Archive for January 28th, 2008

Learning From The American Elections

M. Bakri Musa

The American election campaign is now in full swing although citizens will not cast their votes until November. In fact this presidential campaign cycle started right after the last general elections over three years ago. America seems to be in a perpetual campaign mode. One wonders when these elected public officials would have the time to perform the duties for which they were being elected.

I much prefer the Malaysian election cycle, modeled after the British, where the ruling party could call an election any time before its five-year mandate is over. Yes, it gives an unfair advantage to the ruling party, but it spares the country from degenerating into perpetual campaigning.

Malaysia has an election cycle comparable to the Americans in the elections of party – specifically UMNO – leaders. Since they would become the nation’s leaders, the benefits of the British system of national elections are somewhat diluted. While the country may not be in a perpetual campaign election mode, UMNO and its leaders are. Therein lies the problem. UMNO leaders are less interested in leading the country and attending to its myriad problems but more in ensuring their survival in the party’s leadership hierarchy.

During the last cycle of UMNO party elections, a number of ministers were chastened to learn that their positions as party leaders were threatened, and with that their chance of being appointed to plump governmental, including cabinet, positions. Hence the disgusting sights of ministers like Hishammuddin slavishly pandering to party members instead of paying attention to our deteriorating schools. Read the rest of this entry »


Obituary – Suharto

The ‘Father’of Indonesia
Former General and President Suharto
(b. 1921 – d. 2008)

by Farish Noor

A couple of years ago, during a visit to the Central Javanese city of Jogjakarta that had been devastated by a major earthquake which had laid waste to many parts of the special province, I overheard a conversation between two Indonesians who were lamenting the fate of their country with its ruined economy, enduring military control, civil strife and the rising spectre of religious militancy. One of them said to his sorrowful friend: “brother, you are suffering from SARS – Sindrom Aku Rindu Suharto (‘I Miss Suharto Syndrome’)”.

That some Indonesians can still look back to the Suharto era with fondness speaks volumes about the manifold achievements of the man, who lived in an age of great politics – as nothing could be greater than the two world wars and the Cold War of the 20th century – which in turn gave rise to the era of great leaders. Suharto, whose quiet death stood in bold contrast to the spectacular age he lived in and the life he led, was one such man; and like all great men his achievements as well as his mistakes, of which there were many, can only be measured in similarly hyperbolic and magnified terms.

To some (and in this case we are talking about millions of loyal followers and admirers who til today regard him as ‘Pak’ (Father) Harto) he was the man who rescued Indonesia from the teetering and ailing democracy of Sukarno, saved Indonesia from the menace of Communism, and finally brought the country into the modern age and the globalised world economy. To as many detractors, he was the American puppet-crony who sold the Indonesian economy to foreign interests, destroyed what little remained of Indonesia’s protective barriers that insulated its fledgling local industry, persecuted the country’s intellectuals, students, workers and dissidents and was primarily responsible for the deaths, torture and disappearances of half a million alleged Communists in 1965 and a quarter of a million of Timorese after the violent annexation of East Timor in 1974. Mediocre dictators are seldom accused of the deaths of millions, and in this respect Suharto was far from ordinary and he ruled over a country that is as great as it is complex. Read the rest of this entry »


I owe no apology to Samy, who owes apologies to me, MIC, Malaysian Indians, BN and Malaysia

Yesterday, MIC President Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu demanded that I apologise to the Indian community for asking the people to light candles in a temple.

Bernama in its report “Samy Vellu Demands Apology from DAP Chairman For Insulting Hindus” demanded that I apologise to all Hindus for “insulting their religion”.

He said that M. Kulasegaran and I had called for Hindus to bring candles into their temples, which he described as “tarnishing the holiness of the religion”.

Samy Vellu said: “He doesn’t know anything about Hinduism. He belittles the religion. Kulasegaran, despite being a Hindu, is also insensitive in the matter because as Hindus, we are only allowed to light a certain type of lamp or fire for religious ceremonies in temples, not candles.”

Bernama also quoted Samy Vellu as demanding that I should “make an open apology for using Hindus house of worship for political purposes”.

Samy Vellu, who had been MIC President and the sole Indian Cabinet Minister for more than 28 years, is not only fighting for his political life – but is waging a losing battle.

This has become such a great burden for him that it has affected his judgment, words and deeds.

It has been said that when a person is under extreme stress, it could be seen from his increasingly irrational utterances and actions – and this can be seen in the case of Samy Vellu.

I do not owe Samy Vellu any apology as it is Samy Vellu himself who owes me, the MIC, Malaysian Indians, the Barisan Nasional and the Malaysian nation at least five apologies. Read the rest of this entry »


End “body-snatching” – Cabinet cannot continue to shirk its responsibility

Why are the MCA, Gerakan, MIC and other non-Muslim Ministers silent on another body-snatching case after the divisive Moorthy case two years ago where S. kaliammal, the widow of Everest mountaineer L/Kpl M. Moorthy, found only grief and injustice when she had no remedy in any court in the dispute as to whether her husband was a Hindu or a Muslim?

At the time, Malaysians were given the assurance that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his Barisan Nasional cabinet ministers would ensure that Malaysian inter-racial and inter-religious unity and harmony as well as Malaysia’s international reputation as a model of multi-religious nation would not again be marred by more body-snatching incidents.

However, the body-snatching incidents have not stopped, with the latest case involving the police seizing the body of Gan Eng Gor, who died a week ago aged 74, after his eldest son – himself a Muslim convert – said he had converted to Islam last year. This claim had been challenged by Gan’s wife and his seven other children.

(Speech at the DAP Kepayang dinner in Ipoh Barat on Sunday, 27th January 2008 at 10 pm)


Obituary – The ‘Father’ of Indonesia

by Farish Noor