New Malaysia’s civil servants must keep it civil of multi-racialism !


Brave new world: The civil service needs to get used to the New Malaysia approach while our ministers need to snap out of the Opposition mode and get down to work.

Wake Up Malaysian Civil Servants: Duty Beckons

by dinobeano

August 16, 2018 Wake Up Malaysian Civil Servants: Duty Beckons by Dr Amar-Singh HSS http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com These Civil Servants pledge to feather their own nest We need to get rid of the culture of censuring those in the civil service who speak up when they see wrong being done. I found the courage to write this […]

Read more of this post

Keeping it civil: The civil service makes up the backbone of any nation, yet the concept of its implementation continues to elude some of the powers that be.

IT’S often said that ministers come and go, but civil servants stay forever. And the good old government machinery runs as before, a fact some of our new ministers will probably be clued into by now.

Ministers who have no experience at state government level may have pre-conceived notions of the privileges they enjoy, like unlimited authority and knowing what they decree would suffice to overrule the bureaucrats.

And that is the biggest mistake they could make as newcomers to Putrajaya, because nothing exemplifies shooting oneself in the foot more than putting down civil servants – they run the ministries, after all.

Making its rounds on the grapevine these days is how some ministers put down their secretaries-general at meetings, believing they know better, or quite possibly, that they can do a better job at improving the performance of their charges.

Some of our ministers were probably not born when British sitcom Yes, Minister (which later became Yes, Prime Minister) aired on BBC Two, and on RTM, from 1980 to 1984.

Set principally in the private office of a British Cabinet Minister in the fictional Department of Administrative Affairs in Whitehall, it follows the ministerial career of the Right Honourable Jim Hacker.

In it, he attempts, or rather, struggles to formulate and enact laws or effect departmental changes and meets with resistance from the civil service, in particularly his Permanent Secretary Sir Humphrey Appleby.

The obstructions (sabotages, some would say) were often carried out so deftly that the minister would often rarely know what hit him or possess a trail of evidence to prove insubordination.

In fact, the delays (such as total rejection of policy) were cited to impress upon the minster that the shenanigans were for the benefit of his political mileage.

But of course, the sitcom was totally fictional and in real life, not all civil servants could get away like that.

Respected banker and commentator Tan Sri Dr Munir Majid wrote that Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had put together a Cabinet with a mix of races and genders, and a range of ages, which is unprecedented in the political governance of our country. However, except for a handful of ministers, the Cabinet falls short on experience.

Dr Munir urged Pakatan ministers to get out of “Opposition mode” so they can function and deliver with all the advice and support available.

“They would need to get the government machinery – the civil service – to implement their decisions effectively.

“Here, there is another problem. The largely Malay civil service is not used to having political masters committed to a multi-racial Malaysia and a no-nonsense regime,” he wrote.

That simply means our ministers, who have been used to merely delivering fiery speeches, now need to roll up their sleeves and get down to work and show the fruits of their labour. They can only blame the ills and corruption of the previous government to an extent.

A few ministers, and even the Attorney-General Tommy Thomas, must now grapple with all the documents being in Bahasa Malaysia, unlike in the private sector where the medium of communication is English.

Their staff would most likely be entirely Malay, except for their aides, who are political appointees. Directives would be issued in an entirely different way, obviously reflected by the work culture and style of communication.

That is just how the civil service works, so, they simply need get used to it. Of course, stories of all this being a culture shock for some have surfaced recently.

Dr Munir reminded that “there is still some way to go to arrive at a New Malaysia in terms of multi-racialism. After two generations of ‘Malay First’ and subsequently ‘Malay and Muslim First’ political ethic, there is a mountain to climb to make it New Malaysia.”

The reality is that about 75% of the Malay electorate in GE14 voted for Umno or PAS, in comparison to 95% of the Chinese voters who voted for Pakatan Harapan (an increase from the 85% who supported the now-defunct Pakatan Rakyat coalition in 2013). About 70% – 75% of Indians voted for PH, the figures show.

It has been reported that only 25% – 30% of Malays voted for PH, according to figures from Merdeka Centre. Apparently, 35% – 40% of Malays voted for Barisan Nasional while 30% – 33% supported PAS.

The findings displayed that although a higher percentage of Malays voted for Pakatan Harapan in Johor and in west coast states such as Melaka and Negri Sembilan, the coalition’s overall Malay support was diminished by its weak performance in Kelantan and Terengganu.

It’s no secret that as the new government reaches its 100-day mark, some ministers are still struggling to assemble their offices.

It’s just as well that some have yet to meet the press or make statements, because they are still learning to juggle the workload as others continue their scramble to find the ideal personnel.

The job has been so overwhelming that they have been unable to meet their key officers to solidify plans and directions.

With no appointments in sight, some staff are wondering if they are being snubbed, or simply that the ministers are too busy with other engagements. It doesn’t help that they don’t even reply messages.

But the civil service needs to accept that this is New Malaysia. There is no turning back. The culture of openness, accountability, engagement and success must take centre stage, with any form of prejudice left by the wayside.

The strategy of using race and religion to stir emotions seems hollow now.

Millions of ringgit were stolen from the people by those in power, and as the facts have revealed, they weren’t Chinese, Indians or Christians, contrary to what these politicians still want the Malays to believe.

And certainly, the civil servants who sniffed out the moral decay under their very noses knew exactly what was happening.

Clean, trustworthy and competent ministers, and a loyal, non-corrupt and efficient civil service will make Malaysia great.

After all, as the saying goes, it doesn’t matter what colour the cat is, as long it catches the mice.

In this context, what’s important is surely them being good Malaysians.

Wong Chun Wai

Wong Chun Wai

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

Related posts:

Huge Civil Service Size, Attractive Emoluments and Benefits are costing Malaysia !

.

Call on the Government to downsize the country’s bloated civil service

 

Bloated civil sevice in Malaysia must cut down the size and salaries

Advertisements

MCA had no room to say ‘no’, down but not out: HSR cancellation should have followed due process


 

In the driver’s seat: Dr Wee is widely seen to be the next to helm the party. — ONG SOON HIN/The Star

HIS office is a small room with a great view of the capital city’s central business district. Within its four corners, MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong is racing against time to plan the road ahead for the embattled party.

He is now MCA’s sole Member of Parliament after winning the Ayer Hitam seat in Johor.

The party also won the Titi Tinggi and Cheka state seats.

MCA contested 39 parliamentary seats and 90 state seats in the May 9 polls. The defeat has been bruising and Dr Wee has spent the last three weeks charting the road ahead for the 69-year-old party.

“Changing government is not a nightmare, not an impossible thing and can be done overnight,” says 50-year-old Dr Wee in his first media interview after the polls.

He adds that all is not lost following the party’s worst outing, and said MCA is ready to pick up from where it fell, and evolve as a completely reformed and independent entity.

“Our party is now our priority and not the coalition like before.

“There is no more political baggage. In the past there was no room to say ‘no’ or you would be deemed as going against the coalition’s whip.

From his office on the 9th floor of the MCA headquarters in Wisma MCA, Dr Wee says his major task is to put up a team that can move forward to rebuild the party.

“I have been encouraged by people to take up the challenge to provide the leadership, and I am duty-bound to do so,” he said during an interview.

Party president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai announced that he would not seek re-election at the party polls this November, and Dr Wee as his deputy and sole survivor of GE14 is widely seen as his successor.

Dr Wee, a civil engineer who joined MCA in 1992, rose to become the party’s Youth chief in 2008 and deputy president in 2013.

MCA is the second largest component party of Barisan Nasional which lost its hold on the government for the first time since Independence in 1957 following the crushing defeat in GE14.

As one of three MCA ministers in the last four years, the former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department explains that the party, bound by the Barisan Nasional spirit, seldom spoke openly on what transpired in the Cabinet.

This, unfortunately, was perceived by people that MCA had not been able to speak up for them or do anything for them.

Dr Wee said the perception had been compounded by negative statements on MCA and the Chinese community made by other Barisan component party leaders.

Statements which openly ridiculed the Chinese community and renowned figures like Robert Kuok and even MCA as a party in the run-up to the polls were certainly damaging.

The damage control also did not help at all.

“Saying that such issues had been voiced out or dealt with in the Cabinet were grossly insufficient.

“Some justice needs to be done and seen to be done.”

Dr Wee conceded that the Barisan spirit had also turned into a form of constraint on MCA and a baggage most of the time in a modern society where people demand openness and action against issues deemed unfair to the community.

At times, he adds, this “behind closed doors diplomacy” was done with the intention of not wanting to prolong an ugly episode and also to preserve harmony in a multiracial society.

“But obviously, this did not augur well for us.”

Going forward, Dr Wee says the role of the party is how to be an effective Opposition and provide the check and balance in the new regime.

He says he believes this is what the people want from the party and what the party can do for them now that it is in the Opposition.

Dr Wee says he will also be going to the ground to identify the party’s weaknesses and drawbacks that contributed to the defeat of the party.

He points out that these constitute important feedback in the party’s bid to reform itself and move forward.

The MCA central committee – the party’s highest decision-making body – has appointed him to helm the party’s reform committee following the GE14 defeat.

Dr Wee envisages a team of young and talented MCA leaders that can take on the new role of an effective Opposition in a new set-up.

The party, he adds, can provide a platform for them.

He says universal values, public policies and the party’s core struggle will remain the foundation.

Dr Wee also says the party will be rebuilt on all levels.

For instance, he says the party will be preparing for local elections (councillors) as the Pakatan Harapan Government has been pushing for it prior to GE14.

On Chinese education and Chinese new villages, of which MCA has been the guardian since its inception in 1949, Dr Wee says he hopes the new Government can do a better job in taking care of the two institutions close to the hearts of the Chinese.

He is willing and ready to provide help and cooperate with the new Government in the two areas upon their request.

“We (MCA) do what is best for the people. We exist because of the people.”

On the scrapping of two mega projects like the High Speed Rail between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore (HSR) and MRT 3 announced by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad just 22 days after Pakatan Harapan took over Putrajaya, Dr Wee feels the decisions needed in-depth study.

On the merits of HSR, he notes that Kuala Lumpur and Singapore are the two busiest Asean cities, and boosting their connectivity would be a step in the right direction and for mutual economic growth and benefits.

He points out that there are more than 30,000 flights between the two cities a year.

The HSR was scheduled to be completed in 2026, and it would have been just a 90-minute ride between the two cities.

The 350km track, which was to start in Bandar Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur and end in Jurong East, Singapore, would have passed through stations in Putrajaya, Seremban, Melaka, Muar, Batu Pahat and Iskandar Puteri.

On the MRT 3, Dr Wee said the people are enjoying the convenience of MRT 1 and looking forward to MRT 2 which is under construction.

Like any other big city in the world, Dr Wee said, MRTs are the desired mode of transportation.

He hopes the Pakatan Harapan Government can reconsider the scrapping of MRT 3 for the sake of the eight million Kuala Lumpur folk and the development of the capital city.

By Foong Pek Yee The Star

MCA think-tank: HSR cancellation should have followed due process – Centre For A Better Tomorrow (Cenbet)


 

CENBET – Centre For A Better Tomorrow  says the cancellation of the Kuala
Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail should have been announced after the
cabinet’s approval in accordance to due process. – The Malaysian Insight
pic by Najjua Zulkefli, June 1, 2018.

THE cancellation of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail project should have been made by the cabinet prior to its announcement as a matter of good governance, said the Centre For A Better Tomorrow (Cenbet).


The think tank said while it supported the new government’s efforts to review potentially wasteful projects and lopsided deals, such decisions should have followed due process.

“If decision on a RM110 billion mega-project can be made without stringent due process, we are worried that this may set a bad precedent in deciding other government projects.

“Such decision undermines institutional integrity which should have never been compromised for political expediency,” said Cennbet co-president Gan Ping Sieu in a statement today.

Based on news reports, Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s May 28 announcement to call off the project was made after chairing his party’s supreme council meeting and not in his capacity as prime minister announcing a Cabinet decision.

Transport Minister Anthony Loke was also reportedly said that the matter was not discussed in a cabinet meeting prior to the Prime Minister’s May 28 announcement that the project would be shelved.

“Rightfully, cancelling a project of such magnitude, involving transnational interests, ought to have gone through a more structured decision-making process. This includes preparing a cabinet paper and getting feedback from all relevant agencies and state governments,” explained Gan.

He pointed out that the federal constitution was clear that the cabinet is the highest executive body and the manner in which the announcement was made contradicted the spirit of accountability and transparency pledged by the new federal government.

“The eventual May 30 cabinet decision can be perceived as an afterthought and clearly without going through sufficient consultation,” said Gan.

He added that institutional decision-making process was an integral part of good governance, which Cenbet promotes.

“All major national decisions must be made by the cabinet after due process and consultation to prevent abuse of power and leakages,” he added. – Bernama, June 1, 2018.

Source: The Malaysian Insight

Related post:

Chinese projects in Malaysia may stay intact

Newly-elected Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has decided to scrap the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore Rail

Related:

‘Cancellation of HSR should have followed due process’ – Nation 

Co-president Gan Ping Sieu –CENBET – Centre For A Better Tomorrow   MCA Think Tank

MEDIA STATEMENTS
Co-President Gan Ping Sieu on the Cancellation of the HSR Project

Friday, June 01, 2018

The cancellation of the High Speed Rail project should have been made by the Cabinet prior to its announcement, as a matter of good governance. While we support the new government’s efforts to review potentially wasteful projects and lop-sided deals, such decisions should have followed due process.  >> read more


Related posts:

 Malaysia scraps MRT3 project, reviews HSR, ECRL mega projects to reduce borrowings

 

Chinese are the unsung heroes of South East Asia, Robert Kuok Memoirs

Lee Kuan Yew’s meritocracy: a key reason for S’pore’s separation from Ma’sia, his quotable quotes..


Lee Kuan Yew_Strong

No one could accuse LKY of being weak

When he suddenly fathered a reluctant new nation, the iron was forged in him.

LEE Kuan Yew, former prime minister of Singapore, has died at the age of 91.

He was born Harry Lee Kuan Yew on Sept 16, 1923 in Singapore. When he left England after graduating with a law degree from Cambridge University, he also left his English name behind.

In 1954, Lee formed the People’s Action Party (PAP). In 1959, at the age of 35, he won the national elections of Singapore, then still part of the British Empire, and became Prime Minister for the first time. After a brief merger with Malaysia, in 1965 the Republic of Singapore was born. Lee was PM until 1990 when he voluntarily stepped down, at age 67, to make way for a younger man.

It is a cliché, but it has to be said: the passing of Lee Kuan Yew is the passing of an era for Singapore and Singaporeans. A Singapore without LKY will take some adjusting to.

Older citizens will probably remember him with more affection and gratitude. Younger Singaporeans may attend the academic institutions and win scholarships that bear his name, but they will likely feel no particular affection or disdain, but rather, a vague admiration for the legendary leader whom they have been told was the architect of modern Singapore.

“I have been accused of many things in my life, but not even my worst enemy has ever accused me of being afraid to speak my mind,” he once said. Perhaps he will be best remembered through his own words.

In 1980, he said, “Whoever governs Singapore must have that iron in him.” For him, it was in August 1965, when he suddenly fathered a reluctant new nation, that the iron was forged – from the fire in his belly to make Singapore succeed.

From that “moment of anguish”, he would “spend the rest of my life getting Singapore not just to work but to prosper and flourish.” Over the years, he would use that same steel to fight all forms of obstacles and undesirable dogma, prejudices and even personal habits.

He would go on to confront and battle challenges that included corruption, unemployment, poverty, communism, political opposition, smoking and at the end, his own deteriorating health.

His self-belief and devotion to the Singapore cause was intense and absolute: “This is your life and mine. I’ve spent a whole lifetime building this (country) and as long as I’m in charge, nobody is going to knock it down.”

He will be remembered for his ferocious fight against corruption. He believed vehemently, “The moment key leaders are less than incorruptible, less than stern in demanding high standards, from that moment, the structure of administrative integrity will weaken, and eventually crumble. Singapore can survive only if ministers and senior officers are incorruptible and efficient.”

He will be remembered for standing up for meritocracy. A key reason for Singapore’s separation in 1965 was Lee’s belief in multiracial meritocracy. He was utterly convinced that, “If you want Singapore to succeed…you must have a system that enables the best man and the most suitable to go into the job that needs them…”

Every time a Singaporean takes a ride in a bus along a tree-lined avenue, plays with her children in a park near their flat, or enjoys a picnic in Botanic Gardens, she might just think of Lee. He launched Tree Planting Day and “set out to transform Singapore into a tropical garden city.” He was completely certain that, “Greening raised the morale of people and gave them pride in their surroundings.”

Lee’s beliefs and ideas went on to mould not just the development of a small new country with no natural resources to speak of, but also, some would argue, the personal lives of its citizens. Under his leadership, his government implemented policies and ran campaigns to compel and urge Singaporeans to save water, to keep Singapore clean, to have two children, and later, to have three if they could afford it, and to speak Mandarin, among many other exhortations.

In response to critics who accused his government of interfering in the private lives and personal behaviours of the city-state’s inhabitants, he had this to say, “It has made Singapore a more pleasant place to live in. If this is a ‘nanny state’, I am proud to have fostered one.”

He will be remembered for the power of his convictions. “I have never been over concerned or obsessed with opinion polls or popularity polls. I think a leader who is, is a weak leader.” No-one could accuse Lee Kuan Yew of being a weak leader.

Of his own accord, he relinquished the position of Prime Minister in 1990, but stayed on in government as Senior Minister and then Minister Mentor in the governments of both his successors, Goh Chok Tong and his own son, Lee Hsien Loong, the current Prime Minister. He retired from Cabinet in 2011 but remained a Member of Parliament.

For those who remember Lee Kuan Yew in his prime, no matter to which side of the political divide they belong, they will recall a perspicacious politician whose intellect found admirers far beyond the little red dot, a powerful orator whose words conquered crowds and carried generations of Singaporeans with him, and perhaps, most of all, a pragmatic visionary who, against all odds, made the improbable nation a reality.

Lee was known for his admiration, gratitude and devotion to his wife, the late Kwa Geok Choo. He is survived by his two sons, one daughter and seven grandchildren.

By Peggy Kek

Singaporean analyst Peggy Kek is a former director with the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own.

Quotable quotes from Lee Kuan Yew

Lee Kuan Yew commenting on death: ‘There is an end to everything and I want mine to come as quickly and painlessly as possible, not with me incapacitated, half in coma in bed and with a tube going into my nostrils and down to my stomach.’ – AFP pic, March 23, 2015

Here are some notable quotes from Singapore’s founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, who died Monday at the age of 91.

On Japan defeating Britain to occupy Singapore in 1942:

“The dark ages had descended on us. It was brutal, cruel.

“Looking back, it was the biggest single political education of my life because, for three and a half years, I saw the meaning of power and how power and politics and government went together, and I also understood how people trapped in a power situation responded because they had to live.

“One day the British were there, immovable, complete masters; next day, the Japanese, whom we derided, mocked as short, stunted people with short-sighted squint eyes.”

After World War II when the British were trying to reestablish control:

“… the old mechanisms had gone and the old habits of obedience and respect (for the British) had also gone because people had seen them run away (from the Japanese) … they packed up. We were supposed, the local population was supposed to panic when the bombs fell, but we found they panicked more than we did. So it was no longer the old relationship.”

As a law student in Britain:

“Here in Singapore, you didn’t come across the white man so much. He was in a superior position.

“But there you are (in Britain) in a superior position meeting white men and white women in an inferior position, socially, I mean. They have to serve you and so on in the shops. I saw no reason why they should be governing me; they’re not superior. I decided when I got back, I was going to put an end to this.”

On opinion polls:

“I have never been overconcerned or obsessed with opinion polls or popularity polls. A leader who is, is a weak leader. If you are concerned with whether your rating will go up or down, then you are not a leader. You are just catching the wind … you will go where the wind is blowing. That’s not what I am in this for.”

On his iron-fisted governing style:

“Anybody who decides to take me on needs to put on knuckle-dusters. If you think you can hurt me more than I can hurt you, try.”

On his political opponents:

“If you are a troublemaker… it’s our job to politically destroy you… Everybody knows that in my bag I have a hatchet, and a very sharp one. You take me on, I take my hatchet, we meet in the cul-de-sac.”

On democracy:

“You take a poll of any people. What is it they want? The right to write an editorial as you like? They want homes, medicine, jobs, schools.”

On justice:

“We have to lock up people, without trial, whether they are communists, whether they are language chauvinists, whether they are religious extremists. If you don’t do that, the country would be in ruins.”

On his policy of matching male and female university graduates to produce smart babies:

“If you don’t include your women graduates in your breeding pool and leave them on the shelf, you would end up a more stupid society… So what happens? There will be less bright people to support dumb people in the next generation. That’s a problem.”

On criticism over the high pay of cabinet ministers and senior civil servants:

“The cure for all this talk is a good dose of incompetent government. You get that alternative and you’ll never put Singapore together again: Humpty Dumpty cannot be put together again… and your asset values will be in peril, your security will be at risk and our women will become maids in other people’s countries, foreign workers.”

On religion:

“I wouldn’t call myself an atheist. I neither deny nor accept that there is a God. So I do not laugh at people who believe in God. But I do not necessarily believe in God – nor deny that there could be one.”

On his wife of 63 years, Kwa Geok Choo, who died in October 2010:

“Without her, I would be a different man, with a different life… I should find solace in her 89 years of a life well-lived. But at this moment of the final parting, my heart is heavy with sorrow and grief.”

On death:

“There is an end to everything and I want mine to come as quickly and painlessly as possible, not with me incapacitated, half in coma in bed and with a tube going into my nostrils and down to my stomach.”

On rising up from his grave if something goes wrong in Singapore:

“Even from my sickbed, even if you are going to lower me to the grave and I feel that something is going wrong, I will get up.”

Related post:




Singapore former PM Lee Kuan Yew leaves rich political legacy

Former Singapore prime minister Lee Kuan Yew waves to supporters ashe submits his nomination papers to contest in the elections in Singapore…

Spring Festival Gala 2015: the day we become a single Malaysian race, traditions light up…


The day we become a single Malaysian race

I have celebrated Chinese New Year my entire life. And being a Malay Muslim and living in Malaysia, I feel myself very unique and special for doing so.

It is not hard to understand why. I have Chinese and Malay blood in me. My grandmother on my mother’s side is Chinese and the ethnic influence is very strong.

My brothers and I all speak Cantonese (however poor our pronunciation is) and when we speak English, we are very easily mistaken for being Chinese because of our accent.

When I was in primary school, some Malay classmates would tease me and say that I am committing a sin by celebrating Chinese New Year and collecting ang pows.

At first I was confused, but very quickly I realised that they were all just stupid and did not know what they were talking about. I was proud of that.

Of course, our family celebrated Hari Raya too and so did all our Chinese relatives who would gather at our house every single year without even needing an invitation.

And as how life naturally is, my Chinese grandmother eventually died and this year is the second Chinese New Year without her being with us.

So now, during Chinese New Year’s eve, we joke that we are really just a bunch of Malays flipping salmon in plum sauce with chopsticks and gulping down “chai choy” without any real reason to do so!

The pure Chinese immediate family member is gone. But it is alright. We have her blood running in our veins. And we still celebrate the first and second day with the entire Ang clan.

And what makes me even more proud is the fact that our huge clan celebrates every single main Malaysian festival because we are marrying all kinds of people.

We have Malays, Chinese, Indians, Muslims, Buddhists, Taoists, Hindus, Christians and more in our family. And the circle seems to just get bigger and bigger.

The tradition that we have celebrating our melting pot of cultures and religions will hopefully never die and continue through the generations.

Initially, I was proud that I was so unique compared with all my other friends and acquaintances as I celebrated various festivals. But I feel differently now.

I want to feel even more proud once every single person in Malaysia celebrates every single festival in the country because we have become, and identify as, a single Malaysian race.

Al-Fatihah to my dear grandmother Ang Swee Poh (we visit her grave during Hari Raya and Chinese New Year) and happy Chinese New Year to all Malaysians. Kong Hei Fatt Choy! – February 20, 2015.

Source: The Malaysian Insider.
By Zan Azlee, a documentary filmmaker, journalist, writer, New Media practitioner and lecturer. He runs Fat Bidin Media http://www.fatbidin.com
Traditions light up Lunar New Year

A resident show the dumplings his family make in Harbin, capital of China’s Northeast Heilongjiang province, Feb 18, 2015. [Photo/IC]

Spring Festival is a time to observe old traditions and celebrate China’s cultural inheritance.

Food is an important part of New Year celebration. In northern China, dumplings are indispensable on New Year’s eve and the first meal of the New Year.

Wang Yuzhe, of Caoxian County of Shandong Province, got up early on Thursday morning, swept the courtyard floor to clear up firecracker residue and woke the whole family to prepare for the New Year breakfast together — dumplings.

While wrapping up a coin into a dumpling, Wang said that the person who finds this dumpling will make big money in the coming year.

This associating between dumplings and fortune is said based on the supposed resemblance to “yuan bao” a boat-shaped gold ingot used as currency in ancient times.

In southern China, most people prefer rice to wheat, so families eat “tang yuan”, balls of glutinous rice. On Thursday morning, Zhang Menghui in Hangzhou will put on new clothes and sit down to enjoy tang yuan with her family,

“Whenever I return home for New Year, we eat sweet tang yuan together,” she said. Zhang works in Hong Kong and returns to home twice a year. “For the festivals when I am in Hong Kong, I eat tang yuan with friends to express my longing for home.”

In Beijing, temple fairs and crowded Spring Festival gatherings featuring acrobats shows, song and dance performances and stalls selling snacks and souvenirs are the order of the day.

In Ditan Park, the Temple of Earth in the northeast of Beijing, stalls selling traditional handicrafts attract flocks of sightseers.

Xiao Jing brought his hand-made “hairy monkeys” — tiny humanoid figures made from furry magnolia buds and sloughed cicada shells.The monkeys are set in old-fashioned Beijing street scenes, drinking big bowls of tea and eating sugarcoated haws.

“I inherited the skill from my grandfather. Although this is an ancient craft, it is still appealing today. The scenes are close to life and can still touch people’s hearts,” he said.

In Tibet, Lunar New Year is doubly joyful this year as it coincides with the Tibetan year of the Wooden Ram.

At 8 am, the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa is surrounded by people praying. La Tso left home for the temple at 5 am with her mother. “I am here praying for good health and peace for the family,” she said.

In Qamdo, the lunch on the New Year’s day is a big family gathering. Yak meat is de rigueur, and people also eat rice cooked with ginseng fruits which symbolize longevity.

In Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang, despite a temperature of minus 12 degrees centigrade, the city streets, decorated with red lanterns, are filled with festivities.

For Li Jianjun, 68, the best part for this Spring Festival is that his son has come back home from Shanghai with his daughter-in-law and grandchildren. Li and his wife spent a whole week preparing the New Year dinner. “We stay at home on the first day of new year according to tradition. We see our in-laws tomorrow and visit other relatives the day after tomorrow,” he said.

Li Xinyong, vice president of National Folk Association of China, said, the Spring Festival should not be a carnival, it should be a celebration of folk traditions.

Besides inheriting customs, Chinese people should foster a deeper understanding of their cultural identity, he suggested. – China Daily, Asia News Network
Related posts:

2014 has seen a tsunami of epic hacks and
identity thefts, including the recent massive cyber attack on Sony
Pictures Entertainment. Sec…

Enter the Chinese Century: China is now the world’s No.1 economic power

The natural American reaction would be to “contain” China—and that would be a mistake . SOFT POWER For America, the best response to Chi…

 Welcome Goat, may you goad us to greater heights 2…

Youngest USM don: Prof Dr Michael Khoo Boon Chong has made Penang proud


Khoo Boon Chong

Expert views: Prof Khoo delivering his public lecture at USM’s Dewan Kuliah A.

GEORGE TOWN: Penang-born Prof Dr Michael Khoo Boon Chong has made the state proud as the youngest professor in Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM).

Prof Khoo, 39, who obtained his associate professor title in 2007, became a professor in the School of Mathematical Sciences four years ago when he was just 35.

He specialised in Statistical Quan­tity Control.

Prof Khoo, who hails from Bayan Lepas, said he chose to complete all his studies where he was born.

“I got my education, including my PhD in Penang. I went to La Salle School in Batu Lanchang (the school was closed down) from Year One to Year Three and then to St Xavier Primary School in Farquhar Street during Standard Four and continued my studies in St Xavier’s Insitution until I finished Form Six.

“I got my degree in Applied Sciences with first-class honours and my doctorate in Statistics from USM in 1999 and 2001 respectively.

“I joined USM School of Mathe­matical Sciences from 2001 as a lecturer,” he said after his inaugural public lecture after his appointment as a professor.

Citing the reasons for studying in Penang instead of overseas, he said as the only child, he wanted to be with his parents.

“I am not from a rich family. My 65-year-old father, Khoo Kah Peng, was a clerk with the city council and my mother Hoo Kim Bee, 67, is a housewife.

“My main priority during that time was that I wanted to stay close with my parents,” he said.

Prof Khoo said he followed his supervisor’s path to specialise in Statistical Quantity Control.

“I love to do research on Statistical Quantity Control, which is useful for industries to maximise profits and reduce costs,” he said.

He said he was thankful to USM as his hard work and research efforts were appreciated.

Prof Khoo is actively involved in publishing manuscripts and work papers.

He has published almost 100 manuscripts in international journals and presented more than 50 papers at national and international conferences.

BY Crystal Chiam Shiying The Star/Asia News Network

Related post:

New lawyer Darren Tan, once 10 years in jail; S’pore CJ: do criminal and family law
 Mr Darren Tan with his proud parents – Mr Tan Chon Kiat and Madam Ong Ai
Hock. The new lawyer changed the course of his life while he was behind
bars. — PHOTO: EDWARD TEO FOR THE SUNDAY TIMES

Rebooting the history of Chinese contributions to Malaysia


Lim Goh Tong StatueThere would be better understanding of the Chinese if their contributions to the nation were brought to light.

Genting Resorts<  Statue of Lim Goh Tong 

THE clue to the forgotten nugget of information came in the form of an e-mail.

The reader who sent it pointed me to a particular chapter in a book written by long-serving colonial officer Sir Frank Swettenham.

The book was British Malaya, published in 1907, and once I perused chapter 10, I understood why the reader thought I might find it interesting. Here’s the pertinent excerpt:

“Their energy and enterprise have made the Malay States what they are today, and it would be impossible to overstate the obligation which the Malay Government and people are under to these hardworking, capable, and law-abiding aliens.

“They were already the miners and the traders, and in some instances the planters and the fishermen, before the white man had found his way to the Peninsula.

“In all the early days it was Chinese energy and industry which supplied the funds to begin the construction of roads and other public works, and to pay for all the other costs of administration.

“They have driven their way into remote jungles, run all risks, and often made great gains. They have also paid the penalty imposed by an often deadly climate.

“But the Chinese were not only miners, they were charcoal-burners in the days when they had to do their own smelting; as contractors they constructed nearly all the government buildings, most of the roads and bridges, railways and waterworks.

“They brought all the capital into the country when Europeans feared to take the risk; they were the traders and shopkeepers. Their steamers first opened regular communication between the ports of the colony and the ports of the Malay States.

“They introduced tens of thousands of their countrymen when the one great need was labour to develop the hidden riches of an almost unknown and jungle-covered country, and it is their work, the taxation of the luxuries they consume and of the pleasures they enjoy, which has provided something like nine-tenths of the revenue.

“The reader should understand at once what is due to Chinese labour and enterprise in the evolution of the Federated Malay States.”

Wow. They did all that even back then? My history books sure didn’t teach me that. The Chinese in Malaysia certainly didn’t get a free ride to where they are. But if I didn’t know my community’s history well, how could I expect others to know?

If they did know, surely it would help create a deeper appreciation of the Chinese and assuage the suspicions about their loyalty.

As the nation mourned the loss of eight policemen and two soldiers and hailed them as heroes in the recent Lahad Datu armed intrusion, a blogger thought fit to write:

“As has always been the case, when we send our policemen and soldiers into battle and they are killed or injured, the chances are they are Melayus and bumiputeras. Perhaps there is wisdom in getting more Chinese and Indians to join the armed forces so that they, too, can die for one Malaysia.”

Always been the case”? How sad that the many Chinese Special Branch officers who died fighting the communists are unforgivably forgotten.

Online columnist K. Temoc who took umbrage at this blogger’s “caustic and unfair” remarks pointed out that five Chinese police officers have been awarded the nation’s highest gallantry award, the Seri Pahlawan Gagah Perkasa (SP), two posthumously.

Again, it shows how little is known about non-Malay heroes who served in the security forces.

This blogger certainly didn’t and he clearly buys into the belief that non-Malays aren’t willing to risk life and limb for the country and doesn’t consider why there are so few of them in uniform today.

The irony is even if you are well-known, your deeds may not be officially recorded.

Hence, Robert Kuok may be a business legend in Asia but few Malaysians know he was the close friend and confidant of Deputy Prime Minister Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman.

As mentioned in Ooi Kee Beng’s biography, The Reluctant Politician, Tun Dr Ismail and His Time, Kuok played a role in the nation’s development and politics, including helping to pave the way for Tun Abdul Razak’s historic six-day visit to China in May 1974.

So much is left out of our history books and our national museums.

It’s telling that even Yap Ah Loy’s tok panjang showcasing the family’s exquisite dinner ware are housed in Singapore’s Peranakan Museum, not in Kuala Lumpur, the modern city he founded.

I agree whole-heartedly with the Prime Minister that Malaysians must understand each other better if we hope to become a great nation.

Something therefore must be done to document and preserve the nation’s history that is more inclusive and multiracial.

If the Government has been remiss, the Chinese should take it upon themselves to address this lack of understanding and appreciation of their community’s immense contributions. It shouldn’t, however, be a glossy and glossed-over coffee table account.

By all means include the darker and controversial aspects, including the Chinese-led Communist Party of Malaya’s attempt to overthrow the colonial government (Interestingly, Kuok’s brother, William, was a communist who died in the jungle).

But it was also a long war that was won with the help of the Chinese, like those S.B. officers.

While we take pride in celebrating our most famous Malaysians – Michelle Yeoh, Jimmy Choo and Zang Toi – we must also honour the unsung, unknown heroes like those mentioned by K Temoc: policeman Yeap Sean Hua who died while apprehending a criminal at Setapak and was awarded the SP, sergeant Lee Han Cheong and Deputy Commissioner Khoo Chong Kong who were both killed by the communists.

It’s time to build a Malaysian Chinese museum that will tell a history – the good, the bad, the noble, the inspiring – that must no longer be hidden or forgotten.

 

So Aunty, So What? by June H.L. Wong

> The writer believes the Malaysian Indian community also has a proud and even longer history to share and preserve. Feedback: junewong@thestar.com.my or tweet @JuneHLWong

End the race-based governance in Malaysia!


The recently concluded general election has emphasised the need for a new direction in political leadership.

Malay-Chinese-Indian

 1Malaysia: A cartoon posted on Facebook that reminds us of the many races that make up the Malaysian population.

IN the aftermath of GE13, I am deeply saddened because even my childhood friends of different races and political preferences have expressed strong disagreements to a pictorial message I have shared on my Facebook page.

We had been exchanging happy thoughts and warm remarks prior to the run-up to the election.

Perhaps it was due to my recent vigorous postings of shared materials of political nature that provoked such a reaction. Perhaps there is a lesson I should learn here moderation must be the order of the day.

They have their reasons and freedom to make their statements but I hope one day, they will agree with me.

If we start to think outside our “old school” box and work hard enough, it will happen.

A non-race-based government whether from a structurally changed and re-invented Barisan Nasional or one promised by opposition parties is not impossible.

The road may be long and hard but I am willing to commit myself to it by supporting any political character who can sensibly offer this discourse. I am not one of those who believe it should have happened on May 5 or come next polling date.

We are too complicated a society to manage and the core risks involved are plentiful. A good leader will have to be wise and intelligent enough to take them on bravely.

Superficial public relations exercises will not do.

If we refuse to open up and face reality in this rapidly changing world, we may be depriving ourselves and the younger generations of better living.

Eventually everyone, including rural society, can access massive amounts of information on what they believe to be relevant and good governance expected of politicians. Driving fear into people to submit has reached the end of its game, it is now a repellent rightly or wrongly.

I am not a fan of Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim or US president Barack Obama.

But I do believe the eventual abolition of racial discrimination and polarisation or the minimisation of both can happen if Malaysians are smart or “lucky” enough to choose leaders who will take up this challenge.

Skin colour does not matter as long as they serve all quarters of society well.

Substance, sincerity and integrity are paramount.

I grew up with the nation and I have observed how political awareness has progressed with the young. I am truly impressed by how fast Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin and PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar have matured politically over the past five years.

Although idealistic by our “old school” standards, I believe they will learn.

Almost all Malaysian voters of mature age and mind understand that change will not result from victory in an election.

Given the right leader, supporting leaders and alliances including co-operation from opposition parties, any radical change from our long-held ideology of race-based politics and governance encompassing negotiated quotas and allocations of power according to numerical racial composition would be a mammoth task.

It was the best option during its inception 56 years ago but has since undergone diminishing relevance and caused ills.

Racial polarisation and anger clearly proved its point during elections. It is scary to take note of the many dangerous minds revealed in the mainstream and social media during and after GE13.

Nobody says it is going to be smooth sailing into happiness if any political party that subscribes to a non-race-based government wins the election.

In fact, citizens should understand and I believe many do that it is going to be the start of a messy, confusing and noisy learning process for politicians as well as common folk.

But if we do not start and strive, we will never get there.

I am willing to place faith in the emerging generation after the “baby boomers” to which I belong. And they certainly have made their choices heard during this general election.

While the wealth of experience and knowledge from veterans are invaluable, it is time to let go of absolute power where and when appropriate.

This is what smart, skilful and high-worth senior leaders are made of. They should visualise happier present and future generations in a highly globalised environment and make it happen.

Upholding themselves as pillars of strength and support with integrity to nurture and groom future leaders would be crucial.

Setting or making nominal modifications to perimeters within old frameworks only acts as a stumbling block to healthy and free economic and social development.

Cosmetic touches do not constitute real change when fundamentals and core social values have already evolved cumulatively and drastically over half a century.

The perceived control and manipulation of the mainstream media by the Government disappoints many well-informed citizens who have turned to the alternative media for enlightenment.

It is a failing of the media to serve the interests of the people if there is no timely dissemination of truths on what concerns them most.

We cannot deny the fact that alternative, especially social media, can be fairly damaging to society while it has its importance. Ugly comments, false information and rumours are rife and confuse even the most level-headed people.

If we love this country, our friends and neighbours, we should switch on our conscience and let it guide us to find wisdom.

By CHEN YEN LING
newsdesk@thestar.com.my

> Chen Yen Ling is a certified accountant who also dabbles in writing.

Related posts:
Apa Lagi Cina Mahu? Charge the racist! Thousands protect Malaysian election results
This is what the Malaysian Chinese want 
The Chinese in Malaysia want an honest relationshiship, a genuine partnership 
Would DAP join BN to ensure Chinese representation…

%d bloggers like this: