Friday, March 28, 2014

Invitation To Attend The International Movement For A Just World (Just) Forum On The Crisis In Ukraine: What It Means To The World

The International Movement for a Just World (JUST) cordially invites you to a JUST forum entitled The Crisis in Ukraine, What it Means to the World. The goal of this forum is to highlight the various issues in the Ukraine crisis, what it means for the people of Ukraine, and how these issues affect the socio-political dynamics of the International system. 

The honourable speakers who will be sharing their insights are H.E. Ms. Lyudmilla G. Vorobyeva (Ambassador of Russia to Malaysia), Mr Bunn Nagara (Senior Fellow, Institute of Strategic and International Studies), and Dr Chandra Muzaffar (President, International Movement for a Just World)

The details of the event are as follows:

Date         : 5th April 2014 (Saturday)
Venue      : Institut Integriti Malaysia, Persiaran Duta, 50480, Kuala                      Lumpur, Malaysia
Time         : 10.00 AM – 1.00 PM

We look forward to your presence and participation. Thank you.

Warm regards,
The Executive Committee

International Movement for a Just World (JUST)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Making smart and savvy lifestyle choices - The STAR

Hypermarkets are a convenient choice for many as they house all household needs under one roof.
Hypermarkets are a convenient choice for many as they house all household needs under one roof.

“So before I decide to go somewhere, I take into account the cost of travel there, parking charges and toll charges.
“I am considered a senior citizen this year and I get half price when I take the LRT, bringing extra savings for me,” said Ho.
Ho’s tips to spend money prudently are:
• Live within your means and only buy what you need
• Try to car pool or use public transport to save on travel costs. Work out the cost of driving to a place
• If you see something you like, keep an eye on it and see if it’s available on sale down the line
Associate Vice President of Sabah Economics Development Authority (SEDIA) Iwan Hermawan, 40, and his teacher wife works and lives in Putatan, Kota Kinabalu, and they take home a monthly joint income of about RM4,000.
They have three children between the ages of nine and 11 and they say Kota Kinabalu has a fairly affordable cost of living in terms of food items.
“It is the prices of cars and houses which residents here find rather expensive, with prices of about RM250,000 for an apartment and between RM500,000 and RM700,000 for a three bedroom terraced house.
“Each month, we spend about RM500 on household products including fresh food and non-perishable goods.
“We don’t really go out of our way to look for the cheapest place to buy things, as convenience is a big factor for us since my wife and I both work,” he said.
“So we go to either Giant or Survay hypermarkets as it’s easy to get parking and we can get all our household needs under one roof in one outing.
“My wife and I also feel it’s a safer environment for us to bring our children along.
“We save on our monthly spending by making lifestyle choices which means we spend less money as a family,” he said.
So for example, he said they don’t spend much time around in shopping malls, preferring instead to have picnics on the beach or go to the parks as a family.
As for clothes, he said they buy them in the shopping malls when the sales are on.
“We have bought clothes from the pasar malam before, but I found that the quality is bad and it doesn’t last as long, although it’s much cheaper.
“For me, I think it’s better to spend slightly more money for something which lasts longer,” he said.

Coping with rising cost of living - The STAR

One is spoilt for choice when shopping at hypermarkets.
One is spoilt for choice when shopping at hypermarkets.

Some 66% of Malaysian households earn less than RM5,000 a month. How do these families cope? Four families earning between RM3,000 and RM5,000 share their smart spending tips.
SK Taman Megah clerk Roshanizar Ali, 41, and her Customs officer husband have five children aged between four and 12 years old and they take home a joint income of RM3,000.
They live in the Kelana Jaya Customs Department quarters and this has helped them save some money on housing rental. However, there is an allowance deduction on this, so it’s not free.
“My average household expenditure for groceries including non-perishables as well as fresh produce is about RM600.
“Out of this, I spend between RM300 and RM350 for dry goods and non-perishables such as sugar, flour, detergent and rice.
“As for fresh produce, my expenditure is RM150 for two weeks’ worth of food, bringing it to about RM300 per month,” said Roshanizar.
She said the first thing they do when they get their salaries is to keep aside between RM100 and RM300 per month for emergencies like illness in the family, or even tobalik kampung.
“Then I will pay off the car loan, any bank loans, the household utility bills, fuel, tuition fees for the children, babysitter fees and other bills like mobile phone bills.
“After doing the rounds at all the supermarkets and hypermarkets in the area, I have found that the cheapest place for me to buy dry goods and non-perishables is Speed Mart,” she said.
“At home, I prepare breakfast and lunch for my family in the mornings. I’m at work by 7.15am each morning and by the time I return home it’s about 6.15pm.
“My children also go to SK Taman Megah so they travel with me. My husband only returns about 8pm after his job as a customs officer in a factory.
“Before he returns I will cook dinner – I will usually cook rice in the mornings to save on time. For dinner, I will cook a vegetable dish and either a fish or chicken dish.
“I will never cook chicken and fish together. We only go out to eat about once a month, we can’t afford to do it more often than that.
“I do feel the pinch from the increase in the cost of fuel prices as I drive a car. But in order to save, my husband rides a motorcycle,” said Roshanizar.
Roshanizar’s budgeting tips are:
• Use your salary to pay for the necessities first such as loans and bills
• Share information of good buys with friends

Monday, March 24, 2014

The journey in nation building by Shad Saleem Faruqi - The STAR

The people need to improve their knowledge of the Constitution as the delicate provisions dealing with inter-ethnic relations can help to moderate extremism.
TILL the nineties Malaysia was regarded as an exemplar of how a deeply divided, plural society can survive and thrive politically, economically and socially.
However, some believe that lately we have regressed; that racial and religious polarisation has reached alarming levels; that unlike other parts of the world where walls of ethnic separation are being dismantled, in Peninsular Malaysia these walls are being fortified.
A large number of painful, intractable issues keep on tugging at the frayed social fabric.
The above pessimistic view is not shared by all.
Datuk Shamsul Amri Baharuddin, Distinguished Professor at the UKM Institute of Ethnic Studies has eloquently argued that in their daily interaction Malaysians enjoy “cross-cutting social ties” and exist “in a state of social cohesion”.
“Even in times of fierce competition”, Malaysians “talk conflict, walk cohesion”.
In his view, the empirical reality is that Malaysia is a nation “in a state of stable tension”.
Malaysians “prefer tongue wagging not parang (machete) wielding”.
Contestation between different ethnic groups does exist but the chosen path is one of consensus not conflict.
Indeed this is so and credit must be given where it is due.
Nevertheless, we cannot deny that new grouses, new problems and demands have come to the fore.
One cannot rest on past laurels. The search for a “new middle ground” is a constant challenge.
Nation-building is a journey, not a destination. To consolidate the achievements of the past, a number of legal, political, administrative, economic and educational measures need to be reinforced.
Constitutional literacy: We need to improve knowledge of the Constitution’s glittering generalities, especially its provisions on inter-ethnic relations.
If we study the drafting of the Constitution, we will see that the forefathers of our Constitution were animated by a spirit of accommodation, moderation, compassion and tolerance.
The Constitution, even in its “ethnic provisions”, sought to avoid extreme measures and provided for a balance between the interests of the “Bumiputera” and “non-Bumiputera” communities.
Regrettably, the level of constitutional literacy is very low and needs to be overcome at all levels – from schools, colleges and universities to the civil service and parliamentarians.
Employment: The public and private sectors are trapped in a tit-for-tat riposte of ethnic prejudices. In recruitments and promotions, ethnicity remains significant. We need to put all this behind us and expand our circle of life.
Subject to the constitutionally permitted quotas of Article 153 in four specified areas, racial differentiation must be prohibited in both the public and private sectors by a National Harmony, Civil Rights or Race Relations Act.
Build bridges, not walls: All of us have the national duty of building ethnic bridges and dismantling walls, of healing and reconciling, and of developing a vision of unity.
A beginning can be made by recognising that disagreements are natural. Truth is multiple. Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.
Education: The primary and secondary educational systems must nurture tolerance, mutual respect and inter-cultural dialogue.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Protecting The Independence Of The Judiciary by Dr. Chandra Muzaffar

It is understandable why the Chief Justice of Malaysia, Tun Arifin Zakaria, has, at this juncture, reiterated his commitment to the independence of the Judiciary. Within certain circles a negative perception of the institution has become more pronounced than before, partly because of the recent conviction of a couple of politicians.

If we traced this perception to its root, a certain episode in the eighties --- the Salleh Abas episode --- would be part of the reason why it had emerged in the first instance, compounded by the questionable decisions and actions of some senior judges in the past. But in recent years it is the intensity of inter-party political competition that has impacted adversely upon the Judiciary. Sweeping generalisations are made about the integrity of the institution and its standard-bearers based on whether a decision is in the interest of one party or the other. When a decision is favourable to one side, the Judge concerned and the Judiciary are lauded by the winner and his supporters; if the decision is unfavourable to him, he and his acolytes condemn the Judge or Judges involved and the entire Judiciary in the vilest language conceivable.

Such infantile behaviour is particularly true of a certain influential politician and his diehard followers. It is their antics in the last 16 years that have smeared and sullied the image of the Judiciary. It is an irrefutable fact that this politician has been acquitted as he has been convicted in equal measure by different judges in the course of the last decade and a half. He has won and he has lost various legal battles.
The latest conviction against him is yet another illustration of how his fanatical devotees stubbornly refuse to even consider the merits of the Court judgement against him and the legal principles underlying the case. He himself continues to whip up mass emotions against the Judges who had convicted him by conveying the erroneous impression that he is the victim of some grave injustice. By so doing, he has set aside his conscience.

This is illustrated by a report in a local daily about a rally he addressed in a town in Penang on 9 March 2014 attended by more than 3000 people. Apparently, he “got the crowd going when he took off his shoe and threatened to symbolically hurl it against the judges who convicted him.” Needless to say, such despicable conduct is an affront to the Judiciary. One wonders why he has not been hauled up for contempt, especially since it is widely known that he has on numerous occasions at home and abroad made disparaging and demeaning remarks about the Judiciary. It appears that he enjoys some sort of immunity and has the liberty to tar and tarnish the image of the nation’s most vital institution in the protection of its integrity.

This brings us to how we Malaysians can help to protect the independence and the integrity of the Judiciary.

One, the Judiciary itself should ensure, through its decisions and actions, that it is truly independent and free of any bias. Its primary commitment is to justice.

Two, if there are unscrupulous attempts to bring the Judiciary to disrepute, the Attorney-General as required of his office should act expeditiously to protect the institution. He should immediately institute contempt proceedings against the individual or entity concerned.

Three, the Government should also demonstrate that it is sincere about respecting the independence of the Judiciary. Its actions should not give raise to the slightest doubt that it is trying through subtle or stark manoeuvres to influence the Judiciary.

Four, local and foreign corporations, and individuals who command wealth, power and influence in society should not appear to be trying to shape judicial decisions through direct and indirect means.

Five, Opposition leaders and parties should not pressurise the Judiciary by mobilising the mob against the institution or threatening Judges and their families. Neither should they smear the institution or its standard-bearers through vicious demonization and vulgar attacks.

Six, Opposition leaders should not seek the help of foreign governments or other external actors to apply pressure upon the Judiciary to make decisions that are favourable to them and their ilk.

Seven, the Malaysian Bar Council has a special responsibility to defend the independence of the Judiciary. Given the prevailing situation, it should undertake to present the facts as they are to the general public in order to minimise the misconceptions about the Judiciary. The Bar Council can do this by preparing a balance sheet of the so-called ‘political cases’ adjudicated in the last 10 years which will reveal the number that were won by the Government and elements associated with it and the number won by the Opposition and groups allied to it. It should compare this balance sheet with the record of Judiciaries in Britain, Canada, India and other democracies.

Eight, civil society groups also have a role to play. They should adopt a balanced position on the question of the Judiciary without falling into the trap of either uncritical acceptance of each and every judicial decision or slavish rejection of the Judiciary’s record goaded by blind antagonism towards the Government of the day.

Nine, the media, whatever its form, should regard the defence of the Judiciary, especially if the Judiciary is endeavouring to uphold its independence, as its sacred duty. If the proposed balance sheet on the performance of the Judiciary materialises, the media should disseminate the information as widely as possible.

Ten, more than all the institutions and bodies mentioned here, it is the Malaysian citizen who should cherish the independence and integrity of the Judiciary in her heart. She should be deeply conscious of how fundamental judicial independence is to her own well-being and the well-being of her loved ones.

Malaysians should realise that judicial independence resonates with the virtuous examples of independent-minded judges of integrity found in many of our spiritual and moral philosophies. This is why an independent Judiciary is in the ultimate analysis one of those hallowed principles that unites all Malaysians.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Replaying history over Crimea by Bunn Nagara - The STAR

Making a stand: Protesters holding flags and signs outside the White House during an anti-Putin protest in Washington, DC, ahead of meetings between US President Barack Obama and Yatsenyuk. — AFP
Making a stand: Protesters holding flags and signs outside the White House during an anti-Putin protest in Washington, DC, ahead of meetings between US President Barack Obama and Yatsenyuk. — AFP

Double standards abound when a power grab in Ukraine is hailed, but a public referendum following a parliamentary vote on Crimea’s future is condemned.
THE people of Crimea today vote in a referendum to choose whether their autonomous republic should quit Ukraine and possibly join Russia.
Yet the democratic nature of Crimea’s actions is condemned, particularly by those who would perversely brandish the democratic idea themselves.
The Crimean Parliament had earlier voted to uncouple the republic from Ukraine, whether or not it would later proceed to unite with Russia.
The move was immediately condemned by fledgling Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and his Western allies, soon after he had received his own disputed premiership through a vote in Ukraine’s Parliament.
With today’s referendum, Crimea goes one up on Ukraine in the democratic stakes. Crimean leaders thus stole Ukraine’s “freedom” thunder, even as Kiev’s newly installed leaders were only getting into gear after their bloodless coup against a duly elected President Viktor Yanukovych.
Last November, Yanukovych opted for closer ties with Russia over an arrangement with the EU. From Brussels and Washington, this looked like the beginning of a slippery slope strategically favouring Russia over the West.
Following allegations of police brutality against protesters, Yanukovych’s power base waned and he agreed on a pact with the Opposition leading to fresh elections later this year. But the next day Parliament betrayed the agreement and evicted him.
For centuries, Ukraine had been pushed around and fought over by eastern European kingdoms and principalities. Later, western European countries and Russia took over the “game”.
Ukraine had declared independence from a fading Soviet Union in 1991. However, there was no complete break from Moscow: Belarus and Ukraine formed the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) with Russia.
Today’s fuss may seem like a replay of the Cold War. But if history is repeating itself, it would be more Crimean War than Cold War: in that mid-19th century conflict, European powers ganged up against Russia over Ukraine.
Then, as now, it involved naval assets in the Black Sea, a Russian base in Sevastopol, Crimea as a focus, and Russian efforts to protect people in its sphere of influence. Now, as before, Moscow’s detractors over Ukraine include France, Germany and Poland.
Today the US is heading the Western charge against Russia. Expect that from an assertive superpower and the dominant force of Nato, especially when it can help make up for a recent spying scandal that enraged Europe.
The US and European argument is that mass street protests justified Yanukovych’s ouster. But demonstrations are not elections, let alone measurable votes, and while protesters can only campaign against someone, only elections can select preferred leaders.
The West also wants the unofficial posting of “unmarked” Russian troops to Crimea to be reversed forthwith. However, Russia’s Black Sea Fleet had been in Ukraine and Crimea long before US plans for Nato’s military installations on Russia’s doorstep in Poland and the Czech Republic.
For Russia, a military “surge” in Crimea not amounting to a “pivot” on the peninsula was to maintain security and the status quo. With ethnic Russians resident in Ukraine and Crimea, and the presence of violent anti-Russian gangs on the streets, Moscow felt it had to act.
Besides security, Russia was also responding to Yanukovych’s urgent request for a resistance force. Crimea soon made a similar request to Moscow.
Meanwhile, Yatsenyuk was feted in Brussels while proclaiming democracy despite never having been elected by his people. Other semantic contortions would soon follow.
Yatsenyuk rejected foreign intervention in Ukraine, but welcomed EU and US intervention. He also rejected the Crimean Parliament’s vote to join Russia, but his own authority came from Ukraine’s vote in Parliament for a coup.
Crimea was already an autonomous entity within Ukraine, so its decision to split from Kiev could be no more a jolt to Ukraine than Kiev’s decision to leave Russia’s orbit was to Moscow.
Then Yatsenyuk let drop the plot: “We are not ready to be a subordinate of Russia”. Meanwhile, the new Ukraine prepared to bow to the dictates of the IMF and the Washington Consensus.
Instead of Russia’s US$15bil (RM48.9bil) aid, Ukraine would now get the same amount from the EU plus another US$1bil (RM3.3bil) from the US in loan guarantees. There was later talk of another US$700mil (RM2.3bil) a year in EU trade breaks.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Do You Have Questions for Y.Bhg Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah and YB Dato' Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa

We are happy to share with you that zubedy will collaborate with 2 of Malaysia's prolific icons of moderate politics - Y.Bhg Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, the CEO of Global Movement of Moderates Foundation and YB Dato' Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa, the Member of Parliament for the Parit Buntar constituency.

The 2 respectable figures will co-author a book, which zubedy will publish. With this book, we hope to achieve several goals:

  • To promote positive New Politics - a state of political maturity where moderation is key and extreme partisanship is a thing of the past.
  • To encourage the Middle Path as a standard practice among the targeted audience of the book and Malaysians in general.
  • To get fellow Malaysians to take active participation and engaging the 2 figures of moderate politics.

The book will be designed as a dialogue between Malaysians and both Y.Bhg Datuk Saifuddin and YB Dato' Dr Mujahid. This is where we need your help. We want to gather as many questions as possible for the book, questions you would like to see them answer. The topic can be of any topic - education, economy, socialisation, politicss, etc.

Please submit all questions to

We look forward to your questions!