Archive for October 13th, 2008

Parliament debate history of budget instead of Budget for 2009

Datuk Seri Najib Razak failed his first test in Parliament as Finance Minister as he was nowhere around this morning to present a revised 2009 Budget for debate or to explain why a revised 2009 budget is not necessary.

When the Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim spoke this morning, the two blocks of Cabinet benches were totally empty – not a single Cabinet Minister was present.

Not only the second Finance Minister even the two deputy Finance Ministers were absent.

Where have they gone to? What could be more important than the start of the parliamentary debate on the 2009 Budget unless Parliament is totally unimportant in their eyes.

In fact, as I pointed out to the House, there was not a single official representative of the government who was present in the House to respond to the Pakatan Rakyat demand that the new Finance Minister should present a revised 2009 budget because the whole set of the 2009 Budget data tabled in Parliament on August 29 had been made obsolete in the past six weeks by the worst economic crisis confronting the world in 80 years.

In fact, the Barisan Nasional government has lost all sense of direction and is presenting a spectacle of a “headless administration” in Parliament – may be this was why there was the need for an “agricultural” study tour of BN MPs to Taiwan last month! Read the rest of this entry »


Culture reinvestigated — or must we preserve age-old traditions?

by Azly Rahman

The festive season brings me to this argument I am having silently with myself: Must core values of a society be preserved, through the rites and rituals and pomp and pageantry of that elusive concept called ‘culture’? Race theorists would call for a debate between the ‘Essentialist’ and the ‘Progressive’ schools of thought on culture.

In looking at the question of Cultural Essentialism, the arguments for and against it, on whether adherence to this concept divides or unites, and lastly to offer my own view on this important concept, I begin with the general statement that “Cultural Essentialism” is the belief that in every civilised society or a cultural group, exists a core culture which governs the ‘life sustaining’ forces of that particular culture.

From the core, moral or religious doctrines are derived, cosmological views or metaphysical conceptions are drawn, knowledge bases are founded, principles and ethos are constructed, and socialising agents as cultural values transmitters are established. So that the core culture can continue to be passed down from one generation to the next in order for society to be maintained of its order and harmony although technological, political, economic, and ideological winds of change may be sweeping seasonally into the core culture’s residence. Read the rest of this entry »