Archive for the ‘Ethics, Morality and Patriotism’ Category

Fed up with Umno’s endless politicking

Tuesday, January 5th, 2021
Since the past few days, they have been making noises, demanding that a snap general election be held amidst these calamities.  - NSTP file picSince the past few days, they have been making noises, demanding that a snap general election be held amidst these calamities. – NSTP file pic

LETTERS: The suffering of thousands of flood evacuees in many water-inundated areas and the high number of Covid-19 patients reported daily do not seem to have any moral or health bearings on Umno leaders.

Since the past few days, they have been making noises, demanding that a snap general election be held amidst these calamities.

It seems that they are throwing humanitarian advocacy and civilian protection into the bin for the sake of their political gimmicks and agenda.

All these started with Umno’s Tajuddin Abdul Rahman recently calling on Pas against working with Parti Bersatu Pribumi Malaysia, helmed by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

Tajuddin, seen as a staunch ally of former prime minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, had suggested that Pas violated the Muafakat Nasional charter by becoming a component party of the Perikatan Nasional government.

He also issued a warning to Pas leaders, reminding them about the importance of fulfilling a promise.

Tajuddin’s claim of Pas joining PN alongside Bersatu without Umno’s agreement, however, was rebutted by Pas who said it was the party’s right to work with whichever party it is comfortable with.

Tajuddin, Najib and Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi are among Umno leaders who have been vocal in criticising Muhyiddin, accusing him of sidelining Umno for key government posts.

A few days ago, Tajuddin, who is Umno election director, upped his ante, saying Umno would work with Pas, and not Bersatu, in the general election.

He also did not dismiss the possibility of Umno working with DAP, PKR and Amanah, saying cooperation with anyone is not impossible in politics.

And other Umno leaders have since joined the bandwagon — and their noises are getting louder that the general election be held.

And today, Barisan Nasional, of which Zahid is chairman, sacked BN secretary-general Tan Sri Annuar Musa as, they claimed, “his views are not in sync with the BN’s lynchpin party”.

Annuar is said to have failed to toe party lines and sided with the Bersatu-led PN government instead of the party.

Annuar, who is federal territories minister, has been constantly defending PN over several issues — all these must have incurred the wrath of Umno leaders, including Zahid and Najib.

From one Umno leader to another, they keep making political demands at the expense of the thousands of rakyat who are now suffering due to the pandemic and floods. Seemingly, their political greed has intensified and the rakyat no longer matter.

Why are these leaders in such a hurry to have the general election now? Has this got anything to do with their court cases?

It was reported that concerns were running high that several Umno leaders who are undergoing graft trials would be set free.

Take Zahid, who is facing a total of 87 charges in two separate trials for alleged criminal breach of trust, money laundering and bribery, and Najib, who is facing charges of corruption and abuse of power over transactions involving billions of ringgit linked to 1Malaysia Development Bhd and SRC International Sdn Bhd.

Najib and his son, Nizar, are appealing over tax payments totaling RM1.7 billion due to the Inland Revenue Board.

Politicians, please take note. This is just not the right time for Malaysia to hold a general election.

The pandemic has claimed hundreds of lives since it erupted early this year while heavy flooding has ruined the lives of many thousands of Malaysians in Pahang and Johor.

Do we want to see fatalities in the thousands, only then we can start to think rationally again, for peace and harmony?

The prime minister has given his assurance that Malaysia would hold a general election when the pandemic is over.

Muhyiddin was quoted as saying recently that “if you asked me, even yesterday I might have advised the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to dissolve Parliament for the general election to be held. But we all know the problem is Covid-19″.

He also said the PN government would return the mandate to the people and leave it to them to choose which

government they want.

So, why can’t Umno leaders and members be patient for a little while longer? We are facing a new wave of Covid-19, with cumulative cases rising more than four-fold of late. And don’t forget about the floods, too!

As chaotic and restless as those families affected by the pandemic and flooding are, do we want our nation and people to be as chaotic and disintegrated when the general election is called?

People are fed up with unending politicking and they want political leaders to help them, not constantly fighting for power.

by Kamariah Mohd Zin.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters/2021/01/654718/fed-umnos-endless-politicking

Ungku Aziz: A man ahead of his time

Monday, January 4th, 2021
Royal Professor Ungku Aziz. -Royal Professor Ungku Aziz. -

MUCH has already been celebrated about the impact, contributions and legacy of Allahyarham Royal Professor Ungku Aziz in honour of the memory of one of Malaysia’s greatest sons.

However, this writer feels there is more to be said especially in relation to what could have truly made him such a visionary and a rarefied personality in Malaysia’s modern history, such that we would be able to build on his legacy in a more comprehensive manner.

Although Ungku Aziz’s academic inquiry can be classified to some extent in the “development economics” category, much of his concerns, writings and ideas appears to go beyond the discipline of modern economics and reflects a broader conception of development that regards religion, ethics, culture, history, and language as important considerations for development.

If we scrutinise Ungku Aziz’s early life, readings and milieu, the facts reveal that Ungku Aziz’s vision of development and thinking in general must have been shaped by the various personal and intellectual exposures throughout his life – starting with the basic religious awareness imparted by his father, who, according to an account documented by Asmah Hj Omar, advised his son to hold on to his prayers and perform the requirements of Islam.

In a later interview, he regarded Al-Ghazali (d. 1111), Jalaluddin Rumi (d. 1273), and Ibn Khaldun (d. 1406) as his sources of inspiration, which shaped his understanding on social philosophy, and the meaning of life, all indicated his basic commitment to the philosophical outlook and value-system of Islam. According to a former colleague of Ungku Aziz at University of Malaya, he would consult his cousin, Syed Muhammad Naquib Al-Attas, on matters of religion as he regarded him as more conversant on the subject.

This is fortified further with various literatures and heritage of mankind, which he personally admired, such as the Samurai tradition’s code of conduct, Confucius’ philosophy, Anton Chekhov and Dostoevsky.

Herein lies the key point which we should pay more attention to about Ungku Aziz’s legacy: as noted by his daughter, Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz more recently, he had always encouraged students to recognise different disciplines or the interconnectivity of disciplines of knowledge.

In other words, Ungku Aziz espoused a more universal outlook and integrative approach towards life and scholarship, which was most likely informed by the great literatures and philosophies he was acquainted with. Indeed, the literatures made him more humane, more selfless, and more thoughtful about his specialised field – economics.

In fact, according to the late H.W. Arndt from Australia, Ungku Aziz was “one of those distinguished economists who has never been entirely happy with economics as a discipline.”

Therefore, one can deduce that Ungku Aziz did not necessarily see the problems of the world through the lens of his specialisation but likely in a more interconnected way which regarded the following into the equation: the quality of the thoughts, the ethics and morality, the languages, the art, and the historical consciousness – the domains of what we today associate as the “humanities”.

Indeed, such a standpoint of Ungku Aziz is more emphasised in his article on “The Role of the University in Asia in the 21st Century” (1990), in which he had said:

“The traditional barriers between subjects are being reinforced by increasing scholarly specialisation for administrators in higher learning. In reality, the problems of the modern world have not conveniently fitted themselves into the pigeonholes of university departments. Many problems involving complexity need to be studied from a cross-disciplinary approach.”

It was perhaps for this reason also that Ungku Aziz was espousing that Malaysia must not neglect the proper appreciation of the great literatures and discourses of mankind of the past in the context of progressing as a country.

He once said, “The study of literature and mankind’s heritage should not be forgotten even though Malaysia is gearing towards becoming a scientific and progressive society in the next century… man could not live by science alone as he needed cultural nourishment for his mind… We have examples of advanced nations where scientific advancement is balanced by an education system that encourages learners to appreciate the great works of the past and present and to be familiar with at least a portion of the creative works and discourses of mankind through time and across the globe.” (New Straits Times, Dec 7, 1991).

Furthermore, having been exposed to great literary works of the world, Ungku Aziz recognised the importance for the Malays to be connected to their own literary and intellectual heritage even in the context of progress and development. In a newspaper report in 1985, Ungku Aziz publicly urged the learned community in Malaysia to study “the thinking of the Malay people of the past so that the findings can be used to contribute to the progress of this nation.”

This shows that contrary to mainstream or Western doctrines and conceptions on development that restricts development merely as economic growth, Ungku Aziz pursued a broader meaning of it – he was not an uncritical imitator of the West. It is thus for the next generation of researchers to further scrutinise the concepts he employed, the solutions he proposed, and his development vision as a whole.

By Muhammad Syafiq Borhannuddin.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2021/01/654388/ungku-aziz-man-ahead-his-time

Service-oriented focus needed for Msia’s civil service, says economist

Sunday, January 3rd, 2021
Bank Islam chief economist Dr Mohd Afzanizam Abdul Rashid. - NSTP file picBank Islam chief economist Dr Mohd Afzanizam Abdul Rashid. – NSTP file pic

KUALA LUMPUR: Instead of repeatedly disputing the size of the civil service, emphasis should be given on ways to improve the public sector’s productivity and help to stimulate the growth of the nation.

Bank Islam chief economist Dr Mohd Afzanizam Abdul Rashid said among the improvements that should be looked into by the government include rebranding the civil service.

He said this ‘rebranding’ should perhaps stress upon future employment aspects in the public sector as well as on providing the best services to society.

“The critical issue is always about productivity and how government employees can help and facilitate growth in private sector’s economy.

“This requires those in the civil service to have the right mindset so that their job satisfaction can be derived from giving service to society.

“At the moment, the main selling points of working in government (public sector) is stable employment, good salaries and pension.

“Perhaps, the government may need to rebrand this so that the future employment would focus more on serving society rather than purely monetary sense,” he said.

Afzanizam was saying this while commenting on a New Straits Times’s Opinion piece published on Saturday, which was written by Datuk Dr Fauziah Mohd Taib and titled “Is It Time To Trim The Civil Service?”

Fauziah in her column pointed out that the Covid-19 pandemic had forced ministries and agencies to embrace the new normal and that more work can be done online.

She said although growth in civil service had provided more jobs, it also resulted in the government having a bigger obligation to service pension.

“I think we need to identify the real issue other than pointing out the size of the workforce.

“Having that said, the government needs to inculcate a multitasking culture among the civil servant. That way it should improve the productivity of government employees.

“What the government needs to do is to review their human resources requirement and identify existing gaps especially when there are various and multiple ministries and agencies which led to overlapping in functions,” he said.

Yesterday, in his response to the opinion piece by Fauziah, Congress of Unions of Employees in the Public and Civil Services (Cuepacs) president Adnan Mat commented on the same Opinion piece in the NST.

Adnan had said the current size of the country’s civil service with 1.6 million people was still ideal.

This was because Malaysia’s definition of what constitutes as civil servants was slightly different as compared to many other countries. Malaysia’s definition of civil servants included personnel from the public health and education sectors as well as those attached to security and enforcement agencies.

Adnan described Fauziah’s view that the civil service could still operate at 30 per cent capacity as inaccurate and that it could mislead the public.

By Adib Povera.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2021/01/654139/service-oriented-focus-needed-msias-civil-service-says-economist

We’re angry that the meat cartel has been operating for 40 years with impunity

Sunday, January 3rd, 2021
NSTP/MUHD ASYRAF SAWAL ( For illustration purposes only)NSTP/MUHD ASYRAF SAWAL ( For illustration purposes only)

WHAT if you pay top dollar for a branded smartphone nicely packed in a little black box, but find out later it is in fact a knockoff?

If you are not angered, you are one in a million.

I, on the other hand, would be livid. I would do everything possible to make sure the offending party is scalded by my wrath.

That’s the reason why I empathise with my Muslim friends who are upset about the alleged importation of non-certified meat, which is falsely labelled as halal for the domestic market.

In fact, I more than empathise with them. I am indignant too.

I mean, I myself have purchased imported meat at various times. I believed it to be beef or mutton. What if this was not true? Did I consume meat from some other animal? Diseased meat?

Even if the scandal involves only a tiny percentage of imported meat, it would be bad enough. It is unacceptable.

That’s why investigations by the authorities must take on greater urgency. And show greater transparency.

For instance, it’s been close to a month since the huge seizure of uncertified frozen meat from a warehouse in Senai. Was the meat analysed? Is it possible to say if kangaroo or horse meat was in the mix? Can we know now?

That aside, we should be awfully worried about the impact of this meat affair on trust in institutions. Don’t we often observe people the world over having doubts about the bodies that govern their life? Can we blame them when they perceive that trust has become a mere commodity, one item in the transactions behind the scenes?

A hypothetical man in authority tells his people not to accept bribes. But he himself happily lets his pockets be filled. Enough of these stories have filled our ears to drown us in unbelief.

The less we trust, the more despotic and depraved the institutions that govern us seem to be. The easier fake/crazy news overpowers us. Can society withstand this assault without changing into a population of crazies?

So, please, pick apart that little black box and smartphone quickly. Find the rascals, if they are not merely a dream, and tell everyone how it all happened.

Weed out graft, inefficiency in 2021

Saturday, January 2nd, 2021
The private sector may have to help tackle weaknesses in the meat supply chain. FILE PIC (For illustration purposes only)The private sector may have to help tackle weaknesses in the meat supply chain. FILE PIC (For illustration purposes only)

LETTERS: The expose by the New Straits Times of a cartel involved in faking halal certification of frozen meat products, that also came from diseased cattle, has shaken our nation.

Then we read about Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, who fell off his bicycle after it hit a pothole, on Sunday.

And we are supposed to have achieved developed nation status by now, as envisaged by Vision 2020, but the timetable has been postponed to 2030, under the Shared Prosperity Vision.

Let’s ensure that these “mistakes” don’t happen again.

We should recruit frontliners in ministries to make observations for action to taken.

Use this to address youth and graduate unemployment and underemployment.

In view of the many potholes in the country, the Works Ministry, particularly the Public Works Department, should be beefed up to check on streets, roads and highways, bridges and report back its observations and findings.

In Singapore, National Environment Agency officers go undercover to enforce laws on littering and prohibition of smoking.

As for the meat cartel scandal, one way to tackle weaknesses in the supply chain management system is to have the private sector roped in to act as a check and balance to enforcement agencies.

Audit firms should be enlisted to promote integrity in government agencies and processes.

Instead of spending taxpayers’ money on consultants for wasteful branding campaigns and projects, the focus should be on audit trails, forensic and systems analyses that will improve procedures.

Also, there should be greater collaboration with information technology and cybersecurity firms.

As highlighted in another EMIR Research article, blockchain technology is critical to promote efficient monitoring of the supply chain.

Hopefully, the government will come down hard on errant officials and send out the message that corruption and inefficiency will not be tolerated.

Let 2021 be a new beginning for our administrative system and institutions.

by Jason Loh.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters/2021/01/653807/weed-out-graft-inefficiency-2021

2020: Malaysia’s major court cases

Wednesday, December 30th, 2020
NSTP picNSTP pic

JANUARY

Jan 2: Kinabatangan member of parliament Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin and wife Datin Seri Zizie Izette’s corruption trial starts at the Sessions Court. Bung is charged with three counts of receiving RM2.8 million in bribes to obtain approval for Felcra Bhd to make a RM150 million investment in Public Mutual Bhd. His wife, actress and producer Zizie pleads not guilty to abetting him.

Jan 7: Kuala Lumpur City Hall civil engineering and urban transportation senior deputy director Sabudin Mohd Salleh, 58, is charged with accepting more than RM1 million in 2018. He faces six counts of receiving RM1.08 million to grant maintenance projects under his purview.

Jan 13: Knowledge Management Foundation director Datuk Abdul Rahman Mohamed Shariff is charged with misappropriating funds amounting to more than RM28,000 to purchase cigars for himself and a stove for his wife in 2018. Rahman, who is also Education Malaysia Global Services chairman, is also accused of criminal breach of trust when he purchased a Rational Combi Oven and Ultravent Plus Exhaust Hood worth more than RM25,000 using the foundation’s monies for his wife’s company, Coffee Sandwich Revival Sdn Bhd, on Dec 13, 2018.

Jan 15: Singer Zarith Sofia Mohd Yasin, who allegedly kept a sun bear cub that she allegedly thought was a dog, in her condominium last year is fined RM27,000 by the Sessions Court. She pleads not guilty to keeping and confining the endangered species at her home in Desa Pandan.

Jan 21: Two Umno leaders are charged at the Sessions Court with money laundering after failing to declare to the Inland Revenue Board monies purportedly received from the party’s former president, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, in 2013. Former deputy finance minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan and former Felda chairman Tan Sri Shahrir Abdul Samad plead not guilty.

Tan Sri Shahrir Abdul SamadTan Sri Shahrir Abdul Samad

Jan 28: An underaged accused in the murder of 23 occupants of Pusat Tahfiz Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah three years ago is ordered to enter his defence. Another accused however, who is also jointly charged with the offence, is freed. The two boys, who were 16 when they allegedly committed the crime, are jointly charged with the murder and causing the death of 23 individuals at the tahfiz centre. In the incident at 5.15am on Sept 14, 21 students and two teachers died.

FEBRUARY

Feb 5: Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor’s corruption trial involving a RM1.25 billion project to instal solar energy system in 369 schools in Sarawak starts before High Court judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan. Rosmah, 69, is facing three counts of soliciting RM187.5 million and receiving a bribe of RM6.5 million from Jepak Holdings Sdn Bhd managing director Saidi Abang Samsudin, through her former aide, Datuk Rizal Mansor, for projects to provide solar energy to the schools.

MAY

May 5: Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s daughter and son-in-law are fined RM800 each for breaching the Movement Control Order (MCO). Datuk Nurul Hidayah Ahmad Zahid and her husband, Datuk Saiful Nizam Mohd Yusoff, plead guilty.

JUNE

June 18: A couple charged with siphoning more than RM600,000 from Yayasan Nurul Yakeen, belonging to Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin. Mimi Khairani Baharudin, 35, a former executive of YNY, and her husband Mohd Shaufik Ariffin, 37, claim trial to money laundering offences when they are jointly charged at the Sessions Court.

JULY

July 6: Najib’s son, Datuk Mohd Nazifuddin, was ordered by the High Court to pay RM37,644,810.73 in unpaid taxes for the years 2011 to 2017 to the Inland Revenue Board after a summary judgment was entered in the board’s tax arrears suit against him. He is appealing against the decision.

July 10: The six murderers of deputy public prosecutor Datuk Anthony Kevin Morais are sentenced to hang after the High Court found them guilty of the murder. Army pathologist Colonel Dr R. Kunaseegaran, 55, R. Dinishwaran, 26, A.K. Thinesh Kumar, 25, M. Vishwanath, 28, S. Nimalan 25, and S. Ravi Chandaran, 47, are convicted of killing Morais on Sept 4 five years ago.

July 28: Najib is sentenced to 12 years’ jail and fined RM210 million by the High Court after he was found guilty of seven charges related to the misappropriation of RM42 million of SRC International Sdn Bhd funds. For the three criminal breach of trust and three money laundering offences, he is sentenced to 10 years’ jail for each count, while for the abuse of position case, he is sentenced to 12 years’ jail and fined RM210 million. The sentences are ordered to run concurrently.

AUGUST

Aug 7: Former finance minister and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng is charged at the KL Sessions Court with soliciting a bribe from a company which was awarded the contract to undertake the controversial RM6.3 billion Penang undersea tunnel project. He pleads not guilty.

Aug 10: Guan Eng is charged at the Butterworth Sessions Court in Penang with abusing his power to obtain a bribe of RM3. 3 million in connection with the Penang undersea tunnel project. He pleads not guilty.

Aug 11: Guan Eng, his wife Betty Chew and her business associate Phang Li Koon are charged at the Butterworth Sessions Court in Penang with abuse of power, money laundering and abetment in relation to the award of a RM11.6 million project for foreign workers’ dorms to a company linked to Phang. They plead not guilty to the charges.

Aug 17: A 19-year old teenager was ordered by the KL High Court to be detained at the pleasure of the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong after he is found guilty of the murder of 23 people in a fire at Darul Ittifaqiyah Tahfiz three years ago.

Aug 19: Mohd Saifullah Mohd Minggu @ Mohd Hisham, an ex-private secretary to a former tourism and culture minister, is charged at the KL Sessions Court with 18 counts of soliciting and receiving bribes totalling RM3.1 million to help a company win the Tourism Malaysia creative, branding and advertising space tenders. His fiancee, Nurfadziana Abdul Kadir, also faces a charge of abetting him and accepting RM232,000. They plead not guilty.

Aug 24: The start of the inquest proceedings into the death of Irish-French teenager Nora Anne Quoirin at the Coroner’s Court in the Seremban Court Complex, Negri Sembilan.

Lim Guan Eng

Lim Guan Eng

SEPTEMBER

Sept 11: Guan Eng is charged at the Butterworth Sessions Court with two counts of misappropriation of property by disposing two plots of land worth RM208 million belonging to the Penang government to two companies linked to the controversial Penang Undersea Tunnel project.

Sept 15: Four company directors and a workshop manager are charged at the Selayang Sessions Court with two counts in relation to the Sungai Gong pollution that led to water cuts affecting millions in the Klang Valley. They plead not guilty.

Sept 17: An ex-minister’s former private secretary, Mohd Saifullah Mohd Minggu @ Mohd Hisham, is charged at the Shah Alam Sessions Court with six additional counts of soliciting and accepting gratification totalling RM106,500 to help a company secure an advertising tender under the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry. He pleads not guilty.

Sept 23: The tax suit filed by the Inland Revenue Board against former Federal Territories minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor for the recovery of RM57.17 million in tax arrears is settled amicably with a consent judgment recorded by the High Court. However, the terms of the settlement are not disclosed.

Sept 24: Rozita Mohamad Ali, a 46-year-old housewife, who made headlines for abusing her Indonesian maid in 2016, is put behind bars after the Court of Appeal dismisses her bid to set aside her eight-year jail sentence for committing the offence. She is initially charged with attempted murder at the Petaling Jaya Sessions Court but it is later reduced to voluntarily causing grievous hurt to which she pleads guilty. She is let off with a good behaviour bond of five years with a surety of RM20,000, which results in a public outcry.

OCTOBER

Oct 6: The start of the trial of former Malaysian External Intelligence Organisation chief Datuk Hasanah Abdul Hamid, who is charged with criminal breach of trust of public funds amounting to RM50.4 million. The High Court allows the prosecution’s application to hold in-camera proceedings for 11 of 37 witnesses in the interest of national security.

Oct 13: Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali filed a RM2.2 million suit against Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and the government, seeking a declaration that his termination as attorney-general two years ago by the former prime minister was unlawful.

Oct 15: Mohd Azhar Che Mat Dali, the former political secretary to former defence minister Mohamad Sabu, is charged at the KL Sessions Court with five counts of soliciting and receiving a total of RM6.3 million in bribes for a defence ministry project. He claimed trial to the charges. The offences under Section 16(a)(B) that Azhar was charged with are punishable under Section 24 of the MACC Act, which carries a maximum jail term of 20 years, and a fine of not less than five times the value of the bribe or RM10,000, whichever is higher.

NOVEMBER

Nov 9: Four directors of a palm oil processing company were charged at the Selayang Sessions Court with releasing waste from the premises of their company, United Fineoleo Sdn Bhd, into a drain, which leads into Sungai Kundang, without licence.

DECEMBER

Dec 21: High Court sentences former minister Tengku Adnan to 12 months’ jail and a RM2 million fine in his corruption case.

By New Strats Times.

2020: When many leaders sat in the dock

Wednesday, December 30th, 2020
NSTP file picNSTP file pic

KUALA LUMPUR: One of the most memorable quotes in the course of a series of high-profile trials not too long ago perhaps summed up best what happened in our halls of justice this year.

An ordinary member of the public was overheard making a sarcastic comment as simultaneous hearings — mainly involving corruption, money laundering, abuse of power, income tax evasion and a host of other crimes — were ongoing at the Jalan Duta court complex here.

In the docks of the different High Courts sat prominent names who many sceptical Malaysians least expected to be hauled in to answer for their alleged wrongdoings.

There was former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor.

It was the first time in Malaysian history that a top leader of the country and his wife had been dragged to court.

Then there were also the former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Kinabatangan member of parliament Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin and his wife Datin Seri Zizie Izette, along with a whole lot of other Umno leaders, all forced to sit in the unfamiliar surroundings of a dock as they agitatedly listened to witnesses laying hard evidence against them.

Malaysians were also kept hooked as the accused’s highly paid, top-notch lawyers tried every trick in the book to get their clients off the hook.

As expected, a large number of the politicians’ supporters initially thronged the courtrooms to follow the trials.

It was then that the unidentified man, obviously amused by the unexpected haul of Umno leaders being charged and their supporters coming in and out of the court complex, quipped that the party should consider temporarily shifting its headquarters to Jalan Duta.

So far, the biggest decisions have involved Najib and also former federal territories minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor.

Najib was sentenced to 12 years’ jail and fined RM210 million after he was found guilty of all seven charges related to the misappropriation of RM42 million from SRC International Bhd — the former subsidiary of 1Malaysia Development Bhd.

The Pekan member of parliament had since appealed against the conviction and sentence, with the matter scheduled to be heard in February next year.

Another high-profile Umno leader jailed and fined was Tengku Adnan, who was sentenced to 12 months behind bars and ordered to pay RM2 million after being found guilty of accepting the same amount from a tycoon property developer.

However, it was not just Umno leaders who were forced to make the daily walk up and down the Jalan Duta court complex this year.

Another top politician, whose mantra preached about competency, accountability and transparency, also found himself in the dock after he was charged with, of all things, corruptly receiving kickbacks for himself over the proposed Penang tunnel project.

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, who is also a former finance minister and former Penang chief minister, pleaded not guilty to a number of charges, with his trial set to begin next year.

With a number of trials ongoing and some major decisions involving the personalities expected soon, the coming year is set to be an equally exciting one as far as the Malaysian justice system is concerned.

By SHARANJIT SINGH and KHAIRAH N. KARIM.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2020/12/653112/2020-when-many-leaders-sat-dock

50 journalists killed in 2020, says watchdog

Tuesday, December 29th, 2020
(Photo for illustration purposes) Eighty-four percent of those killed this year were "deliberately targeted" for their work, RSF said in its annual report, compared to 63 percent in 2019. - (Photo by Philip FONG / AFP).
Photo for illustration purposes) Eighty-four percent of those killed this year were “deliberately targeted” for their work, RSF said in its annual report, compared to 63 percent in 2019. – (Photo by Philip FONG / AFP).
PARIS: Fifty journalists and media workers were killed in connection with their work in 2020, the majority in countries that are not at war, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said Tuesday.

The figure shows an increase in the targeting of reporters investigating organised crime, corruption or environmental issues, the watchdog said.

It highlighted murders in Mexico, India and Pakistan.

Eighty-four percent of those killed this year were “deliberately targeted” for their work, RSF said in its annual report, compared to 63 percent in 2019.

“For several years now, Reporters Without Borders has noted that investigative journalists are really in the crosshairs of states, or cartels,” said Pauline Ades-Mevel, RSF editor-in-chief.

Mexico was the deadliest country, with eight killed. “Links between drug traffickers and politicians remain, and journalists who dare to cover these or related issues continue to be the targets of barbaric murders,” said the report.

None of the Mexico killings had yet been punished, added RSF, which has compiled annual data on violence against journalists around the globe since 1995.

Five journalists were killed in war-torn Afghanistan, it said, noting an increase in targeted attacks on media workers in recent months even as peace talks between the government and Taliban are ongoing.

RSF also highlighted the case of Iranian opposition figure Ruhollah Zam, who ran a popular social media channel that rallied regime opponents, and who was executed in December.

His execution “confirms Iran’s record as a country that has officially put the most journalists to death in the past half-century,” it said.

Ades-Mevel said RSF had also noted the “developing” trend of violence against media workers covering protests, notably in the United States following the killing of George Floyd, and in France against a controversial new security law.

The total number of journalists killed in 2020 was lower than the 53 reported in 2019, although RSF said fewer journalists worked in the field this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the first part of the report, published this month, RSF said it was concerned that measures imposed by governments to fight the pandemic had contributed to a “significant peak in violations of press freedom”.

It listed 387 jailed journalists, which it called “a historically high number”.

Fourteen of those had been arrested in connection with their coverage of the coronavirus crisis, it said.

On Monday Chinese citizen journalist Zhang Zhan, who sent dispatches from Wuhan during the chaotic initial stages of the outbreak, was jailed for four years for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”.

Chinese authorities have punished eight virus whistleblowers so far as they curb criticism of the government’s response to the outbreak.

by AFP.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/world/world/2020/12/652952/50-journalists-killed-2020-says-watchdog

Savour the small gifts of life

Monday, December 28th, 2020
Enjoying little things, like visiting a zoo with family, is a great way to relieve stress during the pandemic. - NSTP/AIZUDDIN SAADEnjoying little things, like visiting a zoo with family, is a great way to relieve stress during the pandemic. – NSTP/AIZUDDIN SAAD

LETTER: American activist Marian Wright Edelman says: “We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.”

Living in a competitive world, it is difficult to make people understand that life is not a race. We may be setting goals and working on reaching targets, but instead of driving recklessly on the road of success to get to our destination faster than the rest, it may be a better idea if we could drive safely while enjoying the scenery along the journey.

Focusing too much on big things in life while forgetting to appreciate little things that could help make life meaningful is unhealthy. After all, smart living is about work-life balance. Instead of enduring a stressful process in achieving goals, we may choose a bittersweet one. It is true that there is no gain without pain, but we should relieve the pain by taking a break to help us stay energised.

In addition, enjoying little things in life could help with our mental health. Dealing with mentally and emotionally painful situations that lead to unhappiness and loneliness is no joke. If left untreated, victims may have inferiority complex. Worse, divorce, crime and suicide may be inevitable.

Psychologically, the concept of savouring is used to refer to benefits of positive experiences and emotions in people’s lives, for instance, enjoying daily activities that include taking a shower and eating breakfast.

Based on the book, The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky, studies have shown that depressed participants who practise savouring regularly eventually live happier lives as their level of depresion decreases.

It is in everyday life that people are rejected, fired, bullied, abused, betrayed and hated. In fact, everyone may be tested with challenges at some points in their lives — and I have a story to share.

A few weeks ago, I underwent a surgery for my ruptured appendix — something that happened out of the blue. After 10 days, I was devastated to be informed that infection was detected.

The infected area had to be cleaned regularly and perfectly before a minor operation could be performed for wound suturing. I was advised to get enough rest during my recovery process, so I distracted myself with things that could help me forget the pain I was suffering from.

To my surprise, it was something so simple that had turned the distressed feeling into a blessed one; I listened to rain sounds, flipped through photobooks, read new books (purchased long time ago), shared old stories with loved ones and reunited with concerned long-lost friends through social media.

These small gifts of life have helped me smile, chuckle and laugh as I strive to be healthy again. The year 2020 is a tale with a twist.

The plot may focus on something big and serious like the coronavirus and economy crisis, but it is our small yet smart efforts to stay calm that help us survive at the end of the story. Indeed, this is the year like no other.

by MUHAMAD SOLAHUDIN RAMLI.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters/2020/12/652570/savour-small-gifts-life

Crimes, criminals not exclusive to any group, community

Thursday, December 24th, 2020
Crimes and criminals are everywhere and are not the domain of  one group or community. - NSTP/File pic/for illustration purposes only.Crimes and criminals are everywhere and are not the domain of one group or community. – NSTP/File pic/for illustration purposes only.

Recently, I received a commentary by an anonymous writer expressing disappointment over what the Malay-Muslims have become, purportedly bringing “the country to its knees”.

The reference seems to be directed to those who have been caught red-handed in crimes bringing untold shame to the community. However, it is not always as clear-cut as presented, not without prejudices. Refer to the universal rule of thumb: one is considered innocent until proven guilty.

One needs to exercise caution so as not to throw the baby out with the bath water. Or as Malay wisdom has it: Jangan kerana marahkan nyamuk, kelambu dibakar! Yes, the Malays can be wise, too. The Malay heritage holds troves of wisdom if only we care to reach out.

There are also many wise Malay-Muslims amid the metaphorical irritating mosquitoes. In fact, we just mourned the passing of two who had shown immense wisdom.

One was a scholastic giant and public intellectual. Another was the nation’s mother figure married to the best prime minister the country has seen. Both need no introduction because of their status as role models and inspirations.

Indeed, they were leaders of the community for the more discerning. Among the Malay-Muslims, there is no lack of intellectuals and academics who have made the country proud. The independence of this beloved country was made possible some 60 years ago by such personalities.

They were the unsung heroes who hardly made the headlines unlike the nuisance of today.

Working closely were the security forces who were almost all Malay-Muslims. They put their life on the line to protect every citizen and the sovereignty of the land, which used to be known as Persekutuan Tanah Melayu.

Again, there was practically no headline recognising who was who. Regardless, to the Malay-Muslim community, each unsung hero is regarded with immense pride until today.

Admittedly, from among them were tali-barut (read: traitors), some of whom were infamously named just like today; but their numbers do not represent nor colour the community in any way.

Thus, to generalise and admonish the majority because they prefer to keep silent is simply cruel. On the contrary, the majority have contributed, befitting another Malay adage about staying humble: diam-diam ubi berisi. And not to emulate rasmi ayam, bertelur sebiji riuh sekampung.

More numerous are the mother figures who have been nurturing the nation collectively. Again, as housewives and mothers — since the struggle for Merdeka and beyond, they worked extremely hard to protect and support the family.

Those from the rural areas and disadvantaged communities are too familiar with all these to recount them. Our mothers woke up early in the morning to prepare for the day and were the last to retire after all had settled down. This cycle goes on daily without a whine.

No wonder Muslims are always reminded that paradise lies under the feet of mothers. They taught us the decorum of living, and how to transact life with utmost dignity.

Some may fall short, but most prefer a life of moderation and humility. This is the ultimate testimony to how successful the community can be. No need to whine if a few fall through the cracks. Every community has similar stories to tell although some are more restrained than others.

Be that as it may, it does not involve only one ethnicity or religion. Most revealing is the case of 1MDB, as the “commentary” tends to focus on. Recall the ultra-illusive Jho Low, or the Goldman Sachs actors and other international personalities — including Hollywood celebrities — allegedly tainted. Similarly, for that matter, the more recent case of the Macau scams.

In short, crimes and criminals are everywhere and are not the domain of one group or community. Not even the Mafia or Yakuza — West or East. Bad apples are a fact of life, so too are good ones which are more plentiful, but somehow ignored.

What is obviously missed is that successful people prefer to focus on the positive aspects without degrading themselves.

Tepuk dada tanya selera — as the saying goes. Do not lay the blame on the whole community for one’s failure in lacking the wisdom therein.

By Dzulkifli Abdul Razak.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2020/12/651828/crimes-criminals-not-exclusive-any-group-community