Archive for January 8th, 2016

The Saudi blueprint

Jan 9, 2016

The desert kingdom is striving to dominate its region and modernise its economy at the same time

FOR years Saudi Arabia seemed inert, relying on its vast oil wealth and the might of its American patron to buy quiet at home and impose stasis on its neighbours. But oil prices have tumbled, America has stood back from leadership in the Middle East, the region is on fire and power has shifted to a new generation—notably King Salman’s 30-year-old favoured son, Muhammad bin Salman. A sandstorm of change is rousing the desert kingdom.

The visible result is the brutal treatment of dissent at home and assertiveness abroad that has just been on chilling display. On January 2nd Saudi Arabia executed 47 people. Most of them were terrorists linked to al-Qaeda but some, including a prominent Shia cleric, simply called for the fall of the ruling House of Saud. After Iranians set fire to the Saudi embassy in Tehran in protest, the kingdom cut diplomatic, trade and air links, a grave and foolish escalation in a febrile region.

Away from the headlines, however, a different assertiveness could prove equally consequential. Prince Muhammad has drawn up a blueprint designed to throw open Saudi Arabia’s closed economy and government—including, he says, the possible sale of shares in the national oil firm, Saudi Aramco.

Coupling geopolitical swagger with sweeping economic change is a gamble. The outcome will determine the survival of the House of Saud and shape the future of the Arab world. Read the rest of this entry »


Dissipating Malaysia’s ‘big risks’

by Gurdial Singh Nijar
The Malaysian Insider
7 January 2016

As we usher in the New Year, it is time to reflect on the state of the nation – our hopes and our disappointments. We have much to be thankful for. After all, our nation is certainly not a seething cauldron of instability.

But at the same time there are disturbing trends, which if left to run their course makes for deep concern.

In this context I was reflecting on a piece by the conservative UK-based Economist magazine (“Stick-in-the-mud”, December 5, 2015). Read the rest of this entry »


Restoring hope in politics

Syerleena Abdul Rashid
The Malaysian Insider
8 January 2016

Fundamentally, I am an optimist who always believes that silver linings do exist in any situation we find ourselves in, even in situations so bleak and depressing.

However, there are quite a number of dark moments when my faith is sorely tested and I have to admit, there are times when I feel that the odds are stacked way too high.

Desmond Tutu said it best, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness”. These are the words that every Malaysian must try to remember.

The injustice and the humiliation we encounter as we soldier on in the name of political and democratic reforms will probably worsen as the general election draw closer. Read the rest of this entry »


The IDE study that UMNO-PAS attacks have been successful in fuelling anti-DAP sentiments among Malays a wake-up call to all DAP leaders and members to take these misperceptions seriously

The Darul Ehsan Institute (IDE) study that UMNO-PAS attacks and demonization campaigns have been successful in fuelling anti-DAP sentiments among Malays, especially in rural areas, must be a wake-up call to all DAP leaders and members to take these misperceptions seriously.

The study found that after the break-up of the Pakatan Rakyat coalition in June, the campaign to demonise the DAP as anti-Malay has become more effective with UMNO and PAS working together in the anti-DAP campaign.

In a survey by IDE between November 13 and 15 last year, involving 1,716 Malay respondents throughout Selangor, almost two-thirds of respondents (72%) agreed that DAP was a racial party and that it was only looking after the interest of the Chinese community.

Only 12% disagreed, while 16% said they were “unsure”.

More than half (64%) also agreed with the statement that “DAP was an anti-Malay and anti-Islam party”. Some 18% disagreed while 19% were unsure.
I wonder what would be the results if a survey had been conducted among Chinese respondents to the questions whether UMNO was a racial party that only looked after the interest of the Malay community and whether UMNO was anti-Chinese and anti non-Islamic religions in the country.

Be that as it may, DAP leaders, members and even supporters should be concerned about the IDE survey, for DAP was never formed to be a party for the
Chinese or any particular community but for all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or region – and it was totally anathema in DAP for anyone to be anti-Islam or any other religion. Read the rest of this entry »