Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ulang Tahun ke-60 Pergerakan Pemuda UMNO Malaysia

Bersempena dengan genapnya enam puluh tahun penubuhan Pergerakan Pemuda UMNO Malaysia yang jatuh pada hari ini, saya dan seluruh kepimpinan Pemuda UMNO peringkat nasional dan negeri mengucapkan salam perjuangan dan selamat menyambut ulang tahun pergerakan kita yang ke enam puluh.

Bertitik tolak daripada penubuhan rasminya pada 26 Ogos 1949, dengan persidangan wakil-wakil UMNO dari seluruh bahagian beserta wakil-wakil pemuda bagi membincangkan hala tuju dan masa depan peranan pemuda, organisasi dan institusi kita telah mengharungi helaian sejarah dari era pra kemerdekaan hingga ke pasca kemerdekaaan - bukan sebagai pemerhati zaman namun sebagai pencetus sejarah dan makna dengan pelbagai peranannya yang, antara lain, sebagai pendesak dan penuntut kemerdekaan, pembela pembentukan Malaysia, pendesak bagi pembangunan generasi muda, wira dan hulubang pembela bangsa dan tanahair serta pengangkat martabat ilmu dan pengisi jati diri bangsa. Namun apa yang pasti, dalam tempoh enam puluh tahun itu – manhaj dan pendekatan Pemuda UMNO tidak pernah luntur dan longlai sebagai pembela dan pemangkin masa depan anak muda bangsa dan tanahair.

Enam puluh tahun yang diukir dan berlalu bukan bermakna bahawa Pemuda UMNO sudah diragut usia dan luntur kekuatannya. Enam puluh tahun juga bukan bererti Pemuda UMNO sudah kecut semangat dan lusuh jati diri perjuangannya. Enam puluh tahun ini sebenarnya telah mematang, menguat dan mempersiapkan kita merentasi halangan zaman serta tuntutan generasi yang semakin mencabar mutakhir ini.

Jesteru, lanjutan daripada aset perjuangan Pemuda UMNO yang telah dibina oleh kepimpinan terdahulu dan peranannya sebagai pemimpin dan pembela generasi muda tanahair dalam konteks politik tanahair, saya telah menggaris dan menetapkan misi dan lima rukun perjuangan kita, yang mana misi kita adalah bagi memenangi sokongan generasi muda Melayu, Cina, India dan dari kelompok etnik yang lain kepada Barisan Nasional dan digabung dengan lima rukun yang menjadi paksinya iaitu Bersatu, Berprinsip, Inklusif, Relevan, dan Proaktif.

Di atas kesempatan ini, saya juga ingin menzahirkan rasa syukur dan bangga dengan lafaz tahniah dan terima kasih di atas kesungguhan dan pengorbanan seluruh jemaah warga Pemuda UMNO yang telah menjadi nadi dan wira bangsa serta rakyat seluruhnya dari dahulu hingga sekarang.

Disamping itu, bertetapan dengan bulan Ramadhan Al Mubarak ini, saya juga mengucapkan selamat mengerjakan ibadah puasa dan berbuka kepada seluruh wirawan Pemuda UMNO, walau di mana anda berada.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Chocolate by Yasmin Ahmad


A quiet tale that reminds us that, despite the multifaceted contradiction of Malaysia, life goes on – even if not all of it is sweet.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Mahatma Mohandas K. Gandhi : "The things that will destroy us are: politics without principle; pleasure without conscience; wealth without work; knowledge without character; business without morality; science without humanity; and worship without sacrifice"

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Anugerah Skrin for Khairy?

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 17 — It is not every day you hear the name Khairy Jamaluddin being mentioned followed by rounds of applause.

Then again, today’s event was no ordinary event. It may even have been historic to a certain degree, but one thing's for sure... it was certainly unique.

15Malaysia, a joint effort between 15 independent film-makers and Packet One Networks (P1), a wireless broadband company, had its official launch here today.

Teo (left), Datuk Zaid Ibrahim and Lai (right) at the launch of 15Malaysia. — Picture by Choo Choy MayAmong the familiar faces present were actor Harith Iskandar, director Amir Muhammad, as well as Batu MP Tian Chua, who is the lead in one of the 15 films. ("One Future" by director Tan Chui Mui.)

“The films use us as material and try to put forward issues to the public,” said the PKR parliamentarian.

15Malaysia’s producer Pete Teo told the media that the films in the project deal not only with the issue of race relations but also various social and political issues faced by Malaysians today.
However, the question of whether these films will drastically alter people’s perceptions of issues is still uncertain.

“I dare not go so far as to say that things will change after watching these movies. The issue of racial conflict and tension requires more effort and time; the most this project does is to create a space for individuals to voice out their concerns and opinions,” quipped Chua.
The one condition the project required was that total "creative freedom" be given to the artistes and the directors, said Michael Lai, CEO of P1.

"15Malaysia is aimed at bridging gaps between the arts and broadband service," he said.

Tian Chua stars in one one of the 15Malaysia short films.According to Teo, most of the films have already been picked to compete in international film festivals.

So how did Umno Youth chief Khairy fit into the picture? Although he was not present at the event, his portrayal of a lamenting taxi driver in "Interview With The Taxi Driver" by Benji Lim and Bahir Yeusuff has earned him lots of praise and applause.

A few people who attended the launch went so far as to say that if politics does not work out for Khairy, acting is definitely something he can fall back on. Indeed.

Starting today, three films will be released each week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday over five weeks — so go to to watch the films.

Smash Me!

Kick His Ass

An astonishing rebound

IT NEVER pays to underestimate the bounciness of Asia’s emerging economies. After the region’s financial crisis of 1997-98, and again after the dotcom bust in 2001, outsiders predicted a lengthy period on the floor—only for the tigers to spring back rapidly. Earlier this year it was argued that such export-dependent economies could not revive until customers in the rich world did. The West still looks weak, with many economies contracting in the second quarter, and even if America begins to grow in the second half of this year, consumer spending looks sickly. Yet Asian economies, increasingly decoupled from Western shopping habits, are growing fast.

The four emerging Asian economies which have reported GDP figures for the second quarter (China, Indonesia, South Korea and Singapore) grew by an average annualised rate of more than 10%. Even richer and more sluggish Japan, which cannot match that figure, seems to be recovering faster than its Western peers. But emerging Asia should grow by more than 5% this year—at a time when the old G7 could contract by 3.5%. Western politicians should brace themselves for more talk of economic power drifting inexorably to the East. How has Asia made such an astonishing rebound?

Out of smoke and mirrors, say some Western sceptics. They claim China’s bounceback is yet another fake. The country’s numbers are certainly dodgy: the components of GDP do not add up, and the data are always published suspiciously early. China’s economy probably slowed more sharply in late 2008 than the official numbers suggest. But other indicators, which are less likely to be massaged, confirm that China’s economy is roaring back. Industrial production rose 11% in the year to July; electricity output, which fell sharply last year, is growing again; and car sales are 70% higher than a year ago.

And surely the whole of Asia cannot be engaged in a statistical fraud. South Korea’s GDP grew by an annualised 10% in the second quarter. Taiwan’s probably increased by even more: its industrial output jumped by an astonishing annualised rate of 89%. India was hit less hard by the global recession than many of its neighbours because it exports less, but its industrial production has also perked up, rising by a seasonally adjusted rate of 14% in the second quarter. Output in most of the smaller Asian economies is still lower than a year ago, because they suffered steep downturns late last year. But at economic turning points, one should track quarterly changes.

Thrift in the boom, stimulus in the slump

Asia’s rebound has several causes. First, manufacturing accounts for a big part of several local economies, and industries such as cars and electronics are highly cyclical: output drops sharply in a downturn and then spurts in the upturn. Second, the region’s decline in exports in late 2008 was exacerbated by the freezing up of global trade finance, which is now flowing again. Third, and most important, domestic spending has bounced back because the fiscal stimulus in the region was bigger and worked faster than in the West. India aside, the Asians entered this downturn with far healthier government finances than rich countries, allowing them to spend more money. Low private-sector debt made households and firms more likely to spend government handouts; Asian banks were also in better shape than their Western counterparts and able to lend more. Asia’s prudence during the past decade did not allow it to escape the global recession, but it made the region’s fiscal and monetary weapons more effective.

Western populists will no doubt once again try to blame their own sluggish performance on “unfair” Asia. Ignore them. Emerging Asia’s average growth rate of almost 8% over the past two decades—three times the rate in the rich world—has brought huge benefits to the rest of the world. Its rebound now is all the more useful when growth in the West is likely to be slow. Asia cannot replace the American consumer: emerging Asia’s total consumption amounts to only two-fifths of America’s. But it is the growth in spending that really matters. In dollar terms, the increase in emerging Asia’s consumer-spending this year will more than offset the drop in spending in America and the euro area. This shift in spending from the West to the East will help rebalance the world economy.

Beijing, Bangkok and Bangalore: beware boastfulness

It is easy to boost an economy with lots of government spending. But Asian policymakers now face two difficult problems. Their immediate dilemma is how to sustain recovery without inflating credit and asset-price bubbles. Local equity and property markets are starting to froth. But policymakers’ reluctance to let their currencies rise faster against the dollar means that their monetary policy is, in effect, being set by America’s Federal Reserve, and is therefore too lax for these perkier economies. The longer-term challenge is that once the impact of governments’ fiscal stimulus fades, growth will slow unless economic reforms are put in place to bolster private spending—something Japan, alas, never did.

Part of the solution to both problems—preventing bubbles and strengthening domestic spending—is to allow exchange rates to rise. If Asian central banks stopped piling up reserves to hold down their currencies, this would help stem domestic liquidity. Stronger currencies would also shift growth from exports to domestic demand and increase households’ real spending power—and help ward off protectionists in the West.

Hubris is the big worry. With the gap in growth rates between emerging Asia and the developed world heading towards a record nine percentage points this year, Chinese leaders have taken to warning America about its lax monetary policy (while Washington has stopped lecturing China about the undervalued yuan). But it would be a big mistake if Asia’s recovery led its politicians to conclude that there was no need to change their exchange-rate policies or adopt structural reforms to boost consumption. The tigers’ faster-than-expected rebound from their 1997-98 financial crisis encouraged complacency and delayed necessary reforms, which left them more vulnerable to the global downturns in 2001 and now. Make sure this new rise is not followed by another fall.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Lim Guan Eng's Muddled Logic

On Sunday, August 8, I called on PAS to withdraw from the state Pakatan Rakyat if it wins the Permatang Pasir by-election and the DAP-led Penang government still refuses to appoint its assemblyperson to the state Exco.

Yesterday, Chief Minister YAB Lim Guan Eng, perhaps fatigued from the Kg Buah Pala fiasco that has exposed his shortcomings as a leader for all Penangites, utilised bewildering logic when he retorted by asking me to resign from all party posts since I was not appointed to the Cabinet despite my election as leader of Umno Youth.

As Chief Minister, I am certain YAB Lim is aware that there is a stark difference between a party as an institution – what PAS is – and one individual who leads a party’s wing – yours truly.

And in any case, Umno Youth, the institution, is represented in the Cabinet – my Deputy YB Dato’ Razali Ibrahim is Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports. It is an honour for Umno Youth to have a place in the Federal Government. PAS, on the other hand, is completely unrepresented at the state government level.

I suspect the Chief Minister sacrificed plain truth in order to taunt me and in his eagerness to deliver that elusive sucker punch which landed miles wide, YAB Lim may have tripped over himself.

In comparing PAS’s absence from the Penang Exco with that of the leader of Umno Youth from the Cabinet, he has not merely insulted PAS and the people’s intelligence to distinguish one from the other, but also sent out an implicit message to PAS that he does not intend to change the status quo.

The Penang State government will remain a DAP-PKR affair, and not a genuine Pakatan Rakyat partnership.

My initial challenge to PAS remains and is not affected by the DAP’s Secretary-General sticking his beak in with an incongruent comparison and incoherent logic. If PAS is indeed happy to be left out of the government, let its own leaders say so.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Why Piggy?

Piggy is a blogger who dislikes my idol, Khairy. We interacted and engaged on a number of subjects, especially during the KP UMNO campaign period.

Piggy’s resuscitated rampant attacks against Khairy emerged as a suspect to me, especially when Khairy is gaining support for his progressive and middle ground politics of empathy, that entails the vision of moving forward.

He magnanimously allocated 83 percent of his August blog piece (at time of writing) to denounce and revile Khairy.

And talking of vision moving forward, it’s abysmally malodorous that Piggy had to flip through pages of history for ancient personal ammunitions (of photos and newspaper cuttings) against Khairy when the subject of the day is on issues and debates of the future.

Such a production can only deduce amplified degree of personal malevolence and disgust against rational judgment and reasons.

A smart bloke like Piggy should understand the cause-and-effect relationship between the virtual and real worlds. Therefore, as a person who aspires to be a good muslim in the real world, Piggy should be aware that what ever he is bad-mouthing about Khairy in the virtual world is vigorously observed and noted by Malaikat Atid in the real world, especially on stories he captured on its face value without details and discipline towards certainty.

Raksasa BN came out with an explanation to answer some of Piggy’s simple minded and broad brushing attacks, as highlighted by the following extracts:

“Piggy not only misrepresents facts, but also misleads the reader with fairy tales of Gelang Patah and Rantau Panjang when we all know KJ won the nomination in Rantau Panjang UMNO Youth Division by a show of hands. To be exact, the ones whom voted were asked to stand outside after the show of hands to get a visible count on. It baffles me that this unresearched findings were posted by Piggy in the comments box of his blog. Maybe you are trying to emulate Rocky or JMD, but i am afraid you do not have the capacity to reach their heights. Although your ambition clearly is to rid of KJ, I can only think that your work will just make you a laughing stock to what RPK has relegated himself today.”


“Another example of Piggy's lack of research is that he accused KJ of having a hidden agenda with Anwar. Well as far as i remember, KJ was the one who said in the Permatang Pauh '...saya akan kuburkan pengkhianat bangsa dan negara Anwar Ibrahim di tempatnya sendiri...' and after combing through the world wide web, KJ was also being sued by Anwar for RM100 million for calling Anwar a Jew puppet (Malaysiakini report Feb 20th 2007) and batting for the other team (Gay). So like DPM, Nallakaruppan, Chandra Muzaafar... KJ joins the list of potential 'defamation' cases of the century.”

The other point is the problem of face value association stemmed from a photo of Khairy and Shahrin that was abused by many, including Piggy. First of all, that photo was snapped at random and Shahrin is known as a guy whose self-profiling tactics includes taking photos with people or leaders. He is a young leader of Kota Baru UMNO Division, led by an established local politician holding essential supportive position to the number One. So, siapalah Khairy in this context and why the double standard?

And why succumbing to simple minded appraisal or generalisation to chastise Khairy without facts and evidences, for all the wrong things as if Khairy was or is the answer to everything?

Lastly, why the attacks on family members, Piggy? Why are you positioning yourself in the same category of Husin Lempoyang, whose attack on Khairy’s son was utterly gross, horrid and disgusting? In response to his post, I wrote: “Pada hemat Hang Tegar, walau bagaimana bencinya seseorang pada seseorang yang lain – janganlah sampai ke makam yang begitu hina hatta menyentuh dan mempersenda anak orang, walaupun sekadar cerita rekaan. Apatah lagi seperti Husin Lempoyang yang mempersenda bahagian sulit anak orang. Itulah makam yang hina sehina-hinanya.”

Piggy, you are better and can be better than this and to you I say two words: Husnol Dzon.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Bell's Telephone - For The Love of His Mabel

The Love

Innovators are rarely motivated merely by the thought of their final product. Alexander Graham Bell’s invention of the telephone transformed the world. Yet in the Boston, Massachusetts of the 1870s, he was just a young Scottish immigrant, whose mother had been deaf, and who now worked as a tutor of the deaf, keen to help them succeed in life.

His favourite student was older than the rest, already close to 20. This was Mabel Hubbard. He’d regularly taught his students to touch their own throats lightly, and then his, to feel different sounds being produced. With Mabel that formal contact was different. Each of them - though embarrassed to say anything – later described in letters what they had felt. He had complimented her on her voice (“Nobody had told me that before,” she wrote overwhelmed), and as the weeks went by they communicated more and more – racing happily through the snow to and from the carriage bringing her to his classes.

But she was wealthy and he was not. He was one of the immigrants who had arrived on one of the new-style steam ships. Her family, by contrast, owned a good deal of downtown Boston, and her father seems to have made an even greater fortune through judicious investments during and after the civil war. When Bell had gone to their summer home on Nantucket to declare his hand, her mother had not let him in. Her daughter was uninterested in his affections, she insisted, and the family would appreciate it if he accepted their wishes and stayed away.

In time he discovered that the mother had been lying. Young Mabel was desperate to spend more time with this kind man, who treated her so gently. But how could he convince the family to let him try again?

That was when he resolved to come up with a great invention. It would make him rich and famous, and, most importantly, allow him to get through the front doors of the Hubbard family’s grand Nantucket home, finally giving him the chance to court young Mabel. For a young male on his own in a new country, that’s one of the most powerful motivations there can be.

The Invention

For Bell, it was clear what the hot new thing of the mid 1870s was. Telegraphs had been around for decades, transforming the world – in the words of the estimable Tom Standage – acting like a Victorian internet. With telegraphs, centralised headquarters could run hugely be synchronised across time zones; grain could be traded across oceans.

But building telegraphs lines was expensive, which is where the hot new thing came in. what if someone could find a way to improve the telegraph, so that several distinct signals could be jammed down a single line at once? Instantly the world’s communication infrastructure would be doubled, or perhaps even tripled? In all the years until Bell fell in love with Mabel, that largely had remained just a dream.

That is what Bell resolved to solve.

The Success

In 1876, at the age of 29, Alexander Graham Bell invented his telephone, and in 1877, he formed the Bell Telephone Company being the same year he married Mabel Hubbard and embarked on a yearlong honeymoon in Europe.


Bodanis D., Sparks Flew, FT Magazine, 27 May 2007

Bellis M., Alexander Graham Bell –Biography,

Unknown, Alexander Graham Bell, Garden of

MI: Khairy to PAS youth - Come join us to defend Islam

MARANG, Aug 7 — The Umno Youth movement today invited its PAS counterpart to be together with the movement in a ceramah to be held in Shah Alam on Aug 14 to lash out at certain parties that had been insulting Islam.

Umno Youth head Khairy Jamaluddin said the movement wanted to see to what extent PAS Youth would go to criticise its coalition partner, the DAP, which was becoming more bold in insulting Islam lately.

“Umno Youth will organise a ‘ceramah perdana’ in Shah Alam, Selangor next Friday to counter the (DAP) insults against Islam and I am inviting PAS Youth to be with us on the Umno Youth stage that night.

“This is has nothing to do with ‘muzakarah’, it has nothing to do with any discussion or ‘wacana’, it has nothing to do with any unity government, that is later...I don’t care if PAS wants to go against Umno in Permatang Pasir.

“We still have differing approaches, we are still not united, but on this issue (religion), the Muslims are offended at their (DAP leaders’) attitude and this needs a joint effort,” he said.

Khairy, when approached by reporters after the opening of the Marang Umno Youth division meeting, here today, said he had personally contacted PAS Youth chief Nasaruddin Hasan Tantawi on the matter.

Khairy said he had been informed that the matter would be discussed and decided at a meeting of the national PAS Youth movement to be held tomorrow or the day after. — Bernama

Source: Malaysian Insider

If Today Was Your Last Day

My best friend gave me

The best advice

He said each day's a gift

And not a given right

Leave no stone unturned

Leave your fears behind

And try to take

The path less traveled by

That first step you take

Is the longest stride

If today was your last day

And tomorrow was too late

Could you say goodbye to yesterday?

Would you live each moment like your last?

Leave old pictures in the past

Donate every dime you have?

If today was your last day

If today was your last day

Against the grain

Should be a way of life

What's worth the prize

Is always worth the fight

Every second counts 'cause there's no second try,

So live like you'll Never live it twice

Don't take the free ride

In your own life

If today was your last day

And tomorrow was too late

Could you say goodbye to yesterday?
Would you live each moment like your last?

Leave old pictures in the past

Donate every dime you have

Would you call old friends you never see?

Reminisce of memories

Would you forgive your enemies?

Would you find that one you're dreamin' of

Swear up and down to God above

That you finally fall in love

If today was your last day

If today was your last day...
Would you make your mark
By mending a broken heart?
You know it's never too late
To shoot for the stars,
Regardless of who you are
So do whatever it takes'cause you can't rewind
A moment in this life
Let nothin' stand in your way'cause the hands of time
Are never on your side

If today was your last day

And tomorrow was too late,

Could you say goodbye to yesterday?

Would you live each moment like your last?

Leave old pictures in the past

Donate every dime you have?

Would you call old friends you never see?

Reminisce of memories

Would you forgive your enemies?

Would you find that one you're dreamin' of

Swear up and down to God above

That you finally fall in love

If today was your last day

Big Family

Few nights back, I joined my wife and my four-year old boy to watch our favourite TV programme, Bersamamu, on TV3. The show is dedicated to highlight the plight and quandary of poor families in Malaysia, and the noble works of munificent individuals and bodies in helping the poor, provides an excellent opportunity for someof us to understand and appreciate the life of those, whom are immobilised and deprived from full participation in the competitive and atrocious race of capitalism.

On personal account, Bersamamu has been an effective and perfect tool for me to remind my son not to waste his food during meal time, as there are folkswho had to ration theirs, let alone having few choices on the table. The show was about a family of nine children. The father performed all kind of jobs to make ends meet that includes rubber tapping, TV repairing and gardening. His wife was a full time homemaker and the family needs were hardly sustained by their average gross income of just around RM500 per month; that eventually impelled them to let go three of their members to adopted families.

Emotionally: it was a sad episode and my son nearly cried when I explained to him some of the children had left their parents and stayed with strangers. But, objectively and structurally, there are patterns, characteristics and distinguishing identities shared by that family and other families featured on Bersamamu, and one of that is a positive correlation between family size and poverty level.

But how true is that?

The answer to this obvious question is perhaps anobvious yes, as one can always apply the law of averaging. For example, for a family of three with an income of RM500 would result in income per capita of RM167, while an enlargement of that family to seven; will condense that average income from RM167 to RM71 or 57% reduction.
Another easiest and most obvious fashion to demonstrate the relationship between poverty and family size is to show the extent of poverty incidence by size of family.

On this depiction, Asian Development Bank Institute carried out a survey on the incidence of poverty by family size from 1985 to 2000 in Philippines, using the Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES) and official poverty lines, and found a clear, constant and positive correlation between poverty level and family size. For instance, in 1985 the poverty incidence for a three-member household is 26.6 while it is 59.9 for a 9 or more-member household. Hardly surprising, fifteen years later in 2000, the incidence of poverty for athree-member household is 18.6, while the corresponding incidence for a 9 or more-member household is 57.3. This relationship has not changed over that 15 years, the study observed.

The study also found that the picture is virtually duplicated when one looks at both poverty gap and severity by family size as the average proportionate distance between the poverty line and the average income of the poor (the poverty gap) doubles as one moves from a four-member household to a 9 or more-member household. All of these indicators, thus show that no matter what poverty measure one uses, there is clear indication that poverty worsens as one moves from smaller to bigger family size households.

Then, why do poor people have big family size?

A poor family is more likely to have bigger size family size simply because of its poverty. The poor have no savings and no cushy, pensionable positions so they need children as an insurance against old age for more than the rich. If they own land, they can less easily afford to hire workmen at harvest time, or to mechanise, so they must rely more on the muscle power of their sons. If they are landless, they need the extra income that working children and youths can bring.

The poor lack education, and, by implication, become ignorant about effective method of birth control. In most southern Asia, Africa and the Middle East, birth rates have not come down for a reason: people actually want large families, and believe it is in their interest to have them. Too often, it is assumed that people out of each of clinics, condoms and pills are like rabbits, helplessly generating uncontrollable number of offspring.

They are not.

Every culture has some method of family planning,whether it is abortion, infanticide, prolonged breast-feeding or the universally known method of coitus interruptus and abstention. These were the means by which European countries dragged their birth rates down long before the advent of the pills.

The fact that they are not widely practiced points to one conclusion: these people are planning their families and they are planning for large ones.
On top of the above, some people choose to marry early and this contributes to population growth. Social researchers also agreed that one of the factors include low education level among the females.

The Chinese have a proverb on this: "One son is no son, two sons are an undependable son, and only threesons can be counted as a real son".

In conclusion, family size contributes to poverty level and propensity to poverty. What is needed is policy approach and comprehensive action plans to address this correlation, encompassing family planning education, supporting infrastructures, target group approach, female educational enhancement, support from religious bodies, policies to disincentive oversized family (as being practised by the Government and some companies on limitations for taxation allowance and medical benefit claims), among others.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The abandoned Ooi

Jeff Ooi’s obtuse and scornful remark of labelling JIM as an extremist organisation was opposed and shot down not only by PKR and PAS, but also by his own party leaders, including the two Lims and Penang DAP Youth head.

For a blogger who was touted as the most powerful blogger by Malaysiakini, and the one who went around – boasting and bragging his so-called eminence in converting new media appeal to actual election votes, such a despise must have hurt him to his bone.

If you read his blog, you will notice that Jeff is a guy whose knowledge and argument are pretty much endowed by Wikipedia and I am “bewildered” that he got it so damn wrong on this issue. I suspect that he committed a fatal error of reading Razali’s JIM, Jemaah Islah Malaysia as the other JIM, Jemaah Islam Malaysia or a gross error of not checking what Jemaah Islah Malaysia really is – all these illustrate that a greenhorn politician like him should appreciate the limits of what Wikipedia can provide.

On another shot, there is an English saying that says: you can’t hide your true colours as you approach the autumn of your life. And in the case of Jeff, he can’t hide his prejudices against Islam and other races as he devours politics and power.

Democracy v Capitalism

If you plot a scatter diagram with democracy representing the X-axis and capitalism as for the other – you will have countries like US and UK positioned somewhere on the top right corner and some developing countries that have low economic creation with political conflict, civil wars and less developed democratic institutions such as those in the South African parts at the lower left end corner. In between you will have scattered dots of countries and few extremes that reside beyond the majority population.

All in all, you will, roughly, find a straight 45 degree line that denotes a positive relationship between democracy and capitalism. The higher the level of democracy – the more prosperous the countries are. That is something that you can interpret and reckon from that relationship. However, what is more important is to understand whether the relationship is independent or dependent with each other? In other words, whether democracy causes and pushes capitalism or vice versa or you can not have good capitalism without democracy or vice versa.

Is it a chicken and egg question or something that is more than just that? I opt for the latter and would argue that it is a question of correlation and causation. The fact that democracy and capitalism are correlated to one another does not mean that they both act as the opposite-causation agent for that correlation ( i.e. capitalism causes democracy and vice versa). I would like to argue that it is all based on the motivation or the key drivers for each part. Capitalism is motivated by wealth creation and for wealth creation to take place you need some degree of economic liberalisation in the forms of capital ownership, resource mobilisation etcetera etcetera.

The same goes to democracy in which the main motive of democracy is freedom. And for freedom to exist, you need political liberalisation in the form of freedom to choose and freedom to vote etcetera etcetera.What we can conclude is that both democracy and capitalism share a common trait or denominator in the form of liberalisation.

Because capitalism needs economic liberalisation to prosper and because democracy requires political liberalisation for it to develop, you will find, as a result, an underlying positive relationship between capitalism and democracy due to commonly shared denominator of liberalisation – be it economics liberalisation or political liberalisation.

Mathematically, we can illustrate them as follows (having said that, to those who are good in maths – please correct me on any mistake):

Where, C = capitalism, D = Democracy, EL =Economic Liberalisation and PL = Political LiberalisationLet say that capitalism is a function of economic liberalisation and henceC= f(EL)

(1)Let say that democracy is a function of political liberalisation and hence D = f(PL)

(2)From the scatter diagram, we can observe a positive relationship between capitalism and democracy and henceC = D

(3)By combining and exchanging equations (1) and (2) into (3), we will getC = Df(EL) = f(PL)

By doing simple elimination, we will getEL = PLE = P (4)The final equation says that economics is equal to politics and vice versa. It would be ethically wrong to argue that economics is an equivalent unit of politics, vice versa and hence the interpretation of this equation is more important than its face value.

I think we should not take it as a mere equation or identity (if you like), I think we should take the lateral meanings and relationship – in other words the dependency value.

We know that: 1 = 1 (right), 1 = 3 (wrong), 1 = 5 – 4 (right), 3 – 2 = 1 (right) i.e. the value of the left side is dependent on the correct existence of the value of the other side.

From the above, we can say the value of economics is mutually interdependent upon the value of politics, vice versa. IT IS NOT THAT ECONOMICS IS EQUAL TO OR THE IDENTITY OF POLITICS, vice versa, it is the values of them that are mutually interdependent.

Rent Seeking Is Good

Those who read the title might scream of how oxymoronic it sounds.

Well, let me say that the term rent seeking has been massively applied in public policy debates and welfare economic literatures to illustrate, in essence: inefficient, unfair and unproductive economic parasitism behaviours or activities leading towards waste and disequilibrium resource allocations. In short and in practice, it is normally associated with corruptions, crony or oligarchic capitalism, lobbying and means of seeking and exploiting unfair advantage. This is understandable given the price of government failures to, effectively and efficiently, make resource allocations for the whole economy.

I am not going to dispute the aforesaid.

But, I wish to say that rent seeking is what all private enterprises should compete and strive to achieve. In fact I cannot figure out how CEOs would function without any rent-seeking brains. The term was introduced by Ann Krueger, based on the works of Gordon Tullock that addressed active creation of monopolies, with the aim of achieving supernormal profits or market control in competitive conditions; which means that the term actually originates from studies on market and firm structures and not on public policy and welfare economics.

Back to Tullock, supernormal profit is also known as economic profit or producer surplus, which corresponds to the difference between the floor price that is incentive-able for a producer to produce and the price paid by consumers. The target is therefore, for a profit maximisation company, to bring down the floor price level by cost minimisation strategies and increase the price level by making the demand to be more inelastic and expanding i.e. differentiation strategies, which in order words, ways to enlarge the gap. In the process, firms will try to bring down the transaction costs incurred by customers in getting to know and in findings the product and hence, the sales and marketing strategies as well as the distribution plans. Also, firms endlessly endeavour to ensure high level of quantity demanded in the market place in addition to ensuring enough, efficient and flexible production capacity to meet them. When CEOs say we want to capture more values, they are actually saying we want to have more shares of the producers’ surplus either as a result from present industry or location or from growth opportunities elsewhere.

The above is what business teachers and gurus such as Porter, Peters and Hamel will tell you.
All the Poter’s competitive strategies, competitive advantages, generic cost leadership and differentiation strategies as well as other people works on barriers to entry, first mover advantage etcetera etcetera reminisce on a common ground i.e. means to achieve and protect producers’ surplus. Other teachers like Kim and Mauborgne introduce new concept such as Blue Ocean strategies for ways to find new producers’ surplus opportunities.

In essence, it is all about producers’ surplus.

Now, assuming that you are a shareholder; you will certainly expect your CEO to create values and deliver double digit revenue and profit growth. In a way, you are in agreement that rent-seeking is what is expected in industrial capitalism. When I say this, I mean by way of competitive strategies, market scanning, superb branding, excellent customer service, human capital development etcetera etcetera as I am not here to advocate corruption and illegal activities, but to shed some light that rent-seeking is good in private enterprises.

It is also good for the whole economy as other profit maximisation firms will join in the industry as soon as huge producers’ surplus is detected, assuming fluid firms’ entry and exit. As a result, customers will benefit from firms’ rivalry, leading towards higher quality goods and services with affordable pricings.

Because of the crowding out, some firms might decide to walk out and search for a better and new producers’ surplus opportunities. Thus, the whole cycle will generate fluid, regenerative and dynamic economic activities.

In conclusion, rent-seeking is good, and is expected in industrial capitalism.

Goodhart's Law

Kerajaan telah memperkenalkan sistem KRA dan KPI bagi meningkatkan kecemerlangan service delivery system dan penerapan performance achievement culture di kalangan penjawat awam. Parti UMNO juga bercadang untuk menggunapakai sistem yang sama bagi parti tersebut, ujar Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
I have no objections against the adoption and implementation of KRA and KPI systems by the government or UMNO and I sincerely support the moves. My only concern is on its implementation, especially on the trapping of performance targeting and problem solving – commonly known as Goodhart’s Law, yang di perkenalkan oleh Prof. Charles Goodhart.

In essence, Goodhart’s Law says that if you control an indicator to a particular problem, or target, then that indicator ceases to become a good indicator. The law has many applications in economics, politics, financial management as well as our social lives. Imagine a scenario of a group of students whom is asked to rate the performance of their teachers in class. Given its importance, some of the teachers might feel the pressure to bilk the system by offering incentives for certain students to rate them highly. As a result, the rating is now tempered or regulated by an incentive scheme that effectively ruins its accuracy and representation – and that’s when Goodhart’s Law start to operate, i.e. to control is to distort.

Job Design of Maids

Two important dimensions of job design are the variety of tasks and scope of discretion and decision authority. Employers can observe the two dimensions in order to understand their maids' performance level.
The above figure illustrates four possible combinations (black dots).
Traditionally, many firms especially factories created jobs like Point 1, which involve few tasks and limited decision authority. Lately there has been a trend toward jobs like Point 4, which involve many tasks and broad decision authority. A prominent example of this would be the Chief Executive Officer or the Boss. However, it is easy to give examples of jobs like Point 2, which involve many tasks and limited decision authority – for instance certain clerical jobs. Similarly, it is also easy to point to examples for jobs like Point 3, which involve few tasks and broad authority – for instance, certain sales jobs.

As regards the job design of maids, as many would have pointed it out, the same is located at Point 2, which represent many tasks and few discretion and decision authority. The mismatch of the two could explain the inconsistencies of the maids’ performance.

The mismatch is a statement of observation and not a statement of problem as maids could not be granted massive discretion and decision authority very quickly without other considerations.

There are few ways that employers could do about this:

The first is to appreciate and understand the hurdles faced by the maids. An understanding is the precondition for a rationale and wise judgment.

The second is to break the tasks of the maid into smooth tasks and discretionary tasks. Smooth tasks are simple tasks that are routine in nature such as watering the plant, ironing the clothes and sweeping the floor. Discretionary tasks are tasks that require a bit of judgment such as cooking; imagine Maid A who has to cook a fish curry for Mr B who likes salty curry and Ms C who prefers healthy non salty cooking. The same also include a zero sum time-competitive tasks such as having to deliver demands of two persons at the same time, which one goes first?

By doing this, employers are then able to judge their maids fairly and wisely instead of a broad-brush generalisation. Underperformance in smooth tasks might infer tiredness, laziness, boredom or attitude issues. However underperformance in discretionary tasks might be due to lack of knowledge, fear of making mistakes or confusion.

The third is to slowly move the maid from Point 2 to Point 5, the red dot. However, the bridging of the gap is determined by trust which is a function of performance, consistency, time and personality. The maids are of course needed to show a consistent result of performance level over a period of time and time means periodic attempts and opportunities to learn and make mistakes. Personality is also key as no matter how good the person is, a bad personality does not normally yield trust.

The above dimension works within the clustered context of maids working environment. External issues such as family of financial problems of the maids, or the issues within the family of the employers, are also influential in determining their performance level.

Divorce v Wealth

Divorce is defined by Wikipedia as the ending of marriage before the death of either spouse. Using data sourced from, World Bank, Malaysian divorce and population statistics, I tried to analyse the relationship between divorce rate and personal wealth and accordingly ranked a selected group of 33 countries based on the following spheres: [1] Divorce per 1,000 population, [2] Gross National Income per capita.
The findings depict two dominant clusters of countries. The first, as seen on the low left end side of the diagram, shows countries [that include Sri Lanka, Mongolia, Jamaica and El Salvador, among others] with low rankings of divorce rate and personal wealth level while the second, on the top right end of the diagram, represents countries [that include USA, UK, Denmark and Finland, among others] with high rankings of divorce rate and personal wealth level.The face value of the findings seems to suggest that the higher the income level, the higher the propensity to dissolute the marriage.

However, this is just a face value of the diagram and hence, one has to differentiate the contexts between correlation and causation as well as to appreciate exclusive reasons to divorce on country to country basis.Nevertheless, it is a good starting point to explore the subject further.Italy seems to epitomise an ideal coordinate, high income with low divorce... has it got anything to do with the myth of Italian romanticism?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Khairy on ISA

Khairy Jamaluddin's piece on ISA, as published on his blog Rembau Dot Net
Demonstrasi jalanan membantah Akta Keselamatan Dalam Negeri (ISA) pada hari Sabtu lepas telah menyemarakkan lagi perdebatan mengenai akta ini. Pada asasnya, saya menyokong keputusan Kerajaan untuk mengkaji semula ISA agar sesuai dengan keperluan semasa, sepertimana yang saya sebut sewaktu membincangkan ISA dalam rancangan 101 East di saluran Al-Jazeera (tayangan dijadualkan Khamis, 8.30malam).

Pertama sekali, perlu ditegaskan bahawa Malaysia memerlukan mekanisme penahanan pencegahan (preventive detention), dalam erti kata seseorang individu boleh ditangkap dan ditahan bagi mengelakkan kesalahan atau jenayah yang belum diperlakukan, sebagai salah satu usaha pengurusan ketenteraman secara proaktif. Dalam pada dunia mengalami ancaman ekstrimis dan pengganas, ditambahpula dengan sensitiviti unik dalam negara Malaysia yang berbilangkaum, kita tidak boleh menanti sesuatu bencana terjadi sebelummengambil tindakan. Oleh itu, saya yakin rakyat Malaysia sejagat boleh memahamiperi pentingnya kuasa sebegini diberi kepada Kerajaan.

Walau bagaimanapun, agenda keselamatan dalam negeri perlu juga diimbangi dengan tuntutan demokrasi, yakni hak asasi manusia,kebebasan sivil dan keadilan. Maka, ISA atau sebarang undang-undang pencegahan tidak boleh sama sekali digunakan untuk menghentikan bantahan yang sah (legitimate dissent) atau melenyapkan cabaran politik dengan cara ‘mudah’. Dalam erti kata lain, agenda keselamatan negara tidakboleh dijadikan sebagai alasan untuk kepentingan politik mana-manapihak. Antara lain, skop definisi ancaman keselamatan kepada negaraperlu diperketatkan untuk mengelakkan penyalahgunaan kuasa ISA.

Selari dengan komitmen untuk memartabatkan sistem demokrasi negara, UMNO dan BN peka kepada kemahuan ramai di kalangan generasi muda yang tidak selesa dengan ISA. Saya tidak bersetuju kita melabelkan golongan ini sebagai buta sejarah atau seolah-olah memecah-belahkan bangsa Melayu semata-mata tentangan mereka terhadap ISA; sebaliknya kita perlu mendengar dan memahami pandangan mereka sejajar dengan proses pembaharuan yang ingin dijalankan parti dan Perdana Menteri, YAB Dato' Sri Mohd Najib Tun Razak.
Oleh sebab itulah maka kita harus mengkaji dan menghalusi ISA agar mengambil kira pertimbangan dan juga pandangan dari masyarakat umum. Saya ingin mengambil pendekatan yang lebih konstruktif dan membina di dalam perdebatan mengenai ISA dan menyoal akan hala tuju peruntukan undang-undang ini – samaada mahu dikekal, dimansuh atau dipinda? Dalam konteks ini, saya berpendapat bahawa YAB Perdana Menteri telah memberi isyarat yang jelas bahawa akta ini tidak harus dikekalkan sepertimana ia sekarang. Samaada ISA akan dipinda atau diganti dengan suatu peruntukan undang-undang yang baru adalah satu keputusan politik. Dalam hal ini, ada kemungkinan yang ISA ini sudah penuh dan sarat dengan beban politik yang menuntut satu penghijrahan dari legasi lampau. Oleh sebab itu, selain dari pindaan kepada ISA satu pendekatan adalah dengan memansuh dan menggantikannya dengan suatu akta penahanan pencegahan yang mengimbangi aspek keselamatan negara serta hak asasi dan kebebasan rakyat, melalui proses penggubalan undang-undang yang merangkumi konsultasi dan maklum balas dari masyarakat umum.
Namun, sebelum itu, beberapa isu penting berkenaan peruntukan sedia ada harus diambil kira dan diberi perhatian terlebih dahulu termasuklah aspek paling hangat dibahas mengenai ISA, iaitu berkenaan kuasa yang diberikan kepada Kerajaan untuk menahan seseorang tanpa perlu dibicara. Secara khususnya, saya mendapati bahawa ramai yang kurang selesa dengan kuasa mutlak Menteri Dalam Negeri di bawah seksyen 8 akta tersebut untuk menandatangani arahan penahanan selama dua tahun – dan boleh diperbaharui setiap dua tahun – tanpa perlu melalui proses semakan kehakiman atau ‘judicial review’. Khususnya, selepas pindaan kepada ISA pada tahun 1989, perintah tahanan Menteri Dalam Negeri langsung tidak boleh disemak oleh mahkamah. Hasilnya, Menteri Dalam Negeri secara teori boleh menahan seseorang itu untuk jangkamasa yang panjang kerana Lembaga Penasihat yang diperuntukkan oleh ISA untuk mengkaji status tahanan tidak mempunyaikuasa untuk menidakkan keputusan Menteri. Justeru, tidak hairanlah sekiranya ada yang tidak selesa dengan kuasa hampir mutlak yang diberikan kepada seorang Menteri – tidak kira siapa pun yang memegangportfolio itu – untuk menahan seseorang tanpa perbicaraan.

Bagi memastikan bahawa individu yang ditahan kerana disyaki membawa ancaman kepadakeselamatan negara mendapat perbicaraan yang adil dan tidak disimpanbertahun-tahun tanpa diberi peluang untuk membela diri, sistem kehakiman perlu diberi ruang untuk mengadili kes-kes sebegini. Namun, memandangkan banyakancaman keselamatan negara ini berkisar hal-hal sensitif yang tidak mungkin boleh dikendalikan dengan kaedah biasa seperti kes-kes yang melibatkan maklumat dari badan-badan risikan, barangkali ada baiknyajika mahkamah khas disediakan untuk mengadili kes sedemikian melalui perbicaraan tertutup (in camera), misalnya.

Disamping itu, seksyen 73 ISA membenarkan seseorang individu ditangkap oleh Polis dan dihalang dari berhubung dengan dunia luar – kadangkala keluarga si tahanan juga tidak dimaklumkan tentang penangkapan itu sendiri inikan lagi tempat di mana individu itu ditahan. Malah, hak mendapat khidmat peguam juga tidak dijamin. Sungguhpun terdapat kes di mana tahanan ISA dibebaskan oleh mahkamah melaui permohonan habeas corpus, kebanyakan kes ini terhad kepada skop permohonan yang terbatas kepada isu-isu prosedur penangkapan sahaja dan tidak mencakupi semakan kehakiman mengenai sebab-sebab dan asas penangkapan. Di sini, saya percaya perlu ada pembaharuan supaya khidmat guaman diberi kepada mereka yang ditangkap bawah ISA di samping kelonggaran untuk berhubung dengan anggota keluarga.
Ini adalah antara cadangan yang boleh dibincangkan demi kebaikanbersama dan untuk menyelesaikan kemelut kontroversi ISA. Pada hemat saya, demonstrasi pada hari Sabtu lepas langsung tidak memberi impakpositif kepada perbincangan ini kerana hanya menuntut pemansuhanmutlak ISA tanpa menyumbang apa-apa cadangan realistik yangmengimbangi tuntutan demokrasi dan keselamatan negara yang memerlukankuasa penahanan pencegahan. Jika kita ingin budaya masyarakat terbuka sejajar dengan kematangan berpolitik yang jitu, maka semua pihak perlu mengambil tanggungjawab dengan menaikkan mutu perdebatan kita.
Tidak lagi boleh kita mengambil pendirian yang mudah – yakni mutlak pro atau anti ISA. Sebaliknya kita perlu kepada satu pendirian yang lebih matang, syumul dan kompleksyang mengambil kira segala keperluan demi kebaikkan rakyat.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Low Cost - High Impact

One of the key features of Khairy Jamaluddin’s new leadership in Pergerakan Pemuda UMNO, I am told, is a novel discipline of how proposed programs are manufactured, evaluated and selected – and that is referred to as “low cost – high impact”. It’s a familiar term or glossary deployed by business leaders to gain the equipoise of maximum asset’s utilisation rate that delivers high impact result with the least possible spending.

The workings of the new approach can be summarised by the diagram above, of which;

[1] Yellow block represents low cost-low impact programs
[2] Red block is for high cost-low impact programs
[3] Blue block embodies low cost-high impact initiatives
[4] Green block stands for high cost-high impact activities

Strategies that correspond to the aforesaid shall be as follows:

[a] To improve the impact of low cost-low impact activities, to the Blue segment area: eg, D to A
[b] To avoid Red block activities that only yield low impact and yet financially burdening: eg, E
[c] To creatively think on how to enhance spending-productivity of the Green segment to the Blue segment, whilst maintaining its high impact: eg, C to A
[d] To improve current positioning and result of Blue segment activities: eg. B to A.

The ideas behind it are numerous and include:-

[i] A reform agenda. To explain this point – a BAU or Business As Usual situation would mean that activities that fall under Green Block would gain the advantage of leadership approval. However, the present approach involves leadership challenge in the form of thinking on how could the same initiative be implemented with lesser cost.
[ii] Productivity driven thinking, be it in resource management as well as on programmes’ impact.
[iii] A more selective and focussed orientation for high impact as well as low cost spending. That shall be the rule of thumb - nevertheless, due considerations would also be given to certain programs that fall under Green and Yellow blocks, on case-to-case basis.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Laman Web Baru Pemuda UMNO

Hang Tegar mendapati yang Pemuda UMNO baru sahaja menukar layout serta content management bagi laman webnya. Jika dahulu, web ini agak statik dan crowded. Kini ia lebih contemporary dan ada professional outlook, dan standing dengan web parti-parti politik utama baik di Amerika mahupun di United Kingdom.


Anwar - Malaysia's chameleon

ONE evening in mid-July Anwar Ibrahim was deep in the rubber-tapping state of Kelantan in northern Malaysia, urging a crowd of rural folk to vote for a devout fishmonger. The candidate was from the conservative Islamic Party (PAS). A tiny by-election for the state assembly PAS already dominates is ordinarily small beer (or would be, if PAS allowed such a beverage, which it does not). But Mr Anwar needs PAS. For the paradox is that without the Islamists, the alliance he leads of Malay modernisers, Indians and secular Chinese has little chance of driving the ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) from power. The coalition that UMNO dominates has ruled Malaysia since independence in 1957. Mr Anwar longs for UMNO’s destruction. The feeling is mutual.

That morning, Mr Anwar had been in Perth where he had met Australia’s foreign minister. What had he been doing with Stephen Smith? “Plotting,” replies Mr Anwar, with a conspiratorial wink. Mr Anwar spends a lot of time abroad with national and religious leaders whose names he drops slightly too easily into an engaging conversational style. He moves like quicksilver from one intriguing subject to the next, but you get the uncanny sense that he is speaking to what interests you.

Mr Anwar thinks he will soon need international support. Two days after stumping in Kelantan, pre-trial hearings began in a case in which Mr Anwar stands accused of sodomising a political aide “against the order of nature”. Mr Anwar vigorously denies the charges. He says he is the victim of a political stitch-up. International outrage might help him. Much is fishy about the case. Photographs of the former aide who brought the accusations show him with UMNO members, including people close to the current prime minister, Najib Razak. The charge has been changed from sexual assault to “consensual sex”, yet his accuser has not been charged. (All homosexuality is illegal in Malaysia.)

Mr Anwar has been here before. In 1998 he was charged with corruption and homosexual acts. In custody, he was beaten up by the chief of police. He spent six years in jail, mostly in solitary confinement, until his conviction was overturned. Upon release, his political career seemed over.
It is easy to forget now but for many years Mr Anwar led a charmed life. He made his name as an Islamist student leader in the 1970s and was even jailed under the draconian Internal Security Act. Then he shocked his former colleagues by joining UMNO, where his rise was spectacular. By 1993 he was deputy prime minister and heir to Mahathir Mohamad, the country’s long-serving leader. Malaysia seemed about to fall into his lap. “Ah,” says Mr Anwar, “the good old days.”

But during the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98, Mr Anwar moved too soon against his mentor, who after 16 years in power was not ready to bow out. Mr Anwar railed against the UMNO cronyism from which he had benefited. Livid, Dr Mahathir threw him out of the cabinet and launched Mr Anwar’s persecution. Mr Anwar’s reformasi movement sputtered out with his jailing.

Yet the hopes which that movement represented surged again after the general election of March 2008, and especially after August 2008 when Mr Anwar won a seat in Penang. In the election the ruling coalition lost its precious two-thirds majority which gave it power to change the constitution. It has since lost five out of six by-elections to Mr Anwar’s forces, which also control four of 13 states. In getting out its message, the opposition has been helped by an explosion of internet opinion that has undermined the influence of the UMNO-controlled mainstream media.

UMNO’s back is against the wall. Even its own officials admit to its arrogance, with corruption bound into the fabric of its power. The New Economic Policy (NEP, introduced in 1971) instituted racial preferences for majority Malays, when ethnic Chinese and Indians owned much of business. But instead of helping the poor, the NEP has enriched rent-seekers around the ruling party, while dragging down economic growth. Resentment has spread from Chinese and Indians to poor or pious Malays.

This has made possible Mr Anwar’s strange alliance. In calling for the end to the NEP, he says poor Chinese and Indians need help as much as Malays—but because there are more poor Malays than other races, they will still get the lion’s share of government help. It is a possible way out from the baneful influence of race on Malaysian politics. But the real strength of this alliance is that Mr Anwar’s charisma and political nous holds it together. Alas, that it is potential weakness, too.

Trials and tribulations

The challenges for Mr Anwar and his alliance will now multiply. For a start, Mr Najib, prime minister since April, has said the NEP must adapt, stealing some of his opponent’s thunder.
Then there is the time-consuming trial. Mr Anwar says he will win whatever the verdict. If he is acquitted, the government which brought the case will be discredited. If found guilty, tens of thousands of supporters will take to the streets. Mr Anwar hints tantalisingly at new information in a murder case that has gripped the country partly because of its links to Mr Najib. This, he suggests, gives him ammunition to fight back.

Intriguing, but it is unlikely to be enough. If Mr Anwar does go to jail, the alliance may not survive the loss of its leader. If he calls out his supporters—for something of the martyr lurks in him—he may be blamed for the ensuing chaos. And if he appeals to international opinion, his local supporters may question that.

This points to a trap waiting to catch the silver-tongued Mr Anwar, who deftly tells different audiences—religious or secular—what they like to hear. The same blogosphere that helped his meteoric rise may one day pay more attention to his chameleon qualities. Malaysians would then come to ask more closely: who and what exactly does Anwar stand for?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Politics of Empathy


ON 16 JUNE 2009, AT 12.30 PM

YBhg. Dato’ Abdul Rahim Rahman
Board of Governor (BOG) of the Bankers Club – Introducer
YBhg. Dato’ Nik Mohamed Din (BOG)
Board of Governor (BOG) of the Bankers Club
YBhg. Dato’ S. Kulasegaran (BOG)
Board of Governor (BOG) of the Bankers Club
Mr. Michael Dearman
General Manager of the Bankers Club
Excellencies and Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

I am honoured to be speaking at The Bankers Club, in the heart of Kuala Lumpur; with some of the best of Corporate Malaysia as my audience. For over 20 years, this Club has served as an important venue for social leaders to congregate, for the purposes of business or leisure. To be a member of this Club is to be a successful and privileged member of society – a marker that one has arrived. Most importantly, it also signifies one’s position to be able to inspire others; and the Malaysian story is at a juncture where inspirational ideas and inspirational figures may decide if it takes a path towards fulfilling the promise so apparent during different points in our journey.
And in a nutshell, inspiration is what 1Malaysia hopes to achieve. I won’t stand here today to offer a lengthy and descriptive take on what 1Malaysia means conceptually, lest I fuel the debate about the supposedly elusive definition of the term, except to say this: Perhaps some level of personalisation of the concept isn’t all that bad – 1Malaysia, as a state of mind, can mean slightly different things to different people, without us having to fear that it wouldn’t work, or that social foundations will crumble. I am much more interested to speak about the context under which, and the reason why, 1Malaysia is gaining traction, even if its precise trajectory is yet uncertain, and for us to take hold of.

And the context, ladies and gentlemen, is that of change and more importantly, the struggle to dominate the space of change. As an avid student of history I have always understood Malaysia as a land of contestations – a land where different visions of the country were, and continue to be, played out in the battleground of ideas, charting the course of history. Malaysia’s diversity lends itself to these different narratives. Malaysia’s diversity has encouraged the charting of different paths with different signposts. We have been serenaded by ideologies and thoughts that appeal to our ethnicity, our religion, our income, and all the different things that make us different.

But beneath grand political visions made glorious by the soundbite culture of our time, lies the true battle that needs resolving – the question of identity. The question of who we are is at the core of our national conversation. It defines and dictates our politics. It forces us to confront gray areas where there sometimes isn’t a right answer. Why does one young Malaysian get a scholarship to go to university and another with the same grades doesn’t? How do we bury the remains of one of our citizens who has converted to another religion without telling his family? These are some of the tough calls at the centre of our crisis of identity.

And to resolve this requires nothing less than a new political language, a new political approach, a new politics within the overarching and loose framework of 1Malaysia. I call this new politics the politics of empathy, which has immense potential to inspire and rally all Malaysians through a new narrative of mutual understanding, appreciation and respect. This is the change I am promoting.

As a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society, we have for far too long, failed to properly address this identity impasse. Specifically, the reconciliation of ethno-religious identities with the national character that all Malaysians share hasn’t been pursued with adequate vigour. In articulating our ideas for Malaysia’s future, many ascribe ourselves either an ethno-centric perspective, or relegate ethnicity to the sphere of irrelevance, often for political expediency. We either pursue a narrative that divides us by our faiths and culture or appeal to a notion that our respective heritage is not important and we must create something confusing like a Malaysians Malaysia.
The trouble with such tendencies is this: not only does either extreme result in an inaccurate picture of our society at its present; it surely cannot be the way forward if we are to find the equipoise that has eluded us thus far.

For non-Bumiputra citizens, this country is the only one they know, and the only one they wish to call home. The politics of empathy means that Malays and Bumiputras must understand the gravity of perceived second-class treatment amongst the non-Bumiputra community. Having to go against a public system that one believes, rightly or otherwise, is quasi-exclusively pro-Malay/Muslim can only yield hurt and exasperation – if this feeling is left ignored, or worse, ridiculed, then at some point members of some communities will ask the painful question, do I really fit in this country that I love?

But if the politics of empathy is to work for all, those same groups who may harbour discontent must also appreciate the collective consciousness of the Malay community in which exists a sense of heritage and identification with the origins of this country’s civilisation and the pivotal role that the Malay culture and system of governance played in it. This feeling towards and appreciation of the origins of this nation, the sense that while this nation is for all Malaysians but has its roots firmly within the Malay community, the sense of sacrifice that this community still feels for agreeing to create a nation where everyone could belong and call this land our home, is not something that exists only in the imagination of UMNO leaders and Utusan Malaysia readers. It is a collective Malay feeling that may never dissipate, not even with the passage of time.

There is no disputing that these facts are pertinently clear in the public sphere. The problem however, is that they are clear only within enclosed communal conversations and perspectives – almost as though there is one reality for a group and one for another. The ethnic Chinese in Bangsar who demands absolute meritocracy in admissions into public universities seldom properly appreciates that there is an ethnic Iban in the interiory of Sarawak who may justifiably require some form of hand-up to enter university, leaving behind the longhouse and proud parents who never had a taste of formal education. The ethnic Malay who prescribes sacrosanct status to the 30-percent rule does not always do so with constant awareness that there are many ethnic Indians living in poverty, Malaysian-Indians who feel they haven’t been given a fair go at the pie. In the absence of empathy and a national dialogue encompassing a broad perspective for all Malaysians, it is little wonder each group seems to know only of its own grievances.

As one, I must admit that politicians and political commentators are sometimes not helpful in bringing about this new politics of empathy. Politicians from both sides of the aisle have spent entire careers mastering the art of selective fact-presentation, tragically designed to win only a section of the people and leave out the rest. The same day one may fall back on the race card to boost popularity within his own party, another laments why we have so few non-Malay
Headmasters whilst conveniently disregarding the perceived exclusion of ethnic Malays in the private sector. Needless to say, this goes against the agenda of promoting an empathetic society: to see things not as they are according to you, but as they are according to others.

I therefore cannot overstate how strongly I feel about the need to change how we conduct politics, to do away with poisonous and unhealthy segmentation and replacing it with a philosophy of inclusion, a starting point from which a national conversation grounded on compassion can ensue over important policy matters that shape our collective future. Out of this honest conversation, may develop a new national consciousness; a thumping reaffirmation of what we already know in our better moments; that Malaysia will never achieve its potential without all elements working in tandem; that we cannot be all we can be without all of us. That this country is not for any one group to monopolise and dominate – in whatever field – but for all to prosper; Malay, Chinese, Indian, Iban, Kadazan, Eurasians, Sikhs, Dayak, Murut and all the proud different people that make up Malaysia. Let us not forget, the quintessential Malaysian experience is derived from the contributions of all the different communities in this country. And let us not ignore that the only future that we can have, the only future that will ensure that this ideal that is Malaysia survives, is one in which we value each and every one of us. It’s a Malaysia where no group is left behind, where meritocracy is as important as social justice and compassion, where the poor and the rich are not identified by certain ethnic groups. It is a Malaysia where we if one of us falls, all of us picks him up. This is the only way we’re going to make this ideal work.

Our task is daunting; for it to work, the politics of empathy must permeate all spheres of our institutions and breathe in the cultural psyche of ordinary Malaysians. As with any such new way of thought, dynamic leaders are important as vehicles for the message to take hold. I speak of a moderate leader as someone who can confront the many forces that pull our country in sometimes differing directions and hold them all together to produce Malaysia’s ‘Third Way’, instead of one who stubbornly ignores realities that may contradict his ideology, singing away to his choir. I am reminded of the words of Shakespeare, “They are sick that surfeit with too much, as they that starve with nothing”.

I believe moderates understand the complexities of the younger generation today. By and large this generation want a more progressive Malaysia, but it is still not completely disengaged from cultural and communal backgrounds or sensitivities, either. These ironies are visible in simple, everyday observations. The same voices who call for an end to racial profiling in the name of national unity aren’t ready to let go of vernacular schools that teach students in their mother tongues instead of the national language. It is not moderate to exploit these paradoxes to create instability by engaging in an old exclusivist politics to gain mileage on the cheap. Instead, moderates need to argue that progress must happen within the hardened realities of today, and not through a juggernaut of change shoved down Malaysians’ throats, workable or not. True and positive change cannot just serve the interests of some, it must work for all.

Again I must say, resisting the temptation of pandering to any one extreme is a monumental test; it is much simpler to score political points operating from a clear side. And contrary to popular belief, standing up against the establishment and shouting revolution or “Reformasi” isn’t the most difficult position to take in Malaysian politics. Instead, it is the moderates that have it the toughest, partly because if you don’t play it right, you may end up pleasing nobody. But our country demands for leaders to make that sacrifice; it is hungry for those who can step up to the plate and advocate change, whilst firmly placing it on a continuum of past Malaysian struggles – appreciating and internalising the contributions of our past leaders; from the fight for Independence by Tunku Abdul Rahman to Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s bold steps towards greater democratic space. Granted, these men, and the decisions they made weren’t perfect, but today calls for leaders who understand that whilst change is necessary, it does not entail a rupture from the past – ripping away at the social fabric, sensitivities, institutions and the recipe that has served us relatively well for 50-odd years.

The scale of this task requires moderate leaders to be steadfast in holding their ground. Moderation does not mean we water down our positions or settle for the easy compromise – too many potentially great leaders have fallen short this way. In facing our great challenges of the day, the catchy old saying, “Everything in moderation, including moderation” rings true. Oxymoronic as it may sound, to ensure that moderate politics contests and dominate our political and social consciousnesses, leaders must be hardline and dynamic moderates, able to tread the thin line between the deceptive comforts of conservatism and the dangerous lure of unbridled transformation, and do so with dogged conviction.

Nothing less than our long term political stability rests on the radical centre – the unifying paradigm – gaining a strong foothold in the system. Radicalism needn’t be reserved for extreme ideas confined to the fringes of society, but can be applied in crafting the middle-ground to make it a viable alternative to the politics of either/or. Our stability depends on the radical centre because if and when the old cleavages threaten to implode, a strong centre will hold. If and when things fall apart, or are being torn apart at the edges, the centre must hold and pick up the pieces.

From a strictly party-political perspective too, this battle for the centre stands out as the one that will decide who gains the trust of the electorate in the foreseeable future. Securing the centre ground is the name of the game. A year ago, many would have thought that the Opposition bloc had this contest in the bag – ushering a new era of hope, latching on the bandwagon of a rhetoric-laced brand of change to stunning electoral effect. Many wrote off Barisan Nasional – they continue to do – saying it is now rendered irrelevant with Pakatan’s imposing arrival on the scene. But seeing the tone set by Pakatan Rakyat and the internal bickering about where exactly the unofficial coalition of convenience stands, I’m not convinced there isn’t a space there still to be won using the BN formula. Quite the opposite, I believe that with discipline and guidance of the new leadership under Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak, Barisan Nasional can rebrand and populate the centre of Malaysian politics where it rightfully belongs.

Ladies and gentlemen,

This new politics of empathy located in the centre of the Malaysian political spectrum can help in solving the identity impasse that has been a stumbling block towards greater progress. To resolve the question of identity is to finally embrace the idea that one can be ethnic Malay and Malaysian, ethnic Chinese and Malaysian, or ethnic Indian and Malaysian– it is never a matter of ‘us’ and ‘them’. Once we start trying to see things as they are from the perspective of others, and operationalise realistic change mindful of context, Malaysians will see that our differences and interests, even those along communal lines, criss-cross one another – it is not a zero sum game. Let us not forget the promise of this nation’s unwritten foundation: unity in diversity; out of many histories, one future.

Ultimately, a return to a more stable political equilibrium will spell good news for Malaysia’s economy in a time of great crises. The new narrative that 1Malaysia allows for carries the hope that we can halt the constant politicking and harping on discontent, not by pretending they do not exist, but by mutual engagement and empathy as a pre-requisite to genuine harmony. This will grant us the opportunity to collectively work on the things that really matter to our country’s long-term survival and competitiveness.

We can take heart however, in the fact that glimpses of that empathy and genuine concern for one another are found throughout this land. In my political travels over the past decade, I have witnessed incredible stories of kindness between races. In one such instance, I know of a Malay man in a northern state, confined to a wheelchair by illness, receiving weekly visits from his Indian friend who comes just to spend moments together and assist with basic necessities. And in the eyes of our children we can see the hope of a more harmonious tomorrow – where joyful experiences in times of youthful innocence are shared with friends from different backgrounds, without sacrificing one’s own unique cultural heritage. There is a foundation for us to work on. In these stories of hope and compassion, the promise of Malaysia is well and truly alive.

Ladies and gentlemen,

his country has had its failings in the past, but in just over half a decade of Independence it has offered us ample opportunities to succeed and build lives within a peaceful backdrop of stability. With old mores and traditions now challenged by internal and exogenous factors, we must remain calm and reflective of the kind of future we want. In our intense and sometimes surprising journey to the present crossroads, let us not lose sight of the fact that when it’s all said and done, this is about building a better tomorrow for our children. How we choose to navigate our way from this juncture – in terms of politics and how we view each other in society – will determine if we do right by both our past and our future.

Makam yang hina sehina-hinanya

Mungkin ada di kalangan pembaca yang tertanya-tanya mengapa Hang Tegar menyepi dan kembali aktif menulis? Jawapannya adalah kerana Hang Tegar sibuk dengan perkara lain, apatah lagi selepas menyambut kelahiran anak baru-baru ini. Atas kasih sayang kepada anak maka komitmen Hang Tegar sedikit terjejas kepada blog ini.

Namun, Hang Tegar rasa terpanggil apabila Penulis Goblok seperti Husin Lempoyang menyindir KJ dengan cerita rekaan beliau yang menyentuh anak KJ. Pada hemat Hang Tegar, walau bagaimana bencinya seseorang pada seseorang yang lain – janganlah sampai ke makam yang begitu hina hatta menyentuh dan mempersenda anak orang, walaupun sekadar cerita rekaan. Apatah lagi seperti Husin Lempoyang yang mempersenda bahagian sulit anak orang.

Itulah makam yang hina sehina-hinanya.

Siapa Kudakan Siapa?

Berdasarkan statistik Buletin Utama TV3 malam tadi, 99.3 peratus atau 585 daripada 589 yang ditahan adalah mereka dari etnik Melayu, yang ramai digolongi oleh ahli dan penyokong PAS.

DAP pulak hanya diwakili oleh segelintir pemimpin mereka. Pun begitu ada juga dikalangan pemimpin DAP, seperti Jeff Ooi, yang hanya merujuk kepada laporan Malaysiakini.


Khairy lands on his feet

Life is quite different for Umno Youth leader Khairy Jamaluddin now that he is no longer a Prime Minister’s son-in-law but he has worked to put the Youth wing in a fresh direction.

THERE have been several sightings of Khairy Jamaluddin in the economy class of MAS flights.
And no, it is not a joke. The Umno Youth chief flies economy nowadays when on party programmes.

Coming down to earth: The former high-flier has had a hard landing but he has not crashed. Instead, Khairy Jamaluddin, seen here at a BN Youth press conference, has worked at mapping out a new direction for the Umno Youth wing.

“He carries his own bag, checks in himself. You can see the surprise on people’s faces when they see him in economy. He chats with them, they say hello and shake his hand,” said Umno Youth secretary Megat Firdouz Megat Junid.

According to Megat Firdouz, it is economy class from now on for all the wing’s officials, including the Youth chief.

In the old days, this would have made the news but Khairy has not been much in the news since winning the Umno Youth leadership.

When asked about his “low profile” in an interview with a Chinese daily, he said the media was “not interested in me”.

Actually, he is still a newsmaker. He is the Umno Youth chief and one of Umno’s more controversial faces. But he is no longer a Prime Minister’s son-in-law and his boys complain that supporters do not wait for him at airports and that the VIP treatment is gone.

The goal posts have shifted, as they say, and he has to compete on a more level playing field these days.

The former high-flier has had to come down to earth. It has been a tough landing but he has not crashed.

"Programmes cannot be ‘syiok sendiri’ and we have to adopt new methods" - Megat Firdouz Megat Junid.

And despite the “low profile,” he has been serious and diligent about his duties as Umno Youth leader. His new team has put into place the new course of direction and action for the wing. The challenge now is to translate it on the ground.

At their retreat three months ago, the team took a hard look at themselves, at their failures and achievements, at how the ground had shifted under their feet and how they have to change or end up as the next political opposition.

“The opinion was that the old style of doing things had not worked, we have to listen to the ground, programmes cannot be ‘syiok sendiri’ (self-serving) and we have to adopt new methods,” said Megat Firdouz.

Khairy, said Megat Firdouz, has since revamped the wing’s focus areas, setting up new secretariats and units to cope with the new political landscape.

For instance, a secretariat on urban affairs headed by Bukit Bintang Youth head Tengku Azman Tengku Zainal Abidin will tackle issues facing young urban Malays.

Umno does not have many seats to contest in Kuala Lumpur but Tengku Azman feels the party has to reach out to this overlooked social enclave who live and work in the city but whose base is still in their kampung in other states.

Umno Youth exco member Tun Faizal Ismail is heading the new media unit, where Umno badly trailed its opponents and which will be a frontline area in the next general election.

There are also committees dealing with young professionals, government servants, young workers, psychological warfare, involvement with NGOs and training and education. All these were areas where Umno lost out to their opponents in the last general election.

Recently, Nasir Hussin Akhtar Hussin, who heads the young workers secretariat, went up to Penang to meet workers who had been retrenched from a factory.

“We cannot sit and wait for people to come to us, we want to go to them,” said Tun Faizal.
Another exco member Lokman Nor Adam is heading a unit on oratory skills and public discourse because a politician’s message is more effective if he speaks well.

Khairy has come up with some sort of road map for the wing in his first three months.
“We’ve put the new foundation in place, we have to make it happen,” said Megat Firdouz.
Tun Faizal, a supporter of Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, admits that Khairy has “brought in some transformation”.

“There is new thinking and the work is spread out to empower people,” he added.
Khairy is an on-the-ball sort of guy and sends text messages to his officials late at night to remind them of things to do especially when there are programmes the next day.

Treasurer Datuk Rozabil Abdul Rahman said it is not uncommon to get instructions and reminders via text messages from Khairy at 1am or 2 am.

They joke that he caught the “disease” from his predecessor Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein who is still doing it to his staff.

It has not been an easy inception period for Khairy especially after being left out from Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s Cabinet set-up.

The positive side to this is that he is able to be a full-time Youth chief. The minus side is that he lacks the clout of a government post and the perks that come with it.

“People should not under-rate the Umno Youth position. It is a powerful post and he can do things even without being a deputy minister. Party leaders need the cooperation of the three wings,” said Wanita exco member Suraya Yaakob.

The disappointment has passed but the frustration is probably still there.

The advantage of reduced media coverage is that it averts attention and leaves people with less to say or gossip about him. He has also been able to campaign in Manek Urai whereas he had to stay away from the earlier by-elections because of image issues.

“He seems to have passed a critical point in this because he is leading the by-election campaign,” said Subang Youth head Harrison Hassan.

The wing had a Pemuda Masuk Kampung programme in Manek Urai where they put up overnight in the homes of local residents.

His image problem aside, Khairy’s biggest challenge remains his struggle to consolidate his support in the wing.

He won only 40% of the votes in the three-way fight to lead the wing and his detractors call him the “minority leader”.

His win was controversial and the scene outside the Dewan Tun Hussein the night he won, when police had to be called in to control the crowd, is something that journalists will remember for a long time.

“People are still trying to close ranks. It is not easy because of the battle scars,” said Harrison.
Few were surprised when Khairy appointed his loyalists as key office-bearers and as Youth state chiefs. However, the appointment of Megat Firdouz to the crucial secretary post initially puzzled people because he had supported Datuk Seri Dr Khir Toyo in the Youth chief fight.

It was a strategic decision because Khairy is hoping that Megat Firdouz will help to rally Dr Khir’s supporters. Moreover, Megat Firdouz is also the son of the late Umno strongman Tan Sri Megat Junid Megat Ayob.

Khairy will probably have more problems winning over the Mukhriz camp because their rivalry ran deeper and was more personal than that between him and Dr Khir. It was also complicated by the very public fall-out between their respective father-in-law and father. Khairy is probably relying on his deputy Youth chief Datuk Razali Ibrahim, who is aligned to Mukhriz, to do his part in winning over the Mukhriz boys.

“Khairy really wants to engage everyone. I pray to God we will come together in the spirit of Umno,” said Rozabil.

But members talk about the difficulty that some of the state Youth chiefs he appointed are having on the ground especially in states like Selangor where the urbanised membership has clear-cut opinions about who is the more worthy leader.

Being censured for money politics at the height of the Umno election campaign still hangs on him like a black mark.

At the PAS muktamar last month, speakers made disparaging remarks about him and recently a shouting match erupted in Parliament when Bukit Gelugor MP Karpal Singh kept shouting “Rembau, corrupt!”

Khairy is still weighed down by his political baggage. But his edge is that he is smart, has contemporary ideas and those who come into contact with him can see that he is a cut above.
In Manek Urai, young people gaped at him wherever he went, asked to have their photographs taken with him and milled around to hear what he had to say.

“He has charisma, he is still tall, dark and handsome even if he does not have the same kind of clout he had before,” said Suraya.

Khairy has mapped out the road ahead for the Youth wing but his own political path is still cluttered with hurdles.