Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Honda ups the ante with the Honda City

By YS Khong May 14, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, May 13 — Is there really any difference in the cars of the 1.5-1.6 litre class sedans available here in Malaysia?
The popular brands would be the incumbent test car of which today’s subject is about, and its local competitors, the very popular Toyota Vios, the hot-selling Nissan Almera, launched the second half of last year, and the Volkswagen Polo Sedan, also launched last year.
It does seem though, that we Malaysians are getting spoilt for choice — which makes the buying decision even more challenging.
Being human, we naturally want to get the best value for our money — motivation to buy any particular make or model comes in many forms — some go for performance and handling, some go for price, some others go for the looks.
There are those who go for accessories and trivial stuff that come with the car, while more serious ones want as much safety features as possible.
Behind all that, there are the issues of cabin space, boot space, second hand value, service availability, and what the friends and neighbours would think, etc, etc. Most would have a combination of wants and needs. It’s tough, without a doubt.
I would suppose the car maker that can package a product that suits the majority of people would be the most successful — there is no real secret about making a successful seller — give people what they want, at a reasonable price.
The latest trend here is to “package” one model with three or four variants, priced from a low entry model to a top-of-the-range model with everything thrown in bar the kitchen sink.
A group of us motoring media went to the beautiful island of Langkawi last week to test out the locally assembled Honda City. What was available to us to test out was not only the four variants, starting from the lowest specked S to the S+, E and the top range V variants, but three other “competitor” models as well.
In addition to the drive around the island, the media were given the opportunity to do a drag race with the City’s competitors, a high-speed performance drive on a short stretch of winding roads, and a double “accident avoidance” sudden lane change exercise.
I have actually driven all of the aforesaid cars in isolation, but the fact that we were able to test all of the competitive models side by side was a revelation of sorts to me.
By doing side by side tests, one model after another gave me an “apple to apple” comparison, and the Honda City aced all of the tests.
The most significant difference between the Honda City and its competitors would be the additional stability and safety that comes with the VSA (Vehicle Stability Assist) feature that was introduced towards the end of the lifespan of the previous model, and is carried forward into the current model.
During the accident avoidance exercise, we were to go at 60 km/h, and do two last-minute lane changes to avoid obstacles made up of empty cardboard boxes. I crashed heavily into the boxes with two of the competitors’ models, and barely escaped with another, hitting some cones instead, the latter signifying that I was actually marginally out of control.
With the new Honda City, I am very happy to report that I successfully performed the manoeuvre, and emerged unscathed.
I ran every car through the exercise at exactly the prescribed 60 km/h speed, and although I do consider myself quite an accomplished driver, did not have the same amount of control over the car behaviour with the others as I had with the Honda City.
The test was performed in dry conditions — in the wet, I cringe to think of what may happen to an untrained driver who has to make such an action to avoid an accident.
With this exercise, I will definitely consider the VSA a boon to any driver.
Just as an aside, vehicle stability control systems are also known by a variety of other terms such as ESP, VSC, and DSC in other brands, but are usually found in more expensive cars.
I found the ride and handling of the Honda City to be better than two of its competitors, but one other competitor was just as good. This was during the back-to-back driving test.
Coincidentally, I also found the seating to be the best in the Honda City in terms of how it hugs the body and hold it during corners, and the overall comfort. Cornering stability in the City scored top marks, with one competitor very close to it.
By the simple virtue of the fact that the Honda City has 120PS, and has variable valve timing (I-VTEC), it out-accelerated all the others in the drag test.
I did bemoan the fact that Honda has decided to bring back the CVT (Constantly Variable Transmission) after moving from it to a 5-speed automatic transmission during the last model change, but it appears that the performance is not affected.
Anyway, the Honda’s Large Project Leader in charge of the Honda City (who happens to be known as Mr Suzuki) did say in his product presentation that the CVT has been totally re-designed, comes with a torque converter (viscous coupling), which the previous City of two generations ago did not have, and provides a much improved driving experience. Admittedly, the car drove better than the previous CVT model, but I still do not like CVTs.
There are only two items I do not like about the new Honda City — the first being that the Honda people have omitted the paddle shifters — the one I drove in Thailand a while ago had it, and I believe the City would be much more fun with it.
According to Honda Malaysia, they did a survey, and it appears that not many respondents really cared about whether the paddle shifters were there or not. Apparently, I belong to the minority, but the paddle shifters make the City a better driving car.
Nonetheless, the packaging of the new Honda City is in my opinion, very well-thought-out, and there is one that will suit every possible buyer of this category of cars.
One thing is for sure — the Honda City has upped the ante, and the other brands will be looking at the Honda City as a benchmark for their next model change.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

A Response to “Seminar Kalimah Allah & Kristology Nusantara”

May 8, 2014, 10:40 am
A Response to “Seminar Kalimah Allah & Kristology Nusantara”  – Come now, Let us reason together, says the Lord (Isaiah 1:18)

The “Seminar Kalimah Allah & Kristology Nusantara (“The word ‘Allah’ and Christology in the Malay Archipelago”) held on 6 May 2014 at Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) in Shah Alam, has sparked strong protests from the public.

The NECF protests that higher institution of learning should not cause confusion and promote prejudice. The CFM adds that it would amount to abuse of trust and stewardship, “If there is to be sincere and genuine academic freedom, then let us have an intellectual exchange with integrity instead of a one-sided presentation with arguably inaccurate information being disseminated as fact…Otherwise, the seminar yesterday would be nothing more than hate speechand sectarian religious propaganda thinly disguised as academic freedom.”
The protests were in response to several seminar speakers who had mockingly posed questions that suggest the grounds for Christian beliefs are fundamentally flawed. For example, in a forum “Christianisation vs Islamization, the speakers answered pre-prepared questions that included “Did Jesus really die on the cross for the forgiveness of sins?”, “What is the Trinity?”, “Why did Jesus cry ‘Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani’ (Aramaic for “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?”) while on the cross?”. Themalaysianinsider

Another speaker argued that the parts of the Bible based on his teachings should simply be called “Tales of Jesus” instead of the “Gospel”. The books in the Bible were written by Christ’s disciples such as Matthew, Mark, and Luke were considered hearsay and similarly should not be considered the Word of God. The so-called gospel is only Jesus’ words, speech, hence should not be called gospel. He asserted, “The Christian gospel is a fake gospel.” The malaymailonline

Two books published by MAIS, “Pendedahan Agenda Kristian” (Exposing the Christian Agenda‎) and “Obligation to Preserve the Sanctity of the Name Allah” were distributed to more than 1,000 students who attended a seminar, warning them to watch out for “tricks” by Christians to sway Muslims from their faith.Themalaysianinsider

The attempt by the speakers to confuse Christians and to promote prejudice among Muslims against Christianity is obvious. However, they will be disappointed to learn that the Malaysian Christianity community is not so easily shaken. Malaysian Christians continue to hold firmly their beliefs in quiet confidence, and indeed welcome questions from these detractors. After all, the Christian faith has weathered centuries of severe historical criticism; it has offered rational demonstration of the coherence of Christianity when challenged by sophisticated philosophical critics informed by the European Enlightenment; and finally, millions of Christians continue to find the Christian faith to be experientially fulfilling.

As an irenic response to the questions raised at the seminar, I invite inquirers of the Christian faith to read the two attached FAQ documents given below: a briefer “Answers to Common Islamic Questions” [taken from Colin Chapman, “The Cross and the Crescent” and a fuller document written by some academics from Yale University, “Questions Muslims Ask.”
Hopefully, reading these FAQs will assure our critics of the intellectual integrity and peaceful intentions of the Christian community. Christians are, after all, mindful of the SOP given in their Holy Book on how to respond peaceably to faultfinders, “Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame” (1 Peter 3:14-15).


FAQ (Brief Document)
1. ‘Why do you believe in the Trinity? Do you believe in three gods?’

We don’t believe in three gods! We believe in one God as strongly as any Muslim. When we speak of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, we are not thinking of three separate and distinct gods. Christianity is a monotheistic religion, as much as Islam. The word ‘Trinity’ is not found in the Bible; but the idea is taught in the Bible .
2. ‘Why do you say that Jesus is the “Son of God”?’
Because Jesus called himself ‘the Son’ and spoke of God as ‘the Father’ and ‘my Father’. We don’t believe that Jesus was the son of God in any physical sense; this idea is as repugnant to us as it is to Muslims.

We believe that ‘God is love’ in his very nature, and that there has always been a relationship of love between God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, even before the creation of the universe. Jesus of Nazareth is more than a prophet, since he was fully human and fully divine. When we say that Jesus is the Son of God, what we mean in the simplest possible language is that he was like God in a way that no other human being has ever been. When we look at Jesus, therefore, and see what he was like, we have some idea of what God is like.

3. ‘Why do you believe that Jesus was crucified?’

Because this is what our Scriptures teach. The New Testament explains that it wasn’t out of weakness that God allowed Jesus to be crucified. It was his way of showing up the evil in human nature in its true colors. But it was also his way of showing how much he loves us and wants to forgive us for all our sins. Christians see the death of Jesus as a ‘sacrifice for sins’, as the one final and complete sacrifice which does away with the need for any other sacrifice offered to gain forgiveness of sins. God allowed Jesus to experience death because all human beings have to die. But by raising him from the dead, God not only vindicated Jesus and revealed his true identity, but also destroyed the power of death once and for all who trust in him.

4. ‘Your Scriptures have been corrupted.’

I know this is what you have been taught. But have you read them? According to the Holy Quran , the message which God revealed to the Prophet Muhammad confirmed the previous Scriptures: the tawrat revealed to Moses, the zabur revealed to David, and the injil to Jesus. If these Scriptures, which were in the hands of the Jews and the Christians at the time of the Prophet Muhammad, were already corrupt, how could the Quran confirm these Scriptures? Can you tell me who corrupted the Scriptures, and when it was done? Would you like to read the life of Jesus as it is recorded in our injil? How can you say that our Scriptures are corrupted if you haven’t read them?

5. ‘Your Scriptures are full of mistakes and contradictions.’

Christians are aware of the so-called contradictions that you find in the Bible, because Christian scholars have been aware of them for a long time. But they have their own way of explaining these differences, and some of them can be explained very easily. Others raise harder questions of interpretation. Are you prepared to listen to the way we explain these difficulties?

Two can play the same game! Some Christians say that they find contradictions in the Quran. How would you feel if I were to criticize the Quran? But I don’t want to do so, because I am not interested in criticizing the Quran. If Muslims don’t like Christians criticizing the Quran, why do Muslims criticize the Bible?

The basic reason you have problems with the apparent contradictions in the Bible is that you are comparing the Bible with the Quran. You believe that the Quran is the very words revealed directly to Muhammad, and you assume that the Bible was revealed in exactly the same way. Christians do believe that the Bible is the Word of God, and that God through his Holy Spirit inspired the different books of the Bible. But the Word of God in the Bible has come through a large number of different authors. The Bible is therefore for us both the Word of God and the words of human beings. The fundamental problem between us at this point is that we have different views of revelation. Muslims believe that the supreme revelation God has given was in the form of a book, the Quran. Christians, however, believe that the supreme revelation was given in a person, Jesus (see further chapter 28).

6. ‘We recognize Jesus as a prophet. Why don’t you recognize Muhammad as a prophet?’

If we did recognize Muhammad as a prophet in the way that you do, we would be Muslims. We are glad to accept the teaching of the Quran about the one true God which we also find in our Scriptures. But we cannot believe the whole Quran, because its teaching is different at many points from the teaching of our Scriptures.

We believe that Jesus was the last of the prophets, God’s final word to the world. We see Jesus as the most complete revelation of God in the form of a human being. We cannot believe that there could be any more complete revelation of God after Jesus.

7. Why do you not recognize that the Bible foretells the coming of Muhammad?’

There are two verses which are often used to support this argument. The first is the words from Deuteronomy about a new prophet who was to come: ‘The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers’ (Deuteronomy 18:15). This could hardly refer to Muhammad, since Moses says that this prophet is to be raised up ‘from among your own brothers’, that is, from among the children of Israel.
The second verse gives us the words of Jesus about the coming of the Paraclete: ‘I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you for ever – the Spirit of truth’ (John 14:16; cf. 14:26; 15:26; 16:7). Christians have always interpreted these as predictions about the coming of the Holy Spirit. Jesus never spoke about another prophet who was to come after him.

FAQ (Fuller Document): QUESTIONS MUSLIMS ASK -PDF File Questions Muslims Ask
You can also read the document online at – Answers to Questions Muslims Ask. Part 2 LINK

Source: Colin Chapman, The Cross and the Crescent IVP Books 2008.

UiTM seminar was 'hate speech', says CFM


The seminar on Christianity held at a public university yesterday was "hate speech" veiled as academic freedom, the Christian Federation of Malaysia said.

CFM chairperson Eu Hong Seng (right)said this is because there was no attempt for intellectual discussion involving the Christians themselves.

"If there is to be sincere and genuine academic freedom, then let us have an intellectual exchange with integrity instead of a one-sided presentation with arguably inaccurate information being disseminated as fact.

"Otherwise, yesterday's seminar at UiTM would be nothing more than hate speech and sectarian religious propaganda thinly disguised as academic freedom...

"(This) causes a great diminution of scholastic integrity, greater disservice to intellectual honesty, and greatest discredit to the reputation of the public institution," he said in a statement today.

Eu added that academic freedom does not entail presenting things as facts and not allowing interested parties room for rebuttal.

By doing so, he said UiTM had clearly "abused trust and stewardship" as a public institution of higher learning.

CFM, an umbrella body for Christian groups in Malaysia, was commenting on a seminar held at UiTM entitled 'The word 'Allah' and Christology in the Malay Archipelago'.

Anti-Christian material were distributed to the 1,000 students, including those from secondary schools, who attended.

The Muslim speakers presented their interpretations of the Bible and alleged that Christians were on a campaign to convert Muslims in the Malay archipelago.

Earlier, the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship (NECF)  expressed concern over the seminar that it said trampled on, rather than tackled, inter-faith issues.

NECF said this was aimed at confusing and prompting Muslim students at the seminar to be prejudiced against people of other faiths.

"One could perhaps ask how Muslims would feel, if followers of other faiths were to invite their experts to interpret how the Quran should be written.

"This seminar smacks of gross insensitivity and goes against the grain of Prime Minister Najib's 1Malaysia policy," NECF secretary-general Eugene Yapp said in a press statement today.

In similar vein, the Global Movement of Moderates (GMM) also slammed such extremism.

Although he did not point to the seminar, its CEO and former Umno MP Saifuddin Abdullah urged the government to take action.

"Stop anti-Chinese and anti-Christian sentiments before it turns to something worse.

"Authorities should investigate & act accordingly," Saifuddin wrote on his Twitter account.

Christianisation: Sabah bristles with anger

 | May 8, 2014
Conversion is a sore issue in Sabah which has seen its once majority native communities now marginalised as a result of a covert 1990s operation to keep Umno-BN in power.
remaja sabahKOTA KINABALU: Controversy shrouding a recent lecture in Universiti Technologi Mara (UiTM), which “bullied” Christians and warned Muslims about the threat of Christianisation, on the back of another incident in Sarawak involving a Majlis Amanah Rakyat’s (Mara) scholarship interview has got Sabah leaders bristling.
Conversion is a sore issue in Sabah which has seen its once majority native Christian communities – Kadazan Dusun Murut – nuetralised and marginalised by legalised illegal immigrants under the infamous 1990s Project IC to ensure Umno and Barisan Nasional’s (BN) stay in power.
Following reports of the incidence, Sabah BN partner, United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun MurutOrganisation (Upko), has demanded that Putrajaya act against bigots and extremists.
“Enough with the warnings. It is very difficult to explain the injustice to people,” said Upko Information Chief Albert Bingkasan.
“The policies of the government have always been good and beneficial for Malaysians as a whole.
“But for some reason, when it’s passed down to the lower levels, there tend to be many ‘little Napoleons’ who misuse and misinterpret the policies.
“Everybody (Muslims and Non-Muslims) should be equal under the constitution.
“Now when a non-Muslim commits an offence action is swift but the same cannot be said for Muslim offenders,” said Bingkasan.
He said Putrajaya should deal  a swift and harsh hand on all those who committed offenses against the federal constitution.
Bingkasan was responding to a Mara scholarship interview involving top scorer Nigel Unchart Jeremiah and the latest report of 12 Christian students from Sabah allegedly being pressured into converting following a forum in UITM which also warned Muslims about Christianisation.
In the case of Nigel, he was plied with questions on Islam by the interviewer despite him declaring that he was a Christian. Nigel had applied for a scholarship to do mechanical engineering.
Muslimisation in Sabah 
Earlier this week during a seminar held in UiTM, a speaker claimed that Christians were using fundamental knowledge in both religions to convert Muslims.
President of Pertubuhan Muafakat Sejahtera Masyarakat Malaysia (MUAFAKAT) Abdul Karim Omar had ‘warned’ the 1,000 strong crowd comprising secondary and university students of the Christianisation of Muslims in Malaysia.
Karim cited a thesis, “Religious identity and life of Malay Christians of Malaysia” by John Cheong. In his 2012 thesis, submitted to the Trinity International College of Illinois, Cheong revealed the existence of ‘cloaked Christians’.
These individuals are Malays who perform the obligations of a Muslim such as fasting and going to the mosque, but they are in fact believers of the Christian religion,” said Karim.
Just before Karim, another speaker, a former Catholic priest from Indonesia named H. Insan LS Mokoginta, had used basic messages in both religions to convince Christian students that every follower of Jesus should convert to Islam otherwise it would be a betrayal to him.
Meanwhile Bingkor assemblyman Jeffrey Kitingan has dismissed claims of ‘Christianisation’ of Muslims.
If reports are any gauge it’s more the other way round in Sabah.
“Christians do not blatantly go around converting people. There is still the constitution guaranteeing the freedom of religion, and the rights extend to the Muslims,” he said.
Last December, it was reported that abject poor  Christian natives in Pitas were converted for Rm100 each. The natives claimed they were not aware that they had been converted.
According to a pastor, the situation is widespread in rural Sabah, which is the poorest state in Malaysia according to a World Bank Report.
In January, the Protestant Church in Sabah (PCS) president Rev Jensey Mojuin reportedly said the church was concerned over “unofficial” reports of what was happening in the parishes of Kudat, Kota Marudu, Kanibongan, Paitan and Pitas.
He said there were also unconfirmed reports of forced, coerced or induced conversion in north and east coast of Sabah.

If Christians continue to grow, they will outnumber us by 2100, says Muslim group

MAY 06, 2014

(Muslims converted to Christians: 1983-1989 = 66,000; 2006 = 250,000)

The “threat” of Christianisation was brought up again today at a forum at a public university where a crowd of about 1,000 was told that Christians will outnumber Muslims in Malaysia by 2100.
‎Pertubuhan Muafakat Sejahtera Masyarakat Malaysia (Muafakat) president Abdul Karim Omar said this was based on the rapid increase of Christians in Malaysia.
He said this is what Malaysia will face if Christianisation is allowed to continue here.
‎"According to our research, the percentage of Christians increases by a huge amount every decade," he said at a seminar on the use of the word Allah and Christology at Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) today.
He said the latest statistics showed that the number of Christians in Malaysia ‎stands at less than 10% of the population, while Muslims are more than 60%.
"But if Christianisation continues, by 2100, ‎there will be an equal number of Christians and Muslims - 40%."
"And it will continue to increase, he said.
Karim used South Korea as an example, saying that in 1905 the number of Christians in the country were only 0.5% of the population.  But because of rapid Christianisation in the 1970s and 1980s, it increased to almost 30% in 2005, he said.
"This happened in South Korea‎ and could happen here," he added.
Karim earlier said his speech was meant to “expose the planned agenda and the ill-intention of Christian evangelists”.
‎He also told the 1,000 people gathered, including secondary school and university students, the number of Muslims who converted to Christianity in the early 1900s "could be counted with fingers".
“But in a Parliament white paper, the then PAS president Yusof Rawa revealed that 66,000 people had turned away from Islam.
“And in 2006, Perak Mufti Datuk Seri Hurusaini Zakaria said the number had increased to 250,000‎. I don't know how much it is now,” he said, adding that the situation painted a “scary picture”.
‎An Indonesian former Catholic priest also told the seminar that Christians were betraying God if they do not convert to Islam.
H. Insan LS Mokoginta, ‎said that every follower of Jesus should convert to Islam otherwise it would be a betrayal to Him.

Mokoginta, who converted to Islam in 1976, said this in his speech entitled "the Threat of Christianisation". – May 6, 2014.

Put a full-stop to all these Christian bashing — MCA Religious Harmony Bureau

May 8, 2014

MAY 8 — MCA Religious Harmony Bureau is totally shocked that the panellists at the seminar on the  ‘Allah’ word and Christology in the Malay Archipelago hosted at Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) on May 6, 2014 had turned the forum into a Christian-bashing session where doubts were casted on the contents of the New Testament of the Bible while distrust and suspicion were fomented against the Christian community. Such a move will only polarise our society further between Muslims and non-Muslims.
It is not up to the presenters to determine whether the religious beliefs and practices of another faith are right or wrong. They should keep such opinions to themselves rather than blurting it all out in a public arena, thereby instigating the audience against Christians. Even worse, the panellists are in no position to belittle the religion of others.
Considering that UiTM is a public university funded by tax-payers, such a presentation will not augur well for the goodwill intended from the 1Malaysia concept mooted by our Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
Universities are avenues and the gateway to acquire new knowledge and make academic advances. Unfortunately such Christian bashing discourses may cast a question mark on the quality of UiTM’s courses, authorities, lecturers, organisers and students.
We call on the university authorities to probe as to how it could allow such a seminar to be conducted and what form of concrete measures will be taken to repair any fallout from the seminar as well what types of national unity programmes will UiTM organise to foster goodwill and integration between UiTM students and students of other religions and creed.
Concerns that minority students and lecturers will be targeted
Considering that UiTM consists of students and as tertiary students are at an impressionable age, our Bureau is deeply concerned if the topics and contents presented will leave an indelible mark among the students who may overwhelmingly share a common faith against other students, lecturers and Malaysians who are not adherents of the same faith.
Moreover, as there is a small number of minority Christian Bumiputera students from Sabah and Sarawak as well as lecturers who are non-Muslim, we shudder at the scenario if they become victimised, belittled or ostracised for their faith by their peers who attended the seminar.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or organisation and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malay Mail Online.

Saturday, May 3, 2014


2014-05-02 16:32

  • “我們反對消費稅!”主辦單位稱有10萬民眾走上街頭反對消費稅,獨立廣場前出現一條流動的紅潮,浩浩蕩蕩的填滿附近一帶道路,甚為壯觀。(圖:星洲日報)
集會是在和平情況下結束,不過卻在結束後發生小插曲。一群自稱為“反法西斯陣線”(Antifa)的年輕人,身穿“大馬青年團結陣線”(SAMM)黑衣並蒙面,或戴上V怪客面具,從拉惹路糾黨結眾走進獨立廣場,釋放橙色等煙霧彈,一路高喊“富者越富,窮者越窮”口號(Yang kaya makin kaya,yang miskin makin miskin),並在地面上噴漆“我們拒絕貪污”,間中還有人爆粗,氣氛一度緊張。

One Missing Jet, One Sunken Ferry, Two Responses

There are no ideologues in a financial crisis, former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke once said. Clearly the same doesn’t hold true for political crises, as a comparison of Malaysia and South Korea very quickly reveals.
Tragedy has struck both nations in recent weeks, their travails played out in horrifying detail on the world’s television screens. Fairly or unfairly, the hunt for a missing Malaysian airliner and the desperate attempt to rescue and now recover victims from the sunken Sewol ferry are being viewed as tests of the governments in Putrajaya and Seoul, if not of Malaysian and South Korean societies. The grades so far? I’d give Korea an A-, Malaysia a D.
In the two weeks since the Sewol tipped over and sank -- almost certainly killing 302 passengers, most of them high school students -- Korea has been gripped by a paroxysm of self-questioning, shame and official penitence. President Park Geun Hye issued a dramatic and heartfelt apology. Her No. 2, Prime Minister Chung Hong Won, resigned outright. Prosecutors hauled in the ship’s entire crew and raided the offices of its owners and shipping regulators. Citizens and the media are demanding speedy convictions and long-term reforms.
And Malaysia, 55 days after Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 vanished? Nothing. No officials have quit. Prime Minister Najib Razak seems more defiant than contrite. The docile local news media has focused more on international criticism of Malaysia's leaders rather than on any missteps by those leaders themselves.
Both countries are democracies -- Malaysia’s even older than South Korea’s. The key difference, though, is the relative openness of their political systems. One party has dominated Malaysia since independence, while Korea, for all its growing pains and occasional tumultuousness, has seen several peaceful transfers of power over the past quarter-century. Unused to having to answer critics, Malaysia’s government has responded defensively. Korean officials, on the other hand, are reflecting, addressing the anger of citizens, and delving into what went wrong with the shipping industry’s regulatory checks and balances.
That’s why Korea is likely to come out of this crisis stronger than ever, unlike Malaysia. The two nations responded similarly after the 1997 Asian financial crisis, too. Malaysia’s then-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad sought to prove Bernanke’s axiom wrong, bizarrely blaming some shadowy Jewish cabal headed by George Soros for the ringgit's plunge. Malaysia didn't internalize what had gone wrong or look in the mirror. It didn't admit it had been using capital inflows unproductively and that coddling state champions -- including Malaysia Airlines -- was killing competitiveness. Never did the ruling United Malays National Organization consider it might be part of the problem.
Contrast that with Korea's response to 1997. The government forced weak companies and banks to fail, accepting tens of thousands of job losses. Authorities clamped down on reckless investing and lending and addressed moral hazard head-on. Koreans felt such shame that millions lined up to donate gold, jewelry, art and other heirlooms to the national treasury.
South Korea's response wasn't perfect. I worry, for example, that the family-run conglomerates, or chaebol, that helped precipitate the crisis are still too dominant a decade and a half later. But the country’s economic performance since then speaks for itself.
Now as then, Korea’s open and accountable system is forcing its leaders to look beyond an immediate crisis. Ordinary Koreans are calling for a national catharsis that will reshape their society and its attitude toward safety. Park’s government has no choice but to respond.
Malaysia’s government, on the other hand, appears to be lost in its own propaganda. To the outside world, acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein performed dismally as a government spokesman: He was combative, defensive and so opaque that even China complained. Yet Hishammuddin is now seen as prime-minister material for standing up to pesky foreign journalists and their rude questions. The government seems intent on ensuring that nothing changes as a result of this tragedy.
As hard as it seems now, South Korea will move past this tragedy, rejuvenated. Malaysia? I'm not so sure.
To contact the writer of this article: 
William Pesek at
To contact the editor responsible for this article: 
Nisid Hajari at