Archive for November 17th, 2015

Laying the foundation for fanaticism

– Sheela R.
The Malaysian Insider
16 November 2015

Imagine yourself to be seven years old. A tender age where your foremost consideration would be if you get to play your favourite game with your friends, watch a television programme or simply decide on which ice-cream flavour to indulge in.

Now imagine yourself at that age in a class, where a teacher talks of hell and heaven and the myriad punishments awaiting sinners and unbelievers.

The stuff of nightmares is introduced progressively to you, in the guise of imparting religious values. These visions terrify you, but you don’t have the maturity or intellect to challenge the teacher. Read the rest of this entry »

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A call to sanity

— Dan Ling
Malay Mail Online
November 17, 2015

NOVEMBER 17 — We live in a world of manufactured outrage. From one incident to the next, media does its best; knowingly and unknowingly, to polarise opinion and encourage consumers to adopt a certain stance. From incident to incident, we see this happening with alarming frequency.

It does so by inciting our more base emotions, poking and prodding them. It does so by being selective about what it decides to highlight, covering certain news with front page headlines, while relegating other news to the back pages with nary a few lines of detail. It sets up the perfect breeding ground for the more easily influenced among us to grow a black-and-white, us versus them mentality. And it is dangerous.

You’d have to have been living under a significantly large rock to not have heard about the recent attacks in Paris that claimed over a hundred and thirty lives. But have you been hearing about all the drone attacks over a large portion of Middle Eastern territory? According to official reports, 41 men were specifically targeted due to their involvement in terror cells, yet 1,147 innocent lives were taken as a result of these “precise” drone strikes that were apparently aided by “reliable intelligence.” Did you hear about the Beirut attack that occurred the day before the Paris attacks? Probably not until afterwards, when people started to draw the stark comparisons between how the two were treated by world media. Read the rest of this entry »

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After Paris Attacks, a Darker Mood Toward Islam Emerges in France

New York Times
NOV. 16, 2015

PARIS — November is not January. That thought has been filtering through the statements of most French politicians and the news media, and most people seem to understand.

Unlike the response in January after attacks at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and elsewhere left 17 dead, there were no grand public appeals for solidarity with Muslims after the Friday attacks that left 129 dead in Paris. There were no marches, few pleas not to confuse practitioners of Islam with those who preach jihad.

Instead, there was a palpable fear, even anger, as President François Hollande asked Parliament to extend a state of emergency and called for changing the Constitution to deal with terrorism. It was largely unspoken but nevertheless clear: Secular France always had a complicated relationship with its Muslim community, but now it was tipping toward outright distrust, even hostility. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia’s Lost Decade

Barron’s Asia
November 17, 2015

The 1MDB scandal is a microcosm of what ails Malaysia. Prime Minister Najib Razak need only look in the mirror to find the culprit for its woes.

Najib Razak, Malaysia’s prime minister, attends prayers at the National Mosque in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Photographer: Goh Seng Chong/Bloomberg
For journalists who love politicians who say wacky things, Mahathir Mohamad is the gift that keeps on giving. As the world mourned the dead in Paris over the weekend, the one-time Malaysian prime minister couldn’t help but share his latest nutty theory: blame Israel, not ISIS.

Students of the 1997 Asian crisis will recall Mahathir’s rants against George Soros and a shadowy cabal of Jews crashing Malaysia’s currency. His latest controversial comments are a reminder 18 years later of the challenges Malaysia faces marketing itself in a globalized age. Don’t take my word for it –- ask the brother of the latest leader tarnishing the national brand, current Prime Minister Najib Razak. Read the rest of this entry »

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Husni’s answer yesterday a “washout” and total disgrace, further proof that Najib government has more to hide than reveal and account about the RM2.6 billion “donation” and RM50 billion 1MDB twin mega-scandals

Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Mohamad Hanazlah had the unenviable task of standing in for the Prime Minister-cum-Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak in the final winding-up of the 2016 Budget, although Najib who had already returned from Turkey and was in Parliament for the voting, could have handled the winding-up personally.

But what is the use of having a Second Finance Minister if one is unable to send him like a Roman gladiator into the Coliseum of ancient times to fight the lions.

Husni’s answer on the twin mega scandals was a “washout” and total disgrace, further proof that Najib government has more to hide than to reveal and account about the RM2.6 billion “donation” and RM50 billion 1MDB twin mega scandals.

Husni should have had an easy job with the 1MDB explanation in Parliament, not only because he is undoubtedly the most knowledgeable Minister on 1MDB after he was appointed as the Cabinet spokesman for 1MDB for two months in mid-year forcing him to try “master” the intricacies and complexities of the 1MDB scandal – but also because the 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy should have prepared the stage for him with Arul’s “virtuoso” explanation of the 1MDB to 2,000 UMNO divisional leaders, representatives from UMNO-compliant NGOs and government agencies at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) on Saturday.

But Husni was wise not to try to repeat Arul’s “cop-out” performance as with “hawkish” MPs in Parliament, like DAP MP for PJ Utara Tony Pua and PKR MP for Pandan Rafizi Ramli, he would not get away unscathed if he had repeated Arul’s stunts in Parliament yesterday.

As a result, MPs and the nation were none the wiser about the RM2.6 billion “donation” and RM50 billion 1MDB twin mega-scandals despite another budget debate in Parliament – the sixth in the history of the 1MDB scandal since 2009! Read the rest of this entry »

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Why did Malaysian Parliament miss the historic opportunity to be the first Parliament in the world to condemn the massacre and carnage in Paris by IS suicide bombers and to call on world Parliaments to speak with one voice against such atrocities?

I am very disappointed that the Malaysian Parliament missed the historic opportunity to be the first Parliament in the world to condemn the senseless massacre and carnage in Paris by Islamic State (IS) suicide bombers and to call on world Parliaments to speak with one voice against such atrocities which have left at least 129 dead and over 350 injured.

On Sunday, I had suggested that the Malaysian Parliament should, in an emergency motion the next day (Monday, 16th November) set a world example and speak in one voice the next day on behalf of 30 million Malaysians to condemn the senseless massacre in Paris on Friday night, as well as to urge Parliaments and legislatures all over the world to similarly condemn such dastardly and uncivilized savagery as crimes against humanity which cannot be mitigated by any ground or reason.

But there was no such emergency government motion in Parliament yesterday, and the Paris massacre and carnage were furthest from the minds of government Ministers and MPs who were only obsessed with getting the 2016 Budget adopted in its second reading without any mishap in the voting stage. Read the rest of this entry »

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I was held hostage by Isis. They fear our unity more than our airstrikes

Nicolas Hénin
16 November 2015

In Syria I learned that Islamic State longs to provoke retaliation. We should not fall into the trap

As a proud Frenchman I am as distressed as anyone about the events in Paris. But I am not shocked or incredulous. I know Islamic State. I spent 10 months as an Isis hostage, and I know for sure that our pain, our grief, our hopes, our lives do not touch them. Theirs is a world apart.

Most people only know them from their propaganda material, but I have seen behind that. In my time as their captive, I met perhaps a dozen of them, including Mohammed Emwazi: Jihadi John was one of my jailers. He nicknamed me “Baldy”.

Even now I sometimes chat with them on social media, and can tell you that much of what you think of them results from their brand of marketing and public relations. They present themselves to the public as superheroes, but away from the camera are a bit pathetic in many ways: street kids drunk on ideology and power. In France we have a saying – stupid and evil. I found them more stupid than evil. That is not to understate the murderous potential of stupidity. Read the rest of this entry »

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Do Paris terror attacks highlight a clash of civilisations?

Gideon Rachman
Financial Times
November 16, 2015

Multiculturalism is not a naive liberal aspiration — it is the reality of the modern world

Ever since the late Samuel Huntington predicted that international politics would be dominated by a “clash of civilisations”, his theory, first outlined in 1993, has found some of its keenest adherents among militant Islamists. The terrorists who inflicted mass murder on Paris are part of a movement that sees Islam and the west as locked in inevitable mortal combat.

Leading western politicians, by contrast, have almost always rejected Huntington’s analysis. Even former US President George W Bush said: “There is no clash of civilisations.” And everyday life in multicultural western nations, most of which have large Muslim minorities, offers a daily refutation of the idea that different faiths and cultures cannot live and work together.

In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, that core idea needs to be reaffirmed. And yet a necessary restatement of liberal values should not prevent a sober acknowledgment of some malign global trends. The fact is that hardline Islamism is on the rise — even in some countries, such as Turkey, Malaysia and Bangladesh, previously regarded as models of moderate Muslim societies. At the same time, the expression of anti-Muslim prejudice is entering the political mainstream in the US, Europe and India.

Taken together, these developments are narrowing the space for those who want to push back against the narrative of a “clash of civilisations”. Read the rest of this entry »

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What to call Islamic State

Nov 15th 2015

The Economist explains

HOURS AFTER France and America pledged to ramp up the war against Islamic State (IS) in response to attacks in Paris that killed 129 and wounded more than 350, French warplanes began pounding the group’s stronghold in Raqqa, in north-eastern Syria.

The operation was conducted in co-ordination with American forces. The French and Americans seemed to be unified over the name they are using for this terrorist scourge, too.

Announcing strikes, the French defence ministry referred to a target “used by Daesh as a command post”.

Barack Obama used the same term when he spoke, at a G20 leaders’ summit in Turkey, of redoubling efforts “to bring about a peaceful transition in Syria and to eliminate Daesh as a force that can create so much pain and suffering for people in Paris, in Ankara, and in other parts of the globe.”

John Kerry, the American secretary of state, also called IS Daesh during a meeting in Vienna. The group has variously been dubbed ISIS, ISIL, IS and SIC too. Why the alphabet soup? Read the rest of this entry »

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A response to the Attorney-General

— G25
Malay Mail Online
November 15, 2015

NOVEMBER 15 — We, members of G25, wish to refer to the interview that the Malaysian Insider had with the Attorney-General as published in the Malaysian Insider on 14 November 2015 under the heading ‘Why the snub, Apandi asks Bar Council’.

We wish to make the following comments.

Firstly, we are perturbed to note that the Attorney-General is reported to have said —

‘G25 consists of those have-been government servants, isn’t it? Have-beens.’

With respect to the learned Attorney-General we consider it arrogant, crude and unnecessarily offensive for him to have referred to us as “Have-beens’.

Secondly, Tan Sri Apandi appears to be under the delusion that since we have retired from Government service therefore we could no longer contribute constructive ideas for the good governance of our country. Read the rest of this entry »

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