Monday, November 28, 2011

An open letter to MPs on Peaceful Assembly Bill.... by Bar Council President Lim Chee Wee

An open letter to MPs on Peaceful Assembly Bill

Lim Chee Wee
3:57PM Nov 28, 2011

Dear Wakil Rakyat,

You may have heard that the Malaysian Bar opposes the Peaceful Assembly Bill 2011 (“PA 2011”) on the grounds that it imposes unreasonable and disproportionate fetters on the freedom of assembly that is guaranteed under the Federal Constitution.
There are provisions in PA 2011 that are far more restrictive than the current law, such as the banning of “street protests” (assemblies in motion or processions) and the unlimited powers vested in the police to dictate the time, date, place and conduct of an assembly. 
There are also provisions in PA 2011 that are simply illogical.  As an example, although police do not need to be notified of a religious assembly, such an assembly cannot be held at a place of worship.
Furthermore, a person living within 50 metres of a kindergarten or school cannot hold an open house for a festival, a funeral procession or a wedding reception.
The Prime Minister, in his Malaysia Day speech on 15 September 2011, promised the Rakyat of the following:

I often opine that long gone is the era in which the government knows everything and claims monopoly over wisdom. . . .
The government will also review Section 27 of the Police Act 1967, taking into consideration Article 10 of the Federal Constitution regarding freedom of assembly and so as to be in line with international norms on the same matter. . . . (emphasis added)

Be confident that it is a strength and not a weakness for us to place our trust in the Malaysian people’s intelligence to make decisions that will shape the path of their own future. . . .
It is absolutely clear that the steps I just announced are none other than early initiatives of an organised and graceful political transformation. 
It stands as a crucial and much needed complement to the initiatives of economic transformation and public presentation which the government has outlined and implemented for over two years in the effort to pioneer a modern and progressive nation. . . .
In closing, I wish to emphasise that free of any suspicion and doubt, the Malaysia that we all dream of and are in the process of creating is a Malaysia that practices [sic] a functional and inclusive democracy where public peace and prosperity is preserved in accordance with the supremacy of the constitution, rule of law and respect for basic human rights and individual rights.

'Outrageous to prohibit processions'
PA 2011 is neither consistent with “international norms”, nor “in accordance with the supremacy of the Constitution, rule of law and respect for basic human rights and individual rights”. 
Instead, the Bill will take us further away from being “a modern and progressive nation”.

It is outrageous that assemblies in motion are prohibited.

Assemblies in motion provide the demonstrators with a wider audience and greater visibility, in order for others to see and hear the cause or grievance giving rise to the gathering. 
Assemblies in motion has been described as “a potent method of expression and is a common phenomenon in democratic societies”[1].  
History is replete with peaceful assemblies in motion, which were agents of change and of good.

Processions led to nation's founding
On 27 February 1946 Onn Jaafar, founding father of Umno and the grandfather of our present Minister for Home Affairs, led a procession of 15,000 individuals to protest the establishment of the Malayan Union, which disregarded the interests of the Malay Rulers and the Malays.
This was the first of a series of processions that successfully opposed the Malayan Union, and later led to our nation’s independence. 
On Feb 27, 2008, the then-Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi led 20,000 people in a one-kilometre procession from the Batu Pahat Umno office to the stadium to commemorate this rally.

There have been other processions calling for the abolition of the Internal Security Act 1960, rights of minorities and electoral reforms.

For the Malaysian Bar, we organised the Walk for Justice, which was held on Sep 26, 2007, to call for a royal commission to investigate the VK Lingam video clip and the establishment of the Judicial Appointments Commission, both of which were subsequently set up by the government.

The present prohibition of procession robs the rakyat of a right that currently exists under Section 27 of the Police Act, which regulates “assemblies, meetings and processions”.

Elsewhere, history is full of various peaceful processions led by Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr and Nelson Mandela, to name but a few, which brought an end to oppressive laws, policies and regimes.
It is ironic that the government now wants to prohibit the very processions that led to the founding of our nation, and others that moved the prime minister to promise legislative reforms. 
These promised reforms now strike back at the very demonstrations that catalysed them.

The Malaysian Bar is steadfast in its stand and determination that PA 2011, in its current form, must not become law. 
The Malaysian Bar is resolute that any attempt to regulate a fundamental liberty guaranteed under the Federal Constitution must only be done after due consultation with all stakeholders, including opposition parliamentarians and civil society groups.

No other choice 
To this end, the Malaysian Bar has proposed an alternative bill to be considered, and calls for PA 2011 to be remitted to a parliamentary select committee for consideration. 
At the second reading of PA 2011, we ask that you, as a wakil rakyat, support our call.

It is not an exaggeration to say that tomorrow, you will hold the liberty of the rakyat in your hands.  We ask that you treat it with the deference it deserves. 
Now, more than ever, you must remember that you were elected as a representative of the people, to carry out responsibilities as a 'wakil rakyat'.

Please do not put blind obedience to party and partisanship before your duties as a servant of the people.  The rakyat should not be made to suffer the consequences of party politics.  PA 2011 is an unjust law, being made in undue haste, which has received the condemnation of the Rakyat.  

There can be no other choice.

Do not pass PA 2011.  Support our alternative bill and our call for a Parliamentary Select Committee.

Yours faithfully,
Lim Chee Wee

Malaysian Bar

[1] Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal in Leung Kwok Hung & Ors v Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (FACC Nos. 1 & 2 of 2005, at para. 3).

Monday, November 21, 2011

TMI: Losing the Talent Gap with our Universities... World Bank

Malaysia attractive to businesses but lacks talent, says World Bank

November 21, 2011
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 21 — A World Bank report said today that Malaysia is at risk of developing two sides to its economy as its investment incentives shine but its internal talent lags behind.
This comes as Malaysia rose five spots this year to 18th in the World Bank’s ease of doing business index and was also ranked 21st most-competitive country by the World Economic Forum.
The World Bank report noted that Malaysia greatest advantage is its low-cost base and not its skills which are close to the levels seen in low-income countries.
“Malaysia is a very competitive country in the sense that it can provide businesses with an attractive package with which to compete in global markets,” said the report, noting that the package included infrastructure, regulations, fiscal incentives and political stability.
It added however that Malaysia could realise larger gains by tackling structural reforms to increase competition and competencies in the economy rather than improving the business environment.
The report said the Global Locations Index prepared by global consulting firm A.T. Kearney, which ranked Malaysia third out of 50 countries for offshoring and outsourcing services, revealed “reasons for concern rather than encouragement.”
“What emerges from analysing this index is that Malaysia ranks highly because its business environment, while not at the level of advanced economies, compares very favourably against lower-income countries, while labour costs remain much closer to lower-income countries than advanced economies,” said the World Bank. “Malaysia’s performance in skills is its weak point.”
The report also noted a “worrisome” trend of an increasing gap between the University of Malaya (UM) and the National University of Singapore (NUS), Southeast Asia’s leading university.
“The gap between UM and NUS has been high and generally increasing, especially in the sciences,” said the report.
“There is a need to improve the performance of outcomes of universities,” the World Bank’s senior country economist for Malaysia, Frederico Gil Sander, told The Malaysian Insider in an interview.
Sander (picture) also said that the country needed to put structural reforms as recommended by the New Economic Model (NEM) on the “front burner” with the implementation of projects.
“The strategic reform initiatives need to be implemented in parallel and with the same intensity,” he said.
Since taking office in 2009, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has initiated a reform agenda which included a government and economic transformation programme to be driven by the special purpose performance management unit Pemandu.
Critics say that the lack of radical reforms so far however effectively amounted to policy tinkering that would deliver only lacklustre results.
Umno veteran and former Finance Minister Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah said earlier this month that Najib’s reforms appeared to be coming in “dribs and drabs”.
Some analysts say however that the prime minister is constrained by hardliners in his party who would be opposed to widespread economic reforms that could threaten the rice bowls of politically-connected businessmen.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Bolehland’s Bunch of No-Nos... By Martin Jalleh

Bolehland’s Bunch of No-Nos
By Martin Jalleh
Najib has no balls
Muhyiddin has no brains
Hishammuddin has no integrity.
Rais Yatim has no sense
Zahid has no defence
Nazri has no consistency.
Palanivel has no merit
Yen Yen has no explanation
Peter Chin has no energy.
Shafie Apdal has no clout
Noh Omar has no answers
Mohamed Yakcop has no transparency.
Shahrizat has no “beef”
Kong Cho Ha has no backbone
Liow Tiong Lai has no sincerity.
Ismail Sabri has no price controls
Ahmad Shabery has no medals
Idris Jala has no sagacity.
Ongkili has no innovation
Douglas Uggah has no enthusiasm
Shaziman has no accountability.
Tsu Koon has no leadership
Dompok has no support
Subramaniam has no empathy.
Rosmah has no self-control 
Ezam has no real issues
Khairy has no decency.
MIC has no voice
MCA has no choice
Gerakan has no stability.
Judiciary has no honour
Police has no independence
AG has no impartiality.
MACC has no results
MCMC has no logic
EC has no credibility.
Parliament has no vibrancy
Speaker has no fairness
Civil service has no quality.
Himpun has no relevance
Jais has no evidence
Perkasa has no respectability.
Utusan Malaysia has no ethics
Umno’s papers have no limits
MSM have no objectivity.
Umno has no shame
It has made no changes
It has no morals and honesty.
BN has no future
A coalition of no principles
The government has no dignity.
Bolehland will have no money    
The country will have no hope
A pariah nation – Asia’s tragedy!
Say “NO!” to Umno
Say “NO!” to BN
Say “NO MORE!”
(31 Oct. 2011)

Monday, October 17, 2011

TMI: Race quotas, politics led to falling UM standards, says World Bank study.... By Leslie Lau

Race quotas, politics led to falling UM standards, says World Bank study

October 17, 2011
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 17 — A World Bank publication has found that standards at Universiti Malaya have fallen and the institution has been kept at a disadvantage because of race-based admission quotas and political interference in university management.
In contrast, Singapore’s decision to prioritise research, keeping English as the medium of instruction and a merit-based admissions policy have all contributed to the success of the National University of Singapore’s success, according to “The Road to Academic Excellence,” which studies what contributes to a world-class research university.
The study also noted that Malaysian secondary school students are not well prepared for tertiary education.
It points out that the Malaysian education system promotes rote learning, conformity and uniformity rather than fresh and creative thinking.
The study is led by two scholars — Philip Altbach and Jamil Salmi — while various chapters see contributions from various academics.
Salmi, a Moroccan education economist attached to the World Bank, also notes that “disturbing political developments, from the burning of churches to the whipping of a woman for drinking beer in public,” also cast a shadow on Malaysia’s “image as an open and tolerant society.”
The comparisons between UM and NUS is contained in a chapter entitled “The National University of Singapore and the University of Malaya: Common Roots and Different Paths.”
The chapter is authored by Hena Mukherjee, a former Universiti Malaya department head with a doctorate in education from Harvard University, and Poh Kam Wong, an NUS Business School professor.
According to the study, “at an early stage, the Singapore government realised the universities’ role in sustaining economic growth.
“In contrast, after 1970, UM’s institutional goals reflected the New Economic Policy, an affirmative action plan for ethnic Malays and indigenous groups, put in place in the wake of disastrous 1969 ethnic riots that took the lives of hundreds of people on both sides of the racial divide.,” the study found.
The authors said that apart from the student quota system, the NEP translated into more scholarships to Bumiputeras, special programmes to facilitate their entry into higher education institutions, and the use of the Malay language in place of English in the entire education system by 1983.
“In UM and in government, the policy impact spiralled upward so that Bumiputera staff members, over time, secured almost all senior management, administrative, and academic positions.
“As NUS kept pace with the demands of a growing economy that sought to become competitive internationally, with English continuing as the language of instruction and research, UM began to focus inward as proficiency in English declined in favour of the national language — Bahasa Malaysia — and the New Economic Policy’s social goals took precedence.”
The study noted however that there has been widespread recognition that the implementation of affirmative action policies in Malaysia has hurt the higher education system, sapping Malaysia’s economic competitiveness and driving some (mainly Chinese and Indians) to more meritocratic countries, such as Singapore.
In the broader study, the lead authors found that research was an important element in the making of a world-class university, as well as top-grade talent.
“We’re both convinced that serious research universities are important in almost all societies,” Altbach, who is the director of the Center for International Higher Education at Boston College, told the New York Times last week in an interview.
Said Altbach: “Independence, luck, persistence, some kind of strategic vision, adequate resources — usually, but not always, public resources — good governance structures, good leadership, the ability to attract good students and so on. But we have found that the quality of the faculty is really crucial.”
Salmi, who co-ordinates the World Bank’s activities related to higher education, told the same newspaper of their new 390-page study, which will be released later this month, that their advice is like that supposedly given for a rabbit stew recipe: “First, catch your rabbit.” Only in this case the advice would be: “First, catch your faculty.”
“The difference between a good university and great university comes down to talent.”

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs: "You've got to find what you love"... Stanford Commencement Speech, 2005

'You've got to find what you love,' Jobs says
Stanford Report, June 14, 2005

This is a prepared text of the Commencement address delivered by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, on June 12, 2005.

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories.
The first story is about connecting the dots.
I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?
It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?" They said: "Of course." My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.
And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.
It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:
Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.
None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it's likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.
Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.
My second story is about love and loss.
I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents’ garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.
I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down - that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.
I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.
During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the world’s first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple's current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful-tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did.
You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.
My third story is about death.
When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.
I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I'm fine now.
This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope it's the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:
No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.
Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960's, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish."

It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.
Thank you all very much.

DQ Commentary:
On the day when Steve Jobs passed on (05 October 2011), I felt somewhat numb and ill at ease as to what to say, what to think... Perhaps, I am a tad too sensitive. I weep sometimes (at least, my tears have been known to flow effortlessly,) when emotional events and thoughts flood my turbulent if sensitive mind.
Then I remembered his very poignant Stanford University Commencement speech in 2005, one year after his initial diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. This speech epitomised Steve's take on life and living, and I think it represents his singular approach to this sojourn that we have on this earth. 
We all should try to leave a little dent in this world, leave a few momentary footprints in the constantly shifting sands of time, even if these are just for a while, that we mean something, some happiness, some touches to someone else. Perhaps that is all that makes a difference between us humans vs. the extinct dinosaurs and other animals before us, and even ahead of us...
I like his urging for the young to be more spontaneous, to live life to the hilt, while at the same time be a little more irreverent and even outrageous, foolish even (perhaps without being self-destructive or too much of an extreme risk taker!)... 
But we must find meaning and enjoy every moment that we have, mindful that all this 'allocated' time is never a given or a sure thing; that each of our lives is finite and most importantly, that our time has limits which are way beyond our complete understanding or our own power to influence, to change and possibly to postpone. We cannot simply put our hands out to stay our own execution, our own demise, when our time has come.
The ineluctable nature of death is that it will be upon us, like a thief in the night most times... and that we can only hope that we are ready; that we have done this and done that, and that we are at peace to meet our Maker: God, Allah, Rama or Gaia, whichever Universal Timeless Being that we believe in. 
Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish! Live life!
Steve Jobs, RIP!