- The Question of Succession in Sarawak
- Operation Odyssey Dawn -- Beginning of Ghadafi's Sunset?
- Race And Mahathir
- GENTING CABLE CAR FELL DOWN - (not reported in news)
- 'Operation Odyssey Dawn' Attack on Libya ~ America, France & Europe massacre more civilians
- N10 DAP Lawyer vs BN Doctor…
- Korean Women Extremely Provocatively have sex before marriage; Korea has one of the largest prostitution industries in the world
- NO SCHOLARSHIPS FOR RETIREES
- Middle east philosophy has moved forward, will Malaysia?
- Japan tragedy reshapes governing philosophy?
Posted: 20 Mar 2011 02:10 PM PDT
Posted: 20 Mar 2011 11:35 AM PDT
Lets face it, Malaysia is still reeling from the succession of Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to the premiership and on many occasions, his predecessor, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had admitted that he is not a good judge of character and counts Anwar Ibrahim and Abdullah as his biggest mistakes.
Succession is a gamble, no one can say whether the new leader will be good or bad or better or worse than the previous and this crap shoot is not limited to hereditary, anointed or democratically selected succession.
Americans voted in George W Bush after Bill Clinton and gifted the world with two wars, one in Iraq and another in Afghanistan while Barack Obama, which everyone thought would be the Americans' way of saying sorry to the world would be a better president, appears to be afflicted with jellyspine.
When Sarawak Chief Minister, Pehin Seri Abdul Taib Mahmud announced that he would step down within the next state assembly term, many sighed a long relief because they believe that this would lift a lot of the negative pressure that they feel has been bearing on Barisan Nasional due to Taib's 30 years in the state driving seat.
While 30 years as a Chief Minister is a record, he also brought record levels of development to the state, building Sarawak from a two-town state into the thriving and bustling economic powerhouse that it is today.
Even the Opposition cannot dispute the fact that Sarawak is one of the strongest economy in the federation but what they always spin the fact by saying that some Sarawakians are still poor, living in undeveloped areas and generally left behind despite the wealth of the state.
Drawing on faulty logic, they then assume that the gap in development and wealth distribution is the result of the Chief Minister pocketing the difference.
Opposition newsportal like Malaysiakini continues to insist that the Chief Minister's opulent lifestyle can be seen through the many Rolls Royces that he has at his disposal, disregarding the fact that the cars are old and are part of the state's fleet bought mostly before Taib's time. In fact only one car was bought during Taib's time, a 195 Silver Spur which was bought for the Yang Dipertua Negeri adn returned to the state pool fleet some years later.
To say that Taib is without his flaws and never once benefitted from his position as Chief Minsiter would be naive and unreasonable but to accuse him of wholesale robbery of the state would be equally grating and specious.
Sarawak offers several difficult challenges for anyone wishing to develop the state, the combination of size and sparse population makes it hard to apply normal development models.
Other sparsely populated countries like Australia, Canada and the United States during its early days relied on mass migration to provide the necessary workforce and expertise to take advantage of the local resources but Sarawak decided to grow slowly, to let the locals enjoy the state's wealth at their own pace.
Go to Kuching and you can see that the economy is still controlled by the locals, with a combination of Chinese, Melanau and Iban businesses thriving in the capital while other smaller communities are represented in their localities .
With this basic limitations in population size, Taib decided, when he came into power in 1981 to create regional townships that can attract population and turn them into development centres along workable development models.
To that end he worked on area like Bintulu, Miri Sarikei and Seri Aman and others. While they are not quite like the scale of new townships in Peninsular Malaysia, they at least have enough population to support development projects such as industrial parks and university townships.
Taib also recognised very early on the dangers of rampant and uncontrolled economic development to the local population, most of whom are not savvy with ruthless modern business practices which pay little or no attention to the community and surrounding environment.
His strong opposition to proposed changes to the Sarawak land Code under the state administration led by Stephen Kalong Ningkan was designed to protect Native Customary Right lands from falling to easily into the hands of non natives.
For his foresight, Sephen kicked him out of the state administration and he was taken to the federal Government by Tunku Abdul Rahman.
He returned with a vision for Sarawak, to bring it out of the primitive economy into the industrial ear, remember that at that point Sarawak was not even an agrarian economy yet because many of the tribes then were still hunter gatherers.
In fact the there are still between 300 and 500 Penans who remain as hunter gatherers to this day.
If he had started from an agrarian economy, as Tunku did in Peninsular Malaysia, it would have been a lot easier but to bring development to a people who have no use for modern economics and still consider the tropical rain forest as part of their soul and communal identity is quite another matter.
No peninsular leader would have the understanding to develop Sarawak in the way that has, after 30 years, still preserved nearly all local traditions and native lifestyles, so far as it can be done.
We have to further bear in mind that Sarawak was cursed with black gold, in many African countries oil had ripped countries apart but the Kenyalang state had not only enjoyed the economic boost but had done so without causing disruption and irreparable damage and change to the state.
Taib also realised early on that the timber industry cannot last forever and the state cannot continue to harvest hardwood without causing massive environmental damage.
Over 30 years Sarawak had developed a unique programme to reduce the state's reliance on the timber industry while creating opportunities for the industry to develop into a more responsible and sustainable source of income.
The current Sarawak practice of encouraging mergers of timber companies into several large conglomerates and awarding them large long-term concessions has allowed the industry to become sustainable , even if detractors do not yet understand how it works.
Timber and wood products are a necessity in the global economy and for Sarawak to give it up completely would be irresponsible, if not outright stupid – so it did the most sensible thing, it transformed the industry into one that is environmentally aware and sustainable.
To compare Sarawak with the rest of the peninsular is perhaps unfair, but just compare it to Kalimantan and we can already see how well Sarawak has done, even when put side by side with Sabah and Brunei, Sarawak still looks good.
Taib's shoes are huge and within the next two or three years, a successor has to be found as the man has indicated that it is time for him to stand back and let the younger generation take over the management of this unique, challenging and potentially prosperous state.
It is easy for the Opposition to rubbish all and any Sarawak Government efforts because nit picking is the errand of small minded politicians. They said it would be easy to make Selangor and Pulau Pinang more prosperous but really what have they achieved? Apart from the token free RM20 worth of water that is now draining state coffers unnecessarily?
The challenges of development and progress in Pulau Pinang and Selangor is child's play because the Opposition inherited these two states with all the hard work already done by BN Governments that had meticulously planned every step of their advancement.
Sarawak is in the cusp of accelerated growth with renewable energy and sustainable industry forming the two main pillars but the plans could be easily derailed by a Government more keen on politicking than nurturing its peoples.
Taib's successor will have to find a way to accelerate the growth of coastal townships while bringing progress to the interior without damaging the environment, the state's greatest asset.
Sarawak is on the way to becoming one of the world's first carbon positive industrial state, a dream that many would even dare to dream.
We pray that Taib and Sarawak will not make the same mistakes that occurred in Putrajaya when Tun Mahathir appointed a soft-spoken grandson of an Ulamak just to appease the people of Malaysia who say they are tired of his autocratic rule.
We all remember the euphoria of having a so-called 'Mr Clean' in Putrajaya. So excited were we that we returned him to the office with the largest majority ever enjoyed by Barisan Nasional – an event that goes to prove that the majority can be so completely wrong and democracy does not always ensure good leaders.
The person replacing Taib must have wide vision, long range plans for the state and a level head on stable shoulders. Apart from the challenge of Development , Sarawak is also a hotbed of political rivalry. Chinese politics, sometimes masked behind native political parties jostle for priority against genuinely native politics.
Taib realised the importance of creating a bloc of native support strong enough to hold its own in the face of Chinese money and politics.
Even native politics is quite divisive and it was Taib who forged the current alliance that is the Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu or PBB. Some may call him ruthless while others may be more charitable in describing his political acumen, whatever your point of view, there is no denying that Taib had developed a strong and stable base that had given Sarawak 30 years of uninterrupted development.
His successor will have to convince the loose confederation of allies to stay with BN not just in name but also in spirit, a challenge worthy of the best politician of today.
So between Adenan Satem, Abang Johari and Effendi Norwawi, the three names bandied around, who has what it takes to lead the state?
I have a name in mind but let me think over it again and see if the lottery changes ts number or not.
But of the three, I think one who claims to be closest to the current Cm and claims to know what is in Taib's mind is the least suitable for the job, I think he is too eager,
I also think Sarawak needs young blood to carry on, the way Taib got on in the early days.
Posted: 20 Mar 2011 08:05 AM PDT
Libya's Moammar Ghadafi might join Hosni Mubarak in retirement/hiding/on the run/whatever if what the main backers of the United Nations' sanctioned "No Fly Zone" establishment in Libya have their way.
Principally led b France, UK and the US, as the Operation Odyssey Dawn entered the second day today (Sunday), iy's still anybody's guess how long the defiant Ghadafi and his supporting miliary forces would be able to last the onslaught as the "allied" forces bombarded at the main targets in Libya near the northern coast, including Benghazi and capital Tripoli, and it's indeed "unclear" how the US pledge of NOT USING GROUND TROOPS could lead to Ghadafi's surrender.
The CNN provided the most comprehensive coverage of the unfolding progression of the Operation,including regular interviews with former US General Westlye (?) Clark who shared highly experienced views as he was a key player in the Bush Administration when it last engaged in foreign intervention in Iraq.
I guess I would have to stay glued to this "war" playing out of the idiot box to make Desi more "entertained" than all the Hollywood war movies because for once, I sit of the edge of history being made of a batleground via the TV media. Indeed, the central role played by the networks like BBC, AlJazeera and CCTV besides CNN, in some way lent to the "uprisings" in the African and Arab countries quite like the domino effect.
On the Japan earthquake-tsunami saga, it has been more positive developments the past 24-48 hours as power is restored to the Fukushima nuclear plant -- a joyful break among the bleak and sorrowful scenes today was the rescue of a grandmother and her grandson in the 9th day of an unmatched hiterto castastrophe as witnessed by Desi in this lifetime. I believe I have become more circumspect of life and its unpredictability. I also believe I won't be writing long theses this period -- just FOR THE RECORD postings like a diary/journal because OPINIONS CAN COME CHEAP AND LUDICROUS at such momentous times.
Malaysians must count our blessings that our country is not sitting at the earthquake ridges, but one can't tell as Carole King reminds us "I can feel the earth move Under my feet..." even as I watch the TV re-runs of the 9.0earthquake with a terrifying-killer tsunami in its wake. It reminds me of a nightmare I occasionally have as I drive my car through a road under two feet of water..."What if the engines died o me?" THis nightmare cometh because indeed I was foolish enough to drive through about 30meters of Ampang one dark and raining evening trying to make it to a social function. That time about 20 years ago the engine did NOT die on Desi -- sorry to my cyber enemies who read this, thy curses were not retrospective! Second time around I might not be so lucky!
"So my dear Lord, bless with with security. I don't need Ghadafi's forces. I need luck and serenity and thy blessings." Amen.
Posted: 20 Mar 2011 03:34 AM PDT
Loony Tun's autobiography some time back.
I wasn't aware that his book was going to be such a bestseller among the Malaysian public - looks like this man still has many fans.
It's also evident he has a great number of critics, some of whom have commented on his skill in being a political chameleon.
His race appears to be a bone of contention for most of his critics. In his autobiography he claims his ancestors hailed from Kerala, India, but he claims he is "Malay".
Anyone who has seen Malayalam movies on Astro can tell right away that Mahathir has a typical Malayalee face. This has somehow ended up as a chapter in Mahathir's memoirs entitled, "I am a Malay".
I actually don't have a problem with him calling himself a Malay. In Malaysia, anyone can claim to be a Malay since the definition of "Malay" in the Federal Constitution in itself is very broad and ambiguous.
Mahathir may have perfected the art of blending into a culture, but Ridhuan Tee and many others have both earnestly and casually followed suit.
And seriously, what does it mean to be "Malay" anyway? The whole of South East Asia is predominantly comprised of a race that is derived of Indian and Chinese parentage.
Malays are essentially Chindians - part Chinese, part Indian and in some occasions part Arabic thrown in for good measure.
So are the Indonesians, Filipinos, Thais, Vietnamese, Cambodians, Myanmarese etc. All Chindians.
Going through lengths to prove that a particular Malay has Indian ancestry is an exercise in futility - it is already a fact that he does.
The Malay language and culture is a testament to the Indian heritage and influence.
So I am not interested in debating about whether Mahathir is Indian or Malay. He can be Malay for all he likes - race in this sense is purely semantics coming into play, if you ask me.
But if you go beyond the stereotyping of his looks and ancestry, some of his critics do put across a salient point: If not for Article 153 in the Federal Constitution and the New Economic Policy that favour Malays, would Mahathir claim so proudly to be a Malay?
He has expressed some of his frustrations with the Malay way of life in his book "The Malay Dilemma" which was published long ago.
Perhaps he meant well for the Malays. Perhaps he wanted to associate himself with a group that was superior. Or perhaps he may have wanted to be the big fish in a small pond.
I really don't know because I don't deign to read his mind.
He has done much damage to this nation with his divisive, autocratic brand of politics, however, and I do not admire him for that one bit.
Perhaps we could do well to disregard the whole issue of race as being pivotal to our state of mind and intellect.
Posted: 20 Mar 2011 12:59 AM PDT
Contributed by Krishna Singh
Date: Thursday, 3 March, 2011, 1:59
Subject: GENTING CABLE CAR FELL DOWN - (not reported in news)
Anything we use is a RISK, whether on plane, boat or our own vehicles.
As usual, THEY paid people off not to expose the incident.
This was kept under wraps.
Cable car rides not recommended since it is not safe. Warn your friends.
Posted: 20 Mar 2011 02:55 AM PDT
The UN's backing for the 'Operation Odyssey Dawn' military action against Libya only adds fuel to the fire and has taken more lives by the latest massacre against Libyan citizens!
God damn the American, French and European governments who have launched missile attacks against the civilians in Libya!!!
What bloody justice are these countries talking about when instead of the Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi getting whacked, it is the women, children and ulama of Libya who are reported to have been killed by the latest military attack led by the French, American and EU?
Obama erroneously has now ordered his Armed Forces to join European Military in shedding more Libyan blood in the 'interests of his nation' and fellow coalition of neocon imperialists in the form of the European kuffar nations.
The Arab nations of the Middle East have brought these upon themselves by being divided and oppressive on their own people!
Go on! Remain divided and recalcitrant! Forget about the call to be as one! Fight amongst yourselves and do not seek peace with one another.
After all, you delude yourselves that with all the wealth and riches from the black gold oozing underneath the burning sands of your nation's deserts, you'll never run out of the abilities to defend yourselves?
Look at how Israel, a tiny regime kicks you in the ass and devastates your Palestinian brothers and sisters life's as they damn well please?
Muammar Gaddafi is a tyrant but it is simply shocking to see hordes of Libyans hero worshipping him still!
Que Sera Sera Libya!
The OIC will adopt the usual 'See No Evil, Speak No Evil and Hear No Evil' approach to another Arab country that's gonna go the way Iraq did.
As the Prophet Muhammad Sallalahu Alaihi Wassallam has warned us 14 centuries earlier that in these Akhirul Zaman, we who are Muslims will be weak as the froth gathered upon the ocean waves, numerous in numbers yet divided and disunited as an ummah whose enemies will be gathered to feast upon us.
Posted: 19 Mar 2011 11:47 PM PDT
Violet Yong a lawyer by profession dealt a bitter blow and a nail in the heart of SUPP in the 2006 Sarawak Elections. Her win by defeating the SG of SUPP and also an Assistant Minister by 4372 was indeed a devastating blow. Pending was considered one of the stronghold for SUPP and no one would give her a ghosts of a chance to defeat Sim Kheng Hui in a predominantly Chinese area of 29503. She was on top of the slide but since then has her win put her in a position of over confidence?
Will you still hear the words,"Boh Soo' (no problem) from the opposition supporters as they try to protect their fort..?? SUPP will "chiong"(attack) DAP Pending Incumbent .
Will she slide down and come down to earth and SUPP regains back Pending. We will know soon wouldn't we..??
The voter turnout was 18986 and the DAP lawyer garnered 11632 while Sim managed 7260. The main issue during the 2006 campaign was the land rental premium plus some minor dissatisfaction led to SUPP paying the price and losing this bastion N10.
N10 Assemblywoman Incumbent Violet knows that she will face a tough opponent in Dr. Sim Kui Hian (the head of Sarawak General Hospital cardiac unit head) The PM has even endorsed his candidacy making it official for SUPP that "the people must not sacrifice this illustrious son,you must make him win."
CM Taib aslo gave him his endorsement by saying,"He is a recognised specialist not only in Malaysia but also internationally.He is a good man to be your representative and you will not be ashamed of him."
A political observer says that"Dr Sim comes with a clean slate and SUPP has given the Pending voters a highly promising and a candidate with excellent track record to win back the seat. DAP Yong the incumbent will feel the pinch and she will have a difficult time protecting her turf.
N10 BN component parties are all ready to assist the SUPP candidate and DAP will not know what hit her. She will be left licking her wounds and the good doctor will provide enough medicine for her to ease her pain. It's pay back time……
SUPP AND DAP KNOWS THIS WILL BE A TOUGH FIGHT AND ONLY ONE WILL COME OUT VICTORIOUS……
Posted: 19 Mar 2011 09:12 PM PDT
Posted: 19 Mar 2011 07:53 PM PDT
Early this month I heard that UniSIM was offering a Master of Gerontology course commencing this July. It was the first university in Singapore to do so. I was excited as for the past two years I had been looking for just such a course of study. A post-graduate degree in gerontology would definitely add credibility to my writings on Seniorsaloud, and open doors to new career opportunities.
As a strong advocate of life-long learning, I was eager to register for the course. Classes would be held on alternate weekends at the Clementi campus in Singapore. The modules covered areas that were familiar to me. The entire course could be completed in one and a half years. Students could start with the 9-month compulsory course leading to the Graduate Diploma in Gerontology. They could then decide whether to continue with another nine months of elective courses leading to a Master of Gerontology. The flexibility of the course structure suited me perfectly.
Then my mother had a fall.
I watched incredulously as the hospital bills kept escalating, and the savings kept dwindling. That started me on an online search for scholarships.
To my utter disappointment. I found that every foundation that offered post-graduate scholarships had a maximum age limit for applicants - not more than 30 or 35 years.
I have at least a good 10 years of working life in me. At present, one in 11 Singaporeans is aged 65 and above. By 2030, it will be one in five. With the population ageing rapidly in Singapore and across the region, there is an urgent need for qualified gerontologists. I know I make a darn good one.
In the meantime, I shall resort to buying a lottery ticket of two...
Posted: 19 Mar 2011 07:45 PM PDT
This was in AFP:
AMMAN, Jordan – The cry first rang out from the fed-up people of Lisbon and Madrid: "Basta!"
It echoed across South America, to the banging of pots and pans. It resounded in the old capitals of a new Asia, was taken up in a Polish shipyard, awakened a slumbering Africa. And now, a generation later, it's heard in the city squares of the Arab world: "Kifaya!"
From Morocco in the west to Yemen in the east, the sudden rising up of ordinary Arabs against their autocratic rulers looks like a belated postscript to the changes that swept the globe in the final decades of the last century — a period scholars dubbed the "third wave of democracy."
"Now we're witnessing the fourth wave of democracy," a smiling Oraib al-Rantawi, Jordanian political activist, assured a visitor to Amman. "We're lucky to live to see it."
You could see it one brilliant afternoon on Talal Street in this cream-colored city of minarets and hills, where more than 2,000 Jordanians marched along in a river of flags and protest signs, adding their voices to those in almost a dozen other Arab lands demanding greater freedoms, a bigger say in running their societies.
"The people across the region have risen and our leaders are still asleep," protest leader Sufian Tal told these unhappy subjects of Jordan's King Abdullah II.
"Enough is enough!"
In Amman and Cairo, in Sanaa and Benghazi, it's clear: They've had enough. But is the Arab world truly on the threshold of democracy? Why did it take so long? And why in our lifetimes did this idea of "one person, one vote" spread so swiftly over the globe?
Twenty-six floors up in a Wall Street office tower, near the spot where George Washington took the oath to lead a newborn American democracy, Arch Puddington and his Freedom House staff meticulously track the idea's planetary progress.
For almost 40 years, this think tank's New York researchers have annually assessed the state of democracy and associated freedoms, classifying nations in three categories — free, partly free or not free. The numbers tell a striking story: Almost half the world's nations were rated not free in 1972, but by last year that proportion had dropped below one-quarter.
"What impresses me is how it's exploded when you had centuries when democracies didn't exist at all, and for quite a few years were restricted to a few places," Puddington said.
Political scientists identify democracy's "first wave" as the revolutionary period of the 18th and 19th centuries, and the second as the post-World War II restoration of traditional democracies.
The third wave, they now see, began in the mid-1970s, when people in Portugal and Spain threw off decades of military dictatorship. That upheaval helped inspire their former Latin American colonies to topple their own authoritarians-in-uniform in the 1980s, when the rhythmic banging of cookware in the Santiago night signaled that Chileans, for one, were fed up.
The wave rolled on to east Asia, to the Philippines' "People Power" revolution, South Korea's embrace of civilian democracy, Taiwan's ending of one-party rule. Then, in 1989, the Berlin Wall came down.
Eastern Europe's post-Communist transition, foreshadowed by Solidarity's rise in a Gdansk shipyard, delivered a dozen nations to Puddington's democratic column. The wave then reached sub-Saharan Africa, where the number of countries with multiparty electoral systems soared from a mere three in 1989 to 18 by 1995.
From about 40 democracies worldwide late in Spain's Franco dictatorship, the number stood at 123 by 2005. Despots by the dozen — the Duvaliers and Marcoses, Stroessners and Ceausescus — were abruptly consigned to a grim past.
Elections in some transformed states proved not always free and fair. Some failed to protect minorities against the "tyranny of the majority," the bane of mass rule. Some did little to better their impoverished people's everyday lives.
But, seemingly overnight, the world's political landscape had unmistakably shifted, to power for the people. What had happened?
A complex of factors is usually cited: the failed economic policies and military misadventures of the generals and strongmen; rising education, expanding middle classes, improved communications widening people's horizons; a liberalizing Catholic Church in Latin America; a well-financed push by the U.S. and the European Union to nurture more democracies through aid and political training programs.
Puddington sees another big driver: the fading of what many once viewed as a non-democratic alternative, the communist promise of economic development with social equality in a one-party state.
"In the `70s, looking back, the communist idea had exhausted itself as an economic force," he said.
When the third wave finally ebbed a decade ago, only Arab societies were left untouched, noted al-Rantawi, director of Amman's Al Quds Center for Political Studies.
"Sometimes we believed we were another kind of human," he said with a laugh. "Practically all the world had become democratic, except us."
Why? Again, a list of reasons is cited: poverty and illiteracy; a postcolonial period, including wars with Israel, that empowered local militaries; oil wealth enriching traditional sheiks and other authoritarians; the U.S. and other oil-importing powers favoring the predictability of friendly autocrats.
Now the shock of Tunis and Cairo, the removal of two seemingly immovable presidents, accompanied by explosions of protest elsewhere, seems to be leapfrogging those obstacles, propelled by the Internet and instant communication.
But where the fed-up Arab millions are headed in Egypt and Tunisia, and possibly soon in other lands, is the unanswered question of the moment.
"Democracy is not the certain outcome," said Vidar Helgesen, head of the Sweden-based International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, a 27-nation consortium that aids political transitions.
"Mass protests can overthrow a dictatorship but cannot build democracy," Helgesen said. That requires overhauling constitutions, establishing free, fair elections, adopting laws guaranteeing political rights, freedom of expression, independent judiciaries.
The biggest uncertainties hang over the biggest Arab nation, the 80 million people of Egypt.
Will its military commanders, "interim" leaders now that President Hosni Mubarak is gone, fully surrender the control they have exercised directly or indirectly for almost 60 years? Can strong political parties emerge soon enough? Will the well-organized Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood dominate a new Egypt?
This prospect of Islamist ascendancy has long been another obstacle to Arab democracy.
Arab leaders, U.S. politicians, Israeli voices spoke nervously of "one man, one vote, one time" — imposition of undemocratic, puritanical Quranic rule if open elections put religious parties in power. It's a fear that led Algeria's military to suppress an incipient democracy there as Islamists neared election victory in 1992.
But other voices today insist political Islam doesn't endanger democracy. They point to the "Turkish model," where an elected Islamist party governs without remaking the secular, multiparty state.
"The majority of Muslims in the Middle East today believe there is no incompatibility between Islam and democracy," said Radwan Masmoudi, founder of the U.S.-based Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy.
Mideast scholar Lisa Anderson agrees.
"There have been Christian Democrats and Christian Socialists in Europe for 100 years, and nobody thought that was going to capsize democracy," said Anderson, president of the American University in Cairo.
Elsewhere in Cairo, after group prayers in the Muslim Brotherhood's cramped offices beside the Nile, leading spokesman Mohammed Saad el-Katatney outlined plans for a new Freedom and Justice Party to contest elections expected as early as June. He clearly wanted to allay concerns about a takeover.
"We think it would be unsuitable to be opportunistic and seek a majority in Parliament," he told The Associated Press, saying his party instead intends to vie for only a limited number of parliamentary seats.
Ultimately, said this 58-year-old microbiologist, "our goal is to establish a civil state, not a religious state." But it would be a civil state "in reference to the principles of the laws of Islamic sharia" — something, he noted, already enshrined in Egypt's constitution.
In Cairo's central Tahrir Square, on the edge of a roaring throng of tens of thousands gathered for another Friday demonstration, two very different young women sounded unpersuaded by Brotherhood reassurances.
"Young people, a mixture of people, will dominate the democracy, not Islam," said jeans-clad teenager Amira Esam Shwihi. "We want to separate religion and politics."
Nearby, Samah Amer, 25, black Islamic garb covering all but her eyes, said the Muslim Brotherhood "doesn't represent all of Egypt. I want a changed political system, not turn it into an Islamic system."
Some say the change may occur in the Brotherhood itself.
Tariq Ramadan, grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brothers, sees a "generation gap, generational tension" in which younger members are pressing for acceptance of a Turkish model within the organization.
"Islamism is not a static ideology. People are moving forward," said Ramadan, an Islamic studies professor at Oxford University.
That's what liberal activist Abdallah Helmy said he found in the tumult of Egypt's winter revolution.
"In two weeks of camping in Tahrir Square, we exchanged ideas with young Muslim Brothers," said Helmy, 34. "And we found exactly the same point of view. They would accept having a Christian president, for example. They would accept men and women meeting together."
Ramadan cautioned Islamists and secularists alike, however, against expecting too much too soon. With the army's heavy hand on Egypt's transition, "I think it's going to be very difficult to have an achieved, complete democracy," he said.
It has seldom been easy. It took a civil war and more for Washington's America to evolve into today's democracy. And in just one example from Puddington's latest report, Freedom House downgrades Ukraine's democracy, once viewed as a post-Communist model, to "partly free" because of new authoritarian tendencies.
Stable democracies "will take a very long time in the Middle East," said Carl Gershman, head since 1984 of the non-governmental U.S. National Endowment for Democracy, whose $100 million in annual congressional appropriations help promote democracy worldwide.
"But now it's clear we're entering a new period for democracy," he said. "There's really no large competing idea."
And what of the biggest democracy vacuum of all, the one-party state of China, where a democracy movement was crushed, with hundreds killed, in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989?
"I don't think China will be able to avoid this trend," Gershman said. "It all amounts to a question of human dignity. And that's universal."
I'd like to make two observations here with regards to Malaysia.
First, we are mostly not a democracy. That means we have what looks like a democracy, but it is not. The press is muffled. The election commission is a stooge of the ruling coalition. So is the Attorney General's chambers, and to some extent the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (an impartial influential committee member has asked Malaysians to trust the current chief, saying his hands are tied because he does not have prosecutorial powers - but we shall see). The Parliament is a rubber stamp, with rules meant to stifle meaningful debate, and an absolutely partial Speaker and Deputy Speaker. Institutions have been corrupted, mostly run by people who are incompetent or not visionary. The Cabinet is filled with political appointees with no great forward moving ideas of their own, trapped by racial and religious fault lines of their own convenience and lack of imagination. The police have abused their power. We are in a state of 4 emergencies even when communist threat has ended. We detain and jail people without recourse to a judge. We lose talents to overseas because we don't appreciate meritocracy. The largest race implemented an economic quota system that will never ever be met because of changing goal post. Racial supremacy rears its ugly head all the time - people think they are entitled and don't have to work to earn anything. Religious bigotry, taken in form and substance from the middle east during the 90s, which are outdated in light of the aforesaid article, is practised as if cast in stone. The list goes on. And is nauseating to say the least.
Second - the middle east have moved forward. Islamic understanding and application to the modern society has evolved. Except in Malaysia. A government who does not appreciate this do not deserve to be in power because they live in the past while the rest of us needs to forge ahead for the future. We are still stuck in the quagmire of conversion cases. It's very easy. The child's religion should not ever be decided by a single parent because it's subject to abuse. Conversion paperwork should require the same stringency as a will, because of repercussions in terms of asset distribution. Religious debates should be permitted as long as there is no incitement of violence. Is that so very hard to do? I don't think so. It's all a politics of divide and conquer, politics of fear over enlightenment. What Malaysia needs is a philosophical shift to unshackle us from the dry and dead governance philosophy of yesteryears and to embrace the new century and decade. Between BN and Pakatan, the latter is more pliable to embrace, and effect such change. In the long term, I'd put my money on them.
Posted: 19 Mar 2011 07:20 PM PDT
This came out in AFP:
TOKYO – There are events in history that sear themselves into the world's collective imagination, and enter the realm where myth meets heartbreaking reality.
Japan's tragedy is one of those events. Already, it seems reasonable to surmise it could prove one of the most significant calamities of our time — one that shapes policies, economies, even philosophies for decades to come in an increasingly interconnected world.
There is the sheer, surreal force of the images emerging from afflicted zones: cars perched on rooftops, ships sitting in rice paddies, helicopters in a David-and-Goliath battle against radiation-spewing nuclear reactors.
And the way it haunts us with some of our most basic fears: Death by water. Or rubble. Or nuclear fallout.
Add to that, it's a crisis with an impact that will be felt around the planet: Japan is one of the most advanced countries in the world, its third-largest economy, its most successful car-seller and its second-most generous giver of foreign aid.
"This event has the potential to be the most globally disruptive natural hazard in modern times," said Rob Verchick, a disaster expert at Loyola University in New Orleans. "And it may just be, in the context of globalization, of all time."
The Asian tsunami of 2004 killed more people. The fall of the Twin Towers launched two wars. The collapse of the Berlin Wall spelled the end of an empire.
But in this event, psychological, even philosophical, shock over the confluence of human tragedy and nuclear catastrophe yields some fundamental questions. If a technological power like Japan can be so vulnerable, who's safe? Is even minimal risk, as with nuclear power, too much risk? Do we need to rethink the role of government in protecting the public?
Shaking us from modern-day hubris, we're forced to think about whether even the most advanced societies, with almost obsessively meticulous safety backstops, are still pitifully at the mercy of the elements.
But amid tragedy, Francis Fukuyama, the eminent Stanford philosopher and author of "The End of History and the Last Man," sees the possibility for the crisis to become a galvanizing force for political change in the world.
"It does seem to me a natural disaster like this, because it reminds everybody of how commonly vulnerable they are, could be used as an opportunity to reshape the whole tone and character of politics," Fukuyama told The Associated Press.
The unbelievable sight of rich Japan — famous for trains running like clockwork, state-of-the-art gadgets, concern for safety and order — laid low by a freak force of nature beyond human control has been a terrifying wake-up call. On Friday, Japan's government acknowledged that the triple blow of quake, tsunami and nuclear disaster completely overwhelmed even its elaborately laid out, and fastidiously practiced, emergency response systems.
"The unprecedented scale of the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan, frankly speaking, were among many things that happened that had not been anticipated under our disaster management contingency plans," said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano.
There's another great earthquake that changed the world: Lisbon, 1755. The tsunami-churning temblor flattened the Portuguese city, killed tens of thousands of people, and caused Enlightenment thinkers to re-imagine the role of government and community.
Experts say this crisis could become another historical turning point that may alter mankind's perception of its relationship to the world, and societies' relationship with one another in an age of globalization.
"What the Lisbon earthquake experience contributed to Western history (was) this move of government being responsible to its people and protecting them in a community-driven way," said Verchick. "Is there anything like that that might happen as a result of the Japan tsunami and earthquake and nuclear disaster? I think that the answer is yes. It's related to the idea of global community."
Already the crisis is triggering an urgent rethink of nuclear power around the world, from China to Germany, where pressure is building to sharply accelerate a plan to phase out nuclear energy.
"Fukushima, March 12: 15:36: The End of the Nuclear Age," read the cover of the Germany's prestigious Der Spiegel magazine — referring to the exact time an explosion rocked the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant where workers are racing to prevent a meltdown.
While the Asian tsunami and last year's earthquake in Haiti triggered an enormous outpouring of worldwide sympathy and aid, the Japan catastrophe is one where people in industrialized countries can more easily see themselves in the victims' shoes.
"One of the things that make this a unique situation is that it is a catastrophic event with incredible terrifying loss that's occurring in a country that is also wealthy," said Verchick, author of the book Facing Catastrophe: Environmental Action for a Post-Katrina World.
Verchick said that in New Orleans, many people who lived through Hurricane Katrina are watching the scenes in Japan with a sense of gut-wrenching familiarity, with some even experiencing symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder.
The Japan tsunami will go down in history as the more significant disaster, according to James Orr, professor of East Asian studies at Bucknell University. Not because of any difference in suffering, but because its effects will be felt around the planet in a more direct way. "Katrina was very much a regional disaster," he said.
And that global punch is given more force from the historic speed with which the images of devastation reached every corner of the planet.
"People all over the world have the ability to almost immediately see the disaster on the ground," said Verchick. "And that actually produces psychological and social changes in people and communities all over the world."
It appears that the Malaysian government has yet to "get it" that the littlest of risk from a radiation fall out is not acceptable anymore. With the tender for assessing feasibility of nuclear power option being as opaque as at the start of the Fukushima crisis, Malaysians are left to wonder whether this government under BN has really what it takes to manage a proper debate about having a nuclear power plant, or whether it is an exercise to benefit some cronies at the expense of long term health of Malaysians.
Secondly, yes - governments after the Lisbon quake moved towards protecting the people. I do not wish for Malaysia to suffer a natural calamity of unimagined proportions. But many a times I feel that we actually need one such event to draw the people together. Instead of constantly snipping over racial superiority, religious supremacy, or economic quota, we would actually do something together for the greater good, for the larger purpose than the sum of all Malaysians.
Malaysia with its splendour of natural resources, incredibly comfortable climate, and hidden from the Pacific ring of fire, should have been the beacon of the world. But so much has been wasted on self serving accumulation of personal wealth of the powers that be that instead of being in the top of many surveys, our name in recent times have come up all for the wrong reasons. Ill conceived infrastructure projects, white elephants, collapsing/leaking buildings, failed education system, providing free human resource for our neighbouring Singapore and elsewhere instead of keeping such gems, brutalisation of peaceful protestors, sham prosecutions, death in custody, selective investigations, partial institutions of governance... the list goes on and on until most Malaysians have grown numb.
Sarawak elections is the single most powerful democratic event post Japan disaster that can critically shape the future of Malaysia in the next 5 years. It is a critical time for Malaysia as we are left behind - out-invested, out-competed, out-exported, out-recognised, and out-democratised by even what was once our less affluent neighbours. This opportunity will not come again for a very long time.
I would suggest the opposition parties to really get their acts together and mount the strongest possible challenge against Sarawak BN. Turn coats and trojan horses should just be recognised as such and no compromise should be reached with them. Throw in everything you've got. Mobilise the tens of thousands of supporters to spread your message. Embrace the change that is about to sweep the planet, as the article above suggested. If you embrace this, and you stimulate the imagination of the Malaysian public, then you are indeed the visionary leaders that Malaysians need, and you can easily leave BN behind to bite dust, as they continue to be intoxicated and eventually drowned by their self serving morality.
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