Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Beyond Election 2.0

I've been thinking a bit about Opposition 2.0. Besides some of the ideas that I've raised earlier, there must be more that technology can do to help politics in general. I've always said that technology is a great enabler and leveller. So, there must be more things that technology can do to help, other than just making noise.

So, I put my brain to a bit of work and came up with some ideas. I'll stick up more ideas when I come up with them.

Bug Tracker
. Voters are both the stakeholders and also the customers for politicians. Therefore, it makes sense to have some sort of system to keep track of all the transactions between the people and the politicians. It would be useful to keep track of complaints, resolutions and satisfaction. In fact, if local elections are ever brought back, this would be very useful. Publish the aggregated data periodically. This helps to keep everyone honest. We can score our politicians at the end of every term.

Messaging Lists. The Internet is great for social networking. However, with minimal broadband penetration in Malaysia, it may not be useful in reaching out to everyone. However, almost everyone has a mobile phone. There's even a cell tower in Tebedu. Bring the idea of the mailing list to the people who do not have the benefit of the Net. Granted, SMS cannot be used to broadcast speeches, but they can be used in so many other creative ways. Think football, 4D and The Philippines.

One Linux Per Child. Bring computers, Internet and knowledge to everyone. It doesn't cost much to set up a call centre like service in a kampung. Instead of spending billions on smart schools, take a page from the OLPC project. It doesn't need to cost US$100 per PC if you set up a service to re-use older PCs that large corporations periodically discard. Load them up with the OLPC software and you're ready to go. This can bring a larger social change than any other thing. Helps the environment too!

Hmm, I think that's enough for today. My little brain is a bit tired already, after spending much of the day dreaming of data structures. Sleep is much needed.


kok said...

As a post-independence-born Malaysian, I would like to offer my thoughts on Article 153 of the federal constitution which mentions the special position of the malays. Please note that there is no mention of the words 'special privileges' or 'special rights' in the constitution.

For too long, there has been a lack of understanding of what our forefathers had in mind when they included this clause in our much talked about social contract. To gain a better understanding, let us take a trip back in time to 1957 to actually visualise the scene then.

In a scenario where the immigrant Chinese and Indians were seeking citizenship rights in Malaysia, it is reasonable to presume that they would have had to understand and acknowledge the difficulties faced by the majority malays.

And this is where the meaning of the words 'special position' comes into focus. What did our forefathers mean by the special position of the malays? Did they mean that the malays would enjoy a higher status than all the other races? Did they mean that the malays would have special rights and privileges in perpetuity?

If this is what our forefathers had intended, then our constitution would have mentioned this specifically. However, the constitution or social contract does not say so.

What then, could the words 'special position' mean? It is reasonable to infer that our forefathers were concerned first by the fact that the malays were left behind economically despite being the indigenous majority in the country.

Secondly, they were concerned by the fact that, despite being immigrants, the Chinese and a small segment of the Indian community were relatively much better off.

The clause was therefore more so of an acknowledgment by the non-malays of the disadvantageous economic situation of the malays. The consideration given by the former to the latter when entering into the social contract for citizenship rights was agree to provide some measure of support for the malays to improve their economic standing.

If our forefathers had meant for these preferences to last in perpetuity, then there would not have been a request for a review in 15 years.

When I see the compulsory requirement for non-malay companies to hand over a certain portion of their equity to the malays for no input at all, I am tempted to ask: Is this what our forefathers had in mind? I can go on listing the abuses forever because there are plenty of them.

It is intriguing to hear senior BN and Umno leaders repeatedly asking the people to adhere to the social contract. What contract they are referring to? It cannot be the federal constitution. It is most probably some contract that they have entered into unilaterally without the agreement of the non-malays.

So it seems to be incorrect to firstly equate the words 'special position' with 'special rights and privileges'. Secondly, it also seems incorrect to suggest that the malays have special rights and privileges in perpetuity and therefore, that they have a higher status than everyone else.

The non-malays only agreed to allow them preferences over the others for a finite period of time. It has now been almost 50 years since independent but has such a meaningful review of those preferences taken place at all? Absolutely not.

In fact what has happened is that successive BN governments, dominated by Umno, and especially after the 1969 tragedy, have taken the liberty to very liberally interpret Article 153. This has led to the wholesale abuse of the consideration provided by the non-malays in 1957 for their citizenship rights.

It seems to me that the real social contract of 1957 was torn up long ago by the BN government with the way in which the NEP was implemented from the 1970s onwards.

To me, the real social contract of 1957 has long been dead. I hope the day will come when the people of Malaysia in the true independent spirit will make it live again.

Then perhaps, we would not have to spend hundreds of millions ringgit on nonsensical projects like the National Service to inculcate unity amongst the races.

julee said...

Since the implementation of the meritocracy system, the percentage of malays accepted into local universities has increased every year. Do you believe that based on merit, the number of Chinese who qualify for university is lower than the number of malays?

If that is true, then the malays have improved by leaps and bounds, exceeding all the objectives of NEP.

But we only need to look at the PMR and SPM results to know that malay students lag far behind their Chinese counterparts. It is only when Chinese students take the STPM and the malay students take their matriculation examinations that suddenly, malay students become superior.

We live in a wonderful fairyland where ministers can say that the colour of milk is black and nobody dares to question it. Let us have the courage to face the truth, don't call an arbitrary system 'meritocracy'.

Stick to the previous quota system - at least the pitiful Chinese and Indian students will have a secure share of university places.

fong said...

The special position of the malays as prescribed under Article 153 of the Constitution is limited in scope to only the reservation of reasonable quotas in these 3 sectors: public services, educational places and business licenses.

Hence, the present rampant racial discriminations practiced on almost every facet of our national life are mostly violations of the Constitution. Examples of these violations are:

(a) Racial discrimination in the appointment and promotion of employees in publicly funded bodies, resulting in these becoming almost mono-raced bodies. These bodies include: the police, civil service, army and various semi and quasi government agencies.

(b) Imposition of compulsory share quota for malays in non-malay companies.

(c) Imposition of compulsory price discounts and quotas in favour of malays in housing projects.

(d) Completely lop-sided allocation of scholarships and seats of learning in clearly unreasonable proportions that reflect racial discriminations.

(e) Blanket barring of non-malays to publicly funded academic institutions (that should include the Mara).

(f) Barring of non-malays from tenders and contracts controlled directly or indirectly by the government.

Our Constitution provides for only one class of citizenship and all citizens are equal before the law.

The presence of Article 153 does not alter this fact, as it is meant only to protect the malays from being "squeezed" by other races by allowing the reservation of reasonable quotas on certain sectors of national life.

However, this Constitution has now been hijacked through decades of hegemony of political power by the ruling party to result in the virtual monopoly of the public sector by a single race.

The ensuing racism, corruption and corrosion of integrity of our democratic institutions have brought serious retrogression to our nation-building process in terms of national unity, morality, discipline and competitiveness of our people.

samp said...

To me, Ketuanan Melayu is the false notion of malay greatness or malay supremacy. Truth is - there is nothing to associate the malay race with greatness.

By any widely accepted standards, it will be obvious to see that the malay race does not qualify to be called one of the great races on this world. Truth is that the Chinese and Indians have a culture accomplished far greater and much more than these jokers have.

It should be Chinese and Indian supremacy in Malaysia. The only reason why malays have power in Malaysia is because they have the biggest population, and the racist rhetoric of the malay Umno politicians always sway the malay vote towards themselves.

Anyway, back to the untrue notion of Ketuanan Melayu. Let us see what malays have accomplished. Has any malay won the Nobel Prize - no. Has any malay been nominated for the Nobel Prize - most probably not.

By contrast, numerous Chinese and Indians have won the Nobel Prize and various other awards. The Chinese and Indian diaspora is widely recognized as two of the three most successful diasporas in history, the other being the Jewish diaspora. All over the world, Chinese and Indians have become successful artists, CEOs, doctors, filmmakers, scientists, writers, etc, etc.

Name one malay who is widely recognized around the world in his or her field. The only malay whose name might be recognized out of this country is Mahathir, and he is part Indian. Is malay culture recognized as a world renowned culture - no.

Malay culture, if cultures were ranked, would be close to the bottom. What is their culture compared to the great Chinese and Indian cultures that are centuries old and really rich! The Chinese and Indians have a 5000 years old history during which China and India have played a very important part in world history.

Nobody knew about malays until the Indian kings of south India first came here. That is why the oldest archeological remains in Malaysia, in Lembah Bujang, are Hindu temples.

The malay sultanate itself was started by a Hindu - Parameswara. And even at the height of its power, the Malacca sultanate was nothing more than a vassal of the Chinese emperor.

Have any malay architect designed anything worthwhile - no. Have any malay author won the Booker Prize or the Pulitzer Prize - no. Have any malay filmmaker won an Oscar - no. Have the malays achieved anything in sports - no.

Chinese and Indians have achieved all this. So there is no real Ketuanan Melayu. It is a fiction concocted by racist stupid politicians to keep the "kampung malays" happy thinking that they have had a glorious past.

They don't. Their history isn't worth mentioning. You would never find a mention of malays or Malaysia or Tanah Melayu in most books of world history while entire chapters are devoted to the history of China and India.

The discriminative constitution and law of Malaysia is just a recognition of this fact. The malay leaders and to every single malay knows that on a level playing field, the malays will never be able to compete with the Chinese and Indians.

As to the discussions, I can see some hatred in it but then none of it was untrue. I think most Malaysians have done a good job maintaining harmony and peace, but I can see how and why some may be pushed to hatred because of all the discrimination that goes on.

I mean come on, the discrimination towards non-malays is so wide-ranging that I am sure some people will feel robbed.

How do you think a Chinese or Indian student feels when he has worked his ass off to study for STPM and gets excellent result and then sees his malay friends who didn't work as hard and get as good result fly off to the England, Japan, USA etc, under JPA scholarship!

How do you think a Chinese or Indian contractor feels when his superior contract bid loses out to an inferior bid by a malay company!

What is going on in Malaysia is wrong. We should work towards creating a pure meritocracy, because history has shown that only meritocracies prosper and survive. It seems now that the Chinese or Indians don't even get fair representation in legal matters, as illustrated by the Moorthy case. Things need to be changed before bad things start to happen.

vovo said...

First of all, are we (the non-malays, that is) really to believe that the government will abolish or tone down the New Economic Policy in the near future?

We must be realistic, if you have the right to buy a property at a discount and have scholarships for your children, would you let go of these rights?

With Chinese population dwindling in Malaysia, what needs to be done depends on the Chinese themselves.

There is nothing wrong with the brain drain. In fact, we should encourage our children to move to Singapore, Taiwan, China etc, if we disagree with Malaysia government policies that are based on race and religion.

When it comes to the matter of the dwindling number of Chinese Malaysians, we should talk about quality, not quantity.

We should resolve why the Chinese-Malaysian population is reducing. Official figures have more than one million Chinese Malaysians emigrating over the past 25 years. Why did they emigrate? I am sure the government knows.

Straight A students can't get scholarships or university places. Nothing new, it is been that way for the past 35 years. Nowadays, even enlightened malay Malaysians are speaking up on this injustice. The Gerakan and MCA? Busy making money from private colleges.

What is so great about having TAR College or Utar which took more than 35 years of begging? Why should it be so difficult to set up an independent university when we have scores of public ones?

While we push young talented people away, other countries notably Singapore, Australia and the US welcome them with open arms.

Is it logical that we drive away our young talented ones and then invite retired Mat Sallehs to live here and exploit our low-cost of living?

Singapore's success in particular owes much to these ex-Malaysians or their descendants including Hon Sui Sen, Goh Keng Swee, Goh Chok Tong, just to name a few.

About 30 percent of top management in both Singapore's government and corporate sector are ex-Malaysians. We export them so that Singapore can compete with, and then whack us.

Korea and Taiwan, both way behind us in the 70s and 80s are now way ahead. Thailand is breathing down our necks.

Sadly, there is just no integrity in the nation's leadership.

ruyom said...

Malays are a diverse group of Austronesian peoples inhabiting the malay archipelago and malay Peninsula in Southeast Asia.

The original Austronesians from southern China crossed the strait of Taiwan and settled modern day Taiwan around 8000 - 4000 BCE.

These first settlers landed in northern Luzon in the Philippines. Over the next thousand years up until 1500 BCE, their descendants started to spread south to the rest of the Philippine islands, Celebes, northern Borneo, Moluccas, and Java.

The settlers in Moluccas sailed eastward and began to spread to the islands of Melanesia and Micronesia between 1200 BCE and 500 BCE respectively. Those that spread westward reached Sumatra, the malay Peninsula and southern Vietnam by 500 BCE.

According to the Encyclopedia of Malaysia, the Negritos, who number approximately 2000, are regarded as the earliest inhabitants of the malay Peninsula.

They are of Australo-Melanesian affinity and probably descend from the people of Hoabinhian cultural period, with many of their burials found dating back 10000 years ago.

They speak Austroasiatic languages, as do their Senoi agriculturalist neighbours. The Senoi and Proto-malay arrived much later probably during the Neolithic period.

oversee said...

The population of the Chinese Malaysians has plummeted from approximately 40 percent in 1957 to around 25 percent in 2000 although I do not have any figures for the Indians.

This trend will continue further until somebody stops the erosion of non-malay rights. Let me give a few examples:

(1) In 1957, most government documents were printed in Chinese, English, Malay and Tamil. At present, some government documents are printed only in malay e.g. income tax forms. This shows that only the malay language is important in Malaysia. Signboards must have their malay wording bigger in size than other languages.

(2) Mosques are mushrooming all over the place, even in non-malay majority areas while the building of new temples and churches are far and few between. When Dr Mahathir declared Malaysia an Islamic state, Gerakan and MCA dared not speak out against this. This only goes to show that they are both just puppets of Umno.

(3) New Chinese schools are severely restricted from being approved and built even in Chinese majority areas where the demand is high. But new national schools are being built with much gusto even if they are highly underutilised. How can Gerakan and MCA dare to say that they fight for Chinese education when parents have to send their children to far away places every morning because competition for near-homes schools is very stiff.

(4) Rich malays are granted a seven percent discount when buying luxury houses and some of them are even buying an extra house for their second wife, whereas poor non-malays have to fork out the full non-subsidised amount for their first low or medium-cost house.

Instead of migrating, please have a thought toward the unfortunates who neither have the money nor the talent to migrate overseas and that includes your friends and relatives. After all, the ancestors of the major races in Malaysia are all from different countries, the Chinese from China, the Indians from India, and the Malays from Indonesia.

If the blacks in the United States, which comprises only 10 percent of the population, and the French in Canada, which comprises 25 percent of the population, and can fight for greater equal rights, why can't the non-malays here in Malaysia?

Let us all vote for fairness and meritocracy.

honyang said...

I have mentioned in my posts that NEP is not constitutional and has extended its period beyond what has been planned to be necessary. 20 years has passed, but greed has set in.

Greed to benefits only a few and not the poverty stricken Malaysians. An affirmative policy that helps the poor regardless of race is needed.

I have also demonstrated that India has Muslim presidents despite being 80% Hindu. Similarly, in Australia there are Asian mayors. In America, New Zealand and many countries, top positions are for the capable not based on race or religion.

Now, let us not sweep all discussions under the carpet with the term Article 153.

Article 153 should always be interpreted together with Article 8 that all Malaysians must be dealt with fairly and treated as equal.

While the positions of the malays are respected and their heritage not forgotten, they are not meant to be the guardians of toll and wealth and collectors that usurp all money, oil and some natural resources till it is left dry.

It is important we publish this, so we do not just shiver when we hear Article 153, and begin to think of greedy ways to gain from another or use it to put down another races.

Article 153:

(1) The quotas reserved must be reasonable and the reservation of licences and permits for malays and natives must be of such proportion as may be deemed reasonable.

(2) The scope of the reservation of quotas is only with respect to positions in public service, scholarships, and other similar educational or training privileges accorded or given by the federal government.

(3) The special reservation of quotas must not affect the rights of other communities.

Apart from the provisions allowed under the abovementioned Article 153, all citizens of Malaysia must be treated as equal. This is clearly provided for under Article 8 of the Federal Constitution.

Article 8:

(1) All persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law.

(2) No public authority shall discriminate against any person on the ground that he is resident or carrying on business in any part of the federation outside the jurisdiction of the authority.

(3) There shall be no discrimination in favour of any person on the ground that he is a subject of the ruler of any state.

NEP: It will destroy the Malaysia.

We must demand these changes and the power is with the people. We must go against a corrupt government, a fanatic religious social structure and not accept crime rates and the NEP. We need to change Malaysia and the social structures that are not relevant for Malaysia anymore.

We need to free ourselves from these chains that make our lives not worth living.

San said...

Racial polarisation in the country is not caused by the country's vernacular school system but more by the government political, education and economic discriminative policies, an educationist said today.

The prime minister and all the Umno ministers will never admit that polarisation arises more out of the race-based policies and privileges one race gets over another.

Similarly, there are other areas of our daily lives where terminologies used have made us view certain practices as privileges rather than sacrifices. For instance, the bumi discount for houses.

The total sale value to the developer is still the same. It is just that the non-malay buyer is likely to be required to pay for some of the discount given to the malays.

But the longer the NEP policies continue and the greater the vehemence with which Umno politicians issue threats, terminologies will change and more people will talk about these practices or policies in words that may not sound as pleasing to the ears of the beneficiaries.

Obviously, at that point we shall probably see a new round of discriminations and disagreements. Unfortunately, as long as only weak people take on leadership roles within Umno, threats will continue, NEP policies will be sustained and corruption will prevail.

That unfortunately is the legacy we have as Malaysians.

The basic building blocks of unity, whether you are uniting different ethnic groups in a country or trying to re-engineer a corporation of differing cultural values, are the same.

The principal parties have to be treated as equals - nor special privileges no favours that would favour one group over another. Any privilege that is given should be given to all on the same basis - for example, special privilege given to the financially poor regardless of race or ethnic origin.

It is only on this equitable footing that you can foster true nationalism and build lasting unity, since each component group will have the same stake in the nation and has equal likelihood in reaping the rewards or suffering the consequences.

My recommendation to the government, not simply as a businessman but also based on pragmatism, is not to waste any more taxpayer ringgit on nationalism programmes until it has established the pre-conditions for its success.

What is sad is that, after almost five decades of independence, we have been unable in Malaysia, to bring globally-vision leaders to the forefront - leaders who can see beyond racial boundaries to recognise the immense sociological and economic potential that can benefit all Malaysians.

ruyom said...

I wish to point out that the Orang Asli, not the malays, are the original inhabitants of Malaysia. Most of the malay Malaysians came from Sumatra and other parts of Indonesia. They only migrated here much earlier than the Chinese and Indian Malaysians. It does not mean they deserve privileges or rights just because they were the pioneer immigrants.

I applaud the non-malays who have kept quiet but are though uneasy over these special rights. You are true heroes, willing to show malays that you can succeed despite the odds. But neither I nor you should give up the right to be a first-class citizen of your country.

In fact there is nothing wrong in working hand in hand for the greater good of Malaysia. As for the malays who insist on hiding behind the veil of malay special rights - you have lost the respect of non-malays a long time ago.

Most non-malays I know come from low and middle income families. They struggled to save every sen. They like everyone else, spent their hard earned savings plus their EPF funds to educate their children. The poor ones can’t even do that as there is no one to help them. Can they ask for help from the government? Who represents these people?

It is arguable that if not for the contributions of the Chinese and Indian Malaysians who helped in the development of this country tremendously, Malaysia would probably be in same category like Indonesia or the Philippines, if not worst.

As for the writer's assumption that no other race has been more considerate, generous and kind of the needs of other people, I would encourage the writer to travel around the world and look at countries where the Chinese and Indians are minorities too.

The malay and others of the same mind should learn to stand on their own feet rather than claim for special privileges and rights. The world is becoming globalised and if they don't change their attitude, they will only become beggars in their own country.

KC said...

Wow...shawn do u know all these ppl? Suddenly..."appear" and write long stuff that makes my head spins.. and so racially oriented. Aren't they afraid of ISA...or they have some sort of immunity? Hehe...

Disclaimer: My opinion is not representative of any race nor am I a rightist of any kind. I like a better Malaysia because I grew up there and I am an ardent believer that Malaysia has many citizens with loads of potentials to contribute to the nation and people like kok, san, honyang and oversee (if u exist as separate person) can contribute to the nation in a more constructive ways :) Come let's build a nation not destroy it...even Skoda (by Czech)can be voted one of the best European car last year...when it was first suggested in the 90's ppl think it is a joke :)

Shawn Tan said...

wah lau.. so much comments to read.. i try my best to answer..

kc: Nope, I dunno any of these people.My blog stats didn't spike in any way. Also, you can see the admission from hanyang's comment. So, from the evidence, I would have to infer that it's some troll that's commenting here.

But at the very least, they took some time to write so much comments, they deserve at least some sort of reply.

Shawn Tan said...

Dear Troll(s),

With regards to Article 153, take your case up with a lawyer. I am not a lawyer.

With regards to University admissions, based on my personal experience, Malays are no dumber than Chinese. I also think that purely academic results don't reflect how smart people are.

For your list of racial discriminations, it is highly suspect. From my personal experience, I know that some of them are inaccurate and wrong.

For Ketuanan Melayu, your arguments are so flawed. Name me a single Malaysian who has won any of those awards. I also believe that a purely merit based society is an unfair one.

With regards to brain drain, it's happening everywhere. It's even happening in S'pore and the US. The grass is always greener on the other side.

As for a decreasing Chinese population, Chinese families worldwide have low birth rates. The worst is of course in China itself.

I will stop here.

PS: I will be turning off anonymous comments now. Sorry!

koln_auhc said...

Haha, you finally turned off the anonymous posting.

Perhaps you can check out the IP address to see where those comments came from. It's pretty weird to have such long replies coming in suddenly. I kinda feel that some comments may be left deliberately for wrongful use in the future. You probably should increase more terms and conditions in your disclaimer. Consult lol-yers.

How sad to have these people here.

If I'm not wrong, this should be the post with the most comments. Right?

flygoon said...

Actually, there are people started doing something is similar to what you have written here. It is a website call Citizen Think Tank - The knowledge empowered citizens.

These people are trying to claim malaysia back from the communalists and the racists.

They have presented some pretty cool ideas and I think, as a malaysian, it is the right thing to do to join them.

Check out the website URL:-

They even have a place for Malaysian general public to rank and review the politicians! But do check out the people's parliament and find out what you could do as a Malaysian to help shape a Malaysian Malaysia...