Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Musical & Poetic Interlude: Perjuangan Belum Selesai



Langkah, beribu langkah
Ke destinasi yang diimpi
Tiba terhenti, tercari-cari
Haluan arah, yang telah pun musnah
Harapan tak kesampaian

Hina, hinanya diri
Hanya menantikan bantuan
Bagaimanakah ini terjadi
Kerdilnya diri bukan lagi tuan
Inikah rupanya nasib bangsaku

Langkah demi langkah
Biarkah bertatih
Impian kan juga terlaksana
Martabat diri ini, tiadakan bererti
Tanpa usaha, janganlah leka

Mewah negaraku semerbak harumnya
Renjisan keringat oh bangsaku
Teruskan langkah ini
Biarkan ia kekal selamanya...

"Bangsaku bukan kecil hati dan jiwanya
Bukankah sejak zaman berzaman
Mereka menjadi pelaut, pengembara
Malah penakluk terkemuka?
Bukankah meraka sudah mengembangkan sayap
Menjadi pedagang dan peniaga
Selain menjadi ulama dan ilmuan terbilang?

Bukankah bangsaku pernah mengharung samudera
Menjajah dunia yang tak dikenal?
Bukankah mereka pernah menjadi wira serantau
Yang tidak mengenal erti takut dan kematian?
Di manakah silapnya?"

Langkah demi langkah
Biarkah bertatih
Impian kan jadi terlaksana
Martabat diri ini, tiadakan bererti
Usahalah, janganlah leka

Mewah negaraku semerbak harumnya
Renjisan keringat oh bangsaku
Teruskan langkah ini
Biarkan ia kekal sentiasa...

"Hari ini, jalan ini pasti semakin berliku
Kerana masa depan belum tentu menjanjikan syurga
Bagi mereka yang lemah dan mudah kecewa

Perjuangan kita belum selesai
Kerana hanya yang cekal dan tabah
Dapat membina mercu tanda
Bangsanya yang berjaya"


Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Mei 1996
Nora, Wah Idris

Perjuangan bersambung ...

UPDATE: 11:00 a.m. 9-3-2008 Jitra,Kedah

The people have spoken ...but ...

... ada lagi perjuangan yang masih perlu diteruskan.

Allah selamat dan rahmatkanlah Malaysia!

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Pembela & ACCIN Election Demand

Pembela & ACCIN is due to give a press conference to announce their election 2008 demands at 5:30 pm at at level 5, PWTC, Kuala Lumpur today.

From their press release published on MyIslamNetwork, the group leading the coalition of 77 Islamic NGOs acknowledge the influence of political parties in the general direction of the country. The demands arised out of their concern for the many outstanding unresolved Islamic issues. The document served to highlight their concerns for the considerations of all political parties and does not imply of the group's support for any particular political parties.

The area of their demands cover the special constitutional position of Islam; Islamic education and da’wah (call to Islam); good governance; democracy and civil society; inter-ethnic and inter-religious relations; and Islamic faith and morals.

The list of demands as in accordance to the areas of demands are:


1. Special Constitutional Position of Islam

  • Defend the position of Islam as the Religion of the Federation under Article 3 of the Federal Constitution.
  • Defend and strengthen the position and jurisdiction of Syariah Courts under Article 121(1A) of the Federal Constitution.
  • Legislate laws controlling the propagation of non-Muslim religions among the Muslims in Sabah, Sarawak, Perlis, Pulau Pinang and Federal Territories as provided by Article 11(4) of the Federal Constitution.
  • Enhance the level of professionalism among the staff of Islamic agencies.
  • Legislate Halal Food and Processing Act as a means to govern halal industry and enhance the enforcement of halal requirements.
  • Take stern action against employers who prevent employees from practicing their Islamic religious duties at work.

2. Islamic Education and Da’wah
  • Increase the learning period of Islamic subjects in national primary and secondary schools.
  • Set up Islamic higher learning and research institutions in specific fields such as education, technology and management.
  • Guarantee academic and intellectual freedom by giving autonomous status to the universities.
  • Re-instate and increase the per-capita aid to People’s Religious Schools (Sekolah Agama Rakyat, SAR) and provide free textbooks to students of these schools.
  • Re-introduce the teaching of Mathematics and Science in Malay at national schools.
  • The Ministry of Education to allow excellent students from private religious schools to enrol in boarding schools under the supervision of the ministry and the Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA).
  • Extend the provision of government scholarships, which are currently enjoyed by Malay students, to non-Malay Muslim students.
  • Increase the number of recipients of the Public Service Department’s scholarship award to Muslim students to further their studies abroad.
  • The Ministry of Education to continue encouraging Islamic practices in schools.
  • Provide special allocation to Islamic NGOs to carry out Islamic educational activities.
  • The Ministry of Information to be sensitive toward the feelings of Muslim majority in devising broadcast policies; prioritize television programs that contribute to the development of a moral society; increase the number of Islamic education programs; and stop airing entertainment programs that promote hedonistic culture.
  • Private television stations must adhere to the National Culture Policy and the National Education policy in selecting their programs.

3. Good Governance
  • Step up the efforts to curb graft and abuse of powers among public officials.
  • Appoint public officials among those who are free from graft, abuse of power and immoral conduct.
  • Foster the internalization of Islamic values among civil servants.
  • Public officials to make public declaration of their assets.
  • Appoint senators among the leaders Islamic NGOs to oversee the implementation of Islamic policies and promote the welfare of Muslims.

4. Civil Society and Democracy
  • Ensure that elections are clean, free and fair.
  • Select election candidates among those who are of high integrity, good conduct and able.
  • Ensure that the government exercises its powers in accordance with the rule of law and the constitution.
  • Widen the democratic space in order to allow civil society institutions to contribute to social empowerment and nation building.

5. Inter-Ethnic and Inter-Religious Relations
  • Enhance commitment to religious and racial harmony.
  • Reject political parties and politicians who disregard special position of Islam in Malaysia and those who advocate the secular understanding of absolute religious freedom.
  • Strictly enforce laws on the building of houses of worship irrespective of religions.
  • Ensure that the sensitivities of local residents be taken into consideration before a house of worship is built in the area.
  • Form a special committee comprising the representatives of Muslim organizations and local authorities to deliberate on applications to build non-Muslim houses of worship in Muslim-majority residential area.

6. Islamic Faith and Morals
  • Reject the use of specific Islamic terms like “Allah”, “Ka’abah”,”Baitullah” and “Solat” to refer to certain dissimilar concepts in non-Muslim religions.
  • Increase the number of religious enforcement officers and their level of professionalism.
  • Strictly enforce the existing laws on religious and moral crimes.

It is understood that the demands by the Islamic NGOs is a reaction to the demands made by certain other religious groups. Temples and churches group are exerting political presence and it is not only limited to voicing their demands but are participating in the partisan politics to insert their religious agenda. Thus far, incidence of bringing inter-faith issue into the political arena have been detected.

Newton's physical world mantra that every action will result in an equal and opposite reaction. If this is let allowed, it is not conducive to peace and harmony. This is certainly not an encouraging trend because the current interfaith disputes in the court are of legal, administrative and family nature in which the proper platform is not at the political arena. In fact, interfaith issues is best be addressed through concensus and dialogue amongst the familiar and knowledgable.

In the history of man, religion is attributed to more human disputes than even racial issues. Thankfully, Malaysia has never succumbed to any major form of religious unrest and lets keep it so. Taking religious disputes into the open should best be avoided. Lets be judicious in our discussion. Any discussion should be confined among the knowledgable, taking stock of the sensitivity of religion and exercise caution in stretching it to the point of sacrificing inter-community peace and harmony.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Anwar Menuduh Najib Rasuah RM940 Juta

Manakala Abdullah dikecuali dari kritikan

Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim menuduh Dato Seri Najib mengambil rasuah sejumlah RM940 juta dari pembelian kapal selam dan kapalterbang pejuang dalam ceramah Barisan Alternatif di AU2, Taman Keramat, Kuala Lumpur malam tadi.

Ceramah Barisan Alternatif malam tadi dihadiri hampir 10,000 penyokong-penyokong Barisan Alternatif dan pendudok kawasan Parlimen Ampang, Gombak dan Setiawangsa yang ingin tahu.

Dr Hatta Ramli, Bendahari PAS Pusat merangkap YDP PAS Gombak mengatakan jumlah hadhirin menyerupai ceramah di tempat yang sama sepuloh tahun dahulu. Ceramah pada masa itu adalah sebelum perarakan hari sabtu yang ingin menyerahkan memorandum kepada DYMM Seri Paduka Baginda Yang diPertuan Agong untuk menuntut penyiasatan keracunan arsenik terhadap Anwar.

Namun, suasana dan kehangatan kali ini tidak sehangat dan bertenaga seperti yang penulis blog pernah meninjau sepuloh tahun. Sebahagian besar hadhiran adalah pendudok yang ingin tahu dan termasuk juga penyokong-penyokong dan pengundi-pengundi Barisan Nasional.

Dalam tuduhan terhadap Najib, Anwar dengan jelas menyatakan rasuah itu berupa komisyen RM530 juta bagi pembelian dua kapal selam Scorpene dan lebih RM400 juta bagi pembelian jet-jet pejuang Sukhoi. Azmin memberi angka lebih tepat RM410 juta kepada tuduhan rasuah membabitkan Sukhoi.

Walaupun penjelasan rasmi telah dikeluarkan oleh Kementah semasa pilihanraya kecil Ijok, Anwar amat jelas kekal dengan strategi mengkritik Najib untuk merosakkan reputasinya. Dia mengaku dirinya sudah matang terhadap kezaliman, fitnah dan penafian keadilan di mahkamah, namun tuduhan itu tidak disertakan dengan sebarang bukti.

Kritikan sedemikian adalah lumrah dalam majlis ceramah pembangkang. Walau bagaimana pun, Anwar jelas begitu terkawal dalam kritikan terhadap Dato Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Tidak ada langsung perincian terhadap tuduhan-tuduhan rasuah dan nepotisma, kelemahan-kelemahan keputusan pentadbiran dan penyalahgunaan kuasa terhadap Abdullah, anaknya Kamaluddin dan menantu Khairy. Walaupun pelbagai tuduhan-tuduhan rasuah disebut begitu meluas diketahui ramai, isu-isu yang beraitan Abdullah seperti Scomi, ECM Libra, Patrick Lim, Kalimullah, dan lain-lain tidak disebut langsung.

Penulis blog ini masih tidak lupa alasan Anwar semasa ditanya penulis dalam suatu perjumpaan pada bulan Mei tahun lepas. Kononnya dia perlu menjaga hati kaum keluarga yang mempunyai kaitan kepada kedua-dua mereka di Penang.


Kempen PKR masih bertunjang kepada Anwar. Walaupun Anwar tidak bertanding di PRU, slogan PKR adalah Anwar sebagai Perdana Menteri Malaysia yang akan datang. Dalam ucapan Azmin terdahulu dari itu, beliau meluahkan rasa kesal terhadap Abdullah kerana tidak menunggu lagi sebulan untuk membubarkan Parlimen bagi membolehkan Anwar bertanding dalam pilihanraya umum.

Sebagaimana ceramah yang lain, ucapan Anwar banyak menyentuh mengenai isu-isu kenaikkan harga barang dan minyak. Dia lebih membelokkan salah kenaikkan harga barang kepada rasuah dari menjelaskan masaalah kenaikkan harga komoditi dunia yang mendadak dan jumlah subsidi yang meningkat.

Anwar menuduh kerajaan menaikkan minyak untuk mengaut untung berdsarkan alasan mudah perbandingan keuntungan Petronas sebanyak RM20-30 billion setahun semasa dia memegang jawatan dan RM70-80 billion setahun sekarang. Bagi menguatkan alasannya dia menyatakan harga minyak kekal di tahap RM1.10 segelen sepanjang lapan tahun dia menjawat tugas Menteri Kewangan.

Anwar mengakhiri ceramahnya yang agak menghiburkan dengan menjanjikan para hadirin untuk menurunkan harga minyak sehari selepas BA menguasai kerajaan. Selain itu, dia menjanjikan pelajaran menengah ke Universiti dan perkhidmatan kesihatan kerajaan yang percuma.

Dalam keasyikan mendengar penceramah Barisan Alternatif mengkritik Abdullah dan Menteri-Menteri berkenaan kelemahan pengurusan ekonomi, kesalahan fakta ekonomi dan kesilapan kenyataan, penulis hanya berharap pengundi tidak terbawa-bawa dalam kemarahan terhadap Abdullah Badawi hingga hilang objektiviti.

Barisan Alternatif pun tidak mempunyai tidak mempunyai solution penyelesaian yang realistik dan kreatif kepada dilemma yang dihadapi oleh pentadbir-pentadbir dalam kerajaan untuk mengatasikan masaalah kenaikkan harga barang yang mendadak.

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Dr Mahathir Told Muslims to Acknowledge Their Fault

Picture courtesy of Jinggo. For more picture, look here.

Dr Mahathir, delivered the keynote speech for the Ummatic Week 2008 Seminar at the International Islamic University (UIA) yesterday, February 16th, 2008. In his speech entitled “Global Peace: Crisis in the Muslim World”, he called upon Muslim to acquire so-called “secular” knowledge in sciences and technology.

Earlier, Dr Mahathir was given a rousing welcome by the audience. In his welcoming speech, University President, Tan Sri Sanusi Junid said that UIA was established for the ummah to acquire knowledge in not only theology but other fields in science, technology, humanities and arts. Today UIA students are all over the Muslim world and are making their presence in their own countries. He told of a former student that will soon be a President of a Muslim country.

Sanusi reminded the students that Malaysia was a proud nation under Dr Mahathir. Chinese and Indians who went abroad stopped referring themselves as Chinese and Indian but as Malaysian. Malaysians were brave to venture to climb Mount Everest and sail the world alone. UIA will be that international link that will be ever welcome and willing to hear of the ideas and thought of Dr Mahathir, the Founder of the University.

Dr Mahathir spoke extensively of the need for Muslims to acquire knowledge, and research and develop to generate knowledge. In his speech, he acknowledge that the Quran did not specifically said to acquire knowledge on area other than theology but the Quran specifically mention the need to defend ourselves. Since Muslims lack the knowledge, Muslim nation had to rely on the “enemy” for weapon and defend them and not develop the ability and capacity to defend them.

Holistically, defending a nation does not infer only on millitary cability but covers other areas of economy, trade, agriculture, education, society, international relation, science and technology, industries, communication and infrastructure, and etc. This relates to the Dr Mahathir's drive to develop Malysia during his premiership.

Dr Mahathir told the highly enthusiastic and appreciative students that Muslims must stop the attitude to blame others for their trouble today but look towards themselves for the faults. The trend reversal towards knowledge by Muslim in the 1300 and 1400s and the renaissance in Europe in the 1500s resulted in the weakening of Muslim and the rise of Europe.

Muslims need to remove sectarian differences and the fanatical inclination to teachers. Dr Mahathir emphasised the need to return to the fundamental teaching of Islam to promote unity and brotherhood within the ummah.

Dr Mahathir reiterated his once controversial and widely criticised stand on suicide bombing. In his view, the sacrifice is not worthy for it has created more problems for Muslims. He felt suicide bombing does not confirm one to be accorded syahid (matyr) and the reward of heaven. (The crowd picture by TV Smith)

Muslim has a tendency to be emotional and reactive without thinking of the repercussion. Thus, Dr Mahathir impressed on the need for Muslims to think and plan a long term strategy. He ended his speech with a Malay proverb, “Bila sesat jalan, balik pangkal jalan”, meaning when lost, return to the point of departure.

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Dato Seri, What is Civilisational about Islam Hadhari?

Ask at random any 10 Malaysians, what is Islam Hadhari?

Do not be surprise if eight out of ten do not know what it is. Assuming on in ten could say civilisational islam, the likelihood is he or she could not explain it. We'll need a sharp knife to cut up the remaining one person to represent the proportion of people who really understand Islam Hadhari.

Should any could regurgitate the 10 Principles of Islam Hadhari, the subsequent question to be asked: Is that principle about building a nation or civilisation? In fact, it is seen as close to an Islamic rebranding of the 9 challenges of Vision 2020 nation building.

Civilisational Islam is a conceptual idea that needs a realistic and quantifiable preposition for governance. The word civilisation means differently to different people. Civilisation is derived from the word civil. Early English described civil as "of or related to citizenship" and naturally to mean statehood. It could also mean process towards civility, or polite virtue.

In a bigger sense, civilisation conveys a sense of dynamism. Social scientist view civilisation as a more complex political and economic structure than a state or country. This para from Wikipedia provide a simple cultural description of civilisation:

"Civilization can also describe the culture of a complex society, not just the society itself. Every society, civilization or not, has a specific set of ideas and customs, and a certain set of items and arts, that make it unique. Civilizations have even more intricate cultures, including literature, professional art, architecture, organized religion, and complex customs associated with the elite. Civilization is such in nature that it seeks to spread, to have more, to expand, and the means by which to do this."
Enough said, civilisation basically transcend above the state and society.

From the strategic perspective, vision and mission must be based on something specific, tangible and achievable. Only then could it conceive the specific objectives, planning process, formulate the strategy and implementation. The important ingredient to the whole process is leadership, structure and communication to effectively drive all resources and energy.

So, what is Islam Hadhari and it's specifics?

Till today, it is only speeches, seminars and forums, void of any programs. With the general election button pressed, Islam Hadhari will be one campaign tool used by Dato Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's administration to convince the Malay Muslim and in general Malaysians voters of a glorious future ahead.

There was back in 2006 the Perkampungan Hadhari that is merely the Kelantan and Terengganu version of TV3 Jom Heboh!; a funfair that is more entertainment and media hype than building civilisation.

Within these few weeks, Terengganu had launched a Taman Tamaddun Islam (Hadhari) with the majestic crystal mosque at the Wan Man island near the mouth of the Terengganu river. It is situated not too distant from the Pulau Duyong, the venue for the rich and famous to congregate for the annual Monsoon Cup yatch race and luxury island resort. That is a property and tourism development, still form over substance of Islam Hadhari.

Notwithstanding this blogger's personal concern of Islam Hadhari from the geo-global political perspective of Islam Hadhari's moderate Islam claim and other aspects of Islam Hadhari, the 10 principles or mission of Islam Hadhari is still too broad from a planning perspective and too narrow from a civilisational perspective.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia just had the Institut Islam Hadhari launched by Abdullah last Tuesday, February 12th. As Dato Mustapha Mohammed, Minister for Higher Education described in his speech, it is to undertake research on Islam Hadhari. So, after launching Islam Hadhari with all the fanfare in 2004, endless nationwide promotional campaign and many "majlis ilmu"s, only now a thorough research is to be done?

Abdullah spoke of the need for Muslims to be cautious of a threat within Islam - narrow mindedness of Muslims - at the World Multaqa of Al-Azhar Alumni. Al Azhar University is the intellectual centre of Sunni Muslims. Islam Hadhari received sort of an endorsement from the Rector, Sheikh At-Tantawi. This will certainly help for the general election hype.

Still, Dato Seri Prime Minister, what is the content and plans for Islam Hadhari?

Having said that leadership is the most important aspect of the plan towards Islam Hadhari, it falls on Abdullah to play that leadership role. The Prime Minister as Chairman of OIC is persistent in promoting Islam Hadhari at Islamic conferences abroad. A good message to Muslims worldwide that Islam Hadhari should involve the worldwide ummah.

How could the ummah revive it's Islamic civilisation and be united as one, when the Chairman of OIC himself took two weeks to return from his Australian holiday in 2006 to express the voice of OIC on the bombardment of Lebanon by Israel? There is no win the works a major genocide brewing in Gaza for more than two weeks whereby the Israelis are blocking the Palestinian from food, utilities and necessities. Again, why is the Chairman of OIC silent?

In yet another Islam Hadhari conference, the recently concluded The International Conference on Islam Hadhari Responses to Global Challenges talked of the need to improve the approach of Islam Hadhari, specifically the branding issue. Just like the inability of many to understand Islam Hadhari, that is a communication problem.

Lets not touch the humourous political pun, Islam Ada Had and Ada Hari. Neither should be touched the inter-faith issues that is the cause for concern amongst non Muslims and could be a source of threat to the peace and stability of the country. The past administration only embarked on instilling Islamic value or specifically making hard work and industry as Islamic habit of the civil service. Since the launch of Islam Hadhari, the government is accused of going on an Islamisation drive.

Dato' Seri Prime Minister, we've got a general election campaign to think about. Seriously, what is civilisational about Islam Hadhari? Don't you thinking your Islam Hadhari is too far forward to be achievable?

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Malaysian General Election 2008: Nomination and Polling Date

Latest 11:40 am:

Election Commission announced nomination and polling date on Sunday February 24th, 2008 and Saturday March 8th., 2008, respectively for the Malaysian General Election 2008. The campaigning period is 13 days. The electoral roll will be as per gazetted on February 5th, 2008 for an electoral list of 10,922,139 voters.

Selamat menjalankan tugas anda sebagai rakyat Malaysia untuk mengundi!

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Pak Lah in a bind to call for snap election


Finally, the long expected snap election has come to fruitation. Despite a clear cut denial a day earlier, the Prime Minister made the announcement to dissolve Parliament yesterday after getting the Royal consent in the morning. If 2004 is used as a yardstick whereby the election is held 17 days after parliament dissolved, then this year's election is expected to fall on March 1st, 2008.

There are sources saying Abdullah himself is quite unprepared to announced the dissolution of Parliament yesterday but was told from the palace that the Agong is leaving abroad soon. Thus, that is believed to be the explanation for the appointment with the Agong yesterday.

If it is any indication, the decision to hold a snap election comes with an undercurrent of mixed feeling within the ranks of UMNO. It is believed that "intelligence" discouraged the Prime Minister from holding it. Joceline Tan of The Star described in her column today that the atmosphere during the press conference was that of nervousness. The Deputy Prime Minister was seen with tightly clenching his hands at the back, perhasp giving away a not quite as calm feeling.

The said "intelligence" recommended the Prime Minister to solve first the problems faced by Government. The main being the negative perception on the personality of Abdullah and his ability to govern.

The biggest concern of the people throughout his administration is the rising prices and economy. Another issue is the continuous demands and conflict on ethnic and interfaith issues that has culminated into a series of demonstrations late last year. This has seriously affected his ratings. The latest Merdeka Centre Survey reported a sharp drop in his approval rating from 70% to 60%. Even during the reformasi era of late 90s which had left a dent on Barisan Nasional in the 1999 election, Dr Mahathir's approval rating remains stable at 70-80%.

Many made the simplistic conclusion that Abdullah is trying to avoid having Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim run for office, thus insisting it be held before end of March 2008. With PKR faced with exodus of it's core reformasi "warriors" and with only Permatang Pauh parliament seat, Anwar is no more a factor.

The real concern to his political career is the UMNO party election. After delaying the UMNO party election by 18 months using the excuse to focus on the 9th Malaysia Plan, he must hold the UMNO party election before the end of June. The challenge on his premiership is expected to be more serious from within UMNO, than from Barisan Nasional component members or Opposition parties. He is believed to undertake a purging exercise to relief himself from possible challengers to himself and his son-in-law, Khairy Jamaluddin.

This discomfort is expressed by Khairy as he views the challenges from within UMNO as more serious than from outside. Although Tun Musa Hitam denied that there will be sabotage from within, the initial feedback received is that there is the likelihood of UMNO members disgruntled with the Khairy factor is sitting out this election. This could translate into the possibility of a higher incident of "undi rosak".

Abdullah need the new mandate to proceed with his painful economic reform plans and economic corridors, particularly the highly controversial and explosive Islandar Development Region. Many believed that the insistence to fast forward the election comes more from the his son-in-law and kuncu-kuncu young advisers.

Abdullah has expressed that Government could not afford to maintain the high level of subsidy and indirectly maintain the relatively low price level on basic items such as food, transportation and particularly petrol. The longer he delays election, the more difficult it is to contain prices from moving up and the impact politically will be more damaging.

In addition, he is should be quite aware that throughout his administration, the economy has been sluggish. Economic growth has been stagnant ranging within the 5-6% growth, saved only by the rise in global commodity prices. With the US confirmed to dive into a major recession and exercebate further by the plunging US Dollar, even comforting words from Lee Kuan Yew will not prevent recessionary pressure from by-passing trading nation Malaysia. As far as the economy is concerned, Abdullah can only spin numbers but he has yet to present a convincing short term solution in hand that can bring the glory economic growth of the 80s and 90s.

How the election outcome is will be anybody guess, but without a serious opposition pact, Barisan is likely to win and maintain it's two thrid majority. This time around the challenge on Barisan Nasional is expected to be more intense with ethnic Chinese and Indian votes expected to slant to the opposition and few states like Terengganu, Penang, Sabah and Kedah are under tremendous opposition on-slaught. Ideological differences within the opposition remains a stumbling block and this is favourable to Barisan Nasional.

Off course, it is still too early to predict precisely without the candidate list available. This time around with campaigning period short, voters will likely vote for candidates they are familiar with. However, Barisan Nasional, particularly UMNO, is expected to offer relatively more new faces and younger candidate. UMNO is seriously moving towards "meremajakan UMNO" to invigorate the party, as Najib kept repeating at the last two UMNO General Assembly. The removal of the old guards did not come without a fight and few state-level squabbles is seen. As far as depth of talents, Barisan is far more superior than the opposition. It's long track record cannot be denied.

While we await further development and announcement from the Election Commission, I remain.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Dialog Antara Agama, Bukan Berpencak Politik dan Mahkamah

Pergeseran antara agama dikatakan tercetus dari cadangan penubuhan Suruhanjaya Antara Agama (IFC), tuntutan-tuntutan mahkamah, birokrasi pentadbiran agama, tindakan penguasa-penguasa tempatan, dan lain-lain insiden keluarga dan peribadi. Orang bukan Islam menyuarakan kurang selesa dengan Islamisasi; kononnya kecenderongan keagamaan di kalangan orang-orang Islam, penubuhan Institusi-Institusi Islam, dan peraturan yang memaksa amalan Islam. Malah, perdebatan mengenai status negara - Sekular atau Islam - tidak putus-putus didebatkan. Pelbagai keresahan, dan ketidak puasan terhadap agama dan penganut Islam terluah, hingga tersuara perjudis dan kebencian terhadap Islam.

Orang-orang Islam pula merasakan orang-orang bukan Islam membuat tuduhan terhadap Islam yang tidak adil. Ini menjadi lebih buruk dengan senario politik dunia selepas 9-11 yang membibitkan stigma terhadap Islam. Di dalam negara, mereka tidak selesa dengan tuntutan-tuntutan minoriti orang-orang bukan Islam yang dianggap kurang sesuai. Orang bukan Islam dikatakan tidak sensitif dengan keterbukaan memberi tekanan dan menuntut perubahan ke atas orang-orang Islam berkenaan perkara asas yang tidak boleh langsung dikompromikan.

Disebalik perbezaan ini, pasti ada hanya salah sangka dan curiga. Mungkin ada yang faktanya betul tetapi kurang difahami. Dengan demikian, perbezaan agama ini perlu diakhirkan, hanya bagaimana pendekatannya?


Dalam hal ini, penulis blog ini tidak pernah berganjak dari pendirian bahawa dialog antara agama adalah lebih berkesan dari pendekatan secara perundangan, politik, dan aktivisma kepada awam yang lebih menimbulkan permusuhan. Dalam usaha ke arah ini, sukacita diterbit kembali beredit kertaskerja Dr. Mohd Farid Mohd Shahran, Timbalan Presiden ABIM yang telah dibentangkan di Muzakarah Pendisiplinan Dialog Antara Agama dan Peradaban di IKIM pada 22 Januari, 2008 yang amat relevan sekali dalam persoalan ini. Kertaskerja ini memberi perspektif Islam untuk manafaat penganut-penganut semua agama:


DIALOG ANTARA AGAMA DAN PERADABAN:
PERSPEKTIF AGAMA DAN TAMADUN
[1]


Mukaddimah: Makna Dialog

Dialog pada dasarnya bermakna "perbincangan antara dua orang atau lebih".[3] Lebih khusus, seperti yang dikemukakan oleh Leonard Swidler, ia bermaksud "perbincangan mengenai sesuatu perkara antara dua orang atau lebih yang berbeza pandangan dengan tujuan utama untuk setiap pihak dapat mempelajari dari pihak lain agar mereka boleh berubah dan berkembang maju".[4]

Takrifan di atas, sekurang-kurangnya mengetengahkan beberapa ciri penting serta andaian awal yang terdapat pada dialog. Pertamanya, dialog bertitik tolak dari perbezaan pandangan. Kedua, ia bukan sahaja memerlukan persefahaman di antara pihak yang terbabit akan tetapi juga menuntut perubahan dari segi pendirian dan kadangkala, kepercayaan. Ketiga, dialog juga, dalam banyak keadaan, merupakan tindak balas kepada masalah dan kemelut yang timbul, atau dengan kata lain, ia bersifat pragmatik.

Dialog dan Agama

Berdasarkan beberapa pendahuluan di atas, kita dapat bersetuju bahawa dialog adalah satu usaha yang baik kerana ia adalah pendekatan berguna bagi mencari penyelesaian kepada satu permasalahan. Namun, usaha sebegini mungkin mudah apabila ia berkait dengan masalah-masalah yang bersifat sosial, ekonomi dan politik, akan tetapi ia menjadi sukar lagi sulit apabila ia berhubung dengan agama.

Berbeza dengan sudut kehidupan yang lain, agama berkait rapat dengan pegangan, kepercayaan dan keyakinan yang bersifat mutlak. Ia merupakan wilayah suci yang amat sukar menerima ruang perubahan. Tambahan pula, agama, pada fitrahnya, mencerminkan satu kerangka pandangan alam meyeluruh yang terbentuk dari beberapa unsur-unsur utama berdasarkan sumber-sumber agama yang bersifat mutlak. Dalam konteks Islam, misalnya, unsur-unsur utama ini seperti kepercayaan dan kefahaman terhadap Tuhan, Nabi, Hari Akhirat, agama, al-Qur'an, hukum-hakam dan sebilangan nilai-nilai akhlakiah adalah tetap dan kekal, tidak tertakluk kepada perubahan. [5]

Pandangan alam yang terpancar dari sesuatu agama itu pula berbeza dan kadangkala bertentangan dengan pandangan hidup yang terbit dari agama-agama lain. Teks-teks agama yang menjadi sumber rujukan dalam pembentukan pandangan hidup ini secara dasarnya mempertahankan ketulenan kepercayaan dan ajaran-ajaran agama masing-masing dan menolak beberapa prinsip yang dipegang oleh agama lain. Ini secara langsung mempertajamkan lagi perbezaan yang wujud antara pandangan alam yang lahir dari pelbagai agama ini. Misalnya, penegasan dan pengisbatan al-Qur'an terhadap prinsip keesaan Tuhan (Tawhid), kritikanNya terhadap asas pegangan agama Kristian seperti Ketigaan Tuhan (trinity) dan pensaliban Nabi Isa (crucifixion) serta kecaman terhadap penduaan Tuhan (syirik) yang menjadi asas kepada sistem kepercayaan agama-agama lain.

Pertembungan Tamadun

Perbezaan-perbezaan yang terdapat pada pandangan alam ini, sebagaimana yang dibuktikan oleh sejarah, membawa kepada pertembungan besar antara tamadun-tamadun yang mendokong pandangan hidup yang berbeza ini sehingga membawa kepada peperangan dan pertumpahan darah yang berterusan.

Peperangan Salib selama dua abad yang menyaksikan antara lain penyembelihan 60,000 orang Islam dan Yahudi di tangan tentera perang Salib Kristian setelah kejatuhan Baitul Muqaddis merupakan sejarah hitam pertembungan tamadun yang amat dikesali termasuk oleh ahli-ahli sejarah Barat sendiri.[6] Begitu juga dengan pembunuhan seramai 100,000 orang Yahudi di Eropah antara 1400 hingga 1700 hasil dari perasaan anti-semitisme penguasa agama Kristian[7] yang kesannya tidak mudah dilupakan dan masih dirasai hingga sekarang. Ini ditambah dengan gerakan penjajahan yang menyaksikan hampir keseluruhan bumi yang didiami oleh masyarakat Islam telah ditakluk oleh kuasa-kuasa Barat yang membawa bersama-samanya panji-panji agama. Walaupun sebab yang membawa kepada peperangan bukan sepenuhnya bersifat agama tetapi juga disumbang oleh faktor kekuasaan politik dan ekonomi, namun kesan dari semua ini telah menyebabkan jurang kepercayaan antara penganut-penganut agama menjadi bertambah luas.

Pertembungan berdarah ini ditambah dengan serangan pemikiran yang dijalankan oleh pihak Barat terhadap Islam yang telah bermula sejak abad ke 12 lagi melalui tulisan-tulisan yang menyerang Islam oleh ilmuwan-ilmuwan Kristian Byzantin. Ia bertambah rancak pada abad ke 15 dan 16 selepas Qur'an mula diterjemahkan ke dalam bahasa Latin sebelum diteruskan oleh tradisi Orientalisme yang berat sebelah dan amat tidak menyumbang kepada dialog antara agama dan peradaban. Kepasrahan mengenai sulitnya ruang dialog ini dikongsi oleh Dr. Hans Koechler, Profesor bidang falsafah dari Universiti Innsbruck Austria, apabila beliau menjelaskan bahawa:

This complex history of confrontations between Christians and Muslims in the West, the South, and the East of Europe and in the Near East has practically made a genuine "dialogue of civilizations" impossible -- in spite of the rich influence of Islamic culture on the development of the European mind. [8]

Ciri-Ciri Persamaan: Ruang dan Peluang Dialog

Di samping jurang perbezaan besar antara penganut-penganut agama yang dihasilkan dari sejarah hitam di atas, harapan untuk melihat penganut-penganut pelbagai agama ini duduk berbincang tidaklah tertutup terus. Kerana di samping perbezaan tersebut, ada sudut lain yang dikongsi oleh agama-agama ini yang mampu dijadikan titik tolak dialog antara agama. Paling kurang, semua agama percaya kepada kewujudan Tuhan atau kewujudan satu kuasa mutlak yang mengatasi kekuasaan manusiawi. Pasti ada ruang perbincangan yang dapat dikongsi terutama yang berkaitan dengan ancaman terhadap kepercayaan kepada Tuhan.

Sementara di antara tiga agama besar dunia, Islam, Kristian dan Yahudi, hakikat bahawa kesemua agama ini datang dari tradisi yang sama, Abrahamic Tradition, sedikit sebanyak dapat menjadi titik mula untuk memulakan dialog. Al-Qur'an, di samping memberikan gelaran yang lebih khusus, Ahl al-Kitab kepada penganut agama Nasrani dan Yahudi, juga memberi sedikit kelonggaran dari muamalah antara masyarakat Islam dengan mereka berbanding dengan yang lain.

Sekiranya ada yang masih sangsi dengan kemampuan penganut-penganut agama ini bersama dalam bidang teologi, satu lagi dimensi yang dapat dijadikan noktah awal untuk dialog ialah bidang akhlak dan etika. Sebilangan nilai-nilai murni seperti keadilan, berbuat baik kepada ibubapa, jiran, tidak berbohong, amanah dan lain-lain kesemuanya dikongsi oleh agama-agama ini.

Dari sudut tamadun pula, walaupun sejarah manusia banyak diwarnai dengan pertembungan antara tamadun yang terjelma dalam bentuk peperangan dan perluasan kuasa pelbagai empayar dan kerajaan, di satu sisi yang lain terdapat wajah yang lebih aman dalam hubungan antara agama.

Tamadun Islam, misalnya, walaupun dilandasi dengan prinsip dan pandangan alam agama yang agak ketat, namun tamadun yang lahir dalam sejarah ternyata lebih realistik dan terbuka terhadap ruang perhubungan yang sihat antara penganut-penganut agama. Contohnya, walaupun Islam menentang keras kekufuran dan shirik, namun dalam pelaksanaannya, ruang beragama diberikan dengan luas kepada penganut agama lain. Piagam Madinah yang dimeterai oleh Nabi Muhammad dengan penduduk Yahudi dan Nasrani ternyata memberi kebebasan dan ruang kepada agama-agama lain untuk mengamalkan kepercayaan dan ibadah mereka. Dalam pemerintahan Mu'awiyah (661-769), beliau kerap menjemput pihak Kristian Jacobite dan Maronite ke istana untuk berdebat. Begitu juga St. John of Damascus dari Syria sering ke istana baginda untuk berdebat di hadapan Khalifah mengenai ketuhanan Isa, sifat Kalam Tuhan serta isu kebebasan manusia dengan kehadiran Khalifah.[9]

Pemerintahan Islam di Sepanyol pula menyaksikan penduduk Yahudi dan Nasrani tinggal dengan aman di bawah pemerintahan Islam. Ramai orang Yahudi yang datang telah diberikan jawatan penting oleh pihak penguasa Islam. Malah mereka juga dibenarkan untuk membina sekolah mereka yang terkenal misalnya di Cordoba.[10]

Selain bentuk dialog antara agama, yang lebih menyerlah dalam sejarah tamadun Islam ialah dialog intra-agama atau perdebatan di kalangan masyarakat Islam sendiri di hadapan pemerintah. Khalifah-khalifah Abasiyyah seperti Harun al-Rashid dan al-Ma'mun misalnya terkenal sebagai khalifah yang selalu mengadakan perdebatan ilmiah di istana dan kadangkala risiko perdebatan tersebut amat berat iaitu kehilangan nyawa di pihak yang kalah.

Dialog antara agama dalam tamadun Islam juga tidak sekadar berlaku dalam bentuk pertemuan dua pihak secara secara hakiki. Yang lebih utama, interaksi antara agama berlaku dalam bentuk-bentuk ilmiah yang lain. Terdapat sekurang-kurangnya dua bentuk interaksi atau pendekatan tamadun Islam terhadap agama lain iaitu:

i. Jawapan ilmiah (radd) terutama oleh golongan mutakallimun terhadap doktrin agama lain, seperti yang ditulis oleh Ibn Taymiyyah dan Fakhr al-Din al-Razi dalam karya mereka Radd 'ala al-Nasara. Begitu juga dengan tulisan al-Biruni, Kitab al-Hind.

ii. Tulisan berbentuk heresiografi (penjelasan mengenai pelbagai kelompok agama serta pegangan utama mereka) seperti karya Imam al-Ash'ari Maqalat Islamiyyin, al-Shahrastani Milal wa al-Nihal, 'Abd al-Qahir al-Baghdadi Farq bayn al-Firaq.

Keperluan Dialog Agama Masa Kini

Dekad-dekad mutakhir ini menyaksikan seruan untuk melakukan dialog agama semakin kuat walaupun ia masih diperingkat awal. "It is still", kata Alan Race dan Shafer "in its infancy".[11] Keperluan dialog antara agama dizaman ini dikaitkan dengan corak kehidupan manusia yang lebih pluralistik akibat dari arus globalisasi. Jarang sekali berlaku wujudnya sebuah negara yang tidak didiami oleh masyarakat yang pelbagai sementara sistem demokrasi yang diamalkan disebahagian besar negara di dunia yang menonjolkan aspek hak asasi manusia dan kebebasan beragama kadangkala memerlukan interaksi dan tasamuh (tolerance) yang lebih tinggi di kalangan penduduk berbilang agama. Justeru suasana interaksi agama yang dahulunya lebih bersifat monolog harus berubah kepada dialog.[12]

Selain dari itu, timbul masalah-masalah baru seperti ektremisme agama yang kadangkala bukan sahaja memberi kesan buruk kepada penganut agama lain malah kepada penganut agama itu sendiri. Tindakan sekelompok masyarakat bertindak atas nama agama dengan membunuh, mengebom manusia lain yang tidak berdosa adalah sesuatu yang tidak dibenarkan oleh mana-mana agama. Walaupun faktor yang membawa kepada tindakan tersebut serta keadaan psikologi mereka yang terlibat dapat difahami dan perlu diambil kira, tindakan yang dilakukan ternyata tidak menguntungkan sesiapa malah memberi kesan yang lebih buruk kepada hubungan antara agama. Justeru itu usaha dialog sama ada di peringkat dalaman di antara penganut agama itu sendiri dan juga dialog dengan agama lain adalah perlu untuk menjelaskan kedudukan sebenar kefahaman agama tersebut dan mengelakkan kesilapfahaman.

Persoalan lain yang timbul ialah kewujudan common enemies di kalangan pelbagai agama yang menjadi ancaman bukan sahaja kepada sesuatu agama akan tetapi kesemua agama. Misalnya dalam keadaan kehidupan penduduk dunia yang semakin sekular dan berteraskan kebendaan, timbul keperluan di kalangan penganut-penganut agama untuk bersama berganding bahu menentang aliran-aliran ini dari mempengaruhi kefahaman agama-agama mereka.

Begitu juga dengan isu-isu yang bersifat sosio-politik semasa seperti kerosakan alam sekitar, kemiskinan, ancaman nuklear, kepanasan global kesemuanya memerlukan suaran dari kelompok agamawan dan boleh menjadi pendorong utama kelompok-kelompok agama untuk bersama-sama menyatakan pendirian mereka.

Dari sudut yang lebih kecil, terdapat juga masalah-masalah dalaman yang bersifat teknikal yang kadangkala berkait dengan agama. Misalnya dalam konteks Malaysia, beberapa isu tentang pentadbiran agama dan perlaksanaan undang-undang yang memberikan kesan terhadap agama seperti pembinaan kuil, sistem mahkamah sivil dan shari'ah. Perkara-perkara ini sudah pasti memerlukan tindakan proaktif dari kelompok-kelompok agama untuk duduk berbincang dan cuba menawarkan penyelesaian terhadap masalah-masalah tersebut dengan penuh kebijaksanaan.

Penyelesaian terhadap semua masalah ini akan memastikan keharmonian dan kerukunan hidup antara masyarakat beragama akan terjamin. Ini merupakan landasan yang paling penting dalam kehidupan manusia yang mengesahkan lagi keperluan terhadap dialog antara agama. Walaupun dialog sebegini agak lebih pragmatik dan bukan cerminan bentuk interaksi antara agama yang berlaku dalam sejarah dan tamadun yang lalu, ia merupakan keperluan semasa yang tidak dapat dinafikan kepentingannya.

Dua Peringkat Dialog Antara Agama

Berdasarkan kepada pemerhatian di atas, dialog antara agama boleh berlaku dalam dua peringkat. Kedua peringkat ini amat berkait dengan tujuan ia diadakan:

i. Pertama dialog yang lebih khusus dengan tujuan menjelaskan kebenaran agama masing-masing dan mengelakkan kesilapfahaman di kalangan penganut agama lain. Asas kepada dialog bentuk ini ialah menjalin persefahaman. Ia bukan bertujuan untuk mengubah mana-mana doktrin agama akan tetapi untuk menjelaskan dengan lebih lanjut mengenai kepercayaan dan kefahaman agama masing-masing. Ia mungkin menjadi bentuk perdebatan, akan tetapi ia harus dilakukan dengan ilmiah dan sihat. Di peringkat ini, dialog harus diwakili oleh para ilmuwan yang berwibawa dari kedua-dua belah pihak. Sebaiknya ia dijalankan secara tertutup dengan dihadiri oleh mereka yang benar-benar faham mengenai maudu' yang dibahaskan.

ii. Dialog yang menumpukan terhadap penyelesaian masalah-masalah semasa yang lebih berkait dengan urusan pentadbiran agama dan masaalah-masaalah semasa. Tujuan dialog bentuk ini ialah untuk menjamin kelangsungan keharmonian dalam kehidupan bersama. Ia bersifat lebih pragmatik dalam erti kata membahaskan masalah-masalah yang timbul yang memberi kesan langsung kepada keharmonian kehidupan bersama masyarakat beragama. Ia termasuk membincangkan persoalan common enemies yang dihadapi oleh setiap agama seperti aliran-aliran sekular, kepentingan prinsip-prinsip etika yang dapat dikongsi bersama. Ia bukan untuk berkompromi mengenai nilai-nilai agama yang dipegang oleh setiap agama akan tetapi mencari titik pertemuan yang dapat dijadikan titik tolak tasamuh antara penganut-penganut agama. Seperti yang dianjurkan oleh Walter Brandmuller, seorang ahli sejarah Vatican yang mengatakan bahawa "dialogue cannot mean that I am looking for a middle ground between Islam and Christianity. I cannot question whether two plus two equals four or five." The goal of Christian-Muslim dialogue is not so much to reach consensus, but "to understand the issues so we can coexist peacefully." [13] Persoalan ekstremisme agama yang wujud dalam setiap masyarakat beragama juga dapat diketengahkan dalam dialog seperti ini.

Perkara-Perkara yang Harus Diawasi dalam Dialog

Dalam keghairahan menjalankan dialog antara agama, terdapat juga perkara-perkara yang harus dielakkan. Antara lain ialah kecenderungan untuk menyamakan kebenaran antara agama dengan menganjurkan faham pluralisme agama. Kita tidak menentang pluralisme agama sekiranya ia bermaksud kehidupan bersama pelbagai penganut agama dalam satu wilayah untuk hidup dalam keadaan harmoni. Malah tasamuh dan keterbukaan bentuk ini sudah lama wujud dalam Islam sejak dahulu lagi seperti yang telah dijelaskan. Akan tetapi pluralisme yang ditolak ialah kefahaman bahawa semua agama sama dari segi kebenaran dan tidak ada agama yang boleh mendakwa kebenaran lebih dari agama lain. Sebaliknya prinsip yang harus dipegang ialah seperti mana yang dianjurkan oleh al-Qur'an bahawa "Bagi kamu agama kamu dan bagiku agamaku" (lakum dinukum wa liyadin). Adalah amat penting ditegaskan bahawa pengakuan kebenaran eksklusif sesuatu agama bukan bermakna tidak bersifat tasamuh (intolerance) dengan agama lain.

Yang kedua ialah kecenderungan untuk membuang kemutlakan agama dengan menafikan aspek kesucian dan kemutlakan setiap agama sepertimana yang dianjurkan oleh beberapa penulis-penulis dalam bidang ini.[14] Walaupun tujuan anjuran ini adalah untuk membuka ruang keterbukaan yang lebih kepada semua agama untuk berdialog, namun ia adalah sesuatu yang tidak perlu, malah sudah pasti tidak akan dipersetujui oleh mana-mana penganut agama yang meyakini akan kebenaran agama mereka. Yang lebih wajar dianjurkan ialah di samping kepercayaan tentang kemutlakan agama masing-masing, setiap penganut harus dapat membezakan antara kemutlakan agama yang benar dan ketidaksempurnaan penganut-penganut yang mengamalkan agama tersebut. Masalah-masalah yang berlaku antara agama sebahagiannya bukan disebabkan ajaran agama, akan tetapi kelemahan dan kejahilan penganut agama tersebut dalam memahami agama asing-masing.

________________________________________

[1] Dibentang dalam "Muzakarah Pendisiplinan Dialog Antara Agama dan Peradaban" pada 22 Januari, 2008, di Institut Kefahaman Islam Malaysia (IKIM), Kuala Lumpur.
[2] Penulis bertugas sebagai pensyarah di Jabatan Usuluddin dan Perbandingan Agama, Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Malaysia (UIAM).
[3] Fowler's Modern Usage Dictionary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), 166.
[4] Leonard Swidler, "Religious Pluralism and Ecumenism from Christian Perspective", in Religious Issues and Interreligious Dialogues: Analysis and Sourcebook of Developments since 1945, ed. Charles Wei-hsun Fu, Gehard E. Spiegler (New York:Greenwood Press, 1989), 338.
[5] Lihat misalnya perbahasan Prof. Syed Muhammad Naquib al-Attas mengenai pandangan alam Islam dan juga perbezaannya dengan pandangan alam yang terpancar dalam tamadun lain dalam karya-karya beliau seperti Islam and Secularism, cetakan semula (Kuala Lumpur: ISTAC, 2001), Prolegomena to the Metaphysics of Islam (Kuala Lumpur: ISTAC, 1995) dan Risalah untuk Kaum Muslimin (Kuala Lumpur: ISTAC, 2001).
[6] Abdul Rahman Haji Abdullah, Sejarah dan Tamadun Islam (Kuala Lumpur: Teks Publishing, 1988), 213-214.
[7] Dipetik dalam Tamara Sonn, "The Dialog between Islam and the Judeo-Christian Tradition", Religious Issues and Interreligious Dialogues: Analysis and Sourcebook of Developments since 1945, ed. Charles Wei-hsun Fu, Gehard E. Spiegler (New York: Greenwood Press, 1989), 338.
[8] "Muslim-Christian Ties in Europe: Past, Present and Future", Second International Seminar on Civilizational Dialogue: Japan, Islam and the West (Kuala Lumpur, 2-3 September 1996), dipetik dalam http://www.i-p-o.org/ice.htm.
[9] Philip Hitti, History of the Arabs, 10th ed. (New York: St. Martin Press,1970),196.
[10] Lihat Dusuki Ahmad, Ikhtisar Perkembangan Islam (Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, 1983), 347-358.
[11] Alan Race & Ingrid Shafer, Religions in Dialogue (Hants: Ashgate, 2002), 3.
[12] Ibid.
[13] http://www.beliefnet.com/story/185/story_18594_1.html]
[14] Lihat misalnya tulisan Leonard Swidler, "From Age of Monologue to the Age of Global Dialogue", Religions in Dialogue, ed. Alan Race & Ingrid Shafer (Hants: Ashgate, 2002),8.

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Busted! The Myth of the Rising Per Capita Income

Newspaper cutting from Cakap Tak Serupa Bikin blog

Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop, Minister of Finance II claimed in Penang Saturday that the Per Capita Income rose by 40% throughout the premiership of Dato Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. With the economy in such a pathetic state for the past few years, does that make sense?

Mind you, this is not the first strange economic numbers churned by the Treasury. Last year saw an avalanche of ridiculously big numbers – RM1 trillion total trade, unfathomable amount of projects and planned spending, and the world’s first ranged economic forecast for Budget 2008.

That’s last year and Cakap Tak Serupa Bikin blog made a good compilation of those Carl Sagan-ic numbers. Remember his trademark “…billions and billions of stars and planets ...”.

Since last year, economic observers may have been seeing stars from the dizzying height of economic spinning. It has gotten worse. The MoF claimed that Malaysia is the world’s 6th most competitive nation, but it turned out Malaysia’s rank worsened by 1 to 23. Don’t tell me someone wrongly advised the MoF. Anyone with any economic common sense will know it is ridiculous!

The misleading information and factual errors coming out from Minister of Finance I & II is putting the country in danger. General Election or not, I am not about to take this crap. This calls for the job of the Economic Myth Buster!

Nor Yakcop claimed that per capita income rose from RM15,819 (2004) to RM22,345 (2007). Looking at the Stats Dept website, the 2007 numbers look fine but still suspiciously unreal.


You don’t call the Economic Mythbuster for nothing, do you?

Per Capita Income (PCI) (sometimes called National Income or Personal Income) is derived by dividing the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by the population. There are number reasons to believe Nor Yakcop’s claim as suspicious.

  • If the population is assumed as not growing, our GDP should rise by 40% from 2004 to 2007. That is not true since the Ministry of Finance reported growth for 2005, 2006 and 2007 at 5.0%, 5.9% and estimated 6.0%, respectively. That’s only a simple total of GDP growth of 16.9%.
  • Since Stat Dept. reported Malaysian population rose from 25.58 million (2004) to 27.17 million (2007), such 40% PCI increase can only be achieved with a GDP growth of a whopping 50%!


  • Tony Pua is of the view that 40% PCI increase can only be achieved if “our population shrunk by some 16%!”
  • He added that “To achieve 40% growth, Malaysia must be growing in excess of 12% per annum”. Since our annual population growth is mere 2%, “… that will actually make Malaysia the fastest growing economy in Asia, outstripping even China and India.”

Yummy! Now for the spinning and misrepresentation part.

By calculating backward the population and the number mentioned in Nor Yakcop’s statement, one could derive the GDP figure as RM607.1 billion (2007) and RM404.7 (2004).

Is the GDP number correct?

Gross Domestic Product represents the total amount of goods and services transacted in the domestic economy. Since it is based on purchasers’ price, the GDP and PCI figure depends on what price is used. If it is based on actual or current prices, it would be as per the table below:


However, that does not reflect the effective or real GDP economic growth. The number may have grown because of rising prices (which is actually happening) and not actually due to more economic transaction. Economist would usually calculate based on the price level at a certain benchmark year.

Using the year 2000 as benchmark, our figures becomes as below:


Wait a minute; I know what you are going to say when you see 3-year PCI is 11%. Step by step please.

All the figures are then compiled below:


Nor Yakcop seemed to have lowered the 2004 GDP by using inflation-adjusted constant price figure. Whilst, the 2007 GDP figure seemed to be increased by using non-inflation-adjusted current price figures. In simple word, there was the manipulation to lower the smaller figure and raising the larger number.

Wow, it reminds me of the ECM Libra and Avenue Merger!

Apart from the suspiciously fraudulent figure, there are other observations that can be derived:

  • By the simple calculation to subtract 11.0% from 24.1% PCI figures, it could mean that inflation is about 13.1% or by a simple averaging over 3 years of 4.4% p.a. Does it make sense that our annual inflation is claimed as only around 2-3% p.a.?


  • With an average population growth of 2% p.a., growth of an average 6% is a pathetic economic management, isn’t it? Imagine, if Malaysia is not an oil producer?

You are Busted, Nor Yakcop!

Over to partner Lara Croft. Deal with em, Lara.

Foreign investors and corporate business rely on economic stats and statements from officials for decision making and planning.

Spinning economic figure is a misrepresentation of the true economic situation of the country. Such unethical practise puts a bad light on the integrity of our Government and leaders.

It would be extremely difficult to convince and attract investment from investors that already distrust the credibility of the officials. That is only the case of spinning but the MoF I & II is now caught for outright lying!

Some apologist may say that MoF I is there merely to reduce political squabbling for the coveted position. Abdullah should be excused since he is not trained in economics. It is believed he failed in his statistics, flunked out of the University Malaya's Economics Faculty, and switch and graduate in Islamic studies.

If that excuse is accepted, it is incumbent on Nor Yakcop to provide the proper advice. He possesses an MBA from INSEAP and served BNM for many years. As one fluent in foreign exchange, he is expected to be familiar with economics – if not developmental economics or political economy or econometric, the least is basic macroeconomics. Instead of correcting the lies, he is now part and parcel of it.

There are many well trained personnel in EPU. Are they both utilising the expertise within the Ministry such as Wharton-trained economist Deputy MoF, Dato Dr Awang Adek Hussein and within the Civil Service? Or merely listening to the inexperienced legal and accounting-trained Tingkat 4 boys!

With or without the advice, MoF I & II must have the common sense to appreciate and understand the numbers. This is outright incompetence. The Prime Minister should not be holding this post if he is inadequate to carryout his responsibility and unfit to supervise his subordinates. He should appoint someone truly capable as Minister of Finance.

For Nor Yakcop, he should resign for making those outright lies! He has stretch his good luck far enough since the gigantum loss in hi smanagement of the nation’s foreign reserve.

That’s enough, Lara. You can follow me home now.

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

Musical Interlude: Thick As A Brick



Really don't mind if you sit this one out.

My words but a whisper -- your deafness a SHOUT.
I may make you feel but I can't make you think.
Your sperm's in the gutter -- your love's in the sink.
So you ride yourselves over the fields and
you make all your animal deals and
your wise men don't know how it feels to be thick as a brick.
And the sand-castle virtues are all swept away in
the tidal destruction
the moral melee.
The elastic retreat rings the close of play as the last wave uncovers
the newfangled way.
But your new shoes are worn at the heels and
your suntan does rapidly peel and
your wise men don't know how it feels to be thick as a brick.

And the love that I feel is so far away:
I'm a bad dream that I just had today -- and you
shake your head and
say it's a shame.

Spin me back down the years and the days of my youth.
Draw the lace and black curtains and shut out the whole truth.
Spin me down the long ages: let them sing the song.

See there! A son is born -- and we pronounce him fit to fight.
There are black-heads on his shoulders, and he pees himself in the night.
We'll
make a man of him
put him to trade
teach him
to play Monopoly and
to sing in the rain.

The Poet and the painter casting shadows on the water --
as the sun plays on the infantry returning from the sea.
The do-er and the thinker: no allowance for the other --
as the failing light illuminates the mercenary's creed.
The home fire burning: the kettle almost boiling --
but the master of the house is far away.
The horses stamping -- their warm breath clouding
in the sharp and frosty morning of the day.
And the poet lifts his pen while the soldier sheaths his sword.

And the youngest of the family is moving with authority.
Building castles by the sea, he dares the tardy tide to wash them all aside.

The cattle quietly grazing at the grass down by the river
where the swelling mountain water moves onward to the sea:
the builder of the castles renews the age-old purpose
and contemplates the milking girl whose offer is his need.
The young men of the household have
all gone into service and
are not to be expected for a year.
The innocent young master -- thoughts moving ever faster --
has formed the plan to change the man he seems.
And the poet sheaths his pen while the soldier lifts his sword.

And the oldest of the family is moving with authority.
Coming from across the sea, he challenges the son who puts him to the run.

What do you do when
the old man's gone -- do you want to be him? And
your real self sings the song.
Do you want to free him?
No one to help you get up steam --
and the whirlpool turns you `way off-beam.

LATER.
I've come down from the upper class to mend your rotten ways.
My father was a man-of-power whom everyone obeyed.
So come on all you criminals!
I've got to put you straight just like I did with my old man --
twenty years too late.
Your bread and water's going cold.
Your hair is too short and neat.
I'll judge you all and make damn sure that no-one judges me.

You curl your toes in fun as you smile at everyone -- you meet the stares.
You're unaware that your doings aren't done.
And you laugh most ruthlessly as you tell us what not to be.
But how are we supposed to see where we should run?
I see you shuffle in the courtroom with
your rings upon your fingers and
your downy little sidies and
your silver-buckle shoes.
Playing at the hard case, you follow the example of the comic-paper idol
who lets you bend the rules.

So!
Come on ye childhood heroes!
Won't you rise up from the pages of your comic-books
your super crooks
and show us all the way.
Well! Make your will and testament. Won't you?
Join your local government.
We'll have Superman for president
let Robin save the day.

You put your bet on number one and it comes up every time.
The other kids have all backed down and they put you first in line.
And so you finally ask yourself just how big you are --
and take your place in a wiser world of bigger motor cars.
And you wonder who to call on.

So! Where the hell was Biggles when you needed him last Saturday?
And where were all the sportsmen who always pulled you though?
They're all resting down in Cornwall --
writing up their memoirs for a paper-back edition
of the Boy Scout Manual.

LATER.
See there! A man born -- and we pronounce him fit for peace.
There's a load lifted from his shoulders with the discovery of his disease.
We'll
take the child from him
put it to the test
teach it
to be a wise man
how to fool the rest.

QUOTE
We will be geared to the average rather than the exceptional
God is an overwhelming responsibility
we walked through the maternity ward and saw 218 babies wearing nylons
cats are on the upgrade
upgrade? Hipgrave. Oh, Mac.

LATER
In the clear white circles of morning wonder,
I take my place with the lord of the hills.
And the blue-eyed soldiers stand slightly discoloured (in neat little rows)
sporting canvas frills.
With their jock-straps pinching, they slouch to attention,
while queueing for sarnies at the office canteen.
Saying -- how's your granny and
good old Ernie: he coughed up a tenner on a premium bond win.

The legends (worded in the ancient tribal hymn) lie cradled
in the seagull's call.
And all the promises they made are ground beneath the sadist's fall.
The poet and the wise man stand behind the gun,
and signal for the crack of dawn.
Light the sun.

Do you believe in the day? Do you?
Believe in the day! The Dawn Creation of the Kings has begun.
Soft Venus (lonely maiden) brings the ageless one.
Do you believe in the day?
The fading hero has returned to the night -- and fully pregnant with the day,
wise men endorse the poet's sight.
Do you believe in the day? Do you? Believe in the day!

Let me tell you the tales of your life of
your love and the cut of the knife
the tireless oppression
the wisdom instilled
the desire to kill or be killed.
Let me sing of the losers who lie in the street as the last bus goes by.
The pavements ar empty: the gutters run red -- while the fool
toasts his god in the sky.

So come all ye young men who are building castles!
Kindly state the time of the year and join your voices in a hellish chorus.
Mark the precise nature of your fear.
Let me help you pick up your dead as the sins of the father are fed
with
the blood of the fools and
the thoughts of the wise and
from the pan under your bed.
Let me make you a present of song as
the wise man breaks wind and is gone while
the fool with the hour-glass is cooking his goose and
the nursery rhyme winds along.

So! Come all ye young men who are building castles!
Kindly state the time of the year and join your voices in a hellish chorus.
Mark the precise nature of your fear.
See! The summer lightning casts its bolts upon you
and the hour of judgement draweth near.
Would you be
the fool stood in his suit of armour or
the wiser man who rushes clear.
So! Come on ye childhood heroes!
Won't your rise up from the pages of your comic-books
your super-crooks and
show us all the way.
Well! Make your will and testament.
Won't you? Join your local government.
We'll have Superman for president
let Robin save the day.
So! Where the hell was Biggles when you needed him last Saturday?
And where were all the sportsmen who always pulled you through?
They're all resting down in Cornwall -- writing up their memoirs
for a paper-back edition of the Boy Scout Manual.

OF COURSE
So you ride yourselves over the fields and
you make all your animal deals and
your wise men don't know how it feels to be thick as a brick.


-- Jethro Tull


As the story unfold here ...

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Xin Nian Kuai Le


According to legend, in ancient China, the Nián as a man-eating beast from the mountains (in other versions from under the sea), which came out every 12 months somewhere close to winter to prey on humans. The people later believed that the Nian was sensitive to loud noises and the colour red, so they scared it away with explosions, fireworks and the liberal use of the colour red. These customs led to the first New Year celebrations. Guò nián, which means to celebrate the new year, literally means the passover of the Nian.

It is unclear when the beginning of the year was celebrated before the Qin Dynasty. Traditionally, the year was said to have begun with month 1 during the Xia Dynasty, month 12 during the Shang Dynasty, and month 11 during the Zhou Dynasty. However, records show that the Zhou Dynasty began its year with month 1. Intercalary months, used to keep the lunar calendar synchronized with the sun, were added after month 12 during both the Shang Dynasty (according to surviving oracle bones) and the Zhou Dynasty (according to Sima Qian). The first Emperor of China Qin Shi Huang changed the beginning of the year to month 10 in 221 BC, also changing the location of the intercalary month to after month 9. Whether the New Year was celebrated at the beginning of month 10, of month 1, or both is unknown. In 104 BC, Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty established month 1 as the beginning of the year, where it remains.

This year is the year of the earth rat. The Online Chinese Astrology interpret the year as follows:

After two fire years, life may seem calmer during this Earth year. That could be deceptive, however, as the Rat never stops moving, especially when it comes to mental activity.

Unfortunately, Earth has a destructive relationship with the Rat's fixed element, Water. This is not disastrous, but it does mean people should not rely too much on luck this year.

On the other hand, the combination of Earth and Rat is extremely positive when it comes to achieving results. The Rat tends to take a lot of risks, while Earth is associated with practicality and stability. This creates balance and can lead to good profits, increased productivity and all sorts of accomplishments. And, under Earth's influence, there could be fewer scandals than in other Rat years.
In view of a stagflation looming in the United States and an expected global repercussion, it is a good advise to not rely on luck alone but creativity, and resoursefulness. With much risk taking and practicality, the expected tumoultous year coudl be a year of accomplishments.

Having that in mind, I would like to wish all Chinese Bloggers and readers, Malaysians and others, a good and prosperous new lunar year. Drive safely for your family gathering.

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Old, The New and The Overeager

Latest January 30th picture of the Cabinet Minister (from NST Online). Will it be a last hurrah for many?

Syed Nazri's article in the NST today, "Learn the art of the graceful exit" revealed several interesting fact:

  • The average age of the 31 cabinet ministers is 59, disproportionate for a country with about 70 per cent of its population under 40.
  • The average is not expected to be any lower for the nearly 800 elected representatives in the Dewan Rakyat and state assemblies.
  • More than half of the ministers have served for more than two terms in cabinet.
  • One third of the cabinet members are 64 and above.
An interesting observation from a quote, "I remember (Datuk Seri Dr) Lim Keng Yaik (LKY) being appointed as minister with special functions in charge of new villages (in 1972) when I was in secondary school. Today, I am about to become a grandfather, and he is still in the cabinet."

Retiring LKY, 69-year-old Minister of Energy, Water and Communications and 26 years Gerakan President became Minister when Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said was just 9.

Other than LKY, the long serving politicians are Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu (29 years MIC President and Cabinet Minister), Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz (30 years MP, 28 years Minister), Lim Kit Siang (De Facto DAP leader since 1969), DAP Chairman Karpal Singh (34 years in active politics), Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud (Cabinet Minister in 1972 and 27 years Chief Minister) and PAS Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat (40 years elected representative).

Since 2004 UMNO General Assembly, Dato Najib has been mentioning of "meremajakan UMNO" which literally talks of youth but meant as reinvigorating UMNO. Abdullah's speech at a briefing to the party's grassroots leaders in Kuala Lumpur a fortnight ago, had given "insinuation to get everyone prepared for a regeneration in the party".

Abdullah spoke that of "Malaysian society ... well-informed and educated and the information age had opened up new frontiers". Some of the ministers, it is said, do not even know how to retrieve an email or send a text message.

The atrition process is normal and some old warlord will need to be dispensed. Despite the plea and claim of "services and sacrifices", many old faces will have to make way. This is usually a natural process in UMNO. Will it be really be significant this time around? The Toyol Code conspiracy will be affirmed any day now.

In the midst of the exuberance of the young and eager, the reminder by Dato Abdul Aziz Shamsuddin in Bernama Malay news Februari 3hb, 2008 is timely.

He said that many aspire to be people' representative after just two three years in politics. He served as political secretary to Tun Dr Mahathir for 19 years without requesting to seek office as State Assemblymen or Member of Parliament.

He gave a passing shot to emphasised that he did not interfere with the administration but focus only on his assigned job. What was he refering to? Who would dare interfere with the PM's administrative work?

70 year old Pak Aziz, as he is affectionately called in some circle, is believed to retire and his seat as Shah Alam Member of Parliament replaced by 63 year old former Selangor Menteri Besar, Tan Sri Muhammad bin Muhammad Taib. He will be 64 soon and will not be significant to bring the average age down. Could 68 year old Pak Lah (MP 20 years, Minister 20 years, PM 4 year) help?

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Monday, February 04, 2008

As LKY Second Fiddle WPI, Pak Lah Sleep in TENC

In the When LKY Speaks ... posting on January 8th, 2008, Lee Kuan Yew (LKY) gave a comforting but false hope on the state of the Malaysian economy. This is unusual for LKY and the fact is there is a looming global recession believed to head for a more complicated stagflation situation.

Underlying message hidden at the end of the news report was the comforting words for WPI. With his reverse psychology moves, LKY had indirectly coyed Johor UMNO leaders to support WPI. Now UMNO Johor will have to face the General Election with WPI as a major issue. Usually comfortable in their entrenched "homeground", UMNO Johor is expected to face some resistance from PAS on the issue of WPI. In addition, this issue has been a source of dissatisfaction at the ground within UMNO Johor.

The saving grace for UMNO Johor is that PKR is acting like a spoiler that will result in 3-way fight in some areas. In politics, it is not usually as straight forward as that. It could be deliberately designed to split votes?

Again, is LKY campaigning for Pak Lah? Is he not for PAP's off-spring, DAP? If there is any doubt, news report on LKY emanating from Singapore and foreign press over the weekend somewhat confirms it. Throughout this term, DAP has been noticably avoiding personal criticism on Pak Lah.

Repeating the same warning, when LKY speaks, damn it listen properly for there is some insidious intention. LKY is second fiddling but Pak Lah is asleep, naked in The Emperor's New Clothes - lost in the encore, praises and grandeur of 5th floor - and not realising the looming threat.

Second Fiddling of Malaysia

The news report from Singapore's Channel Newsasia below:

MM Lee says S'pore and Malaysia will benefit from closer connectivity

By May Wong, Channel NewsAsia
1 February 2008

SINGAPORE : Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew has said Singapore and Malaysia will benefit from closer connectivity and collaboration.

In fact, he believes Malaysia will stand to gain even more than Singapore in the long run.

Mr Lee made this point while elaborating on a comment he had made at an Institute of Policy Studies conference on Friday morning.

At that conference, Mr Lee was asked whether Singapore needs to have a hinterland, which is Malaysia, in order to grow into a global city.

Later Mr Lee told reporters on the sidelines that he wants Malaysian leaders to know that Singapore is ready to work with them to grow together.

And Malaysia should view Singapore in the spirit of cooperation and acceptance instead of competition and antipathy.

Citing Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi's proposal of the Iskandar Development Region, or IDR, as a move in the right direction, Mr Lee said Singapore will do what it can to make the IDR succeed.

In this way, both countries can get maximum value out of the cooperation.

Another win-win possibility is faster rail and air travel between Singapore and Malaysia.

Although a previous proposal for a fast rail system between them has yet to materialise, Mr Lee said Singapore welcomes it. Malaysia too, he said, must believe it would definitely be a win-win situation.

In the immediate phase of closer connectivity, Mr Lee said Singapore will gain a little more because the city state is more connected to the outside world.

But in the long term, Malaysia will make the bigger gain because of its larger capital mass and bigger human resource pool. - CNA/ch

Taking the cue from the last sentence of the report, it is actually saying Malaysia will eventually gain but it is not immediate. That is what differs from Dr Mahathir's development approach.

LKY hit at Dr Mahathir for attempting to make Singapore play a secondary role to Malaysia. There is no response from UMNO to correct the objective of the time, which was "you go your way and we go our way".

If one were to recall, LKY and the Singapore leaders made an issue of Malaysian ports competing with their ports. What cock and bull talk of meritocrasy?! They actually fear competition. Malaysia was building it's own port to keep more of the services and invisible portion of our trade balance for shipping, insurance etc. from sipping out of the country. To be able to compete, it would be a bonus.

All one need to do is observe and be a bit more analytical of LKY's comments. It is becoming more crystal clear that their intention for WPI and Malaysia is to play a secondary role to Singapore.

The four areas of cooperation with Singapore are immigration, environment, tourism, and transportation only serve for Malaysia to play supporting role to Singapore. Immigration helps to assist, not so much Singaporean to work or shop here but to ease Malaysians to work there. The environment serves to keep safeguard their water supply and their eventual tourism interest. The high roller and big spender spend money at the Singapore casinos and high class tourist facility, the family tourism and affordable shopping is in Johor.

For transportation, all roads, rail and air leads to Singapore. Thanks to an impending direct rail project to Singapore, existing spoiler Air Asia and cancellation of double tracking project.

To convince further of LKY's second fiddling of Malaysia, read this news article from Reuters of the same function:

Singapore should not be as crowded as Hong Kong: Lee

Reuters Fri Feb 1, 2008

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore's drive to increase its population should not leave the city-state as crowded as Hong Kong, Lee Kuan Yew, the country's former prime minister, was quoted as saying in local media on Saturday. The Singapore government said last year it wants to add another two million people to expand the island's population to 6.5 million over the next 40 to 50 years -- mostly through immigration -- to drive economic growth in the city-state, where there is a low birth rate and a graying population.

"I have not quite been sold on the idea that we should have 6.5 million," Lee, the first prime minister of modern Singapore, was quoted as saying in the Straits Times.

He said Singapore should not become as crowded as Hong Kong where it has "just solid buildings, one blocking the sunlight of the other".

"There's an optimum size for the land that we have, to preserve the open spaces and the sense of comfort," Lee said.

Singapore, which competes with Hong Kong to be the Asian headquarters for financial services firms, is seen to have an edge over the former British colony's proximity to China by being less crowded and polluted.

Singapore has a population of 4.7 million people and according to a 2003 U.N. study, was the world's third most densely populated area after Hong Kong and Macau.

Frankly, it is not for 40-50 years but much sooner than that. Singapore is expanding it's population by inviting migration from certain countries.

With a property boom and prices at exorbitant level, does Singapore have the space and economics to expand it's population at such a fast rate? This is not really a question but a self answered question.

Is it for this reason that this blogger has endlessly been calling WPI as purely a property play development? The TV campaigning on RTM highlighted WPI as Metropolis twice the size of Singapore? Is this for real or mere hype?

In his speech, LKY spoke of Singapore turning into an Asian Global City. Does it make sense to have a Metropolis and a Global City within a stone throw? It only leads to the realistic evenutality of an integrated city with WPI as the suburb or retreat for Singapore.

Other than property and the usual claim for bio-tech & agriculture, IT, education, logistic related petroleum, the much talked about economic sector promoted is creative sector. What is creative sector? It's media, communication, film making, and related activities? How much of a multiplier effect can it boost the local ecoomy compared to industrialisation?

In all those economic sectors mentioned, except petroleum logistics, whats the blueprint to develop the sector?

Tun Musa Hitam spoke of avoiding the manufacturing sector due to foreign labour issues. However, Singapore is remain focus towards it despite their more developed status. They invested in Pulau Batam and Pulau Bintan as labour intensive manufacturing centre. Singapore's Economic Development Board (EDB) pursue manufacturing FDI to attract EMS, Intel, Opid, and Epitary Wafer.

The Malaysian political leadership and IRDA planners of WPI are happy playing second fiddle and dreaming a big city.

Messed Up Foreign and Defense Policy

On the foreign policy front, Singapore has silently taken "leadership" of Asean, a regional grouping initiated by our Tun Abdul Razak and the recently died, General Suharto. Asean had maintained a ZOPFAN policy and hands off policy on it's members domestic affairs.

With Singapore exerting more influence on behalf of Uncle Sam, Malaysia went along to apply pressure on Myanmar's domestic issue.

Increasingly, this seige mentality state is taking more millitary leadership in Asean. With full awareness that Singapore main paranoia is Malaysia, we went along.
Strong S’pore-Malaysia ties help advance peace in region: Minister Teo

By Julia Ng, Channel NewsAsia
30 January 2008

KUALA LUMPUR : Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean has said Southeast Asian countries need to respond to the changing strategic environment.

He added that bilateral defence cooperation between Singapore and Malaysia can contribute to peace and stability in the region.

Mr Teo was speaking at the Malaysian Armed Forces Defence College on Wednesday.

The Minister also shared Singapore’s perspectives on the security challenges facing the region.

He also discussed how Singapore is promoting multilateral security cooperation such as the development of an open and inclusive ASEAN defence track.

Mr Teo also called on Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi on Wednesday afternoon.

During their meeting, they discussed bilateral ties as well as regional issues. - CNA/ms
As BigDog point out, did our Defense Ministers, Dato’ Seri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak (1990-1995), (1999-2003) and Dato’ Seri Syed Hamid Al Bar (1995-1999), ever received invitation from the Prime Ministers of Singapore?

Pak Lah is not only sleeping up there but naked in The Emperor's New Clothes (TENC) and lost in the perception of grandeur and greatness.

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