Archive for January, 2017

The Partition of India

Posted: January 30, 2017 in Britian, India, WH Auden
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British barrister Sir Cyril Radcliffe arrived in British India for the first time on July 8, 1947. He had exactly five weeks to draw the borders between an independent India and the newly created Pakistan. He chaired two boundary commissions, one for Punjab and one for Bengal, consisting of two Muslims and two non-Muslims.

The resulting boundary award was announced on August 17. Partition along the Radcliffe Line ended in violence that killed one million people and displaced 12 million. Radcliffe burnt his papers, refused his Rs 40,000 fee, and left once and for all.

While drawing the border, Radcliffe was faced with unyielding demands on both sides, communal tensions, doubtful census numbers, tough economic, administrative and defence considerations and some say even interference from Viceroy Mountbatten. Was Radcliffe biased? Was he ill-informed?

Here’s one of the best criticisms of Radcliffe and his 1947 job by the poet WH Auden in Partition.

“Unbiased at least he was when he arrived on his mission,
Having never set eyes on this land he was called to partition
Between two peoples fanatically at odds,
With their different diets and incompatible gods.
‘Time,’ they had briefed him in London, ‘is short. It’s too late
For mutual reconciliation or rational debate:
The only solution now lies in separation.
The Viceroy thinks, as you will see from his letter,
That the less you are seen in his company the better,
So we’ve arranged to provide you with other accommodation.
We can give you four judges, two Moslem and two Hindu,
To consult with, but the final decision must rest with you.’

Shut up in a lonely mansion, with police night and day
Patrolling the gardens to keep assassins away,
He got down to work, to the task of settling the fate
Of millions. The maps at his disposal were out of date
And the Census Returns almost certainly incorrect,
But there was no time to check them, no time to inspect
Contested areas. The weather was frightfully hot,
And a bout of dysentery kept him constantly on the trot,
But in seven weeks it was done, the frontiers decided,
A continent for better or worse divided.

The next day he sailed for England, where he quickly forgot
The case, as a good lawyer must. Return he would not,
Afraid, as he told his Club, that he might get shot.”

Partition, 1966 by WH Auden

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It appears that a critical mass of the Sabah electorate wants to reward Musa Aman for the good work he has done over the past several years, since he first assumed Chief Ministership in March 2003. Each person this writer spoke to heading for the early polls in Sabah had only good word to say about the chief minister. This is indeed what makes it difficult for a divided Sabah opposition – The United Sabah Alliance (USA) and its four State-based opposition parties namely Star, Parti Cinta Sabah (PCS), Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP), Lajim Ukin’s Parti Harapan Rakyat, Shafie Apdal’s Parti Warisan Sabah together with Malaya based DAP, PKR & Amanah, to attack Musa on any of his development agenda. Shafie Apdal himself has characterised Musa’s regime as marked by fourteen years of malfeasance, but could never publicly attack him on the plank of development.

In a big public meeting outside of Sandakan late 2016, Shafie asked those who attended if Musa’s reign as Chief Minister was ever marked by a lack of accountability but the response was cold. In reply Shafie fumed before the crowd: “I have no other motive than to defend the rights of Sabah”, but having held five terms Member of Parliament of Semporna since 1995 and appointed as parliamentary secretary, Deputy Minister of Housing and Local Government in 1999, Deputy Minister of Defence from 1999 to 2004, Minister of Domestic, Trade and Consumer Affairs, and later Ministry of Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage, he has yet to prove that. On 10 April 2009, he became the Minister of Rural and Regional Development which coincided with his election to one of UMNO’s three vice-presidential posts. Shafie Apdal is hence the first Sabahan to hold a vice-presidency of UMNO but has done little to “defend the rights” of the varied population of this state.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that there is an authentic Musa wave in Sabah as is. It is no wonder that divided Sabah opposition groupies are very worried about the general sentiment generated before polling. The local opposition parties anxiety is reflected in the manner in which it is bringing issues like illegal immigrants, the re-issuance of identity cards, and the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

Elsewhere, near Penampang, Shafie Apdal is doing what he does best – playing the polarisation game. When he said Sabahans will celebrate if the BN is defeated in Sabah, he again betrayed the fact that the party’s desperation has reached newer highs. By invoking BN, Parti Warisan Sabah believes it can consolidate Sabahan votes across all races but the party’s attempts has failed to bear fruit as voters are seen shying away from Shafie Apdal’s new party. In fact, large sections of Sabahans seem to be inclined to give Musa Aman another term.

Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) president Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, the founding father of the second largest political party in Sabah, a long serving assemblyman, MP and Huguan Siou (paramount leader of the Kadazandusun community), has indicated an intention to retire from politic but is also complementing the broader sentiment in favour of Musa by holding on to his KDM vote base – to which opposition groupies have mainly tried but failed to break by raising numerous issues including the delayed Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) technical working committee report on illegal immigrants.

The KDMs, emotionally impacted by the down fall of the PBS Government in March 1994, seemed to have put their fullest weight behind the grand BN alliance. Pairin’s meetings are attracting unusually large crowds with hundreds of youths enthusiastically clicking away on their smart phones. I had seen a similar spectacle only during Pairin’s public meetings in Tambunan and Keningau during GE13 polls in 2013.

In many ways Sabah looks so much like a forerunner of events in national politics. Both Musa and Pairin speak the same language and the political grammar converges around a larger strategy of demanding Sabah rights under the Constitution, the Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) report and Malaysia Act. The devolution of powers from the Federal Government to the state was an ongoing process, with the principal objective of addressing and resolving public concern over the erosion of the special safeguards granted to Sabah under the Malaysia Agreement and the Constitution.

Musa Aman articulates this strategy cogently as he says, “We are all Sabahans, who advocated a constant campaign to resolve issues between state and the federal and the Sabah Government has its own “gentler” approach – more effective, better than shouting and demanding” – “The Sabah Way”. When Musa said this a decade ago, the BN was the establishment. Today, the BN, and the forces its represents, have become the establishment, forging a front against the opposition and its divisive politics, the state government believes in consultation not confrontation.

Musa has repeated over the years that the Sabah State Government under his watch believes in diplomacy rather than confrontation and has achieved some excellent results through this approach, particularly in its negotiations with Petronas on oil and gas matters. These include the appointment of a Sabahan to the Petronas board of directors and Petronas undertaking to increase the number of Sabahans at executive and management level. Now there is a clear understanding between Petronas, the Federal Government and the state government as to Sabah State Government objectives.

UMNO is benefiting in Sabah due to the image of Musa Aman as an urbane, decent and efficient chief minister. The visit to Sabah by Wu Bangguo, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Catherine, and many other world leaders, confirms that Musa has placed Sabah ahead of many other states, making it the most successful state in Malaysia in attracting private investments. China’s decision to open a consul-general office in Kota Kinabalu confirms the state’s growing importance as a world-class city favoured by tourists and businesses. For the first quarter of 2016, Sabah under Musa Aman managed to attract private investments in the amount of RM10 billion, way ahead of other states. Apart from that, as of September 30, the amount of cumulative investments in the private sector, under the Sabah Development Corridor projects, had reached RM114 billion since its launch in 2008. Among the many reasons include having a stable, business friendly and a prudent government as well as stringent forestry laws and strong conservation programme. Totally Protected Area (TPA) – now covers over 1.5 million hectares of the land area or some 22% of Sabah. The government policy has been launched to achieve 30% TPA by 2025 or 2030 at the latest or over 2.2 million hectares of Sabah under forest.

So tell me, which other state in Malaysia has set aside 22% of TPA including rich agricultural lands and virgin forests at high opportunity costs? Only Sabah under the Aman administration, that’s for sure.



KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Security Working Committee (JKKN) has decided to reopen the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (ESSZone) for commercial activities effective Feb 1.

Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman said the JKKN meeting, which he chaired today, also agreed to allow the Customs, Immigration, Quarantine and Security (CIQS) Complex in Kudat to resume operations for the route to Palawan, Southern Philippines on the same date.

“However, all commercial activities, namely transshipment and normal trade must adhere to the Transshipment Activity Improvement Fixed Operating Regulations issued by the Sabah JKKN.

“On the other hand, Kudat CIQS will operate by observing its standard operating procedures as guidelines for all agencies and relevant parties,” he said in a statement here today.

Musa also said all trade activities involving Indonesian sea products by the fishermen or the coalition of Tawau Fishermen’s Association was now status quo but the landings of the products must be done at jetties or legal locations as coordinated by the Fisheries Department.

“On the ban of pump boats, JKKN decided that the ruling would continue to take effect on status quo which means the use and its ownership are only allowed for Malaysian citizens. Stern action will be taken against non-citizens,” he added. — Bernama

 

(The Eastern Sabah Security Zone (ESSZONE) is a security zone in the Malaysian state of Sabah that was launched by the Malaysian Prime Minister, Najib Razak on 25 March 2013 following the persistent attacks by Abu Sayaff pirates and militants from the southern Philippines that occurred in the eastern part of Sabah especially after the 2013 Lahad Datu standoff.

[1] It includes the districts of Kudat, Kota Marudu, Pitas, Beluran, Sandakan, Kinabatangan, Lahad Datu, Kunak, Semporna and Tawau.

[2] The Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) is the main enforcement authority for ESSZONE, chaired by Datuk Seri Musa Aman.)


Sarawak rallied behind Adenan Satem as he brokered greater autonomy and dealt with long standing issues such as recognition of native land rights since becoming chief minister in 2014. Adenan Satem a great leader, RIP Sir!

Here is a nice write up on Late Tan Sri Adenan Satem @ Tok Nan, I picked up from Bernama.

Jan 11 — Eight months after leading Sarawak to astounding victory in the 11th state election last May, capturing the hearts of the people through his ‘politics of wellbeing’ approach, Tan Sri Adenan breathed his last this afternoon.

Adenan who would be 73 this coming Jan 27, was Sarawak’s fifth Chief Minister, taking over from Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud on Feb 28, 2014.

In the last state election, the Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) president won the Tanjong Datu seat by defeating Jazolkipli Numan from Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) with a 5,892-vote majority.

Adenan leaves a wife, Puan Seri Jamilah Anu, four daughters and one son.

Born in 1944 di Kuching, Sarawak, Adenan received his early education at Sekolah St Joseph, also in Kuching, before studying law at the University of Adelaide, Australia.

Starting his career as a magistrate in Kuching in 1970, Adenan eventually joined politics where he became Sarawak Land Development Assistant Minister for two years until 1987. He was made Natural Resources and Environment Minister at the federal level in 2004. However, he returned to Sarawak in 2006.

His career path towards becoming chief minister began in 2010 when he was appointed as Special Advisor to the Chief Minister before becoming Minister in the Chief Minister’s Office and later in 2011, as Minister with Special Functions, mainly handling land-related issues.

As a political figure who had served well and contributed much to Sarawak’s development, Adenan was conferred with several federal and state awards, including the Darjah Panglima Setia Mahkota, which carries the title ‘Tan Sri”, besides the Pingat Perkhidmatan Bakti Negeri Sarawak and Johan Bintang Sarawak (1986).

Raising the living standard of the people in Sarawak was Adenan’s main political agenda and he proved his mettle as a very respected leader.

In his speech when launching the PBB Samarahan Zone 11th state election machinery at Dewan Suarah in Kota Samarahan, last April, Adenan had said: “As someone who has held many important positions in government before being appointed as Chief Minister, I am not crazy about positions.

“What I want is to see that the standard of living of the people continues to be raised. Please see what have been done throughout the two years since I was appointed as Chief Minister.” — Bernama

N.B. According to very reliable insiders, the new Chief Minister of Sarawak will be Parti Pesaka Bumiputera deputy president Abang Johari Tun Openg, swearing in will be today.


The legendary adman? David Ogilvy, was a young copywriter when he wrote this slogan in a moment of sheer inspiration and creativity as he was listening to the client brief him. Of course it was never used. But it captures the essence of the Unique Selling Proposition (USP) and tells it in a memorable and simple way. Hers is the original Ogilvy version:

Carnation milk is the best in the land,
Here I sit with a can in my hand,
No tits to pull or hay to pitch,
Just punch a hole in the son-of-a-bitch!



To claim that things are getting better in their tenure and because of them is an old Prime Ministerial habit. A PM is undoubtedly a very important person in our dispensation. The office is vested with great authority and there is an aura about the incumbent that often fools even the cameras whose lights seem to caress rather than expose the object of their focus. Our system of government, with so much power of patronage concentrated in one person, ensures that mostly fawning and obsequious people who constantly whip up a lather of simulated adulation surround the Prime Minister. PM’s consequently confuse the power of patronage with the power that ensures compliance. It is small wonder when our supreme leaders start thinking of themselves as King Canute’s who can order the waves about.

The reality is that like the ocean’s waves, economic waves too are cosmically controlled and PM’s are like King Canute’s who futilely wave their hands about. Happily most PM’s realize this and make sure they are seen waving their hands appropriately with the tides of growth and the ebbs of inflation. But once in a while we get a leader who actually believes that the waves are obeying him. That is when we enter dangerous waters.

I recently attended an event that Prime Minister Najib Razak addressed. Unlike most other PM’s with the exception of Tun Dr Mahathir, he came promptly at almost the appointed minute and walked briskly to his place on the dais. He listened as the host, with a wry sense of humor, exclaimed how fortunate Malaysia is to be united as never before under one charismatic man. The Prime Minister looked on expectantly and the audience was suitably primed to roar its approval.

The Prime Minister then spoke and without much ado took the fight straight to the critics, a few of who like me were seated in the back row. He said: “For Malaysia to be at the top of the growth tables is an unusual situation. Obviously, there are some who find that difficult to digest and come up with imaginative and fanciful ideas to belittle that achievement.” This is unfair. But it is churlish to say that his critics do so because his government is perceived unable to resolve the debt-ridden government strategic investment arm, 1MDB’s RM46 billion debt or address the falling value of the Ringgit. To be truthful based on facts as perceived does not mean a person takes pride in belittling one’s own country? Is the next litmus test of patriotism going to be supporting the PM’s extravagant flights of fancy?

The Prime Minister’s case is that “Malaysia’s economic success is the hard-won result of prudence, sound policy and effective management.” He repeated: “Malaysia’s growth rate is acknowledged as the highest among major economies.” With evident sarcasm he added that his critics are confused when they say, “the growth rate does not feel right” and generously offered to alleviate the confusion with “facts in place of feelings.” The point here is no critic of any consequence ever argued that the growth rate “does not feel right.” They have just said that his government’s interpretation of the facts is not right.

Take GDP growth for instance. Few argue that the “real’ GDP growth is 4.97% as his government is claiming though there have been serious misgivings on how the GDP calculations were tweaked to jump growth a further 1%. The problem here is the use of the term “real.” In the real world the number that matters is the “nominal” GDP growth rate, which is a measure of current market prices.

For much of the past decade Malaysia’s nominal GDP growth was in the 4% range and corporate profitability growth was also in that range. Since inflation used to be in the 0.5% to 1.5% range, real GDP was in the 5% range. The present nominal GDP growth is 4.2%.

But the popular mood is determined by actual accruals and not by economic sleight of hand. In the real world it is the nominal GDP that matters. Corporate sales and profitability are calculated in nominal terms. Everyday commerce and business takes place in nominal terms. Government revenues are collected in nominal terms and levied on nominal incomes or sales. It is not a matter of feeling but the reality of life.

The fact is that 2015-16 has been a bad year for the Malaysian economy. In the budget for 2015-16 the government set a nominal GDP growth target of 5% . The nominal GDP growth turned out to be just 4.2%, which is below target. The real GDP growth of 4.97% is because of the collapse of world commodity prices and has little to do with the so-called “prudent policies.” Comparing apples with oranges can only fool some people for some of the time, and not all the people for all the time.

While on apples and oranges, food inflation is the inflation that matters to most people in this country where the average family expends over 60% of its income on food. This inflation has been well over 5% even though the government projected in the 2016 federal budget at 2% – 3%. Since the introduction of GST, the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is used to measure inflation, has been on the increase. By the end of April 2015, the first month when GST was implemented, CPI increased 1.8 percent when seasonally compared to April 2014. In July 2015, four months after GST, CPI index was 3.3 percent higher than the same month a year earlier.

In his speech the PM also specifically referred to The Bantuan Rakyat 1 Malaysia (BR1M) monetary aid which will be increased to RM1,200 next year from RM 1,000 under the 2017 federal budget. The BR1M allocation will cost the government RM6.8 billion, to be delivered to 7 million households. The PM then goes into Tun Dr Mahathir bashing and says that BR1M is not “dedak”, but rather, it is a sincere assistance from the government to prioritise the rakyat’s needs.

Look at theses figures, Goods and Services Tax (GST) to rake in RM39 billion in 2016 (3.1 percent of GDP) (2015: estimated RM27 billion from April). Malaysia’s fiscal deficit is projected to decline to RM38.8 billion or 3.1 percent of GDP in 2016 (2015: 3.2 percent). Oil-related revenue to drop 14.1 percent in 2016 due to lower global crude oil prices (2015: 19.7 percent). The federal government expenditure to increase 1.7 percent to RM265.2 billion in 2016 (2015: RM260.7 billion). Nominal GNI (gross national income) per capita to increase 5.6 percent to RM38,438 next year from 4.2 percent anticipated growth to RM36,397 this year.

One is tempted to dismiss this as just fanciful claims, but in these times when ones patriotism and professional integrity is apt to challenged for lesser lese majeste, it will be prudent to just say: It’s time to get real!

Meanwhile honest heart-centered Malaysians continue to struggle to make ends meet, their ideas, talents finding little or no nourishing context in which to flourish.


French and Saudi archeologists make a discovery that the Saudis are keen to keep buried. The pre-Islamic period in Arabia which is now commonly referred to in Islamic folklore as jahaliyyah was in fact a period when a Jewish kingdom flourished in what is present day Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Which makes the Saudis and Israelis- particularly the Sephardi’s- cousins.

The discovery of the oldest-known early Arabic writing in Saudi Arabia, from ca. 470 CE, evidently caused some consternation, given its Christian context.

By Ariel David

In 2014, researchers from a French-Saudi expedition studying rock inscriptions in southern Saudi Arabia announced they had discovered what could be the oldest texts written in the Arabic alphabet. But they did so very quietly, perhaps because the context of the texts is something of an embarrassment to some.

The dozen or so engravings had been carved into the soft sandstone of the mountain passes around Bir Hima – a site about 100 kilometers north of the city of Najran, which over millennia has been plastered with thousands of inscriptions by passing travelers and officials. Conveniently, at least two of the early Arabic petroglyphs that were discovered cited dates in an ancient calendar, and expert epigraphists quickly calculated that the oldest one corresponded to the year 469 or 470 CE.

The discovery was sensational: the earliest ancient inscriptions using this pre-Islamic stage of Arabic script had been dated at least half a century later, and had all been found in Syria, which had suggested that the alphabet used to write the Koran had been developed far from the birthplace of Islam and its prophet.

Yet the announcement of the discovery was subdued. A few outlets in the French and Arab media tersely summarized the news, hailing the text as the “missing link” between Arabic and the earlier alphabets used previously in the region, such as Nabatean. Most of the articles were accompanied by stock photos of archaeological sites or other ancient inscriptions: it is almost impossible to find a picture of the inscription online or a reference to the actual content of the text.