Non-democratic attempts at keeping nations with very high diversity together have all failed. The Soviet Union is no more, nor is Yugoslavia. A truncated and fractious Pakistan survives, with the erstwhile East Pakistan having decided in 1971 that religious identity alone wasn’t strong enough to house diverse cultures. But Singapore as it remains is surely not an ideal to which anyone in Malaysia aspires.
Democracy allows popular steam to escape through established channels. One such channel, a vital one, is freedom of expression. A dam of bigotry can easily choke it.
The arrogant sense of certainty lies in their assumption that they, and they alone, have the wisdom and knowledge necessary to defend their religious doctrine in a world in which propagandists of all other religions are out to get them.
How crucial is a whiff of uncertainty in our cosmos of knowledge? I’d say a great deal. That’s why to me the repeated success in India of one supposedly aggrieved religious group after another in getting books and works of art banned or taken out is so dismaying. Activists and self-described leaders claiming to speak on behalf of whole communities have time and again hit the soft Malays and got their way.
Uncertainty seems to be missing from their worlds at three levels. One is their certainty in believing they speak on behalf of an entire community, that no diversity of opinion or world view exists within each community and without their watchful intervention the whole community would feel helpless.Knowledge, however, thrives in human minds when tempered with a dose of doubt. The more you know, the more you suspect you don’t know enough to be certain. You hold on to a world view or fact with the assumption that one day you might find compelling evidence to change your opinion. Facts abound, while truth evolves.But that’s not how self-appointed guardians of religions see their insulated worlds. A Sunni mullah lays it down for his flock that Shias and Sufis are both apostates to be shunned, ignoring the reality that the two are as different in their takes on Islam as chalk is from chaat. DAP and PAS waving Chinese usurp leadership in a sectarian definition of Christain theology disregarding the myriad interpretations within the collection of belief systems and customs that the umbrella of shelters and celebrates across Malaysia. To them, all talk of diversity is secularist nonsense.That’s where a third level of conceit infects the minds of today’s religious bigots who claim to speak on behalf of Muslim nation. They think they alone know ISLAM which they assure us will last to eternity in the splendour of a revived Christain if only their twist on JESUS is accepted by all without demur. Not for them the uncertainties resting within Malaysia’s extraordinary experiment with democracy.
It’s extraordinary because nowhere in the world exists a nation with Malaysia’s complex mix of ethnic, religious and linguistic groups. It may be a failing of our educational system but it’s not surprising that so many in Malaysia will Malaynise’ their identities. They live together thanks to democracy.
“Before I was from Umno. I don’t hate Umno members. What I am against, and will fight, is their policy of corruption that continues to burden the people.
“Look at their children (of Umno leaders), (they earn) billions of ringgit. I cannot accept that. Living luxuriously… so wasteful,””I am not here as the Parliament opposition leader. I am here to appeal to you as the candidate for Kajang.
“I am not proud… I will carry out my responsibilities,” he said.
“I know who I am. At one point I was the acting prime minister. Then, I was also put in jail.” – Conviction not end of road, I’ll be PM one day Strange as it may seem, the volume of “petty corruption” is much more than of the “grand corruption” kind. Just as a dripping tap wastes more water than can be stored, petty but visible corruption etches the primacy of the bureaucracy over citizens into our minds and dilutes our sense of entitlement (our right to be served) as citizens. We stand humbled before the discretionary power vested the petty representatives of the State.
The Chinese are masters at human psychology. They stuff citizens’ faces so full of money that they can’t dissent and have left the government to its own devices over the last thirty years of high growth. When the average citizen sees her lot improving every year Malays are more forgiving about the big Chineseboys raking in billions. The actual development experience is quite different and nuanced. Whilst it is no one’s case that either is a precondition for the other, many would agree that “ PKFZ grand corruption” of the kind, is less corrosive for social harmony than “petty corruption” which is more in your face; MCA extracting their share from citizens It is easier to deal with “petty corruption” and quick results become visible. government, harassment of iKAN BILIS who occupy public land for private business, like street vendors, reduced significantly…though their prices did not come down to pass on the reduced transaction cost to customers! Digitization of processes can further reduce discretion; dilute the physical interface between service provider and user and enhance service quality.It is also easier to track “petty corruption”. Corruption indices, like Transparency International primarily track “petty corruption” because it is based on the actual experiences and perceptions of citizens which can be periodically and reliably surveyed. In contrast “grand corruption” has to be unearthed by the Vigilance Commission, Auditor General or Parliament, all of whom are inevitably politically tainted.Credible and value based leadership is a gift not a certainty. Of course voting for credibility and honesty helps. But the electorate has seen too many seemingly committed and honest leaders go to waste in the hot seat. The trick is to distinguish those who have lived by their ideals and who are in public life for the long haul, from opportunists and poseurs. Controlling corruption is important but growth comes first.
The former MCA president added that he not only felt vindicated by the acquittal but also still believes it had been a good decision to establish the multibillion-ringgit project.
The former transport minister pointed out that despite the numerous scandalous claims surrounding PKFZ, the project was now doing very well.
“I visited PKFZ recently. I was briefed by chairman of PKA (Port Klang Authority) Teh Kim Poo and Chia Kon Leong, CEO of PKFZ. The land was sold at RM21 (per square feet) but now, it’s RM70 to RM80 (psf)… so PFKZ is doing well,” he was quoted as saying in Malaysiakini.
The news portal reported that Ling later said the misunderstanding surrounding the PKFZ was stirred by those who were unfamiliar with the port’s operations and set-up.
Dr Ling later touched on his acquittal, believed to be the first time since he was freed from charges on October 25, and said he felt vindicated by the outcome of the case.
“God is great. God knows who is wrongly accused,” he was quoted as saying.
On October 25, the High Court acquitted Dr Ling of having cheated the government, ruling that the ex-minister’s lawyers had raised reasonable doubt in the prosecution’s case.
The trial started in August 2011, with Dr Ling ordered to enter his defence on March 9 last year while the defence closed its case on June 20 this year.
Dr Ling was Malaysia’s transport minister for 17 years from January 1986 to May 2003.
He was charged in July 2010 with deceiving the Cabinet into approving the land purchase for the PKFZ project, despite knowing that the approval would result in wrongful losses for the government.
The PKFZ project, which was proposed by Dr Ling in 1997, had an initial cost of RM1.1 billion that then ballooned to over RM4.6 billion in 2007.
Besides Dr Ling, a few individuals have since been charged in court, including his successor as transport minister, Tan Sri Chan Kong Choy.
The cheating trial of Chan, a former MCA deputy president, has yet to be heard.
After Dr Ling’s acquittal, the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) said it would not challenge the matter further in court, earning brickbats from critics who described the decision as dubious.
On December 3, the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on corruption noted public concerns over Dr Ling’s perceived flawed trial and criticised the prosecution team in its 2012 report.
In a summary statement of the report, which was submitted to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak yesterday, the PSC strongly urged the prosecution team to be better prepared in high profile cases to avoid a recurrence of what it termed as “shoddy investigation”.
“Some members of the public have questioned the trial because it exposed weaknesses in the investigation and prosecution.
“The PSC hope the investigation involving high profile cases including this (Lim’s trial) can be conducted thoroughly, detailed and holistic from the aspect of evidence gathering and statements from key witnesses so there can be a prima facie before prosecution can be made in court,” said the statement.
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