Malaysia’s Identity Crisis

Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2007
By Hannah Beech/Kuala Lumpur

Revathi Masoosai should be the perfect embodiment of Malaysia. Her ethnic Indian parents were both born in the ancient port of Malacca in 1957, the very year the colony of Malaya gained independence from the British. Her father was Christian, her mother came from a Hindu family, but they both officially converted to Islam, the religion practiced by Malaysia’s majority Malays. Yet Revathi does not feel welcome in her ethnically and religiously diverse homeland. According to Malaysian law, Muslims can only marry other Muslims. Revathi, who was actually raised in the Hindu faith, had fallen in love with a Hindu man. But because of her parents’ earlier conversion, she was deemed a Muslim and a judge refused to change her religious status. Revathi’s marriage was never recognized by the state, nor was her daughter’s birth. Earlier this year, an Islamic Shari’a court ordered her to spend six months at a Faith Rehabilitation Center, where she had to wear a Muslim headscarf and pray five times a day. “The constitution says there’s freedom of religion in Malaysia, but I have not felt that freedom,” says the 30-year-old homemaker. “How can they force me to believe something I do not believe? What has happened to my country?”

Malaysia commemorated 50 years of independence this past summer, but the celebratory pageantry masked an underlying identity crisis. In many ways, the country is a success story, the very model of a modern Asian nation. Buoyed by oil revenue, capital Kuala Lumpur bristles with skyscrapers and industrial parks, while a massive administrative capital called Putrajaya has risen from what were palm-oil plantations two decades ago. In September, Malaysia’s first astronaut blasted into space, his flight mirroring the nation’s ambitions. Poverty has been reduced from half the population at independence to just 5% today, as an affirmative-action policy created a prosperous Malay middle class that had never before existed. In Asia, only the nations of Singapore, Japan, South Korea and Brunei rank higher than Malaysia in the U.N.’s Human Development Index. Most impressively, while other multiethnic nations like Yugoslavia, Sri Lanka and Rwanda fractured into conflict, Malaysia has largely kept peace between groups that include Muslim Malays (about 50%); Buddhist and Christian Chinese (roughly 25%); Hindu, Sikh and Muslim Indians (less than 10%); and indigenous peoples, who abide by many faiths including animism (around 10%). “Our biggest achievement is that we have not only survived but we have progressed and thrived,” Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi told TIME in a written statement in August.

Yet for all these accomplishments, Malaysia is suffering from midlife anxiety. Increasingly, the nation’s diverse ethnicities live in parallel universes, all Malaysians, yes, but seldom coming together as they once did for meals or classroom discussions. Religion, too, has divided the nation, as some Malaysians assert that a conservative strain of Islam is causing a segment of the faith’s worshippers to withdraw from a multicultural society. Malaysia’s economy is being challenged by regional competitors, with many questioning the future of the affirmative-action scheme that has served as the country’s financial bedrock. At the same time, a nation that once prided itself on its robust institutions is finding these foundations eroding. Little wonder, then, that up to a million Malaysians, mostly the white-collar talent needed to keep the economy humming, have simply abandoned the country since independence; by the government’s own estimate, 70,000 Malaysians, the majority ethnic Chinese, have renounced their citizenship over the past two decades, although far more have emigrated without officially giving up their nationality. Many local companies are leaving, too, investing so much offshore that as much money now leaves Malaysia as is attracted to it. “There’s no question we accomplished a lot over the past 50 years,” says Ramon Navaratnam, president of the Malaysia office of Transparency International, the corruption watchdog. “But if we don’t face up to [our] problems, we will not be able to sustain the same level of success over the next 50 years.”

Minority Report

The man who must minister to Malaysia’s malaise is Abdullah. When he was handpicked for power four years ago by longtime Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, Abdullah was dismissed as a political lightweight. But Abdullah surprised even his harshest critics. He vowed to combat corruption, liberalize the press and restore the reputation of a judiciary whose independence had been repeatedly questioned during the latter part of Mahathir’s 22-year rule. To underscore Malaysia’s commitment to economic efficiency, Abdullah initially scaled back several of Mahathir’s prestige megaprojects, including a money-losing national auto company and a massive dam in Borneo. The son of a moderate Muslim cleric also brought a measure of spiritual authority to the ruling coalition, which had been fighting the rise of an Islamic-based political party that attracted Malay votes even as it alienated non-Malays. “The important thing is that everyone’s rights are protected,” Abdullah told TIME. “Malaysia is the country that it has become because of the contributions of all the different races and people that populate the country.”

But honeymoons don’t last forever. Abdullah will almost certainly win re-election in polls expected early next year, because of the well-oiled political machine of the governing National Front, which has dominated the country since independence. Yet the 68-year-old PM’s tenure is dogged by the same ills — alleged graft, inefficiency, ethnic and religious rivalry — that he had promised to combat. Questions about Abdullah’s leadership came to the fore earlier this year when his deputy, Najib Razak, stunned the country by defining Malaysia as an Islamic state, going so far as to say the country had never been secular. (The nation’s constitution is unclear about the issue, stating both that Islam is the religion of the federation and that freedom of religion is guaranteed.) Abdullah told TIME, “We are not a secular state, but neither are we a theocracy.” But such hedging seems unlikely to satisfy all constituencies. Liow Tiong Lai, the head of the youth wing of the Malaysian Chinese Association, part of the usually cohesive National Front coalition, asserted that Malaysia was indeed a secular nation. Bernard Giluk Dompok, a minister in Abdullah’s Cabinet who is Christian, concurs. “If we define Malaysia as an Islamic state,” he told TIME, “the implication is that non-Muslims do not belong.”

Abdullah points out that the ruling coalition is composed of parties representing various ethnic communities. “We have adopted a power-sharing formula for over 50 years now, so every community gets a seat at the table when it comes to governing the country,” he told TIME. “Everyone participates, and everyone’s voice is heard.” Many non-Malays don’t agree — and their sense of alienation starts early. Government primary schools that used to be essentially secular now feature Islamic prayer halls. Today, only 6% of Chinese parents send their children to such schools, while in the 1970s more than half did. Chinese students have a much harder time securing places in Malaysia’s public universities because of quotas, so those with sufficient funds head overseas. Many do not return. Those who do find workplaces are increasingly divided along ethnic lines. “[In the 1970s] there was a bar at Parliament, and we would all socialize together,” recalls Lim Kit Siang, the Chinese head of the opposition Democratic Action Party, who has served off and on in Parliament since 1969. “Now, everything is separate, and non-Malays feel like second-class citizens in their own country.” Many ethnic Indians, whose economic gains have lagged behind those of Malaysia’s other communities, feel the same way. On Nov. 25, thousands gathered under the shadow of Kuala Lumpur’s Petronas Towers, the world’s tallest twin buildings, for a rare protest to call attention to what they believe is an unwillingness by the government to address the root causes of their marginalization. The demonstrators were dispersed by tear gas; the day before, three rally organizers had been arrested on sedition charges, but were later given a conditional discharge.

A Gap in Wealth

If Malaysia’s races are separating, it is partly because of the legacy of the New Economic Policy (NEP), an ethnically based affirmative-action plan instituted in 1971 to create opportunities for the economically disadvantaged Malays. During colonial times, Chinese traders were favored by the ruling British, and they controlled much of the economy upon independence. Malays and indigenous peoples — collectively known as bumiputras, or “sons of the soil” — wanted to redress that economic imbalance. The NEP, which offers preferential treatment to bumiputras in everything from education to politics, has lifted millions of Malays into the middle class. But some analysts argue that the NEP has outlived its usefulness and has been hijacked by a Malay ruling élite that uses the race-based policy to secure sweetheart deals for themselves while leaving poor Malays in the dust. Indeed, the World Bank estimates that despite Malaysia’s impressive $10,000 per capita annual income, the country is burdened with the largest income disparity in all of Southeast Asia. “The Malays are being let down by their own people,” says Transparency International’s Navaratnam, “because the rich are getting richer while the poor are staying the same.”

Leading the political charge against the NEP is a Malay, former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim. In 1999, Anwar was jailed for six years on sodomy and corruption charges that human-rights activists characterized as politically motivated. Now he has emerged as de facto leader of the opposition People’s Justice Party, which is campaigning to dismantle the race-based NEP and replace it with a class-based scheme that would, say, help poor Indians while preventing rich Malays from taking handouts they don’t need. Anwar blames the NEP both for breeding corruption and decreasing competitiveness, since many lucrative state contracts are reserved for bumiputra companies. “Globalization does not treat kindly people who feel as though they must be protected because of injustices from colonial times,” says Anwar. “If we don’t want to be displaced by an up-and-coming country like Vietnam, we must play by the rules of the global game.”

Local rules need to be followed, too, if Malaysia is to continue attracting foreign investment. In September, two Shari’a court officials were detained over corruption charges. In the same month, 1,000 lawyers and activists, including the country’s Bar Council president, took to the streets to highlight what they consider deteriorating judicial independence and integrity. Their protest was galvanized by a video clip that appeared to show a well-known lawyer helping fix top bench appointments. (The government says it will set up a royal commission to investigate the video.) “I used to be proud to say I was a Malaysian lawyer,” says Karpal Singh, a prominent human-rights lawyer. “But now? The system is getting worse.”

Indeed, the courts may actually be exacerbating Malaysia’s divisions. Revathi’s case is only one of several that have challenged the complicated legal system set up by Malaysia’s founding fathers. The country employs a dual-track structure in which Muslims are bound by an Islamic Shari’a court on issues such as family law, while non-Muslims are governed by civil courts. For many years, overlapping issues, as in the case of intermarriage, were quietly negotiated by both courts. But now, Shari’a courts are increasingly refusing to accept conversions out of Islam, arguing that apostasy is illegal in the Muslim faith. At the same time, civil courts have become less willing to rule on religious issues they say are the domain of the Muslim legal system. In a landmark case earlier this year, the nation’s highest court decided that it had no jurisdiction to deem a person non-Muslim, because that is the Shari’a courts’ prerogative.

The mainstream press has avoided the topic because of a government directive ordering media to maintain “peace and harmony” by blacking out debate over Islam’s role in the state. The censorship disappoints journalists who were pleased when Abdullah initially allowed for more freedom of expression than predecessor Mahathir. In October, Malaysia received its worst-ever ranking in the worldwide press-freedom index compiled by watchdog Reporters Without Borders, falling by 32 places to No. 124. The drop was due, in part, to two separate cases in which a blogger and a publisher of an online newspaper were both pulled in for official questioning. “There’s lots of intimidation toward people who speak out,” says Steven Gan, editor of the online publication Malaysiakini. “Instead of saying, we’re all Malaysians who need to unite and equip ourselves against our competitors in a globalized world, the government is pursuing divisive politics and making the media the scapegoat.”

Back to the Future

Malaysiakini has continued its aggressive coverage. The online paper has been particularly influential in investigating massive cost overruns in the building of a free-trade zone at Port Klang, not far from Kuala Lumpur. The latest official figures show that the project has ballooned to about $1.4 billion, more than double what was projected in 1999. Critics contend that graft has plagued the project, undercutting Abdullah’s much-vaunted anticorruption drive. “Thus far, Abdullah’s promises to curb corruption remain just that: promises,” says Ramasamy Palanisamy, a former professor of politics at the National University of Malaysia. At the same time, the PM, who once earned plaudits for cutting back Mahathir’s excesses, has signed off on several megaprojects, including a reinstatement of the controversial dam in Borneo.

Concerns about corruption could strengthen the political opposition. The Islamic Party of Malaysia gained control of two of Malaysia’s 13 states in 1999 after convincing voters that fighting graft was a fundamental Muslim virtue. The party lost power in one of those states three years ago but is predicting a rebound in next year’s polls. Anwar’s party is optimistic, too, and has been campaigning on a clean-government platform. Realistically, neither opposition party is strong enough to challenge the ruling coalition. But even a few lost seats would be an embarrassment to a governing élite that has controlled the nation since independence.

Under the rule of the National Front, Malaysia has come a long way. Looking back at the past 50 years, Deputy Prime Minister Najib, himself tipped as a possible future leader of Malaysia, told TIME: “We have arrived. It has been an era of transformation in more than one sense: physical, social, economic.” But if the next half-century is to be as uplifting, Malaysia will have to heal the divisions that are now all too evident in its society.

— with reporting by Baradan Kuppusamy/Kuala Lumpur

  1. #1 by undergrad2 on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 7:40 am

    “The Malays have lost this country by default, period” llimkamput

    It is statements like this posted on another thread that gets Kit in trouble.

  2. #2 by undergrad2 on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 7:51 am

    The writer Hannah Beech must be congratulated for writing so objectively about a country at the cross-roads.

  3. #3 by pulau_sibu on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 8:12 am

    Instead of calling it ‘Malaysia’s Identity Crisis,’ I would first look at the Indian’s Identity Crisis. Indians have a big gap in the rich and poor (Samy versus a rubber tapper), religions (spanning over Hindu, Christian, Muslim), politics (BN versus opposition). But if I look at the Chinese, we have the similar problems. We have rich and poor Chinese (many beggers are Chinese!), of different religions (we are divided between Christianities and Taoism/Buddism, with a little Muslim) and politics (we have the strongest opposition party). So I must say that the crisis is less a crisis among the Chinese community because we have been fighting hard since several decades ago, whereas the Indians primarily relied on the Samy’s party. Indeed if politically the Indians may be further divided, then the Indians will become stronger. Afterall, the Malaysians should be further divided politically in order to keep a balance. This applies to the Malays as well

  4. #4 by pulau_sibu on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 8:21 am

    Yes, India expressed concerns toward the treatment of Malaysian Indians, but I want to hear the same voice from Singapore that has a strong group of Indian populations (with Indian ministers and President). And also UK, USA, and some European countries that have a sizeable population of Indian immigrants. This is not an interference in Malaysian politics, but an ‘interference’ on how Malaysia has treated human being inhumanly

  5. #5 by undergrad2 on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 8:24 am

    “If Malaysia’s races are separating, it is partly because of the legacy of the New Economic Policy (NEP), an ethnically based affirmative-action plan instituted in 1971 to create opportunities for the economically disadvantaged Malays.”

    This should dispel claims that the NEP was conceived as an affirmative action program meant to benefit the poor of all races. The NEP was meant to benefit only the Malays – poor and the not-so-poor. The identification of race with economic functions was an aspect of it and was viewed as a serious threat to national security.

    The inequities inherent in such a policy are obvious. But there is a lot to be said about the relationship between a more equitable sharing of the national economic pie and the security and stability it gives to the nation. It is also supposed to end in 1990.

    In recent years going back to the time of Mahathir, no one can dispute nor deny the NEP was hijacked to benefit the rich and the politically connected among the Malays, leaving the poor and the working class among the Malays very much to themselves.

  6. #6 by Chong Zhemin on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 8:38 am

    Dear all,

    I had been working on this clip for the past few days :

    M For Malaysia : Past, Present & Future

    This clip is inspried by the movie “V for Vendetta”. I added in some bersih rally, hindraf demonstration and some parliamentary clips into it.

    Have a view and please spread this video link around.

  7. #7 by cklife on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 8:39 am

    i’ve digested everything Hannah wrote. Nothing new. Same old same old argument on and on and on.

  8. #8 by undergrad2 on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 8:51 am

    Because the truth has but one version.

  9. #9 by wits0 on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 8:52 am

    “In September, two Shari’a court officials were detained over corruption charges.”

    Yet the Grand Mufti of Perak can make hate speeches – watch the last part of this video :

    He was only queried for his famous SMS/Church seige upset for which the blame was apparently passed to a female follower of his.

  10. #10 by Bigjoe on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 8:57 am

    What identity crises? The identity crises has been the last 30 some years where we have lost our way under UMNO. The original identity as envisioned by Tunku and Tan Cheng Lock and Sambanthan as equals is what is lost and created this crises.

    Having said, that the writer raise a good point, where do we go. More importantly where does Hindraf and what it represent go from here?

    Lets assume that Hindraf suceed to get the World Court to say that the British did leave a constitution that guarantees equality for all races. Will that put enough pressure on UMNO?

    I say no. All it will do is get UMNO to dig in their heels and start the real fight that we all have to suffer. That I agree with UMNO. Of course the fact they created the situation first, they will not debate.

    So my greatest fear is that Hindraf does not have the stomach for a real fight after they win in World Court. In the end, they are not looking for it. The fact of the matter is what they really want is their own NEP, their own affirmative action that favours them – a scenario that has been warned by the likes of Tan Siew Sin during the original opposition to the NEP in the 1960s..

    Those who were most enlightened have always said that its actually the best interest of Malaysia and Malays for the NEP to fail – a paradox seemingly. If the NEP fails, then no other group can ask for special treatment again but if it succeed, there will be groups coming out of the woodworks starting with the Indians, the orang asli, single mothers, unemployed graduates, ugly girls and geeks etc. You name it.

    Those Malay ultras who think they can deny these other groups like they are trying with the Indians are fools. Let just say they ignore Hindraf win in the the World Court. If they believe they will not radicalize, they should look at what happens in the suburb of Paris.

    Also, do they think they can ignore single mothers, unemployed graduates, etc. within themselves. These will be worst because they will turn to Ayah Pin and Mat rempits and someone like Hugo Chavez will rise from there.

    Abdullah says he has big ears open. But does his ears open to the fact that the NEP must end as promised by 2020 latest? I put it to you that even if he has programs for the Indians, that he cannot avoid this issue and that someone will do something to ask that question until its answered.

    I put it to you that the PM big ears does not hear well…

  11. #11 by undergrad2 on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 9:01 am

    Very interesting observations by BigJoe! A different approach to old issues.

  12. #12 by Jimm on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 9:13 am

    There are absolutely nothing wrong with Malaysian here, we all grown through the years and have learn enoug hto live together all along.
    It’s only in ploitical grounds that we all are sub-divided and subjected to racial issues.
    UMNO have well planned their strategies and input a lot of mis-information to our Rulers and also Malays to gain their trust to stay in power.
    They are the one that started the color and roots separation among Malaysian.
    As mentioned and shared, the scandal are much bigger than we all can ever imagined as almost everyone at the top are involved.
    Islam as religion are very pure about their teaching to their followers.
    You can see in Malaysia, our politician are taking all Muslim to a hell ride with their policies and ruling and the best things about all these, these politicians, themselves are not even closed to follow what they set for their fellow Muslim.
    Don’t waste time , worrying about this country fate.
    To be honest, it’s going to take a crook to catch crooks..
    In UMNO, we have KJ to do all these for all Malaysians.
    He will be the one that will bring down those ‘old walls’ and dividing the members into groups.
    With UMNO having too many younger generation members that are only waiting to be fed upon, KJ will have to start ‘killing’ all those that against him especially old dogs to keep his positioning and also gained support from those ‘fence-sitters’ in the party.
    So far, things are pacing up fast and soon the money politics in UMNO will be such a big fortune for those ‘fence-sitters’.
    Well, political world in Malaysia have always been on the darker side of the force.

  13. #13 by undergrad2 on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 9:15 am


    A similar class action lawsuit was filed in the United States and failed for lack of locus standi if not frivolous. I don’t think Moorthy and the others expect the lawsuit to succeed. But succeed it will but not in a court of law but in the court of public opinion.

    He qualified as barrister over in the U.K. and if he is facing detention under the ISA he could easily make a case for political asylum. If he succeeds he gets to be a permanent resident in one year!

  14. #14 by Godfather on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 9:22 am


    The NEP was hijacked right from the word “go” by none other than Mahathir, who thought that it was OK for government leakages to go to a select few of UMNO cronies. He reasoned then that if the NEP could create 100 Malay millionaires, there will be the inevitable spillover effects on the rest of the Malay community. Of course Mahathir came to realise later that his social experimentation failed – the 100 Malay millionaires aspired to be billionaires, and they would do anything to attain more wealth, including marginalising their own kind. They also hedged against the system by moving their ill-gotten wealth out of country through investments in properties in the UK, Australia, and Indonesia.

    The system is now so entrenched that it is impossible to ask the wealthy Malays to help bring up the rest of the Malays. Show me a Malay philantrophist. It’s now a dog-eat-dog world, and the status quo will remain until the system collapses on itself due to the lack of sustainability. Like I said in previous threads, they will steal until there is nothing left to steal. Then it will be game over – for all of Bolehland.

  15. #15 by Libra2 on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 9:31 am

    One has to be real naive to assume that Hindraf is looking for million of ringgit from Britain or any intervention from India or UN.
    The Hindraf leaders wanted international exposure to the plight of Indian Malaysians.
    All these are side shows – an arm twisting tactic for UMNO to act and tone down on its apartheid policies.
    The government has to be real stupid to ignore the “allegations” made by Hindraf.
    If Hindraf’s letter is seditious what about the Perak Mufti who instigated some extremists to demonstrate in front of a church, without any threat of tear gas, water canon or arrests.
    Is the Sedition Act only applicable to non -Malays and non-Muslims?

  16. #16 by undergrad2 on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 9:37 am

    I am with you 100% of the way!

  17. #17 by undergrad2 on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 9:38 am

    ooops that was meant for Godfather!

  18. #18 by undergrad2 on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 9:45 am

    “He reasoned then that if the NEP could create 100 Malay millionaires, there will be the inevitable spillover effects on the rest of the Malay community. Of course Mahathir came to realise later that his social experimentation failed..” GODFATHER

    Yes, in economics it is referred to as ‘multiplier’ effects. The benefits are supposed to trickle down but they don’t.

  19. #19 by ADAM YONG IBNI ABDULLAH on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 9:46 am

    lets be fair and be truthful about the stated issues.

    it gets very hurtful, when every wrong is blamed on religion. i sincerely believe that the fault lies in us ( homo sapiens ).

    hannah certainly did state the facts and the facts are know to many. but many fail to understand.


    a)thirty years ago, i remembered that the Roman Catholic Church forbids the marriage of non catholics to catholics in the eyes of the church. the RC did not sanction such marriages, and if you did, you are x- communicated. this was the legacy we inherited from the british empire and missionaries. i am not denying that much good had come from the lasalle brothers schools and the many convents. they are great institutions BUT, there are always overzealous holier than thou “human”. the parallel is quite the same in 2008.

    b). remember too that galilea galileo was imprisoned FOR claiming the earth is round and not flat ,by non other than the Holy See (Pope ) at that time. the parallel is that DECISION was made by a man and not God. this are facts . this are true facts. BUT, THERE are again the good christians like mother theresa of calcutta of India that are great human. and great hindu like Mahamat Ghandi.

    2. NEP.

    a)this nep has taken a long overdue nap. this nep is good IF the eradication of poverty is an effort for all malaysians regardless of race and religion. this nep would have been excellent, if the wealth of our country is shared equally among all malaysians by HARD WORK, BY DEDICATED HARD WORK , AND BY MERITS. nyet and nay, it had built a class of untouchables among the elites of the ruling powers. this is nep greatest disappointment.

    b)on the same token, they who claimed to represent the raayat through their ministerial posts and untouchable positions are not affected at all by the nep. ling liong sik ‘ son, was once upon a time ( chinese ) a billionaire at an age that pales kj by any yardstick. Now can anyone answer with truth and honesty that the son of Mr.Ling was so successful at that age , and even now he is held high among his peers in mca. Is this the fault of NEP or the case of my son is special?

    c) similarly, mr. samy vellu ‘s son,( indian ) is also a very successful businessman. I AM EQUALLY SURE that in the state of TamilNadu in India, there are many business associates of the MIC upperclass. correct me if i am wrong? Is this the fault of the NEP or the case of my son is special?


    i certainly believe he is a changed man, and if not at least his fall from power would have changed him. again, if dear anwar had not had the humpty dumpty fall, would he not be in the same team of umno that his war cries of islamisation was loudest. sometimes, when someone fallls, there is a blessing in disguise. i read that mr.chua jui meng is now a full time evangelist. bless him. but when he was a minister, he knows full well, who was living nearby mid valley @ seputeh. some learn from mistakes, other learns from someone else mistakes. but not many are lucky to have a second chance. so anwar, dah bertaubat. stay that way.


    hannah has produced and probably many in the kopitiams had also a piece of their mind that shares dear hannah thesis. but lets root out the cause of all these issues.

    how come all the minsters’ family and so etc are not affected by the nep ?

    how come, we keep electing the same old guy to the august house despite , we keep complaining about the old grandmother stories about corruption ?

    how come , we always fault God, when the almighty has nothing to do with our decision. we have built in conscience. NOT INSTINCT. ONLY ANIMALS HAVE INSTINCTS.

  20. #20 by undergrad2 on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 9:47 am

    Instead the rich and the politically connected become richer and richer creating instability within the system because now there is an underclass among the Malays as well.

  21. #21 by Godfather on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 10:26 am

    Which is why I am pessimistic that we could ever reach 1st World status, as defined by per capita income or whichever yardstick that you care to use. 2020 will come and go, just as 2057 will come and go. In the meantime, the wealth of the elite few bumiputras will multiply, not necessarily in Malaysia, but more likely to be in places like UK, US and Australia.

  22. #22 by hutchrun on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 10:35 am

    Why DPM worry. He got plenty money. Mebbe he instigated violent police reaction to scuttle Khairy`s plans to be next PM.
    DPM could be trying to undermine Bodowee.

  23. #23 by undergrad2 on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 10:51 am

    DPM does not need to undermine PM because he has always been the de facto head of the executive branch.

  24. #24 by Godfather on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 10:55 am

    You mean that the real head of the executive was always missing? Or out driving the new Jen2 model ?

  25. #25 by hutchrun on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 11:09 am

    Big Ears was in Africa lah attending the c`wealth meet and trying to keep pakistan in the c`wealth while the indians were being beaten up. Dia tau apa? Telinga besar macam Walt Disney cartoon Dumbo saja:

  26. #26 by hutchrun on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 11:14 am

    Govt supposed to build vernacular schools. Rubbish.
    Nah. Ini dia, lagi cerita Dumbo:
    PM – Saviour Of Chinese Schools

    But the school not built by Govt. Lembu punya susu, dumbo dapat nama. MCA raskol.

  27. #27 by hutchrun on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 11:36 am

    Morons of Parliament: Demolish Christian Statues, Destroy the Crosses

    Today, I will introduce you to 2 Morons of Parliament (MP). These 2 MPs recently talked smack in Parliament about Christian missionary schools and even suggested demolishing Christian statues and crosses. The text can be found here on Lucia Lai’s blog, but I will just translate the entire page to the best of my ability. If you want to read the Hansard, please download it from the parliament website.

  28. #28 by greenacre on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 11:39 am

    For all the pain and subjugation felt by Nelson Mandela, he could have placed all or some of the whites on a painful roller coaster ride but didn’t. That separates the statesman and politician. Despite being a UN member malaysians are taken for a ride to the valley of doom rather than boom. Universal Declaration Of Human Rights 1948 clearly states in Article 18 ” Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or beleif in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”
    To build a Nation it takes a man or woman or higher ideals…we sorely lack this.

  29. #29 by pulau_sibu on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 11:39 am

    Sarawakians are unfortunate. we were dragged into this gang in 1963. The lost in terms of freedom, democracy, economy,… are all unrecoverable and irreversible. Now you can see how important is a leader. The past (and present) Sarawakian leaders took us to hell.

  30. #30 by mendela on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 11:57 am

    To side track, Election Commitee head said every thing was fair and transparent in his 25 years of service at EC.

    Allowing only 8 or 9 days of campaign activities and all main stream media are acting as Gomen mouth piece, allowing UMO and the gangs to use all Gomen vehicles and resources to run their campaigns, with numbers of voters in certain constituencies differ from 5000 to 100000 eligible voters, plus countless others unfair treatments, our election is fair and transparent?

    EC head, you better stop telling lies, and just quit and go to hell!

  31. #31 by k1980 on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 12:46 pm

    Malaysia commemorated 50 years of independence this past summer…In many ways, the country is a success story, the very model of a modern Asian nation.

    But I strongly feel that, given its vast natural resources and indominatible human capital, it could had done much better. Just look at what South Korea, Canada, Australia ect have accomplished in the past half-century and you will be sad that 50 years had been wasted in this land

  32. #32 by sheriff singh on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 1:25 pm

    Lies, lies and more lies by Time magazine and their Jewish-Zionist-North Korean-Libyan collaborators.

    If you want the “correct, correct, correct” story, contact our Minister of (Mis)Information, one Mr Zam; or the Minister “in charge of Laws” (charge d’affairs), one Mr Nazri (of “stupid, stupid, stupid” fame) who will give you his off-tangent, muddled-up version.

    Or just call the Indian “hero” Proton Wira Samy Vellu at 019-2165555 for his immediate (in)action.

  33. #33 by boh-liao on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 1:28 pm

    You don’t need ears as big as those of Bimbo, the baby elephant, to hear the message and understand the article of Hannah Beech.

  34. #34 by sheriff singh on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 2:08 pm

    M’sian PM given a week to meet Hindraf leaders – The Straits Times

    ‘It can go to anyone, including Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu,’ said Mr M. Manoharan (above), one of Hindraf’s top leaders, about the creation of a second Deputy Prime Minister’s post to be held by a non-Malay. — PHOTO: THE STAR

    KUALA LUMPUR – THE Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) has given Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi a week to meet its leaders and has also issued a list of demands.
    The group said it would stop its international lobbying campaign if Datuk Seri Abdullah agreed to cease policies that it says discriminates against minority Indians.

    Hindraf, which gained prominence after organising a mass rally on Nov 25, also wants the Prime Minister to create a Second Deputy Prime Minister’s post to be held by a non-Malay.

    ‘It can go to anyone, including Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu,’ one of Hindraf’s top leaders, Mr M. Manoharan, told The Straits Times on Sunday.

    Datuk Seri Samy, who leads the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), a junior partner in Barisan Nasional, is unpopular among some Indian activists who feel he has not done enough to help his community.

    Another demand is the appointment of a Chinese to be Finance Minister because Hindraf feels too many top portfolios are held by Umno leaders.

    The last Chinese to hold the top finance post was the late Tun Tan Siew Sin, who was finance minister for 13 years until he retired in 1974.

    Hindraf also wants the government to stop tearing down Hindu temples that stand in the way of development.

    Additionally, it wants the government to give more aid to Tamil schools and free all Indians held without trial in a detention centre in Simpang Renggam, Johor.

    An estimated 40 per cent of the inmates are Indians, many of them held on gangsterism or criminal charges.

  35. #35 by Rocky on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 2:28 pm

    i don’t think Hindraf should dictate cabinet lineup etc. They should stick to their main issues and deal with the govt on those and please don’t be stupid and say there is ethnic cleansing. Marginalised yes!!!

  36. #36 by k1980 on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 2:29 pm

    Will Ong KT also say, “Are the Chinese in this country without clothes? Are they without jobs? Are they without food? I cannot bluff like them. I will tell only the truth”

  37. #37 by TheWrathOfGrapes on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 2:29 pm

    /// b). remember too that galilea galileo was imprisoned FOR claiming the earth is round and not flat ,by non other than the Holy See (Pope ) at that time. the parallel is that DECISION was made by a man and not God. ///

    Adam Yong – I think Galileo was under house arrest (not quite the same as imprisonment) for his belief in heliocentrism (and not because of his belief that the earth is round) as opposed to the Church’s geocentrism.

  38. #38 by k1980 on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 2:32 pm

    Another demand is the appointment of a Chinese to be Finance Minister because Hindraf feels too many top portfolios are held by Umno leaders.—

    What-lah, you are demanding Dollah to give up one of his 3 plum portfolios! That Finance Minister post gets him RM10,000 a month!

  39. #39 by k1980 on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 2:41 pm

    Indian “hero” Samy Vellu’s handphone at 019-2165555 is down.

    So please contact Velupillai Prabhakaran’s handphone at 012-3456789

  40. #40 by motai on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 3:24 pm

    British MPs slam Malaysia over treatment of Hindus
    Category: News Posted by: raja petra
    (IANS) – Members of the British parliament have demanded that the Malaysian government scrap plans to demolish Hindu temples and allow legitimate protests against it.

    In a strongly worded statement, they have also urged the British government to take up the matter on their behalf and ‘make the strongest possible representation’ to Kuala Lumpur.

    The MPs’ demand comes after the Malaysian police used force to break up protests by Hindus complaining of decades of neglect and discrimination by the government in Kuala Lumpur.

    The police action has been criticised around the world.

    ‘This House notes with grave concern the stated intention of the government of Malaysia to demolish 79 Hindu temples,’ said the House of Commons Early Day Motion that has been signed by 19 MPs so far.

    The MPs called upon their government ‘to make the strongest possible representations to the Malaysian government both to cease the programme of demolition and to allow this legitimate voice of protest to be heard without physical interference’.

    The EDM was moved Thursday by Stephen Pound, ruling Labour Party MP for Ealing North, and signed among others by Keith Vaz, the longest-serving Asian MP in Britain, and Ann Cryer, a member of the influential Home Affairs Select Committee.

  41. #41 by kanthanboy on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 3:25 pm

    [On 30 November 1973, the United Nations General Assembly opened for signature and ratification the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (ICSPCA) It defined the crime of apartheid as “inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.”]

    The above statement is found in Google when you search “apartheid”

    “NEP” the abbreviation for New Economic Policy is misleading to most people outside Malaysia.

    Does NEP fit the definition of apartheid? If it does why not call a spade a spade. We should let the whole world know that Malaysia is practicing apartheid under the veil of NEP.

  42. #42 by lakshy on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 4:12 pm

    Good with India and UK now putting pressure on Malaysia, more malaysians should become aware of the rubbish that the local papers have been dishing out at them. Lets stop buying these papers.

  43. #43 by Jeffrey on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 5:25 pm

    On this subject of “identity Crisis” and the wake of Hindraf’s demonstrations in a report filed by Fauwaz Abdul Aziz of Malaysiakini today 3rd Nov, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Abdul Aziz was asked his views on allegations of inequality/discrimination and this is what he reportedly said:

    (Quote) “Asked regarding a survey commissioned by the Asia Foundation which found the majority of Chinese and Indian youths stating that they believe they were discriminated against in the country, Nazri said the incidence of inequality in Malaysia is undeniable.

    However, he said this state of affairs is due to the social contract reached 50 years ago by representatives of the racial communities who agreed that Malays would enjoy certain privileges in return for the granting of citizenship rights to members of the migrant communities.

    The only way such an arrangement can be changed is if future generations of Malaysians decide on revising that contract. Until then, said Nazri, the government is charged with carrying out the agreement.

    “If there is any unhappiness, then it is entirely up to the future generations of Malaysians, regardless of whether they are Indians, Chinese or Malays, for them to sit down (and discuss),” he said.

    “It’s not just about what the Indian and Chinese (youths) want. You have to ask the Malays also, whether they want the social contract to be renegotiated. It’s up to them…. As of today, I know the Malays are not prepared to renegotiate,” he added. (Unquote)

    YB should ask him if the so called “Social Contract” premised on “Special Privileges” (Art 153) envisaged the scale and proportion of discrimination today – whether the founding fathers of the Constitution representing all races agreed to “social contract” then on the scale and in the manner it is implemented as the NEP today.

  44. #44 by karlmarx8 on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 6:28 pm

    Malaysian government had interfered with Southern Thai and Mindanao. At one time the “fascist dictator” also called for a separate state for the southern state that their own tribe were claiming it for century. Did the Thai said anything?

    Is that not interference? Or by invitation? Now, that CM of Sri Lanka only request to look into the complaint is being asked to lay off…….what’re they displaying is a mirror of themselves….STUPID ! STUPID ! STUPID ! You heard the remark before?

    There is not a single Malaysians without complaint/feeling being discriminated over the years with the exception of the ruling class. So, something must be very very wrong indeed.

    But, the ruling class still behave that the mass is still sleeping under the zinc roof and wanted only a clean longgang and new paved roads once every 4-5 years. So, you can see the roughshod they throw around with shout of threats, acting mean and vicious and “wild” language both in words and body. Somehow, I wonder how all these years they can get through the august house. Did they turned that into a denned retreat? We have all seen it all!

  45. #45 by despin on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 7:47 pm

    I believe that the polarisation of Malaysian races started the day we abandoned the English Language as the medium of instruction in schools. As a result, not many non-Malay parents send their children to national schools because they are deemed as too “Malay”. Today, the national schools largely cater for Malays, Chinese schools for Chinese and Tamil schools for Indians. The opportunity to cross-pollinate our cultures and learn and respect one another from an early age has gone astray. It is not too late to salvage the situation though. For a start, we CANNOT do a U-turn regarding using English for Maths and Science – despite all the objections from the ethnic ultras. Progressively thereafter, we need to convert the national schools back to where it was 30 years’ ago. Of course, we need a strong-willed Premier to reverse the damage. Forget about the present one – he is simply too wimpy.

  46. #46 by DarkHorse on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 8:06 pm

    “…we need to convert the national schools back to where it was 30 years’ ago.”

    That is not going to happen. It would mean admitting that the country’s education policy has failed. Indeed it has but that doesn’t mean that it must change. They continue to adapt by sending their children to schools overseas.

  47. #47 by DarkHorse on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 8:14 pm

    “Hindraf… wants the Prime Minister to create a Second Deputy Prime Minister’s post to be held by a non-Malay.

    It can go to anyone, including Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu…”

    Another demand is the appointment of a Chinese to be Finance Minister because Hindraf feels too many top portfolios are held by Umno leaders. ”

    The HINDRAF leaders are not serious because they know it is not going to happen the way they want it.

    I think its leaders are selling out the marginalized Indians who are poor and illiterate and who have legitimate grievances which need addressing.

  48. #48 by Loyal Malaysian on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 8:58 pm

    The article brings back memories of a time when my interaction with my schoolmates of various races was that as friends. Period.Thoughts of race never came into the picture. But school children now know from the school bench itself the difference it makes to their academic pursuits if they are not bumiputeras. Can we hope the leaders of our country to take corrective measures? No, not this current leadership nor all those pretenders waiting in the background. Their actions and pronouncements have shown they are more interested in their vested interests than the greater good of the nation.
    I feel a despair in my chest when I read enlightened viewpoints here, m2day and malysiakini for I know we represent a small minority. What with the gerrymeandering of the constituencies, BN will get their 2/3 majority and it’ll be business as usual until the seams finally break apart. It may be too late then!!I can only pray it’ll not come to pass.

  49. #49 by Stop Discrimination on Monday, 3 December 2007 - 9:09 pm

    Im very..very angry with all the main sream media in malaysia… could they cheat the people in malaysia by hiding the truth story of this HINDRAF demonstration while just being the servant of BN(UMNO) and telling what were told by them….. we can see all the statement of BN are false….we could see all these malaysian leaders are not smart enough…how could we choose such peoples as our leaders while they pretend to be innocent enough and they are right all the time (like badawi…nazri…and many more umno leaders)…..

    Are they scared enough to face the truth than all the privillages goes only for malays while others races have been here and born here long time ago…

    Today, 3 December, in TV3 news (not only today, but everyday and in every news), badawi said all the statement of HINDRAF is a lie……while that is the truth statement of what BN liers done….But to save themself, they denied its not true…..why dont they prove its no true……badawi and other leaders always telling they the country has developed and no racial problem here……is the lawyers of the HINDRAF is stupid enough to state all the discrimination if there is no problem in this country…if they telling all the races plays their part in developing this country, why dont everyone get same rights and privilages while only malays goes for it…..if you guys asked badawi and other umno leaders, wether they will go for country development or only their race development…..outside they would tell country development is more important, but in inner side, they always concern for one and only race development……….

    As a true malaysian citizen, should we support such a racist leaders where they only condeming others to be racist….

  50. #50 by sotong on Tuesday, 4 December 2007 - 7:03 am

    despin & DarkHorse are right…..we have failed in our education policy and lost the battle, irrespective of the number of graduates the country is able to produce.

    This could be seen in declining education standards, widening gap between rich and poor, increasing crime, damaging racial and religious polarisation, decreasing competitiveness, brain drain and etc..

  51. #51 by aerolancer on Tuesday, 4 December 2007 - 7:19 am

    Dear fellows,
    It is good to blog about Malaysia’s apartheid policy and all that, but still, Malaysia is still a democratic country. She will still listen to the majority (67% Malays) and NEP is here to stay…. perhaps forever. NEP will only fail if there is a disastrous financial crisis affecting the Malaysian reserve. I presume it may be nearer than everyone think. You see, Petronas revenue constitutes at least 34% of GDP and Petronas has been foolishly used to bail out companies and buying worthless trophy of success (e.g. Malaysia private training ground near Olympic stadium in London etc) and the demand for national oil will outstrip the export by 2010s.
    A reform/awakening is urgently needed.

  52. #52 by cheng on soo on Tuesday, 4 December 2007 - 7:35 am

    In Asia, UN Humanity Development Index, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau also had a higher index than Msia, this article had left out this fact! poverty ratio of 5% is also doubtful (dont know what yardstick they use)

  53. #53 by wits0 on Tuesday, 4 December 2007 - 8:05 am

    Despin is very correct, in trying to push one race up, umno bend all the rules to effect that…and made everything all-out easy for them. Now the karma strikes back visibly for this foul play. Thanks to the unrepentent and prideful chauvinists and racists who are referred to as “nationalists”.

  54. #54 by undergrad2 on Wednesday, 5 December 2007 - 12:16 am

    True, it would take a visionary leader and one who understands that national interest transcends individual interest to then put the country on a reverse course.

    We need a Ghandi to do the job and not Che Guevara.

  55. #55 by OCSunny on Wednesday, 5 December 2007 - 3:30 pm

    YB.LKS I am wondering why my earlier two comments did not appear in your blog. Is it negative to your interest?


  56. #56 by kaybeegee on Saturday, 9 February 2008 - 10:41 am

    Is the socialcontract of Malaya before its Independence binding on the various races of east Malaysia? Whilst the Malays of Malaya may claim that they agreed to citizenship for the non Malays (include Orang Asli?) the malays of malaya cannot lay claim that they agreed to grant citizenship to the non Malays of East malaysia. MFs

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