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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Iran urged to free jailed woman

Protest organisers hope international pressure will led Iran's government to free Mohammadi Ashtiani [AFP]
Rallies are being held in London and around the world to support Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, an Iranian woman sentenced to death in Iran for adultery.
Hundreds of people took to the streets of Paris, New York, Berlin, Ottawa and other cities on Saturday to show solidarity with the woman who has been incarcerated in Iran since 2005 and faces execution.
"We do want to save her life," Maryam Namazie, a protest organiser in London, told Al Jazeera.
Amnesty International, one of several groups publicising her case, said that Ashtiani, who has two children, was convicted in 2006 of having an "illicit relationship" with two men and received 99 lashes as punishment.
She was initially sentenced to death by stoning, but the execution was put on hold earlier this month after an international outcry.
Malekadjar Sharifi, an Iranian official in Eastern Azerbaijan province, was quoted as saying the suspension was not influenced by the international condemnation drawn by the death sentence.
Potential hanging
Although she will not be stoned, rights groups worry that Ashtiani could still be hanged.
Murder, adultery, rape, armed robbery, apostasy and drug trafficking are all punishable by death under Iran's sharia law, enforced since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
At least 10 other people, including seven women, are under sentence of stoning in the Iranian jails, Amnesty said.
Protest organisers hope continued international pressure will force the Iranian government to free Ashtiani.
"We are hoping this will be a stepping tone to ending stoning and executions in Iran once and for all," Namazie said.

Prof Francis Boyle – Aparthied-type policies are Crimes Against Humanity


FrancisBoyle01 Professor Francis A. Boyle, an expert in international law at the University of Illinois College of Law, said at a convention in Connecticut that Sri Lanka is a violator of the Apartheid Convention, and that the world should, without delay, intensify a ‘divestment and disinvestment campaign’ against Sri Lanka in the same lines and for the same reason the world did this against the criminal apartheid regime in South Africa."
Article I of the Apartheid Convention, more formally known as the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (ICSPCA), labels the crime of Apartheid as a "crime against humanity," and declares that "inhuman acts resulting from the policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination are crimes violating the principles or international law…"
Prof. Boyle said the long history of discriminatory policies instituted by successive governments including desecration of cemeteries and cultural symbols overwhelmingly qualify as an apartheid regime, and therefore should be prosecuted as a violator of the Apartheid Convention.
Denying to a group basic human rights and freedom, the right to freedom of opinion and expression also qualifies.
Prof. Boyle pointed out that there is some degree of overlap between Apartheid treaty and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). He added that while some nations avoided becoming signatory to the Rome Statute, the crimes against humanity fall into the category of peremptory norms, and the international laws are binding on Governments even when the countries are not signatories to the conventions.
Earlier on another issue of deportations, he said that, "deportation without any reason is illegal, when refugees without visa were not deported."
Rome Statute
http://www.tamilnet.com/img/publish/2010/02/rome_statute.pdf
Text of Aparthied Convention
http://www.tamilnet.com/img/publish/2010/07/ApartheidConvention.pdf

A Tale of Two Temples by Farish A. Noor


image
Editor’s Note: Up to date this Hindu temple problems remain unresolved. Even the Mariamman hindu temple in Shah Alam that was said to be the spark for the 25th November 2007 HINDRAF Rally has refused to be granted land by even the new PKR Selangor government. UMNO, PKR, DAP and PAS has refused to grant land to all Hindu temples all in on go in the states they rule including Kedah, Penang and Selangor. Because they will lose Malay votes!


A Tale of Two Temples
by Farish A. Noor
Tuesday, 04 December 2007
While meandering about in downtown Saigon recently I chanced upon the Sri Mariaman temple close to Ben Thanh market. It was an interesting visit to say the least, for the riotous colour of the temple were matched by the riotous conjunction of many faiths that had come together in that singular enclosed and sacred space.
The reasons for this are obvious to those familiar with Vietnam’s recent history: In 1975 when Saigon finally fell to the triumphant North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong, practically all the foreigners and migrant residents had made a bee line for the dock. The temples, churches and mosques of Saigon – thenafter renamed Ho Chi Minh city – were left vacant and the devotees wondered if they would be allowed to remain standing at all after their departure. At the height of the Cold War the Vietnamese Communists were seen as a rather uncompromising, tiresomely dogmatic, no-fun bloodthirsty lot and many had assumed that the religious texts would be recycled as toilet paper (as the Khmer Rouge treated the Bibles and Qurans that fell into their hands later) and that the sacred sites would be desacralised in the most outlandish manner.
But what followed next was a surprise to many: They, the dreaded Commies, not only allowed the religious buildings to remain, but they also made use of them in a host of imaginative ways. Many of the churches and mosques were restored and preserved, and some were turned into schools or clinics. Not a stone was touched, save by the restorer’s paint brush.
Today the Sri Mariaman temple in central Saigon has once again become a religious site for many, but ironically most of the devotees happen to be Buddhists and Taoists, not Hindu – for there are scarcely a dozen Hindus left in the city. So I sat and watched as mothers and aunts, grannies and grand-kids perambulated around the precinct of the temple, offering their prayers and sending up their hopes and wishes to the Gods of the Himalayas on a cloud of incense smoke. The Hindu priests are still there, though one wonders what they make of it all, with Buddhists and Taoists coming to offer prayers and light joss-sticks before the many avatars of Lakshmi, Durga, Kali and Krishna. If human beings have proven their intolerance time and again, at least the Gods seem more kindly and benevolent to entertain the vainest of wishes even from strangers.
100_2052 Hop of the next cheapo flight and find yourself here in multi-culti Malaysia, just in time to see the bulldozers smash through another Sri Mariaman temple in Selangor. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         It was a double blow to me to return to KL in transit to hear the news that not one, but two, Hindu temples had just been flattened on the same day by our endearing developers in the vicinity of Shah Alam. Even less heart-warming were the accounts of the devotees of the temple who were manhandled and forcibly marched out before the hammers came down, some at gun point. If nefarious Commie Vietnam can protect their temples, why can’t we ‘plural, multicultural, multiflavoured’ Malaysians extend the same comfort and protection to our fellow Malaysians too?
Of course there will be the nay-sayers who will point me to the legal fine print and remind me of the legally dubious status of some of these temples. Then there will be those who will insist that this is an Indian-Hindu issue which I should not stick my nose in (even though the issue is a 100_2080 Malaysian one as these are Malaysian temples being destroyed on Malaysian territory and Malaysians are affected). Then there will be the gung-ho testosterone-driven macho types who will yelp and whinge about Malay identity being the paramount defining factor that defines what being Malaysian is, etc. etc.
But prattle and legalese notwithstanding, the bottom line is this: These happen to be Malaysian temples built on Malaysian soil with Malaysian devotees and the Malaysian government is presiding over their systematic and calculated destruction, one by one. One shudders at the thought of the long-term global repercussions of this campaign, for already recorded footage of these temple demolitions are being transmitted to websites all over the globe and the issue taken up by Hindu conservatives in India.image
Nor are the parallels being drawn an attractive one: If the Taliban could have leveled the Bamiyan  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         statues of Buddha with a flick of the trigger-finger (to be followed by the mass slaughter of goats and cows all over the benighted land, which did not make it to the headlines); then what is happening in our plural wonderland called Malaysia? How are we to hold our heads up high and invite the world to visit our wonderfully diverse and colourful country when the very same landscape is being flattened in a rather indecorous way at the same time? Taliban, Wot? Here? Blimey!
The tragedy of course is that the deliberate reconstruction of Malaysia’s urban landscape is being done in broad daylight under the flag of a nebulous formulae of ‘moderate Islam’ that is said by some hopefuls to be the last chance to save the pluralist spirit of the country. However one finds it hard to accept such talk of mutual love and inter-communal cuddlyness when the bulldozers parked outside don’t look all that cuddly. Nor do the cops with their tear gas canisters and batons. Or the Orcish horde of construction (or should we say destruction) workers with mallets and hammers slung precariously over their shoulders, ready to rock and roll. Looking back at the fate of the two Sri Mariaman temples, the question remains: Who were the ones who protected the rights of the religious minorities better? The Godless Commies or the faithful Malaysians? These are the times when I am not proud to admit that I am a Malaysian, I have to say.

MACC fights bad press with Facebook, Twitter

Sutinah (second left) launches the MACC’s Facebook page, July 24, 2010. — Picture by Jack Ooi

SHAH ALAM, July 25 — The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) is fighting back against harmful “gossip” about its work by launching its official Facebook page and Twitter micro-blogging account.

The national anti-graft body has come under sustained fire after its January 2008 start for what its detractors claim were a poor record of prosecution and ineffective fight against corruption.

MACC deputy chief commissioner (Prevention) Datuk Hajah Sutinah Sutan said yesterday that MACC had launched its Facebook page in order to repair negative public perception by providing “accurate information” about the anti-graft body.

“There is plenty of gossip and inaccurate information about SPRM (MACC)’s work. With this, we have the chance to give accurate information,” said Sutinah when launching the MACC Facebook page yesterday.

“I do not see that we are losing,” added Sutinah when asked if the MACC thought that it was losing the media battle on its increasingly dented image.

“People should fight corruption, not SPRM or its officers. With accurate information, there will not be any negative perception towards SPRM,” said Sutinah.

The MACC operation review panel claimed recently that the press had been unfair in its coverage of the anti-graft body and called for the media to protect the commission’s image instead to boost foreign direct investment.

MACC’s Facebook page has garnered about 4,100 fans in three months since its debut in the popular social networking site early May.

Many of the comments on MACC’s Facebook page appeared supportive of the anti-graft body, with some expressing their agreements with an Utusan Malaysia article posted by MACC titled “Isu Beng Hock terlalu dipolitikkan (Beng Hock issue overly politicised)”.

“People are saying that we are not transparent in our actions and that we are selective in our prosecutions,” said Sutinah, when asked to give examples of untrue “gossip” about MACC.

“But all of our actions are transparent,” she added.

Sutinah also cited five parliamentary bodies on graft that monitored MACC as evidence that there was check and balance on the anti-corruption body, adding that “There is nothing for us to hide.”

The deputy chief commissioner (Prevention) added that MACC had also launched a blog (www.ourdifferentview.com) and Twitter account (twitter.com/odvmacc) in late May this year, joining many Malaysian politicians who actively blog or tweet, such as DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang and Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin.

A year after the death of Teoh Beng Hock, MACC is still struggling in a seemingly losing battle to regain public confidence.

The 30-year-old political secretary to Selangor state councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah was found dead July 16 last year on a fifth-floor landing at Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam, nine floors below the MACC’s Selangor then headquarters.

He had been interrogated overnight by anti-graft officers probing claims his boss was misusing state funds.

On the anniversary of Teoh’s death, MACC chief commissioner Datuk Seri Abu Kassim Mohamed had pledged not to “cover up” the actions of anyone who may have been involved in causing the DAP political aide’s death.

However, MACC’s condolence statement to Teoh’s family had drawn heavy criticism because it was only available in Mandarin.

Beng Hock’s younger sister, Lee Lan, had also slammed Abu Kassim for his “insincere” effort.

MIC targeting one million Indian voters

KUALA LUMPUR: The MIC will ensure that at least one million Indian voters can vote in the 13th general election, said its president S Samy Vellu.

He said out of one million Indians who were eligible to vote, 840,000 had already registered with the Election Commission (EC).

"MIC will work at registering 100,000 more Indians, who are among 500,000 party members identified as having not registered as voters, by the end of October.

"The party will also ensure that 60,000 more eligible Indians will register as voters with the EC before this November.

"I believe that if we (MIC) can secure the support of Indian voters before others could do so, Indians will be the second biggest group of supporters for Barisan Nasional (BN) in the next general election," he said after opening a seminar on registration of new voters for heads of MIC divisions, here, today.

Samy Vellu said based on the political parties' lists of new voters registered between January and June this year, Umno and DAP had each registered more than 50,000 new voters, while MIC had only registered 1,109 in the same period.

"This shows there are weaknesses in the leadership at the branch and higher levels," he said, adding that MIC would launch a nationwide voter registration drive and urged the EC to appoint more assistant registrars from among MIC division, branch, Wanita and Youth leaders.

He was confident that based on the current political scenario, Indian voters would play a crucial role in the next general election.

"I stand by the opinion that the Indians generally strongly support BN and the leadership of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.

"The prime minister continues to communicate with the Indian community in the effort to gain more support for BN.

"If BN is weak, the MIC will also lose its strength and the channel to bring forward the problems faced by the Indian community to be resolved."

Therefore, Samy Vellu said, MIC needed to carry out transformation at the divisional and branch levels to face the current political challenges.

"Soon, there will be a leadership transformation at the top, a new leader will take over but it does not mean that I am sleeping until that time.

"The new leader must know the challenges in the party," he said.

- Bernama

PI Bala's lawyers issue challenge to critics

The three lawyers of former private investigator P Balasubramaniam are outraged at allegations that their legal fees were footed by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.

Placing Anwar's former private secretary Anuar Shaari who made the claims on Thursday in their cross-hairs, the counsel dared him to provide them with evidence.

"I challenge him. Show us what you have. You have nothing, Anuar Shaari, both in your hands and and in your head.

NONE"I am calling him a liar. Anuar is a liar. He is rubbish and tell half-truths," said the visibly upset senior counsel Manjeet Singh Dhillon (left).

At a press conference in a Kuala Lumpur hotel today, he also refuted Anuar's claims that he has been repeatedly making offers to Anwar's one-time supporter S Nallakaruppan to return to PKR.

"I was just trying to get two friends who were arguing at the time, to reconcile. Anwar and Nallakaruppan's friendship back then, went beyond political parties. If two friends had fallen apart, is it wrong to try to reconcile them?" he asked.

Anuar had also insinuated that Anwar was footing the legal bills and raised questions of how Balasubramaniam is funding his stay in London.

He was also reported to have "urged" the lawyers to declare their salaries and assets to the Inland Revenue Board so that they could prove that they had no links with Anwar.

Americk PI Bala lawyer, PC"Why is it necessary for us to declare our incomes to a party who is not involved in this. Comments by Anuar show he has no idea of what is going on.

"He is nothing," said another of Balasubramaniam's lawyers Americk Singh Sidhu (right).

Manjeet also pointed out that even if Anwar did foot the bill, it is not a crime.

"It just shows that he is just as interested to see the perpetrators of the crime brought to justice. Isn't that a noble thing?" Manjeet asked.

Legal work pro bono

With all that said and done, the lawyers announced that they have been working with Balasubramaniam on a pro bono (voluntary) basis.

"We have never requested money and payment. All we are interested is making sure that justice is done," said Americk.

He later reiterated that Balasubramaniam funded himself through the RM750,000 allegedly "thrust" into his hands by one of the prime minister's wife Rosmah Mansor's associates
and carpet trader Deepak Jaikishan.

Meanwhile, Manjeet said that Balasubramaniam might release his statement that he sent to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

"The questions may be marked rahsia (secret), but the answers are not. There will be a time when we will release the answers," he said.

The MACC officers had at the eleventh hour, aborted a meeting with the ex-private eye in London. They later sent a list of 52 questions with the request that he send his answers in the form of a statutory declaration.

They were to investigate his claims that Prime Minister Najib Razak's brother, Nazim, was "involved" in getting Balasubramaniam to retract his first statutory declaration, detailing the grisly links between Mongolian translator Altantuya Shariibuu's murder and Rosmah as well as Najib.

Business Council Mum Over Rosmah Ad

From The Nutt Graph
By Jacqueline Ann Surin and Koh Lay Chin

The Business Council for International Understanding (BCIU), which conferred the prime minister’s wife an award in New York in April, has remained mum about whether it was the party which placed a congratulatory advertisement in the New York Times (NYT) for her.

BCIU president Peter J Tichansky did not respond to e-mail queries to confirm that the council paid for the NYT ad that congratulated Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor for receiving the inaugural and little-known International Peace and Harmony Award.

The Nut Graph sent two e-mail enquiries to Tichansky to ask him to confirm who had actually paid for the award. The first e-mail was sent on 2 June after Tichansky wrote to us to express regret that a “well-intended gesture of welcome and congratulations honoring Malaysia’s First Lady” as the award recipient may have become a “political issue”.

The second e-mail to Tichansky was sent on 15 June after Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced in Parliament on that day that BCIU was the organisation that placed the ad. Najib’s statement in Parliament was the first time the government publicly denied that it had paid for the ad. Throughout The Nut Graph’s reporting of the issue, the Prime Minister’s Office did not respond to our queries despite being given several opportunities to comment over a period of one month.

The NYT had originally told The Nut Graph that the ad, signed off “from family and friends in USA and Malaysia” was placed by “an ad agency on behalf of the Malaysian government.”

Eighteen days later, the NYT said it had made a mistake. But it would not reveal who actually took out the ad nor clarify how executive director for community affairs and media relations, Diane McNulty, could have made such a mistake. Instead, NYT’s director of public relations, Abbe Serphos, repeated that the ad was signed by “Family and friends in the USA and Malaysia”. Only when pressed did she reply: “In our internal systems the ad was reserved as a Government of Malaysia ad, but in fact the ad was not placed by the Government of Malaysia.”

Tichansky has not responded to either e-mail from The Nut Graph. In addition, Tichansky also did not respond to questions about when the award was conceived and by whom, what criteria were used in conceptualising the award, who the other nominees for the award were, and how Rosmah qualified for it.

In his first and only e-mail to us on 2 June, Tichansky had reiterated BCIU’s “respect for [Rosmah’s] humanitarian and charity work”, saying she was a “deserving recipient of BCIU’s award”.

Tichansky (source: BCIU.org)
After Najib’s statement in Parliament, Tichansky did not answer why the BCIU would sign off the ad as “family and friends [of Rosmah] in USA and Malaysia” instead of representing itself in the ad. He also did not answer the question as to how the BCIU could represent Rosmah’s family and friends.

The NYT has declined to disclose how much the ad cost. However, according to some estimates, full-page ads taken out in the NYT suggests that the cost of such advertisements ranges from US$180,000 to US$230,000. This amounts to between RM580,000 and RM740,000 for a one-page ad.

The congratulatory ad for Rosmah which appeared on 16 April 2010 was a two-page colour spread that would have cost far more.

It remains unclear why a US-based business council would pay for such an ad.

“Joh”, the receptionist

Apart from the BCIU, another party that is apparently involved in the ad has also remained mum about unanswered questions arising from the ad and the NYT’s retraction.

Henry Thomas Jones of Laurus Group DC, a “small public relations firm”, sent an e-mail on 7 June accusing The Nut Graph of blowing up a “trivial matter” and being unprofessional.

The Nut Graph had written to Jones on 3 June to ask what his involvement in the award and the ad was after he had surprisingly copied us on an e-mail to Tichansky. In that e-mail, sent on 1 June, Jones had responded to Tichansky’s e-mail to us which defended Rosmah as the award recipient. Jones told Tichansky: “This is great. Thank you! Please send, and I’ll forward to Joh.”

Obama meets Najib (© Pete Souza, The White House | Flickr)
The Nut Graph then wrote to Jones, who is known to have worked in a powerful lobbying company and is a seasoned political campaigner, to ask him if Laurus Group, DC was the one that ordered and paid for the ad congratulating Rosmah. We also asked if he was involved in lobbying for Najib’s meeting with President Barack Obama and for Rosmah to be conferred an award.

Additionally, we asked him who “Joh” was, and whether it was a particular individual whose name has been circulating among the New York-based media, and among local business and political circles. Jones did not reply.

However, after our 7 June report on the NYT’s mistake, Jones’s apparent involvement, and the mysterious “Joh”, Jones wrote a scathing e-mail that said:

“‘Joh’ … is my receptionist, Jo. When typing on the iPhone, it is not uncommon for me to misspell words. In this instance, I added an ‘h’. My firm provides occasional PRO BONO services to the Business Council for International Understanding.

“It is unfortunate that such a trivial matter, a misspelling in an internal communication, gives rise for your publication to generate unsubstantiated allegations, and then to publish the same. From an American perspective, I find The Nut Graph‘s standards for publication to be less than professional.”

Despite being asked to clarify in an e-mail we sent on 8 June, Jones did not reveal his receptionist’s full name and contact details. He also did not explain why a receptionist in his firm would need to be copied on a correspondence between him and his client.

He did not specify what about The Nut Graph’s reporting on 7 June constituted “unsubstantiated allegations”.

New York party

Robert De Niro (© Petr Nov├ík| Wiki Commons)
Apart from the NYT ad, Rosmah and Najib were also feted on 16 April at the five-star St Regis Hotel in New York where the award ceremony was held.

The star-studded event was emceed by Oscar-winning actor Jamie Foxx and attended by Hollywood glitterati including Oscar-winning Robert De Niro and Charlize Theron, and Emmy Rossum. Performances by Grammy-award nominee Leona Lewis, and the Harlem Boys Choir were also held. A rendition of We Are the World led by Foxx and sung by De Niro, Theron and others ended the night.

Various blog postings and Tweets on the event talk about how well Foxx warmed the party up. One blogger, who attended the event, wrote that Foxx performed a “flirty” karaoke version of You’ve Got a Friend with Rosmah, and danced with Najib.

CBS News reporter Kaylee Hartung also tweeted and posted photos of the event saying: “When has a foreign dignitary been honored in this way? Amazing. Jamie Foxx has [the] whole room on their feet.”

According to one Twitter posting by a DJ, known as DJ Irie, who parties with Hollywood stars, Foxx and Rosmah rehearsed for their duet before the party.

According to online reports, the party was co-hosted by BCIU and the United States Sports Academy. No information was available about how much the entire event cost.

M’sia’s increasing unattractiveness is ‘karma’

By Joe Fernandez | Malaysiakini

Without getting into the kind of superstition and quackery that many Malaysians swear by most times, it’s safe to conclude that the chickens are coming home to roost.

The 10 percent economic growth rate envisaged this year for the country, if it’s not a flash-in-the-pan, reminds us of the phrase that there are lies, damn lies and statistics. Again, this is indeed the unpalatable fact that we have to deal with in the run-up to 2020 and its aftermath.

The federal government needs to start thinking from now how they are going to explain in ten years time why we have failed to reach developed nation status and a high income economy.

?Prime Minister Najib Razak (left) claims that Malaysia has to grow at just 6 percent per annum over the next ten years to become a high income economy and emerge as a developed nation by 2020.

It was announced by the Economic Planning Unit in 1990 that the nation had been growing at 6.7 percent per annum since independence in 1957. As an economy grows and matures, it’s more than likely that the annual economic growth rate would taper off, not accelerate even further. This is only to be expected. The bigger the base, the smaller the annual economic growth rate and vice versa. Developed nation status arrives somewhere along the way and taking into account the shifting parameters.

However, former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad reckoned that Malaysia would achieve developed nation status under his Vision 2020 in thirty years if the economy grew at 7 percent per annum i.e. just 0.3 percent more.

He even admitted that would be no mean task. This would see the emergence of an economy eight times larger by 2020. Malaysia would be the first Muslim nation in the world to be developed, thundered Mahathir as he cast his eyes darkly at the west.

It was not for any reason that former finance minister Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah subsequently dismissed Vision 2020 cynically as just a gimmick by Mahathir who, he pointed out, “did not know anything about economics”.

View through rose-tinted glasses

Of course, the 1997/98 Asian Currency Crisis intervened and sent the ringgit, share prices, property prices and other values into a nose-dive and the economic growth rates into negative territory for a couple of years. This was followed by the global financial tsunami and the global economic crisis and soon perhaps a double-dip in the developed world as deflation stalks the United States and elsewhere.

?And now we are expected to believe that Najib with his 6 percent per annum over ten years will achieve what Mahathir had estimated would take 7 percent per annum over 30 years.

Also, not to be discounted is the fact that Malaysia has not been posting an average annual economic growth rate of 7 percent during the 1990 to 2009 period.

Now, the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) figures put a further damper on the economic picture in Malaysia.

FDI is the only measurable vote of the world’s confidence in our economy and our future as a people and nation. That’s bench marking that we need. That crucial element is missing because of the absence of security in our institutions, politics – read Sodomy 11 – and democracy, our diplomacy, in the currency, in prices and values, the cost of doing business and the lack of nation-building policies.

?So, the crucial element of the world’s confidence in us is unlikely to return, like the wild birds which have been scared away from the grains being tossed to them, unless and until bitter memories fade.

Nepotism, cronyism, collusion and corruption must be brought to an end. Already, the Danish government has announced in Parliament that Malaysia would no longer qualify as an aid recipient nation “because of its government’s profligate spending habits”.

The special privileges, openly touted self-servingly by Umno for over 50 years, do not exist in the federal constitution. In short, respect and honour the constitution, in particular Articles 153, 152, 14, 10, 8 and 3 which have been observed more often in the breach.

Haunted by the past

There must also be compelling reasons to invite a positive rethink by investors on the country.

?To put it even more bluntly, there must be transparency, public accountability and checks-and-balances. The doctrine of the separation of powers must be restored and the country must move away from the trend towards emerging as a unitary state. This calls for decentralisation and a return to the three-tier power-sharing structure of a federation, the drastic downsizing of the Prime Minister’s Department which has emerged as a hyper ministry, the restoration of state rights and respect for the autonomy of Sabah and Sarawak.

Our past, in other words, has caught up with us in the present to haunt our future.

Christians, without flogging this writer’s unpractising faith, believe that “as you sow, so shall you reap”. This is neither being positive nor negative. It’s neutral just as karma – the “scientific” law of cause and effect – is neutral.

Isn’t there something to be said about looking for the silver lining in the clouds, looking at everything that happens as a blessing in disguise and counting one’s blessings?

This is easier said than done especially when there are two sides to this story i.e. at the people’s level and at the government level. Even if the people have not been found wanting, there’s no doubt that the government leaves a lot to be desired.

?Patently there’s still no sure codified approach, as in the past, for us to venture into the future despite the tons of press releases emanating from Putrajaya on the Government Transformation Programme (GTP), National Key Result Areas (NKRA), Key Performance Indices (KPI) to drive the Najib administration’s 1Malaysia theme. This is not to say that there’s little merit in these approaches but no is taking them seriously enough amidst the flip-flops.

We can be forgiven for concluding, if still not in denial syndrome mode, that there’s a lot of hype going around these days in the country, especially in Putrajaya, amidst a general living on hope and wishful thinking.

Only those who suffer from the three monkeys syndrome – see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil – will be blind, deaf and dumb enough not to see that this country is not going anywhere in any great hurry soon in the near future.

Sleepless in Sarawak; restless in Oxford

 

The latest Aliran Monthly focuses on the situation in Sarawak.

The political outlook there does not look rosy for Taib Mahmud and the other BN component party leaders who are so dependent on his patronage.
For more information, go to the Aliran website here.
Why did Oxford University invite Taib as its star speaker? Sarawak Report explores the connections, if any, between Sarawak, Taib and Oxford in its latest