Thursday, August 30, 2007

Happy 50th Anniversary MALAYSIA

The Federation of Malaysia is celebrating her 50th anniversary as an independent state on August 31st. HAPPY 50TH ANNIVERSARY - MERDEKA!

After 50 years as a sovereign state, Malaysians are proud of their nation's achievements in the various fields. A Malaysian astronaut or cosmonaut will be in space in October and is scheduled to conduct "some" scientific studies at the International Space Station.

But, some things are still troubling the vast majority of Malaysians - they are racial politics, integrity over corruption, inequality, justice and fair play.

Former deputy prime minister Tun Musa Hitam highlighted some of the problems in a speech entitled "National Integration - How Far Are We Successful?" way back in 1968, to be exact on August 6. But they are still here with us.

He said: 'Inequality' amongst the communities in this country will always exist as long as there are Malays, Chinese, Indians and the others. Unfortunately, however, the inequalities in our country are coincidentally divided on communal lines. Ideally, we should not interpret the inequalities along communal lines, of course, and should rather speak on the lines of the 'haves' and the 'have-nots'.

Musa went on to say that while the abolition of inequality "should be our target, what is more important and possible is the working towards a 'just ' society. And here we come to the crux of the problem. It is clear that from the communal point of view what each community wants is simply justice where opportunities, be they economic or government, should be based on a free competitive basis where 'the best man wins', so to speak."

Well, after 50 years of nationhood, Malaysians are still facing those problems!

Anyway, MERDEKA!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


On August 30, 1957 school children lined the streets of George Town City, Penang to bid farewell to the last British Resident. I was then a standard two pupil of Sekolah Melayu Kelawai or the Kelawai Malay School (demolished in the 1970's to make way for the Menara Yayasan apartment).

The headmaster, the late Cikgu Abu Salim, uncle of late Utusan Melayu editor A.R. Kamaluddin, directed the entire 350 pupils to proceed to Pangkor Road to join pupils of Westlands Primary School, Wellesley Primary School and Northam Road Girls School.

As usual, we were happy to leave the classroom and to walk for slightly more than one kilometer although we did not know why, as long as to be out of the classroom. When we reached Pangkor Road, pupils of a private Chinese school were already there and further down the road were the boys of Westlands. The boys of Wellesley and the girls of Northam Road lined-up along Northam Road fronting the Runnymede Hotel .

Each pupil was handed a small flag - the Union Jack - and we were told to wave it when the Resident's motorcade passes by and to shout "good bye".

When the pupils of the Chinese school suddenly turned noisy and jumping up and down while waving the tiny flags, we noticed the Resident's motorcade and started to jump and shouting "bye-bye or good-bye".

The Resident and his wife travelled in a big black car (Rolls Royce) and they were smiling and waving to the school children. The motorcade comprised several big cars with Mems and Mat Sallehs and local VIPs.

They were on their way to Swettenham Pier to board a ship to Singapore onroute to the United Kingdom.

My late class teacher, Cikgu Omar, explained that the British had to leave because Malaya is achieving independence or Merdeka the following day. Being a standard two pupil, Merdeka then was something hard to understand but at least I was happy on that particular day to be with the other school children to be "free" from the classroom.


Saturday, August 18, 2007

Bloggers are cowards?

Flamboyant UMNO information chief Tan Sri Muhammad Mohammad Taib has described writers of political blogs as cowards. He even described them in Malay as "pondan" or tranvestite.

Muhammad, the former Selangor State Chief Minister or Menteri Besar in Malay, was quoted by local media including national news agency, Bernama, as saying that the bloggers (writers of political blogs) were afraid of using web addresses in the country but use overseas addresses "to slam" the country and its leaders.

It is no secret that Muhammad was not happy with well-known Malaysian blogger, Raja Petra Kamaruddin of Malaysia Today. He accused Malaysia Today of disrespectful to Malaysia's Supreme Head of State or the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the religion of Islam and made a police report out of it. Raja Petra was summoned by the police and a statement was recorded. Raja Petra's faithful wife too was not spared by the police. Until today, the police could not establish a case against Malaysia Today or Raja Petra simply because Muhammad's allegations did not hold water.

It is wrong for Muhammad to attack "writers of political blogs". You don't burn the mosquito net just to kill a mosquito. Muhammad, in particular and UMNO in general, should not look down on bloggers as "pondans", monkeys or "goblok". They should not underestimate the influence of blogs, be it political or otherwise, especially when they will be seeking fresh mandate from the voters, soon. Young and new voters will be the deciding factor in the coming general elections and they are "internet literate". They will not be easily bought or influenced with outdated political tactics to woo voters.
The coming elections will open the eyes of "has been" politicians such as Muhammad or a rude wake up call to most of his party leaders.

Looking back - independent Malaya's greatest problem

(High Commissioner General Sir Gerald Templer chats with a Chinese New Villager. He brought dynamic leadership to the Malayan war against Communist terrorists)

The greatest problem of all facing the Federation of Malaya on Merdeka Day (August 31, 1957) was not one of security or economics or even politics: it was in the realm of the mind and the spirit; it was the building of a Malayan nation.

According to a special publication in conjunction with Malaya's independence published in 1957, it was noted that in the plural society of Malaya, with the Malays and the Chinese almost equally balanced, and the Indians and others in the minority, there were stresses and strains that tend to pull the Federation apart, as well as those that bind it together.
The concept of a common Malayan citizenship was only just taking root; the concept of a common nationality as yet hardly existed.
The Malays were then only just beginning to look beyond the horizons of their own State to their nation as a whole. The very name "Malaya" had only came into use in the 19th century or so, although the ancient Minangkabau kingdom, with its capital at Jambi, was known to foreigners as "Melayu."
Up to World War II "Malaya" had only geographical meaning. The country was divided into three groups of States and Settlements with eleven separate governments. It was only since the war that "Malaya" has meant a political entity; and now an entity must become a unity.
There were external as well as internal forces that tend to pull the main racial elements of the country apart. The Malays look mainly to Indonesia; the Chinese look with a natural interest and pride to the rapid development of Communist China; the Indians look to India and Pandit Nehru's neutralism in world affairs.
Internal economic divisions in Malaya also tend to split the nation. The Malays were a race of peasant farmers and fishermen; the Chinese were traders of the country; and the Indians were mainly labourers on estates and elsewhere, though some of them were traders too. The Malays feared the economic power of the Chinese, but, it was not realised then that the roles of the Malay, the Chinese and the Indian should be complementary rather than competitive in the economy of the nation; and with wise government policies, they could be.
The problems faced by the then Malaya 50 years ago are not entirely gone. Some of them are still with us today and most probably will not be eradicated 50 years from now. The root of the problem is politics based on race; the question of just and fair treatment for Malaysians irrespective of race or religion; and equal and fair opportunities for all in all sectors of the economy.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Pak Lah anak kelahiran Bayan Lepas, bukan Kepala Batas

Para pelanggan akhbar Utusan Malaysia hari ini dibekalkan dengan satu keluaran khas tajaan Petronas bertajuk: Malaysiaku Gemilang - Keluaran Khas Kemerdekaan. Ia adalah sesuatu yang berharga dan seharusnya disimpan sebagai satu bahan sejarah.
Malangnya, satu kesilapan fakta telah dilakukan berkaitan tempat kelahiran Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri Abdullah Haji Ahmad. Kesilapan sebegini sering dilakukan dan diulang-ulang oleh pihak media termasuk media penyiaran kerajaan dan swasta.

Kesilapan yang dimuatkan dalam terbitan keluaran khas ini boleh dilihat di muka surat 43 di bawah tajuk: Kronologi kehidupan dimana Pak Lah dicatatkan sebagai telah dilahirkan pada 26hb November, 1939 di Kepala Batas ( Seberang Perai ), Pulau Pinang. Tak betul tu! Kenapa tak semak dahulu kerana ia membabitkan Perdana Menteri.

Sebenarnya Pak Lah dilahirkan di Kampung Perlis, Bayan Lepas, Pulau Pinang. Akhbar Utusan Malaysia sendiri telah beberapa kali menghebohkan tentang air terjun kegemaran Pak Lah semasa kecil di Kampung Perlis yang tercemar dan sebagainya. Dah lupa!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Profesionalisme Bernama mesti dipertahankan

Sepanjang hampir 27 tahun berkhidmat di Pertubuhan Berita Nasional Malaysia (Bernama), saya tidak melalui pengalaman di mana Pengerusi Lembaga Pengelola Bernama campur tangan dan memberi arahan, seperti seorang ketua eksekutif yang benar-benar mempunyai bidang kuasa untuk berbuat demikian, bermula dengan Tan Sri Aziz Yeop sehinggalah Tan Sri Mazlan Nordin. Saya tidak lagi berkhidmat di Bernama sebelum tempoh Prof Abu Bakar, yang menggantikan Tan Sri Mazlan, tamat. Setahu dan seingat saya, pengerusi Bernama tidak pernah campur tangan terutama dalam urusan dan pentadbiran Jabatan Pengarang, satu-satunya jabatan terpenting dan nadi penggerak Bernama ketika itu.
Sekarang, terutama semasa Dialog Antarabangsa Langkawi (LID) baru-baru ini, saya dapati ada berita yang dikeluarkan oleh Bernama agak janggal, seolah-olah ia sengaja diada-adakan atas kepentingan tertentu. Agakan dan sangkaan saya itu rupa-rupanya ada asasnya. Pengerusi Bernama bukan saja berada di Langkawi tetapi memberi arahan dan perintah kepada pimpinan Jabatan Pengarang untuk menyondongkan berita berkaitan mantan Perdana Menteri Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Ia bertujuan untuk memberi gambaran kononnya Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri Abdullah Haji Ahmad begitu baik hati dan rendah diri sehingga memberi ruang kepada mantan bosnya untuk berucap. Hakikatnya tidak begitu.

Perkara ini telah dilapor dengan lebih terperinci dalam blog Malaysia Kita yang dikendalikan oleh YM Raja Petra Kamaruddin.

Kenapa pengerusi Bernama, Sdr Anuar Zaini bertindak demikian rupa? Dia hanyalah seorang pengerusi bukan eksekutif dan tugas utamanya mempengerusikan mesyuarat Lembaga Pengelola Bernama, bukan mentadbir dan bertindak sebagai Super Ketua Pengarang sehingga mengakibatkan kewibawaan Bernama sebagai sebuah agensi berita kebangsaan terguris dan tercalar?

Umum tahu bahawa Sdr Anuar merupakan salah seorang "ahli kabinet dalaman" Pak Lah dan dia juga pernah berkhidmat di bawah mantan TPM Tun Musa Hitam. Umum juga tahu bahawa dalam Team B Umno dahulu, Pak Lah adalah orang kuat Tun Musa, bukan orang kuat Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah. Oleh itu, apa yang dilakukan oleh Sdr Anuar tidak lebih daripada satu strategi politik untuk Pak Lah. Malangnya, Bernama dan para wartawan yang bersifat profesional telah diperalatkan.

Kita akui bahawa kredibiliti Bernama kebelakangan ini telah dipersoalkan dan keadaan akan menjadi bertambah buruk jika Sdr Anuar terus "bermain politik" dan mengambil sikap yang tidak profesional dalam menerajui Lembaga Pengelola Bernama. Jika beliau ingin terus bersikap sedemikian, beliau mesti meletak jawatan dan menubuh serta mengetuai sebuah badan pemikir khas untuk melaksanakan apa saja strategi, propaganda dan usaha peningkatan imej Pak Lah.

Profesionalisme Bernama harus dipertahankan sejajar dengan semangat dan tujuan asal penubuhannya yang dipersetujui oleh Bapa Malaysia, Almarhum Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj dan mantan Menteri Penerangan dan Penyiaran, Allahyarham Tan Sri Senu Abdul Rahman.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Father of Malaysian monkeys

(Siamang, the Malay gibbon, the biggest primate in Peninsula Malaysia).

According to fellow bloggers, deputy UMNO Youth leader and Malaysia's most glamorous son-in-law has submitted a list of bloggers, 50 of them, to the UMNO headquarters or precisely to its Cyber Troopers for obvious reasons. It is some sort of a war declaration and the Cyber Troopers, no less than mercenaries of UMNO, are battle-ready for the undeclared cyber war.

I do not know whether to be proud, happy or otherwise when my name was said to be included in the list. I was placed together with Malaysia's top and popular bloggers such as Raja Petra Kamaruddin, Ahiruddin Atan, Jeff Ooi, Lim Kit Siang, Nat Tan, Zahrin Yassin, Noraina A Samad, Marina Mahathir to name a few. That is definitely an honour. About the list, well... I do not give a damn!

Malaysian bloggers were described as 'monkeys' by the son-in-law and "goblok" , an Indonesian word meaning very stupid, by the ex-Utusan Melayu journalist turned politician and is enjoying the perks as Information Minister. This particular minister once said that he was not interested in politics ..... , Let it be, let it be ...

In Malaysia, there are a number of monkeys and apes. The biggest ape is known as Orang Utan or Man of the Forest that can be found only in Sarawak and Sabah, not in Peninsula Malaysia or formerly Malaya. In the Peninsula, the largest ape is the Siamang or Malay Gibbon (pix above) and the smallest is the long tailed macaque or kera (in some states it is monyet).

Apart from Siamang, another big ape is called ungka or gibbon, slightly smaller than the Siamang. In the east coast states of Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang, the pig-tailed macaque or beruk in Malay, is trained to climb and pluck coconuts. In Kuala Selangor, the lutong or silver-leaf monkey can be easily spotted at the Malawati fort.

The question is - which one is the Malaysian blogger?

One thing is certain, the Siamang, can be referred to as Father of Peninsula Malaysia Monkeys. In fact, in one state on the west coast, the legend of Dato' Siamang Gagap or the stammering Malay Gibbon is well known. A road in the state capital is named after the Siamang.

The personality that branded Malaysian bloggers as "monkeys" is from Negri Sembilan and, what a coincidence, the legend of Siamang Gagap is also from Negri Sembilan, so is the road that honours the Siamang. The pot is calling the kettle black!

Tahniah Datuk Abdul Rahman Sulaiman dan Datin Maznah

Pada Ahad, semalam, saya dan isteri menghadiri majlis jamuan sempena pekahwinan anak gadis sahabat lama, Datuk Abdul Rahman Sulaiman dan Datin Maznah Adam. Majlis diadakan di Dewan Muslimin, Masjid Wilayah Persekutuan, Jalan Duta, Kuala Lumpur.

Rahman, ma'aflah tak sebut gelaran yang baru diterima itu sebab sebagai kawan lama, dah biasa sangat dengan panggilan nama saudara, dan isteri kelihatan ceria dan berseri-seri menerima menantu. Anak gadis Rahman bernama Diana Sulamazra telah diijab kabul dengan Philip Lee bin Abdullah.

Di majlis itu, saya berkesempatan menemui rakan-rakan lama di Bernama yang telah bersara seperti Zainul Hasnan Mansur, Nik Mohamad, Amin Husaini, Zainal Abidin Bujal dan beberapa orang lagi yang masih berkhidmat selain Datuk Khalid Mohamad dari Utusan Melayu.

Rahman adalah mantan Ketua Pengarang Bernama, mantan Ahli Parlimen Parit Buntar dan kini mengetuai pasukan komunikasi Majlis Tindakan Ekonomi Negara. Beliau hanya sempat berkhidmat sebagai MP sepenggal kerana menjadi mangsa permainan politik berpuak-puak yang merupakan asam garam dalam parti yang dianggotainya.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Looking back - Dato' Sir Onn's vision of independent Malaya

Object of the Independence of Malaya Party (IMP) -- "To strive for the establishment of a Sovereign Independent State of Malaya aiming at the well-being and advancement of the People based on equality of opportunity and of political, social and economic rights and obligations."
Dato' Sir Onn Ja'afar, the founding father of UMNO, commanded much respect and affection from people in all walks of life. He wanted to open the doors of UMNO to whosoever wishes to be a member, irrespective of his racial origin, provided he accepts the basic policy of UMNO and accepts the charter of the party. When his proposal was rejected by the party, he left UMNO to form the IMP. Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra took over the party's leadership on April 1, 1951.

"Malaya is now on the road to democratic Government leading to self-government. It is therefore important that everyone, particularly the younger men and women of the country, should gain an understanding of the machinery of politics and of the principles and policy of political parties and of obtaining an understanding of national and local affairs of this country," Dato Onn said in Kuala Lumpur on Augsut 21, 1953.

He said, to talk of democracy is easy, to understand properly how democracy operates and how it can be made to work always for the public good entails knowledge.

"Those who take a practical interest in the way in which the country is governed are those who can most influence the government and the future of this country. The crosses on the ballot paper will determine what sort of government, whether local, State, Settlement or Federal, we shall have.

"As the peoples of the Federation become more and more politically conscious, the more will it be necessary for a national party such as the I.M.P. to define its attitude to matters of national and local interests and to spread the knowledge as well as to foster thought and effort in furtherance of the objects of the Party."

Unfortunately, Dato Onn's vision was way ahead and beyond the thinking of the population then, in fact, to a certain section of today's population. We are still thinking on racial and ethnic lines, we are still supporting racialist political parties and implementing policies based on ethnic interests. And we are celebrating our nation's 50th anniversary.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The Prime Minister's wife is NOT the First Lady

Local Malaysian media including the national news agency, Bernama, are referring to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad's wife, Jeanne Danker Abdullah, as the "First Lady." As far as I am aware, it is incorrect.

First Lady is a term applied to the spouse of the head of state, not the head of government such as prime minister. Malaysia's head of state is the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and his consort, the Raja Permaisuri Agong IS MALAYSIA'S FIRST LADY.

The title of First Lady was "introduced" in 1849, when United States President Zachary Taylor called Dolley Madison, "First Lady" at her state funeral. The United States president is the country's head of state. The entire family of the head of state is known as the "First Family."

PM Abdullah is the head of the government and not the head of state. Therefore, his wife is not the First Lady nor his family can be referred to as the "First Family."

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Looking back - Sime Darby and the NCER

"SERVICE has always been and always will be the slogan to which SIME, DARBY & CO. LTD. will work in serving the FEDERATION of MALAYA."

The statement above was published in a special booklet to congratulate the people of Malaya on the Achievement of Independence on August 31st 1957.

SIME DARBY, then a well-known English conglomerate, was actively involved in civil, mechanical, electrical, air conditioning, refrigeration, tractor and heavy equipment engineers, building materail specialists, airways, shipping and insurance agents, secretaries and agents for rubber estates and tin mines.

Fifty years later, SIME DARBY BERHAD, now a Government-Linked Company, was entrusted to be the major prime mover of the Northern Corridor Economic Region's (NCER) development covering the states of Perlis, Kedah, Penang and North Perak.

NCER is expected to draw a total investment of 177 billion ringgit, with 30 per cent of government funding, in the next 15 years.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Looking back - the story of Malaya - the new nation

(Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Ibni Almarhum Sultan Abdul Hamid told a mass gathering in Melaka that Malaya would get self-government and independence in 1957)

The Malay Peninsula was known to the traders and travellers who followed the sea route between India and China in the early centuries of the Christian era. Kedah, Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang are mentioned as Malay kingdoms in very early records. The Malay Peninsula witnessed the rise and fall of empires such as Lankasuka, Sri Vijaya, Minangkabau and Majapahit.

Islam crossed the Straits of Melaka from Sumatra towards the end of the 11th century, driving out the Buddhist and Hindu religions whose imprint can still be seen in the ritual of Malay courts and customs and in the lore of the kampungs. The 15th century saw the rise of Melaka from a fishing village to a powerful Malay sultanate and a flourishing port known to traders of East and West. Then the Portuguese rounded the Cape of Good Hope and reached India. The era of European conquest and expansion in Asia had begun. The first Portuguese ships were seen in the Straits of Melaka in 1509. Two years later Melaka fell.

But nearly 300 years were to pass before European penetration of the Malay Peninsula extended beyond the fortress and hinterland of Melaka. The Dutch took Melaka from the Portuguese in 1640, and the Dutch handed over to the British when Napolean overran their country in Europe.

During these centuries the Johor empire waxed and waned; Perak fought Acheh; Bugis invaders from Celebes (Sulawesi) founded colonies in Selangor; the Minangkabau Malays migrated across the Straits and settled in Negri Sembilan; and in the north the Siamese claimed sovereignty over Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu.

Britain got her foothold in Malaya in 1786, when the Sultan of Kedah "was tricked" to cede the island of Penang to the East India Company. There followed the "acquisition" of Singapore by Stamford Raffles in 1819 and the final transfer of Melaka from Holland to Britain in 1825. Thus Britain completed the string of ports and settlements down the west coast that became in 1867 the Crown Colony of the Straits Settlements. In 1874, the Treaty of Pangkor was signed, and that was the beginning of eight decades of Malayan history in which there were British residents, and later British Advisers, in Malay States.

(His Highness The Yang di-Pertuan Besar Negri Sembilan Tuanku Sir Abdul Rahman, the first Yang di-Pertuan Agong)

Where does Malaya stand on Merdeka Day and how firm are its foundations? What are its problems and its potentialities? These are questions that every Malayan citizen will ask himself amid the celebrations of Independence Day. In a special booklet to mark Malaya's independence published in 1957, the then The Straits Times Press Ltd., provided some answers.

The Emergency continues to be a canker in the body politic, far less dangerous than it was but not yet cut out and cured. After nine years, in which some 11,000 Communist terrorists have been eliminated, the Emergency is still engaging an army of Commonwealth, Malay and Malayan security forces, and forcing the Federation Government to spend well over $100,000,000 a year which is urgently needed for the social services.

Since the national elections in 1955 it has no longer been possible for the Communist to say that they were fighting the British regime. They are fighting a democratic Malayan Government. The Tunku sought to end the Emergency once and for all in 1955 by offering an amnesty to the enemy in the jungle, and went so far as to meet their leader, Chin Peng, in Baling, Kedah. But the Tunku firmly rejected Chin Peng's demand for recognition of the Malayan Communist Party, as a condition for the laying down of arms by the terrorists. The Federation Government withdrew its amnesty offer in February, 1956, and ordered anti-Communist operations to be intensified.

There are in Malaya on Merdeka Day seven British battalions, one Australian battalion and six Gurkha battalions. The British Government is to withdraw some of these units, but an assurance has been given that the majority will remain.

(Tun Cheng-lock Tan, the MCA president)

As stated earlier, the new Federation was inaugurated through the efforts of UMNO under Dato Sir Onn. Chief Minister the late Tunku described it as the first important role UMNO played, and this accomplishment gave UMNO its political strength and power, first to fight and defeat McMichael's Malayan Union proposals, which would have robbed the Malays of their rights, and then to fight for the return of royal sovereignty which the Sultans had surrendered to the British without a fight.

In his book Viewpoints the Tunku wrote that during the turbulent period of the Communist insurrection, UMNO's role appeared to be less important. The slogan "Hidup Melayu" carried very little significance and weight in the face of the Communist cry of Independence for Malaya.

(Sultan Sir Iskandar Shah of Perak (left) fought for rights of states while Raja Sir Chulan, also of Perak, was the leading Malay spokesman in Federal Council)

It was a Malay party with the slogan "Hidup Melayu", but to achieve autonomy for Malaya it would be necessary to get the support of the whole population of Malaya. Any racialist movement would not succeed. The situation called for a united effort by all the races in the spirit of do-or-die for Malaya. Every man had to give his undivided loyalty and unite in a common purpose to fight for Independence. The Tunku asked those who considered themselves Malayans to come forward. He said it was not an easy task, for UMNO looked upon by others as a racialist Malay party whose only concern was for the Malays, and a party arbitrarily opposed to other races. In such a situation how was it possible for him to win over others to the cause of Independence, but, the Tunku did just that and Malaya declared its Independence on August 31, 1957.