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, January 31, 2010

Fearing the new

It is not about the Malays being divided as a race, it is about the Malays (and Malaysians) being divided by class
Suara Keramat Pak Sako

In a speech yesterday, Mahathir Mohamad blamed PAS and PKR for dividing the Malays, putting this down to greed for power amongst different Malay factions consisting of disgruntled political aspirants desiring political positions.

If Mahathir’s logic is correct, then the split amongst the Japanese in Japan between supporting two different political parties with different cultures, experiences and policies must be a bad thing. These Japanese political parties are the centre-right LDP which had governed Japan and is noted for entrenching patron-client relationships between politicians and corporations; and the DPJ, a reform-minded, social-democratic party that claims to be more people-centric. These parties more or less reflect the distinction between Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat.

Going by Mahathir’s argument, then, this split would have seriously enfeebled the Japanese race, resulting in civil strife or at least hard rancour amongst them, or exposing them as a whole to “attack”, “manipulation”, “subjugation” or “domination” (or insert other terms to taste) by citizens of non-Japanese ancestry (smaller than in Malaysia as a proportion but growing) or by neighbouring nations such as North Korea, Russia or China (recall how we are made to fear Singapore).

But this has not been the case. Japan has not collapsed by having an ‘inexperienced’ ruling political party. Japan as a country is richer for having this new-found choice in being able to switch between alternative politics. Japan’s socioeconomic “evolutionary potential” is rejuvenated by the competition that the DPJ poses for the LDP. We, too, should ask ourselves, as the Japanese have, whether we wish to stick with the stale ways of the old guard whose interest it is to maintain the status quo, the old socioeconomic arrangement which benefits powerful special interests/elites; or whether we want renewal, a restructuring of socioeconomic arrangement that liberates us from the stranglehold of the elites so that the ordinary person can demand and receive a greater share of the nation’s wealth without being held at ransom by threats of unemployment (or inflation) and have a bigger, freer say in how we country to be like and how our social freedoms are defined?

The Malays are not not dividing themselves; they are opening themselves up to choices

In Malaysia, the Malays are beginning to explore choices, and there is nothing wrong in wanting a Greek salad over a nasi lemak. It could in fact be a healthier choice.

Accordingly, many Malays have taken the brave leap for change, to embrace newer values that enables them to bond better with fellow citizens and to rightfully ask for a fairer share of the nation’s “cake”. The Malays and other Malaysians demand this not from any particular race group, but from the politically influential — the governing/aristocratic/corporate class consisting of a mix of the various races. And in doing so, the new lower and middle-class Malays are forging a more harmonious and united relationship with their non-Malay counterparts. In doing so, they are not at all submitting their rights to the ‘others’; they are enhancing their collective rights as citizens in solidarity. The key point to note is that the problem is primarily an issue of socioeconomic class and class domination, not an issue race domination.

But this point is precisely what Mahathir’s and UMNO’s racial rhetoric is attempting to mask.

The Malays that are vulnerable to such scare tactics cling on out of fear and ignorance to old, outdated values promoted by certain powerful groups. These groups dangle candies to society (government handouts or more shopping malls) to lull them, and bring about a basic level of ‘political stability’ through restrictive, questionable rule and extensive control of public apparatuses. This enables powerful groups and elites to appropriate the lion’s share of a nation’s wealth.

So far in the history of Malaysia as an independent state, the majority of the people have conditioned to be content (‘puas hati’) with the moderate amount of income and wealth and fairly restricted social liberties that they have been accorded.

This situation was made possible because Malaysia has been blessed with an exceptionally high level of natural and human resources per capita, i.e., we have had an overabundance of resources relative to our small population size. Each Malaysian in theory could be very well off, with hundreds of thousands of ringgit sitting in their bank accounts, for example, or have superior social services such as those in countries like Canada, Australia or Sweden.

But this has not been the case.

What has been happening is that out of the total economic profits our country generates annually, most of the ordinary Malaysians have been apportioned the minimum amount of income, infrastructure and amenities necessary to placate or satisfy them while the remainder is reserved for the elites, a capture made possible by

(i) widespread rent-seeking, which includes the collusion of politicians and the corporate and social bigwigs to apportion for themselves the nation’s capital to derive supernormal profits (defrauding by power and capital)

(ii) restrictive labour laws that discourage unionisation and wage bargaining power and keep real wages down (economic oppression)

(iii) distracting society with cheap entertainment, restricting free reporting of the actual state of the nation, and threatening possible imprisonment if the status quo is questioned using excuses such as “this shall destabilise racial and religious harmony”, etc. (dumbing down)

For comparison, observe that this has not been possible in Indonesia because given its resources Indonesia has a large population and so it is harder to create this critical mass of satisfied, contented middle class citizens. This has also not been possible in Thailand which has not been endowed with plentiful high-value resources like us (and they have a substantially large population too).

In this view, Malaysia is indeed economically unique and blessed. But it also means that a braver, more vigilant and empowered society is all the more crucial to prevent easy abuse by those who govern it (elite capture).

As Malaysia’s resources run out (the depletion of its natural resources from its wasteful, inequitable squandering and the loss of human capital as a result of severe “brain drain”), sudden belt-tightening policies are proposed and instituted. These policies ranging from the imposition of the GST, the drastic removal of subsidies, and the scaling back of government expenditure on public services such as healthcare. There is an acceleration in the rate of liquidation of natural and environmental resources such as our remaining forests and wetlands in a desperate bid to generate cash. In connection with this is a rash of license issuance to foreign commercial and investment banks either inject more liquidity into our financial markets and/or to allow foreign investment in various development projects the details of which we know precious little of. At the same time, there is a stagnation of real incomes; the nominal wage of a fresh engineering graduate in 2000 was on average RM1700 and this has remained more or less the same in 2010, ten years hence, even as the prices of goods increased.

The bulk of the burden of these actions fall on the ordinary rakyat, whether Malay or not. It may fall disproportionately on the ordinary rakyat depending on how the “economic pie” is cut. It is possible that Malaysians are suffering the economic pinch a little excessively because

(i) the elites may be trying to maintain their cut of the economic pie and their present standard of living, without having to reduce the amount of gains or profits that they have been receiving, or by only slightly sacrificing these gains, or by eliminating contenders (e.g., the shooting down of people linked to the previous prime minister), and

(ii) the government is unwilling to appropriate and repatriate past gains and profits (that may be squirreled away overseas) made illegally and through corrupt rent-seeking, or stem practices such as the excess resource allocation or rent-seeking for the influential interest groups concerned

This issue of the influential class requires highlighting because not only is it the crux of the matter, it is also a matter of justice. It is about whether you feel that some groups deserve to enjoy supernormal profits, political privileges and positions at the expense of the rakyat’s welfare. One could even ask whether they are intentionally distracting the rakyat from thinking about this question by conditioning them to believe that their enemies are their fellow citizens of a different skin colour (or that they risk being enslaved by other races if they aren’t united as a race themselves).

So is PKR and PAS bad for giving Malays and Malaysians as a whole the choice to alter the socioeconomic arrangement of Malaysia?

Those groups offering the Malay choices in styles of governance (greater transparency, responsiveness and reduced corruption and rent-seeking) and different opportunities for improvement (e.g., greater social empowerment and alternative modes of development besides the build-malls-and-shop-all-day approach) should be praised and supported. Those who try to instill fear in the Malays in an attempt to hold them back from thinking broadly and limiting them from freely expressing choice should be censured.

The fact is that the Chinese or Indians are not going to take over Malaysia and turn the Malays into slaves. Although there are safeguards, these groups do not intend to do that to begin with. Believers of social Darwinism should rein in their alarmist attitude and understand that social cooperation and fair and equitable rules improves everyone’s lot and that not all the needy belong to a single race group. These social Darwinists should also not underestimate the potential for adaptation and improvement or cooperation of any race group.

As we can already see by what is happening on the ground, especially post-March 2008, the ordinary Chinese and Indians want to and are willing to live and work together with the Malays if given the chance. This is evident from the momentum of the Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM) movement, to cite an example. The Perkasa group which Mahathir extols is precisely the type of groups fomenting division amongst the Malays. They frighten off the Malays from contemplating choice and taking a leap and they do this for various self-interested reasons. That they are lobbying the sultans to support their partisan political stand is disturbing.

Mahathir is in essence barking up the wrong tree. If he is indeed worried about the division of Malays, then he should encourage them to unite under the more reformist and progressive umbrella of Pakatan Rakyat. Their fellow non-Malay Malaysians are waiting for them there.

Note: Read also Suflan Shamsuddin’s The Fallacy of Malay Unity.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

band of sticks rotting now

The Fallacy of Malay Unity
by Suflan Shamsuddin*

They say, that when a stick is on its own, it can be broken. But when many sticks are bound together, they become strong and unbreakable. So for Malays to be strong and unbreakable they must unite. For if not, then the non-Malays, and all those who wish to undermine the Malay race and Islam, will break them. This is what Perkasa and others like them peddle to the Malays. What a load of hogwash! And I say this as a Malay and a Muslim.

In reality, this call for Malay unity is the opposite of what is needed to bring members of my community out of its despair. And the reason is simple.

The price Malays pay for this unity is their individuality. If you belong to a herd, and your strength comes from the herd, then as an individual, you are weak. No capacity for self determination when left to your own device. You become subservient to a set of values that is driven by the elite, who will act as your protector, and who will demand your obedience. You will have no capacity to challenge the elite, and you will cower to those in authority, happy to be either an underachieving dependent of the system, or aspiring to join the ranks of the elite, to do that which once was done unto you.

The outcome of continued dependence on Malay unity is obvious. A select, strong and powerful elite will remain in control of wealth and power; and a mass of happy ignorant followers will continue to be dragged along with what is pronounced by those with authority, never daring to question, never daring to challenge, and ever willing to fight the fight, if called upon by their leaders.

As a community, you might say (but hardly unequivocally) that you are strong. But as individuals, you would be weak, with no sense of personal accountability, no understanding of the importance of individual freedoms, no desire to self-improve and work hard, no desire to play fair.

The world has moved on. Today, national boundaries help determine where we pay our taxes, and under which legal jurisdiction are we subject. But with the revolution of information and technology, territorial national boundaries do nothing to keep global market and socio-economic forces from affecting each and every one of us as individuals every single second of the day.

No matter who we are, whether we be Malays, Chinese, Indian, the responsibilities are the same. We each need to be fully contributing and responsible individuals, who will add value to that part of society to which we belong (whether we define that territorially, religiously or culturally), and to care for and look out for the happiness and welfare of those whom we love.

And for us to be able to do this effectively we must be individually capable. Each of us must build the right set of values, priorities and character, and not simply belong to a herd, following aimlessly with everyone else. Because market forces don’t affect the herd in today’s global world. It affects the individual. And a weak, non-contributing and continually dependent Malay, no matter how strong his community might be as a united force, is no good to anybody.

I shudder to think of the kind of Malays that will be created if Perkasa had its way.

*The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist. Suflan qualified as a barrister at law from Middle Temple and has been called to the Malaysian Bar. He is currently working in a Fortune 500 company as a senior counsel and is based in London. He is also author of the book “RESET: Rethinking the Malaysian Political Paradigm”.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Only RM2, Mutilpy that by....

When schools run short of funds
By Terence Fernandez, Down2Earth, The Sun

OVER 10 years ago, as a reporter for The Malay Mail, I was part of a team which exposed a dubious instruction from the then Selangor Education Department director. He had directed all schools in the state to buy name tags for their students at a cost of RM2 each.

One of the issues was that some schools on their own had bought name tags for students through their co-operative societies, with the endorsement of their parent-teacher associations (PTAs). But no, they still had to buy these name tags – from a single supplier to “meseragamkan” (standardise) school uniforms in Selangor.

Granted, RM2 is not much but multiply that by 200,000 students and the company stood to earn RM400,000.

We discovered that the directive was from the state education director who neither consulted the Education Ministry nor obtained its approval. Worse, no tenders were called and the company was selected by the director. Why? Because we later discovered, one of his relatives was a director of the company supplying the tags.

When the story made the front page, there was hell to pay with voices of protests from parents, politicians, NGOs and even ministry officials. When we caught then education minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in the lift, he was visibly furious with the scandal and promised action.

A few weeks after the story broke; the director was transferred to another department where he whiled away his time until retirement.

However, no further action was taken against him or the company whose directors laughed all the way to the bank. The only losers being the former state director and the thousands of parents who had to fork out RM2 each so that everyone in the neighbourhood, school and in between would know their children’s first names.

This was definitely something for the Anti-Corruption Agency to investigate but nothing was forthcoming.

If it had occurred today when people are less tolerant, when the enforcement agencies are under immense scrutiny and perhaps after the change in political climate, I trust there would have been a slew of prosecutions.

Now the reason for this trip down memory lane is because 10 years on, profiting from schoolchildren is still a million-ringgit business, with schools and schoolchildren being targets of profiteers.

Due to the high traffic flow and the large group of potential clients, we see billboards taking up space on school grounds; businessmen – from ice-cream sellers to apparel companies hawking their wares and telecommunications companies renting parking space.

Now when these agreements take off more often than not, someone in the school had given the green light and that person is the principal or headmaster.

My father who was a headmaster for three years said he had always had to chase profiteers out of his office – stationery salesmen, badge manufacturers, and the like. While he sometimes allowed them to make a presentation, he would show them the door the moment they said something like: “Cikgu ambil lah 10%” (You take 10%).

And I figure this is what is going on in some schools, when some headmasters aided and abetted by PTA chairmen put pecuniary interests above the welfare of children.

Granted that some schools are in dire need of funds and the profits are to be channelled back into the school, but taking the easy way out by taking children to ransom and digging into the parents’ pockets to buy useless items or things that can be bought at a fraction of the cost outside is not the answer.

Even allowing school land to be used by advertisers and companies needing to solve their parking woes is not in the best interest of the child – which should be the paramount consideration.

In the days when the private sector was less generous – and even now in some well-organised schools, the school with the children in tow would get together to organise fundraisers: be it through bake sales for a trip to the nation’s capital; funfairs to renovate the canteen; charity shows for a school building; or marathons to benefit under-privileged students.

With all the hype created, neighbourhood businessmen and personalities would start contributing and at the end of the day, you would end up raising more than you initially intended.

But these days, sadly the welfare of the children is not on the minds of some administrators in our education institutions. And like some of the parasites who prey on the millions of potential clients from kindergarten to Form Six, they too get drawn in by the capitalist talk.

It is time to end the exploitation of schoolchildren and for a clear direction from the Education Ministry for all activities to benefit school coffers be vetted and have the best interest of the child at heart. Otherwise, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission may have to investigate more civil servants.

As a former part-time teacher Terence has firsthand info as to how some of these dubious deals are signed. He is deputy editor special reports & investigations and can be reached at

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

How right you are, Marranci

The “Allah” case in Malaysia
January 18, 2010 by marranci

Recently Malaysia has been at the centre of another controversy. After the fatwa against Yoga (in which it was suggested that Muslims were better to abstain from it), the sentence against Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno (who was condemned to strokes of an “Islamic” cane), and the severed cow heads left on an area awaiting the construction of a Hindu temple, today churches, and other non-Muslim places of worship, have been torched over the issue of whether non-Malay Muslims, and in particular Christians, can use the word ‘Allah’. The Malay government, controlled by UMNO, clearly supports the opinion that “Allah” is, at least linguistically, a Malay Muslim theo-semiotic possession, despite the word being Arabic. Yet to understand the present situation we need to look at how Muslim Malaysians make sense of their social political identity within the country.

To do so we must refer to Article 160 of the Constitution of Malaysia in which a ‘Malay’ is described as a Malaysian citizen, born to a Malaysian citizen, who professes to be a Muslim, habitually speaks Bahasa Melayu, adheres to Malay customs, and is domiciled in Malaysia or Singapore. Furthermore, the constitution, in article 152, defines some privileges for Bumiputra, the Muslim ethnic majority of the country.

The privileges, based on internal economic and social political protectionism, have culminated in the so-called New Economy Policy, which, although officially terminated in the 1990s, still influences the relationship among the ethnic groups. These policies, and such protectionism, are not recent. The British colonial rule of Malaya set precise ethno-religious boundaries, with a certain level of protection for the Muslim Bumiputra, which the independent nation, and its constitution and legislation, have ideologically maintained.

Although there is clear evidence that the majority Muslim Malays have benefited from such privileges and closed the social and economic gaps with the other ethnic populations, particularly the Chinese, the continued reliance upon protectionist measures has helped to create a general feeling that these privileges are essential to maintain the equality of Muslim Malays vis-a-vis the non-Muslim Malaysians of other ethnic groups.

This way of thinking is arguably an internalization of British colonial opinions, in which Muslim Malays were seen as admirable for their artistic ability and beautiful “heritage”, but otherwise lazy by nature, unadapted to business and childish in their way of being. To the British, these negative descriptions were not made as criticisms but rather as statements of ‘natural’ fact. Hence, to preserve and protect this population, the British implemented particular protections, which at the end proved to be counterproductive in many respects.

We need this background information to understand the present issue over the name “Allah”. Of course, many commentators have decided to place this controversy within the context of ‘religious fanaticism’ and ‘Islamism’, or generally within the phenomenon of ‘religion’.

Although I do not deny that, in Malaysia, religion plays a role, it would be naive to believe that this is a theological discussion gone wrong. Rather, the controversy is rooted within the framework above. There are two main reasons that I want to highlight here.

The first has to do with the increasing challenges that UMNO faces politically. In the changing political landscape of Malaysia, UMNO needs to reinforce a solid political base of supporters. It could be said that the “Allah” controversy, and the decision of the government to support the legal action, was aimed at political ends as much as, if not more than, religious ones. Indeed, the debate may well engage a new kind of UMNO supporter: young, unhappy with differences, fearful of local and global competition and very attached to those protectionist policies which the opposition appears to oppose.

The Christian church, then, becomes a symbolic target at which to direct the discontent and frustration, as well as fear, about an uncertain future in which previous privileges may be removed and competition felt sharper than ever before. Although much more could be said about this, let us move to a second, more social anthropological aspect.

If we pay a second of attention to the ethnic composition of Christians, who officially account for 9.11% of the population, we may notice the diversity in ethnic profile. Differently from the case of Hinduism, which can be linked directly to Indian Malays, or Buddhism (the second religion in the country) to the Chinese, Christians are from all the main ethnic groups, with the number of Bumiputra Christians (8.9% of the Christian population) being nearly equal to those of Chinese origin (9.6% of the Christian population), and not very distant from the number of Indian Christians (7.7 % of the Christian population).

The central fact here is that the relationship between ethnicity and religion is highly complex, despite appearing on the surface to be relatively direct. The convenient colonial divisions, in which ‘Bumiputra’ meant Muslim, are not valid here. We have an intra-ethnic, although unpublicized, division.

Here lies the basis for the theo-semiotic challenge, which appears rather absurd to a majority of Muslims and also in the context of the linguistic history of Bahasa Melayu. The word ‘Allah’ is seen here to be only for those Bumiputra who are Muslims. The monopoly of the Arabic signifier of the ’signified’ God has become a logical conclusion to the protectionist and anachronistic Article 160 and 153 of the Malaysian constitution.

The relationship between the economic and social aspects of such protectionism (extending even to the domain of theology) is not as strange as it may appear at first glance. Malaysia is changing, as any other Southeast Asian country, and it is facing the same global challenges that any other population has to in this century, which is marked by so many ‘post-’ concepts (post-communism, post-modern and so forth).

Yet the colonial ghost is still haunting the country and trying to conserve an ethnic-religious identity based upon privileges that, in reality, end up threatening Malaysia’s security and unity. If Malaysia does not eventually deconstruct the left-overs from the colonial ideology and realize that the idea of ethnic and religious superiority (beyond contradicting Islamic teaching) is a burden of the past that stops the country’s development and damages its international reputation, it will remain mired in tragic, and sometimes tragic-comic, controversies.

In the long run, these controversies may endanger not only the racial and social harmony of Malaysia, but also – because of the epidemiological power of these religiously packaged controversies -neighboring countries such as Indonesia and perhaps, although with less likelihood, Singapore.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Why we must continue to blog

Rais: Internet can erode the country's culture

(The Straits Times) - The Malaysian government has warned against excessive use of micro-blogging sites like Facebook and Twitter, arguing that they could erode the country's culture, a report said on Sunday.

Rais Yatim, the information and communication minister, said Muslims and other religious groups must be wary of the Internet as it was introduced by the West.

'We are not saying they cannot use Facebook or Twitter, but when using such facilities, they must upkeep the values taught by Islam, Buddhism or Christianity to maintain our culture,' he was quoted as saying by the New Sunday Times newspaper.

Mr Rais said users must not be influenced by what they see and hear when using the Internet. 'We must be strong in our belief and culture because the identity and image of our country depends on us,' he said.

The government decided last August not to implement a controversial plan to create an Internet filter blocking 'undesirable' websites after coming under fire from rights groups.

Malaysia's lively blogosphere has been a thorn in the side of the Barisan Nasional government, which was been in power for more than half a century but was dealt its worst ever results in the 2008 elections.

And this is why we must continue to blog/facebook/twitter/surf:-

1. Government control main stream media, filtered for our reading pleasures so they don’t look bad. Eg. Kugan custodian death during police interrogations. They issue statement he died of fluid in his lungs.

2. Government think the people owe them for running the country. But they own us much more. They just don’t want to tell us and continue to keep us in the dark for as long as they can. Eg. Oil royalty issues. Their take is 80%, our take is 5%. They think we dont know how to add up 80 and 5?

3. They shield the truth from us so they can continue to rip the soils from under our nose. Eg. PKFZ and Pempena scandals. All for the nation development with a little "expenses" for management.

4. Anything they do cannot be questioned. We are like children waiting for feeding time. Eg. 2010 Budget debate, or none at all. Yes its called that but you can"t debate on it.

5. They are never concrete answers or solutions to the way they tackle issues. In short, no action plan, just gibberish slogans and speeches to divert our attention. Eg. H1N1 outbreak. We are short of this, short of that. Hospital can't cope with the number of patients, we don't have this, dont have that.

6. They can’t handle criticism, not at all. Can’t hold themselves together once we break their chains of commands. Eg. TBH death in custody at the MACC office. Almost the entire committee resigned. Issued contradicting statements.

7. They don’t really know where they stand even with the country’s laws. One is a threat to them by mere outspokenness and controversies. Eg. RPK & Theresa Kok’s illegal ISA detention. Classic, truly classic.

8. They will continue to do what they like till they no longer able to sweep anymore under the carpet and thanks to internet. Eg. Award for the helicopter purchase and the missing jet engine..

9. They don’t do their work as diligently and professionally as we want them to. Can’t hold their grounds against better opponent. Eg. Pedra branca lost to Singapore. Since they have the documents, we just use theirs and send a team to debate with them.

10. Sorry, this will go on and on. Finally, over 50 years of independence, they still compare our country to third world countries to assure us we are better. Eg. Education system or is it uneducating system.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Justifications & Desperations Fumbles, Big Time!!

by Bosco Philip Anthony

A little more than a week has passed since some of the Christians churches were burnt or vandalized. The politicians have had their say. On the other hand the biosphere and the print media from around the world are abound with expressions of dismay at the way the government leaders have argued that the making of the word Allah to be synonymous with the word God may “confuse Muslims and ultimately mislead them into converting to Christianity.”

The question that has to be asked is: Are the Muslim leaders of the government themselves recognizing the fact that the Muslims themselves do not have self confidence in their faith in Islam? Or do the government leaders treat the one and only God of human beings as a tribal deity? Or are the government leaders pronouncing to the world that they have a “copyright” for the word “Allah” as stated by Marina Mahathir?

We have lived in this country where we see that the police force does not tolerate even passive resistance such as the wearing of “Black” shirts or having peaceful demonstrations such as “candle light” vigils and to proclaim that democracy is dead.

So how did the police authorities allow the protesters after Friday prayers to demonstrate at the mosques in Kuala Lumpur and Shah Alam where they openly carried banners which state “Allah is only for us.” There is even a video that is on You-tube where a protester has shouted the words “bakar gereja” and is this not an offence.

In actual fact on the night after the demonstrations the churches were firebombed or vandalized. Why has that individual not been arrested and charges in court?

Now every United Malay National Organisation (UMNO) politician is trying to make political mileage with the issue of the generic term “Allah.” Khairy endeavours to preach to the Christians that we have to practice religious tolerance. He conveniently does not seem to under that the problems were in the first place diabolically conceived and created by UMNO.

UMNO, for its own survival, has indoctrinated a small band of immature people to think that UMNO has the authority to claim that the name of “Allah” who is the God for all human being’s, is a private property of UMNO. So the issue is no longer a theological matter but has been converted into a political matter.

Then we have Nazri who states that the East Malaysian people of Christian faith can continue to use the generic term Allah. Nazri fails to understand that the people of Sabah and Sarawak have been using it for centuries.

Then as reported in the (Star of 18.01.2010) Nazri states although he agree that the word “Allah” had been long used in Christianity way before Islam existed , Nazri said “That’s why I say it is all right in Sabah and Sarawak but culturally you cannot apply it in a place where Allah has always been Islam’s God.”

Nazri must have become intellectually bankrupt after he joined UMNO. Now we have a God for Islam and a God for Christianity. We also have a Malaysia for Sabah and Sarawak and another Malaysia for Malaya. Is this not a lode of nonsense?

In the Sunday Star of January 17, 2010 it is reported that Muhyiddin the Deputy Prime Minister stating that Nazri’s statement in Sabah and Sarawak was Nazri’s own opinion. Then Muhyiddin goes on to state, “It is not a political issue. It is an issue of peace and harmony in Malaysia being threatened. We must protect this (peace) at all costs.”

As the days pass by it is clearly becoming apparent that the cause of all this confusion about the use of a generic term Allah, are caused by the UMNO leaders in government and UMNO politicians in general.

All their statements appear to be totally illogical. No sane person can make any sense of such politically motivated statements. It is not that the people of the faith of Islam are “confused” but it is apparent that the UMNO politicians are like drowning men trying to clench to the “straw” that is, the generic term of Allah for their own political survival. Thus all their statements on the term Allah are a “logical fiction.”

All people in general are mature and follow the teachings of their faith by reason and wisdom then by blind faith. The government cannot compel a Muslim in general to follow Islam through the prism of reason and wisdom. It ultimately depends on the individual.

This nation has a majority of Muslims. There is no need for the Muslims to feel insecure. But the government leaders should not under any circumstance attempt to regulate the belief of the Muslims in order to protect the leaders so that UMNO can continue to stay in power.

As Hawkin’s has stated religion spreads like a virus infecting the young, depressed, hopeless and those individuals who are at their weakest point, both emotionally and intellectually.

In the same token, Allah does not need Malaysian corrupted politician and leaders to assist Allah to regulate Islam.

Hence the government’s ban on the use of the generic term Allah in the Bible imported from Indonesia and in the Malay language of the Herald is deemed as tyrannical as it grossly violates Article 3, 5, 8, 10 and 11 of the Federal Constitution.

May Allah save us from the tyrannical rule of UMNO as their leaders are ignorant of their faith in Islam. This has led them to their current state of arrogance in not having their faith in all other people who are practicing the Muslim, faith.

Forgive the UMNO leaders, Allah, for they know not what they are doing.

Please go to this link and watch the video.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Shifting House

The impact of migration
By Ding Jo-Ann

WITH the recent attack on churches, a Catholic school and a Sikh gurdwara, migration is likely to be on the minds of some Malaysians. Despite government assurances that "everything is under control", diminishing respect for rights as demonstrated by the "Allah" issue has naturally caused consternation among educated Malaysians.

At the same time, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak says Malaysia must become a "high-income" economy so that it can stave off decreasing prosperity and standards of living. Indeed, a government-commissioned 2007 World Bank report on Malaysia's education system and economy says Malaysia has "no choice" but to change its economic model.

Malaysia, the report said, can no longer compete with the lower wages in developing countries like China and Vietnam.

But with mass migration and the loss of skilled Malaysians, is it realistic to expect Malaysia to compete with developed economies? Will enough skilled Malaysians stay on so that Malaysia can escape the middle-income trap?

Skilled workers crucial

Malaysian Institute of Economic Research executive director Datuk Dr Mohamed Ariff Abdul Kareem says skilled workers are crucial to move the economy up the value chain.

"When foreigners come looking to invest, they look for people with skills ... If skilled people are leaving to go elsewhere, this will be a spoke in the wheel for us," says Ariff in a phone interview.
Malaysian Employers Federation executive director Shamsuddin Bardan adds that while the number of unskilled foreign workers has increased, the number of skilled expatriates has dwindled.

Services)"In 2000, we had about 80,000 expatriates [in Malaysia]. By 2008, there were only about 38,000. Coupled with that, our professionals are also moving overseas," he says. Shamsuddin tells The Nut Graph in an e-mail interview that there are currently about 785,000 Malaysians working overseas.

Recruitment agency Kelly Services' vice-president and country general manager Melissa Norman confirms that the oil and gas, Islamic banking, and high technology sectors have faced challenges in finding suitable skilled labour.

"Countries such as China, Vietnam, India, Singapore, Australia and certain Middle Eastern countries have benefited from our brain drain," says Norman.

Wider economic ramifications

Other than the skills shortage, mass migration of skilled Malaysians also has wider economic ramifications.

Rating Agency Malaysia's group chief economist Dr Yeah Kim Leng says those emigrating tend to be in the high-income bracket with higher spending capabilities. "[Their] absence will have a negative impact on consumption and consequently on the country's overall domestic demand," he says.

"Emigration also causes a withdrawal of capital," Yeah adds. "When [skilled Malaysians] relocate, they bring with them whatever wealth and savings they have. It would contribute to the outflow of capital from the country."

Low pay, discrimination, corruption

One of the factors affecting Malaysia's unattractiveness to skilled workers is the relatively low wages compared with developed countries.

Shamsuddin says: "In the US, Malaysian professionals could earn about US$100,000 a year, which is about RM340,000 a year. They would need to earn about RM28,300 a month here [to match that]."

In addition to the wage packages, Yeah says emigration can be worsened if there are discriminatory policies and loss of confidence. "Loss of confidence can be triggered by various factors such as rising crime rates, corruption, deteriorating quality of life and general concerns over the longer term prospects of the economy," he says.

"The underlying reasons for migration must be examined. Although most countries face this problem, country-specific reasons need to be looked at in greater depth."

"It's not just monetary," says Ariff. "It goes beyond dollars and cents. [Emigration] is not confined to any particular group. It's everyone; even Malay [Malaysians] are leaving."

Long-term solution

The 2007 World Bank report also cited the lack of scientists and engineers, and lack of capacity for innovation as some of Malaysia's greatest weaknesses in moving to a knowledge-based economy.

"If we can't bring those abroad back home, we have to somehow increase our own supply. It will require a massive shift in the education system to supply these skills in the long term. The system needs to be completely overhauled," Ariff says.

However, he notes that there seems to be a lack of political will in this direction.

Ariff says the lack of skilled workers in Malaysia will be especially felt once economic conditions improve. "Once the economy grows, we will feel the impact because we need [skilled talent] for the economy to expand," he says. "Either we have to bring people home or attract skilled foreigners."

YeahHe notes, however, that employing foreigners is only a stopgap measure.
... and the good news?

With the economic crisis hitting developed nations hard, Yeah posits that emigration to developed countries may have reduced for now. "In fact," he says, "if developing economies can step up growth and lure back their own as well as foreign talents, a [brain drain] reversal may be in the works."

Norman agrees that skilled Malaysians would be returning to Malaysia as a result of the global economic crisis. "The question is, are there sufficient numbers to stem the brain drain?" she asks.

Additionally, Yeah notes that the policies in attracting skilled professionals back to Malaysia have yet to show results. "We have to give it a couple of years, but implementation needs to be more effective."

Shamsuddin encourages Malaysians to return. He argues that since it is still a young nation, many opportunities remain available. However, he says if Malaysians choose not to return, they can still contribute their ideas and expertise from abroad.

Running faster

The 2007 World Bank reports that many of Malaysia's fiercest competitors are working diligently to improve their higher education and national innovation systems. The report states that Malaysia will have to run even faster than its neighbours if it does not want to lose ground, what more to gain ground.

Although the outlook appears daunting, the World Bank report concludes it is by no means impossible. All we need to do, it says, is upgrade our university systems, develop innovative production modes, and address skills shortages that hamper efforts to produce more sophisticated goods and services.

With a UBS Securities Asia Limited report stating that there has been massive capital outflow from Malaysia in the last 12 months, these steps are more crucial than ever to ensure Malaysia's economic survival. But with a government that is constantly mired in issues arising from bad policies favouring majority over minority rights, will we still have the resources to think about global competitiveness, and move to the next level?