Thursday, August 26, 2010

So what if China rules the world?

If Malaysia were to continue limiting the growth of Chinese education as well as not valuing our Chinese brains, we will very soon lag behind even the backward countries like Vietnam and Cambodia.
By BA Hamzah

THE days of Pax Americana are over. So what if Pax Sinica were to rule the world? At its optimum size, during the Cold War period the US military was designed to fight two and a half conventional wars. Theoretically, it could fight a conventional war in Europe, another one in Asia and half a war in the Middle East and still survive. The US strategy was not put to test, courtesy of the Soviet Union’s break-up.

Today, the US is back in Southeast Asia adding a new operational theatre to Iraq and Afghanistan. The fiasco in Iraq is being repeated in Afghanistan as the US searches for a right balance between counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism strategy.

The cost of waging more than two wars could result in double-dip recession in the US. The WikiLeaks are difficult to plug. Like the Pentagon Papers, the exposure will shift public opinion and could result in President Barack Obama missing a second term.

According to the Economist US military activities in the South China Sea, Yellow Sea and East China Sea are intimidating and more than a show of force and a direct challenge to China.

Suddenly, the South China Sea has become US national interest after close to four decades of absence. It has conducted naval exercises with Vietnam the enemy state it failed to destroy. Recall those days when South Vietnam was of vital interest to America and an unfounded fear of the dominoes falling to communist rule. America’s hasty retreat in April 1975 from the roof-top of its embassy in Saigon did not herald the fall of Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore to the communists.

Communist Vietnam has embraced capitalism and looks like becoming an ally of the US planning to contain China’s military rise. The US is back with a new mantra that China is a threat to the region. Of course, it does not help China’s cause that it has militarised the South China Sea; Beijing has also warned American oil companies from drilling for oil in the disputed area.

Vietnam should carefully note that when elephants make love, the grass will be trampled. History, geography and economics tend to favour China.

The US should heed the advice from Alberto Romulo, the Philippines foreign secretary, who said Asean countries did not need the US to solve their territorial disputes with China which is fuelling the economy of the region. Romulo is right: why should Asean get embroiled in a US-Sino conflict that has been running since the Second World War? Besides, why should Asean countries team up with a distant foreign military power that is fast becoming an economic and political dinosaur? It is unethical for Asian states to gang up against China, the only Asian power that can match the US economic fight. True, it will be a while before it can catch up with the US military prowess. But it won’t be long before China closes the asymmetry gap. And, China is in no hurry to cross swords with the US.

Anti-US policy in Japan, South Korea and the China-Taiwan free trade agreement has forced the US to be on the offensive. But to win wars a democracy like the US needs a strong economy. The US Commerce Department revealed that the trade deficit for June 2010 was US$42.7 billion (RM134.4 billion), 19% more than in May, and to add insult to injury it said the US trade gap with China has ballooned to US$26.2 billion (RM82.5 billion) since October 2008.

As China becomes the world’s largest economy the deficit with the US is likely to expand.

The US is right to be concerned with the freedom of navigation in the seas near China. But the issue is China has never prevented states from exercising this freedom. Of course, China has contested military activities especially espionage in its exclusive economic zone. Brazil, India, Ecuador, Bangladesh, Egypt and Malaysia are among the states that do not allow foreign countries to conduct military manoeuvres in their exclusive economic zones.

A new battlefront in the Asia-Pacific region may drain more resources that US needs to win wars at home which it must not lose. It was Thucydides, author of the Peloponnesian War, who wrote that it was the blind and immoderate behaviour of the Athenians which ultimately led to their downfall. A lesson in history, perhaps for the US to savour.

BA Hamzah is a student of politics, international law and education. Comments:


Malaysian Christians banned from visiting Israel

I am a Malaysian Christian cum Minister. I am saving up so as to visit Israel one day. But I was disappointed as a new ruling was imposed lately that we are not allowed to visit Israel anymore. Can Christians both at home and abroad help pray and fight for our rights to do so? And I urge boards from CFM, NECF and Denomination Councils could write in or meet up with the PM for petition. I still hold hope there is a u-turn in situation.

Allow us our pilgrimages to Israel

Aug 25, 10

The joint call by DAP and MCA to rescind the 'Allah ban' to Home Ministry is definitely welcomed by not only all Christians but all Malaysians who value unity and harmony in our society.

Freedom of religion is enshrined in our constitution, and the government of the day must allow all religions to practise their faith. Religion must not be politicized ,or used as a tool to gain political mileage.

It is usually fear and ignorance that leads to misunderstanding among religious groups. Many who supported the Allah ban do not fully understand the issue. Just as many do not bother that there are significant differences between Christianity and Judaism, though both groups consider Israel as their holy land.

It was indeed a sad day for Christians in Malaysia when our government decided to impose a ban on travel to Israel. Before the ban, limited travel was allowed for religious purposes and pilgrimages.

When Malaysia did not recognize China, it still allowed travel to China for medical reasons. By the same token , it is the cry of Malaysian Christians to allow visits to Israel for religious purposes. A pilgrim to the holy land of Israel is as important to Christians as the Haj is important to our Muslim brothers.

Christians, when they are in Israel, strictly observe their pilgrimage and religious observances. Normally visits to places of importance in Jesus Christ's life and in the Bible are visited.

Many people, for lack of knowledge, do not know that Jesus Christ is not recognized in Judaism at all. At least in Islam, Christ is recognized as a prophet. Christian pilgrimages and tours of Israel do not have an iota of political element.

From the bottom of all Christian hearts, this appeal is made to our government, especially to our prime minister, to reconsider relaxing its rule on visits to Israel. Please consider visits for religious pilgrimages and visits. Do not politicize religion, Be a prime minister for all people and all religions in Malaysia.


Friday, August 20, 2010






如果说中国独生子女因一家一孩政策导致“二养四老” 感到无力的话,我看大马华裔也好不到哪里。华裔都不愿多生,我们有许多家庭乃是一两个孩子的。老实说,好的孩子一两个就够,孩子多不不等于就得到尽孝的铁饭碗,因为我们已经看过不少这种家庭,孩子把父母当作人球踢来踢去的例子。

因着夫妻在外干活,有了孩子开销即增加。父母年长照顾不了孙子,若不雇佣的话,就必须把孩子送到费用不菲的保姆照顾。基于这种情况,我国早已经出现日渐严重的另一类不健康问题,就是我们增加了许多“定克”族(DINKDouble Income No Kids,双薪无子),他们只想免去养儿育女负担的责任。







中国人守老重孝,向称美德,但在今日,长者遭遗弃、受虐待新闻却屡见不鲜,孝悌忠信礼义廉耻这 些传统伦理观念实际上已日渐失去强大的规范作用,这情况不唯在中国,亦在大马、世界各地。家庭关係的和谐原包括在两个字之內,孝与亲。无孝无亲,家庭的关 係就失去了功用。现代的家庭问题,从法庭常有类似个案(最近我国大马,不是有两宗儿子不给生活费,老父告上法庭的事吗?)就可显示出其严重性。

今日的儿女,多对父母失去尊重及顺眼。將年老父母看为累赘,忘记父母当年辛劳养育,以前是“家 有一老,如有一宝”,今日是“家若有老,嫌佢老土”,今日这一代的家人,以物质的利益为重,甚至可以超越亲情,这就难怪中国辽寧省大连市这一对老父老母要 用“回家有钱奖赏”来“买”子女回家看看他们了,想想真是十分可悲,令人唏嘘!





在社会,我们需要敬老,这“敬”是基於尊重生命,尊重每个生命个体都有天赋的尊严、权利及自 由。因此,我们尊敬长者,不因他的財富、学识、健康、过去……而有分別。体统中国思想是“老吾老,以及人之老”式的推己及人,以孝亲为起点以及於穷人。但 现代社会,吾人更应加上人权、平等、自由的观念,古今共济,我想这必更加理想。

固然,长者本身也需自强不息,既追求个人的老有所乐,也继续有所学及有所贡献。即使工作上退了 休,但在社会生活中却保持,甚至更加活跃,做有为的公民,成后生的典范,这样,当更能令自己的子女(年轻一代)自然地生出欣赏尊敬之心。这样的“敬”,自 必更真诚、更持久,但愿孝亲敬老人人和谐。



Monday, August 16, 2010

Anifah Aman makes London the new and improved Bolehland

16 August, 2010
By Leong See-See

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been gaining international recognition for Malaysia in the Human Rights arena by speaking out against human rights violations of other nations – albeit selectively – it is a stark contrast to what is practised back home by the Home Ministry. A LoyarBurokker in London reports from the anti-ISA protest there.

50 years of the ISA and police brutality were not compelling enough reasons for Malaysians to signal their dismay outside the Malaysian High Commission in London. Some questioned if it was appropriate and chose instead to attend the talk by the Foreign Minister inside the Embassy, throw tough questions at him and have something to eat afterwards. A few offered to come out and intervene if the situation got heated. Others didn’t think it would come to that. Peaceful demonstration is sometimes a duty and those who thought so were not surprised when Anifah Aman approached them for a civilised dialogue. He was, after all, in charge of Foreign Affairs and diplomacy is his ministry’s expedient course of action.

While Home Affairs and the Royal Malaysian Police deal in domestic violence, Anifah’s ministry speaks out against human rights abuses perpetrated by other governments. Israel was promptly urged not to take drastic and violent action on the unarmed passengers of the Rachel Corrie. Just two weeks ago, Singapore received a plea for clemency for Yong Vui Kong, a Malaysian sentenced to death for drug smuggling. It would seem that member states of the United Nations see the Malaysia Foreign Office as an devoted defender of human rights and so, duly got us elected to the UN Human Rights Council again this year.

Disproportianate use of force at peaceful candlelight vigil in Petaling Jaya

As soon as Anifah Aman arrived at the Malaysian High Commission, he walked across the road to an assembly of concerned Malaysian citizens protesting against the police violence and arrests that marred peaceful candlelight vigils in Malaysia to observe the 50th year of the ISA.

Accompanied by aides and reporters from the NST and Malay Mail, the Foreign Minister broke the ice by saying “Hi” to the organiser. He explained the delays behind the parliamentary debates on the amendments to the ISA and iterated that the law would not be repealed. In the dialogue with the concerned citizens, only Anifah Aman spoke without any interjections from the Malaysian Ambassador or anyone from his delegation who crossed the threshold behind their leader. The opening gambit is commendable, the same format should be approved by Hishamuddin Hussein for home use.

Anifah Aman's team return to the Embassy after the dialogue

The Minister turns back to say 'Write to me, OK?'

In an article posted on Aliran, an observer noted :

Following a twenty minute discussion, the demonstrators closed by thanking Anifah for his efforts at open engagement but asked that a clear message be taken back to the Prime Minister and his government; that as Malaysia gains international recognition and prominence on the world stage – this recognition must be for the right reasons.

The Messenger would turn Advocate when he later surprised those waiting inside the Embassy that he would quit if his government were to silence public dissent. Before an audience of 100 people, the Foreign Minister repeated he would guarantee that Malaysians protesting outside would not be arrested, detained or questioned when they return to Malaysia.

Meanwhile, a virtual Abdul Razak Baginda (’serious academic’, UK-resident, you-know-who) announced on Twitter that he advised the Minister to “make empty promises. mana tau, he actually promised he would quit if BN abused law to stop protests”.

Zaid Ibrahim

Due credit may be given to the Foreign Minister who would follow in the footsteps of Zaid Ibrahim who resigned from his post as Law Minister when the ISA was abused under his watch. It remains to be seen if accountability will be a hard act to follow.

As it was a night where free speech was allowed a wide berth, the dismayed and un-verified Abdul Razak Baginda, can only be cajoled into treating Malaysian policy matters with the same standard of ethics as he employs in his work as a “serious academic .”

The responsibility now lies with the NST and Malay Mail reporters who followed Anifah Aman back into the Embassy. Their dispatches are eagerly-awaited as their objective reporting would be a fitting albeit small tribute to human rights advocates in and out of Malaysia as well as those who are part-of and not-of the establishment. Departure from the expected editorial standard would only serve as a sobering reminder of censorship and Sourcethe subscription basis of universal human rights.

About the Author: See-See is a Malaysian currently living in London. Once a year, she and fellow organisers screen documentaries about Malaysian human rights and political issues under the banner of the Freedom Film Fest of Malaysia. She works as a software architect.


Friday, August 13, 2010

Churches want Allah issue resolved and others convicted

UPDATED @ 07:18:16 PM 13-08-2010
August 13, 2010

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 13 — Churches today demanded that the government resolve the Allah issue and charge the rest of the culprits responsible for attacking other churches, following the conviction of two siblings for torching the Metro Tabernacle church.

Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) president Rev Dr Thomas Philips said the convictions alone did not resolve the root cause of the church arson attacks as the Allah case was still pending in court.

“The root cause is still not resolved as the Allah issue is still in the courts,” Philips told The Malaysian Insider today.

Although the Catholic Church won a landmark ruling last New Year’s Eve which allowed Catholic weekly The Herald to use the word “Allah” in its publications, the government won a stay of execution, preventing the Church from using the word until the case is dealt with in the Court of Appeal.

The Sessions Court here today sentenced siblings Raja Muhammad Faizal Raja Ibrahim and Raja Muhammad Idzham Raja Ibrahim each to five years in prison for torching the Metro Tabernacle church earlier this year.

A journalist takes a picture of the torched Metro Tabernacle church in this January 8, 2010 file photo. — Reuters pic
Council of Churches of Malaysia (CCM) general secretary Rev Dr Hermen Shastri called on the government to charge those responsible in a string of attacks against nine other churches following the Metro Tabernacle church torching.

“The government must be seen to be serious in this matter,” said Shastri.

“Not all have been brought to book. The police should step up their investigations and bring others to book,” added Shastri.

Nine churches throughout the country were attacked in one week since the torching of the Metro Tabernacle church on January 7 this year.

The attacks against the churches drew international coverage and sparked outrage among leaders on both sides of the political divide, with the Najib administration promising to take stern action against the perpetrators.

Besides the Metro Tabernacle church in Desa Melawati here, the Assumption Church and Life Chapel Church in Petaling Jaya also fell victim to arson attacks.

The attacks against them, however, were not as serious as the torching of the Metro Tabernacle church that gutted the church’s administrative office.

Although National Evangelical Christian Fellowship Malaysia (NECF) chairman Rev Dr Eu Hong Seng welcomed the sentence against the church arsonists, he criticised the government’s move of banning Christians from using the word “Allah” as “ludicrous”.

“No government should take it upon themselves to dictate what is written in the scriptures of other faiths,” said Eu, adding that the government should allow Christians to use the word “Allah”.

Philips pointed out that the sentence against the church arsonists would not deter religious extremists from violence as long as the Allah case remained stuck in the courts.

“Without solving all this, we are just prolonging the consequences... it will still be able to rouse the emotions and passions of extremist groups,” said Philips.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has stressed recently that the “Allah” controversy should not be brought up by either BN component parties or Pakatan Rakyat (PR) as the matter was still being tried in court.

The apparent gag order came after the MCA called on Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein to use his authority to rescind the ban on non-Muslims’ use of the word “Allah”, which earned a stern warning from Muhyiddin who questioned the BN component party for sharing the same stand as the DAP on the issue.

Hishammuddin also said recently that the government has no reason to retract its appeal, apparently backtracking on his earlier remarks expressing regret over the decision by his predecessor in the Home Ministry to ban the Catholic Church from using the word “Allah”.

Shastri nonetheless said that the act of sentencing the Metro Tabernacle church arsonists was a good first move.

“For now, we are pleased that action has been taken,” he said.

“This signals to all Malaysians that such acts are not tolerated, (which is) violence against places of worship,” he added.

Sessions Court judge S.M. Komathy Suppiah said in her judgment today that the court needed to send a strong message that such a “dastardly” act of desecrating a place of worship could not be tolerated.

“Individuals who commit arson attacks on places of worship deserve little or no mercy from the courts. The message from this court must be loud and clear. Don’t play with fire,” she said.

Despite sentencing siblings Raja Muhammad Faizal and Raja Muhammad Idzham to five years in prison, Komathy granted a stay of execution pending an appeal by the defence to the High Court.

The siblings were charged under section 436 of the Penal Code for committing mischief with fire, with the intention of destroying the Metro Tabernacle church earlier this year.

The punishment for the offence is a maximum imprisonment of 20 years, while a fine is at the discretion of the court.

Christians make up around 9.1 per cent of the country’s mostly Muslim population, including a Catholic population of nearly 800,000.