Monday, March 28, 2011

The paradox of Sarawak

This story first appeared in Bloomberg in 2009. On the cusp of its 10th state elections, Sarawak remains as poor while its rulers talk glibly of "transforming the State economy towards a high-income and advanced economy by 2020." Sarawak is the 4th poorest state in Malaysia and here's the reason.
[D]evelopment projects, including plantations and dams, haven’t helped poverty among the local people, many of whom live without adequate electricity or schools, says Richard Leete, who served as the resident representative of the United Nations Development Program for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei from 2003 to 2008.

“This is the paradox of Sarawak -- the great wealth it has, the natural resources in such abundance, and yet such an impoverishment and the real hardship these communities are suffering,” says Richard Leete, who chronicled Malaysia’s progress since its independence from Britain in his book “Malaysia: From Kampung to Twin Towers” (Oxford Fajar, 2007). “There has no doubt been a lot of money politics,” he says.

Read the whole Bloomberg article, Getting Rich in Malaysia Cronyism Capital Means Dayak Lose Home, here.

Monday, March 21, 2011

No prize for Al-Gaddafi

Al-Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights

Yes, you read right. Established by Libyan strongman Muammar al-Gaddafi, it awards an annual prize to personalities or organisations for services rendered towards human rights. According to the website,
The Prize categorically believes that freedom is an indivisible natural right for Man; it is not a gift or grace from anybody, and that safeguarding it is a general human responsibility.
I'm not sure the Libyans are amused. Certainly not the rebels who are being shelled and shot at by Gaddafi's forces.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Bible is security threat?

Malay Bibles Desecrated by Malaysian Authorities
By Ng Kam Weng

“Oh No! They killed our loved ones even though we paid the ransom.”

This is the worst nightmare experienced by people who paid ransom to kidnappers only to find their loved ones returned to them executed.

“Oh No! They desecrated our beloved Holy Bibles.”

This is the heart wrenching experience of Publish PostMalaysian Christians who found their Holy Bibles returned to them defaced and desecrated. Malaysian Christians have earlier out of courtesy and grace agreed with the government to print the Alkitab (Malay Bible) with the symbol of the cross on the front cover along with the caption “A Christian Publication” [ The claim by the Minister of Home Affairs that Christians have earlier agreed to have the phrase, "For Christins only" stamped on the Alkitab is a lie. There was no such agreement. His statement, "We stamped the Bible based on amalan (practice) before… during Abdullah Badawi and even Tun Dr Mahathir’s time,” is also a lie].

Nevertheless, the authorities proceeded to detain 5000 copies of the Alkitab for the last two years.

Malaysian Christians waited with guarded optimism when the government recently announced that it will release the Alkitab that have been confiscated but to their horror they were suddenly informed that the authorities have hurriedly and unilaterally stamped all the Alkitab with an ugly notification from the Ministry of Home Affairs. See picture below.

The English translation reads: Reminder: This ‘Al Kitab Berita Baik’ is for the use of Christians only. By order of the Home Minister.”

Notice the official chop/stamp (Bottom Left) and the serial number that is to be imprinted onto the Bible (Upper Right).

The defaced Bible is now imprinted with a serial number, obviously to facilitate the authorities threatening to track every copy of the Alkitab used by the community.

Christians are horrified by the arrogance of the officials. The contemptuous act of defacing the Alkitab is nothing less than sacrilege.

The Christian Federation of Malaysia rightly expressed that they felt “deeply hurt”. I think it is being polite. “Outrage” would have been a more appropriate word.

I think the only proper thing for the government to do is to make immediate amends: Apologize for its callous act. Return the Alkitab back to the publisher and replace them with new Alkitab. Under no circumstances should these defaced Alkitab be destroyed – that would be another act of desecration. The government should bear all costs and give written assurance that such desecration will never happen again.

O God, your Holy Scripture has been desecrated, your name and reputation defiled! When will you rise up and judge all these arrogant offenders for their blatant act of sacrilege?

(The artical first appeared on Religious Liberty Watch)


Friday, March 11, 2011

Bahasa Bibles detained - again, and again

Media statement by
the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM)
on the Detention of Bahasa Malaysia Bibles

The Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) is greatly disillusioned, fed up and angered by the repeated detention of Bibles written in our national language, Bahasa Malaysia. This time yet again at the Port of Kuching in Sarawak.

A total fo 30,000 copies of the Perjanjian Baru, Mazmur dan Amsal” i.e. the “New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs” are currently being withheld.

This is notwithstanding that the government in its attempt to to justify its position against the use of the Allah" in the Alkitab, the government had given the assurance that the Bible in Bahasa Malaysia, will be freely available, at least in Sabah and Sarawak.

Since March 2009, all attempts to import the Bible in Bahasa Malaysia, i.e. the Alkitab, whether through Port Klang or the Port of Kuching, have been thwarted.

The previous consignment of 5,000 copies of the Alkitab imported in March 2009 is still being held by the Ministry of Home Affairs in Port Klang. This is despite repeated appeals which resulted in the Prime Minister making a decision to release the Alkitab held in Port Klang in December 2009 which was reported to CFM leaders by several cabinet ministers and their aides.

In absolute disregard of this decision, the 5,000 copies of the Alkitab remain detained. The Prime Minister when told about the continued detention of these 5,000 Bibles at a hi-tea event last Christmas expressed surprise that the order to release the same held in Port Klang had not been implemented. However, nothing has been done by the authorities to ensure their release.

Prior to March 2009, there were several incidents where shipments of the Bible in Bahasa Malaysia were detained. Each time tedious steps had to be taken to secure their release. It would appear as if the authorities are waging a continuous, surreptitious and systematic programme against Christians in Malaysia to deny them access to the Bible in Bahasa Malaysia.

Malaysian Christians, many of whom have grown up with Bahasa Malaysia as their principal medium of communication as a result of the government education policies, must have access to Bibles in Bahasa Malaysia in order to read, comprehend and practise their faith.

The freedom of religion guaranteed as part of the fundamental liberties under our Federal Constitution is rendered meaningless if adherents to a religion are denied access to their religious texts in a language that they can understand.

It is an affront to them that they are being deprived of their sacred Scriptures. Many are wondering why their Scriptures are considered a threat to national security. All these actions in relation to the detention of the Bibles continue to hurt the Malaysian Christian community.

We would ask how the government transformation programme can be successfully implemented if civil servants can blatantly refuse to obey the Prime Minister’s order? Is the government powerless to act against these “little Napoleons” who substitute their own interests and agenda in place of the Prime Minister’s directives?

We call upon the government to act now and prove their sincerity and integrity in dealing with the Malaysian Christian community on this and all other issues which we have been raising with them since the formation of the Christian Federation of Malaysia in 1985.

As an immediate step, we insist upon the immediate release of all Bibles which have been detained.

Bishop Ng Moon Hing
Chairman and the Executive Committee,
Christian Federation of Malaysia
10 March 2011

Friday, March 04, 2011

They're dirtier than us

Here's a piece from Sin Chew Daily that expresses my sentiments perfectly:

Dirty tactics at by-election campaigns

Translated by Soong Phui Jee

War clouds are gathering over Merliau and Kerdau and various ploys, including the creative and the silly ones, are being used during the current campaigning for the two state by-elections.

In Merlimau, leaflets written in Chinese accuse the Chinese of being traitors to the nation were distributed. Handbills with doctored photographs of three Pakatan Rakyat women members in explicit sexual poses are also distributed, making the by-election campaign a real immoral and dirty one.

The leaflets with racial slurs are meant to create racial hatred while the ones with "sexy Pakatan Rakyat woman members" handbills are used to discredit the alternative coalition leaders. Both the leaflets are unscrupulous election ploys. They should be condemned and immediately stopped.

In fact, politicians have become more and more blatant in manipulating racial issues to get votes. Racial slurs have even been used by some politicians as their "registered marks".

Also, some of the so-called rights groups are prone to resort to extreme measures by using the excuse of defending their racial groups' interests which have been threatened. Their leaders also make very inflammatory remarks and the demonstrated exclusion and hatred have reached an extremely dreadful point.

Meanwhile, moral discrediting practices in recent years have on the one hand demonised their political opponents and on the other hand moralised and sanctified themselves. They seem ridiculous and very shameful. However, they can meet the voyeuristic desires of some people and they carry also terrible destructions.

No one dares to come forward to admit that they are the manipulators behind the scene as such election ploys are indeed too dirty and shameful until they themselves have no guts to face them. Hence, we can hear something like underhand campaign tactics to woo voters. Both the ruling and alternative coalitions have their own weaknesses and the people can hardly tell who is good and who is evil.

The by-elections have turned out as political shows for spreading hatred and discrediting morality. It is undoubtedly the greatest tragedy of democracy.

Such a negative election culture is definitely a stumbling block to the progress of democracy. It must be eliminated. If the police cannot do anything about it and let the backstage manipulators do whatever they like and tear the society apart, I am afraid that the people would be disappointed and believe that politics is dirty.

Sin Chew Daily

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Anwar's links to Jews. Again.

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s ex-aide Rahimi Osman emerges to fight against Anwar's "lies." Rahimi said today that he will focus on Anwar’s alleged links to Jews, Israel and the United States in his talks here rather than Sodomy II as the case was still being heard. The Malaysian Insider report may be accessed here.


So what will help the rakyat and move Malaysia forward is a politician who's anti-Jew, anti-Israel, and anti-USA .


What Kerdau and Merlimau say about us

Chinese dominance

These and more are the stuff that by-elections (and political campaigning) in Malaysia are made of. Of course, accusations like these get thrown about by everybody - usually at the opposition coalition - but nobody takes responsibility.

So, Malaysiakini reports that, "More and more print campaign material emerges, painting Pakatan as anti Malay and anti Islam. Most do not bear party logos but several were seen distributed by Puteri Umno during BN candidate Roslan Ahmad's visit to the Pasar Malam yesterday."

As long as these campaign materials do not originate from a certain party, it is apparently alright to use them.

I find the whole exercise of using the racial and religious card utterly despicable and beneath contempt. It's flinging mud at the other person with earth dug from under your feet.

Sure, it will be dismissed as race-religion baiting and condemned as dangerous although hypocritically endorsed by certain parties as necessary political tactics. This race-religion shill is a mockery of everything that BN supposedly stands for.

Secondly, it does nothing to elevate political discourse in the country; it merely exposes the depth to which some politicians and their parties are willing to go - not for the sake of the rakyat, but to remain in power.

Thirdly, instead of leading politicians to renounce these dangerous underhanded tactics of disinformation and vicious diatribe, the opposite invariably happens.

Finding themselves on the back foot, aspiring politicians, political parties - in this case Pakatan - are forced to declare they are NOT anti-Malay, NOT anti-Islam, etc. Invariably, proof is offered to back up their stand - ala Lim Guan Eng in Penang - which in turn entrenches these same racial-religious shill and perpetuate them at the same time. Hence, the good guys are for Malays, for Islam, etc.

Maybe I'm too naive, but it appears there are no other issues to frame our discourse. It seems that these issues are being clearly manipulated not just to taint BN opponents, but also employed to further embed them as irreversible social determinants.

We cannot promote a more egalitarian and equitable Malaysia without a serious paradigm shift. We have yet to see the emergence of credible agents driving the nation towards such a change. But one thing is clear: we cannot support any individual or party that refuses to move in the direction of change for the sake of ALL Malaysians.