Sunday, October 25, 2009
Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- Pakistani troops have seized a key village in the Taliban stronghold of South Waziristan as they stepped up their offensive against militants in the country's northwestern region.
"Kotkai village has been captured by the military," said the official who did not want to be named because he is not authorized to talk to the media.
Kotkai has been a major target because it is the hometown of the Pakistani Taliban's leader Hakimullah Mehsud, as well as of Qari Hussain, believed to be behind some of the deadliest suicide bomb attacks in Pakistan.
The development comes a day after the military said it had captured one of the heights overlooking Kotkai.
The capture came as 25 people were killed Saturday when a suspected U.S. drone struck a village in the same region, local officials said.
Two missiles hit a militant hideout in the village of Damadola, in the border district of Bajaur, a Pakistani military and political officials said.
A local official told CNN the missile attack killed the nephew and son-in-law of Mawlanna Faqir Mohammed, the Taliban commander in Bajaur. Mohammed, himself, appears to have escaped the assault.
The United States is the only country in the region known to have the ability to launch missiles from drones, which are controlled remotely.
U.S. officials do not comment on suspected drone strikes against militant leaders, which have caused tension between Pakistan and the United States.
Three people were also killed in northwest Pakistan Saturday when hostile fire brought down a military transport helicopter.
Senior military officials said two pilots were injured in the crash, which occurred around sunset and was under investigation, a military spokesman said.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, an intelligence source and a local political official said the helicopter was brought down by hostile fire.
The military says it has been facing stiff resistance a week after launching its long-awaited offensive against Taliban militants in South Waziristan.
In its latest update on Saturday, made before the helicopter crashed, the military said three soldiers and 21 militants had been killed over the last 24 hours. It also said about 167,000 people have been displaced from their homes in the war-torn region.
As the fight rages in Taliban strongholds, militants have launched attacks in other areas the country. The death toll from three militant bombings Friday rose to 26, police said Saturday.
New York (CNN) -- For Kenny Ortega, Travis Payne and Michael Bearden, "It" is a bittersweet feeling.
The three men expected to be spending their time this summer and fall working on Michael Jackson's concert engagement at London's O2 Arena, which was scheduled to begin in July. Instead, they are talking about Jackson's last days and the new movie about that time, "This Is It."
In an interview, they described "This Is It," the movie that they've made from rehearsal and backstage footage of Jackson, shot just before he died June 25. The film, which has been dominating advance ticket sale outlets, opens wide on Wednesday.
The full movie wasn't screened for critics, with only 12 minutes of footage available to the media before the interviews. But as director Ortega describes it, the film tries to blend backstage footage with the performance to give an inside glimpse of those last days at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.
The scenes show the superstar working on his dance moves, figuring out choreography, practicing on stage and running the show. From the clips, there's no question that Jackson was in charge. His physicality is vibrant: At one point, he dances with a troupe of top-notch hoofers and keeps up with all of them. There's no indication of the infirmities that would ultimately take his life.
All three men -- Payne was the show's choreographer and Bearden its music supervisor -- stressed how they wanted this movie to represent the Jackson they knew.
"It was an honor project," Bearden said.
According to Ortega, the film is for the fans. He said he was inundated with e-mails from fans wanting to know just what Jackson had planned for the concerts he would never give.
Above all, they said they were concerned about Jackson's three children. They said that they wanted to make a film that his kids -- Prince Michael, Paris and "Blanket" -- would be able to see in years to come that would make them proud of their father.
Though the men acknowledged a heavy responsibility, there were light moments during the interviews.
Payne and Bearden both smiled as they talked about working for the King of Pop and how he'd try to tell people what he wanted.
"I know you mean well, but ...," Jackson would say as he corrected colleagues, they recalled.
But all of them talked about he emotional toll that making this film has taken on them.
There were "a lot of tissue moments on this film," Bearden said.
Ortega added that he didn't know whether he could handle the emotional stress involved in making this movie so quickly.
Ultimately, according to Ortega, the movie proved to be cathartic.
"I thought I'd collapse," Ortega said. "I thought I'll never get through it, it's too hard, it's too soon, but in fact it was healing and helpful."
He hopes Jackson's fans will feel the same way.
KUALA LUMPUR 23 Okt. - Permohonan Penasihat Undang-Undang Hindraf, P. Uthayakumar supaya kesnya di bawah Akta Hasutan 1948 dipindahkan dari Mahkamah Sesyen ke Mahkamah Tinggi akan ditentukan pada 27 Oktober ini.
Hakim Mahkamah Tinggi, Datuk Mohamad Zabidin Mohd. Diah menetapkan demikian selepas mendengar hujah peguam N. Surendran dan M. Manogaran yang mewakili Uthayakumar serta hujah balas Timbalan Pendakwa Raya, Noorin Badaruddin.
Dalam afidavit bagi menyokong permohonan Uthayakumar selaku pemohon, beliau menyatakan isu penghapusan etnik adalah isu yang rumit, unik dan tidak pernah diputuskan oleh mana-mana mahkamah di negara ini.
Justeru, katanya, Hakim Mahkamah Tinggi yang lebih layak mendengar perbicaraan kes tersebut.
Uthayakumar juga memohon supaya Akta Hasutan diisytiharkan sebagai tidak sah dan ingin mencabar isu perlembagaan yang timbul.
Lagi pun menurut pemohon, beliau sedang membuat persiapan untuk membawa saksi-saksi dari Pertubuhan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu (PBB) yang pakar dalam penyiasatan kes-kes penghapusan etnik.
Noorin ketika membalas hujah menyifatkan semua isu yang ditimbulkan sepatutnya dikemukakan oleh Uthayakumar melalui bantahan awal pada peringkat permulaan kes dan bukannya pada tahap ini.
Tambahnya, isu penghapusan etnik bukan isu yang rumit hinggakan sukar difahami oleh Hakim Mahkamah Sesyen kerana mereka berpengalaman luas.
Pada 11 Disember 2007, Uthayakumar, 48, didakwa menerbitkan sepucuk surat menghasut di laman sesawang police watch yang mempunyai alamat web http:// policewatchmalaysia.com oleh Hindraf yang beralamat di No. 135-3-A, Jalan Toman 7, Kemayan Square Seremban, Negeri Sembilan.
Surat bertarikh 15 November 2007 itu telah dialamatkan kepada Perdana Menteri Britain, Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown, 10 Downing Street.
Uthayakumar didakwa melakukan perbuatan tersebut antara 15 November dan 8 Disember 2007 di No.8-10-5 Menara Mutiara Bangsar, Jalan Liku persimpangan Jalan Riong, Bangsar di sini.
Dia yang didakwa mengikut Seksyen 4(1)(c) akta tersebut yang boleh dihukum di bawah Seksyen 4(1) akta sama dan jika sabit kesalahan, boleh didenda tidak lebih RM5,000 atau penjara sehingga tiga tahun atau kedua-duanya.
Study history. See what it was like during the Golden Age. Then see what it was like during the subsequent Dark Age. Spot the difference. And the reason this was so will become as clear as daylight.
NO HOLDS BARRED
Raja Petra Kamarudin
An Islamic administration must be fair in all matters, says Dr M
MELAKA, Oct 24 (Bernama) -- An administration led by Muslims must be guided by Islamic values and be fair in all matters, free from corruption, respect laws and show concern for all communities, said former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
As such, he said, having a good administration when in power was important to ensure Islam grew well and non-Muslims did not keep away from Muslims.
"If we can do this, the benefits will be great, among them understanding of Islamic teachings will increase besides the people being more willing to listen to the administration," he said at Perkim's (Malaysian Muslim Welfare Organisation) 48th annual general meeting at a hotel here today.
Also present were Melaka Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam and Perkim's honorary secretary-general Tan Sri Dr Abdul Hamid Othman.
Dr Mahathir, who has been Perkim president since 2006, said when Islamic administrations were smeared with cruelty, power abuse, corruption, inefficiency, oppression of others and the like, others will have a negative perception of Islam.
"Today, there isn't a single Islamic country that can be said to be a developed nation. And again there some who hold the view that progress of Islamic countries is not important.”
"But we have witnessed the fate of many Islamic nations because of their backwardness. They are forced to beg, ask for help from others and as a result are often manipulated by their benefactors who might in reality be their enemies," he said.
He said Islamic countries and Islam will only be respected if they were progressive, like in the Golden Age of Islam.
Dr Mahathir said Perkim's role in propagating Islam was also very clear in that before trying to bring Islam to the public, its members must be shining examples of the values and teachings of the religion.
"It is important for Muslims to be successful in all fields, social, economics, politics and others to attract attention, increase understanding and respect for Islam and not only that, also open the hearts of non-Muslims to get to know the religion and all the good it stands for," he added.
I know, I know, I know…many of you would prefer whacking Mahathir and call him all sorts of nasty names. Okay, there are many Mahathir-haters in this site and you are probably going to crawl out of the woodwork and take pot shots at him. But before you do, let us first analyse what the man has to say. Then, if you think what he says is not true, whack him all you wish.
I, however, am inclined to agree with what Mahathir says. What he said holds a lot of truth, even if you may dislike or hate the man. And I would rather focus on what he says and agree or disagree with him based on that.
Is not what he says true? Are not the most backward nations on this earth all those so-called ‘Islamic’ countries? And herein lies the problem. These so-called Islamic countries are as Islamic as I am a virgin. And trust me, I am no virgin.
And this is what gives Islam that bad image. Because these countries CLAIM to be Islamic countries and are labeled as such, and because these countries do not practice the tenets of Islam, or at least the ‘values of Islam’, as Mahathir says, the image of Islam suffers. When you do wrong and claim that you are doing so in the name of Islam then Islam is wronged. You are in fact doing Islam a great disservice.
Democracy is great. Freedoms of all kinds are fantastic. But when the greatest democracy on earth violates human rights in the name of democracy then expect people to view democracy as bad. It is not democracy that is at fault. It is the people who scream democracy and then attack other weaker nations and send in their army to kidnap other leaders and attack countries they don’t like and occupy them and then claim that they do all this in the name of democracy.
The US is probably as poor an example of a democracy as Afghanistan is a poor example of an Islamic State. Invariably, however, people judge the system by the reality of what is happening rather than the ideals of the ideology. Why talk about the ideals of the ideology when the reality is a far departure from what they preach?
Mahathir, like most Muslims, always talk about the ‘Golden Age of Islam’. When was this Golden Age? What was it like? How did it become the Golden Age of Islam? And when did this Golden Age end and how/why did it end?
If I want to go into the detailed history of this Golden Age of Islam it would take many pages and would look like a thesis for a doctorate. And I doubt many of you are going to spend your Saturday night reading a long and detailed thesis. I shall nevertheless try to be as brief as I can without losing the salient points of the issue, if that is actually possible.
The Golden Age of Islam was the period when the Muslims learned from the other nations and communities. And this of course meant the non-Muslim communities. Books originally written in Greek, German, French, Chinese and whatnot were translated into Arabic. Engineers, architects, scientists, mathematicians, doctors, and many more studied the work of the non-Muslims and did further research to improve or perfect what they had learned.
In short, it was a period of research and development as well as what we would call, today, ‘reverse engineering’ -- which was also the key to the Japanese, Korean and Chinese success of post-Second World War. In Malaysia they would call this chiplak -- not downright chiplak mind you, but chiplak and improve.
Now, take note of one very important point. All these engineers, architects, scientists, mathematicians, doctors, and whatnot were not necessarily Muslims. Many were in fact non-Muslims -- Jews and Christians -- although they lived in the great Islamic Empire. So, while the Islamic Empire went through the Golden Age of learning, inventing and innovation, it was not always Muslims who were behind this massive reverse technology and research and development.
The Golden Age of Islam began to decline when the religionists started to oppose the Rulers who they viewed as too ‘Secular’. The religionists wanted more Islamisation and less ‘infidel’ influence. In other words, if it came from the non-Muslims, it must be rejected as un-Islamic.
While the West still thought that migraines were caused by the devil entering your head, the Muslims were performing brain surgery to remove the blood clots causing your migraine. While the West had no notion of time other than day and night and what the sundial showed, the Muslims invented clocks that ran on water and accurate to the nearest second. And so on and so forth.
But after the religionists got their way and the doors to science, medicine, engineering, architecture, and whatnot were closed, the Golden Age of Islam ended and the Muslim world went into reverse while the West went through one period of ‘revolution’ after another until it came to where it is today.
No, this is not Islam’s fault. Islam is not to be blamed. Those to be blamed are the religionists who wanted to interpret Islam in a very narrow manner and close the Muslim world to what they viewed as un-Islamic influence. It was almost like China’s isolation policy where ‘time stood still’ for hundreds of years.
Thus ended the Golden Age of Islam and the Muslim world went into the Dark Age.
Mahathir did not quite say this of course. He would never dare say this, as would be the case for many Muslims. But let us call a spade a spade. While the West was in the Dark Age the Muslim world was in the Golden Age. And then the West and the Muslim world suddenly traded places.
Study history. See what it was like during the Golden Age. Then see what it was like during the subsequent Dark Age. Spot the difference. And the reason this was so will become as clear as daylight.
To sum up, the Muslims screwed up and got left behind. And the sad thing is the Muslims are still screwing up. But then the Muslims blame the Jews and Christians for their current woes. What they fail to see is that it was because of the Jewish and Christian population that Islam enjoyed its Golden Age. But of course the Islamic history books list down all the great minds of the Muslims of the Golden Age of Islam while conveniently leaving out the role of the Jews and Christians and even the Chinese.
Mahathir told only part of the story. But while he is not wrong in his views there is more he did not tell or did not dare tell. But what must be said must be said. I just hope the Muslims will realise that it was not the enemies of Islam who sent the Muslim nations back into the Dark Age but the Muslims themselves. The Muslims are that enemy.
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 25 — Even in a season where reform has become the most hackneyed word in the politician’s lexicon, Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat’s gambit in calling for an extraordinary general meeting for PAS has perhaps gone the furthest in defining the Malaysian political spectrum.
By proposing an EGM the PAS spiritual leader is effectively calling for fresh polls to weed out “problematic leaders”, his euphemism for the conservative spine of the party whom he feels are not totally committed to the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) coalition.
Ultimately, he is pushing for PAS to be clear once-and-for-all about its agenda and where it stands.
In doing so, the Kelantan Mentri Besar is pushing forward a proposal which is more substantive than the festival of rhetoric at the recent Umno general assembly.
Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak spoke of inclusiveness. Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin urged the Malays to end their siege mentality.
But neither leader’s speeches are likely to change what their party’s rank and file think about the concept of Ketuanan Melayu, or Malay Supremacy, or even money politics, the party’s euphemism for vote-buying.
It will not be plain sailing though for Nik Aziz in his campaign for an EGM.
Party leaders have been cautious in their response to the proposal.
They have pointed out that it would be up to the Majlis Syura Ulama or the Religious Scholars Consultative Council to decide whether it is necessary to hold a special muktamar.
The party’s powerful Syura council is led by Nik Aziz (picture) and most members of the central committee are also part of the council.
It is clear from ground reports that there is tension between the young progressive elements and the conservative school.
Despite some voices of disapproval, Nik Aziz said yesterday he remained firm about the party having an EGM which insiders see as a way of deposing PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang for leaders warmer towards a full-fledged opposition pact.
Abdul Hadi and his conservative allies triumphed in the last party polls over the so-called “Erdogan” faction, which is more partial to the PR coalition.
Nik Aziz’s call for an EGM is seen as a last ditch all-out attempt to bring PAS closer to the pact rather than a more detached relationship with its allies PKR and DAP.
His protege Datuk Husam Musa lost his bid to take the deputy presidency from incumbent Nasharuddin Mat Isa, who with senior leader Datuk Mustafa Ali, is seen as representing the conservative spine in PAS.
Nik Aziz however favours Husam and his faction known as “Erdogan”, named after the Turkish PM who took his Islamist party to success in Turkey and is seen as close to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
While PAS has championed its “PAS for All” slogan, conservative elements still talk about banning beer sales and other punitive laws. Nik Aziz has blasted these leaders and has asked why Hadi has not stamped out such talk and quashed efforts to get closer to Umno.
Nik Aziz is virulently opposed to any form of cooperation with Umno as the Islamist party was part of Barisan Nasional formed in 1974 but quit later due to a clash of wills that led to PAS losing Kelantan in 1978.
His EGM gambit will have wide ranging implications on PR and the growth of the two-coalition system.
By Augustine Anthony
There are those who subscribe to the principle that to live is everything and by this they believe that we are all here to survive and in order to survive we just have to be practical (realism). On the other hand there are others who subscribe to the principle that a life without idealism is devoid of greatness thus such existence means little. Both are acceptable principles depending on the tint of the glass through which we look at things.
The greatest of the leaders who have had captivated and captured the imagination of any movement or nation with their idealism are people with an aura of simplicity of life and a complexity of mind. In these leaders idealism manifested in all the greatness and glorious honesty to the point where people were passionately attracted to and magnetically drawn to these leaders to wholeheartedly support their cause even to the point of great cost to the personal well being of people .
But in our country today, what kind of leaders are we blessed or cursed with? Far from the simplicity of life and complexity of mind, these leaders manifest the blemished opposite which is a caustic complexity of life and simplicity of mind where superfluous needs takes center stage.
The fact is, many of these leaders are children in grown up bodies. It is for this reason we can see that they so willingly trade their ideals for bangles, beads and baubles. Throw the cry babies a toy and savor the serenity of their silence, such has become the cynical riposte. Toys remain toys whether it is Barbie dolls and lightsabers for children or the latest and the newest sports cars, limousines, expensive show off watches, private yachts, private jets or the second holiday villa amassed through ill gotten gains.
To maintain these unnecessary needs at the expense of great sufferings to the people, the leaders particularly the politicians (except for a few notable and dedicated ones in service to our nation) , are prepared to be glib tongued imposters, violence inciting mobsters and messengers of hate who do not seem to understand that a nation without common idealism is like a ship that drifts in uncharted waters without continuity of purpose and direction.
These selfish politicians are very “practical” people. They are masters in the art of personal survival albeit a survival without a legacy for the future generations to put on a pedestal. Their existence is without idealism. They rarely ask themselves the personal question of how they wish to be remembered. In death their memories will be instantly forgotten.
Practicality for them provides instant intoxication but conveniently forgetting that idealism is the heartbeat of our soul that breaks new thresholds in every field. An embryo in gestation within the womb of idealism will in birth reveal men/women in grace who will die for a cause.
A national idealism that can draw everyone to a common platform is a must. Every nation and every discovery and every field that had been touched by the force of idealism had propelled all of them to greatness beyond the imagination of most intelligent practical thinkers.
History is witness to every conquest that was only possible through idealism.
Idealism is Sports
For more than a century in the field of athletic prowess, no man could break the record of running below 4 minutes in the one mile race. In fact all practical sports experts, analysts and commentators were of the conclusion that it is humanly impossible to do under 4 minutes in the one mile race.
Roger Bannister an athlete just like any other but with ideals of doing what others could not do. He thought beyond the practicality of just winning the race. He had the idealism of being the first man to do under 4 minutes. In May 1956 Roger Bannister broke the meet record and clocked 3.59.04 and simultaneously broke the human mental block. And within less than 2 months another athlete broke the under 4 minute’s impossibility. Then under 4 minutes was being achieved more frequently the ever. If today an athlete cannot do under 4 minutes, he better not compete because college students are easily achieving it. All it took was one man with ideals to triumph over the mental block brought about by the practicality of a mere winning of the race.
In later life Roger Bannister went on to accomplish many great things in the medicinal field of neurology.
In a video recording, a young and very poor 13 year old boy from a shanty town was asked, what his dreams were and he answered, firstly to play for his country and secondly to carry the Football (FIFA) World Cup. That poor boy with idealism went on, not only to play for his country and carry the Copa Mondial but also became the greatest footballer with the greatest solo goal ever. Diego Armando Maradona! He may die one day but because of his ideals, football will live.
Idealism in Science
Bedtime stories for children of mermaids diving the depths of the Ocean yet able to breathe fresh air by the beach and Peter Pan flying in the sky like a bird yet walk like any other boy were not acceptable thoughts in a real world then and were dismissed by ‘intelligent practical thinkers’ as humanly impossible. They argued that only demented children could entertain such thoughts that existed in story books.
But relentless scientific discovery firmly footed on the foundation of idealism now witness seafaring and ocean floor discoveries of organisms of various species that are changing our understanding of life on this planet. Submarines are cruising under water like giant monsters ever so often and divers with new diving gear are doing better, far better than mermaids.
The story of flying Peter Pan is no longer impossible for those who dare to dream a dream. Planes breaking the speed of sound, skydiving in marvelous and mind boggling formations and paragliding spectacles are now common occurrences and heart stoppers no longer. Only the mediocre practical thinkers with their mental block now remain a stumbling block to what people and a nation can achieve as a whole.
Idealism In Religion
Dead men cannot die again. It is not real and not a practical thought. But perhaps not for the Christians who believe in the idealism spread by Jesus Christ. Christians not only believe that the dead can be brought to life through resurrection but human beings are a creation that could live forever.
This belief is so unshakeable that early Christians were prepared to die for it in the most gruesome ways. Christian women and children were tossed into the Roman Coliseum and while the helpless believers were devoured by hungry lions to the toxic cheers of spectators intoxicated by the madness of entertainment, idealism firmly footed on faith was the only sustenance for these dying ones who believed that there is a second and a more meaningful life that await them. And that idealism was written for future Christians to bear witness in the Gospel of Matthew.
That idealism saw young Christian men and women, giving away their possessions, emptying their pockets for their faith, crossing oceans, trekking mountains and vast lands to spread the message of idealism. In their endeavors many died in the oceans, of deadly diseases and through violence but their deaths were not in vain.
Christians believe that they may not have seen God in visible form but his work is seen all around. One example is the education system through mission schools that was spread around the world by these idealists. Many without educational opportunities were given the most important gift of knowledge through structured education. Knowledge based society based on sound education is the real work of God, some Christians argue.
The successful spread of other religions like Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism are also through idealism.
Idealism In Philosophy
The French Revolution did not attain success just because peasants became hungry and planned the overthrow of the then unworkable system of governance of a medieval absolute and tyrannical monarchy.
The people were convinced and were able to immerse themselves in the idealism of the philosophy of Voltaire, Rousseau and Montesquieu. Within these philosophies they saw an ideal system of good governance. These Philosophies revealed the tyranny of absolute monarchy and offered a viable solution in the relationship between the State and its citizen through a power balance mechanism. Today, the world over people are talking and pursuing the ideal power separation policies. These ideals have not given in to practical survival. Not yet and never will.
Idealism In Politics and Nation Building
Nelson Mandela spent 28 years in prison for what he believed in. In the book “Long Walk To Freedom” it was apparent that the Apartheid Regime incessantly persuaded him to be a practical man and give up his cause. The terrible cruelty he suffered in the hands of his tormentors, one cannot describe in words. That idealism saw his comrades blazed with conviction in pursuit of the noble cause to free their country from unjust minority rule that saw it fit that some were more equal than others.
Walter Sisulu suffered so much for Mandela’s beliefs. Oliver Thambo went into exile for 30 years, so far from his home to rally support from around the world, that apartheid has no place in any principled governance that believed in common decency.
There are other exemplary characters whose pursuits were fueled by nothing other than idealism. Such is the greatness of leaders like Bhagat Singh in India, Dr. Sun Yat Sen in China, Aung Sang Su Kyi in Burma. And in Malaysia, the late Abdul Razak (Tun), whose National Economic Policy if properly implemented would have remarkably reduced the inequality between the poor and the rich but sadly his intentions were hijacked by other competing interests and the political party that he once helmed has now lost its soul.
Idealism in Human Rights/ Civil Rights Movement
The Proclamation of Emancipation that declared freedom for slaves did little to save the Negro slaves held by the curse of captivity until the birth of sons and daughters of Negro slaves who believed in the idealism that free men /women are no man’s slaves. (The word Negro is intentionally used here)
The Negro slaves who believed in the idealism of freemen and freedom suffered terrible consequences. They were imprisoned in tiny boxes for days, tortured and lynched, their daughters raped, their sons starved but as the siren of idealism stayed, the bells of freedom rang across the country.
So when Martin Luther King Jr. said that “I have a dream”, it was not the words of Martin Luther King Jr. alone that reverberated at Lincoln’s Memorial but the Idealism of the sons and daughters of Negro slaves that one day the evils of racial discriminations will evaporate and sons of slaves and sons of slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.
That idealism gave birth to an American dream from entertainment to sports, national defense and politics in the persona of Michael Jackson, Tiger Woods, General Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and now the ultimate realization of that dream in Barack Hussein Obama.
Idealism In War
The Persian Army under Emperor Xerxes I son Darius the Great mounted a campaign to expand its empire to the autonomous Greek city states. The Greeks particularly the Spartans were people who believed in the ideals of free Greeks and were not willing to live in submission to the Persian Empire. In what will go down as the most famous battle of ancient European history, the battle at Thermopylae saw the Spartan King Leonidas leading a small army numbering less than 10 thousand men against Xerxes I who was commanding almost 300 ,000 men (some put the figure beyond a million). Practical war strategy would have seen the necessity of total withdrawal but King Leonidas was not a practical man.
A few days of fighting saw the Greek army losing about 2,500 freemen and the Persian war casualties more than 20,000. But on the last day of battle, King Leonidas having ordered the retreat of rest of the Greek army remained in the battle field with 300 Spartans and a few hundred other Greek soldiers to take on the mighty Persian army.
King Leonidas believing in the ideals of freemen of ancient Greece saw certainty of death with no chance of success but that ideal spread to all corners of Greece and in less than one year in the battle at Plataea, the Greek army numbering 40,000 led by the Spartans won decisively against the Persian army of 120,000 men and effectively ended the Persian threats of Greek invasion.
Doomed heroism of bold King Leonidas and the brave 300 more than 2,400 years ago remains till today as an inspirational theme for freemen.
A national idealism drawn from the inspiration of a common certainty of purpose could conquer the odds of impossibilities against a global threat to enslave our nation but we continue to struggle with basic questions that still bamboozle the nation.
We still wonder why the roads are generously spread with potholes, why buildings collapse, why bridges crack, why the huge financial losses and scandals, why the deepening of racial and religious differences, why our education policies continue to be flipped, see it flop and await another flip in a matter of few years with parents disappointed and children raised with feelings of dejection and many other failings that could be easily avoided.
And to the burning question of why after all these years many politicians still remain con men, incite hatred and sow conflicts amongst the races, we disappointedly go home with an irresistible conclusion that practical survival for a short term gain (an more importantly pecuniary gain) by these selfish people far outweighs shaping a nation on the principle of idealism for a long term greatness.
To these mediocre politicians and leaders, I can only quote that “the glory and memory of men will always belong to the ones who followed their great visions”…….. (Quote from the Movie Alexander)
I was paying only casual attention while Najib droned on over the radio when tabling his Budget in Parliament yesterday.
But my ears pricked up when he mentioned a “second wave of privatisation”.
The Bernama headline says it all: ‘Companies Under MOF Inc And Other Viable Agencies To Be Privatise’ (sic).
Why only the viable agencies? Is this going to be more of “privatisation of profits and socialisation of losses” – at the expense of the Malaysian public?
The first thing that crossed my mind was: which cash cow is going to be handed over to which crony now? Don’t tell me they are going ahead with plans to privatise cash cow Plus Expressways Bhd, which is owned by Khazanah (24 per cent directly and 40 per cent indirectly).
Plus Expressways owns 100 per cent of Projek Lebuhraya Utara-Selatan Bhd, which operates the North-South Highway. Last year, Plus Expressways earned a profit before tax of RM1.5 billion on the back of RM2.2 billion in toll collection.
A low-profile firm, Asas Serba, recently made an audacious proposal to take over all 22 highway concessionaire firms for RM50 billion. (Where are they going to get the money from?) The firm is reportedly led by four businessmen, two of whom are former senior executives of the Renong conglomerate.
S Jayasankaran, writing in the Business Times on 19 October, reported:
IT APPEARS that the staggering RM50 billion (S$20.7 billion) proposal from little known Asas Serba to buy all 22 highway concessionaires in the country is a serious one.
The proposal – first reported by BT two months ago – calls for the company to buy over the tolled highways and cut tolls by 20 per cent on the premise that owning all of the nation’s tolled highways would result in economies of scale and, presumably, lower costs.
That this is a proposal considered seriously by the government cannot be denied. Nor Mohamad Yakcop, the minister of the Economic Planning Unit, dismissed the notion last month only to be contradicted by his boss Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Mr Najib, who is also finance minister, said he hadn’t seen the proposal yet, which implied that he was waiting to see it. This is a sharp reversal from the same Mr Najib who, two months ago, said that Khazanah, the investment arm of the federal government, had no intention of selling Plus Expressways, the biggest toll concessionaire in Malaysia. The premier is also the chairman of Khazanah.
You can check out some of the other likely targets of privatisation among Khazanah’s portfolio of companies here.
(Except for one share owned by the Federal Land Commissioner, Khazanah’s shares are owned by the Minister of Finance Incorporated.)
It looks as if the trend of neo-liberal policies is likely to continue.
At this rate, if and when a new party or coalition takes over federal power over from the BN, most of the profit-making or “viable” government agencies could have been privatised, leaving only the deficit-incurring agencies left in the government’s stable (i.e. in the hands of the Malaysian public).
At you service by DR Tam Weng Wah
Public complaints are now handled by the second most senior person in an agency. And the journey to government agencies need no longer be a dreaded voyage for the public.
MOHANDAS K. Gandhi once said that the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. This in essence summarises the public service.
When the strength of a public service is defined by the people, the society is empowered.
Key to this ownership is complaints and in how the Public Service manages and responds to demands and complaints of the nation. How we react will have its corresponding effect on national competitiveness.
If the government machinery is perceived as inefficient and indifferent to the changing global profiles and trends, investors will very quickly place their investments elsewhere.
The function of complaints management in governments is unique. It must be equipped to address not only issues relating to government, but also areas in private sector which if not addressed, would and could have direct impact on national competitiveness.
In the past, handling of public complaints was seen as mundane and unimportant.
In many organisations, both private and public, the handling of customer complaints is seen as a highly unpleasant and unenviable task.
In short, a non-glamorous one.
As a result it was often delegated to the lower echelons who haven’t the authority to resolve the complaints. Who is ever energised to deal with a highly unhappy and frustrated customer?
With rising competition in the private sector for market segmentation and space, as well as a national competitiveness race for investors’ fund, the effectiveness of how complaints are managed and resolved has moved from the back burners of priority to very much the front and centre agenda in the public and private sectors.
For us in the public service, the role, function and even scope of public complaints has been redefined in its breadth, depth and importance.
Today, the second most senior person in the agencies and ministries is assigned responsibility of public complaints.
In essence, the deputy secretaries-general, deputy directors-general and deputy state secretaries are now responsible for ensuring a speedy resolution of public complaints lodged against their respective agencies.
This is a leapfrog change for the service; a change instituted to ensure Malaysia does not lose pace in its relevance globally.
The responsibility of handling complaints is no longer confined only to specific agencies, but to everyone. This culture is being driven and instituted in the Service through the No Wrong Door policy.
The Chief Secretary to the Govern-ment reiterated this point in his column recently, stating — “Every public official must have the competency of a Public Complaints Bureau” and “Complaints management must be the ‘problem’ of every official.” (The Star, Saturday, June 13, 2009).
The journey to government agencies is often seen as a dreaded voyage for most. The perception has always been – they will not be served and complaints will fall on deaf ears and filed into a big black hole.
Many accounts of horror stories have been written of the expedition from one agency to another, being treated like a child by government officials, treated indifferently and/or rudely by the “I know it all” counter staff with the “don’t question me” attitude and not to mention the endless long waiting period without a firm decision for an application.
These perceptions and anecdotes, whilst having its justifications for its criticisms, cannot afford to continue.
The basic question for the service – how do we effectively manage complaints in public sector agencies?
Fundamentally, the public sector needs to take charge and adopt a more proactive approach in engaging the media and responding to issues raised promptly. As the saying goes, “reality lags perception.”
If we fail to respond to the daily complaints raised in the media, the public will rightly assume what was reported is the gospel truth.
This reflects adversely on the government’s performance and the markets’ responsiveness, hence affecting competitiveness at large.
The rule for the service today is that all letters are responded to within three working days.
Not all responses are published immediately by the media due to space constraints.
To address this, the Public Com-plaints Bureau (PCB) will post a copy of the response on the PCB website.
Often termed the “postman to complaints”, PCB has redefined its role to lead in resolution of complaints.
In keeping pace with change, we have gone “high tech, high touch” by providing “24/7” access through our website (http://www.pcb.gov.my) which allows complainants to submit their complaints “anytime, anywhere” and at their convenience using the i-Aduan complaints management system.
We will be implementing i-SPAAA (Integrated Public Agencies Com-plaints Monitoring System) for all ministries by year end.
This system will also allow the public to check the status of their complaints electronically.
i-SPAAA allows us to conduct a more holistic analysis of the recurrent complaints to determine their root causes and propose remedial measures and preventive actions by the respective agencies.
Ministries will also be posting answers to frequently asked questions on the system to cut back on time taken both for the complainant and the officials on recurring complaints.
Our records show an increase in the number of complaints received from 5,347 in 2007 to 8,066 in 2008.
This does not necessarily mean that the performance of government agencies and departments have deteriorated but rather the public now have confidence that their grievances, brought about through the complaints, will be attended to accordingly by the agencies.
It also reflects a more open and vocal society, maturing towards a developed nation.
Ultimately, the best way to defining Malaysia, is through Malaysians taking part in Malaysia.
Pada hari Khamis saya menyertai perbahasan Rang Undang-Undang Etika Hakim, menegaskan kepentingan sistem kehakiman yang bebas serta tidak hanya memihak kepada kekuasaan terutama apabila hak rakyat ditindas. Saya ungkapkan dalam Dewan Yang Mulia, teguran mantan hakim yang berwibawa seperti Tun Suffian dan Tuanku Sultan Azlan Shah. Kita merasa bimbang melihat pimpinan parti pemerintah menggasir kebebasan institusi keadilan melalui peguam kaya dan hakim yang curang.
Keresahan rakyat seharusnya direnungi apabila rasuah dan penyelewengan kuasa membudaya serta mengakar lalu membawa kerosakan yang bukan kepalang. Lupakah kita kata-kata hakim NH Chan, “something is rotten in the House of Denmark.” Tatkala riuh rendah pimpinan umno bn ingin membawa perubahan, Laporan Suruhanjaya Pita Lingam diketepikan begitu sahaja. Kononnya tiada perlu untuk mendakwa VK Lingam, sedangkan kontroversi ini membabitkan individu-individu yang enak dan selesa dipersada kekuasaan. Berulang kali kita tekankan mustahaknya prinsip pertanggungjawaban, tadbir urus dan ketelusan menjadi antara sendi
Beberapa jam lalu, pembentangan belanjawan baru sahaja selesai. Saya mengambil peluang untuk meneliti belanjawan terbaru ini di samping mengenal pasti kejanggalan ketara, iaitu mengapa tiada pengumuman berhubung perbelanjaan ketenteraan dan keselamatan negara. Tambah merunsingkan ialah kurangnya perbelanjaan pembangunan sekitar 4.4%, dari RM 53.6 billion kepada RM 51.2 billion serta merosotnya pendapatan negara dari yang dijangkakan. Malahan beban hutang juga meningkat sebanyak 18.3% dari RM 306.4 blillion pada tahun 2008, kepada RM 362.5 billion. Berhadapan dengan kedudukan ekonomi sebegini, ternyata generasi akan datang terpaksa jua menanggung permasalahan yang diakibatkan oleh ketirisan seperti rasuah, kelemahan pengurusan serta tamak membolot khazanah negara.
He said he was not bothered that some states were against the idea and that what was important to him was to save the party.
"I will not change my mind on this," he told reporters after opening a new mosque in Kampung Pasir Hor near here Saturday.
Also present was former foreign minister Tan Sri Tengku Ahmad Rithaudden, who bore the cost of building the RM500,000 mosque.
The Kelantan Menteri Besar is calling for the EGM so that the delegates could deliberate on the position of what he called "problematic leaders" in the party, referring to those who attempted to forge a unity government with the Barisan Nasional.
PAS is part of the opposition Pakatan coalition with the other members being the DAP and Parti Keadilan Nasional (PKR).
He said this was crucial to consolidate the party "since everyone has a role to play" in ensuring that the second largest Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition party could forge ahead with time.
"I think it is a good move in the right direction...but it has to accomodate everyone in order to ensure MCA moves forward," he told reporters after handing over keys to owners of the upmarket Jalil Sutera housing project near here on Saturday.
The power struggle in the MCA which worsened, especially after its Oct 10 extraordinary general meeting, abruptly came to an end when its chief, Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat, and his deposed deputy, Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek, met with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who is also BN chairman.
Ong, who also announced the 'Greater Unity Plan', has not disclosed in detail, how the plan would work out.
Asked to comment, Kong urged MCA members to give Ong some space as he needed time to announce it.
Earlier, Kong, who is also housing and local government minister, said preventing and reviving abandoned housing projects would be the main focus in the ministry's Key Performance Indicator (KPI), with three main emphasis.
# the government will periodically monitor licensed housing projects;
# take action against errant housing developers; and,
# revive abandoned projects.
Between 2000 and September this year, there were 148 abandoned housing projects involving 49,913 units and 31,824 buyers nationwide, which were developed by the private sector.
Of the 148 housing projects, the ministry revived 12 projects involving 2,170 units this year.
Between 2006 and September, this year, 237 cases involved contravening the Housing Development (Control and Licensing) Act 1966 which were subsequently prosecuted.
Some of the developers and company directors were blacklisted, said Kong.
Commenting on the initiatives under the Green Building Index to promote green technology in the building and construction sector as announced by Najib when tabling the 2010 Budget yesterday, Kong said the move was proactive and would encourage more developers to build more, and buyers could choose property with green technology-compliance