Monday, December 31, 2012
Thursday, December 13, 2012
Season of goodwill
MIND MATTER by RAJA ZARITH IDRIS (Sultanah of Johore)
If Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Isa (Jesus), a prophet respected and revered in Islam, is it so wrong to wish a blessed day for those who celebrate it?
DURING the days before Christmas last year, I wished my friends who were celebrating it "Merry Christmas" in much the same way they would wish me "Selamat Hari Raya" or "Happy Eid".
I find it rather sad that such a simple greeting – one which I grew up with and which I have never regarded as something that would compromise or de-value my own faith – is now regarded as something so religiously incorrect for us Malaysian Muslims.
When I was at boarding school in England , I had to go to church every Sunday because it was part of the rules. My father advised me to consider it as part of my "education" and he had no doubt that the experience would strengthen rather than weaken my own faith.
I was able to see the similarities and differences between Christianity and Islam. I learned more than the average Malaysian Muslim would about Christianity. I learnt that just as we Muslims categorise ourselves according to the four different schools of thoughts of the four Imams (Imam Malik, Imam Al Shafi, Imam Abu Hanifa and Imam Ahmad Abn Hambal) and are either Sunnis or Shias, so Christians too are divided into different sects or churches.
Going to church did not make me less of a Muslim when I was a young girl, and neither does saying "Merry Christmas" make me less of a Muslim now. My faith has not been shaken just because I wished some friends a time of joy with their families. Neither will I suddenly suffer from amnesia and forget what my religion is.
What I do not wish to forget, however, is that there are good, kind people who are not of the same faith as me.
As Harun Yahya, the Turkish writer (he was selected last year as one of the 500 most influential Muslims in the world by the Royal Isla mic Strategic Studies Centre of Jordan ) noted: "Islam is a religion of peace, love and tolerance".
Today, however, some circles have been presenting a false image of Islam, as if there were conflict between Islam and the adherents of the two other monotheistic religions. Yet Islam's view of Jews and Christians, who are named `the People of the Book' in the Quran, is very friendly and tolerant.
"This attitude towards the People of the Book developed during the years of the birth of Islam. At that time, Muslims were a minority, struggling to protect their faith and suffering oppression and torture from the pagans of the city of Mecca . Due to this persecution, some Muslims decided to flee Mecca and shelter in a safe country with a just ruler. The Prophet Muhammad told them to take refuge with King Negus, the Christian king of Ethiopia . The Muslims who followed this advice found a very fair administration that embraced them with love and respect when they went to Ethiopia . King Negus refused the demands of the pagan messengers who asked him to surrender the Muslims to them, and announced that Muslims could live freely in his country.
"Such attitudes of Christian people that are based on the concepts of compassion, mercy, modesty and justice, constitute a fact that God has pointed out in the Quran."
I do not wish to be a self-centred Muslim who expects friends of other faiths to wish me Selamat Hari Raya or, for those who are not Malaysians and therefore do not know about Hari Raya, a Happy Eid and yet do not return their goodwill when it is Christmas, Chinese New Year, Deepavali or Vesak Day.
Every year, friends who are Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs or those without any faith come to our home to celebrate Hari Raya with us. They do so with sincerity and as a mark of respect for one of the most important days in the Muslim calendar. Why should we not reciprocate their kindness, show them the same mark of respect for their religion and wish them the same joy on their holy days of celebration?
An Islamic scholar and lecturer also reminded me that as Muslims we must remember the importance of both the five Pillars of Islam and in the six Pillars of Iman (Faith), which are:Belief in Allah;
Belief in the angels;
Belief in the revealed Books (which include the Bible, the Torah and the Holy Quran);
Belief in the Prophets (May Peace be Upon Them);
Belief in the Resurrection and the events of Kiamah, the Day of Judgement; and
Belief in the predestination (Qada' and Qadar) by Allah in all things.
The prophets include not just Muhammad (May Peace Be Upon Him) as the last prophet and as the Messenger of Islam, but also in the 24 earlier ones who are mentioned in both the Bible and the Quran. Four of them are Ibrahim (Abraham), Musa (Moses), Daud (David), and Isa (Jesus).
So, if Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Isa (Jesus), a prophet respected and revered in Islam, is it so wrong to wish a blessed day for those who celebrate it?
We are now in the second decade of the 21st century. Surely, we should, now more than ever, be far more enlightened at a time when information of any sort and of all kinds are so readily available to us.
What is most important is that we regard one another as fellow citizens and treat each other with respect, regardless of our race or religion.
The writer is Royal Fellow, School of Language Studies and Linguistics, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), and holds a BA (Honours) degree in Chinese Studies, University of Oxford .
[The writer is also the current Sultanah of Johor]
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Here is a summation of Chipmunk's comments in an orderly fashion:
The issue of the pre-operating licence by the AELB on Feb 2, 2012 ignores this fundamental requirement and places the environment and public health at serious risk.
This proposal would not be approved in Australia without this information. Why the difference in Malaysia? What have the four ministers to say about this matter?
In the context of the Lamp plant, the sources of rare earth element exposure would be from air emissions, fugitive dust and contaminated water discharges.
Over the projected 10 to 12 years of operation of the Lamp, the cumulative levels of rare earth elements (REE) can be expected to rise in the environment surrounding the plant as the REE migrates through fugitive stockpile emissions and stack emissions.
These transport methods will deposit REE on soil and into the sediments of surface water bodies. REE will also migrate through wastewater discharges and leakages from tailings ponds.
The Balok River sediment can be expected to act as a reservoir for REE due to deposition from treated waste water discharges.
The matter of long-term disposal of the radioactive waste from the Lamp must be resolved immediately. When the entire decay chain radioactivity of the waste is accounted for, specific radiation levels are as high as 61 Bq/g.
This clearly places the waste in the low level waste (LLW) category for radioactive waste requiring isolation for hundreds of years.
The environmental and human health risk assessment of this radiation exposure is clearly inadequate and the disposal methods very poor in an inappropriate environment.
Under these circumstances, it would appear that environmental radioactive contamination and human exposure is unavoidable. This proposal would not be approved in Australia and the Malaysian government should revoke the TOL on this basis.
Lamp, which is expected to produce 22,500 tonnes per annum of lanthanum oxide equivalent, can be expected to generate annual waste streams of:
191.25 tonnes of fluoride compounds;
292.50 tonnes of flue dust particulate;
between 216 million m3 and 270 million m3 of waste gas (containing NOx, CO, SO2 ,HF, dust concentrate and H2SO4);
1,687,500 m3 of acidic waste-water and
22,500 tonnes of radioactive waste residue (containing water).
Historically, China has been the main global producer of rare earths accounting for up to 90 percent of global production allowing pollution to occur as a result of rare earth mining and refining.
The result has been severe localised environmental contamination in areas where these activities take place.
In turn, residents of these areas have reported high rates or respiratory illness, skin diseases, cancer and birth deformities.
So tell me Mr Curtis, why isn't Australia taking back this waste?
Saturday, December 8, 2012
Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) had assured Malaysians that the condition for the issue of the TOL (Temporary Operating License) will be enforced. Here is what its Director General says:
5:39PM Sep 9, 2012: AELB: We will hold Lynas to its waste export pledge
Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) director-general Raja Abdul Aziz Raja Adnan has clarified that the regulatory body will enforce Lynas' pledge to export all its waste in the form of commercial products overseas. The management and removal of residue is an integral part of the Temporary Operating Licence (TOL) conditions and agreements and is permanently documented in the licence document issued to Lynas on Sept 5, 2012. Issue of removal of residue being non-binding for Lynas, does not arise. It is legally binding and AELB will enforce it,"
But now compare it to what LAMP (Lynas Advanced Materials Plant)factory’s managing director, Mashal Ahmad said:
Marshal said Lamp needed to abide by international conventions which prohibit the export of toxic wastes to overseas countries, according to Guang Ming Daily’s Facebook page.
So again the dastardly UMNO/BN government had betrayed its citizens and have now left us holding a TOXIC baby which will not be exported out of the country and will be dumped somewhere in this country. These bastards deserves a thrashing in the coming General Election.
Read the whole article Wastes won't be exported out of Malaysia, says Lynas courtesy of Malaysiakini below:
Wastes won't be exported out of Malaysia, says Lynas
11:32PM Dec 7, 2012
No residues from the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (Lamp) would be exported out from Malaysia, says the factory’s managing director, Mashal Ahmad.
Marshal said Lamp needed to abide by international conventions which prohibit the export of toxic wastes to overseas countries, according to Guang Ming Daily’s Facebook page.
The wastes have been a point of contention because they was allegedly contain radioactive materials, which leads to the fear of radioactive poisoning.
Meanwhile, Mashal claimed that Lamp had spent a few million ringgit to counter anti-Lynas allegations, according to a Sinchew Daily report.
He said Lamp had experienced a difficult time in the past two years “because of the anti-Lynas movement’s baseless allegations.”
“They (the anti-Lynas movement) just want to poison the public mindset,” he was quoted as saying.
Furthermore, he claimed that Lamp had to unnecessary spend RM2 million to purchase two radioactive detection monitoring systems - installed at Lamp and at the Kuantan police station - to rebut the allegation.
Meanwhile, Bernama reports that the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) has stationed its officers at the Lynas plant on a full-time basis to regulate and supervise continuously each stage of the trial processing of lanthanide concentrates.
AELB, in a statement in Kuala Lumpur today, said that it needed to ensure that all national laws and safety standards, as well as the international good practice for such operations were being adhered to.
“Continuous regulatory and supervision should also be carried out on the importing activity for lanthanide concentrates to Malaysia,” the statement said.
The statement said Lynas (M) Sdn Bhd had started its trial processing of lanthanide concentrates in stages and in limited quantities in line with the requirements stated in the temporary operating licence (TOL).
“Under Section 22 of the Atomic Energy Licensing Act 1994 (Act 304), if the company committed a breach of any of the conditions of the licence or committed an offence under this Act, the AELB may cancel or suspend the TOL issued to the company.
“The company’s operation will also be stopped immediately pending further actions under the same Act,” the statement said.
AELB had issued the TOL to Lynas (M) Sdn Bhd on Sept 3, 2012 after the board was satisfied that Lynas had fulfilled all technical aspects, as well as all regulatory requirements.
Comparison of radiation levels
Bernama also reports that during a briefing, Lynas radiology safety adviser Prof Dr Ismail Bahari also demonstrated to the residents the comparison of radiation levels between the raw materials to be turned into rare earth metal and other raw materials such as monazide and iron ore.
Apart from discovering that the radiation level of the raw materials for rare earth metal was much lower that other raw materials, the residents also had the opportunity to hold and smell the rare earth materials which were deemed dangerous by the opposition.
A resident, Mokhtar Mamat, 63, said he was able to understand the plant’s operation better and would share the information with other residents so that they would get a clearer picture on the issue.
Sariah Awang Ngah, 45, from Kampung Sungai Karang Darat, on the other hand, said she used to have doubts about the safety aspects of the plant.
“Today, I know for sure what rare earth is all about. I used to listen to others, but during the demonstration today, I know exactly what Lynas will be doing at the plant,” she said, according to Bernama.
Lynas chose to operate in Malaysia because of its cheaper production costs compared to Australia while China had tightened export of the product. Lynas, too, had obtained licences to build the factory in the two countries.
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
To put the past behind us, we must stop the politics of race and religion.
To put the past behind us, we must end corruption.
To put the past behind us, we must abolish the suppression, oppression, repression of our basic human rights and freedoms.
To put the past behind us, we must demand good governance and performance from our ministers.
To attain peace Malaysians must stand united and reject those who wish to divide us by preaching racial and religious hatred. If we want to benefit from equal opportunities and realize our human potential we must stop extremists from continually degrading others as inferiors so as to uplift ourselves. Why should Allah not be allowed to be used in the Bible when it is used in the Middle East?
We can only achieve harmony together. Despite our differences and diversity, Malaysians can make our common aspirations of freedom, justice, democracy and truth come true if we remember key values.
That it is not who we are that is important, but what we are that is important; not the colour of our skin that is important but the content of our character; and not our past ancestry that is important but how we connect with the present and with each other to face the future.
We can only be prosperous together. The time has come to focus on the economy, in employment, education and business opportunities as the conditions for prosperity. We must build human talent and be performance-based.
For those who say that PR do not know how to govern, the 4 PR states of Penang, Selangor, Kedah and Kelantan have proven our ability by beating the other 10 BN states by attracting RM25 billion in investments comprising 53% of Malaysia's total investments of RM47.2 billion in 2010. For the first time in history, Penang is now the new champion of investments in Malaysia, coming out top in 2010 with RM 12.2 billion.
To put the past behind us, we must end corruption. Barisan Nasional cannot reform to end corruption. Remember, if we do not end corruption, Malaysia dies. If we end corruption, BN dies. The choice is clear.
To put the past behind us, we must abolish the suppression, oppression, repression of our basic human rights and freedom. How can we have a clean government when we do not have clean elections?
We do not want our children to live in fear of oppressive laws as we have lived. A Pakatan Rakyat government will abolish the UUCA, the Sedition Act and the Printing Presses and Publications Act and restore local government elections.
When can we find justice for Teoh Beng Hock, Ahmad Sarbani and A Kugan? When will we have Freedom of Information & Freedom of Speech? When can we have justice that is not only done, but is seen to be done.
To put the past behind us, we demand good governance and performance from our ministers. Malaysia can be an international and intelligent country. We must have digital intelligence with broadband connectivity. We must also have integrity intelligence, so ensure that only honest people are the decision-makers. We must have institutional intelligence under the rule of law. We demand good governance and performance from our ministers.
Has the Transport Ministry done its duty to run our airports and seaports well? Look at the Penang International Airport whose completion has been delayed more than 3 times. And the Penang Port is to be reduced to be a feeder port and privatized to a 3rd party at the expense of Penangites. Why is there no consultation with the people of Penang to restore the port to its former glory? Instead of looking after airports and ports, the Transport Ministry is more interested in vehicle registration numbers and wants to increase the maximum traffic fines to RM2,000.
Director-General of Tourism is wrongly charged of corruption but the Tourism Minister finds nothing wrong with spending RM1.8 million in doing up her Facebook page, when we all know that it can be done for free.
The Health Ministry wants to privatise healthcare when it should be a public good given as an affordable right to all Malaysians. Why allow the wastage of public funds and affect the quality and affordability of drugs when drugs are bought through a middleman at higher prices when it could be bought cheaper direct from the manufacturers, some of which are operating in Malaysia.
The Housing and Local Government Ministry opposes local government elections in Penang, denying our fundamental democratic right to elect our councillors and our mayors.
We believe that Malaysians deserve better. For the last 50 years, the wealth of the nation has been robbed. Let us protect the future of our children by ensuring we have a people-centric government that protects you instead of harming you, that rewards you instead of stealing from you, that respects you instead of abusing your rights. Let us clean up Malaysia to save our children's future.
We must put the past behind us where profits matters more than our health. Lynas concerns all of us because if Lynas is allowed to operate, Barisan Nasional will proceed with building two nuclear reactors. If we continue to put health above profits, what is the use of having all the money in the world if you cannot enjoy it healthily?
The next elections shall be fought on the economy. We refuse to allow BN to use race as the issue in the next elections. We need to increase the incomes of our poor or else they will fall victims to the Ah Longs. For example, Bank Negara's Annual Report 2010 revealed that Malaysia's household debt at the end of 2010 was RM581 billion or 76 per cent of GDP, thus giving us the dubious honour of having the second-highest level of household debt in Asia.
In addition, the Malaysian household debt service ratio stood at 47.8 per cent in 2010, meaning that nearly half of the average family's income goes to repaying debts. As a rule, banks would not lend money to those whose total servicing of loans exceeded one third of their income. In other words, we are spiralling into an indebted nation.
According to the New Economic Model documents, the bottom 40% of Malaysian households are living with a monthly average income of RM1,500 (and three-quarters of them are bumiputera) while 60% of the households (of four persons averagely) live with a less than RM3,000 income, which is near subsistence if one lives in the cities.
These are families living in fear. We will help them live with dignity and not in fear, by increasing their incomes and cutting down their costs, with a minimum wage, getting rid of monopolies, expanding internet connectivity and encouraging creativity, innovation and productivity.
South Korea is a very good example of a nation that chose democracy, performance and freedom of opportunity to become a developed country. With a population of 48 million, its GDP per capita of USD20,000 is more than double Malaysia's. But in 1970, South Korea's per capita GDP was only USD260 compared to Malaysia's USD380. We used to regularly beat South Korea at football. And now our children are fans of K-pop culture and their football team are regulars at the World Cup.
Only when we free ourselves of fear of change, can we be free to prosper. BN cannot change. They need to be changed, for BN wants to rule by fear.
Thomas Jefferson has said "When the governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny". The choice is yours, my friends. I urge you - Let us change so we can have liberty and live with dignity.
*Lim Guan Eng, DAP Secretary General & MP for Bagan
(The above was from an email forward. Don't remember reading it in my regular online news portals so appending a message below. In your case, for the sake of the nation, hope you will let your close ones and friends about this post)
Please remember, by 7th level this email will reach 1 million people and that is only when each of us forward it to 10 people Please do it for the sake of our future. This is a good deed that all Malaysians MUST do.It is our duty to save our nation.
You are going to save 28 million people. Please do so.
degree in physics from Qxford and obtained a PhD in theoretical physics from the
After a stint with a US investment bank, she now opts to be a writer.
An open letter to my Malay friends
Selina Siak Chin Yoke
3:47PM Aug 31, 2012
August 31 is Malaysia’s Independence (Merdeka) Day. On this day 55 years ago, the Union Jack was lowered for the last time and a new country was born.
Malaysia. She was to be a powerful narrative for multiculturalism. A place where many races – Malay, Chinese, Indian, Eurasian, Orang Asli (native indigenous people) – would live together, work together as one, to move the country beyond the shadow of colonisation.
Malaysia remains a powerful idea. It’s one I believe in. But it has gone badly wrong. That’s why today, I’m writing this open letter to my Malay family and friends.
I believe Malaysia is fast reaching a crossroad; where it goes next will be determined by you, my dear Malay friends. And where Malaysia goes is important to the world – because it remains one of the more tolerant Muslim countries.
First though, I want to say a big thank you. On this Merdeka day, I want to thank you, my Malay family and friends and all fellow Malaysians of Malay descent, for your historic generosity.
Your ancestors welcomed mine when they arrived. You have shared the land with us, and this in turn gave us opportunities we wouldn’t have had in mainland China.
You provided us safe refuge from the turmoil of China. When I learnt what happened there in the past century, I am so grateful my ancestors left. And that they found shelter in the beautiful land now called Malaysia.
My Malay friends, your own ancestors came from other places. They knew what it was like to be strangers in a new country. They treated my ancestors with that gracious hospitality which I myself have experienced countless times. All this I acknowledge, and thank you for.
But now I need to move on to something else: why I left Malaysia, and why I won’t be returning any time soon.
You may already know that two out of 10 Malaysian graduates live outside Malaysia. This is an astonishing fact for a middle-income country like Malaysia. It was revealed in a detailed study on Malaysia’s brain drain, carried out by the World Bank.
My Malay family and friends, do you not care about this exodus of talent? This isn’t just an abstract number: in our family, half those of my generation live abroad. We are the graduates this World Bank report identifies. We compete happily in the world economy and have no need to return.
Perhaps, my Malay friends, you think the brain drain irrelevant, since most of the people who have left are of Chinese and Indian descent? Certainly, this is what many Malays think, as Nurul Izzah Anwar, daughter of Anwar Ibrahim, has alluded to.
“For me,” she says, “one Malaysian regardless of race, who has left the country…is a loss to us. They should be here celebrating, to improve the economy. I detest many people trying to singularly find out whether they are Malays, Chinese or Indians.”
My sentiments entirely. This fixation on race, race, race, in Malaysia is strangling the country. Yes, 88 per cent of the one million Malaysians estimated to be living abroad are of Chinese and Indian descent. So what? My Malay friends, I ask you: does our race matter more than the fact that we have taken our talents elsewhere?
Yet, should I expect anything else? How could any Malaysian not be fixated on race, when you, my Malay family and friends, are accorded ‘special’ rights solely because of your race and religion?
Imagine if the United States had given ‘special’ privileges to the Pilgrim fathers and mothers and their descendants. Special rights to land, schools, gold mines and everything else – all because they sailed first; yes, just imagine! This is exactly what your special rights equate to. If the US had adopted such a policy, do you think it would have turned into a magnet for talent and skills?
Tell anyone about a Malaysian university reserved for people with ‘special’ privileges based on race, and you will see the reaction. What? People stare in disbelief. You must be kidding!
I’m not. And there have been demonstrations against opening the institute up to other Malaysians. Yet, Malaysians are so used to these oddities that we don’t bat an eyelid. We no longer notice the strange ideas plaguing our country.
Your ‘special’ rights, my Malay family and friends, alienate me. They make me feel unwelcome, unwanted and second-class. They are why I left.
They are also why I won’t be back. Rights are a zero-sum game: for you to have more rights, others must necessarily have fewer. TalentCorp (the agency set up to attract Malaysians back) completely misses the point.
And when I see the culture of entitlement your ‘special’ privileges have led to, and the increasingly racist rhetoric this culture generates, I fear for Malaysia. Outrageous remarks are now commonplace, as former US ambassador John R. Malott outlined in his Feb 8, 2011, op-ed in the Wall Street Journal.
Malaysia has once again been called Tanah Melayu (Malay Land). Malay Land was given airtime by none other than Mahathir Mohamed, former prime minister and rabble-rouser extraordinaire, who is himself from a family with Indian immigrants. Malay Land is more than just a name. His is a supremacist concept: a land for Malays, where Malays will be Lords, everyone else their subjects.
Some people say Mahathir no longer matters, but actually he does. I feel less welcome now in Malaysia than at any time in the past. The attitudes of Malay Land are creeping in, and Malay Land is completely the opposite of Malaysia. Malay Land excludes, while Malaysia embraces and includes – a country for all races.
My Malay family and friends, which is it you want: Malay Land, or Malaysia? You cannot have both; you must choose.
On this Merdeka Day, I urge you to think about that choice. Because you, my dear Malay friends, are the only people who can truly change the direction Malaysia takes. Know that we, your fellow-Malaysians who have voted with our feet, are rooting for Malaysia.
We are no traitors as 68 per cent of the Malaysians abroad who were surveyed by the World Bank expressed a strong sense of patriotism or attachment to Malaysia. I am among this 68 per cent. I may have been away for 33 years, but Malaysia continues to be in my dreams.
I left with regret, and I stay away with sadness. I hope Malaysia will prevail.