When less is more

April 17th, 2014 by admin Categories: Governance, Opinion No Responses
When less is more

by Tricia Yeoh. First published in The Sun 17 April 2014

CONVENTIONAL wisdom has it that to have a peaceful and harmonious society, government should restrict dissent and hateful speech. This is certainly the case in many parts of the world, where laws and policies are created for such a purpose. But has this necessarily worked?

Academic Dr Timothy Shah from the Berkeley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs, and who leads the Religious Freedom Project at Georgetown University, believes not.

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Behaving like a master

April 15th, 2014 by admin Categories: Governance, Opinion No Responses
Behaving like a master

 by Wan Saiful Wan Jan. First published in The Star 15 April 2014

SOON after Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was sacked from Government in 1998, his supporters created two organisations. One was Gerakan Keadilan Rakyat Malaysia (Malaysian People’s Justice Movement – Gerak) and the other was Pergerakan Keadilan Sosial (Social Justice Movement – Adil). These then led to the birth of Parti Keadilan Nasional, which was launched on April 4, 1999.

The new party eventually merged with Parti Rakyat Malaysia (Malaysian People’s Party – PRM), giving birth on Aug 3, 2003, to what we know today as Parti Keadilan Rakyat (People’s Justice Party – PKR). Nevertheless, if we count from the actual birth of the Reformasi movement, this month is PKR’s 15th birthday.

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Satiating Kajang

March 28th, 2014 by admin Categories: Governance, Opinion No Responses
Satiating Kajang

by Tunku ‘Abidin Muhriz. First published in the Malay Mail 28 March 2014

“There are lies, damned lies and statistics,” wrote Mark Twain, attributing this phrase (apparently erroneously) to British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli.

It is remarkable to see how the numbers of the Kajang by-election are being manipulated by both sides in its aftermath. The Barisan camp point to the lower majority and claim a return of Chinese support, while Pakatan supporters say that as a proportion of those who voted, their party’s new candidate outperformed the previous one: and besides, the turnout was respectable given the demographic of the constituency’s registered voters, many of whom work and live elsewhere. It’s particularly important for PKR to make this argument, since the Kajang Move originated in that party: correct presentation of the numbers helps to justify the exercise.

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Politics in policy

March 12th, 2014 by admin Categories: Governance, Opinion No Responses
Politics in policy

by Tricia Yeoh. First published in the Sun 12 March 2014

AT the time of writing, it would be more than 60 hours since Malaysian air traffic control lost contact with the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. For the past few days, so many of us have desperately sought out bits of information to make sense of this mysterious disappearance, with very little explanation forthcoming as to what actually happened. We have to face the reality that even if the wreckage is eventually found, it will take months or even years to obtain and analyse the contents of the black box.

It never rains but pours, or so the saying goes.

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Our democratic roots

February 14th, 2014 by admin Categories: Governance, Opinion No Responses
Our democratic roots

by Tunku ‘Abidin Muhriz. First published in the Malay Mail

While there are well-publicised groups that deliberately provoke racial and religious emotions, it is still possible to hear a khutbah that invokes religion and history to condemn racism and promote harmony, as I did at the state mosque in Seremban on Chinese New Year.

IDEAS is four years old, but this is only the third time we’re celebrating our birthday – last year we were too busy monitoring the thirteenth General Election. In Lembah Pantai, someone asked if I was going to become a candidate, but in today’s Malaysia, you do not need a party political platform to contribute to public policy, as civil society has grown since the premiership of Tun Abdullah Badawi. Some of IDEAS’ activities are summarised in our Four Year Report that is available at ideas.org.my, and I am glad to say that policymakers in government and political parties increasingly ask us for inputs.

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Remembering the Tunku

February 4th, 2014 by admin Categories: Governance, Opinion One Response
Remembering the Tunku

by Wan Saiful Wan Jan. First published in the Star 4 February 2014. A Chinese-language version was published in The Red Tomato on 7 February 2014

This Saturday 8 February marks the 111th birthday of Almarhum Tunku Abdul Rahman. Not only did he take our country to independence in 1957, he also led the coming together of four entities – Sabah, Sarawak, Singapore and Malaya – to form the Federation of Malaysia.

The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) was launched on the same date back in 2010. We chose to launch IDEAS on the date of Almarhum Tunku’s birthday because we share the vision of this great man.

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Musical chairs of state

January 31st, 2014 by admin Categories: Governance, Opinion No Responses
Musical chairs of state

by Tunku ‘Abidin Muhriz. First published in the Malay Mail 31 January 2014

On Saturday I was one of the opening acts for Dato’ Sheila Majid at the UKM Konsert Diraja, annually held a few weeks after the birthday of the Chancellor. On the past four occasions I usually played classical pieces (including some duets with my cousins), but this time I accompanied the UKM Orchestra playing Tan Sri Ahmad Merican’s Tanah Pusaka, a patriotic classic that has been arranged and re-interpreted by Malaysian singers of every era. Dato’ Johari Salleh’s energetic score was quite tough for a casual pianist like me, and then to have only a single rehearsal with the orchestra the night before the concert itself was especially nerve-racking. Accordingly I made a few mistakes, and judging from the diplomatic feedback at the end, people noticed. Bach to the Chopin board next year, then.

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How to avoid ridicule

January 21st, 2014 by admin Categories: Governance, Opinion No Responses
How to avoid ridicule

by Wan Saiful Wan Jan. A version of this article was published in The Star as “Getting priorities right”

The government has suddenly realised that we are in a bad fiscal situation. This news is not very new, actually. Back in 2010, alarm has been raised that Malaysia could face bankruptcy by 2019 if we continue giving handouts and subsidies the way we have been doing for decades.

With the benefit of hindsight, perhaps it would be right to say that the government should have acted as soon as the warning was issued. Unfortunately with 13th general election, politics got in the way of leadership. We saw the government splurging their way into even more mess.

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Who is the leader?

January 14th, 2014 by admin Categories: Governance, Opinion No Responses
Who is the leader?

by Wan Saiful. An edited version was published as “Let’s hear it from the top” by the Star 14 January 2014 and a Chinese-language version of this article was published in The Red Tomato 17 January 2014

Even if you disagree with groups like Perkasa and ISMA, I think they really deserve an applause. These two groups have been very effective in their campaigns, to the extent that they cannot be simply dismissed in today’s public discourse.

Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa was set up by Dato’ Ibrahim Ali soon after the 2008 general elections. I don’t think I need to explain who Perkasa is because many readers already know them. Their campaign is centred around defending the rights of the ethnic Malays.

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Visit Malaysia Yeah!

January 10th, 2014 by admin Categories: Governance, Opinion, Other No Responses
Visit Malaysia Yeah!

by Tunku ‘Abidin Muhriz. First published by The Malay Mail 10 January 2014

I have little recollection of the first Visit Malaysia Year in 1990 (I was eight), but I remember more about Visit Malaysia Year 1994. The branding was omnipresent, and since I had roamed beyond Malaysia and Singapore just twice in my life then, it occurred to me that as much as I dreamt of visiting more faraway places, there must be people who dreamt of coming to Malaysia as well. With this in mind, I began to appreciate familiar places in a new (mostly historical) light. I also went to Taman Negara for the first time, becoming immersed in the tropical rainforest I had hitherto only heard and read about. I quickly became an ardent and unapologetic promoter of tourism in Malaysia, and when I started school in the UK I made my friends come and visit.

1994 was before the Asian Financial Crisis: we were enjoying annual GDP growth rates of nearly ten per cent, we had the mirage of a successful national car and the imminent promise of new twin peaks to match Mount Kinabalu. Events that year included the launch of Institut Kefahaman Islam Malaysia (Ikim) “dedicated to promoting a peaceful, progressive and profound understanding of Islam”, a federal rejection of hudud laws approved by the PAS government in Kelantan, the death of Tan Sri Mubin Sheppard, the installation of Tuanku Ja’afar as Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the banning of Al Arqam. (With thanks to Chronicle of Malaysia 1963-2013.)

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