Archive for August, 2013

Agenda kemerdekaan yang belum terselesai

by Zairil Khir Johari
The Malaysian Insider
August 31, 2013

Selama 56 tahun, rakyat Malaysia tanpa gagal menyambut satu perayaan yang cukup besar maknanya. Perayaan yang mengingatkan kita betapa berharganya nikmat hidup dalam keadaan bebas daripada cengkaman penjajah.

Dalam pada itu, umum juga menyedari bahawa penghayatan sambutan kemerdekaan bukan sekadar menggantungkan bendera kecil di kenderaan masing-masing, berdiri tegak di dalam pawagam semasa lagu Negaraku dimainkan atau berhimpun menunggu percikan bunga api pada detik 12 tengah malam.

Sebaliknya, kemerdekaan adalah sesuatu usaha pembinaan negara bangsa yang berterusan. Kemerdekaan bererti bahawa setiap anggota masyarakat memiliki hak dan tanggungjawab bersama untuk menentukan corak dan masa depan negara ini.

Kemerdekaan bererti bahawa pilihan rakyat menjadi pilihan keramat. Kemerdekaan bererti bahawa setiap insan yang bergelar rakyat dimartabatkan dengan kehidupan yang bermaruah dan peluang untuk menikmati berkongsi kekayaan negara ini.

Namun, walaupun sudah lebih setengah abad kemerdekaan, rakyat makin hidup dalam ketakutan dengan kadar jenayah yang kian meningkat. Hak demokratik pula tercabul apabila pilihan rakyat yang lantang dalam pilihan raya umum tidak berjaya diterjemahkan kepada realiti. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tanda Putera imparts no value whatsoever

– Zikri Kamarulzaman
The Malaysian Insider
August 31, 2013

There’s been a lot of talk about Tanda Putera in the mainstream media lately.

I won’t be touching about the controversial bits, or the bad, sometimes emotionless acting (the Mahathir character was spot on, but unnecessary).

I will talk about its value as a movie.

Tanda Putera is a disaster in storytelling, two stories made into one, barely held together by Tun Abdul Razak’s character.

In fact, if you don’t know the subject matter or history, you will be completely utterly lost.

None of the characters were properly introduced in any way whatsoever. You’re just supposed to know who they are.

Same goes for the plot, with barely any background to explain what’s going on.

And there’s so much happening, and at such a fast pace, that you don’t connect with anyone or anything as the movie progresses. Read the rest of this entry »


Not Yet the Real Merdeka

By Kee Thuan Chye
Yahoo! News

As we prepare to commemorate Merdeka Day this Saturday – notice that I do not say “celebrate” – it would be timely to acknowledge that the real “Merdeka” has not happened yet.

I say this because we are still not free. We are still under the thrall of the masters who took over from the colonial ones in 1957. They are no different in their intent to oppress us. In fact, over the last few decades especially, they have proven to be even more oppressive. And if the British imperialists divided us in order to better rule over us, the current masters have outdone them in this respect by employing the mechanism of religion on top of that of race.

The current masters also continue to use the instruments of power inherited from the British to control us, such as the Sedition Act, the Printing Presses and Publications Act, the Official Secrets Act, and the Internal Security Act (ISA) which was replaced by the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act and the Public Assembly Act.

In terms of freedom, we have hardly progressed. When I look back on my growing-up years in the 1960s, I find little difference between then and now. People viewed as Communists (even if they were not) or political threats were taken in under the ISA. Youngsters barely out of school were arrested, and some were robbed of their youth for as many as a dozen years. Read the rest of this entry »


An open letter to Shuhaimi Baba

Sugasini Kandiah
The Malay Mail Online
August 30, 2013

AUG 30 — Dear Ms Shuhaimi Baba,

Last night, I went to watch your movie “Tanda Putera” despite the many calls to boycott it. I went to see the movie because 1) You urged Malaysians to see it before criticising and 2) I had hoped to learn something about the May 13, 1969 riots.

After watching the movie, as per your recommendation, I feel I learnt very little, if not nothing, about the May 13 incident. And I believe this is due to two reasons.

One, the film tackles the incident in a manner so shoddy it downright insults the viewer’s intelligence. Second, the director’s poor ability to translate historical interpretation into production leaves the viewer confused as to whether events in the film are fictional or not.

To be quite honest Ms Shuhaimi, you lost me at the very beginning of your film when you chose to show communists killing an Umno election worker and then showed members of the DAP and Gerakan terrorising Malay neighbourhoods in Kuala Lumpur.

You fail to show how these incidents are related and instead seem to have a jolly good time insinuating that the Chinese were primarily responsible for inciting all forms of violence during the period while the Malays are portrayed as simply trying to defend themselves. Read the rest of this entry »


Let all Malaysians rally behind a Malaysian Dream to build a more united, democratic, free, just and prosperous nation for all Malaysian citizens

On Wednesday, Americans commemorated the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr’s historic “I have a dream” speech made in Washington on August 28, 1963, which evoked the American Dream which envisioned an inclusive nation where justice and freedom are enjoyed equally by her citizens regardless of colour or creed.

Although much progress have been achieved in the past five decades to achieve these goals in the United States, the American Dream is still very much a work-in-progress.

On the occasion of our 56th National Day, it is my hope that all Malaysians can rally behind a Malaysian Dream to build a more united, democratic, free, just and prosperous nation for all Malaysian citizens so that Malaysia can stand tall in the world.

Is this too much to hope for when in recent months, the language and politics of hatred, suspicion and distrust seemed to have taken dominion of public spaces whether in print or Internet, causing concerned Malaysians to be worried about the nation’s future? Read the rest of this entry »


Merdeka – how do I feel?

– Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam
The Malaysian Insider
August 30, 2013

I am really happy that we as Malaysians are celebrating our 56th Merdeka, or our National Birthday, with relative peace and progress and a feeling of considerable achievement.

As in the case of our own birthdays, it is therefore a time of reflection, gratitude and for new resolutions that we must make to look forward to a better Malaysian way of life.

For me it is specially important to recall our first Merdeka, because I can say with pride that “I was there”!

Yes, I was at the Selangor Padang or Dataran Merdeka, with my cousin Leslie Abraham, on the eve of Merdeka 1957. Read the rest of this entry »


When patriotism is more than just flying the flag

The Malaysian Insider
August 29, 2013

Eventually, it was going to happen. The decades of cutting corners; relegating meritocracy to an afterthought; putting political expediency above everything else; promoting the subservient; dumbing down the education system to allow droves to pass with paper qualification but little else.

Eventually it was going to happen. A pall of mediocrity settling on every corner of Malaysia, affecting the quality of policy-making, thinking, nudging common sense and logic out of the picture and paralysing once hallowed institutions.

So we should not feign surprise that the only contribution that a Cabinet minister like Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek can make to the Merdeka season is to inform Malaysians that the government may pass legislation to make it compulsory to fly the Jalur Gemilang, the national flag.

He is a product of the system. He attended a school system that suffocated thinking, promoted rote-learning, and did little to plant and nurture ideas of integrity, equality, fairness and justice. Read the rest of this entry »


Lets celebrate the 56th National Day in unity and harmony, by taking the first step to acknowledge and respect the patriotism of the 51% of Malaysians who voted for Pakatan Rakyat and 47% who voted for Barisan Nasional in 13GE

Something is very amiss in the air with the approach of the 56th National Day anniversary on Saturday.

Even the Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek toyed with the idea of introducing a law to make it compulsory for every premises to fly the Jalur Gemilang through the month of Merdeka but he backed off three days later after admitting his extreme disappointment on discovery that government quarters in Putrajaya are not leading the example in flying the national flag.

He complained: “They are still waiting for the government to give them flags”.

Why is this so?

At the Pakatan Rakyat mega-rallies both before and after the 13th general elections on May 5, Malaysians regardless of race, religion, region, age or gender stood proud and tall to sing the national anthem when it was played – demonstrating their patriotism and love for the country.

Could such patriotism simply evaporate? Read the rest of this entry »


Patriotic in heart, in word and in deed

– Dr Amar Singh and Dr Lim Swee Im
The Malaysian Insider
August 28, 2013

There is an impression conveyed by the authorities that if you do not fly the Malaysian flag then you are not patriotic. Flying the flag means little if your life and “internals and motives of the heart” are not patriotic.

True patriotism is not about flying a flag or shouting slogans. True patriotism is:

– Respecting everyone in the nation, irrespective of ethnicity or social status,

– Supporting all segments of our population, especially those struggling and marginalised,

– Working together to protect our land – both the people and the environment (flora and fauna).

It is not important whether a Malaysian makes a public display of our flag or not. It is more important that every Malaysian has a heart of love for all the people of this land. That we share our resources and lives. That we have a collective dream and make it into a reality, a dream that is called Malaysia.

Unpatriotic acts are common and regularly practised. They include:

– Pushing for a Malay-sia rather than a Malaysia (inclusive of all people groups),

– Sharing the wealth of the nation with a few cronies and corrupt practices amongst those in power,

– Using power to oppress others in small and big ways,

– Acts of hypocrisy where words and actions differ, all empty talk with no meaningful action.

Read the rest of this entry »


Of sectarianism, secularism and power politics

Zairil Khir Johari
The Malaysian Insider
August 28, 2013

A climate of fear and tension appears to be gripping the Muslim world today – not only in the ever-conflicted Middle East, but even here in Malaysia. In recent months we have seen an increasing zeal on the part of the authorities, certain politicians and right-wing groups.

The gross overreaction in the handling of issues such as the surau in Johor, the “dog lady” video incident, the use of the word “Allah”, and the growing persecution of minorities such as the Chinese, the Christians and the Shias, have revealed uncharacteristic fanaticism. Since when have we become such an intolerant society?

The worst part is that most of these sentiments do not assume any rationality.

Take the virulent stance against the Shias, for example. During one of the terawih prayers that I attended in the recent Ramadan, a popular cleric had been invited to deliver a tazkirah or sermon.

In his sermon, the cleric nonchalantly informed us all that the Shias were not really Muslims, and that they worshipped a different religion altogether.

I thought this extreme view was perhaps an isolated one, until I read that the Kedah state government is planning to gazette a fatwa that will effectively treat Shias as deviants.

Now, if Shias are deviants and regarded as non-Muslims, why do we invite them every year to participate in our annual Tilawah Al-Quran competition at the Putra World Trade Centre?

In fact, since 1961, nine Iranians (read: Shias) have won the men’s recital competition. Furthermore, why is Iran accepted as a member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)?

What about the thousands of Iranian students that we are willing to accept as students in our universities every year? Read the rest of this entry »


The Government Doesn’t Understand Patriotism

By Kee Thuan Chye

I would like to talk about patriotism. Not just because Merdeka Day is coming up this Saturday, but also because the Government has lately shown its lack of understanding of what patriotism means.

It doesn’t mean flying the flag during the Merdeka month or at any time. That’s put-on patriotism and counts for nothing. It doesn’t mean playing the national anthem at cinemas and getting people to stand up for it.

Patriotism is what you carry in your heart – your love for your country, if you want to put it that way. It is something that makes you decide you will fight to protect it, perhaps even die for it. It is not something for you to shout out and tell the whole world about. Not even in Malaysia, which has a habit of wanting to show off and grandstand – for example, by sending to the prime minister last Merdeka Day the highest number of twits … sorry, tweets.

Patriotism is also about showing concern for your country. At no time was that kind of patriotism more evident than during the run-up to the last general election, on polling day and even after the results had been announced. At no time before had so many Malaysians shown their concern for the country in expressing their reasons to save it from its current corrupt mess. They cared enough for the country to want to see it improve and stop it from going the wrong way.

This was not something forced on them, unlike what the Government is doing now by getting cinemas to screen videos from Aug 28 to Sept 3 to remind people about the significance of independence, and to get cinemagoers to SHOW that they are patriotic by standing up at the end of the videos when ‘Negaraku’ is played. Read the rest of this entry »


Tanda Putera a double-edged sword

Carrie Rina
12:13PM Feb 21, 2013

FILM REVIEW Despite the cabinet deciding against airing the controversial Tanda Putera film until after the next general election, the leader of the same cabinet, Najib Abdul Razak, appears keen on showing it to selected segments of the Malaysian populace.

The reason is likely that the film is a double-edged sword, serving as an effective propaganda tool for one community – but which may well offend the other communities.

While both the Malays and Chinese are depicted in the film as turning on each other during the May 13 riots, the Chinese were often characterised as the aggressors.

The film opens with a group of Chinese, who appear to be Communist sympathisers, attacking a party worker, and calling for the 1969 general election to be boycotted.

The victim was later revealed to be an Umno member, for news flash with the headline: ‘Umno party worker killed’ is shown. Read the rest of this entry »


Call on Cabinet tomorrow to establish a Royal Commission of Inquiry on the May 13, 1969 racial riots not to punish the culprits but to allow the country to heal its worst racial wounds

Shuhaimi Baba should seriously consider my advice that although she prides herself as the original founder of horror films after directing a Pontianak film, she must not regard the May 13,1969 movie “Tanda Putra” as belonging to the genre of “ghost films” she had directed in the past, but must be conscious of a sense of responsibility to the nation especially to the present and future generation of Malaysians to protect and promote inter-racial goodwill, peace and harmony in the country.

Shuhaimi should therefore list out what are the fictional or unverified incidents on the May 13, 1969 riots in her “Tanda Putra” movie so as not to mislead and incite Malaysians resulting in worsening race relations in the country.

This is all the more imperative as Shuhaimi has admitted that the film is a fictional account of events surrounding the May 13, 1969 racial riots.

On Feb 21 this year, Malaysiakini carried a film review entitled “Tanda Putera a double-edged sword” by a “film enthusiast” who had the opportunity to watch the film at one of the previews held for different groups over the previous months, and it is clear from the film review that the film is studded with fictional or unverified incidents on the May 13, 1969 riots which could mislead and incite inter-racial mistrust, hatred and even conflict.

I refer to three incidents cited by the film review: Read the rest of this entry »


Services not shortcut out of middle-income trap, ADB tells Malaysia

By Zurairi AR
The Malay Mail Online
August 27, 2013

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 27 — Industrialisation remains a vital step countries like Malaysia can ill afford to skip if they hope to beat the middle-income trap, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) cautioned as more emerging nations gave in to the siren call of the services sector.

In its flagship annual statistical publication Key Indicators for Asia and the Pacific 2013, ADB noted that Malaysia was among nations whose economies were transforming more slowly compared to heavily industrialised economies such as Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and Taipei.

This warning comes as Malaysia continues to move away from manufacturing towards knowledge-based economy and the services sector, having started down the route with the Third Outline Perspective Plan (OPP3) between 2001 and 2010.

“Our analysis indicates that manufacturing is a developmental stage that generally cannot be bypassed on the road to becoming a high-income economy,” said a special chapter in the report titled “Asia’s Economic Transformation: Where to, How, and How Fast?”

“Virtually all countries that are rich today industrialised in the past — for a sustained period, their shares of both manufacturing output and manufacturing employment reached at least 18 per cent in gross domestic product (GDP) and total employment.” Read the rest of this entry »


We Want to Know Who Killed Altantuya

By Kee Thuan Chye
Yahoo! News

The Altantuya Shaariibuu murder case has taken another appalling turn. First, political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda, who seemed to have more of a motive for killing the Mongolian model, was acquitted in 2009, without his defence being called. Now the Court of Appeal has freed the two police commandos convicted by the High Court of actually killing her and blowing her body up with a C4 explosive.

The Court of Appeal acquitted Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar because it ruled that the judge who heard the case in the High Court committed serious misdirection. Among other things, he did not allow then deputy prime minister Najib Razak’s aide-de-camp, DSP Musa Safri, a key witness, to be called to testify, and he failed to establish how the two accused came to possess the C4 and whether there was common intention between them to commit murder.

The Malaysian layman, however, doesn’t want to know the legal implications. He is concerned only with the moral aspects. He knows that Sirul made a cautioned statement describing what he and Azilah did to Altantuya that fateful night, and that he mentioned the offer of a reward of RM50,000 to RM100,000 for killing her.

This cautioned statement was ruled not permissible as evidence by the judge, Mohd Zaki Yassin, and the two commandos were never asked during the trial as to who made that offer to them. But it seemed clear that Sirul and Azilah were merely hitmen. They didn’t know the victim. If they had a motive to kill her, it would appear to be only to collect the reward.

That being so, it was, however, never asked in court who instructed them to kill Altantuya. To the layman, it is extremely strange that the prosecution did not ask that crucial question. Read the rest of this entry »


Mahathir’s Continuing Burden Upon The Nation

M. Bakri Musa

Mahathir is the only prime minister who devalued the ringgit, the very symbol of the nation’s sovereignty. If that were to be his only negative legacy, Malaysia could easily bear it.

Unfortunately the man has burdened (and continues to burden) Malaysia with many more ugly legacies. He has also devalued our culture and institutions. Most of all he has devalued the trust we have in each other, a vital but scarce asset in a plural society.

On a much lesser scale, and to serve more as a concrete example, the upcoming UMNO leadership convention will be another. With its “no contest” rule now the norm, the convention mocks the very meaning of a leadership election, reducing it to the same level as the old Soviet “elections.” This coming event will again expose the party’s corruptness and how pathetically bereft it is of talent. The same old tired and tainted candidates will be recycled. It is an exercise less of renewal and rejuvenation, more of an old and leaking sewer treatment plant, with nothing to hide the stench. Read the rest of this entry »


Tanda Putera – Height of criminal and anti-national irresponsibility for anyone to concoct the spurious urination incident as one of the purported causes provoking May 13, 1969 riots

It is the height of criminal and anti-national irresponsibility for anyone to concoct the spurious urination incident as one of the purported causes provoking the May 13, 1969 riots, especially in a film funded with taxpayers’ money, when it is completely fictional with no factual basis in any historical material, whether documentation or photographic.

This is because such a spurious and fictitious incident depicting a young Chinese man urinating in front of the Selangor Mentri Besar’s official residence provoking the May 13, 1969 riots, is highly incendiary and inflammatory in a plural society like Malaysia, and could gravely undermine and threaten inter-racial relations and harmony and even inflame and incite inter-racial hatred and conflict completely inimical to nation-building efforts to promote inter-racial peace, goodwill and harmony.

No excuse of “creative licence” could justify such an irresponsible, criminal and anti-national act.

Although Datin Paduka Shuhaimi Baba, director of the movie “Tanda Putra”, has admitted that the film is a fictional account of events surrounding the May 13 racial riots, she must specifically admit that the “urination” episode in front of the Selangor Mentri Besar’s official residence as one of the causes of provocation of the May 13, 1969 racial riots is a complete figment of her imagination and that no definition of “creative licence” could justify such irresponsible, incendiary and anti-national act.

Shuhaimi who prides herself as “the original founder of horror films” after directing a Pontianak film must not regard “Tanda Putra” as belonging to the genre of “ghost films” she had directed in the past, giving her total “creative licence” to create any fictitious scenes that caught her fancy, totally reckless about their adverse consequences on inter-racial relations in the country. Read the rest of this entry »


Director admits Tanda Putera a work of fiction, defends controversial scenes

by Hasbullah Awang Chik
The Malaysian Insider
August 24, 2013

The director of the controversial film Tanda Putera, which has upset the opposition, now admits it is a fictional account of events surrounding the May 13 racial riots.

Datin Paduka Shuhaimi Baba said her film is an interpretation of historical events derived from multiple opinions.

She explained that after certain parties strongly objected to a scene where a character urinated at a flagpole in front of the house of a former Selangor menteri besar, she edited the scene to tone it down.

“I made some slight edits of the scene. There were words that I removed. That scene was acted out according to those who were present at that time.

“I had to make sure I could fit in most of the opinions collected into a two-hour movie. Of course, not all of the responses we got could be enacted in the film.

“It is tough for me to throw away scenes that are called sensitive. If I have to follow the opinions of everyone then the first 20 minutes of the film depicting incidents of 13 May would not even be there. So I have to defend my work,” she told The Malaysian Insider today.

Suhaimi’s admission that the film is a fictional account of events is a comedown from her stand at the film’s premiere this week where she asked the public to give the film a chance since it is about the nation’s history based on “true stories”. Read the rest of this entry »


Will Najib have to abort his new branding slogan of “Endless Possibilities” after it is mired in double-barrelled Israeli and Mongolian controversies some three weeks before official launch?

Even before the official launch of his new campaign to replace his earlier lame-duck “1Malaysia” slogan, the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has to grapple with the headache whether his new “Endless Possibilities” campaign should be aborted some three weeks before launch as it is mired in a double-barrelled Israeli and Mongolian controversies.

On the Israeli knot, the Prime Minister’s Office has officially responded to The Malaysian Insider reports declaring that the new “Endless Possibilities” campaign is not lifted from an Israeli campaign idea, claiming that Putrajaya had launched the campaign globally in January before Israel launched its version.

This is a revisit of the earlier 1Malaysia slogan which faced the charge that it was a copy of the 1Israel campaign.

Before the dust could settle on the controversy of the Israeli link of the “Endless Possibilities” slogan, it is now mired in a second controversy involving of all countries Mongolia. Read the rest of this entry »


Airy-fairy Slogan May Suit Najib Well

By Kee Thuan Chye
Yahoo! News
22nd August 2013

I’ve said before that Najib Razak is a prime minister who does things by halves. Now there’s talk that he’s going to junk his ‘1Malaysia’ slogan for a new one. Online news website The Malaysian Insider reported this on August 21, based on information from sources. If it turns out to be true, I’ll be able to say that Najib is also a prime minister who doesn’t see things through.

A brand needs time to be developed. Najib’s ‘1Malaysia’ has been around for only four years, and that’s not long enough to win it acceptance and pulling power. Work has to be done to imbue it with more substance – work that includes making Malaysia a truly inclusive nation, which wholeheartedly embraces all its races, religions, cultures, languages without placing any above the rest – so that in the longer run, it can come to be trusted. If Najib discards it for a new slogan, it would show that he’s not willing to put in the work; he has no staying power.

And what might that new slogan be? How more potent will it appear? How more meaningful? If you haven’t heard it yet, hold on to your seats. Just in case you fall off laughing. Or faint. It’s called “Endless Possibilities”! Read the rest of this entry »