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Every Wednesday, No Mega Tower Day

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For 24 hours every Wednesday till the next General Election, change your Facebook profile picture to one of the placards hosted at the Mega Demonstration Placards photo album.

By Pat Lu, Co-founder, Pahlawan Volunteers

The writing is on the wall. Tomorrow's outcome is determined by today's actions. Can you bear to watch your children suffer (nephews, nieces, godchildren included) because you didn't do something about it today? JOIN ME at http://on.fb.me/dd8HP4 - Post this message at your FB wall.

There are now 220,000 supporters at this historical FIRST Online Mega Demonstration on Facebook page 1M Malaysians Reject 100-storey Mega Tower. Lets make the ONE MILLION supporters goal a reality.

The next General Election is hinted to be round the corner and since the government of the day Barisan Nasional (BN) is known to give out “goodies” during election campaigns; lets do them a favour…

No need for BN to spend money to secure votes. Listen to the people. Don’t build the 100-storey mega tower yet. Be it PNB’s or our tax payers money, we’d like to see the money put to better use for now. Read When to Build a Mega Tower?

To ensure BN gets the message loud and clear, lets make every Wednesday No Mega Tower Day till GE-13. BN either calls off the building of Warisan Merdeka or voters will demonstrate Who is the Boss at the polls.

Here’s what you do:

  1. JOIN the 1M Malaysians Reject 100-storey Mega Tower Page at Facebook.
  2. For 24 hours every Wednesday till the next General Election, ADOPT any of the placards as your profile picture at Mega Demonstration Placards photo album.
    1. Download and upload as your profile picture.
    2. Add this caption to your placard: JOIN ME! Be a part of this historical FIRST Mega Demonstration Online! – 1M Malaysians Reject 100-storey Mega Tower @ http://www.facebook.com/NoMegaTower
    3. Then TAG your friends to your placard.
    4. As you can only tag 50 friends to a photo, simply download and upload other placards to your wall and tag more friends.
    5. Encourage and remind others to do the same at http://www.facebook.com/NoMegaTower

More details on how to drive this campaign, view the Notes tab at the FB page:

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Written by PahlawanVolunteers

November 2, 2010 at 8:21 am

HELLO! Look What’s Happening Today

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By Pat Lu, co-founder, Pahlawan Volunteers

History is repeating itself. Be it BN or PR, the internal fighting and politicking within each party and within each coalition will be the death of the nation.

This cartoon sums all that is needed to say of the state of our country. One 'wrong' formula, one lousy driver = recipe for disaster. "A politician is a person who can make waves and then make you think he's the only one who can save the ship." — Ivern Ball

Will they ever get their act together? Will they ever get their priorities right? Look at each party and their leaders within. Ego-driven. Power crazy. Cannons to the left, cannons to the right… You name it. Here are a couple of examples, just within this week:


HELLO! LOOK WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY
First published on 16 March 2001 (and still relevant today)

UMNO fight, MCA fight, MIC fight
Gerakan also fight fight fight
DAP, PKR and PAS also fight fight fight
Politicians turn to heaven cry for help
Angels (NGOs) sent in disguise, bashed and labeled
Extremist, opportunist, racist, communist instead

Oh dear, God frowns and shakes his head
The call to humility, the call to glory rejected
Politicians offended, defensive and dejected
Pot calling the kettle black, stalemate instead

Ahhh, perhaps they will listen to their children
The same values adults impose with a stick
Let their children tell them what to do
Let their children set them right instead

Daddy and Mummy, you used to say…

Stop fighting! Love each other! We are family!
Why so stupid? Think! Use your commonsense!
Put your ego on the shelf, no man does it by himself!
Don’t hold grudges! Say sorry! Forgive! No hate!

Don’t be rude! Listen carefully when spoken to!
Don’t be selfish! Learn to share! Learn to care!
Don’t be lazy, do your homework before you play!
Don’t tell lies! God is watching, no place to hide!

Stop being unhappy, happiness found within
No need to feel down, pick yourself off the ground
Do whatever you can, do your bit for your land
It all depends on you, make your dreams come true.

Bedtime stories you used to tell
If we don’t behave, God will send us to hell
Daddy and Mummy, stop the fight
Please do what you say!

“A politician thinks of the next election – a statesman of the next generation”. — James Clarke

Written by PahlawanVolunteers

October 29, 2010 at 7:21 am

Posted in Accountability

When to Build a Mega Tower?

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Another Mega Tower for KL is not an issue of whether it is a good idea but about the Malaysian government prioritizing the citizens’ needs.  After 13 years of prolonged budget deficit and the government running into huge domestic debts coupled with no new economic driver in sight; Malaysians would like the government to focus on urgent priorities that can add income growth for the Rakyat.

By Foong Wai Fong and Pat Lu, co-founders of Pahlawan Volunteers

Emperor Qin Shi Huang started building his mausoleum at the age of 18, that project continued for several decades. While some observer labeled that as one of the mega-ego project of all times, we tend to think that this could have started as an “economic stimulus” project.  The Qin Mausoleum eventually turned out to be perhaps the most mega project of all times — it covered an area of 50 km, it is an underground city complete with the emperors’ terracotta army and all the services and trappings of the royal household.

At that time, building the mausoleum seems like the most unproductive investment of resources. We suspect that there must be many silenced opposition as no one dared to defy the all mighty first emperor of China.  Today, 2500 years forth, Emperor Qin’s legacy had become one of the largest world heritage sites of all times. The city of Xian is benefiting from this heritage as a source of present day wealth creation. Xian and the Shanxi Province has the second highest tourists arrival in China; reaching some 50-60 million every year.

Nearer to our times, The Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum in Spain, The Xintindi Restoration Project in Shanghai, the Restoration of the Hangang River in Seoul, Taipei 101 Tower or Dubai Burj Khalifa Tower are all testimonies of how an Avant-garde building structure could inspire and rejuvenate a city; generating pride and hope for the local citizenry and put that particular location or city on the world map.

Many of these wonderful buildings or urban renewal/renaissance projects have all proven their worth in stimulating confidence through a city’s make over; and many of them have become symbols of a particular historical era for a particular cultural group.

There are of course many less successful projects which the promoters did not find a sustainable business model to make good the investment, and the structures fail  to generate the “Bilbao Effect” of generating high GDP multiples for the city; resulting in good returns to the overall economy.

Menara Warisan

Building an ethnic style contemporary structure to symbolize the modernity of Malaysia or its people is a fantastic idea. If we can put our mind and creativity to create a ground-breaking, awe-inspiring structure; plus good functional design and integration of the content in terms of the artifacts would certainly add another dimension to the ethnicity of Malaysia. It will add diversity to the Western or Chinese dominated feature of many of present-day city-scapes.

In fact, we would argue that this is symbolic enough to become a source of ethnic pride and identity for Malaysia, and such project should be encouraged and supported. The success of the structure should be one which has the blessings and support of its citizenry; and not be labeled as an icon of swollen ego of the promoters — even if it is built with private fund.

Another Mega Tower for KL at this point in time is not an issue of whether it is a good idea but about the Malaysian government prioritizing the citizens’ needs.  After 13 years of prolonged budget deficit and the government running into huge domestic debts coupled with no new economic driver in sight; Malaysians would like the government to focus on urgent priorities that can add income growth for the Rakyat. The central issue facing businesses and the Rakyat is income growth or the prospect of income growth.

Hardship on the Ground

The figures on our economy have sounded alarm for a long time. Actual sentiments on the ground are getting near panic. The common man on the street is under tremendous financial stress. The average wage earner is finding it very difficult to make ends meet; business at the coffee shops have become unusually quiet; the SMI factories order book has not turned a new page for months; one mechanic contractor who supplies machinery and provide maintenance to the SMI sector has not seen a major contract in the last two years; he is selling off his assets in order to keep the operation going and to feed his family! The picture is rather grim and serious.

For the average Malaysian, the cost of living has risen and many people feared that it will continue to rise; the prospect of relief from income increases is dim. The quality and cost of everything; from education to road transport to health care to food need urgent redress. At a time of climate change; many are concerned with Malaysia’s rising food bill as this country has no food security of its own.

The international climate is not helping. The world has not come out of the great financial restructuring. While Time Magazine reports that 1 out of 3 Americans are thinking of walking away from their mortgage; the employment situation in many other advanced countries have not shown significant improvement. The global economy is in the process of transformation; each and every economy is trying to find its feet in a time of great technological and structural change.

When to build?

The idea of building Menara Warisan can be kept alive – to inspire and to unify the community. Invitation from local and international architects to join in a contest to design the structure can be issued; the whole nation should be engaged on a project that can inspire all.  Like the proposed nuclear plant, there is no need to rush; Malaysia can give herself time to create a truly defining structure.

The actual construction of the structure should wait until the following urgent priorities have been addressed and the economy has turned the corner:

1.    A World Class Public Transportation System. Without doubt the productivity and efficiency of any city comes from its public transportation system. The cry from the citizen on these urgent priorities has not subsided.  The government must address this without delay — there is nothing more urgent than that. A good public transportation system has the effect of saving the consumer at least 1/5 of his monthly income; and this money can be released for personal improvement or for other more productive and valuable consumption. A good public transportation system cuts stress, improve quality of life and reduces the health bill of the country.

In addition to a good domestic public transportation web in the key cities; Malaysia must get serious to building a high speed rail link from North to South to prevent the economy from being sidelined by the action in the North ( China) and the activities of the emerging South ( Singapore and Indonesia). Connectivity with key growth centers lifts the domestic boat with the rising tide from offshore waters.

2.    Improving Quality of Education through Privatization. Yes, the foundation of the economy is the skill and knowledge competence of its citizenry. The Malaysian education system needs a radical rethink; the sooner the authorities decide to let the private sector have a stronger hand; the better would it be for the country. Our education system is guilty of being trapped in bureaucratic irrelevance; it is over-burdened in terms of cost.

The world today is changing; and changing rather speedily. Unless we give a free hand to allow the private sector to participate; it is hard to imagine how we can keep our citizenry’s knowledge and competence up to date. Human resources are the core factor underlying investor confidence in a particular location.

3.    Restoring Public Confidence. Not only FDI (foreign direct Investment) to Malaysia has dried up; DDI (domestic direct Investment) is also shrinking. Thousands of high end and upper middle apartments cannot be rented out because there are not many foreigners left in Malaysia. With the daily political theater, both locals and foreigners are not amused.

While most can accept the fact that the New Economic Policy can continue; room created by the New Economic Model policy must be piloted on the development zones to make the transition. Malaysia needs to inspire confidence that it cares about the success of its business people and foreign investors. The government must do all it can to restore confidence; piloting a one country-two system policy to accommodate local needs and meeting international expectations must be executed wisely.

The government of the day would do well to focus its resources to generating a virtuous cycle and change the current depressed mood. Let the people and the world see that the government really gets it. It is not about one mega tower. Once the economy is put on a sustainable upward path, businessmen make profit and the people’s income is growing; we can build one mega tower in each of the 13 state capitals when everyone is happy!

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Facebook Page: 1M Malaysians Reject 100-storey Mega Tower

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Written by PahlawanVolunteers

October 27, 2010 at 4:34 am

On Kim Quek Being Questioned by Bukit Aman

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“Instead of going after the crooks, the police questions my brother, a political analyst,” said Sr.Theresa Yong, sister of Kim Quek author of banned book ‘The March to Putrajaya’.

Kim Quek was questioned by the police at Bukit Aman between 2.:50pm-3:50pm today, 18 October 2010. Hear what his sister Sr. Theresa Yong and political scientist Wong Chin Huat has to say…

About Kim Quek

Kim Quek is a Malaysian political commentator who has been keeping a very close watch on the fast moving political development in Malaysia. His frequent writings on the local scene appear regularly in many local websites including the popular Malaysiakini and Malaysia Today.

His articles are typically factual and analytical and no-holds-barred when it comes to commenting on the incessant scandals of corruption and abuse of power involving the high hierarchy of the ruling Barisan Nasional that have increasingly dominated Malaysian politics. As such, his writings are a useful counter-balance to the notoriously one-sided narration of the Malaysian mainstream media which are hopelessly manipulated by the incumbent federal power. He hopes to offer readers, through his writings, a view of the other side of the coin, so to speak.

In a sense, this book The March to Putrajaya – Malaysia’s New Era is at Hand is a sequel to Kim Quek’s previous best seller “Where to, Malaysia?” which recorded the disastrous Mahathirist rule and the early auto-pilot reign of Abdullah Badawi.

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Written by PahlawanVolunteers

October 18, 2010 at 9:04 pm

Malaysia – A Promise of Fraternity through Freedom

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EVENT: 47 Minutes of Silence, Peace for Malaysia
To conclude the 47 years of Malaysia and usher in her 48th year
with 47 minutes of silence.
15th September 2010 @ 11.12pm – 11.59pm
– Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall Carpark
– Community Halls/NGO Premises/Associations/Clubs in major towns

Watch Video: Malaysians 4 Change
Towards A 2-Party State System and Justice for All: Action Plan

To mark Malaysia Day on 16 September, civil society groups have come up with a joint statement urging Malaysians to reclaim their independence.

Civil Society Joint Statement on Malaysia Day 2010:
Malaysia – A Promise of Fraternity through Freedom

When the peoples of Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore came together in 1963, Malaysia was a promise of freedom and fraternity, that all the children of this land would love and support each other to develop and progress.

A Promise of Fraternity through Freedom

Malaysia was a promise of fraternity. For none of Malaysia’s children were meant to be asked to leave their country for some foreign land. And no one was meant to be insulted and marginalised because of his or her ethnicity, faith, birthplace, lifestyle or any other group attributes.

Malaysia was a promise of freedom. Like every other nation on Earth, we would inevitably have differences on how the country was to be run and how resources and opportunities shared. We were meant to listen and understand each other, and seek solutions acceptable to all. We were not meant to silence each other by resorting to threats of riot or imprisonment.

Malaysia cannot be an independent nation if Malaysians are not free.

Malaysia was indeed such a promise, not only of fraternity and freedom, but specifically of fraternity through freedom. We were not meant to be a fraternity of slaves, living in peace merely out of fear of draconian laws or ethnic riots. Neither were we meant to exercise our freedom irresponsibly and heartlessly to cause or ignore misery of our brothers and sisters.

We were meant to use our freedom – uncompromised by our diversity – to chart a common future and a better tomorrow for all. It’s the desire for freedom and the confidence that we can collectively use freedom wisely that confirm our independence from colonisation. And that’s why Malaysia as a whole is – or should be – greater than the sum of Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak.

What has gone wrong?

What has happened to this great promise of fraternity and freedom? Where are our civil and political liberties after 47 years of independence? How is our social harmony after 47 years of co-existence?

We have educationists openly calling for ethnic minorities to leave the country. We have politicians demonising gestures of goodwill between different religious communities. We have self-appointed communal heroes mongering fear and hatred, lodging police reports against opinions disapproved by them. Subsequently, we have vulgar expressions of counter-attacks.

Every society has fringe individuals and groups going all out to offend others. The only way to stop them is to expose their slurs shunned by the mainstream opinion, the very people they claim to champion, not by imprisoning them and making them martyrs. However, for common sense to prevail, we need freedom of expression and freedom of information.

By no accident at all, the perceived escalation of communal tensions happens concurrently with selective crackdown on mainstream and alternative media. Critical journalists – from television, radio and print media – are either removed or marginalised. Books and cartoons are banned while bloggers are harassed and intimidated.

Rational discussion and legitimate dissent are simply muted while certain media organisations are allowed the maximum freedom to spread bigotry and ill-will. These media operators want to terrify us Malaysians into denouncing freedom – what the Independence is really about – by
manipulating our love for peace. They want us to cling on to authoritarianism. They even openly call for ISA arrests to silence dissent.

Why are the bigoted politicians and their media collaborators so bold in challenging the common sense of Malaysians? They call us the silent majority. Do they know silence can be powerful, too? When the silent majority act together, then silence can be more deafening than any noise.

Let us reclaim our Independence

This Malaysia Day, let us all work to reclaim our country, not only for ourselves, but also for the future generations to come. It has to begin with ourselves, not anybody else.

As the Native American wisdom aptly puts it, “We do not inherit this land from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”

Let us guard this land from the fire of hatred, ignorance and fear, and return it intact to our descendants.

Let us take some time to reflect in silence on the part we have played in letting this country stoop so low, either by commission or omission.

Let us reach out to other Malaysians, out of love, not out of fear or tolerance.

Let us listen to each other and seek understanding even if we disagree.

Let us reaffirm our Independence and defeat any attempt of mental colonisation.

Let us live the promise of fraternity through freedom that Malaysia was born for 47 years ago.

The endorsing civil society groups:

  1. Aliran Kesedaran Negara (ALIRAN)
  2. Bersih 2.0
  3. Borneo Research Institute Sarawak (BRIMAS)
  4. Child Development Initiative
  5. Civil Rights Committee, Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (CRC-KLSCAH)
  6. Community Development Centre (CDC)
  7. Council of Temples Malaysia
  8. Educational, Welfare and Research Foundation Malaysia
  9. EMPOWER
  10. Federation of Indian Non-Governmental Organisations
  11. Friends in Conversation (FIC)
  12. Frinjan Collective
  13. Group of Concerned Citizens (GCC)
  14. Hartal MSM
  15. Indian Malaysian Active Generation (IMAGE)
  16. Institute for Development of Alternative Living (IDEAL)
  17. Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF)
  18. Jaringan Orang Asal Semalaysia -JOAS (indigenous peoples network of Malaysia)
  19. Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (JERIT)
  20. Klang Consumer Association
  21. Kuala Lumpur And Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall Youth Section
  22. LLG Cultural Development Centre
  23. Majlis Kelab Bell Belia Tamil Malaysia
  24. Malacca Chinese Assembly Hall Youth Section
  25. Malaysian Association of Indian University Graduates
  26. Malaysian Dravidian Association
  27. Malaysian Hindu Youth Council
  28. Malaysian Indian Development & Unity Association
  29. Malaysian Indian Historical Association
  30. Malaysian Tamil Forum
  31. Malaysians for Beng Hock
  32. Muslim Professionals Forum (MPF)
  33. Negeri Sembilan Chinese Assembly Hall Youth Section
  34. Oriental Hearts & Mind Study Institute (OHMSI)
  35. Pahlawan Volunteers
  36. PeBT MPSJ Zon 23
  37. PERMAS (Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor Dan Wilayah Persekutuan)
  38. Persahabatan Semparuthi
  39. Persatuan Alumni PBTUSM Selangor & Kuala Lumpur
  40. Persatuan Kebangsaan Hak Asasi Manusia (HAKAM)
  41. Persatuan Komuniti Prihatin Kuala Lumpur,Selangor & Perak (PRIHATIN)
  42. Persatuan Penduduk Taman Muhibbah
  43. PT Foundation
  44. PUSAT KOMAS
  45. Research for Social Advancement (REFSA)
  46. Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (SADIA)
  47. Sarawak Native Land Rights Owners (TAHABAS)
  48. Sarawakians Access (SACCESS)
  49. Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM)
  50. Tamil Foundation
  51. The Micah Mandate (TMM)
  52. The Penang Independent Schools Education Society
  53. Women Institute for Research Development and Advancement (WIRDA)
  54. Writer Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI)
  55. Youth for Change (Y4C)

The endorsing party organisation:

  1. Wanita Parti Keadilan Rakyat

Written by PahlawanVolunteers

September 15, 2010 at 3:44 pm

Stem the tide of racism and racial-baiting

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SABM celebrates Hari Malaysia

Racist rhetoric: Extremist leaders continue to spew so much hurtful invectives that these would have shamed the most neo-Nazi right-wingers, the world over. Most modern societies would have punished such hate-mongers if not for their senseless racial baiting but then for their ad hominem attacks on just about anyone who dares to challenge their warped if narrow worldview.

Perhaps the media can play their roles better by downplaying these media hounds, whose purposes are so sickening and depraved.

Pursue the perpetrators: Yet, when called upon to investigate such racist behaviours, the authorities appear to be dragging their feet, and instead concentrate with such efficiency to question and charge a rapper (NameWee) who merely was bold and foolhardy enough to serve as a conduit to expose these wrongdoings. Can the police and authorities not see the biasness of their actions, by pursuing the messenger and not the perpetrator of possible crimes? Full story after the videos below.

On Thoughts, Words and Deeds:
Thoughts become words. Words become action.
What are we teaching our children today?

Rising racism, 53 years on

By David KL Quek

This year, I became a senior citizen. I can now withdraw my EPF savings and I qualify for some discounts for travel and surprisingly even for some buffet meals at some eateries.

But as I ponder upon ‘retirement’, it is sad to see the Malaysia that I know and live in, grows increasingly uncertain, diffident and bogged down in self-made crises, one after another.

Our previously phenomenal economic growth has now trickled down in a dizzying spiral of middle-income trap – not helped by the 2008 global financial crisis.

Our foreign direct investments have dwindled as our competitiveness, our productivity, perhaps our systemic corruption and wastage, have now been exposed and called into question.

Even our inborn entrepreneurs are investing overseas because of the uncertain future and shifting policies, which have made us face the truth of our competitiveness and value as a nation.

Instead of maturing gracefully, we appear to have become trapped in a petulant phase of angry adolescence breaking out senselessly to attack convenient bogeymen -race and religion appear to have become the easy targets, which breed even more political and economic uncertainty.

As a fourth generation Malaysian, I was born two and a half years before our fateful Merdeka. I am still wondering whether we are truly ‘liberated’ as befits the meaning of ‘Merdeka’, so gloriously proclaimed by our Bapa Merdeka, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj, in 1957.

That Merdeka was to have ushered in the birth of what some would have called ‘an unlikely nation’, one that appeared cobbled together in a slapdash manner, juxtaposing a disparate if hodgepodge peoples – predominantly Malays, Chinese and Indians- and akin to mixing oil in water. Yet again, does any one in such serendipitous circumstance have that conscious sense of history and historicity of these singular moments?

To be fair, even then, no one dared to dream that the idea of Malaya and later Malaysia could succeed. But truth be told, we did do very well for so many years, becoming one of the rising ‘Asian tigers’. It’s just these recent years that we have foundered and perhaps lost a little faith in ourselves.

So many other post-colonial new nations had self-destructed in interethnic, religious or tribalistic clashes and conflagrations. We nearly did in May of 1969.

But good sense and firm actions created a novel social re-engineering feat (the NEP) in its wake, to bring about some semblance of order, reasonable interethnic tolerance and suppressed racial tensions.

For the next four decades, we have lived a reasonably harmonious if distinct existence, although seething fault-lines appear now and again to threaten the veneer of our touted ‘Truly Asian’ unity among our unique pastiche of colourful normalcy.

Forty years hence, ratcheted-up rhetoric is beginning to sunder this extraordinary relationship. Polarised insistence on continued affirmative action in stylised if arbitrary terms, remains a bone of contention, which powerfully fans the embers of resurgent ethnic fears and pride.

Sadly, as we celebrate this auspicious anniversary, we seemed mired in increasingly rabid and insulting racism, which greatly threatens our flimsy unity and contrasting diversity.

Racist rhetoric

Extremist leaders continue to spew so much hurtful invectives that these would have shamed the most neo-Nazi right-wingers, the world over. Most modern societies would have punished such hate-mongers if not for their senseless racial baiting but then for their ad hominem attacks on just about anyone who dares to challenge their warped if narrow worldview.

Perhaps the media can play their roles better by downplaying these media hounds, whose purposes are so sickening and depraved.

It appears that more and more politicians are flogging the twisted if populist concept of ethnic supremacy and extraordinary rights (of ethnic ketuanan) once again, as if to bolster their public images as racial champions. The loudest and the most strident appear to be those who are now commanding the greatest publicity and arguably some perverse following.

Our authorities appear timorous in not wanting to directly confront these vociferous bullies, for fear of some unintended backlash. But in so doing, the government loses even more credibility. The government of the people must serve as a fearless just arbiter of a firm and respected Leviathan, and not be held ransom by some mindless minority.

There cannot be distorted applications of the rule of law, where any one can flaunt and challenge the wisdom of the law, at wanton will. There seems to be no more respect for anyone else except for the self-righteous bully pulpit arrogance of voluble tyrants disgorging more and more hatred and painfully shrill racist ideologies to the hilt.

Freedom of speech implies rational discourse and debate, not threatening and insulting rantings. It certainly does not absolve anyone of despicable spewing and inciting of ethnic or religious intimidation or hatred.

But who really is to blame for the recent rise in racist rhetoric?

It appears that some components of the government are still pushing the propaganda machine to perpetuate the concept of racial supremacy and denigrating all other ethnic groups.

The Biro Tata Negara (BTN, National Civics Bureau) instead of instilling national civic consciousness, appears to relish in inculcating and indoctrinating any civil servant or would be scholarship holder, in a time-warped belief system that only the Malays are true patriots and truly deserving of their Malaysianness.

This is still happening 50-odd years following Merdeka, and one wonders why non-bumiputeras don’t sometimes feel any greater sense of belonging to this nation of ours.

Surprisingly such BTN programmes appear to have been a ‘recent’ phenomenon. My sister and brother-in-law who are senior government servants in the Ministries of Education and Higher Education respectively claimed never to have been subject to such gross demeaning indoctrination or abuse – perhaps, they too have been too polite, too programmed, to acknowledge. It did not take place when I was a clinical lecturer for seven years at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia in the 1980s and early 1990s.

But as MMA president, I have received some angry verbal complaints (many are traumatised, frightened and do not want to be quoted for fear of reprisals) that even non-bumiputera junior medical specialists and house officers, who aspire to join the service or to be confirmed, are currently subject to physical and mental abuse. Mind you, these are not students of impressionable age, but grown men and women in their twenties and thirties.

Some have been made to squat and huddle together in front of other bumiputera peers, rudely woken at early mornings, shouted at, called pendatang, usurpers of scholarships and positions, depriving the true bumiputeras of their places and rights, told in uncertain terms that they are here only at the behest and kindly generosity of the bumiputeras, and that they can always ‘go home’ or balik kampung which means China or India.

Groups have been bullied into subordinating to and acknowledging the official ‘dogma’, or risk having the entire group not ‘passing the course’. Do these utterances ring a bell?

Less than a year and a half ago, one young returning teacher broke down from such radical abuse and hazing, that her family decided to pull her out, repaying the loan in full – enough is enough! So can we not see how this will perpetuate the cycle of blatant racial baiting and hatred when these ‘officers’ return to their respective services, after such provocative BTN courses?

Mustn’t such propaganda stop? Is the government truly sincere in wishing to stem such state-endorsed racism? Is this government truly espousing the 1Malaysia concept for whatever it is worth?

Mohd Nazri Abdul AzizLast year, Minister in the PM’s Department Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz acknowledged that the BTN must be overhauled. He had revealed that courses by the BTN were racially divisive and used to promote certain government leaders. While Nazri was bold enough to expose this, he was nearly alone in defending the need to overhaul the BTN courses.

Most of the ruling elite, including the deputy premier had sided with those who refused to acknowledge Nazri’s contention that the BTN was a mockery of the 1Malaysia concept. Of course, former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad joined in and insisted there was no need to revamp the BTN courses, which led Nazri to call the former PM a “bloody racist”, even conferring on Dr M the title “the father of all racists”.

So are we surprised that Perkasa, school teachers and principals, public officers, resort to such ‘ingrained’ behaviour, notwithstanding the so-called ‘provocation ‘ from their charges, their students, who must surely be so ‘insensitive’ as to other’s religious practices?

Pursue the perpetrators

Yet, when called upon to investigate such racist behaviours, the authorities appear to be dragging their feet, and instead concentrate with such efficiency to question and charge a rapper (NameWee) who merely was bold and foolhardy enough to serve as a conduit to expose these wrongdoings.

Rapper NameweeCan the police and authorities not see the biasness of their actions, by pursuing the messenger and not the perpetrator of possible crimes?

Can the authorities not understand why thinking Malaysians and non-bumiputeas are beginning to feel persecuted and discriminated against, more and more, despite utterances to the contrary by our political leaders?

Can the authorities not understand why more and more disgruntled non-bumiputeas are making a beeline to emigrate whenever and wherever they can – hardship, uprooting displacement and starting over, notwithstanding? This has got nothing to do with patriotism, when one is constantly told that he or she is unequal as a citizen, and that they are unwanted.

Can every Malaysian non-bumiputera truly feel that he or she has a fair and reasonable share of this piece of earth called Malaysia? Do our authorities truly appreciate talent, merit or worth of any non-bumiputera at all, or is this mere lip service? Can they not see the hollowness and insincerity of their pronouncements – when we can hardly see the ‘walk’ from the ‘talk’?

Such crescendos of racist ravings seriously undermine the carefully constructed dream of a true Malaysian nation, shattering the much-bandied ‘unity’ slogan already so tattered among our terribly troubled diversity.

Hurtful cries to demonise and belittle other races as unequal, pendatang and lesser than themselves cannot but help demoralise every peace-loving non-bumiputera Malaysian who aspires for a better tomorrow, a better Malaysia.

We fully recognise the special position of the bumiputeras, but as non-bumiputeras we also increasingly demand our rightful place in this nation of ours. Lest it is forgotten, our position is also enshrined in the constitution. This is not arrogance, but a statement of fact as a human right of any citizen.

We do have a long way to go. We have many mindsets to change, to engage, to dialogue with in sincerity and humility, so that race and religion cannot be made a bogeyman for every travail or challenge that the country is facing.

We have our work cut out for us, but as rational Malaysians, we must all try even harder to persuade the government to be one for all Malaysians and not for mere sloganeering alone or for any one racial group.

We must flush out all closet racists. We must instead cultivate greater rational discourse and dialogue without preconditions of threats and top-down dictates. We need to work on closer cross-ethnic cooperation, tolerance and acceptance so that together we are truly more than the sum of our rich individual strength and heritage.

PerkasaWe must nurture greater cohesiveness by lowering the tempo and temperature of racial baiting and shrill cries and rhetoric of ethnic pride and irrational fear-mongering. We must work towards greater confidence of sharing and building and not engage in divisive dismantling bigotry based on artificial barriers of so-called ethnic or religious sensitivities.

This government must be seen to act without fear or favour, by espousing fair and just policies, by directly confronting and stemming the tide of racism and racial-baiting. Divisive ravings drive uncertainty and suppress confidence. We need to reverse such negative rhetoric if we wish to improve the climate for economic buoyancy in this country.

By staying the course of inept inattention, we stand to lose our global competitiveness even more, as we Malaysians lose confidence in ourselves and our grip on the future.

We must do this right and soon, or risk losing everything! 53 years hence, and Merdeka then would have been in vain.

“We came into the world like brother and brother, And now let’s go hand in hand, not one before another.” – William Shakespeare, in the closing couplet of ‘The Comedy of Errors’ [V.i.425-26]

DR DAVID KL QUEK was the editor-in-chief of the MMA News (bulletin of the Malaysian Medical Association) for 11 years and is currently president of the MMA.

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Written by PahlawanVolunteers

September 7, 2010 at 11:40 am

Posted in Accountability

Haris Ibrahim: What it means to say ‘I AM MALAYSIAN’?

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Talk on What it means to say ‘I AM MALAYSIAN’? by Haris Ibrahim and Voter Registration Campaign, organised by SAMsterz, KUBM & PIHDM, held on 22 May 2010 at the Church of the Divine Mercy, Shah Alam.

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More, Parts 6-10, view playlist.

Written by PahlawanVolunteers

May 24, 2010 at 1:29 pm