Archive for January, 2009

Does Cuepacs’ Omar know what he’s saying?

“Cuepacs: Nizar doesn’t know what he’s saying” – New Straits Times today reported the Cuepacs president Omar Othman denying that civil servants had contributed to Pas’ victory in Saturday’s Kuala Terengganu by-election.

The NST reported:

He (Omar) said public services employees, both those serving the federal and state governments, fully supported the Barisan Nasional and Umno leadership.

He was commenting on a claim by Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin.

“Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin claimed government staff serving the federal and state governments sympathised with and supported Pas,” Omar said yesterday.

“He also said they had become more daring to vote for Pas in the by-election despite being threatened or forced.

“This is a big lie by a man who knows nothing about the public services or its system.

“The more than 1.2 million civil servants in this country have been loyal and supportive of the government. There is no doubt about that.”

He said civil servants appreciated what the government had been doing for them all these years.

“They know who has been fighting for their welfare and paying their salaries to enable them to feed and support their family. Leave them alone,” Omar said.

Does Omar know what he is saying? Read the rest of this entry »


Dengue epidemic – Malaysia needs a real war and not a “phoney war” waged by spinmeisters

I was at first quite impressed that the Health Minister, Datuk Liow Tiong Lai had at last woken up to the gravity of the worst dengue epidemic and the chikungunya outbreak in the country when I heard that the Health Ministry had declared a “war on dengue”.

At last, I thought, the Health Minister has heard the critique of many at the Health Ministry’s indifference and irresponsibility at the dengue epidemic, with record dengue cases and dengue deaths last year, as well as the chikungunya outbreak in the country.

“War on dengue” is today’s front-page headline of the Star. It is the only newspaper today to quote Liow on the subject, making the most “un-warlike” comment –

“We are taking dengue fever cases very seriously because the numbers have doubled compared to the same time last year.”

This was followed by his most “unwarlike” action –off he went with the MCA delegation headed by MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Kiat for a trip to China – abandoning the “war on dengue” which had just been declared!

This is no war but a phoney war on dengue! Read the rest of this entry »


Why as a Chinese I will always vote PAS

by Jonathan Tan

It has now been 51 years since independence, and although it was predominantly a Malay Archipelago, immigrants who had to work the land during the British colonial era; by default became citizens after Malaya attained independence in 1957.

Much was promised. Equal rights to jobs, educational and business opportunities. But all this came to naught in 1969 when Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia’ founding father, was unceremoniously sent into early retirement and hawks like Razak and Harun took over and used Malay special rights as their vehicle to build a corrupted society that saw the division between the have and have nots widen.

The process took a turn for the worse during the Mahathir era when he hand picked cronies to award contracts and kept privatized entities such as the Governments’ GLC’s in the government’s stables, obviating the very reason to privatize these entities.

Till this day, these organizations show neither discernible accountability nor transparency. The country bleeds like a wounded kancil. Read the rest of this entry »


Sharp Slap to UMNO’s Leadership

by M. Bakri Musa

The humiliation suffered by UMNO in the January 17, 2009 by-election in Kuala Trengganu, a seat previously held by one of its Deputy Ministers, is further proof that the party’s thumping in the March 2008 General Elections was the beginning of the end. Getting rid of its leader Abdullah Badawi will not alter UMNO’s fate; a future with Najib Razak will be no solution either.

The party is no longer salvageable; UMNO is now beyond redemption. Its leaders and members are incapable of appreciating and thus adapting to the profound changes now gripping the nation. As Tengku Razaleigh aptly put it when commenting on the results, “We are in uncharted waters with no one at the wheel.”

There are of course exceptions to the current lack of talent in UMNO’s leadership, but they are rare. Zaid Ibrahim had some sensible ideas on reforming the judiciary for example, but look what they did to him! Tengku Razaleigh’s speech at the recent ASLI economic conference was simply brilliant; he rightly pinpointed the major problems facing our nation and offered sensible strategies to approaching them. His was an insight and articulation Malaysians should expect of our leaders. There again however, he was essentially ignored by UMNO’s leadership hierarchy in his recent quest for the top slot.

In this by-election UMNO resorted to its old corrupt ways that had served it well in the past. There were the sudden announcements of generous public funds to key constituent groups as well as the usual co-opting of government agencies to do Barisan’s bidding. If those tricks were not enough, there was the literal stuffing of envelopes with cold cash for voters and reporters. Read the rest of this entry »


KT by-election – “308” political tsunami on course and a dire warning to UMNO and in particular Najib

The Kuala Terengganu by-election has lived up to its historic significance.

It has delivered two important messages.

Firstly, that the “308” political tsunami of the March general election last year is very much on course, confirming that the paradigm shift in Malaysian politics some ten months ago was no fluke shot but represented deep-seated and wide-ranging political aspirations of Malaysians.

Secondly, a dire warning to Umno and in particular Datuk Seri Najib Razak who is to be Prime Minister in ten weeks’ time of the far-reaching consequences if they refuse to heed the people’s call for change.

Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah in his comment on the Kuala Terenggany by-election result has likened UMNO and BN to “a sinking ship” if their leaders remain in denial.

How many UMNO and BN leaders would dare to agree with Razaleigh when he warned:

“Money, machinery and incumbency could not trump the call for change. BN will lose, and will in the end lose everything, until we respond fully and sincerely…

“Actually this was more than a referendum on the leadership. It was a test of the relevance of UMNO in its present form. If UMNO is no longer relevant to the Malays, the BN formula is dead.”

Read the rest of this entry »


‘PAS to win by 7,000 majority’

by Ong Kian Ming
Jan 17, 09 8:01am

There is this phenomenon in the United States called Monday Morning Quarterback.

It describes a person who says that he or she always knew what the outcome of the Sunday football games was going to be and proceeds to give an explanation for why the game resulted in the eventual result. In other words, this person is passing judgment from a position of hindsight, which is always 20/20.

I could easily play this game in regard to the upcoming Terengganu by-election. It would be far too easy for me to list down, on Sunday, reasons as to why PAS won the by-election and at the same time, to have ready an alternative list of reasons as to why the BN/Umno managed to win the same by-election in case of an upset.

It is however a far harder and much riskier endeavour to predict who is going to win, and by what margin, before the fact. Read the rest of this entry »


KT by-election – will “117” join “308” as historic milestones in the political transformation of Malaysia?

With the Kuala Terengganu by-election polling booths opening in 20 hours’ time, the question that is uppermost in everyone’s mind is whether the figure “117” will join “308” as historic milestones in the political transformation initiated by the March general election last year.

The Kuala Terengganu by-election started on Nomination Day 10 days ago as a very tight contest between the PAS/Pakatan Rakyat candidate Mohd Abdul Wahid Endut and the Umno/Barisan Nasional candidate Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Wah Salleh and is ending as an equally tight race.

At the end of the by-election campaign, the PAS/Pakatan Rakyat candidate has the edge among the Chinese voters, who comprise 11.4 per cent of the electorate.

The question is whether PAS can hold its ground among the Malay voters as in the last general election in the Kuala Terengganu by-election on January 17, 2009.

If so, then the battle is won and “117” will join “308” in the Malaysian lexicon of political transformation and it may lead to the final unveiling of the secret meaning of the most famous political prophecy in the country, “RAHMAN”, with “N” forecasting not only Najib Razak as the sixth UMNO Prime Minister but also as the last UMNO Prime Minister! Read the rest of this entry »


How Malaysia Can Cope With and Overcome the Effects of the Global Economic Crisis

By Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah

(Luncheon address at ASLI Strategic Outlook Forum January 15, 2009)


A problem of confidence

The present financial crisis started in a speculative housing bubble in the US, inflated on greed and irrational confidence. Shady practices went mainstream under the wing of weak financial governance. When the bubble burst, gold-plated names on Wall Street were implicated. A massive loss of confidence in the financial sector has crippled credit flow worldwide. Consumption has contracted as households put off expenditure out of uncertainty. Investment has retreated. There has been a massive loss of confidence.

2. Expectations are a central factor in macroeconomic booms and busts. If a sharp loss of confidence is an endogenous part of the problem, a restoration of confidence must be the beginning of the solution. However, if we have learned anything at all from the crisis, this cannot be hollow confidence, but confidence based on a clear appreciation of our prospects. The lesson of the global economy is that false confidence based on irrational hope leads to collapse, disillusionment and pessimism.

3. We need a sound appreciation of our reality before we can dream of changing it. We need to face harsh truths before we can believe in ourselves and inspire others to believe in us. In coming to that sound appreciation here in Malaysia we have run out of time for politically manipulated messaging and sugar coated evasions.

4. Let us just begin by acknowledging that we will not be spared the effects of the global economic crisis.

5. Our leaders only undermine the government’s credibility when they paint an alternative reality for us. I understand we don’t want to frighten markets and voters unnecessarily, but we do not live in an information bubble. Only the most resolutely ignorant can now pretend that all shall be fine while the rest of the world deals with what Jeffrey Sachs has called “a world economy teetering on the brink of unprecedented catastrophe.” Leaders who deny the seriousness of the crisis only raise the suspicion that they have no ideas for coping with it. They undermine the government’s credibility when that very credibility, that confidence, is a key issue.

6. We are a trading and exporting nation. While we were relatively shielded from the first wave of financial failures there is no escape from the sharp demand slump in the global economy. The Government and Bank Negara maintain that our growth rate this year will be 3.5%. I fear it could be well under that. The latest numbers show a plunge in industrial activity, with manufacturing output in November, down 9.4 percent from a year ago. December may well be worse. Exports are down. There has been a dramatic swing in the balance of payments to a RM31 billion deficit in the third quarter, from a surplus of RM26 billion in the second. Anyone looking at the size of the downturn and at its swiftness can only wonder if we will be sailing through. This crisis really “went global” only in the final quarter of last year, but within that single quarter manufacturing both here and in Singapore contracted by more than 10 percent on the previous year. Policymakers in Singapore appear far more alarmed than our own. After having declared a recession, they found that the effects of the crisis were far worse than they thought. We are just at the beginning, and the bottom is not yet in sight.

7. Three and a half percent growth, even if we achieve it, will not create enough jobs to employ the large number who enter the workforce each year from our young population. Given our demographic profile and the fact that we are an oil exporter, our baseline do-nothing growth figure is not 0% but closer to 4%. Read the rest of this entry »


For starters, 5 reasons why MCA owes apology not only to Chinese voters in KT but to all Malaysians

In rejoinder to the demand by the MCA Vice President and Health Minister, Datuk Liow Tiong Lai that the DAP apologise to the Chinese voters in Kuala Terengganu for misleading them on the hudud issue, DAP had challenged MCA to a debate on “Who should apologise – MCA or DAP?” in Kuala Terengganu before the by-election on Saturday.

While DAP awaits the MCA response, let me give advance notice to the MCA leadership that there is a long catalogue of things MCA must apologise not only to the Malaysian Chinese in Kuala Terengganu but to all Malaysians, and it is most appropriate that this is done in Kuala Terengganu.

The catalogue of MCA failures and misdeeds range from the dismal performance of the current MCA leadership, the pathetic MCA record in Barisan Nasional, the shameful MCA failure to live up to the ideas and ideals of the MCA founding fathers like Tun Tan Cheng Lock to its shocking betrayal of the cardinal nation-building principles for Malaya and later Malaysia as embodied in the Merdeka “social contract” of 1957.

For a start, let me just cite five reasons why MCA owes not only the Malaysian Chinese but all Malaysians a fulsome apology. Read the rest of this entry »


DAP challenge to MCA – KT debate on “Who should apologise – MCA or DAP?”

MCA Vice President and Health Minister, Datuk Liow Tiong Lai has said that the DAP should apologise to the Chinese voters in Kuala Terengganu for misleading them on PAS’ hudud issue.

How has DAP misled the Chinese voters in Kuala Terengganu when DAP had been consistent on the hudud issue?

It is the MCA which should apologise not only to Chinese voters in Kuala Terengganu and the country but to all Malaysian voters for its inconsistency and hypocrisy in saying one thing but doing another – for instance, in the MCA support for the UMNO declaration started by Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad on Sept. 29, 2001 that “Malaysia is an Islamic State”!

In the past eight years, the MCA leadership has neither retracted its support for the “929 Declaration” that “Malaysia is an Islamic State” nor demanded that the UMNO leadership retract the “929 Declaration”.

As the MCA leadership has raised the issue of “apology”, DAP challenges MCA to a debate in Kuala Terengganu on “Who should apologise – MCA or DAP?” Read the rest of this entry »


Almost daily reminder of deterioration of quality of life in Malaysia – whether in crime, health or education

There is almost a daily reminder of deterioration of quality of life in Malaysia – with three news items today highlighting worsening crime, health and education conditions in the country.

The first is the shocking news “MIC division treasurer killed by intruders” (the Sun), on the latest victim of endemic crime in Malaysia – MIC Ipoh Barat division treasurer N. Sidambaram, 64, who was killed by six parang-wielding intruders in his house on Jalan Wayang in Buntung, Ipoh early yesterday morning.

This comes on the heel of the attack on the Tawau acting OCPD Supt Ramli Ali Mat who was seriously injured after being stabbed in his house by a group of five men and the attack on another policeman, L/Kpl S. Paramasivam, 49, who was beaten up by a group of 10 Mat Rempits using helmets and metal roads while on anti-crime rounds in Kuala Lumpur requiring five stitches for his wound in his head, both incidents happening in the first 12 days of the new year.

These crimes provide vivid illustration of the serious breakdown of law and order in Malaysia with the government unable to deliver its most elementary duty – to ensure the safety of its citizens, visitors and investors! Read the rest of this entry »


Gaza and the Liberal Conscience- The realities of Colonialism (Part III)

By Farish A. Noor

Consider the following scenario: A band of thieves break into your home while you are out, and help themselves to your property. When you return you find them comfortably installed in your home and enjoying themselves. Just as you are about to do the logical thing by doing whatever is necessary to kick them out, they say to you: “No, don’t attack us. We want peace. We want peace because we want to watch your DVDs on the DVD player; we want peace because we want to enjoy the food in your kitchen; we want peace because we want to sleep in your bed tonight.” Then as soon as you lose your temper, you are accused of being a terrorist, terrorising their peace!

It may sound ridiculous, but that is precisely the ridiculousness we are hearing from illegal Israeli settlers and Zionist propagandists who are telling the world that Israel wants peace and is the victim of Palestinian terrorism. Read the rest of this entry »


Gaza and the Liberal Conscience- The Question of Parity (Part II)

By Farish A. Noor

As the death toll in Gaza mounts by the hour, there are still faint Liberal voices around us that bemoan the violence and deaths on both sides. We hear and read in the internet again and again about the violence of Hamas and the fact that there have been Israeli casualties in the fighting as well, as if the death of a dozen Israelis can be equated with the deaths of hundreds of Palestinians and the wounding and maiming of thousands. At times such as these, liberals tend to demonstrate an acute lack of understanding of mathematics and seem to have trouble counting…

The most common refrain that we get from the liberals comes in the form of the argument: “Yes, but doesn’t Hamas have weapons too and haven’t the Palestinians killed Israelis?”

Here the moral dilemma of the Liberal stems from a misunderstanding of power-relations and parity. It is based on the idea that killing is wrong (which many would find difficulty in arguing against) and the idea that no attack on civilians is ever justified. Due to the fact that Hamas and other Palestinian groups have attacked Israeli civilian settlements, the conclusion they come to is that all Palestinians are equally guilty.

Let us clear up this confusion by raising a few questions ourselves and pointing to a few facts: Read the rest of this entry »


Gaza and the Liberal Conscience: Why We Cannot be Confused by History (Part I)

By Farish A. Noor

The liberal conscience is a rather peculiar thing. Right now, as Gaza is being bombed to oblivion yet again, liberals the world over are wrestling with their own consciences instead. Faced with the reality of a colonial state that is bent on grabbing more land for itself and which has systematically aided and abetted the creation of illegal settlements all over the occupied territories, liberals are still unsure of what to do, what to say and what stand to take.

We see this happening around us all the time. In cyberspace one encounters the response of the liberals time and again: They say and write things like “Yes, we know that what the Israelis are doing is wrong, but doesn’t Hamas have rockets too?” or “Yes we know that Palestinians have been killed but haven’t Israelis too?” or “Yes, we know that Israel is expanding its territory more and more, but didn’t Israel exist in the past and haven’t the Israelis the right to rebuild their nation?”

Much of this confusion stems from a skewered and manipulated understanding of history and an misunderstanding about what history can and should do for you. So in an attempt to assuage the tender liberal conscience and to show just why these liberals need to take a stand now, let us revisit the history of the region and more importantly understand what the discourse of history is all about. Read the rest of this entry »


Disastrous TIMSS 2007 results – Hishammuddin’s flippant and irresponsible response

I am not the only one to be astounded by the flippant and irresponsible response of the Education Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein to my statement asking him to break his month-long silence and explain Malaysia’s disastrous showing in the 60-nation Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 2007 for Year-8 secondary students.

Malaysia’s TIMSS 2007 performance was most dismal in the three four-yearly TIMSS participated by our students since 1999, with the lowest score for both mathematics and science, with 474 points for mathematics and 471 for science (500 is the TIMSS scale average), when Malaysia scored mostly above average in the previous TIMSS.

Malaysia’s comparative performance in the 1999, 2003 and 2007 TIMSS are: Read the rest of this entry »


Exposing Our Leaders to Competition

by M. Bakri Musa

The recent installation of Tunku Muhriz as the 11th Yang Di Pertuan Besar of Negri Sembilan (the equivalent of a sultan in the other states) illustrates one important point. When the top position is not automatically handed to the putative Number Two and instead you widen your choice, you are more likely to end up with a far superior candidate.

The consensus among the rakyat as well as the establishment is that Tunku Muhriz is a far superior candidate, and a better person to boot, than the other contenders, the three sons of Tuanku Jaafar.

It is too late for the three adult sons of Tuanku Jaafar to appreciate and benefit from the wisdom of my observation. It is hard to learn as an adult the lessons you should have learned as a youngster.

Tunku Naquiyuddin, Tuanku Jaafar’s oldest son, must have felt the sting the most. After all, his father had named him Regent, or acting Yam Tuan, during his recent extended overseas tour. As such Naquiyuddin must have felt that the throne would rightly be his. He had already begun acting as the Yam Tuan, as he did recently when he called for the restoration of the Sultans’ absolute royal immunity. At the personal level, he was already behaving only too well as a feudal king.

As for Tunku Muhriz, he had learned his lesson well, and early, way back in 1967 when the Undangs (Territorial Chiefs) instead bypassed him to pick his father’s half-brother Tuanku Jaafar as the 10th Yam Tuan to succeed Tunku Muhriz’s father. Sensing that the royal throne would not be his, he wisely prepared himself for life in the real world outside the palace. By all measures he has done well, having obtained a law degree and acquitting himself credibly in the private sector.

More importantly, he has also imparted those valuable lessons onto his children. They too have all done well academically and personally san their royal titles, making their achievements that much more credible and praiseworthy. Read the rest of this entry »


Revisit my comments on TIMSS 1999 in 2002

In August 2002, I issued a statement on the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 1999 and the points and issues I raised six years ago are even more relevant today.

This statement on TIMSS 1999 on 16th August 2002 is reproduced here:

Musa should present a White Paper in Parliament on the strategy to be learnt from TIMSS 1999 for Malaysian students to rank among the world’s top five nations in mathematics and science

The Education Minister, Tan Sri Musa Mohamad should present a White Paper in Parliament next month on the lessons to be learnt from the Third International Mathematics and Science Study – Repeat (TIMMS-R) 1999 which Malaysian students participated for the first time, and the strategy for Malaysian students to rank among the world’s top five nations in mathematics and science.

Five Asian countries were the top performers in mathematics and science in TIMSS-R 1999, an eighth grade level test involving 38 countries and 180,000 students.

The five Asian countries, led by Singapore and followed by South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan, had the highest average performance in mathematics; while for science the five top scorers were Taiwan, Singapore, Hungary, Japan and South Korea. Read the rest of this entry »


Baradan – Comment is free but facts are sacred

Just phoned Baradan Kuppusamy whose “Analysis” in the Star today made the mischievous claim that I had defended hudud and qisas laws as they apply only for Muslims.

He has also dragged DAP National Organising Secretary and MP for Seputeh Teresa Kok into the picture, alleging that she had taken the same stand.

When I spoke to Baradan, he said he had not read the Star.

I asked Baradan when I had ever made such a claim. He said he read it in a report but he was unable to recall which report.

As a veteran journalist, Baradan should know the important maxim for ethical and responsible journalism – Comment is free but facts are sacred. Read the rest of this entry »


Malaysia’s disastrous showing in TIMSS 2007 – time for Hishammuddin to break month-long silence

Some 60 countries, including Malaysia, participated in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) in 2007, the latest four-yearly international comparative assessment of the achievements and attitudes towards mathematics and science of Year 4 primary and Year 8 secondary students.

The findings of the TIMSS 2007 were internationally released on December 9, 2008, and in the past month, there had been intense debate involving the educational authorities, educational NGOs and concerned parents in all the participating countries on the results of TIMSS 2007 and their impact on their respective education policy and in particular how to improve the teaching and learning in mathematics and science for their pupils.

Except in one country – Malaysia, where there is total silence by the education authorities and even blackout of the TIMSS 2007 findings in the mass media despite the ongoing controversy as to whether the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English should continue or revert to Bahasa Malaysia/mother tongue.

It is most unbelievable that the Education Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and the Education Ministry could perpetrate a conspiracy of silence for one whole month on the TIMSS 2007 findings relating to the achievements of Malaysian students who took part in the Year 8 (Secondary Two) assessments for mathematics and science.

This is all the more irresponsible as he should be a role model for other Education Ministers as he is a member of UNESCO Board as well as President of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organisation (Seameo).

It is time for Hishammuddin to break his month-long silence and explain his failure as Education Minister as reflected by Malaysia’s poor results in the TIMSS 2007 as compared to other countries in the 60-nation international assessment of the mathematics and science achievements of Year 8 students. Read the rest of this entry »


A Palestinian global village

by Azly Rahman

Below is my early my early thoughts on an aspect of long-term solution for the Palestinians, besides waiting for the creation for a Palestinian state hopefully with a 4-billion-dollar funding from the United States.

Create a “PALESTINIAN GLOBAL-VILLAGE” in every country that cares for the plight of the Palestinians. Just like in the early days of the migration of the Protestants to America during the Reformation Period, young families of Palestinians can be given land in a “city-state” created by each country. Just like Proton City in Malaysia, or Cyberjaya or Putrajaya or Brasilia, these modern enclaves ought to be created.

Nations can “adopt” the Palestinians. They are now helpless and will continue to be massacred by the forces of state-sponsored terrorism.

Of course the plight of the natives of each country need to be taken care of first and as well, but the crisis that’s plaguing the Palestinians will continue to last for decades until the United States as the sole Military Empire stop continuing to give the world an eerie silence. Read the rest of this entry »