Saturday, September 30, 2006

Lee Kuan Yew and Malaysia-Singapore testy relationship

Lee Kuan Yew and Malaysia-Singapore testy relationship
By: Dato' Rejal Arbee

The latest outburst by Singapore’s Mentor Minister, Lee Kuan Yew that the Malay dominated Malaysia and Indonesia are discriminating against their Chinese citizens leading to them being marginalised has riled many in Malaysia especially the Malays and lately also in Indonesia.
The Chinese are of two minds; some agreeing that there has been discrimination against the Chinese in certain cases but to say they are being marginalised is to stretch it. The facts do not uphold Lee’s contention both in Malaysia and Indonesia.

If it is true that the Chinese are marginalised then the community would be nothing in both countries. But the fact is the Chinese continue to control the economy and they are free to exercise their rights accorded them as citizens of the two countries. So how marginalised can they be?

If everyone is sincere in wanting to see the forest and not just the trees and work towards having interracial harmony and goodwill they just need to see what is apparent everywhere in Malaysia to know how absurd Lee’s charges are. Have the New Economic Policy impoverished the Chinese and in general denied them their place in the country? Don’t they have a meaningful share in the governance of the country? Don’t the Chinese still not dominate the economic life of the country?

There may be instances of individuals being deprived of an economic opportunity or a tertiary education opportunity at an institution of his choice but have not the Malays also been similarly denied not just in education but in employment and in business as well?

The problem is when people refuse to see the actual situation. And what Singapore is doing has not helped. Since Lee’s charges, the Singapore government controlled The Straits Times have been on a campaign to highlight views of the Malaysian Chinese supporting Lee’s views.
The paper have been carrying articles and stories by their correspondents here who invariably are Chinese quoting various Chinese chauvinists and other pressure groups including Chinese educationists supporting that contention and blaming the implementation of the NEP for discriminating against the Chinese.

The NEP is nothing but a manifestation of Article 152 of the Federal Constitution that provides for the special position of the Malays. But the policy has always been implemented in the context of an expanding national cake to ensure that there is no large scale deprivation of opportunities to the non-Malays. And this is shown by facts and figures. So how have the Chinese been marginalised?

It is interesting that an article giving views of the Chinese groups including the DAP as supporting LKY’s charge, quoted the DAP Secretary General Lim Guan Eng as saying the Chinese as well as the non-Chinese had been marginalised by 'discriminatory government policies that only favour the rich and politically connected'. So who are actually marginalised?
Despite the contentious issue, the fact remains that Lee has again interfered in our domestic affairs by bringing up a sensitive issue that could very well escalate into unnecessary disharmonious arguments between the Malays and the Chinese that could compromise national and political stability. If this is not inciting racial discord and interfering in the domestic affairs of Malaysia then what is? What actually is Lee’s intention and The Straits Times’ motive in continuing to play up such sentiments?

And Lee said this to illustrate the point that while the powers that be in Malaysia (ie the Malays) could cow its Chinese population into submission, it cannot do the same with the island state. Ever since it being booted out of Malaysia by Tunku Abdul Rahman in 1965, Lee have been playing this bogey to hone into his countrymen why they have to be 'really firm, stout-hearted, subtle and resolute' (his words) when facing Malaysia and Indonesia.

So is it any wonder that we continue to have a testy relationship with the republic over all the outstanding issues which are still to be resolved until today? Can we then expect the LKY’s PAP dominated Singapore to be seen as giving way to this “Malay government of Malaysia” which have continuously ‘marginalized’ its Chinese citizens?

When you have such a warped thingking from no less than the person who have so dominated and dictated the island’s course for the last 50 or so years until today, their policy towards us will continue to be skewered. Thus the protracted issues over water supply to the republic, the KTM land, the island of Batu Putih, the Central Provident Fund of Malaysians from the Peninsular who have stopped working there and whatever else that can come up from time to time.

To LKY and the PAP acceding to Malaysia in any negotiations would mean the republic would be seen as being compliant to Malaysia’s demand, just as what he thought the Chinese here had become, obedient to the Malays.

We can only take pity on a leader with this kind of mentality towards his neighbours. And yet the Malaysian government continues to work so hard at trying to maintain close and cordial relationship with such kind of leader. Can we expect a leopard to change its spots? Is it any wonder that our relationship with the city state continues to be testy?

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad himself lamented that during his long tenure in the saddle, he had bent backwards to try and accommodate Singapore to no avail. And now Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi tries so hard to improve upon that relationship through golf diplomacy. Since Dr Mahathir do not play golf it was hoped that golf would improved things.
Fat hope. It just did not work. Malaysia Singapore relations will never improve so long as LKY continues to habour ill will towards Malaysia with his warped thinking, that compliance with Malaysia’s demand would be deemed as a weakness on their part.

Is it any wonder that they will never give way to Malaysia in whatever negotiations. Thus they will never relent to pressures to allow, for example, West Malaysians who had resigned from working in Singapore to withdraw their CPF contributions before reaching retiring age of 55. This would tantamount to them being ‘compliant’ to the demands of a Malay dominated government whom he looked down upon.

To me the old man until today still can’t accept the humiliating rejection he and his party, PAP got from Malaysian voters who rejected his brand of Malaysian Malaysia during the 1964 general elections. I still remember his press conference the morning after polling day (just hours after the announcement of the results) which I covered for Berita Harian at Rumah Temasik within the vicinity of the Royal Selangor Golf Club in Jalan Pekeliling (now Jalan Tun Razak).
He came out of his room with beet red face after a drinking binge to drown his sorrows for that rejection for he just could not reconcile how even the Chinese voters had rejected his brand of Malaysian Malaysia.

The Malaysian or Indonesian bogey shows how he continues to harbour afortress mentality in so far as the republic’s security is concerned – not surprisingly with all the Zionist advisors at his disposal.

So the island republic feels constricted by his larger neighbours which encircles it. He was also very much peeved by Indonesian President B.J. Habibie’s description of it being only a red dot on the map in 1998 and thus felt it needed to be much stronger than both countries.

And so its huge annual defence expenditure averaging RM20 billion a year for the past number of years enabling it to be the strongest and best equipped armed forces in the region. Its annual defence expenditure had been hovering around 5 percent of its GDP coming up to nearly 30 percent of its annual operating expenditures.

Thus it now boast of scores of F16 fighter jets said to be the most advanced multi-role fighter aircraft in the world equipped with AIM-120C guided missiles. In addition it also has Apache AH-64D Longbow assault helicopters. The republic also have unmanned spy planes and spy satellite developed with Israel in addition to a number of AWACs. In fact its air force capability is said to be at par even with Israel’s.

It is also now involved with the US to develop the new F-35 jet which is even better than the Russian Sukoi SU-30 MKM to be acquired by the RMAF.

Considering its land mass of only 648 sq km (without taking into consideration its continued reclamation to expand its size to nearly 800 sq km by 2020) most of its military aircraft are stationed in the United States as well as in Australia, Taiwan and even in France. Thus it also have a fleet of KC-135 airtankers enabling its F16 to be refueled mid-air.

All this military capability begs the question who does it think habour thoughts of invading it? Surely not Malaysia which has already booted it out in 1965?

Rejal Arbee
27 Sept 2006

The power and politics behind Kularb Kaew

The power and politics behind Kularb Kaew
The first week under the Council for Democratic Reform under Constitutional Monarchy (CDRM) allowed for little public deliberation on the fate of the Shin-Temasek deal that set Thailand's crisis in motion.

Through the newly appointed National Counter Corruption Commission or some other body, however, authorities are certain soon to revisit that deal. Probes must continue into such aspects of the transaction as to whether the Singaporean People's Action Party (PAP) regime's investment company, Temasek Holdings, used nominees in purchasing Shin Corp. But they must not crowd out scrutiny of the underlying regional political dimensions of the transaction, which will remain relevant long after the CDRM relinquishes power and the Shin-Temasek scandal passes.

Perhaps the most significant unrecognised feature of the deal's politics involves the same Kularb Kaew at the centre of the probe into possible use of nominees. In essence, it is the mugging of the Thai political order by Southeast Asian money politics whose scale and stakes make the provincial chao phor and buffet cabinets of the country's pre-1997 politics look quaint.

The clue to understanding it lies in the business activities of the Thai-Malaysian tycoon Surin Upatkoon, aka Lau Khin Koon. Initial focus must fall on one of Surin/Lau's assets: the Malaysian firm MPHB, or Multi-Purpose Holdings Berhad. MPHB operates in financial services, stock-brokering, and gaming. It is no ordinary business concern. Its ownership and activities have long been political matters. MPHB originated in the mid-1970s, when thousands of relatively poor Malaysian Chinese investors pooled resources into a company large enough to take advantage of Malaysia's boom. MPHB's success lifted its chief executive Tan Koon Swan into the presidency of the Malaysian Chinese Association, a core member of the country's long-governing National Front coalition.

In 1985, a scandal involving another Tan firm forced him out of both politics and MPHB. Tan's fall made MPHB defenceless prey for members of Kuala Lumpur's voracious political-business-financial class. Going into receivership, it ended up controlled by interests linked to then-deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim.

Anwar's 1998 ouster put MPHB into play again. It fell into the hands of parties close to then-finance minister Daim Zainuddin, a KL wheeler-dealer who took a leading role in former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad's transformation of the Malaysian economy. Embedded in the lucrative cronyism that attended that transformation, Daim remains a major player in regional money politics.

In 2002, as The Nation reported last March, reports of a connection to Daim accompanied Surin/Lau's assumption of control over MPHB, replacing the parties earlier installed. While both Surin/Lau and Daim deny this connection, knowledgeable observers in Kuala Lumpur give the reports credence. They do not believe that Surin/Lau could take over MPHB's profitable four-digit lottery business without political support. (These same observers also claim that, in justifying his right to operate four-digit gaming, the Thai Surin/Lau stresses his Malaysian identity.) They argue that heavy-weight political backing came from Daim, regardless of whether he extended any financial backing to Surin/Lau. To apprecaite the Shin-Temesek scandal requires investigation of Surin/Lau's connection to Daim. It may explain Singapore's reliance on Surin/Lau to secure Thai participation in the deal. It would also clarify the scandal's ominous regional political dimension.

Surin/Lau told the Thai media that he invested in Kularb Kaew after being approached - seemingly out of the blue - by the Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs, which Temasek retained as adviser for the Shin purchase. It is worth recalling the role of the Malaysian Ong brothers in putting the Shin-Tesmasek deal together. Richard Ong serves as a managing director at Goldman Sachs, and Charles Ong is head of overseas investment strategy at Temasek and right-hand man to its executive director and CEO Ho Ching. Goldman could not approach Surin/Lau without authorisation from Temasek. But what might account for Temasek's interest in this mysterious figure? Surely his Thai passport was not enough. The following scenario offers a rough answer to this question.

When Thai investors in Kularb Kaew hesitated, Temasek was stuck. It needed a credible investor with Thai nationality to replace them. The uproar over its Shin purchase might make Temasek despair of finding such an investor among prominent Bangkok businessmen. How grand, then, to enlist a successful and wealthy Kuala Lumpur businessman with Thai citizenship. And how fortunate - if this is what happened - the Singaporeans must have felt when they contacted Surin/Lau and received assurances of his reliability from a man they trusted: Daim Zainuddin.

The strong relationship between Singapore's PAP regime and Daim is unmistakable in the way it is reflected in the writings of that regime's founding strongman, Harry Lee Kuan Yew, father of the current PAP Secretary-General and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and father-in-law of Temasek boss and the prime minister's wife, Ho Ching. The second volume of his memoirs, "From Third World to First", abounds with praise for Daim. It describes him as a man "who honoured his commitments", in clear contrast to Lee's view of other Malaysian politicians.

The Singapore establishment's esteem for Daim dates at least to 1990, when negotiations over Malaysian Railway land in Singapore brought the elder Lee and Daim together. Daim struck Lee as a man of talent, seriousness, and good faith. The resulting trust led to Daim and Temasek working together on a number of ventures. Temasek took a large stake in Daim's Alliance Bank in Malaysia, where Daim and the Singaporean colossus also have partnerships in financial services. They are jointly involved in a pair of banks in Indonesia and perhaps in ventures outside the region.

To outline the developments suggested here is to allege nothing illegal. It is to offer a narrative about money and power, not about the law. In this narrative, the question of whether Surin Upatkoon/Lau Khin Koon paid for his share in Kularb Kaew with his own money, with Temasek's, or with someone else's becomes a subsidiary question.

Money and politics rarely come together in transparent fashion. It is always in the interest of transparency's enemies to decry as conspiracy-theorising any attempts to get to the bottom of events. The Shin-Temasek deal appears to involve a group of serious pros in the regional money-and-power game: Daim Zainuddin, Singapore Inc's dominant Lee family and Thaksin and Pojaman Shinawatra.

Southeast Asia has fallen increasingly into the grip of such money-and-power pros, operating from within the region and showing little regard for national boundaries, national politics or even national welfare. Their games hurt ordinary Southeast Asians. These games will continue long after the CDRM returns authority to an elected government. And a failure to understand them means abdicating responsibility for weakening the grip of those who play them.

Uan Na Thap Thiang

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/2006/09/25/opinion/opinion_30014555.php

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Difference Between Rich/Poor People

One day, the father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the express purpose of showing him how poor people live. They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family.

On their return from their trip, the father asked his son, "How was the trip?"
"It was great, Dad."
"Did you see how poor people live?" the father asked.
"Oh yeah," said the son.
"So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip?" asked the father.

The son answered:"I saw that we have one dog and they had four.We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end.We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night.Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon.We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight.We have servants who serve us, but they serve others.We buy our food, but they grow theirs.We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them."

The boy's father was speechless.Then his son added, "Thanks Dad for showing me how poor we are."

Isn't perspective a wonderful thing? Makes you wonder what would happen if we all gave thanks for everything we have, instead of worrying about what we don't have.Appreciate every single thing you have, especially your friends!

"Life is too short and friends are too few."

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Meneliti Ungkapan Pope

Meneliti ungkapan Pope

Oleh DAIM ZAINUDDIN

PERDANA Menteri Turki Recep Tayyip Erdogan menyifatkan petikan kontroversi Pope Benedict XVI berupa ungkapan ahli politik biasa, bukannya seorang ahli agama. Pope juga bukan seorang intelektual biasa yang gemar mencetuskan perdebatan. Bagi penganut Kristian, kata-kata Pope adalah muktamad, tidak boleh dipinda atau diadili oleh proses kehakiman.

Manakala menurut pemimpin golongan Coptic, Pope Shenouda III pula, kata-kata yang menyinggung perasaan orang Islam adalah bertentangan dengan ajaran Nabi Isa. Kita turut bimbang jika terdapat perkara tersirat dalam kontroversi ungkapan Pope mengenai Islam, sama ada ia membayangkan seakan rasa bimbang terhadap pengaruh Islam. Tiga dari 16 perenggan yang menyentuh Islam dalam ucapan beliau di sebuah universiti Jerman pada 12 September berkisar kepada hujah maharaja empayar Byzantium beragama Kristian dalam satu pertemuan dengan seorang ilmuwan Parsi mengenai Islam beberapa ratus tahun dahulu.

Peristiwa ini dikatakan berlaku sekitar tahun 1391 berhampiran Ankara ketika maharaja bersiap sedia hendak berperang dengan Turki yang sebelum itu memberi perlindungan kepada Byzantium.Pope memetik maharaja itu sebagai berkata: “Tunjukkan ajaran baru yang dibawa oleh Muhammad kepada saya dan dalam ajaran itu kamu hanya akan menemui perkara-perkara jahat dan kejam, seperti perintahnya supaya agama yang dibawanya disebarkan dengan pedang.”

Kita tidak pasti ketepatan kandungan buku suntingan Profesor Theodore Khoury itu yang dipetik oleh Pope terutama apakah wujud ilmuwan Parsi yang berbicara dengan maharaja berkenaan. Kenapa pula tiada petikan daripada cendekiawan Parsi itu?

Terdapat banyak lagi petikan daripada tokoh bukan Islam, tetapi Pope menggunakan pandangan seorang maharaja yang kurang ternama. Bercakap dalam konteks sejarah, Mahatma Gandhi dalam ucapan kepada gagasan Young India pada 1922 berkata, beliau sangat pasti bukanlah pedang yang memberikan Islam ketinggian. Sebaliknya ia datang daripada kesederhanaan Nabi Muhammad yang tidak berganjak daripada prinsip ini, kehebatan sifat rendah diri nabi, patuhnya nabi pada janji, taat setia nabi kepada kawan dan pengikut, keberanian beliau, ketakwaan beliau kepada Tuhan serta pegangan dan kepercayaan nabi kepada misi beliau. Bagi Gandhi inilah sifat-sifat yang membanteras dan mengatasi segala halangan dan bukannya pedang.

Empat belas tahun kemudian, terbit pula kata-kata memuji Nabi Muhammad daripada penulis ternama British yang juga merupakan pemikir ulung golongan Fabian, yakni George Bernard Shaw.

Bernard Shaw berkata, beliau percaya jika seorang insan seperti Nabi Muhammad mengambil peranan sebagai diktator moden, nabi akan berjaya menyelesaikan permasalahan yang ada sekali gus membawa kebahagiaan dan keamanan. Eropah, menurut Bernard Shaw, sudah mula terpegun dengan ketakwaan dan pegangan nabi. Pada abad akan datang, yakni abad ini, Eropah mungkin akan mengiktiraf kegunaan pendirian ini dalam mengatasi sebarang kemelut. Apakah telahan Bernard Shaw ini dikhuatiri akan menjadi realiti? Sebelum ini sebagai Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Benedict menentang kemasukan Turki ke Kesatuan Eropah, dengan alasan Turki berasal daripada kelompok budaya yang berbeza dan kemasukan Turki berupa satu kesilapan besar yang bertentangan dengan arus sejarah.

Pope sudah tentu sangat arif akan sensitiviti kata-kata sebegitu dalam konteks sejarah. Semasa hendak memulakan Perang Salib pertama pada akhir tahun 1095, Pope Urban II menyampaikan amanatnya kepada para paderi, hulubalang dan orang miskin dengan kata-kata yang orang Turki adalah bangsa yang keji yang dipinggirkan Tuhan. Membunuh bangsa tersebut, menurut Pope Urban II, adalah satu perbuatan suci, malahan menjadi tanggungjawab orang Kristian menghapuskan mereka dari muka bumi.

Setelah ucapan Pope Benedict di Universiti Regensburg itu dikecam, jurucakap Vatican dan kemudiannya Pope sendiri, menyesali kontroversi yang tercetus. Pope berkata beliau sekadar memetik kata-kata maharaja Byzantium, yakni Manuel Paleologos 11 itu.
Pope setakat menyatakan kekesalan kerana kata-katanya menyinggung perasaan umat Islam, sambil menegaskan petikan itu tidak membayangkan pendapat peribadi beliau.
Kita diminta percaya bahawa tidak ada sebarang muslihat dalam langkah Pope memuatkan petikan silam di awal dan di akhir ucapan beliau.

Konsep akal dan logik, yakni antara topik ucapan Pope di Jerman itu, menuntut kita mengajukan beberapa persoalan berbentuk hujah kepada pihak Vatican.
Adakah dengan tidak menyangkal dakwaan Manuel dalam ucapan beliau, Pope bersetuju dengan Manuel? Kalau Pope tidak bersetuju dengan Manuel, kenapa pula dipetik kata-kata beliau?

Apakah Vatican dan Pope tidak menjangkakan bahawa petikan ini bakal mencetuskan kontroversi, terutama ketika berlaku perang terhadap keganasan? Sumber-sumber Vatican ada berkata mereka ada membangkitkan kewajaran menggunakan ungkapan itu tetapi tidak pula pasti sama ada ia sampai ke telinga Pope.

Apakah ini kaedah subtle bagi menerapkan dakyah bahawa Islam menyeru kepada keganasan?
Kenapakah Pope tidak memetik ayat-ayat suci al-Quran bagi mengkaji sama ada wujud paksaan dalam agama? Pope ada menyebut tidak ada paksaan dalam agama.

Sebenarnya Pope dan Vatican tidak dapat menyekat umat Islam dari mencurigai motif sebenar mereka memuatkan ungkapan Manuel bulat-bulat tanpa membicarakan watak Manuel ini. Siapakah Manuel? Apakah Manuel tidak ada prejudis terhadap Islam? Sebaliknya Pope menyifatkan Manuel sebagai erudite yakni seorang yang berilmu, tentunya satu penjelasan yang memperkukuhkan kewibawaan Manuel.

Kita tidak mahu mengaitkan kekejaman yang berlaku semasa Inquisition dan Perang Salib serta bagaimana bangsa Sepanyol beragama Islam dipaksa menganut agama Kristian. Kita juga enggan menyamakan tindak-tanduk Amerika Syarikat di Iraq dan Afghanistan dengan Kristian. Kita sekadar meminta Vatican peka akan perasaan orang lain. Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi selaku pengerusi OIC sebelum ini meminta Pope Benedict meminta maaf serta menarik balik kata-kata itu.

Di Malaysia di mana Islam menjadi agama rasmi dan penganut Islam merupakan kumpulan majoriti, penganut agama lain hidup dalam keadaan aman damai dalam suasana penuh toleransi. Harapan umat Islam di Malaysia ialah agar Pope benar-benar ikhlas dengan hasrat menganjurkan dialog di antara agama.

Malaysia Impeded by Poor Graduate

Malaysia Impeded by Poor Graduates

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia is facing a labor shortage in the most sophisticated fields as thousands of graduates lack communications and leadership skills, turning away foreign investors and crippling the country's ability to climb up the development ladder.

"We've had hundreds of applicants -- top graduates who are marathon runners, straight-A students who are volunteer workers -- but some can't analyze, some have no initiative and almost all don't communicate well," a banker told Reuters Saturday, September 9, on condition of anonymity. The 29-year-old banker has been trying for six months to hire a bond trader but in vain.

"I'm fed up with looking. Anyone will do now," he said.

Employers, especially in technical fields such as engineers and information technology, find it hard to hire new employees despite the 600,000-odd unemployed graduates flooding the Malaysian job market.The problem risks crippling the country's ability to attract multi-national corporations (MNCs) and undermining its efforts to become a developed country.

"If we're not able to meet the demand for engineers, we won't be able to grow as fast. If we don't grow fast, Multi-national Companies (MNCs) will go to the other countries," said Wong Siew Hai, chairman of the Malaysian American Electronics Industry. Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Abdullah launched in March an ambitious development plan for Malaysia to become the first developed Muslim nation by 2020.

Education Blamed
The Malaysian education system that focuses on rote learning was blamed for triggering the problem as it churns out thousands of graduates with a poor grasp of English and little ability to analyze.

"The general take on Malaysian education is that it is a banking system where students are just passive recipients of knowledge," said Lee Hock Guan, an expert in Malaysian social issues at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore.

World Bank data for 2004 showed that Malaysian's spending on education amounts to eight percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).The spending far exceeded some of neighboring countries such as Thailand, 4.2 percent, the Philippines, 3.2 percent and Indonesia, 0.9 percent.Realizing the graduates' poor skills, the Malaysian government has organized training schemes to equip graduates with knowledge, language, communication and leadership skills in fields such as information communication technology and accounting.

Abdullah also appointed one of his senior ministers, Mustapa Mohamed, as higher education minister, in line with a government priority to develop human capital in the race to become a developed nation by 2020.

Admission

To address the labor shortage, admission criteria for public universities were also lowered in recent years to produce more graduates, said Lee.Malaysia now has 18 public universities, 20 polytechnics and 34 community colleges.Many Malaysian universities were turning out sub-standard graduates because of, as experts say, poor schooling beforehand and an affirmative- action policy that has robbed some of the brightest students of a university education.

Many of the unemployed graduates are Malay women from public universities, according to government data.In 2001, former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamed scrapped the quota for Malay university education, worried that his people had become too involved in politics and religion at the expense of their studies, and were at risk of failing in a free-for-all globalized world. Ethnic Malays make up half of the population of 26 million, many are rural poor and until recently had priority in gaining places in public universities.

"The problem is serious, since Malaysia is losing its competitiveness in the region to countries like Vietnam, not to mention China and India," said Bridget Welsh, a Southeast Asia specialist at Johns Hopkins University in the United States.

"If Malaysia wants to continue to create jobs and expand its economy without relying so extensively on oil revenue, then it needs to initiate more measures."

Why we should go home on time

WHY WE SHOULD GO HOME ON TIME...
Mr. Narayana Murthy is undoubtedly one of the most famous persons from Karnataka. He is known not just for building the biggest IT Empire in India but also for his simplicity. Almost every important dignitary visits InfoSys campus. He delivered an interesting speech during an employee session with another IT company in India. He is incidentally, one of the top 50 influential people of Asia according to an Asiaweek publication and also the new IT Advisor to the Thailand Prime Minister.

Extract of Mr. Narayana Murthy's Speech during Mentor Session:

I know people who work 12 hours a day, six days a week, or more. Some people do so because of a work emergency where the long hours are only temporary. Other people I know have put in these hours for years. I do not know if they are working all these hours, but I do know they are in the office this long. Others put in long office hours because they are addicted to the workplace.

Whatever the reason for putting in overtime, working long hours over the long term is harmful to the person and to the organization. There are things managers can do to change this for everyone's benefit. Being in the office long hours, over long periods of time, makes way for potential errors.

My colleagues who are in the office long hours frequently make mistakes caused by fatigue. Correcting these mistakes requires their time as well as the time and energy of others. I have seen people work Tuesday through Friday to correct mistakes made after 5 PM on Monday.

Another problem is that people who are in the office long hours are not pleasant company. They often complain about other people (who are not working as hard); they are irritable, or cranky, or even angry. Other people avoid them. Such behaviour poses problems, where work goes much better when people work together instead of avoiding one another.

As Managers, there are things we can do to help people leave the office. First and foremost is to set the example and go home ourselves. I work with a manager who chides people for working long hours. His words quickly lose their meaning when he sends these chiding group e-mails with a time-stamp of 2 AM, Sunday.

Second is to encourage people to put some balance in their lives. For instance, here is a guideline I find helpful:
1) Wake up, eat a good breakfast, and go to work.
2) Work hard and smart for eight or nine hours.
3) Go home.
4) Read the books/comics, watch a funny movie, dig in the dirt, play with your kids, etc.
5) Eat well and sleep well.
This is called recreating. Doing steps 1, 3, 4, and 5 enable step 2. Working regular hours and recreating daily are simple concepts. They are hard for some of us because that requires 'personal change'. They are possible since we all have the power to choose to do them.

In considering the issue of overtime, I am reminded of my oldest son. When he was a toddler, if people were visiting the apartment, he would not fall asleep no matter how long the visit was, and no matter what time of day it was. He would fight off sleep until the visitors left. It was as if he was afraid that he would miss some thing. Once our visitors' left, he would go to sleep. By this time, however, he was over tired and would scream through half the night with nightmares. He, my wife, and I, all paid the price for his fear of missing out.

Perhaps some people put in such long hours because they do not want to miss anything when they leave the office. The trouble with this is that events will never stop happening. That is life! Things happen 24 hours a day. Allowing for little rest is not ultimately practical. So, take a nap. Things will happen while you are asleep, but you will have the energy to catch up when you wake.

Hence, "LOVE YOUR JOB, BUT NEVER FALL IN LOVE WITH YOUR COMPANY BECAUSE YOU NEVER KNOW WHEN THE COMPANY STOPS LOVING YOU" - Narayana Murthy

"Example isn't another way to teach, it is the only way to teach" - Albert Einstein

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Thailand's military tightens grip

Thailand's military tightens grip

Gen Sonthi appeared in front of portraits of the king and queen
Tanks in Bangkok Thai military leaders have begun consolidating their hold on power after staging a coup while Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was abroad.

Martial law has been declared, with large gatherings of people and critical news reporting banned. Mr Thaksin's deputy and chief aide, Chidchai Vanasathidya, has been taken into army custody. Army chief Gen Sonthi Boonyaratglin said in a TV address that the coup was necessary to unite the country.

The military had no intention of holding onto power, he added.
The coup leaders have announced that regional army commanders will take charge of areas outside the capital, Bangkok.

more :
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/5362228.stm

Bush, Ahmadinejad in war of words

Bush, Ahmadinejad in war of words

Wednesday 20 September 2006, 6:53 Makka Time, 3:53 GMT

The US president and his Iranian counterpart have clashed over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions at the United Nations.George Bush, the US president, in his address to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, accused Iran's rulers of squandering their nation's wealth to fund terrorists and nuclear arms research.

But only hours later, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, hit back from the same rostrum, accusing Washington and its allies of abusing the 15-nation UN Security Council to deny Iran the right to peaceful nuclear power that Western states had.

Israel want Palestinian ethnic cleansing

'Israelis want Palestinian ethnic cleansing'

By Motasem A Dalloul in Gaza

Wednesday 30 August 2006, 11:47 Makka Time, 8:47 GMT

Israel has stepped up its policy of forcibly detaining members of the Palestinian Legislative Council.

On August 20, Israeli forces seized Mahmoud al-Ramhi, Hamas secretary and the fourth-highest ranking official in the Palestinian legislature. Two days later, an Israeli court charged Abd al-Aziz Dweik, the speaker of parliament, with membership in an outlawed organisation - the Islamist movement and governing party, Hamas.
To date, Israel has detained 30 Hamas politicians and five cabinet ministers, including Nasser Shaer, the deputy prime minister.

Thirty other senior and mid-level members of Hamas were also seized on June 29 as part of an Israeli campaign against the Islamist movement following the capture of Israeli Corporal Gilad Shalit by fighters on the border of the Gaza Strip on June 25.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Ramadhan Al Mubarak

selamat berpuasa!!


Apabila Rasulullah saw melihat anak bulan Rejab, baginda membaca :

اَللّهُمَّ بَارِكْ لَنَا فِى رَجَبَ وَ شَعْبَانَ وَ بَلِّغْنَا رَمَضَان

Ya Allah, rahmatilah kami dengan Rejab dan Syaaban, dan sampaikan kepada kami Ramadhan.

(Hadith riwayat at-Tabrani dan Ahmad)

Selamat menyambut kehadiran ramadhan al mubarak

Pilihanraya kampus, pilihanraya untuk siapa?

Pilihanraya kampus, pilihanraya untuk siapa?

Demam pilihanraya kampus sudah pun kembali.Kedengaran suara-suara melobi mahasiswa untuk menyokong pihak tertentu. Risalah-risalah samada dibenarkan ataupun tidak terdapat di sana sini. Suasana menjadi hangat dan kadangkala mencetuskan pertelingkahan. Ketika inilah juga kita dapat melihat bakal – bakal pemimpin negara di masa hadapan, menunjukkan bakat dan kepimpinan mereka, untuk merebut kerusi dalam parlimen mahasiswa atau lebih dikenali sebagai MPP.

Suatu masa dahulu, situasi ini benar berlaku. Persaingan cukup sengit. Yang mana kawan, dan mungkin juga berasal dari kampung halaman yang sama, menjadi lawan hanya kerana berbeza pendirian dalam soal politik mahasiswa. Pemimpin mahasiswa berani, lantang menyuarakan pendapat mereka, berani menyuarakan apa yang betul dan salah dari persepsi mereka. Ketika inilah kita dapat melihat para pemimpin mahasiswa bersama pendokong mereka dikalangan mahasiswa berkempen dan berusaha menjaguhi setiap permasalahan dan isu mahasiswa.

Ini adalah gambaran ringkas suasana pilihanraya di kampus suatu masa dahulu. Mereka bangga dengan idealisme, pendirian, pandangan dan pendapat mereka sendiri. Namun adakah semuanya ini masih berlaku pada masa ini? Kini politik mahasiswa bergerak melalui kumpulan ataupun kepartian, yang mana pada pendapat saya memberikan pengalaman bagus untuk mereka. Tetapi, adakah benar pilihanraya kampus yang dijalankan hari ini benar – benar mampu melahirkan bakal pemimpin masa hadapan ataupun hanya sekadar penerus tradisi?

Jika dulu wujud puak nasionalis dan puak islamik, kini pula istilahnya telahpun bertukar kepada pro aspirasi dan pro pembangkang. Apakah itu? Apakah yang di aspirasikan dan apakah yang di bangkangkan? Siapa yang membangkangkan siapa dan siapa yang mengaspirasikan siapa?

Seringkali dikatakan kini, pentadbiran universiti mencampuri urusan pilihanraya mahasiswa dan mewujudkan keadaan berat sebelah dalam pemilihan tersebut. Mengapa perlu ada satu pihak disokong oleh universiti manakala di suatu pihak lagi tidak mendapat sokongan universiti. Siapakah yang bertanding, pentadbiran universiti melalui proksi-proksinya dikalangan mahasiswa ataupun mahasiswa sesama mahasiswa? Hakikatnya, isu ini membawa lebih kemudaratan kepada kepimpinan mahasiswa jika dibandingkan dengan kebaikannya.

Jangan dibezakan setiap kumpulan mahasiswa yang bertanding untuk pemilihan akan datang ini. Sikap berat sebelah ini hanya akan menjadikan satu pihak yang ‘disokong’ ini menjadi semakin lemah kerana sentiasa dibantu, dipertahankan, sementara pihak yang sentiasa ditekan menjadi semakin kuat. Golongan yang disokong ini akan menjadi terlalu berharap dan tidak mampu untuk berdiri sendiri sementelahan golohan yang satu lagi semakin kukuh dan matang kerana berusaha demi survival mereka. Ini adalah hukum alam yang biasa. Mereka seharusnya diberikan panduan dan dorongan yang adil tanpa kompromi kerana mereka adalah bakal pemimpin masa hadapan yang akan berkhidmat juga kepada negara kita ini.

Pengaruh politik luar juga menghantui perjuangan mahasiswa kini tidak kiralah samada parti kerajaan mahupun pembangkang. Kedengaran desas desus mengatakan untuk pemilihan wakil mahasiswa untuk pilihanraya kampus juga memerlukan persetujuan pertubuhan politik tertentu. Bukannya saya menyeru untuk tidak ambil tahu apa yang berlaku di luar kampus, tetapi pemimpin mahasiswa perlu fokus dalam perjuangan mereka, kerana mereka mewakili kepentingan keseluruhan mahasiswa. Menjadi perwakilan mahasiswa adalah jambatan untuk merapatkan jurang di antara mahasiswa dan pihak pentadbiran. Politik luar itu adalah isu lain. Untuk apa sibuk melobi sokongan pemimpin politik luar, sedangkan di dalam kampus sendiri masih tidak mampu berdiri sendiri. Seperti sejarah melayu klasik, tidak layak menjadi raja, gadaikan kedaulatan dengan menagih sokongan penjajah. Akhirnya bumi sendiri terjajah.

Isu kebajikan, penempatan, pengangkutan, keselamatan dan pembelajaran perlulah diberikan penekanan. Mampukah mereka mendesak para pensyarah menggunakan sepenuhnya teknologi dalam pengajaran mereka, mendapatkan bahan pembelajaran daripada web, dan kurikulum pendidikan di kampus mereka sentiasa mengikuti kehendak pasaran? Mampukah mereka mengubah pemikiran mahasiswa daripada budaya menerima dan menghafal di dalam kelas, kepada pemikiran yang lebih kreatif dan kritis. Mampukah mereka menyeru mahasiswa kita mengubah suasana dalam kuliah daripada sekadar mendengar dan menyalin kepada budaya perbincangan dalam kelas? Menyeru mahasiswa memperbagaikan kegiatan mereka, sebagai persediaan untuk menjadikan diri mereka lebih berkualiti? Ataupun sekadar menaikkan isu-isu seperti pesta konvo siapakah yang paling untung, program pelajar manakah yang gagal dan kumpulan manakah yang paling kerap memenangi pilihanraya?

Soal pesta konvo, siapa artis yang dibawa masuk, program mana yang baik atau tidak bukanlah isu utama perjuangan idealisma mahasiswa. Pada saya, ini adalah strategi persatuan mahasiswa tersebut untuk menjayakan program untuk mahasiswa mengikut selera semasa. Mereka berusaha keras mencari bekerja, mencari pengalaman bukannya sekadar duduk dan mengkritik yang baik atau tidak. Dan ini memerlukan mereka berusaha keras memastikan segala yang diusahakan oleh mereka berhasil. Sekiranya program mereka tidak mendatangkan faedah, mengundang ketegangan antara penghuni kampus, sudah pastinya pentadbiran universiti tidak membenarkannya dilaksanakan.

Persoalan pokoknya, adakah pilihanraya kampus adalah asas kepada pembentukan pemimpin masa hadapan? Sekadar penerus tradisi? Ataupun hanya sebagai tunggangan golongan tertentu demi kepentingan mereka? Adakah bakal pemimpin mahasiswa yang akan bertanding dalam pilihanraya kali ini akan memimpin mahasiswa kearah kecemerlangan, disaat negara dihantui dengan isu kebanjiran graduan menganggur, masalah graduan tidak berkualiti dan mampu menyambut saranan kerajaan untuk membangunkan modal insan? Ataupun mereka bertanding sekadar untuk mendapatkan nama, pangkat, kedudukan, wang mahupun kerana dipaksa oleh golongan tertentu?

Saya menyokong kata-kata Mohd. Firdaus Mohamed Khairil sebelum ini, hanya mahasiswa memahami aspirasi mahasiswa. Sewajarnya barisan kepimpinan mahasiswa yang sentiasa memahami kehendak aspirasi mahasiswa dan seiring dengan kehendak aliran zaman adalah kelompok mahasiswa yang berjaya. Berikan kebebasan kepada mahasiswa beridealisma, menentukan arah perjuangan mereka. Janganlah dianggap golongan yang radikal sebagai penentang. Galakkan mereka menjadi berani, berfikiran kritis dan kreatif, daripada sekadar menjadi pengecut dan pak turut.

Berikan mereka peluang sama rata dan pandulah mereka jika mereka tersasar. Biarkan mereka samada proaspirasi dan juga dilabel sebagai pembangkang berdiri di atas kaki mereka sendiri, merasai keperitan jatuh bangun dalam menegakkan pendirian, pendapat dan idealisme mereka demi masa depan negara kita. Pilihanraya kampus ini adalah pilihanraya mereka, kerana disinilah mereka mengasah bakat kepimpinan mereka, pemimpin masa hadapan negara dan duta kepada masyarakat.


Amin Fauzan
Mantan Naib Pengerusi Sekretariat Rakan Muda UKM

Muslim nation should have nuclear arms


Muslim nations should have nuclear arms

Former Malaysian premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad says Muslim nations should posses nuclear weapons to deter potential enemies from attacking them.

Speaking at a seminar in the Pakistani capital yesterday, the former leader of Malaysia sharply criticized the United States and Israel for actions that he said were against Islam and Muslims. Mahathir said Islam is against terrorist and suicide attacks, but that it allows Muslims to do all they can to defend themselves, according to a Voice of America report.

"They are enjoined to defend their Muslim society," he said. "They should have the tanks, warplanes, warships, guns and missiles. Yes, they need to have nuclear weapons, too, because only with the possession of such would their enemies be deterred from attacking them."
The 81-year-old former Malaysian prime minister received warm applause for his comments from the audience in Pakistan, the only Islamic nation to have developed nuclear weapons.
Mahathir said Muslim nations could only be secure if they possessed nuclear weapons, although he said the best situation would be a world in which no countries possess them.

Repeated statement.
He said the US-led war against terrorism has turned into a war against Islam and Muslims, because it is targeting countries, such as Afghanistan and Iraq.

President Bush says the United States is at war against extremists, bound by ideology, who are willing to use terror to achieve their objectives. He says US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan is to help those fledgling democracies withstand terrorist threats. In his speech yesterday, Mahathir also repeated a statement he made three years ago in which he spoke of a Jewish conspiracy in the United States and suggested that Jews ruled the world by proxy. The Malaysian leader's statement drew strong condemnation from Western countries.

The former Malaysian prime minister retired in 2003, after 22 years in power. But he remains highly respected and influential throughout the Muslim world.

http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/56897


Nasionalisme yg kian pudar

Nasionalisme yang kian pudar.

Apakah itu nasionalisme?

'Nasionalisme adalah satu ideologi yang mencipta dan mempertahankan kedaulatan sesebuah negara (dalam bahasa Inggeris "nation") dengan mewujudkan satu konsep identiti bersama untuk sekumpulan manusia.'

Para nasionalis menganggap negara adalah berdasarkan beberapa "kesahihan politik" (political legitimacy). Ianya berpunca dari teori romantisme iaitu "identiti budaya", hujah liberalisme yang menganggap kesahihan politik adalah berpunca dari kehendak rakyat, atau gabungan kedua-dua teori.


Dalam zaman moden ini, nasionalisme merujuk kepada amalan politik dan ketenteraan yang berlandaskan nasionalisme secara etnik serta keagamaan, seperi yang dinyatakan di bawah. Para saintis politik biasanya menumpukan penyelidikan mereka kepada nasionalisme yang ekstrim seperti nationalsocialisme, pengasingan dan sebagainya.
Itu adalah takrifan bijak pandai mengenai nasionalisme. Persoalannya sekarang, sejaoh manakah nasionalisme wujud dalam jiwa masyarakat Malaysia.

Kita merdeka atas dasar nasionalisma. Kerana itulah dari zaman pengenalan idea Malaya Raya, membawa kepada penubuhan persekutuan Tanah Melayu, Penubuhan Malaya sehinggalah Malaysia, semuanya itu dari semangat nasionalime, Cuma mungkin dari sudut pandangan politik yang berbeza. Dan kerana atas dasar nasionalisme lah, Indonesia juga merdeka dengan nasionalisme mereka. Kerana nasionalisme jugalah, mereka pernah berkonfrontasi dengan negara kita, Malaysia.

Kedua- dua contoh ini, walaupun sedikit telah menunjukkan betapa hebatnya kuasa dan semangat nasionalisme. Kerana semangat nasionalisma lah, sesuatu bangsa itu bangkit untuk memastikan bangsanya turut sama seiring dengan bangsa lain. Dan kerana semangat nasionalisme orang – orang yang terdahulu daripada kita, kita bangsa Malaysia dapat mengecapi kehidupan yang sempurna di masa kini.

Persoalannya sekali lagi, bagaimanakah kita mahu memupuk semangat nasionalisme di dalam hati kita. Adakah dengan sekadar menyanyikan lagu negaraku, ataupun mengibarkan Jalur Gemilang, kita sudah dianggap seorang yang nasionalis?

Hakikatnya, jika itu dikatakan sebagai nasionalisme,itu hanyalah nasionalisme di peringkat kulitnya.

Jika itu kita katakan cukup untuk menyatakan rasa bangganya kita pada Malaysia, kita seolah – olah menafikan perjuangan orang-orang terdahulu yang berjuang bermandikan darah berjuang untuk kemerdekaan kita. Ini bukan bermaksud saya menyeru anda semua untuk seperti mereka, berjuang dengan bermandikan darah, darah siapa pun yang perlu untuk kita tumpahkan di masa kini? Apa yang kita perlu lakukan, adalah meneruskan kesinambungan perjuangan dan semangat nasionalisma masyarakat terdahulu.

Melalui apa?

Melalui sumbangan kita demi kebaikan bangsa dan negara kita Malaysia. Kita boleh berjuang melalui pendidikan kita dan juga anak2 bangsa kita, kita boleh berjuang melalui melalui pemikiran kita, kerja kita dan banyak lagi asalkan ianya memberikan kesan yang signifikan terhadap pembangunan bangsa dan negara.

Kita berjuang untuk memartabatkan pendidikan anak bangsa kita, memastikan anak – nak bangsa kita, kalau tak mampu anak2 saudara kita mendapat pendidikan sewajarnya, demi masa depan mereka dan negara. Ini adalah nasionalis melalui pendidikan. Kita berjuang bekerja bersungguh – sungguh untuk membantu untuk membantu organisasi yang kita berkhidmat mencapai kejayaan, dan kejayaannya ini akan memberi sumbangan terhadap peningkatan ekonomi negara, melalui cukai, walaupun sedikit hakikatnya, ini adalah nasionalis.

Dan seandainya kita sebagai penjawat awam, meletakkan kepentingan negara di atas daripada nikmat kebendaan, menolak rasuah, bekerja dengan bersungguh-sungguh untuk masyarakat. Ini adalah nasioanalis. Dan seandainya kita adalah seorang pemikir, dan kita sering berfikir, berjuang dan mengkritik sesuatu demi kebaikan bangsa Malaysia, ini juga adalah nasioanalis.Hakikatnya, apabila kita ingin menyebut semangat nasionalisme, kita boleh menyatakannya dalam berbagai cara.

Namun demikian, apa yang menyedihkan, masyarakat kita semakin lalai dengan nikmat yang telah kita kecapi hari ini.

Budaya asing semakin diagungkan.

Jangankan untuk melakukan semua perkara di atas, lagu negaraku pun semakin dilupakan, apatah lagi rukunnegara dan mungkin benderanya jalur gemilang pun terlupa akan coraknya. Di manakah silapnya. Apabila tiba hari kemerdekaan, kita hanya menontonnya di peti televisyen, itupun jika kita bangun pada paginya itu. Sekian terima kasih.

p/s: Teks ini adala teks perucapan umum yang digunakan semasa program assesment di Intan.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Healing begins at home

Healing begins at home

We must all have the courage to speak out against the carnage in Lebanon.
by Fareena Alam

I guess this is what the "birth pangs of a new Middle East" sound like: the scream of jets, the wailing of bombs, the terrified cries of victims and the death rattle of innocents. The slaughter at Qana lays the excuses of Israel and her spin-doctors and apologists in bloody, decisive ruin. Not that their explanations held much water to begin with.

In this astonishing two and half weeks of death and carnage, over 700 Lebanese, almost all civilians, and over 52 Israelis, at least 18 of whom were civilians, have been killed. In this mad, stubborn campaign of destruction, the Israelis have failed miserably in their so-called goals: Hizbullah is stronger and any apprehensions of peace in the region are now no more than a blood-coloured mirage.

Tony Blair, in an evolutionary miracle that would make Darwin's head spin, has overnight started showing some signs of backbone and independent thought. Yet, in his shamefully late call for a ceasefire, Blair shows that his government's foreign policy is in full-scale drift. There was a time when there was at least some pretence of ethics and "doing the right thing". With this crisis, that veneer has fallen away.

Mr Blair, it took the kidnapping of three Israeli soldiers for you to give a carte blanche to Israel and on the other hand, the deaths of over 700 Lebanese civilians, mostly women and children for you to finally call for a ceasefire (the humanitarian catastrophe and destruction of Gaza has unfortunately been almost forgotten). While some British pundits may wax lyrically about how little the Arabs care about life, it is Bush, Blair and their allies in the international community who have shown how cheap Arab blood is.

To call for "democracy" and "freedom" in the Middle East now will be treated as laughable hypocrisy. Dead men and women don't make good voters, last time I checked. The world is watching and will remember this outrage. Birth pangs of democracy, indeed.
Time and time again mainstream Muslims have condemned terrorism in the name of Islam until we have gone blue in the face, not least because we truly believe
vigilante acts of violence committed in the name of religion are a scourge on our faith. This hasn't stopped Tony Blair from demanding we do more to root out extremism.

Where then is Blair's message to Jewish leaders in Britain? Is it ridiculous to hold Jewish leaders responsible for Israel's actions?

Pundits and layman alike constantly hold the entire Muslim community responsible for the actions of a few but it is only when the tables are turned and another community is accused the same way that objections are raised.

At the recent pro-Israel rally in Kenton, Anglo-Jewish leaders affirmed their "special relationship" with Israel. Some young British Jews move to Israel and undertake military service. There is a constant flow of money, people and support for Israel-based projects and initiatives. All this surely means that Britain's Jewish community must have some influence, some moral sway in Israeli policy circles, just as Muslim "leaders" are assumed to have some sway over "extremists" locally and Muslim opinion abroad?

Isn't the Qana massacre enough for the Anglo-Jewish community to raise their voice courageously and unequivocally in condemnation of military action that has not just failed in its own stated goals, but has savaged Lebanese and Palestinian lives and communities, and turned back the clock on their development by years, if not decades? Don't give me the buts. There is no comparison between Hizbullah and the Israeli state.

The 300 plus signatories of the July 6 public letter in The Times wrote, "Israel is using its enormously superior military might to terrorise an entire people."

Michael Lerner, a progressive American rabbi, heads an organisation called Tikkun, which aims "to heal, repair and transform the world". In an explanatory note to their New York Times advertisement, he wrote: "We do not accept that one side is the 'righteous victim' and the other side the 'evil aggressor'. But we do recognize that at this moment Israel has far greater military power, and so we ask for Israel to take the first steps toward ending the cycle of hatred and violence, even as we condemn Hizbullah for initiating the current escalation of violence."
Come on, prime minister. Doesn't the Jewish diaspora need to use its influence to bear down on the Israeli government for its deadly policies? Why don't you give them a nudge from Number 10?

Britain is home to several important Jewish-Muslim projects and foundations. So, I ask our Jewish friends and colleagues, especially those who work on interfaith and intercultural initiatives, why are you silent? Why won't you stand up and be counted against this madness that is being done in your name? Where are your voices distancing yourself from this violence?

The signatories of
The Times letter, and Bella Freud on BBC's Newsnight, have faced attack and censure for speaking out. But that's the price of courage and given the monstrous and deadly scale of the current campaign, I am sure they agree it's a small price indeed.

Heal, repair and transform the world ... We know that such noble work is most difficult when it, as it must do now, begins at home.
check out this link..for more discussion

George Galloway: Israel is a Terrorist State


Note how the techies at Murdoch’s Sky News potted down the volume on Galloway, as he made too much sense and was cleaning the anchor’s clock, and then brought up the volume of b-roll footage to drown him out. You’d think, by now, the corporate media would steer clear of Galloway, as he consisently tells the truth, a forbidden fruit in the fraudulent “war on terror,” that is to say state-sponsored terrorism against Arabs and Muslims resisting the murderous aggression of Israel and the United States. 

Islamic extremist kills innocent American Dog


A man is taking a walk in Central park in New York. Suddenly he sees a little girl being attackedby a pit bull dog . He runs over and starts fighting with the dog. He succeeds in killing the dogand saving the girl's life. A policeman who was watching the scene walks over and says:"You are ahero, tomorrow you can read it in all the newspapers: "Brave New Yorker saves the life of littlegirl" The man says: - "But I am not a New Yorker!" Oh ,then it will say in newspapers in themorning: 'Brave American saves life of little girl'" - the policeman answers. "But I am not anAmerican!" says the man. "Oh, what are you then? " The man says: - "I am a Saudi!" The next day the newspapers says: "Islamic extremist kills innocent American dog."

Motor Industry: don't ridicule Proton

Motor Industry: don't ridicule Proton
Brian Edwards
Tuesday 22 August 2006

Top Gear famously joked that Proton "make their cars in the jungle" (actually, Proton have some of the most modern manufacturing plant in the world). The bottom line is that in the year that Rover finally died, Proton made a profit. And the group is introducing models at a rate that, for its size, far outstrips the larger makers.

It's almost a game to poke fun at motor manufacturers based in emerging markets but big manufacturers should pay more attention to some of them: after all, the awards won by first Japanese then Korean manufacturers have demonstrated that the big makers are vulnerable on design, quality and value and that it's not all about the price.

Of course, there's some reasons for the joke: for decades, emerging markets manufacturers have not been manufacturers at all: they have been screwdriver plants for redundant models from large manufacturers.

So Proton's range has historically been aged designs that manufacturers such as Citroen and Mitsubishi had replaced.

Leaving aside all the politics attached to Proton, and those politics have from time to time threatened to sink it, Malaysia's national car manufacturer has quietly reprofiled itself and it has done so during the times when its market conditions have been most difficult.

It is true that Proton's domestic market has been artificially bolstered by a protection regime that many both inside and outside Malaysia regard as offensive and it is true that Proton's biggest market by far is its domestic market. But although that helped it gain a leg up during its formative years, even within Malaysia Proton's prices are not so different from competitors models. Ultimately, the difference usually comes down to a few pounds difference in a hire purchase repayment each month.

Proton's biggest problem is an image issue, an issue it is addressing. Out are going Malay words as names: names such as Wira and Waja are meaningful at home but likely to be ridiculed overseas. The Crescent and Star from the Malaysian flag were replaced in the company's logo after 11 September 2001: there was feedback that foreign customers would not buy a car that bore insignia based in the worship of Islam (a tiger appears instead). But also the history of cobbling together redundant metal such as the Proton Saga with parts of dubious quality (taxi drivers don't open the windows to pay their tolls because it might not roll up again) has caused problems.

But get into the back of a KL taxi and it will almost certainly be a Proton Saga - the paint will be tired, the seats will not spring properly and the suspension will grind like a grinding thing but ... that taxi will probably have done a quarter of a million kilometres in some of the most hostile conditions in the world: not just KL traffic (which is actually not as bad as many say) but in heat and humidity that kills cars. And some taxi drivers take such care of their Sagas that they run sweetly, the suspension does not bounce wildly and the car is quiet to travel in. Rarely could one say that about, say, London taxi that has done similar mileage unless the driver has taken extra care.

But south of the border, in Singapore, there is hardly a Proton to be seen. Singaporeans look down on the car made next door. And the same in Thailand and Indonesia.

Yet, in the current range only the Saga (which meets the political need to put a car within reach of the people who do live in the jungle) and the Perdana are not original Proton designs.

The recently introduced Savvy is a small car that rivals, on merit, many small cars - and it has that admirable quality of mechanical simplicity so that it can be sold to countries where maintenance of motor vehicles is often left to a mechanic whose toolkit consists of three spanners and a hammer. Why bother? In KL, a young woman has just opened a bar: just two generations ago, her family were headhunters. Even now, from her village to the nearest road is a six hour walk. No packhorses, mules or motorbikes can be used because the only way across two gorges is across rope bridges. A car that needs complex diagnostics and fancy repairs is, simply, no use.

The new Satria Neo is, with the exception of part of the transmission which is inherited from the previous Mitsubishi Colt based Satria, a Proton from the ground up.

The Gen 2 is pure Proton, as is the Waja. The Wira is gradually taking on more Proton characteristics with each model year. The Arena "lifestyle" vehicle is a pickup that is a bit of a mix of bits from all over but that is the last model in the range that such a comment can be levelled at.

In the past year or so, Proton has introduced the Savvy, the Satria Neo and new varients of the Waja (including a stretched version) as well as updating other models.

It has disposed of its Italian motorcycle subsidiary which was a cash drain, creating a sizeable stop loss and some political sulking into the bargain.

And it has introduced a raft of new models at Lotus.

Ah, yes, Lotus. That's another story. Top Gear drool when they get the chance to drive a Lotus. They purr over other exotica but get deeply, almost primaevaly, excited by the little cars from the mustard fields of Norfolk (and yes, Top Gear does make fun about where Lotus are made, too). Proton cars have improved because of the brave decision to buy someone who knew how to design cars properly. So Proton cars are light, not overloaded with buttons and have free-revving engines sitting in chassis that go where the driver points them. Of course, a Proton Savvy is not a Lotus - but then again nor are all the cars from other manufacturers that Lotus have "sorted" over the years. Remember that both Ford and Vauxhall (part of GM) sought cachet and credibility by having "Lotus" models with their Cortina and Carlton respectively. And Vauxhall even produces a low volume two seater that is a consumer friendly version of a Lotus two Elise.

The Satria Neo has cost a reported RM500 million to develop. That's a lot of money for a small company. Yet its y/e 2006 figures show something that Ford and GM would kill for: there is no red ink despite that development and tooling costs.

Yes, if you really want to poke fun at cars that are relatively simple, then feel free. But remember one thing: Proton is kept afloat by its customers and it's not considering selling Lotus.

Ford is kept afloat by its bankers and it wants to sell Jaguar and possibly Volvo; GM is kept afloat seemingly by the power of prayer and it has few discrete business units it could sell.

Increasingly, if you want your car manufacturer to be around long enough to honour the warranty, it's beginning to look as if Proton might just be a better bet than some of the names people don't joke about.

Bear in mind, too, that an estimated 60% of Porsche profits come not from their famous sports cars but from their SUV: and sitting in the wings is a Lotus SUV designed and built according to Lotus principles. But it's been developed with Proton which will sell a less racy version of the same product in certain markets. And the design and prototype costs have already been accounted for in the 2006 accounts. As George W Bush would say "Bring it on."

That'll wipe the smile of a few faces.