Archive for February 25th, 2011

‘Interlok a classic work of Malaysian racism’


Centre for Policy Initiatives (CPI) director Lim Teck Ghee has added his voice to calls for the novel Interlok to be removed from the Form Five Malay literature syllabus due to its perpetuation of “offensive stereotyping” of minorities.

This, while the controversial novel celebrates the virtues of the Malay race, culture and value system.

As such, Lim noted, it has led some quarters to see the novel as “the classic Malaysian racist book”.

In remarks e-mailed to Malaysiakini today, the former academician-turned-social activist said some may be tempted to invoke freedom of expression to justify maintaining the book as required reading in secondary schools.

That same “freedom to offend” would not, however, be granted if the offence were against Malays, he noted.
Read the rest of this entry »


Libya: Past and future?

After alienating powerful tribes, Qaddafi’s regime seems to be falling, but it is unclear who could fill vacuum.

George Joffe
24 Feb 2011

Many believed that Colonel Qaddafi’s regime in Libya would withstand the gale of change sweeping the Arab world because of its reputation for brutality which had fragmented the six million-strong population over the past forty-two years.

Its likely disappearance now, after a few days of protest by unarmed demonstrators is all-the-more surprising because it has systematically destroyed even the slightest pretence of dissidence and has atomised Libyan society to ensure that no organisation – formal or spontaneous – could ever consolidate sufficiently to oppose it.

Political Islam, whether radical or moderate, has been the principle victim, especially after an Islamist rebellion in Cyrenaica, the country’s eastern region, in the latter 1990s. Other political currents have been exiled since 1973, when “direct popular democracy” was declared and the jamahiriyah, the “state of the masses”, came into existence.

Even the Libyan army was treated with suspicion, with its officer corps controlled and monitored for potential disloyalty. No wonder that major units now seems to have broken away from the regime and made the liberation of Eastern Libya possible. Read the rest of this entry »


70 and looking forward to more democratic breakthroughs (postscript)

Turning 70 was a good excuse for my batch of classmates of Batu Pahat High School to go down the memory lane of our school days in the fifties.

Michael Ong reminded me, which I could not remember, that in Form V in 1959, I had given the first talk to the school debating and literary society. Topic? “Malayan Consciousness”.

Allan Goh, who has retired from the teaching profession in Penang, has composed an ode to the Class of 59:

Ode to the Class of 59

What really made my classmates tick?
Competitiveness, work, but no trick.
With shoulders firmly to the rack,
Oft leaving foot prints on time’s track.

It never was a one-horse race,
But a constant multiple brace:
Leadership, routinely ceded
To better friends who succeeded. Read the rest of this entry »


Najib has tough fight against NEP ‘cancer’, says report

By Shannon Teoh

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 24 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak is taking “an unprecedented gamble” by pledging to dilute the system of Malay patronage that has kept Umno in power, said a foreign report yesterday.

The Centre for Independent Studies (CIS) — an Australia-based think tank — said that the large support for the status quo and Umno’s current vulnerability meant that “Najib will have a difficult task convincing his colleagues to ‘risk all’ for the sake of Malaysia’s long-term future.”

Its foreign policy research fellow Dr John Lee also questioned the prime minister’s capacity to introduce economic reforms as the introduction of the New Economic Policy (NEP) in 1970 has cultivated a “vast and deep network of rent-seeking and patronage.” While acknowledging that the New Economic Model (NEM) introduced by Najib last year was “enormously significant,” Lee said that the decades of pro-Bumiputera affirmative action was now a “millstone around the neck of the struggling Malaysian economy and the cancer behind the country’s growing structural problems.” Read the rest of this entry »


Libya’s falling tyrant

Gaddafi reaps what he has sown during his four-decade rule: terror, nepotism, tribal politics and abuse of power.

by Larbi Sadiki: 21 Feb 2011
Al Jazeera

Libya cannot escape the infection of democratic revolutionary wind blowing through the Middle East and North Africa. If longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi falls, it will be a sweet victory for the heirs of Omar al-Mokhtar, the legendary anti-fascist and anti-colonial hero. But a lot of blood will spill before the Libyan colonel abandons ship.

After Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and Tunisia’s Ben Ali, Gaddafi is the worst of the Arabs’ surviving illegitimate rulers. He is now reaping what he has sown: terror, nepotism, tribal politics, and abuse of power.

In Gaddafi’s Libya, the so-called People’s Congress, universities and other regime-affiliated organisations have had to toe the official line: worship of the “brother leader”, read his Green Book, and the brand of Pan-Africanism that no Libyan except Gaddafi and his henchmen believed in.

While visiting the country with a group of students from Exeter University, the hollow slogans of Gaddafi’s “Great Revolution” covered all public space. “Partners not salaried” one says. Another declares “People’s rule” (sultat al-sha’ab). Nothing could be further from the truth.

Gaddafi has ruled the country with the delusion of grandeur of a man who rose to power in a 1969 coup with fairly acceptable political ideals that got corrupted and abandoned. Gaddafi’s much vaunted socialism turned into distribution in favour of the Colonel’s clansmen. Read the rest of this entry »


Dilemmas of a young Malaysian abroad

by Alea Nasihin (
The Malaysian Insider
February 24, 2011

FEB 24 — When I first stepped off the plane in Heathrow Airport three years ago, I was your average idealistic 19-year-old who thought she knew everything, and who thought she had it all planned out.

I was going to come to the UK, finish up my law degree and go home to Malaysia and single-handedly change the system. Everyone else who had trodden this path before me and failed just hadn’t tried hard enough. Everyone who went abroad and never came back were cowards who didn’t love their country.

Now, three years on, as I face my imminent graduation and the prospects of returning home for good, I find myself questioning the very beliefs I once held so dear.

It’s hard to leave the fact that I can walk a mile to class everyday and not fear for the safety of my handbag (or my lungs). It’s hard to leave the fact that I can discuss religion and race openly without getting accused of being an “infidel” or “ungrateful.”

It’s hard to leave the way I am allowed to think and question and express and explore for myself, and where my views are respected. It’s hard to leave when, here, youths are given a voice and never patronised, and nobody says “because I said so.”

It’s hard to leave the fact that I can walk down the street wearing anything I want and nobody will give me odd looks or whisper behind my back, or even force me to “cover up.” Read the rest of this entry »