Archive for July 13th, 2010

Jokers Without Any Sense of Humor

By M. Bakri Musa

Banning books in Malaysia is now such a routine matter that it is no longer newsworthy. That is the scary part.

So when the Associated Press carried the news of the Malaysian government banning Zunar’s books of political cartoons, that perked me up especially when the news item was also picked up by major American papers such as the Washington Post and influential online portals like the

I have long been a fan of Zunar, or Zulkifli Anwar Ulhaque, ever since his cartoons appeared in What struck me then were his astute observations, brazen courage, and devastatingly powerful caricatures. Much to the discomfit of our politicians, Zunar has only gotten better. Now he is even more biting, cuts even deeper, and as reflected by the government’s action, can goncang (shake) even the most powerful.

In trying (that is the appropriate and operative word) to explain the government’s action, Home Ministry Secretary-General Mahmood Adam said, “[The books] have been banned for their contents that can influence the people to revolt against the leaders and government policies.” Adding, “The contents are not suitable for and detrimental to public order.” To think that this joker not only lacks a sense of humor but he is also the ministry’s highest civil servant!
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A Quick Look at Cyberjaya – Malaysia’s ‘Silicon Valley’

By Eli James | e27

In the spring of 1999, Businessweek ran a cover story titled ‘Mahathir’s High-Tech Folly’, on the challenges plaguing the then Prime Minister’s plan to set up a regional ‘Silicon Valley’ within Malaysia. The plan was ambitious: it detailed the development of a large economic zone, stretching 750 square kilometers, and promised fiber-optic networks, research facilities, tax breaks, and new ‘cyberlaws’, protecting any multinational setting up shop in the country. The economic zone was named the ‘Multimedia Super Corridor’(MSC), and the city in which this development was supposed to happen – Cyberjaya.

For a while, all was good. Mahathir had managed to convince Silicon Valley luminaries Bill Gates (Microsoft), Lawrence Ellison (Oracle) and Scott McNealy (Sun Microsystems) to sit on a 41-member advisory panel to the project. They lent the MSC immediate weight and credibility. In talks during a 1997 global tour to sell Cyberjaya, Mahathir called the city his ‘gift to the world’, and promised that it would be a ‘global bridge to the Information Age.’ The praise poured in. Businessweek reported that Mahathir was ‘regarded as something of a visionary in high-tech circles’. Microsoft then announced that it would make MSC its regional headquarters. For a brief moment, it seemed as if Malaysia — with its cheap land and inexpensive, English-speaking workforce — was set to become the region’s go-to choice for multinational technology companies.
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