How should we judge a government?

"If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing." - Malcolm X

In Malaysia, if you don't watch television or read newspapers, you are uninformed; but if you do, you are misinformed!

Why we should be against censorship: Publicity is the very soul of justice … it keeps the judge himself, while trying, under trial. - Jeremy Bentham

"Our government is like a baby's alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other. " - Ronald Reagan

Government fed by the people

Government fed by the people

Career options

Career options

Prevent bullying now!

Prevent bullying now!
If you're not going to speak up, how is the world supposed to know you exist? “Orang boleh pandai setinggi langit, tapi selama ia tidak menulis, ia akan hilang di dalam masyarakat dan dari sejarah.” - Ananta Prameodya Toer (Your intellect may soar to the sky but if you do not write, you will be lost from society and to history.)

MyCen News

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Jeffrey FK Phang: Silence is Golden?

'Keeping silent is a passive stance that requires you to do nothing, while speaking up is uncomfortable and may land you in trouble.

Hence, when this advice was dished out to the earlier generations, we swallowed it gladly - hook, line and sinker literally. It gave us the opportunity to pursue our careers and materialistic goals while feeling justified that we could safely ignore our social and environmental obligations since we had entrusted it to the government of the day.

It gave us the opportunity to pursue our careers and materialistic goals while feeling justified that we could safely ignore our social and environmental obligations since we had entrusted it to the government of the day.

Unchecked and unmonitored, our earlier generations stood by idly while constitutional and organisational checks and balances were torn down.

We woke up one morning and finally saw that the society that we had left unattended was engulfed by evil and corruption - to this day.

For many years, people cowered in fear, in case of reprisals, refusing to speak up while the statements of the extremists and the racists became the main fodder for the media.

The vocal minority is the one speaking on behalf of the silent majority.'



Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Making mistakes when buying fresh milk

One has to be extra careful when buying fresh milk from supermarkets. When in a cold country like England, milk used to be delivered daily and left outside the house with no problems as to freshness. We took for granted the quality of the pasteurised milk.

In Malaysia, initially we used UHT milk for our English tea until we tasted the difference using fresh milk instead. Since then, we buy fresh milk from the supermarket. Fresh milk has to be refrigerated and has limited shelf life, unlike the UHT milk in cartons which can be left on the shelves in ordinary shops. I had several bad experiences when buying fresh milk.

First of all, the date of expiry cannot be relied upon because of the likely lapses in quality control at the factory, during tranportation to retailers and while being stored on their shelves. There are differences in temperature where milk is being kept between different supermarkets.

Then there are differences in efficiency when taking delivery and finally putting them on the shelves. There is also the occasional risk of mischief of tampering by irresponsible people. If the goods are not properly inspected by staff, purchasers who bought them would feel cheated and the supermarket would get the blame.

I had the experience of having bought milk to be cleared (within 2 days of expiry) thinking I could use them for making 'milky coffee or tea' by boiling them first, but found some already bad when taken home. How to complain when it could be argued that it might be due to us having left it in the car for too long without air-conditioning? I suspect it was more because of poor control on their part especially when labelling the dates of expiry. I have never tried complaining about milk knowing how useless it can be when complaining.

I had just bought a 2-litre carton of milk (well within a week of expiry) which I did not check on the cap. It had been opened before (judging from the seal later) and gone bad when my wife opened it. There goes Rm12 down the drain!

By the way, I find it amusing (though it is not funny) when I see friends trying their level best in controlling their diets. There is this continual debate on saturated and unsaturated fats and their effects on our health. It used to be convincing but alternating between contradictory reports, by medical and nutritional experts, each claiming the goodness or otherwise of saturated or unsaturated fats. What if saturated fat is not really bad and you have been trying so hard to avoid it? What is even worse is when say, cholesterol is actually needed for our brain and the lack of which has actual harmful effects? When in doubt, MODERATION seems to be the compromising answer!

Sometimes, we do not have a choice when having meals outside our home. We have no control over where the meat or vegetable was from; how they had been reared or grown; how they had been cleaned before cooking, whether fresh or recycled oil had been used, or even whether they had been properly cooked before we put it in our mouth.

As to milk, because condensed creamer is cheaper than condensed milk, we are bound to get the former in our tea or coffee in coffee shops. Same with evaporated creamer and evaporaed milk. So I take it with a pinch of salt when a stall holder said her curry is prepared from evaporated milk instead of coconut milk, which is supposedly healthier.


Monday, December 15, 2014

China is already No. 1 economy in the world?

Without fanfare, much earlier than expected, and largely unnoticed by the world at large, China is acknowledged to have overtaken USA as the largest economy in the world, or as Brett Arends of Market Watch puts it, 'the leading economic power on the planet'.

'Hang on to your hats, America.

And throw away that big, fat styrofoam finger while you’re about it.

There’s no easy way to say this, so I’ll just say it: We’re no longer No. 1. Today, we’re No. 2. Yes, it’s official. The Chinese economy just overtook the United States economy to become the largest in the world. For the first time since Ulysses S. Grant was president, America is not the leading economic power on the planet.

It just happened — and almost nobody noticed.

'The International Monetary Fund recently released the latest numbers for the world economy. And when you measure national economic output in "real" terms of goods and services, China will this year produce $17.6 trillion — compared with $17.4 trillion for the U.S.A.

As recently as 2000, we produced nearly three times as much as the Chinese.

To put the numbers slightly differently, China now accounts for 16.5% of the global economy when measured in real purchasing-power terms, compared with 16.3% for the U.S.

This latest economic earthquake follows the development last year when China surpassed the U.S. for the first time in terms of global trade.'

'I first reported on this looming development over two years ago, but the moment came sooner than I or anyone else had predicted. China’s recent decision to bring gross domestic product calculations in line with international standards has revealed activity that had previously gone uncounted.

These calculations are based on a well-established and widely used economic measure known as purchasing-power parity (or PPP), which measures the actual output as opposed to fluctuations in exchange rates. So a Starbucks venti Frappucino served in Beijing counts the same as a venti Frappucino served in Minneapolis, regardless of what happens to be going on among foreign-exchange traders.

PPP is the real way of comparing economies. It is one reported by the IMF and was, for example, the one used by McKinsey & Co. consultants back in the 1990s when they undertook a study of economic productivity on behalf of the British government.'

Rest of his article:


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Ali Abd Jalil: Who is KJ to tell me never to return?

By Adam Abu Bakar

'Student activist Ali Abd Jalil who fled the country to Sweden in a bid to escape charges of sedition has remarked on the audacity of Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin to order him never to return to Malaysia.

In his posting, Ali said Khairy was already strutting around arrogantly after only becoming a minister less than two years ago.

He also remarked how Khairy was not even born in Malaysia like he was, but had lived abroad for years before returning to Malaysia.

"Khairy was born in Kuwait, lived 20 years abroad, he returned to Malaysia to hold top positions and become extremely wealthy … he acts as if the country belongs to him… who is he to order me never to return to Malaysia?"

He said that unlike Khairy, both he and Alvin Tan, who fled to the US to escape charges of sedition, were born in Malaysia and grew up in Malaysia.

In an anger-filled tone, Ali wrote: "We were imprisoned, threatened, abused, defamed and more. We were treated worse than illegal immigrants. We have been away from the country for just a few months, yet our passports have been revoked even though we do not have a criminal record."

"Between us (Ali and Alvin) and Khairy Jamaluddin, who is more a son of Malaysia?" Ali asked.'


When did Malaysia shut its doors to a Malaysian?

'Today 40 years ago, a Universiti Malaya undergraduate named Hishamudin Rais quietly slipped out of the campus in Pantai and a police cordon to start a long trip to, eventually, self-exile in London.

The police was at the door of Malaysia's oldest university to arrest student leaders who had organised and taken part in protests linked to poverty in Baling, Kedah, as a result of falling rubber prices.'


'One certainly would not expect the Cabinet's youngest minister, an urbane and sophisticated Western-educated man, to even utter such dismissive words to a citizen of Malaysia.

This country belongs to all Malaysians, be they critics or sycophants.'


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Open letter from 25 eminent Malays

Some people ask, 'What took them so long?'

In Hokien/Malay, I would describe the reason why they came out with an open letter to our PM Najib as already 'Bueh tahan' or 'Tak boleh tahan lagi.'

It looks like the first step by a prominent group of Malays to speak up for the silent majority. Perkasa and Isma had their days hogging the limelight, giving the impression Malaysia is on the way to extremism because of the lack of effective action by PM. Some even described it as 'The tail wagging the dog' (pardon the expression). These days we have to be very careful with the words we use as everything seems to be sensitive and mountains made out of molehills.

Anyway, here is the open letter (copied from The Malay Mail):

We, a group of concerned citizens of Malaysia, would like to express how disturbed and deeply dismayed we are over the continuing unresolved disputes on the position and application of Islamic laws in this country. The on-going debate over these matters display a lack of clarity and understanding on the place of Islam within our constitutional democracy. Moreover, they reflect a serious breakdown of federal-state division of powers, both in the areas of civil and criminal jurisdictions.

We refer specifically to the current situation where religious bodies seem to be asserting authority beyond their jurisdiction; where issuance of various fatwa violate the Federal Constitution and breach the democratic and consultative process of shura; where the rise of supremacist NGOs accusing dissenting voices of being anti-Islam, anti-monarchy and anti-Malay has made attempts at rational discussion and conflict resolution difficult; and most importantly, where the use of the Sedition Act hangs as a constant threat to silence anyone with a contrary opinion.

These developments undermine Malaysia’s commitment to democratic principles and rule of law, breed intolerance and bigotry, and have heightened anxieties over national peace and stability.

As moderate Muslims, we are particularly concerned with the statement issued by Minister Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom, in response to the recent Court of Appeal judgement on the right of transgendered women to dress according to their identity. He viewed the right of the transgender community and Sisters in Islam (SIS) to seek legal redress as a "new wave of assault on Islam" and as an attempt to lead Muslims astray from their faith, and put religious institutions on trial in a secular court.

Such an inflammatory statement from a Federal Minister (and not for the first time) sends a public message that the Prime Minister’s commitment to the path of moderation need not be taken seriously when a Cabinet minister can persistently undermine it.

These issues of concern we raise are of course difficult matters to address given the extreme politicisation of race and religion in this country. But we believe there is a real need for a consultative process that will bring together experts in various fields, including Islamic and Constitutional laws, and those affected by the application of Islamic laws in adverse ways.

We also believe the Prime Minister is best placed with the resources and authority to lead this consultative process. It is urgent that all Malaysians are invested in finding solutions to these longstanding areas of conflict that have led to the deterioration of race relations, eroded citizens’ sense of safety and protection under the rule of law, and undermined stability.

There are many pressing issues affecting all of us that need the urgent leadership and vision of the Prime Minister, the support of his Cabinet and all moderate Malaysians. They include:

i) A plural legal system that has led to many areas of conflict and overlap between civil and shariah laws. In particular there is an urgent need to review the Shariah Criminal Offences (SCO) laws of Malaysia. These laws which turn all manner of "sins" into crimes against the state have led to confusion and dispute in both substance and implementation. They are in conflict with Islamic legal principles and constitute a violation of fundamental liberties and state intrusion into the private lives of citizens. In 1999, the Cabinet directed the Attorney-General’s Chambers to review the SCO laws. But to this day, they continue to be enforced with more injustices perpetrated. The public outrage, debates over issues of jurisdiction, judicial challenge, accusations of abuses committed, gender discrimination, and deaths and injuries caused in moral policing raids have eroded the credibility of the SCO laws, the law-making process, and public confidence that Islamic law could indeed bring about justice.

ii) The lack of public awareness, even among top political leaders, on the legal jurisdiction and substantive limits of the powers of the religious authorities and administration of Islamic laws in Malaysia. The Federal Constitution is the supreme law of the land and any law enacted, including Islamic laws, cannot violate the Constitution, in particular the provisions on fundamental liberties, federal-state division of powers and legislative procedures. All Acts, Enactments and subsidiary legislations, including fatwa, are bound by constitutional limits and are open to judicial review.

iii) The need to ensure the right of citizens to debate the ways Islam is used as a source of public law and policy in this country. The Islamic laws of Malaysia are drafted by the Executive arm of government and enacted in the Legislative bodies by human beings. Their source may be divine, but the enacted laws are not divine. They are human made and therefore fallible, open to debate and challenge to ensure that justice is upheld.

iv) The need to promote awareness of the rich diversity of interpretive texts and juristic opinions in the Islamic tradition. This includes conceptual legal tools that exist in the tradition that enable reform to take place and the principles of equality and justice to be upheld, in particular in response to the changing demands, role and status of women in the family and community.

v) The need for the Prime Minister to assert his personal leadership as well as appoint key leaders who will, in all fairness, champion open and coherent debate and discourse on the administration of Islamic laws in this country to ensure that justice is done. We especially urge that the leadership sends a clear signal that rational and informed debate on Islamic laws in Malaysia and how they are codified and implemented are not regarded as an insult to Islam or to the religious authorities.

These issues may seem complex to many, but at the end of the day, it really boils down to this: as Muslims, we want Islamic law, even more than civil law, to meet the highest standards of justice precisely because it claims to reflect divine justice. Therefore, those who act in the name of Islam through the administration of Islamic law must bear the responsibility of demonstrating that justice is done, and is seen to be done.

When Islam was revealed to our Prophet saw in 7th century Arabia, it was astoundingly revolutionary and progressive. Over the centuries, the religion has guided believers through harsh and challenging times. It is our fervent belief that for Islam to continue to be relevant and universal in our times, the understanding, codification and implementation of the teachings of our faith must continue to evolve. Only with this, can justice, as enjoined by Allah swt, prevail.

* This letter was signed by:

1. Tan Sri Datuk Abdul Rahim Bin Haji Din

Former Secretary General, Ministry of Home Affairs

2. Tan Sri Ahmad Kamil Jaafar

Former Secretary General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

3. Tan Sri Dr Aris Othman

Former Secretary General, Ministry of Finance

4. Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican

Former Director General, Ministry of Health

5. Tan Sri Dato’ Mohd Sheriff bin Mohd Kassim

Former Secretary General, Ministry of Finance

6. Tan Sri Dato’ Dr Mustaffa Babjee

Former Director General, Veterinary Services

7. Tan Sri Nuraizah Abdul Hamid

Former Secretary General, Ministry of Energy, Communications and Multimedia

8. Tan Sri Dr Yahya Awang

Cardiothoracic Surgeon and Core Founder, National Heart Institute

9. Dato’ Seri Shaik Daud Md Ismail

Former Court of Appeal Judge

10. Dato’ Abdul Kadir bin Mohd Deen

Former Ambassador

11. Datuk Anwar Fazal

Former Senior Regional Advisor, United Nations Development Programme

12. Dato’ Dali Mahmud Hashim

Former Ambassador

13. Dato’ Emam Mohd Haniff Mohd Hussein

Former Ambassador

14. Dato’ Faridah Khalid

Representative of Women’s Voice

15. Dato’ Latifah Merican Cheong

Former Assistant Governor, Bank Negara

16. Lt Gen (Rtd) Dato’ Maulob Maamin

Lieutenant General (Rtd)

17. Dato’ Noor Farida Ariffin

Former Ambassador

18. Dato’ Ranita Hussein

Former SUHAKAM Commissioner

19. Dato’ Redzuan Kushairi

Former Ambassador

20. Dato’ Dr Sharom Ahmat

Former Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Universiti Sains Malaysia

21. Dato’ Syed Arif Fadhillah

Former Ambassador

22. Dato’ Zainal Abidin Ahmad

Former Director General, Malaysian Timber Industry Board

23. Dato’ Zainuddin Bahari

Former Deputy Secretary General, Ministry of Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism

24. Datin Halimah Mohd Said

Former Lecturer, Universiti Malaya and President, Association of Voices of Peace, Conscience and Reason (PCORE)

25. Puan Hendon Mohamad

Past President Malaysian Bar has an interesting write-up on some of them: