Archive for July, 2012

Olympics Opening Ceremony: Lessons for Malaysia
Posted on Jul 30, 2012

Last night, I watched the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games for the second time, in the solitude of my room. I had a great time watching it with friends at their place for the first time on the actual night, and in general really enjoyed it. That night, I posted this updated on my Facebook account:

I admit that I’m a sucker for all Olympic Opening Ceremonies but today’s was special. It was patchy as a production, didn’t necessarily like the video/live action stuff, but can Danny Boyle tell a story. The underlying narrative was genius and hats off to him for giving so much credit to those who would never usually get attention – from the NHS to the miners, construction workers who built the stadium to the seven young athletes who lit the gorgeous cauldron. Amazing.

I watched it again because I was still reeling from the show the night before. Plus, having spent the better part of the day reading commentaries and reviews about the event, I realised that there were so many little things I missed. Watching it alone again, and being able to listen to all the commentary, it really did feel like I was watching a different show.

And I still loved it. Read the rest of this entry »


Are We Celebrating Barisan Nasional Day?

By Kee Thuan Chye | Tuesday, 31 July 2012 09:53
Malaysian Digest

BARISAN Nasional (BN) has already started campaigning for the general election – even though it has not yet been called – and the Election Commission (EC) is doing nothing about it.

What’s more, BN is campaigning on a large scale and everyone can see it. It has done this by unabashedly hijacking the National Day celebrations and using it to promote its own propaganda.

The theme for the celebrations is Janji Ditepati (Promises Fulfilled) which does not sound at all like a National Day theme. It instead speaks for BN, which desperately wants to tell the rakyat that it is a government that delivers.

The National Day theme song is glaringly partisan – but for BN, not for the country. Also entitled ‘Janji Ditepati’, it highlights BN’s latest initiatives and hints that it’s time for the rakyat to show its gratitude to BN.
Read the rest of this entry »


Like shooting fish in a barrel

By Rom Nain | 10:40AM Jul 26, 2012

When it comes to public figures, mainly BN politicians and their families, making a quick and dirty buck or two in this blessed land of 1Malaysia Boleh, evidently nothing, absolutely nothing, is sacred.

Sure, we could go back to the decades of pillage and plunder of the 1980s and 1990s for illustrations, for examples of ‘corruption’, ‘cronyism’ and ‘nepotism’ that appalled and galvanised civil society not only across the sea, in Indonesia, but also closer to home, leading to many thousands marching on the streets of Kuala Lumpur demanding reformasi.

But, really, we don’t have to go that far.

Recent history quite simply is full of such disgraceful tales of greed and the betrayal of the rakyat.
Read the rest of this entry »


Perilous in Perak

By Sakmongkol AK47 | July 31, 2012
The Malaysian Insider

JULY 31 — Perak has 24 parliamentary seats. In 2008, BN won 13 of those seats. Most of them were won on the slimmest of margins. So the argument goes, the opposition also won on slim margins. The counter argument is, the victory by the opposition was won on the courage of convictions while the victory of BN was won as a result of the erosion of confidence. These are two different things. One won as a result of convictions is hard to slip back while the one won as a result of erosion of convictions is extremely difficult to sustain.

Will the people of Perak forget that during the reign of Zamri, he has given out more land than Nizar did when the latter was MB? Many landless people who were without land titles and who have worked the land got it during Nizar’s stint as MB. What wasn’t told was that more Malays got their titles too during Nizar’s time.

During Umno’s time the grant of land was the hijacked prerogative of Umno divisional heads, Umno reps and merciless pengerusi JKKK. During Zamri’s time, more land was given to companies and cronies rather than people.
Read the rest of this entry »


Letter from Tom Pepinsky

Dear Limkitsiangblog,

I want to thank you for including my recent post on your blog. However, I would like to ask you to edit the post in a way that shows proper attribution of the source. I would be grateful if you could make a short editorial comment prior to the post that acknowledges that the text was originally posted at, and that what you are posting is a reproduction.

This is important for two reasons. First, as a foreign observer of Malaysian politics, it is important that I not be considered to be endorsing any Malaysian politician or political party. Second, it is good blog etiquette to be as clear as possible about the sources of your web links. You do this very well for other posts–for example, your post “Formation of 1 Malaysia national culture in the ‘new regime’” make it clear that that post was originally from The Malaysian Insider. I ask only that you extend the same courtesy to my humble blog.

Thank you for your attention,

[Admin’s Note: In reproducing above the email from Tom Pepingsky, this blog extends fullest apologies to him for the oversight to provide the proper attribution to the source of the stated article, namely It is never our intention to claim or suggest that Tom was writing for this blog or giving implicit endorsement of LKS or his party’s program. The oversight in the article “Malaysia and the Perfect Storm” has been rectified.]

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Formation of 1 Malaysia national culture in the ‘new regime’

— Norani Abu Bakar
The Malaysian Insider
Jul 30, 2012

JULY 30 — As we conceive of a new regime in Malaysia, there are various ideas for a new political structure which must be articulated further. One of these, that of a two-party political system having great potential for transforming Malaysia’s current democracy into a means to national character and human flourishing.

Malaysians are the nation’s stakeholders, and thus this maturation of this new regime has the potential to define their national culture in terms of holistic values. This national culture is a powerful “soft force” that can form, support and move a nation — building and rebuilding it especially in severe conditions such as war, epidemic, natural disaster, collapse of governance, and regional economic melt-down. Can the two-party regime support their collective aspirations for a holistic, rich and cohesive 1 Malaysia culture or will the regime further fragment this community, leaving any newly developed or reformed policies on paper only?

The post-colonial governance, in all of its strengths and weaknesses since 1957, has persevered to secure the physiological needs of Malaysians. However, as Professor AR Embong wrote in “The Role of Social Sciences in Malaysian National Development,” the implementation of Vision 2020 was, as Joseph Stiglitz called the roaring 1990s, “a decade of clutching over wealth and profit.” There is some truth in this, and so for good reason, some Malaysians doubt the efficacy of this new vision. Hence, progressive efforts to revitalise the nation’s soul and identity through 1 Malaysia, and its reorientation towards the higher levels of Maslow’s hierarchy, are perceived with great suspicion. Read the rest of this entry »


What do the polls really tell us?

— Clive Kessler
The Malaysian Insider
Jul 30, 2012

JULY 30 — You will perhaps allow me to provide a brief commentary on your story “Actual voter sentiment not shown in opinion poll, say analysts”, The Malaysian Insider, July 28.

As any knowledgeable person will tell you, it is pointless to argue about small variations, such as rises or falls of two or three per cent, in a leader’s popularity as indicated by polls such as that of the Merdeka Center.

National trends are assessed on the basis of carefully chosen samples of less than 2,000 respondents. The margin of error in such cases is usually around three per cent.

So it is pointless to argue about small variations.

What is significant about the Merdeka Center’s figures, what has been shown to be a consistent pattern for some time now, and what cannot be denied is this: that those polls show a dramatic gap “across the board” between popular support for (or positive perceptions of) the prime minister and support for his party.

If the PM consistently rates at around 60 per cent (three out of five) and the party at around 40 per cent (or two out of five expressing themselves as “satisfied”), something interesting may be happening. Some interesting forces and perceptions are likely to be “in play.” Read the rest of this entry »


Malaysia water “crisis” signals fierce fight for richest state

By Siva Sithraputhran
KUALA LUMPUR, July 29 | Sun Jul 29, 2012 11:03am IST

(Reuters) – The surprise statement came during a rainy spell and when the seven dams in Malaysia’s richest, most populous state were full.

Reserves of treated water in the opposition-controlled state of Selangor were perilously low, said the water company supplying a population of 7 million in the country’s main industrial base. It was seeking approval to start immediate rationing.

For many it looked like politics, not water, was behind the problem – a measure of how high tensions are running ahead of national elections that must be called by early next year and which may be the closest in Malaysia’s history.

“Of course, it’s a political conspiracy,” said Teresa Kok, a member of the Selangor state executive council and opposition member of parliament.
Read the rest of this entry »


Malaysia and the Perfect Storm

By Thomas B. Pepinsky | July 27, 2012

Let’s say that you’re a pessimist about global growth prospects. If so, you’re not alone: Q2 GDP growth in the U.S. is weak, the U.K. is in a double-dip recession, and there’s no end to the Eurozone crisis in sight. Growth in China is softening too, and the rest of the BRICs aren’t registering the growth that we have come to expect over the past five years. If you also think that global financial markets remain fragile, then you’d be right to worry about a perfect storm in the global economy.

This is bad news all around for the big economies. But we should also pay attention to how global economic conditions will affect small open economies. By definition, these are economies that are dependent on trade and investment, and which therefore have harnessed themselves to the global economy as a basic engine for growth and development. This gives them access to markets for their exports and to investment, but by the same token, it makes them vulnerable to whatever ups and downs the global economy experiences.

Malaysia is a classic example of a small open economy. And a new report (unfortunately behind a paywall) from Roubini Global Economics argues that Malaysia is not only the Asian country whose economy is most vulnerable to a perfect storm, but also the country which is perhaps least able to do anything about it. Take note of the following: Read the rest of this entry »


National Day theme “Janji Ditepati” wrong and inappropriate as it is anti-national, divisive rather than unifying the people, presenting Najib as Prime Minister for UMNO/BN only and not all Malaysians!

The Information Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Rais Yatim is defending the indefensible when he takes to Twitter to ask why “Janji Ditepati” cannot be used as this year’s National Day/Malaysia Day theme.

Firstly, Rais’ claim that “Malaysia has truly arrived as an achieving nation after 55 years of independence” is highly controversial and debatable, for if this is true, the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak would not gain the reputation of being the most indecisive Prime Minister in the nation’s history who keeps postponing his plan to hold the next general election to win a personal mandate for his premiership for fear of ending up in the Opposition benches or toppled within UMNO like his predecessor Tun Abdullah.

In fact, probably more could be written about how the slogan of “Janji Ditepati” had failed rather than succeeded in 55 years after Merdeka and 49 years after Malaysia – whether in building a united, harmonious, democratic, progressive and competitive Malaysia; or in fulfilling Najib’s three-year promises of 1Malaysia Government Transformation Programme (GTP) whether in reducing crime, fighting corruption or carrying out meaningful government, economic and political transformation for Malaysia to take her rightful place in international society and achieve the status of a normal democratic country.

I remember when I visited Sabah in 1978, I had warned that Sabah faced three grave problems – the illegal immigrant problem which I had cited had reached 140,000, the crime situation and grave problem of corruption. Read the rest of this entry »


Penghapusan duti eksais kereta: Sekali lagi BN kata tak wajar

— Aspan Alias
The Malaysian Insider
Jul 25, 2012

25 JULAI — Niat Pakatan Rakyat untuk menghapuskan duti eksais dan berbagai cukai terhadap kereta-kereta adalah usaha yang patut mendapat sokongan. Ini adalah kerana kereta adalah perkara keperluan oleh rakyat negara ini yang masih terlalu jauh ketinggalan dalam menyediakan kemudahan pengangkutan awam. Sesungguhnya rakyat telah terlalu terbeban dengan kos pembelian kereta kerana sebahagian besar dari harga jualan kereta di negara ini adalah disebabkan oleh elemen cukai-cukai seperti duti eksais yang tinggi yang dikenakan oleh pihak kerajaan kita.

Jika duti eksais diturunkan ketahap minima maka kereta import yang berharga sebanyak RM150,000 itu akan boleh didapati dengan harga RM120,000 misalnya. Malahan kalau kita kaji harga kereta di banyak negara maju ia adalah jauh lebih rendah dari harga kereta yang rakyat kita terpaksa bayar. Harga kereta di negara ini terlalu tinggi dan kita adalah bersamaan dengan negara-negara seperti Singapura dan segelintiran negara di-rantau ini.

Itulah sebabnya ramai di antara rakyat negara ini, apabila kembali ke Malaysia kereta adalah salah satu ‘item’ penting yang dibawa mereka kembali kerana mereka telah membeli kereta-kereta tersebut dengan harga yang amat murah di luar negara. tetapi cadangan ini jangan kita harapkan mendapat sokongan dari pihak parti yang memerintah sekarang kerana mereka tidak akan bersetuju untuk memberikan sokongan dan alasan ‘standard’ yang diberikan mereka ialah tindakan itu akan mengbangkrapkan negara.

Pihak BN telah memberikan reaksi yang negatif terhadap isu ini dan Ketua Pemudanya Encik Khairy Jamaluddin telah menyatakan jika ini terlaksana maka ia akan mengurangkan pendapatan negara dalam jumlah yang berbillion ringgit setahun. Kita tidak boleh melayani pandangan ini kerana beliau (Khairy) adalah di pihak pimpinan dan kerajaan yang tidak mempunyai cukup imiginasi untuk mencari pendapatan alternatif terhadap kekurangan pendapatan dari tindakan mengurangkan duti eksais dan cukai-cukai yang berkaitan dengan harga kereta ini. Read the rest of this entry »


Kedah: Losers and victors

— Sakmongkol AK47
The Malaysian Insider
Jul 26, 2012

JULY 26 — The Umno strategists in its war room deserved to get Oscars for their clowning performance. We are kept hilariously amused. A few years ago, it was the 1 finger in everything — 1 Malaysia, 1 Klinik, Kedai 1 Malaysia, etc. Earlier on, Malaysians puked at the alphabet soup — NKRA, ETP, PDP, GTP. Then it was one million dreams, one thousand hopes leading to “Janji ditepati”.

A few days ago, I wrote, the PM doesn’t have to play hide and seek whether a bonus for civil servants is expected. I said it will definitely come. So it did, but when I heard the PM say “kita nak bonus raya ketidak”, expecting a rapturous response like a cheerleader does. That shows he has no class at all.

But then that is expected of someone who solves problems by paying his way through. Can we stomach his indulgent ways? After announcing the bonus, he says, expectedly, this is proof of the government’s sincerity. Then, likewise the Selangor government proves its sincerity by giving water free up to a certain level, is more sincere in refusing to let Syabas fleece the people, sincere in also giving Selangor civil servants bonuses. That is also further proof that if you manage the finances carefully, state governments can give bonuses. Let’s see if any BN-managed states can give its civil servants bonuses.

We can go on. The ability of the Penang state government in allocating RM62 million a year for Islam in that state must be proof of the state government’s sincerity. Correspondingly, the Negri Sembilan’s ability to provide only RM10 million a year proves its insincerity. The Kedah government’s ability to increase revenue from the timber and forestry sector must be proof of its efficiency and corruption-free government. The Kelantan government’s achievement in repaying all federal debts must be proof of its financial probity as opposed to Umno’s profligacy.

After pulling all the stops, scare mongering and other alarming and ominous stories what do they resort to? Got to have some intellectual respectability to its now fast disappearing legitimacy. It has called in some academicians to bolster its standing. On one fine day, the professors are assembled and directed to give good accreditations to Umno. What a pathetic move. Read the rest of this entry »


Reporting rising crime in the city

by Eric Loo
Jul 26, 2012

After a week’s work in the slums of Chennai, I stopped over in Petaling Jaya for the weekend en route to Sydney. I heard from friends alarming stories of abductions and killings, assaults and robberies in Malaysia.

A week earlier a decomposed torso was found washed up by heavy rains in Jalan SS22/21 in Damansara Jaya – less than five minutes’ walk from where I lived. One might feel safer navigating the urban chaos and mass human traffic in the capital city of Tamil Nadu than wandering in the shopping mall car park and streets of PJ and KL. With each bloodier crime reported in the media, community fear goes up a notch.

Pemandu had urged for more “balanced reporting” to allay the public fear. Crime reporting, however, is fraught with difficulties when headlines are driven by blood and gore. The more frequently crime stories are highlighted, and sensationalised, by the tabloids – the more we feel unsafe. Anxiety and insecurity then breeds distrust of strangers and neighbours, stereotyping of criminality by ethnicity and fear stoking by right-wing populist parties.

Should the media restrain and sanitise its crime reporting? Certainly not. Crime stories follow the crime rates. The higher the crime rates, the more the crime stories. But, journalists should know that for every crime story written, there could be many that go unreported. Pemandu’s statement of a 40 percent decline in street crime from January to May this year doesn’t explain the community anxiety over ‘rising’ crime in the city. Read the rest of this entry »


Bersih decision, refreshing and reaffirming

— Proham
The Malaysian Insider
Jul 26, 2012

JULY 26 — Proham notes that it is refreshing to see a High Court decision re-affirming the time honoured principle that an executive decision must be based on a proper interpretation of the law and the application of reasonable and rational consideration of relevant facts.

On July 24, 2012, Justice Datuk Rohana Yusof allowed an application for certiorari to quash the Minister’s order made on July 1, 2001 under section 5 of the Societies Act where he had declared the Coalition for Clear and Fair Elections (Bersih) as a unlawful movement.

The decision illustrates the pitfalls of administrative decisions which are not consonant with provisions of the law and the Constitution but are made relying on faulty appreciation of the law and on unreasonable and irrational considerations of unverified or irrelevant facts supplied normally by aides.

Another important aspect of the case is the re-affirmation of another principle that in a democratic system of governance under the Constitution, the intervention of an independent judiciary able to make judicial decisions affecting aggrieved parties without fear and favour is of paramount importance bearing in mind too, that in our court system the right of appeal is not shut to parties dissatisfied with the decisions. Read the rest of this entry »


The bitterness of a financial conservative

by Hafiz Noor Shams
The Malaysiann Insider
Jul 26, 2012

JULY 26 — I handle my finances conservatively. I spend very little for someone my age and my profile. In fact, I impose a sort of limit on my spending. I am conscious of it and get mildly nervous if my total spending grows too fast even when I can more than afford it.

I probably do buy too much insurance and I do save or invest a large part of my earnings. My credit card service provider probably hates me for having to finance me without getting the chance to charge me interest too often too much.

I can afford to save a lot partly because I do not have too many financial responsibilities.

The other factor behind my saving habit has a lot to do with my upbringing and education. Read the rest of this entry »


Strength in pluralism

— Tariq Ramadan
The Malaysian Insider
Jul 26, 2012

JULY 26 — Malaysia is a country unlike any other: full of promise and fragility. Its history, cultural and religious diversity make it a rich, compelling and surprising land. Chinese, Indian, Malay and, in a broader sense, Indonesian cultures live side by side, while Buddhism, Christianity and Islam all partake of its multi-layered heritage.

Moreover, Malaysia possesses a first-rate economic and geostrategic potential. In the coming years, it can be expected to assume increasingly greater regional and international importance alongside its neighbour, Indonesia — two emerging countries that have often been neglected to the advantage of China and India, which, we are told, represent the only two Asiatic powers.

Today, as the centre of gravity of the new world economic order shifts eastward, the two countries will play significant and critical roles. Malaysia will be a force to reckon with.

But substantial difficulties and obstacles remain to be overcome. Nothing is, or will be, easy. With every passing day, Malaysia reveals the many facets of the challenges facing it and of its doubts. Sixty per cent of the population is Muslim; Islam has emerged as a permanent reference in political debate. Between the ruling party (Umno), which has held power for more than 50 years, and the coalition of opposition parties, conflicting slogans, symbols and controversies arising from the Islamic reference are a fact of life. Read the rest of this entry »


Najib should summon an emergency Cabinet meeting to change the divisive National Day/Malaysia Day theme and the ghastly Merdeka Day logo

How much are Malaysian taxpayers being milked for the ghastly 55th Merdeka Day logo and the most divisive National Day/Malaysia Day theme ever conceived in the nation’s history?

Is the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak so desperate about his electoral prospects and those of UMNO/Barisan Nasional in the next general election that the 55th Merdeka Day/49th Malaysia Day have to be hijacked to advance UMNO/Barisan Nasional interests by the elevation of the UMNO/BN election campaign theme of “Janji Ditepati” as the official National Day/Malaysia Day theme?

If the National Day logo and theme are not changed, both will become laughing stocks for Malaysians and the world by the time of Merdeka Day on August 31 and Malaysia Day on Sept. 16.

It is sad and shocking that this year’s National Day/Malaysia Day are no more conceived as national celebrations as they have been hijacked by UMNO/BN, blatantly using the UMNO/BN slogan which will divide rather than unite Malaysians, and yet nobody in Cabinet or government could see that this is just wrong and anti-national.
Read the rest of this entry »


Online, the 2012 National Day logo gets a drubbing

By Irwan Ismail | July 26, 2012
The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, July 26 — The 2012 National Day logo has received wide criticism since it was released this week, with cyber citizens and graphic designers saying it is the worst they have seen and not suitable for the celebration that stretches from August 31 to September 16 which is Malaysia Day.

The government eschewed the traditional logo designing competition this year, leaving the Information Department to come out with the logo which comprises words in different fonts, the Jalur Gemilang, the 1 Malaysia logo and theme “Janji Ditepati” (Promises Fulfilled), all using the four colours of the national flag.

“It’s not even a logo from designer’s point of view. Too many things going on in one piece — logo in a logo, so many fonts, no strong visual message, no hierarchy in typography,” said Imran Abdul Jabar, the founder of, a website dedicated to multimedia design.
Read the rest of this entry »


‘I Choose Malaysia’ – selling a feel-good image

Clive Kessler
Jul 25, 2012

Congratulations on noticing and commenting upon this new promotional exercise by “the old national management team”.

I noticed it some days ago, and wrote to some friends about it.

I said: I saw an amazing new political ad on TV yesterday: an ad, I suppose, for the government, its re-election.

But interestingly, it provided no sight, sign or mention of Umno or BN or the “government” or “kerajaan”, no sight or mention of PM Najib Abdul Razak, nor of any of his cabinet ministers.

And no sign, sight, or mention either of any specific national government projects, no mention of government transformation plans, KRA, KPI.

None of that.

Instead just faces, most speaking rapidly, earnestly, with apparent conviction and quite authoritatively, even demandingly.

All set against a plain white background. Read the rest of this entry »


A Right and Significant Verdict on Bersih

By Kee Thuan Chye
Malaysian Digest
25 July 2012

THE High Court has declared that Bersih (Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections) is not unlawful. And rightly so.

Although this comes as a blow to the Government, and especially the Home Minister, the Attorney-General (A-G) should not pursue an appeal.

Doing so would hurt the Government’s image even more. It would appear to sensible Malaysians that the Government refused to admit wrong even when the evidence clearly showed it was wrong.

Furthermore, the Government had responded positively to the Bersih 2.0 rally of July 9, 2011, by setting up a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) to look into electoral reform. If it continued to insist on the quibble that Bersih 2.0 is unlawful, it would contradict itself, call to question the sincerity of its PSC move. It would appear to act in bad faith.

After all, is it such a big issue to the Government whether Bersih 2.0 is unlawful or not? Read the rest of this entry »