Saturday, December 27, 2008

Blank about Christmas

Post Boxing Day.
And I find this amazing thought by G.K. Chesterton:

People are losing the power to enjoy Christmas through identifying it with enjoyment. When once they lose sight of the old suggestion that it is all about something, they naturally fall into blank pauses of wondering what it is all about. To be told to rejoice on Christmas Day is reasonable and intelligible, if you understand the name, or even look at the word. To be told to rejoice on the 25th of December is like being told to rejoice at quarter-past eleven on Thursday week. You cannot suddenly be frivolous unless you believe there is a serious reason for being frivolous.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Massacre in Mumbai

Thomas Friedman makes an interesting point post-Mumbai terror attacks:
Feb. 6, 2006, three Pakistanis died in Peshawar and Lahore during violent street protests against Danish cartoons that had satirized the Prophet Muhammad. More such mass protests followed weeks later. When Pakistanis and other Muslims are willing to take to the streets, even suffer death, to protest an insulting cartoon published in Denmark, is it fair to ask: Who in the Muslim world, who in Pakistan, is ready to take to the streets to protest the mass murders of real people, not cartoon characters, right next door in Mumbai?

After all, if 10 young Indians from a splinter wing of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party traveled by boat to Pakistan, shot up two hotels in Karachi and the central train station, killed at least 173 people, and then, for good measure, murdered the imam and his wife at a Saudi-financed mosque while they were cradling their 2-year-old son — purely because they were Sunni Muslims — where would we be today? The entire Muslim world would be aflame and in the streets. [More here]
I happen to be in full agreement with Friedman here. When the siege ended on Saturday at least 188 had been killed and more than 300 injured. 28 of the dead were foreigners, including at least six Americans and eight Israelis killed at a Hasidic Chabad.

The earliest reports of solidarity with the innocent in Mumbai and outrage at the attacks came from the US and UK. Sadly, there was little public outrage and official indignation expressed, least of all from Pakistan, India’s traditional foe.

I scoured online news portals to see if the horrific killings also occasioned official condemnation from Muslim governments. Any mass protests at terrorists who ‘hijacked’ a purportedly peaceful religion and shamed its adherents? Or are people no longer expected to condemn unmitigated evil if it is visited upon those who do not share their values and faith?

Well, there was the obligatory statement from Iran which I thought sounded hollow. Fortunately I stumbled upon this, a piece by Sultan Al Qassemi who is a businessman in Dubai:
It is not enough for moderate Muslims to be revolted by the attacks in Mumbai as we have been revolted by the attacks on the New York office towers, Amman wedding, London transport system, Madrid trains, Beslan school, Jerusalem pizzeria, Baghdad markets and numerous other places. It is time to take a serious stand against these perpetrators and reclaim our religion. [More here]
I say it's time to move beyond rhetoric.

The other article that caught my eye reported the resignation of India's security minister. Cabinet Minister Shivraj Patil took responsibility for failing to thwart or contain the killings, and stepped down in disgrace. Admirable!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Old fears in new clothing

Recent events seem to suggest that the authorities are digging in and taking a harder stand. Now that DPM Najib is assured the premiership, we are hearing about the - gasp! - second coming of Dr M.

A South China Morning Post report that was carried by Malaysian Insider quotes opposition MP M. Kulasegaran, "We fear with Abdullah's departure and the return of hardliners like Dr Mahathir to prominence, political repression is back on a scale not seen in the last five years." The MP sees the recent spate of arrests as “the beginning."

Was March 8 a fluke?
Is there no way to break out of the Matrix?
Does the sun rise every morning?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Obama makes history!

Obama wins! Barack Hussein Obama beat Republican rival McCain to become the 44th US President in one of the most closely watched and bitterly fought presidential elections. It's not a landslide win as some say (Obama beat McCain by 52 percent to 46 percent) but it's an historic day as Obama becomes the nation’s first African American President, a true child of the civil rights movement, whose achievements can be traced back to the legacy of men like Martin Luther King:
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."
It’s 45 years from the day Martin Luther King first electrified Washington with his speech. Today, whatever detractors may say of the world’s “last superpower” and its internal contradictions, the US has demonstrated it has not lost sight of its creed. Indeed all men are created equal, and anyone who loves his country and aspires to the nation’s highest office can achieve it. Now there's a lesson for Malaysia.

Obama’s victory speech:
If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer. (More)
McCain’s concession speech:
In a contest as long and difficult as this campaign has been, his success alone commands my respect for his ability and perseverance. But that he managed to do so by inspiring the hopes of so many millions of Americans who had once wrongly believed that they had little at stake or little influence in the election of an American president is something I deeply admire and commend him for achieving. (More)

.....and conservative Bill Dyer's congrats:
God bless you and keep you, sir. I have been among your harshest critics, in good faith I hope, and I will continue to speak out when I think you're wrong. I pray for the grace, though, to acknowledge those times when you are right, and for the decency to accord you with the full respect that is due to anyone who holds the office which you are about to embark. (More)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

My 40% political struggle?

It’s a rollercoaster ride for political reform in the country, the thrill of anticipation largely dampened by the fact that we can’t get off the car nor the seemingly pointless loop. I do not have any illusion that change is a-comin’ just because of March 8; we are a long way off and some entrenched attitudes about race, religion, and rights, continue to have a stranglehold. So I continue to breathe with difficulties.

The latest statement from the Conference of Rulers was little comfort. I know that parties and individuals left and right of the political divide have hailed it as a vote for the Constitution, etc, but that’s not saying much is it? Here’s the bit that got to me:

The rulers also called on the Malays to remain united, saying that this was more important than political or factional interests.

They said: 'The Conference of Rulers also calls on the Malays to be united to safeguard the privileges, position, eminence and greatness of the Malay rulers, safeguard Islam, Malay as the national language, and the genuine interests of the other communities in Malaysia as enshrined in the federal Constitution.

'It has to be emphasised that this agenda is more important and foremost than political or factional interests.'

It would have meant more if there was an explicit call for all Malaysians to be united. After all, shouldn’t this above all, be “more important than political or factional interests”?

I think no right-thinking Malaysian would deny the institution of the rulers or Malay rights. What I am concerned about is how such a position squares with a guarantee that the genuine interests and rights of non-Malays are 'safeguarded,' since the interpretation and practice of these guarantees are so fickle?

It appears that as a non-Malay born on Malaysian soil, I do have a rightful place under the Malaysian sun, but with one caveat. I only have to accept that my rightful place will never be equal nor – heavens - larger than those of the Malays. Going by this interpretation, it also appears my legal rights and my social rights will never, ever be reconciled.

I’m thinking to myself: what then is my political struggle all about?

If it is not for equal standing with my Malay brothers and sisters, what cause have I to call myself an Anak Malaysia? Or as some people seem to imply, if non-Malays would only be happy with their 40%, everything would be nice and wonderful.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Titanic Sails At Dawn

Who will go down with it?

Monday, September 01, 2008

No sign of Yi Jien

Time's running out for Yi Jien. A 31 August post on The Daily Interlake carried this update:
A Glacier National Park map looks like a child has been scribbling on it for hours, but those curling and zigzagging lines aren’t random scribbles.They depict carefully choreographed routes in the ongoing Yi-Jien Hwa Search and Rescue mission in Glacier National Park.

Hwa, a 27-year-old from Kentucky and Malaysia, was last seen Aug. 11 and the search for him has been under way since Aug. 19.

The map shows helicopter flight routes in purple, ground-search team routes in red, all based on GPS tracking. It shows yellow polygons of areas that have been carefully “scoped” from vantage points along search routes. It does not represent the initial search areas before GPS devices were put to use, nor does it show all of the areas that have been glassed with binoculars and spotting scopes.“We think the map represents 70 percent of the searching we’ve done,” said Dennis Divoky, one of the search team leaders. [More]
Meanwhile back in KL, friends are praying against all odds for some clue, a word, a sign - anything - that could point to a hopeful end. 1 Peter 1:6-7 offers the view that trials come by God's design to prove our faith. Of course, God doesn't need to test us in order to know what we're made of; trials come so that we will know what our own faith is made of. Referring to this passage of Scripture, John Piper wrote:
"...Peter is teaching that the sovereign will of God governs all the distresses that happen to us and, therefore the design in them is not ultimately the design of evil men or the design of Satan (which are real enough!), but is a design of God. "
It does not make one's suffering any less painful, but there is comfort in knowing our distresses will not end in meaninglessness. In times like this, I remember Scott Wesley Brown's song, "He Will Carry You":

if He carried the weight of the world upon his shoulders,
I know my brother that he will carry you ...
if He carried the weight of the world upon his shoulders,
I know my sister that he will carry you ...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Yi-Jien Missing

I had been preparing to put my thoughts on the electrifying outcome of the Permatang Pauh by-election, but words fail when the heart is a little numbed by more pressing concerns.

Yi-Jien remains missing. A mother is missing her son, her children a brother, a wife her husband. His mother Kim Guat rallies friends and relations to fast and pray through what she terms the 'last stretch'.

Dear All,

I trust that you are all keeping well in the Lord. Siu Yin and I are doing well. God has encouraged us greatly even though the day ended without Yi Jien being found and we have to continue waiting for another day.

This morning the Lord encouraged me through Pauline as she shared with me about her conviction as she spent time with the Lord that Jesus himself was ministering to Yi Jien in Hi own tenderness and also in my own time with the Lord where I was reading Psalm 124:

"If the Lord had not been on our side - let Israel say . . . when the flood would have engulfed us, the torrent would have swept over us, the raging waters would have swept us away . . . Praise be to the Lord who has not let us be torn by their teeth, we have escaped like a bird out of the fowler's snare, the snare has been broken and we have escaped. Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth."

The part about the waters was quite comforting because that was what the rangers thought most likely could have happened to him - either swept away or covered in a glacier . . . but generally the gentle assurance from Him again that YJ is kept alive and safe by Him.

For Siu Yin, the Lord was very gentle and loving knowing that this would be a hard day again for her because each night had always ended up in 'disappointment' . . in the afternoon she napped just before outr time of breifing with the rangers. She had a dream which was all filled with light and she saw not Yi Jien's face but his body on a gurney being pushed into an ambulance. She said that gave her peace when she woke up and the quietness of heart which prepared her for the meeting.

So God has been really good to assure us every step of the way, through other friends as well, to keep faith and hope in Him. And I share that to encourage each of us to continue to trust Him and wait in quiet confidence.

Please pray for the following:

1. Weather - to clear fast and not to have strong winds otherwise they cannot do an aerial search; they have agreed with Siu Yin's suggestion to cover more extensively the trial leading from Mary's Falls to Gunsight Pass; she thinks he may have started here instead but there is a lot of densely covered brush area for a few miles.

2. The doghandlers would be open to use dogs again to see if they can pick up human scent - there are some risks of bears around so the handlers must assess the dangers and decide . . . we think that this will help in those areas that are covered by dense brush

3. For the aerial serach to be able to start early (only possible if weather clears quickly) - and just guidance for them as they scope the area

4. What areas to specifically cover - they will somehow home in on the right area. Right now, they are at a loss because of lack of any detail/clue to follow on . . or that some detail may change that will alert them to where he is

They have been really helpful and are trying to accommodate our requests as far as possible - so we can really thank God for that answer to our prayer. So let's continue to pray that God will lead and guide them to make the right plans and search areas tomoorw meeting.

Thank you all so much again . . I know the going has been really trying . . but He has continued to comfort and assure along the way.

God bless, everyone and thank you . . .

kim guat

HT: Jo Jo Bumps

Here's an earlier email that came on Aug 27:

Dear All,

We have talked to them again; they said that they had covered quite extensively the area that Siu Yin had thought about also within the first few days of their search; they also had some people there the last 2 days. They have not planned out tomorrow's schedule yet depending on the weather; does not look good, most likely would be like today (tues) where it snowed in the higher parts and rained in the lower areas. So the seachers could not do much. Unless weather clears, they would not be able to do much tomorrow and will concentrate their resources like aerial search on Thur and Fri when the forecast is better; they said they needed to preserve the energies of their people because the terrains are not easy to cover. (Siu Yin said the rain might not be bad cos it might give Yi Jien a source of water)

They said they have not given up yet even though they have scaled down; their other strategy has been to widely inform all rangers, visitors, etc, whoever is in the park to keep a watchout as well. Now it is only as they said 'rolling the dice' - because they don't know where to go unless they have specific clues which they don't have up to this point. All the high probability areas have been covered and the rest of the area is very vast.

So we now need to pray:

1. for clear weather as soon as possible

2. wisdom and clear guidance for the rangers as they plan their schedule for tomorrow and the next few days as to where they should cover; they said if Yi Jien is hiding under rocks, it is really not possible for them to be able to cover all the areas with rocks

3. God will lead the searchers to the exact area or somehow Yi Jien is able to move out to an area where at least some sign will show to them that there is someone there (they do watch out for animal activities, etc., but so far nothing, not even the flying birds - they said the moment they get anything, they will immediately refocus their search but so far they have not got anything

4. God will continue to keep Yi Jien alive till they find him

5. for Patrick (head) and Kyle who is now running the operations (Gary Moses will come back next week) that God will change their hearts and attitude because at this point, I know they are thinking that it is only looking for a dead body; they are frustrated and discouraged and humanly speaking think that it is not possible for Yi Jien to be alive since it'a already 2 weeks; they lack the motivation now I believe but we have not given up hope yet; so even if less people or efforts are involved, God is still sovereign and can do anything - so we need to continue to ask Him to stretch out His arm and save and deliver. Thank you all for continuing to prevail - let's make this one last effort together - so if you can inform people to pray . .

Keep well . . it is still 'well with our souls'

God bless

kim guat

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Remembering Solzhenitsyn

December 11, 1918 ~ August 3, 2008

Over a half century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: "Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”

Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution. In the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval.

But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”

Alexandr Solzhenitsyn
Speech on receiving Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, London 1983

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Another day on the Farm

If all this news about Pak Lah’s ‘secret’ meetings with PAS members on Malay unity and Islam seem like a clever political strategy, smart-alecky UMNO types should think again. It has once again revealed the hollowness in the PM’s post-March 8 announcement that he has ‘heard’ what the rakyat was saying. Instead it has only confirmed that UMNO is still in denial or is bankrupt of ideas, or both. Sure, Malaysian politics is coloured by racial and religious sentiments, but the whinging sounds painfully like a broken record and it's high time we change it.

What does the ordinary person make of all these?
  • BN is not serious about reforms or moving the nation forward. They’re simply moving furniture.
  • UMNO still calls the shots and everyone else better call them ‘Uncle.’ Or else.
  • UMNO isn’t really interested in seeing a united Malaysia nor the emergence of Bangsa Malaysia. Neither are the component parties.
  • The Islamists in UMNO (and certainly in PAS) still hold the trump card, so watch what they do and not what they say.
  • There is no spin more damning than the one that says Bumiputra ‘rights’ will not disadvantage other races.
  • There can be no unity without equality.
I have read Animal Farm.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Case 1: Saiful makes a shock allegation against Anwar in a swirl of frontpage publicity. It appears there have been homosexual trysts in upscale condominiums and overseas involving the 23-year old former “aide” and the 60-year old former DPM with a bad back. Amidst photos of young Saiful hobnobbing with BN types – including a private meeting with DPM Najib - Anwar stridently refutes the well-timed bombshell as “fabrication” and “conspiracy.”

Accuser Saiful is holed up somewhere for his own protection, and Anwar is unceremoniously hauled away, detained on suspicion of sodomy. He is freed on bail, and will report back to the police in August.

Case 2: Raja Petra, that incorrigible editor of Malaysia Today, posts volumes implicating DPM Najib and his wife Rosmah in the murder of Altantuya. Raja Petra followed up on his very public campaign with an earth-shattering statutory declaration that places Rosmah at the scene of the crime. Following what must be the oddest trial of a sensational murder, mired in controversy and finger-pointing by both prosecution and defense counsels beginning in June 2007, the public is no longer holding its collective breath. And lets not talk about the statutory declarations by PI-in-hiding, P. Balasubramaniam.

Meanwhile, Raja Petra is arrested and charged in the magistrate court for criminal defamation.

<I just wanted to make sure no one misses the irony>.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Malaysia adrift

I didn’t think I’d enjoy Redang as much as I did, but I surely did! This, in spite my not being a beach person.

We were at Pelangi (thanks to the Hous for the introduction!), a rustic no-frills resort that served forgettable 'chap fan' buffet style, but then it does not pretend to be a 5-star destination. Relatively clean too. Whatever it lacks is well compensated by our snorkeling trips twice daily out in the azure waters that Redang is deservedly famous for. I do hope it stays that way – the beach I mean. Pelangi’s got the best beach I reckon – wave-lapped white sandy stretches, unlike other sites that are carpeted by broken shells and corals (for instance the Marine Park).

Back after that sun-drenched vacation, reality reasserted itself: we found Malaysia embroiled in another round of mudslinging of comedic proportion.

Here’s my belated two-sens:

Pakatan or BN, what we want is for leaders or those in power to come clean and stop their cat-and-mouse political one-upmanship. Maybe there’s some kind of political mileage or advantage in keeping cards close to the chest, but all these allusions to “evidence” and exposes “at the right time” demonstrate a total lack of consideration for the people at a time as critical as now.

The protracted rhetoric and finger-pointing is a pain in the butt and it is no longer funny.

We need statesmen, not hustlers and rabble-rousing shit-stirrers, to use an impolite word. We have elected people into power, PR and BN. Lead. Govern. Inspire. The easiest thing to do is to rally crowds together and spew bile. Show us your plans for taking the country forward.

What is the BN government's plan in the face of dwindling FDIs and impending downsizing and retrenchments? Is it underestimating the current extent of inflation? Confidence in our national institutions is at an all-time low and they need urgent reforms, while credibility of the arms of government is diminishing by the day. Pray tell, is UMNO’s interest more paramount than the state of the nation?

Why isn’t Pakatan telling us how it’s addressing the recession? Anyone can say they can bring fuel prices down. But is it not imperative to tell us how that's really going to benefit the nation and not postpone disaster? How do fuel subsidies gel with the macro-view in the long-term? Daniel Gross for instance believes the global fallout is not going to be pretty and it’s not going to end soon. Is it not time for serious numbers-crunching?

Malaysia is floundering, like a ship tragically listing. No amount of flying SDs and Quran-swearing will steer a rudderless nation. Malaysia needs men and women who can read the times, who’ve got a grasp of the big picture.

Malaysia needs leaders. Now.

Monday, June 09, 2008

While you were not looking

The winding road that takes you up Fraser’s Hill passes by what used to be the famous resthouse at the Gap. Back when the last 8km stretch up was a one-way affair regulated by “7-up” – odd hour UP, and even hour DOWN – the colonial relic that was Gap Resthouse was a welcome sight after a stomach churning drive up the hill.

Not anymore. It’s deserted, boarded, showing its age, with a forlorn sign that says ‘Under Renovation.’ To this day, people talk about its scones and hot teas.

Further up, you reach the main turn into Fraser’s proper which leads to the Hill’s iconic clock tower. But the short distance up to the town centre is marred somewhat by dilapidated shacks on the jungle fringe on the right side of the road. These were fruit stalls or snack shops, weren’t they? Done in by widened roads and unregulated 2-way traffic system.

That’s as apt a metaphor as any for what happens when the times move on while you were busy looking the other way.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Saga barrier comes down!

Cabinet orders Cheras barriers removed ! Now that's good news indeed:

Finally some good news for the residents of Bandar Mahkota Cheras (BMC) - the federal government has ordered that a toll-free access road in their neighbourhood should not be barricaded.

BMC Open Road Committee chairperson Tan Boon Hwa said that he was informed of this by Transport Minister Ong Tee Keat this afternoon.

Tan said that Ong called him up after the weekly cabinet meeting to inform him of the cabinet decision taken today.

But I wonder - is it always up to the Cabinet to call the shots? Are all the pillars of government reduced to one all-powerful Executive?

On the other hand I applaud the commitment of BMC residents who stood against Grand Saga. It goes to show that when we keep on pushing, something is bound to give...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

A saga of greed

I’m sorry.

I simply find the whole Grand Saga business way, way disgusting. Maybe I don’t have all the facts, and just maybe I have my bias made up.

Perhaps a case may be made against residents who took the law into their own hands. But clearly some over-reaction and completely inappropriate actions by the concessionaire for the Cheras-Kajang highway toll must assume part of the blame.

Who’s right, and who’s wrong? Is it enough to wave a court order in the face of angry residents?

This to my mind is what happens when the federal government colludes with Big Business - and I don’t even want to speculate over the whiff of cronyism and all that is normally associated with our highway deals.

In the first place, a ‘concession’ is no gravy train ticket. It is not a singular right to unfettered greed and undiminished returns.

A company supposedly appointed to fix roads and maintain them is primarily tasked with doing good for the community and taxpayers. The cardinal rule of such a contract surely must be to put national interest first.

Of course it is hoped that in the main, it’s a win-win situation, so putting national interest ahead of one’s own pockets will not necessarily mean putting the company in the red. If they are not able to 'make a profit' perhaps such a company should get out of the business, not bend the rules, twist arms, bash heads, or erect barricades, to get the numbers they want.

Right now, the equation is in favour of Big Business.

Yet it is as clear as day that residents have been deliberately inconvenienced, completely ignored, and their plight as road-users and taxpayers disregarded.

So there’s a court order? It does not grant any party the moral high ground to do as they want at the expense of ordinary folks – for whom any concession holders are to benefit anyway. These are the very people who subscribe to the maxim that government is for the people.

Residents allegedly beaten up by uniformed policemen and FRUs? Now thugs have entered the frey resulting in brutal and bloody scuffles. Grand Saga executive director Zainal Abidin Ali said they’re not involved, and they don’t know who these ‘thugs’ are. Right. Some altruistic heavies who just happened to be doing Grand Saga a friendly favour.

Who’s Zainal Abidin? He’s the former Dang Wangi police chief.

What’s the police doing about all this? At the moment, not much that we know about.

Go on. That’s a fine way to woo back voters. It appears the recent lessons of GE12 haven't sunk in.

If governments only look out for the interest of businesses and their appointees, they do not deserve to be in power. When the government chooses to turn the other way and not look into the legitimate plight of common taxpayers, it is no surprise that these ordinary 'powerless' folks too will turn away and look somewhere else.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

What next?

We are living in interesting times, aren't we? So what's next for Malaysia?

Friday, May 16, 2008

The 'Iron Law' of NS

It was what DPM Datuk Seri Najib Razak said in the aftermath of another NS death. 18-year-old NS trainee Too Hui Min became the 16th youth to die during training and strident calls were once again made for NS to be reviewed and stopped. Nope. The government is adamant it will not shelf NS:

"We cannot scrap the programme just like that as many parties are involved," Najib said after launching the National Youth Day and Week at Felda Sebertak.

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks.

John Gatto, that staunch advocate of alternative education once wrote in his book, Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling, that institutional schooling is inherently destructive to children. But here’s what else he said:

"In one of the great ironies of human affairs, the massive rethinking the schools require would cost so much less than we are spending now that powerful interests cannot afford to let it happen. You must understand that first and foremost the business I am in is a jobs project and an agency for letting contracts. We cannot afford to save money by reducing the scope of our operation or by diversifying the product we offer, even to help children grow up right. That is the iron law of institutional schooling – it is a business, subject neither to normal accounting procedures nor to the rational scalpel of competition."

It appears to me that powerful interests are indeed at work not so much to advance the wellbeing of our children but to line their own pockets or serve some hidden agenda. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems that MORE lives have been lost in four years of NS than in all our army training camps put together during the same period of time.

NS, like most institutions that prescribe compulsory training and schooling, is one big gravy train in business for letting contracts. Hasn’t DPM Najib just confirmed what we always knew to be true?


Who Are They? by Goh Keat Peng at Micah Mandate

National Service Call to Parents by Prof Dr Mohamad Tajuddin at The People's Parliament

Monday, May 12, 2008

The black art of censorship

It’s a bit hard for me to appreciate the need for these ridiculous displays of censorship in our magazines. These examples are from TIME and The Economist.

I’ve seen cleavages, hemlines, religious icons, Islamic verses, paintings, sculptures, nudes, etc, blacked out, but cigarettes? I mean, does this even serve any useful purpose? Can anyone help me understand this? Please?

It does give new meaning to the term ‘pen-pushers.’ I salute these poor unnamed individuals whose artful penmanship shield me from depravity at the risk of their very own souls. It’s gainful employment I’m sure, but I wonder what these brave souls tell their family and friends when they’re asked about their day job.

Friday, May 09, 2008

The politics of ketuanan

Information Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek said it did not mean Malays were the masters and non-Malays slaves.

"Let's not politicise this until it reaches the level of a new polemic," he told reporters at the Parliament lobby in response to remarks by Transport Minister and MCA vice-president Datuk Ong Tee Keat that the term gave the perception that Malays were masters and non-Malays slaves.

"No need to become sensitive when Malay supremacy is mentioned," said Ahmad Shabery, who is also the MP for Kemaman. [Malaysian Insider]

You know, the spin about ‘politicising’ ketuanan melayu is putting me in a tizzy.

Isn’t racial discrimination (positive or otherwise) a political construct? Isn’t this a political issue pure and simple? If non-malays are ‘sensitive’ surely we aren’t the only ones? After all, isn’t this why some quarters are fussing about the loss of political power, damning others who question malay rights?

It smacks of the ‘separate but equal’ laws challenged by US civil rights movement back in the 50s and 60s.

If indeed it is merely false perception, then politicians should do the right thing - prove their convictions by not engaging in semantic spins, but by eliminating this outdated expression from national discourse.

And why shouldn’t non-malay Malaysians feel concerned when our national ideology justifies and defends the perpetuation of repackaged apartheid? I am an Anak Bangsa Malaysia. Why am I not allowed to feel secure in this land of my birth, my place threatened, my allegiance questioned, when all I ask for is affirmation? Is the threat of imprisonment and being charged under the Sedition Act supposed to allay my fears, assure me my rights, and make me grateful I am a citizen of Malaysia?

In this day and age, is there moral justification for the supremacy of a particular people on the basis of colour and creed? How do you explain this disconcerting siege mentality that is so prevalent among a majority people? When will Malaysians be allowed to be Malaysians?

Oh yes – the word ‘polemic.’ Now there’s another overused expression favoured by politicians. Like that other worn-out cliché, 'it does not arise.' It's all, erm, polemic to me.

More: Check out John Lee's Malay and Non-Malay Rights Don't Exist

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Iron Man blasts off!

I enjoyed Iron Man. I know it’s not saying much since I grew up on DC and Marvel and one does not generally grow out of comics and super heroes. Shellhead (that’s Iron Man to the uninitiated) looks cool. What a blast. So what if it’s formulaic? An irresponsible playboy finds redemption, gives up philandering, turns against the military-industrial complex that made his fortunes, suits up in an out-of-this-world body armour, and becomes a superhero. A serious dose of tech-tonic for geeks and fans.

And did I mention that it also features the granddaddy of punk anthems, Institutionalized by Suicidal Tendencies (Go here for music and lyrics)? It’s, erm, to say the least, an inspired and ironic choice.

Iron Man. Batman. Spider Man. X-Men. Superman. Larger than life superheroics on cinema screens are fueled in part by a cynical world in search of justice and moral impetus. It’s an interesting paradox: where moral clarity is pooh-poohed in the real world in favour of relativism or indifference, audience cheer when cardboard villains get whupped because they so want the good guys to win. At least on screen, there’s no analysis-paralysis. Good guys do what good guys do: they believe there’s a line between good and bad, that it’s possible to tell one from the other, and they’re willing to risk everything to put things right.

And how about this take on the superhero mythos: It acknowledges the powerlessness of ordinary folks to stand up to evil, and instead affirms that brute force wielded by a benevolent Hero is ultimately humanity’s salvation. Hmm.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

"It does not arise"

Ever heard the phrase, "It does not arise" ?

It struck me after the BALKIS controversy broke.

So was the dissolution of the organisation in order, and did BALKIS have any authority to close its accounts? The wife of former Selangor menteri besar, Datin Seri Zahrah Kechik said the dissolution took place on March 11 - 2 days before Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim was sworn-in as Menteri Besar on March 13.

"It means, I was the president at the time and had not relinquished the president's post. Therefore, the question of me not having to power to chair the general meeting called for the purpose Balkis' dissolution does not arise," she said.

“Does not arise.” It’s a phrase so used and abused that every time it arises, my temperature rises.

“Does not arise.”

I mean, why do these people insist on saying an issue (or a question) “does not arise” when it obviously and most certainly has? Wasn’t this why a statement or response became necessary?

Another example:

On whether the Government would enforce some control on the blogging community, newly-minted Information Minister Shabery Cheek said it would not do so. “The question of controlling bloggers does not arise.”

Here it is again:

When queried if amends to former Lord President Tun Salleh Abas and two other judges sacked in the 1988 judicial crisis included an apology, PM Abdullah said: “I do not see why we should apologise. It does not arise.

Aarrghh! Here we go again:

On Tian Chua’s mischievous photo of DPM Najib and Altantuya last year ,Tengku Sarifuddin denied the DPM had ever met Altantuya and that the DPM was not involved in any way: “As such, the issue over the picture does not arise,” Tengku Sarifuddin told Bernama.


When talking about BN MPs in Sabah and Sarawak crossing over to Pakatan, Anwar Ibrahim said: “The question of buying people does not arise. It is not our tradition,” he said, adding that if the issue of buying the MPs were to arise, he would call off the discussions.

And aaaaaaaaarrrghhhh more:

Malaysian Bar Council President Ambiga Sreenevasan said on consultation with the Bar regarding judicial appointments: "The question of being beholden to any appointing authority, whether under the proposed Judicial Appointments Commission or the present system, does not arise as judges know that they discharge their responsibilities impartially, independent of who the appointing authority is..”


Following the hue and cry over police permits for the Black 14 gathering: “Dr Syed Husin added that the issue of a permit for the gathering did not arise as the party's had discussed the matter with the Kuala Lumpur deputy police chief a few days before it was held."

Aarrghh!!!! Enough already!!

The Employees Provident Fund's (EPF) acquisition of RHB Bank last year is not a bailout, says Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop. “The question of bailout does not arise. It is purely a commercial transaction," he told Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang.

Friday, April 18, 2008

So where's Tun Hamid Omar?

“No nation can call itself fair and just without an efficient and trusted judiciary. By 'trusted', I mean a judiciary that delivers justice and is seen to deliver justice. In Malaysia's case, debates and arguments on the state of our judiciary have been heated and protracted.

"Some of the Malay Rulers have openly voiced their disquiet on what they see as a decline, requiring nothing short of a judicial renaissance. Some retired judges have related troubling tales of impropriety. Politicians on both sides of the aisle have called for reform of this most august institution. Even the Bar Council, true to form, has marched en masse outside my office…."

“But the fact is, we can no longer leave such an important institution to hope and chance. The system must have built-in safeguards to prevent potential abuse and it must have a process that will convincingly identify the best legal minds in the country to join the judiciary. This is a necessary part of ensuring that our nation's judiciary is robust and trusted by the people."

So says PM Abdullah. I appreciate that our PM has his back against the wall. But I shall not let my cynicism rubbish what could possibly be an historic ‘Dinner for Justice’ as some lawyers have dubbed this evening’s conciliatory gathering.

That the man found a conscience belatedly is not the point. The fact is, it certainly would not have happened without a fortuitous convergence of events leading to March 8. The least optimistic rakyat (among whom I count myself) must take heart that yes, even in a less than perfect system, our votes can make things happen when we purpose to vote collectively for change.

I do wonder about Tun Hamid Omar. He was Acting Lord President, Chief Justice and Judge of the Supreme Court of Malaysia, and the then PM Dr M's contemptible axeman in the 1988 judicial scandal. [More]

On an evening such as this where amends for wrong were offered and perpetrators were conspicuously left unnamed, he must cut a pitiful figure, unlamented and uninvited. Relegated to the dustbin of history (where another ex-CJ Tun Ahmad Fairuz seems destined), Hamid Omar will remain a tragic footnote in the annals of our nation’s tumultuous struggle for her soul.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Is PAS rethinking the Islamic State?

MCA secretary-general Datuk Ong Ka Chuan thinks we’ve all been lulled by the promises of the Pakatan we’re ignoring PAS’ Islamist goal to our detriment: “…who can guarantee that PAS will not go ahead to make Malaysia an Islamic state in time to come when it becomes powerful enough to do so?" he asked. "If PAS' PR partners cannot convince it to give up the Islamic state goal, (what) they are (doing is) "Yang hu wei hua" (inviting troubles).

Coming from a BN man whose party did not and could not stop UMNO from declaring Malaysia a “negara Islam” this is laughable. What did the other BN component parties do when UMNO zealots hijacked the Constitution and threatened everyone who wouldn’t get it to get out? Other than token disapprovals, nada. Damage control was left to fed-up voters to take a collective stand to cut UMNO down to size and give its whiny partners the boot.

To Ka Chuan’s credit, he did make a stand by invoking historical documents such as the Reid Report (1957) and the Cobbold Commission (1963) to prove Malaysia’s secularity. But did his objection move UMNO to give up its own Islamist ambitions? Nope. So, he should be wagging his finger at us.

Having said all this, I welcome PAS’ vice-president Husam Musa’s recent statement that an Islamic state is not on the Pakatan agenda. “We accept the federal constitution as the main frame (in governing) and it is the basis where we move,” assuring partners, especially DAP, not to worry about PAS’ intention.

That’s good news. Happily it’s another step forward towards a more cohesive opposition coalition.

Farish Noor also wonders if PAS is not evolving and adapting to our multicultural realities, alluding to the party’s seminal left-leaning past. In broad strokes he argues that religious parties worldwide tends towards compromise to consolidate their political survival. “Likewise many Islamist parties and movements in the Arab world have also made the same sort of important and symbolic concessions to non-Muslims in their bid for power,” he writes.

If that is true, this is even better news.

But I’m not so sure. Concessions are nice, but it’s not enough. Although all this seems like so much progress and while I applaud a ‘moderate’ PAS (and indeed am somewhat relieved), I want a stronger and clearer commitment.

In May 1957 at the London Constitutional talks, the following was recorded by the then Colonial Office regarding Article 2A (providing for Islam as official religion):

One deviation from the recommendations of the Reid Commission is that Islam becomes the State Religion of Malaya. Since, however, the provisions safeguarding the rights of religious minorities remain, this alteration has more political significance than practical effect. The members of the [Alliance] delegation stressed that they had no intention of creating a Muslim theocracy and that Malaya would be a secular State.

Constitutional scholar Shad Saleem Faruqi also agrees that while Islam is the religion of the Federation, the primary intent was symbolic and ceremonial.

I would feel a lot happier if by saying PAS “accepts” the Federal Constitution, they mean its secularity, or its non-religious basis. I would like to hear Pakatan cohorts agreeing that the future they are forging is secular statehood not the diddling ambiguity of “Islam is the official religion but we respect all religions...”

Such a stand has been used to justify Islam as state ideology and the incipient Islamisation of state machinery and institutions. Enough with UMNO's mantra that “Malaysia is an Islamic State; it’s not a theocracy.” It’s disingenuous but I’m not biting, because Malaysia is neither, since the intent of the Constitution was obviously secular.

I cast my vote for Pakatan; I said good riddance to BN. I’d like to believe that the tectonic shifts of the 12th GE will also be groundbreaking in its handling of the Islamic question. Perhaps I hope too much?

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Turning DAP into MIC?

Again I am stumped by this new round of demands.

First, it was DAP’s Perak assemblyman Sivasubramaniam’s resignation flip-flop over the Perak leadership's apparent lack of respect for the “voice of Makkal Sakhti.”

Now it’s Indian DAP members in Penang demanding a “a high powered state-level council” or State Indian Development and Advisory Council to manage Indian affairs. According to a Malaysiakini report, many DAP Indians in Penang claim they have been forgotten after helping the party capture Penang.

“Since the DAP came to power, our existence, importance and sacrifices seemed ignored,” summed up a disgruntled Indian member, who has been a party man for over 20 years.

Is this for real?

Here we are trying to promote a new paradigm towards a non-racial polity, and these people want to turn DAP into MIC.

I am just lost for words.

Friday, April 04, 2008

The gentle giant killer

It was a simple ‘meet the MP’ sort of thing; an after dinner soiree among friends, in affluent Taman Tun Dr Ismail, and a rather unlikely place for a socialist whose life’s work has been among the poor. But Dr M Jeyakumar (“No YB, just call me Kumar”) graciously made time to meet mates who knew him from way back in Penang and from his days at Yale. Soft-spoken Kumar who was accompanied by his wife and campaign manager Rani had come to KL to be present for a briefing at Parliament on Thursday.

Kumar (pix: malaysiavotes) took us through a simple powerpoint presentation illustrating his no-frills campaign, pointing out party faithfuls and supporters who stood with him right up to that historic March 8 victory. He praised the kawan-karib activists and the efficient jentera PAS who organised nightly ceramahs, and told of dirty tactics by UMNO.

One especially disgusting flier announced that “every vote for Kumar was a vote for another Hindu temple.” One wonders if this was one reason why the number of Malay voters eroded by 0.1%; if not for the huge increase in Chinese, Indian, and orang asli voters, the MIC supremo could well remain in power today.

He spoke of the plight of the Temiar orang aslis, how the community had been exploited and left too demoralized to stand up to government agencies. Another point that got us all talking was postal votes. So what’s it all about? How do postal votes work? No one could say for sure. Not the soon-to-be installed MP, and neither the two journos who were present that night. If the EC isn’t telling, and if journalists do not know, all these new MPs had better raise it up in Parliament, so everyone agreed.

The man who snatched Sungei Siput from Samy Velu did not look anything like the giant killer that he was, which again proves how one should never judge a book by its cover. All the more timely because it's easy to see politicians as that peculiar species better known for posturing and bluster, whose face is thicker than the callous on their hands. It’s men like Kumar who restores my faith in people. His tireless work among squatters, plantation and factory workers since 1999, speaks volumes for integrity, persistence, and selflessness.

But it’s a whole new ball game now. There’s a noticeable weight on Kumar’s shoulders; Rani’s mobile phone keeps ringing. It’s that post-election whirlwind, and I pray it won’t knock a good man off his feet.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The New Balancing Act?

I continue to be more than a little perplexed and upset at the difficulties in breaking the shackles of racialism. I’m not saying that race is 'obsolete’ or ‘irrelevant’ or that utopia is pigment free. After all pluralism and diversity are inherent to humanity.

I am merely against racial discrimination and the idea that any one race should be accorded more rights than another. Or that social order must remain ransomed to racial quotas. Post-8 March, I sense the newly elected MPs from the BR circling that big elephant in the corner, carefully modulating their previously shrill cry for Bangsa Malaysia. They seem to be vacillating between non-racial sloganeering and ye olde handy racial schtick. Perhaps our politicians are finding out that Mount Improbable is too difficult to climb so early in the day?

In Penang we have a safe formula of a Chinese CM and 2 Deputies, one a Malay and the other Indian. Is that shrewd or expedient, or what? And in the new Selangor State Exco lineup, Malaysiakini politely reports there is “an equal number of Malay to non-Malay members.”

I can understand why RPK is so exasperated:

Who the hell cares whether six are non-Malays and four are women? Are these people being chosen to run the state because of their race and gender? Should they not be chosen because of their qualifications and capabilities? Who are these six non-Malays and four women anyway? Are they the best of the lot? Will they outperform and outshine the previous Khir Toyo administration? Are we going to see Selangor grow and prosper by leaps and bounds? Is Selangor going to be paradise on earth?

Who cares? What matters is that six are going to be non-Malays and four are going to be women. That is what matters and that is what is going to guarantee a great future ahead of us. The calibre of the ten EXCO members was buried in the consideration of race and gender. That is the main focus and that is what appears to be the deciding factor. Woe to this country when race and gender override all other factors.

So is Bob:

Seeing gripes about not having a Hindu Tamil represented in the Selangor EXCO is dumbfounding. What would happen if I started griping that there's no Protestant Christian Teochew Chinese represented (we did; after all; embark on a public education campaign to get our fellow Christians [about 7 million of us of the Protestant expression] to vote wisely) or if someone else were to remark on the lack of representation of Taoist Hainanese, Theravadist Ceylonese, Mahayanist Foochows, Pure Land Hokkiens, Bahai Eurasians, Ahmaddiya Bengalis, Sikh Punjabis.

On the other hand, there’s Anwar’s proposed Malaysian Economic Agenda: it openly speaks about protecting the "interest of the Malays" while ensuring that "no one is left behind irrespective of race or religion." That’s going to be a heck of a balancing job whichever way you look at it.

Here's a letter from Feroz Qureshi to Anwar that's been circulating among blogs for awhile now. He says:

You are right in saying that the NEP is obsolete, not so much because it has been socially unjust but because Malaysia is finally ready to move on. Inevitably, two or three decades from now, reference to this acronym would be politically incorrect. But for now, you face tremendous challenges in making this work.

And I am certain that you’ll be able to convince the Malays that ‘a people cannot become special by getting special rights’.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Death has lost its sting

We live and die.
Christ died and lived!
John Stott

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Good Friday: the King must die

The King must die before he reigns. Otherwise the justice of his reign would only bring judgment and not salvation. So all the kingdom blessings demonstrated in the Gospels had to be purchased by the blood of Christ. This is why the cross must ever be the center and foundation of the gospel and why the blessings of the gospel should only be called gospel in relation to the cross.

John Piper, God is the Gospel

Zaid - in good faith?

PM Abdullah has appointed Zaid Ibrahim as one of 5 ministers in the PM’s Dept. That was a genuine surprise seeing how lawyer and former MP Zaid consistently goes against the grain in UMNO (which is one reason why he was dropped from contesting in Kota Baru). Here’s an excerpt from his recent book of collected essays and articles, In Good Faith. Titled 'Attributes of An Independent Judiciary,' it was first delivered at a dinner with law students at University of Malaya on 29 Jan 2007.

Our judiciary is in dire straits. The assault on the judiciary of 1988 still rankles in our minds and psyche. The present government is still reluctant to acknowledge the problems the judiciary is facing. The government remains unwilling to seek forgiveness for the wrongs it committed against Tun Salleh Abbas and the other judges. It is still in denial mode by not addressing the need for a dynamic and independent judiciary, and resisting an overhaul of the existing system.

Any government would likely say that its judiciary is independent. But we know such an assertion may not always be true. We also understand that, if we want to live in a democracy and continue to have some freedom, then we must have a courageous and independent judiciary. If we want protection from abuse of power, then we must preserve the rule of law, and only an independent judiciary can assure us of this.

Dare we hope to see real change soon? Post-March 8, anything is possible.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

People Power to continue!

A friend sent this to me to help assure people who are jittery about changes brought about by the recent elections. I’ve edited it a little but the message remains: pro-change activists (that’s what they call themselves) want people power to continue.

Power of 10:
Speak to 10 people. Ask them whom they voted for. If Opposition, tell them it's a good choice, and to give the new leaders a chance to get to work. If they voted for BN, tell them why we need the Opposition in Parliament. At the very least, the results of the 12th GE are shaking BN to its akar rambut.

3 types of Parliamentary majority:
Lawyer and human rights activist, Malik Imtiaz says a strong opposition presence in parliament is necessary in view of the following majority needed to effect change.

Type 1 - To repeal laws. Only a simple majority of MPs present to vote is needed. As Malik pointed out, by disciplined attendance Opposition MPs could easily do away with undemocratic laws, given the poor attendance record of BN MPs.

Type 2 - To redraw constituencies. 50% of votes in favour (total of 222 MPs in the house) .

Type 3 - To amend the Constitution or make new laws. 75% of votes in favour.

Consultative Government:

Lawyer and political activist Haris Ibrahim, wants people to join “Representative Watch Committees (RWC)” to work closely with newly elected leaders to effect changes.
Look out for further announcements in his blog People's Parliament, or notices at BLOGHOUSE (No 66, Lrg Setiabistari 2, Bukit Damansara, 50490 Kuala Lumpur).

Stay Cool. Give the Pluralists (we are urged to stop calling them Opposition; haha, it was suggested we call BN the Racialists) a chance to settle down! This is just their second week in office!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Peace Be Upon Us

Here's something different for a change.

Got this new CD by Sheryl Crow and I’m enjoying it immensely. It’s classic Sheryl Crow, if you know what I mean, all infectious and hummable, ala Tuesday Night Music Club, her 1993 debut album.

Starting with the stripped down acoustic “God Bless This Mess” (so raw and demo-like in tone I thought something was wrong with the car player), you get the message that Detours signals her shift to more politically charged lyrics, and not a turn in her music (which still remains as radio-friendly as ever).

Among my favourites is "Peace Be Upon Us" which has a melodic mid-eastern inflected tempo and a catchy chorus. Crow is accompanied on this track by Ahmed al Hirmi who sings in Arabic.

Here’s a song that I want to dedicate to all Malaysians who voted, candidates who won, and everyone who’s committed towards a Malaysian Malaysia.

Walking down the street of dreams
Eating from the fruits of life
Tripping out on the smallest things
Trying to reach the light, trying to reach the light

Pick the key up off the floor
Put the key into the lock
Turn the lock, open up the door
Look at all you've got, look at all you've got

All the sinners and saints
All you creatures of faith
Don't need to be afraid
If you know what I mean
Let me hear you say

Peace be upon us, Peace be upon us, Be upon us all
Peace be upon us, Peace be upon us, Be upon us all

If we speak in tongues of love
But we kill in the name of God
How can we profess to own his name
And still be so lost and still be so lost

The world will turn even when we're gone
The earth will host many souls to come
Who will write the history, tales of
Wisemen, villains and innocent ones

All you shepherds and sheep
When you wake from your sleep
It will be a new day
If you know what I mean
Let me hear you say

Peace be upon us, Peace be upon us, Be upon us all
Peace be upon us, Peace be upon us, Be upon us all

As-salaamu alykum
Wa-alaykum assalaam
Assalaam alykum
Wa-alaykum assalaam

(The meek shall inherit the earth)

Peace be upon us, Peace be upon us, Be upon us all
As-salaamu alykum
Wa-alaykum assalaam
Assalaam alykum
Wa-alaykum assalaam

[Lyrics from metrolyrics]

Sunday, March 16, 2008

NEP: Badge or crutch?

This bit of news jolted my memory. Yes, there was a review of the NEP as this report clarifies. According to Sabah Progressive Party president Datuk Yong Teck Lee, the New Economic Policy expired in 1990 and was superseded by the National Development Policy (NDP).

He questioned why politicians on both sides of the political divide, in Penang particularly, were still harping in the issue of the NEP that had expired in the 1990s and replaced with the NDP.

He said back in 1989-90 the National Economic Consultative Committee (MAPEN) was formed to formulate a post-NEP policy in which he was among the representatives from Sabah for the committee chaired by Tan Sri Ghazali Shafie.

“The successor to the NEP was the NDP,” he said, adding that overtime Vision 2020, 10-year Outline Perspective Plan (OPP), five-year Malaysia Plans and other policies overshadowed the NDP.

But it seems to me that however the alphabet soup is stirred, it still tastes the same. The NDP might as well be called NEP - either because of a similar and overriding ideological thrust or its underlying intention .

Again, back to Dr Mavis Puthucheary’s essay. The notion of NEP and Malay dominance was first touted as a social contract by Ahmad Abdullah (quoted in The Star 31 Aug 1986). The former MP of Kok Lanas and one time group editor-in chief of NST wrote:

The political system of Malay dominance was born out of the sacrosanct social contract which preceded national independence. Let us never forget that in the Malaysian political system the Malay position must be preserved and that Malay expectations must be met. There have been moves to question, to set aside and to violate this contract that have threatened the stability of the system.

The NEP must continue to sustain Malay dominance in the political system in line with the contract of 1957. Even after 1990 there must be mechanisms of preservation,protection and expansion in an evolving system.

So, the NEP is a kind of badge of distinction to perpetuate racial dominance.

But here's what happened. Former PM Dr Mahathir came up with another policy that apparently subsumed that erstwhile NDP and fired the imagination of all Malaysians. He called it Vision 2020. (Actually it was the brainchild of Dr M's key advisor, the late ISIS chairman Noordin Sopiee). 9 challenges were listed as crucial to the development of a united Malaysian nation and the attainment of developed nation status. Its ambition was,

...establishing a united Malaysian nation with a sense of common and shared destiny. This must be a nation at peace with itself, territorially and ethnically integrated, living in harmony and full and fair partnership, made up of one ‘Bangsa Malaysia’ with political loyalty and dedication to the nation [More].

I personally find this document very progressive and attractive, genuinely visionary in its scope. If only it was properly pursued and implemented. To think that in recent years, some UMNO big guns have been pooh-poohing the term 'Bangsa Malaysia' as a mere indefinable 'state of mind' not even worthy as a unifying ideal. And no, I also did not mind that Dr M did not forget the needs of the Bumiputra majority.

In the development of human resources we cannot afford to neglect half the population i.e. the Bumiputeras. If they are not brought into the mainstream, if their potentials are not fully developed, if they are allowed to be a millstone around the national neck, then our progress is going to be retarded by that much. No nation can achieve full progress with only half its human resources harnessed. What may be considered a burden now can, with the correct attitude and management be the force that lightens our burden and hasten our progress. The Bumiputeras must play their part fully in the achievement of the national goal.[More]

Fair enough. Yet after 50 years of 'affirmative action' (positive discrimination?) why are Malays still wearing that metaphorical millstone? We know why, don't we? On the other hand let's not forget that no less a personage than present PM Abdullah who issued this warning against over-dependence on the NEP:

Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Prime Minister of Malaysia, in his maiden speech as United Malays National Organization (UMNO) president to the UMNO general assembly in 2004 stated “Let’s not use the crutches for support all the time, the knee will become weak”. Badawi went on to state that continued usage of crutches would eventually result in needing a wheelchair instead.

Now, why would any community want to hazard such an eventuality? As an Anak Bangsa Malaysia, my vote is against NEP - for the sake of the community it was designed to help, and for the good of ALL communities who make up this nation .