For my son, when he grows up, this site will be my legacy for him. The decisions his mother and I made for him, to understand them, to learn from them and to lead a life without prejudice and to succeed in it on his own merit.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Moulding an enemy

BTN is hardly an innocent selling toothpaste
Written by CT Wong

Hijacking the mind and feelings of a particular race for the purpose of consolidating power is so openly propagated that a realization of how individuals or groups can be deliberately primed for a malicious political purpose is simply paralyzing.

Anecdotal evidence points to the Biro Tata Negara (BTN) courses being nothing more than doses of racist poison while at the same time, its proponents defend them as “nothing wrong”. Alongside the debate on course content, we need to critically look into what really is indoctrination and whether the method is effective.

Although the misgivings were kept under the lid for years, the BTN participants who are our civil servants and students could clearly sense that something was wrong with the teaching or ‘patriotic education’.

So how to distinguish indoctrination and its concept and practice?

Max Hocutt, the emeritus professor of philosophy at the University of Alabama defined indoctrination as this: “ You were indoctrinated if you were told only one side of the story, or told that believing another side would not be an error but an evil.

“You were indoctrinated if no evidence was cited, or if evidence was tendentiously selected while contrary evidence was ignored, suppressed, or distorted by misleading or charged terminology.

“You were indoctrinated if you were made to feel not that the proposition merited belief on its own account but that doubting it would expose you to the disfavour of your fellows, the government, or the deity.

“In short, you were indoctrinated if the appeal was emotional rather than rational, or if your agreement was secured by threat of force or by fraud rather than by citation of fact.”

This means that you are banned from questioning whatever beliefs were being inculcated. Was this what happened with BTN?

Some social scientists go so far as to argue that indoctrination, even if the content is unquestionably moral, yet produces psychological, moral or ethical cripples. Crippling results when the reflective capacities of the persons involved are arrested or inhibited.

However, the real danger of indoctrination lies not so much in the mass manufacture of ‘moral’ robots or moral dwarfs but in the suppression of conscience in times of crises. The indoctrinated individual can easily become a bystander, accomplice or willing executioner in a system with unequal power differentials.

Primal thinking facilitates hostility

When we are in a life-or-death situation, our human brain as an information-processing system operates differently than in normal times. It operates on the level of what Aaron T. Beck in his ‘Prisoners of Hate’ terms “primal thinking”.

These are fundamental cognitive processes whereby the external ambiguous stimuli are rapidly processed as directed towards ‘me’ (self-reference or personalization) and the dichotomous judgment (us or them, friend or enemy) and overgeneralization is made immediately. It also carries a sense that our physical and psychological identity is under threat.

In a kill-or-be killed emergency situation, primal thinking is efficient as a situation is being evaluated rapidly so as to prepare the individual for the fight-or-flight option. Also, schemas or pre-existing stereotypes are also invoked for rapid information processing.

However, primal thinking is often inaccurate as many details are deliberately left out. When such mode of thinking is activated during normal times, it causes cognitive distortions – as what is desired for indoctrination.

Calling the opponent as “anti-Islam” or “anti-Malay” is a typical example of primal thinking. This is a black and white, oversimplistic, overgeneralized dichotomous thinking.

Indoctrination involves the invoking of primal fear that the self-identity which is welded deliberately to race and religion is under threat. The loss of self-identity has the equivalent effect of the loss or death of self. Fear of the loss of self often leads to anger and hostility towards the out-group members.

Selective memory of past wrongs

According to Beck, individuals or groups can be trapped in a prison of primal thinking. Such people surrender their freedom of choice and abdicate their rationality when their image of the Enemy creates a destructive hatred.

He argued that there are certain similarities between interpersonal conflicts and intergroup conflicts in that “…The overreactions of friends, associates, and marital partners to presumed wrongs and offences are paralleled by the hostile responses of people in confrontation with members of different religious, ethnic, or racial groups.”

Also, he argued that “ ...the biased, distorted thinking of a paranoid patient is akin to the thinking of perpetrators embarking on a programme of genocide.”

His proposition explains and predicts that there are basic emotional and cognitive components underlying domestic violence, racial conflicts, genocide and war. Negative, hostile framing of one another are common among them, and they perceive and react to the threat arising from the constructed image instead of seeing the adversary as they actually are.

The image created is that of an Enemy – dangerous, malicious and evil. Also, there are selective memories of past wrongs, real or imagined and the attributions of causes of social problems in a malevolent way.

Emotions, thinking and behaviour are interlinked and mutually interact with each other. Dysfunctional and biased thinking transforms hurt to anger, and anger to hostility and hostility to violence.

The hurt feelings become malignant and vicious when the ‘victims’ mutate into victimisers who seek revenge and retaliation, at all costs and by all means. The self-proclaimed victim becomes the aggressor – be it the road bully that rams into a slow driver for holding up traffic or the invading nation attacking a weaker state for being opposed, or a dominant ethnic group embarking on a ‘cleansing’ of an ethnic minority for “asking too much”.

The path from hurt to hostility is non-linear. It is not inevitable. However, individuals or groups can be deliberately primed for a malicious political purpose.

The image of the Enemy

Humans basically find killing or hurting others repulsive. However, the natural restraint could be overcome by justification rooted in primitive beliefs of absolute right and wrong.

The self-justification isolates and stigmatizes the outgroup as ‘aliens’. An image is constructed around the Enemy as conspiratorial, deceptive, manipulative, dangerous, malevolent, violent and evil. Since the Enemy is evil, a justification is made to punish, expel and eliminate them by any means. The ends justify the means.

The moral codes are suspended. A new moral code is substituted. Hence, the cry for defending one’s race or religion or country carries a new and sinister meaning. The perpetrators of ethnic violence hijacks the mind and the feelings of its own race for their purpose of gaining or consolidating power. The greatest tragedy of Malaysia’s mass killings of May 13 is that the lessons are not learnt, wrongly learnt and wilfully mislearnt.

Systematic, conscious and deliberate efforts are being made to create the Enemy in the public space in some of the mainstream media or government-sponsored programmes. The explicit or implicit eliminationalist ideology is so openly propagated that the normal revulsion against cruelty towards other human beings is alarmingly lacking.

Adaptive evolutionary strategies like the primal thinking that help the human species to survive during kill-or-be killed emergency situations are now seen to be deliberately promoted in the public domain without any moral restraints as if the condoning of genocidal inclinations in mass killings is just as innocent as selling toothpaste. This is a warning for humanity.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bail Out! Bail Out! Bail Out!

MALAYS MUST READ THIS!
http://margeemar.blogspot.com/

HAVE YOU EVER CONSIDER WHY OUR MONEY IS SMALLER THAN SINGAPORE?HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT WHY OUR ECONOMY IS LESS THAN GOOD WITH ALL OUR RESOURCES?

THIS NEWS REPORT OF THE MB OF NEGERI SEMBILAN SENDING MYR 10 MILLION TO LONDON IS ONLY THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG. LET US SEE WHETHER THE ANTI CORRUPTION AGENCY WILL ACT AS IT ACTED ON NON ISSUES OF THE OPPOSITIONS THAT EVEN LED TO MURDER.

LIKE I HAVE MENTIONED IN THE PAST MONEY HAVE BEEN SIPHONED OUT OF THE COUNTRY BY CROOKED POLITICIANS. MONEY HAVE BEEN WASTED BY OTHER RACES WHO FEEL INSECURE BY INVESTING IN HOMES OVERSEAS ESPECIALLY IN AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND AND THE AMOUNT OF MONEY LOST THROUGH INDIANS AND CHINESE SENDING THEIR CHILDREN OVERSEAS TO STUDY. WE HAVE SO MUCH MONEY DRAINING OUT OF MALAYSIA BECAUSE OF AN INEPT GOVERNMENT WITH OUT DATED POLICIES THAT REFUSE TO CHANGE EVEN AFTER A MASSIVE POLITICAL SETBACK.

BY JUST CUTTING CORRUPTION, GIVING THE OTHER RACES DUE RECOGNITION, GIVING FAIR EDUCATION TO ALL, THIS COUNTRY WILL LEAP BACK INTO PROSPERITY. CAN'T WE SEE IT THAT ANY AMOUNT OF MONEY LEAVING THIS COUNTRY MEANS THERE IS LESS FUND CIRCULATING HERE, DEPRIVING. OUR PEOPLE ARE SENDING TOO MUCH MONEY ABROAD BOTH LEGALLY AND ILLEGALLY.THE PEOPLE WILL BE UNITED AS ONE NATION WITHOUT THE FALSE BUMIPUTRA BARRIER. THEN ALL WILL SERVE THIS GREAT NATION. ALL RACES MUST UNDERSTAND THIS, THE RACIST POLICY OF UMNO IS DAMAGING THIS NATION. THE AVERAGE MALAY MUST BE BOLD TO BRING ABOUT THIS CHANGE THROUGH THE BALLOT.

The multi-billion ringgit Port Klang Free Zone scandal may be big, but it is only the latest in a long line of scandals going back to the early 1980s.

Time magazine quoted Daniel Lian, a Southeast Asia economist at Morgan Stanley in Singapore , saying that the country might have lost “as much as US$100 billion since the early 1980s to corruption”.

The scandals listed below are only a small sample of the looting of the country's coffers:

In July of 1983, what was then the biggest banking scandal in world history erupted in Hong Kong , when it was discovered that Bumiputra Malaysia Finance (BMF), a unit of Bank Bumiputra Malaysia Bhd, had lost as much as US$1 billion which had been siphoned off by prominent public figures into private bank accounts.

The story involved murder, suicide and the involvement of officials at the very top of the Malaysian government. Ultimately it involved a bailout by the Malaysian government amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars.

Mak Foon Tan, the murderer of Jalil Ibraim, a Bank Bumi assistant manager who was sent to Hong Kong to investigate the disappearance of the money, was given the death sentence, and Malaysian businessman George Tan who had participated in looting most of the funds, was jailed after his Carrian Group collapsed in what was then Hong Kong's biggest bankruptcy, and a handful of others were charged.

No major politician was ever punished in Malaysia despite a white paper prepared by an independent commission that cited cabinet minutes of Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad giving an okay to a request to throw more money into the scandal in an effort to contain it.

That was just the first Bank Bumi scandal. The government-owned bank had to be rescued twice more with additional losses of nearly US$600 million in today's dollars.

Ultimately government officials gave up and the bank was absorbed into CIMB Group, currently headed by Nazir Razak, the sitting prime minister's brother.

Bank Negara lost RM20 bil

That scandal, which stretched over several years before its denouement in 1985, set the tone for 24 years of similar scandals related to top Malaysian officials and was the first to prove that in Malaysia, you can not only get away with murder, you can get away with looting the treasury as well.

Perwaja Steel, for instance, lost US$800 million and its boss, Eric Chia, a crony of Mahathir's, was charged with looting the company. He stood trial, but was acquitted without having to put on a defense.

In the mid-1980s, the Co-operative Central Bank, a bank set up to aid the Indian smallholder community, had to be rescued by Bank Negara, the country's central bank, after hundreds of millions of ringgit in loans granted to a flock of Umno and MIC politicians became non-performing.

Some had never been serviced at all. Although the chief executive and general manager were charged with criminal breach of trust, none of the politicians were ever charged.

Before that, the Malaysian government was believed to have lost US$500 million in an attempt at Mahathir's urging to corner the London tin market through a company called Maminco, driving the world price of tin from US$4.50 per tonne to US$7.50.

It then sought to cover up the loss by establishing a US$2 company called Mukawasa from which allocations of new share issues to the government's Employees Provident Fund (EPF) were diverted. Mukawasa expected to sell the shares at a windfall profit to hide the tin speculation.

Mahathir also was behind an attempt by the then governor of Bank Negara, the central bank, to aggressively speculate in the global foreign exchange market. Bank Negara ended up losing an estimated RM20 billion. The governor, Jaffar Hussein, and the head of forex trading, Nor Mohamed Yakcop were forced to resign.

' Malaysia 's Enron scandal

There have been many other political and financial scandals since. In 2005, Bank Islam Malaysia , the country's flagship Islamic bank, reported losses of RM457 million mainly due to provisioning totaling RM774 million as a result of bad loans and investments incurred by its Labuan branch.

Cumulatively, Bank Islam ran up non-performing loans of RM2.2 billion, partly from mismanagement and poor internal controls but also "years of regulatory indifference fueled by the misconceived notion of an untouchable Bank Islam because it was a favourite child of the Malaysian government, being the first and model Islamic bank in the country and region," according to a December 19, 2005 article in Arab News.

"Bank Islam had a reputation in the market for being the spoilt child of the Malaysian Ministry of Finance; and the perception of the bank was more of a Muslim financial fraternity or government development financial institution," the report said.

In 2007, in what was called Malaysia's Enron scandal, the publicly traded Transmile Group Bhd, whose chairman was former MCA president and cabinet minister Ling Liong Sik, was caught having overstated its revenue by RM530 million.

A pretax profit from RM207 million in 2006 was actually a loss of RM126 million, and a pretax profit of RM120 million in 2005 was a loss of RM77 million, causing the government postal company Pos Malaysia & Services Holdings Bhd to warn that its earnings for the 2006 financial year might be affected by the reported overstatement, as the postal group owned 15.3 percent of Transmile.

Bailouts and more bailouts

Over the years 2001 to 2006, the government had to spend billions to rescue seven privatised projects including Kuala Lumpur 's two public transport systems, the perennially ailing Malaysia Airlines, the national sewage system and a variety of others that, in the words of one study, "had been privatised prematurely."

The government also repeatedly bailed out highway construction concessionaires, all of them closely connected to Umno, to the tune of another RM38.5 billion.

In 2008, it was revealed that Rafidah Aziz, who had served as trade and industry minister for 18 years, had been peddling approved permits for duty-free car sales and allegedly lining her pockets.

Two companies which didn't even have showrooms – one of which belonged to the husband of Rafidah's niece – received scores of permits.

Although Rafidah came in for heavy criticism from within Umno, she remained in office until she was defeated in party elections.

In the 1960s, federal prosecutors in the United States who were attempting to jail the late labour boss Jimmy Hoffa for looting the Teamsters Pension Fund of millions of dollars with his cronies were puzzled by the fact that their revelations appeared to have little effect on the union's rank and file.

It was because no matter how much money Hoffa and his cronies stole, there was always money left because the fund was so rich. That appears to be the case with Malaysia .

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Who shrunk who?

Honey, I shrunk the Chinese!
Written by Helen Ang

The sharp reduction of Chinese as a population ratio is contrary to natural growth patterns and an anomaly due to institutionalized discrimination. The present Chinese condition requires them to speak better BM to fit in.

No greater love hath man and moms than they lay down their life savings for their children to study overseas and emigrate

Between March 2008 and August 2009, some 50,000 students sailed from our shores, Deputy Foreign Minister A. Kohilan Pillay told Parliament last week. The Star speculates that many will not return. Star editor Wong Sai Wan wrote: “… some even admitted that they had already applied for their PR visas”.

They are among 304,358 persons registered with Malaysia’s representative offices abroad over the past 18 months. A review of statistics will help us to interpret this unique Made-in-Malaysia export of roughly 17,000 units of human capital on average a month.

Among the ethnic groups in Malaysia, the Chinese are the largest outflow and also experiencing the biggest change in demography.

In the 80s decade, the Chinese had a negative net migration rate of -10.6 percent. “Between 1980 and 1991, the [Chinese] migration deficit was estimated at 391,801 persons as against a national increase of 777,339 persons,” statistician Tey Nai Peng found in his study.

Chinese annual growth rate also showed a consistent drop, recording only 53 percent between 1990 and 2000 during a period when the national population grew 123 percent.

Tey said in his paper ‘Causes and consequences of demographic change in the Chinese community in Malaysia’ that “the fertility of the Chinese declined from 4.6 children to 2.5 children between 1970 and 1997”. Comparatively, total fertility rate for Malays in 1987 remained a high 4.51.

Changes in the states

It is no longer true that Penang is a Chinese majority state. In 2010, Malays in Penang are projected to be 670,128 persons – outnumbering Chinese at 658,661. Between 1991 and 2000, Penang had an average annual growth rate of 1.8 percent but Penang Chinese only 0.7 percent.

Perak has significant numbers of Chinese but still, Chinese registered a negative growth of -1.0 percent in 1991-2000 whereas the average annual rate of Perak population growth was a positive 0.4 percent.
The Department of Statistics records that in the 1990s, Chinese fell in number in Kelantan, Terengganu and Perlis too. In Malacca, Negri Sembilan and Pahang, Chinese were practically stagnant.

In Sabah, Chinese were 23 percent of the population in 1960 but shrunk to 10.1 percent in 2000. “In contrast, recent immigrants and refugees, with a population of 614,824 persons in 2000, form close to a quarter of the total population, or more than twice the size of the long-settled Chinese community,” writes Danny Wong Tze-Ken in his paper ‘The Chinese population in Sabah’.

The situation in Sabah is largely a result of ‘Project M’ giving Indonesians and Muslim Filipinos Malaysian ICs. Overall, the abnormality of a shrinking Chinese population ratio can be traced to government policies that actively discriminate against this community.

Small families, ageing parents

By year 2000, Chinese were mainly concentrated in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor. The Klang Valley accounted for 38 percent of all Chinese in the Peninsula. Nine out of 10 Chinese today are found in urban areas, concentrated in the major cities.

In the dozen years between 1980 and 1991 when the Malaysian population increase nationally was 4,634,500 persons, Chinese increase was only 530,400 persons. Or looking at it another way (as indicated in table below), the Chinese are merely doubling in absolute numbers when the population will have quadrupled.

It is conspicuous that among the younger age cohorts, Chinese are an even smaller proportion of the national average. On the other hand, among the elderly [60 years and above], Chinese constitute 5.4 percent of the population, as against the national average of 5 percent.

Among the ethnic groups in Malaysia, Chinese have the highest proportion of the elderly. “It is found that most of the ‘clients’ in nursing homes are the Chinese,” observes researcher Philip Poi Jun Hua in his essay 'Ageing among the Chinese in Malaysia: Some trends and issues'.

This situation affecting the Chinese community, with parents either in nursing homes or ‘home alone’ in Malaysia whilst the children are abroad, has ironically come about due to education as a main contributory factor.

“The Chinese community places great emphasis on education but the escalation in the cost of acquiring an education might have compelled young couples to limit their family size,” surmises Tey.

Because educated Chinese women are in the workforce as well as limiting themselves to only one or two children, Chinese couples have more money to spend on each child’s education.

This is in a way a lose-lose scenario because the couple would then tend to over-protect the single offspring – do recall China’s one-child policy outcome of producing Little Emperors – and the well-educated child is more likely to emigrate.

Self-interest vs community concerns

“All my friends plan to leave Malaysia,” a private student in the offshore campus of a premier Australian university in KL declared to me just a couple of months ago.

These youths have cogently articulated why they intend to vote with their feet. Aside from the various reasons we’re all familiar with, I’d like to introduce here the theory of ‘placelessness’ which Lee Boon Thong links to the Chinese condition.

In his paper ‘Placelessness: A study of residential neighbourhood quality among Chinese communities in Malaysia’, Lee observes that Chinese in cities have subordinated neighbourliness and personal ties to the pursuit of personal advancement.

The move to new urban and suburban residential neighbourhoods – where availability of Chinese food and access to shopping malls are often major considerations – is accompanied by other shifts, among them the increasing “technopolistic grip” [orientation towards digital entertainment] and losing some of their traditions [e.g. ancestral worship], especially if they convert to Christianity or Islam.

These shifts have the effect of loosening bonds to an old hometown – witness Chin Peng’s strong attachment for Sitiawan as a contrary example – because the young generation has become city born and bred.

Lee describes the new society resulting from intense urbanization as one breeding individuals who are more self-centred, more covetous, less considerate and kiasu to boot. “Self-interest overrides almost everything else that concerns the welfare of the community.”

He also says that if the trend persists of residents in emerging neighbourhoods failing to develop ties that bind and a sufficient sense of commonness in community life, then “urban Chinese are at risk in producing a pseudo-progressive society that appears to be outwardly prosperous through its middle-class fa├žade but in effect lacking social coherence and a sense of shared ‘placeness’ for the neighbourhood”.

Commonality as militating factor

Further aggravating this estrangement is a social milieu that is changed, parallel to the pronounced changes in demography. It is projected that while the annual growth of Bumiputera in the next decade (2011-2021) will be 1.98 percent, the corresponding growth of Chinese will be 0.73 percent.

Saw Swee Hock in his 2007 ISEAS paper ‘The Population of Malaysia’ projects that by year 2035, Malaysia will have a population of 41 million, 72.1 percent of them Bumiputera. By then Islam would have stamped a thorough dominance on the physical and moral landscape of the country.

Concomitant to this development is the fact that in the mainstream of all spheres of life and particularly official domains, the predominant speech community will be Malay.

This fait accompli of demography dictates that the minorities have to be adept in the Malay/national language for any meaningful integration to occur. Otherwise, to borrow a turn of phrase from Lee, they will be living in “proximity without propinquity” or in other words, have trouble relating to the majority.

It is thus necessary that next generation Chinese be effectively multilingual and able to ‘code switch’, i.e. use different varieties of language in different social settings. If Chinese are unable create a connectedness especially across ethnic lines, this shortcoming would just be adding another factor to the myriad push factors driving young Chinese away.

The statistics tell a very sobering story. In another short 25 years, Chinese will only be a mere 18.6 percent of the population. They will soon fall below the sustainable threshold for propagating their culture, and their diminishing numbers will only increase the pressure for assimilation – something Chinese are reluctant to do.

Let us recall Lee’s description how “[i]n a sense, ‘placeness’ may be defined in terms of ‘belonging to a residential neighbourhood that demands a reciprocity of identity in terms of behavioural or interactive response. The lack of such may be termed as ‘placelessness’.”

Neighbourhoods today are increasingly Malay, and one of the largest is Shah Alam where the authorities have disallowed the building of a Catholic church, tried to restrict the sale of beer, made it very difficult to own a dog, and residents protested against a proposed Hindu temple.

To extrapolate Lee’s allusion of ‘placeness’ to a wider national context, we can infer that having a poor facility in Bahasa Melayu would only compound the Chinese placelessness in a country that has purpose-built for one race such a locality as Shah Alam, and one that will in future be dotted with more mini Shah Alams.