Archive for the ‘Ethics, Morality and Patriotism’ Category

Golden chance to unite Malay parties

Tuesday, October 15th, 2019
It is possible for Malay-based parties to unite under a single umbrella, provided several conditions, including putting aside egos and severing ties with common rivals, are met. – NSTP/SADAM YUSOFF

KUALA LUMPUR: IT is possible for Malay-based parties to unite under a single umbrella, provided several conditions, including putting aside egos and severing ties with common rivals, are met.

While the end goal would be to unite Malaysians under the Bangsa Malaysia concept, the first step would have to be uniting the majority race.

Pas deputy president Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said the Islamist party had not changed its stance on welcoming talks by anyone, including non-Malay parties.

This, he said, was as long as all quarters accepted the party’s conditions.

“One of our conditions is that the party cannot be a puppet of DAP or even be close to them.

“No chauvinists are welcome or anyone who wants to change the country’s structure.

“Of course, the real achievement would be to have a united Bangsa Malaysia, but it has to start somewhere and that would be uniting the backbone of this country, which is the majority race, the Malays.

Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man

“We can accept anyone as long as the agenda of the ummah and Islam is placed at the highest level.”

Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia Supreme Council member Datuk Seri Redzuan Yusof said Malay unity was vital for the country to achieve stability.

Redzuan, who is entrepreneur development minister, said there had been discussions among Malay leaders of different parties.

This was especially so in light of the growing racial sentiments played out on social media.

He said working towards the Bangsa Malaysia concept was now timely.

“To do that, we have to return to our Constitution and Rukun Negara, which is aimed at creating harmony and unity among the races.

“To unite Bangsa Malaysia, Malays must unite first. After that, the question would be who would lead this Bangsa Malaysia.

“Is it the Chinese, the Indians, Malays or the Orang Asli?

“To me, Malays, as the majority race must lead Bangsa Malaysia.

“I proposed this idea to Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein recently, and he agreed to it,” he told the New Straits Times.

Hishammuddin, who is former defence minister, had yesterday on his social media accounts, penned his thoughts on the importance of unification, which must first be championed by political leaders.

He also stressed the need for leaders to be courageous and put aside their emotions.

Talks on the unification of Malay parties began recently, especially after Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad made the call for others to join Bersatu to unite Malays.

Dr Mahathir said the community was becoming fragmented due to the presence of too many Malay-based parties, which would make electoral success more elusive.

However, the idea of consolidating Malay-based parties seems far away.

Redzuan said while there had not been any formal negotiation between Malay-based political parties on consolidation, there had been informal discussions.

“These discussions involved personal opinions on how we can achieve the final goal, which is to realise the Bangsa Malaysia concept.

“The opinions varied from having a consolidation of (party) members to forming a coalition, informal cooperation and on cooperating during elections,” he said.

Institute for Policy Research chairman Datuk Khalid Jaafar, who is a PKR member, said the idea of unifying Malay-based parties should be considered

The adviser to the economic affairs minister said it was important for all quarters to understand the wish of Malays for the country to be led by Malay leaders.

“Any political movement must be realistic with the Malaysian demographic, where Malays and Bumiputeras are the majority.

“This call should be considered but it must also be stressed that it is not racial, otherewise there will be resistance by many people, including some Malays.

“The way I see it, the basis of a stable Malaysia lies in addressing the issues and insecurities of Malays,” he said.

However, his colleague, PKR central executive committee member Datuk Abdullah Sani Abdul Hamid has a different view, saying that leaders had to make the goal clear.

He said the sentiment of uniting the Malays first is puzzling, given the fact that since the country’s independence, Malaysia had always belonged to the races.

Datuk Khalid Jaafar

“We have to think of the plurality of our society where everyone, regardless of his race, has certain rights that make him Malaysian.

“My question is, what is the goal of this unification?

“If it’s just about enriching yourself, then forget about it.

“What’s important is to drive this country to success while eliminating bad influences.”

Umno Supreme Council member Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan said it was time for political leaders to contain their “super egos” and begin to compromise.

Rahman said that for the greater good of the nation, leaders need to find the political courage to seek common ground, adding that he supported the idea.

“The manoeuvring behind the scene is quite frantic, I suppose. Everyone is trying to find that elusive combination of the magic number of 112 (seats in the Dewan Rakyat).

“It’s not good, actually. A lot of uncertainties lead to instability politically and economically,” he said.

Asked on the refusal of some Malay leaders to cooperate with anyone seen to be friendly with DAP, Rahman said it was a factor that should be considered by looking at the bigger picture in achieving the end goal.

He believed the consolidation of Malay parties was not possible with DAP in the equation, saying “they are not part of the solution as they are part of the problem”.

The focus for now, he said, was for Malay leaders to grab the opportunity to unite and ensure that the majority in the
country would feel at ease.

“I think the Malay and Bumiputera electorates won’t forgive their leaders if they squander this golden opportunity to unite.

“This opportunity, if missed, won’t come again for a long, long time.

“A very weary, restless and worried majority is not good for the nation or any nation for that matter.

“If the majority feel marginalised and unattended, that spells trouble.”

By Arfa Yunus.

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TYT celebrates birthday with special needs children, orphans

Friday, October 11th, 2019

Juhar (front, fourth left) and Norlidah (front, fifth left) cutting a cake during the high tea event with special needs children and orphans yesterday.

KOTA KINABALU: A high tea event with special needs children and orphans in conjunction with the official 66th birthday celebration of Sabah Head of State was held at Nexus Spa and Resort Karambunai yesterday.

The event was graced by Head of State Tun (Dr) Juhar Mahiruddin and his consort, Toh Puan (Dr) Norlidah RM Jasni.

Deputy Chief Minister cum Local Government and Housing Minister, Datuk Jaujan Sambakong, Sabah Federal Secretary, Datuk Samsuni Mohd Nor, Assistant Health and People’s Wellbeing Minister, Norazlinah Arif, Local Government and People’s Wellbeing ministry permanent secretary, Datuk Masnah Mat Salleh, Health and People’s Wellbeing ministry permanent secretary, Datuk Janet Chee, and Sabah General Welfare Services Department director, Myrna Jimenez, who is also the event’s organizing chairperson, were among the dignitaries present at the event.

Some 205 children and their 49 escorts from special institutions and schools attended the event.

AG: People have more democratic space now, following GE14

Sunday, October 6th, 2019
KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama): There is no doubt that Malaysians have enjoyed far greater democratic space following the 14th General Election, says Attorney General Tan Sri Tommy Thomas (pic). “In the last 16 months, far more space has been given to individuals and to critics of the government, and there is no doubt that Malaysia has never had this much of democracy from Merdeka days. “There is a thriving social media which has spent time physically attacking me for 16 months and yet, no one has been prosecuted. So that is the best proof of the space you have,” he said, prompting bursts of laughter from the audience. Thomas said this in his closing speech at the Lawasia Constitutional & Rule of Law Conference 2019, themed, ‘Constitutional Government: The Importance of Constitutional Structures and Institutions’, at a hotel here. Asked by Lawasia president Christopher Leong during a question-and-answer session on the progress of the abolition of the Sedition Act 1948, Thomas said the Attorney General’s Chambers was very supportive of the reforms and that he had informed Parliament that the moment his office gets the instructions, it would speed up the necessary drafting.

Educated person without ethics and manners is doomed – UMS Vice Chancellor

Friday, September 27th, 2019

KOTA KINABALU: An educated person without ethics and manners is doomed, says Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) Vice Chancellor, Professor Taufiq Yap Yun Hin.

“Ethical values such as integrity, honesty, fairness, responsibility, efficiency and trustworthiness should not only be applied in the business or career worlds but in our daily lives as human beings.

“Conflict caused by etiquette problem happens in our daily life, workplace is no exception.

“Workers who hold to ethical values will tend to be good employees, perform well and have a positive impact on the department,” Taufiq shared at the opening of a Business Ethic Workshop.

His speech was delivered by UMS Assistant Vice Chancellor, Professor Marcus Jopony.

The one-day event was held at the university’s Recital Hall on Tuesday. Held for the third time since 2017, it was jointly organised by Repsol Oil & Gas Malaysia Ltd, UMS Career Centre and Alumni, Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

He added that the workshop enables students to understand more on the true value of ethics in business and career.

Also, he stressed that such further discussion on ethical issues in careers and business are important as students are often involved in such issues throughout their studies.

“I am sure this is also crucial for their future careers,” Taufiq asserted adding that good ethics lead to one’s success. Meanwhile, Senior Manager (Legal Services) of Repsol Oil& Gas Malaysia Ltd, Dayangku Marianah Pengiran Mahmuddin said that the oil-based company is passionate about giving back to the local communities.

“We focus our community social investment activities in four main themes namely safety, education, health and human capital development.”

For education, Repsol thrust is on developing young Malaysian talents through its scholarship programme which was launched since 2008.

“UMS was included as a new partner in 2014 following the MoU signing, with the objective of tapping into the pool of young talents from Sabah.

“This scholarship programme presents our commitment to support and contribute towards Sabahans.” More than 300 UMS first and final year students of Engineering attended the event.


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Malaysia Day: Who are we as a nation?

Monday, September 16th, 2019

When is Malaysia’s birthday? It seems to me that the accurate answer is Sept 16,1963.

Aug 31,1957, is of course the day the Federation of Malaya gained independence from the British.

In comparing the significance of the two dates, I am inclined to think that perhaps Malaysia Day deserves more focus and celebration than Merdeka Day.

While the latter marks when we became independent of colonial powers, the former marks when we consciously, of our own free and independent will, decided to become one nation.

Sept 16,1963, however, is that moment in history where we chose to come together, in a moment defined rather more by our own agency and purpose. The before and after story here starts with three separate states and ends with a united Malaysia.

Given this story and backdrop, as well as the pressing problems we face today in Malaysia with regards to unity, it has often seemed like Malaysia Day is very much neglected as compared to Merdeka Day.

I can only imagine the degree to which people from Sabah and Sarawak feel about this. After all, Merdeka was not the day that they became independent.

Almost from 1963 to today, there has been ever growing sentiment in East Malaysia that they are the neglected children of the Malaysian family.

Who can blame them? Time and again, they seem cut out from the national narrative, with the peninsula always consciously or subconsciously relegating East Malaysia to positions of diminished importance – if they think of them at all.

Sabahan and Sarawakian exceptionalism is fast becoming reflective in its politics.

For GE14, Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal made the decision to go his own way in forming a Sabah-based political party, Parti Warisan Sabah. The results there speak for themselves.

Amidst the unfolding political landscape in Malaysia, Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) in Sarawak has recently reiterated its decision to not take one side or another in peninsula politics, also choosing to go their own way.

These political decisions do not take place in a vacuum, but rather likely reflect what is obviously voter sentiment on the ground. Perhaps for some East Malaysians, Sept 16 is a little like Awal Muharram – a day of celebration of joy for Sunnis, but a day of mourning for the Shias.

At the root of East Malaysian exceptionalism is identity politics. When they are neglected by the peninsula, why should we be surprised when an East Malaysian feels like a Sabahan or Sarawakian first, rather than a Malaysian first?

Needless to say, East Malaysia is not the only place in the world in which identity politics is coming to the fore.

Indeed, in an era of Donald Trump and Brexit, the primacy of identity politics seems rather more the norm than the exception.

Not that we need to look so far abroad of course. We are obviously seeing the exact same thing play out in Peninsular Malaysia.

Coming out of the assembly at PWTC last weekend, a few things are becoming more and more obvious.

If Pakatan Harapan had played their cards a certain way, especially on the communications front, I think there was a good chance that Umno and most other Barisan Nasional parties might have faded quietly away over the last year.

They did not, and over a year later, we are seeing quite the resurgence.

Just to clear any doubt, I have never in my life supported Umno, and am likely to continue this position as long as they remain race based and tainted by decades of corruption.

That said, our own personal feelings should not compromise our ability to analyse politics objectively.

While it has been brewing for quite some time now, this last weekend’s assembly at PWTC may be the most distinct and momentous turning of the tides since GE14.

Like it or not (and I personally lean towards not), my reading is that the perception now is: Umno and PAS are the ones breaking ground and leading boldly, pioneering exciting new spaces in Malaysian politics; while Harapan on the other hand seem to still be shuffling their feet muttering something bland about sharing prosperity.

Part of this is of course due to how the Umno-PAS tie-up takes a big step in addressing a key anxiety among a large Malaysian demographic: the fragmentation of Malay political power.

One important underlying subtext of the last year has been the comparison of Malay political power (split into five relevant parties) versus say Chinese political power (all concentrated in just one relevant party).

In my view, it is this subtext that has directly or indirectly blown up controversies related to race and religion recently.

I think the reaction of the crowds at PWTC and Malaysian netizens indicate that they see this tie-up as a step in the right direction. People tend to respond well to bold manoeuvres, such as the way in which Umno and PAS are doubling down on race and religion.

Harapan on the other hand has continued to waffle in no man’s land. After GE14, instead of committing fully to showing how Malay interests would still be strongly protected in a multiracial political model (coupled of course with actual good governance), they decided to be timid and half-hearted, waffling between multiracialism and being “Umno Lite”.

People never respond well to ‘timid and half-hearted’, and can tell when you’re not playing to win, but just playing not to lose (which of course invariably leads to a loss anyway).

If we look at the shifting political alliances over the last two decades, the story is almost an amusing one. Friends become enemies, who become friends, and then enemies once again, and so on. Like I was told as a younger man: There are no permanent friends in politics, only permanent (self) interests.

The short explanation for all these shifting alliances is that in a (defunct and completely anachronistic) first past the post Westminster system, there are only two poles that matter – and eventually, everyone gravitates towards one or the other.

In our system, that’s really the only thing that counts. Ideology, principles, values, and so on – all of that is secondary, and is shaped according to political convenience.

How else could PAS have gone from being vehemently anti-Umno and independent, to teaming up with DAP under Pakatan Rakyat, to teaming up with Umno – all in the space of two decades?

All that said, I don’t think the right response to this new union is sound and fury.

One PKR stalwart who has been relatively quiet – a period some may have hoped (in vain) would mellow the man – came out firing on Facebook, sarcastically saying that the Tok Kadi performing the marriage between Umno and PAS should check the genders of the couple.

Not to be outdone, an Umno vice-president said they want to check the stalwart’s gender instead.

Welcome, once again, to the lofty heights of Malaysian political discourse.

My guess is that for better or worse (worse, one assumes) the Umno-PAS tie-up is here to stay for a while at least, and that the Opposition is going to coalesce around them.

I would love to see Harapan respond to this development by redoubling their own efforts and governing well and demonstrating clear, exciting visions for the country, alongside engaging in a level of political debate at least somewhat higher than genital checking.

Of course, the announcement by the Finance Minister last Friday that yet another Harapan manifesto promise would be, at best, delayed was not a good step.

A fact that is sure to even further dampen Malaysia Day spirits is that said promise was to increase the oil royalties to Sabah and Sarawak from 5% to 20%.

It looks like this Malaysia Day is going to feature a lot of divisive rhetoric and even more (understandable) discontent from our East Malaysian brothers and sisters – who we should be celebrating today of all days.

The question is: what kind of Malaysia Days will we be celebrating one, two, five or 10 years from now?

I guess if we leave it to the current crop of politicians, regardless of which side of the aisle they sit, there isn’t too much indication that there will be much change.

If we can institute genuine changes in our political culture, however, maybe one day we will see Malaysia unite once again, the way it did on Sept 16,1963.

By Nathaniel Tan

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A peek into voters’ minds

Monday, September 16th, 2019
Voters will naturally vote for their interests. FILE PIC

IN the run-up to the 14th General Election, a leading business newspaper had published a 12-page pullout on the election and posed a burning question that has been on the minds of political strategists the world over: will voters be swayed by political or economic factors?

While one can take the middle ground and say that when casting their votes, voters might take both economic and political factors into account, mainstream studies in political science and economics have accepted the idea that human beings are by nature homo economicus.

Put in another way, as an economic man, human beings are a simple creature who makes life’s choices like a shopper who’s shopping for the best deal car dealers have to offer on a model that has more or less the same features.

If that is your view of human nature, it is easy to create mathematical models of behaviour because there’s really only one principle at work — self-interest.

People do whatever it takes to maximise their utility. If this view of human nature is correct, then predicting the outcome of elections is not that challenging.

Unfortunately, we know that human behaviour is much more complex than any mathematical model is able to predict, and the political mind is no different.

If we were to predict voting behaviour solely on how well the economy is doing then we will be in for a surprise.

This is due to the fact that social scientists have long discovered that politics has always been as much about identity and community as about the economy.

It is therefore erroneous to define self-interest purely in economic terms. Such a conception of a voter will only reduce a political party to an economics and social welfare outfit that is only interested in how fast the economy is growing, how many jobs are being created and whether or not the populace has been properly vaccinated.

This is not to suggest that the preceding factors are unimportant, but political life is also concerned with the fundamental stuff of life such as who we are and how we organise our society.

As the neuroscientist Drew Westen has said, it is easy to forget that that the states that really determine elections are voters’ states of mind.

A peek into the voters’ minds has revealed that their state of mind is really far from the assumptions made by conventional political scientists and economists — that they have dispassionate minds which will lead them to logical conclusions.

The political mind, according to neuroscientists, is an emotional mind.

What this essentially means is that the idea that human beings are homo economicus, a view that has been dominant since the enlightenment, is incorrect.

The political mind is not a dispassionate calculating machine, objectively searching for facts, figures, and policies to make a reasoned decision.

Jonathan Haidt, a psychologist, has also demonstrated that people reason and people have moral intuitions.

The relationship between reason and moral intuitions has been debated endlessly by philosophers, and there is no consensus among them as to whether reason or moral intuitions should be the master.

Plato, for example, is of the opinion that reason should be the master.

The most recent study undertaken by Haidt has shown that the mind is divided into two parts — controlled processes and automatic processes — and when in conflict, the controlled processes are made to serve the automatic processes.

It just goes to show that Plato’s view that reason should guide our behaviour is far from the truth.

The automatic processes or intuitions come first and strategic reasoning second.

What does this tell us about the political mind? The homo economicus view of the political mind tells us that if voters are made aware of the facts and figures, they should naturally reason to the right conclusion.

Voters, in this view, will naturally vote for their interests, they will calculate which policies and programmes are in their best interests, and vote for political parties that advocate those policies and programmes.

Unfortunately, the political mind does not work that way and the long-held phrase coined by James Carville — “it’s the economy, stupid” has to be changed to “it’s the voters’ state of mind”.

Voters vote against their self-interests, they allow bias, prejudice and emotion to guide their decisions.

In the political arena, emotion is both central and legitimate in political persuasion.

If political parties want to change the political mind, they have to appeal to voters’ intuitions because 98 per cent of our thought is not conscious.

Psychologists and neuroscientists tell us that unconscious thought is automatic.

Conscious thought, on the other hand is reflective. Because most of our thought is unconscious, we are not able to control what our brains are doing in most cases.

In trying to understand the political mind, we need to move away from the homo economicus view that is based on old enlightenment values to the twenty-first century view of the mind as largely unconscious, embodied, emotional, empathetic, metaphorical, and only partly universal.

Such a view will tell us why for the past 29 years, voters in Kelantan did not vote in their economic interests and why the overwhelming blue collar workers in the US voted for a billionaire as their president.

By Dr Azeem Fazwan Ahmad Farouk.

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NST Leader: Many happy returns?

Monday, September 16th, 2019
The Congress of Unions of Employees in the Public and Civil Services (Cuepacs) is adamant that we are comparing apples and oranges. And Cuepacs is right. Elsewhere in the developed world, armed forces, police, education and health personnel are not part of the civil service. – FILE PIC

PENSION everywhere is undergoing change. Malaysia may be the exception. A RM27 billion pension payout annually means revamp ideas are aplenty. From going pension-less to reshaping it into some hybrid form.

Reaction to this is equally rich: from cacophonous rejection to silent welcome. We advise a studied caution.

Money is just one variable of the pension permutation. Recall the job sales pitch? The private sector was sold on big salaries while the civil service hawked on huge benefits. Pension was one of them.

Compensation must enter the permutation, if the civil service is to remain attractive. A government cannot help but deliver.

Economist Dr Aimi Abdul Rashid suggests one such permutation. A “cap and contract” scheme, if you will.

Taking into consideration the prevailing cost of living index, Aimi suggests capping pensions of most positions at RM5,000, with the rest of the jobs going contract.

What the healthy ratio is, it is for the Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit (Mampu) to work out. Placing every position on contract is not the answer, he says.

Renegotiation is in order. Much of the renegotiation will happen for positions with a pension of RM5,000 and above.

Professor Dr Yeah Kim Leng of Sunway University Business School shares Aimi’s view, but the two academics differ on details.

Yeah says the government can keep the pension system, but it must manage the cost by either capping the monthly pension to a living wage across all categories or introduce a lower cap for the upper income categories.

There is also an alternative in Yeah’s scheme of things. For the civil servants who find such a pension scheme unattractive, he suggests what he calls a “defined contribution system” like the Employees Provident Fund (EPF).

If EPF is adopted, the salary must be competitive. Otherwise, it will lose out to the private sector.

There is also a case for extending the retirement age for a limited number of high-performing civil servants, such as doctors, English teachers, nurses, meteorological specialists and identified others.

It is not out of place to put highly skilled ambulance drivers, soldiers and police officers in the same list. The focus should be productivity, not age. Mampu would do well to generate such a list.

While it is at it, Mampu can generate a Productivity Quarterly for oversight purpose. In such a productive environment, heads of departments will be an anomaly. They must be retired off at 60.

The civil servant-to-people ratio needs working, too. Many argue that our civil service is bloated because it hosts some 1.7 million officers. If this number is used, we get one civil servant serving 19 Malaysians, when in Singapore the ratio is 1:74.

But the Congress of Unions of Employees in the Public and Civil Services (Cuepacs) is adamant that we are comparing apples and oranges. And Cuepacs is right. Elsewhere in the developed world, armed forces, police, education and health personnel are not part of the civil service.

Unburdened of this, our civil service will only be 500,000, resulting in a more palatable ratio: 1:64. Notwithstanding this, the government may want to approach recruitment with studied caution.

This way, the civil service can have many happy returns.

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Devote to nation-building: CM

Monday, September 16th, 2019

File photo from Bernama.

Kota Kinabalu: Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal has urged the people to devote their efforts towards building and developing the country as well as ensuring peace and prosperity.
“Our country today is in a much different state than it was at the beginning of Malaysia’s formation when its people were in a state of extreme poverty, not only in terms of infrastructure and basic facilities but also health and education,” he said.
He said this in his message in conjunction with the 56th Malaysia Day today (Monday).
Shafie said while a lot more needs to be done, the country has made great strides not only in creating unity but also in maintaining harmony amidst diverse ethnics, cultures and religions in the past 56 years.
“Therefore, it is important for us Malaysians as a whole, regardless of age, race, ethnicity, religion and belief, that we extend our devotion to the nation,” he said.
He added that such devotion does not only relate to singing the national anthem out loud but also being of service to the country.
“In our service, we devote everything to the development of this nation, a country that is liveable by people of all faiths and races, so that future generations will reap much greater benefits than what we experience today.”
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said the Government will not allow the people and nation to be jeopardised by any group who tries to incite or pit one against the other so that the country will be divided.

In her message in conjunction with Malaysia Day, she pointed out that the Government would do whatever was best so that solidarity between the Malaysian people became stronger.
Dr Wan Azizah said like the previous generation, Malaysia was now facing challenging problems, including maintaining solidarity among the people of various cultures and religions.
“There will always be the extremist groups who like to incite racial issues to promote certain interests. There are also groups who like to pit one against the other so that the society will be divided.
“We will not allow the people and country to be jeopardised. Malaysia’s strength as a nation is top priority for the Government,” the Deputy Prime Minister stressed.
Dr Wan Azizah, who is also the Women, Family and Community Development Minister, said all weaknesses and mistakes would be corrected and the people would be invited together to build and raise the nation towards prosperity to be enjoyed by everyone.
“This is Malaysia, the land where we were born together. Love Our Malaysia, A clean Malaysia,” she added.

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Keep in mind ‘historic bargain’

Saturday, September 14th, 2019
Malaysians must look with pride upon its past in order to move forward with confidence. -NSTP/File pic

Recent developments suggest that the country is fragmentising.

Racial issues are taking centre stage, something our founding fathers never wanted to happen. Issues like the teaching of khat, boycotting of non-Muslim products and Dong Zong do not help in creating a united nation.

It has been 62 years since independence but many are still ignorant of the compromise or “historic bargain” among all races that brought our independence. One needs to wind back the clock to understand the present scenario.

Malaysians at large do not seem to understand the position of the Malays in the country. The accusation that Malays were “pendatang” like the Chinese and Indians is simply preposterous.

Before the Chinese and Indians arrived in Malaya in big numbers in the early 20th century, the British had already been dealing with the sovereign Malay rulers. Treaties signed with the rulers recognised local Malays as native inhabitants and guaranteed their protections vis-à-vis the non-Malays.

As pointed by (then prime minister) Tunku Abdul Rahman: “The Malays only chance of keeping their identity in this country alive is to insist on the retention of their inherent rights guaranteed by the Federation of Malaya Agreement, by treaties made between the British government and the rulers.”

Before World War 2, the Indians and Chinese had not even developed permanent interests in the country.

The Indians tended to sympathise with developments in India. The Central Indian Association of Malaya, formed in 1937 purportedly to champion the interests of Indian immigrant communities, was evidently India-oriented.

During WW2, plantation workers volunteered to join (Indian nationalist) Subash Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army for Indian independence. As a matter of fact, the Malayan Indian Congress itself was formed to take up Bose’s call to bolster patriotic sentiment among the Indians in Southeast Asia.

As for the Chinese, their struggle during the Emergency led to the formation of the Malayan Chinese Association, which was primarily concerned with the social welfare of the community. However, many today are not aware of the help rendered by the Malay rulers to settle the Chinese in new villages on plots of land reserved for and owned by the Malays. The land eventually became permanent possession of the Chinese, who used it to improve their socio-economic status. Meanwhile, the Malays were suffering in the kampung.

During the 1955 federal election, non-Malay members of the Alliance won largely because of political support from the Malays. Tunku, in his speech on Radio Malaya on April 22, 1956, said: “Seventeen non-Malay candidates were returned by an electorate the vast majority of whom were Malays and without the loss of a single seat.”

It was based on this mutual understanding that the three races cooperated to achieve independence in 1957. There was also a gentleman’s understanding that whatever (rights) enjoyed by the non-Malays under the British would be retained by the newly independent government.

This was clearly stated by Tunku in a speech to the Federal Legislative Council on July 10, 1957: “A formula agreed upon by which it was decided that in considering the rights of the various people, no attempt must be made to reduce such rights which they have enjoyed in the past. As a result you find written in the constitution rights of various peoples they have enjoyed in the past and new rights accorded to new people whom it was the intention to win over into the fold of the Malayan Nation.”

Tunku added: “Under the changes visualised by the new Constitution, the Malays were prepared within reason to share those rights with others who owe loyalty to this country. I must ask non–Malays to be fair and considerate and not to make unreasonable demands, for it is well to remember that no natives of any country in the world have given away so much as the Malays have done. No natives have been friendly to immigrant people as the Malays have been. Nobody need have any fear as to their future wellbeing in independent Malaya.”

Therefore, it is vital for non-Malays to understand the historical position of the Malays and for them to understand that the non-Malays have contributed in equal measure to the building of Malaysia.

As rightly pointed out by then British high commissioner Sir Gerald Templer when he launched the Malaysian Historical Society in 1959: “A nation which does not look with pride upon its past can never look forward with confidence towards its future.”

By Associate Professor Dr Sivachandralingam Sundara Raja.

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‘Let bygones be bygones,’ says King

Tuesday, September 10th, 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah has reminded all Malaysians not to play up sensitive issues in the interests of any party.

His Majesty said that every citizen has been promised rights and freedoms in accordance with the Federal Constitution, but that freedom must not go beyond the values that are fundamental to national unity.

“So as in politics. There must be a line and limit that should not be crossed. If political polemics were left prolonged, sooner or later it will start taking its toll on the people.

“Believe me, the unity, peace and harmony that have been built over these 62 years, if we ever lost it, will be very difficult to get back. My advice is, let bygones be bygones, forgive and forget past disputes so that the broken relationship can be fixed and restored,” His Majesty said.

Al-Sultan Abdullah said this when gracing the investiture ceremony of federal awards and honours held in conjunction with the official birthday of Yang di-Pertuan Agong at Istana Negara here.

His Majesty also lauded all efforts taken by the government in facing the increasingly challenging economic and geopolitical environment and welcomed various other measures to be taken by the government to strengthen the country’s economy and finances, while addressing the cost of living and eradicating poverty.

“In this regard, the government should always strive to also improve the services provided to the people.

“I hope that those in need, such as the poor, the persons with disabilities and the B40 group be given equal attention and assistance so that they are not left out of the mainstream development,” Al-Sultan Abdullah said.

Apart from that, the development and practice of good and noble values in every aspect of life should also be the responsibility of the government and all Malaysians, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong said.

In an effort to build a society of integrity, Al-Sultan Abdullah said the younger generation needs to be equipped with knowledge and developed with a strong sense of identity.

As such, the King called for programmes that could inculcate good and noble values, develop a strong sense of identity and spirit of patriotism, be organised nationwide,

“Through this approach, I am confident that we can build a society of integrity and a nation with a strong sense of identity and patriotism,” His Majesty said.

At the ceremony, Al-Sultan Abdullah also expressed gratitude to the Malay rulers for their trust and support for His Majesty as the 16th Yang di-Pertuan Agong.


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