Archive for July 18th, 2013

In Memory: Koh Yeow Tong

by Allan CF Goh

Yeow Tong is the name,
Athletics, his fame.
He raced with the wind
For his famous wins.
He soared in the jumps,
Never mind the bumps.

Came the sun or rain,
On field, he would train.
In rugby, football,
And more, he walked tall.
Now he lies stilled, lamed;
Classmates mourn his name. Read the rest of this entry »


Post-Election Payback Time in Malaysia

by John Berthelsen
Asia Sentinel
Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Mahathir backs moves to punish minorities and reward pro-government voters, companies

Last week, the Malaysian government announced its allocation of public university seats for the upcoming academic year. Only 19 percent of Chinese students got places, along with 4 percent of Indians despite the fact that the two together make up about 30 percent of the student population. Last year, Chinese students got 23 percent, in line with their proportion of the overall population.

That was the first tangible fallout from the 13th general election held on May 5, in which the Barisan Nasional, the ruling national coalition, won 133 of the 222 seats in the Dewan Rakyat, or Parliament, preserving its majority despite the fact that it only received 47.38 percent of the popular vote against 50.87 for the opposition Pakatan Rakyat coalition headed by Anwar Ibrahim.

The second came yesterday with the revelation by Democratic Action Party National Publicity Chairman Tony Pua of the award of a RM1 billion (US$314 million) commuter railway project in the massive government-backed Iskandar development in the southern state of Johor to Metropolitan Commuter Network Sdn Bhd, a 60:40 joint venture between Malaysian Steel Works Sdn Bhd and KUB Malaysia Bhd, both of which are linked to UMNO, to build and operate a 100 km inter-city rail service in Johor. According to an official with the company quoted in local media, Masteel will receive a 37-year build-own-transfer arrangement on the project despite the fact that it is slated to break even in 12 years. Although Masteel says the project was a private sector initiative dating from 2008, it is inconceivable that it would have been granted without the imprimatur of the government.

The common denominator appears to be the return of Mahathir Mohamad, the 88-year-old former prime minister, and his close friend and ally, former Finance Minister Daim Zainuddin, at the top of the power structure in UMNO, politically emasculating the current Prime Minister, Najib Tun Razak. Despite the loss of the popular vote, the majority of the rank and file inside UMNO believe it was Mahathir’s strident racial politics that preserved the Barisan’s – and particularly UMNO’s – place at the top of Malaysian politics, and that it was Najib’s attempt to reach out to the other races that cost them. Read the rest of this entry »


What is wrong about TITAS

by Dr Lim Teck Ghee
18th July 2013

Pandan Member of Parliament Rafizi Ramli’s support of the proposal by the Ministry of Higher Education to make the Islamic and Asian Civilisation Studies (TITAS) course compulsory in private tertiary institutions (IPTS) is a disappointment. More disappointing is the reasoning behind his support for the introduction of the subject.

His argument that “politically, it’s not helping when it’s made too much of a fuss, because it fits the Malay right-wing argument that the Chinese and non-Malays refuse to understand and look down on everything Islam” smacks of crude political opportunism.

Members of the public who see him as a potential future leader expect him to take on and not surrender to Malay right wing opinions that are based on irrational and mischievous thinking.

Rafizi should know that the religious and socio-cultural conflict in the country is not because the non-Malays refuse to understand and look down on everything that is Islamic. The great majority of Malaysians respect the faith of their neighbours even if they may not understand it. What they resent and oppose is the state-sponsored assertion of dominance and superiority of a religion that is different or not their own. Read the rest of this entry »