- Deteriorating Democracy in Malaysia
- Perkembangan Pelik di Kajang, SPR Harus Minimakan Ruang Manipulasi
- [PROGRAM, dikemaskini] Bersama Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim di N25 DUN KAJANG
- Professors, We Need You!
Posted: 19 Feb 2014 07:04 PM PST
Most democracies achieve political legitimacy from a popular perception of effective and upright governance. Malaysia’s self-described “best democracy in the world” is looking increasingly tarnished these days, following the recent election and return to power of its long-ruling Barisan National party. As President Obama plans a long awaited trip to Malaysia in April he should be aware of the toxic mix of racial politics being fomented by the Malaysian ruling party.
Despite losing the popular vote, the BN triumphed again in the country’s 2013 elections, disappointing a growing opposition that had high hopes after a strong performance in 2008. The entrenched political hierarchy, instead of being humbled by its near defeat, is attempting to strengthen its hold on the country and its institutions, ignoring the need for change. Its autocratic insistence on adhering to past practices of repression, racism, corruption and cronyism have led observers to qualify its system of government as semi, quasi or limited democracy.
In the latest World Press Freedom index, Malaysia has hit an historic low, ranking 147 out of 180 countries, reflecting the government’s increased repression of media freedoms by suspending publications that dare to criticize the Prime Minister, denying licenses to media outlets, censoring publications and restricting access to information.
The declining popularity of the Naijib Razak government is reflected in the increasing popularity of Anwar Ibrahim’s Pakatan Rakyat coalition which is calling for ending the erosion of democracy in Malaysia. The fact that Ibrahim’s party won the popular vote is an indication that the current electoral system is due for reform based on the principle of popular sovereignty, not on the basis of a selective franchise. In Malaysia all votes are not equal, with the apportionment of seats to states not based on their populations, with the result that rural votes have more weight than urban votes.
Restoring public confidence in the Electoral Commission and election process will be crucial to a healthy and mature democracy that will be responsive to the interests of all citizens, regardless of ethnicity or religion. The BN insists that Malaysia is a democracy simply because it has had regular elections with the latest being the 13th instance of electing a government by the ballot box. But democracy demands more than just elections. Protection of civil liberties and political rights, the freedom of the press and the right to assemble, checks and balances, transparency and accountability are all as important as process.
In the complex plural society of Malaysia, with its highly educated generation of young people, it is therefore inexplicable that the government should recently choose to inflame religious tensions by forbidding Malaysian Christians from using the word “Allah.”
About 2.6 million Malaysians are Christians and have long complained about discriminatory policies that favor Muslim Malays. The Prime Minister glibly praises Malaysia as a multi-ethnic melting pot, yet fails to protect the rights of minorities to worship as they see fit. The ban on Christians using the word Allah — which has been in Malay translations of the Bible for 400 years — is seen to be pandering to extremists from a right-wing fringe of the ruling party. Several independent United Nations human rights spokesmen have called on the Malaysian government to rescind the ban and secure the right to freedom of expression of Christian publications, instead of exacerbating tensions within religious minorities in the country.
The controversy is a symptom of a deeper unease as the country is becoming increasingly polarized along ethnic and religious lines. Instead of building the idea of a Malaysian nationality, the present government seems to have retreated into divide and rule divisive sectarian politics. In contrast, opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim advocates a common identity based on universal citizenship and his message of inclusive and pluralist democracy has a particular resonance at a time when Malaysia is struggling to live up to its legacy as a pluralistic and open society.
Anwar Ibrahim recently announced he would be contesting for a state assembly seat in Selangor, Malaysia’s most prosperous and ethnically diverse state. Many believe once elected he may assume the position of Chief Minister, giving him a platform on which to resolve some of these contentious issues and confront the racially charged rhetoric emanating from the ruling party. If he does succeed in the upcoming election instead of headlines reading “Death of Democracy in Malaysia,” we will begin to see a resurgence of optimism as the underlying shift in political attitudes in Selangor bring about a renaissance for democracy in the nation.
Posted: 19 Feb 2014 07:01 PM PST
Perkembangan Pelik di Kajang, SPR Harus Minimakan Ruang Manipulasi
Satu perkembangan yang pelik telah berlaku di sekitar Kajang apabila pasukan pemantauan Solidariti Anak Muda Malaysia (SAMM) telah mengesan beberapa bas persiaran menurunkan warga asing di hadapan KTM Kajang pagi ini.
Apakah ianya satu kebetulan apabila ribuan warga asing dipercayai warga Myanmar hadir ke Kajang dengan beg besar seolah-olah baru masuk ke negara melalui KLIA.
Dalam perkembangan yang sama, adakah kehadiran warga asing ini turut berkaitan dengan kelewatan melampau tarikh pilihanraya kecil yang jatuh pada akhir Mac dengan alasan yang tidak masuk akal?
SAMM tidak menolak kemungkinan kelewatan tarikh PRK ada kaitan, demi persiapan lebih rapi untuk penipuan pilihanraya kecil N25. Usaha SPR untuk menggunakan senarai pemilih yang baru (Mac 2014) juga agak meragukan.
SAMM turut menggesa supaya SPR meminimakan ruang-ruang manipulasi antaranya dalam soal jumlah pengundi awal yang begitu ramai.
Menjadi persoalan, mengapa SPR menggunakan petugas dari pengundi DUN Kajang? Mengapa tidak SPR memanggil petugas dari sekitar Bangi, Semenyih dan Cheras untuk menjadi petugas pilihanraya?
Jika SPR memanggil pengundi Kajang sebagai petugas maka ia membuka ruang manipulasi dengan peningkatan besar jumlah pengundi awal. Ini sepatutnya boleh dielakkan.
Sebagai sebuah badan yang tercalar teruk menafikan demokrasi dalam PRU lalu, SPR harusnya terarah untuk menjadi lebih bersih bagi mengembalikan keyakinan orang ramai. Namun pemerhatian SAMM setakat ini, SPR tetap tidak berubah dan tidak punya usaha yang nyata untuk perbaiki kelemahan. SPR terus diperkudakan pemerintah.
Sebelum ini SAMM telah mendesak pihak SPR memperinci anggaran perbelanjaan RM1.6 juta untuk PRK Kajang yang disifatkan agak tinggi. Ia ekoran operasi SPR yang kerap menggunakan orang tengah dalam pelbagai urusan secara tidak langsung berlaku ketirisan dan pembaziran.
Akhir sekali, SAMM menyeru kepada orang ramai dan semua aktivis demokrasi agar turun ke Kajang untuk memastikan pilihanraya kecil kali ini berlangsung dengan bersih dan adil. Harus diingat, Inilah ‘turning point’ bagi pihak Barisan Nasional maka tidak mustahil penipuan terbesar dalam sejarah bakal berlaku di Kajang.
Solidariti Anak Muda Malaysia (SAMM)
Posted: 18 Feb 2014 07:35 PM PST
Program Bersama Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim di N25 DUN KAJANG
19 – 23 FEBRUARI 2014
19 FEBRUARI 2014 – RABU
1) 9.00 – 12.00 mlm – Ceramah & Pelancaran Jentera
Lokasi : Lot 688 Kg Sg Sekamat, Batu 13, Jln Cheras, Kajang (3.017248,101.782159)
21 FEBRUARI 2014 – JUMAAT
1) 1.00 tghari – Solat Jumaat
Lokasi: Surau Saujana Impian, Kajang (3.007895,101.788328) (selepas Tesco Kajang)
2) 9.00 – 12.00 mlm – Pentas AMK bersama Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim dan Tuan Guru Haji Abdul Hadi Awang
Lokasi : Tapak Pasar Malam, Taman Delima, Batu 13 Jalan Cheras, Kajang (3.012727,101.779011)
22 FEBRUARI 2014 – SABTU
1) 8.00 – 12.00 mlm – Santai Bersama Komuniti India & Pelancaran Jentera
Lokasi : No 1, Jalan 1, Taman Kajang Baru, Sg Jerlok, Kajang (2.995884,101.806029)
2) 9.00 – 12.00 mlm – Pelancaran Jentera DM Sg Kantan dan Ceramah Perdana
Lokasi: Pusat Komuniti Kg Sg Kantan (berdekatan padang permainan) (2.994813,101.793992)
23 FEBRUARI 2014 – AHAD
1) 10.00 pagi – Kuliah Dhuha
Lokasi: Pondok Zakaria, Kampong Batu 10 Jalan Cheras, Kajang (berdekatan kompleks penghulu) ((3.058903,101.777685) )
2) 1.00 – 2.30 ptg – Santai Bersama Komuniti India
Lokasi: Bersebelahan Kuil Mariamman, Taman Delima, Batu 13 Jalan Cheras, Kajang (3.018663,101.778705)
3) 3.00 ptg – Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim bersama teman-teman lama
Lokasi : Kolej Darul Hikmah, Sg Ramal, Kajang (2.974156,101.76025)
4) 5.00 – 7.00 ptg – Sepetang Bersama Anak Muda, Raikan Perlawanan Futsal
Lokasi : Padang Futsal Kg Bkt Dukong, Kajang (exit Sg Sekamat)
5) 7.30 mlm – Solat Maghrib dan Interaksi Bersama Jemaah
Lokasi: Akan dimaklumkan
6) 8.30 -11.00 mlm – Pelancaran Jentera PRK Komuniti Cina
Lokasi: Taman Berjaya, Sungai Chua, Kajang (pusat komuniti) (2.983467,101.779112)
7) 9.00 – 12.00 mlm – Pelancaran Jentera DM Kota Cheras dan Ceramah Perdana
Lokasi: Padang Surau Nurul Aman, Taman Damai Jaya, Cheras (3.061839,101.767321)
PEJABAT DATO’ SERI ANWAR IBRAHIM
Posted: 18 Feb 2014 07:20 PM PST
SOME of the smartest thinkers on problems at home and around the world are university professors, but most of them just don't matter in today's great debates.
The most stinging dismissal of a point is to say: "That's academic." In other words, to be a scholar is, often, to be irrelevant.
One reason is the anti-intellectualism in American life, the kind that led Rick Santorum to scold President Obama as "a snob" for wanting more kids to go to college, or that led congressional Republicans to denounce spending on social science research. Yet it's not just that America has marginalized some of its sharpest minds. They have also marginalized themselves.
"All the disciplines have become more and more specialized and more and more quantitative, making them less and less accessible to the general public," notes Anne-Marie Slaughter, a former dean of the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton and now the president of the New America Foundation.
There are plenty of exceptions, of course, including in economics, history and some sciences, in professional schools like law and business, and, above all, in schools of public policy; for that matter, we have a law professor in the White House. But, over all, there are, I think, fewer public intellectuals on American university campuses today than a generation ago.
A basic challenge is that Ph.D. programs have fostered a culture that glorifies arcane unintelligibility while disdaining impact and audience. This culture of exclusivity is then transmitted to the next generation through the publish-or-perish tenure process. Rebels are too often crushed or driven away.
"Many academics frown on public pontificating as a frivolous distraction from real research," said Will McCants, a Middle East specialist at the Brookings Institution. "This attitude affects tenure decisions. If the sine qua non for academic success is peer-reviewed publications, then academics who 'waste their time' writing for the masses will be penalized."
The latest attempt by academia to wall itself off from the world came when the executive council of the prestigious International Studies Association proposed that its publication editors be barred from having personal blogs. The association might as well scream: We want our scholars to be less influential!
A related problem is that academics seeking tenure must encode their insights into turgid prose. As a double protection against public consumption, this gobbledygook is then sometimes hidden in obscure journals — or published by university presses whose reputations for soporifics keep readers at a distance.
Jill Lepore, a Harvard historian who writes for The New Yorker and is an exception to everything said here, noted the result: "a great, heaping mountain of exquisite knowledge surrounded by a vast moat of dreadful prose."
As experiments, scholars have periodically submitted meaningless gibberish to scholarly journals — only to have the nonsense respectfully published.
My onetime love, political science, is a particular offender and seems to be trying, in terms of practical impact, to commit suicide.
"Political science Ph.D.'s often aren't prepared to do real-world analysis," says Ian Bremmer, a Stanford political science Ph.D. who runs the Eurasia Group, a consulting firm. In the late 1930s and early 1940s, one-fifth of articles in The American Political Science Review focused on policy prescriptions; at last count, the share was down to 0.3 percent.
Universities have retreated from area studies, so we have specialists in international theory who know little that is practical about the world. After the Arab Spring, a study by the Stimson Center looked back at whether various sectors had foreseen the possibility of upheavals. It found that scholars were among the most oblivious — partly because they relied upon quantitative models or theoretical constructs that had been useless in predicting unrest.
Many academic disciplines also reduce their influence by neglecting political diversity. Sociology, for example, should be central to so many national issues, but it is so dominated by the left that it is instinctively dismissed by the right.
In contrast, economics is a rare academic field with a significant Republican presence, and that helps tether economic debates to real-world debates. That may be one reason, along with empiricism and rigor, why economists (including my colleague in columny, Paul Krugman) shape debates on issues from health care to education.
Professors today have a growing number of tools available to educate the public, from online courses to blogs to social media. Yet academics have been slow to cast pearls through Twitter and Facebook. Likewise, it was TED Talks by nonscholars that made lectures fun to watch (but I owe a shout-out to the Teaching Company's lectures, which have enlivened our family's car rides).
I write this in sorrow, for I considered an academic career and deeply admire the wisdom found on university campuses. So, professors, don't cloister yourselves like medieval monks — we need you!
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