Sunday, November 21, 2010

Be proud of our plural society

IT was simply refreshing. At a time when some politicians seem to take pride in posturing their racial and religious identities, it was heartening to read about Raja Zarith Sofea Sultan Idris Shah declaring that her ancestral roots were from Sumatra and the Peranakan Chinese.

The consort of the Sultan of Johor (pic) went on to say that the use of the term pendatang to describe non-bumiputras was “hurtful and ignorant”.

It was shameful, she added, for apparently educated and mature individuals to use such terms or suggest that fellow Malaysians go back to where they came from.

Raja Zarith, who was speaking at the Voices of Peace, Conscience and Reason (PCORE) forum in Kuala Lumpur last week, stressed on the importance of recognising the diversity of Malaysian society, brought about by centuries of inter-racial and inter-faith marriages and communication.

Read more here.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Act fast against the racists

EVERYONE is taught that when a wrong is done, the person who did it apologises, regrets his error and promises it will never happen again. The person is often punished to show that society does not accept such behaviour.

In Malaysia, we are still waiting to see what action will be taken against the principal who made racist remarks during a school assembly.

Investigations have been carried out, according to news reports, but we are now being told that bureaucratic requirements are delaying further action.

Rest of the article, click here.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Why bother with bigots?

IT’S a lesson for media organisations all over the world: Does a pastor of a tiny church who threatens to burn copies of the Quran deserve the kind of coverage that has now provoked so much anger?

The unheard of pastor, who is said to make a living selling furniture online, has achieved international notoriety because he was given the soapbox by the media.

Click here for the rest of my column.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Tear down the wall of silence against racism

THE message has been made loud and clear – there will be zero tolerance for racism. No rational and reasonable Malaysia would argue against this in the wake of racist remarks made by bigoted Malaysians.

We are used to bankrupt politicians uttering hurtful words about other communities in the belief that they can win votes by projecting themselves as racist supremacists and, by extension, as protectors of their race.

But this sickening action seems to have grown, with more racial champions being given bigger space in the media, which would only encourage them further.

For the rest of my comment, click here.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

We need to move on as one nation

IT’S just about 10 days now to National Day. By right, we should be in an upbeat and celebratory mood and yet Malaysians are gripped with emotional political issues that are threatening to tear us apart instead of bringing us together as a nation.

The country turns 53 on Aug 31. As a nation, we are not old but we are not so young either. We can have our differences, especially political allegiances and economic approaches, but we also share the same destiny and many aspirations as Malaysians.

More than ever, we should not let racists and religious bigots hijack our hopes. We must say no to self-serving politicians who beat the racial and religious drums and get their way at the expense of the moderates.

The rest of the column, please click here.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Jho Low: A world exclusive

International Man of Mystery Jho Low, who parties with Paris Hilton and is reputed to chalk up hefty bills for champagne, has finally come out to talk about himself and the life he lives. Read the full story exclusive here.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Guan Eng can learn from Yes Minister

Guan Eng must have surely watched the popular ‘80s British satirical political sitcom Yes Minister to appreciate how civil servant Sir Humphrey Appleby – who was actually holding the powers – manipulated Administra­tive Minister James Hacker. If he hasn’t, he had better do so now. Read my On The Beat comment today by clicking here.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

All part of the political game

Politi­cians in the PKR may like to project themselves as saviours to the people, and some may even start believing in their own propaganda, but it is also about power and positions.

THIS is what we will hear from Parti Keadilan Nasional leaders about the leadership feud in Selangor as they downplay the issue: it is not as bad as portrayed and the press should be blamed for blowing up the matter.

As much as PKR leaders like to project themselves as defenders of the people and the Barisan Nasional as a corrupt, incompetent and detached government, they cannot run away from the fact that politics is about power – or more precisely, the spoils of power.

Selangor is Pakatan Rakyat’s jewel in the crown and Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, a PKR leader, is the Mentri Besar. Another important state, Penang, is under the DAP’s Lim Guan Eng.

Read the rest of my column here.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Subsidies: Time to get out of mindset

DATUK Seri Idris Jala found himself facing a barrage of criticism, and even a demand for him to be sacked from the Cabinet, when he said the country risked going bust if our Budget continued to be in a deficit.

Many of our politicians prefer to put on the blinkers and pretend that all is rosy and fine in Malaysia, and assume that we are still ahead in the region.

Here’s the bad news. We may have gotten out of the recession and the Prime Minister has taken bold initiatives to make things work but we’ve got to get out of this mindset.

Read more here.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Namewee's got talent!

Check out this latest video by Namewee. Click on the image. Check out his blog here.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A gentleman knows when to cut losses

If the company screws up, the board must take responsibility and quit. Good corporate governance and accountability should prevail.

IT’S pretty straightforward. In any public listed company, it is the board of directors that leads and controls the company but the series of news relating to Sime Darby and Kenmark have put corporate governance in Malaysia in bad light.

It is not just the chief executive officer who must take responsibility but also the executive and non-executive directors for all decisions taken.

Read the rest here.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Forever in snooze mode, time to wake up...

Our politicians must take heed that the old ways of wooing voters will not work any more in the changing political landscape.

IT has become a ritual for our political leaders to ask their members to wake up after each electoral defeat, but Malaysians wonder if these politicians are still on snooze mode even after making their wake-up calls.

The impression we get is that while Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has taken bold initiatives to win back the lost ground following the March 8 general election, some Barisan Nasional leaders are still refusing to see the changing political landscape.

Some are continuing to cling on to outdated ways, even in states controlled by Pakatan Rakyat where they behave like they are still in power simply because the federal government is under Barisan rule. Worse is that there are still component party leaders who refuse to retire.

Read the rest here...

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The race is far from over

GOOD news seems hard to come by in the media but Malaysians had something to cheer about last week over two news reports - the strong appreciation of the ringgit and our ranking as the 10th most competitive nation.

It was reported that the ringgit was the best performing Asian currency for the year, especially against the euro, pound and dollar.

For at least a month now, ordinary Malaysians, especially businessmen and parents with children studying overseas, have been watching the movement of the ringgit against other currencies.

Read the rest of my column here.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Time to shift gear to higher mode

WE cannot go on being known as the region's importer of cheap and unskilled labour. Malaysia is unable to attract the best talent but what is worse is that we are in danger of becoming an exporter of professionals.

Malaysia is attracting workers from India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Myanmar but they are mostly kitchen helpers, cleaners and security guards.

The country needs doctors, engineers, accountants, scientists, academics, bankers and lawyers but unfortunately they are not coming. And worse, the local ones are migrating.

More from this column, click here.

An interesting insight into migration patterns, click here.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Where have all the Chinese gone?

THE numbers have finally hit home. For years, the country’s Chinese population has been decreasing steadily but now it’s officially recognised that Penang is no longer a Chinese majority state.

Last week, a Chinese newspaper highlighted that there were now 18,000 more Malays this year than Chinese in the state.

Quoting Penang Statistics Department director Wan Mohamad Noor Wan Mahmood, Nanyang Siang Pau reported that there were about 650,000 Chinese in Penang, making up about 43% of the total population in 2005, but this was expected to drop to 40.9% this year.

Read the rest of this week's On The Beat column here.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

No need to tick off voters...

STAND-UP comic Harith Iskandar is the product of Malay-English parentage. He has acted in plays and movies speaking in Bahasa Malaysia and earns a living telling jokes, mostly in English with some Malay and Chinese words thrown in.

He has been telling his audiences that he plans to get married soon with a woman of Chinese-Indian parentage. “I do not know how our children will fill up those forms. I think they will have to tick every box – Malay, Chinese, Indian and lain-lain.”

The predominantly Chinese crowd in Petaling Jaya roared when he asked when Malaysians could stop having to state their racial background. Then he delivered his punch line: “But I am a Malaysian first.” His listeners were on their feet by then, which goes to show how much the issue had struck a chord with urban Malay­sia.

For the rest of the column, click here.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sugar, spice and everything nice...

NEVER mind if it was only for a week but the voters in sleepy Hulu Selangor have never had it so good. Malaysians would know by now that a by-election is the best thing to happen after a general election in this country.

In a general election, the campaign is spread out across the 222 constituencies and media attention is focused only on certain areas, those regarded as hot seats with key personalities. Thus, a constituency like Hulu Selangor would not be on the media radar screen.

To follow the rest of my column, click here.

To follow live the Hulu Selangor by-election today, click here.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Treat the verbal diarrhoea

MALAYSIA is spending millions of ringgit trying to repair its image overseas but plenty of taxpayers’ money can be saved if our politicians exercise some self-restraint with their statements.

The foot-in-the-mouth disease seems to be rampant and many of us wonder why they even make these statements in the first place.

We are talking about politicians from both sides of the political divide whose astounding statements often make world headlines for the wrong reasons. Little do they realise the serious implications involved, including loss of foreign direct investments.

Read the rest of my column here.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Why harp on a non-issue?

IT’S strange that some of us should find it difficult to identify ourselves first by our nationality and then only by our ethnicity. Yet, when we are overseas, none of us, including the politicians, have any qualms calling ourselves as Malaysians first.

When we fill up the immigration forms before we enter a foreign country, they only want to know our nationality and the passports we carry.

Really, they don’t give two hoots about our race or religion. They may want to know our gender or marital status but beyond that, no country, Malaysia included, really wants to know more than is required.

This is from my On The Beat column today. To read the full comment, please click here.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Up close and personal with Stephen Hawkings

I had an exclusive interview with Prof Stephen Hawkings (his daughter Lucy on the right) in Cambridge last month. Read the story in the Star Online link here, here and here.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Not a good year for the big cats

The tiger occupies a position of prestige in many of our country’s symbols. As such, there are plenty of reasons for us to protect and conserve our tigers. Read my column here.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Blessed Year of the Tiger to one and all

It's a special day for me today in more ways than one. It's the first day of the Lunar New Year as the Tiger takes over from the Ox. It's also Valentine's Day. And it was this day 20 years ago that I tied the knot with my wife. So it's a time of reflection in today's On The Beat as I wish all of you a very Blessed Year of the Tiger.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Top schools: Surprise exclusions

IT’S a huge disappointment. Most of us who come from premier schools must have wondered why the list of top 20 high performing schools, presumably the country’s best, excluded our alma maters.

The top names that were missing included Penang Free School (PFS), St Michael’s Institution, Victoria Institution (VI), St Xavier’s Institution (SXI), St John’s Institution and Bukit Mertajam High School.

So are schools that perform well in examinations like Chung Ling High School and Jit Sin High School.

Over in Sabah and Sarawak, the grumblings are equally loud. From Sabah, for example, the Tshung Tsin Secondary School, All Saints and the Kota Kinabalu Secondary School must surely be wondering why they were left out.

In Sarawak, my colleagues insist that St Joseph Secondary School, St Thomas Secondary School and Kolej Tun Datu Tuanku Haji Bujang are deserving names.

More from my column today, click here.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Our forgotten heroes

Yew Cheng Hoe (left) is a well-known community leader in Petaling Jaya. The lanky elderly man heads the Damansara Jaya Owners and Residents Association, one of the best organised neighbourhoods in the country.

The 67-year-old devotes almost all his time to serving his neighbours, acting like an elected representative – if not more effective than one. The residents call him up for everything, from domestic disputes to maids running away, and they expect him to solve their problems.

His passion is in organising community protests against the construction of high-rise buildings in Damansara Jaya in the name of redevelopment. It’s a thankless job but Yew, who is still hale and hearty, is familiar with being unrecognised and unappreciated.

Not many in the neighbourhood, including the older ones, are aware that Yew is one of Malaysia’s greatest sports legends.

Read more here.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Lock up the trouble-makers

First the churches, then the surau. We mustn’t allow misguided individuals involved in arson attacks on places of worship to threaten our peace and harmony.

Click here for my On The Beat today.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The view from the other side

We need to move on, as we try to seek a consensus over the Allah controversy, and set up a national consultative body on religion to hear each other out and resolve issues.

We all want an early settlement to the controversy over the use of the word “Allah”. The country needs to move on with other issues, particularly economic concerns that need our attention.

There is this perception that seeking an appeal at the Court of Appeals to overturn the decision of the High Court would be a quick fix.

It won’t be because confidence and trust have been shaken. Angry Muslims feel the High Court decision was reached because the judge was a non-Muslim.

So, we can expect the same kind of reactions if the majority of the three sitting judges are Muslims, even if the judgment is legally sound.

The Muslims would be receptive to the decision if it favours them but the Christians, who want to use Allah in reference to God, would be dejected and make assumptions that the court hasn’t been fair.

Read the rest of my column, On The Beat, published in The Sunday Star today here.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Douse the fire of madness

IT’S the sort of religious madness that one might expect in India or Pakistan but certainly not here in Malaysia.

Except for a few cases in the past, destruction of places of worship is unheard of as we have long learnt to respect each other, way before cross-culturalism became a fashionable word in the Western world.

Last week’s torching of the Metro Tabernacle Church in Desa Melawati in Kuala Lumpur was a rude jolt to religious relations in the country. It was a black day in our history, to put it bluntly.

Read the rest of On The Beat column here.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Get out of the time warp

Another year gone. Just like that, in the blink of an eye. But in Malaysia, there is always this recurring frustration that we are trapped in some kind of a political time warp.

A new year is supposed to bring new hopes, new commitments and new aspirations.

We can see and feel that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is setting new targets and plans to take the country ahead.

To read the rest of the On The Beat column, click here.