Malaysian Chinese Forum kicks off with a bang; Chua-Lim showdown!

Soi Lek fires salvos at Guan Eng ahead of debate

Chua: People the winner in the debate

Chua and Penang chief minister Guan Eng agreed to keep the debate professional and not as a platform to decide who is the winner or loser.

KUALA LUMPUR: The people has emerged as the ultimate winner in the debate between the MCA and DAP here today as it allowed the Malaysian public to evaluate for themselves the policies and stands of the Barisan Nasional and the opposition.

“The winner is the rakyat and not Lim Guan Eng (DAP secretary-general) or Chua Soi Lek,” said MCA president Dr Chua Soi Lek in a joint news conference soon after concluding the debate, which drew a hugh public interest, especially from the Chinese community and was telecast live on Astro, that is on Astro AEC and Awani.

“An engagement like this will allow the rakyat to see the stands of BN and Pakatan,” he said after the hour-long debate titled “Is the two-party system becoming a two-race system?” organised by the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (Asli) and MCA’s think-tank, Institute of Strategic Analysis and Policy Research (Insap).

Right from the beginning, Chua and his fellow debater, the Penang chief minister, agreed to keep the debate professional and not as a platform to decide who is the winner or loser.

The debate was conducted in Mandarin and was moderated by Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall chief executive officer Tan Ah Chai.

On a question whether both parties had answered the questions raised in the debate, Chua said he believed he could have provided better explanation if they were given more time and opportunity.

Meanwhile, Lim said the debate could be a good beginning to become a more matured democratic society, adding that such an event should be more frequently organised.

“I think this is something good and I hope this will not be the first and last. I feel it will open up the mind of our rakyat because issues must be debated rationally,” he said.

Lim said both he and Chua had agreed to meet again for another round of public debate, which would be in Bahasa Malaysia or English, and they would decide later on other details of the debate including topics, time and venue.

Lim added the ultimate debate that the people were awaiting to see would be between Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.


Andrew Ong
11:42AM Feb 18, 2012
MCA president Dr Chua Soi Lek kicked off the much anticipated ‘Malaysian Chinese At the Political Crossroads’ conference today with an all out verbal assault against Pakatan Rakyat, ahead of his debate against DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng.
Hall erupts as MCA, DAP titans face off
4:55PM Feb 18, 2012

Two of the most prominent Chinese politicians go head-to-head in a rare televised debate with MCA president Chua Soi Lek facing off DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng.

The debate topic is titled ‘Chinese at the crossroads: Is the two-party system becoming a two-race system?’.

chua soi lek and lim guan eng debateTensions runs high in the packed ballroom at the Berjaya Hotel, Kuala Lumpur with a 600-strong crowd.

About 200 more who failed to secure entry passes are viewing following the debate through a big screen outside the hall (left).


4.55pm: The ballroom erupts as rival supporters chant stands up to chant the respective names of the debators as they take the stage.

5pm: Moderator Tan Ah Chai, chief executive officer of the Kuala Lumpur-Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, kicks off the session by explaining the rules.

For the opening speeches, each debator will be allowed to speak for eight minutes.

5.02pm: The duo draw steps up to the moderator’s podium to lots enclosed in a envelope, to choose the first speaker. Chua Soi Lek will go first.

Debate Chua Soi Lek5.05pm: After March 8, 2008. DAP has been practising the politics of hatred, says Chua.

He adds DAP has changed and is now teaming up with PAS, which wants to implement a theocratic state. He says DAP cannot stop PAS.

“DAP is just talking big,” said Chua, triggering the first major applause from the floor, albiet from the MCA side.

He backs up his argument by stating that Kedah practice gender segregation while PAS is opposing to cinemas in Bangi, Selangor.

5.07pm: DAP likes to tell the Chinese that voting the opposition would improve living standards, pointing to how a DAP candidate can become a chief minister of Penang, says Chua.

Chua says DAP was giving false hopes to the Chinese that such a situation can happen in other states too.

5.10pm: Chua says that in multi-cultural country, Malaysians cannot support PAS because of its Islamic state agenda.

“Who is PAS’ biggest ally?” asks Chua, to which the MCA crowd shouts in unison “DAP!”.

Debate Lim Guan Eng5.12pm: It’s now Lim Guan Eng’s turn.

He thanks the organisers for organising the debate but says that what the public wants to see is a debate between PM Najib Razak and Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.

5.14pm: “We in Pakatan Rakyat don’t make use of each other. Our concern is how the public makes use of us.

“We aren’t against the Malays. We aren’t against the Chinese. We are against corruption,” says Lim, whipping the Pakatan crowd into a frenzy…


KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Chinese at a Political Crossroads forum kicked off with a bang Saturday as MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek brought down the house with his fiery opening speech.

Dr Chua appeared to be metaphorically rolling up his sleeves in preparation for his debate with political opponent, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng in the evening.

“He (Lim) is more interested in issuing countless statements to condemn or challenge others, behaving like a true street fighter. He has forgotten that he has a state to look after,” said Dr Chua to tumultous applause.

The forum, jointly-organised by the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute and MCA think-tank Insap, is being held at Berjaya Times Square here, with the highly-anticipated debate set to begin at 5pm.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak also could not resist referring to the Dr Chua-Lim showdown, saying with a grin that he heard there would be a “boxing match” in the evening.

“He (Chua) is going into the ring. As I can see from his speech, he is very well prepared.

“So we wish him all the very best, and as the boxing term goes, we hope he will punch above his weight,” quipped Najib in his speech.

Both DAP and MCA delegates as well as members of the public will comprise the 750-strong audience who will later witness the debate, which will be conducted in Mandarin.

Overseas radio listeners can tune in to The Star’s 988FM live broadcast via the station’s website.

Local listeners should tune in to these frequencies: Kedah, Perlis,Langkawi (FM96.1), Taiping (FM96.1/94.5), Kuantan and Pahang (FM90.4),north Johor and Malacca (FM98.2), Penang (FM94.5), Ipoh (FM99.8), KlangValley (FM98.8), Negri Sembilan (FM93.3) and south Johor and Singapore (FM99.9).

Astro AEC (Channel 301) will also air the debate live, with a repeat telecast at 11pm while live streaming is available via its website

Non-Mandarin speakers can watch the Bahasa Malaysia version on Astro Awani (Channel 501).

The debate will also be aired live on Astro AEC (Channel 301).

Unconventional Thinking: Small is Beautiful!

Cover of "Small Is Beautiful: Economics a...
Cover via Amazon

Lessons from unconventional thinking


AT a time when there is great awareness that mainstream economic theory is seriously flawed, many of us are looking for alternative models of economic thinking.

I have in my collection a book by an English economist EF Schumacher called Small is Beautiful, first published in 1973, but never read it. Last month, I finally read it and was overwhelmed by its brilliant and unconventional approach to economic thinking.

The book became almost cult reading when it came out 40 years ago, in the aftermath of the first energy crisis.

The author was a Jewish refugee from Germany to England who studied in Oxford and Columbia Universities. He became the Economic Advisor to the British National Coal Board and was sent in 1955 to work in Burma as an economic development advisor.

It was from his experience there, including staying in a Buddhist monastery that he evolved highly a non-Western way to consider human development, including living within the limits of natural resources and using intermediate technology.

This explains why Chapter 4 of this book was called Buddhist Economics.

The book is actually a collection of essays written at different times. Like his teachers, Keynes and John Kenneth Galbraith, Schumacher wrote in elegant and striking prose:-

“One of the most fateful errors of our age is the belief that the problem of production has been solved. The illusion… is mainly due to our inability to recognise that the modern industrial system, with all its intellectual sophistication, consumes the very basis on which it has been erected. To use the language of the economist, it lives on irreplaceable capital which it cheerfully treats as income.”

He immediately plunges into an attack on the whole philosophy of modern economics that reduces everything into monetary values as measured by GDP, arguing that the logic of limitless growth is wrong: “… that economic growth, which viewed from the point of view of economics, physics, chemistry, and technology, has no discernable limit must necessary run into decisive bottlenecks when viewed from the point of view of the environmental sciences. An attitude to life which seeks fulfilment in the single-minded pursuit of wealth in short, materialism does not fit into this world, because it contains within itself no limiting principle, while the environment in which it is placed is strictly limited.”

Being a system-wide thinker, he deplored the narrowness of economics:-

“Economists themselves, like most specialists, normally suffer from a kind of metaphysical blindness, assuming that theirs is a science of absolute and invariable truths, without any presuppositions.”

He was probably the earliest to recognise that the concepts of GDP ignored the costs of depletion of natural resources and the high social damage through pollution: “It is inherent in the methodology of economics to ignore man’s dependence on the natural world.”

Most recent reviewers of his book commended him on the accuracy of his forecasts (forty years ago) on population and the rate of consumption of energy resources.

Some reviewers consider that the book brilliantly explained the “Why” of the need to conserve, but not the “how”. I think he went deeper than that.

Schumacher was not just a social philosopher but a practical observer of large scale social organisations, particularly bureaucracies. The realist side of him can be found from this quote: “An ounce of practice is generally worth more than a ton of theory.”

Indeed, he was very insightful of the importance of smallness in large organisation. This was because as organisations become larger and larger, they become more impersonal.

He recognised the inherent contradictions within large organisations that have alternating phases of centralising and decentralising.

Here, he noted that the solution is not either-or, but the-one-and-the-other-at-the-same-time. In other words, contradictions and illogical situations are inherent in large systems.

This is because all organisations struggle to have “the orderliness of order and the disorderliness of creative freedom.” Every organisation struggles with the orderly administrator versus the creative (disorderly) entrepreneur or innovator.

From this basic contradiction, Schumacher has a theory of large-scale organisation divided into five principles, which are worthwhile researching further.

The first principle is Subsidiarity which is that the upper authority should delegate to the lower level powers where it is obvious that the lower levels can function more efficiently than the central authority.

The second principle is Vindication namely, governance by exception. The centre delegates and only intervenes under exceptional circumstances which are clearly defined.

The third principle is Identification the subsidiary must have clear accounting in the form of balance sheets and profit and loss account.

The fourth principle is Motivation here he recognises that motivation at the lower levels of large organisation is low if everything is directed from the top. This is where the values of the organisation become critical in addition to rewards in terms of money.

The fifth is the Principle of the Middle Axiom. He notes that “the centre can easily look after order; it is not so easy to look after freedom and creativity.”

The word “Axiom” means a self-evident truth. The Principle of the Middle Axiom is “an order from above which is yet not an order.”

In practical terms, you set out an objective, but do not detail and direct how that objective is to be achieved, giving some degree of innovation and freedom for the subsidiary levels of the organisation to achieve the objectives.

What is amazing is that 40 years ago, Schumacher quoted Chairman Mao for the best formulation of the necessary interplay between theory and practice: “Go to the practical people, learn from them; then synthesise their experience into principles and theories; and then return to the practical people and call upon them to put these principles and methods into practice so as to solve their problems and achieve freedom and happiness.”

All these sound very simple, but are actually quite hard to practice. Schumacher has certainly convinced me that there are good alternatives to current conventional economic thinking.

Tan Sri Andrew Sheng is President of the Fung Global Institute (

Related articles

China’s Helping Hand for Europe

Made In China by CHOW HOW BAN

China has promised to help the EU deal with its debt problems through the stability facilities, but it should not be misread as a pledge to buy more European government bonds.

Sino-EU ties: Chinese vice-premier Li Keqiang (right) talking to Barroso (left) and Van Rompuy during their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Wednesday. — AFP

EUROPE has played a big role in China’s economic successes throughout the past three decades. That was the main tone the European Union (EU) brought to Beijing for the China-EU Summit on Tuesday.

And China’s response was that it would offer the EU more help to overcome the eurozone sovereign debt crisis – an assurance from the economic powerhouse that the EU pretty much hoped for.

The friendly exchanges between the Chinese and EU leaders laid the foundation for the success of the summit. Sino-EU trade relations have continued to thrive amid the debt crisis in Europe, with trade volume surpassing €460bil (RM1.83 trillion) last year. Europe is China’s biggest export destination.

“Over the past decades, China has become an even greater force in regional and global affairs and its economic and social development has been immense,” European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said after the summit attended by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, his Cabinet members and European Council president Herman Van Rompuy.

“Europe can only rejoice at this success. I believe that Europe can legitimately claim some parts of the success because China’s economy has greatly benefited from Europe’s open policies and open markets.

“As Europe and China are inter-connected and inter-dependent, we should work even more closely on different fronts to deepen our relations.”

He assured the Chinese leaders that the EU was doing what it takes to restore the confidence of investors and international stakeholders and its partners amid the crisis.

Wen said China was ready to help Europe deal with its debt problems but the EU would have to take its own initiatives as well as address the issues.

“China’s willingness to support the EU in dealing with its debt crisis is sincere and resolute. China will continue to join hands with the EU for mutual benefit despite the fast-changing global economic situation,” he said.

Last week, Wen had told German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a meeting during her official visit to China that China would consider getting more involved in solving the debt woes in Europe, especially through the European Stability Mechanism and European Financial Stability Facility.

“Resolving the debt crisis relies fundamentally on the efforts made by the EU itself.

“We expect the debt-stricken nations, according to their own situations, to strengthen fiscal consolidation, reduce their deficits and lower their debt risks,” he said.

However, analysts said that Wen’s promise to help the EU deal with its debt problems through the stability facilities should not be misread as China’s intention to buy more European government bonds.

Speaking at a forum on Monday, Lou Jiwei, chairman of China Investment Corporation (CIC), a sovereign wealth fund tasked with managing China’s foreign exchange reserves of US$3.2 trillion (RM9.7 trillion), said Merkel expressed her hope that long-term investors like CIC would buy German, French, Italian and Spanish debts.

“Some people think that there have been some positive improvements in the eurozone debt crisis in the short-term as the EU came up with some fiscal policies. But they have not got to the root of the problem and we should be able to see the effects in June or July,” he said.

He said it would be more likely for investors to invest in infrastructure and industrial projects, which would help in the economic recovery of the European nations.

In its editorial, People’s Daily said the eurozone debt crisis stemmed from the zone’s monetary and financial systems and its flaws in economic governance and policy-making mechanism.

“The unification of the euro currency has failed to promote fiscal unification because the EU member states are reluctant to give up their control over tax revenues,” it said.

“EU politicians may have the determination to safeguard the eurozone but they do not have fiscal resources which can be channelled in a unified way to troubled nations and do not have a proper mechanism to solve the debt issue. This has resulted in a worsening of the crisis.”

During its short trip to China, besides having deeper exchanges of views on EU-China relations with the Chinese leaders, the EU delegation was also on a mission to convince Chinese scholars and investors that Europe was on the right track to come through the crisis.

“Incomplete governance and surveillance in the euro area have caused imbalances and divergences in competitiveness. The sovereign debt crisis has been a wake-up call,” Barroso said.

“But the EU has acted decisively to tackle the crisis, strengthen economic governance, stabilise public finances and implement structural reforms such as the European Stability Mechanism and European Financial Stability Facility with a combined fund of €500bil (RM1.99 trillion) as financial aid for some member states.

“Other measures aimed at creating more jobs and ensuring sustainable growth include the EU2020 Strategy, a blueprint which will get the economy back on track over the next eight years with education, research and innovation as key drivers.

“In my view, what Europe has been doing, particularly during the most recent period, constitutes a basis for investors to regain confidence in Europe.”

%d bloggers like this: