Archive for July 15th, 2009

Empathy and Myopia: How Malaysians No Longer Understand One Another

By Farish A. Noor

Malaysia is once again landed with yet another predictable mini-controversy (as there are too many controversies at the moment, this one has been relegated somewhat) involving a report that was purported written by two Muslims for the magazine al-Islam. The report was written by the two Muslims who claimed that their intention was to investigate the allegations that Muslims were being converted to Christianity in the country, but the cause of the controversy lies in the fact that the two writers chose to pretend to be Christians and took part in Christian rituals of worship in the Church. For many Christians the most offensive aspect of the investigation lay in the claim that the writers took part in the rituals without revealing who they were, and that they consumed the holy wafer/bread of Christ, then spat it out, and photographed the remnants of what they had consumed later.

Now of course this begs the obvious question: How would Muslims had reacted if some non-Muslim journalists had done the equivalent; to enter a mosque, take part in rituals, photographed them, and then published the report in some journal?

In response to the clamour of complaints that have been issued, the authorities now claim that the two writers will be investigated, and if found guilty of carrying out acts detrimental to public order may even be imprisoned. This would not, however, address the key issue which is this: Have levels of emphathy and understanding in Malaysian society dropped to such an extent that someone could even contemplate doing such a thing without considering its wider impact on society and the consequences to others and themselves? Could the writers of the article not even consider the potential offence that they might have caused by assuming a fake identity only to take part in rituals they did not believe in; and did they not realise that this might have been seen as outrageous by others?
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Slim majority in Manek Urai – Pakatan Rakyat parties and leaders must go back to drawing board to sustain public confidence, support and hope

Although the formidable Umno challenge has been fobbed off, the slim Pas majority in Manek Urai by-election in Kelantan yesterday is nonetheless a shocker.

It is a salutary warning to Pakatan Rakyat parties and leaders who think that Pakatan Rakyat can indulge in the luxury of excesses and internal strife, mistakenly believing that Pakatan Rakyat is riding on such an irresistible political wave that it could not possibly lose in any by-election or in the next general elections.

Pakatan Rakyat parties and leaders must go back to the drawing board to sustain public confidence, support and hope which suffered grievous blows particularly in the last month.

Pakatan Rakyat’s string of by-election victories in Permatang Pauh, Kuala Terengganu, Bukit Gantang, Bukit Selambau and Penanti have fed a false sense of security and worse, the notion of the inevitability of Pakatan Rakyat victories in the next general elections.
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The one question Ong Tee Keat must answer at the PAC inquiry into PKFZ scandal tomorrow – whether he, and not Port Klang Authority, gave final approval for the RM1.2 billion KDSB variation order after he became Transport Minister

When Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat appears before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) inquiry into the RM12.5 billion Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal in Parliament tomorrow, he should clear the air whether he had given approval for the RM1.2 billion variation order by the PKFZ turnkey developer, Kuala Dimensi Sdn. Bhd or he merely acted as postman of Port Klang Authority (PKA) to transmit the PKA approval to the Prime Minister for payment.

Ong had earlier confirmed the authenticity of his correspondence which appeared on Internet last month, showing that on 10th May 2008, he had written to the Prime Minister seeking approval for RM1.2 billion payment to KDSB as variation order for the PKFZ project.

In his initial response from Paris during his junket to France to escape parliamentary accountability and responsibility, Ong defended the letter saying that he was merely relaying the PKA board’s decision approving the RM1.2 billion variation order to the then Prime Minister, Datuk Seri (now Tun) Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Ong said: “I was then into my ministerial job for less than two months and the PKA board’s decision was made even before my time. Besides, the PricewaterhouseCoopers had not even started their position review work.”
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Parliamentary roundtable to be convened in fortnight on whether Malaysia should have a new IGP to roll back the tide of crime

A parliamentary roundtable of Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat MPs, NGOs, civic organisations and stakeholders will be convened in a fortnight on whether Malaysia should have a new Inspector-General of Police to provide new leadership to roll back the tide of crime in the last five years and present a new image of democratic policing as well as who among the serving top police officers should be handed the baton of IGP.

To lobby for a second renewal of his term as IGP, Tan Sri Musa Hassan is now talking about the police giving priority to stamping out street crimes, when he should be explaining what success he had done as IGP since his first appointment in September 2006 as well as his two-year extension from September 2007 in rolling back the tide of crime, especially street crimes, in the country!

In fact, street crimes became worse in the nation’s history during Musa’s tenure as IGP in the past three years and on each of the three core functions which the Dzaiddin Police Royal Commission had outlined as the priority tasks of the police force – to keep crime low, eradicate corruption and uphold human rights – Musa failed in everyone of them!

When Musa was first appointed IGP, I publicly congratulated him in a statement dated 8th September 2006, stressing that “the question uppermost for Malaysians is whether Musa’s promotion would make any difference in the law-and-order situation in the country – whether they can look forward to a safe and low-crime Malaysia, which must be regarded as the most fundamental of all human rights of Malaysians but which will also affect Malaysia as a investment centre, tourist destination and international educational hub for foreign students”.
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