Opinion Opinion en Finding common ground
That statement seemed to resonate among family, friends and acquaintances. One of my friends of Chinese ethnicity said, "That's badass! Some may not understand what he said hits home to me now as someone who feel orphaned: because the country didn't accept me because of my race; that I don't belong here, or even claim I'm a proper Chinese, since I don't speak the language or identify with China. This has totally changed for me since the election and now I can truly say that finally I'm also not Chinese. I'm Malaysian and that this country is my true home."

As for me, I never understood race-based politics. Being of mixed ethnicity, I am neither/nor and I am either/or.

I always wondered why we need to put our race down in official and business forms (including when signing up for utilities), why it was so important that I didn't look like how my name says I ought to look, or why it is so heinous that I don't speak either language of my ethnic origins.

How would I join MIC? I don't speak any Indian language or profess to know anything about Indian culture. Speaking of which, what Indian culture? India is such a diverse nation with so many communities and religions, so are we talking about Tamils or Sikhs or Gujarati or Malayalis? Do we include the Sri Lankan Tamils, some of whom insist they aren't Indian? India is a country, not a culture.

How would I join MCA? I don't speak or write any Chinese. I did learn some Mandarin but the good teacher taught it to us in Cantonese. That wasn't helpful at all to me or the other Chindian guy, as we did not speak Cantonese.

Malaysians are so mixed already and I doubt there are many families who are purely Chinese or purely Malay or purely of one single Indian community.

For those of us who are clearly of two ethnic origins, it is frustrating that we have to "side" with one ethnicity over the other when it comes to "official" reasons. This kind of differentiation runs totally counter to fostering a national identity. For example, an elderly client of mine was given a polling station near his home in Putra Heights, while his wife's polling station was moved to Shah Alam, all because she was of a different race. The Election Commission itself admitted that the redelineation exercise it conducted earlier this year was based along racial lines.

Thinking about my 77-year-old client and his 60-something wife, it must have been really inconvenient for them to go separately to vote and to experience GE14 separately. All because some Malaysians are fixated with race. Aren't we all Malaysians?

What is the use of having separate racial parties? Why is there a need to "defend" a race when it isn't even under attack? Of course, most of us know that this is just a political ploy of "divide and rule" that politicians use. Unfortunately, some people fall into that very belief system and it will take generations to scrub out implicit bias and prejudice.

Of course, ethnicity is important. I feel equally happy and proud of my Chinese and Indian heritage. But to build this nation again, we need to focus on what holds us together, and what we have in common, and avoid "other"ing. That is why many of us rejoiced when we began seeing our current administration speaking out against racial politics and putting our national identity first.

Hopefully, we won't only put aside our differences, but eventually celebrate it and look at our diversity as a unifying factor as well.

Daniel has a passion for health, fitness, sleep and travel. Comments:]]>
Freespace Sun, 17 Jun 2018 10:49:35 +0000 Daniel Chandranayagam 556379 at
The high-speed rail dilemma
Apart from speed, the Beijing-Jinan HST has comfortable seats similar to business class on airlines, ultra-clean toilets and is punctual. The Beijing South railway station has designated waiting areas – similar to boarding gates – where passengers wait to ensure they board the correct HSR.

That China has built more than 20,000km of high-speed rail in 2016 – the longest network globally – is due to three attributes. It has a large population, a continental land mass and a near-total state ownership of land that minimises, if not eliminates entirely, the hassle of land acquisition that has bedevilled similar projects elsewhere.

For countries like Malaysia that don't enjoy similar advantages, is the now postponed high-speed rail (HSR) between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore a necessity or, for now, an unaffordable luxury?

Some questions need to be asked about the KL-Singapore HSR.

First, the proposed 350km HSR track between Bandar Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur and Jurong East in Singapore includes six stations in between – Putrajaya, Seremban, Air Keroh, Muar, Batu Pahat and Iskandar Putri.

Will the short distances between some stations allow the HSR to move continuously at high speed? High speed is usually defined as a rate faster than 250kmh.

Based on the distance calculator app, the longest stretch is 117km between Batu Pahat and Iskandar Putri. All other stretches are less than 60km; the shortest is the 35km between Bandar Malaysia and Putrajaya.

If high speed is possible only between Bandar Malaysia or Putrajaya at the start and Iskandar Putri or Singapore at the terminus, will the HSR be financially viable?

Debating with David Fickling in a Bloomberg article, Adam Minter says high passenger demand is a precondition to a successful HSR development.

According to Land Public Transport Commission or SPAD, its Bahasa acronym, annual ridership of the HSR is estimated at 20-22 million in its 10th year of operations. This prompts several questions.

Assuming construction is completed in 2026, is this projected ridership figure realistic? Currently, 14 million live in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Negri Sembilan, Malacca and Johor plus 5.6 million in Singapore.

A more relevant yardstick is the number flying between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Between March 2017 and February 2018, four million individuals flew the Singapore-Kuala Lumpur route, Minter notes.

"… HSR supporters would have us believe that 22 million people will ride the line by 2036. Even cut in half, such a projection is unrealistic," Minter adds.

Another issue bedevilling the HSR is costs. Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad claims the price tag is RM110 billion while the previous Najib administration maintains the figure is RM50-70 billion.

Using the lowest estimate of RM50 billion, this suggests the cost of the 650km HSR is a hefty RM14.3 million/km.

Problems dogging HSR projects in California and the UK – cost overruns, construction delay and rising scepticism that benefits outweigh the drawbacks – highlight potential speed bumps.

California's HSR – the first in the US – involves building a 530km line between San Francisco and Los Angeles in Phase 1 while Phase 2 will stretch from Sacramento to San Diego.

Launched in 2008 during the Obama administration, costs were initially estimated at US$30 billion, soared to US$100 billion before construction changes trimmed the figure to US$68 billion while completion of Phase 1 will be delayed for four years to 2033.

Analysts suggest two benefits of HSR – creating new employment opportunities during construction and connecting cheaper housing areas in California to Los Angeles and Silicon Valley which have plenty of jobs but unaffordable housing.

Similarly, UK's high-speed rail project HS2 has been bedevilled by rising costs. In 2012, the cost of HS2 was estimated at £32.7 billion; the figure has swelled today to £55.7 billion.

Based on a 531km track, the HS2 could cost £104.8 million/km – six times higher than the comparable sum for France's LGV Mediterranee's 250km track which was completed in 2001 for £16.9 million/km, UK critics complain.

Cost of UK's HS2 is high because existing train stations needed massive expansion, this wasn't necessary elsewhere, analysts said.

Adding to the discontent, the UK's National Audit Office says there is a 60% chance HS2's first phase will be completed on schedule.

A World Bank study of China's HST network suggests agglomeration benefits lifted economic output between 0.55% and 1% annually. Agglomeration refers to advantages that result when businesses, people or urban areas cluster together.

China's HSR experience suggests building a HSR involves massive short-term costs for long-term benefits. But as noted economist Keynes said: "… this long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead."

Opinions expressed in this article are the personal views of the writer and should not be attributed to any organisation she is connected with. She can be contacted at]]>
Making Sens Wed, 13 Jun 2018 09:47:55 +0000 Tan Siok Choo 555403 at
Creating a broader vision
A new equilibrium was reached. The markets welcomed the change. The KLCI initially gained 3.91 points to close at 1,850 and the ringgit recovered to 3.95 against the US dollar. More recently, concerns over the magnitude of debt have depressed the KLCI.

The people are warm with euphoria and heightened expectations.

What has to be done now?

First, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has to gain the confidence of the people, to assure them that he has assembled a cohesive coalition, not a motley bunch of warring factions.

Second, Mahathir has to convince the public and the markets that he has a clear economic and social roadmap. He is expected to articulate a plan of action on the economic and social direction of the country.

As a corollary, one could also look forward to a freshly thought-out foreign policy and geo-economic strategy.

Third, it is imperative for him to revise the institutional foundations of the country. This involves a long and complex web of processes and organisations.

By institutions, I mean organisations, processes and values. The reformation of institutions is an onerous task because it involves the judiciary, civil service, and government agencies. It also includes customs procedures, government procurement, as well as the selection and award of projects.

More foundational to institutions are the values, habits and beliefs that are held. This is certainly the deepest part of institutions and, certainly, the most difficult to correct.

Let us take the notion of the rule of law as an example. Not only should legal processes be respected, but individuals should adhere to the principles of judicial independence and neutrality before the law. Aside from all the structures that support the execution of the idea of the rule of law, people should subscribe to ways of thinking that accept such statements as, "I will apply the law to my foes and, equally, to my friends, if there is adequate ground to believe that there is wrongdoing."

To take another example, when funds running into billions are transferred from and into domestic accounts, do bells not ring within the banking system? Is there no mechanism to control the flow of illicit funds? If there was a mechanism and it did not work, why did it not? Was it because of political interference? Was it because it has become the norm to ignore certain signals?

These three factors effectively imply a reformation of the Malaysian fabric.
Setting the roadmap for economic transformation is the easiest of the three tasks in so far as it deals with tangible parameters. Even here the ease of accomplishing the desired objectives will not be without its challenges.

There is a whole host of phenomena that have to be examined: public debt, household debt, debt servicing, cost of living, youth unemployment (graduate unemployment, too), fiscal prudence (Malaysia has been running on a budget deficit in most years), contingent liabilities, the exchange rate and subsidies.

If the economic-to-do list is a tough one, the social list is even more challenging.

Some of the questions that will come up will resemble the following. Will we be moving towards a post-racial society? Will there be a switch to a Malaysian identity, one that goes beyond ethnic considerations? Will all ethnic groups within the B40 be treated equally, or will the more disadvantaged among them be prioritised?

The G25 has articulated a more liberal and secular vision for the nation. They closely hold on to the spirit of the constitution. Will their vision be appealing to the present government?

For the moment, Mahathir is doing well in holding his team together, keeping their noses to the immediate problems at hand. His submission of Tommy Thomas's name for the post of attorney-general hints at a post-racial society in the making. At some point ideological differences may come up. Hopefully, by that time there is greater maturity and a more encompassing vision evolves.

One expects that in time more robust institutions will develop, supported by more enlightened values that are embedded in society, so that differences are accepted without leading to the fragmentation of society.

Dr Shankaran Nambiar is a senior research fellow at the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research. He is author of "The Malaysian Economy: Rethinking Policies and Purposes" and "Malaysia in Troubled Times". Comments:
Policy Matters Wed, 13 Jun 2018 00:43:02 +0000 Shankaran Nambiar 555058 at
What gentlemen’s agreement?
The subtext read: China-led Belt and Road Initiative (CBRI) making key infrastructure projects a reality and helping to improve economic relations. The People's Republic is reported to be our largest trading partner for nine consecutive years. The same issue also covered Singapore and Pakistan under the CBRI theme.

It was not surprising to read about mega-projects sponsored by China through its companies and banks under CBRI. For Malaysia, it includes the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), Exchange 106 (formerly TRX Tower) or the Malacca Gateway.

The major revelation: What has been uncovered so far post-GE categorically contradicts what is purported by the headline.

It is the opposite thanks to the astounding election result that cracked open several tightly held "secrets" of the former government. The notion of a "gentlemen's agreement" is dubious.

The China Daily mentioned one "chairman of the Malaysian Chinese Association" (MCA) acting as "the special envoy" to China asserting that the CBRI could bring "endless" opportunities, and "especially for ethnic Chinese in the country".

It highlighted that the MCA chairman is "a fourth-generation descendant of migrants from East China's Fujian province" – fancy that China still regards Malaysians as "pendatang" who China wants to speak for (MyView, May 23).

The same person reportedly was the "sole representative" from Malaysia at the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference held in March. And during the conference he called on China to be more attentive to SMEs "run by local ethnic Chinese" through the CBRI.

In good faith, if there is any last hope to believe that the MCA is Malaysian first by any slim chance, the article written by a KL correspondent did an excellent job to demolish it once and for all.

Much like how the "association" was hammered during the election which on hindsight is not surprising. It clarifies much of what MCA is all about and why the president of the association took the trouble to erect an election billboard depicting him shaking hands with the president of China, despite infringing on the EC regulations. Implicitly it displayed a "chauvinistic" relationship to swing votes intentionally considering that Singapore was also painted in similar light.

In another article, a prominent Singaporean said to hail from Guangdong province attested that CBRI will bring "great business opportunities and a sense of pride to all Chinese in Singapore".

Hence, in a stroke whatever sinister impression there is on CBRI as a "debt-trap diplomacy" (putting at risk our sovereignty, one way or another) quickly gained credibility, making nonsense of the rhetoric and denials from the locals supposedly representing the Chinese "migrants".

Juxtapose this alongside Tun Mahathir's observations about the ECRL (during an interview with a business tabloid), the sinister elements stand out like a sore thumb.

More specifically, to quote the prime minister on the RM55 billion project: "The contractor must be from China and the lending is from China. And the money is not supposed to come here but (kept in China) to pay the contractor in China" although the work is in Malaysia.

Normally, he argued, the loan would have been drawn down in Malaysia since the project is here. Worse, payments are made not on the basis of work done but according to a pre-determined timetable, and the contract has no GST making all these a "strange" one – unheard of despite his vast leadership experience.

Such strangeness invariably invites even more suspicion as to how naive (desperate?) Malaysia's "ex-leaders" were. It fuels speculation of under-the-table negotiations with hidden terms attached to the GST-free projects.

This is in contrast to local charitable organisations like Makna and Mercy that are burdened with GST despite repeated appeals for exemption.

How Malaysia will "reap rich rewards" is baffling especially when it looks like it is China that stands to gain much more by design. It is obviously lopsided going against "ancient" Chinese practices that hinge on fairness and justice.

More so when some sources said that the ECRL can be built at an even lower cost if not for the overinflated contract signed in 2016 by the Economic Planning Unit through direct negotiations with China Communications Construction Co (CCCC). Even the entity (Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd) set up to spearhead the project was formed only a month after the award to CCCC.

Unlike other countries ranging from Mexico to Hungary, and even neighbouring Indonesia and Myanmar, similar railway projects awarded to Chinese state-owned companies allegedly have yet to take off. Otherwise, "stalled" due to the demands for increased transparency and fear of the country being saddled with unserviceable debt.

That such "anxiety" is globally more the rule than exception should have alerted us as to the huge risk associated with it and lurking behind is a divide-and-rule strategy to hoodwink the host country as in the classic case of Sri Lanka.

This cannot be more real as it stands today, as more scandals are being uncovered.

The latest is a whooping RM9.4 billion scam hidden in a "red file" where 88% of fees paid for only 13% work done to lay a petroleum and gas pipeline covering some 700km.

With all these emerging out of the woodwork the CBRI is beginning to sound like a sugar-coated "scam".

Let us be reminded that when President Xi issued a warning not to make China swallow what is not good for them, a question is raised why is Malaysia treated differently? No doubt it violates emperor Han's "yuefa sanzhang" (gentlemen's agreement).

With some four decades of experience in education locally and internationally, the writer believes that "another world is possible". Comments:
My View Wed, 13 Jun 2018 00:35:08 +0000 Dzulkifli Abdul Razak 555055 at
Germany was defeated on the eastern front
Adolf Hitler, a veteran of the infantry, should certainly have known better. Defending the European coast from Brittany to Norway was an impossibility given Germany's military and economic weakness in 1944. But he did not understand this. Having so brilliantly overcome France's Maginot Line fortifications in 1940, Hitler and his High Command repeated the same strategic and tactical errors as the French only four years later: not having enough reserves to effectively counter-attack enemy breakthrough forces.

Germany's vaunted Atlantic Wall looked formidable on paper, but it was too long, too thin, lacked defensive depth and was lacking in adequate reserve forces. The linear Maginot Line suffered the same failings. America's fortifications protecting Manila and Britain's "impregnable" fortifications at Singapore also proved worthless. The Japanese merely marched into their undefended rears.

In 1940, the German Wehrmacht was modern history's supreme fighting machine. But only four years later, the Wehrmacht was broken. Most Americans, British and Canadians believe that D-Day was the decisive stroke that ended WWII in Europe. But this is not true.

Germany's mighty Wehrmacht, which included the Luftwaffe, was destroyed by Stalin's Soviet Union. The Red Army claims to have destroyed 507 German divisions, 48,000 German tanks, 77,000 German aircraft, and 100 divisions of Axis troops allied to Germany from Italy, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and Finland.

Few Americans have ever heard of the Soviet Far East offensive of 1945, a huge operation that extended from Central Asia to Manchuria and the Pacific. At least 450,000 Japanese soldiers were killed, wounded or captured by the Red Army, 32% of Japan's total wartime military losses. The Soviets were poised to invade Japan when the US struck it with two nuclear weapons.

Of Germany's 10 million casualties in WWII, 75% were inflicted by the Red Army. The once mighty Luftwaffe was decimated over Russia. Almost all German military production went to supplying the 1,600km Eastern Front where Germany's elite forces were ground up in titanic battles like Kursk and Stalingrad that involved millions of soldiers.

Soviet forces lost upwards of 20 million men. Total US losses, including the Pacific, were one million. To Marshal Stalin, D-Day, the North African and Italian campaign were merely diversionary side-shows to tie down Axis forces while the Red Army pushed on to Berlin.

D-Day was without doubt one of the greatest logistical feats of modern military history. Think of General Motors versus the German warrior Siegfried. For every US tank the Germans destroyed, 10 more arrived. Each German tank was almost irreplaceable. Transporting over one million men and their heavy equipment across the Channel was a triumph. But who remembers that Germany crossed the heavily defended Rhine River into France in 1940?

By June, 1944, German forces at Normandy and along the entire Channel coast had almost no diesel fuel or gasoline. Their tanks and lorries were immobilised. Allied air power shot up everything that moved, including a staff car carrying Marshal Erwin Rommel strafed by Canada's own gallant future aviator general, Richard Rohmer. German units in Normandy were below 40% combat effectiveness even without their shortages in fuel.

The Germans in France were also very short of ammunition, supplies and communications. Units could only move by night, and then very slowly. Hitler was reluctant to release armoured forces from his reserves. Massive Allied bombing of Normandy alone killed 15,000 to 20,000 French civilians and shattered many cities and towns.

Churchill once said, "you will never know war until you fight Germans". With no air cover or fuel and heavily outnumbered, German forces in Normandy managed to mount a stout resistance, inflicting 209,000 casualties on US, Canadian, British, Free French and allied forces. German losses were around 200,000.

The most important point of the great invasion is that without it, the Red Army would have reached Paris and the Channel Ports by the end of 1944, making Stalin the master of all Europe except Spain. Of course, the Allies could have reached a peace agreement with Germany in 1944, which Hitler was seeking and Gen George Patton was rumoured to be advocating. But the German-hating Churchill and left-leaning Roosevelt were too bloody-minded to consider a peace that would have kept Stalin out of at least some of Eastern Europe.

Eric S. Margolis is an award-winning, internationally syndicated columnist, writing mainly about the Middle East and South Asia. Comments:]]>
Others Tue, 12 Jun 2018 11:53:29 +0000 Eric S. Margolis 554987 at
Taking the road less travelled
The misplaced ideals and the falsehood of the old regime will wither away with time and it is fuelled by the people's sonorous desire to right the wrongs and to be rebooted with the freshness of a new morning.

We see attention-grabbing headlines on the path to transformation we are on now. New revelations, new insights, skeletons from unknown and remote hiding places and more tiringly, the irony and the hypocrisy of people unfolding in sordid detail.

In the midst we also see many mighty heads falling from grace caused by human frailty and with the graciousness and the wisdom of the seniors who are at the helm of things, the tumble is being managed innocuously.

Incidentally, I observe that the very people who had wanted change and decided to vote for the same, just weeks into everything new are drowned in their own myth. The tragedy of this is that these are the people who continue to preach not realising they have failed to practise what they have been evangelising.

Travelling the road less travelled is always more challenging but once we start we will be surprised to see the kind of followers we might have. The challenge is always to get started.

Certain communities who had hailed the change as a new beginning of seamlessness barring race and religion are still in the league of churning out or spreading bigotries. Celebrating success in the context of race and religion which inevitably and ritually glorifies one against the other should be avoided. We need to make conscious efforts to ensure the vestiges of the bitter past do not haunt us.

Most people live with the delusion that life should be fair, pleasant or otherwise rosy. With close reference to debates, discussions, protests and the unencumbered ways in which people are able to push forth their arguments about everything from rocking flies to make-up kits, there seem to be an equally apparent undercurrent that is pushing us towards hatred and revenge.

We should rise above and move on with improving ourselves in the context of a New Malaysia that has arisen and leave the crimes, faults and the wrongdoings to be taken care of by the law.

In the event the wrongdoers slither away, one will not escape the pay-back time and we know pleasure and pain come from one's past actions.

For the past weeks now, we have seen phenomenal changes: resignations, appointments, new trends and approaches, renewed vigour injected by the seniors whom we thought were out of the radar and who have come back to make a difference and add value to the nation.

These new senior appointees have given a new meaning to nation building and national service and this is unequivocally for the love and passion for the country.

The most recent news that got me on a new high was the headlines on the call for top civil servants to be tested on English.

What a wonderful and daring call. With this I hope there will be reforms in the education policies to address the rot and to start or re-start the emphasis on English.

Just Different Tue, 12 Jun 2018 00:27:06 +0000 Bhavani Krishna Iyer 554652 at
Nurture knowledge and open minds
But that is not to say other centres of learning are any different. Nalanda "university" in 5th century India was a fine example because it was considered part of the community as an institution that served the people. So is the University of Qawariyyin in Fez, Morocco, established in 859, and recognised by Unesco as the first functioning institution of learning in the world.

The reason is similar growing out of a madrasah and later a mosque with an equivalent name to that of a university in the modern sense. Again it reflects well the original purpose and tradition of knowledge before the elitist idea of an ivory tower came into being to supplant it.

More importantly, however, is to move away from the "physical" structural argument into an intellectual one. That is a university must be equally open-minded in the search for knowledge and truth. In other words, no knowledge or idea is considered irrelevant. It all depends on how they are "used" or "applied" – a pertinent concept to keep in mind because there are many "gatekeepers" who unilaterally impose on what kind of knowledge is allowed in our universities.

Foremost is the "market" that seems to define what is acceptable or more specifically "marketable" in serving its narrow interest and distorted claims to "knowledge".

Hence many important fields of knowledge in the humanities and social sciences are not "supported" in our institutions of learning. Philosophy and literature for example are "non-existent" as independent major disciplines offered to students.

More glaringly, STEM has been our preoccupation instead of STEAM or STREAM where subject matter related to religion, ethics, arts and management are as important to articulate science and technology as a comprehensive transdisciplinary knowledge-based subject.

Otherwise science and technology are no more than utilitarian subjects to solve mechanical problems devoid of human touch. For that matter why only engineering and maths, when the role of life sciences and biological-based subjects are creating new explosive inroads into the world of biomimicry. Like it or not, these are all reflective of the selective "closed mindedness" to true knowledge-seeking behaviour even as we pay lip service in promoting borderless education and learning.

As we talk about media freedom we are short on academic freedom. We still ban books because the authorities find it unpalatable. We are still not discussing the authority of ideas but held back by ideas of authorities with their anti-intellectual slant. Hence the promise to repeal Universities and University Colleges Act, which was hurriedly amended and implemented in 1974, must come within the 100-day deadline.

In short, while we applaud the suggestion to remove all physical barriers into the campuses, it must be seen simultaneously as a suggestion to remove all forms of mental-intellectual barriers to the acquisition of knowledge in the real sense of the word as universally practised. As we advance into a truly democratic New Malaysia we must not fail to celebrate and nurture knowledge democracy at the same time through our education so as to further sustain the country's sovereign future. If not opening up the campus can be ironic where people move in and out for purposes other than to devour knowledge. Worse if the opening of gates is seen by some as an opportunity to intrude, transgress and trespass with a mindset that remains archaically closed.

Others Mon, 11 Jun 2018 11:10:08 +0000 Dzulkifli Abdul Razak 554590 at
Grappling with gender, race and religion
That being said, the first sign of friction over appointments in the new government was not over whether or not Tommy Thomas being a non-Malay, non-Muslim could become attorney-general.

A question came up earlier with the appointment of Lim Guan Eng as finance minister. If the Straits Times from Singapore is to be believed, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah objected to the appointment because the minister "needs to be a Malay".

The second sign that this issue would come up was when Hindraf 2.0 asked for places in UiTM and Felda to be offered to the Indian community. Now, this is a tricky one. Apparently, Hindraf and Hindraf 2.0 are different entities. And you also have Makkal Shakti, the MIC and the Indian Progressive Front.

I have no idea how many more organisations represent the Indians.

Again, this triggered another outbreak of detractions from UiTM and its large alumni. For myself as an alumni member, I'm still wondering why we would open up the university to foreign students to meet ranking standards before admitting Malaysian citizens of other racial descent.

And now, on news that the King and the Council of Rulers had reservations about the AG's race and religion. To their credit they also brought up their preference for someone with judicial experience.

But here we come up to the more than 60-year-old issue that everybody wants to change, but nobody wants to change themselves to accommodate it.

Do we want to remove the privileges, special treatment and segregationist policies based on race and religion?

Bear in mind, this won't just be about opening up the bumiputra university, or even giving Mara loans to everyone. It would also mean abandoning the UEC certification, ending all vernacular schools and integrating all of these into one school system.

I include religious schools under vernacular schools. Thus, a total reformation of the education system without segregation by race and religion. No more Chinese or Tamil schools, no more Islamic schools, as this will also be absorbed into the national school system and be open to everyone.

It will be either a national public school or a private school as well as either a public university or a private university.

Can this be done? Would everyone accept it? Why or why not?

The argument against abolishing Tamil and Chinese schools is that they aren't racially exclusive. Well, fine. Then they should not have any problem being absorbed into the national school system.

If it is about language, then have language classes in national schools. If it is about syllabus, then update the national school syllabus and see if there can be similar results nationwide.

If it is about salaries and support, then call for a review to match the salaries, and for the government to give the equivalent amount of support.

Thus, there should be no objections in achieving such equity in the school system.

At the same time, racist and religious discrimination should be taken out of the working world as well as the property market. No more bumiputra discounts, and no more racial preference in renting out properties.

This is a lot harder when it comes to the fact that it will then be more of a covert discrimination which would require people to then entrap would-be property owners and future employers to show racial preference and discrimination.

But let's face it, there is an underbelly of racism when we talk of employment and even renting out a property, or even an office for that matter. It is easier to look at the racial discrimination of listed companies if there was a requirement to show a diversity report on every level of their human resources.

Now we come to the issue of merit over gender, an issue highlighted by a quote from Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz: "No matter the gender, go for the merit".

Sadly, this raises a question. Half of our population are women. Yet, women make up close to 30% of corporate Malaysia.

And in that three out of every 10 Malaysians, we cannot find a similar ratio of women with merit in the workforce? Or is it the sinister fact that women are looked down upon and discriminated against for long maternity leave requests, as we saw earlier this year with the Malaysian Employers Federation?

With that, we must go back to addressing the three elephants in the room – gender, religion, and race. This will take more than just a change of government and a donation drive, I'm afraid – it requires a renaissance.

The writer is a public relations practitioner. Comments:]]>
On The Other Hand Mon, 11 Jun 2018 00:05:31 +0000 Hafidz Baharom 554342 at
Now Japan learns from 'Malaysia First'
Taking his Japanese stats into account, Seattle Mariners outfielder Ichiro now at 44, one of the oldest players, has more career hits than any player in the history of major professional baseball with 4,367.

He was selected to 10 All-Star Games and also won the 2001 American League Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player awards, 10 Gold Gloves and three Silver Slugger awards. He will surely be inducted into MLB's Hall of Fame as its first Asian player in the near future.

Seattle Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto says, "His incredible work ethic, preparation and focus will enhance our environment in many ways. He is a mentor for all players and truly one of the great players in the history of the game."

Before MLB evaluates Ichiro as a great example of Japanese work ethics, across the Pacific, 60 years ago, there was a man who was impressed by quality products, the work ethic, hard work, discipline and sincerity of Japanese society and people.

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in 1981 launched Malaysia's "Look East Policy" to learn from Japanese economic growth and success although there were criticisms like "Why not learn from Europe" as Malaysia was a colony of Britain for a very long time.

Why did Mahathir want to learn from Japan?

He had visited Japan for the first time in 1961 while on holiday with his family. And, he got a shock to see its amazing growth with traces of WWII ruins still around.

He observed, "I could still see the traces of buildings damaged by bombs, but at the same time, there was a factory of Panasonic built in the middle of a rice field in Osaka and a highway had been built above Nippon Bashi (bridge) in Tokyo in preparation for the 1965 Tokyo Olympics. I was amazed with the dynamism of Japan and Japanese people".

He said he had read the autobiography of Sony Founder Akio Morita. "Through Morita's book, at that time, many Japanese people who only got some rice and soya sauce for meal were dedicated to their country to rebuild from nothing by showing their patriotism and hard work with unconditional love towards their country".

Since then Mahathir visited Japan many times to see its growth, and decided to learn from Japan how to beat the West when he takes office as prime minister.

He was impressed by the founders of Sony, Akio Morita, and of Panasonic, Konosuke Matsushita, who established post-war Japan with their far-sightedness, pioneer and challenging spirit without fear of failure.

They brought Japan economic growth with a revolution in technology through their unique ways and thoughts, that was totally different from the West.

As a result, Japan has grown successfully by producing high quality goods for export, and gained foreign exchange. We wanted to learn from "Corporated Japan".

Malaysia, meanwhile, has grown rapidly and in the Asean region has become the second richest state after Singapore in terms of GDP per capita.

"Now we have ability and human resources to build our country by our own. We welcome FDI (foreign direct investment), but contractors and people should include Malaysians," Mahathir said.

He launched his national new policy, "Malaysia First", which is understandable to protect national interests as prime minister for the second time.

He has scrapped the HSR to protect Malaysian interests because the deal was lop-sided against Malaysia. The deal was favourable to China and Najib's (former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak) cronies.

I have covered GE14 extensively and interviewed Mahathir exclusively as well.

Many of my Japanese readers when commenting on my articles said that Japan should learn from Malaysia's courage to be independent and confront giants like China, as Japan has not been strong enough to face China on issues like trade and national security such as East China Sea and Senkaku Islands.

Ironically, rather than "Look East", now the Japanese need to learn from Malaysia in "Look Malaysia".

Although our opposition party DPJ (at that time) won the election in 2009, they lost badly to LDP (our long time ruling party) in 2012. There were many reasons behind the big losses, and the major reason was because they could not keep the promises listed in their election manifesto. Instead, before the 2012 election they announced that they wanted to raise consumption tax by 3% from 5% to 8%. They did not mention in their manifesto that they had earlier opposed this plan.

That decision was the game changer for people who had supported DPJ, they felt they were "cheated". And now our consumption tax is 8% and supposed to be raised by 2% to 10% in 2015. But Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was unable to decide on it and has further delayed it until October 2019.

This is the second time Abe has delayed it. In 2015, he postponed it to 2017. To tackle long-time deflation, Abe should reduce consumption tax from 8% to 5% instead of increasing it to 10%.

While Japan has been struggling with consumption tax reform over the last three years, Tun at once scrapped Malaysia's 6% consumption tax (GST) to 0% effective June 1 to keep an election manifesto promise.

The abolition of consumption tax is difficult to implement and rare in countries where it was launched.

There are thousands of comments from readers of my articles like, "We Japan should look Malaysia", "Hope Tun can sustain as long as possible", "If we have PM like Tun in Japan, we can contain and confront China more strongly and strategically".

Tun Mahathir's visit to Japan is his first foreign visit after becoming prime minister for the second time. This is not an official state visit but to attend an international conference on "Future of Asia", organised by Nikkei Newspaper in Tokyo. I have also been invited to cover the conference.

Our national hero, MLB star Ichiro hopes to continue to play until his 50s, which nobody has done before, and to continue to bring new changes and concepts to the MLB.

I wrote an article titled "GE14 with Mahathir Tsunami" before the election. When I was a visiting professor at University of Malaya sent by the Japanese government, my Malaysian students had asked me, "Are you sure, we will change the government?"

Now they know, Tun Mahathir is like "Ichiro in politics" to rebuild "Malaysia Baru" with a revolution and reform through the Mahathir Tsunami. He is a Solomon of Asia, a very wise man of Asia!

Megumi Suenaga is the Asia correspondent/ columnist for the Japan Business Press. She was a Sankei Newspaper international staff journalist, a former visiting professor at University of Malaya and associate professor at Osaka University. Comments:]]>
Others Sun, 10 Jun 2018 11:43:57 +0000 Megumi Suenaga 554290 at
The War Lord: Hail the Miracle Man of Cardiff, Neil Warnock
Like the duo meeting in Singapore, the reputations of owner and manager precede them with some fanfare – at least from certain members of the British media. Both are very much their own men and don't suffer fools.

Tan has, shall we say, become a pretty hands-on football owner since being stung by a previous regime that, he claims, "went crazy" and "overpaid for players".

For his part, Warnock is just as celebrated for brooking no interference in how he runs his teams.

"They call me the Marmite Man [either loved or loathed] and that's a kind one," he quipped during a stopover in Kuala Lumpur last week.

And, sure enough, one half of his Wikipedia page is devoted to his record eight promotions and the other half to his disputes – with players, with other managers, with referees and with clubs.

Longevity, then, was not on the agenda when he took over Cardiff in October, 2016. When asked if he'd regarded it as a long-term project, Warnock drew laughter when he replied: "I think you've got to say, when you've got an owner like Vincent Tan you've got to say, no."

Second to bottom of the Championship, struggling to score a goal and losing support faster than Barisan Nasional at the last election, chairman Mehmet Dalman told him: "Just try to keep us up."

He did that with some comfort and, crucially in Tan's eyes, minimal spending. A cull of players "who didn't want to fight", a couple of judicious signings and, most of all, a rejuvenation of spirit that is his trademark took them to a 12th place finish. It was enough for him to tell Dalman: "Now let's try to get us up."

Besides avoiding the abyss of the dreaded third tier, Warnock had allayed fears Tan may have had about clashing with a man who has fallen out with the great and good, and not so good, of English football. Far from it, in the common-sense, no-nonsense Yorkshireman, he had discovered a kindred spirit.

"Neil is different," said Tan. "He doesn't want to spend a lot of money – he likes to do it with players from the lower leagues and build a team. It's not necessary to spend big money. Look at Burnley – they hardly spent anything and came seventh." But to do it you need a certain type of manager.

Asked what his management style is, Warnock explained: "Mine is more man-management. I think it's more important than ever these days.

"If you can get people to give a bit more of themselves you get success in any walk of life.

"I'm like the Red Adair of football," he added. "He put out the fires at the oil refineries and that's what I seem to have done most of my career."

He once said he actually preferred the muck and nettles of the lower leagues, having not had the best of luck in the top flight.

Three times he's been there and three times his sides have been relegated, but there were extenuating circumstances each time.

Sheffield United were cheated by the Carlos Tevez affair; Crystal Palace had points docked due to administration and at QPR he was never in the bottom three and sacked prematurely.

"Tony Fernandes tells me that decision cost him £200 million (RM1 billion)," he says.

It also came after one of his greatest triumphs. QPR were a basket case under Formula One moguls Bernie Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore. But once Briatore met Warnock, he knew he had the "strong manager" he'd always wanted. He let him manage. Similarly, Tan saw a man who would neither kowtow nor be cowed – and a mutual trust developed.

Warnock, 69, recalls: "When I first met Mehmet and Vincent, it was one of those meetings when you feel it's the right bond. And the emotional ride we've had since – getting away from relegation and this year getting promoted – is by far my biggest achievement ever."

It surpasses even Rotherham which was his previous best bit of escapology. "When I took over they were six points adrift and basically gone" [at the foot of the Championship] he remembers. Putting out that fire he regards as the turning point in his career and one that renewed his appetite for football.

He had actually quit the game to look after his wife Sharon when she developed breast cancer. But her recovery and a less-than-distinguished stint doing the house chores led to his return.

Admitting that he felt unfairly typecast as a lower league manager with critics claiming he couldn't do it at the top level, he said at Rotherham: "I've come here to show people."

Now he says: "It's a bit like that at Cardiff but this will be my finale. I've always loved proving people wrong."

It's another trait he shares with his boss but now he thinks there's a good chance of topping even last season – by keeping Cardiff up. "This is possibly the best chance I've had of building something.

"Whilst it would be a success to be fourth from the bottom next year, I'd like to think we could stabilise the club and look further than that. Like what Burnley have done.

"Our wage bill will be the lowest in the Premier League by a long way but if I can get a few of the right players in – we don't want any prima donnas or big-time Charlies – I feel we can do it.

"We may not have the quality of the £40 million (RM214 million) to £50 million (RM267 million) players, but I don't think they'll have the quality that we have in the dressing room when things aren't going well. They won't have that togetherness. That's important in whatever sport. If you've got that it's amazing how that can get you the results you need. Miracles can happen."

According to the bookies, a miracle is needed – Cardiff are odds-on to go straight back down. But in the hands of the game's great escapologist and motivator, it's one you wouldn't bet against.
Inside Write Sun, 10 Jun 2018 11:18:02 +0000 Bob Holmes 554279 at