Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Freedom of Speech in Malaysia... AS IF!!!

For a country that is supposedly striving to become a self-sufficient industrial developed nation, meeting all 9 challenges (outlined in the quest to achieve the state of Vision 2020) and therefore be able to achieve Vision 2020 - Malaysia has a looooong way to go. Thinking back to my primary and secondary school days when I used to daydream about Malaysians flying in solar powered cars let the Jetsons... I can only laugh at myself and say... AS IF!!!!

There are many things which Malaysia and Malaysians need to consider...

Take for example our so called freedom of speech and expression as provided by Article 10 of the Federal Constitution. This is what I call an "image-only-provision". In order to demonstrate to the world that we are a liberal society, this particular right was conveniently inserted as legal proof that our nation is progressive and democratic. While Article 10 may allow for its citizens to voice their opinion and thoughts, it is heavily monitored by the national government. So much for freedom of speech that is being monitored and/or censored!

The head of the European Commission delegation to Malaysia, Ambassador Thierry Rommel alleged to have stated that Malaysia should roll back its 37-year-old New Economic Policy (NEP). Rolling back on the policy or not... SO WHAT?!! He is simply voicing his thoughts about the situation. Is that so wrong? Look at how our politicians are giving their 5 cents on stupid and lame issues such as how to dress professionally at work or let's revisit and determine what our national language really, really ought to be called for the next 5 years?!

At the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) 2003 held in Malaysia, Former prime minister Mahathir Mohammad said Jews ruled the world and got others to fight and die for them, but added that they would not be able to defeat the world's 1.3 billion Muslims.
"We are actually very strong, 1.3 billion people cannot be simply wiped out. The Europeans killed 6 million Jews out of 12 million. But today the Jews rule the world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them," he said.

Isn't that a whole lot of prejudice, racism, discrimination, opression, bigotry, hatred, inequity, injustice, intolerance, partiality, unfairness and a wrong tone of voice by a former leader of a country who apparently aimed to usher the nation to become a model nation of the world?!

Compare the former PM's attack on Jews... and compare Ambassador Rommel's observation and long term outlook and consideration for Malaysia's international trading power. Which takes a more condemning stance?? Doesn't take a genius to figure this one out!

If one were to look at Malaysian leaders' jump the gun attitude to immediately point the worst in things... it is soooo PRIMARY SCHOOL KINDERGARTEN.

Remember the time when friend #1 slanders and belittles friend #2 for saying something obvious to friend #3 & #4? Friend #1 became all pissy and accusatory of friend #2 not being a good friend because friend #2 said something like "friend #1 should not be bringing his/her teddy bear to school". Friend #3, #4 and so on had already seen friend #1 bringing his/her teddy bear to school everyday. Friend #2 was simply stating the truth and friend #1 cannot hack it. Well then, tough luck!! Grow up already!!!

In case you have not read the issue on Ambassador Rommel's alleged comments, read on.

* * * * * * * * *
Monday June 25, 2007
The Star Newspaper
Rommel: I did not call for NEP to be scrapped

PETALING JAYA: There was no call to scrap the New Economic Policy nor was there any intention to meddle in Malaysia's domestic affairs, said head of the European Commission delegation to Malaysia, Ambassador Thierry Rommel.

“It is not my intention to meddle in domestic affairs and that was not the rationale of my speech. The rationale of the NEP in my speech is that it has bearings on the negotiations with the Free Trade Agreement between EU and Asean. I did not say the NEP was discriminatory nor did I call for it to be scrapped. One should read the entire speech to understand the context,” he said yesterday.

On the FTA, Rommel said the bumiputra policy was an issue on the horizon, as it would limit room to manoeuvre for Malaysian negotiations due to the open nature of the FTA itself.

“I’m not looking at an added economic advantage for any group but rather at the big picture, both the positive and negative effects when it comes to EU and Asean FTA negotiations, of which Malaysia is a key member. We should not link trade policy with bumiputra policy. Referring to policies in this aspect is absolutely normal and part and parcel of an open negotiation or agreement,” he added.

Rommel said he knew that the duty of an envoy was to foster closer bilateral ties between two countries. “I have been doing that for the last four years, working closely with various federal and state bodies, NGOs and businesses,” he added. He said the EU and Malaysia currently had two agreements under way aimed at deepening ties – the Partnership and Cooperation Ag-reement (PCA) and the FTA – both of which were on the table ready for negotiations.

Rommel said the EU looked to Malaysia as a trading nation to show vision and ambition for the same strong and modern partnership with the bloc as other Asean countries had been showing.

“We have strong foundations (with Malaysia) that can underpin a vigorous action and result-oriented approach. The Malaysian side has to jump on the ball and act soon on the partnership (PCA), and prioritise on catching up with other Asean countries,” he added.

* * * * * * * * *
Tuesday June 26, 2007
The Star Newspaper
European envoy explains NEP remarks to foreign ministry official

PUTRAJAYA: Ambassador Thierry Rommel has met with Foreign Ministry deputy secretary-general I Datuk Othman Hashim over his criticisms of the New Economic Policy (NEP) yesterday.

The head of the European Commission delegation to Malaysia's meeting with Othman yesterday lasted less than an hour. Rommel later told the Associated Press that he informed Othman that he had not meant to interfere in internal politics when he made a speech last week.

“We had a useful exchange of views for about 45 minutes. I was satisfied with the approach adopted. I think it went very well, and I hope the misunderstanding about my intention has been resolved.” Rommel is alleged to have stated at a luncheon talk to ambassadors and foreign diplomats last Thursday that Malaysia should roll back its 37-year-old NEP.

Meanwhile, the Umno Youth's international relations and non-governmental organisation bureau said that Rommel must consider the sensitivity of the multiracial society in the country before commenting on the NEP.

“He should have facts and not issue statements blindly. We urge Wisma Putra to act appropriately against his statement,” said bureau chairman Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir in a statement yesterday.

Mukhriz said the NEP had been recognised by various international bodies including the United Nations Development Programme, International Monetary Fund and the World Bank as a policy that had brought about a positive impact in balancing the social fabric in Malaysia.

In another statement, Centre for Public Policy Studies (CPPS) chairman Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam said those who had protested against Rommel’s comments should substantiate it with valid data and statistics. He said that while Rommel’s statement did not follow proper diplomatic protocol, it was increasingly necessary for all Malaysians to carefully examine the criticism, besides professionally assessing the contents for its truth and relevant implications.

“The CPPS feels that it is imperative for Malaysia to constantly review its socio-economic policies to ensure they are effective in promoting real sustained socio-economic development for all Malaysians in the long run,” he said.

Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang called on the Government to get a full clarification from Rommel on his statements. “The most sensible and productive response is to ask for full clarification from Rommel and to have a full debate in Parliament,” he told reporters at the Parliament lobby.

No comments: