Monday, May 29, 2017

What Price National Pride?

All nations have their national pride, based on a core of basic attributes that differentiate them from other nations. They include cultural and ethnical heritage, historical affiliations and socio-economic characteristics. Cultural traits such as the Protestant ethics and Frontiier spirit for the Europens and Americans,the "Mandarin cult "for the Chinese. the Samurai ethics" for the Japanese etc. help to establish the national identity. So do historical landmarks such as the Big Ben, the Washington Monument, the Eifel Tower, the Leaning Tower of Piza, the Pyramids, the Taj Mahal etc.

The developing countries such as Malaysia also have their own identity and pride. While some old socio-cultural traits have been displaced by what is often termed as "modernisation', new ones have also emerged. Thus the old identity based on the Songket (Malaysian brocade), the Zapin (a traditional dance), and the Kris, the Batik, the Keroncong etc. which are shared with the Indonesians, have been augmented by new socio-economic icons such as FELDA ( the Federal Land Development Authority which had opened up huge land development schemes) Patronas (the National petroleum Industry), Proton ( the national Automopbile Industry), MARA ( Council of Trust for National Development) etc. All these help to establish the new Malaysiaan identity and national pride.
FGV is now in the open market

Patronas, Proton and Felda (FGV-Federal Golden Venture) are three national development and modernisation authorities which had catapulted Malaysia into the modern era of economic growth , together of course with other socio-economic development endeavours.They are three of the top entities which contribute to the national pride, which Malaysians can call their own. But Felda (FGV) and Proton had now been opened to the share market and almost half of their shares sold to non-Malaysian. Isn't it not like selling part of the national pride in the interest of promoting the nation's economic and business interest? Will Proton cars in the future carry a different emblem and carry different non-Malaysian names?
will the Twin Towerd be sold?

Will Patronas and other national enterprises which have achieved a marketable status in the world market be also put out for sale in the future if the authority managing them finds it difficult to survive on local capital and support?
Proton is no longer 100% Malaysian

I wonder what will remain as the basis of a national pride if Malaysia continues to place its national assets on the share market of the world, open to all with money to buy. Especially when cash is considered as the most important thing in the world and national pride can be put on sale for cash returns? Perhaps it's time for Malaysia to think of building up and strengthening its national identity and pride further by maintaining companies that are owned by the Malaysians themselves, even if the growth has to be slowed down a little. What is progress and prosperity if we have to sell our pride and national identity?

Monday, May 22, 2017

War on Corruption Again.

Reading the local newspapers reporting on corruption cases today reminds me of the situation when the Anti Corruption Agency was set up in the 1960s. The malady was rife, but involving low-level officers, especially policemen, taking pittance on the sly from the public. Now we have the Honorables (Yang Berhormat) and very senior officers in law enforcement agencies involved, involving millions of ringgit.

So what? seome people(in Malaysia and outside) are saying. Political leaders are alleged to be involved in receiving billions of ringgit in bribes, commissions, kickbacks, or just political contribution. Some are said to be the de facto owners of various companies which invariably won government tenders for multimillion ringgit projects. It is also alleged that the prices quoted in all tenders are artificially marked up to accommodate hidden political costs. Hence, the doubling or tripling of all construction costs and service charges, resulting in the the astronomical rise in cost of living.
this can perpetuate a culture of poverty
But the allegations remain as allegations when politics is involved.No immediate and convincing investigation seems to be undertaken, except when politicians in the opposition camp or who're not prominent supporters of the government are involved Only the public and civil servants with no political godfather to protect them will get the full blast of he law. Nevertheless, at least a few politicians and high-ranking police officers have now been roped in to show that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission is not showing any fear or favour of any kind to anyone suspected of corruption or misuse of power. All allegations are being investigated regardless of the official or social standing of the suspect as it should be.
an earlier commander of the war

At the highest political level, there shouldn't be any shadow of a doubt on the integrity of the leaders. Unless an allegation can be cleared convincingly, a leader suspected of corruption or misuse of pose should step aside and take time to regain the confidence of the public. Holding onto the rein of power with a stained reputation or a soiled image can only hurt the nation as a whole.

In this regard developed countries seemed to have a stronger code of ethics than the developing or less developed ones. Their leaders who are suspected of corruption or misuse of power would step down voluntarily without being forced to do so. This indeed is a sign of deep respect for the sovereignty and integrity of the nation. When such is not the case, all efforts at fighting and weeding away corruption and misuse of power tend to be looked upon as "window cleaning" or "removing unwanted characters" from a troubled political scenario.
the US war on kleptocracy

An old English saying to depict futile efforts in regulating expenditure and stopping unwise spending is ' pennywise pound foolish". When corruption happens at the top of the administrative hierarchy of a nation while all efforts are being made at the middle and lower levels to stamp it out, the old saying seems to be relevant again. All efforts are being made to stop illegal payments and loss of revenue through failure to collect tax money by corrupt officials involving thousands or a few millions. But billions are lost through financial manipulations and corrupt dealings at the highest level of government. So, millions in public revenue are saved but billions are lost - money which should benefit the people.

Who wants to win a war on corruption but loose a war on internal leakage of public funds and kleptocracy? The former is a curable disease but the latter is a disastrous plague.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Politics is NOT a Religion

As the politics of the world and troublesome individual country in the world becomes more and more complicated, I begin to believe that many people think of politic as a religion. By that I mean if you are an avowed member of a political party, you must only believe and live by the the teachings and the values of that party. Believing or sharing other teachings and values can cause you to become excommunicated in Christianity or immediately makes you a murtad in Islam.
turban and cap

I believe that such is the thinking of many people today. Hence if you're a Republican in the United States you cannot share some or any of the thinking and values of a Democrat. If you're a Conservative in UK then you cannot hold any of the thinking and values of the Liberals. Thus in the Muslim countries if you're a Muslim you cannot share or agree with some of the thinking and values of the those from other religions such as Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism etc.
ex-Primier and DAP
Yet everyone knows that members of political party can jump from one party to another like our friends living on the trees in the jungle. But one does not change our religious faith that easily. You can not only live in a country along side people belonging to different political parties without your religious faith being sullied or affected but you can even live in the same city, township, village or community. In fact you can live in the same building,or even family without your religious faith being eroded, i.e. if you have a strong religious faith to begin with.

If you then believe that politics is not religion, then why is the world so torn up by political membership and political allegiance both at international and national levels.Politics after all is only an organisational device to gain mass support,and acquire mandate to govern. Worls leaders from different parts of the world with different religious beliefs meet every other day, without their religious values becoming eroded. They discuss ways to live together in this world and work together to solve common problems.Political leaders in one country and belonging to different political parties should also be able to discuss issues faced by the country with no fear about their religious believe and values being affected.
we've our own problemsIt is only when the political parties are based on religion that the fear of compromising on religious matters prevents open discussion and collaboration between parties for the good of the country and people. Politics is easily considered as religion and any cooperation means compromising religious beliefs and vales. It is this attitude which is dividing the Muslims in many countries including Malaysia where a dominant Islamic political party sexists alongside dominant racially based political parties. Thus people don't seem to be aware of the difference between political needs and religious faith and members of a political party sharing some of the ideals and values of another party from a different religious/racial group are considered to become part of that group. Thus a member of the United Malays Ntional Organization (UMNO) sharing some of the the ideals and values of the Pan Islamic Party (PAS) or the Democratic Action Party (DAP) would be immediately considered as supporting that party. You do not have to compromise your political beliefs and religious faith or racial/cultural values to work together to solve the political and economic problems of the country.

If you accept this premise than political parties regardless of racial, religious and cultural background would have no problem working together. You work tother to seek mass support and acquire a mandate to govern and administer the country, not to streamline religious and cultural values or force the acceptance of a common religion or culture. You work together to gain the trust and support of the people like workers involved in the construction of buildings, bridges, roads, socoal and economic infrastructure etc. You don't have to compromise your religious and cultural values to work together. Surely any conflict that arises can be solved within the party or parties involved. You don't have to take allegiance to the party as a measure of religious faith.