MH370 families file biggest lawsuit in Malaysia


 

KUALA LUMPUR: Seventy-six next of kin of the passengers on board  Flight MH370 have launched the biggest suit in the courts here against Malaysian Airline System Bhd and four others over the plane’s disappearance.

With the deadlines to do so up by today, the group  made up of 66 Chinese nationals, eight Indians and two Americans  filed the suit last Thursday, naming MAS, Malaysia Airline Bhd (MAB), Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) director-general, Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) and the Government as defendants.

They are claiming for negligence, breach of contract, breach of statutory duty and breach of Montreal Convention against MAS

Lawyer N.Ganesan representing Indian, Chinese and American families said this is the biggest lawsuit against MAS in Malaysia as it involves a large number of families as plaintiffs.

In the statement of claim filed last Thursday, the families alleged that the plane’s disappearance on 8 March 2014 was caused by MAS’ negligence and the national carrier had breached the Montreal Convention by causing the injuries and death of all 239 passengers and crew..

Besides MAS, the families also named the director-general of the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA), Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF), and the government.

They claimed that DCA, RMAF and the government had conspired with MAS in conducting the investigation in a “grossly negligent manner” to delay the search, causing the death of all the passengers and crew.

They also contended the government and MAS had acted fraudulently and in a dishonest manner by hiding information about MH370’s disappearance from the public, and the families of passengers and crew.

The 76 next of kin are seeking damages and losses they suffered after their loved ones went missing.

“The families opted to file the lawsuit here because they have confidence in our court,” said Ganesan when met at the High Court here.

He also pleaded with the government not to move to strike out the lawsuit.

“This lawsuit deserves a day in court, and all the families deserve a fair trial,” he said.

When asked if the families were given consent by the MAS administrator under the MAS Act to initiate the lawsuit, the lawyer said they were denied consent. “They had previously said in the media that they would act in ‘good faith’ to determine fair and equitable compensation.”

“What they said was they were inviting next of kin to initiate lawsuits against them.”

Ganesan disclosed that an American law firm, Hod Hurst Orseck, will be joining the families’ legal team.

“They are the experts in civil aviation. We will be having the firm’s partners, Steven Marks and Roy Altman with me and lawyer Tommy Thomas.”

“When necessary, we will be filing for leave to the court for them to be conducting the trial,” he said.

Last week, 12 families of passengers from Malaysia, Ukraine, Russia and China sued MAS and the government for damages, shortly before the two years deadline for initiating a civil suit under the Montreal Convention.

Sources: The Star news and Free Malaysia Today

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Political issues deserve diplomatic solutions to South China Sea disputes


REFERRING to “Ripples and rumbles in South China Sea” (see below) by K. Thanabalasingam, I wish to share a few more points vital to the issue.

Conventional knowledge is that China’s claim to the islands is arbitrary and violates International Law. But what is left out is an impartial overview of the whole situation based on historical considerations and facts on the ground.

Claims made by Vietnam and China are mostly centred on history. The rest of the claimants are late comers after the 1951 Treaty of San Francisco and 1982 UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea).

To avoid complicating the issue, knowledge of history has to be put in perspective. Since there are no “historical titles” to validate, then whatever historical facts, maps or records have to be considered as evidence. At least it sheds light to validate its case.

China has been consistent in her claims since 1279. Marker stones and light houses were on the islands but most were destroyed by Vietnam and the Philippines. Even early European records affirmed Chinese fishermen took annual sojourns on Spratly islands for part of the year.

One interesting event that happened in 1953 involved a Tomas Cloma, (director of the Maritime Institute of the Philippines) who threw away all the marker stones and made a unilateral claim on some Spratly islands and later in December 1974 was forced to sell to the government for 1 peso only, now known as Kalayaan.

All these facts are buried and often not revealed by the West.

The infamous Treaty of San Francisco, also known as Treaty of Peace with Japan, was drafted by US and Allied Powers to settle post-war issues affecting nations. Whatever the circumstances, China/Taiwan and Korea were not invited to attend the negotiations which deprived them of a fair chance and the right to present their cases. This also breached the Cairo/Potsdam declarations.

After the devastating long war, China got the raw end of the deal with unsettled lands and islands. Scholars and historians viewed this as a deliberate manoeuvre by Western Powers especially the US to create ambiguities to serve their covert interests.

I totally agree with Thanabalasingam on the recent statement by the US and Allies to pre-empt the tribunal’s verdict in favour of the Philippines is an act of prima facie and undermines the whole proceedings of the court. That is why under Article 298 of UNCLOS, China declared that it does not accept compulsory arbitral procedures relating to sea boundary delimitation in 2006. Without guessing, one could easily decipher why the Philippine chose the arbitration court.

On the ground, it doesn’t need a military expert to see what’s happening in the region. It is a tussle between China and US with puppets (the Philippines, Australia, Japan, Vietnam) joining in the fray.

The US’s sole interest is to maintain her status quo and dominance in the region. China, a rising power, is a direct competitor. When Obama announced the pivot to Asia in 2012, tensions started building up day by day with increasing deployment of military assets to frightening level.

More bases have been opened to the US in the Philippines, Japan, Australia, and some Asean nations, creating a “ring of fire” to contain China.

To harness support US raises up the heat and false alarms on China’s threat to “Freedom of Navigation”, etc. Do you expect China to remain docile and silent? Freedom of navigation was not an issue for decades. Deliberately intruding into sovereign territory with frigates, spy planes, etc are direct provocations.

Sad to see nations taking sides just to gain a little leverage to support their claims. As far as I can see, these islands are “bread crumbs” created to inflict tension and even wars among nations. Political issues deserve diplomatic solutions. Don’t allow a Middle East or Ukraine crisis in Asia.

I trust my country will take the path of engagement and diplomacy.

By Ali Saw Kuala Lumpur The Sundaily

Ripples and rumbles in the South China Sea

AFTER the conclusion of the 27th Asean Summit and Related Summits chaired by Malaysia here in late November 2015, I felt optimistic the year 2016 might see a lessening of tensions in the South China Sea and perhaps even witness a Code of Conduct being signed between all the claimant states. I suppose this was hoping too much.

What we have seen instead is a rapid increase in tensions caused by China’s actions in the South China Sea. Understandably, claimant Asean states are anxious and concerned over these latest developments.

Since the start of this year, China has conducted several test flights from its airfield in the Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands Group. There was also news reports that China had moved an oil rig into disputed waters between China and Vietnam.

This brings to mind the January 1974 Chinese/Vietnamese clash over the Paracel Islands with Vietnam suffering heavy losses and being evicted from the Paracels.

More recently it has been reported and confirmed that China has installed long-range anti-aircraft missiles on Woody Island in the disputed Paracels chain.

This does not auger well for calm and confidence-building between the various Asean claimant states and the Republic of China.

In addition, the occasional reported intrusions of Chinese coastguard vessels into other nations’ territorial waters is cause for concern.

The recent statement by the US and some European nations that China must abide by the decision to be made by the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, hearing the Philippines request to invalidate China’s claims, is rather premature in my humble opinion.

The US and other western nations’ statement would have been better coming after the tribunal’s verdict expected sometime near the middle of this year, if it turns out to be in Philippines favour. As it is, I feel the statement pre-empts the tribunal’s verdict.

I had written an article on the South China Sea dispute and stated my personal views in June 2015. I am of the firm belief, based on International Law and UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea), that China’s claim to virtually the whole of the South China Sea is arbitrary and unprecedented.

No country has ever claimed such a large expanse of international maritime waters before. There is no provision anywhere that I am aware of for a historical claim, especially when such a claim has never been exercised or enforced until more recent times. China is not only a party to UNCLOS but it has also ratified it. Therefore, China is bound by UNCLOS.

A point to bear in mind is that there are laws and rules to what constitutes an island. Under UNCLOS no shoal or reef can be reclaimed and turned into an island.

A reclaimed land is artificial and not natural. Hence the question of territorial waters or other claims for the artificial island does not arise.

The Code of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) signed by all members of Asean and the People’s Republic of China on Nov 4, 2002 unfortunately has a number of setbacks. There is also a Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES). Although this is mainly to avoid any untoward sea incident between US Navy ships and Republic of China Navy (ROCN) ships. I feel that CUES should also be used more by Asean claimant states’ naval ships and the ROCN ships.

Although I am disheartened by the latest developments in the South China Sea, I sincerely hope that these ripples and rumbles do not develop into a full blown hurricane or typhoon.

By Rear Admiral (Rtd) Tan Sri K. Thanabalasingam was the third chief of the Royal Malaysian Navy and the first Malaysian to be appointed to the post.Comments: letters@thesundaily.com

The U.S. should keep away from the South China Sea for regional peace

China is forced to deploy defensive facilities on islands in the South China Sea in response to early militarization action from other parties and to the U.S. close-up reconnaissance in this region, said a China’s professor who specializes in international affairs.

Shen Dingli, a professor specializing in international affairs from Fudan University, wrote in a column that if the U.S. expects fewer disputes in the South China Sea, the country should not choose any side and not support those who infringe upon China’s national interests. The U.S. should make those countries withdraw from the region.

Shen stated that the U.S. should reduce its close-up reconnaissance in the region so that China will not need to spare much time to deploy forces in the region.

According to Shen, statements of spokespersons from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of National Defense clearly show China’s attitude towards this issue.

First of all, China deploys defensive facilities in order to cope with other countries’ militarization in this area. Secondly, China benefits from freedom of navigation and China is willing to maintain this freedom within the international law in cooperation with ASEAN countries. Thirdly, China urges the U.S. to respect its legitimate interests when it comes to sovereign of artificial islands in the South China Sea.

Shen also said that if the U.S. really cares about China’s deployment of radars and missiles on relevant islands, it should reduce the close-up reconnaissance by its missile destroyers and strategic bombers in this area.  By Yuan Can (People’s Daily Online)

US militarizing South China Sea

Compared with the progress Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and US Secretary of State John Kerry seem to have achieved on sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, finding common ground to resolve their differences over the South China Sea has proved more difficult.

Just as Wang has stressed, the responsibility for non-militarization of the South China Sea is not China’s alone. The United States should lend an attentive ear to China’s stance.

On Tuesday, at a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Admiral Harry Harris, head of the US Pacific Command, said China’s deployment of missiles and new radars on its islands and reefs in the South China Sea and its building of airstrips are “changing the operational landscape” in the waters.

The media in the US also hyped up China sending Annihilates-11 fighters to the Xisha Islands. These voices may be a prelude to Washington escalating the flexing of its muscles in the South China Sea.

Yet as a non-regional country, it is irresponsible of the US to intervene in the South China Sea in disregard of the possibility that has emerged that China and the other parties to the disputes in the waters will be able to stabilize the situation rather than let it spiral out of control.

If those in the region were allowed to settle the disputes themselves, the South China Sea would be free from concerns and troubles within the foreseeable future.

It is the US’ direct interventions in the South China Sea that are exacerbating tensions and adding uncertainty.

The US’ provocative signals have seriously increased Chinese people’s sense of urgency to strengthen the country’s military capabilities. When US military vessels and warplanes intruded into the 12-nautical-mile territorial seas around China’s islands and reefs, Chinese people have reasons to believe their country should not remain indifferent even if its military might is still inferior to that of the US.

On issues concerning national sovereignty, the Chinese military will follow the will of its people.- Global Times

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‘The Last Survivors’ recalls Japanese occupation of Malaysia during WWII


Japanese Occupation survivors recount their tales to the new generation

Most of Southeast Asia was occupied during most of World War II by the Japanese. The Japanese captured Southeast Asia very quickly but had not planned very well for occupying it. In many ways the Japanese ruled through violence and repression rather than reasonable and humane governing. Southeast Asians that might have welcomed them as liberators were quickly turned off by Japanese brutality

TRAILER: The Last Survivors R.AGE

PETALING JAYA: It has been 70 years since Japan’s surrender after its occupation of Malaya during World War II, and with each passing year, more stories are being lost due to death and old age. 

R.AGE, an online video documentary team, is hoping to change that with the launch of The Last Survivors (rage.com.my/lastsurvivors), an online video campaign to document the stories of Malaysia’s WWII survivors.

The first video will be released later today, the 70th anniversary of the final signing ceremony in Kuala Lumpur confirming Japan’s surrender.

The video shows Omar Senik, 85, revisiting Pantai Sabak, Kelantan where he witnessed the start of WWII in Asia when the Japanese landed in Malaya – an hour before the bombing of Pearl Harbour.

Another WWII survivor featured in the series is Etheline Lee, who was 13 when the Japanese arrived in Kuantan.

Lee recalled how she was forced to watch the execution of locals accused by the Japanese of being “traitors”.

“They made them walk into this jungle and stand near a big hole they had dug, and shot them one by one so their bodies would drop into the hole,” said Lee.

According to her, the bodies were buried at the beach now known as Teluk Cempedak. Some were buried right beneath the beach’s popular fast-food outlets.

“It’s important to document stories like these,” said Chen Yih Wen, one of the R.AGE producers working on the series. “They really are the last survivors, and it isn’t enough to read about what they went through, you have to see it with your own eyes because these are places we walk by every day.” 

The Last Survivors campaign also hopes to encourage young people to document WWII stories from their own communities, especially through the memories of survivors.

To participate, record a video interview with a WWII survivor, and e-mail it to alltherage@thestar.com.my.

The campaign website features an interactive map which will show the exact locations of all the survivors’ stories, so that anyone can visit them and add to the narrative.

To add a story, photo or video to the map, go to rage.com.my/lastsurvivors or e-mail alltherage@thestar.com.my.

> Know any World War II survivors with interesting stories to share of the war in Malaya? E-mail the R.AGE team at alltherage@thestar.com.my .http://rage.com.my/lastsurvivors/ 

Related:  WWII survivors tell their stories | The Last Survivors | R.AGE 

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Start work on Friday for better luck? Sink or swing with the Monkey: Pay peanuts, get monkeys!


THE fifth day of the Chinese New Year, which falls on Friday, is the best day to start work in the Year of the Fire Monkey, China Press reported.

The best time to report to work on that day is from 5am to 11am and from 1pm to 3pm, according to Feng shui Master Wei Xuan.

However, Wei Xuan said it was not a good date to start work for those born in the Year of the Horse.

He said other good dates to start work are on Feb 15, 16, 19, 22, 24 and 27.

According to Chinese belief, a person will have a prosperous year if he or she starts work on an auspicious date and time at the beginning of the lunar calendar.

Wei Xuan also advised the employees to be dressed decently and not to be late on the first day to work as it will affect their luck.

Bosses and their employees should also give angpows to each other on the auspicious day, he said.


 

Sink or swing with the monkey

There’s a lot to learn about this simian which can be lovable and loathable in equal parts.

WELCOME to the third day of the Year of the Monkey!

I must say it’s a great relief to say goodbye to a wild and woolly Year of the Yang during which we witnessed much sheep-like behaviour and had quite a lot of nasty things rammed down our throats.

A year ago in this column, I shared that yang is Mandarin for a horned ruminant mammal which can mean either sheep (mianyang) or goat (shanyang).

I argued the case for celebrating the Year of the Goat as the animal has more attractive and positive traits than the sheep.

Sheep have been documented as dependent, nervous creatures that require close supervision and are known for being mindless followers.

Goats, however, are a lot smarter, independent, nimble-footed and full of fearless curiosity.

Well, as it turned out that while some Malaysians tried to be goat-like, there were more who were sheep-like and got spooked by scare-mongers who, as usual, used the race and religion cards, and the sheepish ones ended up bunching together even more tightly in fear and suspicion.

So, what now in the Year of the Monkey? What sort of traits does this simian have that can give us some pointers to go by?

But first, we should get some basics right. Just as we had to separate the goats from the sheep last year, I have learned there are 264 known species of monkeys, but the chimpanzee is not one of them. The chimp, like the orang utan and gorilla, is an ape. Monkeys are different from apes, the most obvious difference being apes don’t have tails. So, let’s not confuse monkeys with apes.

Primatologists will tell us that monkeys in the wild behave very much like humans. They are intelligent creatures with the capacity to learn, innovate and live in social structures.

According to monkeyworlds.com, “the hierarchy of the social structure is very detailed. It doesn’t matter if there are only a few members or hundreds of them. They all have their role within that group”.

Interestingly, like humans in political parties, the monkeys can form smaller groups (what we would call factions) within the larger group. What’s more, if the monkeys aren’t happy about their social status within that group, they can leave and create a brand new group.

The similarities don’t end there.

Male monkeys frequently challenge the leaders of the group. Experts say this is to give better opportunities for breeding: a strong alpha male will sire sturdy offspring which will ensure the survival of the species. That happens in monkey groups but sadly doesn’t seem to have the same effect in political parties.

The monkey society is also admirable in that they have a welfare state: they “help each other with finding food, caring for the young, and staying protected” to quote monkeyworlds.com.

But like humans, they can be stressed if they lack food and shelter, which can lead to conflicts. But when there is plenty of food and they don’t feel threatened, monkeys are more likely to live in harmony with each other. Co-existence 101!

Perhaps it is because they are so human-like that the monkey is an animal that evokes both admiration and scorn.

In most African and Asian folk tales, it outsmarts its cunning adversaries like the crocodile and the shark, but in some, the overconfident primate takes the fall.

In Chinese culture, the animal is immortalised as Sun Wukong or the Monkey King, and the main character in the classic novel, Journey to the West.

Sun Wukong is depicted as highly intelligent, mischievous and so bold as to rebel against the Jade Emperor that results in his imprisonment by Buddha for 500 years. He is finally freed to allow him to atone for his sins by accompanying and protecting the monk Xuanzang on his perilous pilgrimage to India to obtain sacred Buddhist sutras to bring back to China.

Then there are Japan’s Three Wise Monkeys. That’s how they are seen – wise – in Asia because their desire to see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil has roots in Confucianism which exhorts people to not look, listen or speak in a manner that is contrary to propriety.

But in Western societies, this behaviour has a negative connotation.

It’s associated with pretending to not see, hear or speak about the misconduct or impropriety of others. It’s similar to the idioms “turning a blind eye” and “looking the other way”.

I must say, I am pretty pleased with the Star Media Group’s clever take on the Three Wise Monkeys by turning a passive response to an active one.

The message urges Malaysians to see with clarity, hear with an open mind and speak with kindness.

These are actions we sorely need to connect with each other again. This is especially so in a year that has been predicted to be seriously difficult and challenging on many fronts.

After all, in simian terms, many people feel like they have already started the new year with a monkey (or two) on their back and wish the authorities will stop monkeying around with them.

And I would add, after months of witnessing a lot of monkey business, especially among politicians who seem to turn the state assemblies and Parliament into a monkey house, people would dearly like less monkey see, monkey do behaviour from both leaders and their supporters.

Of course, some people may see antics in the August House as more fun than a barrel of monkeys but I would prefer to throw a monkey’s wrench into that sort of nonsense.

Indeed, many of us keep hoping to return to a time when sanity, equilibrium, inclusiveness and trust and honour prevailed, but cynics will most likely reply, “I’ll be the monkey’s uncle!”

I have saved the last idiom which I think will resonate with a lot of my fellow citizens, which is a reminder to employers thinking of pay-cuts and hiring cheaper and that is “You pay peanuts, you get monkeys”.

But for this festive season, enjoy your peanuts because the huasheng (as it is called in Mandarin) is an auspicious food representing good health and long life, as well as wealth and good fortune.

That’s the Chinese for you. Gong Xi Fa Cai!

By June H.L. Wong, So aunty, so what?

Aunty was gobsmacked when the pig character Zhu Bajie went missing from the Monkey King 2 movie posters and billboards in Malaysia. If this animal is the cause of so much sensitivity, how in the world are we going to celebrate the Year of the Pig in 2019? Send feedback to aunty@thestar.com.my.
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Chinese New Year Reunion 2016


‘Falling’ in love: A screengrab of Mah Sing Group’s Chinese New Year video that is going viral on social media.

 

Another year, another reunion

The modern Malaysian Chinese family has come a long way. Many practices have been ‘adjusted’ but some things never change.

NOT many families want to talk about it openly. But the all-important Chinese New Year reunion dinners have become more complicated and in recent years, more stressful for sure.

It is almost impossible and even unfair to expect the patriarch and matriarch of the family to cook the meal, traditionally sumptuous and heavy in some cases, especially when they are getting along in years.

Mum’s cooking sounds good everywhere but in many cases, this has become a fond but distant memory. The maid has taken over this role and of course, our expectations have also become more realistic.

The world has changed. The women family members, whether daughters or daughters-in-law, are part of the work force now.

It is wrong to expect them to take over the kitchen duties. In fact, don’t even expect them to do the dishes. Don’t even think about it if you know what’s good for you especially during the festive season.

Cleaning up the house after a feast is a daunting task. All of us understand and accept the fact that we cannot overwork the maid, who are already grumbling about the weaker ringgit.

So, the modern Malaysian Chinese family settles for a compromised position – have the reunion dinner at a hotel or restaurant. Never mind if the food might be crappy.

For a Penangite like me, where Perakanan dishes are compulsory in the reunion meal, I resign to the fact that I won’t find my favourite jiu hoo char (stir-fried turnip with dried cuttlefish) and lobak (meat rolls) at any hotel banquet.

But you know that’s not all. The family member – perceived to be the most successful in life – always ends up paying the hefty bill. It’s only expected.

And we all know that hotel food, like those served on planes, is bad. But telling the person footing the bill that the meal is “lousy” right after dinner is not exactly the appropriate CNY greeting ….

Next, the giving of ang pow for the kids. While no one wants to admit that the amount in these red packets matter, it does!

It’s not going to look too good on you if the ang pow is small – and I mean the money inside, not the size of the packet – and especially if you are perceived to be better off.

Then, the conversation after the reunion dinner. And that is the most sensitive which can cause friction and great unhappiness.

I am not talking about the 1MDB and the RM2.6bil donation issue but explosive questions to family members, who are past 30 and still unmarried.

Yes, these purportedly choosy types, who think their partner, especially if you are a woman, should have better degrees, bigger car, a house, a club membership, a steady job with hopes of further promotions and of course, good looks, a great sense of humour as well as soft skills. By this, I mean having the ability to appreciate fine food and wine.

For the guys, they expect their partners to be able to cook like their mothers, be as good looking and curvy as the celebrities they see in heavily photoshopped pictures in magazines and of course, have a good career to help pay for the household bills.

But that’s not the end of it. If you are married and have not started a family, you would be offered many unsolicited solutions from busybody aunties – from artificial insemination to eating bull’s penises. Of course, there are subtle accusations of dangerous liaisons in China, what with the frequent business trips there.

No wonder the Chinese population in Malaysia is shrinking fast. But of course, like many Chinese voters, the blame has to fall on the Government. Their failure, or inability or refusal, to start a family, is the fault of the government entirely.

And if you happen to work in the media, all eyes will be on you. In this case, it’s me. With Google and news portals with anti-government slants easily available these days, everyone is now an expert on every issue. We have all become instant analysts and opinion shapers.

Yes, yes, of course, Malaysia’s temperature during the CNY will drop to as low as 16°C and will be the coldest CNY ever.

“That’s what the social media said what, so must be true mah!”

But it’s a reunion dinner. After the interrogation of the poor singles, it undoubtedly has to come to politics. I am not sure if this is a Malaysian thing, like the open house, but do people in other countries whine too?

Probably they do, and by now politicians in modern democracies would have realised that they have to earn their respect.

Don’t expect the people to pay homage to you because no one told you to stand for election and for sure, don’t expect us to be eternally grateful to you because you came begging for our votes with plenty of promises.

They have to learn that they will be belittled, ridiculed and criticised. So don’t run to the powers that be to shut anyone up with sedition charges. Get used to it.

I expect the grumbling and cynical remarks to be louder this year at gatherings with family and friends. There are a lot of unhappy people around.

But politicians do not have to worry too much as the louder yam seng will drown the complaints. To all Malaysians celebrating Chinese New Year, I wish you all Gong Xi Fa Cai!

By Wong Chun Wai on the beat The Star

Wong Chun Wai began his career as a journalist in Penang, and has served The Star for over 27 years in various capacities and roles. He is now the group’s managing director/chief executive officer and formerly the group chief editor.

On The Beat made its debut on Feb 23 1997 and Chun Wai has penned the column weekly without a break, except for the occasional press holiday when the paper was not published. In May 2011, a compilation of selected articles of On The Beat was published as a book and launched in conjunction with his 50th birthday. Chun Wai also comments on current issues in The Star.

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US playing a messy game of provocations in SCS; China build up defense to thwart the provocation


In October, the US guided missile destroyer USS Lassen conducted a “freedom of navigation” operation within 12 nautical miles of China’s Meiji and Zhubi reefs.

In December, a United States Air Force B-52 bomber “accidentally” flew within 2 nautical miles of China’s Huayang Reef.

On Saturday, the Pentagon announced an “innocent passage” by the guided-missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur within 12 nautical miles of China’s Zhongjian Island.

On the surface, these are “routine” operations US Senator John McCain says are “normal occurrences” China will have to accept.

Yet this is not a Tom-and-Jerry kind of game where no party gets seriously hurt.

There is real potential danger, because the US challenges to China in the South China Sea are showing a trajectory of escalation.

Zhongjian Island is part of the Xisha Archipelago, where there is no current, active dispute, and hardly part of the issue of the day.

The Pentagon did display some diplomatic sophistication this time, claiming that the USS Curtis Wilbur “challenged attempts by the three claimants-China, Taiwan and Vietnam-to restrict navigation rights and freedoms around the features they claim by policies that require prior permission or notification of transit within territorial seas”.

Ignoring the fact this violates the US’ recognition of “one China”, reaffirmed by US Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday, the Pentagon’s statement raises legitimate suspicions that it has an agenda to further complicate the South China Sea issue.

As in the rest of the South China Sea, there is no evidence the named “claimants” are attempting to “restrict navigation rights and freedoms”. Enlarging the South China Sea issue by extending it to the Xisha Archipelago may be an attempt to drive a wedge between the mainland and Taiwan by dragging the latter into a long dormant and increasingly forgotten “dispute”.

The US wants a larger role in the Asia-Pacific. And it is bent on preempting a perceived Chinese challenge.

There is no better way to do this than by making things messier, to make itself “needed” and “wanted”.

What China needs and wants is peace, but as the Chinese saying goes, while the tree craves calm, the wind will not abate. Beijing needs to react accordingly, and prepare for all possibilities.

However, the country learned the significance of comprehensive national strength the hard way. It should not be distracted. It should rise above stress responses and stay focused on its development agenda. – China Daily)

Build up defense to thwart US provocation 

China firmly upholds her sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea. [Photo/Xinhua]

The US on Saturday sent one of its naval vessels within 12 nautical miles of the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea. The move, according to the Pentagon, was about “challenging excessive maritime claims that restrict the rights and freedoms of the United States and others.” The Chinese side criticized the behavior of a “serious political and military provocation.”

Until recently, China-US frictions have been fixed on the Nansha Islands. The latest intrusion by US vessels is a high-profile US provocation that has expanded to the Xisha Islands. Xisha is under China’s actual control and China has released the territorial sea baseline of the Xisha Islands, including Zhongjian Island. Therefore, the US provocation this time is more vicious.

Currently, China and the US have been focused on making their own moves in the South China Sea disputes. China is building islands in accordance with the law, and the US cannot prevent China from doing so despite strong protests. The US sent warships to provoke, and China protests against it strongly, yet with few effective countermeasures.

It is hard to evaluate the strategic nature of Sino-US confrontations in the South China Sea. China seems to have more room to maneuver, while the US apparently has more control over the overall situation.

Since it happens at the door of China, China feels that the US is circling to contain it and the US vigilance against China is aggressive. There is a long way to go before China can have an equal footing with the US. Such equality can only be achieved with the build-up of strategic strength.

China’s military strength still significantly lags behind that of the US. If the US is ready for a face-off in the South China Sea, it can quickly gather its military strength despite the far distance.

We also face similar setbacks in the East China Sea. We bear enormous pressure from Washington in our peripheral areas, and the relative backwardness of China’s military might is the weakest link in our competition with the US. Chinese people must be clear about the broader strategic significance of this reality.

The US provocation comes ahead of the 2016 two sessions which are scheduled in March. This reminds us that we must retain a high growth rate of military spending in spite of the economic downward trend.

The defense expenditure of a big power must constitute a certain percentage of its overall expense. China’s military budget only takes up 2 percent of its GDP, much lower than the US figure of 4 percent. Before we reach the same ratio as the US, we should hold a cautious attitude toward decreasing the defense budget.

China needs to accelerate its speed of building up strategic strike capabilities, including a nuclear second-strike capability. The US provocation will not stop due to Chinese objections. In the short-term future, we will have limited means to counter the US.

It will probably take China a dozen years or longer of military build-up before it faces a different situation in the South China Sea. – Global Times

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Liberating Malay mind: Shed ‘excess baggage’ of privileges !


  Malays must shed ‘excess baggage’ of privileges, says Rafidah 

 

SHAH ALAM: The Malays should drop the “excess baggage” hobbling them, such as the thinking that they are “special” and deserving of certain privileges, says Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz.

Instead, she said they should move forward by nurturing themselves with a recalibrated mindset.

Speaking at the launch of a book titled Liberating The Malay Mind by author Dr M. Bakri Musa, Rafidah said that the excess baggage of the Malays included the obsession that the community was special and more privileged than the others, in an ideal that was bolstered since the formation of the New Economic Policy (NEP).

“We (Malays) have been taught that we are special and privileged. But, we must know that the NEP was introduced because we were so far behind in knowledge and economy, and we needed assistance.

“It was not because we deserved it, nor was it that we must have it because the Malays were special,” she said in her speech.

Rafidah said it was a shame that after all these years, the Malays were still imprisoned by the thinking that they were special and deserving of certain privileges.

“It is shameful that we still want the “crutches” although our legs are fine, or still want to depend on the special status when we are able. It is our mindset that is stopping us from moving forward.”

Rafidah called on the Malays to face the future by eradicating the narrow thinking as well as their over admiration on foreign culture.

“All Malays are Muslims in Malay­sia. So, be a Malaysian Muslim. We are not Arabian, we are Malaysian first.

“We must realise that we are an integral component in Malaysia.

“It is necessary for us to nurture the younger generation with good universal values, such as integrity, trustworthiness, responsibility, accountability, discipline and respect for others.

Otherwise, we will be stuck in a time warp and end up going nowhere, she added.

Sources: The Star/Asia News Network

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