Let’s all be Malaysians first & Proud to be Malaysian!!

HOW right Wong Sai Wan is in The Star column “How frail our unity is”, that our so-called “togetherness and unity” is only “skin deep” and at “surface level” at best.

As a Malaysian who has lived in this country for 60 years, I can only say that the depth of our “unity” is receding as the years roll by instead of becoming deeper. It is not only “skin deep”.

Racial and religious politics have taken a toll on the fabric of society as more and more people are identifying themselves first by “race and religion” instead of nationality (“Malaysian”).

If we do not arrest this slide, we will become a nation divided. We must make serious efforts to stem this tide.

I believe there are three main areas we need to look into, and politicians must be on the frontline to stem this tide.

Politicians from both sides must stop harping on our differences, be it religious or racial.

Religious leaders must ensure that religion is not forced onto others, or making one religion more important than the other.

Every effort must be made by society at large to view ourselves as “Malaysians first” rather than by race.

Indonesia is a classic example of how the different races view themselves as “ Indonesians first”. Ask a Chinese in Indonesia who he is and the reply will be “I am Indonesian”.

The media, like Wong said, must ensure that it does not play up sentiments of any kind but report the news as it is, from a “human view point” rather than race or religion.

In schools, especially, the heads must ensure that the children view each other as “ classmates” rather than by race.

There must also be a healthy “mix” at all levels of employment of the people of different races.

This will help us view each other as “ workmates” rather than racial individuals.

1Malaysia can only be achieved when we are “ Malaysian first” rather than portraying ourselves by our race.

All forms or documents must not highlight race or religion unless absolutely necessary.

Unity can only be strengthened if efforts are made, not through slogans, advertisements or banners.

Let us as Malaysians take this step to view each other as just that. I am Malaysian.


Proud to be Malaysian

I WRITE in response to “Liow: Govt wants more ethnic groups to join the civil service” (The Star, Feb 20).

In that article, Gerakan Youth secretary-general Dr Dominic Lau was quoted as saying that “unlike Americans, who were proud to call themselves Americans regardless of their race, not many Malaysians could identify themselves as Malaysian first”.

That is a totally outrageous remark. I would say Malaysians are proud of their nationality.

This is my personal experience being a student overseas.

I am an international postgraduate student in Brisbane, Australia.

Whenever people ask where I come from, I would proudly tell them I’m a Malaysian, coming from Ipoh. Some are confused as my ethnicity is Chinese yet I’m not from China, Taiwan or Hong Kong.

I elaborate by saying my ancestors came from China and I’m a third generation Chinese in Malaysia. But China is not my country. My country is Malaysia.

The fact that I’m a Malaysian makes me unique, being able to communicate not only in Mandarin and Cantonese but also in Bahasa Malaysia and English.

I have no problems communicating with people from various backgrounds, all thanks to my upbringing in Malaysia.

I’m not denying my Chinese roots of course, but when people ask my race, I say I’m Malaysian, and by ethnicity I’m a Malaysian Chinese.

There are many Malaysian student bodies in Queensland’s universities and we are all proud of telling the world that we are Malaysian. We don’t feel embarrassed being Malaysian.

During Malaysian roadshows, we proudly display the Malaysian flag, introduce Malaysian cultures as well as the great heritage of Malaysia.

Malaysia is blessed with natural resources, peace and diversity. Are we not proud being Malaysian? Yes we are!

I think the problem is back in Malaysia where politicians tend to separate the rakyat based on ethnicity.

Each political party champions only its people – Party A for Malay, Party B for Chinese, Party C for Indian, and the rest for “lain-lain”. But we are Malaysian.

It is not that we cannot identify ourselves as Malaysian first but when we fill up forms – bank forms, government documents – there’s always a column for race.

It makes it seem as if we will be treated differently if we state our ethnicity.

After half a century of independence, we are still forced to identify ourselves based on ethnicity.

Now, if we don’t call ourselves Malaysian first, is it the rakyat’s fault or the politician’s fault?

We are Malaysian, and we couldn’t be prouder, if you can’t hear us, we shout a little louder … 1Malaysia!!!

WONG WENG-YEW,Brisbane, Australia.

Related post:

  How frail the Malaysian unity!

Trade war looms over EU tax

Global Trends By MARTIN KHOR

This week, 26 countries will meet to organise retaliation against the EU over its move to tax airlines for their emissions. This may be the first salvo in dangerous trade wars fought over climate change.

A TRADE war is looming over the European Union’s move to impose charges on airlines on the basis of the greenhouse gases they emit during the planes’ entire flights into and out of European airports.

Many countries whose airlines are affected – including China, India, Malaysia, Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt, Brazil and the United States – consider this to be unfair or illegal or both.

Since their protests have not yielded results, officials of 26 countries are meeting in Moscow this week to discuss retaliatory action against the EU.

The EU’s move, which took effect on Jan 1, and the tit-for-tat actions by the offended countries, is the first full-blown international battle over whether countries can or should take unilateral trade measures on the ground of addressing climate change.

Developing countries in particular have been concerned over increasing signs that the developed countries are preparing to take protectionist measures to tax or block the entry of their goods and services on the ground that greenhouse gases above an acceptable level are emitted in producing the goods or undertaking the service.

Besides the airlines case, several other measures are being planned by the EU or by the United States that will affect the cost of developing countries’ exports.

In fact, trade measures linked to climate change may become the main new sources of protectionism.

The EU’s aviation emissions tax is thus an important test case, and this could explain the furious and coordinated response by the developing countries, which form the majority of the protesting 26 nations meeting in Moscow.

The countries are particularly angry that the EU is imposing a charge or tax on emissions from the entire flight of an airline, and not just on the portion of the flights that are in European airspace.

The EU action takes effect by including the aviation sector (and airlines of all countries) in the European Emissions Trading Scheme.

Beyond a certain level of free allowances, the airlines have to buy emission permits depending on the quantity emitted during the flights.

As the free allowances are reduced in future years, the cost to be paid will also jump, thus increasingly raising the price of passenger tickets and the cost of transporting goods, and affecting the profitability or viability of the airlines.

The China Air Transport Association has estimated that Chinese airlines would have to pay 800 million yuan (RM387mil) for 2012, the first year of the EU scheme, and that the cost will treble by 2020.

The total cost to all airlines in 2012 is estimated at 505mil (RM2bil), at the carbon price of 5.84 (RM23.30) per tonne last week, according to Reuter Thomsom Carbon Point.

Last September, when the carbon price was 12 (RM48) per tonne, Carbon Point had estimated the cost to be 1.1bil (RM4.4bil) in 2012, rising to 10.4bil (RM41.6bil) in 2020.

While this may generate a lot of resources for Europe, airlines in developing countries will in turn have to pay a lot.

There are many reasons why the concerns of the affected countries are justified, as shown by Indian trade law expert R.V. Anuradha, in her paper on Unilateral Measures and Climate Change.

Since each country has sovereignty over the airspace above its territory (reaffirmed by the Chicago Convention), the EU tax based on flight portions that are not on European airspace infringes the principle of sovereignty.

The UN Climate Convention’s Kyoto Protocol states that Annex I parties (developed countries) shall pursue actions on emissions arising from aviation through the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

Consistent with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, only Annex I countries are mandated to have legally binding targets. This UNFCCC principle is violated by the EU requirement affecting airlines from both developed and developing countries.

ICAO members have been discussing, but have yet to reach agreement on, actions to curb aviation emissions. Last October, 25 countries issued a paper in ICAO protesting against the EU measure.

While the United States has challenged the EU action in a European court, China has ordered its airlines not to comply with the EU scheme unless the government gives them permission.

In addition, retaliation measures such as imposing levies on European airlines and reviewing the access and landing rights agreements with European countries are being considered by the 26 countries.

What happens in this aviation case is significant because there are many other unilateral measures linked to climate change being lined up by developed countries.

These include the EU plan to impose charges on emissions from maritime bunker fuel, a US Congress bill that requires charges on energy-intensive imports from developing countries that do not have similar levels of emissions controls as the US, and several schemes involving labels and standards linked to emissions.

If these unilateral measures are implemented, then developing countries will really feel they are being victimised for a problem – climate change – that historically has been largely caused by the developed countries.

Moreover, this will lead to a growing crisis of both the climate change regime and the multilateral trade regime.

China’s next president: Xi Jinping, a ‘princeling’ with a big personality

Vice President Xi Jinping
Vice President Xi Jinping

Xi Jinping: a ‘princeling’ with a big personality

China’s heir apparent is affable and more open to economic reforms, but his intentions remain an enigma

 By Tania Branigan in Beijing guardian.co.uk

Chinese vice-president Xi Jinping, tipped as a future leader, arrives in the US to meet officials in Washington Link to this video

His name is becoming more familiar but his face is still unknown to most and his opinions and intentions are an enigma.

Xi Jinping‘s visit to the US this week is unlikely to answer the west’s most important questions.

But this is a getting-to-know-you trip for China‘s heir apparent, who is expected to take the helm of the world’s second largest economy and fastest rising power from late this year.

The Chinese vice-president’s Valentine’s Day meeting with Barack Obama is notable – as are his plans to catch a Los Angeles Lakers basketball game and to return to Muscatine, the tiny Iowa town he visited in 1985 as head of an animal feed delegation.

His activities suggest he is shaping an image very different from that of the current Chinese president, Hu Jintao.

While Hu is determinedly anonymous, Xi is “a big personality”, according to those who have met him.

Standing over 6ft tall, he is confident and affable. He boasts a ready smile and a glamorous second wife – the renowned People’s Liberation Army singer Peng Liyuan. He has expressed his fondness for US war movies and, perhaps more surprisingly, praised the edgy independent film-maker Jia Zhangke.

This is, in part, a generational and social shift. Xi is 58 and, like the other rising stars in Chinese politics, grew up in the era of reform and opening.

While Hu’s first visit to the US was in 2002, Xi and his peers have travelled frequently and several have personal links with the west. Xi’s daughter is studying at Harvard and a sister is thought to live in Canada. And like many of his peers, he is a “princeling” – someone who has experienced both privilege and prejudice as the child of a powerful Communist party figure.

Xi was born in 1953 to Xi Zhongxun, a Long March hero who later became a vice-premier, and Qi Xin. He grew up in the relative comfort of Zhongnanhai, the party elite’s red-walled Beijing compound.


But when he was only nine his father fell from grace with Mao Zedong. Six years later, as the cultural revolution wreaked havoc, young Xi was dispatched to the dusty, impoverished north-western province of Shaanxi to “learn from the masses”.

He spent seven years living in a cave home in Liangjiahe village. “I ate a lot more bitterness than most people,” he once told a Chinese magazine. He has described struggling with the fleas, the hard physical labour and the sheer loneliness.

All this, of course, fits into classic Communist party narratives of learning to serve the people. But political commentator Li Datong suggests this “double background” has proved genuinely formative for princelings such as Xi and might even lead them to bolder policy making.

“One aspect is their family background as children of the country’s founders and the other is their experience of being sent to the countryside, which made them understand China’s real situation better. It gives this generation a strong tradition of idealism and the courage to do something big,” he said.

Although he has openly criticised the cultural revolution, Xi embraced the party; in a WikiLeaks cable an academic who knew Xi as a young man suggested he “chose to survive by becoming redder than red”.

Family links helped him to win a place studying chemical engineering at the elite Tsinghua University, followed by a post as aide to a powerful military leader, Geng Biao – the beginning of his useful People’s Liberation Army (PLA) connections.

Next came a more surprising move – his choice, says political expert Zhang Xiaojin – to an unglamorous post in Hebei province. He may have hoped to shake off suggestions of benefiting from his family name.

It was as deputy secretary of Zhengding county that he visited Muscatine, a US town of 23,000 until now best known for its melons and Mark Twain’s brief sojourn there in 1855.

“He was a very polite and kind guy. I could see someone very devoted to his work – there was no golfing on that trip, that’s for sure,” said Eleanor Dvorchak, who hosted Xi in her son’s old room, where he slept amid football wallpaper and Star Trek figurines. “He was serious. He was a man on a mission.”

Sarah Lande, who organised the trip, said his confidence was obvious even through a translator.

“You could tell he was in charge … he seemed relaxed and welcoming and able to handle things,” she said. “He had the words he wanted to express himself easily.”

The acquaintance who spoke to WikiLeaks claimed Xi always had his “eye on the prize” of a major party post. He transferred to southern Fujian province in 1985, climbing steadily upwards over 17 years. Most of his experience has been earned in China’s relatively prosperous, entrepreneurial coastal areas, where he courted investors and built up business, proving willing to adopt new ideas. The former US treasury secretary Hank Paulson called him “the kind of guy who knows how to get things over the goal line”.

After the toppling of Shanghai’s party secretary Chen Liangyu in a corruption scandal, Xi took charge of the city in 2007. Barely six months later his elevation to the politburo standing committee – the top political body – signalled that he was expected to succeed Hu. In October 2010 his appointment as vice-chair of the central military commission cemented his position.

He describes his own thinking as pragmatic and throughout his rise he has cultivated a down-to-earth image; in the provinces he ate in government canteens and often dressed down.

In a burst of publicity shortly before his 2007 promotion his wife lauded his humble nature and devotion to duty, revealing that on their second date he warned her he would not have much time for family life. And in a system known for corruption, he also has a clean reputation. One friend told the LA Times the worst the paper was likely to find were overdue library books.

But while Xi is well-liked and adept at glad-handing, he appears to give little of importance away. Even his popular wife has retreated into the background as he has assumed increasing prominence.

The US ambassador Gary Locke recently observed that he was “very personable” but that US officials “really don’t know that much about him”.

Close association with particular policies or factions has its dangers. Becoming general secretary of the party, and thus leader of China, is “an issue of who opposes you rather than who supports you”, said Kerry Brown, head of the Asia programme at Chatham House.

Beyond his openness to economic reforms, Xi is known primarily as a figure who appeals to different groupings and as a safe pair of hands.

“In recent years he has taken care of large-scale events, including Olympics and anniversaries, and there haven’t been any big mistakes. Xi has steadily been through these tests,” said Zhang.

In 2007 he leapfrogged Li Keqiang – until then seen as likely to succeed Hu, but seen perhaps as too much Hu’s protege – as the consensus candidate in a system built on collective decision making.

Xi’s networks are unusually broad, according to Brown: “Provincially; through his family; and with the military through Geng Biao. His elevation is in the interests of the widest group of people and opposed by the smallest group.” It is the same relatively small elite who will determine what he can do with the job.


Some hope he shares his father’s liberal sympathies: Xi senior was not only a noted economic reformer, but an ally of reformist leader Hu Yaobang. Some say he criticised the military crackdown on Tiananmen Square’s pro-democracy protests in 1989.

They say that grassroots organisations burgeoned during the vice-president’s stint in Zhejiang, and there was progress in the election of independent candidates at local polls. But the Chinese Human Rights Defenders network has argued the province also saw “zealous persecution” of dissidents, underground Christians and activists: “His track record does not bode well,” it wrote. Other China watchers point to shattered hopes that Hu might prove politically liberal.

Nor does Xi’s confidence in overseas dealings necessarily indicate a more emollient approach to foreign relations. His most-quoted remark to date was made on a trip to Mexico in 2009: “There are some well-fed foreigners who have nothing better to do than point fingers at our affairs. China does not, first, export revolution; second, export poverty and hunger; third, cause troubles for you. What else is there to say?”

In any case, to read Xi as a man in sole control of the agenda is to fundamentally misunderstand the Chinese political system. He will be “first among equals” in the nine-member standing committee, say analysts. Hu and other former leaders will still exert influence; and 2011’s five-year plan has plotted the immediate course.

The system “is in favour of moderation, and nothing can change quickly. Steady as it goes. The political rhythm first has to be installed … significant shifts will come later,” said Dr David Kelly, director of the Beijing-based political thinktank China Policy.

Some think Xi’s networks may allow him to strike out more confidently than Hu. Others think he will struggle to win support for bold decisions needed to tackle the country’s mounting challenges. “I think he’s a more instinctive and gut-driven politician and may surprise us. Others say the system and the vested interests around him are too strong,” said Brown.

His leadership will be shaped by his colleagues and framed by external forces. “What’s very important is the capacity to be on the right side of history,” said Cheng Li, an analyst at the Brookings Institution in Washington. “He himself probably does not know what he will do.”

Pocket profile

Born June 1953

Career His father was a revolutionary hero and a steady rise through party ranks, aided by expert networking, is set to take Xi to the very top. His family background has dogged him at times but also speeded him on his course.

High point Emerging as heir apparent to Hu Jintao at the 17th party congress in 2007. Many had expected Li Keqiang – now expected to become premier – to take the position.

Low point Coming last in the vote for membership of the central committee in 1997, amid hostility to princelings. Connections won him a place as an alternate.

What he says “Are you trying to give me a fright?” (when asked by a reporter, in 2002, whether he would be a top leader within the decade).

What they say “He’s more assertive than Hu Jintao. When he enters the room, you know there is a significant presence here … [But] when they rise through their hierarchy, it serves no purpose to indicate differences or even alternative directions.” (Henry Kissinger)

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