Archive for June 22nd, 2016

Rached Ghannouchi Q&A: Thoughts on democratic Islam

David Hearst – Peter Oborne
Middle East Eye
13 June 2016

MEE talks to Rached Ghannouchi after he presided over the separation of Ennahda’s religious and political activities

MEE: Ennahda has just taken a historic decision to separate itself from the mosque and to define itself purely as a political project. How do you define what you have done? Is it separation or specialisation?

RG: Its a continuation, not a rupture. Last week in the congress we adopted the idea of a civil party so that we can distinguish between what is sacred in Islam and what can be freely interpreted. The political field is not sacred nor immutable. It’s civic, human. It’s free for ijtihad or independent human reasoning. More than 90 percent of Islamic texts are open to interpretation and to nuance. We consider few texts as fixed or immutable. Many Muslims confuse the two kinds of texts and consider all texts as sacred and untouchable and only capable of bearing one meaning. The Islamic text concerning politics is open to interpretation, and this is the field in which we now act. We consider ourselves observant Muslims. We believe in Islam, that Islam came to Earth to liberate mankind, and to define the free person. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why a one-to-one fight is not the “magic potion” to defeat Barisan Nasional without a common policy commitment

There has been a vehement reaction to my suggestion that the results of the Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar by-elections may be justification to revisit an earlier proposal that PAS concentrate in Kelantan, Terengganu, Kedah and Perlis while AMANAH focus on all the other states, subject to adjustments to the arrangement by two political parties.

PAS Vice President and MP for Bukit Gantang Idris Ahmad described the suggestion as “illogical” and that PAS should be allowed to contest in areas it had previously contested in to “maximise victories for the opposition” – as in last Saturday’s Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar by-elections.

He said there would not have been an issue in the first place if PAS was up in straight fights against the Barisan Nasional in the Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar by-elections.

Idris cannot be more wrong, for the recent two by-elections are good examples why after the break-up of Pakatan Rakyat because of the refusal of the Hadi-led PAS leadership to honour the Pakatan Rakyat Common Policy Framework and the Pakatan Rakyat consensus operational principle, the one-to-one fight is not the “magic potion” to defeat the Barisan Nasional. Read the rest of this entry »


An early GE14 on the cards?

P Gunasegaram
21 Jun 2016

QUESTION TIME While most people had expected BN to win the parliamentary seats of Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar hands down, the huge margin of victory must have surprised both BN and the opposition and raises the possibility of early general elections in the wake of the euphoria and an opposition in disarray.

But before we discuss that, what caused the rout and what are its implications? By numbers, two things seem fairly obvious. One, there was a massive swing to BN of Chinese votes and two, Amanah’s support among Malay votes were even lower than expected. Read the rest of this entry »


Fallacies and facts on the two by-elections

Kim Quek
21 Jun 2016

COMMENT Bombastic assertions abound since the conclusion of the by-elections in Sungai Besar, Selangor and Kuala Kangsar, Perak. Chief among these are Malaysians’ resounding endorsement of PM Najib Abdul Razak’s otherwise precarious leadership and the allegedly corrupt rule of the Barisan Nasional government, as well as a huge shift of Chinese support to BN.

These claims are in reality more fallacy than fact. Read the rest of this entry »


Asia University Rankings 2016: Malaysia must refocus to develop as a higher education power

By Ellie Bothwell
THE World University Rankings
June 20, 2016

The country spends more on higher education than many of its regional neighbours, so why isn’t this reflected in the Asia University Rankings?

Malaysia aims to be the “education hub” of South-east Asia, says Wahid Omar, vice-chancellor of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.

“Higher education is the catalyst for innovation for the country and the key agent in revolutionising the lives of the community as a whole,” he says.

While Singapore is the strongest country in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in the rankings, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia are also home to some of the continent’s top-ranked universities.

Thailand leads on the number of representatives, with seven, but the highest-ranked institution in the region outside Singapore is Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, in joint 70th place.

Jamil Salmi, former coordinator of the World Bank’s tertiary education programme, says Malaysia has “more consistently focused on excellence in its university sector” than Thailand and Indonesia and has “one of the highest levels of public spending on tertiary education in the world”.

But Simon Marginson, professor of international higher education at the UCL Institute of Education, says that as Malaysia has “two-thirds of the gross domestic product per head of Korea”, it “should be doing much better”, and he questions whether the country is “paying the price for being a resource-rich economy”.

“This can lead governments to ‘coast’ and underperform in higher education,” he says. Read the rest of this entry »

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