Dear readers,

I just read about the Malaysiakini appeal to the public.

I have reproduced the article below for all.

Both subscribers to Malaysiakini and also non-subscribers, can also access the Malaysiakini website, via this link.

Malaysiakini is Malaysia’s only self-funding independent website. It is not controlled by the government. Malaysiakini report’s news without fear or favour. It does not produce the censored, doctored rubbish from the mainstream media.

Please read the article below or in the link. Please do what you can, to help.

Thank you.

===============================================================

Malaysiakini seeks public’s help to pay RM350k damages

(Read more here.)

Malaysiakini is reaching out to the public to help it raise RM350,000 after the Court of Appeal reversed a High Court’s decision in a defamation case.

The sum awarded by the appellate court to the Raub Australian Gold Mine (RAGM) company comprises RM200,000 in damages and RM150,000 in costs.

“Our lawyers will be applying for a stay pending appeal. For that to happen, we need to have the money ready,” Malaysiakini editor-in-chief Steven Gan said today.

“And should the stay be not granted, we will have to pay RM350,000 in the coming weeks. Otherwise, RAGM can take winding-up proceedings against Malaysiakini,” he said.

Gan said that Malaysiakini is appealing the appellate court decision because it will have an adverse impact on journalists in carrying out their tasks.

“If it is left to stand, the court decision will make it very difficult for journalists to cover events, in particular press conferences, in a timely manner,” said Gan.

On May 23, 2016, High Court judge Justice Rosnani Saub dismissed RAGM’s claim against Malaysiakini and three members of its editorial staff.

Villagers at Bukit Koman in Raub, Pahang had alleged that the use of cyanide-related chemicals to extract gold at RAGM’s mine had affected their health.

RAGM sued for defamation after Malaysiakini reported on their complaints, which involved three news reports and two videos.

One of the news reports was on the villagers expressing fears over the mining activity near their village while the other two were press conferences held by the villagers. The videos were clips from the press conferences.

Without fear or favour

The High Court had ruled that the news portal succeeded in their defence of qualified privilege – the Reynolds privilege – which allows for responsible journalism and reportage.

This was reversed by the Court of Appeal yesterday following an appeal from the gold mine. The gold mine has since run into financial trouble and had applied for liquidation.

Gan said since its inception in 1999, Malaysiakini had never shied away from reporting on issues of public interest without fear or favour.

Malaysiakini believes that independent media is critical to a country’s progress. Without a vigilant media, the powerful are tempted to act in the interest of a few.

“Such actions lead to the decay of society. It is our responsibility as journalists to tell truth to power and to hold power to account, be they politicians or business leaders.

“We have managed to fund our operation over the past 18 years without the help of rich or powerful backers. Members of the public have supported us previously and we hope they will once again come to our aid.”

Gan said that if the portal succeeded in its appeal at the Federal Court, the money collected would be kept in a legal defence fund to be used for future court cases involving Malaysiakini.

Those who wish to contribute to the Defend Malaysiakini Fund can bank in their donations to the following account:

Account name: Mkini Dotcom Sdn Bhd

Account no: 514253516714 (Maybank)

Swift Code: MBBEMYKL

Branch address: Dataran Maybank, Level 1 Tower A, Dataran Maybank, 59000 Kuala Lumpur.

====================================================================

Thank You

Advertisements

Leaders of smaller, poorer countries are much more vulnerable to the ambitions of a country with deep pockets like China. After being thrown out of power, leaders in a number of countries have been investigated for accepting bribes from Chinese companies. The former president of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa, has been accused of accepting bribes from China Harbour Engineering Company, a subsidiary of state-owned China Communications Construction Company. Rajapaksa’s tenure saw several high-profile Chinese investments in Sri Lanka. Many of those, including an airport and a seaport in Hambantota—the home base of Rajapaksa—have proven to be commercial non-starters. In Nigeria, just three days before exiting office, former president Goodluck Jonathan approved an out-of-court settlement—now being probed by US agencies—between Addax Petroleum (owned by Chinese oil giant Sinopec) and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp., saving the former millions of dollars.

In 2012, the husband of former Philippine president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was arrested on charges of accepting bribes to push a deal between the Philippine government and the Chinese telecom company ZTE. Mohammad Nasheed, the leader-in-exile of Maldivian opposition, has accused President Abdulla Yameen of corruption in leasing out islands to foreign countries. India, too, was concerned about the Yameen government leasing out the Feydhoo Finolhu island to a Chinese company at a throwaway price without competitive bidding. Known for his proximity to China, Yameen again surprised New Delhi in November last year by passing a free trade agreement with China through the Maldivian parliament in an emergency session called at short notice with most of the opposition members unavailable to attend.

As China pushes its ambitious trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative, such sweetheart deals can be expected in greater numbers. India’s smaller neighbours are especially vulnerable, but New Delhi can do little as it cannot match Beijing’s largesse.

The scale at which China is using its capital for securing political influence is unprecedented

“Everyone in China is a slave,” Guo said in the video. “With the exception of the nobility.”

To those who believe Guo’s claims, they expose a depth of corruption that would surprise even the most jaded opponent of the C.P.C. “The corruption is on such a scale,” Ha Jin said. “Who could imagine that the czar of anti-corruption would himself be corrupt? It is extraordinary.”

From a penthouse on Central Park, Guo Wengui has exposed a phenomenal web of corruption in China’s ruling elite — if, that is, he’s telling the truth.

90 YEARS AGO TODAY THE REVOLUTION LOST ITS WAY.

Ninety years ago this month, Leon Trotsky, one of the early leaders of the Communist Party, was exiled by his rival Joseph Stalin to what is now Kazakhstan, clearing the way for Stalin’s complete control of the Soviet Union.
An ever-wandering revolutionary, Trotsky was no stranger to exile.

More than a decade before, in January 1917, The Times noted his arrival in New York City: a “Russian journalist and Socialist” who had been “expelled from four lands.”
Trotsky and his family lived only briefly in New York — what he called “the city of prose and fantasy, of capitalist automatism, its streets a triumph of Cubism” — before he returned to Russia to help lead the Bolshevik Revolution.

After the death of Vladimir Lenin in 1924, Stalin and his faction propounded “socialism in one country.” Trotskyists bristled, calling for a “permanent revolution,” global in scope, and accused Stalin of betraying Lenin’s vision.

The feud between Stalin and Trotsky would culminate in the anti-Trotskyist show trials in Moscow and the terrifying purges of the 1930s. It ended in Mexico City, where Trotsky settled, when he was killed by an ax-wielding assassin, NKVD agent Ramon Mercader, in 1940.

from NYT


 


 

FEATURES OP-EDS CONVERSATIONS VIDEOS
 

> FEATURES


We Can’t Talk About the Terrorists:
An Ethnography of Silence in the East Coast of Sabah


by Vilashini Somiah
20 December 2017

 

As an anthropologist, I see my work as necessary in gaining deeper and more insightful perspectives of how communities work and find meaning in their own existence which includes its inherent tensions and contradictions. It is an employment that requires thorough, objective observation, and simultaneously expects the ethical preservation of agency of those you study. And although I’ve always acknowledged the importance of studying Sabah’s suppressed narratives, it was only as an anthropologist that I found the intellectual fulfilment I so desired. It is a field that I’ve been in keen apprenticeship of for over seven years. This article highlights one of those narratives from my most recent time spent in the field.

My good friend Indah* and I were lounging on the veranda of her beautiful colonial home in Sandakan one hot April afternoon in 2016 when the conversation of alien danger began; the idea that foreigners are themselves the biggest cause of danger and malice in their host country. Although both of us were mostly unconvinced by this premise, our talk was solely inspired by the recent Abu Sayyaf sightings in Sabah waters, linked to the presence of hundreds of thousands of irregular migrants in Sabah.

Indah tells me her frustration on the matter boils down to how badly the matter is handled, which is due to the lack of trust authorities have for locals in the East coast of Sabah. “Vils” as she often calls me, “decent people live here. Real people just trying to survive. This town isn’t the danger zone but it’s been labelled one. Politicians think they’re protecting us, but we just get brushed aside. We should be involved too, you know.” I have always appreciated how Indah speaks so passionately about Sandakan. She, like many other residents I’ve met, feels deeply for the town, one that is rich in natural resources and history. I am empathetic and ask “Why can’t something be done about agency and leadership here?” Indah clicks her tongue in irritation.” No one wants to listen to the east coasters, Vils. They just think we’re sleeping with the enemy.”

Something in her tone made me believe her. In retrospect, I must have heard it on repeat from a variety of voices. My time spent conducting ethnographic fieldwork in the town had introduced me to many other participants that had in one way or the other highlighted the frustration of being politically invisible despite the active roles they take in combating possible extremism in their home. The conversations that follow were not easy to capture; not for the participants lack of eloquence, but simply due to their inability to openly trust, and thus, such frank exchanges about terrorism in Sabah are rare. It is my sincerest hope that this article is able to capture just an essence of the honesty and pride of the participants I’ve met.

 

Teaching for Safety

Teacher Mir*, a 31-year-old Sabahan of Orang Sungai descent, has dedicated almost a decade of his life to the education of undocumented children in Sandakan. Every morning before sun break, Mir has his breakfast at the church mess hall and bids his family goodbye before heading off 15 kilometres by van into the palm oil estates within the district. The journey takes much longer than it should as roads are potholed by lorries and hardly ever fixed.

Similar in vein to hundreds of learning centres throughout the east coast of Sabah, Mir’s learning centre aims to provide the most basic of elementary education for children otherwise rejected from our local schooling system. This particular learning centre hosts over 200 children and, together with Mir, are taught by 11 other teachers from the Sandakan and Kinabatangan district. One Tuesday morning sometime February this year, he invited me for an after-school tea session at the canteen. Conversations with Mir were always so engaging because he never self-censored and I appreciated that. As the discipline master, Mir has a reputation of never mincing his words and a stern demeanour. On his way over to the canteen, he waves his rotan (cane) at the children to behave but because school was over, the children run away from him, giggling.

We talked mostly about his students; sustaining children through the six years of education requires plenty of effort on the parent’s part but job losses, village raids or deportation can hinder them from ever returning the following year. Before gulping the last mouthful of cold tea, I ask how he finds the motivation to continue teaching in such unpredictable conditions. He tells me, “I teach here to fight off terrorism for Sabah”. I found his dramatic answer surprising but altogether humbling. How does teaching counter the violence from the sea, I ask. By now our jovial chatter has given way to a strange heaviness and Mir continues:

“Aku bilang sama anak-anak, jangan durang jadi pangganas. Berabis kami cikgu-cikgu mengajar di skolah, ada pulak dia mau main timbak-timbak? Bardosa bah. Pangganas jadi bagitu krana teda durang dikasi pendidikan atau paluang dalam hidup. Walaupun sikit sja pemberian kami, biar ikhlas mau kasi anak-anak ini masa depan. Tapi Puji Tuhan, segala keringat kami ada juga untungnya. Teda budak-budak kami pernah terjebak dengan racun sabagitu.” (I told the children, don’t become terrorists. The teachers here give their all to educate them and they want to go around shooting people? That’s a sin. People become terrorists because they weren’t provided education or opportunities. We can’t offer much, but at least these children now have a future. Praise God, our hard work has paid off. None of our students have ever joined such a poisonous act.)
Several of the teachers feel the same way. They see their work as an effort in countering terrorist activities in Sabah that have grown significantly present with the years. I acknowledge the importance of this view and suggest the teachers spread the word to other willing Sabahans, but they are hesitant. Mir’s 25-year-old colleague, Yasmin*, shares with me her thoughts:
“Di Sabah, paling sensitip punya isu ini lah- Abu Sayap atau ISIS. Pasal urang takut kalau-kalau durang sudah disini kah? Anak- anak di skolah mimang ndak salah, tapi mana tau kalau kawan atau kaluarga durang yang pendatang mungkin terjebak? Lagipun, kalau cakap kuat-kuat pun, nanti ditangkap krajaan bah. Jadi, diam-diam sajalah kami.” (In Sabah, the most sensitive topic is that of the Abu Sayyaf or ISIS. Perhaps people are afraid if they’re already here. The children here are innocent, but who knows if family or friends who are also irregular migrants might be involved? And if we talked about it publicly, the government might arrest us. It’s better to just keep quiet.)
Learning centres for undocumented children are constantly under the monitor of the state and will receive regular visits for an update on local problems and information on parents. This is to be expected and the teachers have always complied and given their fullest cooperation where it is ethical. Yet, Mir and his colleagues feel that no matter how they may contribute to the safety of Sabah, no one else, including himself, is brave enough to discuss the terrorist problem openly. “I want to talk about the kidnappings or Abu Sayyaf, but I don’t dare. Because we teach these children, we might be accused of knowing inside information, but I don’t. I’m frustrated because we feel we cannot discuss this openly in our own state.”
 

One Town, Two Worlds

I encountered a similar stance from Sakinul*, a 42-year-old Suluk businessman, and one of the first friends I made when I began work in Sandakan. For over 26 years, he has made a living from buying cheap fish and shellfish from the market and reselling them in estates and slums on the outer periphery of town. Communities that he frequents are that of irregular migrants, many of whom would not dare venture into town for fear of getting arrested.On a daily basis, he is assisted by his second wife, an irregular migrant from Zamboanga and although he himself is Malaysian, their four children were given foreign birth certificates and told to return to the Philippines if they ever wanted to be documented. Sakinul tells me he worked very hard to make it happen but the costs (and risks) were too high. Thus, the children continue to live with the same irregular status as their mother. Due to this predicament, they are teased by their documented neighbours for being potential terrorists and this never fails to break their father’s heart.

Sakinul is in no way an isolated case. In fact, my time in the field has introduced me to a large number of Malaysian Sabahans who have or are currently cohabiting and leading domestic lives with irregular migrants or undocumented persons. On a cultural level (despite religious practice), a town like Sandakan is able to accept such union despite knowing the repercussions. However, the legal implications have not escaped them and I find many marriages between citizens and irregular migrants often living low-key lives, in hopes of avoiding the prying eyes and directed questions of the authority. However large these numbers may be, these family units remain vulnerable to accusations of threats and state security. Yet fascinatingly, it is these very same Sabahans who seem most invested in ridding Sabah of its terrorist problems. Similar to that of teachers at learning centres, their effort to combat extremist activists is a result of their close relationships with members of the irregular migrant community.

As such, Sakinul, one of my more trusted informants, would tell me via text of activities in town that I might be interested in. In the most recent of news, an Abu Sayyaf leader and his members were captured in Kuala Lumpur and never one to hide his disgust towards terrorism, Sakinul is frank about the lack of elucidation in the news. “I personally believe the reports are not complete,” he says, “people have so many questions about them. Can you believe they were from Sandakan? I’m suspicious of this! But we have to be careful with what we say around the market, or we might look suspicious too.” “But you could open a good discussion about this.” I mentioned over the phone. Exasperatedly, he tells me:

“Apa bulih bawak barbincang oh? Kau pikir pulis mau kami bising-bisingkah? Ini Sabah style bah, kalau barang ndak bagus, jangan bukak mulut kau. Duduk diam-diam, tapuk-tapuk sampai round two. Kalau kau Suluk, berbini pandatang macam aku, kau cakap-cakap, di tangkap lagi kamu. Tapi, bila datang lagi pangganas mau putung kapala, start lagi lah – “Sabah bahayalah, kami bangsa abu sayap lah”. Urang pikir kami ni mau kah macam ni?” (What can we ever discuss? Do you think the police want us making noise? This is the Sabah style, if things aren’t good, don’t open your mouth. Sit quietly and hide till round two starts. If you are Suluk, and married to a migrant like me, and you talk openly, you will be arrested. But when the terrorists come to behead people, then the labels start again: “Sabah is dangerous, we share the same race as the Abu Sayyaf”. Do people think we like this?)
 

Deserving A Say

With Indah, Sakinul, Mir and Yasmin in mind, I must stress a respect for the counter narrative to this claim; that militant terrorism has had very little impact on the state of Sabah and will only succeed if we live in fear of the foreign ‘other’. In fact, despite recent headliners, towns throughout the east coast have done better than expected in its efforts to continue in normalcy. During my fieldwork from 2016- mid 2017, there were approximately five incidents involving terrorists in Sandakan and even with that, the chances of a local or tourist becoming a victim of terrorism was still rather slim. With its thriving ecotourism and maritime industry, Sandakan has attracted many from other districts to eke out a decent livelihood despite ongoing militant activities in the water borders. And on top of everything else, the state has repeatedly reminded Sabahans in the east coast that their safety against terrorism will continue to be a priority of the Malaysian government.

Regardless of political affiliation, many Sabahans tell me they sincerely appreciate the Malaysian government’s initiation of the ESSCOM (the Eastern Sabah Security Command) which protects the most vulnerable of areas from Kudat to Tawau. Yet, residents particularly in the east coast tend to suspend trust till the next major incident occurs, in silence. Throughout the years of researching irregular migrants in the east coast of Sabah, I’ve observed how discussing terrorism with poorer, working class local Malaysian residents reveals an array of unsaid insecurities that come across more powerless than most.

As it seems, the bigger issue to this is not why Sabah is a hotbed for terrorism but more so why there isn’t a greater collective ability to do more about it? Despite many state structures in place, and some grassroot attempts at eliminating future terrorists from emerging in Sabah, the already poor and sidelined Sabahans in the east coast lack the belief that there is an avenue to voice their concerns and anxieties openly and safely. Further exacerbating this is of course the social closeness between legitimate residents and their irregular ones, raising even more suspicion and distrust amongst security forces monitoring the ESSZONE.

From my conversations with Sabahans’ in the east coast, they see the state as dismissive and even punitive in addressing any criticism (constructive or otherwise). Even with the various state endorsed security apparatus in place, these communities still feel most at risk in the event of an attack or kidnapping. This is further exacerbated by the fact that these Sabah communities, both irregular and legitimate are never in isolation. Notwithstanding the mainstream narrative, Malaysian Sabahans particularly in the east coast have not and cannot lead a life separate nor distinctively different from that of their migrant neighbours, which makes vocalising these concerns and insecurities even harder and more dangerous.

Sabah shares with the Philippines one of the more volatile corners of the Malay Archipelago and coupled with the taboo subject of hosting approximately two million of Sabah’s irregular residents has not made solving the impending terrorist problem any easier. When public conversations are held on desires and intent for safety and security, they are usually held amongst the more privileged of us. But for thousands of non-urban, working class Sabahans living simpler lives, this freedom is imaginary and their agency is in needing to say more about their insecurities whenever and however necessary.

The first and most necessary step to figuring out the considerable human problem in Sabah is for the promotion of grassroot discussion. As long as we privilege more powerful and louder views than theirs, we dismiss ideas, knowledges and experiences from Sabahans like Mir and Sakinul that can and will assist in combating a slew of other neglected social issues including that of violent extremism.
*Names have been altered as per requested by participants.

 

Vilashini Somiah is a scholar, writer and filmmaker. Born in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, she has always had a keen interest for underrepresented narratives in Borneo and has focused a great amount of time understanding the different perspectives of these voices and their motivations.

Her Phd research is centred on issues of deportation, irregular migration and socio-political mobility surrounding the Sulu Sea.


Sabah Chief Minister Tan Sri Musa Aman has urged European Union member countries to stop its ongoing campaign against the oil palm industry.

He said it was rather unfortunate that some of the EU member countries had painted a negative image in an attempt to boycott the industry.

Those who were against the industry must realise that Malaysia has 680,000 oil palm smallholders, of whom 200,000 are from Sabah, that happens to be the largest producer of crude palm oil (CPO) in the country, he claimed.

“A negative campaign or boycott could affect global CPO prices. What is going to happen to these smallholders whose livelihoods depend on oil palm?

“This could mean loss of income for them and their families,” he said during a courtesy call by a 14-member EU Delegation of Ambassadors led by ambassador and head of delegation of the EU to Malaysia, Maria Castillo Fernandez, at his office in Kota Kinabalu today.

Musa, who is also the state finance minister, said the Sabah government had taken steps to ensure the oil palm industry continued to be sustainable, which included the launch of a programme in 2015 to have all CPO produced from Sabah to be Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO).

In that endeavour, he said the Sabah government had the support of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to guide the CSPO process, and hoped the EU member countries could keep an open mind on the matter.

Musa further said that Sabah adopted one of the best forest management and environmental conservation practices in this region.

The state government has gazetted 26 percent of its total land mass as totally protected areas, which exceeded the International Union for Conservation of Nature target of only 10 per cent.

“We are actually targeting 30 percent or 2.2 million hectares, which we are confident of achieving in the next five years, if not earlier,” he said.

The chief minister said it must also be noted that Sabah had restored and planted forests well over 700,000ha, presumably the largest such undertaking in the tropics.

“I must tell you the Sabah story on forest management, so you can tell it to your European communities…concerted efforts with concrete results are being made and this must be made known to the world,” he stressed.

He also informed the delegation of the state government’s close ties with the federal government under the leadership of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, who continued to focus on the needs of Sabah in terms of allocations to fund development initiatives.

Musa looked forward to continue cooperation with the EU countries in terms of trade, investment, tourism and culture, alluding to the EU film festival that was launch this evening.

Meanwhile, Fernandez assured Musa there was no official boycott against the oil palm industry by EU member countries, but that there was a debate on the issue of oil palm and deforestation.

“We want to reach out to the stakeholders in Malaysia and engage in a dialogue to better understand the industry so we can explain it to the European communities,” she said.

French Ambassador to Malaysia, Frederic Laplanche said the good work done on forest conservation in Sabah must be acknowledged, in which the state had been forward-looking and deserved the EU support in the spirit of cooperation.

Bernama


If we consider the political scenario of Sabah, we find very few effective and influential leaders. The reason being, the majority of the political parties are still using the old ways of influencing the voters with religion and race based politics and we lack leaders with strong development agenda coupled with tough decision-making capabilities. To stay at par with the fast changing world, we cannot rely on politicians who have been using the traditional political games for their own benefits. But, there have been some leaders who have been successful to eliminate the stagnancy of the political borders and proved themselves as influential leaders focused on the development and a work-oriented approach.

Tan Sri Musa Aman, the Chief Minister of Sabah, has been one of the most inspiring leader who has emerged in the Sabah political landscape and given a ray of hope to Sabahans.

Musa Aman, became the Chief Minister of Sabah in 2003. He has proved his credibility and capability by fulfilling all the promises made during the elections in the past 14 years. Another differentiating factor for Musa has been his clean image and zero tolerance towards corruption. Although his stance has been one of the reasons for a feud with some of the former senior party leaders, Musa Aman has proved his toughness by taking strict actions whenever required. This clean, clear and straight approach certainly puts him in a different league of his own.

When it comes to development, no other CM or Menteri Besar in the country can match up to Musa’s level. Under his regime, various exemplary infrastructure projects have been undertaken and initiated, the major projects include Sabah Pan Borneo Highway a 706-kilometre highway upgraded from a two-lane dual carriageway to a four-lane, the building and upgrading of roads included three multi-level interchanges in Kota Kinabalu, the multi-billion ringgit Tanjung Aru Eco-Development project which will transform Tanjung Aru into one of the region’s best tourist spots. And as of Sept this year, the number of projects approved is 647 namely 304 extension projects and 343 new projects. Among the projects are the, rural clean drinking water and electricity supplies, rural roads and people’s housing programme.

Other initiatives such as parks, cycling tracks, stadiums, promotion of rural tourism, tree plantation drives and even releasing of baby sea turtles hatchings and the free Wifi service in Kota Kinabalu has gained Musa a large following and a feeling of belongingness even with the youth of the state.

The launching of the first Malaysia Art School (Sekolah Seni Malaysia) Sabah at the Sandakan Education Hub is another example. The love of art and music among Sabahans is obvious and the setting up of the art school in Sandakan has provided space and opportunity for youngsters who want to pursue their studies in arts. Sabah is known for its different ethnics, races and cultures and Sabahans are also known to be talented in arts and singing. Sabah is a rich repository of art, culture and traditions and the state government under Musa has committed to preserve and further promote it and the youth can play a vital role in this direction. Hence, this art school in the Sandakan Education Hub will not only ensure that  Sabah traditional cultures such as dances will not be lost in time, but it will also provide opportunities for Sabahans to enhance their talents in arts. Besides, music is food for the soul and Sabah is universally acclaimed for its diverse folk songs and versatile musicians.

The chief minister knows the youth are the key players in the process of development and the state government has to empower them with positive perspectives so as to fully harness their potential. And hence, providing training,  adequate employment and self-employment opportunities to the youth of the state was the prime concern of the state government.

When it comes to the younger generations and people concerned about development using new-age technologies, Musa Aman has made a mark for himself, which is next to impossible for anyone else to achieve. With the digitization of various government departments, a host of useful apps for information and faster grievance redressal, instant assistance and help for emergency situations, Musa has made the best optimal utilization of technology for the modernization of the state and benefit of the people. Although we usually hear the terms women safety and empowerment frequently in the political manifestos, it has been actually implemented in Sabah with schemes like Sabah Women TH50 an entrepreneurial programme ‘Creating Millionaires Among Young Women Entrepreneurs (Cream)’ and Micro Credit & Usahawan Desa.

According to so many Opinion Polls, Musa is ranked as one of the best Chief Minister across Malaysia. So, when we come to his comparison with the past CM’s of the state, nobody stands even close to him for consideration. If we take into account the upcoming general elections expected before May 2018, the CM candidate for Gabungan Sabah is Dr Jeffrey Kitingan while Shafie Apdal being the CM candidate for PH Warisan plus. Considering these leaders, Musa definitely comes as a preferred choice for the people due to his clean image and orientation towards development.

After 14 years Musa has not only proved to be a successful leader whose agenda is development and modernization but also he has displayed a strong political acumen. His ideology of “Work says it all”, displays his confidence of the several positive developments undertaken by him. Previously, Sabah used to be in the news only for the wrong reasons and various controversies surrounding the CMs, but due to the efforts and personal character of Musa, the perception of people has changed towards Sabah, Sabah is seen in a good and positive light. While it becomes difficult to compare any existing and potential candidate with him for the position of the Chief Minister of Sabah, if we take into account the previous 12 chief ministers of Sabah ( Faud Stephens, Peter Lo, Tun Mustapha, Mohammad Said Keruak, Harris Salleh, Pairin Kitingan, Tun Sakaran Dandai, Salleh Said Keruak, Yong Teck Lee, Bernard Dompok, Osu Sukam and Chong Kah Keat), Musa Aman certainly emerges out as one of the best and most influential CM until now.

 


Amazing story how Nehru got Khrushchev to end the system of people having to pay to enter public parks in the Soviet Union.

https://thewire.in/197695/nehru-patron-saint-soviet-sexual-liberation/

Nehru, the Patron Saint of Soviet Sexual Liberation?
By Michael S. Bernstam on 18/11/2017

In the early 1950s, urban social life in the Soviet Union was constrained, with few opportunities for young people to meet and date. But that changed after Jawaharlal Nehru’s visit in 1955.

Photograph from the Moscow Youth Festival of 1957. Credit: Novosti

Something delightful happened on a day in June 1955 that changed the lives of tens of millions of Soviet citizens: public parks, which were a precious escape from people’s drab urban existence, opened up free of charge.

The entrance fee had amounted to the cost of a loaf of bread, not a sum to be sneezed at in a country that was still impoverished by the Second World War. But that day in June, word spread rapidly over that land of 11 time-zones: Thank Jawaharlal Nehru! The prime minister of India was then visiting the Soviet Union, and he became an instant – an unwitting – hero for young Soviet men and women. For many of them, now in their 70s and 80s, he remains a sentimental memory.

The story told around the country, but never officially reported, went like this: Among the numerous showcases of socialist progress to which the Soviet leaders took Nehru, the giant central park in Moscow was one. The leader of the Soviet Union, Nikita S. Khrushchev, his second-in-command, Prime Minister Nikolai A. Bulganin, and a host of lesser lights, including the mayor of Moscow, accompanied Nehru to the grand entrance to the central park. Nehru suddenly noticed something his hosts had never paid attention to and had taken for granted: a long line of people queuing at the ticket boxes near the gates. This was the scene one would expect to see at a sports stadium on the day of a major game, not at the entrance to a public park on an average day. Curious, Nehru asked who those people were, and why they were queuing. His hosts told him that they were purchasing tickets from cashiers to enter the park. Nehru, it is believed, was dumbfounded. He asked again to be sure, and received the same response.

Nikita Khrushchev and Jawaharlal Nehru. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Nikita Khrushchev and Jawaharlal Nehru. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The exact words uttered by Nehru are thought to have ranged from astonishment to admonition. He inquired how a communist government of a socialist country could charge its people to enter public parks, while the British, the US and other capitalist countries made public parks open to the public free of charge. The Royal Parks of London had been free public parks since 1851, a century before this Moscow encounter. Khrushchev was profoundly embarrassed, and livid. His retinue could not understand what had gone wrong and looked at their boss for instructions. He said something to his minions, who ran to the ticket boxes yelling and waving hands.

Entrance to Gorky Park, aka the Central Park for Culture and Recreation, Moscow, circa 1955. Credit: Old Soviet postcard

The ticket boxes were closed immediately, and the crowd was told that entrance was free. A minor stampede occurred when the people already inside ran back to demand refunds. Overnight, telephone calls and telegrams were fired across the Soviet Union. In the morning, the radio announcers informed the Soviet people that all public parks were free. In many parks, the surrounding metal fences were removed and the gates stood open even at night. That was a social revolution.

Why were there entrance fees in the first place? Most likely, it was a fiscal matter of municipal budget revenues. Soviet municipal governments, which had to take care of underpriced public utilities and the repair of the aging housing stock, were starved for revenues. Public parks entrance fees were handy – especially since rapid urbanisation had increased the number of paying customers. But once these fees had been exposed as unbecoming of a socialist country, they were doomed.

A great social liberation ensued. More people could afford to use public parks more often for recreation, family pursuits, picnics and romantic exploration. Everyone was elated and grateful to Nehru, the young and the old, the athletes and the war invalids, the picnicking families and the dating singles. Especially the latter. It so happened that in the Soviet Union, public parks doubled as open-air dance venues and dating spots, for the lack of other options. People had had to pay twice, once for the park entrance and again – the same amount – for the dance enclosure. Now, thanks to Nehru, the price had halved.

Gorky Park, circa 1950. Credit: park-gorkogo.com

This was a huge deal, especially for students, young workers and apprentices. In the early and mid-1950s, urban social life was constrained. There were very few opportunities for young people to meet and date. Restaurants were beyond reach. A restaurant meal cost about 10% of the monthly wage per person. People ate at cheap factory cafeterias and municipal diners, which were not quite romantic. People lived in barracks and crammed communal flats, several persons to a room, often a dozen or more per apartment. Young people gathered in the backyards and basements of buildings – shabby, murky places. There were, in each city, a few factory clubs and community centers where people could dance; but it was assumed, with good reason, that the management was watching.

Young revellers in Moscow, 1957. Credit: Izvestia

After Nehru, dancing in urban parks became more affordable. Strangers could meet more easily. The dating pool became greater and more heterogeneous, which facilitated matching. The effect on dating, matching and mating opportunities was hard to overestimate. To wit, this was Nehru’s profound and lasting contribution to the liberation of Soviet sexual life. In economic terms, he expanded and diversified the dating, matching and marriage markets in the Soviet Union. Some people, now in their late 50s and early 60s, exist today thanks to him, possibly without ever having heard of him. This is fitting. The greatest contributions to humankind have been anonymous. Think of the invention of the wheel, fire, art, the alphabet – and free public parks.

Michael S. Bernstam, an economist, is a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He was born in Russia in 1943 and emigrated to the United States in 1977.

 


This picture of Najib Tun Razak & wife visiting Anwar Ibrahim in the hospital has quickly spread on social media, shortly after the publication on Twitter. This is the picture which shows the suffering of Anwar Ibrahim, and has shocked and sadden even hardened observers.

Shared widely on social media today.

Anyway, I dont know why people think Najib Tun Razak’s visiting of Anwar Ibrahim in the hospital is such a big deal. First they torture him, then they visit him when he is suffering. Najib should do the right thing – Free Anwar, then we all can say Najib is ikhlas, Najib is magnanimous!

Time to free Anwar Ibrahim the Prisoner of Conscience!


This is a very interesting piece, an up to date ongoings in the House of Saud, an aging king and his son.

By Thomas L. Friedman NOV. 7, 2017

To understand the upheaval that is taking place in Saudi Arabia today, you have to start with the most important political fact about that country: The dominant shaping political force there for the past four decades has not been Islamism, fundamentalism, liberalism, capitalism or ISISism.

It has been Alzheimer’s.

The country’s current king is 81 years old. He replaced a king who died at 90, who replaced a king who died at 84. It’s not that none of them introduced reforms. It’s that at a time when the world has been experiencing so much high-speed change in technology, education and globalization, these successive Saudi monarchs thought that reforming their country at 10 miles an hour was fast enough — and high oil prices covered for that slow pace.

It doesn’t work anymore. Some 70 percent of Saudi Arabia is under age 30, and roughly 25 percent of them are unemployed. In addition, 200,000 more are studying abroad, and about 35,000 of them — men and women – are coming home every year with degrees, looking for meaningful work, not to mention something fun to do other than going to the mosque or the mall. The system desperately needs to create more jobs outside the oil sector, where Saudi income is no longer what it once was, and the government can’t keep eating its savings to buy stability.

That’s the backdrop for this week’s daring, but reckless, power play by the 32-year-old son of King Salman — Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known by his initials M.B.S. I’ve interviewed M.B.S. twice. He is a young man in a hurry. I’ve found his passion for reform authentic, his support from the youth in his country significant and his case for making radical change in Saudi Arabia compelling.

Indeed, there are two things I can say for sure about him: He is much more McKinsey than Wahhabi — much more a numbers cruncher than a Quran thumper. And if he did not exist, the Saudi system would have had to invent him. Somebody had to shake up the place.

But here is what I don’t know for sure: Where does his impulse for rapid reform stop and his autocratic impulse to seize all power begin? After M.B.S. arrested a slew of Saudi princes, media owners and billionaire businessmen on “corruption” charges, President Trump tweeted his applause, saying, “Some of those they are harshly treating have been ‘milking’ their country for years!”

I could only laugh reading that tweet. Hearing that Saudi princes were arrested for “corruption” is like reading that Donald Trump fired seven cabinet secretaries “for lying.” You know it has to be something else. Trump obviously missed the story last year that M.B.S. impulsively bought a yacht while on vacation in the south of France — it just caught his fancy in the harbor — from its Russian owner for $550 million. Did that money come out of his piggy bank? Savings from his Riyadh lemonade stand? From his Saudi government 401(k)?

I raise this point because when you’re making as many radical changes at once, and making as many enemies at once, as M.B.S. is, your robes need to be very clean. People have to believe that you mean what you say and that you have no hidden agendas, because change is going to be painful. Look at what M.B.S. is doing all at once:

To speed up decision-making, he is reshaping the Saudi state — from a broad family coalition where power is shared and alternated among seven major families and decisions taken by consensus — to a state governed by a single family line. This is no longer “Saudi Arabia.” It is becoming “Salman Arabia.” In the latest series of arrests, M.B.S. basically eliminated the “young old guard” — the key sons and his natural rivals from the other main Saudi royal lines. He also arrested the owners of the three main quasi-independent private television networks, MBC, ART and Rotana.

At the same time, M.B.S. is shifting the basis of legitimacy of the regime, ending “the 1979 era.” In 1979, in the wake of the takeover of Islam’s most holy site in Mecca by an ultra-fundamentalist Saudi preacher who claimed that the al-Saud family was not Islamic enough, the Saudi ruling family — to shore up its religious legitimacy — made a sharp religious turn at home and began exporting its puritanical Wahhabi Sunni Islam abroad, building mosques and schools from London to Indonesia.

It has been a disaster for the Arab/Muslim world, spawning offshoots like Al Qaeda and ISIS and retarding Arab education and women’s advancement.

M.B.S. has vowed to give birth to a more moderate Saudi Islam, starting by curbing his religious police and permitting women to drive. This is hugely important. He is daring people to judge his government not on piety but on performance, not on Quran but on KPIs — key performance indicators on unemployment, economic growth, housing and health care.

But he is replacing Wahhabism as a source of solidarity with a more secular Saudi nationalism, one that has a strong anti-Iran/Persian/Shiite tenor. And that is taking him to some dangerous places. To confront Iran, M.B.S. got the Sunni Prime Minister of Lebanon, Saad al-Hariri, to quit his office on Saturday while on a visit to Riyadh, and blamed Iran and its Shiite allies for making Lebanon ungovernable — and for a missile attack from Yemen. Lebanon, which had forged a relatively stable balance among Sunnis, Christians and Shiites, is now shaking. M.B.S. also led a Gulf effort to isolate Qatar for being too close to Iran and to crush Iran’s influence in Yemen — and crush Yemen in the process. It’s overreach, and there seems to be no one around to tell him that.

As a veteran Saudi journalist remarked to me of M.B.S.: “This guy saved Saudi Arabia from a slow death, but he needs to broaden his base. It is good that he is freeing the house of Saud of the influence of the clergy, but he is also not allowing any second opinion of his political and economic decisions.”

I worry that those urging M.B.S. to be more aggressive in confronting Iran (whose malign regional influence does need counterbalancing) — like the U.A.E., Trump, Jared Kushner and Bibi Netanyahu — will push M.B.S. into a war abroad and at home at the same time, and we could see Saudi Arabia and the whole region spin out of control at the same time. As I said, I’m worried.

Thomas Loren Friedman is an American journalist and author. He is a three time Pulitzer Prize winner. Friedman currently writes a weekly column for The New York Times.