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Monday, June 30, 2014

Singapore could rejoin Malaysia to dilute Malay rule, Utusan columnist claims

Ahmad Faris called on the Bumiputera community to unite under Umno and cautioned the Malay youth not to be sold on notions of liberalism espoused by the opposition. — Reuters pic- See more at:
KUALA LUMPUR, June 30 — Bumiputera must unite under Umno to stem the rise of opposition party DAP, an Utusan Malaysia columnist wrote today, warning that Singapore could still possibly re-enter the Federation of Malaysia to dilute the community’s majority among the races.
Cautioning the Malay youth not to be sold on the notions of liberalism espoused by the opposition, Datuk Ahmad Faris Abdul Halim said the country’s largest ethnic group was not certain to always maintain its numerical superiority over the other races.
He claimed that Article 2(A) of the Federal Constitution allows the inclusion of new states into the federation with a two-third majority vote in Parliament, which he said could open the door for Singapore to re-join the federation that expelled in 1965.
“If this happens — bolstered by the recent statement by Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew who repeatedly said it was not impossible for Singapore to re-unite with Malaysia under certain conditions — then imagine the ‘implications’ of Singapore with its 87 parliamentary seats,” he said.
“Therefore, Singapore’s 87 seats included into our country’s 222 parliamentary seats. What would happen to the Malays?”
Ahmad Faris said this would be the easiest way for a combination of DAP and Singapore’s ruling PAP to dominate the opposition bench here, given the former party’s existing 38 federal seats.
He also alluded to the increasing dissent from the country’s non-Bumiputera community towards Article 153 of the Constitution and contention against Islam’s position as the religion of the federation.
Article 153 specifies preferential quotas for the Bumiputera community in the areas of scholarship, education, and civil service.
He also alleged that the non-Malay community were so strong in their racial culture that they have managed to control nearly 68 per cent of the country’s riches, but he did not elaborate what he meant by the “riches” nor did he state how culture facilitate this purported domination.
The self-described current issues analyst then said the entire Bumiputera community should unite together with Umno — even if they did not all share the same religion — to demand for their rights as prescribed under Article 153, saying this would cow others from making claims on these.
Umno, in turn, must adopt the tough measures introduced under former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, and take the lead in defending Islam, the monarchy, and the Malays.
Singapore joined Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak in 1963 to form what is now known as the Federation of Malaysia, but was expelled in 1965 after a tumultuous period that witnessed large scale race riots in the republic the year before.
In Election 2013, the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) suffered its worst electoral performance when it managed to win 133 spots in the 222-seat Parliament and lost the popular vote to the opposition Pakatan Rakyat pact.
Although the rest of BN lost further ground from the previous nadir of Election 2008, Umno grew more dominant as a result of the backing it received from the mostly-Malay rural areas of the country.
Since then, the party has come under increasing pressure to reward the community and ensure its continued support as the bedrock for the party’s revival or survival in the next general election.
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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Three Malaysian profs rank among world’s leading scientific minds The Malaysian Insider

Things may not look as bleak for the Malaysian education system as three of the country's academics are among the world’s leading scientific minds.
The scholars who made the Thomson Reuters “The World's Most Influential Scientific Minds: 2014” are: Prof Dr Abdul Latif Ahmad from Universiti Sains Malaysia’s school of chemical engineering, Prof Dr Ishak Hakim from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s science and technology faculty and Prof Dr Saidur Rahman from University Malaya’s engineering faculty.
The business information firm said in a press release those in the list had earned their distinction by publishing the highest number of articles that were most frequently cited by fellow researchers.
Science and innovation are strong drivers of the future – and these people are making that future come to life,” said Basil Moftah, president, Thomson Reuters IP & Science.
The report is based on two separate studies, both drawing on data and commentary from Thomson Reuters bibliometric experts via InCites Essential Science Indicators, the world’s leading web-based research analytics platform.
The first analysis, an annual study performed by Thomson Reuters, spotlights the scientific community’s emerging trends and the innovators behind them by ranking the scientists, or hottest researchers, who recently published at least 15 papers with notably higher levels of citations.
The second, longer-range study updates the world’s most influential researchers listing, also known as the most Highly Cited Researchers.
Thomson Reuters collaborated with Shanghai Jiao Tong University and producer of the Academic Ranking of World Universities, to create the list.
The local scholars’ inclusion into the Reuters rankings provides a glimmer of hope for varsities struggling to make a dent on the global stage.
The Malaysian Insider reported on June 19 that Malaysia’s public universities failed to make the Times Higher Education (THE) Asia University Rankings 2014, where no local tertiary institution made it to the top 100.
The failure to even rank among other countries in the region follows Malaysia’s absence in other THE rankings such as the Times Higher Education World Reputation rankings list released in March, losing out to other Southeast Asian countries.
This despite the Education Ministry received RM38.7 billion in 2013 and has been allocated RM54 billion this year – the biggest allocation yet.
“The World's Most Influential Scientific Minds: 2014” is the third of such a list by Thomson Reuters, with the first published in 2001. – June 26, 2014.

History and Constitution prove we are a secular state, says interfaith council The Malaysian Insider

The national interfaith council has weighed in on the debate on whether Malaysia is a secular state and if hudud should be implemented in the country, pointing to historical evidence and provisions in the Constitution which dispel any doubts that the nation’s founding fathers had intended the nation to be a secular, not an Islamic state.
Citing historical documents such as the Alliance Memorandum submitted to the Reid Commission in 1956, and the white paper issued by the British government in June 1957, the council pointed out there was no historical document to contradict the fact that Malaysia was intended to be a secular state.
The Alliance Memorandum was jointly submitted by Umno, MCA and MIC to the Reid Commission and specifically stated that they wanted a secular state, although the religion of the state was to be Islam.
These assertions were made by Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikkhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) president Jagir Singh in response to a recent statement by Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom that Malaysia was not a secular state.
Jamil Khir had also said that the formation of Malaysia was based on the Islamic administration of the Malay sultanates and that the Malay sultans were heads of Islam in their respective states.
Jagir said that a secular state did not mean that religion and the state were completely separate.
"For example, countries like Turkey and Indonesia are grounded in Islamic principles but are secular.
"Therefore Malaysia can be described as a secular country with Islam as the religion of the federation but where Islam does not form the basic laws and where the Constitution is the supreme law," he added.
According to Jagir, Article 4(1) also made it clear that the Constitution, not shariah law, was the supreme law of the land.
He added that the words Islamic law and shariah courts were not even found in the 1957 Constitution.
"The Muslim courts were renamed Shariah courts in 1976 by amending Schedule 9, similarly 'Muslim law' was amended to read 'Islamic law'.”
As such, Jagir said the interfaith group was against any plan to implement hudud in the country.
He said the council was concerned that its implementation would undermine the consensus reached between the different communities, as well as the Constitution and fundamental rights, including freedom of religion.
"It will turn this country from a parliamentary democracy into Islamic theocracy and under this, God's law is supreme, which means the Quran and Sunnah become the reference points, not the Constitution."
He added that of the 57 Islamic countries in the world, only a dozen have implemented hudud and they did not include the two most populous Muslim nations – Indonesia and Bangladesh.
"The conditions are not suitable for the implementation of hudud in Malaysia because it would require a pious society that is honest, and because when the punishment is meted out, it is irreversible," he added.
Federation of Taoist Associations of Malaysia president Daozhang Tan Hoe Chieow said the process of Islamisation began in 1980s as a political response to the inability of the Malay Muslim mind to come to terms with the pains and pitfalls of moderation and hyper modernity.
"This created the need for fundamentalist Muslims to retreat to a safer zone of religious comfort by calling for the imposition of cultural laws like shariah and its instrument of control, which is hudud," he said.
Malaysia Hindu Sangam president Datuk R.S. Mohan Shan said that even without hudud, non-Muslims were being oppressed as many institutions were turning a blind eye in cases of conversion of children, child custody cases and the raid by Jais on the Bible Society of Malaysia.
"Jais's raid on the Bible Society only proves that they are trying to regulate other religions.
"So even without hudud, there is so much injustice by non-functioning institutions and matters will only worsen if hudud is introduced."
Mohan said it was not true that hudud would not affect non-Muslims in Malaysia, pointing out that Section 52 of the Kelantan Shariah Criminal Enactment stated that non-Muslims could elect to come under shariah law.
"This is clearly unconstitutional as jurisdiction is by law. It cannot be obtained by submission or acceptance," he said.
Council of Churches of Malaysia general-secretary Rev Dr Hermen Shastri said the hudud issue was an example of intra-Islamic contestation taking place in the political sphere.
"Those speaking about these issues are trying to increase their Islamic credentials, while Umno and PAS are trying to out-Islamicise each other," he said.
Hermen said what was more urgently needed in the country was for a fair, transparent and accountable system of governance.
"We don't even have this in our country," he said.
PAS had previously announced plans to introduce two private members’ bills in Parliament this month to allow it to enforce hudud in Kelantan.
However, it postponed the tabling of the bills, explaining that it was to give sufficient time for a joint Putrajaya and Kelantan government committee to study the implementation of the shariah penal code.
Notwithstanding that, PAS has maintained that it was determined to implement hudud.
The private members' bills would have allowed the Kelantan government to enforce the Kelantan Shariah Penal Code II, which was passed in 1993 by the state assembly. – June 29, 2014.