Archive for January 6th, 2009

Gaza: Terrorising the Victims through the ‘War on Terror’

By Farish A. Noor

That the discourse of the ‘War on Terror’ is a terribly useful one for governments that wish to exteriorise, dehumanise and brutalise an enemy is a foregone conclusion for many of us by now. Since the day when the term was first coined by the administration of President Bush Junior, it has made its rounds all over the planet and has been seized upon with gusto and delight by many an authoritarian regime seeking a pretext to detain and eliminate their enemies. Til today we do not have a tally of the figures of those who have been summarily arrested, detained without trial, tortured and ‘disappeared’ as a result of this War on Terror which, as any linguist will tell you, doesn’t even signify anything meaningful in the first place.

The current onslaught on Gaza is proof of the utility of such a discourse when it falls into the hands of those currying favour with the Washington administration – and here it doesn’t really matter if the man sitting in the oval office is Bush Junior or Mr Obama. Israel’s relentless attacks on the Palestinians has been couched and justified as part of the global war effort against terrorism, and as a result the Palestinians have in toto been summarily labelled as terrorists who, by extension, deserve neither mercy nor understanding.

Even more worrying still is the manner in which the metanarrative of the war on terror has been appropriated by other countries and governments that are likewise in a bellicose mood and warlike demeanour. The mainstream media in India, for instance, have likewise hopped on to the anti-terror bandwagon and have taken to it like a duck to water. In the wake of the Mumbai attacks – which were indeed an instance of terrorism at work – the right-wing parties and political demagogues of India’s hard-right have upped the ante even further calling on the Indian government and armed forces to ‘do a Gaza’ on Pakistan next door. Read the rest of this entry »


The new budget air terminal at Labu

by J.C.

I read with apprehension at the recent announcements by Sime Darby Berhad and Air Asia with respect to their receiving government approval to build a new low-cost terminal at Labu, Negeri Sembilan. The announcements coincided with a statement by Malaysia Airports Berhad (MAHB) that it is ready to construct a new low-cost terminal to replace the existing LCCT at KLIA. The statements, and the subsequent comments by Air Asia spokespersons, gave the impressions that a new low-cost terminal is urgently needed, that MAHB has not been responsive to the needs of Air Asia, that Air Asia could easily save 15 pct of operating costs by moving to the new terminal at Labu and that not a single sen of public money will be utilised.

The following questions need to be answered by the government:

1. Was the approval given to the Sime Darby-Air Asia consortium based on the construction of a totally new airport, complete with runway(s) ? No one has indicated that there will be new runways, but it would be ridiculous to assume that planes could land on the existing KLIA runways and taxi the 7 km to the new Labu terminal. Sime announced that the new terminal would take up approximately 3000 acres of land, and surely a terminal without runways would not require such a sizeable landmass. If there are going to be runways, who would be paying for the Air Traffic Control (ATC) facilities ? Who would be charging passengers for airport taxes ?

2. Was any cost-benefit comparison made with respect to the construction of a new terminal at KLIA as opposed to a new terminal (or should we say airport) at Labu ?

3. When the government agreed with the sponsors of the new Labu airport that the entire project would be privately funded, did it take into consideration issues like the KTM Komuter link from Labu to KL Sentral ? KTM would be expected to build the link, and this is government money. We all know that rail links are only viable with subsidy from the public sector. Look at ERL. After 10 years of operations, their debt is still guaranteed by the government of Malaysia, and they are still being subsidised annually through a minimum ridership clause in their concession agreement. Would the roads leading to Labu be privately funded or would they have to be built by the Works Ministry ? Read the rest of this entry »


KT voters – send a clear and unmistakable message of a national “sky change” in next general election

The great challenge in the Kuala Terengganu by-election on January 17 is for the 80,229 voters of Kuala Terengganu to send a clear and unmistakable message of a national “sky change” in the next general election as UMNO and the Barisan Nasional have not learnt the lessons of the March 8 political tsunami in the past 10 months.

Malaysians were promised after the March general election, which ended UMNO political hegemony, the BN two-thirds parliamentary majority and five Pakatan Rakyat state governments in Penang, Perak, Selangor, Kedah and Kelantan that the UMNO-Barisan Nasional coalition had heard loud and clear the message of the people in the ballot box and that there would be radical reforms in the country but very little had been accomplished in the past 10 months.

It is clear that the Umno and Barisan Nasional coalition do not have the political will and commitment to bring about far-reaching changes that can transform Malaysia from a country with first-world infrastructure with third-world mentality into one with a first-world infrastructure and first-world mentality.

In fact, Malaysia is not only losing out in the international competitiveness race, straggling behind one country after another, we are in the danger of becoming a third world country with third world mentality. Read the rest of this entry »