution.

Borneo Post, in a report yesterday headlined “Nancy says she does not support Ibrahim Ali or his religious views”, quoted Nancy as making the following statement through her political secretary Kamaluddin Effendie:

“Neither the police nor AG (Attorney-General) can give any reply in Parliament. I, as the de-facto Law Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, had to do it on their behalf. Whatever were the findings of the police or the decision of the AG, I read it out in Parliament because they could not do it there.

“It must be made known that it was the AG’s decision not to charge Dato Ibrahim under the Sedition Act, and the decision was made based on the police investigation.

“As a minister or one of the leaders of the nation, I have to support the rule of the law, but it does not mean I agree with Dato Ibrahim’s extreme views.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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Open memorandum to the Prime Minister of Malaysia — Malaysian Bar

Malay Mail Online
OCTOBER 16, 2014

1. The Malaysian Bar has walked to Parliament today as part of our on-going campaign for the repeal of the Sedition Act 1948. It is in order to rid ourselves of an unjust law and unneeded crutch, and for the realisation of a better Malaysia.

2. The Malaysian Bar’s walk today is called the “Walk for Peace and Freedom” because we wish to promote a peace anchored by bonds of unity, lasting harmony and true mutual respect amongst Malaysians. We walk for the freedom from fear and intimidation; freedom from extremism; freedom from divisiveness; freedom from exploitation for personal, sectarian and selfish gains; freedom to question, criticise, discuss and debate; freedom to learn; and freedom to grow and mature.

3. The Sedition Act 1948 is inherently flawed. It is designed to subjugate, suppress and oppress. It is NOT designed to promote peace, harmony and unity. As a piece of criminal legislation, it is repugnant to the rule of law because it punishes freedom of speech and expression of thought by the use of imprecise and ill-defined offences. It does not require any proof of ill intention or intention to create disorder. Truth is not a defense. Hence, the Sedition Act 1948 in fact criminalises the truth.

4. The Walk for Peace and Freedom is part of the Malaysian Bar’s response to Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Najib Razak’s call for all right thinking and moderate Malaysians to stand up and speak out. The Malaysian Bar walks so as to give voice to such Malaysians. Read the rest of this entry »

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