Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The ultimate test of Najib's leadership

An Appeal To Malaysia’s Prime Minister cum Finance Minister - Re-examine The Country’s Strategy For Foreign Reserves - By Matthias Chang (27/8/09)

By Matthias Chang

Wednesday, 26 August 2009 20:30

Many visitors to my website have queried why I have not written any articles concerning the global economy in general and the Malaysian economy in particular in the last few weeks. I have not bothered to reply to those queries because what needed to be said and or written have been said and written by me repeatedly for the last one year.

I have warned that the present global stock market rally will not last, it is a suckers’ rally. But few have taken heed of the warning. There are no green shoots, and recovery if any, will be a few years down the road, not 2009 or 2010.

Just a few days ago, Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz warned that the dollar’s role as a store of value is questionable and the currency has a high degree of risk. Professor Nouriel Roubini is of the view that there will be a U shape recovery, with a rising risk of a double-dip W shaped recession. But what was significant is that Professor Roubini takes the view that the present crisis is one of solvency, and not just liquidity and that true deleveraging has not begun yet because the losses of financial institutions have been socialized and put on government balance sheets.

Only time will be the final judge as to who is correct in the assessment of the present and future economic scenarios.

The purpose of my writing this article is to highlight the deafening silence of experts on the issue of gold reserves held by key central banks of the developed nations.

This is also my primary concern for the Malaysian economy.

I am known for using common sense in analyzing complex economic / financial problems and thus far, I have been proven right time after time in the general direction in which the global economy and the Malaysian economy are heading.

I believe that in the coming months, many countries in Asia will experience a rude awakening, to put it mildly.

In medical terms, it would be a massive financial heart attack in which our financial doctors will be totally disorientated and unable to assist the patient!

Since the financial crisis of 1997, many Asian central banks were led to believe that the best way to prevent future attacks on their currencies was to accumulate as much foreign currency reserves, preferably US dollars. And the quickest and safest route was to export and export to the mighty US in exchange for the dollars created out of thin air by the Federal Reserve.

The hardworking Asians worked their butts out and sold goods for mere paper currency, in actual fact toilet papers!

China led the way, and today she has the largest US dollar foreign reserve, followed closely by Japan.

But, our central bankers in Asia took no notice of the status and ratio of the gold reserves held by key European central banks. Additionally, Europe had the advantage of the euro as a “secondary reserve” currency.

As a result of the ongoing financial crisis, the Fed and the US Treasury have caused $trillions to be created out of thin air to stimulate the US economy. Never before, has so much US toilet paper been injected into the international banking system. The system is now choking in toilet papers!

While China, Japan, Russia and other Asian central banks are fretting about the decreasing purchasing power of the US dollar, the global banking elites seem impervious to the risk and danger of such an amount of toilet paper in the system.


The answer lies in the opening statement of the 3 Central Bank Gold Agreements (CBGA). In the latest CBGA, 19 national central banks and the European Central Bank were parties to the arrangement for the orderly sale and purchase of gold. The first agreement was made in 1999. Read the opening statement carefully:

“Gold will remain an important element of global monetary reserves.”

In the latest agreement, dated 14th August 2009, the above statement was repeated and followed by:

• The gold sales already decided and to be decided by the undersigned institutions will be achieved through a concerted program of sales over a period of five years, starting on 27th September 2009, immediately after the end of the previous agreement. Annual sales will not exceed 400 tonnes and total sales over this period will not exceed 2000 tonnes.

• The signatories recognize the intention of the IMF to sell 403 tonnes of gold and noted that such sales can be accommodated within the above ceilings.

• This agreement will be reviewed after five years.

It is significant to note that the IMF intends to sell 403 tonnes of gold and it is a no-brainer to venture a guess as to who will be the main buyer. China is desperate to unload its US toilet papers for gold and it has to be done carefully, as such sales “will be accommodated within the above ceilings.”

In the 90s, European central banks’ reserve portfolios were dominated by gold, ranging from 70% to 90% of total reserves. The abovementioned CBGAs were agreements made by the central bank cartel to control the price of gold when they are being sold by signatories of the CBGA.

During the period of the 1st CBGA, when 2000 tonnes of gold were sold, the price of gold rose by 52%. Since then, gold has risen continuously in what has been a secular bull market and in spite of gold sales by central banks. And the future trend is one of rising prices. Anyone who refuses to pay attention to this startling fact is an idiot!

Applying common sense, why should there be anymore debate as to the strategic value of gold?

For the doubting thomases out there, maybe the quotation below will be a wake-up call:

“With gold holdings amounting to 1,040 tonnes, it holds a substantial part of its currency reserves in the form of gold.”

- The Swiss National Bank

And with the dollar weakening further in the months and years ahead, the need for gold as a strategic reserve is one of paramount importance. The fact that the signatories to the 3rd CBGA have agreed to cut back the ceiling from 500 tonnes to 400 tonnes and inclusive of the IMF sales is indicative that there is a shift in the thinking of the 19 central bankers to this agreement.

The implications are obvious. When the shit hits the ceiling fan, following the run on the dollar, countries with significant amounts of gold as reserves will have a strategic advantage.

The current situation of key European Central Banks’ gold reserves as a percentage of their total reserves are as follows:

France: 73%
Germany: 69.5%
Italy: 66.1%
Netherlands: 61.4
Switzerland: 37.1%

In contrast, the key Asian Central Banks’ and Russia’s gold reserves are as follows:

Russia: 4%
India: 4%
Taiwan: 3.8%
Japan: 2.1%
China: 1.8%

Given this state of affairs, any sales by European central banks under the 3rd CBGA will not depress gold prices, as it will be inevitable for the underweighted Asian central banks to pick them up so as to bolster their miniscule reserves in gold. For more data, please reference World Gold Council.

The central bankers that control the gold supply will be better able to steer their countries through the second wave of the financial turmoil when confidence in the toilet paper US$ sinks to the very bottom and the dash to the safety of gold is in full flight. It will not be inconceivable for the price of gold to shoot up to US$ 3,000 or more per oz! And I AM BEING VERY CONSERVATIVE in this estimate.

So where will Malaysia be in the coming second wave of financial turmoil?

I am not optimistic that we are prepared for such an eventuality.

Bank Negara is in a state of denial.

The Ministry of Finance is also in a state of denial.

I am told that some key advisers are pre-occupied playing golf and other extra-curricular activities rather than hunkering down and doing basic ground work.

Yes, Mr. Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad had his chance in governing the country for 22 years and Badawi had a go at it for five years and now it is your turn. There is much to learn from the two administrations, the good and the bad.

The string of By-election defeats is most unsettling as well as distracting.

I hope you are still focused on economic issues as the perception on the ground is that you are being deluded by the rebound of the stock market as being indicative of a general recovery.

Mr. Prime Minister,

Please take heed of the warnings by Professor Stiglitz and Professor Roubini, even if you take the view that my analysis does not deserve your scrutiny.

This is the ultimate test of your leadership – to keep the Malaysian ship on even keel in stormy waters. Should you fail, disaster will visit the Barisan Nasional in 2012/2013.

As the Prime Minister of Malaysia, I wish you every success, but please do hurry up, as we had wasted five years of warming up during the previous administration.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Some of the political geniuses in Malaysia

Khairy Jamaluddin

KJ is an enigma representing the youngsters who clamour for change in Malaysia, under the stewardship of United Malays National Organization. His meteoric rise, notwithstanding the support and easy climb backed by his father-in-law, former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Badawi has been the talk of town since his days of helming the Deputy UMNO Youth Leader. He is smart, witty, intelligent, Oxford-educated 'new Malay' who aspires to lead Malaysia in the very near future. While his fate within UMNO is much to be guessed, some say he will go far. Others say he will be doomed. One thing for sure, never dismiss this bright young star, as detailed by the Khairy Chronicles.

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad

Mahathir, the grand old man of Malaysian politics is certainly here to stay. Love him or hate him, there is a certain acknowledge by all quarters that he was instrumental in the development of Malaysia to date, perhaps sacrificing some of the fundamentals enshrined in the Constitution. Mahathir is also a master of perception and hold dear to the Machiavellian philosophy. To be decisive, firm, accurate, concise and precise are his trademarks in executing state chores. This no-nonsense statesman still plays a role in the Malaysian political scene, often making headlines criticising governments, be it state or federal level. At 84 years old and still going strong, expect much more of 'Mahathirism' in the future.

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim

Anwar Ibrahim, for the right or wrong reasons, will always be the icon of charismatic leadership. His ability to influence the masses to rally for his Reformasi campaign proved that he has substantial support from quite a majority of Malaysians. Since falling out from UMNO, he has been advocating Ketuanan Rakyat and consistent in his struggle for a better Malaysia. His oratory skills are unmatched by any politician in Malaysia so far, dead or alive. The Anwar today may or may not be the Anwar yesterday. But it is imperative that he remains the opposition icon and hope to unite Pakatan Rakyat and mount a strong challenge to the ruling coalition.

Dato' Sri Najib Tun Razak

By virtue of being the Prime Minister, we must acknowledge Najib of his achievement although one might think he has it all on the silver platter by virtue of his family. Najib may not be the brightest politician around, but he is certainly smart enough to be labelled a political genius. He has travelled a long way since his days of UMNO youth chief and Pahang Chief Minister, and yet he has not really been tested by open elections in his party, and yet, the people accepted and respected him. No doubt, he controls the cash cows currently, but ultimately, the 13th general election will be his performance yardstick. His genius flair will show if he can overturn the rakyat's anger against the Barisan Nasional.

Tuan Guru Nik Aziz Nik Mat

This Kelantan PAS CM and Spiritual Leader is what the Pope is to the Catholics, to his own people of Kelantan and PAS supporters. His words are powerful and combined with the religious credentials he has in his belt, it is no surprise that Nik Aziz will remain most influential in PAS.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The truth about the Universiti Malaya land scam


Thursday, 28 February 2008 ( arkib)

When Amin Jalaludin, UM’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor cum ENT surgeon turned developer announced on behalf of his boss, Rafiah Salim, lawyer turned banker cum UN Human Resources Manager cum Vice-Chancellor and currently jet-setting businesswoman, the proposal by the Universiti of Malaya’s governing board to let a suspicious private entity called PPC-MINT-GLOMAC develop 27 acres of irreplaceable campus land on February 9, 2008, Malaysians knew that it had all the makings of a major scam.

Amin announced that the successful completion of the development project is expected to provide UM with a minimum income of RM312 million or the land value of RM200 million plus a share of the developer's profit, whichever is higher.

All this money would presumably help the UM financially in its faltering attempts to redress its declining academic and research standards. One would truly love to buy UM’s efforts to create a giant multi-billion dollar endowment fund similar to that of Harvard or Yale until one realizes that the person who is announcing the deal is not a businessman but is a medical doctor, spent most of his life giving tutorials and power point presentations and works for a VC with a very shady banking past in tandem with the Prime Minister’s speech writer cum proxy, Anuar Zaini who has now made a name for himself as an underhanded lackey of the Prime Minister who uses governmental positions to rip off our institutions and tax payers money to fill up the coffers of UMNO and their personal Swiss accounts.

Since when did our academics decide to go into business? If their depressing role in helping plunge our University standards are anything to go by, we would then have to expect that these same greenhorns in business will in all likelihood sell off the University’s assets and realise later that they have lost not only their assets but will then have to apply for a bail-out using tax payers money or file for bankruptcy. But Rafiah, Amin, Anuar Zaini and all those other Emeritus Professors wouldn’t be sticking around to attend creditor’s meetings then would they? They would have gracefully retired to their homes in Australia leaving yet another institution in debt and Malaysians a lot poorer. Maybe Idris Jala would be made available to the University Malaya then, but it may be too late as, unlike MAS, there may be no more assets to sell for him to soup up the books and bring it back to black in a jiffy.

This country never learns. That little piece of land was provided for the University so that they produce the best brains that will help develop this country. The land was not meant to grow palm oil plantations, mine tin, grow skyscrapers or gated communities. But we cannot expect more from the likes of the University’s current administrators if past blunders are anything to go by.

Despite adequate land, the UM entered into a sweetheart deal to purchase the 25 storey Telekom Office building at Lembah Pantai for a consideration of RM70 million in April 2006. Whether Rafiah truly purchased it in good faith for its postgraduates or was told to utilise UM development money at the behest of Anuar Zaini is contentious. But why would they want to buy a building located right outside their gates when they seem to have abundant “prime” land right in the middle of KL and PJ inside the campus. A first-class postgraduate building on campus grounds would, you have thought, been more relevant than a clubhouse.

But there you are, welcome to the warped up thinking of Universiti Malaya’s top but spineless brass. For a university that cannot supply its students with enough water and provides patchy broadband connections when you are located right smack in the middle of the Klang Valley surrounded by world class infrastructure only shows that what requires selling is not the university’s land but whole sale eradication of the entire Universiti Malaya board of directors and its top administrative staff. Which makes you wonder if the Sultan of Perak is purview to these going ons?

Perhaps Universiti Malaya should first focus on giving students a first-rate education by having equitable policies in the intake of both students and lecturers. This simple measure may do a world of good in raising its dismal rankings. It should also perhaps focus on reducing wastage especially at its medical campus where reportedly its new tower block operates without a CF allegedly as a result of shoddy construction work sourced out to crony companies. It should perhaps also explain why it’s profitable and income generating private wing is to be remotely located at a new logistically improper location by its main gates far away from the rest of its clinical services at its main tower. The completed 25 million ringgit building remains underutilised till this day and appears to be degenerating into a white elephant. And maybe it would also be a good time to explain its foray into a botched 50 million ringgit Hospital Information deal all courtesy of the tax payer.

But Universiti Malaya wouldn’t be the first university that would have goofed up valuable public money. In 1995, two lecturers from its economic planning department at UiTM put up a paper about buying up PKNS’s underutilized condominiums at Section 7 Shah Alam. The idea was to convert it to a hotel resort to rival other similar resorts in the Klang Valley and make money while helping train students. The University authorities bought the story but didn’t have the money. No worries. EPF apparently lent RM55 million to buy up the property and refurbish it to resort status in the happening city of Shah Alam. In September 1997, the Intekma Resort & Convention Center opened to the public but response has been less then enthusiastic. It currently serves to train students and houses mainly university staff who are there for conferences. No one really knows if EPF got its money back.

In December 2002, UiTM formed its fledgling Medical Faculty and appointed a research based professor from UKM to run it. It’s students had no proper teaching hospital and this premier Bumiputra university had to virtually beg the Ministry of Health to use Selayang Hospital. The MOH allowed the usage of Selayang, albeit grudgingly. Till this day both the university’s local and expatriate lecturers have limited access to patients, clinics or operating theaters. No prizes for guessing how UiTM medical students are going to turn out as doctors. But UiTM has access to funds, and lots of it. They even have the political muscle. The Agong is their Chancellor. They could have bought off Selayang Hospital, Sungai Buloh Hospital or even both of them.

But that would not be UiTM. A grandiose money making scheme had to be connived for the benefit of all and sundry in typical Malaysia incorporated style. The Dean of the Medical Faculty, who entrenched himself by employing up to 70% expatriate lecturers, all of whom would positively appraise him annually so that there would be no complications when their contracts came up for renewal, proposed not one but twin medical cities to be located and built on the outskirts of Shah Alam by raising funds through PFI’s backed by PNB’s Golden Hope and more ominously pilgrim’s money at Tabung Haji.

This elaborate 1.2billion ringgit deal had apparently the approval of none other then the mother of all penghulus, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Scant attention was paid to how in God’s name cash flows are going to be matched through Malaysian patients used to paying RM1 for consultations at hospitals. Needless to say, the taxpayer will be called in to perform their solemn duty and baileth yet another cocked up project if this plot saw the light of day.

Our universities will need to stand on their own feet as surely as the sun rises the next day. The days of splurging are nearing an end as the country’s resources run out. But to ask a chemistry professor who has never run a corporation or even managed the local 7/11 to hop off his chair and start getting the billions to role into the university’s coffers would be a risky financial gamble. For that you need a highly experienced CEO and CFO who have been battle hardened in the private sector. You need to pay these guys well and monitor their performances like a hawk. Maybe all public universities who want to see money ought to have stints at HELP, INTI or Lim Kok Wing universities. But you certainly cannot use the same cooks who brought the university to their academic knees to go on another jaunt that requires razor sharp business acumen. To do so would be to invite a financial calamity to our already shaky public universities.

So who indeed will save Universiti Malaya? When the Tunku was down and out after 1969, students and student leaders went out to town running him down for Malaysia’s various ills including the loss of Singapore. Today, we have in our midst government sponsored nameless corporations who are threatening to swallow whole our universities and their heritage but yet not a whimper. What has happened to its students, its alumni and its famous sons and daughters this proud university once gave a future? Will they come back to save it or will they be part of the conspiracy to get a piece of its real estate?


Tuesday, August 11, 2009


An Appeal to Free Gaza - A Profile of Courage - The Free Gaza Movement - By Christopher and Matthias Chang (20/7/09)

By Christopher and Matthias Chang

Monday, 20 July 2009 00:35

Death creeps on you unexpectedly, sometimes like a thief in the night, sometimes it leaves a calling card, telling us that it is only weeks or months that we have left to make our arrangements and sometimes, it emerges as a savage disease that ravages your body.

The shock and pain lingers on and tried as hard as we can to feint composure and normality, the dark loneliness overwhelms us and we cry out in anger and in anguish - Why? Why now? Why in this way?

To love someone for so long and to see life slipping away is an unbearable burden. It is unfair. It is just not right. We turn back the pages of a life once shared. And it seems like only yesterday that the first word we learned to cherish, would forever linger in our lips – “mummy”.

We remind ourselves to be strong … there are just too many things to be said and yet cannot be said. We are lost for words. And as tears well in our eyes, we are consoled that at the very least, we have our time to say our goodbyes and to seek forgiveness. The final hour is yet to come.

But there are others who are less fortunate and we must not let our own grief and pain to cast a shadow over their plight and suffering – a lingering pain and anguish that seems never to go away, even after fifty long years.

We speak of death and crimes committed against the heroic Palestinian people.

The smell of blood, shed in vain lingers in the air everyday in Palestine.

A bullet splits the skull and a mother is left carrying a dead child in her arms.

An explosion flattens a tenement block but the mangled bodies of women and children beneath steel and rubble are mere statistics.

Homes, schools, hospitals and places of worship are destroyed with impunity with the latest weaponry supplied by the US to Israel but the world turns a blind eye to the atrocities. War Crimes Tribunals are quick to be established against third world tyrants but US and Israeli war criminals are beyond the reach of international law.

For over two years, the Palestinians in Gaza were starved of basic food and other necessities by a cruel and inhumane blockade imposed by Israel and tacitly supported by the US, the European Union and neighbouring countries of the Middle East.

Their cries for help and justice were rebuffed by the international community but the courage of two NGOs – Viva Palestina and The Free Gaza Movement have put to shame the double standards and hypocrisy of several leading member countries of the United Nations. Defying the brutal Israeli regime, the two organizations broke the siege and blockade of Gaza. But more need to be done, for the blockade of Gaza is a humanitarian catastrophe.

Viva Palestina succeeded in bringing two convoy of lorries laden with supplies through the Rafah Crossing, while the Free Gaza Movement since August 2008 and using only small boats and against all odds broke the sea blockade repeatedly.

Although the first five voyages successfully reached Gaza, the only international boats to do so since 1967, the last three attempts have been violently stopped by the Israeli military.

On one occasion their boat, Dignity was rammed by Israeli naval vessels and just recently on June 30, 2009 another boat, The Spirit of Humanity was illegally commandeered in international waters and the volunteers were forcefully arrested by Israeli commandos and incarcerated in prison for six days (some longer) for the alleged offence of intruding into Israel illegally!

Those unlawfully imprisoned included Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire and former US Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. The cargo of medical supplies and children toys were confiscated.

Undeterred by these brutal actions of the Israeli military, the members of The Free Gaza Movement are determined to continue in their efforts to break the illegal siege of Gaza by sailing unarmed boats with human rights workers, journalists and parliamentarians, as well as much needed humanitarian and reconstruction supplies.

The courage and determination of the members of The Free Gaza Movement led by its chairperson, Huwaida Shapiro is exceptional and the only protection they have is the spotlight of world conscience and your unstinting support.

Last week, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and members of the Perdana Global Peace Organisation and the Kuala Lumpur Foundation To Criminalise War met with this incredible team of volunteers and pledge to assist them in their endeavours.

Their number one priority is to get more boats to break the siege of Gaza.

Without boats, supplies cannot get into Gaza.

Each boat costs €200,000 to €300,000 and they need to have at least 5 boats by yesterday.

Winter is coming soon and the Palestinians in Gaza need shelter, food and clothing. Time is of the essence.

We therefore appeal to all Malaysians to come forward to help the Palestinians.

You can help by:

1) Donating generously to acquire the boats to bring supplies to Gaza;

2) Be a volunteer to help the Free Gaza Movement;

3) Disseminate this appeal to as many people as possible;

4) To lobby your Members of Parliament and State Assemblymen and women to support this noble endeavour;

5) More importantly, to lobby the Malaysian Government, specifically the Prime Minister to finance the purchase, at the minimum one boat.

For further enquiries and clarification, contact the following:

Dr. Zulaiha Ismail at +6019-3843913

Mr. Ram Kathegesu at +6012-2270159

Friday, August 07, 2009

Why is Malaysia a failed state and I am certainly not proud of it

Malaysia is a failed state - Raja Petra Kamarudin

Malaysia Today (22/1/2008): Over the last decade or so, since the Reformasi 'explosion' of 1998, I have met many Western journalists who passed this way in search of a story. Most of them wanted to meet me to talk about the goings-on in the local scene, in particular in relation to the opposition. Some imagine themselves as experts or authorities on human rights issues and of course countries like Malaysia are way at the bottom of their list of countries guilty of human rights abuses.

I actually get quite irritated when I speak to these Western journalists, those who imagine themselves as experts or authorities on matters concerning human rights. They are very patronising and speak with a high-and-mighty, holier-than-thou tone of voice. They always say they want to 'interview' me to get my views and thoughts on various issues. But when we meet it ends up with them lecturing me on what is wrong with this country and what 'people like us' should do to correct this sorry state of affairs.

Hey, you want my views, I will give it to you. I did not ask to meet you. You asked to meet me. But if you are meeting me to give me your views and to tell me what is wrong with this country and what 'we' should do about it, then I do not need to meet you. I have just too much work to do and am too busy to waste my valuable time to hear a sermon from people who think they are right because of the colour of their skin and we are wrong also for the same reason.

Yes, that's right, these Westerners harbour this impression that because they are Westerners they must be right and because we are Asians then we must be wrong. White is right (and some say might is also right), so we non-whites must sit through an hour of an 'interview' getting lectured on the Western perception of right and wrong. And they show this 'we know what we are talking about' streak in the way they write and talk. And they don't talk to you. They talk down at you.

If I were to write an article that the Jews are the cause of the Middle East crisis and it is because of their Zionist policy and their illegal occupation of Arab land that there is so much strife and killing I would be whacked to kingdom come. If I were to write that the so-called Holocaust did not happen and there is no evidence it did happen they would probably send a hit squad to bump me off. Running down the Jews is a no-no and no white-skin journalist would allow you to do this.

If I were to whack Islamic countries or Asian dictators, I would be viewed as a great person. And if I who whacks Islamic countries or Asian dictators am a Muslim on top of that, then I would be hailed as a great liberal Muslim or Asian. Westerners just love Muslims or Asians who whack their own kind. This sort of gives them the feeling that they are certainly right if the Muslims or Asians agree with what they have to say.

Sure, most Asian, African, Latin American and African countries are failed states. Not all failed states are Muslim countries of course but all Muslim countries are certainly failed states. And these countries deserve getting whacked. But who is the cause of this? These Western journalists who whack countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, etc., seem to overlook one thing. Many of these countries would not even exist if not for the Western powers. The Western powers created many of these countries after the two 'great' wars. And many of these failed states and dictatorships would have fallen a long time ago if not for the fact that the Western powers propped them up for their own self-interest.

Iran, for example, is not a failed state because it is non-white or because it is an Islamic country. It is a failed state because the West propped it up and closed its eyes to the human rights abuses under the Shah. Iran served the interest of the West so the West ignored the rampant and blatant human rights abuses and pretended it did not exist. Iraq was the same case. Whatever Saddam Hussein did was not something he did when he was opposed to the West but long before that while he still served the interest of the West. But the West closed its eyes to all this and pretended nothing was happening because Iraq was useful to Western interests.

Closer to home, Vietnam, Korea, Pakistan, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, etc., were all also led by dictators who not only had no respect for human rights but did not even understand the meaning of the term. So the dictators of Vietnam, Korea, Pakistan, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, etc., were also tolerated and supported. Only when they could no longer serve the interest of the West were they condemned and allowed to fall in favour of 'popular peoples' movements'.

The West is a hypocrite. The West created all these monsters, these failed states. And those from the West now come here to preach to us about what is good and what is bad and about how bad Malaysia is. And we have to sit through hours of 'interviews' listening to them go on about what 'we' should be doing to correct this.

Do they not realise that their governments created these monsters? Do they not realise that many of these monsters did not exist until their governments carved out new countries from the spoils of the two 'great' wars and which they divided amongst them to serve as their colonies? Do they not realise that their governments propped up all these failed states because the dictators running these failed states served the interest of the West? Who are they to tell us what is right and what is wrong and what we should do about it? Why did they not scream, rant and rave 50 or 60 years ago before these failed states became failed states and before the dictators running these failed states had exterminated millions of their own citizens as well as citizens of their neighbouring countries?

It is now three generations or more since many of these failed states were created. Today, the grandchildren are condemning the failed states which were created by their grandfathers and which were propped up by their fathers. These present day Western journalists somehow feel they have earned the right to criticise countries like Malaysia and sermon us as to what we should be doing. And they adopt this high-and-mighty, holier-than-thou tone of voice when lecturing us.

Many do not really understand the term 'failed state' so I have extracted below what Weber and Wikipedia have to say on the matter. You will notice that Malaysia certainly fits the bill of a failed state as evident in the parts we have highlighted in bold. Yes, Malaysia is, by 'Western' standards, a failed state, and I do not quite disagree with their prognosis. My only beef is that countries like Malaysia became failed states because the West allowed them to become so and because they served the interest of the West to become so. Failed states need to be propped up so the West would be required to do this propping up. In this way failed states would continue to be beholden to the West. It is only when they no longer serve the interest of the West would failed states be allowed to fall at the detriment of the population as what we have seen in many countries where the dictators finally fell only to bring the country out of the frying pan and into the fire.

What is a failed state and how would we recognise one?

There are several indicators of a failed state. The declaration that a state has 'failed' is generally controversial since, when made authoritatively, this assessment may carry significant geopolitical consequences.

Indicators include:

1. a state whose central government is so weak or ineffective that it has little practical control over much of its territory (the level of control required to avoid being considered a failed state varies considerably amongst authorities),

2. legitimate authority to make collective decisions has been eroded,

3. reasonable public services can not be provided,

4. widespread corruption and criminality,

5. refugees and involuntary movement of populations,

6. sharp economic decline,

7. failed interaction with other states.

A state could be said to 'succeed' if it maintains a monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force within its borders. When this is broken (e.g., through the dominant presence of warlords, militias, or terrorism), the very existence of the state becomes dubious, and the state becomes a failed state. The difficulty of determining whether a government maintains 'a monopoly on the legitimate use of force' (which includes the problems of the definition of 'legitimate') means it is not clear precisely when a state can be said to have 'failed'. This problem of legitimacy can be solved by understanding what Weber intended by it. Weber clearly explains that only the state has the means of production necessary for physical violence (politics as vocation). This means that the state does not require legitimacy for achieving monopoly on the means of violence (de facto) but will need one if it needs to use it (de jure).

The term is also used in the sense of a state that has been rendered ineffective (i.e., has nominal military/police control over its territory only in the sense of having no armed opposition groups directly challenging state authority; in short, the 'no news is good news' approach) and is not able to enforce its laws uniformly because of high crime rates, extreme political corruption, an extensive informal market, impenetrable bureaucracy, judicial ineffectiveness, military interference in politics, cultural situations in which traditional leaders wield more power than the state over a certain area but do not compete with the state, or a number of other factors.

Indicators of state vulnerability

The index's ranks are based on twelve indicators of state vulnerability - four social, two economic and six political. The indicators are not designed to forecast when states may experience violence or collapse. Instead, they are meant to measure a state's vulnerability to collapse or conflict.

Social indicators

1. Demographic pressures: including the pressures deriving from high population density relative to food supply and other life-sustaining resources. The pressure from a population's settlement patterns and physical settings, including border disputes, ownership or occupancy of land, access to transportation outlets, control of religious or historical sites, and proximity to environmental hazards.

2. Massive movement of refugees and internally displaced peoples: forced uprooting of large communities as a result of random or targeted violence and/or repression, causing food shortages, disease, lack of clean water, land competition, and turmoil that can spiral into larger humanitarian and security problems, both within and between countries.

3. Legacy of vengeance-seeking group grievance: based on recent or past injustices, which could date back centuries. Including atrocities committed with impunity against communal groups and/or specific groups singled out by state authorities, or by dominant groups, for persecution or repression. Institutionalized political exclusion. Public scapegoating of groups believed to have acquired wealth, status or power as evidenced in the emergence of 'hate' radio, pamphleteering and stereotypical or nationalistic political rhetoric.

4. Chronic and sustained human flight: both the 'brain drain' of professionals, intellectuals and political dissidents and voluntary emigration of 'the middle class'. Growth of exile/expat communities are also used as part of this indicator.

Economic indicators

5. Uneven economic development along group lines: determined by group-based inequality, or perceived inequality, in education, jobs, and economic status. Also measured by group-based poverty levels, infant mortality rates, education levels.

6. Sharp and/or severe economic decline: measured by a progressive economic decline of the society as a whole (using: per capita income, GNP, debt, child mortality rates, poverty levels, business failures.) A sudden drop in commodity prices, trade revenue, foreign investment or debt payments. Collapse or devaluation of the national currency and a growth of hidden economies, including the drug trade, smuggling, and capital flight. Failure of the state to pay salaries of government employees and armed forces or to meet other financial obligations to its citizens, such as pension payments.

Political Indicators

7. Criminalization and/or delegitimisation of the state: endemic corruption or profiteering by ruling elites and resistance to transparency, accountability and political representation. Includes any widespread loss of popular confidence in state institutions and processes.

8. Progressive deterioration of public services: a disappearance of basic state functions that serve the people, including failure to protect citizens from terrorism and violence and to provide essential services, such as health, education, sanitation, public transportation. Also using the state apparatus for agencies that serve the ruling elites, such as the security forces, presidential staff, central bank, diplomatic service, customs and collection agencies.

9. Widespread violation of human rights: an emergence of authoritarian, dictatorial or military rule in which constitutional and democratic institutions and processes are suspended or manipulated. Outbreaks of politically inspired (as opposed to criminal) violence against innocent civilians. A rising number of political prisoners or dissidents who are denied due process consistent with international norms and practices. Any widespread abuse of legal, political and social rights, including those of individuals, groups or cultural institutions (e.g., harassment of the press, politicisation of the judiciary, internal use of military for political ends, public repression of political opponents, religious or cultural persecution.)

10. Security apparatus as ‘state within a state’: an emergence of elite or praetorian guards that operate with impunity. Emergence of state-sponsored or state-supported private militias that terrorize political opponents, suspected 'enemies', or civilians seen to be sympathetic to the opposition. An 'army within an army' that serves the interests of the dominant military or political clique. Emergence of rival militias, guerilla forces or private armies in an armed struggle or protracted violent campaigns against state security forces.

11. Rise of factionalised elites: a fragmentation of ruling elites and state institutions along group lines. Any use of nationalistic political rhetoric by ruling elites, often in terms of communal irredentism or of communal solidarity (e.g., 'ethnic cleansing' or 'defending the faith'.)

12. Intervention of other states or external factors: military or Para-military engagement in the internal affairs of the state at risk by outside armies, states, identity groups or entities that affect the internal balance of power or resolution of the conflict. Intervention by donors, especially if there is a tendency towards over-dependence on foreign aid or peacekeeping missions.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009



Sebuah negara atau satu negara bangsa pada hakikatnya hanya wujud didalam fikrah warganya. Ianya hanya wujud didalam imijinasi. Negara dan bangsa wujud apabila ada imijinasi kolektif yang di kongsi bersama oleh warganya.

Imijinasi kolektif ini juga wajib di bantu dengan cita-cita, mimpi dan harapan bersama. Tanpa perkongsian imijinasi – tanpa mimpi dan harapan bersama - tidak mungkin negara bangsa boleh wujud dengan kompak.

Di negara kita ini pada hakikatnya masih belum wujud lagi satu negara bangsa yang boleh dipanggil Bangsa Malaysia. Ini bermakna identiti negara bangsa kita belum mengenap dan membatu.

Kita boleh memahami kenapa ini berlaku. Pertama - Malaysia ini adalah satu konsep yang baru. Malaysia wujud sebagai satu projek kolonial. Kedua - selama 50 tahun lebih ini upaya untuk membina negara bangsa telah gagal. Kegagalan ini adalah hasil dari falsafah dan pandangan dunia parti politik yang memerintah. Ketiga – patahnya pandangan dunia yang cuba melintasi konsep negara bangsa melalui takrifan agama dan kaum.

Sebagai sebuah projek kolonial – British telah memastikan kumpulan/parti politik yang menggantikan kuasa mereka tidak akan melihat penjajah sebagai musuh. Tidak dapat tidak badan politik yang dipilih oleh British untuk mengambila alih pentabiran Tanah Melayu dari British adalah badan politik yang akan terus bersetia dibawah payung British.

MCA, MIC dan United Malays National Organisation dipilih oleh British pada tahun 1956 bukan kerana mereka mendapat sokongan menyeluruh atau organisasi mereka kuat tersusun. Badan-badan politk ini diangkat, disokong dan didukung kerana kesetiaan mereka kepada British.

Kumpulan yang memanggil diri mereka Perikatan ini menggunakan kaum sebagai asas gerakan dan sokongan mereka. Sekali imbas memang dilihat amatlah lojik badan politik ini berpandukan kepentingan kaum masing-masing. Lojik ini bergerak untuk jangka masa pendek dalam usaha menyediakan ruang selamat ketika British berundur dari diserang oleh rakyat yang menuntut merdeka.

Untuk jangka panjangnya kita sedang melihat dan merasa musibah garis politik yang silap. Garis politik yang berasaskan perkauman ini mula dimunculkan dan dipupuk oleh British pada tahun 1946 dahulu. Garis politik inilah yang mengcengkam kita hingga ke hari ini.

Harus disedari bahawa tiga badan politik ini bukan protoganis awal yang bangun menentang British dan menuntut kemerdekaan. Mereka ini dalam istilah teater hanyalah pelakon tambahan dipermulaan pejuangan melawan British.

Kesatuan Melayu Muda, Parti Kebangsaan Melayu Malaya, Parti Komunis Malaya, Angkatan Pemuda Insaf, Angkatan Wanita Sedar, Hisbul Muslimin – adalah diantara protoganis awal. Protoganis-protoganis ini telah mengambil dasar melawan British dan telah mengajukan garis politik yang progresif.

Pandangan dunia yang progresif dari kumpulan ini telah cuba memandu warga Tanah Melayu pada ketika itu untuk lari dari asas kaum kepada asas kebangsaan. Ini terbukti dengan draf Perlembagaan Rakyat PUTERA/AMCAJA 1947 yang mentakrifkan sesiapa sahaja yang ingin bermastautin di Tanah Melayu pada ketika itu akan dipanggil Melayu.

Projek politik ini cukup radikal. Ianya bertujuan untuk memastikan kelahiran satu negara bangsa. Tanah Melayu yang berbagai-bagai bangsa tetapi satu warga negara bangsa. Projek ini telah digagalkan oleh British. British melihat projek meMelayukan semua bangsa ini amat merbahaya dan bertentangan dengan kepentingan ekonomi kuasa imperial Anglo pada ketika itu. Jika semua ditakrif sebagai Melayu maka strateji – pecah dan perintah – kantoi.

Apa yang berlaku pada 8 March tahun lalu adalah tanda jelas bahawa warga negara kita ini mahu menghidupkan kembali semangat yang terangkum dalam projek Perlembagaan Rakyat 1947. Selama lebih dari 50 tahun projek untuk mendirikan negara bangsa ini telah tergelincir dari landasan.

Lima puluh tahun dalam sejarah tamadun manusia hanyalah sedetik. Dalam pembinaan negara bangsa 50 tahun juga telalu singkat Tetapi dalam kehidupan seorang insan - 50 tahun mungkin lebih dari setengah hayatnya telah berlalu. Justeru kejayaan mengembalikan projek negara bangsa ini wajib dijaga dikawal rapi agar ianya tidak tergelincir sekali lagi.

Konsep yang diajukan oleh PUTERA/AMCJA pada tahun 1947 dahulu kalau diamati nyata asasnya masih kukuh dan boleh digunapakai walau pun Tanah Melayu telah menjadi Malaysia. Kalau dahulu cadangannya adalah untuk melahirkan Bangsa Melayu - hari ini kita berniat untuk melahirkan Bangsa Malaysia.

Jangan silap faham – Bangsa Melayu atau Bangsa Malaysia ini – hanyalah imijinasi yang dikonstruk. Ianya hanyalah konsep. Negara bangsa ini juga konsep yang boleh dikonstruk. Konsep ini wajib disepadukan dengan konsep Ketuanan Rakyat.

Ketuanan Rakyat adalah serampang dua mata. Pertama ianya bertujuan untuk membunuh konsep Ketuanan Melayu yang diwarwarkan oleh United Malays National Organisation. Kedua Ketuanan Rakyat sebagai satu sosial konstruk imijinasi dalam usaha kita bersama untuk melahirkan Bangsa Malaysia.

Sayugia diingati – membina negara bangsa bukan satu yang mudah. Manusia bukan batu bata yang boleh disusun dengan senang. Tetapi bukan satu yang mustahil jika pemimpin badan-badan politik dalam Pakatan Rakyat memiliki pandangan progresif berjangka panjang.

Kesilapan dan musibah durjana api perkauman yang kita hadapi selama 50 tahun ini wajib kita jadikan pedoman. Badan politik – malah badan atau kumpulan apa sahaja – yang berasaskan satu kaum telah dibuktikan sebagai jalan salah untuk melahirkan negara bangsa.

Malaysia sebagai sebuah negara majmuk – pelbagai suku bangsa, kaum , bahasa, agama – wajib menampilkan pemimpin politik dan pembuat pandangan yang memiliki pandangan dunia yang luas yang dapat melintasi batas-batas sempit.

Selama lebih dari 50 tahun yang lepas kita telah berada dalam kereta api yang gerabaknya bukan sahaja berkelas- kelas dan dipisah-pisah malah landasannya pun salah. Menuju entah ke mana.

Sesudah 8 March dahulu semua warga telah masuk kembali ke dalam gerabak kereta api Pakatan Rakyat. Sesiapa yang sedang berada di dalam gerabak kereta api ini tidak banyak memiliki pilihan melainkan belajar untuk kembali mengenali satu sama lain sekali lagi.

Kali ini kita tahu Pakatan Rakyat ini sedang bergerak untuk melahirkan projek negara bangsa yang telah disabotaj oleh British pada tahun 1947 dahulu. Di luar landasan kereta api pasti ada anjing yang akan terus menyalak tetapi kereta api ini akan terus meluncur mara.(TT)