Thursday, December 12, 2013

TMI: I do care about Malays.... by Zaid Ibrahim

I do care about Malays

TMI: December 12, 2013
Zaid Ibrahim
Datuk Zaid Ibrahim founded Malaysia's largest law partnership before focusing on politics. He was a minister in the Abdullah administration, was in Umno, PKR and last in KITA as its president.

Of late I’ve been receiving harsh retorts and brickbats from some Malays. They are upset with my views about Umno policies, especially my argument that Malays don’t need special attention or preferences to empower them or to make them successful. They say I am ungrateful since Umno made me rich.

The thrust of my argument is that Malays just need fair policies, right attitudes and a good work ethic. 
We need a government that gives us fair and equal opportunities to do well. In fact, I think the present preferential policies are too arbitrary and will make Malays fail at their endeavours – with the exception of a lucky few, of course.

I want to remind Malays that they don’t need to be “enslaved” by Umno. There is no need to feel that our whole existence depends on the party. It’s this mental slavery that is keeping Malays downtrodden and impoverished. So here is the truth:

I was never a high-ranking official in Umno despite being a member for 25 years. The best I could achieve was Division Head of Kota Bharu, and that was after 10 years of trying. Three years after that, I was suspended. I was not given a chance to contest the Kota Bharu parliamentary seat in the 2008 elections although I was the incumbent and the first Umno candidate to have won the seat (in 2004) after 15 years of opposition rule.

As an Umno Division Head you get to be a Datuk; and yes I got mine from a former Chief Minister of Melaka. So it’s true that, if not for Umno, I would probably be an Encik (or Mr) today.

It’s also true that I was made a director of Tenaga Nasional Berhad for three years, and it’s probably true that if I had not been an Umno MP I would probably not have been given this opportunity.  It’s also true that I was a minister for nine months, which would not have happened if not for Umno. But all these appointments did not make me rich.  I have never been rich.

I was never an “Umno lawyer”. Yes, legal work for the North-South Highway concession was handled by my firm, but that was because of the kindness of Tan Sri Halim Saad who wanted to help a poor fellow from Kota Bharu start something useful. I did not get Umno to pressure Halim to appoint me because I didn’t know any of the top leaders. I was a nobody.

Yes, I used the opportunity to build the firm Zaid Ibrahim & Co., but I was not (and have never been) an Umno lawyer. If you want to know the real Umno lawyers when all the deals were done, you should talk to Tun Zaki Tun Azmi, Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Manaff, Tan Sri Zulhasnan Rafique, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, Tan Sri Cecil Abraham and the other big names.

During the 2010 Hulu Selangor by-election (which I lost) the same attacks were thrown at me: I was an ungrateful Melayu (Malay) who bit the hand that fed me. I asked these accusers to present the list of shares that I allegedly received from them, as well as the projects, concessions, APs, licences and monopolies I supposedly enjoyed. They also claimed I owned some listed companies.

There was no proof because I owned none of these things. So how on earth could I be rich?

What was I supposed to do with APs, concessions and projects anyway? I’m not a businessman. I’m a lawyer with a penchant for getting into trouble. I’d have had to ask a Chinese businessman to run these projects for me, thus contributing to the Ali Baba syndrome that Umno leaders were railing against at the time.

Similarly, I wouldn’t have been able to bear the guilt of depriving genuine Malay entrepreneurs of the opportunity to grow. I really believed then that Umno wanted to make Malays economically and educationally as strong as – not “stronger than” – everybody else in the greater Malaysian community. To deprive Malays of that opportunity would be a terrible fraud. I’d be guilty of hypocrisy at best, treachery at worst.

So that’s why I’m not rich. I like to tell myself that I’m happy, at least.

But the truth is I’m not. The fiction that I’m rich perpetuates the mantra that any Malay who has achieved anything in life owes it all to Umno. The enslaving of the Malay mind is important for Umno, so that the whole existence of a Malay is predicated on being subservient to the party.

The Malay psyche is nurtured and developed by this false propaganda so Malays are convinced that they are unable to survive on their own. In other words, Umno’s continued existence depends on Malays being enslaved in this way.

This makes me extremely unhappy.

My criticism of Umno, including its philosophy of mental slavery, stems from my strong belief that Malays have been “spoilt” by Umno’s false values. Umno teaches values that will keep Malays dependent and poor while making them greedy and utterly paranoid. What does this do to the Malay soul? What does it do to the Malaysian soul when the largest community is so terribly afraid not just of other communities but of its own shadow as well?

I care about Malays and that’s why I want an open debate to discuss how to really empower the Malay community in the correct, “unbigoted”, and “non-racialised” way. I see changes in values, educational reforms and cultural progress as critical to the development of the Malays. What doesn’t work is the mixture of handouts, chest-thumping and looking for imaginary bogeymen under the bed.

If you want to empower Malays, be sincere and do it properly. It’s in the interest of Malaysians that all our communities progress together. Empowerment, which must start with Malays, must end by being for all Malaysians.

However, Umno isn’t interested in changing the Malays, let alone Malaysians. They just want to rule forever.

And here’s a parting note:

I’ve been in semi-retirement for some time now. If you remember, I resigned from Zaid Ibrahim & Co. and gave up all my shares when I became a Minister. The upshot is that my savings are depleting quickly and, as such, I plan to go back to work in 2014 by opening an office to do some consultancy. 

This means I’ll be running around getting things done for clients. Like everyone else, I’ll appreciate any business that comes my way, but I hope to be paid promptly and that not too many people ask for discounts that I can’t afford to give.

So much for the life of a man made rich by Umno, eh? – December 12, 2013.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.

TMI: 7 years to 2020: thoughts on achieving the Malaysian dream – by Rama Ramanathan

7 years to 2020: thoughts on achieving the Malaysian dream – Rama Ramanathan

TMI; DECEMBER 12, 2013
10th December was International Human Rights Day. This year, the date marks the 65th anniversary of the adoption by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in 1948.

This year, the date has been chosen to also mark the 20th anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action adopted by the World Conference on Human Rights in 1993.

The Vienna Declaration defined the vision. The Programme (plan) of Action created the means for making real progress towards that vision.

One of the things the UN excels at – and which makes it slow to release any document of significance – is working consultatively and collaboratively. The UN Secretary General’s Message for 2013 Human Rights Day noted that preparation of the Vienna vision and programme “involved the participation of more than 800 NGO’s, treaty bodies and academics.”

To observe the date this year, the UN and Suhakam (Malaysia’s Human Rights Commission) hosted a discussion in Kuala Lumpur titled “Road to 2020: Human Rights and Development”.

The title is pregnant with meaning. Consider this: Why 2020? Why “and Development,” instead of “Human Rights Development”?

In the context of Malaysia, it is important to recognize that we are one of the few nations which publish and implement 5 year National Development Plans. We are on our 10th plan (2011-2015) since independence. Less than a week ago, on 5th December, the Economic Planning Unit in the Prime Minister’s Department held the kick-off meeting for developing the 11th Malaysia Plan (2016 -2020).

2020 is significant because it is the year in which Malaysia expects to leave the crib of developing nations and enter the world of developed nations.

In public discourse, the goal of Vision 2020 is measured in average per capita income, with a goal of $15,000 per head of population.

The focus on income is not surprising in a country with burgeoning debt (according to the BBC, 60 Malaysians declare bankruptcy daily), and credit markdowns by international ratings agencies (Fitch and S&P).

Public discourse needs to reintroduce into the conversation all 9 strategic goals of Vision 2020 – goals which give much consideration to Human Rights. Here’s a quick summary of the goals:

- A united Malaysian nation with a sense of common and shared destiny.
- A psychologically liberated, secure... society with faith and confidence in itself.
- A mature democratic society, practising... consensual, community-oriented... democracy.
- A fully moral and ethical society... imbued with the highest of ethical standards.
- A matured, liberal and tolerant society... free to practise and profess... religious beliefs.
- A scientific and progressive society... innovative and forward-looking.
- A fully caring society and a caring culture... strong and resilient family system.
- An economically just society... fair and equitable distribution of the wealth.
- A prosperous society, with an economy... fully competitive, dynamic, robust and resilient.

The discussion was pregnant with meaning. The passion and patriotism of the panellists was crystal clear. Vision 2020 was recognized as the shared national vision and a note of urgency permeated the discussion.

The following paragraphs provide consensus assessments of where we are on our journey to 2020, and what we need to do to recover the direction and resume the pace of the journey.

7 years to 2020: assessments and recommendations

1. GTP and MDG. At the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in Geneva in October we convinced our peers that our Government Transformation Program (GTP) is moving us forward in economic development, in particular creating 3.3 million jobs. Malaysia has achieved its Millennium Development Goals (MDG) ahead of time. This should mean good news in terms of right to housing, health and security. We must all be vigilant that public discourse about the GTP doesn't focus on economic prosperity at the expense of Human Rights.

2. UN Treaties. Vast attention is being given to restrictions on Human Rights in Malaysia due to the awakening of civil society. At the UPR, our peers gave overwhelmingly told us to ratify UN instruments. Yet, we still have not set dates for ratifying 6 of 9 core Human Rights treaties. We have even placed reservations on the treaties we have ratified. We must set targets and implement processes to ratify all the treaties and remove more reservations.

3. 11th Malaysia Plan. Although Suhakam is established by law, by the Yang di Pertuan Agung, to advise the government on human rights, the government doesn't listen to Suhakam. This is said by Suhakam, vast numbers of NGO’s and international observers. We continue to think of Human Rights Plans as auxiliary to Development plans, not integral to them. The government must work with Suhakam and ensure the 11th Malaysia plan is based upon clearly spelt out (using UN language) Human Rights principles.

4. The people are ready, but the government is lethargic. The issues and concerns raised during the 13th General Elections are clear, thanks to the ease with which the New Media can be monitored. Citizens – who are better educated, urbanized and have moved into the middle class with its associated values – have expressed their hopes and expectations: the rakyat say they are ready for change, yet the government says otherwise. The government must tap the mood and energy of the people by more effectively engaging civil society.

5. The government still behaves like it’s superior to NGOs. National leaders and heads of Government departments continue to view those who criticize current policies, implementation and results, as adversaries. They do not welcome members of civil society to discussion tables as equal partners; rather, they see them as people to be superficially consulted, e.g. by drinking tea together and having a meal together, rather than working together to craft new approaches to solve long-standing problems. The government must set clear measures to assess the outcomes of dialogue sessions – policy changes must be traceable to inputs from civil society.

6. Human rights defenders. The vilification of Comango by a handful of vocal NGO’s and by some members of the government – including one Minister – signals disrespect for Human Rights on the part of the government. It also signals a lack of seriousness in pursuing all that is in Vision 2020. It will not do for the government to invite NGO’s to share the burden, and then vilify the NGO's for doing so. National leaders must speak up to protect the UPR process and the participation of NGO’s.

7. Political will. A recurrent theme was the recognition that change cannot happen without political will, i.e. a readiness to take firm positions, even if such decisions mean loss of perceived or actual popular support. It is not possible to please everyone all the time. National leaders must stop encouraging identity-politics and must start dismantling it.

8. A litany of embarrassments. On the world scene, we are amongst the last to ratify international covenants; we do not debate Suhakam’s report in Parliament; we do not have a National Human Rights Action Plan; we pursue development at the cost of Human Rights (especially in the area of land rights); we tolerate the vilification and demonization of Human Rights defenders.

The way forward

GMMF. Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, CEO of the Global Movement of Moderates, shared the ten action points which were the outcome of the joint Proham/GMMF discussion on the previous day, and documented in a press release.

Suhakam. Tan Sri Hasmy Agam, the Chairman of Suhakam, announced that Post-UPR consultations with NGO’s are in the pipeline and will happen early next year. The consultations will be with Muslim and non-Muslim NGO’s, including Comango. He also pointed out an often-missed fact: Suhakam is not partisan. Suhakam also seeks to establish and protect the rights of those in government – they too are entitled to dignity and equal treatment. The former diplomat hinted that respecting the dignity of Malaysian diplomats requires Malaysia to develop and execute plans to ratify all the core UN treaties, and to integrate concern for Human Rights into everything done in the public sector.


The UN’s vision and Programme (plan) were based upon wide and rigorous consultation. 20 years on, Malaysia must accept the UN goals and work to achieve them, as recommended by our peers. The UN goals are not different from our Vision 2020 goals - which we must re-insert into national discourse.

Our slow progress stems in part from the observation that those who wield power are weak in consultation, due in part to an attitude of superiority. Civil society must be afforded dignity at discussions and treated as knowledgeable patriots, not disruptive enemies.

The electorate has signalled that it expects change. If we do not change, we will miss our 2020 goals. The survival of those who wield power depends upon their ability to offer and deliver change.

Change requires political will. Such will is demonstrated by putting an end to the vilification and demonization of Human Rights Defenders.

There is an actionable agenda: a handful of core things to address through directives, processes and behaviours.

The meeting too was pregnant with meaning. Will it be a live birth? Will the child grow to maturity? Only time will tell. – December 12, 2013.

*Rama Ramanathan is Proham volunteer and blogs at

*This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.

TMI: Najib, grandmaster of bad moves, according to ex-NST chief editor

Najib, grandmaster of bad moves, according to ex-NST chief editor

TMI: DECEMBER 11, 2013
A former New Straits Times editor-in-chief has mocked Wanita Umno head Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil’s description of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak as a "political grandmaster", saying the various mistakes he had made since taking over the helm reflects his poor moves and judgement.

"Under Najib, Barisan Nasional performed worse in the 13th general election than under former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in the 2008 election. BN failed to recapture the wealthiest state in Malaysia, Selangor, almost lost Terengganu and barely retained Perak," Kadir wrote in his blog today.

"Worse, Pakatan Rakyat made healthy inroads into Johor, which had been a traditional BN stronghold," he said.

He said although the Umno general assembly was over, it was still being hotly debated in coffee shops.

"Mainstream media were unable to report on the full range of topics which were discussed during the assembly. But thanks to reporting of juicy topics by online news portals, there is a lively debate in 24-hour coffee shops."

One popular topic of discussion is Shahrizat calling Najib a chess grandmaster.

Kadir did not mince his words when questioning the prime minister's right to such a title, saying the Umno president botched his moves in trying to regain Selangor.

"After the 13th general election, Najib dropped former Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Noh Omar from the Cabinet and put him in charge of Selangor BN."

Kadir said it was obvious the "grandmaster" did not know what to do with Selangor and has given up.

He also cited the irony of the ousting of opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim from Umno on grounds of morality.

"Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek has been allowed to remain as president of MCA," Kadir said, referring to the sex video featuring the former Health Minister.

Furthermore, Shahrizat, despite her husband's involvement in the National Feedlot Corporation scandal, remains as Wanita Umno head.

"Shahrizat stayed in the same house and slept in the same bed as her husband Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Salleh Ismail. But she claimed she did not know what he and their children were doing in the NFC," Kadir wrote, adding the public was not stupid.

Mohamad Salleh had managed to secure the privatisation of NFC and a RM250 million soft loan from the government. During the Umno general assembly, Shahrizat proposed that a Bank Wanita be set up for women.

Kadir said it was fortunate that Najib ignored Shahrizat's suggestion as the people would have asked whether the Bank Wanita was for the women or for Shahrizat.

He suggested the Auditor-General check the books of the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry to see whether the accounts were in order.

He also mocked Najib for attempting to appoint a PAS member to the Umno supreme council. Najib had invited Islamic religious teacher Ustaz Mohammad Kazim Elias to be a member of the Umno supreme council on November 29.

Mohammad Kazim declined the offer.

"Did the grandmaster not ask Mohammad Kazim if he was willing to join the supreme council? Luckily, PAS was not all that brilliant either as they had attacked Mohammad Kazim," Kadir said, adding they should have allowed him to join the supreme council.

Kadir ticked off Najib for inviting Mohammad Kazim to join the Umno supreme council, speculating that perhaps it was because Umno was now the rakyat's party, so anyone could join.

Further surprises could be on the horizon, he added, as Najib might soon extend the invitation to DAP and Parti Keadilan Rakyat members to sign up with Umno. - December 11,

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


I’m sitting at the airport in Bahrain, about to catch a flight to Jakarta. The television screens are full of coverage for a man of courage, conviction, and influence. Every now and then his picture with his winsome smile is shown with the words under it: Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013.
Looking at the dates, I thought first of my mother. She was born just two years before him but passed away nearly four decades before he did. Yes, she had a short life span. She did not make a world impact but it was because of her that I am a free man today. Her life and example were for me, life-defining. Nelson Mandela, by contrast, changed history for millions, if not for the world. A different role, a different call. So it is that each one of us has a part to play, whether of great influence or of small influence, but equally important.
Yet, as I look at his picture and consider his legacy, I mourn the loss of not just a person, but an example for all politicians. While his early years were more aggressive, his veteran years spoke of wisdom gained through steps and missteps. Where are the leaders like him today? Many of those who are eulogizing him have evidently not learned from him. For one, he bore no hatred towards his oppressors. Even his period of violence was short-lived and tempered. When he acquired freedom he did not ask the oppressed to “go and vote for revenge.” After his time in prison, he did not use the microphone to whip up hostility, division, and frenzy or go on diatribes blaming his predecessors for doing everything wrong. He did not use language that some in the media do, some verbiage that is too vulgar to even repeat. He wanted to correct society, not change, penalize, or pollute it. He won supporters to his side with grace and dignity, not by bullying.
On one occasion I nearly met the man. It was my loss when it didn’t come about. I was in Cape Town after having spoken to the framers of the Peace Accord in Johannesburg when I received a call from his office where his staff was trying its best to bring about a meeting between us. But a strong bout of pneumonia, which he had contracted in prison, hit him hard at that time and actually plagued him for the rest of his life. Not meeting him was a loss I felt. I would have loved to have asked him a few questions. One I would like to have asked is, “Deep inside, did you ever feel like giving up?” I suspect I know the answer, but just to be inspired, I would have liked to hear this one-time boxer turned freedom-fighter in his soft voice express his determination to never give up.
Nelson Mandela
The world has become a dangerous place. We need the Mandelas who know when to lead, how to treat their opponents, and when to step down. There is so much hatred in speeches today, such inflammatory rhetoric. There is such an unyielding quest and clinging to power that we shudder at the seduction so evident. What we win the masses with is what we win them to and we are subjecting a generation to ignoble speech and lacerating rhetoric: How will this win them to noble ends?
Two remarkable decisions among many show how Mandela bore no contempt for his adversaries. Journalists have pointed this out. You’d think they themselves would be instructed by it. When he received the Nobel Prize he chose to share it with his predecessor, President F.W. de Klerk. This was an incredible move, truly walking the second mile. He never wanted to play the hero. He knew the fight wasn’t about him. Also, at his inauguration he invited the white jail warden to be present as his personal guest. Mandela cautioned leaders that hatred beguiled the mind and was an emotion leaders could not afford without reaping the whirlwind. He would give no place to mockery that masqueraded as statesmanship.
Our own leaders today would do well to learn from Nelson Mandela rather than just giving grandiose speeches about him. What he began still has a long way to go. I am a Christian and I admire the courage and sacrifice of people such as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nelson Mandela. Even if we are not all on the same page theologically, we are on the same page for the protection of people who are exploited or abused. It is a noble end. But the way our media and political leaders frame the problem actually digs a hole deeper than the one they are trying to fill. They poison the soul but expect healing. When language comes easily for those who have the microphone, it can become fatally fluent.
I spoke once at the Islamic University in Malaysia, one of the oldest such universities of the world. I was asked to present a defense of Christianity to a primarily Muslim audience. It was a nerve-wracking hour, with sophisticated scholars in the audience. I would not compromise my convictions. I needed to build a bridge without surrendering ground. “How does one handle this?” I thought. I did my best and the response was truly gratifying. Even the head of the Islamic Studies department, the professor who was my host, said some of the kindest words afterward in her office.
That evening I was taken out for dinner by a professor who specifically asked if we could have an hour. His name was Professor Living Lee, a geologist by specialty. He told me this story. Some years ago the late vitriolic Muslim apologist Ahmed Deedat was presenting a defense of Islam at the same university. Ironically, he was from South Africa too. He had a bent to abusive language and inflammatory speech, mocking opponents and inciting anger in his supporters towards those of a different view. He provoked all the baser emotions for a supposedly elevated cause. Deedat had delivered his talk at the university in his usual hate-filled style, mocking Christianity and calling it nonsensical and unlivable, among other charges. When Professor Lee, one of the few Christians in the audience, questioned his charge, Deedat called him to come to the front. Professor Lee walked forward. Deedat raised his hand and with a full swing slapped him with a stinging hit to the face. Professor Lee was nearly knocked to his feet. Deedat then barked, “Now turn the other cheek!” It was obvious what he was trying to do. Suddenly he paused and said, “We can do this quicker. Give me your shirt!” Professor Lee unbuttoned and took off his shirt. “According to Jesus, you should now offer your trousers, too, shouldn’t you?” Deedat said. Professor Lee turned to the audience, apologized to his students and faculty colleagues, took off his trousers, and quietly walked out of the room in his underwear. The audience was in a dazed, stunned silence. Outdone by a gentle but equally determined scholar, Deedat looked utterly juvenile and like a man who had just been hoisted on his own petard.
Dr. Lee went back to his office and put his face in his hands, his spirit swirling with indescribable emotions. He wept though he knew he had done the right thing in standing his ground. A few moments later there was a knock on the door, then another, and another, and another. When he opened the door, he saw students and colleagues lined up to apologize to him for the pain and foolishness just displayed.
Deedat was freewheeling in rhetoric but a slave to pride. Quite incredibly, he spent the last few years of his life smitten with a stroke, unable to speak. The only weapon he had was lost to him. But in reality, Deedat could never have attained greatness because he was already too great in his own eyes.
Mandela had a cause greater than himself and is so remembered. He spent the last few years of his life quite unwell. But his example continued to speak for the freedom of all mankind. His spirit fought for the dignity of man, and he never compromised the dignity of anyone in fighting for it.
So when we read 1918-2013 we would do well to remember that though the span of Mandela’s life is finished, the span of our human struggle is not closed. But if our leaders do not know how to use speech supported by character and instead use words only to provoke hostile instincts, we will kill others with hate and the bracket around dignity and freedom will be closed. Not everything that is fatal is immediate. We are near the edge of that precipice. We have a choice. We all have a platform.
I cannot end without mentioning one wound that Mandela probably wished he could have healed: the break-up of his family. The price for him was huge and the pain must have been deep. It was a price my mother would not pay: We five children would have been the cost. It is a sobering reminder for all of us. Our nation and our homes need healing. The national struggle and the heart of a child will shape the future. Politicians and parents play that role. No momentary gain had dare violate eternal truths.
I pray for our leaders. I pray for our families. May God guide and help us.



Ravi Zacharias
For forty years Ravi Zacharias has spoken all over the world and in numerous universities, notably Harvard, Princeton, and Oxford University.  He has addressed writers of the peace accord in South Africa, the president’s cabinet and parliament in Peru, and military officers at the Lenin Military Academy and the Center for Geopolitical Strategy in Moscow.  At the invitation of the President of Nigeria, he addressed delegates at the First Annual Prayer Breakfast for African Leaders held in Mozambique.
God has given us an immense calling. We do what we do because it is deeply needed. And we are so grateful to those who share this burden to come alongside us to help us fulfill this calling. Continue to stand with us for such a time as this.
~Ravi Zacharias
Dr. Zacharias has direct contact with key leaders, senators, congressmen, and governors who consult him on an ongoing basis.  He has addressed the Florida Legislature and the Governor’s Prayer Breakfast in Texas, and has twice spoken at the Annual Prayer Breakfast at the United Nations in New York, which marks the beginning of the UN General Assembly each year.  As the 2008 Honorary Chairman of the National Day of Prayer, he gave addresses at the White House, the Pentagon, and The Cannon House. He has had the privilege of addressing the National Prayer Breakfasts in the seats of government in Ottawa, Canada, and London, England, and speaking at the CIA in Washington, DC.
Dr. Zacharias was born in India in 1946 and immigrated to Canada with his family twenty years later.  While pursuing a career in business management, his interest in theology grew; subsequently, he pursued this study during his undergraduate education.  He received his Master of Divinity from Trinity International University in Deerfield, Illinois.  Well-versed in the disciplines of comparative religions, cults, and philosophy, he held the chair of Evangelism and Contemporary Thought at Alliance Theological Seminary for three and a half years.  Dr. Zacharias has been honored by the conferring of a Doctor of Divinity from Houghton College, Tyndale College and Seminary and McMaster Divinity College, Toronto, and a Doctor of Laws degree from Asbury College, Kentucky.  He is presently Senior Research Fellow at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University in Oxford, England.
Ravi Zacharias
Dr. Zacharias has been a visiting scholar at Cambridge University, where he studied moralist philosophers and literature of the Romantic era.  While at Cambridge he also authored his first book, A Shattered Visage: The Real Face of Atheism, updated and republished in 2004 by Baker as The Real Face of Atheism.  His second book, Can Man Live without God (Word, 1994), was awarded the Gold Medallion for best book in the category of doctrine and theology, and Jesus Among Other Gods (Word, 2000) was nominated for a Gold Medallion.  In all, Dr. Zacharias has authored or edited over twenty books, including Walking from East to West (Zondervan, 2006), The Grand Weaver (Zondervan, 2007), The End of Reason: A Response to the New Atheists (Zondervan, 2008), and Beyond Opinion (Thomas Nelson, 2008), which includes contributions from Ravi Zacharias International Ministries’ global team.  His latest books are Why Jesus,released by FaithWords in January 2012, and Has Christianity Failed You?(Zondervan, 2010).  Several of his books have been translated into Russian, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Spanish, and other languages.
At the invitation of Billy Graham, Dr. Zacharias was a plenary speaker at the International Conference for Itinerant Evangelists in Amsterdam in 1983, 1986, and 2000.  He is listed as a distinguished lecturer with the Staley Foundation and has appeared on CNN, Fox, and other international broadcasts.  His weekly radio program, “Let My People Think,” airs on 2078 outlets worldwide, his weekday program, “Just Thinking,” on 732, and his one-minute “Just a Thought,” on 334.  Various broadcasts are also translated into Romanian and Turkish, and “Let My People Think” airs as the Spanish-language program “Pensemos” on nearly 200 outlets in seventeen countries. Additionally, his television program, “Let My People Think,” is broadcast internationally in several countries including Indonesia.
Dr. Zacharias is Founder and President of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, with additional offices in Canada, India, Singapore, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, and Hong Kong.  Dr. Zacharias and his wife, Margie, have three grown children.  They reside in Atlanta.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

You're probably more racist and sexist than you think.... by Oliver Burkeman's

Oliver Burkeman's blog

You're probably more racist and sexist than you think

Acts of explicit bigotry make the headlines. But the evidence for subconscious prejudice keeps growing
Not surprisingly, we tend to hear the most about bigotry and prejudice when it surfaces explicitly: see Oprah Winfrey's recent experience in a high-end Swiss boutique, for example, or the New York police department's stop-and-frisk policies, ruled racially discriminatory by a judge this week. But the truth is that much prejudice – perhaps most of it – flourishes below the level of conscious thought. Which means, alarmingly, that it's entirely possible to hold strong beliefs that point in one direction while demonstrating behaviour that points in the other. The classic (if controversial) demonstration of this is Harvard'sProject Implicit, made famous in Malcolm Gladwell's book Blink. You can take the test here: whatever your race, there's a strong chance you'll take a split second longer to associate positive concepts with black faces than white ones.
Two recent pieces of research underline just how ubiquitous this kind of bias could be. One survey, reported at Inside Higher Education, involved asking white people in California how they felt about meritocracy as the basis for college admissions. The argument in favour of meritocracy, of course, is often used in opposition to affirmative action, which gives extra weighting to black students' applications. But if white Californians backed meritocracy out of pure principle, you'd expect their beliefs to hold firm no matter what race they were thinking about. Yet when you phrase the question so as to remind them that Asian American students are disproportionately successful at getting into Californian colleges, their support for meritocracy wanes.
The implication is that for at least some people, belief in meritocracy is flexible on racist grounds: it's drafted in when it helps justify white students' advantages over black ones – but it suddenly grows weaker when it risks justifying Asian American students' advantages over white ones. The urge towards system justification is strong.
A study published earlier this year is even more unsettling: it suggests that if you fail to challenge someone who expresses prejudiced attitudes, you'll actually become more prejudiced yourself. Researchers engineered a situation in which female participants heard a male experimenter make a sexist remark; some were then given the opportunity to call him out on it. Eric Horowitz explains the scenario:
In each experiment, female participants first rated their beliefs about the importance of confronting prejudice and then engaged in a “Deserted Island” task with a confederate. The task involved selecting from an existing set of people those who would be most helpful on a deserted island. The confederate … chose all males until his final selection, when he justified his choice of a female with a sexist remark (“She’s pretty hot. I think we need more women on the island to keep the men satisfied.”)
Those who had the chance to challenge this remark, but didn't do so, rated the experimenter as less sexist – and challenging sexism as less important – than the others. Which would seem to be a case of cognitive dissonance in action: when you're confronted by prejudice and you don't object to it, your own attitudes shift in a more prejudiced direction, to maintain consistency between your behaviour and your beliefs.
And then there's the finding that more intelligent white people are more likely to disavow racism, but no more likely actually to support policies that might remedy the effects of racial inequality. This news was reported as showing that clever people are just better at concealing their racism from others while harbouring bigoted thoughts. But isn't the more worrying possibility that they're concealing their racism from themselves?
Or to put it another way: those of us who reassure ourselves that we're implacably opposed to prejudice could probably do with being a lot less smug about it.

ARE we COLOUR-BLIND or too intrinsically Racially-Biased?

ARE we COLOUR-BLIND or too intrinsically Racially-Biased?

Do you agree with this comentator?

FMT Narinder Singh's commentaries might have scored some schmaltzy brownie points but I fear that even he has been prey to his own prejudice that Chinese firms are just for the Chinese... He is sweeping and casting his statement net a little too far!

Notably he made no comments whatsoever about the Indian companies in the country, although he was making a strident point to agree with Khairy against supposedly non-bumi bias against bumis! [Another commentator Stan Tee mentioned that fmt has a preponderance of a certain ethnic group, which I will comment no further!]

The fact that the govt continues to eschew such practices of identifying race and religion in our daily lives, imply a differential and subtle racist agenda!

Of course we all know that the govt and the GLCs are the perpetrators of the worst forms of discriminatory employment and promotion practices. Just look at the civil service, the GLCs, the Banks, and even academia, where the lopsidedness is so stark and where glass ceilings for non-bumis are so unspoken yet tacitly but so resignedly accepted by those who chose to stay... Of course I respect and salute all these committed academicians whose agenda is simply to commit to their love of their work and knowledge sharing and research!

BTW, currently, I employ a healthy mix of 2 very capable Malay nurses and an Indian nursing aide in my small clinic practice! I used to have most of my many other nurses of Indian descent, but they come and go... And I count among my best friends some Indians, Malays, Sikhs, Chinese, etc. too!

Let me do a personal conscious headcount: In my professional working environment and NGOs, we all work well together with a true mix of Malays, Indians, Chinese CEOs, directors, managers etc.

We all have our own bias, we choose our own professional partners to share difficult patients to treat together, based on our own evaluation of their skills and fellowship... In my hospital, my most used/preferred partnering gastroenterologists, physicians, endocrinologists, cardiac surgeons, anesthetists are Indians, and some Malays, fewer Chinese, for some reason or other!

So I think we can be quite professional without being racially-conscious and biased! Just go on the basic premise of choosing the best that we would for our own selves our families, whom we can trust to deliver a good or the best job or task possible. And race and religion just cannot and must not interfere with that most important undertaking of what is best for us, our immediate families and our patients, under any local or parochial environment! What more for our beloved nation, with so much multi-ethnic potential!

LOL Some of my best fb colleagues that I respect are Kadazans, Orang Ulu, Bidayuhs, Ibans, a microcosm of our truly Asian Malaysia!

But I agree fully, we must learn to adopt more truly color-blind practices in our daily lives!

Monday, December 9, 2013

How Dare Najib Discredit Mandela... By Kee Thuan Chye

How Dare Najib Discredit Mandela

By Kee Thuan Chye
Umno President Najib Razak diminished the stature of a great man when he said last Saturday at his party’s general assembly that Umno fought for the “same cause” as Nelson Mandela, who had died two days before.

What same cause? Mandela fought against racial discrimination whereas Umno institutionalised racial discrimination a few decades ago and still upholds it.

Mandela never advocated black supremacy, whereas Umno promotes Ketuanan Melayu (Malay supremacy).

After he became president of South Africa, Mandela proposed reconciliation and sought to bring the races in his country together, whereas in Malaysia, Umno divides the races in order to keep itself in power.

Even at its general assembly, Umno’s delegates lobbied for the ethnocentric ‘1Melayu’ to replace the more inclusive ‘1Malaysia’, bashed the Chinese for not supporting the party at the last general 
election, and demanded a bigger stake in the economy, totally ignoring the reality that most of the country’s economic development is now already in Malay hands.

Furthermore, no less an Umno leader than Awang Adek Hussin, who is also the country’s deputy finance minister, proposed that private companies should declare how they support the Bumiputera agenda in their annual reports. He also insisted that, because Malays now make up almost 70 per cent of the population, the hiring policy of private companies should reflect the country’s racial composition at every level.

This is effectively saying that CEOs of private companies should also be Malay, and that their staff should be 70 per cent Malay. Indeed. Apa lagi Umno mahu? (What more does Umno want?)

On the other hand, does the civil service reflect the country’s racial composition? Are there 30 per cent non-Malay heads of department? In our public universities, are 30 per cent of vice-chancellors non-Malay?

Mandela did not take away the businesses of the whites in the name of affirmative action for the black South Africans. He allowed the whites to continue to control the economy and as a result of its being in experienced hands, South Africa’s economy grew at a steady, robust rate.

Mandela also believed in inclusiveness, in humanity and human rights. But Umno abhors lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals (LGBTs) although they are no less human beings. One delegate denigrated them by saying at the assembly that LGBTs exist so that “orang jahat (bad people) can be purged, leaving behind only the good people to inherit the earth”. How simplistically stupid, or stupidly simplistic.

Neither does Umno tolerate Shiite (Syiah) Muslims. Delegates urged that the Federal Constitution be amended to give recognition only to Sunni Islam. And Umno vice-president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, in his customary aggressive manner of winning support from the Umno flock, seized the moment to accuse the “No. 2” man in the Opposition party PAS of being a Shiite leader. He called for action to be taken against the latter. It was a clear manifestation of gutter politics posing under the guise of religion.

How, then, could Najib have had the temerity to draw parallels between Umno and Mandela? They couldn’t be more worlds apart. How could he have said what he said and not appear foolish to the outside world? He might have been able to deceive his audience of Umno members, but he cannot deceive the intelligent and discerning.

He apparently rationalised it by claiming that no race has been deprived under the New Economic Policy (NEP). He probably knows better – or else he is ignorant or dumb – but he still played to the gallery. When he asked his audience, “Were (other races) sidelined during the NEP? Did we ever hurt the livelihood of other races?”, they of course responded with a resounding “no”. This of course is an act of syiok sendiri too.

They chose to conveniently forget the millions of non-Malays who over the decades have been deprived of places in public universities, scholarships, jobs in the civil service, promotions, higher ranks in the security forces, government projects (except the big crony Chinese companies), etc.

They pretended not to know that the non-Malays most hurt by the NEP were the low-income and middle-class groups. Many of their children could not pursue tertiary education through lack of means. Those who could had parents who worked extra hard to make extra money to send their children to private institutions.

They chose to ignore the truth that the push for Ketuanan Melayu caused non-Malays to be sidelined in unjust, uncountable ways and turned them into second-class citizens.

Now, to add insult to injury, they profess no knowledge of all that, still present the Malays as victims after more than 50 years of independence from the British “oppressors”, brand the “foreign races” (meaning non-Malays) as threats, lament that the Malays might become “slaves in their own land”, ask for more handouts, more projects, more quotas.

Enough is never enough. At every annual general assembly, they dish out the same laments, the same non-Malay bashing, the same demands for more opportunities while at the same time moaning that Malay entrepreneurs still need “hand-holding”. Their thinking is this: Ask and it shall be given. Just like that. No need to prove their abilities first, no need to be free of “hand-holding” first, no need to work to attain their goals. That’s the attitude they take.

And this is equated with Mandela’s struggle?

This sort of attitude exhibited by Umno is what pisses off a lot of people and makes them hate the party. If Najib’s comparison between Umno and Mandela doesn’t piss off the South African Government, well, that’s its business. But if it does, President Jacob Zuma might want to demand an apology from Najib for showing disrespect and distorting the principles of the great Mandela.

Najib cannot exploit a good man’s name to justify his party’s petty schemes.

* Kee Thuan Chye is the author of the new book The Elections Bullshit, now available in bookstores.

Monday, December 2, 2013

What's so seditious in Mariam’s article?... by Kee Thuan Chye

Mon, 02 Dec 2013 04:45:00 GMT | By Kee Thuan Chye

BLOG: IGP, what is seditious in Mariam’s article?

Columnist Kee Thuan Chye is saying the recent warning issued by the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) to political commentator Mariam Mokhtar against writing articles that could be deemed seditious is highly unwarranted and deserves to be censured.

I cannot see a fellow writer being threatened by someone in public authority for what she writes and not stand up for her. I’m therefore saying that the recent warning issued by the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) to political commentator Mariam Mokhtar against writing articles that could be deemed seditious is highly unwarranted and deserves to be censured.

Now, if the IGP was giving her friendly advice in saying she should not write articles that were seditious, he might have good cause to do so. Even if the articles she has written so far have not proven to be so. But that does not seem to be the tone and tenor of what he said a few days ago.

What makes his remark deserving of censure is what he added: “She had better watch out or we will go after her.” That comes across, undoubtedly, like a threat. And it’s inappropriate coming from someone like the IGP.

I don’t know Mariam personally and have never met her. (Sorry for sounding like Najib Razak talking about a different person – I think you know who.) I also can’t say I’ve read every article she’s written. But those I have do not strike me as being seditious - certainly not as is spelt out in the Sedition Act.

In fact, her writing impresses me as that of someone who cares about her country and wants it to be better. She criticises wrongdoing by people in power, exposes their foibles and points out the contradictions between what they say and what they do in order to make Malaysians aware of right and wrong.

She provides a much-needed public service by highlighting issues of pressing and immediate concern to Malaysians, giving voice to thoughts that many of her fellow countrymen and women may share but are unable to articulate.

She has written about racial discrimination, social injustice, domestic violence, child abuse, the rise in crime, political scandals, the ‘Allah’ issue, the ineptness of Najib as prime minister, the Royal Commission of Inquiry on the illegal immigrants in Sabah, Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s attempt to muzzle the media, the disservice to the Malaysian electorate done by the Election Commission … and many, many more topics of public interest.

She should not be intimidated for creating awareness and putting issues in perspective. She should not be shut up.
IGP Khalid Abu Bakar is reportedly displeased with her article ‘One ideology, two reactions’ that appeared on the online news website Free Malaysia Today on November 29.

In it, she asked why the Government was willing to welcome home Siti Aishah Abdul Wahab from London when it had been dead against allowing even the ashes of the late Malayan Communist Party leader Chin Peng to be brought back from Thailand.

After all, Siti Aishah was also a left-winger. She was on the Malaysian police’s ‘wanted’ list in the 1970s for being considered an extremist. When she went to study at the London School of Economics, the police kept her under surveillance. Subsequently, she was allegedly held as a “slave” in London by a Maoist sect for 30 years, until she escaped several weeks ago.

Khalid said Mariam’s article was “highly seditious”.

I have since read it a few times, but I cannot in all honesty find anything in it that is seditious.
Mariam states the facts about Siti Aishah and Chin Peng. She asks a pertinent question: “Malaysians must wonder why Aishah is considered safe but Chin Peng’s ashes are deemed a national threat.” Indeed, that has been in the minds of many people this past week.

She informs us, “The High Commission in London has said that it would extend its full cooperation to reinstate Aishah’s citizenship if she had unknowingly lost her identification papers during her 30-year imprisonment. We are thankful that the global network of the Foreign Ministry is diligent in performing its responsibilities in assisting Malaysians in various parts of the world.”

She asks, again pertinently: “So why can’t the same assistance be made available by the necessary departments in Malaysia to serve the hundreds of thousands of stateless people who were not registered by their poor and uneducated parents? Parents who may be the rural Orang Asli, the interior bound Penan or Indians who live on rubber estates?”

What is wrong with any of that? What is seditious in what she has written?

She also writes: “Wisma Putra, the Women’s Ministry and the IGP are keen to help Aishah. By all means show compassion but make sure that compassion is extended to all Malaysians and not a select few individuals who just happen to be making headlines in the developed world. If Aishah is promised counselling, the same should be given to the traumatised victims at home; the ostracised Penan women and young girls who were raped by timber workers, the family members of people killed in violent incidents like Batangkali, Memali, Kampung Medan and May 13.”

Again, I ask, where is the sedition?

She is asking for social justice and compassion across a wide spectrum. That’s a positive thing. Does that constitute sedition?

So why is the IGP displeased?

And why must he invoke sedition? The Sedition Act has of late become too obvious an instrument being used by the ruling party to bully citizens who speak up because they want things to be better, like cartoonist Zunar, activists Hishamuddin Rais and Haris Ibrahim, student leaders Adam Adli and Safnan Awang.

On the other hand, people like Perkasa President Ibrahim Ali, ex-prime minister Mahathir Mohamad and politician Zulkilfli Noordin and the newspaper Utusan Malaysia that have said things for the worse, like insulting the religions of others or causing hatred between the races, have not received even the slightest ticking off from the authorities. 

Ironically, what they have said subscribe more to the definition of sedition as spelt out in the Act. And yet they are seemingly immune to prosecution.

So, please, IGP, don’t threaten Mariam with sedition and appear so obviously selective with your targets. Go instead after the people who really commit sedition. Don’t turn this into another farce as you did with your explanation of how policemen lost their guns (the weapons fell into the sea!).

And do learn how to make a critical discourse analysis of a piece of writing so that you don’t see things that are not in it. I arrived at my conclusion that ‘One ideology, two reactions’ is not seditious by using logic and reasoning. What did you use to arrive at yours?

Oh, one last point. The Malaysian police were monitoring Siti Aishah when she was in London. How did they miss the moment when she got ‘enslaved’ by the Maoist sect? And were they unaware of it for 30 years? Can we conclude from this that the police were slack in their work? Or is there more to it than meets the eye?

These are not seditious questions, IGP, so please provide us the answers.

* Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to MSN Malaysia
Kee Thuan Chye is the author of the new book The Elections Bullshit , now available in bookstores.