Let’s come together in 2020


AS 2019 comes to a close let us reflect on how we have progressed as a nation in the past year. It’s time to take stock of our achievements and successes, weaknesses and shortcomings.2019 can be as Charles Dickens wrote in his book, A Tale of Two Cities “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

The Government has succeeded in enhancing governance and reducing corruption and has unveiled a new shared prosperity vision. Nevertheless, the nation still remains divided with the state of race relations somewhat fragile and fraying.

Economically, whilst Malaysia has improved its international image and reputation and attracted new foreign investments, there are still concerns over the economy, particularly the cost of living and investor confidence.

I hope 2020 will be a better year for all Malaysians, a year of hope and reconciliation so necessary for us to be more united and harmonious.

I would like to propose that for the new year we look at the 4Cs.

Cultural divide: Let us close this divide to enhance our unity and social harmony by celebrating our cultural diversity instead of deliberating on what divides us.

Corruption: We need to instil a culture of ethics and integrity to enable us to fight corruption both in the public and private sectors. The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s Act’s corporate liability clause which comes into force in June 2020 can be a game changer to eradicate corruption. We must wipe out this scourge of corruption.

Class competition: The growing inequalities and divide between the rich and poor is unsustainable. More must be done to improve the earnings of the lower middle class so that they can improve their livelihood. At the same time more must be done for the bottom 20 or B20. We have talked a lot about the B40 but the B20 needs a lot more attention.

Common values and common purpose: We need to promote and enhance common values that all Malaysians can uphold and celebrate like tolerance, harmony, trust and mutual understanding. We must also have a common purpose that transcends our political divide and brings us together as a nation.

I would also like to urge the 4As of unity – acceptance, awareness, accommodation and acknowledgement. We need to maintain an equilibrium of the legitimate interests of the various communities.

Finally, I hope all Malaysians will come together to focus on the 3Es which must also be prioritised by the Government.

Economic growth: To ensure we continue to enjoy sustainable economic growth of 4%-5%.

Employment: We need to have enough jobs for our younger generation and create jobs of the future.

Environmental sustainability: We need a joint coordinated effort between government, business and civil society organisations to promote and achieve environmental sustainability so essential for future generations.

These are our common challenges going into 2020. Let us strengthen collaboration to move forward so that we can together work towards upholding the 4Ps – people, planet, peace, prosperity and partnerships for a better nation and better world.

May 2020 be a better and happier year for all of us and a year of the new 3Rs – reconciliation, renewal and racial harmony.

In 2020 we need to also keep focusing on the 3Ds – democracy, divide and digitalisation. The need to continue to strengthen democratic reforms, closing our racial and religious divides and accelerating digitalisation should move the nation forward.

Let 2020 also be the year we accelerate efforts to get rid of the 4Is – inequalities, injustices, indifference and impunity.

Let us begin a new year with new hopes. Happy New Year to all Malaysians.

Together let us unite and move forward to make 2020 the best year ever for Malaysia and Malaysians.

Tan Sri Michael Yeoh, President Kingsley Strategic Institute for Asia Pacific

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Jawi, a simple education matter is threatening to morph into a serious political issue?


Dong Zong president Tan (seated second from right) with other Dong Jiao Zong leaders at a press conference on Dec 12.

CHINESE educationists and guild leaders are going to display solid unity on Dec 28 – thanks to the Education Ministry’s move to marginalise the board of directors (BOD) in vernacular schools over a Jawi teaching issue.

Dong Jong and Jiao Zong, collectively referred to as Dong Jiao Zong, have championed the cause of Chinese education since the 1950s.

This coming Saturday, heads of Dong Jiao Zong from 13 states, as well as top leaders of 30 other national Chinese associations will be congregating at Dong Jong Building in Kajang to take a stand against a set of new guidelines on the teaching of Jawi issued by the Education Ministry to non-Malay schools.

Leading Chinese groups Huazong and Hoklian have declared their support promptly.

Hua Zong president Tan Sri Goh Tian Chuan said Chinese guilds need to unite in opposing the government’s move.

“The position of the Chinese community on Chinese language education, especially on this subject, needs to be consistent,” he said.

The bone of contention lies in the new guidelines issued by the Education Ministry on the teaching of Jawi scripts for Standard Four pupils in Chinese and Tamil primary schools.

In the guidelines issued earlier this month, the teaching of Jawi scripts will be optional. But if 51% of parents vote in favour of it in a survey conducted by Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), then schools will have to teach Jawi.

In this PTA survey and voting process, the school BOD is totally left out.

Responding to Dong Jiao Zong’s Dec 12 press conference, deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching told Bernama the ministry prioritised the opinion of the PTAs as well as the parents and students themselves.

Heng: ‘We are concerned that once the precedent (of sidelining the school board) is set, school boards will lose their voice in future policies affecting Chinese primary schools.

– Datuk Eddie Heng Hong Chai

“We will let the PTAs make the decision because it’s about their children’s learning. Parents are the guardians, so you should get their consent if you want to do anything,” she said on Dec 13.

But to the Chinese community, the BODs are the dragon heads of schools. Hence, they cannot be sidelined in any decision-making.

In a Chinese school, BOD members – who could include businessmen, parents, alumni and trustees — are expected to donate money, raise funds and formulate policies.

As government funding for Chinese primary schools is often lacking, raising funds for development and repairs of schools often rest on the shoulders of the BOD.

Dong Jiao Zong has argued that this new guidelines not only “defies the decision made by the cabinet”, but also “goes against Article 53 of the Education Act 1996” in which authority is vested in the BOD in schools.

“By allowing the parents to have the final say on this matter, the harmonious and amicable relationship among parents and students from different races will be undermined. This will also marginalise the school board as well as PTA,” Dong Jong chairman Tan Tai Kim said in a statement last weekend.

Dong Jiao Zong’s statement also noted that in the new Bahasa Malaysia (BM) textbook for Standard Four, the appreciation of Chinese caligraphy and Tamil writing are left out.

In the past, pages on Jawi, Tamil and Chinese writings appeared in the Standard Five BM text book; and Dong Jiao Zong was happy with the multi-racial content.

The new BM text book for Standard Four contains three pages on Jawi scripts, without Chinese and Tamil writings.

“The key point to note here is: we are not anti-Jawi or anti-Malay or anti-Islam. There is no issue if students are asked to learn all cultures. But we don’t want to see the gradual Islamisation of Chinese schools and the marginalisation of BODs,” says a Chinese educationist, who declines to be named.

Due to the sensitivity of this matter which could be racially or religiously distorted, Dong Jiao Zong — the organiser of the Dec 28 meeting – has advised invited community leaders to register early.

In the latest statement on Wednesday (Dec 18), Dong Jiao Zong said to ensure the meeting could be effectual and held smoothly, no one is allowed to bring banners and other publicity materials to display slogans.

Provocation is the last thing Dong Jiao Zong wants to see, given that there are already two Malay groups challenging the constitutionality of Chinese and Tamil schools in the country.

The congress is likely to adopt a resolution urging the Jawi Scripts Learning Guidelines issued by the Ministry of Education to be withdrawn, and the text book be amended to reflect multi-culturism in the country.

Apart from Dong Jiao Zong, there are other independent groups and political parties voicing similar concerns.

One group that recently sprang up is the one led by Datuk Eddie Heng Hong Chai, who heads the school board of SJK(C) Sentul KL.

At a recent press conference, the businessman opined the teaching of Jawi calligraphy in vernacular schools should be a co-curricular activity.

His group, consisting of representatives from vernacular school BODs and PTAs around Kuala Lumpur, has called for a dialogue with Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik.

“I wish to emphasise that we are not against the teaching of Jawi in schools. We are only opposing the ministry’s decision to include it in the Bahasa Melayu syllabus, ” he told a joint press conference with an Indian group.

“We are concerned that once the precedent (of sidelining school board) is set, school boards will lose their voice in future policies affecting Chinese primary schools, ” Heng said.

With school boards being the founder and pioneer for Chinese primary schools for over 200 years, Heng said school boards always had the authority in deciding school policies.

Gerakan, a political party in the former government, last week announced its plan to appeal against an earlier high court ruling that the court has no authority to interfere with Government decision on introducing Jawi into vernacular schools.

From the education point of view, many academics – irrespective of race – do not see the need for students to learn Jawi.

They have asked: What could students learn from three pages of Jawi in a year? Is there any benefit to their future career? Shouldn’t there be more emphasis on the teaching of English, Science and Maths to prepare Malaysians to be competitive internationally?

Indeed, this current education issue is not the first to stir up an uproar this year.

The first controversy erupted several months ago when the Education Ministry attempted to introduce khat (Arabic calligraphy) into vernacular schools. This decision was later withdrawn after many quarters opposed it.

But the new set of guidelines on Jawi writing is creating another unwarranted chaos.

There is suspicion in the Chinese community that there are elements within the Education Ministry scheming to gradually change the character of Chinese schools.

This deep-rooted mistrust against the Ministry cannot be easily erased because Chinese education has often come under different forms of suppression since the 1950s.

From the political perspective, there is talk that the ruling parties are pandering to ultra Malay politics to gain Malay support.

As the controversy escalates, the DAP – a major Chinese-based party in the ruling Pakatan coalition – appears to be the one feeling the most heat.

This is because the DAP drew most of its political support from the Chinese and Indians in the last general election.

The DAP leaders in Cabinet are expected to reflect the fear and sentiment of the non-Malays to the Education Ministry and the Prime Minister on the Jawi issue.

But so far, only Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow – also a DAP national leader – has openly voiced concern over this baffling issue and said it should be resolved speedily.

If the voice of non-Malays is not taken seriously, and the government continues to ignore inclusive politics, the ruling Pakatan coalition risks being rejected by the people.

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The ‘deep state’ is hard to dismantle


In the United States, President Donald Trump alleges that the “deep state” was in play to undermine his presidency. Towards this end, he blamed the “deep state” for the scandal involving Ukraine where he supposedly told his counterpart to step up the investigation into the affairs of his political rival Joe Biden and his son in that country

THE term “deep state” is new to many. However, one thing is becoming clear – it is a tool that politicians are increasingly using as an excuse to camouflage their short-comings.

In the United States, President Donald Trump alleges that the “deep state” was in play to undermine his presidency. Towards this end, he blamed the “deep state” for the scandal involving Ukraine where he supposedly told his counterpart to step up the investigation into the affairs of his political rival Joe Biden and his son in that country.

In Malaysia, politicians of Pakatan Harapan contend that the “deep state” is in play and was sabotaging the efforts of the government to carry out its plans and promises.

For all the negativity that the “deep state” has invoked in Malaysia, this informal group of senior diplomats, military officers and civil servants have earned the praises of the masses in the United States. This comes hot under the heels of the testimonies of Trump’s former advisor on Russian affairs, Fiona Hill and Ukraine embassy political counsellor David Holmes in the impeachment hearing of Trump for his role in Ukraingate.

In many ways, Malaysia has its own hero in Nor Salwani Muhammad, one of the officers who worked for former Auditor General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang.

Nor Salwani told a court hearing how she secretly left a tape recorder to capture the conversation of Malaysia’s top civil servants, in a meeting called by former Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Ali Hamsa, on doctoring the audit report of 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

The audit report deleted four important points before it was tabled to the parliamentary Pubic Accounts Committee (PAC).

People such as Nor Salwani, Hill and Holmes are part of the executive who have played a pivotal role in checking the wrongs of politicians when they run the country. Trump has described the testimonies of Hill and Holmes as the workings of the “deep state”.

In Malaysia, Nor Salwani is regarded as a hero. However, she comes from the executive wing of the government that some politicians regard as the “deep state”. In the United States, Trump feels that the military, diplomats and some from the private sector were working together to undermine him and has labelled them as the “deep state”.

But does the “deep state” really exist as a formal structure or is it just some loose alliances of some segments of unhappy people serving the government?

Nobody can really pinpoint what or who actually are the “deep state” in Malaysia. It is not an official grouping with a formal structure. It generally is seen as a movement that is a “government within a government” pursuing its own agenda that runs in contrary to what the ruling party aspires.

It is said to largely comprise the civil service working well with the police and the different arms of the judiciary. Some contend that the “deep state” is closely aligned to Barisan Nasional.

The term “deep state” was coined in Turkey in the 1970s and it primarily comprised the military and its sympathisers who are against the Islamic radicals. In recent times, even the powerful President Recce Tayyip Erdogan complained that the “deep state” was working against him.

Which raises the question – if the “deep state” was so influential, how did the Turkish president get himself re-elected in 2018?

In Malaysia, the ruling Pakatan Harapan party has blamed the “deep state” for some of the incidences such as the arrest of several people, including two DAP state assemblymen, under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma). Deputy Rural Development Minister R. Sivarasa contended that the “deep state” was responsible for the arrest and it was done without the consent of the top leadership.

Other ministers have blamed the movement as sabotaging their efforts to deliver on their promises to the government. Towards this end, speculation is rife that there would be a round of changes in the civil service to dismantle the “deep state”.

Some have even pinned the commando style abduction of pastor Raymond Koh and the disappearance of social activist Amri Che Mat on the “deep state”.

If the “deep state” was really in the works, it seems like the government would be facing a humongous task to dismantle it.

Firstly, nobody is able to pinpoint who these people are except that they apparently have tentacles at every level of the executive and in the police and probably military. Secondly, if the so-called `deep state’ is essentially made of the civil service, then they have done some good work to help uncover the cover up work of senior members of the executive wanting to hide the 1MDB scandal.

In reality, it will be hard to dismantle the much talked about `deep state’ in Malaysia. Many do not look out for riches or fame. It is likely that they are more driven to seeing what is best for the executive branch of the government.

A more practical approach would be to work together with this movement of individuals, if they can be identified, and find out the root cost of them being unhappy with the government.

Only 18 months ago, the “deep state” was very much against former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his efforts to cover up the massive debt that 1MDB accumulated. The money was largely raised outside Malaysia and diverted to entities under the control of fugitive, Low Taek Jho better known as Jho Low.

There were countless reports on 1MDB that were leaked through the social media. From banking transactions of money going into the account of Najib to pictures of him on holiday with his family and Jho Low were made available on the social media.

Isn’t this also the work of some clandestine movement within the executive that some deem as the “deep state”’?

Consider this – even in Turkey, where the word “deep state” was coined, many believe it is still in works, protecting the country’s interest. In the United States, there is a view that the “deep state” is the gem in the government.

The government can make as many changes as it wants on the civil service or agencies under its watch. However, it is not likely to wipe out the “deep state” movement.

The views expressed are the writer’s own.  Source link

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Say ‘no’ to incompetent government, message from Tanjung Piai by election!


The message from Tanjung Piai is really quite simple and straightforward.

The Malays are willing to vote for BN, MCA, PH or PPBM. To them, which party or coalition to vote for is secondary. Increasingly, they want a government that can work for them, not just good in hoodwinking.

Some pundits claimed that it was Umno-PAS union that pulled the Malay votes for BN. I would prefer to think that it is the “push factors” to vote against PPBM and Pakatan Harapan that caused the swing.

Frankly, I think most are quite fed-up with the PH government by now. Many must have paused to ask themselves which aspect of their life has become better since May 9, 2018.

Maybe they couldn’t find any other than the continued intrigues and infighting within PH component parties.

The Chinese, too, can vote for different candidates and different coalitions at different times. To them, it does not matter if it is PPBM, PH, BN or MCA. It shows Chinese Malaysians are not racist. They just want to be treated fairly; it does not matter which race represents them in the government.

PPBM, Amanah and PKR need to be reminded that the Chinese are not leftovers; they are productive citizens.

No one wishes to be insulted, so let no one tell the Chinese to go back to China again. This is totally unacceptable.

The Chinese value their children’s education very much because they know they can’t depend on the government for jobs. So, forums and congresses threatening to shut down certain schools should stop.

They want multilingual education for their children, so stop telling them what language they can or cannot learn. If the government cannot protect the minority, it does not deserve support, period.

Finally, all Malaysians – Malays, Chinese, Indians and others – hate an incompetent government. So stop talking about flying cars, third national car, crooked bridge, Kulim Airport which is a stone’s throw from Penang, and endless plans for Penang.

TK Chua is an FMT reader.

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Shocked! Najib’s actions showed personal interest beyond that of public office — judge


KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 11): Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali took an hour to deliver his decision today that the prosecution has successfully established a prima facie case against former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak on all seven charges in the SRC International Sdn Bhd trial.

What was significant was that the judge devoted half an hour to just one charge, namely abuse of power.

Najib also faces three criminal breach of trust charges and three money-laundering charges in relation to the alleged embezzlement of RM42 million from SRC in 2014 and 2015.

On the power abuse charge, Justice Nazlan said evidence adduced by the prosecution showed that the series of actions taken by Najib in respect of SRC showed personal interest beyond that of public office.

Najib, who is also the member of parliament for Pekan and former Barisan Nasional chairman, had agreed to the recommendation made by the Economic Planning Unit to approve a RM20 million launching grant for SRC when the company initially applied for a RM3 billion grant, the judge noted.

“Before SRC was placed under 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), SRC’s Articles of Association under Section 67 stipulates that the accused as PM has the power to appoint and remove the members of the board of directors of the company,” the judge said.

More importantly, Justice Nazlan said Najib responded to a letter dated June 3, 2011 from SRC’s former chief executive officer (CEO) and managing director, Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil, who sought a RM3.95 billion loan.

“Najib made a notation on the letter addressed to the Retirement Fund Inc (KWAP) CEO Datuk Azian Mohd Noh stating in fact that he was agreeing to it, and wanted Azian to look into it.

“It should be highlighted that KWAP is a statutory institution which in effect reports to the finance minister and KWAP board members and whose investment panel members are appointed by the finance minister, under Section 6 and 7 of the KWAP Act,” the judge said.

Najib the ultimate boss

Justice Nazlan said Najib had informed then Treasury secretary-general and KWAP chairman Tan Sri Dr Wan Abdul Aziz Wan Abdullah to expedite the approval of the SRC loan, and that this happened after Wan Abdul Aziz and Azian had briefed Najib that KWAP was initially considering extending a loan of only RM1 billion.

“Crucially, Wan Abdul Aziz testified under cross-examination that he did not consider the said communication with the accused as an instruction from Najib. In addition Azian, the former KWAP CEO, testified there was no legal compulsion. She could not deny that there was a certain amount of influence in the notation directed to her in the June 3, 2011 letter.

“This was due to the fact that Azian felt Najib was the PM and the minister in charge of KWAP and her “ultimate boss”,” the judge said, adding that before KWAP approved the loan, SRC had written to the finance ministry seeking a government guarantee in anticipation of the RM2 billion loan.

The judge also noted the deputy secretary-general of Treasury, Datuk Mat Noor Nawi, had testified that the transfer of the share of ownership of SRC from 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) to Ministry of Finance Incorporated was executed by Najib, who was also the finance minister.

Justice Nazlan said the series of conduct and involvement of Najib with regard to SRC, if viewed in totality, cannot be construed as purely being a lawful exercise of his official duty as either the prime minister, finance minister or advisor emeritus of SRC.

“This is because such conduct and involvement was beyond the ordinary and outside the usual conduct or involvement expected of a prime minister and finance minister, similarly circumstanced.

“Such conduct and involvement exhibited by the accused instead serves only to demonstrate the existence of private and personal interest on the part of the accused in SRC, which interest, in my judgement, is in the nature that is envisaged under the law to fall within the ambit of Section 23 of the MACC Act,” the judge ruled.

Justice Nazlan further reasoned that the argument that Najib had not given any instructions or directions but merely made requests and had no role to play in securing the KWAP loan cannot withstand the court’s scrutiny.

He said if these were couched as mere requests it is manifest that they were made by Najib because they were meant to be obeyed.

“Everyone else in the picture was in a position subordinate to the accused. These included the secretary-general of the Treasury and the (then) Second Finance Minister (Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah),” he said.

Justice Nazlan said the prosecution has also showed that Najib participated in the decision-making process at the meetings of the Cabinet, which the ex-premier chaired and where the two government guarantees for the loans extended by KWAP to SRC were approved.

This, he said, is clearly is a decision or action taken by Najib in relation to the government guarantee, which was to guarantee KWAP the repayment of the loan by SRC, in which Najib had an interest of a nature that is caught under Section 23 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009.

“In fact the accused himself, as the PM who chaired the meetings, had tabled the Cabinet paper on the second government guarantee at the meeting which approved the same on Feb 8, 2012.

“There was no disclosure, let alone any attempt to excuse himself from the deliberation on the Cabinet papers at the either of the said meetings,” he said, adding that Najib also subsequently chaired a cabinet meeting where a short-term loan was approved when SRC nearly defaulted KWAP payment.

“Given the accused’s control over SRC, he could cause the transfers of RM42 million which were through intermediary companies credited into his personal accounts and eventuality utilised and spent to his own advantage. This is gratification to the accused pure and simple,” he said, in ruling that Najib has to enter his defence on the abuse of power charge.

Najib is charged under Section 23 of the MACC Act for allegedly using his position as the prime minister and finance minister to commit bribery involving RM42 million when he participated in or was involved in the decision to provide government guarantees for loans from the Retirement Fund Inc to SRC amounting to RM4 billion.

He is alleged to have committed the offence at the Prime Minister’s Office in Putrajaya between Aug 17, 2011 and Feb 8, 2012. If convicted, he faces a jail term of up to 20 years, and a fine of not less than five times the amount or value received or RM10,000, whichever is higher.

The Edge is reporting the proceedings of the SRC trial live.

Users of The Edge Markets app may tap here to access the live report.


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Losing faith in reform of Malaysian education system


 

TO put it bluntly, I have lost confidence in our education system.

There were high expectations after the new government came into power after May 9,2018 with

its promises of reforms, and we hoped that our education system would be restored to its previous glory. But after the blunders in the past one-and-half years, I see little hope in Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik turning things around for the better.

I have little choice now but to pull my children out of the national school system despite having to work much harder to afford private education for them.

From my observations, recent developments in the Education Ministry show that Maszlee has little or no experience in running the ministry, which is close to the hearts of all Malaysians.

His suggestion to implement free breakfast for all children will cost millions, if not billions, of ringgit; money that could be used for more meaningful things like upgrading school facilities. After all, not all children will eat their breakfast.

His latest blunder was to propose the abolition of streaming in upper secondary level. When you abolish streaming, you will end up with a rojak curriculum where the children become a jack of all trades but master of none. Their grounding in the sciences or arts would not be strong enough for them to survive their university education.

Already, the national syllabus is rojak at best, with more subjects and topics being introduced every year. I cannot imagine my children having to go through the next 10 years of their education learning things that are not relevant to their future careers.

Just think of a 10-year-old child having to learn two or three languages, Science and Mathematics, plus a host of the other subjects like Health Science, Physical Education, Architecture (reka bentuk), Moral and Civics Education, Information Technology, Arts and Craft, History and Geography. On top of these, there’s Khat and Chinese calligraphy too.

Furthermore, some principals, especially in Chinese schools, are adding to the financial burdens of the parents by asking them to buy more workbooks than allowed by the ministry.

When my son was in Standard Three, I was shocked to see that he had 21 workbooks. When he moved up to Standard Four, he had to go through a total of 440 pages for just one subject, Bahasa Melayu.

By comparison, schools conducting international syllabi such as IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education) only require the children to concentrate on four or five subjects. They focus only on the key areas that will help fulfil their prerequisites for a university education while the rest can be learnt as a hobby instead of being taught in a classroom situation.

My plan was to put my children in Chinese primary school so that they could learn the language. This means they would have to struggle with Mandarin in the first six years of their education, Bahasa Malaysia in secondary level and then English when they enter university.

Like it or not, for Malaysia to compete internationally, we still need the international languages that are widely used across the world without, of course, neglecting Bahasa Malaysia or the mother tongues, which have their place in the country.

One reason why many of our graduates are not employable is because they cannot even express themselves properly.

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Home Ministry bans B&RI comic book too quick. Is it really that dangerous?


Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad giving the comic book to China’s President Xi Jinping as a gift.

Image

Penang DAP chief defends ‘Superman’ Hew’s banned pro-China comic books

Ban on 'Belt and Road Initiative for Win Winism' too quick — ChowGEORGE TOWN, Oct 25 — The Home Ministry was hasty in banning former DAP member Hew Kuan Yau’s Belt and Road Initiative for Win-Winism comic as communist propaganda, Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said today.

“The authorities need to look at the real intentions behind the comic and look at it in detail before banning it,” the Penang DAP chief said in a press conference today.

He said the authorities initially wanted to invite historians to scrutinise the comic book but banned it as communist propaganda before this could be done.

Chow suggested there was ulterior motives in the swift ban.

“They should have asked experts to review the comic and get their views before banning it,” he said.

Chow said authorities should consider that Hew wanted to introduce China as an alternative to the US as a global superpower.

He noted that aside from curating for the Asia Comic Cultural Museum, Hew had also been the chief executive officer of the Malaysia China Business Council.

Chow claimed China was misunderstood politically and Hew meant only to highlight the country’s economic success.

He further claimed that China has thousands of self-made billionaires who made their fortunes through socialism despite being a superficially communist state.

“It was his intention to give an alternative introduction to China regarding its economic development,” he said.

The Home Ministry officially banned the comic as it was deemed to be inappropriate as it promotes “communism and socialism” as well as spreading confusing facts” on its struggle here in the country.

When asked about the state government’s financial support for the Asia Comic Cultural Museum, Chow said the museum itself was not banned.

He also said the museum did not belong to the state government, which only supported it by paying for its rental.

“The museum was set up in 2016 and chose to set up in ICT Mall at Level Two of Komtar during a time when the state government was taking steps to rejuvenate Komtar,” he said.

He said at the time, the state government was bringing in businesses to Komtar including The Top, ICT Mall and Tech Dome, and the state decided to support the museum when it chose to move there.

“It is a tourism product that is unique in Malaysia and even Asia, it is a comic museum that promotes creativity and animation where various events were held by famous comic artists there,” he said.

He said this was the reason why the state decided to collaborate with the museum by paying for their rental but stated that the state did not fund the exhibits or infrastructure in the museum.

“We only support in terms of rental and the rental goes to Penang Development Corporation, this is the only link between the state and the museum,” he said.

He said the state has an agreement with the museum to support it until December 2020.

The issue of the state’s support for the museum was discussed at the state exco meeting this morning, he added.



But is it really that dangerous?

Titled Belt & Road Initiative for Win-Winism, the comic book was a collaboration between a curator from the Asian Comic Cultural Museum Hew Kuan Yau and Malaysian comic artist, Tomato.

Unless you’ve been living under a coconut shell, you would’ve probably heard of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

It’s a strategy by the economic powerhouse to take over the world. Business wise that is, through investments and development in a whopping 152 countries across Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas.

Malaysia has had some investments flowing in from the country through the development of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL).

A super problem.

The curator of the museum, Hew, also known as Superman Hew, is a member of the Democratic Action Party (DAP) which forms part of the current Malaysian government.

Hew has been known for his vocal pro-China views. Although he no longer holds leadership positions in the party, he is still very much active as a member.

For Malay-Muslim hardliners, DAP is seen as a pro-Chinese party who is out to get them. The comic issue blew up because former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak took to social media to quiz if the comic was a form of propaganda.

mej PM ke-7 turut digunakan sebagai bahan promosi untuk penjualan dalam talian komik propaganda DAP.

Najib also uploaded several images among which featured current Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad showcasing the comic to Chinese president, Xi Jinping.

Chinese propaganda?

China's economy has surpassed America's — and that's OK

China’s economy has surpassed America’s — and that’s OK
China is fast growing, economically.

The comic was not sold in news stands or bookstores unlike others. Instead, it was apparently distributed in several schools.

What’s more, these books were sent to school libraries for free. This prompted Malaysian Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik to ban the comic books in schools.

Critics of the ruling government claimed that the comic was used as a propaganda tool to brainwash the younger generation. The opposition’s call to debate the comic was also recently dismissed.

This led the Malaysian Home Ministry to announce a total ban of the comic on the grounds that it could “endanger public order and security” and “distort the mind of the public”.


But should it have been banned?



The cover of the comic depicts Malaysian prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Chinese premier Xi Jinping. IMAGE: The Edge Markets

Not really as Malaysians have the freedom to read the comic book, according to renowned local cartoonist Zunar.

“Until today, I haven’t read the whole content of the comic. Personally, I may or may not agree with the content, but I am strongly against the banning of the comic,” he said in a statement to Free Malaysia Today.

Zunar, who has had his own cartoons banned during Najib’s rule, said he agree that distributing the comic in schools was uncalled for. But Malaysians are capable of making their own decisions.

“The principle is simple: ‘Cartoons and comics are a matter of interpretation. If you do not agree with the content, no problem. But do not use your interpretation as a law to ban it. Don’t like? Don’t read!”

Hew and others are currently being investigated by the police in their involvement of producing the comic book and distributing some 2,500 copies in schools. 

Read more:

 

 

All you need to know about China’s ‘Belt and Road Initiative

 

 

 

Maritime Silk Road, China Sea Silk Road – China Highlights

 

‘How did comic book end up with Xi?’

 

 

Worst yet to come?

 

 

Superman Hew resigns as MCBC chief over comic book saga …

 

 

Penang museum raided and comic books seize

 

 

 

 

Historians to be roped in for comic book  probe

 

 

‘Only comic banned, not museum’

 
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