Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Happy Deepavali

I had and still enjoy marukku, chicken varuval, mutton kadai, bajji, laddoo and other delicacies for Deepavali.

I grew up with friends from the Kuala Sungai Baru estate, Masjid Tanah, Melaka; together we attended the same English school, played at the same 'padang' and padi field and shared our kampung in a unique way.

But those were the days.

Deepavali is yet another celebration me and the kampung folks looked forward. As there were more Malays than the Indians and Chinese, their (the Indians) houses received more non-Indians.

I really miss that... Happy Deepavali to Siva, Nathan, Samy 'Putu Mayom', Khrishnan, Mani 'Giant' and the Hindus.

If we had been one before, we can always be such once more...

Read Prime Minister's Deepavali message

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Who are the 'pendatang'?

For national reconciliation and integration, I think Umno, MCA, DAP and the rest of the political parties, including NGOs, should stop uttering 'pendatang' to each other.

Its time to weigh the consequences, and stop blaming the government if the Sedition Act is not repealed.

I must commend Gerakan for taking this action:
Gerakan yesterday suspended the membership of Johor delegate Tan Lai Soon following his “pendatang” (immigrant) remark.
Its deputy president Datuk Dr Cheah Soon Hai, at a press conference at the party’s headquarters, said Tan had been given 14 days to respond to a show cause letter starting today.
“We have issued him a showcause letter in accordance with Article 17.2 of the party’s Constitution to explain why he should not be expelled from Gerakan.”
The decision was made following an emergency meeting that was called in response to complaints lodged by 14 Gerakan members.
Taking note that Tan had retracted and had issued an apology over his statement, Dr Cheah said it was now up to the police to probe the Gerakan member under the Sedition Act. Tan had at the party’s 43rd National Delegates’ Conference yesterday suggested that Malays, Chinese and Indians were “pendatang”. He had earlier chastised Umno members for calling Chinese and Indians as ‘pendatang’, saying Malays were no different as they had come from Indonesia.
Isn't it sickening and 'sakit hati' when we - irrespective of race - are called 'pendatang' when were were all born, brought up and reside in the country.

Yes, politics really suck but we must allow ourselves to fall into our own selfishness.

We have the 'pendatang haram', about 4 million of them. Why not we work hand in hand to overcome the problem?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Msia-Indonesia, Najib and Widodo

Malaysia and Indonesia will begin a new chapter of diplomatic ties as Indonesia’s president-elect Joko Widodo (pic) takes his oath of office on Monday, witnessed by world leaders including Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

Having enjoyed almost 60 years of bilateral relations, this would be the first time Malaysia sees the inauguration of a president who did not come from either Indonesia’s military or political elite.

However, political observers believed this ‘breath of fresh air’ in Indonesia’s democracy would benefit Malaysia in the long run, as both leaders share the same aspiration.
“Both the president and prime minister share the same vision and aspiration, which is to put the people first,” said National Professor’s Council (NPC) political cluster secretary Prof Datuk Halim Sidek.
He said the 7th Indonesian president, who is popularly known as Jokowi, and Najib should take the opportunity to further strengthen the ties, which have been one of the most important bilateral relationships in the Southest Asian region.
“Jokowi had once said that he would fight for the people and he would improve Indonesia’s basic infrastructure. His vision is no different than Najib’s."
NPC head Prof Datuk Mustafa Ishak said Najib’s presence at Jokowi’s inauguration ceremony would give the impression that Malaysia values its close neighbour.
“It is important for Malaysia to maintain cordial relationship with Indonesia despite ups and downs,” he said.
International relations aside, Indonesians however were concerned over a plan by Widodo to order the steepest rise in subsidised fuel prices in nine years.

The new minority coalition government will be taking a highly unpopular step as Widodo has to urgently address Indonesia’s biggest fiscal problem - a $23 billion fuel subsidy bill.

Worries over potential for political gridlock were eased after a meeting on Friday between Widodo and opposition leader Prabowo Subianto, who for the first time offered congratulations to the incoming president.

Widodo proposes to raise the gasoline price by 46 percent, and diesel by 55 percent, possibly as early as Nov. 1, in a move that will save the government nearly $13 billion next year, the adviser said.

Last year, gasoline prices were raised 44 percent, but the outgoing president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, ducked ordering another hike this year despite a deteriorating fiscal position.The proposed price increases still pale beside the hike of more than 87 percent for gasoline and 105 percent for diesel that were ordered in October 2005.

But Widodo has a good PR.

He recently visited leaders of the KMPs political parties, such as Aburizal Bakrie of Golkar Party, Hatta Rajasa of PAN and, lastly, Prabowo of Gerindra.

Following a brief meeting in Jakarta on Oct. 17, their first meeting since last July, Prabowo and Widodo told the media that they were committed to maintaining peace and unity in Indonesia.
"We agree to maintain the unity of Indonesia, the nations ideology Pancasila, and the Constitution," Prabowo remarked, adding that "Competition in politics is normal, but in the end, we have to remember that all actions must be conducted based upon the peoples interests."
Prabowo also called on his sympathizers to support the next administration of president-elect Widodo, as long as its programs and projects are good for the public."I have asked the party that I lead, my friends and loyalists, to support (the administration) of Joko Widodo," he stated.
But, Prabowo cautioned, if the Widodo administration makes policies that harm the people, then his party and sympathizers will not hesitate to criticize.

"Thats what I have told him, and that is democracy," he said after the meeting with Jokowi. He described the meeting as friendly and said he congratulated Jokowi on his presidency.

Malaysia welcomes him as the new Indonesian leader, hoping Jakarta will further boost its relation with Asean, which Malaysia will chair next year.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Crack over hudud

Sarawak DAP, in showing disgust at 'hudud law', has cut all ties with the state's PKR and PAS until the two allies make a clear stand on the issue.

A big crack, which in my opinion will soon put Pakatan Rakyat's in a very rickety position. The political pact too would possibly see PAS detaching itself in defending the proposed Islamic Law in Kelantan.

Amid Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim political uncertainty should he goes back to prison over a sodomy case, Pakatan Rakyat which all the while supports his dream to wrest Putrajaya, is also facing dissensions from within.
Sarawak DAP said today it is ceasing all communication with PAS and PKR, but remaining in the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) pact.
Its chairman, Chong Chieng Jen (pic), said the party’s state committee decided to dissociate itself from activities with PAS and PKR until the two parties had clarified their stand on hudud law.
Speaking to reporters after chairing a meeting here, Chong said Sarawak DAP would leave PR if the PAS ulama group, which had been promoting the hudud law, assumed power in the party after party elections in June next year.
“If the liberal progressive (faction) controls (the PAS central committee), there is no reason for us to go out.”
He said PKR was also ambiguous on its stand over the implementation of the hudud law and the Sarawak DAP decision today was meant to send a strong message to the partners in the PR to be clear about their positions.
DAP, however, will 'remain' in Pakatan Rakyat Sarawak, Chong said.

NOTE: Let's hear to what Lim Kit Siang, Hadi Awang and Wan Azizah have to say about this.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Anwar told to retire...or migrate!

"...and he never seems to notice he just gotta find another place to play..." (last line Bread's song 'The Guitar Man')

And that guitar man is Anwar Ibrahim, our Opposition Leader. More and more people, good friends and supporters had left and are leaving him. They knew that it's all over!

Where would he be after this? Any last ditch?
PETALING JAYA: Without mincing words, Youth NGO Lensa (Lensa Anak Muda Malaysia) has told PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim his time is up and that he had best retire because the people are tired of him.
In a statement, coordinator for Lensa, Ekhsan Bukharee said, “For how long do the people need to be dragged along with this case (sodomy)?”
He also asked, “Should you (Anwar) be imprisoned, are you hoping for a show of solidarity in front of the prison gates?
Saying the people will not take to the streets once again in solidarity for Anwar, Ekhsan said, “No, Datuk Seri no. This is no longer 1998 or 1999. We are following our own path now.”
This harsh statement came in the light of an AMK movement under Nik Nazmi who is trying to mobilise people to stand in solidarity when Anwar’s verdict on the Sodomy II trial is read on 28 and 29 October.
Accusing Anwar of making the Reformasi movement all about him and for using the people to fight his cause, Ekhsan added that as long as Anwar was in politics, his enemies would continually devise ways to end his political career.
He said, “If you win Sodomy II, then we will have to wait for Sodomy III, Sodomy IV, Sodomy V that will likely end with the people dragged into more dirty politics.”
Ekhsan asked why Anwar didn’t accept the Turks’ invitation to retire there, adding that it was a far better alternative than “remaining in the country and facing a cruel regime that will only stop harassing you when you bow to them in submission.”
Stating firmly, “There will not be a second Reformasi of 98/99. Time to forget politics and focus on your personal life instead.”
Citing Anwar’s tumultuous political life that started in the 60s and saw him imprisoned under the ISA Act twice, Ekhsan said Anwar, who was now in his 60s had still persisted in taking a more difficult path instead of the easier one.
Ekhsan said, “Your (Anwar) fight has all been a waste that will end up with you in prison once again.”
However, migrating is not in Anwar's mind. He will stay on, hoping to score some miracles. If he is not sent to jail, he is lucky. If he goes in, all doors will close around him!

I pity him...but I guess he better retire now than later...

Security Council seat - what it means for Malaysia

Angola, Malaysia, New Zealand, Spain and Venezuela were elected to two-year terms on the UN Security Council Thursday, after firce lobbying failed to garner Turkey a spot. The US also failed in its bid to scupper Venezuela's chances.

Competition between New Zealand, Spain and Turkey for two available 'Western Europe and Other' seats was heated, with each country lobbying hard up until Thursday’s vote.

New Zealand, which has not sat on the council for two decades, has promised to seek reforms in the council, including the controversial veto power of the five permanent members, which has left the council largely impotent in the face of the Syrian crisis because of Russian opposition. It won one of two seats outright with 145 votes in the first round.

Spain, who last sat on the council in 2004, ultimately beat Turkey with 145 votes in a tense run-off vote for the final spot on the Council when neither country secured enough votes in the first ballot. Spain hopes to rebuild its reputation as an international player after years of devastating financial woes.

Turkey, which won only 60 of votes in the final round, jeopardised its bid last week when it launched airstrikes against Kurdish forces fighting the Islamic State group, which the Security Council is seeking to curb.

Venezuela achieved a long term goal in winning its uncontested bid for the Latin American and Caribbean seat, with 181 votes in the first round. While the US remained opposed to Venezuela’s bid, it refrained from publicly opposing the bid, unlike in 2006, when it successfully campaigned against Venezuela's efforts to join the council.

Angola won the African seat by 190 votes and Malaysia for the Asian seat by 187 (both also uncontested).

The five elected members will replace Argentina, Australia, Luxembourg, South Korea and Rwanda, and will serve until the end of 2016.

While a tight race, this year’s vote lacked the drama of last October, when Saudi Arabia rejected its seat, citing “double standards” at the body.

Personally, I am happy with our team's success, led by Foreign Minister Anifah Aman (pic). The march was not easy either when Malaysia was lambasted by the international media for what they termed as 'a crackdown on dissidents and critics'.

And here, I give some pieces made available by the UN News Agency, minutes after we secured the seat.
In 2014, Malaysia has made international headlines with the two Malaysia Airlines tragedies. The country did not, however, make much news when it was elected to the United Nations Security Council yesterday, yet the election gives this Southeast Asian country the opportunity to work with the global powers on a host of pressing and complex issues, among them the threat of terrorism from the Islamic State, the conflicts in Iraq, Ukraine and Syria, and the panoply of rampant human rights abuses worldwide. How well equipped is Malaysia to contribute to the Council, and will its own domestic policy agenda get in the way?
To start with, the country’s economy is performing well. A 2015 budget introduces more deficit-slashing measures, including subsidy reforms and a higher goods and service tax. These measures should improve the national balance sheet. But as the middle and lower classes are forced to cope with higher prices, questions remain as to whether adequate steps are being taken to combat corruption and diversify the country’s revenue base, which is still heavily reliant on oil exports.
At the United Nations, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has said much about leading a “Global Movement of Moderates” to combat extremism around the world. A laudable goal, no doubt, but the story at home is hardly one of moderation and tolerance.
Most notable, it added, was the government’s crackdown against opposition and civil society groups under its anachronistic Sedition Act of 1948, a law that the UN Human Rights Council has strongly criticized and the New York Times called “deplorable.”

The Act, it said criminalizes any speech spoken “to excite disaffection” for the government. The law is currently being reviewed by the High Court to determine if it is constitutional. In the meantime, within the past year, dozens of dissidents, academics and activists have been charged, and face up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

While critics of the government are hauled up on charges, however, groups sympathetic to Najib’s ruling UMNO party are given free reign to incite violence and racial tension. From calling for the burning of Bibles to telling Malaysia’s ethnic Chinese and Indians to “go back home,” these groups act with impunity.
The Sedition Act is not the only tool the government has to subdue opposition and dissent. Fearful of the traction the opposition has gained, the Government has twice managed to conjure up dubious sodomy charges against opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, in both cases on the heels of a strong electoral performance by the country’s opposition coalition. Moreover, two of Anwar’s lawyers have themselves been charged with sedition, in one case, simply for commenting publicly on the case itself. The allegations alone are damning enough in a predominately Muslim country; the fact that Anwar could well be sent back to a second lengthy prison term is a clear sign of Prime Minister Najib Razak’s fundamental insecurity and unwillingness to allow his government to face serious questions about its performance.
Perhaps nothing has been more emblematic of Malaysia’s backwards slide on the human rights agenda than the state of the media. In the last thirteen years it has dropped consistently on Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index from a high of 110 to its current low of 147 out of 180 countries surveyed, which places it next to Russia, Burma, and Turkey.
Yet domestic issues are not the only thing that Malaysia has to worry about now. It will be compelled to engage on some of the biggest challenges facing the world and, if it wants to have any impact, Malaysia will have to a stand up on tough and potentially divisive issues such as terrorism and human rights.

Its strategy to get on the Council was pretty straightforward: Be a moderate voice representing the interests of a small Muslim, Asian country. This was feasible as Malaysia solicited election votes; staying moderate will be another challenge altogether.

Malaysia’s messaging and domestic policies will be subjected to close scrutiny. Its record on human rights leaves much to be desired, with the Sedition Act just one example of the country falling short of international human rights norms and setting a poor precedent for other states in region.

One can only hope that Malaysia will not try to avoid having a spotlight focused on its own abuses by giving a free pass to repressive governments on the Council’s agenda, it added.

"When it comes to international conflicts and terrorism, Malaysia’s voice is typically subdued. It does take a stand publicly on horrific abuses, but only after clear red-lines are crossed."
Take for example the biggest issue facing the Security Council at the moment: the Islamic State (IS). Malaysia made a complete about face in its messaging once it became clear that the group was extremist, but it was not that long ago that it was expressing admiration for the militants. Just this summer, Najib made public statements praising the bravery of the IS forces. Najib has since backtracked, evidently drawing a “red-line” at the gruesome beheadings videos, and he now denounces IS violence. He made this clear during his statement at the UN General Assembly in September and joined other ASEAN nations in a joint statement in support of the Security Council’s resolutions condemning the group. Malaysia’s response to IS is all the more important in light of growing reports of Malaysians volunteering to serve in the terrorist outfit. Given the sudden change in position, it is unclear if Najib is really revolted by the actions of IS, but his change of rhetoric and the support for air strikes strongly suggest that Malaysia will not stand in the way of concerted efforts within the Security Council to extinguish it.
Malaysia, according to the analysis, was similarly quiet about the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, until it found itself right in the middle of it this summer when Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 was shot down.

Beyond claiming that it was “frustrated” with the separatists for interfering with recovery efforts, Malaysia has not publicly said anything about Russia’s actions in Ukraine. Its absence from that discussion, especially in light of its ownership of the airline, suggests a deep reluctance to take a clear stand on divisive issues, even when its own interests are directly impacted.

On Syria, Malaysia was again quiet until the Ghouta chemical weapons attack, another red-line incident.

In response to the attacks, Anifah Aman called upon “those responsible for such irresponsible and inhuman acts to be brought to justice” and stated that chemical weapons inspectors should be allowed to inspect the sites. It is unclear whether the country would have spoken out against the violence if not for those attacks. 

It is a particularly challenging international environment that confronts the Security Council members. As one of them, if Malaysia continues to follow and not lead, it may not make any enemies. But it certainly won’t be making history.

Absolute freedom?

I do agree with Bar Council's standpoint that we cannot rely on legislation alone to maintain peace and harmony.

However, let me ask the Bar Council president Christopher Leong, his members, the opposition and those who have been talking rubbish about freedom and human rights:

1.  What has the Bar Council contributed in assisting the government maintain peace and stability in the country?

2.  What 'freedom of speech' and 'freedom of the Press' do they have in mind if such freedom is abused to no limit by the people?

3.  Do they want a lenient law to deal with hate speeches or just let the public lose balance and take the law in their own hands?

If Leong equates Malaysia to the US, Japan, Korea, UK or other 'single-race' countries, he must be blind. If his profession allows such freedom to take its toll on peace and harmony, then we will have to wait and see.
The Malaysian Bar believes Malaysia should no longer rely on legislation alone to maintain peace and harmony on the country.
"The Prime Minister had promised to repeal the Sedition Act, and we are in support of this," said Bar Council president Christopher Leong at Parliament House Thursday, after handing over a memorandum calling for the abolition of the Act to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Mah Siew Kong.
"It is time we do away with such an unjust law. In our brief history, it has been shown that such laws should not be left in the hands of men," he said, adding that they were in agreement with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's promise to do away with the Sedition Act.
Leong, together with nine other lawyers, met Mah after marching with hundreds of other lawyers in the "Walk for Peace and Freedom 2014", organised by the Malaysian Bar.
Eight resolutions were stated in the memorandum sent to the Prime Minister, among which were the call for the Government to reject all forms of bigotry, racist and religious extremism; to respect freedom of speech and expression as well as to abide by its pledge to repeal the Sedition Act.
You allow such things to happen without any control, you will 'have it' one day, and you will be answerable to it.

Let the rakyat decide and do what they wish... and I hope people like Leong will enjoy it!