Archive for October 7th, 2010

Why should MCA interfere with Utar?

by NH Chan
Centre for Policy Initiatives
06 October 2010

Human nature is such that there are two kinds of human behaviour when it comes to charity – the pretentious and the altruistic donor. I have always doubted the sincerity of those who give to charity by proclaiming it under the flashbulbs of press photographers. In these amusing photo ops, you see the donors posing with an enormous mock cheque to emphasize the size of the donation. If you’re truly charitable, why not dispense with the fanfare and write the amount on a normal cheque?

Having said this, I can now tell you about the truly altruistic gesture of philanthropist Koon Yew Yin. He made an offer of RM30 million, quite gratuitously, for the building of hostels for University Tunku Abdul Raman (Utar) students in Kampar.

Ever since the university was founded, its students have had to find their own accommodation outside campus. In many cases, they have to pay exorbitant rents far beyond the means of poor or even middle- class students.

The generosity of Koon was brought to my attention by the unflattering headline ‘Tycoon wanted seat on council’ in theSun (Sept 3, 2010). The article’s sub-headline was ‘Koon also wanted Utar residential village named after him, says MCA division chief’.

The MCA division chief in question, Ipoh Timur’s Thong Fah Chong, had said Koon’s requests were not acceptable as they had “exceeded the university’s jurisdiction and [could be] deemed an interference in the management of the university”. Thong added that hostels could not be named at one’s whim and fancy.

In his immediate response, Koon countered that although it was correct that while the facility was to be named after him, what he had specified was that the hostel blocks should be named after the fundamental rights such as Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, Freedom, or the qualities of integrity such as honesty, justice, etc.

Koon also categorically denied he had ever requested a seat on the Utar council, clarifying instead that he had agreed to Utar’s counter-proposal for a task force to oversee the construction of the hostels.

He said his requests, including for a seven-man task force (four from Utar and three to be nominated by him) to oversee the construction of the hostels, and for all construction contracts exceeding RM10,000 to be open to competitive tenders, were to ensure everything was done in the interest of the students. He said it was not meant to interfere with the management of the university. Read the rest of this entry »


Najib should give local content to his call for a global movement of moderates against extremists

At the Eighth Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM 8) in Brussels on Tuesday, the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak reiterated his call for a global movement of moderates from all faiths to play a dominant role in a world threatened by extremism.

This was an expansion of his call he made last month at the United Nations General Assembly in New York in which he urged nations to reclaim the centre from extremists.

At the end of his six-day visit to the United Nations and the United States, Najib was uplifted by the positive response to his call and he told the accompanying Malaysian media that Malaysia’s profile had been enhanced, particularly in the West.

I was in Melbourne when Najib made the international call for global moderation, not only making it the theme in his maiden address to the United Nations General Assembly but also publicly commending United States President Barack Obama for the latter’s “courageous public position” in dealing with Islamophobia in condemning the proposed burning of the Quran by a Florida pastor and urging Obama “to galvanise the moderates, bring in the non-governmental organizations and social movements

I immediately came out with a statement urging the Prime Minister on his return home to lead a national campaign to galvanise moderates in Malaysia against the rise of extremism, whether racial bigotry or religious intolerance, which would be fully in line with his own declaration of “Zero tolerance for racism” made just before National Day on August 31. Read the rest of this entry »


Anti-Extremism Begins at Home

By Kee Thuan Chye

I TOTALLY agree with most of what Prime Minister Najib Razak recently said at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, especially about the attempts in some parts of the world to demonize Islam and spread Islamophobia.

I find it alarming to see so many e-mails and videos being circulated warning people of the dangers of Islam and propagating the fear that, with the Muslims multiplying at the current rate, they would one day outnumber people of other faiths and take over the world.

This kind of fear propagation reminds me of that practiced by Mahathir Mohamad when he warned Malays that they would lose power to the non-Malays, especially if Pakatan Rakyat takes over the government. It’s destructive.

It appals me that even Malaysians are instrumental in spreading Islamophobia by forwarding these e-mails. When I get one, I often reply to the sender to tell them not to disseminate such hatred. I tell them this problem has arisen because of misunderstanding of history, and that these e-mails don’t tell the other side of the story, which is the plight of Muslims who have suffered because of the historical events fashioned by imperialists. Read the rest of this entry »