All policy is local

January 30th, 2015 by admin Categories: Governance, Opinion, Political Economy and Governance No Responses
All policy is local

By Tricia Yeoh. First published in The Sun newspaper on 29 January 2015

Earlier this week, the Islamic party PAS President’s statement that local council elections would eventually lead to racial riots raised ire amongst civil society, as well as members of his own coalition party member, DAP. His argument is that local council elections would only be advantageous to the largely Chinese urban residents, thereby widening the rural-urban divide.

This statement is flawed on several levels. First, some of the largest cities in Malaysia are actually mixed in racial breakdown. For instance, our country’s capital Kuala Lumpur’s breakdown of ethnicities includes 45.9% Malays, 43.2% Chinese, and 10.3% Indians. Johor Bahru has 47.5% Malays, 34.2% Chinese, and 9% Indians, amongst others. Urbanisation has taken place steadily over the last twenty years, and cities today are vibrant multiethnic and multicultural hubs. Whilst true that the rural areas tend to be more mono-ethnic in nature, over 75% of Malaysia will be urbanised by 2020.

Second, it assumes that it is only urban-minded voters who would desire and appreciate the ability to vote in their own representatives at local government. In Indonesia – before they were abolished last year, to the chagrin of many – local elections led to greater participation by villagers and benefited several constituencies that were formerly ill represented and neglected. Although success stories varied widely between different regions, there were rural areas that benefited from local elections through the empowerment of the residents themselves.

Third and more importantly, race-based arguments are highly unnecessary and in fact merely detract from the real issue at hand, which is that: Local elections means giving the common man better quality public service, since people can determine which local representative can best serve your personal neighborhood interests.

The Indonesian government enacted a Law on Public Services in 2009, which, together with their Freedom of Information Act in 2008, served as a basis to eventually adopt an approach towards a more open, transparent, interactive, inclusive and accountable government.

Although the laws themselves took a long time to implement, the relationship between the law on public services and better governance was simply that government could more easily flourish and succeed when the quality of public service delivery was improved. Giving people the ability to decide when to get rid of a councilor when the person is not giving his or her best services would achieve better delivery of public services, which is the ultimate goal of a well-meaning government.

In many parts of the country, government services are in disarray, with uncollected rubbish or poor basic amenities and infrastructure. Through local elections, you get to vote for the person who makes sure that your potholes are filled, rubbish is collected and drains are cleared. It really is as simple as that.

The Federal Court ruled last year that although the Penang state government had passed an enactment to hold local elections, it was not possible since they would still have to go through the National Local Government Council (the Council is chaired by the Minister of Housing and Local Government). Both Pakatan-led states Penang and Selangor have attempted in the past to restore local elections, although it is unclear whether there was any real consensus on the matter amongst its three partners even since they started governing in 2008.

Despite not having a clear way forward on local elections, it might be pertinent to point out that in fact, Selangor under the Pakatan government had in the past put this into practice already. In 2011, three of its Chinese new villages - Kampung Baru Sungai Jarom in Jenjarom, Kampung Bagan in Pulau Ketam and Kampung Baru Pandamaran – carried out local polls to elect their new village chiefs.

And Selangor was the first state to hold democratic elections of mosque committees, as far back as in June 2009, and surau committees in June 2010. The experience of it showed that more professionals and locals were being appointed on the committees, as opposed to appointments being made from the religious council (many of whom were speculated to be heads of party divisions). Likewise, the Penang state government also allowed mosque committees to be elected as opposed to being appointed, which at the time was vehemently opposed by Umno and newspaper Utusan Malaysia.

This principle of allowing everyone to democratically elect their leader can be applied at all levels, from mosques, to Rukun Tetangga committees, and therefore by logical extension, to local councils. If you voted for your classroom’s head monitor in primary school, you would be able to apply the same at local government.

There are certainly numerous issues to iron out before local elections can be implemented, but these can be addressed. For example, there is a need to re-examine the structure and governance of local councils, and possibly the size of existing local councils in states that are in fact small enough to be able to self-govern. Finally, the roles, responsibilities and budgets given to state governments versus those of local governments, and how these ought to be balanced out by function.

Having said that, these issues would only be dealt with if indeed local elections were to be seriously considered. Ultimately, although political parties by their very nature are defined by their survival, they also ought to think of the larger trajectory of where Malaysia is headed. Already the annual Economic Intelligence Unit’s 2014 Democracy Index labels us as a ‘flawed democracy’. There are a great many flaws in the system to correct, and having local elections is one that democratically minded leaders could certainly consider supporting.


Tricia Yeoh is the Chief Operating Officer of IDEAS

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Religious policing gone awry

January 20th, 2015 by admin Categories: Opinion No Responses
Religious policing gone awry

By Wan Saiful Wan Jan. First published in The Star 20 January 2015

Usually on the eve of Christmas some of us would be hoping for Santa Claus to come into their houses bringing gifts.  But I had a very different experience during the last Christmas eve.

I was invited by YB Dr Mujahid Yusuf Rawa, PAS MP for Parit Buntar, to speak at an event in his constituency on the evening of 24 December
2014.  Since I was planning to ‘balik kampung’ to Perlis during the school holidays anyway, I duly accepted the invitation.
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Why ASEAN matters

January 19th, 2015 by admin Categories: Economy & Trade, Opinion, Other No Responses
Why ASEAN matters

by Keith Leong. First published in The Heat Online 19 January 2015


On Jan 1, Malaysia officially began its year-long chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), succeeding Myanmar.

This event did not exactly dominate headlines and understandably so. Malaysians at the time were (and still are) grappling with the floods in many states, the tragic loss of Indonesia AirAsia flight QZ8501 and question marks over the future of our economy in light of tumbling oil prices.

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Defending national principles

January 19th, 2015 by admin Categories: Opinion, Other No Responses
Defending national principles

By Tunku Abidin Muhriz. First published in The Malay Mail on 16 JANUARY 2015.

SINCE the new year thousands of people have died in terrorist acts of violence around the world.

However, incidents in and around Paris that resulted in the deaths of 17 people last week received huge amounts of media coverage and triggered a march of over two million people, while victims elsewhere – possibly more than 2,000 around Baga in northeastern Nigeria at the hands of Boko Haram – got scant media attention, and certainly no marches in Abuja (there’s a presidential election campaign going on instead).

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Oil and more open budget

January 13th, 2015 by admin Categories: Governance, Opinion, Political Economy and Governance No Responses
Oil and more open budget

By Tricia Yeoh. First published in the The Edge Malaysia on 12 January 2015.

The budget department of the government’s treasury must surely be in panic mode at present, given that global oil prices have fallen by about half since the 2015 budget was announced, and especially since oil and gas takings contribute 30% of total national revenues.

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Program Felo Muda Perpaduan Nasional

January 7th, 2015 by admin Categories: Events, Future Events, Opinion No Responses
Program Felo Muda Perpaduan Nasional


Kemerdekaan negara kita serta pembentukan negara Malaysia berlaku dengan iltizam kepada falsafah kebebasan dan keadilan.  Rukun Negara kita menyatakan bahawasanya negara ini mendukung cita-cita hendak menjamin satu cara hidup liberal terhadap tradisi-tradisi kebudayaannya yang kaya dan berbagai corak.  Seterusnya Wawasan 2020 menggariskan matlamat untuk mewujudkan masyarakat yang liberal dan bertolak ansur.

Selari dengan semua hasrat ini, maka golongan belia dan profesional muda dijemput untuk menyertai program khas “Felo Muda Perpaduan Nasional”. 


Program Felo Muda Perpaduan Nasional ini dianjurkan oleh IDEAS dan Institut Kajian dan Latihan Integrasi Nasional (IKLIN) di Jabatan Perpaduan Negara dan Integrasi Nasional (JPNIN), Jabatan Perdana Menteri.


Program khas Felo Muda Perpaduan Nasional ini bertujuan untuk membentuk sekumpulan 20 orang pemimpin muda yang akan menjuarai agenda kesederhanaan dan perpaduan nasional seperti yang dinyatakan dalam Rukun Negara “mendukung cita cita hendak menjamin satu cara hidup liberal terhadap tradisi-tradisi kebudayaannya yang kaya dan berbagai corak.” 

Kandungan program

Dua puluh orang belia dan profesional muda yang terpilih untuk program Felo Muda ini akan melalui satu program latihan khas untuk membolehkan mereka menjadi lebih berkesan dalam membawa agenda perpaduan.

Program ini bermula pada bulan Februari dan berakhir pada bulan September 2015.  Aktiviti-aktiviti diadakan pada waktu hujung minggu atau hari cuti untuk membolehkan mereka yang belajar di universiti atau bekerja untuk turut menyertainya.

Lokasi aktiviti akan berubah dari semasa ke semasa di beberapa lokasi di Semenanjung Malaysia, Sabah dan Sarawak.  Semua kos perjalanan dan penginapan dibiayai oleh IDEAS.

Antara aktiviti yang akan diadakan termasuklah:

  • Siri bengkel-bengkel latihan hujung minggu (Jumaat malam hingga petang Ahad) atau hari cuti.  Para Felo Muda akan dilatih dengan skil kepimpinan, perancangan strategik, komunikasi dan advokasi.  Para Felo Muda juga akan mendapat pendedahan mengenai integriti, hubungan antara kaum dan agama, pembinaan negara, ekonomi, globalisasi dan lain-lain lagi.
  • Pertemuan dengan pemimpin masyarakat.  Para Felo Muda akan berpeluang berdiskusi dengan pemimpin komuniti dan pemimpin agama di beberapa tempat di seluruh Malaysia untuk mengenalpasti secara terus situasi sebenar di peringkat akar umbi.  Pertemuan ini juga disusun pada hujung minggu atau hari cuti.
  • Persidangan kebangsaan pada bulan September yang akan diterajui oleh para Felo Muda sendiri.


Semua kos yang berkaitan akan ditanggung oleh IDEAS.  Para Felo Muda juga akan diberikan elaun keseluruhan berjumlah RM1000 setiap seorang.


Setiap Felo Muda yang berjaya menamatkan keseluruhan program akan menerima:

  • Sijil penyertaan
  • Latihan dan kelas seperti yang dijadualkan
  • Semua tambang dan penginapan ke aktiviti rasmi dibayar
  • Jaringan perkenalan yang luas
  • Elaun sekaligus sebanyak RM1000

Syarat kelayakan untuk memohon adalah seperti berikut:

  • Warganegara Malaysia berumur antara 20 ke 30 tahun
  • Boleh menghadiri sepenuhnya semua aktiviti yang disusun
  • Tiada halangan untuk bermusafir ke beberapa tempat dalam negara
  • Mempunyai latar belakang kepimpinan
  • Beriltizam dengan nilai-nilai dalam Rukun Negara

Cara memohon

Tarikh tutup permohonan ialah pada jam 5 petang, Ahad 25 Januari 2015.

Semua yang berminat untuk memohon dijemput menghantar dokumen berikut:

  • CV yang terkini (beserta nombor kad pengenalan)
  • Transkrip keputusan peperiksaan terkini atau kelulusan yang tertinggi
  • Satu esei sepanjang 500 – 600 perkataan dalam Bahasa Malaysia atau Bahasa Inggeris bertajuk
  • Cabaran dalam memastikan cara hidup liberal terhadap tradisi-tradisi kebudayaan Malaysia dan penyelesaiannya.


  • The challenges in guaranteeing a liberal approach towards Malaysia’s rich cultural heritage, and the solutions.

Dokumen-dokumen hendaklah dialamatkan kepada Encik Taufiq bin Abdul dan boleh  dihantar melalui:


  • Faks 03 6201 2001
  • Pos IDEAS, F4 Taman Tunku, Bukit Tunku, 50480 Kuala Lumpur

Maklumat lanjut

Untuk maklumat lanjut, sila hubungi Encik Mohd Taufiq Abdul melalui:

Klik di sini untuk memuat turun risalah


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Calling moderate youths

January 6th, 2015 by admin Categories: Opinion, Other No Responses
Calling moderate youths

By Wan Saiful Wan Jan. First published in The Star on 6 January 2015

Let me start by expressing my deepest sympathy to everyone affected by the flood. The calamity is unprecedented and I hope all of us will do whatever we can to help the victims.

The disaster brings out the best from common Malaysians. Thousands of people immediately responded, with some donating much needed daily items and others joining relief missions to the affected areas.

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We can learn a lot from Indonesia

January 4th, 2015 by admin Categories: Opinion, Other No Responses
We can learn a lot from Indonesia

by Keith Leong. First published in The Heat Online 4 January 2015

The year 2014 was an annus horribilis for Golkar, Indonesia’s former ruling party.

Initially set up as a confederation of anti-Communist civil society organisations, Golkar emerged as the political vehicle of Suharto’s New Order (1965-1998). However, it has yet to replicate these glory days.

Golkar won a plurality in Indonesia’s House of Representatives (DPR) in 2004. But the republic’s presidency was won by Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) of the Democratic Party, who ironically is an ex-Golkar man. Still, a nominal Golkar leader, Jusuf Kalla (“JK”), became his vice-president.

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Pengajaran daripada kejadian banjir

January 3rd, 2015 by admin Categories: Governance, Opinion, Other No Responses
Pengajaran daripada kejadian banjir

oleh Amin Ahmad. Diterbitkan di Malaysian Insider 3 Januari 2015

Kita menyambut tahun baru 2015 dengan rasa pilu mengenangkan situasi banjir di beberapa negeri, khususnya di Kelantan yang nampak begitu parah, selain kehilangan kapal terbang AirAsia QZ8501. Takziah diucapkan kepada semua mangsa dan keluarga masing-masing.

Seperti biasa apabila sesuatu masalah berlaku, kita akan mencari punca dan pihak bertanggungjawab. Hal ini kemudiannya berkembang menjadi tuduh-menuduh, jawab-menjawab yang akhirnya semakin menjarakkan perbincangan daripada isu sebenar.

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Finding leadership in tragedy

January 2nd, 2015 by admin Categories: Opinion, Other No Responses
Finding leadership in tragedy

By Tunku’ Abidin Muhriz. First published in the The Malay Mail on 2 January 2015.

THE concept of a new year used to be compelling: an opportunity to reboot, ditch bad ideas and pretend to implement New Year’s Resolutions. That illusion is continually dispelled each year as unresolved problems straddle either side of Dec 31, professional expectations remain constant from Q4 and Q1, and nature does not care for humanity’s marking of time.
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