Archive for February, 2011

70 and looking forward to more democratic breakthroughs (3)

Many have asked whether I have plans to retire after 45 years of politics.

With the DAP founding chairman Dr. Chen Man Hin a hale and hearty 86, keeping vigilant daily scrutiny of political developments; the declaration by DAP Chairman Karpal Singh, who is eight months my senior, of unremitting commitment in the cause of justice and freedom despite his physical problems; and the “good wishes” of the doyen of Barisan Nasional politicians, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, 74, that I “continue to tread the rough and tumble of the Malaysian political road with even greater tenacity and thrust in the years ahead until we can all together ensured that no one in the country is allowed to create a situation of disaster of the type we have just seen in Tunisia and Egypt”, the least I could do was to pledge, as I did at my 70th birthday dinner at Hotel Equatorial Penang, that I will continue to contribute to party, people and the nation so long as I can be of use and contribution.

Three years ago in Feb 2008, I made a birthday wish that the DAP can succeed in winning the Penang State Government in the 2008 general election, which I had not made public at the time. This had come true.

My 70th birthday wish is that Malaysia will become a normal democratic country with the two coalition system fully institutionalized where change of political power would be regarded as a normal process and not once invoking threats and intimidations of national calamity like riots and unrest. Read the rest of this entry »


Church backs Penang’s non-Muslim portfolio

Susan Loone
Feb 23, 11

The Anglican church wants the Penang government to immediately activate the newly-minted non-Muslim Affairs portfolio to address issues which affect this group.
West Malaysia Anglican Diocese assistant bishop Andrew Phang (left) said Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who heads the portfolio, must “act now” and put into practice what has been preached by the state government.

“(Otherwise) it would remain merely a committee; the state should start the ball rolling and gather all the relevant groups for a meeting soon,” suggested Phang, a vicar at the Redeemer Church in Butterworth.

“The churches can play an active role by organising groups to participate in the portfolio’s activities like dialogues between the different communities.”

Phang said that initiating the portfolio is a timely move, adding that the urgency to get it up and running is not intended to insult Muslims, who have always had their interests taken care of by the government. Read the rest of this entry »


Gordon Brown’s sister-in-law tackles corruption in Borneo

David Cohen
London Evening Standard
22 Feb 2011

In a flat above a restaurant in Covent Garden, an investigative reporter called Clare and a tribesman from Borneo covered in tattoos prepare to transmit their daily revolutionary radio broadcast deep into the Borneo jungle.

They make for an unlikely double act – she is a white, middle-aged Englishwoman, and he the proud grandson of a Dayak headhunter who broadcasts under the pseudonym Papa Orang Utan. Their aim is no less outlandish: to expose the alleged corruption of Taib Mahmud, chief minister of the Malaysian state of Sarawak on the island of Borneo 6,500 miles from London, and bring an end to his 30-year rule.

“This is Radio Free Sarawak,” begins Papa Orang Utan, donning his headphones to interview a village headman who has been forcibly removed from his land and who, quite remarkably, speaks to them on a mobile phone from the edge of the Borneo rainforest. Clare briefs Papa: “Make sure you ask if he knows that it’s chief minister Taib who has stolen their land? And get who he’ll be voting for!”

Until now the identity of the “pirates” behind Radio Free Sarawak has been a closely guarded secret – and for good reason. Scandal-plagued Taib, 74, is one of the world’s most ruthless and wealthiest men – richer allegedly than the Sultan of Brunei, whose independent country lies alongside – and locals who oppose him can feel the full force of his retribution.

But today is a watershed: the duo have bravely decided to out themselves ahead of the upcoming Sarawak elections, expected in April. Indeed, the Evening Standard can reveal that the mystery Englishwoman who set up Radio Free Sarawak four months ago and who brought out the tattooed tribesman – real name Peter John Jaban – to front her broadcasts is in fact Clare Rewcastle Brown, sister-in-law of former prime minister Gordon Brown. Read the rest of this entry »


Lim Kit Siang 70 years young

Oon Time By Oon Yeoh
The Sun
Wed, 23 Feb 2011

PREMESH Chandran, CEO of Malaysiakini, once referred to Lim Kit Siang as “a walking encyclopedia of Malaysian political history” and for good reason.
Lim was first elected to Parliament in 1969, during the waning years of Tunku Abdul Rahman’s tenure as prime minister. As a politician, he has outlasted Tun Abdul Razak, Tun Hussein Onn, Tun Mahathir Mohamad and Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

When it comes to Malaysian politics this guy’s been there and done that, including being charged under the OSA and twice being detained under the ISA.

I’ve interviewed him about his time in Kamunting. For a guy as articulate as he is, he sure doesn’t have a lot to say about his experiences there. Some speculate that he feels bitter about being detained without trial. Others think he feels it was just a terrible waste of his time (although he did manage to learn Jawi and obtain a law degree while in detention).

Whatever the case, I’m sure he was never as down as he was after the 1999 general elections when he lost in Penang. Lim in his prime, could move to a new constituency and win that new area for DAP. Before the 1999 polls, he had been MP in Bandar Melaka, Kota Melaka, Petaling Jaya and Tanjung. Wherever he contested, he won.

He thought he could do it again in 1999 and instead of staying in the safe seat of Tanjung, Lim contested and lost in Bukit Bendera. It was a crushing blow. For the first time in his long career, Lim found himself in the political wilderness.

Sure, Lim continued to write press releases prolifically but his messages sounded tired and jaded. He was in danger of becoming a political has-been. A proverbial shadow of his former self.

Lim had one last chance at redemption. If he had lost in the 2004 general elections, that would have been the end of his career. It was a comeback bid worth watching and I wanted a ringside seat. I was working for theSun back then so I naturally chose to cover Ipoh Timur, the constituency Lim chose to contest in. Read the rest of this entry »


Malays are afraid of themselves

Mariam Mokhtar | Feb 21, 11

The BTN or National Civics Bureau is divisive, racist and politically-motivated. Most people are aware of this except for BN politicians. Despite the serious allegations made about the BTN, their main coalition partners, MCA and MIC have not been effective in condemning the BTN.

Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin denied claims that courses run by the BTN were a form of political indoctrination. He said, “BTN is to inculcate nationalism and unity among the people in line with the 1Malaysia concept”.

Talk of nationalism smacks of the supremacy of one race over the other races. If he had said that the mission of BTN was to promote patriotism, this would be more in line with the spirit of Malaysian unity.

After a media blitz on the BTN in late 2009, the cabinet decided that the BTN would be revamped as it had run counter to its aims of instilling a united Malaysia. When former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad disagreed, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Aziz described him as racist.

Nevertheless, the task of revamping the BTN was given to Ahmad Maslan, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, who is also the BTN chief. As is common with most BN politicians, he flip-flopped and said that he was not going to revamp the curriculum but would merely ‘upgrade’ it. Read the rest of this entry »


70 and looking forward to more democratic breakthroughs (2)

This was not the only poem composed by Michael.

A fortnight earlier he had emailed me from Canberra the following acrostic on my 70th birthday. (Learnt a new word. acrostic: a poem or other composition in which certain letters in each line form a word or words. – Concise Oxford Dictionary)

Lim Kit Siang MP

Long has been the struggle
In your just journey of Life
Moving ever so slowly but surely

Knowing that the elusive end
Is well worth every sacrifice
To achieve the ultimate aim of

Saving the nation’s soul from
Insidious intolerance
And leading it increasingly towards a
New national harmony
Graced by a Malaysian majority

May this materialise in your lifetime, so
Press on, press on, as you see the finish line!

Michael did not bring along his wife but he brought Judith’s 100 hours of labour of love – a cross-stitch of the Chinese character “Longevity”. Thanks Judith. Most appreciated. Read the rest of this entry »


Season of goodwill

By Raja Zarith Idris
Sunday Star
Sunday January 9, 2011

If Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Isa (Jesus), a prophet respected and revered in Islam, is it so wrong to wish a blessed day for those who celebrate it?

DURING the days before Christmas last year, I wished my friends who were celebrating it “Merry Christmas” in much the same way they would wish me “Selamat Hari Raya” or “Happy Eid”.

I find it rather sad that such a simple greeting – one which I grew up with and which I have never regarded as something that would compromise or de-value my own faith – is now regarded as something so religiously incorrect for us Malaysian Muslims.

When I was at boarding school in England, I had to go to church every Sunday because it was part of the rules. My father advised me to consider it as part of my “education” and he had no doubt that the experience would strengthen rather than weaken my own faith. Read the rest of this entry »


A Malaysian Dream – Life and Times of Lim Kit Siang

Part 1

Part 2 Read the rest of this entry »


Guan Eng calls BN hypocrites in non-Muslim portfolio flap

By Debra Chong
The Malaysian Insider
February 21, 2011

GEORGE TOWN, Feb 21 — Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng today accused the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition of double standards for rejecting the state’s new non-Muslim affairs portfolio while endorsing the same in Perak.

Lim, who is also DAP secretary-general, appeared taken aback by the verbal attacks from his political foes — particularly Gerakan chief Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon — following his government’s decision to set up a portfolio to complement the existing one for Muslims in the state.

He said the state believed the initiative would “promote civilisational dialogue, interaction and understanding” among followers of different creeds as all religions talk about peace.

He pointed out that the BN-led state government in Perak also has a similar portfolio to care for followers of religions other than Islam, which is headed by Datuk Mah Hang Soon, according to the silver state’s official website.

Mah refused to comment on his portfolio when contacted by The Malaysian Insider this evening, saying he was in the middle of a discussion.

(Mah’s portfolio is described on the Perak State government website as “Pengerusi Jawatankuasa Kesihatan, Kerajaan Tempatan, Hal Ehwal Pengguna, Alam Sekitar, Pengangkutan dan Hal Ehwal Bukan Islam) Read the rest of this entry »


70 and looking forward to more democratic breakthroughs (1)

Turned 70 yesterday. Humbled and overwhelmed by the avalanche of well wishes and greetings by Malaysians, from all parts of the country and abroad, whether in person as at the 70th birthday reception at the Equatorial Hotel Penang on Saturday (Feb. 19) organized by my family (happy to learn that many numbers-cognosenti made money as the winning numbers in yesterday’s 3D and 1+3D were 219 and 0219) or through sms, email, facebook, twitter, blogs or through the forums provided by online media like Malaysiakini, The Malaysian Insider, Malaysia Chronicle, Free Malaysia Today, etc.

Pleasantly surprised from the greetings that I share the same birthday with at least two others – firstly, with the hot online media columnist Mariam Moktar who said in her email: Read the rest of this entry »


Not for PM to say one religion superior to another

By John Malott

Bernama recently commented that I have “gone off the rails” because of my Feb 8 op-ed in the Asian Wall Street Journal.

To prove its point, the news agency gave just two examples. First, that I was wrong in saying that Malaysia’s needs to grow by eight percent annually over the coming decade to achieve Vision 2020 and higher income status.

In my defence (Who’s off the rails, Bernama? Part 1), I revealed the source of my ‘error’ – a speech and report from Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

Bernama also took me to task for saying that racial and religious tensions in Malaysia are higher today than when Najib (right) took office and are worse than at any time since the riots of 1969.

It pointed out that one week after my article appeared, Najib attended a meeting of the Malaysia Interfaith Council to commemorate World Interfaith Harmony Week.
Read the rest of this entry »



By P. Ramakrishnan | Aliran President

My Dear Mr Lim,

This was what I meant to say if I had the opportunity on Saturday which observed your 70th Birthday. Unfortunately, and very understandably, it wasn’t possible. So let me share this with you:

    LIM KIT SIANG: The Legend

YB Lim Kit Siang and Mrs Lim, Members of the Lim family, Distinguished Guests, Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen:

My wife and I are very grateful to the Lim family for extending their invitation to us to be part of this very special occasion. What we are observing today is an important milestone in the life of a remarkable parliamentarian.

YB Lim Kit Siang is no ordinary Malaysian; he is a legend. His public involvement spans over 40 years – a period covering the tenure of six Malaysian Prime Ministers – from the first to the present sixth PM. And he will certainly be there, I’m sure, when a new seventh PM takes over after the 13th General Elections!

This is a record that will not be matched or surpassed by any Malaysian. If he was from Umno, this feat would have gone into the Malaysian Book of records.
Read the rest of this entry »


Non-Muslims back Penang interfaith portfolio

By Debra Chong | The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 21 — The national non-Muslim council has given its thumbs-up to the Penang government for setting up a new interfaith portfolio, and called on other states to follow its example in a bid to counter rising religious extremism.

The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) applauded Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s (picture) initiative to form and head the new executive portfolio to handle non-Muslim religious issues in the state.

“Further, we are deeply encouraged that he has taken it upon himself to head it to give the seriousness it deserves,” it said in a statement today.

Religious tensions in multicultural Malaysia have been on the rise in recent years and have led to clashes in court and on the street between Muslim and non-Muslim communities last year in disputes over religious terminology and places of worship, among others.
Read the rest of this entry »


Long Live LKS!

By Martin Jalleh

You have dared to continue to differ in spite of your double ISA detentions and the “dangers” that come with voicing and doing what is right and just.

You have made a difference whilst others dance to the tune of the status quo and become self-serving servile lap dogs to the dominant powers that be.

You were discouraged, down but not out when the DAP faced a near-death in its dismal 1995 general election performance. You bounced back defying all political odds.

You were determined to soldier on in spite of a debilitating spate of defections in 1996 and disturbing frequent internal conflicts, divisions and factional disputes.

You desired to quit and to assume full responsibility for the DAP’s election debacle in 1999. Yet, you went on to prove that you were no political dinosaur and to disappoint those hoping for DAP’s demise!

You have been the DAP’s driving force and strong disciplinarian for several decades, thereby giving your enemies within and without the DAP the excuse to label you a “dictator”.

You have never despaired in spite of the many downs and dark and depressing moments in your political career, whilst others grew disillusioned and eventually disappeared from the political scene. Read the rest of this entry »


The Najib position on pluralism

By Thomas Lee

Another religious controversy is brewing over the Prime Minister’s warning to Muslims last week that religious pluralism is un-Islamic because it places Islam on an equal footing with other faiths.

Datuk Seri Najib Razak has also asked government Islamic agencies and religious teachers to explain the issue of pluralism to the Muslim community.

Najib’s statement is being challenged by various quarters alleging that his stand would cause confusion and religious disharmaony among the people.

However, the Rev Thomas Phillips, president of the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCST), has come out in defence of Najid, saying that all religions had their own theological stand and advised the people against taking Najib’s statement out of context.
Read the rest of this entry »


Malaysia in the Era of Globalization #54

By M. Bakri Musa

Chapter 7: Enhancing Human Capital

Enhancing Human Capital Through Better Health

Good health is good for the economy. A National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) paper showed that a one-year improvement in a country’s life expectancy (an index of health) contributes to a four percent increase in its economic output, and that good health has a greater impact on the economy than work experience or years of schooling.

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Commission on Macroeconomics and Health (CMH) Report reaffirms the powerful link between health, poverty reduction, and economic growth. The report challenges the traditional argument that health of the citizens will automatically improve as the result of economic growth. Indeed the opposite is true; improved health is a critical requirement for economic development in poor countries.
Read the rest of this entry »

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Who’s off the rails, Bernama?

John Malott | Feb 20, 11

Bernama news agency recently commented that I have “gone off the rails” because of my article in the Asian Wall Street Journal.

Because Bernama is owned by the Malaysian government, it is no surprise that they would feel obliged to say something critical.

But who really is off the rails? It is too bad that Bernama went into attack mode before it did its homework. Indeed, the article reads like it was written by a PR firm, trying to spin the truth.

So let’s take a look at what Bernama said. Read the rest of this entry »


Dear Kit — Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah

Breaking Views
The Malaysian Insider
Feb 19, 2011

FEB 19 — After a long journey in your political career, weathering the often rough and tumble of Malaysian politics, you somehow managed to survive and carve a popular name, an icon among your admirers and a ‘political bug’, so to speak, among your opponents.

So, you are now 70 years of age — not too young but not too old either — to go on treading the political journey.

You have consistently upheld and stood your ground on matters relating to the fundamental rights of all the rakyat, irrespective of race, to free and responsible speech, the rights to enjoy a just and fair distribution of the economic and social wealth of the nation, and to political, judicial and legal justice.

You have consistently and courageously spoken up against the corruption and the various misdeeds and defaults of the government and demanded actions, both in Parliament as well as outside it, despite the possible reprisals, the threats and even possible punitive actions that might be taken against you, which in fact you have suffered in the past.

But you have not kept your silence; you continue to grow bigger and speak even louder.

In the end, it seems to me you are the winner because, despite what your opponents say about you, as long as you know and believe what you stand for is good for the poeple and the country, you are on the right path. Read the rest of this entry »


TQ to you all for the 70th birthday well-wishes

Rummaging through some old boxes, I came across this editorial which I wrote in the Form III class magazine “Light” (Vol. 2 – Nov. 1957) in Batu Pahat High School:

“During the past few years, the spirit of Malayan nationalism was aroused to such an extent that Malaya was granted Independence and a new nation was born.

“This grand and memorable achievement of Independence was only made possible through the united efforts of the various communities in the country.

“Now Malaya has become a young nation and she is taking her rightful place and her part of responsibility in this strifefuld world. She must accept and overcome all challenges and, one day, be counted among the greatest of the great. However, the great men of today who hold the steering-wheel of the country cannot be with us always.

“We, the youths of today, are the leaders of tgomorrow, who will take the helm and navigate the Ship of State to Utopia or Doom. We must now prepare ourselves to ‘serve to lead’. Let us not while away our time in meaningless pastimes and waste away precious moments. Say not that time is abundant, for,

‘Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though strong and brave,
Still, like muffled drums are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.’

Read the rest of this entry »


BN has non-Muslim portfolio too, says Guan Eng

By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal
The Malaysian Insider
February 19, 2011

SHAH ALAM, Feb 19 — Lim Guan Eng has defended Penang’s new non-Muslim executive council portfolio by pointing out that Barisan Nasional’s (BN) Perak maintained a similar initiative in 2009.

The Penang chief minister claimed today that Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir was responsible for continuing such a portfolio when he took over the state administration from Datuk Seri Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin after the BN coup in February that year.

“The non-Muslim portfolio (in Perak) created by Nizar was continued by Zambry who gave it to MCA’s Datuk Mah Hang Soon to handle.

“Datuk Mukhriz (Mahathir) said that I insulted islam by setting up such a portfolio. If so it is more serious that a Muslim like Zambry ‘insults’ Islam by continuing with such portfolio,” Lim told The Malaysian Insider today, referring to the Jerlun MP.

The Penang CM then questioned Utusan Malaysia’s motives for attacking his administration over the setting up of the non-Muslim portfolio. Read the rest of this entry »