YBs, please lend us your ears


Some of our lawmakers should re-focus their attention and find ways to help ease the cost of living.

IT’S disturbing, to say the least. We have economic issues that Malaysia needs to deal with seriously like the continuing uncertainty in the price of oil, market slowdown and slide in the value of our ringgit which is affecting our country’s coffers.

The cost of doing business has shot up against the backdrop of declining revenue and profits, which worries most Malaysians.

All of us, especially those in the middle and lower income groups, are grappling with the increasing cost of living. The worst hit are the wage earners living in major cities such as Kuala Lumpur, Johor Baru and Penang.

If our elected lawmakers have any idea of what the rakyat is going through, they should be focusing on ways to help ease the cost of living.

Never mind if they have to talk in the Dewan Rakyat till 5am. And to our Yang Berhormats, don’t expect us to sympathise with you, because get this – no one pressured you to be a Member of Parliament. You chose to stand for elections yourself.

But sadly for us, instead of having the chance to listen to top quality debates on ways to help Malaysia find new sources of revenue and not just depend on oil and palm oil, again, we find some of our legislators preferring to channel their energy into religious matters.

Not that religion isn’t a priority for us. It is, but the reality is this: we will never reach common ground.

So, PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang has managed to table the controversial Private Member’s Bill to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act or RUU355, but the debate on it has been deferred. That’s the furthest he gets.

He can keep saying that it will not affect non-Muslims, but the majority of non-Muslims know this to be untrue.

We are a plural society and no one community lives in isolation. Our lives are intertwined and entangled as Malaysians. There’s no such thing as laws that do not affect the entire community.

Abdul Hadi says it isn’t hudud, but hudud is written all over the Kelantan Syariah Criminal Code (II) Enactment (1993) (Amended 2015) and if Abdul Hadi’s Bill is passed, it will only give life to such laws on a national level.

Remember, even a poster of a Bollywood actress pinned up at a watch shop in Kelantan resulted in a non-Muslim shopkeeper being fined because the authorities thought the photograph was sexy. And not to mention the unisex hair salons which have long been penalised.

Abdul Hadi expects us to believe him when he says that non-Muslims will not be affected. And if we go by his “logic”, non-Muslims have no say over the matter.

The majority of Barisan Nasional component parties do not want this Bill – it is that simple – and we are glad that the Prime Minister understands that the coalition operates on consensus.

The fact is that the MCA and MIC have stood by Umno, even when it was at its lowest, since our independence. These are proven friends of more than six decades and not newfound pals who got together because of common political expediency.

Let’s get real. Umno isn’t going to move aside and allow PAS to contest in any constituency in the general election, nor will PAS allow the same for Umno.

Malaysia is a multicultural country founded on the principles of moderation. This is not a Middle East nation, even though the Muslims make up the majority of the population. We should be proud of our unique Malaysian way of life.

I studied Malay Literature for two years in the Sixth Form, sat for the examination (and passed) and when I entered university, I signed up for the Malay Letters Department courses at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

I wanted to deepen my understanding and appreciation of the Malay arts. Not Arab arts. Malays are Muslims, not Arabs.

Over at the august House, even as Abdul Hadi became the focus of attention after tabling the Bill, we had to put up with Tasek Gelugor MP Datuk Shabudin Yahaya, who at one point suggested that rapists be allowed to marry their child victims as a solution to social problems.

He can keep blaming the press, claiming that he was quoted out of context, but there are certain basic remarks he made that he cannot run away from.

You can watch the video recording of what he said a few times and pause at certain parts of the video. It is pretty clear.

A girl who is nine years old may have reached puberty, but is she old enough to have sexual intercourse after she marries? A rational person would say that she is a child and should be in school or the playground with her friends.

This YB has put Malaysia in the international news for the wrong reason yet again (shame, shame) …. and so soon after the Beauty and The Beast fiasco too.

We can only cringe when we imagine what the world thinks of Malaysia. This is not to say that we wouldn’t readily refute any suggestion that our beautiful country is swamped by paedophiles or nutty lawmakers who are apologists for child marriages.

So, in the end, when Parliament found itself running out of time, we will remember this meeting as one where religious issues were the main concern.

As far as I recall, at least from media reports, no one talked about how we could take advantage of our weak ringgit to get more tourists to come visit us and how we could carry this out with limited funds for international promotions. We also didn’t hear how we could boost the soft economy after two years.

Maybe financial and economic matters are just too complicated for some of these MPs, with their limited knowledge. And these are YBs we have entrusted to speak up for us. After all, we put the future of Malaysia in their hands.

by Wong chun wai On the beat The Star/ANN

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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Video of Shabudin’s remarks on child marriage goes viral

//players.brightcove.net/4405352761001/default_default/index.html?videoId=5390711051001
https://players.brightcove.net/4405352761001/default_default/index.html?videoId=5390711051001
https://right-waystan.blogspot.my/2017/04/ybs-please-lend-us-your-ears.html

PETALING JAYA: A video of Datuk Shabudin Yahaya’s controversial statement about child marriages in Parliament has gone viral, which appears to raise questions on his claim that his remarks were taken out of context.

After coming under fire for suggesting in the Dewan Rakyat on Tues­day that it is all right for rapists to marry their child victims, the Te­­luk Gelugor MP issued a statement the next day to say that his words had been taken out of context.

In a three-page statement yesterday, Sha­budin continued to blame the media for the outcry over his re­­marks, even saying that their reports bordered on fake news.

In the Parliament recording, Sha­budin argued that it is not a pro­blem for children under 16 years old to marry as their body are phy­sically mature enough for marriage

He said a child who has reached puberty, even at nine years old, could be considered mature.

In some cases, he said, someone aged 12 and 15 could physically look like they were 18, and thus would be ready for marriage.

“In some instances, it is not im­­possible that they get married if they have reached puberty at the age of nine. A 12-year-old may have the body of an 18-year-old which means some girls are ‘physically and spiri­tually’ ready for marriage,” he said.

The former Syariah Court judge is mulling over legal action against the media.

In yesterday’s statement, Shabu­din said his remarks during the debate on the Sexual Offences Against Children Bill 2017 on Tues­day led to an unnecessary outcry after they were inaccurately interpreted in reports by both local and international news organisations.

“In their reports and headlines, both the local and international media gave the perception that I had condoned rapists being allowed to marry underage victims to avoid punishment.

“This is inaccurate and misleading and borders on fake news,” he said.

The Barisan Nasional MP said he had stressed during the debate that rape is a crime whether consensual or otherwise.

“At no point in time did I suggest that the rapists are forced to marry the victims nor did I say that the crime of rape is automatically dropped after marriage.

Shabudin explained that he had given his opinion that the courts should be allowed to rule on cases of statutory rape involving consenting partners, and treat such cases diffe­rently from non-consensual rape, as opposed to an outright ban on underage marriages.

He made the remarks in response to the suggestion by Kulai DAP MP Teo Nie Ching to include child marriage as an offence in the proposed law.

The legal age for marriage in Malaysia is 21 without parental consent, and 18 with parental consent, while the legal age of consent is 16.

However, in certain cases, those below the legal age can marry if given a special marriage licence from the head of their state government or approved by the court.

In a related development, Women, Family and Community Develop­ment Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim defended Shabudin, saying that being a former Syariah Court judge, he had encountered all these scenarios.

“He was not implying that a nine-year-old girl can get married, but rather, he was being detailed in his explanation,” Rohani told reporters at a function yesterday.

She said Shabudin has been “very supportive” of the Bill as he himself had presided over cases of sexual crimes against children.

In Ipoh, Gerakan adviser Tan Sri Chang Ko Youn urged Shabudin to do the right thing and apologise.

“What he said is outrageous. No matter what he tries to say now, the damage has already been done. He should apologise,” he said.

“Otherwise he would present himself as a subject of ridicule and be a liability to Barisan Nasional in the next general election.

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Islamic State terror attacks on eve of Malaysia’s National Day foiled


KUALA LUMPUR – For months, the three men laid low, going about their daily routine while waiting for the signal to attack to come from Syria.

When at last the instruction came from notorious Islamic State (IS) militant Mohamad Wanndy Moha­mad Jedi at the end of July, the men quickly started gathering arms and putting together a chilling plan.

They were going to attack on the eve of National Day when the rest of their countrymen were celebrating what it meant to be Malaysians and among their targets are a temple in Batu Caves, the Kajang police headquarters and various entertainment outlets.

The men were in the last phase of their plans – even going to the extent of monitoring their targets – when the Bukit Aman Special Branch Counter-Terrorism Division moved in on them.

Anti-terror officers detained the men – a 20-year-old contractor, a 27-year-old butcher and a college student, also 20 – in Selan­gor, Pahang and Kuala Lumpur between Aug 27 and 29.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said all the planning and logistics had been masterminded by Mohamad Wann­dy, who appeared to be pulling the strings among the network of IS militants here.

“They were taking orders from him,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Sources revealed that the contractor was arrested on Aug 27 when officers raided his home in Sungai Merab Luar in Kajang.

“We seized a K75 grenade and a CZ 2075 RAMI pistol along with 24 .9mm bullets. We believe he obtained the weapons from a middleman,” said Khalid.

The man was believed to have picked up the weapons from a drop-off location at a cemetery in Damansara at about 9pm in late July.

“It was no doubt arranged by Mo­hamad Wanndy. Authorities believe that militants from another cell supplied the weapons and placed them at the drop-off point.

“Militants from different cells often do not know each other to reduce the risk of being tracked by the authorities,” a source said.

It is learnt that the butcher was detained in Kampung Paya Kecil in Temerloh, Pahang, while the college student was picked up from his home in AU3, Keramat, in the city.

“The other two did not have weapons with them but authorities believe they were waiting for supplies,” added the source.

Authorities are also not ruling out the possibility that one of the men could have been tasked to pick up a ready-made Improvised Explosive Device.

“Some of their targets were police patrol units in Kajang. The authorities believe that Mohamad Wanndy really wanted his cell members to carry out a big attack on the eve of National Day.

“He wanted to make a big impact as he was not satisfied with the scale of the Movida bomb attack,” a source said.

It is learnt that the three men had been communicating with Moha­mad Wanndy since January but the order to attack was only given on July 30 once they had gotten hold of the explosives and ammunition.

It is also believed that they were planning to escape to Thailand before eventually making their way to Syria, where they are expected to meet Mohamad Wanndy.

With the grenade seized in this latest case, this brings to seven the number of those still unaccounted for after the Movida attack on June 28.

The first known IS attack on home soil injured several people after a grenade was thrown at the Movida Restaurant in Puchong.

Four people are expected to be charged in various courts in Johor for abetting in the bombing of Movida today.

With the latest arrest, the number of militants detained since 2013 has risen to 239 and the attacks foiled to date, 13.

When police detained nine IS mi­­li­­tants in early August, three of them – two were involved in the Mo­­vida bombing – had also been taking orders from Mohamad Wanndy.

They were ordered to launch another attack against an entertainment outlet in Johor.

Mohamad Wanndy has emerged to be the main influence on the IS militant network in the country, with people caught following his orders and raising funds.

By Farik Zolkepli The Star/Asia News Network

Be an entrepreneur or a politician?


Let your children decide on their employment choice

Most parents in their fifties are looking at retirement options when their children starts looking for employment after their studies. There is this transition moment in our family circle of life where the baton of employment, career or business is being passed to the next generation.

The older generation after 30 years of slogging, looks forward to easier passing of days without the responsibilities and worries whilst the younger generation looks forward with optimism and high hopes of securing a good career ahead.

As an entrepreneur with businesses and investments, my natural instinct is to rope them into the family business, if any, as any typical old generation Chinese businessman will do. But I made up my mind some 7 years ago when my first born started his A Level, that my children will make their own choice whether they will prefer to seek employment elsewhere or participate in the family business. It will be their choice and decision and I will support whole heartedly whatever decisions they will make. 7 years later, I still have the same conviction.

I had this feeling that the business world and environment will be much different with all these globalization and technological advancement and the businesses that I was in will be operating in a much more competitive and disruptive world order. This has proven to be true.

The traditional brick and mortar businesses are under tremendous stress to keep up with new disruptive technologies and new business ideas.

My children will have to learn new skills and insights and they definitely will not be able to learn from my traditional family business unless I had instituted changes to my existing business to join the new business order. But I did not know how.

So it is better that they decide on their choice of employment in whatever industries they choose as long as they are working for a forward looking company who is able to embrace the new technological changes that is changing the business order across the global markets. And if they do decide later after some years of working experience to venture out as an entrepreneur, I will also support them wholeheartedly.

Assuming they are up to it, with the right attitude and skill sets.

Not everyone is capable of being a ‘successful’ entrepreneur. It is easy to start a business, call yourself a founder and entrepreneur but chances of being successful is limited to the capable few. For most cases, you are better off building a good career in a good organization rather than struggling in a small scale business for the rest of your life.

If you planned to be an entrepreneur, just make sure your business potential is scalable to a size that will earned you nett, double what you would be earning in a good job. Or else it will be a waste of time. The thrill of being your own boss wears thin over time when you are not doing well financially.

I have many friends who have done very well in their corporate careers and they seem very happy when we do meet up. They definitely look younger than me, with less stressful lines, a radiant and happy face. Compared to my aged face filled with worried lines and scars of agony suffered through the years. Was it worth it?

With the wisdom of hindsight, I am now able to advise my children on their decision making process on whether they should be a corporate suit or to go on their own. My only guidance to them is whatever choice they make, just ensure their actions are productive and contribute towards the well being of the economy. Don’t be lazy, do good where you can and be as good as you can be. Then start a family. Circle of life starts again.

The only career that I totally discouraged my children from is the job of a politician. Good politicians are hard to find nowadays. Since integrity left the politicians, good virtues and honesty followed. What is left is a shell of a conniving and corrupted politician using whatever means they can to stay in power supposedly representing the people’s interest.

All over the world, the politicians together with religious and racist bigots have caused total mayhem to our daily lives. People are divided by race, religion and skin colour. Nothing makes sense anymore. Throw in lots of money into a politician’s hands and we have absolute corruption across the ranks. Cash is king. Everybody can be bought. And I mean everybody.

What is really sad is the complete breakdown of morality and integrity of the human politician. Where he suffers no shame when he is openly corrupted. When he can sleep well even though he has done many evil things destroying the moral fabric of the society which he swore to protect. I have nothing but despise for these toxic politicians.

The few genuine politicians who stand up their grounds to all are few and far between. Eventually, they too will engulfed by the all pervasive influence of corruption.

To the younger generation joining the working community, my only advice is to pick a job that fits your personality and your skill sets. Make sure you enjoy the job. Get some proper working experience under your belt and you can evaluate your options in a more leisurely way.

You will know when there is a calling for you to become an entrepreneur. You will be unhappy with your job, your bosses irritates you, there is a burning desire that has just lighted up in your belly, a brilliant idea suddenly appeared and you feel that you are now ready to be an entrepreneur. Are you?

From experience, it takes a long time for an entrepreneur to make big fortune. If you do not have the patience, I recommend you a job that makes money faster than an entrepreneur.

Be a politician.

Source: Tan Thiam Hock, On Your Own/Starbizweek

The writer is an entrepreneur who hopes to share his experience and
insights with readers who want to take that giant leap into business but
are not sure if they should.

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Beware of meddling via soft power !


MEDDLING by foreign powers is an established phenomenon for as long as one can remember. They are not limited only to the Muslim countries and communities. For example, last year at the Seventh Summit of the Americas in Panama City, President Barack Obama indirectly admitted this when he publicly stated that the days of US interference in the affairs of Latin America were coming to an end. Reportedly, he said, “the days in which our agenda in this hemisphere presumed that the United States could meddle with impunity, those days are past”. Some traced this to as far back as the conquest of the Americas by the Europeans in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries especially after its so-called “discovery” by Columbus. Perhaps, the major difference is that there are many more Latin American leaders and populace who are more “resolute” than their Muslim counterparts in resisting any attempt to meddle.

More generally “colonialism” is one form of meddling that many parts of the world have experienced, and are still suffering from it. Malaysia is no exception, no denying that there are some benefits to be learnt from the process. But where it hits the “mind” is where it is more toxic to the extent that it can debilitate. Even long after achieving independence the “colonised” mindsets are still clearly felt whether at the level of the leadership or the population at large. The post-Merdeka generations are more vulnerable when they are shut out from the larger discourse affecting the future of the nation, ironically due to yet another form of “meddling” that left them disenfranchised. In the days of social media, the impact of this can be phenomenal, what with other contending parties that are more than eager to attract their attention, as we have seen recently.

Social media is an excellent platform for yet another form of meddling – soft power. Coined a few years ago, soft power describes “the ability to attract and co-opt using persuasion (mind-twisting) rather than by coercion, notably by bullying and arm-twisting (hard power). To the disenfranchised, soft power is said to be very appealing especially when “credibility is the scarcest resource”, as explained by Joseph Nye, who introduces the concept. In fact more recently, the term has expanded to include “changing and influencing social and public opinion through relatively less transparent channels and lobbying through powerful political and non-political organisations.”

Of the six factors that are often associated with enhancing soft power, education and culture seem to be pivotal. In other words, meddling can be carried out discreetly using these two dimensions. Indeed, Nye did suggest how higher education leaders might enhance American soft power by increasing international student and cultural exchange programmes. Viewed this way, soft power is a very subtle extension of the colonial process without even realising it. A case in point is when in 2007 the Rand Corporation in the US developed a “road map” for the construction of moderate Muslim networks and institutions “that the US government and its allies need, but thus far have failed, to develop clear criteria for partnerships with authentic moderates”. It therefore proposes “the building of moderate Muslim networks an explicit goal of US government programmes”.

More explicitly, it listed who the “moderates” are to be targeted according to priority, namely: liberal and secular Muslim academics and intellectuals, young moderate religious scholars, community activists, women’s groups engaged in gender equality campaigns, and finally moderate journalists and writers. It argued that “the US should ensure visibility and platforms for these individuals.” For example, to ensure that individuals from these groups are “included in congressional visits, making them better known to policymakers and helping to maintain US support and resources for the public diplomacy effort.” If these sound like “meddling”, it is because it is one – effectively disguised as “soft power”. It is without doubt, yet another attempt among many to continuously interfere and manipulate the situation from the perspective of the authors and the sponsoring institution. Despite this it is very sad if Muslims are oblivious to the sleight of hand, and succumb to the form of endless meddling. Only to realise that it causes more confusion and divisiveness among the community.

In the days ahead before Aug 31, it is incumbent upon us to deeply ponder what Merdeka means beyond the routine parade and march-past, flag-raising ceremony and singing the national anthem.

By Dzulkifli Abdul Razak, theSundaily

With some four decades of experience in education, the writer believes that “another world is possible”. Comments: letters@thesundaily.com

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No room for an Islamic State (IS) and the racists in multiracial Malaysia


Let not the first brick be laid

THREE issues that have surfaced over the past week have terribly disturbed me and I am sure many Malaysians who are rational, reasonable and fair-minded feel the same way. More than that, these actions are slowly eroding the Malaysia that we know.

Minister in charge of Islamic Affairs Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom told Parliament that unilateral conversions are lawful and gua­ranteed under the Federal Constitution.

This writer does not know if Jamil understood what he was reading out, which was presumably prepared by an official, or if he had referred to the Cabinet papers or read up on the Federal Constitution.

There is a 2009 Cabinet directive on uni­lateral conversion and early this year, a five-member Cabinet committee on unilateral conversion also decided that no child can be converted to another religion without the consent of both parents.

The 2009 Cabinet directive also stipulated that children must follow the practised religion of the parents at the time of marriage in the event that one of them converts.

Surely Jamil must be aware of the committee because he is also a member. Among the others in the panel are Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Joseph Kurup.

The other members of the committee are Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz, de facto law minister Nancy Shukri, and Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam.

Jamil and his officials cannot read the Federal Constitution – specifically the provision for conversion – in isolation.

The argument of the singular meaning for “parent” does not hold water as the Interpretation Act 1948 & 1967 clearly indicates otherwise; the term “parent” in Article 12 (4) must necessarily mean both the father and mother.

To construe otherwise would mean depriving, for example, a mother of her rights as a parent to choose the religion of her infant under Article 12 (4), if the father alone decides. In simple English, the Interpretation Act stipulates “parent” to mean plural, not singular.

The Interpretation Acts of 1948 and 1967, which generally apply to all Acts of Parliament, state that words in the singular shall include the plural. Therefore, the Constitution ought to be interpreted in like manner.

Jamil should also put himself in the shoes of other Malaysians, especially non-Muslims. He may be in charge of Islamic Affairs but he is also a leader of all Malaysians.

I don’t think Jamil will be a happy man if his spouse makes a decision without telling him, and we are not even talking about religious issues.

Lest we forget, the Federal Court has ruled that Hindu mother M. Indira Gandhi is allowed to challenge the validity of the unilateral conversion of her three children by her Muslim-convert ex-husband Muhammad Riduan.

The ruling is the culmination of the interfaith custody battle between Indira and Muhammad Riduan that began in 2009. They were married as Hindus and today, no one has been able to trace the whereabouts of Muhammad Riduan (formerly K. Pathmanathan), who had converted the couple’s three children – then aged 12, 11 and 11 months – to Islam without their presence or Indira’s knowledge, just six days before he obtained a custody order for all three in the Syariah Court on April 8, 2009.

Another big surprise last week was the Government’s decision to allow PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang to table a Private Member’s Bill in the Dewan Rakyat to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965.

On Thursday, it was at the bottom of the day’s agenda but it was prioritized by two Federal Ministers. It came as a surprise because PAS has brought the Private Member’s Bill four times since 1995, and has never succeeded. On Thurday, Hadi got this first step.

We can be sure that Hadi will repeat his mantra that the Bill only seeks to empower the Syariah Courts and it only involves Muslims.

When tabling the Bill, he said it seeks to amend Section 2 of the Act to state that the Syariah Courts will have jurisdiction over Muslims, and in the case of offences on matters listed in Item 1 of the State List under the Ninth Schedule of Federal Laws.

He said it is also to include Section 2A, which states that in the conduct of criminal law under Section 2A, the Syariah Courts have the right to impose penalties allowed by Syariah laws related to offences listed in the said section, in addition to the death penalty.

What Hadi is pushing for is unacceptable. We live in a plural society. Those who argue that the Syariah law is only for Muslims may have missed this point – can anyone in Malaysia guarantee that crimes would only involve Muslim criminals and victims?

Many kinds of criminal acts affect non-Muslims, including rape. If we follow what Hadi is preaching – we will have to find four male witnesses of repute to testify in a rape case. Women witnesses are not accepted and we wonder where we are going to find four men of good reputation in relation to a rape case.

If non-Muslims already find that judges in civil courts are reluctant to adopt a firm stand on the civil rights of the aggrieved non-Muslim party, we wonder how the Syariah Courts can defend the interest of non-Muslims.

There cannot be a parallel criminal justice system with Muslims and non-Muslims subjected to two different laws. This is not about Islam, as advocated by Hadi and PAS, but simple common sense. But of course, common sense is not that common in PAS but we hope there will be a sense of fair play from Umno, and not the agenda dictated by the likes of Jamil. Sometimes we wonder if Jamil is really from Umno or PAS.

The third disappointment must be a speech made by Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaacob, the controversial Rural and Regional Development Minister, who is well known for his communal remarks.

Last week, he reminded his listeners that Malays must unite to prevent non-Muslims from becoming Prime Minister because the Federal Constitution is silent on the racial origin of the top boss.

First of all, I cannot imagine any non-Malay aspiring to be the PM because, accept it, realistically it is not going to happen in my lifetime. It took 200 years in the United States for a black man to become president, even when the whites and blacks are mainly Christians and speak English.

But it is sad that in this age and time, Ismail is still looking inward and seeing things through his racist lens. Surely, he must have applauded when a Muslim became the first mayor of London, and for that matter, the first mayor in a big Western city.

Even in Jakarta, the capital of the world’s largest Muslim country, a Christian Chinese has been voted in as the city’s governor.

The non-Malays, especially the Chinese, are aware of their position as a minority in Malaysia. Politicians like Ismail should stop using phrases like “they” and “us” in his speeches, because we are all Malaysians.

What he has said serves little purpose, except to hurt feelings unnecessarily. A true mature Malaysian leader will talk about the strength of all Malaysians, regardless of their race and religion, coming together and not going separate ways.

As one lawyer put it aptly in his article, Malaysia is represented by at least 45% of the population who have faiths other than Islam. The important question one needs to address is the line between maintaining social stability and securing individual rights of religious practice and freedom of religion.

He further added, “this needs to be re-evaluated – where the politicisation of the Muslim rights over the non-Muslim citizens and fear mongering has had considerable effect in defining the parameters of the fundamental rights afforded to the citizen by the Constitution.”

Three months from now, Malaysia will celebrate its National Day. As we replay the old visual of Tunku Abdul Rahman raising his hand at Stadium Merdeka, let us not forget that the Alliance created Malaysia as a secular democracy.

Tunku would have been horrified at the thought of what Hadi and his PAS theolo­gians want to do with Malaysia.

He would have also reminded a few Umno leaders, who have no sense of history, that our Independence was made possible because of the unity of Umno, MCA and MIC, and that without Sabah and Sarawak, there would be no Malaysia.

So please think carefully of the hearts and minds of the rest of Malaysians who do not live in Kelantan and do not want to see Malaysia turned into an Islamic State. Let not the first brick be laid.

By Wong Chun Wai 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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Philippine president-elect Duterte may shift Manila’s foreign policy, have limited room for change on maritime disputes


The polls opened on Monday for general elections, including the race for the president, in the Philippines. As of press time, Rodrigo Duterte, also known as “the Donald Trump of the Philippines” has assumed a big lead with 39 percent of votes, and is believed to have secured his position as the country’s next president.

The 71-year-old Duterte has been mayor of Davao City for over 20 years. But his remarks are far more aggressive than those of US presidential candidate Trump. He has claimed that if he is elected, he will eliminate corruption and crime in this nation within several months and execute 100,000 criminals and dump them into Manila Bay. Not long ago, Duterte even vowed to “forget human rights.”

Duterte has also left a strong impression that his concept of foreign policy differs greatly to that of President Benigno Aquino III. He opposes the idea of going to war with China, wants direct negotiation with Beijing about the South China Sea, and doesn’t believe in solving the conflict through an international tribunal.

The overwhelming support Duterte received over and above the other contenders suggests there is strong dissatisfaction in the country with Aquino’s six-year rule. Though the country enjoyed 6 percent annual growth for the past six years, the public failed to benefit from it. The electorate is also fed up with Aquino’s lopsided South China Sea strategy – siding completely with Washington which brought no advantage to Manila.

The public cares most about livelihoods and nationalistic slogans cannot feed them. It is reported that the 40 richest families in the Philippines own 76 percent of the country’s total assets. The country is afflicted with corruption and hereditary politics, and as punishment, the Aquino-backed candidate is languishing far behind.

It won’t be possible for Duterte to turn the domestic Philippine political arena upside down. Being only a mayor of Davao in the past years, he has no power to move the entire nation. He was obviously bragging when asserting he would eliminate corruption in six months. In an era of rising populism, it seems that a “big mouth” can always be popular wherever they are.

But if there is anything that can be changed by Duterte, it will be diplomacy. Many believe that whoever assumes office will adjust the nations’ unscrupulous policy toward China. If the new leader wants to manifest his or her difference from the previous president, as well as to make achievements, improving ties with Beijing is the shortest way.

China will not be too naïve to believe that a new president will bring a promising solution to the South China Sea disputes between Beijing and Manila. However, it sounds accurate that Philippine ties with China have already been through an all-time low during Aquino’s presidency. Only time will tell how far the new leader, be it Duterte or not, will go toward restoring the bilateral relationship.

Exclusive interview with Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang

 

Lu Kang: China hopes new gov’t in Philippines will work to solve disputes

CCTV Foreign Affairs Reporter Su Yuting spoke with Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang, for more on China’s stance towards the
Philippine election and the South China Sea Issue.

https://player.cntv.cn/standard/cntvOutSidePlayer.swf

Duterte may have limited room for change on maritime disputes

Rodrigo Duterte, the hard-liner mayor of Davao City, seemed to be the sure winner of the presidential election in the Philippines Monday. Duterte shares different political views from the outgoing president Benigno Aquino, and how the China-Philippines relationship will develop after the election is worth exploring.

The South China Sea dispute is at the core of the relationship between Beijing and Manila, yet Duterte’s comments on the issue are self-contradictory. Although he suggested settling the disputes via direct negotiations with China, and proposed the principle of shelving differences and conducting joint development in the South China Sea, Duterte also vowed to ride a jet ski to Huangyan Island and plant the national flag there.

Despite the above statements, Duterte is a more practical politician compared with his predecessor. The new government is expected to see adjustments in its South China Sea policy.

However, the room for adjustments is squeezed by the US and the Aquino administration. To begin with, Washington and Manila have reached a series of cooperative agreements including a 10-year long Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement and a five-year long Southeast Asia Maritime Security Initiative. By signing these deals, the White House, on the one hand, wants to draw the Philippines over to its side, and attempts to impose restrictions on the new government’s foreign policies on the other.

Recently, the Pentagon, by sending warplanes in the international airspace in the vicinity of Huangyan Island, has actively intervened in the South China Sea disputes. The US is always hyping up the Huangyan Island disputes and stirring up troubles against China. The US military intervention is attempting to influence the foreign policies of the new government.

Duterte’s political performances will be limited by the Aquino administration as well. The Aquino government unilaterally initiated the international arbitration in 2013 and has been obstinately pushing forward arbitral proceedings regarding the South China Sea disputes ever since.

“If the tribunal rules that the Reed Bank [Liyue Tan] belongs to the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines, then of course we have the right to proceed,” Antonio Carpio, Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice, urged the new government to proceed with the arbitration. The National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea was also created by Aquino to unify national actions on the South China Sea issues.

Before leaving the office, Aquino will still strive to manipulate public opinion and provoke nationalist sentiments against China in every possible means. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has even introduced a Philippines Diplomatic Handbook for the new government’s reference. The Aquino administration is trying every means to exert influence on the new government and force it to accept the final verdict of the arbitration.

As mayor of Davao City, Duterte had limited political influence on the whole nation. Earlier, Aquino called on all presidential candidates to form a united front against Duterte. The hard-line new president is likely to face challenges from traditional elites and Manila. “The moment he [Duterte] tries to declare a revolutionary government, that is also going to be the day he will be removed from office,” Senator Antonio Trillanes, a former navy officer known for the failed military uprisings in 2007 and 2003, said earlier.

With his “big mouth,” Duterte is seen by many as the “Donald Trump of the Philippines.” His victory reflects Philippine citizens’ strong dissatisfaction with Aquino’s rule. The overall situation in the Philippines has not seen significant improvements in recent years. Politically, corruption is severe. Economically, the interests of the lower-class citizens have been neglected. The nation’s infrastructure is in urgent need to improve as well. The Philippines is lagging far behind its Southeast Asian neighbors. It is understandable that the Philippine citizens want a hard-line leader to change the status quo.

China has to be prepared for the negotiations with Duterte after the election. Despite the South China Sea disputes, Beijing and Manila have seen frequent people-to-people exchanges and strong economic ties in recent years. The two states should be prepared for direct communications to settle the disputes, and lead the bilateral relationship to a new level.

By Chen Qinghong Source:Global Times

The author is a research fellow at the Institute of South and Southeast Asian and Oceania Studies under the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

US destroyer’s South China Sea show an insipid affair

If the South China Sea eventually becomes the main stage for strategic rivalries between China and the US, it will benefit China
more. The whole of Chinese society will be more resolute and it means China would have the chance to solve its peripheral and strategic problems at the same time. But the US, whose acts are prompted by greed,
will view the South China Sea as its burden sooner or later.

Chinese legal experts refute Philippine claim in South China Sea

Philippines arbitration lacks legal evidence

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Manila urgently needs to tackle problems in its own backyard to stop the kidnapping of foreign citizens .PRIME Minister Datuk Ser…

 

Job for new Philippine head: Stop the kidnapping of foreign citizens


 

Manila urgently needs to tackle problems in its own backyard to stop the kidnapping of foreign citizens.

PRIME Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was in Manila last November for the Apec Summit when he was informed by officials that Malaysian hostage, Bernard Then, who was abducted by the Abu Sayyaf group, was beheaded.

“He was upset and very shocked,” recalled a Malaysian official.

When he spoke to the Malaysian media in Manila, Najib said President Benigno Aquino had told him that Then’s beheading was probably carried out due to Philippine army operations and that Then had slowed down the militants who were moving from one place to another.

“That is not an excuse we can accept because he should have been released,” Najib told the media.

He described the beheading as savage and a barbaric act.

There seems to be no end to the kidnappings. Now more hostages, at least 20, are in the hands of the militants who are demanding ransoms.

They include four Malaysian sailors who were taken from their boat by Abu Sayyaf militants on April 1 in international waters near Pulau Ligitan. Their fate remains unknown.

Fourteen Indonesians travelling in tugboats from Borneo to the Philippines were also abducted by hijackers in two separate cases recently.

Even as the foreign governments were working to get their citizens released, more shocking news came – Abu Sayyaf gunmen had beheaded Canadian John Ridsdel in the southern province of Sulu, sparking condemnation from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Indonesia is still struggling with how to deal with the kidnapping of its citizens and is hosting talks with Malaysia and the Philippines to boost maritime security.

The meeting of foreign ministers and military chiefs in Jakarta is to discuss joint patrols to protect shipping in the waters between the three countries following the kidnappings.

The Philippine military has said the militants have been targeting foreign crews of slow-moving tugboats because they can no longer penetrate resorts and coastal towns in Sabah due to increased security.

Last week, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman was in Manila to meet his Filipino counterpart, Jose Rene D. Almendras. More assurance was given that Manila was doing all it could to secure the release of the hostages.

The Philippine military and police reportedly said that “there will be no letup” in the effort to combat the militants and find the hostages. But they have had little success in securing their freedom.

All these assurances somehow ring hollow.

We are dealing with human lives. If the foreign governments are frustrated with the way the crisis is being handled by Manila, imagine the anguish and uncertainty of family members waiting for news of their loved ones.

The kidnappings are taking place in the Philippines’ own backyard and the question arises as to whether they are doing enough to tackle the problem at source.

The answer will be no. After all how do you explain the alarming number of people being kidnapped and brought back to the Philippines with a price put on their head?

It is election period in the Philippines. A lot of energy is spent on political campaigning by politicians and fears remain that the lives of the hostages are not on their priority list.

“Manila must be doing more to tackle the kidnapping and transborder crime activities and I seriously think they are not doing enough,” said a security official.

Security is a big challenge for the Philippines. While its military is battling the militants in the south, up north Manila sent its ships and aircraft to keep watch over the South China Sea, where tensions are building up with China.

Another problem has risen from these hostage-taking cases. It is affecting the economic activities of citizens living on both sides of the border.

Sabah has shut down its eastern international boundaries to cross- border trade as part of measures to clamp down on the kidnapping groups.

Barter trade is a lifeline for people on Tawi Tawi, the southern-most Philippine province and the closest to Sabah, for their rice, cooking gas and fuel.

Authorities in several Indonesian coal ports have blocked departures of ships for the Philippines over security concerns. Indonesia supplies 70% of the Philippines’ coal import needs.

The calls for joint navy and air patrol efforts among neighbouring countries are getting louder. But that is a stop-gap measure.

These kidnapping cases are affecting the image of the region as well.

Filipinos are about to elect a new president. Lets hope one of the priorities of the new leader is to tackle, with a lot of care, the safe release of the hostages and subsequently peace in southern Philippines.

By Mergawati Zulfakar The Star

 

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READ: Malaysian beheaded by Abu Sayyaf after kin failed to comply with ransom demand – military

There seems to be no end to the kidnappings. Now more hostages, at least 20, are in the hands of the militants who are demanding ransoms.

They include four Malaysian sailors who were taken from their boat by Abu Sayyaf militants on April 1 in international waters near Pulau Ligitan. Their fate remains unknown.

READ: 4 Malaysians reported seized by Abu Sayyaf

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