Archive for February 1st, 2011

Spammed by the Prime Minister!

By Kee Thuan Chye
Malaysian Digest
Tuesday, 01 February 2011

NO less than the Prime Minister has just spammed me! In an e-mail wishing me Happy Chinese New Year. I’m not pleased. In fact, when I got the e-mail, I freaked out. How did he get my address? I take strong umbrage against whoever gave it to him. It is an invasion of my privacy.

Najib Razak (or rather, his assistants) reportedly sent out that e-mail to 1.5 million people. The Star reported that many were happy to get it – in a report quoting only three people. And two of them had Muslim-sounding names! From the tweets I’ve seen, it seems many Muslims have been getting the e-mail too. Some tweeters considered the greeting “insincere”, some suggested reporting the matter to Cyber 999 and even the police.

Many questioned how Najib or his assistants got their e-mail addresses. There’s a theory going round that it came from the database of a media conglomerate. If this is true, the practice is, of course, not right. It contravenes the cyberworld law of data privacy. Whoever gave the data to him showed that they did not respect that privacy.

My wife got a CNY greeting from Najib too – via an SMS. Did her telco give her number to Najib and Co? Is that a proper thing to do? This episode shows that the personal details of Malaysians are not safe from prying and abuse. And that Big Brother is watching. That’s a scary prospect.

Najib’s greeting is yet another of the public relations campaigns he has been mounting for more than a year now. Those who are aware realize they are nothing more than efforts to win votes for the next general election, but there are plenty of others who are not so clued-in. Read the rest of this entry »


Creating a harmonious, just, democratic and competitive nation remains the single greatest challenge of Malaysians

The creation of a harmonious, just, democratic and competitive nation, which is a model to the world as an united, tolerant and successful multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-religious society, remains the greatest challenge of Malaysians.

Nation-building should not be a zero-sum game but must be a win-win formula for all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or region.

Malaysia has strayed from this formula, with a world diaspora of a million-strong Malaysians – testimony that Malaysians are helping to create the greatness of other nations instead of their own country.

Although there is belated official recognition that human capital is even more valuable than natural resources as national assets in the era of globalisation, there is still no political will to introduce nation-building policies that will develop and retain Malaysian talent as well as attract foreign talent.
Read the rest of this entry »


Why PAS lost the battle for Tenang

By Kuek Ser Kuang Keng and Regina Lee | Malaysiakini

ANALYSIS Even before campaigning for the Tenang by-election started, much had been said that the Jan 30 event would serve as an important testing ground for a BN move to call for a snap general election.

It was easy to see why. With the racial breakdown of the semi-rural mixed seat being the archetype of most of the voting constituencies of Peninsular Malaysia, Tenang became a litmus test of sorts.

But is the BN victory with a 3,707-vote majority truly an indication of a return in voter sentiment and support for the ruling coalition? Well, yes and no.

The rather untimely floods and heavy rainfall – which the locals said were worse than the 2006 Great Johor Flood – had severely affected a few polling stations in the Chinese-majority areas.
Read the rest of this entry »


Enhancing Special Privileges

by Bakri Musa
Malaysia in the Era of Globalization #51

Chapter Six: Malaysia: Assets and Liabilities

Enhancing Special Privileges

To enhance the efficacy of special privileges I would first focus on the bottom 50 percent (better still, bottom 25) of Bumiputras. I agree with Grameen Bank’s Muhammad Yunus who feels that development should be defined to mean positive changes in the economic status of the bottom half of the population. Consequently I would cut off the top quartile Bumiputras (or those with certain net worth or income) from special privileges. Such a modification would effectively target special privileges on truly needy Bumiputras. At the same time it would reduce the resentment felt by non-Bumiputras. Disqualifying ministers, top leaders, royal families, and affluent Bumiputras would also have the additional salutary effect of forcing them to be self-reliant.

This “means testing” at the gross level would not entail much administrative costs or erecting another huge bureaucracy. A simple statuary declaration under sever penalty of perjury and intent to defraud the government would deterrent enough. For added weight, have those applying for benefits of special privileges submit their or their parents’ previous year’s tax returns.

For the royal class, I would eliminate many of their present tax-free privileges. Make them pay their share of income, property, road and other taxes. If Britain’s Queen Elizabeth has to pay income tax, Malaysian sultans should also do likewise. The aggregate impact of such measures on the Treasury would be minuscule, but the psychological benefits to members of the royalty would be immense. For one, they would share in the pain suffered by ordinary citizens, always a salutary experience. For another, if they had to pay their share of taxes on their luxurious toys, that would likely rein in their obscenely flamboyant lifestyles. Malaysia should not have to put up with such nonsense as when the Sultan of Kelantan drove off with his impounded luxury sports car without paying the necessary road tax.

Lastly, seeing families of leaders, royalty, and aristocrats being kicked off the dole would appease immensely the social sensibility and sense of justice of ordinary Malaysians. At the very least that would eliminate the current hypocrisy where many of these leaders would with nauseating frequency exhort the masses to be berdikari (self reliant) while they and their families are the first to hog the public trough. I am astounded at how many members of the immediate families of ministers are getting government scholarships, aids, subsidies, or otherwise dependent on public dole. They have no shame. If they cannot be independent on their ministerial income, then they have no right to lecture the masses on being berdikari. Read the rest of this entry »


Egypt’s Class Conflict

by Juan Cole
January 31, 2011
The Malaysian Insider

JAN 31 — On Sunday morning (January 30) there was some sign of the Egyptian military taking on some security duties. Soldiers started arresting suspected looters, rounding up 450 of them. The disappearance of the police from the streets had led to a threat of widespread looting is now being redressed by the regular military.

Other control methods were on display. The government definitively closed the Al Jazeera offices in Cairo and withdrew the journalists’ licence to report from there, according to tweets. The channel stopped being broadcast on Egypt’s Nilesat. (Al Jazeera had not been able to broadcast directly from Cairo even before this move.) The channel, bases in Qatar, is viewed by President Hosni Mubarak as an attempt to undermine him.

Why has the Egyptian state lost its legitimacy? Max Weber distinguished between power and authority. Power flows from the barrel of a gun, and the Egyptian state still has plenty of those. But Weber defines authority as the likelihood that a command will be obeyed. Leaders who have authority do not have to shoot people.

The Mubarak regime has had to shoot over 100 people in the past few days, and wound more. Literally hundreds of thousands of people have ignored Mubarak’s command that they observe night time curfews. He has lost his authority.

Authority is rooted in legitimacy. Leaders are acknowledged because the people agree that there is some legitimate basis for their authority and power. In democratic countries, that legitimacy comes from the ballot box. Read the rest of this entry »