Malaysia: a Lost democracy ? – Zaid Ibrahim

What a day! First, the shocking news of a judgement , which I would not go into specific because it would be subjudice to do so.  But it has made my resolve even stronger to push for an independent judiciary,and hopefully , our PM can set up the much awaited Judicial Appointment Commission before he goes.

My mood was cheered by Zaid Ibrahim’s statement that the “Ketuanan Melayu” model has failed. This is a Malay and UMNO leader, but he has spoken fairly and truthfully in a true Malaysian manner, not biased by his own ethnicity. According to a Malaysiakini report:

“It has resulted in waste of crucial resources, energy and time and has distracted from the real issues confronting the country,” said Zaid, who criticised the race-based policy despite being a member of the ruling Umno party which was set up to safeguard Malay interests.

Zaid said March 8 was a clear indicator that the ruling BN coalition no longer exclusively speaks for the people.

He also underscored the importance of promoting discourse and dialogue so that Malaysians learn to talk and to listen to one another again.

“Communication and trust amongst the people must be re-established,” he said.

The former minister called on the BN government to abandon its ‘reworked’ concept of the social contract and embrace a fresh perspective borne out of discussions and agreements made in good faith with all the communities.

“It is time for us all to practise a more transparent and egalitarian form of democracy and to recognise and respect the rights and dignity of all the citizens of this country.”

 Zaid also  singled out Mukhriz for criticism. According to Malaysiakini,

Zaid also referred to the recent remarks made by the son of former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad that there was no need for law and judicial reforms as it would not benefit the Malays,

“That he may be right is sad as it leads to the ossification of values that will only work against the interests of the party and the nation,” Zaid lamented in his 16-page speech.

“This type of thinking may pave the way to a suggestion in the future that we may as well do away with general elections altogether as they may not be good for the Malays for, if the justice that a revitalised rule of law would allow for is not to the benefit of the Malays, what is? More inefficiency, more corruption and a more authoritarian style of government perhaps……….

According to Zaid, the obsession with the Ketuanan Melayu doctrine has destroyed something precious in Malaysians.

“It makes us lose our sense of balance and fairness. When a certain Chinese lady was appointed head of a state development corporation, having served in that corporation for 33 years, there were protests from Malay groups because she is Chinese,” he said referring to the controversy involving the appointment of Low Siew Moi as acting head of the Selangor Development Cooperation (PKNS).

“A new economic vision is necessary, one that is more forward looking in outlook and guided by positive values that would serve to enhance cooperation amongst the races. This will encourage change for the better, to develop new forms of behaviour and shifts of attitudes, to believe that only economic growth will serve social equity, to aspire to a higher standard of living for all regardless of race.

“We need to meaningfully acknowledge that wealth is based on insight, sophisticated human capital and attitude change. A new dynamics focused on cooperation and competition will spur innovation and creativity.

“Some might say that this is a fantasy. I disagree. How do we go about transforming the culture and values of the bumiputeras so that their ability to create new economic wealth can be sustained?

“By changing our political and legal landscapes with freedom and democracy.”

I have in the past mentioned many times that our Malay brothers should not fear changes , since they are the majority race, and under one man one vote system, they will always hold the deciding power to chart the direction of the country. Since that is the case, why not just try a new economic system for 2 terms (10 years),; a system in which everyone is given equal chance but the genuine weak and poor should be given extra help regardless of ethnic origin. In that way, our economic cake can be expanded faster, and if the cake can become bigger in ten years times, everyone, irrespective of race, would have a bigger piece. If after 10 years, the Malay brothers find that they have become marginalised, (which i believe would not be the case), they can always use their political power to change the system again.

Zaid in fact echoed what i mentioned above by saying that:

The Malays, Zaid said, are now a clear majority in numbers and the fear of their being outnumbered is baseless.

“They are not under seige. The institutions of government are such that the Malays are effectively represented, and there is no way the interest of the Malays can be taken away other than through their own weakness and folly.”







Last but not least, Zaid also urged the authority to release RPK. He said “I also appeal for the release of (Malaysia Todayeditor) Raja Petra (Kamarudin) from ISA detention. He is a champion of free speech. His writings, no matter how offensive they may be to some, cannot by any stretch of the imagination be seen as a threat to the national security of this country.”

I am glad UMNO has such a far sighted and liberal person, and I hope reform forces in UMNO should speak out in support of Zaid IBrahim and push for change for the betterment of all the people.
 Zaid’s full speech, Malayisa: a Lost democracy,  can be read here



“Works of Freedom” – 60th anniversary of UDHR

I am doing a little bit of advertisement today for “FAN Malaysia: Photography Contest and ‘Works of Freedom’ Exhibition “.

In conjunction with the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the World Human Rights Day falls on December 10th, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation Alumni Network (FAN) Malaysia is celebrating the day with an upcoming exhibition and a photography contest with the theme of ‘Freedom’. FAN Malaysia realizes the needs to advocate public awareness on the meanings of Freedom through photo exhibition and to enlist the public support the cause of Freedom. It also hopes that the contest and the exhibition will help to raise public awareness on the meaning of freedom in a broader context.

For details of the program and how to enter, please go to the Friedrich Naumann Foundation Website (click here ).

Why the objection ?

PAS , a member of the Pakatan government of Selangor, is objecting to the appointment of LOW Siew MOi as the acting head of PKNS.

The Menteri Besar , Tan Sri Khalid, had, according to MalaysianInsider, told PAS that Low is appointed because of her professionalism and administrative ability.

If that is the case, why should PAS object to it?I have a question to ask PAS and I hope they can give a truthful answer:  Is it because of her ethnicity or gender?  I really hope not!

If anyone is good, he or she should be promoted based on meritocracy. I hope Tan Sri Khalid will not waver and let this lady try out for at least a year, to see how she copes with her duty.

One of the reasons why the country is facing a brain drain problems is the perception among certain sections of the people that there seems to be an unwritten rule that the heads of government departments or government linked corporations or sports teams or any councils etc must be headed by someone from a certain ethnic group only. Whether such perception is right or wrong, it has led to many talented people going overseas to seek jobs. Pakatan would do well to do away this perception.

I have mentioned before, immediately after MArch 8, that if Pakatan can really govern well in a multiracial manner in the 5 states that it has won, it would not only be certain of victory in the next general election, but it would force the old culture of race based politics in Malaysia to change to a non racial one.

About the ISA petition

The National delegates Conference of Parti Gerakan early this month passed a resolution calling for the repeal of the ISA.

On hindsight, since it was passed by the grassroots, the party should have taken the initiative to push for a petition in Parliament to abolish the iSA.

 Instead, the opposition has taken the lead and initiated a petition to the PM. And it was unfortunate that the Gerakan MPs did not sign the petition, even though we knew that the whole party, from the top leadership to the grassroots, really wanted it to be repealed.

The president of Gerakan has in fact written to PM to ask for a repeal of the ISA following the passing of the resolution.  This actually means that Gerakan has actually signed a separate petition to the same effect for the same thing.  It was really unfortunate that the Gerakan  MPs did not sign on the petition initiated by the opposition.

This issue was brought out during our ‘debate’ last week (between three bloggers and some of the top leaders) , and the resolve to have the ISA repealed is not in question. So I think Gerakan might have done wrong in not directing its 2 MPs to sign the petition initiated by the opposition, even though its president has already signed one earlier on, and submitted to the PM even before the opposition one. This has unfortunately created a perception that Gerakan is not being consistent.

I have asked our top leaders to bring this issue directly into BN for discussion. If most members of BN want the ISA to be repealed, then the government must take steps to have it repealed. This is working on the principle of the party (BN) directing the government.

All the component parties talk about reform after MArch 8, and one of the most important reform is to let BN dictates how the government is to be run and not just by UMNO alone. In all coalition governments all over the world, the coalition party decides the direction of the government policies, and not just the biggest party alone.

So, it is a good test whether BN can work along this principle by having Gerakan pushing this in BN.


Happy Deepavali

Happy Deepavali to all my Indian Malaysian brothers.

Sorry for this late greeting, but I was on the road last 2 days and today, I was busy visiting open houses of my Indian friends and witha very bloated stomach from too much eating, I finally get a chance to sit down and post this greetings.

May the Festival of lights bring joy and happiness to all Malaysians.

DO away the NEP altogether

The DPM has mentioned that certain elements of the NEP will be done away in the not too distant future.

My questions are:

What is the not too distant future? Time is relative. A century can be a long time or can also be  “not too distant future”,  depending on the scale of referece.

What are the elemens that are going to be dismantled?

Why not the whole policy be replaced by one that is based on “needs” and “merit”?

The world is in a deep financial crisis, the scale of which has not be seen since the deep Depression of the thirties.

If we are not changing to a economy that is based on “needs” and “merits”, changes around us will over take us and left us in a quandary.

Our economic cake is going to shrink. 

One aspect of the financial world that i would like to point out is that the financial world is not going to be fair to the losers.

 It takes a economic cake of 100 Ib size to lose 50% to become a 50 lbs one. But for the 50lbs cake to go back to its 100 lbs. size, it needs to double itself and achieve a 100% growth. That is why stocks and shares, once in decline, takes a longer period to recover than coming down.

For a share of $10, it can drop to $5 by losing 50% of its value. But for the $5 share to go back to $10, it needs to double itself.

For any serious player in the stock and economic world, this is the basic tenet of how the winners are rewarded and losers have everything stacked against them.

So, we must do our very best , in this economic storm, to make sure that the tide of the economic storm does not result in our economic cake shrinking ( recession). Policies like the NEP actually retard the economic growth, and only the well connected really benefit from its implementation.

So, I would like to suggest to our national leaders to just do away the NEP and replace it with a market orientated, ‘needs’-based and merit-based economy. That way, at least we can protect our economic cake from being eroded to a mere pudding.



Malaysia? No. 132

A lot of people has credited the present PM for making Malaysia more liberal. But is this the case?

The latest ranking of press freedom by Reporters Without Frontiers as reported in Malaysiakini shows that Malaysia is getting worse in press freedom. Malaysia ranked 92 in 2006, 124 in 2007and now, in 2008, we are ranked 132.

from Malaysiakini

Mainstream media are tightly controlled and often newspapers editors are called up to the relevant ministry for briefing, which in fact are instruction giving session on what can be and what cannot be reported.

ISA were used to arrest RPK and a newspaper journalist Tan Hoon Cheng, and this would be forever a black mark on our press freedom record.

While the Chinese press are more daring  in airing non-conforming views on certain issues, there is actually a monopoly in the Chinese press, with most of the major newspapers owned by a single person, and through that single person, the authority can easily control the Chinese press.

Of late, a Malay newspaper has published a story purported about a fictatious character, YB J, who was assasinated when she went to officiate at a certain function. This is a clear case of incitement in the name of press freedom, and this YB J bears a very strong similarities to the real life character of YB Teresa, another victim of ISA.

This sort of things pains all of us who want to see a freer press. A free press is actually a mirror for those leaders running the government. They reflect what is on the ground, and without such reflection, how could the leaders gauge the mood of the people and what the people want. One of the many reasons BN lost in the last GE is that they have got wrong feedback, primarily because the press is not functioning as it should as a mirror of the mood of the people.

I have written on 3 consecutive three years (2206, 2007 and now 2008) on the deteriorating rankings , and I really dread to think what would be the ranking next year.

At the rate things are going, i doubt there would be any hope of our press becoming more free. That is why nowadays, I read the net more than the Main Stream newspapers, and I can tell you, I am not alone.

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