Friday, 27 November 2009

Of Robber Barons And Bottomless Pits?

Two articles caught my attention today. One entitled, "BTN -- Between true education and indoctrination" by Azly Rahman is about the Biro Tata Negara being a tool for Malaysia's robber barons who wish to plunder the nation by silencing the masses and using the ideological state apparatuses at their disposal. The other, in the Asia Sentinel entitled, "Grand Theft Malaysia", which coincidentally relates to the point Azly Rahman alludes to. Both are must reads together.

The last paragraph of the Asia Sentinel article is as follows:

"In the 1960s, federal prosecutors in the United States who were attempting to jail the late labor boss Jimmy Hoffa for looting the Teamsters Pension Fund of millions of dollars with his cronies were puzzled by the fact that their revelations appeared to have little effect on the union's rank and file. It was because no matter how much money Hoffa and his cronies stole, there was always money left because the fund was so rich. That appears to be the case with Malaysia."

"That appears to be the case with Malaysia." Yeah, for how long and for how much more!?!

The two articles:

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BTN -- Between true education and indoctrination

These days, the idea of Ketuanan Melayu is going bankrupt, sinking with the bahtera merdeka. It works only for Malay robber barons who wish to plunder the nation by silencing the masses and using the ideological state apparatuses at their disposal.




A REPUBLIC OF VIRTUE
by Azly Rahman
http://azlyrahman-illuminations.blogspot.com/

I agree we must give credit to those working hard to "improve the psychological well-being of the Malays" and for that matter for any race to improve its mental wellness. This is important. This is a noble act. The question is: in doing so, do we want to plant the seeds of cooperation and trust-- or racial discrimination and deep hatred? Herein lies the difference between indoctrination and education. Herein lies what the work of Malaysia's Biro Tata Negara is about.

These days, the idea of Ketuanan Melayu is going bankrupt, sinking with the bahtera merdeka. It works only for Malay robber barons who wish to plunder the nation by silencing the masses and using the ideological state apparatuses at their disposal. In the case of the BTN it is the work of controlling the minds of the youth. The work of BTN should be stopped and should not be allowed anymore in our educational institutions. It is time our universities especially are spared of counter-educational activities, especially when they yearned to be free from the shackles of domination. Look at what has happened and what is still happening to our institutions with the University and University Colleges Act and the Akujanji Pledge.

Over decades, many millions of Malays and non-Malays have not been getting the right information on our nation's history, political-economy, and race relations. History that is being shoved to us or filter-funneled down the labyrinth of our consciousness is one that is already packaged, biased, and propagandized by our historians that became text-books writers. History need not be "Malay-centric". Special rights for all Malaysians should be the goal of distributive and regulative justice of this nation, not the "special rights of a few Malays". History must be presented as the history of the marginalized, the oppressed, and the dispossessed -- of all races. We toil for this nation, as the humanist Paramoedya Ananta Toer would say, by virtue of our existence as "anak semua bangsa ... di bumi manusia".
Malaysia is a land of immigrants.

In this regard we can learn from the former British colony called America. Whatever the shortcomings may be, America is a land of immigrants and still evolving. Even a Black man or a woman can become president. This is what America conceives itself to be and this is what Malaysian can learn from. Can a non-Malay become a Prime Minster is he/she is the most ethical of all politicians in the country?

No one particular race should stake claim to Malaysia. That is an idea from the old school of thought, fast being abandoned. Each citizen is born, bred, and brought to school to become a good law-abiding and productive Malaysian citizen is accorded the fullest rights and privileges and will carry his/her responsibility as a good citizen. That is what "surrendering one's natural rights to the State" means. One must read Rousseau, Locke, Voltaire, and Jefferson to understand this philosophy. A bad government will not honor this -- and will fall, or will sink like the bahtera merdeka.

The history of civilizations provides enough examples of devastation and genocide as a consequence of violent claims to the right of this or that land based upon some idea of "imagined communities." We must teach our children to make history -- a history of peace amongst nations. This must be made into a new school of thought: of "new Bumiputeraism" that encompasses all and do not alienate any -- because life is too brief for each generation to fight over greed.

The eleventh hour of human existence and our emergence in this world has brought about destruction as a consequence of our inability to mediate differences based on race, color, creed, class, and national origin. Each ethnic group thinks that it is more socially-dominant than the other. Each does not know the basis of its "self". Each failed to realize its own DNA-make up or gene map.

Life is an existential state of beingness, so must history be conceived as such. Nationalism can evolve into a dangerous concept-- that was what happened to Europe at the brink of the two World Wars. It happened in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and Indonesia when Suharto fell. I argue that we must live evolvingly in the "historical presence of historical constructions". The past and the future is in the present.

Back to BTN.

Courses devoid of critical treatment and sensibility and ones that retard student thinking -- such as "Kenegaraan" -- in our universities are designed to tell our mind to live in an imagined past. BTN is playing this dangerous game of blind nationalism still passing down packaged information that do not take into consideration the complexities of globalization and the promise of multiculturalism. We need to offer courses such as Multiethnic Malaysia that will have students aspire to think like multiculturalists and help this nation evolve better.

The ministry of education higher education combined has hundreds of experts -- many overseas trained and have tasted the "spirit of multiculturalism” and the "beauty of intellectual freedom" in their classrooms abroad -- who ought to have engineered a paradigm shift to help dismantle indoctrination agencies such as Biro Tata Negara.

But where are the voices in the wilderness of our public universities -- those who should be speaking up against 'Ketuanan Melayu or Ketuanan this or that race'? Why are many of these experts, instead of fighting for radical changes to affect radical-peaceful structural changes, are making big decisions to further advance the cause of racism? One-dimensional thinking prevails -- the thinking that does not allow diversity of ideas and failed to develop cross-cultural perspectives. Ideas move nations but indoctrinations remove intelligence. Political masters-- however corrupt to the core they are -- dictates the work of our academicians.

Whoever writes history and turn that into say, BTN propaganda, controls the future (or at least they think they do). We must question what is taught during the sessions or during any history lesson; fundamentally:

-- Whose history are we studying?
-- Is it meaningful to me?
-- Who wrote this history? Why? Who benefits?
-- Who gets included and excluded in this history textbooks?
-- Who's the hero -- who's the villain?

What I want to see is a stop to the systematic and ongoing stupefication of the Malays and the non-Malays and to let them be free from being run-down emotionally by boot camp facilitators who make a living humiliating people. We have a new generation of best and brightest Malaysians to educate. As an educator I have worked with thousands of them. These are extremely creative individuals who enjoy being challenged at the most respectable and intellectual levels -- not through indoctrination methods such as those used in BTN camps. They want to be fed with more questions and not be shoved with BTN-type of answers. We cannot afford to turn term them into docile beings while at the same time we holler the slogan "human capital" or modal insan the world over. It will be a "modularly insane" human condition if we continue to capitalize on human docility.

The Biro Tata Negara as an indoctrinating institution was conceived by "intellectuals" who themselves are trapped in their own cocoon or glass coconut shell of "wrongly-defined" Malay-ness and in a paradigm that teaches a poor understanding of Malaysian history. These intellectuals are running around in our public universities promoting a more sophisticated and pseudo-intellectual version of racism. Inciting racial sentiments in classroom and boot camps is big business nowadays -- profits made in the name of patriotism. But who's monitoring the trainers?

Education is not about insulting one's intelligence and instilling fear in our children. This is what the creators of BTN need to learn. In short, the indoctrinators need a good education on how not to indoctrinate. "Melayu 'kan hilang di nusantara ... " if we allow the dumbing down of Malaysians to continue.

Progressive parliamentarians must discuss this serious matter concerning the organization's deliberate attempt to promote disunity and to further fertilize the seeds of racism, at a time when we need to come together as Malaysians in order to face humanity's greater problem such as the food, oil, and water crisis that will plague us as human beings -- at a time when we must focus on constructing a new republic of virtue that will be founded on transcultural ethics, responsive and reflective politics, and a social-democratic-based economic system that do not tempt and feed human greed of the things they do not need. Our Asian despotic brand of capitalism continues to destroy the very foundation of our existence and our moral fibre. It is greed -- big time -- that brought down the National Front.

Through the work of the Rakyat, Divine intervention helped speed up the process of removal of Greed disguised as political parties in power. That's the metaphysical interpretation of March 8, 2008.

We are not running Hitler Youth camps in Malaysia. We must not even come close to setting up one.

SEE VIDEO ON YOUTUBE HERE: http://www.youtube.com/v/Fdkg5sPf-tk&hl=en_US&fs=1&

OUR USUAL REMINDER, FOLKS:
While the opinion in the article is mine, the comments are yours; present them rationally and ethically. AND -- ABOLISH THE ISA -- NOW!


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Grand Theft Malaysia
Written by Our Correspondent
FRIDAY, 27 NOVEMBER 2009



Many snouts in the public trough

The Port Klang Free Zone scandal may be big, but it is only the latest in a long line of Malaysian scandals going back to the early 1980s. Time Magazine quoted Daniel Lian, a Southeast Asia economist at Morgan Stanley in Singapore, saying that the country might have lost as much as U$100 billion since the early 1980s to corruption."

The scandals listed below are only a small sample of the looting of the country's coffers:

In July of 1983, what was then the biggest banking scandal in world history erupted in Hong Kong, when it was discovered that Bumiputra Malaysia Finance (BMF), a unit of Bank Bumiputra Malaysia Bhd, had lost as much as US$1 billion which had been siphoned off by prominent public figures into private bank accounts. The story involved murder, suicide and the involvement of officials at the very top of the Malaysian government. Ultimately it involved a bailout by the Malaysian government amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars.

Mak Foon Tan, the murderer of Jalil Ibraim, a Bank Bumi assistant manager who was sent to Hong Kong to investigate the disappearance of the money, was given a death sentence, and Malaysian businessman George Tan who had participated in looting most of the funds, was jailed after his Carrian Group collapsed in what was then Hong Kong's biggest bankruptcy, and a handful of others were charged. No major politician was ever punished in Malaysia despite a white paper prepared by an independent commission that cited cabinet minutes of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad giving an okay to a request to throw more money into the scandal in an effort to contain it.

That was just the first Bank Bumi scandal. The government-owned bank had to be rescued twice more with additional losses of nearly US$600 million in today's dollars. Ultimately government officials gave up and the bank was absorbed into CIMB Group, currently headed by Nazir Razak, the prime minister's brother. That scandal, which stretched over several years before its denouement in 1985, set the tone for 24 years of similar scandals related to top Malaysian officials and was the first to prove that in Malaysia, you can not only get away with murder, you can get away with looting the treasury as well.

Perwaja Steel, for instance, lost US$800 million and its boss, Eric Chia, a crony of Mahathir's, was charged with looting the company. He stood trial, but was acquitted without having to put on a defense.

In the mid 1980s, the Co-operative Central Bank, a bank set up to aid the Indian smallholder community, had to be rescued by Bank Negara, the country's central bank, after hundreds of millions of ringgit in loans granted to a flock of United Malays National Organisation and Malaysian Indian Congress politicians became non-performing. Some had never been serviced at all. Although the chief executive and general manager were charged with criminal breach of trust, none of the politicians were ever charged.

Before that, the Malaysian government was believed to have lost US$500 million in an attempt at Mahathir's urging to corner the London tin market through a company called Maminco, driving the world price of tin from US$4.50 per tonne to US$7.50. It then sought to cover up the loss by establishing a US$2 company called Mukawasa from which allocations of new share issues to the government's Employees Provident Funds' were diverted. Mukawasa expected to sell the shares at a windfall profit to hide the tin speculation.

Mahathir also was behind an attempt by the then governor of Bank Negara, the central bank, to aggressively speculate in the global foreign exchange market. Bank Negara ended up losing an estimated RM20 billion. The governor, Jaffar Hussein, and the head of forex trading, Nor Mohamed Yakcop were forced to resign.

There have been many other political and financial scandals since. In 2005, Bank Islam Malaysia, the country's flagship Islamic bank, reported losses of RM457 million mainly due to provisioning totaling RM774 million as a result of bad loans and investments incurred by its Labuan branch. Cumulatively, Bank Islam ran up nonperforming loans of RM2.2 billion, partly from mismanagement and poor internal controls but also "years of regulatory indifference fueled by the misconceived notion of an untouchable Bank Islam because it was a favorite child of the Malaysian government, being the first and model Islamic bank in the country and region," according to a December 19, 2005 article in Arab News. "

Bank Islam had a reputation in the market for being the spoilt child of the Malaysian Ministry of Finance; and the perception of the bank was more of a Muslim financial fraternity or government development financial institution," the report said.

In 2007, in what was called Malaysia's Enron scandal, the publicly traded Transmile Group Bhd, whose chairman was former MCA President and Cabinet Minister Ling Liong Sik, was caught having overstated its revenue by RM530 million. A pretax profit from Rm207 million in 2006 was actually a loss of RM126 million, and a pretax profit of 120 million in 2005 was a loss of RM77 million, causing the government postal company Pos Malaysia & Services Holdings Bhd to warn that its earnings for the 2006 financial year might be affected by the reported overstatement, as the postal group owned 15.3 percent of Transmile.

Over the years 2001 to 2006, the government had to spend billions to rescue seven privatized projects including Kuala Lumpur's two public transport systems, the perennially ailing Malaysia Airlines, the national sewage system and a variety of others that, in the words of one study, "had been privatized prematurely." The government also repeatedly bailed out highway construction concessionaires, all of them closely connected to Umno, to the tune of another RM38.5 billion.

In 2008, it was revealed that Rafidah Aziz, who had served as trade and industry minister for 18 years, had been peddling approved permits for duty-free car sales and allegedly lining her pockets. Two companies which didn't even have showrooms – one of which belonged to the husband of Rafidah's niece – received scores of permits. Although Rafidah came in for heavy criticism from within Umno, she remained in office until she was defeated in party elections.

In the 1960s, federal prosecutors in the United States who were attempting to jail the late labor boss Jimmy Hoffa for looting the Teamsters Pension Fund of millions of dollars with his cronies were puzzled by the fact that their revelations appeared to have little effect on the union's rank and file. It was because no matter how much money Hoffa and his cronies stole, there was always money left because the fund was so rich.
That appears to be the case with Malaysia.

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