7 days later…

For a week, I had resisted from writing my comments because I do not want my unaccustomed feeling of electoral euphoria to taint my views on the biggest event that has ever happened in our politically sterile country.

After 7 laxative days of countless mamak and paty poker net5card draw pokerpoker superstars 2 spielendraw poker rulespoker texas holdem strategiepoker spielen mit geldtexas holdem handtexas holdem reihenfolgepoker net comonline poker netpoker regeln splitpoker live spielenpoker online macpoker 5 drawper giocare a pokeritalian poker tourpoker sexi gratisgioca pokergioca a poker on linestrip poker da scaricare gratisonline gamesgioco di pokerstrip poker livegioco strep pokerscommesse internetpoker gametexas holdem online gratis,texas holdem online,texas holdem poker onlinepoker online italiastreap poker gratispoker giochi scaricaregame pokergioco d azzardo pokerpoker su internetscarica gioco pokerpoker carte gratispoker tour gamefree omaha pokerpoker game online gratisgioco poker italianocasino poker gratisgioco poker per pcgiochi 7 card stud inlinearegole pokergiochare omaha pokervc pokertornei poker gratisplay omaha poker onlinecarte giocopoker non onlinepoker room lunch discussions, unfolding human drama of the swearing-in sessions and endless media coverage of the DAPPKRPAS historic gains in the 12th General Election of Malaysia, I’ve purged all the exuberance from my system and I’m ready to pen my observations:-

1. The non-BN parties didn’t win, BN lost ground.

This is the observation that I grudgingly had to concede. Almost everyone that I spoke to had enough of BN and people just wanted to protest by voting the other person. The joke was that people were so fed up that the Malays voted DAP, the Chinese voted PAS and the Indians voted anyone without a BN logo.

2. Malaysia is still not color blind.

This is so obvious that people, though they’ve always wanted a color blind utopia, had never actually thought of the sacrifices they have to make to break 50 years of racialists politics. Lim Kit Siang of the DAP demonstrated that he is still the firebrand leader by asking for a boycott of a swearing-in ceremony in Perak due to the appointment of a Menteri Besar from PAS. The problem here is that he had forgotten that his party is the one who had won the lion share of state seats and they are a major partner in the state government.

3. The opposition parties, never in their wildest dreams, thought that they would win so big.

MB issues in Perak and Deputy MB issues in Selangor could easily been solved had the 3 parties agreed on a power sharing formula before hand. The 3 parties have really different ideologies and now, after the rakyat bought their promises and chose to give them 4 more states to govern, they have to find a working formula. This means that DAP would have to stop thinking that it is an uber-MCA, PAS would have to de-talibanize itself, PKR would have to find out what it standing for. Practically, PKR has the easiest job because it has the least luggage and also a secret weapon, Anwar Ibrahim, one of the most polished and charismatic politician in the land.

All in all, the 12th General Elections was a great achievement for all Malaysians. We have managed to prove that democracy is alive and well in our country. As to whether the opposition coalition can sweep into federal power 5 years from now, it remains to be seen. But the first step is that they need to come up with a name for their coalition. After all, it is such a mouthful to be calling them the DAP-PKR-PAS (or PAS-PKR-DAP, if you are a PAS supporter- one never seems to get the combination of DAP-PAS-PKR or PAS-DAP-PKR because DAP and PAS are natural polar opposites in the equation) coalition every time we mention the coalition.

Election Season 2008

I observe, with great interest, the active and often dramatic Presidential Primaries that is unfolding currently in the United States. Leave it to the Americans to make a topic as contentious as politics to become something akin to a spectator sports. But then, it is often the most contentious issues that make for spikes in ratings for the media.

In light of all this active political drama, I can’t help but compare this to our coming Malaysian General Election. While it is no surprise that the General Election will be called sometime this February/March, the mode here is relatively somber and the lively debates about issues are all but present here. We like to hear issues debated openly and not confined to just small housing estates.

I consider myself to be a libertarian and I believe in free market economy. What is interesting to note is that in Malaysia, we only have 2 types of people in politics- those in power and those who are not. Those who are in power decides on sometimes reactive policies without much care to the will of the people. Those who are not ranges from frothing extremist, bent on turning Malaysia to an Islamic state to aging socialists who can’t come up with compelling alternatives to the present political party in power.

The state of politics in Malaysia, sadly, is broken and highly predictive. We can predict for a fact that the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition of race-based parties will sail to victory once again. The question is, by how much. Unfortunately, this is as exciting as it gets: predicting by how much the present government (who will be re-elected when the dust settles) will lose. Even the opposition parties are “realistic” about their chances. I do hope that I’m proven wrong in this regard but sadly, I know that I will be proven correct.

The reason why the political state of affairs in Malaysia is so sad is that we do not have enough savvy voters. In a county that has never seen a change of Federal Government, the voters are so numbed by years of political indoctrination that they believe (and sometimes rightly) that there are no viable alternative party to govern the country well. Take for example the most successful opposition political party in Malaysia, PAS. Its brand of hell fire Islamic politics will never go down well with the mass electorate because they can never dominate urban and sub-urban voters. After years of seeing how Islamic states around the world had operated, the moderates and liberals can’t be bought by promises for eternal salvation when PAS can’t seem to move with the times. It still harps on turning Malaysia into a conservative Islamic state ruled by Shariah law when Malaysians can see and read about how similar conservative Islamic states around the world has failed miserably in providing for an equitable (in terms of commonly accepted social values like sexual equality, freedom of worship, freedom of speech) and economically vibrant society.

On the other hand, the socialist rooted opposition party of DAP has an uphill battle to remove the perception that it is a Chinese chauvinist party. Though having a multi-racial charter, DAP is mostly successful in Chinese majority urban and sub-urban Malaysia  and has never been able to break out from its critics claim that is nothing more than an alternative for frustrated Chinese voters who are fed up with MCA, the Chinese-based party in the ruling coalition. While the DAP has a formidable team of seemingly intellectual members, it has never presented, in my opinion, a viable blue print or plan for Malaysia that is viable nor credible.

Another opposition party, PKR, lost its bubble after Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim was released. Once formidable, it hasn’t proven itself yet on what it will do now that its struggle to release Anwar from dubious incarceration has been achieved. Supporting PKR is like supporting a group of scientists who continues to argue that the Earth is round. Move on, everyone already knows that the Earth is round so find a new issue please.

This really brings us to the crux of the problem. I am not a supporter of the ruling coalition and I implore Malaysians of all walks of life to vote for the opposition in protest. Our opposition may be disorganized but we have to mount a protest to the Badawi Administration that we, the people of this beloved land of Malaysia, cannot and will not, stand for unchecked government that can usurp the will of its people anytime they want.

I think the BN coalition have steered the country well when we our country was at its infancy but of late, they have lost their direction. Even during era of the iron grip rule of Mahathir when social liberties were curtailed,  he had the vision and the tenacity to ensure that any Malaysians who are hardworking has a stake in the growth of the country’s economic pie. The Badawi incumbents of today have grown into a comfortable lull, dulled by the surety of always staying in power without the benefit of a sharp poke to always do better for fear of being elected out of office.

They remind me of the emperors and rajahs and sultans who have succumbed to the complacency of thinking that whatever they do, they’ll remain in power. But history teaches us that these rulers are eventually removed, often by force or by coercion from a greater power. It is inevitable because they have lost touch with the common citizen and do not know for certain the pulse of the people and what they really want. Benign dictatorship often lasts no more than a couple of generation before the malignancy of human greed and wanton waste creep into the government. In this era of the connected global village, totalitarian regimes are removed by force or suffer the crippling shame of international isolation. (Unless of course, if that said regime is a financial powerhouse like China- a free-market loving communist country).

Let’s hope that when Badawi sweeps back into office in March that he acknowledges this and really do something that would make his administration remarkable. So far, his first term has been nothing more than slumberous complacency and blinding apathy towards issues like corruption, the economy, equality, crime, climate and education. He has to wake up and as a gesture of goodwill to start working for the people (as opposed to the rhetorical “working with them”) because they have lost so much faith in him.

Goodbye 2007, Hello 2008!

I always do not know what to do when it comes to a  year end. When people ship off like sheep to a slaughter to countdown parties, I would be comfortably sitting in front of my glowing TV set, reminiscing about the year and what I should have done.

I think that it is quite therapeutic to pile regrets upon regrets on what one should have done when there was still time to do it. It makes me feel guilty. Now, don’t get me wrong. For someone who doesn’t have much cares, feeling guilty gives me a sense of much needed urgency. As Cheryl rightly pointed out to me: I have cares but I just don’t care about what I’m supposed to care about.

Take my weight for instance. For years, I’ve been working hard to maintain a bubbly personality as well as a bubbly figure. Honestly, the later doesn’t require much work which is the point that I’m trying to get at. Unlike Dr. Phil who breaks people down by calling them fat cows and then making them feel all the much better in their bovine physical state, I’m the opposite. I really do feel good about my large frame.

I’m already at a Nirvanic state when it comes to weight, ie. All fats are an illusion and no one enters heaven (or an atheist equivalent) feeling good about themselves by not eating well.  Which is my biggest problem. How do I feel bad about myself in order for me to something about it?

I guess I could look at the signs:-

  • No one gets a hernia when they try to tie their shoe laces
  • Fitting into a pair of jeans doesn’t require a crane.
  • XXL T-shirts don’t need to expanded on a large chair frame 12 hours before wearing them
  • Running out of breath when I’m typing this.

Okay, maybe I exaggerate. While I’m not large enough to attract heavy bodies by my sheer gravitational force alone, I am coming close.

So it is with this great sense of guilt (which is good) that I regret all of the delicious meals that I had had this year. I regret eating lightly toasted caramelized foie gras. I regret drinking great tasting fruit-nosed, full palette Pinot Noir that comes with a slightly spicy end note. I regret engaging in juicy blood filled medium rare stakes. And most of all, I regret downing crates of sweet bubbly sugared non-diet Coca-Cola.

Mostly, I think that my biggest regret is not moving my lazy ass to exercise. And no, running and jumping in a Playstation 3 game as great as Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune doesn’t count (even though it requires one to swing the controller from time to time due to the SIXAXIS functions). I also regret, as does my wallet, that I have wasted RM 150 per month to sign-up for a gym membership that I do not go to. I regret relegating my dumb bells to become expensive paper weight. I regret too that I wear my running shoes as fashion wear and have bastardized it from its utilitarian purposes.

Now that I’m a broken man, I’m going to built myself up again. I’m resolving to lose the excess weight so that:-

  • I don’t have to buy 2 tickets for myself to watch Indiana Jones 4 (coming memorial day 2008, yay!) and Star Trek (end 2008, another yay!)
  • AirAsia doesn’t charge an extra fuel surcharge on my cheap flight tickets
  • The proprietor of my favorite restaurant doesn’t have to double up in washing the piles of dishes every time I go there for a meal
  • I don’t cause a solar eclipse when I step in front of someone during sunrise or sunset

Ah…I must say that I do feel good (but not too good) about myself now and I’m ready to face 2008 with this new resolve.

Have a Great and Happy New Year!

iPhone blogging

Good things come in good packages. The maxim is definitely true when one thinks of products from Apple. Take an iMac for instance. It’s big but flat, smooth and all aluminium-ish. And it comes with a keyboard that is thinner than Michael Jackson’s nose.

Take also the iPod, for example. It is getting sexier and slenderer with every successive generation, a consistency that would make Oprah envious with jealousy.

But deep down, an iMac is nothing but a normal Intel computer. And an iPod is nothing more than an MP3 player. In the wrong company, these 2 products could go terribly wrong. Case in point: Any Windows PC and Microsoft Zune. In fact, everything that Microsoft does these days go terribly wrong.

Which brings me to the subject of my review: the iPhone.

I’ve been using an iPhone for a month now and I’m sad to say that I just wished that it has more phone in it. As ever, Apple has got the packaging right but for this product, they’ve got the phone part wrong. I can’t forward an SMS to another person, perform mass SMSing, MMS a picture or sound, send or receive vCards. Heck, I can’t even archive my SMSes! It is like living in a beautiful apartment with rooms that have windows that open up to brick walls, toilets that have non-standard sized toilet paper dispensers and a kitchen that is completely sealed shut from the dinning room.

But this is not to say that it is a bad phone. It really isn’t. The iPhone is absolutely one of the sexiest phones out there in the market. It’s sleek, slender and smooth. The interface is fast and responsive. I really like the flicking and pinching thingamagik where you can flick and pinch on the touch screen and things either go up and down or big and small. And oh, yes, it turns heads, especially if you are hanging out in the local Mac store because it isn’t officially sold here yet.

Making an iPhone work here was quite easy.

After ripping out the wrapper, I tried cracking the phone in the office. Apple’s exclusive (money grabbing) tie-ups with selected telcos (currently at&t in the US and O2 in the UK) means that these phones are SIM-locked and they won’t work with SIMs from other operators. Which means that technically, the iPhone, in its original form, is illegal here as per the regulations set by MCMC, our telecommunications industry government watchdog.

Seeing that this is the case, I’ve decided to set things in order. I’m gonna unlock my iPhone because I’m a patriot….right….

Unlocking the phone is easy. The site i used is hacktheiphone.com and instructions are very well laid out there. In fact I count myself lucky that i got the 1.1.1 version that came with a tiff bug in Safari (Hah! Cupertino, you missed one!). The latest iPhones version 1.1.2 is a little more harder to crack but it’s not impossible.

Even with all the imperfections, the iPhone is still a spectacular phone. Nokia definitely has a lot of catching up to do. Functionally, Nokia phones work beautifully. Packaging wise, the N-series is now beginning to look more and more like Microsoft Windows 1.0 as compared to the original Macintosh OS. And while like Microsoft, Nokia can take comfort in the fact that they will still sell more phones than Apple, we all know which phones the good guys will be using in the future seasons of the TV series 24.

Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard

Unlike the previous Mac OS X releases, I didn’t have think of getting a copy of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard because I only have non Intel-based older Macs (a PowerMac G4 933MHz and a PowerBook G4 1.33GHz). However, there was something in the ad campaign yesterday that just attracted me enough to push me to get a copy today. The short of the matter is that it is a good release but not necessarily the best. Initial testing (I’ve only got enough time to install on my PowerBook) reveals that it is fast and zippy…but there are small irritating things like transparent Finder menu bar (Hello? Why copy this from Vista?) which is distracting and frivolous. I wasn’t too impressed with the Cover Flow feature when I first saw it in Steve Job’s keynote but I must say, after trying it myself on my PowerBook, that this is one of the better features of this release. It really opens up a different way of interacting with your folder and files.As for the much touted Time Machine, I really wouldn’t know yet because one would need to have a system with more than one hard disk drive to enable this feature.Overall, I’m happy with Leopard as I think that it looks more polished, more aesthetically pleasing. But honestly,  I could have lived without the graphical bells and whistles and just remain with Tiger.

At last, the Sun shines through!

In a watermark article today that is sure to test the limits of the freedom of Malaysian press, The Sun daily published an extensive interview with DAP Secretary General Lim Kit Siang on his thoughts of Malaysia’s nation building efforts for the first 50 years.

I think this seminal piece of article that will undoubtedly raise some eye brows in the Government and hopefully also some civil discourse on the realities of Malaysian society today. It is very rare to find a mainstream Malaysian daily that dares to report any truth that is critical of the Government without fear of retribution in one way or another.

The Sun is fast proving itself to be a daily that has guts to tell the ugly truth.

First, they exposed the Port Klang Free Trade Zone financial and management scandal, which to my knowledge, has not been covered by any other dailies in Malaysia. And today, they published an interview with Lim Kit Siang.

It is such a refreshing and important piece that I’m reproducing the article here in full in case their website gets shutdown by frothing Government agencies:-

Looking back to look ahead
Zainon Ahmad and Maria J. Dass

Parliamentary Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang likes to believe his contribution to nation-building has been his efforts to keep alive the aspirations of Malaysians for democracy, justice, freedom and integrity. The man who has been in parliament since 1969, except for an absence for one term following his defeat in 1999, tells ZAINON AHMAD and MARIA DASS that many people are sad because many institutions that had been established 50 years ago have lost their effectiveness.

theSun: We are coming up to 50 years soon, so what do you think we have achieved in that time?

LKS: I think it’s a very mixed result. I think when we achieved independence 50 years ago and then with Sabah and Sarawak we formed the Malaysian federation, we all had one aspiration – that we would become more Malaysian over the years.

Which means we would become less Malay, less Chinese, less Indian, less Kadazan and less Iban and so on, but on the 50th year looking around, especially with the events in the last two months, we seem to have become less Malaysian and more Malay, more Chinese, more Indian, more Kadazan and more Iban than anything else.

What has happened? Of course, after 50 years that seems the most important question to ask.

Of course. But in terms of development if you compare to Ghana which also achieved independence in the same year, I think we are 10 times ahead.

But we should not compare ourselves with the not-so-well-off nations. We should compare ourselves with those countries that are at the same level as us. Maybe even with Japan.

And if you look back on that perspective when we achieved independence, we were second in Asia after Japan in terms of development. But since then we have fallen behind. Other countries have moved ahead to become first world and developed countries – Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, not to mention Hongkong.

Whereas for us it is still a distant vision. Why?

It’s not that we lack potential, capabilities, resources and brain power. The problem is with our nation-building policies. These policies, over the decades, have not been able to fully develop our human capital. Instead we see the grave problem of brain drain among our best and brightest. All because of nation-building policies and problem with our education system. And these problems are still going on.

So that’s what you mean by very mixed results.

Yes. But what concerns me most is the people, “us” – that we are not able to identify ourselves more as being Malaysians. Instead we are identifying ourselves more as Malay, Chinese, Kadazan and so on.

That should be more alarming, don’t you think?

Yes, very alarming. In particular the issues that came to the fore during the last one or two months has brought us to the very core. In fact many people are wondering what is the meaning of this 50th Merdeka anniversary if they are feeling more alienated, more divided and more polarised.

That should in fact be the focus of attention.

In fact, the MCA general assembly is the best illustration – that it is not to celebrate the 50 years of greater nationhood but to highlight a greater division.

Sometimes a small case become the obsession of an entire cabinet while there are more important issues about integrity, development, corruption and how Malaysia can compete with the rest of the world.

We should move away from this Malays vs non-Malays or bumis vs non-bumis situation. More and more we should think about Malaysians vs the rest of the world. But we seem to be losing more of that focus.

Don’t you think that we have reached a stage of intolerance that at the slightest provocation we shout “withdraw his citizenship.” Seems like the queen in Alice in Wonderland forever shouting “off with his head.” A bit extreme isn’t it?

More than that, it is seditious. When Parliament was reconvened following the May 13 incident the Constitution was amended to address four sensitive issues that cannot be questioned. These are those relating to the special privileges of the Malays, language, the Rulers and a person’s citizenship.

If you remember back in the 1960s Umno leaders were very fond of shouting “strip him of his citizenship” at those they thought were being disloyal. For a while the amendment stopped that. But it is still a sensitive issue to demand for the removal of your citizenship.

Now it is suddenly fashionable again to call for the stripping of someone’s citizenship. Is that what you want to say?

Yes. Now, you even have ministers, mentris besar and chief ministers shouting “withdraw his citizenship”. Aren’t they going to be charged for sedition? They can be charged for sedition per se – just based on that. Because on that constitutional amendment there is no need for proof of malice or no malice.

There have been many incidents where the government acted hastily. No to this, no to that. No more discussion on this, no more discussion on that. Also there was this allegation of mass conversions of Muslims to Christianity, for instance. And it involved mariner Datuk Azhar Mansor.

Some double standard in their reaction here. You want to talk about seditious, it is seditious because it incited the feelings of some 500 Muslims who surrounded a church near Ipoh because they believed that Azhar had become a Christian and he was going to baptise other Malay-Muslims who had been converted to Christianity. As it turned out it was not true whatsoever.

If we want to talk about seriousness, that is very serious. It was capable of creating a riot, but no action was taken against the person who made the allegations.

Do you think all that has happened is an over-reaction? For instance the prohibition to set up an Interfaith Commission and the cancellation of the Article 11 debates. There are recent developments.

The impact is that these have entered into party politics – this element of religious sensitivity or polarisation. There is now a greater discomfort among the various religious groups which we did not have before. But they are raising their ugly heads after more than four decades of nation-building.

Is it because the Muslims have increased in number? Around 1957, Muslims formed about 48 or 49 percent of the population but now they are around 60 percent. Do you think this has caused the problem?

I don’t think that should be a problem. I think the problem is the lack of direction being given by the government to show very clearly that what we agreed upon just before Merdeka must continue. After all our social contract involves a multi-religious, multi-racial society, diversity and pluralism. This must be celebrated and not just talked about in speeches and not just be used for tourist promotion.

You mean like we flaunt them as mere slogans. Like they are meaningless slogans, no feelings in them. Is that it?

Yes. We say all these things but they have not been internalised. No commitment to them. No real belief in them. And not just that but more and more they have been regarded as peripheral issues.

It wasn’t always like this. I am sure you know that.

It wasn’t always like this. In the early years of independence our first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, initiated those inter-religious discussions. He set up what was know then as inter-religious organisations or IRO, which is what the Article 11 is all about. Basically the Tunku believed all religions can come together to promote greater religious understanding, goodwill and dialogue.

But now such a concept seems to be unthinkable and unacceptable even. And the promotion of religious dialogue is just for international forums, but not for internal purposes.

I think something has gone very wrong and I think unless we are prepared to address this issue, we seem to be heading for stormy waters.

Everywhere we go we proclaim that we are a multi-racial and multi-religious Malaysia with the various races living peacefully together. But this, as you said just now, is not internalised, not spoken from the heart. But what can we do?

I think the leadership should set an example with all institutes and organisation in society following them from behind. To internalise the diversity in this country you must be sincere and faithful to these fundamental principals.

Actually when we started we never established clear directions on what nation-building entails. There was no road map on how we are going to build up this nation. Do you think we need something like that, to have an actual road map on what we are going to do.

The general principles have always been there. There is the social contract which says we are a democratic, multi-religious, multi-racial, progressive country where Islam is the official religion of the Federation but not an Islamic state.

We have the formula. Not true to say we do not have a formula. But it so happen that those in authority are seemingly moving further and further away from this basic formula.

Even those at the top are seemingly reluctant to admit that Malaysia is now a secular state even though the courts have declared so.

You know for 44 years we can see that there is no questioning that Malaysia is a secular state. Islam is the official religion, it is not an Islamic state. There were instances of course when there were marginal peripheral voices asking that we move towards an Islamic state. They were not in the mainstream. But now the whole thing seems to have been reversed.

Those who call for the the secular state have been marginalised and regarded as a periphery and those who feel that Malaysia is an Islamic state has now occupied the mainstream.

How did this change take place? This is a whole question of a tectonic shift in nation-building. And now these things cannot be talked about, cannot be discussed even. I don’t think this will solve any problem.

Many things seem to be so sensitive now that they have been taken out of public discussion. Is this healthy?

No. But why is it happening? If we can have public discussion on a social contract in 1956 and 1957, why can’t we have a public discussion as to why this social contract must be maintained, and should be reaffirmed? Everybody talks about social contract, today, but behind closed doors.

It is important to remember that this social contract is not the property of the ruling parties. It is a heritage and legacy of all Malaysians and all Malaysians today have a right to give input on the status of a social contract today.

It is going to be totally lacking in credibility if discussions on this social contract are held behind closed doors.

Every Malaysian should be involved. It cannot be something that you can go to a corner and discuss it in the closet. Where is participatory democracy? You are now shutting down avenues of expression.

How should we go about doing it then?

I think there should be a national consultative council to openly discuss and address this issue. You continue to sweep these problems under the carpet and they become bigger and bigger and finally the whole country is going to suffer.

What you are saying is that we should come together – representatives of all groups – to assess all that we have done in the last 50 years, where we have been successful and where we have failed and to plan for the future. And the best way to do it is through something like a national consultative council. Is that it?

Yes. In fact that should be the way to celebrate the 50th anniversary. We should have planned for it. A year or two ago we should have said that we are planning for a review when we reach 50. All then would be prepared for it – a big review to see where have we failed, where have we succeeded. And representatives of all sectors of the population must be involved. We don’t want just a small group of people around the prime minister to do it. It would be lacking in credibility. It should involve the national process.

You have been an MP since 1969, what have you contributed towards this process of nation-building?

I would like to believe that I have kept alive the aspirations of Malaysians for democracy, justice, freedom and integrity. As an opposition in a Malaysian political system without a majority, nobody thinks you can change the government at the moment and introduce laws and policies on your own. But as an opposition MP I think I have contributed enough to keep alive those aspirations and building up enough pressure for the government of the day to take the necessary actions to be accepted. Some have been accepted and others remain as benchmarks.

Elsewhere education plays a significant role in helping young people to think as members of a nation instead of members of a race, tribe or ethnic group. Has our education system helped in our process of nation-building?

I think our education system has not produced young citizens who are critical and mature in their thinking. It is a disappointment. Education is one of those things we should take a closer look at in our review on the occasion of our 50th year. And the government should take brave and bold steps to dismantle all factors which impede freedom in universities, in civil society and in the country.

You think there is no indication yet that we are moving that way? Isn’t there some openness already?

No indication. After 50 years we still have four emergency proclamations which has not been annulled. We seem to be more comfortable with this state of repression rather than a brave free new world and that’s why they are still there. The emergency declared as a result of the Indonesian confrontation in 1965 is still there, so is the emergency declared as a result of a political problem in Sarawak in 1967. Then there is the state of emergency declared following the racial clashes in May 1969, and also the emergency declared in Kelantan in 1977 following some disturbances.

Shouldn’t they have been annulled a long time ago? The reasons for their declarations have long gone? What is the government waiting for?

You see, under these four proclamations, various ordinances have been passed. And these ordinances the authorities can still use. But they are lazy and they do not want to do anything. You see, once you annul the four proclamations – and they should have been annulled – the ordinances also lapse.

So if they still want to use those ordinances then they have to be brought to Parliament to be enacted into laws.

One of them is the ordinance on Rukun Tetangga. If they want Rukun Tetangga to continue legally then they will have to bring it to Parliament so that it becomes a law legislated by Parliament. But then it is sheer laziness or just tidak-apa, lack of accountability, lack of that culture of responsibility.

Are those institutions that we put in place when we became independent in 1957 still intact?

I think that is another major woe of the country. After 50 years the institutions, the integrity, the independence and public confidence have suffered grave setbacks. Parliament, judiciary, executive, and the major institutions like the police, Anti-Corruption Agency, Elections Commission, civil service mentality have suffered. I think we are going backwards, we are not going forward.

We should be more first world than many other countries which have already achieved first world status. The media for instance. Freedom of the press, that is very important. The media is an important institution.

Many are saying we don’t have to compare with 50 years, we only need to compare with 45 months from Mahathir’s time. Are we moving forward or are we going backwards?

How do you foresee the future, isn’t there any optimism as far as the nation is concerned?

Well I think this 50th anniversary, following all that has happened in the last two or three months, can make people think. Of course, they should have started thinking one or two years earlier. The recent events are now forcing people to think of these fundamental issues. If that happens then there is some saving grace!