Thursday, December 31, 2009

Net lingua

Lim Kim Hui & Har Wai Mun. 2009. Pengglobalan bahasa Internet (net lingua): Adaptasi dan hambatannya terhadap perkembangan bahasa (Globalization of Internet language (net lingua): Its adaptation and restriction to language growth). Bahasa. Vol. 18. September – December. Brunei: 27 – 45.

Conclusion part of the article:

Tidak boleh dinafikan bahawa bahasa Internet mempunyai kedinamikannya tersendiri, khasnya dari segi kebolehan adaptasinya. Antara jenis-jenis adaptasi yang utama, terutamanya dalam konteks bahasa Internet Melayu adalah singkatan huruf dan nombor, pengaruh bahasa Inggeris kreatif, bahasa kreatif dan gambaran “aksi dan emosi”. Ini membuktikan genre bahasa ini sememangnya pragmatik, justeru tentulah amat mudah menarik hati pengguna internet tetapi ditentang atas aspek sebab ketulenan bahasa perlu dipertahankan. Sehingga masa penulisan ini, nampaknya masih tidak ada jawapan bagi debat antara penyokong bahasa Internet dengan pencinta bahasa baku. Namun, di sebalik ketiadaan jawapan adalah jawapannya, yakni biarlah kedua-dua genre bahasa tersebut berkembang seiring demi memperkayakan keanekabahasaan dunia. Setiap bahasa di dunia ini, dari bahasa Melayu, bahasa Inggeris, bahasa Cina, bahasa Jepun, bahasa Jerman hinggalah bahasa Internet masing-masing ada hak untuk terus hidup dan merkah. Bukan saja begitu, kelebihan mana-mana bahasa patut dijadikan teladan untuk memajukan bahasa sendiri supaya dunia kita subur dengan keharmonian pelbagai bahasa dan budaya.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

We must stop the rot

Article written by Terence Fernandez
[Access date: 27 September 2009]

EVERY year, about 3,700 academics from around the world are quizzed on what they think defines a good university and to list down what they feel are the premier higher learning institutions in the world. Their responses are collated and at the end of the day, 500 universities are shortlisted and published on the Times Higher Education (THE) QS World Top University Rankings.

Each year, universities around the globe fall over themselves to gain entry into this prestigious list because it helps secure more grants and sponsors; helps attract a larger student population, where in the era of foreign education, it is used as a commercial boast to attract students.

In Malaysia, where one brags of frivolous achievements such as the largest fruit basket, longest teh tarik and a space tourist, being listed on the Times-QS rolls is indeed a big deal, which is why when the list is released, all and sundry crane their necks to see if they made the cut.

The latest global rankings list University of Malaya (UM) at 230; Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) at 250; Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) at 313; Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) at 320; and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), 356.

In the Asian Top 200, UM is 39; UKM 51; USM 69; UTM 82; UPM 90 and the Multimedia University at 171.

But every year we see a decline in the achievements of most of these varsities. Why, can be traced at every level of our education system.

Dumbed-down examinations, lower passing rates, questionable marking methodologies and debatable literary content have all contributed to this decline.

Politicisation of the education system has added to the cause in standards of local varsities going south and this starts at school – from sub-standard teachers who join teachers’ training college as a last resort, exam-oriented syllabuses to vague admission criteria.

This was well-illustrated when the government recently had to explain that some of its top-scoring Pubic Service Department scholarship applicants may be book smart but do not have the analytical mindset to qualify for certain courses. Basically, it was trying to say that these straight A students cannot survive the real world beyond their books.

This is probably why even education officials send their children to international schools while espousing the virtues of studying in government schools and institutions.

We know we are in trouble if even Indonesia does not recognise our qualifications. What more with many parents considering educating their children abroad – irrespective of whether they can afford it or not, it is time we re-look our education system from kindergarten and stop making guinea pigs out of our children.

Back home, there are those who opt for a professional qualification via college diplomas rather than spending four years in university, only to join the unemployment line.

In my line of work, I regularly come across evidence of this decline in our education standards.

Errors in government statements on its websites and official correspondences are not unusual.

On Sunday, the Health Ministry through its website issued a statement on H1N1 which read among others: “This day was proclaimed a new 231 with symptoms pesakit influenza-like illness (ILI) has been incorporated into the hospital for treatment and at the same time some 166 have been didiscaj kes. This makes the tray seramai 1048 ILI being treated in hospital, including 106 fruit 14 private hospital ...”

Signed by Health Director-General Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican, the posting was removed as soon as Ismail (whose English is impeccable) was notified by a reporter. Obviously it was written by another staff but the lack of checks caused embarrassment to the director-general and the ministry.

We have on our desk a letter in English from a university professor littered with grammatical errors. Not too long ago, one university had to publish an apology to a member of the Royal House for its atrocious use of the English language in a congratulatory message to her published the previous day.

I cannot speak on other faculties but we have many journalism students interning with us. The knowledge that their lecturers have not spent a day in a newsroom sends shudders down our spine as we contemplate the future of journalism in this country. One intern even confided that the first thing she learnt was self-censorship – how to write favourably about the establishment.

Then there are those which border on the criminal. Last week, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia law lecturer Yasmin Norhazleena Bahari Md Noor opened a can of worms when she lodged a report on fixing of marks with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

Yesterday, theSun front-paged a report where two UPM lecturers were caught plagiarising. What more can you say? One is a professor and the other a PhD holder with a law degree.

UPM vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Nik Mustapha R. Abdullah said this matter passed the institution’s Publication’s Committee as it usually only scans through materials and journals for submissions to Times Higher Education in an effort to scale up the university rankings.

One wonders which direction UPM would be headed now that it has been proven that some of its material is plagiarised. And this again brings to mind the shallow priorities of some. Improving the overall education standards would inevitably keep us on a reasonable level on the charts.

What’s the point of submitting tailored PR materials when the rot continues to stink?

As long as herd mentality and partisan policies continue to infiltrate our education system, we can bet that it will be a matter of time when Malaysian universities disappear from the rankings.

UM and UKM have already fallen out of the Top 200 list, and with questionable policies and dubious characters in charge and involved in shaping the next generation of our workforce, we are in for a tough time to compete with our neighbours, what more the rest of the world.

[My related article entitle "The end of academia?: From cogito ergo sum to consumo ergo sum Germany and Malaysia in comparison" available for download >> click here]

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Anti-ISA Protest

Not long ago, an international news agency shown police forcefully using water cannon against Hindraf protesters in their television news. Yet, the most deep memory in the mentioned news is this phrase used to describe the situation at that time: "This is demorcacy - Malaysian style".

It seem that Malaysian style democracy remains the same as is in the recent protest against the draconian Internal Security Act (ISA). Herewith is the link to BBC News (Asia Pacific) video clip, which once and again shown that democracy is under siege (or perhaps, under ISA detention).

Link to BBC News (with video clip):

Several free online information on the protest available at the following links:

Beatings, tear gas and water cannons a setback for Najib’s reforms (Malaysian Insider)

Tindakan terhadap peserta demo anti-ISA undang kecaman (Malaysiakini)

Pakatan claims anti-ISA success despite police action (

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Mysterious death of Teoh Beng Hock

BBC (20 July 2009) reported that Chua Jui Meng, a member of Malaysia's governing coalition, has quit to join the opposition Pakatan Alliance. He said he was concerned about alleged abuse of power and the unexplained death of an opposition leader's aide. …

"We see the abuse of power in the use of the federal institutions to harass, persecute and prosecute the leader of the opposition," he said. This was a reference to a sodomy trial, for which preliminary proceedings have begun, against Mr Anwar.

Mr Chua said the sudden death of a young opposition political aide, Teoh Beng Hock, was the tipping point in his decision to join the opposition.

"The tragic death of 30-year-old Teoh Beng Hock is the consequence of one such institution going overboard in its action." Mr Teoh, an aide to a member of the state cabinet in Selangor, ruled by the opposition alliance, apparently plunged from the 14th-floor offices of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

For further information on this tragedy, refer to My Sinchew (2009) online write-up entitle “Mysterious death of Teoh Beng Hock.

Meanwhile, Shannon Teoh (20 July 2009) highlighted three more similar high profile cases happened previously in Malaysia. Among them are the cases of Altantuya Shariibuu, Francis Udayappan and A. Kugan. Her write up is available in Malaysian Insider.

Seventeen civil society groups have dubbed the mysterious death of Teoh Beng Hock a casualty of politics and demands a royal commission of inquiry to investigate the incident. The groups include the Bar Council, Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (SCAH), Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ), Centre for Policy Initiatives (CPI), Group of Concerned Citizens (GCC), Malaysia Youth and Student Democratic Movement (Dema), Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Empower), Jamaah Islah Malaysia (JIM) (Malaysiakini, 18 July 2009).

Further public opinions could be viewed at Malaysiakini such as follows:

It's double standards we can't stomach

Uproar over harsh interrogation tactics


BBC. (2009). Malaysia opposition group grows. Retrieved July 21, 2009 from

Malaysiakini. (2009). Teoh 'the first political death' under Najib. Retrieved July 21, 2009 from

My Sinchew online write-up “Mysterious death of Teoh Beng Hock” available at

Shannon Teoh. (2009). Who’s next?. Retrieved July 21, 2009 from

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Beware BN's softer but deadlier approach

Har Wai Mun | Jun 23, 09 4:58pm

Not long after Jose Mourinho took over as the Chelsea football team manager, he self-proclaimed himself as the ‘Special One’. Coincidently, soon after Najib Abdul Razak took over as prime minister of Malaysia, he announced the ‘1Malaysia’ concept. How would these two match-up in the spirit of democracy?

The concept of democracy could be traced back to the philosophical thoughts of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, particularly to his ‘On Social Contract’ (1762). In brief, there are three important components in democracy architectural, namely the individual, the laws and the government.

Every individual is born with the natural right to maximise his/her own benefit unlimitedly but chooses to exchange it with civil rights and hence subject themselves to the law. The government establishes and executes the law after it is appointed by the people.

Hence, in this tripartite ‘contractual’ inter-relationship, the ‘Special One’ should be no one. A democratic sovereign Malaysia is a unique equilibrium between the individual, the laws and the government. Any effort that could jeopardise this equilibrium should be rejected.

The proposed ‘unity talks’ is merely for a grouping of individuals to maximise their collective natural rights and not the unity of all people to enhance the overall civil welfare. Other undemocratic factors that need to be urgently rejected are the draconian Internal Security Act, the Sedition Act, racist policies and some double-standard practices of our police force.

Therefore, if Umno wishes to have unity talks, do invite all Malaysian to unite against these undemocratic factors.

As for the ‘1Malaysia’ concept it is a double-edged sword. On the positive side, Najib should be applauded for his effort to unite every Malaysian to strengthen Malaysian democracy. If so, let us hope that we are no longer separated by race and religion as in our national identity card and requirements to enter public universities and the public service sector.

‘1Malaysia’ should come together with more transparency and morality, hence less corruption, cronyism and unethical practices.

Nonetheless, one still wonders why our authorities seem so relaxed over the Lingam Tape scandal, the yearly findings of the Auditor-General’s Report, and the PKFZ fiasco and instead clamping down against the likes of P Uthayakumar, ‘1BlackMalaysia’ and DAP’s dinner functions.

All these certainly cast doubts that ‘1Malaysia’ could be nothing more than a political strategy. Furthermore, it’s difference with DAP’s ‘Malaysian Malaysia’ is still unclear.

With reference to Sun Tzu’s ‘Art of War’, a mental attack to disintegrate the enemy is superior to a physical confrontation. Perhaps enlightened from its moral defeat in the general election last year and subsequent by-elections, Barisan Nasional is no longer using aggressive rhetoric against Pakatan Rakyat.

Instead, a softer but deadlier approach using ‘unity’ as a theme is being used to perfection to disunite Pakatan and their supporters.

If in its purest intention, the special ‘1Malaysia’ would greatly strengthen the ‘Special One’ - Malaysia as a democratic sovereign nation - then it should be welcome. If not, Malaysian democracy is in grave danger. Thus, deciding on which version is true is of utmost importance.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Readiness of ASEAN Banking Sector Integration: Recent Development and Statistical Evidence

[Report for “MOHE/BNM Attachment Program”]


ASEAN has a vision to form a single community by 2015. Thus, ASEAN integration has been a topic of great interest but unfortunately, attention has been over-focused on economics aspect. This paper aims to study the specific aspect of ASEAN banking sector integration within three objectives. Firstly, this paper aims to compare the ASEAN countries’ respective commitments to its own members through ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services (AFAS) against their commitments to the world under General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). Secondly, this paper aims to evaluate the readiness of ASEAN for banking sector integration using statistical approach. Thirdly, the statistical results from the second objective will be utilized to construct an indicator of readiness for ASEAN banking sector integration. The results reveal that ASEAN countries’ commitment to AFAS did not differ much from their respective commitments to GATS. Statistical evidence shows that there are vast differences in monetary conditions between ASEAN countries, hence causing difficulties for one-step-total-integration. Therefore, “paired-integration” is proposed based on the results of “readiness indicator”. Optimal pairing for Malaysia is Thailand, followed by Philippines and Singapore.

'Quo vadis' Hindraf?

Har Wai Mun | May 4, 09 3:44pm

After being greatly successful in swinging the Indian vote in favour of Pakatan Rakyat since the 12th general election and for almost every subsequent by-election, Hindraf seems to have finally reached a crossroads, pondering which future path to go onto next.

Intense government suppression including the detention of their leaders and banning the movement makes Hindraf's future more uncertain. An internal rift does not help either.

Nevertheless, the biggest threat to Hindraf's future is neither the government nor its internal conflict, but the direction of their struggle in the long run. Two questions are of utmost importance to Hindraf.

Firstly, should Hindraf's continue their struggle by solely focusing on the Indian community or should encompass the multi-racial society in Malaysia?

When voters rejected Barisan Nasional's racial politics, one would ponder whether Hindraf would face the same fate in the near future. Do the voters want another MIC after they have rejected one?

Hindraf members could stress that they really care and fight for Indian community unlike the MIC. Yet truly, Malaysians could point out that there are poor and marginalised Malays and Chinese too.

Thus, how about them? Let the DAP take care of the Chinese while PAS and PKR help the Malays? I certainly hope not and thankfully do not see those abovementioned parties moving towards that direction of racial politics.

However, due to relatively more pressing problems from the Indian community, Hindraf is certainly being more practical in giving their undivided attention to the community for the moment.

But in the future, Hindraf's survival requires them to enlarge their vision and struggle for all Malaysians regardless of race to uphold the true spirit of ‘people power' as they originally popularised as ‘Makkal Sakhti'.

The second question is should Hindraf move towards attaining formal political power? On one hand, restriction to do so could limit the effectiveness of the movement to bring changes at the national level.

Thus, parliamentarians, ministers and state executive councilors are needed. On the other hand, a ‘yes' answer could possibly lead to certain individual members becoming overly politically ambitious.

By the way, bear in mind that Hindraf is officially an illegal movement, hence it is impossible for it to become a political party. Registering a new political party using new name is also equally impossible under the BN government.

So, the most workable way to gain formal political power is through existin political parties. Yet, another dilemma would be whether Hindraf parliamentarians of other party memberships could unrestrictedly represent the movement.

The answers to these questions might unlock the future direction for Hindraf. Currently, their existence seems to be more energised by emotion rather than on long-term basis practicalities.

Hindraf's ‘partnership' with Pakatan Rakyat is on a rather ‘ad hoc' basis based on the scenario that they share the same enemy (BN).

For Hindraf and Pakatan Rakyat to survive and glorify in Malaysian history, their ‘enemy' should not be BN, but poverty corruption, unfairness, restrictions on freedom (particularly the Internal Security Act), the alarming economic crisis, the declining education standard and the degradation of our environment.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Cabinet lineup a mockery of democracy

Har Wai Mun | Apr 10, 09 5:13pm

Looking at the recent political developments and the new cabinet lineup, democracy in Malaysia is heading down the drain. Online encyclopedia Wikipedia defines ‘democracy’ as a form of government in which power is held indirectly by citizens in a free electoral system.

There are two principles of democracy. The first principle is that all members of society (citizens) have equal access to power.

The second is that all members (citizens) enjoy universally-recognised freedoms and liberties. Have these two principles been upheld in Malaysia?

Firstly, there are three ministers and six deputy ministers appointed not by them winning elections but through the ‘back door’. Does this imply that Barisan Nasional (BN) does not have capable members of Parliament to do the job?

Perhaps, the new prime minister sees extraordinary talent or wisdom in these senators that justify their appointment. If that is the case, as when Abdullah Badawi appointed Zaid Ibrahim, it is justifiable and should be applauded.

However, questions are raised over those who were losers and were rejected by voters in the 12th general election. Bear in mind that it should be the people that elect the government. When they are rejected by the people, why should they be in the cabinet?

This is a mockery of our electoral system. It is also a robbery of power from the people, hence violating the abovementioned first principle of democracy.

Furthermore, the failure to appoint newly-elected Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin, who is also a member of Parliament, is a mockery of the Umno elections too.

Secondly, a separate portfolio to ‘oversee national unity’ is a disgrace to the people. Does the government see Malaysians voting for Pakatan Rakyat as an act of ‘non-unity’ thus the urgent need to ‘oversee’ it so that it would not happen again?

Would it not be better to create a ‘Unity Affairs Division’ in each of the BN component parties as well to take care of their members’ ‘unity’?

Third, the appointment of Hishammuddin Hussien as Home Affairs minister is a big shock, which could backfire on BN too.

Not to belittle his ability, but given his record of supporting the draconian ISA and keris showboating, this appointment did not goes well with the second principle of democracy nor national unity.

Perhaps, this is Malaysia, the ‘Boleh-land’. Nevertheless, do not forget Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s infamous phrase of ‘work with me, not work for me’.

Despite being the most liberal and performance-oriented prime minister, his Umno mates no longer chose to work with him.

Hence, if the new prime minister and his cabinet try to practice ‘Own People First, Showboating Performance Now’, be warned that people power could still overcome whatever political suppression to restore the principles of democracy.

This for every subsequent by-election until the next general election.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

We need to switch on our political consciousness

Har Wai Mun | Mar 26, 09 4:12pm

Come Saturday, thousands of cities, towns and municipalities all over the world will put their lights out for one hour 8.30 am local time. The organisers believe that this switching off of lights towards natural darkness is a vote for the future of earth against global warming.

While the Earth Hour campaign is celebrated, a possible ‘political lights out’ ten days later in Malaysia may not.

After the triple by-election on April 7, ousted Perak Menteri Besar Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin as well as Pakatan Rakyat could face a political blackout. But perhaps, could it be that Umno would experience a political knockout?

Could the battle of an unstoppable Anwar Ibrahim against an immovable Barisan Nasional (BN) finally come to an end soon?

Nevertheless, the most regretted happening is the gradual, unconscious ‘lights out’ of Malaysian political consciousness. Following are three examples.

Firstly, election goodies are easy bait. Community projects like building hospitals and schools are not government efforts anymore but credited to a political party/alliance.

The most common slogan used is ‘Satu Lagi Project Barisan Nasional’. Malaysians fail to realise that these projects are part and parcel of the role of any elected government and are funded by public money.

Secondly, we are taught that giving gifts with the intention of getting some reciprocal reward (in contrast to merely showing appreciation) is akin to bribing. So are not elections goodies some form of bribe?

And how about rent-seeking as in the Approved Permits (AP) case? How about the findings outlined in the annual auditor-general’s report? What about the Lingam tape scandal?

Malaysian have easily forgotten all these cases after the BN government’s aggressive marketing of the latest anti-corruption body, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

Hence, where is the Malaysian consciousness on ethics? Have we switched off the lights on our sound judgment?

Thirdly, we protest against political crackdown in Myanmar, the invasion of Iraq and the aggression in Afghanistan, to name a few. Malaysia champions for democracy.

Then, how on earth do we justify detention without trial under the ISA? Can we justify aggression towards peaceful demonstrators? How about restriction on speech, banning of opposition party organs and curbs on religious freedom?

In the first place, it is disharmony that gives strength to protest, criticism and debate all of which are need for the process to seek a new equilibrium towards stronger unity and more lasting harmony.

Yet, BN has been successfully using their tricks to pain a negative connotation of opposition-inclined Malaysians and many duly follow this line without giving it much thought.

Hopefully, Malaysian will switch off their lights for Earth Hour but not the light of their political consciousness.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Democracy at uncharted areas: A Joke or valuable discovery?

In the 12th general election, which is dubbed as “political tsunami”, years of Barisan Nasional (BN) dominance in Malaysian politic was suddenly crashed by the opposition alliance’s people power. Ever since, democracy system in Malaysia has been exploring uncharted areas day by day.

The latest or perhaps also the most interesting is the Perak saga. Among those uncharted areas include phenomena of “jumping frog” that led to the case of two opposing Menteri Besar (MB), questioning the legitimacy of each other. The case is hence dubbed “MB vs. MB case”. Another one is today emergency sitting of Perak state assembly which held under a tree! Hence, some Pakatan supporters dubbed the tree as "pokok demokrasi" (democracy tree) (Ong 2008).

The ongoing Perak saga again and again throw fresh doubt about BN’s integrity as well as neutrality of law enforcement authority (the police, particularly). In this case, should the BN go all out to stop the state assembly? If the BN "order" the Pakatan state assemblymen to wait and settle dispute in court, why not they wait and prove their legality in the court first before declaring their are legal state government of Perak?

Anyway, the below picture may worth thousand of words on democracy in uncharted areas… but whether the happening is a worth discovery or a shameful joke is yet to know. Perhaps, time will tell.

(Source: The Malaysian

Ong, Andrew. High drama, violence & 'pokok demokrasi'. Available at Access date: 3 March 2009.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Public perception of the police wasn't got overnight

Har Wai Mun | Feb 13, 09 1:10pm

All of a sudden, issues such as race, corruption and Malaysian police brutality are making headlines. Yet, these issues did not come from nowhere or spring up overnight.

‘Malay’, ‘Chinese’ and ‘Indian’ are supposed to be a neutral adjectives to describe the origin of someone just like ‘thin’ and ‘fat’.

However, if these adjectives are institutionalised in an unfair manner over a long period of time, then it could become a big issue.

It will be interesting to imagine having a national policy that gives an advantage to overweight people but discriminate against skinny people. What will happen after one day? One year? Fifty years?

Let’s continue to imagine. After fifty years, some skinny people may not tolerate it anymore and get angry and start to criticise that policy. Should we blame them? Should we stop them? Jail them for the sake of maintaining harmony?

Applying the same analysis to a perception of the police force, their negative image did not develop overnight and out of nothing. Nevertheless, they should not be blamed completely too.

A continuous suppression of freedom of speech with the police as enforcers naturally puts them in bad faith with the public. Misusing the police force as a political tool is another factor.

In a bi-directional causality effect, these two factors in turn over-empower the police, hence providing breeding ground for misuse of power.

Nonetheless, it needs plenty of repeat cases of police mischief over a long period of time to enable a bad perception to develop. The reverse is true to change a perception from bad to good.

Therefore, the police force should wake up from its state of denial and be brave enough to confront reality. Particularly that related to the A Kugan case. They should be doing as their slogan saying: ‘Firm, Fair and Courteous’.

Please be firm in identifying and taking action against the responsible person(s) involved in Kugan’s death. Please be fair, which includes being transparent and declining any government intervention in this case.

Hence, the home minister’s outcry is not welcome; particularly his ‘Don't see criminals as heroes’ statement. I hope that the police and minister understand that nobody is a ‘criminal’ until having being found guilty by the courts.

Lastly, please show courtesy to the public whom you should protect with your integrity. Again, please realise that any ‘good’ or ‘demonic’ perception on anybody did not come from nowhere or just overnight.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

PR careless but BN beyond repair

Har Wai Mun | Feb 10, 09 6:51pm

First of all, the Sultan of Perak’s decision against a snap state election is very disappointing. Equally disappointing is Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) over-enthusiasm to overthrow the Barisan Nasional (BN) government that has now backfired.

Meanwhile, BN seems continuously trying to prove that it is beyond repair.

PR’s surprise victories in the March 2008 election implied ad hoc readiness to form state governments. Therefore, their over-enthusiasm to wrest further power from BN added both extra pressure and further exposure to fatal carelessness as like in the Perak saga.

In the midst of attracting BN assembly persons to defect, they overlooked the fact that there were internal dissatisfaction and weaknesses, therefore giving a chance for BN to pounce.

As a result, PR, particularly PKR and DAP, lost not only their majority in Perak but the parties’ integrity among voters.

Anwar Ibrahim and other leaders of PR should have realised that some of their members of Parliament or state assembly persons are not up to the mark in terms of loyalty, political maturity and integrity.

Interesting to say, PR could also have won some constituencies by putting monkeys as candidates. On the one hand, ‘monkey’ representatives are a source of future trouble.

On the other hand, this implies that citizens are actually voting for the party, not the candidate. Hence, party-hoppers should resign and stand for fresh elections.

Just ask ourselves two simple questions: ‘What is the full name of our Yang Berhormat?’ and ‘Which party won our constituency?’

If the later is easier to answer, then party-hoppers are clearly traitors to voters while BN ‘government’ in Perak is morally unjustifiable. Also, an anti-hopping law seems more urgent and appropriate than before.

Political development in Malaysia could be better if Malaysians (from politicians to the ordinary people) become more political conscious and mature. Political maturity enables voters to be able to differentiate between political rhetoric and fact.

Thus, Malaysians voters would not be easily brainwashed by the rhetoric of fear and the ‘bribing’ by election ‘goodies’. Malaysians should not buy any ‘information’ blindly as the mainstream media could be a tool of political propaganda.

Nevertheless, the long term success of PR could depend on them upholding their struggle towards high integrity, fairness and competency as well as politically educating Malaysians.

This is preferred rather than following BN’s unethical approach to gain power by defections.

In addition, putting efforts into strengthening their services to society could be their better choice for a progressive path towards Putrajaya.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

'Doctor' needed to detoxify 'political worms'

Har Wai Mun | Feb 5, 09 4:33pm


Despite being the most influential political ideology in the world, democracy is not perfect. Hence, it is subjected to exploitation by ‘political worms’. Once its shield of integrity is broken, democracy would start to rot aided by those ‘worms’.

This unwanted scenario could be what has been happening in Perak. Not even a year ago on March 8, 2008, voters chose their representatives to parliament and the state assembly.

Unknown to them, they were not fulfilling their role to uphold democracy but were merely ‘officiating’ a political game between two camps of ‘political worms’.

After the ‘official opening ceremony’ ended, the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) camp was awarded a total of 31 ‘chess pieces’ while Barisan Nasional (BN) camp was surprisingly awarded three pieces less on the ‘Perak chessboard’.

Then, the game begin with both chess masters (‘worm-masters’?) playing mind games to win over chess pieces from the other camp. The voters were merely spectators!

So is democracy still alive in this country? Could be, but it is fast rotting to death. In the process, we witness all sort of lame reasons given to justify a switching (and rejoining) of camps.

The Bota ‘chess piece’s’ ‘long and serious’ consideration to hop over to the PR camp seems less serious considering his reverse process to rejoin BN. The issue of money politics was brought up.

Threats and treats were rumored. Resignation letters were countered with denial letters. The Election Commission’s decision was disputed and the matter could even end up in court.

Thus, is democracy still alive? Perhaps, but that depends on what ‘medicine’ is given to detoxify those ‘political worms’. It is certainly not an easy task and thus a truly qualified doctor (more precisely, a ‘savior’) is needed, of which the Sultan of Perak is one.

Yet, before official ‘medicine’ is prescribed, three major opinions have been voiced out. Some believe that having by-elections in both Behrang and Changkat Jering is the best medicine but some claim a smooth transition to BN rule is better.

Meanwhile, others (including me as a voter in a Perak constituency) prefer snap state elections as the medicine.

Only then can the power of voters be restored from being merely ‘spectators’ of a chess game to being the deciders of our own state assembly representatives.

Democracy should empower the people through the electoral process - not empower the ‘political worms’ through a chess game. Let’s hope democracy has not rotted to death in the country yet.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Lets the New Year Begin

“Save the best till the last” seem explains some high impact happenings in Malaysia. November 2007 witnessed the two People’s rallies, namely the Bersih Rally and Hindraf Rally that caused a shocking moral defeat to the “invincible” Barisan Nasional ruling government in the 12th General election in March 2008. On one hand, Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi’s liberal stand on freedom is blamed for the release of Anwar Ibrahim, the rallies and the mushrooming of blogging activities, which all contributed to the so called “political tsunami”. On the other hand, Mahathir’s uncompromising approach is believed to have seeded continuous suppression of dissatisfactions that erupted like a volcano during the general election.

While all winning parties in their respective ruling states were busy planning the administrative and power sharing matters, finger pointing particularly among the Barisan Nasional (BN) members occupied the months of April and May. Not to miss out in action is Mahathir Mohammad, who stole the headlines of blaming Abdullah Badawi for the election defeat and setting up its blog. By the end of May, his blog, “” registered a milestone of one million hits, clearly showing to Malaysian what is missing after his “retirement”.

Petrol price hike took over the spotlight in June after the government announced a jump of 40.6 percent hike to RM2.70 per litre. Inflation shot up record high. There was even a public debate between Anwar Ibrahim (opposition leader) and Ahmad Shabery (Information Minister) on this issue, which is the first of its kind and something Malaysians never imagine under Mahathir’s era. Credit should be given to Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi for his effort towards liberalization of speech. All this while, Malaysians have been mocked as “having freedom of speech but no freedom after speech”. Unfortunately, his effort and liberal stand brought him more calamity than blessing as he was held responsible for indirectly strengthening the opposition, hence asked to relinquish his top post comes March 2009. Abdullah is also branded as “softie and like to sleep in meeting”. Other happening was increasing news of mass defection from BN to Pakatan Rakyat, thus setting a climate for “unstoppable Anwar against immovable BN” showdown.

The showdown sparked off with Anwar being charged for sodomy again while Najib Razak is being linked to the murder case of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu. Both denied their respective involvement. Nevertheless, Anwar won the “first round” by winning the Permatang Pauh by-election in August on a bigger majority to return to Parliament. The “second round” fight was on the “September 16” plan of change of ruling government. As a result, the BN’s MP being packed off to a study tour in Taiwan, believed to be a strategy to avoid the “September 16” plan. For those Malaysians that are not interested in the country politic, Olympic Games could be occupying part of their August, perhaps supporting other Asian teams like China and Japan rather than Malaysia.

Besides, the debate on New Economic Policy (NEP) and Malay supremacy getting hot up until nearly tearing Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia (PGRM) away from BN coalition. In early September, Ahmad Ismail and his gang from UMNO Penang controversially stroking up racial tension and tearing Koh Tsu Koon’s (then, PGRM acting President) picture. Ahmad blamed a journalist from a Chinese-language Sin Chew Daily named Tan Hoon Cheng for the whole mess up. Subsequently, the later of September rocked Malaysia with the triple arrest through the Internal Security Act (ISA). The victims are blogger (Raja Petra), journalist (Tan Hoon Cheng) and politician (Teresa Kok). These arrests triggered nationwide condemnation of the draconian Internal Security Act (ISA) and resignation of Zaid Ibrahim from his Minister post as a sign of disagreement to the misused of the ISA by the government. Zaid, widely known as de facto Law Minister and is Malaysian best hope for juridical reform. He was later sacked from UMNO. In this month, Sabah Progressive Party (Sapp) also announced its pull out from the BN coalition.

Nonetheless, “September 16” became an anti-climate for the opposition and never materializes. BN keep a clean a sheet and won the “second round” despite Anwar has far more possession in this round. In other happening in September, announcements of big banks from the United States and Europe collapsing did chill the country of a possible global economic crisis and start to trigger the nation attention to economic arena.

The “third round warm up” did not start off as fierce as the previous two rounds. Therefore, month of October merely involved randomly throwing of punches to each other. These include outgoing MCA President, Ong Ka Ting surprisingly criticizing UMNO as bully in the BN coalition and Zaid Ibrahim claiming that Malay supremacy model has failed. Sexual abuse of Penan women in Sarawak, the controversial appointment of Low Siew Moi as temporary head of PKNS, MCA election, nominations for UMNO election, banning of Hindraf and reductions of petrol price filled up the month.

In November, PKR move up the heat by indicating that the Pakatan Rakyat is targeting Sabah and Sarawak to fulfil the “unfinished” plan of “September 16”, or at least for the coming state elections. Fatwa on the ban of tomboy characteristic and yoga to Muslim trigger anxiety. Yet, this month seems to belong to BN as various happening started to reveal weakness of the Pakatan Rakyat. Examples are the Penang’s UNESCO status fiasco and various reports of rifts among the Pakatan members.

Full concentration to economy provides calmness before the storm in early part of December. In the late December, plan to privatize IJN (National Heart Institute) causes some spark but it was the debate about implementation of Islamic hudud law resurfaces that matter most, threatening to tear DAP and PAS apart and leaving Anwar and PKR aimless with the “head Pakatan lose, tail, BN win” dilemma.

As the Kuala Terengganu by-election, perhaps the “third round” around the corner, happenings at the very end of the year set the stage for the battle to continue. Who will win? How many more “rounds” are needed to unveil the winner? Will this battle of the unstoppable against the immovable benefit the country and the rakyat? How about the potential catastrophe of a global economic crisis?

Anyway, lets the new year begin. Welcome the Year 2009 and whatever it may bring.