Must Read: Wake Up Malaysian! Malaysia is not America!

Jalur Gemilang

My friend, Nur Asyhraff from Penang Medical College attended last week Gerakan Teh Tarik Forum. He also attended today demonstration against Israel over Gaza problem at Masjid Kaptan Kling

Below is his personal observations of the the issues at hand that  i personally think, warrant further and deeper reflection by all.

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Updated version:at 1:21pm (11-01-2009)

I was attending one of the talks held by a political party here in Penang. The speaker is graduated from Harvard University, was mainly talking about the reason of the victory of Obama, and how it can be reflected into Malaysian context. The speaker was excellent when he discussed lots of things that happened on the ground in America. However, what I saw was the eagerness of the audience on reflecting the situation in America that can be truly reflected on Malaysian context, maybe because they see that to achieve the level of maturity in politic, is for Malaysia to be like America.

A non-Malay Prime Minister of Malaysia?

To give the example of the eagerness, during the Q&A (question and answer) session, one of the audiences stood up and asked the question whether we can see a Non-Malay as a Prime Minister of Malaysia in the future? The speaker was quite smart when he said the question was also a race-based question. Yes, in my opinion, we don’t want a Malay or non-Malay Prime Minister. Instead, we want a Prime Minister who can represent all Malaysia, and be just to everyone. However, in the context of Malaysia, that are the same context with Britain, Spain, France and Germany, the Prime Minister must come from the dominant race, for the political stability. I will explain along the article below.

Let me share it with you. In America, they can claim to have an absolute equality because no one can claim they are the aborigines (of course not the Red Indian in this case), who started to build the country of America. There are Hispanic, American English, African American, and few other minorities. When no one has started building it from the beginning, so everyone was supposedly the outsiders. Therefore, everyone can be claimed as equal.

The equality enjoyed by the minorities in the Islamic Empire

The equality of the people was much alive during the Islamic Empire of Islam, starting from the Abbasiyyah, Umayyah in Spain, and Uthmaniyyah in Turkey. The question of selecting the Caliphate (Caliphate is more like the Secretary-General of the UN or the President of the EU) was not a problem whether it came from a majority or minority, since it was a monarch style. Therefore everyone was supposed to be equal to the law, where caliph was the most dominant amongst the people. However, this can lead to an autocratic and dictatorship when there was no check-and-balance and separation of power. Therefore, the system was superbly evolved from time-to-time, where the intellectual scholars (the ulama’), who did not have any political interest, will have the power to fire the caliph if they found the caliph was not competent to rule. In Uthmaniyyah Period, the same level of Ulama to the Caliph was called Sheikhul Islam.

However, the problem nowadays, some of ulama take this position not as a trust from the people, but rather a privilege.

In short, everyone was supposed to be equal, and there were no question of majority and minority, where everyone was subjected to their religious and cultures court. If it did involve the civil issue, they will be judged under the caliph’s law. (Still remember Undang-undang Kanun Kesultanan Melayu Melaka?)

You can see the system flourished most in the Umayyah Spain, where in the city of Toledo, the Jews, Christian and Muslims were building the houses next to each other. You cannot even distinguish the architectures of the mosque, synagogue, and church, except for the bell, the cross and the dome. They had built the religious place together in harmony without much prejudice.

During the Umayyad Spain time, the people from different races and religion has already achieved a great complexity and marvelous advancement of architecture, arts and sciences together when they had settle the much of the problem of power (politics), economy and languages.

The system has been used and evolved for a thousand year and has shown the success.
(This is a very brief explanation from the history of Islamic Empire).

A non-native British Prime Minister?

Another good example is Britain. Gordon Brown is a Scottish, which is part of Britain. Even though they have practice a good equality in democracy, however the exclusive Nationalist Party has gaining more seats. This is simply reactionary from the natives, as the native English sees more and more people who does not share their culture and religion, which is why they tend to become more exclusive. Do you think the minorities or the others who already become the permanent citizen can be the Prime Minister of Britain or Spain or President of France or Germany? I don’t think so.

In America, for more than 250years, the minorities are the one who fought for the equality. They just not demonstrating, provoking the government to provide the right, but they also engaged with the majority, and also speaks the majority’s language, which is the English language as their first language.

So how the minorities can be heard in Malaysia?

As I always think, this is not a one party’s work. It must involve both the majority and the minority. Like the minorities in America, they try to engage and speak the language of the majority. Even now, they still want to engage and solve the problem that affecting the majority, as they see the majority’s problems are their problem as well.

Bangsa Malaysia or United Malaysia?

There are two main actions that can be achieved in solving the problem. The first concept Bangsa Malaysia, is by having the same homogeneous identity in one country. It might see as practical ideally, however, it is against the nature of the people who want to maintain their culture and beliefs as their identity. We cannot simply coerce the various identities in a country into one identity, as the history has shown the failure in Turkey (the Kurdish issue) and Germany (The Aryan nation concept). Don’t forget the world war also!

The European people have learn much from this failure during the world war that happened before. That is why they come out with the concept of European Union, where they will be united in politics, economy and solidarity, at the same time appreciating the differences in religion and culture as a variance, not as a contradiction.

European Union in Malaysia?

What is more practical is United Malaysia, where everyone in the country takes Bahasa Melayu as their first language, and also putting the same effort for the justice and solidarity. This can be compromised by having letting their mother tongue and culture preserved and practice.

in the quran, Allah says about the differences;

O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).

The everyday practical way of unity

This morning I went to a Kampung to have my breakfast. I ate at a restaurant, owned by the Indian Muslim (Malay by constitution). While they sell the food, they let the Chinese to sell the drinks. Yes, business is the key word. In business, the main element is to satisfy the customer and have an optimum profit. Therefore, the Malay and the Chinese will work hand-in-hand without prejudices and understanding better when they go along the business.

Other ways to tackle the issue of unity

In other issues, the minorities need to be cleverer. They should be more concern with the issue of majority.

For example, the issue of Palestine is a global issue and problem, which really touches the majority Muslim in Malaysia. Therefore, why the multicultural political parties like DAP and Gerakan, and also Chinese based and Indian based party does not condemn the Israel attack on Gaza? Why can’t they organize a demonstration that can unite them with the majority? Even the European people are supporting the peace between the Palestine and Israel.

During the demonstration I went today, i didn’t see any Chinese or Indian except the press and the Chief Minister of Penang, Lim Guan Eng. So why we are not sensitive in this issue?

How many minorities NGO and political parties have done any social work in engaging and helping the people in FELDA, poverty kampung area and rural area? This is the core of the muslim area, where they rarely travel and meet other people rather than their race.

How many minorities NGO and political has organize talk with the Muslim majority in the Balai raya and the mosque? The multicultural DAP has won the parliamentary area in my hometown. However, I never see her even once coming to my area and have a conversation with the locals.

The change

I don’t believe votes can change much of what we want in our country. Look what happen after the last election, where the relationship between the races has become worse than before with much prejudices. In addition to that, with the global economic problem that will affect us in months to come.

It must start with engagement, understanding and education. If the minorities in America speaks English as their first language and engage with the majority, why can’t the minorities in Malaysia do the same thing?

As much as I will engage with the conscious and enlightened minorities to fight for their rights, I do hope that they will do the same thing.

I do believe many young Malays want to end this problem. However, clapping one hand will not sound anything (bertepuk sebelah tangan tidak akan berbunyi). I believe all of us should do the same.

After all, we need time for the change to happen. I believe if we are sincere and trust each other, the concept of United Malaysia is achievable in the future.

Let’s begin the change within ourselves!

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TEH TARIK FORUM ON THE EFFECT OF OBAMA’S ELECTORAL VICTORY TO POLITICS IN MALAYSIA

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Gerakan Teh Tarik Forum

OBAMA’S ELECTORAL VICTORY AND ITS SIGNIFICANCE TO POLITICS IN MALAYSIA

The year 2008 is certainly the year of  Obama, the president-elect of the United States of America. “The change that we can believe in” has changed the course of US history and its impacts are certainly beyond shores of US.  Now, what would be the significant effects that this Obama’s electoral voctory could have on a nation called Malaysia?

His thesis for the talk argues that Obama’s electoral victory has shown that the United States, with its deep rooted history of racism, has transcended racial politics in many ways. Its significance to Malaysia lies in the fact that Malaysia should transcend racial politics, just like what happened in the United States. This ultimately means that the Prime Minister of Malaysia should come from any ethnic background.”.

By Christopher Rodney Yeoh

Research Associate, The Pluralism Project at Harvard University

English, OPEN TO PUBLIC

Saturday 3rd January, 2009, 8:00 pm, PGRM Penang HQ, Level 2

Christopher Rodney Yeoh

Research Associate, The Pluralism Project at Harvard University

Rodney received his Masters of Theological Studies degree from HDS in 2007 where he concentrated on issues related to Islam and the West. During that time, his work at the Pluralism Project was on international multi-religious contexts. Currently, Rodney is the Coordinator of Social Justice Education programming at Beaver Country Day School, a private high school in Chestnut Hill, Boston. He also is serving as the Interfaith Curriculum Consultant to the Pluralism Project, developing and teaching a class on World Religions using the Project’s resources and networks.

Rodney’s research report entitled “Malaysia, Truly Asia? Religious Pluralism in Malaysia” may be viewed at http://pluralism.org/research/reports/yeoh/Pluralism_Malaysia.pdf

The Gerakan Teh Tarik Forum is organised byPENANG GERAKAN POLITICAL TRAINING BUREAU and NATIONAL POLITICAL TRAINING BUREAU and supported by SATU ACADEMY,

H/P  No: 012-4386300 (mr. Khaw)

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Freedom Academy 2009 on Globalisation & the Free Market


I attended the previous Freedom Academy in last August and learned so much about the Free Market, Individual Rights, Limited Government and Rule of Law. This latest Freedom Academy is on the Free Market. And it couldn’t  have arrived at the right time when almost everyone is blaming the Free Market for today global economic crisis!

Globalisation and the free market are taking a bashing. The global economic turmoil has resulted in claims that we are looking at the end of capitalism. And, for many years we have been told that globalization, trade liberalization, and capitalism are bad for the poor and for developing countries generally. But what does free market capitalism really entail? Are the criticisms justified?

Come join and find out from

16 – 18 January 2009.
Theme: “Globalisation, the free market and developing countries”
Venue: Residence Hotel, UNITEN, Selangor

University students, graduates, and young professionals from Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Brunei are invited to attend Malaysia Think Tank’s second Freedom Academy which will be held on 16 – 18 January 2009 (Friday – Sunday) at Residence Hotel, UNITEN, Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia.

At this Freedom Academy participants will study in depth the true meaning and morality of capitalism, how globalisation has brought prosperity to developing economies, and why free market capitalism is still the way for forward.

We are particularly looking for those sympathetic to, or are curious about, libertarian and classical liberal ideas.

Come and enjoy the Freedom Academy! You will be challenged intellectually and you will get an invaluable opportunity to network with like-minded friends.

Click here for application form

The Programme

Come with an open mind, and go back with a good understanding of the positive impact brought by globalisation and the free market to developing economies.

In this Freedom Academy, we will discuss important topics including:

  • The financial crisis: causes and solutions
  • The meaning and morality of capitalism and the free market
  • The role of government
  • The impact of globalization on developing economies
  • How the market works and can the market produce social justice for the poor
  • Case studies from other countries

This Freedom Academy will be conducted in English.

Attendance fee

Fees are to be paid in full before the start of the Freedom Academy.

RM325.00 (only RM195 for Kelab Wau Bebas members, i.e. participants of previous Freedom Academy) – which will cover all meals from Friday dinner to lunch on Sunday, lectures, books, delegates pack, and accommodation (shared twin room) at Residence Hotel.

RM195.00 (only RM175 for Kelab Wau Bebas members) – without accommodation.

Scholarships

The Malaysia Think Tank can offer scholarships to selected applicants. You can apply for full or partial scholarships to cover attendance fee. We do not pay for travel expenses. The Malaysia Think Tank reserves the right to determine the value of scholarship to be awarded.

Deadline

All applications must be received before Monday 5 January 2009.

Successful applicants will be informed by as soon as possible, before Friday 9 January 2009.

Further information

For further information, please contact Noor Amin bin Ahmad via email amin@malaysiathinktank.org

Click here for application form

Lecturers

Professor Julian Morris, Executive Director, International Policy Network.

Julian graduated from Edinburgh University in 1992 with a degree in economics. After pursuing graduate work in economics (leading to two masters degrees), he worked at the Institute of Economic Affairs and in 1998 was appointed Director of the IEA’s Environment and Technology Programme. In his spare time, he completed a Graduate Diploma in Law at the University of Westminster in 1999. In 2001, Julian founded the International Policy Network, a think-tank based in London that works on global policy issues relating to health, environment, trade, and development. In 2002, he was appointed a Visiting Professor at the University of Buckingham.

Julian is the author or editor of many papers and books, including Environment and Health: Myths and Realities (co-edited with Kendra Okonski; International Policy Press, 2004), Sustainable Development: Promoting Progress or Perpetuating Poverty (Profile Books, 2002), and Ideal Matter: Globalisation and the Intellectual Property Debate (co-written with Rosalind Mowatt, Duncan Reekie, and Richard Tren; Centre for the New Europe, 2002). He is also co-editor of the Electronic Journal of Sustainable Development and a member of the editorial board of Energy and Environment. His articles and book reviews have appeared in The Financial Times, The Sunday Times (UK), The Australian, The Wall Street Journal Europe, Economic Times (India), Business Day (South Africa), The Daily Telegraph (UK), Economic Affairs, Nature, Toxicology, and various other newspapers and journals. He also regularly appears on TV and radio.

Dr Khalil Ahmad, President, Alternate Solutions Institute, Pakistan.

Dr. Khalil Ahmad studied Philosophy, History, Economics and Literature, and holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from University of the Punjab, and till 2006 taught courses on Philosophy and Education to graduate and post-graduate classes. During his college and university days, he had been an ardent Marxist, but two philosophers Sir Karl Popper’s and Frederick August Hayek’s ideas converted him to Libertarianism.

Khalil founded the Alternate Solutions Institute, first free market think tank of Pakistan, and heads it. He frequently contributes articles on the current issues to various local/foreign newspapers including The News, Business Recorder, The Post, Pakistan Observer, The Frontier Post/Asian Wall Street Journal, South China Morning Post, Mint, Globe & Mail. He has published more than two dozen articles on the rule of law movement in the above-mentioned local papers. He has published a booklet (The Greatest Battle for the Rule of Law in Pakistan) on the rule of law movement in Pakistan.

Khalil has also published a number of research papers, articles and columns on economic, political, social, philosophical, literary, and current issues. His articles pioneer free market themes and ideas in Pakistan.

Alec Van Gelder, Network Director, International Policy Network.
Alec van Gelder is Network Director at International Policy Network, a think tank based in London. Among other publications, Alec is author of “Dirigiste Divide; how Governments obstruct development and access to ICTs” and “Nashville in Africa” and his work on trade, health, technology and development issues has been published in many newspapers including: the Globe and Mail, Boston Globe, Business Day, Wall Street Journal and International Herald Tribune. Alec holds a Master’s degree in International Economics and Development from UCL in Belgium and a Bachelor of Science in Finance from Lehigh University in the United States. He speaks English, Spanish, French and Dutch with fluency.

Wan Saiful Wan Jan – MTT Director General & Head of Libertarian Education Project (LEAP).
Wan Saiful is Director General of the Malaysia Think Tank and heads MTT’s Libertarian Education Project (LEAP). He is also Editor of WauBebas.org, a joint Cato Institute – Malaysia Think Tank project for speakers of the Malay language (Bahasa Melayu). Wan Saiful boarded at Sekolah Alam Shah, Kuala Lumpur, and then Tonbridge School, England. He went to the University of Liverpool, Northumbria University and Middlesex University Business School, London. He holds a BA (Hons) in Management and an MSc in Research Methodologies. Wan Saiful has worked for the British Conservative Party’s Research Department, and, prior to that, the think tank Commonwealth Policy Studies Unit. He was also vice chair of his local Conservative Association, which oversees two parliamentary constituencies. In May 2007, he contested in the English local elections as a Conservative Party candidate. He is now Head of Policy for the Conservative Muslim Forum.

Although he now lives in England, he follows Malaysian politics very closely, having joined the Islamic Party of Malaysia (PAS) since 1993. During his university years, he was active in HIZBI, a UK-based student organisation with close links to PAS. He gradually climbed the ranks in HIZBI, holding various positions including Secretary-General, President and was finally appointed to the highest post as Mursyid. His writings have appeared in various Malaysian newspapers including Berita Harian, Utusan Malaysia, The Star, The Sun, New Sabah Times, Malaysiakini and Harakah.

Click here for application form

Further information

For further information, please contact Noor Amin bin Ahmad via email amin@malaysiathinktank.org


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Government Spending: Where does the money come from?

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Keynesian Theory  — the idea that the government can stimulate economic activity and reduce unemployment seems to provide just the right medicine to the current worldwide economic crisis, where the fear of recession and unemployment is at its height.

From US to Malaysia, government spending is the mantra of the day. However just one critical question that seems to escape the public radar: Where does the money come from?

We all know full well that the government can only spend if it borrows  or taxes.  Below are some very interesting observation made in Caroline Baum’s column with Bloomberg Newsby: (Commentary by Caroline Baum on Keynes” Return)

“If the government finances its spending by raising taxes, it transfer spending power from one group to another”

“If the government finances its spending by selling bonds, it transfers spending power from one entity to another.’

“But if the government finances its spending by printing money, then no other group is induced to cut back on its spending, then there is a net increase in nominal spending.”

So, borrow, tax or print?

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I was attacked by CATs!

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Today (19-12-2008) is the day to be remembered.

I have received so many emails firing at me, calling me names and belittling me. What have I done that earned me such a unspeakable horrified treatment?

The sin that I committed: I openly criticized YAB Lim Guan Eng’s CAT government in my column with Guang Ming Daily.

I thought what I wrote is nothing but fair comments. I questioned why the people of Penang could be so tolerable with  LGE administration continuos “political shows” or “political stunts” . I wondered why the people of Penang so far have not got angry with the CAT government and demaned them to stop all those nonsensical political shows ( like removing unlicenced banners for publicity) and start serious governinig job.  I though I am discharging my duty as a citizen of Malaysia residing at Penang.

For that YAB Lim Guan Eng’s supporters called me “jealous”, “not qualified’ and…. The best shot is this: Haven’t you heard every one love Guan Eng? one of his supporters asked me in his email.

I almost fainted reading that.  To them, YAB Lim Guan Eng is God, he is untouchable and he can do no wrongs!

How scary can that be?   Something is not right here.






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Teh Tarik Forum is Back with Said Zahari on the UMNO’s Dilemma!

NOTICE OF POSTPONEMENT

TEH TARIK FORUM ON 11-12-2009 AT PENANG PARTI GERAKAN HQ

Please be informed that due to unforeseen circumstances, our Teh Tarik Forum on “the UMNO Dilemma after March 8” by Said Zahari which is originally scheduled on 11-12-2008 at 8pm at Penang Parti Gerakan HQ has to be postponed to a date to be fixed.

Any inconvenience caused is much regretted.

Dated 9-12-2008

This Notice is issued by

Political Training Bureau,

Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia

Penang

Dear friends, so our Gerakan Teh Tarik Forum is finally back ! After a short break since last September. We kick start the new season of Gerakan Teh Tarik Forum with Said Zahari on “The UMNO’s Dilemma after March 8.”

Who is Said Zahari? He has such a colourful past. He was the Chief Editor of the then Utusan Malaysia that put up a good fight resisting the take over of Utusan Malaysia from UMNO. Yes, Utusan Malaysia then back in the 50’s and early 60’s was teh hotbed for the Malay lefts. For that he was banished from Malaysia to Singapore.

He was later detained by Lee Kuan Yew under ISA for the next 17years! He was only allowed to reside in Malaysia in 1994.

He is indeed one of the very few left that has the privileges of having been there, seen all and still survived until today.

So, friends you miss THIS Talk at your own perils as we have friends traveling all the way from KL just to listen to Said Zahari!

Penang Gerakan TEH TARIK FORUM

Invites SAID ZAHARI to talk on

THE UMNO DILEMMA AFTER MARCH 8

308大选后,巫统面临的困境

Date: On 11th December 2008, THURSDAY

Time: 8pm (Light Refreshments are available from 7.30pm)

Venue:  Penang Gerakan HQ, 139 Jalan Macalister.

Said Zahari was the former Editor-in-chief of the Utusan Melayu Group. He led a strike of Utusan Melayu workers way back in 1961 in a move to prevent the taking over of the press by UMNO then. For that, he was banished from Peninsula Malaysia to return to Singapore.

In Singapore he was arrested on 2nd Feb 1963 under the ISA by the Lee Kuan Yew regime.  This mass arrest code-named Operation Cold Store was a total clampdown of more than 130 opposition leaders, MPs and trade unionists.  Said Zahari was to stay in Lee Kuan Yew’s prison without trial for the next 17 years.

15 years after his release in 1979 from the Singapore prison ,  he was allowed to reside in Malaysia in 1994, personally vetted by PM Dr. Mahathir. He has written two books: Dark Clouds At Dawn and The Long Nightmare, which provide an alternative Singapore history to the “official” version of Lee Kuan Yew. In his books, Said exposes the cruelty of the Singapore regime inflicted not only on him but also on his family as a result of the  long and arbitrary imprisonment.  In a poem written in 1969 for his wife Sal, now deceased, Said affirmed his determination to fight for justice and his love for his wife:

…Neither this prison wall

Nor a hundred years of incarceration

Shall diminish my love.

Now aged 80, Said Zahari is writing his third book.  He continues to be politically alert, to fight against injustices and for democracy, especially in Singapore.  Said Zahari is a simple man by nature, but the suffering he has endured has made him an extraordinary man.

His strong ideological stand is well respected by many in the political circles.  This talk organized by GTTF is a rare occasion to hear his views on UMNO, which is facing one of its biggest challenges since its inception.

Come to meet and listen to this surviving freedom fighter !!

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Can Malaysia reform without UMNO?

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It is indeed sad to know that the whole nation is going to the dog simply because some warlords, whose powers combined decide who is to be the next Prime Minister of Malaysia (see not you and me determine, much that we woulf like to think otherwise!), in a political party refuse to repent and reform. Sad but true, Pak Lah knew it and learned it the hard way.Now it is the turn of Najib.

And we are hearing the same beautiful talks again.

In the past few weeks, Najib and other government leaders have sprinkled their speeches liberally with the open tender system. In his first meeting at the Finance Ministry, he made it clear that direct negotiation will be the exception rather than the rule.

Will history repeat itself? And who could fault us, Malaysian for being extremely sceptical about all these “beautiful talks” after the disastrous experience that we had with Pak Lah.

Going by history , the possibility of history repeating itself here is almost a certainty and to have a different conclusion is akin to miracle. Can the open tender system become the norm in Malaysia? Perhaps, one day when Umno politicians lose their sense of entitlement and political patronage is not so prevalent. Until then, we can only hope. (UMNO in way of open tender and transparency)

Can Malaysia move forward without UMNO, since we all know that to expect UMNO to reform is close to impossibility?

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