Hokkien puppetry comes to life in Penang

LAST week, I returned to my hometown, Penang, to celebrate Chinese New Year. The family reunion meal with my father (who turns 94 this year) and (87-year-old) mother is an annual event I always look forward to.

It’s not possible to have my brothers (now in their mid-60s to 70 years old), their wives, children and grandchildren with us at the family event every time, but we get as many of them as we can. I have made it a point to host these pre-CNY meals because for the last few years, I have avoided being in Penang during the first two days of the actual celebrations.

That’s when Penang island’s roads get choked up and traffic comes to a complete standstill, the city desperately dealing with the homecoming of Penangites and tourists, especially during the second day of CNY.

The temperature on the island during the CNY season always seems to spike and at times, the scorching heat is almost unbearable. And that’s another reason why I withdraw from the otherwise lovely island during this festive period. As much as I yearn for my Penang hawker fare, I don’t want to jostle for a plate of char koay teow with tourists. But on this recent trip home, it hit me that I have become a stranger in my proud Hokkien-speaking island. The loss of the distinct northern-accented Hokkien has been apparent in the last few years but now it looks like its death may come sooner than feared.

It’s worse for a “banana” like me – a term to denote a person of Chinese origin who can’t speak or write Chinese, and instead, identifies more with Western culture. The term is derived from the fruit, which is “yellow on the outside, white on the inside”.

Those like me are regarded a disgrace to the Chinese-speaking community because I can’t read or write Chinese or speak Mandarin.
Their horror turns to disgust when I confess that I can’t even write my name in Chinese.

My decade of education was at St Xavier’s Institution, a Catholic establishment, and despite the religious background of the premier school, it had a liberal and open- minded culture that moulded most of its students, and this, us former students are enormously grateful for and proud of.

The multi-ethnic mix of the school’s population also means we had real friends from all races, developed and tested over a decade. So we always felt sorry for those who studied in Chinese, Tamil or Islamic-based schools then, because we felt their set up was mono-ethnic. And no matter how much the products of these schools claim they had friends from other races, we know they didn’t have the deep ties or bonds that those of us in English-medium schools developed.

Fast forward to 2019! Just like The Last Of The Mohicans – the James Fenimore Cooper historical novel realised in the 1992 movie about the last members of the dying Native American tribe, the Mohicans – it dawned on me last week that I could well be among the Last Of The Bananas in Malaysia.

At the Air Itam wet market, I asked for the price of the thee kuih, or kuih bakul, in Hokkein and the stall keeper, in turn, replied: “Oh, nee yau (you want) nian gao.”

A few steps away, another trader was loudly hawking ang pow packets, which, in previous times, would be referred to as “ang pow long” (red packets), but this time, I was hearing “hong bao feng”.

By the time I sat down at a coffee shop, the waiter was already taking down my order, again, in Mandarin, and quoting prices in that language, too. It was no longer “kopi” but “ka fei” now.

If there’s one clear feature that separates Penangites from the rest of the ethnic Chinese in Malaysia, it has always been the melodious Hokkien, with its rich sprinkling of Malay words that reveals its nonya-baba linguistic roots.

Penangites – at least from the older generation – are fiercely proud of their Hokkien, as it completely differs from the one spoken in Singapore, Taiwan or Xiamen in China, and even that in Melaka or Johor. Call us smug, snooty or parochial but we sometimes dismiss the Hokkien spoken elsewhere as somewhat crass and unrefined.

Only the Hokkien spoken by the Chinese in Medan closely mirrors Penang Hokkien, presumably because of the proximity between the island and the Indonesian city.

Whether rightly or wrongly, or plainly out of ignorance, Penangites feel the sing-song delivery is easier on the ears.

Words such as balai (police station), balu (just now), bangku (stool), batu (stone), cilaka/celaka (damn it), campur (to mix), jamban (toilet), gatai/gatal (itchy) gili/geli (creepy), sabun (soap) and kesian (pity), are an integral part of the Penang Hokkien dialect.

If the person is not from Penang, then he or she is likely from Kedah, Perlis or Taiping in Perak, to be able to converse in the northern-accented Hokkien. Which brings me to my point: As the daily use of the dialect is rapidly being replaced by Mandarin, I am feeling the impact the most. It is worse for the “bananas” who are feeling lost and out of place – in their home town.

It doesn’t help that many of the present Penang state and federal leaders aren’t from Penang, having been born and raised in either Melaka, Johor or Selangor.

The Penang Monthly bulletin, in its May 2017 issue, dramatically headlined the situation: “Penang Hokkien on life support”.

In an interview with the publication, Penang Hokkien Language Association secretary Ooi Kee How lamented that “our creativity, our cultural identity, will decline. A lot of innovations will disappear, because different languages shape the way we think differently.”

But the wide use of Mandarin and the decline of the dialects is not just endemic to Penang. Cantonese is spoken less in the Klang Valley, too, and is suffering the same sad fate as northern Hokkien. The random stranger who calls up, irritatingly “inviting” us to take up a loan having been “specially selected”, speaks to me in Mandarin because it’s assumed I can speak the language since I have a Chinese name. Likewise, the sales staff who stops us at the shopping mall also speaks to me in Mandarin, likely led by the same deduction.

So, as a “banana” who thinks and dreams in English, I am starting to suffer from anxiety. I am embarrassed by my inability to communicate in an important language – with huge economic value – and worse, the national language of my ancestral country.

At the rate, the Chinese language is being used, even by non-Chinese, I fear that I will be regarded illiterate in future. “Bananas” in the past ridiculed and mocked the Chinese-educated for not being able to speak English sufficiently, or roll their tongues well enough to produce the “r” sound, but now, it looks like the tables have turned on the “bananas”, instead.

A whole generation of Malaysian Chinese has been educated in Chinese schools, at least at primary level. It has been widely reported, from various surveys, that up to 90% of Chinese parents send their children to Chinese primary schools, and the balance to national medium schools.

As I have written here before, this is unlike the experience of the older generation of Penangites like me, now in their 50s, who attended schools using English as a medium of instruction. In the absence of Mandarin, we spoke mainly Hokkien and English, but people in their 30s and 40s are more comfortable conversing in Mandarin, and certainly not English.

Then there is the huge impact of Chinese TV shows, especially on Astro. They are entirely in Mandarin – with shows from mainland China and Taiwan – and Hokkien, which is spoken in a manner closer to that used in Melaka, Johor and Singapore.

It’s no surprise that the sales staff at malls also expect the Chinese community to speak Mandarin, and understandably, they will begin the conversation in Mandarin – because you are expected to know the language.

There is also the impact of China as the new economic powerhouse of Asia, if not the world. Mandarin has become the dominant language with economic value, and certainly prestige. That’s how it is now, but this may well come at the expense of a rich heritage.

The harsh reality is that the unique “sing-song” style of Penang Hokkien might no longer be heard decades from now if this frightening trend continues. Even worse, what’s certain is that the “bananas” will be history very soon.

Well, what can I say, except to wish you “xin nian kwai le” (happy new year) and “gong xi fa cai” (may you attain greater wealth) this festive season!

Children admiring a Hokkien glove puppet theatre performing 'Journey to the West' on a portable wooden stage at the Little Penang Street Market.

The Star, Published: Sunday, 27 Jan 2019
Feeling lost in Penang

Its decline has been progressive, but Penang’s Hokkien heritage is at its closest to death’s door as 2019 takes off.

By Wong Chun Wai

PENANG, Malaysia -- At the back of a typical Malaysian-Chinese temple filled with the heavy smoke of burning joss sticks, a small group of elders sit on low stools around a wooden stage. Two crouch below the theater's frame, holding up wood-and-cloth puppets on one hand, giving the characters voices with the microphones they hold in the other. They are performing the traditional Hokkien tale of kung fu expert Ma Lek, who rescues a girl from her kidnapper. As the exciting tale unfolds, musicians at the side of the stage strike gongs and cymbals, cranking up the sense of drama in the temple hall.

This is Hokkien potehi, a type of glove puppet theater that shares themes and characters with Chinese opera. Potehi performances can last up to three hours; troupes improvise over the structures they perform daily for years at temples all over northwest Malaysia. Potehi originated in the southern Chinese province of Fujian and the ancient city of Quanzhou was one of its centers.

The earliest historical data of performing troupes date back to the 18th century, but the genre itself is thought to be much older. From the late 19th century, migrant workers spread the art to Taiwan and Southeast Asia. The island of Penang, a thriving colonial port in British Malaya, was among their main points of entry. In the 1940s, Penang's potehi was a very popular form of entertainment at religious festivities and funerals all over the state: More than 10 troupes would mesmerize the crowds with spectacular scenes, such as the fight between the centipede and the cock in "The Monkey King Adventures" and dramatic uses of fire on stage.

But today, the art is dying. Only four troupes of aging performers -- Beng Geok Hong, Sin Kim Hong, Guat Poh Hong and Sing Hong Eng -- remain active, forced by the lack of interest to keep potehi in the temples, the only way they have to squeeze a living.

"They have no audiences, as few understand classical Hokkien," said Tan Sooi Beng, a prominent Malaysian ethnomusicologist and a professor at Universiti Sains Malaysia, who studied this unique art for years, and is now trying to help revitalize it.

Dutch expert Robin Ruizendaal, who is also the artistic director of Taiwan's Taiyuan Puppet Theatre Company, confirms the singularity of Penang's potehi style: "Its mixture of traditional seated performance by the puppeteers doesn't exist anymore in Taiwan." Ruizendaal says that the musicians play Taiwanese gezaixi, a form of Hokkien opera based on folk stories and popular songs, which is already obsolete in Taiwan's puppet theaters, and beiguan, a style of percussion.

Ruizendaal, co-author of "Asian Theatre Puppets" published in 2009 and "Potehi: Glove Puppet Theatre in Southeast Asia and Taiwan" published in 2016, says in Taiwan, the government proudly supports potehi as a form of popular entertainment.

No state support

"Potehi receives no funding from Malaysia's Ministry of Culture and Tourism," Tan told Nikkei Asian Review. "On top of that, Chinese associations and the local Chinese population don't promote this art form, preferring Chinese orchestra and lion or dragon dances as markers of their identity." Due to a lack of support and funding, the four remaining potehi troupes have no interest or means to invest and improve their shows and reach wider audiences.

"They sleep on straw mats on the stage, men and women, together... such a hard life," said Liew Kung Yu, 57, a Kuala Lumpur-born visual artist who grew up in the northern state of Kedah, neighboring Penang. After helming the artistic direction of the George Town World Heritage Celebrations on July 6-7, 2014, Liew met with potehi performers again. He then applied for a grant to help with the restoration of the puppets. "We need to give them the credit they deserve in carrying on this art against all odds," he said.

Liew's involvement led to the creation of Kar-Wan Potehi (Friends of Potehi), that includes him and Tan, photographer Chew Win Chen, and researchers Ong Ke Shin and Foo Wei Meng. The team studied and documented the four Penang potehi troupes for two years. The result is a multimedia production, "Potehi Glove Puppet Theatre of Penang."

Attractively housed in a cardboard box resembling the chest where the potehi performers store their puppets, the set includes a large-format book, two additional flip books showing the performance's movements, an illustrated timeline of the art's diaspora and development, a DVD, and a pop-up cardboard stage that explains how it all works. "We designed the volume to be interesting and interactive, to educate the public about what potehi really is, keeping the feel of this cultural tradition," Liew said.

Tan, however, said that "book documentation and research are not enough to revitalize any form." She helped create the Ombak Potehi troupe under the Penang-based art collective Ombak-Ombak ARTStudio, encouraging young people to learn puppet manipulation, folk music and narration directly from the masters, Ooi See Han and Chuah Saw Tin of the original Beng Geok Hong troupe. Ombak Potehi's goal is to adapt the original plays to modern sensibilities and the industry's requirements.

"We summarize and shorten the original plays to 20 minutes, so that we can keep the crowd's attention, and also fit into festivals' tight schedules," said Marcus Lim, one of the group's drummers and puppeteers. He joined in 2015 thanks to his interest in Hokkien opera. At the moment, the group performs two shortened versions of famous original plays, "The Love Story of Ma Lek" and "Journey to the West."

"We transform the oral stories into real scripts, and pepper them with poetic Hokkien expressions that are lacking in the original plays," Lim added. "We also use a real musical ensemble: Three to four people play the flute, the Chinese pipa (a lute) and the erhu (a two-stringed fiddle).
The elders in the crowd are always excited to see a full potehi line-up, as they haven't in decades."

In multiethnic Malaysia, the group's performances at local events such as the George Town and the Butterworth Fringe Festivals attracted over 400 people from all walks of life. "We succeeded because we provide English, Malay and Mandarin digital subtitles to the Hokkien dialogues," Tan said. "Before shows begin, we tell the audience about the story, the character types, and the musical instruments. At last, after each performance, the crowd can join us backstage to try manipulating and playing with the puppets."

Ombak Potehiis working on a new play based on interviews with local residents whose ancestors settled in Penang in the last century. "Uniting West Malaysia's three main ethnic groups with glove puppets? That will be difficult; but we hope to make potehi accessible to all races," said Tan.
For now, the future looks promising. Even Ooi of the original Beng Geok Hong thinks that, at last, "Potehi ki liao" (or "Potehi is rising" in Hokkien).

Master and ombak apprentices practice Hokkien potehi glove puppets.

A scene from The Monkey King ​Aventures

Musicians accompany a potehi performance of The Monkey King Adventures in Penang

A potehi entertainer manipulates puppets while narrating the performance from behind the stage.

Potehi puppets laid in storage

Nikkei Asian Review, Published: January 28, 2017 13:40 JST
Hokkien puppetry comes to life in Penang

A dose of modernity revitalizes traditional art and attracts crowds

By MARCO FERRARESE, Contributing writer

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Fight for Europe

The idea of Europe is in peril.

From all sides there are criticisms, insults and desertions from the cause.

“Enough of ‘building Europe’!” is the cry. Let’s reconnect instead with our “national soul”! Let’s rediscover our “lost identity”! This is the agenda shared by the populist forces washing over the continent. Never mind that abstractions such as “soul” and “identity” often exist only in the imagination of demagogues.

Europe is being attacked by false prophets who are drunk on resentment, and delirious at their opportunity to seize the limelight. It has been abandoned by the two great allies who in the previous century twice saved it from suicide; one across the Channel and the other across the Atlantic.

The continent is vulnerable to the increasingly brazen meddling by the occupant of the Kremlin. Europe as an idea is falling apart before our eyes.

This is the noxious climate in which Europe’s parliamentary elections will take place in May. Unless something changes; unless something comes along to turn back the rising, swelling, insistent tide; unless a new spirit of resistance emerges, these elections promise to be the most calamitous that we have known. They will give a victory to the wreckers. For those who still believe in the legacy of Erasmus, Dante, Goethe and Comenius there will be only ignominious defeat. A politics of disdain for intelligence and culture will have triumphed. There will be explosions of xenophobia and antisemitism. Disaster will have befallen us.

We, the undersigned, are among those who refuse to resign themselves to this looming catastrophe.

We count ourselves among the European patriots (a group more numerous than is commonly thought, but that is often too quiet and too resigned), who understand what is at stake here. Three-quarters of a century after the defeat of fascism and 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall there is a new battle for civilisation.

Our faith is in the great idea that we inherited, which we believe to have been the one force powerful enough to lift Europe’s peoples above themselves and their warring past. We believe it remains the one force today virtuous enough to ward off the new signs of totalitarianism that drag in their wake the old miseries of the dark ages. What is at stake forbids us from giving up.

Our faith is in the great idea that we inherited, which we believe to have been the one force powerful enough to lift Europe’s peoples above themselves and their warring past. We believe it remains the one force today virtuous enough to ward off the new signs of totalitarianism that drag in their wake the old miseries of the dark ages. What is at stake forbids us from giving up.

Hence this invitation to join in a new surge.

Hence this appeal to action on the eve of an election that we refuse to abandon to the gravediggers of the European idea.

Hence this exhortation to carry once more the torch of a Europe that, despite its mistakes, its lapses, and its occasional acts of cowardice, remains a beacon for every free man and woman on the planet.

Our generation got it wrong. Like Garibaldi’s followers in the 19th century, who repeated, like a mantra, “Italia se farà da sè” (Italy will make herself by herself), we believed that the continent would come together on its own, without our needing to fight for it, or to work for it. This, we told ourselves, was “the direction of history”.

We must make a clean break with that old conviction. We don’t have a choice. We must now fight for the idea of Europe or see it perish beneath the waves of populism.

In response to the nationalist and identitarian onslaught, we must rediscover the spirit of activism or accept that resentment and hatred will surround and submerge us. Urgently, we need to sound the alarm against these arsonists of soul and spirit who, from Paris to Rome, with stops along the way in Barcelona, Budapest, Dresden, Vienna and Warsaw, want to make a bonfire of our freedoms.
In this strange defeat of “Europe” that looms on the horizon; this new crisis of the European conscience that promises to tear down everything that made our societies great, honourable, and prosperous, there is a challenge greater than any since the 1930s: a challenge to liberal democracy and its values.

[photo] Polish nationalists march in November 2017.

The Guardian, Last modified on Mon 28 Jan 2019 11.00 GMT
Fight for Europe – or the wreckers will destroy it

The continent faces its biggest challenge since the 1930s. We urge European patriots to resist the nationalist onslaught

• Europe ‘coming apart before our eyes’, say 30 top intellectuals

By Bernard-Henri Lévy, Milan Kundera, Salman Rushdie, Elfriede Jelinek, Orhan Pamuk and 25 others

Liberal values in Europe face a challenge “not seen since the 1930s”, leading intellectuals from 21 countries have said, as the UK lurches towards Brexit and nationalists look set to make sweeping gains in EU parliamentary elections.

The group of 30 writers, historians and Nobel laureates declared in a manifesto published in several newspapers, including the Guardian, that Europe as an idea was “coming apart before our eyes”.

“We must now will Europe or perish beneath the waves of populism,” the document reads. “We must rediscover political voluntarism or accept that resentment, hatred and their cortege of sad passions will surround and submerge us.”

They write of their regret that Europe has been “abandoned from across the Channel” – an oblique reference to the drawn-out Brexit process that has arguably brought Anglo-European relations to their lowest point since the second world war.

And they say that unless efforts are made to combat a rising tide of populism, the EU elections will be “the most calamitous that we have ever known: victory for the wreckers; disgrace for those who still believe in the legacy of Erasmus, Dante, Goethe, and Comenius; disdain for intelligence and culture; explosions of xenophobia and antisemitism; disaster”.

“Abandoned from across the Channel and from across the Atlantic by the two great allies who in the previous century saved it twice from suicide; vulnerable to the increasingly overt manipulations of the master of the Kremlin, Europe as an idea, as will and representation, is coming apart before our eyes,” the text reads.

The 800-word paean was drafted by the French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy. Signatories included the novelists Ian McEwan and Salman Rushdie, the historian Simon Schama and the Nobel prize laureates Svetlana Alexievitch, Herta Müller, Orhan Pamuk and Elfriede Jelinek.

Rushdie told the Guardian: “Europe is in greater danger now than at any time in the last 70 years, and if one believes in that idea it’s time to stand up and be counted.

“In the UK, I hope parliament may yet have the courage to call for a second referendum. That could rescue the country from the calamity of Brexit and go a long way towards rescuing the EU as well.”

McEwan said he had signed the manifesto because he was “very pessimistic” about the current moment, “but try to be hopeful that the zeitgeist will turn”.

Pamuk said the idea of Europe was also important to non-western countries. “Without the idea of Europe, freedom, women’s rights, democracy, egalitarianism is hard to defend in my part of the world.

“The historical success of Europe made it easier to defend these ideas and values which are crucial to humanity all over the world,” he said. “There is no Europe besides these values except the Europe of tourism and business. Europe is not a geography first but these ideas. This idea of Europe is under attack.”

In theEU elections in May – the first that will not include Britain – most observers predict a rise in support for populist, nationalist or anti-immigration parties. Many of them have made significant gains in national elections, as the centre-right and centre-left that have traditionally dominated Europe’s postwar politics retreat.

Matteo Salvini of Italy’s far-right League has described the vote as a straight choice between “the Europe of the elites, banks, finance, immigration and precarious work” and that of “the people and of labour”, pledging to form a Eurosceptic “Italian-Polish axis”.

Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán, has said the elections are a chance to bid farewell “to liberal democracy”. Unlike Eurosceptics in the UK, most European counterparts do not want to leave the EU but to take it over.

Leading the charge against the resurgent rightwing populists are the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel. While both have been weakened by domestic problems, this week they renewed their countries’ vows of postwar friendship and warned the lessons of their bloody past were being forgotten.

EU officials in Brussels believe it is possible there will be a decisive advance for the populists and gains for pro-European parties, or at least a confusing mix of the two, leaving the populists significantly stronger, but still facing a strong, if disunited, majority of pro-European MEPs.

The net result is likely to be a far more complex parliamentary makeup, delicate coalition-building, and a European parliament increasingly unable to pass legislation to deal with major challenges, such as immigration and eurozone reform.

While they did not make any practical calls to action, the manifesto’s signatories said they “refuse to resign themselves to this looming catastrophe”. They counted themselves among the “too quiet” European patriots who understand that “three-quarters of a century after the defeat of fascism and 30 years after the fall of the Berlin wall, a new battle for civilisation is under way”.

Despite its “mistakes, its lapses, and its occasional acts of cowardice”, Europe remains “a beacon for every free man and woman on the planet”, they say, noting with regret the widely held but mistaken belief of their generation that “the continent would come together on its own, without our labour”.

Pro-Europeans “no longer have a choice”, they say. “We must sound the alarm against the arsonists of soul and spirit that, from Paris to Rome, with stops in Barcelona, Budapest, Dresden, Vienna, or Warsaw, are playing with the fire of our freedoms.”

The signatories are:
Vassilis Alexakis,
Svetlana Alexievitch,
Anne Applebaum,
Jens Christian Grøndahl,
David Grossman,
Agnès Heller,
Elfriede Jelinek,
Ismaïl Kadaré,
György Konrád,
Milan Kundera,
Bernard-Henri Lévy,
António Lobo Antunes,
Claudio Magris,
Ian McEwan,
Herta Müller,
Lyudmila Ulitskaya,
Orhan Pamuk,
Rob Riemen,
Salman Rushdie,
Fernando Savater,
Roberto Saviano,
Eugenio Scalfari,
Simon Schama,
Peter Schneider,
Abdulah Sidran,
Leïla Slimani,
Colm Tóibín,
Mario Vargas Llosa,
Adam Michnik and Adam Zagajewski.

A satirical float features the Polish and Hungarian politicians Jarosław Kaczyński and Viktor Orbán during a parade in Dusseldorf, Germany.

The Guardian, Last modified on Mon 28 Jan 2019 12.07 GMT
Europe 'coming apart before our eyes', say 30 top intellectuals

Group of historians and writers publish manifesto warning against rise of populism

• Fight for Europe – or the wreckers will destroy it

By Jon Henley in Paris, and Mark Rice-Oxley

posted by fom_club at 16:37| Comment(0) | 日記 | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする










原口一博議員は黒塗りの書類をかざしながら「アベノミクス偽装」の核心に迫った。=29日、衆院16控室 撮影:田中龍作=
「実質賃金の伸び率はマイナス」との証拠を突き付けられた内閣府官僚。公務員の矜持が踏みにじられた今、どんな気持ちだろうか?=29日、衆院16控室 撮影:田中龍作=

田中龍作ジャーナル、2019年1月29日 17:26





 2018年は6月を除くと、ほとんどの月がマイナスだ(写真=一覧表参照。実質賃金の伸び率(右端の数字)を示した一覧表。ことごとく マイナス(赤字)となっている=明石弁護士作成=)。



 野党議員たちの間から「ウォー」と どよめき が起きた。


明石弁護士。「実質賃金は惨憺たる結果になっている、だから公表したくないのか」と厚労省を追及した。=30日、衆院16控室 撮影:田中龍作=

厚労省の屋敷次郎・大臣官房参事官。2018年の実質賃金伸び率がマイナスであることを事実上認めた。根本厚労大臣から叱られたりしないだろうか。=30日、衆院16控室 撮影:田中龍作=

田中龍作ジャーナル、2019年1月30日 16:27
「実質賃金マイナス」 ついに厚労省が認めた

































日刊ゲンダイ、2019/01/30 06:00

posted by fom_club at 11:32| Comment(0) | 日記 | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする












 皆 独居老人になった時点で新聞かテレビのどちらかを選択し 新聞を止める人の方が多い事、理由は値段が高い事、ですが、そうやってどうにか生活しています。


 何故 そのような事になったのかについてご説明致します。

 その時点で誰かが対策を教えてくれればよかったのですが、後日 市に尋ねたところでは「市内の中小企業が多い地域には 国民年金の説明 勧誘に廻ったが、私共の住む地域は厚生年金加入者が多かったので 将来的に不用になる家庭が多いと判断して勧誘に廻らなかった」との返答でした。
 後日 その経理事務所は違反していた事で罰金を食らったそうですが 私共の年金になったわけではありません。

 最後に勤務した医院で 架空の病気を作っての大量薬の投与に遭い半死半生の目に遭いました。
 しかし その後入院した病院ではPMDAに出す書類を書いて貰えず、その後もその事実は医師の手によって伏せられたままなので、私共は何の公的援助も受けられません。
 現在はとにかく回復しかかってはおりますが 病名は「尿管結石」で「尿閉」状態、自力歩行不能の不具者として日を送っております。

 最初の共済年金が消えてしまった事も含めて 私共に個人的落ち度はありません。

 生活保護は、自宅があり同居ではないにしても子供もいる、という事情があるため 多分無理だと考えられます。

 現在の年金額は 二人分合わせて 年額「1670.128円」で、その中から 介護保険料として年額75.900円を、医療保険料として年額10800を差し引かれます。

 主人の病院の費用だけはケアマネージャーの努力で月額530円×4回分に、通院費用のタクシー代も障害者として年間500円×25枚の補助を頂いてはいますが 一回の乗車に二枚づづ使うと ほぼ半年でなくなります。
 ですから 主人は2011年に発症してから通院以外 どこにも行ったことがありません。

 食事は全部手作りですし 出来合いの総菜などは割引品だけしか買ったことはありませんが、それは多分殆どの人がやっている事の筈です。
 せめて 共済年金と経理事務所勤務時の厚生年金の額に見合うだけの生活保護費を頂くことは出来ないものか、と考えてはおります。

 家があると言っても 家は親の遺産で 自分の物であるだけに家賃はありませんが税金と修理費用がかかります。

 私は戦争の焼け出されですから この土地に親戚はもちろん知り合いもありません。
 ですから これまでずーっと自死を覚悟して生きて来ました。
 つまり 戦争はまだ終わってはいないのです。
 戦死した軍人の家には遺族年金がありますが 私達にはありません。


 親が自分の命に代えて子供の命を守ってくれたお陰で今まで生き永らえて来ましたが 空襲で死んでしまった方が良かったのではないか、とまで考えています。

 仮に老人が、例え国会前で焼身自殺したところで 国は誰ひとり困らない筈です。
 現在 私は大きな病気はしていませんが 検査データは問題あり、と告げています。
 が、主人と二人分の医療費、特に病院が要求する「個室料金」など支払う事は出来ませんから 承知の上で病院には行きません。

 老人が、いや若い国民までが これほどまでに生きる希望を失った時代があったでしょうか。

 年金は一人一年金だと言いますが、農林共済年金だけが厚生年金に継続出来ず その外の共済年金例えば学校共済や電電公社などが厚生年金に継続出来た、という事実は、例え 法律を作って正当化したとしても 納得できるものではありません。
 が 納得したわけではありません。









Yahoo! Japan News、1/30(水) 7:00

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日本経済新聞、2019年1月29日 2:00


















成田発着機内 就寝時に窃盗頻発

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TOKYO (AFP) - Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed Monday (Jan 28) to "break the shell of mutual distrust" with North Korea by meeting leader Kim Jong Un face-to-face and restoring diplomatic relations between the two historic foes.

In a major policy speech to mark the opening of Parliament, Mr Abe also vowed to push Sino-Japan ties "to a new stage" and pledged a record budget to improve crumbling infrastructure in the world's third-biggest economy.

"I will act resolutely, never failing to seize every opportunity to break the shell of mutual distrust, and I myself will directly face Chairman Kim Jong Un next to resolve North Korea's nuclear and missile issues, as well as the abductions issue," Mr Abe said.

Mr Abe gave no timeframe for a potential meeting with the North Korean leader but the comments came as Mr Kim has ordered preparation for a second summit with United States President Donald Trump, likely towards the end of next month.

"I will aim at diplomatic normalisation by settling the unfortunate past," Mr Abe said, using a Japanese diplomatic euphemism referring to harm caused by Japan during its brutal colonisation of the Korean peninsula before and during World War II.

The conciliatory message contrasted sharply from a year ago, when Mr Abe used the same parliamentary address to set out a hardline approach, pledging to "compel North Korea to change its policies" and describing Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programmes as an "unprecedentedly grave and urgent threat". Mr Abe has long campaigned to resolve an emotional row related to North Korean agents' abduction of Japanese nationals during the Cold War era to train Pyongyang's spies.


On China, Mr Abe said ties had "completely returned to a normal path" after he visited President Xi Jinping in Beijing last year. Mr Xi is expected to make his first official visit to Japan in 2019.

"I will strongly pursue diplomacy with neighbours for a new era... in order to make north-east Asia truly a land of stable peace and prosperity," he said.

Bilateral ties were harmed in 2012 when Tokyo "nationalised" disputed islands in the East China Sea also claimed by Beijing. Until recently, neither nation had made much effort to improve relations.

But Japan's business community has long urged Mr Abe to improve ties with China, Tokyo's largest trade partner as well as the biggest source of foreign tourists, who are collectively becoming a key driver of Japan's chronically fragile economy.

Japan believes a successful Xi visit is key to a successful G-20, which Japan hosts this year and Tokyo hopes the Chinese leader will attend the 2020 Olympic Games.

Mr Abe was cautious about Russia, amid a territorial row over tiny islands to Japan's north that has proved difficult to resolve despite frequent meetings with President Vladimir Putin.

Domestically, Mr Abe vowed to press ahead with an upcoming consumption tax hike from the current 8 per cent to 10 per cent from October.

He also pledged a whopping seven trillion yen (S$86.6 billion) on infrastructure spending, as the nation's many roads and bridges become dilapidated and Japan routinely faces serious natural disasters such as flooding and earthquakes.

Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe also vowed to push Sino-Japan ties "to a new stage".

The Straits Times, Published: Jan 28, 2019, 2:28 pm SGT
Japan PM Abe vows meeting with North Korea's Kim Jung Un to 'break shell of mutual distrust'











 すなわち、28日の記者会見で「日露戦争のさなかに戦意高揚のために使われた歌だ。日本国憲法の平和主義に真っ向から反するものだと強く抗議したい」と志位委員長は非難した (*)。















2:26 AM - 28 Jan 2019

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Nobody likes Davos

The atmosphere at the 2019 World Economic Forum reflects the global picture perhaps more genuinely than in years past, and the painting is not very pretty. The mood here is subdued, cautious and apprehensive. There’s not much talk of a global slowdown, but no one is confident about a growth story, either. There is no great global political crisis, yet people speak in worried tones about the state of democracy, open societies and the international order.

The White House scrapped the official U.S. delegation’s trip to this year’s conference − an outgrowth of President Trump’s spat with Congress − providing a perfect metaphor for the broader outlook: The United States has withdrawn from the world.

Meanwhile, Europe is distracted, divided and despondent. Of the continent’s three major leaders, only one, Germany’s lame-duck Chancellor Angela Merkel, even showed up. British Prime Minister Theresa May did not attend because of turmoil over Brexit. French President Emmanuel Macron chose not to come because he faces ongoing populist protests from the right and left. In this environment, there is a gaping absence of leadership in Davos from the usual defenders of liberal democracy and the rules-based international system.

This does not mean that any new global leaders have stepped into the void. Contrary to some speculation, China is playing a more muted role at the forum than in the past. It sent a respected statesman, Vice President Wang Qishan, with an anodyne message aiming to reassure the world that Beijing seeks “win-win” solutions and global cooperation. This probably reflects the reality that − politically and economically − China faces its own challenges at home, with slowing growth and President Xi Jinping trying to tighten his grip over China’s vast society. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi faces a tougher-than-expected fight in upcoming national elections, so he didn’t show up, either.

It is not really the dawn of dictators, few of whom came, perhaps a reflection of the fact that global norms and fora like Davos still do not celebrate strongmen. Although Western democracies may be flagging, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan hold a much weaker hand than most people realize . They, too, along with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, stayed home. Jair Bolsonaro, the new president of Brazil, did attend and gave a much-anticipated speech, but it was barely six minutes long − and was received with decidedly mixed reviews.

The one area of consistent optimism among the attendees remains technology. Executives from multinational corporations such as Novartis and Cargill spoke about the next great technological opportunity − leveraging artificial intelligence to make their companies far more efficient and productive. This is a trend that they see as inexorable, forcing them to adapt or watch the competition grow. Executives and experts alike foresee that another layer of white-collar jobs could be at risk − those involving routine analytic skills. But chief executives here voiced optimism that it will all work out.

Businessmen and executives are more openly pessimistic about trade. They worry that a U.S.-China trade war could spill over across the world. Whether it happens, it seems clear that the great expansion of globalization is over. For the past 15 years, there has been no significant forward movement on trade, and many minor setbacks. This hasn’t yet translated into large-scale protectionism and tariff wars, but it is a new stagnancy.

If the West is divided, so are other regions. Almost no Arab leaders showed up to last weekend’s Arab League meeting in Beirut, relegating the summit to even greater irrelevance than usual. Latin America is now split between leaders such as the right-wing Bolsonaro and the new leftist president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

The leaders of several smaller countries (all of whom insisted on staying off the record) described the world as adrift and lacking in any collective purpose, with only voices about narrow self-interest and conflict being heard. “When the Americans are engaged, we have a sense of direction,” one of them said to me. “We might disagree on some points, but at least there is a larger conversation, some efforts at cooperation. Now the only energy is negative − worries about retreat, trade wars. That’s not a world in which it is easy for us to move forward. We are all stuck.”

This, then, is the post-American world. Not one marked by Chinese dominance or Asian arrogance. Not an outright anti-American one, but one in which many yearn for a greater U.S. presence. One in which countries are freelancing, narrowly pursuing their own interests, and hoping that the framework of international order remains reasonably stable. But with no one actively shoring up the international system, the great question remains: In a world without leaders, will that system over time weaken and eventually crumble?

A banner advertising trading with Britain is displayed on a hotel Monday in Davos, Switzerland, for this week’s World Economic Forum.

The Washington Post, Published: January 24, 2019
Davos is a microcosm of the world − and the outlook is grim
By Fareed Zakaria

The first big international gathering of the year is the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort of Davos. Politicians, academics, businessmen and a smattering of billionaires make up the guest list, while campaigners and activists lobby on the fringes. So what have we learned from their week in the snow?

1 Davos has lost its mojo

Love him or hate him, Donald Trump created a buzz at the 2018 annual meeting, but this year the atmosphere was flat. Ken Rogoff, a Harvard economics professor and Davos regular, said he could not recall the mood being so muted. Without Trump, Xi Jinping of China or Vladimir Putin, Davos lacked a headline act. The format – panels of experts discussing the world’s problems – looks tired.

2 Unlikely showstoppers

The stars at this year’s WEF had a distinctly un-Davos feel about them. The broadcaster Sir David Attenborough (a sprightly 92) and climate activist Greta Thunberg (a resolute 16) both used the forum’s spotlight to promote climate activism (and in Sir David’s case his new Netflix documentary too).

Prince William and the New Zealand PM, Jacinda Ardern, were a hot ticket and there was an unseemly scramble to get into their discussion session on mental health. The Duke of Cambridge revealed he hadn’t been able to get any celebrities to sign up to help launch the Heads Together campaign fronted by him, his wife and his brother. He criticised the British stiff-upper-lip approach of the wartime generation, and said it was partly to blame for the stigma around mental health problems.

3 Climate change is unavoidable but have delegates really got the message?

Delegates who took the trip up Davos’s funicular railway met Arctic scientists warning of a climate change catastrophe unless urgent action is taken to “bend the curve” on rising greenhouse gas emissions.

Phasing out burning coal would be a good start, but environmentalists were disappointed when Angela Merkel said Germany would need coal for “a certain time” (and more Russian gas otherwise).

Davos, meanwhile, was gridlocked with limos all week, suggesting that CEOs need to walk the walk as well as talk the talk. Or, indeed, just walk.

4 Unease about the global economy

Davos has three settings. There are years, such as 2009, when the attendees are panic-stricken. There are years, such as 2007, when they are insufferably bullish. And there are years in between, such as this one. There was concern about the recent weakness of the global economy – but not that much. If a recession is in the offing, Davos has not realised it yet.

5 Growing concern about Brexit

Philip Hammond stood in for Theresa May this year and the chancellor had a series of meetings with business chiefs and policymakers in an attempt to reassure them that the government was doing its utmost to avoid a no-deal Brexit on 29 March. He would have needed a tin ear not to have picked up on the growing business worries.

His key message was that the vote to leave had to be respected – but that a no-deal Brexit would be a betrayal of the hopes for a better future of those who voted leave.

6 The Davos bobble hat

Even the global elite like a freebie, and few giveaways are more popular than the blue Davos bobble hats, sponsored by Zurich Insurance, and available from a special hole-in-the-wall bobble dispenser outside the conference centre.

So much more than a mere beanie, they have a discreet logo which can advertise the wearer’s importance on the school run or a family ski holiday. Hundreds are handed out every year and by Thursday they had to post a sign saying they’d run out – but to come back next year.

7 Nobody likes Davos

While everyone who’s anyone is expected to be at Davos, few seem to really enjoy it, and the four days can be a slog. Politicians are expected to come back with some tangible deals, lest they be criticised for simply quaffing champagne. Many of the corporate elite spend their days in back-to-back meetings with clients and investors: one executive said he had attended no fewer than 17 in one day.

But, as Oscar Wilde might have said: there’s only one thing worse than being invited to Davos – and that’s not being invited.

8 Populism hits the world stage

Trump may have been missing out on the action, but the latest poster-boy for rightwing populism, Jair Bolsonaro, made his international debut. The new Brazilian president delivered a six-minute pro-business speech, promising to balance economic growth with preserving his country’s unique environment. That, however, prompted alarm among activists worried about the environmental threat.

9 Hierarchy is everything

The first thing to learn at Davos is the tiered badge system. It gives the top boss class – who get white badges with a hologram – an easy way to decide if you’re worth talking to. Pesky journalists, for the record, are highlighted with yellow badges.

There’s a hierarchy of dinners and parties too. Organisers trying to impress invite celebs and politicians to parties in swanky buildings. JP Morgan had a very popular bash at the Kirchner Museum while Aberdeen Standard set up a posh scotch whisky bar. But the best parties are often the ones you don’t know about.

10 And now the good news…

Carping aside, there was some good news out of Davos. Seven top businesses backed the new Partnership for Global LGBTI Equality, for example, while 25 are supporting a new recycling drive.

Japan’s prime minister, Shinzō Abe, pledged action on global data governance, and the UK pushed on antimicrobial resistance. The WEF also brought leaders together to discuss “key global faultlines” including the western Balkans and Syria. All areas where progress was welcome.

Despite the efforts of Greta Thunberg, 16, WEF delegates may not have got the message on climate change.

The Guardian, Published: Sat 26 Jan 2019 07.01 GMT
Davos 2019:
10 things we learned at the World Economic Forum

WEF lacked buzz without Donald Trump as unease over Brexit and global recession dominated the summit

By Larry Elliott, Graeme Wearden and Kalyeena Makortoff

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景気拡大、戦後最長に! ホント?



40年読み継がれる日本人論の決定版、山本七平氏の『「空気」の研究』をわかりやすく読み解く新刊『「超」入門 空気の研究』から、内容の一部を特別公開する。

















*1 早川タダノリ『「日本スゴイ」のディストピア』(青弓社) P.22、47
*2 ビル・エモット/ピーター・タスカ『日本の選択』(講談社インターナショナル)P.235















(この原稿は書籍『「超」入門 空気の研究』から一部を抜粋・加筆して掲載しています)

ダイヤモンド・オンライン、2019年1月23日 04:50







東京新聞、2019年1月29日 11時04分


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 その妥当性はともかく、村山談話・河野談話を踏襲し、 憲法九条第一、二項を残しながら、第三項を新たに設け、自衛隊の存在を明記するという意味不明の加憲論により、改憲派が積み上げてきた議論を全部ぶち壊した。

















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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gave a powerful speech about civil rights, justice, and why being polite is not the same as being quiet.

On Saturday, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez attended the 2019 Women’s March and gave a powerful speech at the Women’s Unity Rally about civil rights, justice, and why being polite is not the same as being quiet.

The representative from New York started out her speech at the rally − which was co-chaired by the Women’s March NYC and the New York Immigration Coalition − by thanking the crowd before asking, “Are you all ready to make a ruckus? Are you all ready to fight for our rights? Are you all ready to say that in the United States of America, everyone is loved, everyone deserves justice, and everyone deserves equal protection and prosperity in our country?”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at the Women's March in New York: "Justice is about making sure that being polite is not the same thing as being quiet. In fact, often times, the most righteous thing you can do is shake the table." https://cnn.it/2HjmNpC

11:50 AM - 19 Jan 2019

“Justice is not a concept we read about in a book. Justice is about the water we drink. Justice is about the air we breathe. Justice is about how easy it is to vote. Justice is about how much ladies get paid,” Ocasio-Cortez told the crowd. The Bronx native continued, “Justice is about making sure that being polite is not the same thing as being quiet. In fact, oftentimes the most righteous thing you can do is shake the table.”

As she wrapped up her powerful address, said that she was sure that she was addressing future congresswomen and City Council members in the crowd − and even a future president. “Let us remember that a fight means no person left behind,” she said. Ocasio-Cortez concluded, “Because this is not just about identity, this is about justice. And this is about the America that we are going to bring into this world.”

Yahoo!, January 20, 2019
Ocasio-Cortez’s Women’s Rally Speech Was a Fierce Call to Action
By Lisa Ryan, The Cut

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) fired up the crowds at New York City’s Women’s March on Saturday with a pointed message: We’ve got the power, now it’s time to do something with it.
The 2019 Women’s March is happening in cities across the world, continuing its three-year tradition of promoting gender equality and resistance to the administration of President Donald Trump.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks at the 2019 Women's March in New York: "Last year we brought the power to the polls, and this year we need to make sure we translate that power into policy." http://abcn.ws/2FKMCfJ

8:51 AM - 19 Jan 2019
ABC News

“Last year we brought the power to the polls, and this year we need to make sure we translate that power into policy,” Ocasio-Cortez said after taking the stage Saturday.

The freshman congresswoman is a rising star in the Democratic Party and won election last year amid a historic landslide for Democrats in the House of Representatives.

“We will pass ... an equal rights amendment that ensures that all people regardless of their gender identity will be respected by the laws of this land,” she said.

The representative from New York’s 14th District, the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, stressed equal pay for equal work and parental leave rights for both men and women.

“This is the start of our advocacy,” she said. “Because we just captured the House, and now we’re going to show what we’re going to do with it.”

Ocasio-Cortez appeared at another march location in New York, where she emphasized justice not as some abstract concept but as a notion with real-world applications and ramifications.

“Justice is about the water we drink. Justice is about the air we breathe. Justice is about how easy is it to vote. Justice is about how much ladies get paid,” she said.

“Justice is about making sure that being polite is not the same thing as being quiet. In fact, oftentimes, the most righteous thing you can do is shake the table.”

The first Women’s March was held in January 2017, coinciding with, and largely becoming a protest of, Trump’s inauguration.

HuffPost, 01/19/2019 05:59 pm ET
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Calls On Women To ‘Shake The Table’ In Women’s March Speech

“We just captured the House, and now we’re going to show what we’re going to do with it,” the star congresswoman told the crowd.

By Andy McDonald

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実は有休取得率、日本が最下位 エクスペディア調査という日本経済新聞の記事が示すように、日本では労働者による有給取得率が3年連続で世界最下位だった。
出典:有休取得率、日本が最下位 エクスペディア調査(日本経済新聞)











Yahoo! Japan News、1/28(月) 3:21
ー 年次有給休暇の取得に理由はいらない ー































bizSPA!、2019/1/24(木) 8:45配信

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 こんにちは! ありがとうニューヨーク! みんなありがとう!  













<取材・文・訳/林 泰人>

posted by fom_club at 11:51| Comment(0) | 日記 | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする





































健康は義務ではない 不健康な人の生存権を侵すな




















buzzfeed.news、2019/01/27 08:01
健康は義務ではない 「予防医療」を医療費抑制の道具にするな



posted by fom_club at 13:57| Comment(0) | 日記 | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする
































高額薬剤費の影響は? 歴史から学べ

























だいたい私の経験では、「This Time is Different(今度こそ違う)」と言うのは、不勉強だけれども、傲慢な人の常套句ですよ。









buzzfeed.news、2019/01/26 08:01
国民皆保険の維持は日本社会の一体感を守る最後の砦 貧富の差で医療に差をつけるべきではない

二木立先生のインタビュー第二弾では、財政維持のために社会保障費をカットすることは妥当なのか、高額薬剤は医療費を破綻させるのか、 医療にまつわる様々な不安や疑問をぶつけます。


posted by fom_club at 13:48| Comment(0) | 日記 | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする

Listen to the young

THE Malay literary work Sulalatus Salatin by Tun Sri Lanang featured a character named Hang Nadim which aptly describes the role of the young in society.

At the the age of 7, he saved Temasik (now known as Singapore) from a swordfish attack. However, the story ended with Hang Nadim being killed, sentenced to death by Sri Maharaja due to jealousy and insecurity.

The moral of the story is that by being young, vocal and brilliant, the young stand on a thin line preventing them from being an asset or a threat to the elders.

It has often been said that the future belongs to the young and with education and international exposure, mainly through the information highway, this is indeed true.

In Malaysia and elsewhere, the young are at the forefront in accepting changes, a necessity given the enormous economic and societal transformation occurring around us.

The latter tend to be much more present among the younger population than older groups, whose minds are quite set and entrenched.

In Malaysia, we can identify three generations. The first is the pre-independence generation; some 10 per cent of Malaysians belong to this group.

The second is what is identified as the post-independence generation from 1957 to 1999. This group makes up some 59 per cent of the population.

The millennials generation form some 31 per cent of the population. Statistically, more than 50 per cent of the population is below the age of 34. To put it simply, the young forms the majority of the population and as the years go by this group will grow larger and its voice will also be louder. What are the aspirations of this group and how can the expectations be met?

To begin with, the younger generation is the product of an independent and prosperous Malaysia. The notion that they should be grateful does not seem to resonate among them. They see development as their right and not as a privilege.

They argue that it is the job of the government to bring prosperity, as this is what they have been promised in the first place. To the young, this is expected and, after all, it is the people that voted them in. Today, in the Malaysia Baru era, the mindset needs to be changed in order for us to progress as a nation.

Several research studies have shown that it is the socialisation process that helps to mould the character and attitude of a person. In the world of technological explosion, no wonder that the young are different as they are being shaped by the world they live in. After all, the media has influenced all of us one way or another.

The young today look at the government with a much more critical eye. Not only do they scrutinise state affairs and policies, they also question them. As someone in his twenties said to me the other day, what do you expect when the government is encouraging us to be much more creative and innovative?

Therefore, the young are more critical and sometimes radical. Again, this is nothing new. The older generation should not be too upset or too worried by this trend. The old today were also radicals then. As the saying goes, “Radicals of today are the conservatives of tomorrow”.

The stark reality is that the young will inherit the future and are already shaping perceptions of the population. They are becoming more empowered and will play a far more determinant role in the near future. They will form a substantial portion of the electorate and will voice their opinion, either directly or through the ballot box. All the political parties know and recognise this and are wooing them. In this Malaysia Baru era, we have the likes of P. Prabakaran, youngest member of parliment who is only 23, and we have the youngest minister, Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, who is only 26.

In this respect, the government has proven that it’s accommodating the aspirations of the young and not the other way around. The notion that the state knows it all is no longer applicable. The state cannot even pretend to know all.

There is no option left but to listen to the young and not merely pay lip service, or indulge in mere rhetoric. Policy formulation, especially involving the future, must bring the young generation into the process. The stakes for the young must be increased so that they genuinely feel that they are part of the process. We cannot afford to ignore the young for they can soon afford to ignore the old.

Statistically, more than 50 per cent of the population is below the age of 34.

New Straits Times, Published: January 26, 2019 - 11:16pm
Listen to the young
By Dr Afif Bahardin, Penang state executive councillor

VIENNA: Malaysia welcomes more foreign direct investments from Austria, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today.

At a joint press conference with Austrian leader, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz at the Federal Chancellery, he hoped his visit would help intensify bilateral and economic relations between the two countries.

With 860-million-euro worth of Austrian investments per year and 70 Austrian companies operating in Malaysia, Dr Mahathir said he hoped the volume would increase especially in the energy and infrastructure sectors.

Earlier, Kurz, who spoke first during the brief press conference said as the youngest leader in the world at the age of 32, he was honoured to meet Dr Mahathir, the oldest and most experienced leader in the world.

“As the youngest leader, I have much to learn from him,” he said before handing over the prime minister to the press.

He said, “We know Austria has some good industries and companies which in the past have provided Malaysia with equipments to be used in hospitals. The cable cars in Langkawi also used Austrian technology,” he said.

“We welcome more foreign direct investments from Austria. We know that Austria is good in technology. So far, the trade volume is not big. But substantial. We hope to improve the volume,” he said.

He also pointed out that Austria would be a good market for Malaysian products.

Touching on tourism, Dr Mahathir said many Malaysians, especially music lovers, have visited Austria and hoped Austrians would do the same.

He said although his trip was to attend an anti-corruption agencies conference, it was "good" to have the bilateral meeting.

Dr Mahathir, who arrived yesterday from London, is set to share the country's efforts in curbing corruption with the international community at the 10th General Conference and Annual Meeting of the International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities (IAACA) tomorrow.

He will deliver a keynote address at the conference titled "15 Years of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, Accomplishments and Prospects".

He is also scheduled to deliver a lecture, themed "Fighting Corruption in Malaysia: Achievements, Challenges and Perspectives" at an event organised by the International Anti-Corruption Academy (IACA), here.

The conference gathers political leaders, including heads of government and anti-corruption agencies as well as practitioners to exchange views and promote measures on ways to prevent and combat corruption, support international cooperation and technical assistance as well as promote integrity, accountability and proper management of public affairs.

The keynote address marks the first appearance of Dr Mahathir at the Vienna International Conference (VIC). The prime minister's last visit here was in 1985.

Malaysia welcomes more foreign direct investments from Austria, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today.

New Straits Times, Published: January 21, 2019 - 7:38pm
Malaysia welcomes more FDIs from Austria, says Dr M

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日刊ゲンダイ、2019/01/24 14:50


DAVOS, Switzerland − They’ll never admit it in public, but many of your bosses want machines to replace you as soon as possible.

I know this because, for the past week, I’ve been mingling with corporate executives at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos. And I’ve noticed that their answers to questions about automation depend very much on who is listening.

In public, many executives wring their hands over the negative consequences that artificial intelligence and automation could have for workers. They take part in panel discussions about building “human-centered A.I.” for the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” − Davos-speak for the corporate adoption of machine learning and other advanced technology − and talk about the need to provide a safety net for people who lose their jobs as a result of automation.

But in private settings, including meetings with the leaders of the many consulting and technology firms whose pop-up storefronts line the Davos Promenade, these executives tell a different story: They are racing to automate their own work forces to stay ahead of the competition, with little regard for the impact on workers.

All over the world, executives are spending billions of dollars to transform their businesses into lean, digitized, highly automated operations. They crave the fat profit margins automation can deliver, and they see A.I. as a golden ticket to savings, perhaps by letting them whittle departments with thousands of workers down to just a few dozen.

“People are looking to achieve very big numbers,” said Mohit Joshi, the president of Infosys, a technology and consulting firm that helps other businesses automate their operations. “Earlier they had incremental, 5 to 10 percent goals in reducing their work force. Now they’re saying, ‘Why can’t we do it with 1 percent of the people we have?’”

Few American executives will admit wanting to get rid of human workers, a taboo in today’s age of inequality. So they’ve come up with a long list of buzzwords and euphemisms to disguise their intent. Workers aren’t being replaced by machines, they’re being “released” from onerous, repetitive tasks. Companies aren’t laying off workers, they’re “undergoing digital transformation.”

A 2017 survey by Deloitte found that 53 percent of companies had already started to use machines to perform tasks previously done by humans. The figure is expected to climb to 72 percent by next year.

The corporate elite’s A.I. obsession has been lucrative for firms that specialize in “robotic process automation,” or R.P.A. Infosys, which is based in India, reported a 33 percent increase in year-over-year revenue in its digital division. IBM’s “cognitive solutions” unit, which uses A.I. to help businesses increase efficiency, has become the company’s second-largest division, posting $5.5 billion in revenue last quarter. The investment bank UBS projects that the artificial intelligence industry could be worth as much as $180 billion by next year.

Kai-Fu Lee, the author of “AI Superpowers” and a longtime technology executive, predicts that artificial intelligence will eliminate 40 percent of the world’s jobs within 15 years. In an interview, he said that chief executives were under enormous pressure from shareholders and boards to maximize short-term profits, and that the rapid shift toward automation was the inevitable result.

“They always say it’s more than the stock price,” he said. “But in the end, if you screw up, you get fired.”

Other experts have predicted that A.I. will create more new jobs than it destroys, and that job losses caused by automation will probably not be catastrophic. They point out that some automation helps workers by improving productivity and freeing them to focus on creative tasks over routine ones.

But at a time of political unrest and anti-elite movements on the progressive left and the nationalist right, it’s probably not surprising that all of this automation is happening quietly, out of public view. In Davos this week, several executives declined to say how much money they had saved by automating jobs previously done by humans. And none were willing to say publicly that replacing human workers is their ultimate goal.

“That’s the great dichotomy,” said Ben Pring, the director of the Center for the Future of Work at Cognizant, a technology services firm. “On one hand,” he said, profit-minded executives “absolutely want to automate as much as they can.”

“On the other hand,” he added, “they’re facing a backlash in civic society.”

For an unvarnished view of how some American leaders talk about automation in private, you have to listen to their counterparts in Asia, who often make no attempt to hide their aims. Terry Gou, the chairman of the Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn, has said the company plans to replace 80 percent of its workers with robots in the next five to 10 years. Richard Liu, the founder of the Chinese e-commerce company JD.com, said at a business conference last year that “I hope my company would be 100 percent automation someday.”

One common argument made by executives is that workers whose jobs are eliminated by automation can be “reskilled” to perform other jobs in an organization. They offer examples like Accenture, which claimed in 2017 to have replaced 17,000 back-office processing jobs without layoffs, by training employees to work elsewhere in the company. In a letter to shareholders last year, Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive, said that more than 16,000 Amazon warehouse workers had received training in high-demand fields like nursing and aircraft mechanics, with the company covering 95 percent of their expenses.

But these programs may be the exception that proves the rule. There are plenty of stories of successful reskilling − optimists often cite a program in Kentucky that trained a small group of former coal miners to become computer programmers − but there is little evidence that it works at scale. A report by the World Economic Forum this month estimated that of the 1.37 million workers who are projected to be fully displaced by automation in the next decade, only one in four can be profitably reskilled by private-sector programs. The rest, presumably, will need to fend for themselves or rely on government assistance.

In Davos, executives tend to speak about automation as a natural phenomenon over which they have no control, like hurricanes or heat waves. They claim that if they don’t automate jobs as quickly as possible, their competitors will.

“They will be disrupted if they don’t,” said Katy George, a senior partner at the consulting firm McKinsey & Company.

Automating work is a choice, of course, one made harder by the demands of shareholders, but it is still a choice. And even if some degree of unemployment caused by automation is inevitable, these executives can choose how the gains from automation and A.I. are distributed, and whether to give the excess profits they reap as a result to workers, or hoard it for themselves and their shareholders.

The choices made by the Davos elite − and the pressure applied on them to act in workers’ interests rather than their own − will determine whether A.I. is used as a tool for increasing productivity or for inflicting pain.

“The choice isn’t between automation and non-automation,” said Erik Brynjolfsson, the director of M.I.T.’s Initiative on the Digital Economy. “It’s between whether you use the technology in a way that creates shared prosperity, or more concentration of wealth.”

This year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where business leaders’ public positions on automation’s impact on workers did not match the views they shared privately.

The Milwaukee offices of the Taiwanese electronics maker Foxconn, whose chairman has said he plans to replace 80 percent of the company’s workers with robots in five to 10 years.

The New York Times, Published: Jan. 25, 2019
The Hidden Automation Agenda of the Davos Elite
By Kevin Roose

Camera crews push past tycoons and government leaders to get a close shot of the unlikely star at Davos this year: a Swedish teen with long braids and a big message for the world.

Greta Thunberg blinks into the cameras of the media throng as she emerges timidly from a closed-door panel discussion at the World Economic Forum, the annual get-together of the rich and powerful.

"She silenced the room... The girl was extremely moving," head of Expedia Group Mark Okerstrom told AFP.

"It was very inspiring," Olivier Puech, a top executive at American Tower Corporation agreed.

During her speech, which she repeated for journalists barred from the room, the 16-year-old climate crusader said "our house is on fire".

"Adults keep saying we owe it to the young people to give them hope," she said, furrowing her brow and fiddling awkwardly with her notes.

"But I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic," she said.

Thunberg with her small stature and round cheeks looks younger than 16. She first grabbed the spotlight in August when she began staging "school strikes for the climate", skipping classes on Fridays to protest in front of Swedish parliament.

But she drew global attention when she delivered a fiery speech to world leaders at last month's UN climate talks in Poland.

Inspired, tens of thousands of schoolchildren from around the world have followed her lead and ditched school to demand serious action against climate change.

- 'Unthinkable price tag' -

"At places like Davos, people like to tell success stories, but their financial success has come with an unthinkable price tag," Thunberg said,

"We can still fix this. But unless we recognise the overall failures of our current system, we most probably don’t stand a chance," she warned.

She demands that leaders do whatever it takes to adhere to the Paris climate agreement that seeks to limit global temperature rises to below two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

On Friday, she bundled up and joined dozens of schoolchildren and other youths near the snowbound Davos Congress Centre for another "school strike".

"I'm skipping school," said Maximilian Christian, a 15-year-old high schooler from nearby Coire. "Greta inspired me to join the movement, and now I am here sitting next to her."

Thunberg arrived in Davos on Wednesday, after a 32-hour train journey from Stockholm, and has been camping out up the mountain at the WEF's so-called Arctic Basecamp.

"I have stopped flying for climate reasons," she told AFP earlier this week, adding that she had also convinced her parents to stop flying and to go vegan.

"I want to practise as I preach."

Asked during the press conference whether she felt her message had been heard, Thunberg said: "I think I have been heard by people, but maybe not listened to by the most important people."

The young Swede, who has publicly said she has Aspergers, told journalists she did not "like talking with people."

"It is only when I really need to speak that I speak."

Despite her subdued demeanour, she fired up the crowds at Davos at events with the likes of Bono and Jane Goodall.

- 'Voice of outrage' -

The teen said she felt her voice had a particular resonance "because I am a child."

"When I say that you have stolen my generation and future generation’s future, I think adults feel very guilty," she said.

Thunberg is "a very powerful voice," said Christiana Figueres, who spearheaded the 2015 Paris climate accord.

"She is a voice for the younger generation, (and) the voice of outrage."

Amnesty International chief Kumi Naidoo pointed out that "it is young people who are going to pay the consequences for the failure of adult leadership" on climate change.

Thunberg acknowledged that the battle against climate change is "the greatest and most complex challenge that homosapiens have ever faced."

But the main solution "is so simple that even a small child can understand it: We have to stop our emissions of greenhouse gases."

"Either we choose to go on as a civilisation or we don't ... There are no grey areas when it comes to survival."

Swedish youth climate activist Greta Thunberg (C) delivers a mesage on climate change at Davos that business executives called "moving" and "inspiring"

Swedish youth climate activist Greta Thunberg (C) delivers a speech between Governor of the Bank of France Francois Villeroy de Galhau (L) and Willis Towers Watson CEO John Haley during the closing day of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos

Greta Thunberg (C) holds a placard next to students during a "School strike for climate" held on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Friday

Greta Thunberg sits next to a placard reading "school strike for climate" at the World Economic Forum (WEF) where she spoke about the consequences that inaction on climate change will have on her generation and future generations

AFP, Published: 25 Jan 2019
'I want you to panic': Swedish teen raises climate alarm at Davos

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250th anniversary of explorer Captain James Cook's first journey to Australia

MELBOURNE (AFP) - Thousands of Australians attended "Invasion Day" rallies across the country on Saturday (Jan 26) calling for a rethink of national day celebrations they say are disrespectful to indigenous people.

The annual Jan 26 Australia Day holiday commemorates the arrival of the first British settlers in 1788, but for many Australians it marks the beginning of colonial oppression of Aboriginal people.

Several thousand joined the annual march in Melbourne on Saturday chanting "Always was, always will be Aboriginal land", and holding placards stating "Australia is a crime scene".

Thousands more joined similar demonstrations in major cities around the country, calling for a change of date, or for the day to be abolished altogether.

"Why would you want to celebrate this concept called Australia? It is founded on lies, founded on genocide, founded on murder," Melbourne protestor Dominic Guerrera told AFP. "There's nothing to celebrate in that."

Divisions have deepened in recent years with increasing calls to change the date.

Amid the heightened sensitivities this week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced government funding of a voyage to mark the 250th anniversary of explorer Captain James Cook's first journey to Australia.

Canberra pledged about US$6.5 million (S$8.8 million) to a circumnavigation of Australia in a replica of Cook's ship, the Endeavour, which in 1770 brought the British into contact with eastern Australia and foreshadowed the colonisation of the continent.

The story of Cook's voyage and his "discovery" of territory declared New South Wales on the east coast has stirred debate in Australia, with Aboriginal people inhabiting the land for more than 60,000 years before the first European explorers arrived.

Meanwhile, the uncovering this week in London of the remains of British explorer Matthew Flinders, who is credited as the first to circumnavigate the Australian continent in 1802-1803, has also added to the controversy.

An aboriginal aide to Flinders named Bungaree has been largely eclipsed by his British captain, but historians now believe he played a crucial role in the success of the voyage.

Mr Morrison, who has resisted calls to change the date, said on Saturday Australia cannot "walk away" from its past.

"Australia is the story of being overcome, to be able to see the better nature of Australians and the values we hold together, all races, all peoples, all cultures, all religions, all languages even," he told reporters.

Aboriginal people remain the most disadvantaged Australians, with higher rates of poverty, ill-health and imprisonment than any other community.

Australia Day is also celebrated across the county, with picnics, traditional Aboriginal performances and citizenship ceremonies, where more than 16,000 new Australians pledged their commitment to the nation on Saturday.

Protesters marching through the streets of Sydney in an "Invasion Day" rally on Australia Day, on Jan 26, 2019.

Straits Times, Published: Jan 26, 2019, 2:07 pm SGT
'Invasion Day' protests draw thousands on Australia's national day

Scott Morrison has said 26 January 1788 was “pretty miserable” for his ancestor, in a speech defending the celebration of Australia Day, while tens of thousands of people joined Invasion Day marches around the country calling for the public holiday to be abolished.

Morrison told a citizenship ceremony in Canberra that his fifth great grandfather, William Roberts, arrived with the first fleet in a group that was “wretched, naked, filthy, dirty, lousy, and many of them utterly unable to stand, or even to stir hand or foot”.

Six hundred kilometres away, in Melbourne, his comments were echoed to a crowd of more than 40,000 people who congregated on Spring Street outside Parliament House before the Invasion Day march.

“Those poor people were in chains, they were suffering we pitied them,” a speaker said. “What are you defending?”

The rally in Melbourne followed a dawn service at the memorial marking the burial site of 38 Aboriginal people from across Victoria, who represented those killed in the frontier wars.

“If this country has any conscience, it will start a healing process that starts with truth-telling,” the former Greens MP Lidia Thorpe, a Gunnai-Gunditjmara woman, told the rally.

“You fellas come out one day of the year, which is fantastic, but we feel this every day. And we need you every day … it is upon you from today to decide whether you want to come out once a year and protest or you act every single day to change what this country is about.”

The crowd estimates ranged from 5,000, an early figure given by Victoria Police, and 80,000, cited by organisers. At its longest point, it stretched two blocks down Swanston Street, from Bourke Street to Flinders Street station.

Large protests were also held in Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra, Hobart and Perth, and survival day events in Adelaide and Darwin.

The academic and activist Gary Foley told the crowd, the majority of whom were non-Indigenous, not to go away feeling “self-satisfied”.

He said that if everyone at the march read up on the history of Australia and then told 10 more people, “next year we would have half of Melbourne on our side”.

The march organiser Meriki Onus urged the crowd to stay behind strict marshal lines and not engage with a reported counter-protest run by far-right groups in Federation Square.

That protest had about 10 participants and was dispersed by police before the main march turned down Swanston Street.

Two people, a man draped in an Australian flag and a woman holding a sign that said “To defend my country was once called patriotism; now it’s called racism” remained at the Flinders Street station steps.

They were surrounded for about 20 minutes by marchers chanting “go home, fascists”, before the police had them move on on. A spokeswoman for Victoria Police said it was too early to comment on whether any charges were being laid.

Tens of thousands of people also attended a rally in Sydney, where the early crowd estimates were put at up to 50,000, while thousands more marched in Brisbane, Canberra, Hobart, and Perth.

The protest numbers in all capital cities were reported to be the largest yet.

In London, activists hung a banner from Westminster Bridge, which said “Abolish Australia Day”; in Berlin a protest was planned.

Thousands turn out for Invasion Day rallies across Australia

People take part in an Invasion Day rally in Sydney on Saturday.

The Guardian, Last modified on Sat 26 Jan 2019 05.41 GMT
Huge crowds attend Invasion Day marches across Australia's capital cities

Scott Morrison talks of his ancestor’s arrival on the continent, and defends celebration of Australia Day

• Hundreds attend first dawn service to be held on Australia Day

By Calla Wahlquist and AAP

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 大坂なおみ ずっと暑い中でもファンの皆さんが来てくれて、応援してくれた。この決勝でプレーできたことを本当に光栄に思う。みなさんありがとう。

毎日新聞、最終更新 2019年1月27日 03時15分
大坂なおみ、全豪テニス初優勝 4大大会連覇 日本勢初の世界1位に

MELBOURNE: Japan’s Naomi Osaka said she was “in a state of shock” Saturday after holding her nerve to battle past Petra Kvitova to win the Australian Open in a three-set thriller that also delivered her the world number one ranking.

The fourth seed and US Open champion triumphed 7-6 (7/2), 5-7, 6-4 in a 2hr 27min epic over the Czech eighth seed to claim back-to-back Grand Slams and become the first Asian, male or female, to hold the top spot.

The Japanese youngster fell to one knee in celebration, head bowed, as Melbourne Park erupted in thunderous cheers.

“I felt like I was in a state of shock through the entire trophy presentation,” the 21-year-old said.

A rattled Osaka almost blew her title hopes with one hand on the trophy when she failed to convert three championship points leading 5-3 in the second set.

The never-say-die Kvitova forced a deciding set before Osaka finally edged ahead with a decisive break early in the third.

“Of course I felt very disappointed and sad when I had three match points,” she said.

“I tried to tell myself there’s nothing I can do about it. Told myself I’m playing a final and need to keep fighting and couldn’t act immature and needed to keep fighting.”

Her jubilation was a marked contrast to Osaka’s maiden Slam win last year, when she tearfully hid her face as boos rang around Flushing Meadows in the wake of losing finalist Serena Williams’ tirade at the umpire.

This time, Osaka cried with joy and smiled as she became the youngest woman to win back-to-back majors since Martina Hingis in 1998 and the youngest number one since Caroline Wozniacki in 2010.

Her gutsy performance confirms her status as the leading light of tennis’ new generation.

Kvitova can console herself with a career-best performance at Melbourne Park, where she did not drop a set on her way to the final.

It was her first Grand Slam decider since a burglar slashed her racquet hand in a 2016 knife attack and the Czech has shown she is again a contender at the majors.

“Thank you for sticking with me even when we didn’t know if I would able to hold a racquet again,” Kvitova told her team, with her voice cracking.

“It’s crazy. I can hardly believe that I just played in a Grand Slam final again.”

Predictions of a slugfest between two of the game’s biggest hitters proved accurate as the pair went toe-to-toe in the first set.

They had never met before and Osaka initially struggled to unlock the lanky left-hander’s serve, while Kvitova at times could not handle her opponent’s powerful returns.

The Czech mixed up her game with drop shots and changes of pace but blew three break chances in a crunch sixth game in the first set.

Kvitova saved two set points to force a tie-break but Osaka ran away with it 7-2, taking the first set the Czech had conceded in the entire tournament.

Kvitova regrouped and kept her hopes alive with the first break of the match, going up 2-0 in the second.

Osaka was frustrated but did not panic, going back on level terms in the next game after benefiting from a Kvitova double fault and poorly hit drop shot.

The Japanese star broke again to take control as Kvitova’s error rate climbed, bringing up three championship points. But the Czech saved all of them, forcing Osaka to serve for the title.

Nerves took hold as Osaka conceded a break to make it 5-5, smashing a ball into the ground and putting her hands over her ears.

The Czech broke again to seize momentum with her fourth straight game, claiming the set as Osaka left the court with a towel draped over her head.

Osaka regained her cool and clipped a clean backhand winner to take a break point in the third game of the decider, going on to see off a Kvitova break opportunity, her mental demons put to bed.

Kvitova would not surrender, saving three break points before again forcing Osaka to serve it out, but the Japanese champion managed it on the second attempt for a famous victory.

[photo-1,2 ]
Japan's Naomi Osaka poses with the championship trophy during the presentation ceremony after her victory against Czech Republic's Petra Kvitova in the women's singles final on day 13 of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 26, 2019.

Naomi Osaka (L) of Japan and Petra Kvitova (R) of Czech Republic pose for photos with their trophies after their women's singles final match against Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic at the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia, 26 January 2019.

Japan's Naomi Osaka hugs Czech Republic's Petra Kvitova after winning the women's singles final on day 13 of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 26, 2019.

New Straits Times, Published: January 26, 2019 - 8:51pm
'Shocked' Osaka wins Australian Open to become world number one



"I'm tan, it's pretty obvious."


"I don't think they did it on purpose to be whitewashing or anything, but I definitely think that the next time that they try to portray me or something, I feel like they should talk to me about it."


"There's a lot of Japanese reporters here, so if you want to ask them about the drawing thing... "


" I get why people would be upset about it. "


"But then, because the person who drew that, I'm not really sure but I think he was the creator of Prince of Tennis. I feel like you would have to do research on it, like, to see if he has ever done things like this before. To be honest, I haven't really paid too much attention to this, this is sort of the first time that anyone's asking me questions."


" I don't really wanna say anything wrong at this point. I feel like I should do my research before I answer if that is OK"



CMを放映した日清は1月23日、 大坂選手がアニメキャラクターとして登場する「カップヌードル」の広告動画を削除した。



HuffPost、2019年01月25日 23時04分 JST

Shino Tanaka、Yuko Maruta

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2014年に香港で起きた大規模な民主化デモ「雨傘運動」を率いた学生団体の元幹部、周庭さん(Agnes Chow Ting、22)が年末から年始にかけて来日した。

▽ 普通選挙、実現できなかった「雨傘」



▽ 悲しい流行語



▽ 制服を着替えて



▽ 一国二制度は中国のうそ



▽ 日本がうらやましい









47NEWS、2019/1/24 11:38updated

アニメ大好き 一国一・五制度の現状語る


[read more]
Judge denies review of decision to ban Agnes Chow from Hong Kong by-election

Justice Anderson Chow says that a review of the case would have a ‘most deleterious effect’ on the by-election but says the results could be challenged after the vote

SCMP, UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 February, 2018, 8:50pm

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政府から「実質賃金はマイナスだった」とする答弁を引き出した山井和則議員。=25日、衆院16控室 撮影:田中龍作=

 「21年ぶりの記録的な賃金上昇」…安倍政権が御用マスコミを使って一斉に報じさせた2018年6月の賃金統計 ―










 山井議員の質問意図は、麻生大臣の暗黙の指示でサンプルを入れ替えて高めに出るように設定した緑色の線(2.0)と同じ事業所で比べたオレンジの線(0.6)のどちらが正しいのか? だ。





田中龍作ジャーナル、2019年1月25日 17:07






 昨日、発表された「毎月勤労統計」の再集計の結果、2018年1月〜11月の名目賃金を示す「現金給与総額(名目賃金)」は下方修正され、「賃金伸び 21年5カ月ぶりの高水準」「アベノミクスの成果」などと大々的に報じられた昨年6月の「3.3%増」も、「2.8%増」と修正された。








 その結果、当然、賃金上昇率は一気に伸び、昨年6月には前年同月比で3.6%増を記録(確報は3.3%増)。このため、全国紙はこぞって「賃金伸び 21年5カ月ぶりの高水準」「アベノミクスの成果」などと報じたのである。













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[東京 25日 ロイター] - 日本の代表的な英字新聞、ジャパンタイムズの新オフィスで、昨年12月3日、同社幹部と十数名の記者らが激しい論争を繰り広げた。対立に火をつけたのは、日韓摩擦の火種となっている「慰安婦」と「徴用工」について、11月30日付の紙面に掲載された「editor’s note」(編集長の説明)だった。

今後、ジャパンタイムズは徴用工を「forced laborers(強制された労働者)」ではなく「戦時中の労働者(wartime laborers)」と表現する。慰安婦については「日本の軍隊に性行為の提供を強制された女性たち(women who were forced to provide sex for Japanese troops)」としてきた説明を変え、「意思に反してそうした者も含め、戦時中の娼館で日本兵に性行為を提供するために働いた女性たち(women who worked in wartime brothels, including those who did so against their will, to provide sex to Japanese soldiers)」との表現にする。







同紙は日本初の英字新聞として1897年に発刊された。他の多くの日本のメディアと同様、第2次世界大戦中は政府の戦争遂行に協力する紙面を続けたが、終戦後は日本の責任を反省する社説を掲載、民主的な編集方針にかじを切った。「All the News Without Fear or Favor(恐れず、偏らない報道)」とのスローガンを掲げた同紙の報道姿勢にはリベラルとの評価があり、1998年には同紙の慰安婦記事について、保守系雑誌「諸君!」が「国を売るのかジャパンタイムズ」と題する記事を掲載したこともある。









それまで使われていた「forced(強制された)」という単語を抜き、「日本の軍隊向けの娼館に従事した女性たち(women who engaged in brothels for the Japanese military)」という表現に変えたいという内容だった。また資料として、過去の同紙、共同通信、AP、ロイターなどの慰安婦関連記事やコラムの1つ1つについて、メモで「ほとんどが韓国側の視点」、「日本をこき下ろしたいだけ」などと批判した。









堀氏はジャーナリストの櫻井よしこ氏が理事長を務める「国家基本問題研究所」の元理事でもある。同研究所は昨年11月14日に、「『徴用工の』正しい用語は『朝鮮人戦時労働者』(wartime Korean workers)だ」とする提言をホームページに掲載した。この提言では、「朝日新聞、共同通信などの英語版やジャパンタイムズ記事で、徴用を『forced labor』と訳している場合が多い。これは歴史を歪める誤訳」だと指摘している。







jp.reuters.com 焦点、2019年1月25日 / 09:25

宮崎亜巳、斎藤真理 取材協力:Hyonhee Shin(ソウル)

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■ 「勘頼み」排しデータ活用 中室牧子さん(慶応大学准教授)

 証拠に基づく政策立案は「EBPM」(Evidence Based Policy Making)と呼ばれます。この考え方は1990年代、財政が切迫する中、より税金を有効に使おうというイギリスで生まれ、世界に広がりました。医師の勘頼みではなく、臨床試験で効果が確認できた医療を提供しようという「科学的根拠に基づく医療」が起源です。









なかむろまきこ 1975年生まれ。専門は教育経済学。日本銀行や世界銀行を経て現職。著書に「『学力』の経済学」ほか。

■ 効率追求に限らぬ視野で 津富宏さん(NPO法人理事長、静岡県立大学教授)












つとみひろし 1959年生まれ。法務省で少年院教官などを務め、2002年から静岡県立大学。青少年就労支援のNPOを主宰。

■ 恣意的運用が横行、監視を 上西充子さん(法政大学教授)












うえにしみつこ 1965年生まれ。2013年より現職。ハーバー・ビジネス・オンラインで労働問題に関する記事を執筆。

その政策、何を根拠に? 中室牧子さん、津富宏さん、上西充子さん

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この想像力の欠如! 余命一カ月と宣告された命を前にしたとき、更に生き延びてくれるかもしれない一%の可能性に賭けずにはいられないのが人間なのだという想像力と、加えて身体性の欠如に絶望する。

















これは提案と言えるでしょうか? 思いつき、放言レベルでしょう? しかも落合さんは撤回していますから、論評に値しないと思いますよ。彼らに比べると安倍首相の発言の方がずっとまともです。












脳卒中で死んだから高額な医療費がかかってしまったとか心筋梗塞で死んだから医療費がかかって困るとは誰も言わないでしょう? 誰もが必要性を認めるような医療をカットすべきだとは言わないはずです。



































BuzzFeed News、2019/01/25 10:00
トンデモ数字に振り回されるな 繰り返される「終末期医療が医療費を圧迫」という議論


By 岩永直子 (Naoko Iwanaga)、BuzzFeed News Editor, Japan

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作家・医師 南木佳士さん(66)

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Bean bonanza

Bean bonanza: cafes boom in remote corner of Indonesia

For decades, there wasn't a coffee shop anywhere in Indonesia's Toraja region even as its high-quality beans grabbed top dollar on the international market.

Locals in the lush, mountainous area on Sulawesi island used the bitter beverage in traditional ceremonies, gave away their extra beans to neighbours for free or traded them for a sack of rice and livestock.

But Toraja is experiencinga mini-explosion in cafés, with dozens of shops sprouting up in the region courtesy of entrepreneurs like Suleman Miting.

Coffee was introduced to the region by Islamic traders around the 18th century, but for most Torajans paying to drink it in a store was an alien idea.

"If I ran out of coffee, I'd just go to my neighbour's place," Miting said from his 16-seat shop in North Toraja.

"Us Torajans are not used to drinking coffee at a café," he added.

But when world coffee prices dropped several years ago, putting pressure on local farmers, Miting said it opened a window for a new business in the area that squeezed out middlemen who largely controlled prices.

The situation in Toraja mirrors a coffee culture explosion across Indonesia, particularly among young people living in cities.

The region mostly produces arabica beans, which have a milder taste and lower caffeine concentration than the alternative robusta beans.

It's unique coffee has won devotees abroad -- particularly in Japan.

The Toarco Toraja brand is well known in Tokyo and exports are mostly run by a Japanese firm that takes its beans from a 500-hectare plantation almost 2,000 metres above sea level.

During harvest season between May and September, dozens of workers scuttle from plant to plant picking the ruby red beans before they are processed at a large factory in Toraja and shipped out.

But Indonesia's army of small-scale coffee farmers, who have little marketing experience and can have low yields, are still struggling in a competitive global market.

In recent years it has been knocked back to become the world's fourth-largest coffee exporter, behind Brazil, Vietnam and Colombia, respectively.

Indonesia was previously in third spot globally until it was overtaken by Vietnam in the late Nineties.

Daily Mail, Updated: 05:05 GMT, 24 January 2019
Bean bonanza: coffee cafes pop up in remote corner of Indonesia

[Read more]

In 18th century, there was an extraordinary type of coffee
that existed since it could only be harvested on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.
Hence the nickname, “The Masterpiece of Celebes,” given by European royalty.
During the chaos of the war,
the coffee disappeared from the market,
but was eventually brought back into circulation by Japanese coffee enthusiasts,
who had built roads to the abandoned plantations as well as re-cultivated the land.
Because of its trademark of excellence,
KEY COFFEE has been greatly admired by genuine coffee lovers over the past four decades.


# Japan's most incredible cup of coffee

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Rubber tappers are important as human beings just as business leaders and professionals are.

IT has been interesting following Malaysia’s phenomenal development since 1990 and more so over the last 15 years, especially in societal progress as a multiracial nation.

There’s a wonderful mix and vibe of local and foreign faces at Suria KLCC and shopping centres in the Klang Valley, which, amid all this stunning development that has taken place, is great to see.

Even a glance at a copy of Malaysian Tatler will indicate this new “face” that has come about.

Few people would know much about the roles played by Indians and Gurkhas in defending colonial Malaya from Japanese forces in World War 2.

There was also the Scottish 2nd Argylls Regiment (and the Plymouth Argyll Royal Marines) who fought courageously at Muda River (Penang), on the beaches at Kuantan, Telok Anson, Slim River and the Battle of Grik Road, as covered in the book Moon Over Malaya by Jonathan Moffat and Audrey Holmes McCormick. Not to mention the Australians.

Also, the thousands of post-war Indian and Chinese labourers who toiled to build a nation that would stand on its own as Malaysia. They are not forgotten.

I cringe when I hear stories of arrogance or discrimination, for example, the snapping of fingers to call a waiter or talking down to people born in different cultures and socio-economic scenarios.

It’s now good to see that service staff at food and beverage outlets can handle customers who overstep boundaries and, if need be, take them down a notch or two.

Oh, and so good to see the smoking ban in force, and with hotels and laundrettes next.

We have been described as a “very status-conscious country”. All about who you know, not what you know and who’s good to know.

But what about the bus driver, tukang jahit (tailor), the cleaner or the men who clear household rubbish?

Or the security guard, the taxi driver, the seamstress, the sanitary worker, the rubber tapper and the domestic servant?

Are they all not important cogs in the wheel of nation-building? Of course they are. Things would come to a halt without them.

So, in that vein, are they not also important as human beings just as our business leaders and medical and other professionals are?

Do they just go on struggling to get by, living hand to mouth and just makan gaji in an expensive world?

Surely it’s time to give these people more recognition for the work they do.

Again, and not to put too fine a point on it, how would things operate without such champions taking the physical risk, the brunt and the verbal flak that go with the territory?

One would only have to look closely at, say, the blackened blocks of flats in Taman Desa Aman in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur, to get an idea of how the other half live, and have to live.

Samuel Yesuiah in his letter “Treat women, girls in anti-vice raids with dignity” (Jan 13, NST) hit the nail on the head.

Many are victims trapped in unfortunate circumstances and are not evil, so dignity is the key word.

After all, none of us should “think more highly of ourselves than we ought” or withhold wages that are due, or place unrealistic demands on workers and thus found to be guilty of a moral and spiritual crime against our fellow man.

Indeed, let us not judge lest we are judged.

I’m reminded of the 1972 song, I Will Never Pass This Way Again, by Glen Campbell, about being mindful and kind, and we would do well to hold to its sentiments.

Perhaps the authorities could provide greater awareness to the public of the roles these persons play.

To envisage a truly New Malaysia, perhaps a series of life-specific stories on television could highlight their walks and struggles. These may well, in time, contribute to the depolarisation of Malaysian society.

Rubber tappers are important as human beings just as business leaders and professionals are.

Letter to The New Straits Times, Published: January 24, 2019 - 10:16pm
Recognise all our workers
By Robert Leembruggen, Melbourne, Australia

ADELAIDE, Australia: Temperatures in southern Australia topped 49 degrees on Thursday, shattering previous records as sizzling citizens received free beer and heat-stressed bats fell from trees.

The Bureau of Meteorology reported temperatures of 49.5 Celsius (120 Fahrenheit) north of Adelaide, while inside the city temperatures reached 47.7 Celsius, breaking a record that had stood since 1939.

Adelaide residents are used to sweltering days during the southern hemisphere summer, but even they struggled with the oppressive temperatures.

More than 13 towns across South Australia have smashed their own heat records.

The state's health authorities early Thursday reported that 44 people had received emergency treatment for heat-related illnesses in the past 24 hours.

"Remember to check on elderly friends, relatives and neighbours, and those who are unwell," the state emergency services tweeted.

Health authorities were also forced to issue a public warning to avoid contact with hundreds of heat-stressed bats falling from trees in parkland areas.

Authorities in central Australia said they had to cull more than 50 feral horses, after they found 90 dead or dying wild brumbies near a dried-up water hole.

Shocking images of dozens of dead horses strewn across the dry ground began to circulate on social media this week.

"With climate change well and truly upon us, we expect these emergencies to occur with increasing frequency and nobody is truly prepared and resourced to respond to them," David Ross, director of indigenous representative body the Central Land Council, said in a statement.

These Aussie pets have the right idea to beat the heat, as temperatures soar across the country. #9News
Records broken as heatwave sets in: https://t.co/DxsvCd0O7E pic.twitter.com/dV2DURJSu5
− Nine News Australia (@9NewsAUS) January 24, 2019

- Bushfire threat -

While thousands of people have flocked to beaches to cool off in the surf, hundreds have taken to shopping centres to stay out of the heat.

At the Red Lion Hotel in South Australia, publicans gave a free beer to each of their patrons while the temperature remained above 45 degrees.

Around one hundred people lined up for their free drink for over one hour.

At Adelaide Zoo tortoises have been getting cool water wipedowns, rock wallabies have been given ice to lick and hyenas have taken refreshing dips.

But the temperatures are also testing municipal services, with SunCity buses forced to cut their services, leaving commuters searching for trams or trains to get home.

Emergency services are on the alert as more than 13 districts are under threat of possible bushfires.

Meanwhile, a total fire ban was issued further south in the island state of Tasmania, where authorities continued to battle blazes.

Parts of the southeastern state of Victoria were also sweltering through temperatures above 40 degrees.

The soaring temperatures follow a heatwave last week that saw Australian towns among the hottest places on Earth.

As many as a million fish were discovered dead last week along the banks of a major river system in drought-battered eastern Australia, with thousands more found killed some 900 kilometres (560 miles) away in the north of New South Wales on Monday.

The government has launched a review into the mass fish kill.

National Broadcaster ABC reported that farmers in Western Australia have been forced to cull at least 2,500 feral camels gathering in "plague proportions" in the past month.

Regarded as pests, the ABC said many have wondered onto properties where temperatures had reached 50 Celsius this summer, where they are draining valuable water supply and feed for cattle.

The fatal conditions are set to continue. Learn more about Australia's record heatwave: https://t.co/QyyNVsdn6j #nature #environment #wef19 pic.twitter.com/XqPr0jeS2q
− World Economic Forum (@wef) January 21, 2019

Rock wallabies have been given ice to lick at the zoo

Bangkok Post, Published: 24 Jan 2019 at 15:45
South Australia heatwave smashes record temperatures

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Enterpreneurial attitude

I HAVE been with many people who generate great ideas in meetings or discussions, but then typically nothing happens after that initial burst of enthusiasm.

Most great ideas remain undeveloped because people don’t have the courage, make the time or risk their resources to take action.

Whether you are an entrepreneur or a corporate executive, converting an idea into reality, notwithstanding the required investment of time and money, is an incredibly difficult task.

You must own the responsibility regardless of the circumstances. No one will ever understand your idea or the dynamics associated with it, like you do.

Perhaps this is why Jimmy Dugan, the character Tom Hanks plays in the movie “A League of Their Own”, says in a scene: “…it’s supposed to be hard. If it was easy, everyone would do it”.

This past week, I had to own and take responsibility for an idea.

About a year ago, I met the incredibly talented and charming David Rocco.

Rocco, for those who may not know, is a Canadian-Italian executive producer, best-selling author, celebrity chef and host of several internationally syndicated television series.

He is most known for producing and hosting the television series David Rocco’s Dolce Vita. In Malaysia, you can see his shows on Nat Geo People.

Through our serendipitous meeting, we connected and over the course of last year built a friendship. As we spoke and communicated, we often discussed the possibility of a new series called “David Rocco’s Dolce Southeast Asia” or even “Dolce Malaysia”.

About three weeks ago, he called and told me that he was going to be in Singapore on a shoot for a client and he had time to come to Kuala Lumpur to chat about work. He asked if I was available for this.

Of course, I said yes to my favourite TV chef.

Consequently, last week had been hectic with meetings, an amazing private dinner at my bistro restaurant D’Legends in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, and an incredibly successful public event at Sheraton Petaling Jaya.

The reason I said yes and was willing to get my entire team involved was not because I was a fan. It was primarily because his passion and devotion to what he does is totally infectious.

My EQTD Consulting team for this project, Pamela Fong and Ganesh Nair, together with my restaurant team, Zahid Nayan, Saiful Sarkar and Mus Sattar, may not necessarily thank me for the incredible pressure that was placed on them as we frantically worked on these events.

But, they were totally engaged, and got swept away by Rocco’s impassioned energy and vision.

The marketplace today is fiercely competitive. This requires you to not only have good ideas, but the necessary drive to convert your own vision, or someone else’s, into reality.

If you are not doing either of this, it is vital that you re-examine your purpose-drive, and what you stand for.

My work with Rocco reinforced my belief that you must always be innovative and embrace an entrepreneurial attitude with your work.

This is the surest way for growth and opportunities for yourself, the people you lead, and the clients you serve.

How do you do this? I would start by asking you to actually believe in yourself.

Remember that every entrepreneur has to take ownership of his decisions, and you cannot handle the consequences of your actions until you believe in yourself enough.

Accountability requires you to be dedicated one hundred per cent to finishing the work you promised to do.

For example, Rocco is a celebrated international personality with a global footprint. But, he committed himself to be available for a private dinner at my small restaurant in the suburbs of Kuala Lumpur.

There were unexpected challenges like the lack of ingredients or unfamiliar kitchen equipment.

There were also linguistic barriers with my kitchen team. But armed with the self-belief that he could sort everything out, he just went about his business without any problems, and with great care and affection for my team.

The next thing you need to do is embrace risk.

Any entrepreneur will tell you that risk is your permanent bedfellow when you forge a new idea. When you accept that all your endeavours have an element of risk, your approach to any action or decision is grounded on purpose.

When things do not go according to plan, you will stay focused on the mission at hand. Again, Rocco showed this over the past few days in Kuala Lumpur. He was focused on making his trip here worthwhile for his business.

But his commitment to manage any unexpected risk as he navigated the process of getting things done, was the main reason he was able to convert his ideas into reality.

So, if you want to be successful at work, be like David Rocco. Be passionately devoted to your ideas and be entrepreneurial.

Shankar R. Santhiram executive leadership coach, EQTD Consulting (left) with author, producer, host and chef David Rocco.

David Rocco (centre), executive producer, best-selling author, celebrity chef and host of several internationally syndicated television series.

New Straits Times, Published: January 25, 2019 - 9:12am
Embracing an entrepreneurial attitude at work

‘‘What do you get paid for, at work?’’ This is the question I asked a group of IT specialists earlier this week, as I started a 2-day Driving Client Centricity programme with them.

The answer, of course is: your skills and knowledge.

Your salary is directly proportionate to the perceived value of your skills and knowledge. Therefore, if you want more money, increase your value. It is a fairly elementary prescription. But, like many things in life, the simplest formulas are usually the most potent ones.

I also had to remind my trainees that were valuable only when they add value It is expected that you do what is listed in your job description and that you meet your key result areas. This is crucial.

However, anything you do, which is over and beyond what is expected of you that adds value will bring you exceptional personal results.

As your value-added contributions produce measurable outcomes for your company, help make a better workplace, add to profitability, or long-term sustainability; you will increase your personal value.

Of course, as you become personally more valuable, you continue to grow motivated to do more. It's cyclical.

If you want to add value add, start by learning to listen and notice things around you.

When you take the time to observe and listen to your surroundings and interactions, you will learn a great deal about the company you work at, the people you work with, as well as yourself. Your observations will help you focus on what you need to do to further enhance, re-learn and develop professionally.

I know through experience, how important observing and listening, is.

When you pay attention and listen, the biggest benefit is that you will be able to determine how and when best to approach your leaders, and predict some of the outcomes of your interactions with them. This will naturally help you further your cause.

Learn to listen with the sole aim of understanding what is going on. Why? Because when you listen without preconceived notions, you are more likely to actually ‘hear’ what they are saying.

When you master this, you will find yourself equipped with "inside" knowledge that will make you eminently promotable.

Next, invest time to read and gather new information. The acquisition of knowledge has never been easier. The abundance of resources that you have at a click of a button, on your browser, must be put to good use. Pick books, magazines, online resources and so on, which resonate with your needs at the workplace.

And, remember that knowledge is not power. Applied knowledge, is.

Getting mentors will also help you become valuable. When you study their actions, you gain valuable insights for your own journey.

Be honest about the things you want to change about yourself. List them down, and be clear why you don’t want these habits. Then, identify what empowering attributes you want like to develop. Once you have worked this out, look for someone who has these qualities, and use them as a role model.

If you do this correctly, and get the right mentor, you will start adding value to yourself. As you begin to emulate them, you will start replicating their results.

When you are observant, you find that mentors can be found everywhere.

Look around you in your everyday interactions for interesting people. When you travel, keep your eyes open for find interesting people who you can learn from.

I have learnt from both the briyani vendor in Chennai who prepares his rice and chicken dish at a busy street-side intersection, as well as from celebrated chefs in restaurants around Europe.

For example, I have understood how to add value from both of them. I have seen the result of working with passion, and having the end result completely in focus.

Be interested the outcome of your work. If you don’t really care about the results, you can expect only average results, at best.

The goals that you set for yourself will only be met, if you care about the consequence.

Similarly, your work will only produce real yield, if you are committed to delivering a great end product.

When you connect with the reality that your work supports your lifestyle goals, and your personal growth is fuelled by the work that you do, then it becomes easier to care about what you do.

Be cognizant of the fact that if you love freedom; the freedom to travel, the freedom to enjoy some of the finer things in life, and the freedom from debt; that freedom only comes when if you care about your work.

Your vocation pays for your freedom.

The key is to create and deliver as much value as you can. You must care immensely about what you do. As you do this consistently, your motivation to increasing personal value becomes sustainable.

New Straits Times, Published: January 11, 2019 - 8:00am
Increasing personal value

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Malaysians struggling with English

THE product of almost two generations who have to go through an education system that’s English-unfriendly, the vast majority of Malaysians are struggling with this vital international language.

Not much, if at all, has been done to address this issue but all is not lost if moving forward, all stakeholders take a real hard look at whether the nation has achieved a return on investment for the exponential costs that go into the education sector.

There have been several reforms of the school syllabus undertaken in the past but because they hardly touched or emphasised the crucial need for English proficiency in schools, such expensive exercises have not achieved the desired impact.

We are now going through yet another proposed reform of the syllabus which Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has indicated, is aimed at ensuring that students can master all important subjects and improve their employability.

Mahathir has on numerous occasions exhorted Malaysians to master English but now it’s everyone’s hope that the new Pakatan Harapan government would execute some game-changing plans to close the widening gap in English deficit we are facing.

Hardly a week ago, the prime minister himself spoke in eloquent English at the Oxford Union Debate in Britain, becoming the first Malaysian and Asean leader to be invited to address the forum.

Dr Yaacob Hussain Merican, one of Malaysia’s most senior lawyers, was so impressed with Mahathir while watching the live broadcast of the debate that he wrote a letter, which was published by theSun on Wednesday.

“I have never been more proud to be a Malaysian than while watching the live broadcast of Tun Dr Mahathir speaking his mind in response to impromptu questions and the manner he put a stop to ferocious questions levelled at him at the dialogue session,” said Yaacob.

DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang said he could foresee a possible resistance towards the prime minister’s bid to reform the school syllabus, describing it as “one of the greatest challenges” for the country.

And he urged all Malaysians to throw their support behind the prime minister’s plan, adding that Malaysia should emulate China, which has placed emphasis on human capital as its most important resource.

Actually we don’t have to look too far. Just across the Johor causeway, Singapore is a much better example where its human capital is recognised as among the world’s best, with its education system firmly based on English as the medium.

One of the pet subjects of any public debate on the unemployment problem among graduates locally is the mismatch between education system and job market demands.

And the lack of English proficiency is always cited by employers as the key missing link in the list of soft skills required.

I, for one, share the view that it’s not so much unemployed graduates but unemployable graduates.

For quite a while now the saving grace for Malaysia’s demand for employees who are English-proficient has been the large number of private-run universities with their medium of instruction in English.

But these institutions are largely beyond the affordability of the low-income group who flock to public universities where English is used only minimally.

Prof Michael Woolcock of Harvard University, at a forum in Kuala Lumpur not too long ago, opined that the education system in Malaysia doesn’t work for the lower class.

“They are unable to apply theory or understand English. It is not a geography issue. In Malaysia, it’s a class issue. For a system to really work well, it has to work for everybody,” he said.

His recent study in the country showed that 51% of those from the lower class were unable to read manuals due their poor proficiency in English.

Other studies have pointed to an even larger percentage of English deficit in students and graduates.

“Poor English proficiency is a major concern that should be addressed,” said Woolcock, who cited Iceland as an example where everyone speaks Icelandic but is proficient in English as well.

Prof Lant Prichett, also of Harvard University, said that local students pay too much attention in memorisation for exams instead of understanding the study materials.

“Most students leave primary and secondary schools without understanding the subjects,” he said.

Taking these views into account, this new education reform is long overdue but let’s pray hard that it won’t end up as just another costly exercise.

Plugging the English loopholes so to speak, should no longer be an issue for further wasteful polemic.

Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, in an interview over BBC’s HARDtalk on Wednesday, also spoke of the need for a reform in the school syllabus.

Our youngest ever Cabinet minister is indeed a shining example of how far one can go, even at just 25 years old, with English proficiency.

So let’s fix the system one and for all.

SunDaily, Published: 24 Jan 2019 / 19:14 H.
Malaysians struggling with English
By Azman Ujang

Let me tell you a stirring and symbiotic tale of two countries. It’s about Malaysia and Singapore, big bro, small bro, who sometimes bother each other over things, but usually enjoy a special relationship that you can’t find anywhere else in the world.

Well, it doesn’t matter that over the decades, Malaysia and Singapore have argued over the price of water, over a crooked bridge, over a white rock in the sea (Pulau Batu Puteh), over sand (reclamation), and yeah, over chilli crab (origin) and whatnots.

Life just happily goes on, to and fro, across the Causeway; in and out, up and down the two nations. Malaysia and Singapore, hand in hand, thanks to their inter-connected histories and cultures.

And now, Britain, the former colonial master which used to feed us the Queen’s English, has decided to pepper in some rojak language from the two melting pots of Southeast Asia.

Whether they are Manglish or Singlish, 19 words, including shiok, lepak and wah, have been included in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), which is widely regarded as the accepted authority on the English language.

Singapore’sThe Straits Times reported last week that the OED, in its March 2016 update, has included words used by Malaysians and Singaporeans.

The OED defines shiok as “great, cool, delicious or superb”. Lepak means “to loiter, relax or hang out”. And, the dictionary even has three meanings for it: lepak as noun, lepak as verb and lepaking as present continuous tense.

Wah is defined as an expression of delight or surprise. Wah, I’m at a loss for words, so shiok to know that our lingo is now Oxford level.

I personally love the indulgent word shiok, which really has a pleasurable ring to it. How nice, how wonderful if life is full of shiok. However, some of us in carrying out our roles in society, like to “shiok sendiri”, a trait that is self serving and not for the greater good of others.

The old fellas from the old school frown upon those who throw in a lah to every sentence uttered, and blah, blah, blah, they would chide the “offending” speaker, often a callow youth. But the new generation now has the last say, as lah has become fashionable and acceptable in English.

Somehow, the Singaporeans claim that lah is theirs and has already made it to the OED in March 2000. No lah, I beg to disagree. As it is, as it was, I was already saying this lah and that lah in primary school.

Word spreads fast. Already, some students have posted on social media that they would throw the book, or the Oxford dictionary, at the teacher if they were penalised for using lah, shiok or lepak in writing essays.

Anyway, methinks all languages, the Tower of Babel notwithstanding, are a gift from God. Be they Malay, English, Mandarin, Hindi, Greek or Swahili, they are all mankind’s medium of thought.

But, language, like technology, is ever evolving. We have to adapt and be adept at it, or end up like dinosaurs or ignoramuses in the new world.

Shakespeare wouldn’t shake his head at the new additions from Malaysia and Singapore since the Bard himself had coined over 1,600 words.

Unless some contentious linguists in this region want to have a say, I don’t expect Malaysia and Singapore to go into a war of words over laying claim to the origins of these words.

But, when it comes to food, it’s bound to stir up passionate arguments on either side of the Causeway as to which nation’s dishes are more shiok. It is, as usual, that bragging rights posturing.

Several years back, during the “food war”, former tourism minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen declared that Malaysia cannot continue to let other countries (mainly referring to Singapore) hijack its food, and we would lay claim to our nation’s signature dishes like chilli crab, Hainanese chicken rice, laksa and nasi lemak.

I believe in “seeing is believing”, as the phrase goes, so does “eating is believing”. So, just have a bite in Malaysia and Singapore, have some food for thought, and find out for yourself.

Lastly, after all is said and done, words alone cannot describe the bridge of friendship and goodwill forged between Malaysia and Singapore since 1965. It has really made the two nations feel shiok.

Malaysia’s and Singapore’s rojak words are now found in the Oxford English Dictionary, widely regarded as the accepted authority on the English language.

New Straits Times, Published: May 20, 2016 - 11:01am
When two nations feel 'shiok' ...

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International Movement for a Just World (JUST)

THE decision of the Malaysian government not to allow Israelis to enter the country to take part in the World Para Swimming Championships in Sarawak in July-August 2019 is both politically correct and morally right.

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s firm stand on this issue has been endorsed by PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Deputy Sports Minister Sim Hee Kyung. A coalition of 29 NGOs has also voiced support for the decision.

That Malaysia has no diplomatic relations with Israel provides the political rationale for our stand. What this means in concrete terms is that Israelis cannot visit Malaysia just as Malaysians cannot visit Israel. This is an important dimension of our foreign policy. As a national policy it supersedes internal arrangements on the immigration rights of a state within the Malaysian Federation.

If our decision on Israeli swimmers is politically viable it is because it is anchored in a powerful moral ethos. In international law, Israel is an occupier that has annexed and usurped not only Palestinian land but also Syrian and Lebanese territories. If Malaysia recognised Israel, we would be bestowing legitimacy upon Israeli occupation and oppression.

Israeli occupation has become much more severe since 1948 as reflected in its seizure of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967; its tightening grip over East Jerusalem; and the construction of a wall that divides the West Bank and marginalises the Palestinian population. Even more tragic is the continuous massacre of Palestinians and other Arabs in the course of the last 70 years through wars and brutal assaults. If they are not killed or executed, the victims of Israeli aggression are subjected to imprisonment and torture or simply humiliated through body searches at numerous check-points. Indeed, what Israel has established in the West Bank and even within Israel itself is an “Apartheid State” that denies Palestinians their basic human dignity.

It is against this backdrop that one should view the Malaysian decision to bar Israelis from entering our country. There are thousands of individuals and organisations all over the world that are opposed to Israel’s intransigent arrogance. By boycotting Israel, many of them are hoping to compel Israel to obey international law. This is the aim of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement which has grown and expanded over the last 15 years or so. Through boycott of Israeli sporting activities, musical concerts, academic programmes and Israeli goods produced especially in the West Bank, the BDS movement aims to isolate Israel and as a result create awareness among the Israeli people of the imperative importance of forcing the Israeli government to recognise the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. It is significant that the BDS movement is totally committed to peaceful protest.

Academic organisations such as the American Studies Association have joined the movement as have churches in the United States like the Presbyterian Church and the Methodist Church that have divested their investments in Israel. The Dutch pension fund, PGGM is another entity that has divested its shares in companies operating in the country. There are also big European companies such as Veolia, Orange and CRH that have exited the Israeli market. As a result of all this, there was a 46% drop in foreign direct investment into Israel in 2014 compared to 2013.

It is not just churches and companies. There are even cities such as Dublin in Ireland and Leicester in Britain that are part of the BDS movement. Among prominent individuals associated with BDS is the indefatigable Desmond Tutu who sees parallels between what is happening in Israel-Palestine today and Apartheid South Africa in the past.

It is within the context of the BDS movement that we should view our own boycott of Israeli swimmers. We are strengthening the most promising movement alive today for the liberation of the Palestinian people. It is a movement that has drawn people from diverse religious and cultural backgrounds into a common commitment to a common cause – a cause which Nelson Mandela once described as the greatest moral issue of our time.

By saying “no” to Israeli swimmers – as others have said “no” to other Israeli athletes in other fields – we are continuing to champion a struggle that we have been devoted to for such a long while. Criticisms from various quarters, even economic and political moves against Malaysia as a nation, should not deter us from continuing with our struggle. Let us remind ourselves that we are not alone in this noble quest for justice.

Israeli occupation continues ... A relative of Mohammed al-Nabaheen, 24, a Hamas member reportedly killed by Israeli tank fire, breaks down at a hospital in Deir al-Balah in central Gaza Strip on Tuesday.

SunDaily, Published: 23 Jan 2019 / 18:30 H.
A morally right decision
By Chandra Muzaffar

IN the last few months, the International Movement for a Just World (JUST) has been inundated with videos and articles alleging cruel persecution and oppression of the Uighur in Xinjiang province, China.

The Uighur and some other groups are seen as threats to national security over purported links to separatist insurgency. A UN panel reported last August that as many as 2 million people may have been held in camps in Xinjiang.

According to dissidents, there is a systematic effort to brainwash the detainees. The propaganda is not just about ideologies. It is alleged detainees are required to abdicate prohibitions and even renounce their faith. Torture is apparently common. Some critics describe the targeting of the Uighurs as “the most brutal repression ... since the Cultural Revolution.”

China has denied vehemently the allegations. The authorities reject any suggestion that there has been forced renunciation of Islam. They admit there are re-education centres but focused on combating terrorism, extremism and separatism.

The critics from civil society are disappointed that governments as a whole have chosen to keep quiet about the atrocities and attribute the silence to the fear that China with its huge economic clout will make things difficult for countries that have become dependent upon Chinese investments and trade.

It is equally true that China is being attacked much more in the media and by civil society groups today than in the past because of its phenomenal rise as a global power. The forces that dominate the global system resent this since they are hell-bent on perpetuating their hegemony. This is why they are using the media and civil society to expose flaws and foibles in Chinese governance. How Beijing treats the Uighurs and other minorities is perhaps one of those flaws that is susceptible to manipulation and distortion. And there has been a great deal of exaggeration and hyperbole about the plight of the Uighurs. This does not mean however that the real challenges confronting the Uighurs and other minorities should be glossed over.

To convince everyone that the Chinese government is willing to address genuine Uighur grievances it should invite representatives from civil society in some Muslim majority countries to undertake a fact-finding mission. Members of the mission should have the full freedom to visit the re-education centres and interview detainees. The mission’s report should be submitted to not only the authorities in Xinjiang and to the leaders of the Uighur community but also to Beijing. The countries from which the members of the mission are drawn and the world at large should also have full access to its findings. Most of all, one hopes that if the recommendations are feasible, Beijing and Xinjiang will try to implement them with sincere trust. If that is done, it is conceivable that the chapter on the Uighurs will be brought to a close.

It is in Beijing’s interest to resolve the Uighur issue in such a manner that the identity and dignity of the Uighurs and other minorities in are protected and enhanced. If injustices against Uighurs real or perceived are allowed to fester much longer, it may erode China’s standing among Muslim majority countries. This is especially so since the Hui, Muslims among the majority Han people, it is alleged, are also now being targeted by the authorities.

There could be repercussions for China’s Belt Road Initiative since it involves many countries with substantial Muslim populations. China is also heavily dependent upon the import of oil from Muslim countries. There are civil society groups in some of these countries which are unhappy about Beijing’s attitude towards the Uighurs and Muslims. They are demanding action against Beijing.

Viewed in this context, resolving Uighur challenges immediately may well secure China’s economic position and fortify its global role.

SunDaily, Published: 06 Jan 2019 / 20:03 H.
The Uighur question: a civil society solution
By Dr Chandra Muzaffar, president of the International Movement for a Just World.

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Making sense

THIS Saturday’s by-election in the Cameron Highlands parliamentary constituency with 32,009 voters is a four-cornered fight. However, the contest is shaping up to be a barometer of voter sentiment towards the ruling Pakatan Harapan and its rival Barisan Nasional.

The polls is the fifth by-election since the landmark 14th general election on May 9 last year ended BN’s 60-year rule in this country. All four previous by-elections – for state seats in Sungai Kandis, Balakong and Seri Setia and the parliamentary constituency of Port Dickson in Negri Sembilan – were won by Pakatan.

Several reasons suggest Harapan may find victory in the highland poll this Saturday elusive

First, Cameron Highlands is a parliamentary constituency that has been consistently won by BN since the seat was created in 2004. It is also located in Pahang, one of two BN-controlled states; the other state is Perlis.

Pahang is also the home state of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak. Given the charges of corruption, money laundering and allegations of wrongdoing levelled against him, this Saturday’s polls is an indicator of Najib’s popularity or otherwise in his own backyard.

Additionally, Jelai – the larger of two state seats in Cameron Highlands – is a BN fortress and the fiefdom of Pahang Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail.

Tanah Rata, the other state seat, is Pakatan’s bastion of support.

Second is BN’s canny choice of candidate – Ramli Mohd Noor, a retired assistant commissioner of police, a local guy and an orang asli who could be the first from his community to be elected a member of Parliament.

On Nov 30 last year, the Election Court ruled BN’s MIC candidate in GE14, Datuk C. Sivarraajh, was guilty of vote buying. One month later, the Election Commission banned Sivarraajh as a candidate and a voter for five years.

Both announcements were a gift to BN, enabling it to choose a candidate who is Muslim and an orang asli – thus maximising its appeal to Cameron Highlands’ two major ethnic groups.

Voters in Cameron Highlands comprise 33.5% Malays, 29.5% Chinese, 21.5% orang asli and 15% Indians and others 0.5%.

Third is PAS’s strong support for BN in this by-election. If voters in Cameron Highlands this Saturday replicate their pattern of voting in GE14, PAS supporters could theoretically enhance BN’s share of the vote to 57% against Pakatan’s almost 40% tally.

In GE14, five candidates contested in this seat: BN’s Sivarraajh won 10,307 votes, Pakatan’s M. Manogaran – the party’s current contender – secured 9,710 votes, PAS garnered 3,587 votes while the two independents obtained 680 votes and 81 votes respectively.

One analyst noted in the Sungai Kandis by-election, confusion among PAS supporters over which party to vote for denied BN the 7,573 votes the Islamic party amassed in GE14 – an outcome that denied BN victory last August.

To prevent a repetition in Cameron Highlands, PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang and deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man have campaigned together with BN.

Fourth, Pakatan has scored two own goals in Cameron Highlands that could hamper its efforts to gain greater support from a key vote bank – alleged threats to orang asli Tok Batin (village heads) and a gratuitous insult to the orang asli.

Two major imponderables are temporary occupation licences (TOLs) for growers of vegetables and flowers and Felda settlers.

Since land falls within a state’s jurisdiction, a BN MP is theoretically better placed to resolve the TOL issue than his Pakatan counterpart. Can Pakatan convince voters that despite BN ruling Pahang for more than 60 years, the TOL issue in Cameron Highlands remains unresolved?

Since Felda was initiated by Tun Abdul Razak, will its settlers remain loyal to a political party previously helmed by the founder’s son? Or will settlers hold Najib accountable for Felda’s parlous finances?

Alternatively, will Felda settlers resent Pakatan’s failure to uphold its promise to repay their debts? Will the ruling coalition be blamed for rising living costs and falling prices of rubber and palm oil – despite efforts to blunt the impact of these negative developments?

Pakatan’s biggest plus factor is Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Scheduled to visit Cameron Highlands on the eve of polling day, Mahathir is a campaigner par excellence who can deflect significantly the multiple racial and religious issues levelled against Pakatan.

Unlike three previous by-elections for state seats necessitated by the death of the incumbents, the Election Court declared the Cameron Highlands polls in GE a nullity last November. Despite the long lead time for preparations, Pakatan’s initial campaign in the highlands was uninspiring.

If BN retains Cameron Highlands, this indicates voting along ethnic lines persists. Going forward, Pakatan must address urgently one imperative – bridging the widening racial-religious chasm among Peninsular Malaysian voters.

SunDaily, Published: 23 Jan 2019 / 18:35 H.
Will victory elude Pakatan this week?
By Tan Siok Choo

A FEW weeks ago, my husband, Walter, and I visited Beijing and Shanghai. Changes – both incremental and monumental – in these two cities reflect China’s spectacular transformation from an Asian backwater in 1990 to a global powerhouse today.

Three developments were memorable – the ubiquity of online payment, the convenience and affordability of high-speed trains and Chinese consumers’ growing interest in modern art and their expanding clout in global auctions.

In 1990, when Walter first visited the Chinese capital (my first foray was in 1979), almost all Beijing denizens didn’t own cars, petrol stations were conspicuously absent, telephones were a rarity and shops stocked only basic necessities.

Today, China is the biggest car market worldwide while Chinese brands like Huawei and Xiaomi are the world’s largest smartphone brands after Samsung.

Five years after we last visited Shanghai, skyscrapers with record-breaking heights and distinctive architectural designs continue to spring up in Pudong. One example is the iconic Shanghai Tower. Completed in 2015, the 128-storey Shanghai Tower is 632m high, the tallest building in China, the second highest in the world but the tallest building with a 90-degree twist.

Personally impactful was the prevalence of online payment systems like AliPay and WeChat Pay in China, the largest mobile payment market worldwide. In 2013, Alipay overtook PayPal as the global leader while Tencent’s WeChat Pay is fast closing the gap with Alipay’s 54% share of China’s US$5.5 trillion mobile payment market in 2016.

In Beijing, because our regular taxi driver wasn’t available, we found hailing cabs was extremely difficult, particularly during the rush hour.

Friends advised the easier way was using applications like Didi Chuxing, the biggest ride-hailing outfit in China. Thanks to losses in the Middle Kingdom, San Francisco-based Uber sold its China operations to Didi.

For Mandarin-illiterates like us, using Didi was a problem – the address has to be written in Chinese characters. On one occasion, a friend called a taxi for us. To our chagrin, we discovered she had paid upfront for our taxi.

On another occasion, the hotel concierge called Didi for us. Stepping into vehicle, the first question the taxi driver asked was how Walter planned to pay him.

“Cash,“ a bewildered Walter replied.

“I hope you have small change because I don’t have small change,“ he explained. His reply underscored the prevalence of online payments among his passengers and its advantages for taxi drivers – receiving payment in advance and eliminating the risk of theft because there is no need to carry cash.

Remembering the long delay that bedevilled our two-hour flight from Shanghai to Beijing previously, we decided to take the high-speed train from Beijing to Shanghai.

Travelling at a top speed of 350kph with 10-minute stops in Jinan in Shandong province, and Nanjing, the 1,318km journey took four and a half hours, was punctual, smooth, remarkably litter-free – despite potential carriage of about 1,000 passengers – and extremely affordable. Fares for the ride ranged from 1,748 to 553 renminbi.

Equally welcome were the toilets – super-clean and functioning with toilet paper, soap and paper towels continually available.

Another revelation in Shanghai were two modern art exhibitions held in architecturally distinctive buildings – the Shanghai Biennale at the Power Station of Art and Art 021 at the Russian-inspired Shanghai Exhibition Centre.

I was impressed by the vast number of Shanghainese thronging Art 021 on a Saturday evening while the Biennale, one of China’s most established exhibitions of modern art, on a Sunday afternoon was astonishingly crowded.

“Why are so many people visiting these exhibitions?” I asked Singaporean banker Hwee Tin, who is now based in Shanghai.

“Modern art is affordable,“ she said.

Private museums in Shanghai are another recent phenomenon. We visited the Long Museum on the West Bund – one of three museums set up by taxi driver turned billionaire Liu Yiqian and his wife Wang Wei.

Liu has consistently hogged headlines with his purchases – a “chicken cup” in April 2014 for US$36.3 million, an embroidered silk Tibetan thangka in November 2014 for US$45 million and the record-breaking US$170 million Modigliani painting in November 2015.

Particularly stunning was the Aurora Museum’s exhibits of Buddhist sculptures, ancient jade, pottery figures and blue-and-white porcelain from the collection of Taiwanese-based Aurora Group chairman Yung Tai Chen. His decision to build a second museum in Shanghai after the first in Taiwan suggests business in the mainland has been financially rewarding.

A coda to our Shanghai visit was meeting an Indonesian friend Raya. I was awed by her decision to come to Shanghai to study architecture, inspired by the city’s rapidly evolving architecture and interior design even though she couldn’t speak Mandarin and didn’t know anyone except one friend of her father. Would a non-Mandarin speaking Malaysian girl show a similar mix of courage and foresight?

SunDaily, Published: 29 Nov 2018 / 08:00 H.
Revisiting Beijing and Shanghai
By Tan Siok Choo

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It’s not easy but it’s not impossible either.

MY friend, Ann (not her real name), recently asked me if I knew of any nursing home that she could send her mother to. I was puzzled by her question. I thought her mum was still fairly young and well. And then she explained.

Her mother was scheduled for a major surgery at a public hospital where she was allowed to stay for only a few days. Upon her return, she’d need full time nursing, care and would have limited mobility until her stitches were removed.

Ann said in a busy hospital like the one her mother went to, she didn’t have the privilege of a long stay. That was something you could do at private hospitals where you just need to pay for the services and facilities.

So before her mother went for surgery, Ann looked at several places nearest to her home. She said there was no way her mum could recuperate well at home because they had no house help, there were small children in the house as well as pets too. This wasn’t conducive for her mother’s recovery because she needed peace, quiet and plenty of rest. Ann could only take a week off from work.

In fact, the quest for a nursing home was her mother’s wish. Ann said her mum felt better and more confident at the thought that there’d be professional staff nurses taking care of her, and that the doctor was just a phone call away at this nursing home, which was very near the hospital in case of emergency. Besides, it would only be for a month while she recovered from surgery.

After visiting a few places, Ann said there was big difference in the different types of homes. A nursing home is different from an old folks’ home and from an assisted living facility too.


A nursing home is essentially for people who need help with medication, hygiene and meals because they may be bed-bound or have just undergone surgery. They may require round-the-clock care and monitoring that could be done outside the hospital. Some stroke patients have also gone to nursing homes after being discharged from the hospital until they’re more able to return home. It was like a halfway house.

An assisted living facility and home for old folks have been used interchangeably. However, those who go to assisted living facilities usually have a higher functional ability than those who go to old folks’ home, many of whom are wheelchair-bound.

So when you’re looking at the different places, you should have an idea what it is you’re looking for and what services you expect.

In Ann’s case, she was looking for a short-term place that’s a step down from a hospital but still has nurses looking after patients. Nursing homes such as these are common in many other countries where hospital care and expenses can be exorbitant and when there are limited beds.

Ann’s family had two other options − to go to a private hospital and stay for the entire duration necessary (which would be for nearly three weeks), or to hire a private nurse to come daily and care for her mum at home. Neither suited her because both these options were too expensive and not practical.

So it was a real blessing when they found a nursing home that offered a single room just like a single room at a private hospital, 24-hour nursing care, dress and clean her surgical wound, bathe and dress her, dispense her medications as well as take her vitals like blood sugar level and blood pressure.


This nursing home also provided meals and snacks, but since her mum wanted “pantang” food, Ann brought those from home on a daily basis.

“They’d also do her laundry for a small fee,” said Ann. “I can do most of the daily chores to help, but I don’t know how to clean her wound or take care of her catheter. And I’m certainly not qualified to give medication via injections.”

With regards to the care that her mum received at the nursing home, Ann said she and her father were happy with the services provided. “There were days when mum said she was lonely and homesick. But that was mainly because she had the whole room to herself and wasn’t mobile. When she was at the hospital, she had other patients sharing the room with her.”

However, Ann’s mum is more mobile now that her stitches have been removed. She joins in with the other patients to watch television together, socialise and sometimes has meals with them.

Ann said her mum decided to stay there for the entire month and recuperate at the nursing home. “She likes her room, which she chose for herself before getting admitted,” said Ann. “It was important for her to make these decisions herself. She knew what she wanted and what to expect. When she recovered and felt well, she was eager to go home.”

New Straits Times, Published: January 22, 2019 - 8:00am
Quest for a nursing home
By Putri Juneita Johari

Before going out, we often check what the weather is like outside. We need to see whether it’s sunny or rainy so we can prepare accordingly. Some creative people have taken this concept further. They use the weather analogy to check on a person’s mood.

Have you ever had anyone jokingly say to you, “What’s his weather today?” before their meeting with the boss. If the answer is “sunny,” then it signals a fruitful meeting. But if the answer is “thunderstorm,” it’s probably a good idea to postpone the meeting to another day.

While it may sound like a joke, there is actually some truth to this. Human emotions are just like the weather. Sometimes it’s sunny; other times it can be ravaged by a thunderstorm. Knowing how to predict someone’s internal weather can be quite a useful skill to have.

But let me propose a very interesting question: unlike the weather outside, can we influence the internal weather?

Can a sunny personality uplift a gloomy situation? Or worse, can a gloomy person destroy a party?

I think we all know the answer, but let’s remind ourselves one more time about how our mood can affect others − positively or negatively.


Someone whom I regard as a “sunny personality” recently told me about his experience meeting with his boss. The boss is generally known to be fierce and critical. In fact, one team member had once even rushed out of his room looking upset and furious. The weather was definitely stormy.

But this person was determined to see him anyway. Armed with a huge smile and buckets of positivity, he calmly walked in. Outside, everyone waited in suspense. So far so good. No sounds of yelling or screaming or things being thrown about. Moments later, he emerged from the room, still smiling. He could see the others looking at him, their jaws dropped, in awe of his apparent ability to survive the meeting.

Consider what just happened. What he had actually done was to bring sunshine to stormy weather. A storm doesn’t last forever and we can be the one to change the situation. The worst thing we can do is to further strengthen the thunderstorm by bringing in negativities.

Yet, some people do this. Have you heard of the term “party poopers?” They belong to this category. A happy and harmonious place can be turned upside by just one toxic person. We all probably know of at least one such person in our lives. They could be our colleagues, neighbours or even our spouse, children and parents. Lives have been turned upside down when they unleash their thunderstorm. Homes have been wrecked and workplace ravaged. The devastation is real.

So, how do we become a better person and parents? Aim to be the sunshine. Take steps to brighten other people’s day, especially those who may be facing turbulence inside. At the same time, let’s not allow the thunderstorms to wreak havoc in our home. Stay strong and enjoy the sun instead. It’s not easy but it’s not impossible either. We must start somewhere and there’s no better time than now to bring that much needed sunshine back into our lives.

New Straits Times, Published: January 22, 2019 - 8:05am
Weather Inside
By Zaid Mohamad

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Wealth inequality

SINCE returning to power, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has been expounding on wealth inequality. As he said recently: “We wish to see everyone equal in all matters that matter, and we would like to see everyone as rich as each other.”

According to a 2014 Pew Global Survey, three-quarters of Malaysians consider the gap between the rich and poor worrying. Although it has improved, our Gini coefficient of 0.399 (a measure of income inequality − 1 means all wealth is concentrated on one person; 0 means all wealth is equally distributed) flirts dangerously with the World Bank’s 0.4 benchmark, beyond which a country is considered severely unequal in wealth distribution.

Wealth inequality is a strain on economic growth and a source of social instability. The International Monetary Fund estimates that a 1 per cent increase in the income share of the top 20 per cent will drag growth by 0.1 per cent over five years. This is partly because the consequent market-distorting income-redistribution measures of government will adversely affect investments.

Wealth equality is a chimera if we subscribe to the argument of Thomas Piketty, a French economist, in his 2013 magnum opus, Capital in the Twenty-First Century. His research on wealth inequality in the US and Europe since the 18th century found that the rate of return on capital − profits, rent, interest, dividends − is 7 per cent. This rate is more than twice that of labour. As such, wealth tends to accumulate quickly causing the rich to grow richer.

However, that does not mean that one should stop from pursuing wealth equality. Many developed countries have pursued economic growth in the hope that the rising tide of wealth will lift all up the income ladder. Even Piketty advocates a wealth tax of 2 per cent and a progressive system of income-tax to prevent social and economic upheaval, reduce inequality and break the wealth monopoly by the rich.

Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson in their 2013 book Why Institutions Fail proffer evidence from across the rich and poor worlds to show conclusively that social inequality is due more to institutional factors.

Take North and South Korea. Acemoglu and Robinson argue that it is the system of incentives and responsive governance that allow South Koreans to avail to the economic opportunities while the North wallows in stagnation. Therefore, it is inclusive institutions, and not extractive institutions that serve the narrow interests of the elites, which is the most effective in effecting greater wealth equality.

The 1998 Noble laureate in economics, Amartya Sen, argues in a similar vein in his 1999 book, Development as Freedom. Rather than solely focusing on wealth and income per capita, development must be viewed as advancement of real freedoms that individuals enjoy.

As Sen says: “Human life depends not only on income but also on social opportunities.” In addition to better education and healthcare, Sen advocates political freedom that affords voice in government, economic freedom to pursue prosperity, and protective freedom that affords social safety nets for the poor.

These freedoms are inter-linked. For example, social opportunities of education and health complement economic and political freedoms. A healthy and well-educated person is better positioned to make informed economic decisions and be involved in fruitful political discourse to hold the government accountable for its actions.

For Sen, therefore, the larger issue is not rising per capita income. Rather it is about an ecosystem that progressively enables the exercise of these freedoms. Sen’s equality of freedoms therefore resonates well with what Tun Mahathir suggests, namely, Malaysians must be equal in all matters that matter − economic, social, political and protective freedoms.

Philosophers too have joined the debate on what is wealth equality. John Rawls, a Harvard political philosopher, advocates an egalitarian view of wealth distribution. In his 1971 book A Theory of Justice, Rawls propounds a theory of “justice as fairness” that closely resembles the wealth-distribution policy of our government.

Similar to Sen, Rawls recommends equal basic rights, equality of opportunity, and the promotion of the interests of the least advantaged members of society. He also believes in inter-generational justice where sustainable development leaves resources for the prosperity of posterity. The state therefore must engage in redistributive taxation to ensure a fair distribution of wealth and income across society.

Given the intellectual discourse on wealth equality, the government is on track in attacking wealth inequality on all fronts: income redistribution, institutional reform and in ensuring equality of freedoms.

However, the government should be wary that it does not go overboard, lest it dampens growth. The case of Latin America is in point. There, moderate redistribution has proved beneficial. It has reduced dependence on risky borrowing among poorer households and has spiked savings and investment. Such moderate redistribution may even obviate the need for more aggressive state interventions in the future.

Wealth inequality is a strain on economic growth and a source of social instability.

New Straits Times, Published: January 24, 2019 - 12:39am
Economic Growth: Tackling wealth gaps

EDUCATION can help any hardworking person but not everyone can attend a good school or a world-ranked university. One common barrier is money.

Balqis, who was from a rural school in Bachok, Kelantan, scored 6As in her Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah examinations last year.

She was one of 4,888 students from the Bottom 40 (B40) group offered a place at a fully-residential school for this year’s school session.

Despite coming from an economically-disadvantaged household, Balqis can become as clever, if not cleverer, than a pupil in Putrajaya who scored the same results.

Last year, the Education Ministry announced its decision to restore the spirit of fully residential schools by offering students from a mean household income of RM2,848 to gain access to quality education for this year’s enrollment. It is also to stop the risk of these boarding schools becoming another privilege of those with money.

The policy change is not only to recognise these pupils who often face large obstacles on their road to education, but it is also a well-deserved validation of the hard work involved.

A well-balanced boarding school should have a good representation of students, socio-economically. The new policy saw a 15 per cent increase of students covering the 60 per cent quota from the B40 income group in boarding schools.

Balqis’ parents were delighted with the offer, but they had second thoughts. They realised sending their daughter to study in one of the best boarding schools in the country with little money can be a real challenge for them. They were not sure if they could afford it.

In reality, the increase in quota does not come close to keeping pace with the costs when one enrols in a boarding school.

The culture of the boarding schools has led to many extras required from their students, which are not necessarily optional and can increase spending.

The cost varies from one school to another; from PTAs to co-Op fees to some school s insisting on uniformity for essentials. For example, students may need different pairs of shoes for different parts of a school day and they may only be allowed to use bed sheets sold by the school co-op.

Let’s not start on calculating the costs for those extra revision books and an iPad for each student to experience the 21st-century learning experience. Even middle-income families will feel the pinch.

Balqis’ story is not unique, and students from the B40 group who received the same offer would also be in a similar situation.

According to the Khazanah Research Institute’s (KRI) The State of Households 2018 report, B40 households earning of an income of below RM2,000 were left with only RM76 after expenses.

Add to that all the costs and other factors, it is not hard to see how a smart, determined student like Balqis will struggle to take the next educational step even if her parents are able to cover the school costs for the next five years.

Another KRI report, the School-to-Work Transition Survey 2018 revealed that family status also has some impact on whether they attend private or public institutions of higher education.

Those who consider their families ‘poor’ are more likely to attend public institutions where the fees are subsidised by the government. Even so, the main source of funding for tertiary education at these institutions is from loans.

I recently discovered that the same pre-university course that my son attended is now double the fee it used to be a few years back. With the costs of tertiary education continuing to rise, the pressure is enormous on students from lower-income families.

Universities, on the other hand, are faced with a conundrum: Besides making sure the quality of the institution, it is also determining how to meet students’ financial needs and balancing the institution’s budget.

In spite of our belief that education is the engine for climbing the socioeconomic ladder, financial issues are central to students from low-income families. The reality is that socioeconomic inequalities in the access to education persist in this country.

The current situation disproportionately limits opportunities for young people from low-income backgrounds. It is not a surprise that they don’t focus much on studying or preparing for a path that can lead them to future success.

How do we tackle this issue? It won’t be easy with the lack of financial resources for this group of people.

University applications are harder to tackle on intelligence. Identifying the best courses, choosing the right universities and applying for financial aid are all tough to do without know-how for low-income students.

We need to find better ways of finding low-income students with the ability to succeed. We also need to be better about letting these students know what financial aid is available.

For a start, it is important to relook at the costs required for them to study.

Small interventions might not result in a complete transformation for them, but it is important for us to find good places to start.

This year, 4,888 students from the Bottom 40 group were offered a place at fully-residential schools in the country.

New Straits Times, Published:
Rethinking the cost of education

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ジョージ・オーウェル著 小野寺健編訳 岩波文庫 970円

カミュ著 宮崎嶺雄訳 新潮文庫 750円

第3位『定本 想像の共同体 ナショナリズムの起源と流行』
ベネディクト・アンダーソン著 白石隆・白石さや訳 書籍工房早山 2100円

武田泰淳著 中公文庫 1143円

第5位『独裁と民主政治の社会的起源 近代世界形成過程における領主と農民〈I〉〈II〉』
バリントン・ムーアJr.著 宮崎隆次、高橋直樹、森山茂徳訳 岩波書店 入手は古書のみ

第6位『国際社会論 アナーキカル・ソサイエティ』
ヘドリー・ブル著 臼杵英一訳 岩波書店 入手は古書のみ

松尾尊兌編 岩波文庫 900円

第8位『忠誠と反逆 転形期日本の精神史的位相』
丸山眞男著 ちくま学芸文庫 1400円

安部公房著 新潮文庫 590円

大江健三郎著 新潮文庫 550円



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They are the workers whose jobs serve the people of the United States.

They are the workers whose jobs serve the people of the United States. But as the partial government shutdown enters its second month, with no apparent end in sight, thousands of government employees now are relying on the people of the United States to help them feed their own families. It’s like one giant government bread line − except for government workers.

The outpouring of support has been widespread and creative, high-profile and grass-roots. For every relief kitchen opened by José Andrés and his nonprofit World Central Kitchen − the celebrity chef and humanitarian recently said more kitchens are coming after the first one debuted last week in Washington − there are countless small markets and programs.

Important News! #ChefsForFeds is expanding across the nation 🇺🇸 to serve those impacted by the shutdown. Join us and together we will feed Americans in need for as long as this crisis continues! https://t.co/Yv7FN4GJ0f pic.twitter.com/gmTAB3gTFQ
− José Andrés (@chefjoseandres) January 19, 2019

Restaurants and chefs, of course, have been giving away free or discounted food, including a cruise line in Florida that has opened a pair of boats to federal workers so they can dig into a free lunch buffet. But now farmers markets, food banks and other organizations are finding ways to help workers who haven’t received a paycheck since December.

[‘This is an emergency’: José Andrés to open relief kitchen for federal workers during shutdown]

A farmers market in Greensboro, N.C., is matching every dollar that a federal contractor or furloughed employee spends, up to $50, essentially extending supplemental food stamp benefits to government workers. A relief agency in Philadelphia is, for the first time in its history, enacting a disaster plan to help feed federal employees. The Capital Area Food Bank, which usually helps low-income residents in the Washington area, has expanded its assistance to include “pop-up markets” at Giant Food stores to pass out free groceries to furloughed feds. Even a nonprofit health-care system in southern New Jersey has started an emergency food drive.

The website My FED Benefits has created an interactive assistance map to help workers in every state find programs to support them through the shutdown.

On Jan. 13, a few Washingtonians teamed up to launch one of the more creative relief efforts: PayItFurloughed.com is a site that allows anyone to buy furloughed employees a beer at one of three District breweries. It was developed by Mess Hall food incubator founder Al Goldberg, food writer Nevin Martell, web and app developer 3Advance, and publicist Erick Sanchez. To date, more than 3,850 beers have been donated from people far and wide, including those living in Australia, Singapore, the Netherlands and elsewhere, Martell said. Just as important, more than 1,550 of those quaffs have already been enjoyed.

PayItFurloughed is designed not only to express compassion to hard-pressed federal employees but also to help small craft breweries, which can’t bottle or can new beers because the government doesn’t have the resources to approve labels, Martell said. The D.C. breweries currently involved with PayItFurloughed are 3 Stars, DC Brau and Atlas Brew Works.

“Buying someone a beer is such an American thing to do,” Martell said. ” ‘You’re having a bad day? Let me buy you a beer.’ ”

Martell said that he and Goldberg − who invested a total of $1,000 in the project − are looking to expand PayItFurloughed to other cities and regions, probably starting with the suburbs around Washington, where other small breweries could participate. Purchased beers will remain available for a week after federal employees receive their first back paycheck, Martell said.

If any remain after that, Martell added, the beers will be put “on virtual ice until, unfortunately, we go through this all over again.”

And speaking of expansion, Andrés released a video over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend to say that World Central Kitchen will be expanding the #ChefsforFeds relief program that launched last week at ThinkFoodGroup’s test lab at 701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Late on Tuesday, Andrés offered a few more details on Twitter. The expansion, he said, would include more than 30 eateries in 12 states, plus the District and Puerto Rico. The expansion will help World Central Kitchen exceed the 6,000 to 8,000 federal workers that the nonprofit and its partners have been feeding each day in Washington.

BIG news! In the next 48 hours #ChefsForFeds restaurants and food trucks are activating across the nation!! pic.twitter.com/AxVUGeUFex
− José Andrés (@chefjoseandres) January 23, 2019

[José Andrés is nominated for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, congressman confirms]

Nate Mook, executive director of World Central Kitchen, said Wednesday that the nonprofit has already activated food trucks and restaurants in several areas, including Little Rock, Ark.; Cincinnati; Puerto Rico; and Los Angeles. What’s more, he said, some celebrity chefs and restaurateurs have signed up for duty in their respective towns. They include Rick Bayless and Stephanie Izard in Chicago; Spike Mendelsohn in Washington; Ming Tsai in Boston; and Andrew Zimmern in the Minneapolis area.

“A lot of folks have been reaching out and saying, ‘How can we support? What can we do? We’re seeing what you guys are doing and we’re inspired.'” Mook said during a phone interview with The Washington Post. World Central Kitchen, Mook added, is trying to take a strategic approach to opening kitchens, mobilizing them in cities with a large concentration of furloughed workers.

#ChefsForFeds is going strong today in DC! Check out what it’s like behind the scenes of the kitchen and Federal Employee Resource Center: pic.twitter.com/tAPBOaifa6
− WorldCentralKitchen (@WCKitchen) January 23, 2019

In the meantime, Mook said World Central Kitchen, its partners and volunteers have prepared and served thousands of hot meals a day from a tiny lab kitchen in the District. The menu changes daily but typically includes a sandwich (such as a Philly cheesesteak with grilled onions and peppers), a bowl (such as a sesame rice bowl with edamame, carrots and broccoli) and a hot soup (such as butternut squash puree). The line of federal workers seeking sustenance often snakes down Pennsylvania Avenue and up Seventh Street NW, Mook said. Furloughed employees are seeking not only food but also basic goods − diapers, pet food, groceries − at a resource center that World Central Kitchen has set up in the former 701 restaurant, which recently closed.

“These are breadlines in Washington, D.C., in our nation’s capital in 2019,” said Mook. “It’s kind of surreal to see all these folks standing out in the cold to get a hot plate of food.”

The round-the-clock efforts of nonprofits, chefs and volunteers stand in stark contrast to a government still apparently helpless to end the shutdown. In his weekend video, Andrés, the Nobel Peace Prize nominee, wrapped his address by trolling the president.

“This is our action to make sure nobody will be hungry, President Trump,” Andrés said. “What are you doing about it?”

Worth noting: Martell, of PayItFurloughed, said two people from Mexico have donated to the cause. Mexicans may not fund the border wall that has been the flash point behind the longest government shutdown in history. But they’re willing to buy a few beers for the government workers who have been impacted by this skirmish over a wall.


Federal employees and family members that have been affected by the government shutdown wait to receive free meals from the relief kitchen set up by World Central Kitchen last week.

The Washington Post, Published: January 23 at 4:13 PM
Americans across the country are helping feed federal workers as the shutdown enters its second month
By Tim Carman

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 〈夜明けとはぼくにとっては残酷だ 朝になったら下っ端だから

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 〈非正規の友よ、負けるな ぼくはただ書類の整理ばかりしている〉

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 〈東京の群れのなかにて叫びたい 確かにぼくがここにいること

 〈一人ではないのだ そんな気がしたら大丈夫だよ 弁当を食む〉




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 〈抑圧されたままでいるなよ ぼくたちは三十一文字で鳥になるのだ〉



 〈更新を続けろ、更新を ぼくはまだあきらめきれぬ夢があるのだ〉

=2019/01/21付 西日本新聞夕刊=

[photo-1] 歌集「滑走路」の表紙

[photo-2] 萩原慎一郎さん

[photo-3] 有吉美恵さん

西日本新聞、更新 01月21日 17時24分

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厚生労働省の資料(「非正規雇用」の現状と課題 2017)でも、非正規雇用が増えてきたのは事実だと裏付けてくれている。












さらに、「竹中氏が人材派遣会社のパソナグループの会長を務めているということも忘れてはならない。というのも労働者派遣法の改悪は、自らが会長を務める会社の利権獲得に通じていたからだ。まさに国家の私物化である。」 という主張はどうだろうか。








彼の言葉を借りれば、まさに「意志ある者たちよ、立ち上がれ!(中略)民主主義は決して難しいものではない。共に考え、議論し、周りに訴えながら、もう一度みんなでこの社会を立て直そう!! 」という志こそ、行き詰っている日本に重要な点ではないだろうか。

Yahoo! Japan News、1/23(水) 16:01

東洋大学生の竹中平蔵氏批判の背景にある若者の貧困とワーキングプア(藤田孝典) … 近年の政治・政策にも深く関与してきた権威である竹中平蔵氏を真正面から批判した学生の行動に敬意を表したい。自発的に考え、社会政策に批評を加えることが出来る学生は歓迎すべき。
11:02 PM - 22 Jan 2019

12:06 AM - 23 Jan 2019

12:40 AM - 23 Jan 2019

2:09 AM - 23 Jan 2019

3:35 AM - 23 Jan 2019

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7:55 AM - 22 Jan 2019

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Dr M in the Oxford Union

I HAVE never been more proud to be a Malaysian than while watching the live broadcast of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad speaking his mind in response to impromptu questions posed by the chairman of the Oxford Union and the manner he put to a stop the ferocious questions levelled at him by attendees at the dialogue session.

When Mahathir spoke, you could have heard a pin drop except for the laughter that deafened the Union Hall whenever he spiced answers to some serious questions.

The Oxford Union Debate is famous for its no holds barred speeches and the equally ferocious Q&A session between the guest speaker and the audience.

Prime Minister Mahathir defended the country’s record on democracy and his past leadership in a speech at the Oxford Union in Britain.

The first Malaysian and Asean leader to be invited to address the forum, Mahathir spoke on Friday about Malaysia’s politics and the general election last May.

“The election system in Malaysia is proof that we are a democratic country,” Mahathir said in his address.

“Many will still dispute the election system, but what I would like to emphasise is that after Malaysia has achieved independence and gone through 14 general elections, future elections will receive much fewer disputes compared to past ones.”

The grand old man said: “In terms of the people selecting its leaders, Malaysia has proven that it is democratic to that extent.”

Mahathir, 93, who was known for governing with an iron fist during his first tenure as prime minister from 1981 to 2003, conceded that the country had draconian laws like the now-repealed Internal Security Act, which allowed for detention without trial and could be abused by the government against dissenters.

“There may be some things that did not conform to the democratic ideals, such as the ISA law,” he said, referring to it as a statute “inherited ... from our colonial masters” that was intended to guard national security.

He noted that he himself was called a dictator during his leadership.

“I would just like to point out that in the history of nations, there has not been a single dictator who stepped down while he was in power and allowed others to take over from him,” he said.

“Dictators don’t usually resign or retire.”

Asked by Oxford Union President Daniel Wilkinson about Malaysia’s decision to ban Israeli athletes from taking part in the World Para Swimming Championships to be held in Sarawak in July, Mahathir said that Israelis should not come to Malaysia as the country does not have diplomatic relations with Israel.

According to Reuters, Israel had condemned the decision on Thursday, and said the decision was inspired by Mahathir’s “rabid anti-Semitism”.

“I can’t understand this. We talk about freedom of speech and yet you cannot say anything against Israel, against the Jews. Why is that so?

“If we are free to say what we like, we can say it, but we are being regarded as anti-Semitic ...”

An attendee from Singapore was not satisfied with Mahathir’s response on the intrusion of the mentri besar of Johor into one of the rocks next to the one mentioned in the famous ICJ case. (The World Court had awarded one of the rocks to Malaysia.)

The mentri besar, on behalf of the Malaysian government, was clearly exercising Malaysia’s right to visit that rock as it is on record that we plan to build a structure on it.

The Oxford Union is one of Britain’s oldest debating societies with a majority of its members from Oxford University.

In his presentation, he only referred to his memory (unlike his host and the attendees who questioned him, most of whom had written notes to shoot their questions).

At the end of the day, he was given a long standing ovation.

And astonishingly, there were no boos directed at him.

Letter to The SunDaily, Published: 22 Jan 2019 / 20:02 H.
PM defends Malaysia’s record on democracy at Oxford
By Dr Yaacob Hussain Merican, Petaling Jaya

[Read more]

theindependent.sg (TISG), Published: January 20, 2019
Heated argument between Singaporean Oxford student and Dr. Mahathir regarding ongoing maritime disputes
By Hana Otsuka

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Invaluable Malaysian experience

THESE two words are of utmost importance to Malaysians because “kampung” has a very special meaning for every citizen of this beloved nation. At the very least we will “balik kampung” once a year during festivities. This will happen again next week during Chinese New Year. The rush home is not limited just to Chinese Malaysians. That is how much “balik kampung” is as an invaluable Malaysian experience.

So it was music to our ears to hear that a kampung was recently revived – Kampung Kerinchi – after being elbowed out by the so-called “Bangsar South”. The latter name was mooted by the then developer for the sole purpose of “wealth creation” in the name of urban renewal by designing a “new” location as a hip place to stay (read buy and own) while relegating Kampung Kerinchi and Abdullah Hukum to the dustbin of history. This column recounted the issue in its May 25, 2016 edition recalling more than a century of history from the very first settlement that gave rise to the “kampung”.

Unlike “Bangsar South”, Kampung Kerinchi is laden with real stories of human endurance and sacrifice not unlike what we read today involving human cross-border mobility and integration.

In other words, it is not as empty and hollow as the new name which may even be “misplaced” geographically-speaking.

Some may want to argue the word “kampung” was the main reason for the change in name. It was claimed to be unappealing to urbanites who are the targeted clients for the property.

Kampung Kerinchi is not sexy to depict modern living. Rather it is deemed backward for the rich and famous who may even consider it to be derogatory. Meaning it is not global or international enough to command “respect” because it doesn’t sound European unless it is anglicised. Even Bangsar Selatan will not do, what else Kampung Kerinchi! Like all else, it is the economic imperatives that win the day – Malaysian-style where our national heritage and identity are held at the mercy of the highest bidder.

This is in stark contrast to other places in other countries. Take Dusseldorf in Germany for instance. A famous city and business centre it serves as the second most populous federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia and also acts as its capital.

It is the seventh largest city in Germany well known for its fashion and trade fairs. More interestingly, “dorf” means “kampung” in the German language. Still the locals do not seem to mind nor do they have any intention to obliterate it because they have pride in their local traditions and appreciate its deeper legacy being sensitive to its cultural values beyond the logic of economics.

Unfortunately, this cannot be said in our case where all sorts of culturally “irrelevant” names are being heaped over the local context. Names like “Montana” and “Beverly” to name a few have appeared jarringly in recent times as residential areas. They not only sound foreign but also colonial. What a shame.

If that is not good enough a reason to restrain such usage, consider this. Guess where the English (my emphasis) word “compound” originates from. Yes – from the dreaded “kampung” embracing the broader meaning of being spacious, balanced, sustainable and harmonious – which is what “kampung” used to stand for before it was vulgarised and disintegrated.

It is not surprising therefore that the word “compound” still retains the meaning. We cannot be more international and global than this making the “return” of Kampung Kerinchi as well justified and timely to serve many lessons to be relearned (after unlearning some of the marketing nonsense) in making Malaysia Baru what it should be.

Moving forward other (mis) designations such as KL East for example must also be revisited to bring history back alive for the sake of the coming generation and the preservation of our national heritage and identity. It is a timely “balik kampong” as it were.

The overall implications of this seemingly simple move are over-whelming given the alarming prediction that more “kampungs” all over the country will be desecrated in the name of (unsustainable) development.

This is much more real than just the disappearance or renaming of places of residence as discussed above.

Simply put, it is beyond reinstating names like Kampung Kerinchi – more important is restoring the values that the “kampung” advocates and embraces.

This can save in future hundreds of “kampungs” due to the mindset shift marked by the restoration of Kampung Kerinchi. Metaphorically this is a truly “balik kampung” phenomena to be presevered for all times.

The SunDaily, Published: 22 Jan 2019 / 19:54 H.
Balik kampung ( (English: "return to village") ?
By Dzulkifli Abdul Razak

HAVE you ever compared the speeches of politicians and preachers? Frequently the mood they convey is remarkably similar. Politicians are usually in standby combat mode as they zealously guard their valued followers against rival party attempts to lure them across.

A parallel combative atmosphere surrounds many religions. What’s your take on the recently ended Christmas festivities with all the joyful carolling and babe-in-a-manger homilies? Groups of Sabah Muslims voiced opposition to these public celebrations, as they were deemed to be occasions for preaching the Christian faith. But a week before Christmas, churches in Sabah expressed concern that Muslim religious teachers had been urged to regard the Borneo states as their “medan dakwah” to propagate Islam.

We take it for granted that believers must stand guard against other religions spreading their doctrines. A question for you: are the beliefs of every religion so opposed to each other that we have to be confined within our own silos of faith? The silos of faith are like these high walls of the cement storage towers: they protect you and they also enclose your mind. With our religious loyalties exclusively narrowed, there is no common goal.

Boringly we’re heard enough of the fundamental differences between religions; it’s so 19th century. Let’s hear something about the fundamental similarities uniting religions. The start of next month is World Interfaith Harmony Week celebrated on Feb 1-7. Mooted in 2010 by King Abdullah II and Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan to promote world peace, Interfaith Harmony Week is now into its 10th year with barely any success.

Despite being a richly multicultural and multifaith nation, Malaysia has also made little advance.

This is what the National Unity Consultative Council should do: propose a common goal for all religions in Malaysia. We have Islam, the big five (Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism, Taoism), and another half dozen small ones. A common goal must be inspired by a shared vision. Is there a shared vision? Yes.

All religions believe in an omni-presence which the English call God. Omni-presence means present everywhere. It means God is in you, in the animal, the plant, the rock, the air, the water. Scientists with a spiritual inclination have given omni-presence an added dimension: God is in the atom, the subatomic particles, and the quantum realm. What this implies is that God is the deepest underlying sub-stratum of Nature or the natural environment.

Conservative preachers don’t accept this. God can’t be inside that hard rock as that would make Him a prisoner of the rock. So they interpret omni-presence as meaning that God is all around but not within Nature. If God is all around, it means that Nature is within God. If you can’t accept this either, then you are believing that God and Nature exist apart from each other. You have denied the omni-presence, and you have implicitly set God and Nature in opposition.

It is this notion that God and Nature exist separately from each other that has justified the despoilation of the natural environment, to the point that it is changing the human-friendly climate. Religions are very slow in responding to climate change because most preachers fail to see that omni-presence means God is in Nature and Nature is in God. They are not two separate entities.

By the way, the rock is not a solid mass as every atom in it is 99.9999999999999% hollow. The few subatomic particles in every atom are also not solid as they dissolve into a quantum realm. So how can God and Nature be apart when there is no solidity to separate them?

Governments don’t act in unison to avert climate change because there is no push from the religious side. When politicians see that religions are also not acting in unison, they find no encouragement to form an effective global alliance to save our human-friendly climate.

Climate change presents a challenge to all religions: can we change our sound bite to forge a meta-faith alliance for human survival? From silo faith to meta-faith, from reckless competition to needful cooperation. Make this your goal.

SunDaily, Published: 22 Jan 2019 / 19:46 H.
The shared vision of all religions
By Joachim Ng

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Eat Plants, Save the Planet

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 21 2019 (IPS) - While the modern agricultural system has helped stave off famines and feed the world’s 7 billion residents, the way we eat and produce food is posing a threat to future populations’ food security.

With an expected increase in population to 10 billion in 2050, ensuring food security is more important than ever.

However, current food production is among the largest sources of environmental degradation across the world.

If such production and consumption patterns continue, we will soon exceed our planetary boundaries such climate change and land use needed to survive and thrive.

“It was quite dramatic to see how much those planetary boundaries would be exceeded if we don’t do anything,” said Marco Springmann, one of the authors of a report examining the impact of the food system on the environment.

“The food system puts pressure on land management, in particular deforestation. If you knock down too many forests, you basically really mess up the regulating system of the ecosystem because forests store carbon dioxide but they also are habitats for wild species and biodiversity reservoirs,” he added.

Over 40 percent of the world’s land has been converted or set aside for agriculture alone. This has resulted in the loss of more than half of the world’s forests.

The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) notes that commercial agriculture is a key driver, especially the production of beef, soy beans, and palm oil.

This can be seen in the Amazon where trees have been cut down and land converted to make way for agricultural activities such as cattle ranching and soy cultivation, much of which is used as animal feed rather than for human consumption.

In fact, half of the planet’s usable land surface is devoted to livestock or the growing of feed for those animals, an area equivalent to North and South America combined.

The intensive use of fertilisers has further diminished land productivity, leading to degradation and even desertification.

Moreover, such actions have contributed significantly to greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).

According to the “Options for keeping the food system within environmental limits” report, published in the Nature journal, the food system emitted over 5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2010 alone.

The study also estimates that the environmental effects of the food system could increase by 50-90 percent without any targeted measures, beyond the “safe operating space for humanity.”

Springmann pointed to three ambitious measures that are necessary in order to stay within environmental limits including technological improvements which can increase sustainable food production and thus decrease the demand for more cropland.

Another measure seems to be even more daunting: shifting to a plant-based diet.

“If you go even more plant-based that would be even better for greenhouse gas emissions, and also it is more well-balanced and better for your health….the estimates are such that we would reduce the pressure on land use if we changed our diets,” Springmann told IPS.

The Nature report found that dietary changes towards healthier diets could help reduce GHG emissions and other environmental impacts by almost 30 percent.

A new report from the EAT-Lancet Commission also highlighted the need for dietary changes for environmental sustainability and public health.

“The food we eat and how we produce it determines the health of people and the planet, and we are currently getting this seriously wrong,” says one of the commission authors Tim Lang.

“We need a significant overhaul, changing the global food system on a scale not seen before in ways appropriate to each country’s circumstances. While this is unchartered policy territory and these problems are not easily fixed, this goal is within reach.…the scientific targets we have devised for a healthy, sustainable diet are an important foundation which will underpin and drive this change,” he added.

EAT-Lancet Commission’s recommended planetary health diet requires the consumption of red meat to be cut by half, while vegetables, fruit, and nuts must double.

North America has one of the highest meat consumption rates in the world. In 2018, American meat consumption hit a record high as the average consumer ate over 222 pounds of red meat and poultry.

If they are to follow the planetary health guidelines, North Americas would have to cut their consumption of red meat by 84 percent and eat six times more beans and lentils.

While plant-based diets have gained popularity in the region, seen through the success of the Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger companies, Springmann noted that information alone may not be enough to promote dietary changes.

“Of course everyone can change their diet and it would be great if they can do that. But if it is not made easy for the average consumer to do that then many people won’t do it,” he said.

Springmann suggested changing the prices of food products to include health and environmental impacts.

Beef for example would need to cost 40 percent more on average due to its contribution to GHG emissions.

This provides governments with potential revenue to invest in other areas such as the subsidisation of healthier products.

In addition to dietary changes, the EAT-Lancet Commission state that zero loss biodiversity, net zero expansion of agricultural land into natural ecosystems, and improvements in fertiliser and water use efficient are needed.

“The transformation that this Commission calls for is not superficial or simple, and requires a focus on complex systems, incentives, and regulations, with communities and governments at multiple levels having a part to play in redefining how we eat,” said The Lancet’s Editor-in-Chief Richard Horton.

“Our connection with nature holds the answer, and if we can eat in a way that works for our planet as well as our bodies, the natural balance of the planet’s resources will be restored. The very nature that is disappearing holds the key to human and planetary survival,” he added.

A plantain farm on the outskirts of Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire. Current food production is among the largest sources of environmental degradation across the world.

IPS, Jan 21 2019
Eat Plants, Save the Planet
By Tharanga Yakupitiyage

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Senegal honours Dr M

PRIME Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s visit to Senegal recently stirred more than just mild interest.

His presence at the International Conference on the Emergence of Africa reminded me of the groupie-like fervor inspired by the Beatles or more precisely, the likes of when Nelson Mandela came to Malaysia in the late 1990s.

As a Malaysian, it was humbling to see the outpouring of love and admiration for this fourth and seventh prime minister of ours.

To Senegal, Dr Mahathir is a living legend, a man who had shaped Malaysia and guided its emergence as a world player and in the words of the economic adviser to the president − “The Father of Emergence”.

From the moment he set foot in this West African country, Dr Mahathir was given all the due reverence normally reserved for the most exalted head of state, not a head of government.

When Malaysia One landed on Jan 16, 2019 at the military airport of Dakar − the Leopold Sedar Senghor Airport−it came to a stop at the edge of a red carpet flanked by the Presidential Guards.

This in itself was already an anomaly − the answer of which was immediately apparent moments later when President Macky Sall himself strode out of the presidential saloon to greet the plane on the tarmac.

When Dr Mahathir cleared the last of the aircraft steps, the president walked with him to the dais in the middle of the red carpet walkway, and stood next to him for the state welcoming ceremony.

Protocol-wise, this is the highest honour that a country can bestow upon a visiting dignitary.

Normally a state welcoming ceremony is reserved for presidents and monarchs, as is the greeting on the tarmac by a president.

The fact that Dr Mahathir’s visit was not even an official visit mattered little to the Senegalese − it was their right to treat the prime minister at the level of elder statesman, rather than a mere prime minister.

Senegal’s First Lady, too, was gracious, waiting patiently as Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali gingerly made her way down the aircraft stairs, before warmly welcoming her to the country.

It was a sight to behold as the president himself made the introductions of his ministers and advisers, who were in the receiving line at the end of the red carpet. You could literally see the joy and respect on the faces of the receiving line as they shook hands with Dr Mahathir.

Inside the Presidential Pavillion, President Sall and the First Lady sat with Dr Mahathir and Siti Hasmah in a private room while in the open lounge outside, the prime minister of Cote d’Ivoire was entertained by the prime minister of Senegal.

From there on, it was obvious that the prime minister of Malaysia was the star of the Senegal scene, despite the other heads of state and government who were also in town for the international conference.

Everywhere that Dr Mahathir was, there were the red-robed Presidential Guards lining the walkway − at his hotel, as he arrived to the conference centre, at both the airports that he landed and took off from.

It was unnerving to say the least, since the guards normally signal that the president is present in the building.

Even in the conference centre, when the leaders were walking together, President Sall accompanied Dr Mahathir, while President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita of Mali and Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly of Côte d’Ivoire followed behind.

The conference was to have been attended by many more presidents, but as it was, there was trouble in Kenya, Burkina Faso, and Cote d’Ivoire while President Paul Kagame of Rwanda had to chair an African Union emergency meeting in Ethiopia on the situation in Congo.

These were some of the presidents that had confirmed their attendance to the conference upon hearing that Dr Mahathir would be one of the speakers.

Dr Mahathir’s presence at the conference was very much anticipated. Many Senegalese and foreign diplomats were to later admit that they attended the conference because they wanted to hear the pearls of wisdom from the statesman himself.

Dr Mahathir did not disappoint, despite the short time frame given to him to respond to the questions posed.

His second intervention, about Japan Incorporated and the Malaysia Incorporated concept, received thunderous applause.

When it was time to leave Dakar, Prime Minister Mohamad Dionne of Senegal insisted on travelling with Dr Mahathir to the airport, for a proper send-off.

A few ambassadors from Dakar’s diplomatic community had congregated at the airport to say farewell to Dr Mahathir.

As Dr Mahathir climbed the aircraft stairs and turned to wave to the crowd, the Presidential Guards lining the red carpet stood at attention and lowered their swords in solemn tribute.

Even though Dr Mahathir was in Dakar for slightly more than 24 hours, he left an indelible mark on the Senegal scene.

It is now up to us − the civil servants, the business leaders, and the civil society in general − to leverage upon the visit to our advantage.

Senegal President Macky Sall receiving Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad at Leopold Sedar Senghor Airport in Dakar on Jan 16. To Senegal, Dr Mahathir is a living legend.

New Straits Times, Published: January 23, 2019 - 10:23am
'The Father of Emergence':
Senegal honours Dr M

By Dr Shazelina Zainul Abidin, Malaysia’s ambassador to Senegal

COME Feb 24, the people of Senegal will head for the polling stations to vote in the country’s scheduled presidential elections. This will be the 11th presidential elections in Senegal’s 59-year history.

In all that time, only four men have held the presidency − Leopold Senghor for 20 years, Abdou Diouf for 19 years, Abdoulaye Wade for 12 years, and Macky Sall for the last seven years.

The inconsistent number of years for a presidential term only appeared in 1991 when President Abdou Diouf managed to push through a constitutional amendment that extended the president’s term from five to seven years. In 2016, however, President Macky Sall was able to again amend the constitution to reduce the term of office to five years and set a limit of only two consecutive terms that any individual may hold the position.

This election will be the first time that the constitutional amendment will take effect, as Macky Sall gears himself for a possible second term in office. This election is also the first time that presidential candidates are expected to clear the 65,000 signature threshold in order to be eligible to stand as a candidate − another effect of the 2016 constitutional amendment.

For a country with less than 15 million people, Senegal is a highly-politicised country. Every Senegalese has a strong view of the local politics and makes no secret of it. Yet, despite the fact that politics is in the blood of every self-respecting citizen, only once has this country seen a less than peaceful transition of power. And even then there was no massive conflict or fatal rioting on the streets, the likes of many other African nations.

Leopold Senghor handed over the reins of the country to Abdou Diouf in 1970, resigning after his 20-year run. Diouf, in his turn, surrendered the office to Wade when it was clear that Wade had managed to garner more than 58 per cent of the votes in the second round of voting in 2000.

And after 12 years in power, Wade was defeated by a former prime minister under his administration, current president Sall.

The new electoral requirement of at least 10 per cent of the total voter registration before any individual can be accepted as a presidential candidate means that there should be fewer names on the ballot paper this February. In 2007, when the last presidential elections were held, there were 14 names for voters to choose from.

The date of submission of papers for the candidates was Dec 26 last year, after which it was the task of the Interior Ministry to sift through all the signatures to determine on irregularities, double-counting, and eligibility.

By Jan 2, the Constitutional Council, which is the highest deciding body for presidential and legislative elections, declared that only five candidates are eligible outright.

Three others were given a few days to respond to a query from the Council before they could stand for elections. A

All this, from a pool of 27 hopefuls that had submitted their papers to vie for Senegal’s highest political post.

Why should the Senegal presidential elections hold so much fascination for this author? Other than the obvious − of now having lived and mixed with the people of its capital city for nearly a year − there is also a more interesting reason for closely following the presidential elections.

Senegal recently introduced an identity card for citizens aged 5 years old and above. The ID card, issued under the watchful eye of the Ministry of the Interior, is produced by a Malaysian company − Iris Corporation − and contains all security features and information needed to ensure voter eligibility.

The ID card acts as an identity card on one side, and as a voter registration information on the other, allowing the validation of signatures for the presidential candidates to be done within a matter of days, rather than weeks or months.

For those not familiar with Iris Corporation, it was the first company in the world to create the electronic chip that we now carry in our Malaysian passports. In 1998, when the ePassport was rolled out, Malaysians travelled with cutting-edge technology, proudly using the autogate whenever we entered or left the country.

Today, nearly all countries use this ePassport.

So, what are the chances of Sall retaining his presidency? Many believe that the incumbent stands a very strong chance of continuing a second term, provided that he can win outright the first round of the presidential elections. Throughout Senegal’s five decades of democratic elections, no incumbent president has ever been able to secure victory in a second round of electoral voting. Every single time a second round of voting takes place, the sitting president will lose in the elections.

Other notable hopefuls include Karim Wade, son of former President Abdoulaye Wade; long-term opposition leader Idrissa Seck; former head of the tax department Ousmane Sonko; and jailed mayor of Dakar city, Khalifa Sall.

There are 6.7 million registered voters in Senegal for these presidential elections. If we go by the 51 per cent of voter turnout in 2012, there should be at least 3.5 million people exercising their constitutional rights to vote for their next president. Whatever happens, Senegal is hoping that it will be yet another peaceful presidential election.

Senegalese President Macky Sall

New Straits Times, January 7, 2019 - 11:58pm
Hoping for peaceful polls

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Print media still has a role !

Please refer to Mr Yahho's Blog under the title of "Malaysian journalism" dated 2019年01月04日 together with "Newspapers are not dying" dated 2019年01月22日 respectively.

Today please read more based on the following letter to today's New Straits Times:

AVOID straining your eyes and “never say die” are what I understand of the writing by NST group editor Rashid Yusof (Jan 4).

Readers want to read brilliant, biting and dazzling stories of interest.

Though many businesses are cutting back on their use of paper and some are even converting to “paperless offices” such as the Malay Mail, as an educator, I still prefer the hardcopy.

Though there are handheld personal reading devices, many prefer hard copies of their favourite newspapers and magazines over digital articles to get the latest information.

Reading a printed newspaper provides the reader with a flow of information that’s impossible for books to keep pace with.

Newspaper delivers comprehensive information on a variety of topics.

Very few other information sources provide the scope and detail on so many separate and interconnected events.

The information found in newspapers can assist you in important life decisions.

Local newspapers provide insight into events that affect your community in a way that national news outlets cannot.

For years, educators have re cognised the value of newspaper articles as a resource to supplement traditional textbooks.

News stories can be used to demonstrate parallels between current events and historical lessons, and teach educational lessons, and are fresh material for writing assignments.

By teaching students the importance of media in our lives, educators produce a sharper and better informed electorate, which is one of the reasons so many institutions of higher learning require their educators to include media-related assignments in their syllabi.

Many publications offer student-discount subscription rates to encourage readership in that demographic.

If you attend college or a trade school, check to see if the magazine or newspaper you want has a student discount. The savings are often substantial.

If you miss a news story on television, read it in a newspaper. While some print readers prefer the speed of web articles, they stick to their print publications for the simple reason that it’s one less thing that they have to do on their phone or computer.

I used to send my writings to NST and other media. Some were published and some not.

I tried very much to persuade my students to write to newspapers but they responded that one needs to be a professor, a Tan Sri or a scholar as priorities are given to them.

They even ask me how much the paper pays me. You may have heard that newspapers don’t pay as well as magazines. In some cases, that’s true.

On the positive side, when I use what I have written to the newspapers in class, the material helps students to look at things in a bigger scope and improves critical thinking skills since it covers a wide range of topics.

Newspapers are more current than textbooks. There is a lot of information that can boost the performance of students.

Newspapers can be good tools to teach students how to come up with a project the way papers do. They are very helpful in language improvement if read frequently. They help improve general knowledge as they reflect the current status of the country.

Newspapers can also enhance literacy.

Newspapers are more current than textbooks.

Letter to The New Straits Times, Published:
Print media still has a role
By AZIZI AHMAD, Educator, Institut Pendidikan Guru Kampus Bahasa Antarabangsa, Kuala Lumpur

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安倍首相の北方領土交渉、失敗 !































 たとえばネット上で流れるブルームバーグ(筆者註:ニューヨークに本社を置く米国の経済・金融情報の配信、通信社)はベオグラード発Ilya Arkhipov 氏の記事としてこう報じている。








Russia and Japan's leaders meet for talks in Moscow Tuesday over the disputed island chain that has long prevented a peace treaty to end World War II. But recent rhetoric has dampened hopes of a breakthrough.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit marks the 25th time he and Russian President Vladimir Putin have met since 2013, a reflection of their efforts to build cooperation despite their disagreement over the Kuril islands.

The Soviet Army seized the four islands, between the Sea of Okhotsk and the Pacific Ocean, in the last days of World War II.

Tokyo's refusal to recognise Moscow's sovereignty there has been a barrier to peace for over seven decades.

Despite a flurry of diplomacy since November, when the two leaders agreed to step up peace talks, recent statements from both capitals suggest a compromise is still far off.

Moscow responded furiously to Abe's New Year's message, in which he said Russians living on the islands should be helped to accept that the "sovereignty of their homes will change".

Last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Japan needed to stop referring to the islands as its "Northern Territories" in legislation. He also described Tokyo's military alliance with Washington as problematic.

To get the talks moving, Tokyo needed to recognise Russia's sovereignty over the Kurils, said Lavrov.

"Why is Japan the only country in the world that cannot accept the results of World War II in their entirety?" he asked.

And on Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the peace negotiations were "in their initial stage" and would likely be a "drawn out" process -- further cooling hopes for a quick resolution.

Abe's Moscow visit is the first leg of a trip to Europe, which will also include a speech at the Davos forum in Switzerland on Wednesday.

Before his departure he acknowledged that "negotiations with Russia have been a challenge for more than 70 years" and hoped for "candid talks" with Putin.

The two leaders have demonstrated a good personal relationship since Abe's historic first visit to Moscow in 2013.

Abe said in an interview published Monday by Kommersant daily that he and Putin have fully agreed to resolve the dispute "with our own hands and not pass the problem on to future generations".

- 'Powerful public opinion' -

Kremlin spokesman Peskov on Monday said that Japan had not so far made any official proposals based on claiming just two of the islands in the chain. This possibility was mooted by the Soviet Union in the 1950s, prior to Tokyo's alliance with the United States.

Japan's Kyodo news agency, citing government sources, said Abe was leaning toward accepting this framework for a peace deal.

But it is not clear whether the Kremlin would be keen to transfer sovereignty even for the two smaller islands, Shikotan and Habomai, which is actually a group of uninhabited islets.

The chain ensures Russia's strategic control of the Sea of Okhotsk, and some southern islands in the chain are less than 10 kilometres (six miles) from Japan's island of Hokkaido.

Giving away even uninhabited islands would be hugely symbolic and poorly received in Russia.

Several protests were held in recent weeks against ceding any territory to Japan, and Putin's sliding ratings would further suffer from such a move.

A poll by independent Russian pollster Levada Centre last month suggested that 74 percent of Russians would not support exchanging some of the islands for a peace deal, while only 17 percent said they would.

State television has been unenthusiastic about the summit.

Top news presenter Dmitry Kiselyov disputed the very notion that Japan could be a "friend" of Russia as long as it opposed Moscow's policies and had US military "occupying" its territory.

As for the Kuril islands, Kiselyov said on his popular "News of the Week" show that 90 percent of Russians were against giving any of them back to Tokyo.

"Would Putin want to ignore this powerful public opinion?" he asked.

"Impossible," he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe both seemed determined to try to settle the Kuril Islands dispute personally.

Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov has maintained a tough line on the Kuril Islands dispute.

Map showing the Kuril islands disputed by Japan and Russia.

Russian pollsters and recent protests suggest that even a partial cession of the two smaller, uninhabited island in the Kuril chain, would be unpopular with Russians

AFP, Published: 22 Jan 2019
Putin, Abe hold summit to break island impasse

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Never mind climate change, Davos prefers private jets !

The Davos elite say they are more worried than ever about climate change. But that isn't stopping them chartering private jets in record numbers.

The convenience and comfort of flying privately rather than commercially appears to outweigh any concerns about the outsized carbon footprint it involves, judging by a number-crunching exercise by the company Air Charter Service (ACS).

It forecast nearly 1,500 private jet flights over the week of the World Economic Forum (WEF) to airports near Davos in the Swiss Alps.

That would be up from the more than 1,300 aircraft movements seen at last year's forum, despite climate change registering as the top risk factor identified for the global economy in a survey of WEF movers and shakers last week.

In a blog post, the website privatefly.com forecast an even higher number of private flight movements related to Davos this week, of around 2,000 in and out of local airports.

And while most people reach Davos by car or train after alighting from airports such as Zurich, two to three hours' away, a select few CEOs and government leaders hire helicopters to save time.

Demand for private jets in the week of Davos far outstrips other events that also loom large on the private aviation calendar, such as the Super Bowl or Champions' League final, according to Andy Christie, private jets director at ACS.

"We have had bookings from as far as our operations in Hong Kong, India and the US –- no other event has the same global appeal," he said in a statement

And the trend is towards even more expensive, larger private jets such as the Gulfstream GV and Bombardier's Global Express.

"This is at least in part due to some of the long distances travelled, but also possibly due to business rivals not wanting to be seen to be outdone by one another," Christie said.

WEF organisers insist they are making the annual forum environmentally sustainable, offsetting the carbon emissions generated by private aviation as much as possible through their own initiatives on the ground.

"We encourage our partners from business and others to take that (offsetting measures) on," Dominique Waughray, head of Global Public Goods at the WEF, told AFP last week.

"Most of the private aircraft that come in are actually for government officials, because under the Vienna convention the most efficient and secure way of getting people to an event like that is via an aircraft," he said.

"So that is a sort of security brief, but we still offset them."

Air Charter Service forecast nearly 1,500 private jet flights over the week of the World Economic Forum to airports near Davos in the Swiss Alps.

Demand for private jets in the week of Davos reportedly far outstrips other events that also loom large on the private aviation calendar, such as the Super Bowl or Champions' League final.

AFP, Published: 22 Jan 2019
Never mind climate change, Davos prefers private jets

David Attenborough might have urged world leaders at Davos to take urgent action on climate change, but it appears no one was listening. As he spoke, experts predicted up to 1,500 individual private jets will fly to and from airfields serving the Swiss ski resort this week.

Political and business leaders and lobbyists are opting for bigger, more expensive aircrafts, according to analysis by the Air Charter Service, which found the number of private jet flights grew by 11% last year.

“There appears to be a trend towards larger aircraft, with expensive heavy jets the aircraft of choice, with Gulfstream GVs and Global Expresses both being used more than 100 times each last year,” said Andy Christie, private jets director at the ACS.

This is partly due to the long distances travelled, he said, “but also possibly due to business rivals not wanting to be seen to be outdone by one another”. Last year, more than 1,300 aircraft flights were recorded at the conference, the highest number since ACS began recording private jet activity in 2013.

Countries with the highest number of arrivals and departures out of the local airports over the past five years included Germany, France, UK, US, Russia and the United Arab Emirates, according to ACS.

The World Economic Forum’s global risk report, released ahead of this week’s meeting, identified environmental challenges, including the failure to mitigate climate change, as top of the list of dangers facing the world economy.

On Monday, broadcaster and naturalist David Attenborough warned that “the Garden of Eden is no more”, and urged political and business leaders to make a renewed push to tackle climate change.

“We have changed the world so much that scientists claim we are in a new geological age, the anthropocene, the age of humans,” he said.

“What we do now, and in the next few years, will profoundly affect the next few thousand years,” added Attenborough, who received a Crystal award from the WEF for his work.

Speaking to journalists after his speech, Attenborough warned that economic models needed to change. “Growth is going to come to an end, either suddenly or in a controlled way.”

Passenger jets at the Swiss Airforce base in Dübendorf, Switzerland. The airport is one of those used for arrivals and departures at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The Guardian, Last modified on Tue 22 Jan 2019 13.29 GMT
Record private jet flights into Davos as leaders arrive for climate talk

Experts predict up to 1,500 individual private flights in and out of airfields serving Swiss ski resort for World Economic Forum

By Rebecca Ratcliffe

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Brand Japan

Pity Carlos Ghosn. Japanese prosecutors have denied bail to the jailed former Nissan chief executive, extending his two months in pretrial detention where he is subject to up to eight hours of interrogation a day without access to legal counsel. By wearing him down psychologically, prosecutors are trying to coerce the Franco-Brazilian-Lebanese executive into signing a confession drawn up in Japanese, a language he isn’t fluent in. Sadly, this display of “hostage justice” − you only walk if you implicate yourself − is one of many developments (including the resumption of commercial whaling) that have recently battered Japan’s reputation. But surely no other issue has done more to harm Brand Japan and make it an outlier among the Group of Seven nations of advanced industrial democracies based on the rule of law.

From the time of his “perp walk” in handcuffs as he was escorted off his private jet until he appeared in court with a rope around his waist, the once-lionized savior of Nissan has been relentlessly vilified. He has been “prosecuted” by a cascade of leaks in the media that make his conviction appear inevitable. Indeed, less than 1 percent of defendants are acquitted, despite qualms in the legal community and civil society organizations about the extent of false confessions extracted under duress.

By global standards, the former chief executive of one of the world’s most profitable car company was not overpaid, but by Japanese standards, he was, and that’s the yardstick authorities are applying to his case. The prosecution’s apparent criminalization of deferred compensation has sent shock waves through Tokyo’s expatriate executive community, because it is standard practice. It’s not easy to generate sympathy for alleged white-collar criminals, but Japan has managed to do so.

The puritanical zeal exhibited in the Ghosn case may play well to the domestic audience, which is apparently thrilled by the takedown of a greedy gaijin (foreigner). Yet no such enthusiasm was evident in a number of recent Japanese corporate scandals such as Olympus (cooking the books), Takata (dangerous air bags) or Tokyo Electric Power (Fukushima fiasco). The palace coup staged by Nissan executives is attributed to unhappiness with plans for a merger with Renault but also conveys a whiff of xenophobia. This high-profile burning at the stake makes Japan look like a banana republic where the law is arbitrarily applied. If the case is so strong, why not try it in court, rather than in the media, and stop with this medieval practice of browbeating confessions?

Ghosn is also accused of submitting falsified documents. That, to be sure, is a serious offense. Yet last year prosecutors decided against indicting bureaucrats for tampering with documents submitted to the Japanese parliament that exonerated Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in a scandal involving a sweetheart land deal. Double standards?

Other dubious practices have also dented Japan’s reputation. Ghosn’s case was recently overshadowed by the scandal surrounding a popular men’s magazine called Spa!, which rated universities by their female students’ sexual availability and offered strategies for seducing and/or coercing them into sex at parties.

At the same time, we learned about a young pop star who drew her management firm’s ire by complaining publicly about an assault. Incredibly, the victim, Maho Yamaguchi, was forced to apologize at an event for “causing trouble.” This ritualized humiliation drew back the curtain on the larger issue of practices in the Japanese entertainment world. In J-Pop, this means infantilizing women to cater to certain male fantasies.

These stories speak to the wider issue of widespread misogyny in patriarchal Japan, where the #MeToo movement briefly gained momentum with an exposé of the administrative vice finance minister, who used his power to prey on young female reporters. Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso alleged it must have been a honey trap and then lamely pointed out that sexual harassment is not a criminal offense in Japan. Abe likes to grandstand on “womenomics” (his raft of policies designed to bring more women into the workforce), but women remain marginalized in government (only one cabinet minister), corporate management (less than 10 percent) and the job market (where most work in non-regular positions). And over the summer, we discovered that women aspiring to become doctors have points deducted from their entrance exam scores simply because they’re women. It turns out that one medical school’s enrollment in entering classes is capped at 30 percent.

The reputational damage is escalating as France is now investigating bribery charges related to Japan’s effort to secure the 2020 Summer Olympics. What can justify a “consulting” payment made to Black Tidings, a firm linked to a man banned for life from international sports, and whose father is under investigation for fixing the Rio Olympics? These charges hang as clouds of reproach over the games and Japan, Inc.

And let’s not even mention the cabinet minister in charge of cybersecurity who has never surfed the Internet (let alone used email), or Japan’s long-standing refusal to countenance same-sex marriage. Alas, the old, conservative, male elite that still dominates Japanese society is betraying Brand Japan along with the aspirations of women and young Japanese.

Pedestrians pass by a television screen showing a news program featuring former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn in Tokyo on Jan. 8.

The Washington Post, Published: January 17, 2019
Brand Japan is taking a hit
By Jeff Kingston, a professor at Temple University Japan, and the author of “Japan.”

A quarter century ago on August 4, 1993, the Japanese government issued the Kono Statement acknowledging state responsibility for the coercive recruitment of “comfort women” on the Korean peninsula.

Yohei Kono, the chief cabinet secretary, affirmed that “the then Japanese military was, directly or indirectly, involved in the establishment and management of the comfort stations and the transfer of comfort women. The government study has revealed that in many cases they were recruited against their own will, through coaxing, coercion, etc, and that, at times, administrative/military personnel directly took part in the recruitments. They lived in misery at comfort stations under a coercive atmosphere … Undeniably, this was an act, with the involvement of the military authorities of the day, that severely injured the honour and dignity of many women.”

Kono also promised to educate young Japanese about this history. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government has reneged on that promise. By 1997, all of the mainstream publishers of secondary textbooks covered the “comfort women”, but now none of them do. Recent educational guidelines and Abe’s 2007 patriotic education bill require publishers to hew to official views on the matter.

Abe is closely associated with a revisionist whitewashing of Japan’s shared past with Asia and since entering politics in 1993 has been active in various Diet groups lobbying for this agenda. He has persistently denounced and undermined the Kono Statement because the forthright reckoning it embraces is the antithesis of the revisionist history he stands for.

The Asian Women’s Fund (1995-2007), a quasi-state non-governmental organisation that provided solatia and letters of apology to former “comfort women” signed by sitting prime ministers, was an ill-fated gesture of atonement for the indignities inflicted that Kono also promised. Very few former “comfort women” agreed to take the money offered because it appeared that Japan was evading legal responsibility by channelling redress at arm’s length, a calibrated measure designed to protect Japan’s legal stance that all issues of compensation were resolved in the 1965 Treaty on Basic Relations with South Korea that normalised relations.

The fund thus was a half-hearted effort towards reconciliation that fell well short of the grand gesture required. When the South Korean government offered former “comfort women” the equivalent redress if they shunned the Asian Women’s Fund, Tokyo felt betrayed.

Similarly, after Abe and South Korean president Park Geun-hye tried to bury the divisive past in their 2015 agreement on the “comfort women”, the accord unravelled and sparked intense mutual recriminations. Japanese diplomats like to blame their failures on recalcitrant Koreans always demanding more, but surely if Japan was humble about history and the burdens its imposes, they could have made more headway on reconciliation. As it stands, Japan looks to be suffering from perpetrators’ fatigue.

The rightward shift in Japanese politics in the 21st century under prime ministers Junichiro Koizumi (2001-2006) and Shinzo Abe (2006-07; 2012-present) has involved a frontal assault on the Kono Statement and a revisionist rebuttal of apologies and admission of wrongdoing. Indeed, in 2014 on Abe’s watch, his party colleagues tried to impugn the credibility of the Kono Statement even as he buckled under to US pressure to publicly avow he supported it.

Back in 2007, during his first stint as prime minister, Abe disavowed the Kono Statement by claiming disingenuously a lack of evidence. This comprehensive backsliding on history repudiates the spirit of the Kono Statement and closes the door it opened for Japan to advance reconciliation.

Like-minded conservatives complain that Japan’s numerous apologies have done little to assuage wartime grievances. Indeed, Japan has issued many apologies, but these gestures of remorse have also been belittled, renounced or disowned comprehensively. Little wonder that they have been so ineffective.

In 2010 when prime minister Naoto Kan issued a forthright apology to the Korean people for the traumas of Japanese colonial rule, Abe was quick to nullify any goodwill by denouncing Kan’s statement as “Baka!”(stupid) on NHK television. In 2015, Abe struck a back-room deal with Park to resolve the “comfort women” issue, but his failure to meet with any of the victims or offer a public apology showed a glaring lack of compassion.

He agreed to donate 1 billion yen (US$8.9 million) to support the elderly former sex slaves, but any goodwill evaporated as it became clear that Tokyo’s quid pro quo required removal of the “comfort women” statue facing the Japanese embassy in Seoul and a silencing of South Korea’s diplomats on raising the issue internationally.

And Abe’s 2015 statement commemorating the 70th anniversary of Japan’s defeat? He merely referenced other prime ministers’ apologies without offering one of his own and declared it is time to stop apologising. So much for sincere remorse.

Oddly, Emperor Akihito’s penitent stance on Japan’s wartime transgressions was the mainstream consensus in the 1990s. His abdication next year will leave a void that his son Naruhito will be hard-pressed to fill. Akihito has done more than all of Japan’s political leaders combined to address the unfinished business of the rampage in Asia conducted in the name of his father, Emperor Showa (Hirohito).

As Japan’s chief emissary of reconciliation, he has made numerous visits to victimised nations and battlefield sites, showcasing the nation’s contrition and sorrow, a far cry from the shirking of 21st century revisionism. His contrition about Japan’s wartime rampage that devastated Asia was reflected in the 1995 Murayama Statement, which became the mantra of remorse echoed by all subsequent prime ministers.

[Japan’s Emperor Akihito (right) waves to well-wishers, as Crown Prince Naruhito looks on, during their new year greetings in Tokyo on January 2, 2015. Emperor Akihito has taken a penitent stance with regards to Japan’s war history. Photo: AFP]

However, prime minister Tomiichi Murayama’s warning against the perils of sanctimonious nationalism has apparently been forgotten.

This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the Obuchi-Kim Statement in which prime minister Keizo Obuchi apologised for the, “tremendous damage and suffering to the people of the Republic of Korea through its colonial rule, and expressed his deep remorse and heartfelt apology for this fact”.

At that time there was a consensus in Japan that moving towards future-oriented relations in Asia requires a forthright reckoning and unequivocal remorse, wisdom that is, lamentably, being ignored.

South China Morning Post, Updated : Saturday, 04 August, 2018, 1:37pm
On ‘comfort women’ and Japan’s war history, Abe’s historical amnesia is not the way forward

Jeff Kingston says the anniversary of the Kono Statement, in which Japan apologised for its treatment of ‘comfort women’, is a reminder that the country must reckon sincerely with its past if it wants to build a new future with its neighbours

By Jeff Kingston is director of Asian Studies at Temple University, Japan

posted by fom_club at 14:34| Comment(0) | 日記 | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする

In China, red has always symbolised good fortune and joy !

If any colour can stake a claim to be the oldest, it is red. We’ve been seeing red (an expression which turns out to be more than just metaphorical) since our neolithic days. It is the most primary of primary colours – the very blood in our veins is red. Except, of course, when it’s blue.

On the earliest daubs of our remote human ancestors, red stole the show. In the caves of Lascaux in France, or Pinnacle Point in South Africa, can be found paintings in an earthy, dusty red. This pigment – along with other colours used – was made from ochre, a family of earth pigments whose name is now, confusingly, most associated with the yellow-brown pigment found in art shops and painting sets. These paintings date back perhaps as far as 15,000BC. Red is ancient indeed.

Many Stone Age graves, too, have been found to contain red ochre. Some experts theorise this was simply to mark the grave, so no one mistakenly dug it up. Others believe it was used to colour the hair, skin or clothes of the buried – either way, it clearly had important ritual significance.

Unsurprisingly, red appears as a symbolic colour in many a warrior setting. In Roman mythology, it was associated with blood, of course, and courage. It was the colour of the god of war, Mars – and the colour of the army. Roman soldiers wore red tunics, while gladiators were adorned in red. Generals wore a scarlet cloak, and to celebrate victories would have their bodies painted entirely in red. Brides at a Roman wedding wore a red shawl, called a flammeum. Red was the colour of blood – but blood was a symbol not just of death, but of life – of fertility and love.

Through the Middle Ages, red was utterly dominant. The emperor Charlemagne painted his palace red, wore red shoes and is even rumoured to have had red hair. In Christian art, it represented the blood of Christ and of Christian martyrs – and became (as it still is) the colour worn by Catholic cardinals.

From the 16th century, a new way of making red appeared in Europe, from cochineal beetles imported by Spanish merchants from the new world. This, naturally, made red terribly fashionable. Don’t hold that against it, though. It passed.

Today, even the most painfully fashionable western bride would be unlikely to walk down the aisle in red. This, though, is the tradition in China, where brides still wear red wedding gowns, and are carried to the ceremony in a red litter. In China, red has always symbolised good fortune and joy - and as a colour of happiness is even banned from funerals. In Greece, Albania and Armenia, too, brides still wear red veils.

Chinese brides also walk down a red carpet. Sound familiar? Not an invention of the Oscars ceremony or the film industry, as you might think. In fact the earliest reference to walking down a red carpet is said to be in the work of Aeschylus, from 458BC. When the eponymous hero Agamemnon returns from Troy, he is greeted by his wife Clytemnestra, who offers him a red path to walk upon. This is no mere coincidence – the meaning is clear:
Now my beloved, step down from your chariot, and let not your foot, my lord, touch the Earth. Servants, let there be spread before the house he never expected to see, where Justice leads him in, a crimson path.

The red carpet treatment, indeed.

Inextricably linked with its association with brides, flowering and fertility, comes reds shadier side – and the reason those western brides would be unlikely to marry in it. But has the (possibly) oldest colour always been linked with the world’s ‘oldest profession’ and those red light districts? Perhaps not - in fact yellow has been more commonly associated with prostitution. In classic Greece, prostitutes wore saffron-dyed clothes, while in Rome they might dye their hair yellow. It is really a specific shade of red – scarlet – that must carry the can. And that association comes thanks to the bible, and Revelations 17, verses 1-6, where “the Great Harlot” comes “dressed in purple and scarlet”. Purple clearly had a better PR team than poor old scarlet.

That PR team should have sprung into action the minute red started associated with revolutionaries. Long before McCarthy started hunting for “reds under the bed”, the colour started hanging out with some dodgy types. During the French revolution, revolutionaries began wearing red caps and carrying red flags. Red become the colour of the worker’s movement – from the French revolution of 1848, the Paris Commune in 1870 and of socialist parties across Europe. By the 20th century, it was the outright color of revolution – whether Bolshevik or Chinese, adorning flags from Russia, Cuba Vietnam and more.

So red can be both happy, honourable, brave and virginal and, well, quite the opposite – it’s all about the cultural context. But whether you see its innocence or its corruption, it turns out that red actually enhances women’s attractiveness to men. It even enhances the value of a painting – though this is down largely to its symbolic significance in Chinese culture affecting the international art market, rather than anything more, well, primitive.

And though it is hardly rare (it is the most popular colour on national flags, for a start) there is one area in which red is a distinct minority: only 1-2% of the human population has red hair. The colour is produced by the same pigment, pheomelanin, that makes our lips red. Those beautiful redheads have a higher level of that, and less of the dark pigment eumelanin.

In 1888, Vincent Van Gogh wrote that he “sought to express with red and green the terrible human passions”. Ancient, complex and representing extremes – red is nothing if not passionate. Perhaps Van Gogh would have seen red, should he have lived long enough to see the reds in his paintings starting to fade away.

The cave paintings of Lascaux

A traditional Chinese wedding in Dong’an, Henan province

A choir sings ‘red songs’ on stage to mark the 90th Anniversary Of The Communist Party Of China on June 30, 2011

A detail from self-portrait as an artist, by Vincent Van Gogh

The Guardian, Published: Tue 1 Sep 2015 11.10 BST
Why red is the oldest colour

From the earliest daubs of our ancestors 17,000 years ago to the red carpet, there are plenty of reasons why one colour rules supreme

By Kate Carter

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Speaking and acting in concert

NO man or woman is an island. So the saying goes.
Teamwork and working together with others is what life is all about, beginning from the basic unit of society, the family unit, to every organisation of human beings, right up to society as a whole.

Working together implies the group discussing, throwing in different ideas and views (no matter how diverse), but eventually percolating those that best meet the common goals and objectives. And of course, all must be in the context of what is good and right for the larger majority, if not for all.

It is about acting in concert to arrive at an agreed to consensus.

This approach is certainly apt for decisions to be made in the family as much as it is an important imperative in the context of public governance.

Today, the Pakatan Harapan government has set down roots, so to speak, in the governance and the running of the country. The new compass has been set.

But, not unlike the case of piloting a vessel on the high seas, I learnt that one cannot just chart the details and the direction of the path to be taken, to set the vessel moving as per the configurations, and then sit back, and let the boat chug along on its own.

It is crucial to keep a keen eye on the behaviour of the untamed waters, the wind and weather, and any obstacles coming head on, including huge container ships, whose wake can be a big problem if not given a clear berth.

In public governance it is no different. In fact, it is even more important to be vigilant.

Sometimes, we see a tendency for the governing team to not act in concert.

Statements and “proposals” are loosely enunciated with inadequate rationale. Some are deemed to be bordering on the ridiculous. There are those that give the impression that things have not been well thought out and deliberated among a team, with objectivity and clarity of the purpose and goals. Some even give rise to concern and worry. And of course, it is undeniable that anything that is said and done in the very narrow context of parochial politics, inhibits that ability to view things in the context of society at large, and of the national interest.

While there is the need to give adequate time for those in public governance, to do what needs to be done (and there certainly is much to be done), it should not be ad infinitum. The housekeeping should be at the tail end by now. The good and proven policies and initiatives, which have served the nation well, should be continued and improved upon.

Of course, all policies, processes, and procedures for decision making and implementation, must be expeditously reviewed to prevent the possibility of, and giving room for, discretion and corruption (such as assigning decisions involving expenditure to one person [eg tenders]).

It is also observed that many want to be involved in perceived “popular” activities such as “investment promotion”, and “SME development. “Much of these inevitably result in those in administration, together with entourages, going all over the world to “promote Malaysia”. Even those whose constituency for governance is right here at home in Malaysia.

In fact, it was discovered that there were 32 agencies involved in “investment promotion”, with clearly unproductive overlapping of functions.

In the same vein, there were 15 ministries and 63 agencies doing work related to SMEs.

While it is laudable that so many are interested in “promoting” the inflow of investments, and the development of SMEs, there must be coordination of policies and strategies for coherence and effectiveness, and the optimisation of impact and benefits to the nation, and the SMEs and the entrepreneurs.

While this was what happened during the tenure of the previous government, the situation cannot be perpetuated.

Gone are the days for bloated support structures in ministries and departments, and freewheeling expenditure on unproductive activities.

There must be thorough cost and benefit analyses and studies done for every department and ministry before anyone introduces new initiatives and programmes ... especially those that involve awarding of contracts for things such as uniforms, transport, publications and such paraphernalia.

Perhaps we can ask what has happened to the “Khidmat Negara” programme?

Multi-millions were spent on the award of such contracts to various parties.

It is vital that all in the PH government avoid repeating or continuing the same culture of being less than responsible.

There is no real need for any “lawatan sambil belajar” (visiting while learning ... note the emphasis on “visiting”, with the element of “learning” being just a “by the by” ... an incidental.

The operating world has changed tremendously. The various challenges that will continue to confront nations will demand that those in public governance forge effective teamwork and effort to forge the necessary national resilience.

There is no room for jostling for public attention, petty bickering, or flexing of muscles and egos, or any off tangent action that detracts from collective effort and responsibility.

Everybody must speak and act in concert in public governance. We cannot have the “square pegs in round holes” syndrome. Nor can the country and people afford and tolerate any slackening in governance, which can have an unwarranted costly impact.

The new direction for governance has been set.

Now all must work collectively in the same direction to achieve the goals as expected by the rakyat.

Sejahtera Malaysia kita.

The SunDaily, Published: 21 Jan 2019 / 19:00 H.
Speaking and acting in concert
By Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz
The writer believes in speaking from the heart, mincing no words.

A FEW years ago, I wrote a letter to a now defunct news portal in Bahasa Malaysia literally telling the Malay population not to be stupid and reactive.

It was a rather angry letter in which I accused the population of being paranoid of anything and everything around them. At that time, it was the cross.

And now, the same paranoid reaction. A PAS politician criticised a building lit in the shape of a cross in Penang. Apparently this led to some complaints by local residents, which has now led to the building management only lighting up their carpark.

Having grown up in Shah Alam, I do have a love for roundabouts – but having this issue crop up time and again can get annoying.

Honestly, does looking at a cross somehow stimulate something in a Muslim to the point that it causes violent internal reactions that will cause them to convert? What is the paranoia of seeing a cross that can be so unsettling that it is considered to be offensive?

I am just waiting for a news article that says we should not be celebrating Chinese New Year with pictures of an animal that characterises the coming lunar year because it might offend some people.

We seem to be walking on eggshells when it comes to the multicultural, multireligious hues of Malaysia that it becomes hypocritical. Some Malaysians get offended by advertisements of the lunar year of the boar or pig, and yet allow their child to watch Peppa Pig on YouTube to keep them occupied.

But more importantly, these thoughts are the problem when we talk of unity in general.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad lamented that we are still not a united people. This much is true.

However, unity is not necessarily seen all the time just because you want it as part of a political agenda. Malaysians can become a united population when there is cause for it – be it an international football match like the AFF Suzuki Football Championship, or even in the light of tragedies.

And after such instances of unity, some of us descend to yelling at buildings lit like a cross, or protest against a United Nations convention over fears it will lead to an erosion of bumiputra rights and how campaign funds can be spent on petrol money, or not.

Mahathir pointed out that there was a need for other races to understand the Malays – I would like to point out that there is a need for the Malays to understand everyone else as well.

There is a need for Muslims to understand Christians and Hindus, just as much as there is a need for everyone else to understand Islam.

On top of all that, of course, there is a need to point out that understanding does not mean support. Or in this case, a Muslim knowing that the Chinese will in fact be celebrating the lunar year of the Boar or Pig next month, does not mean that particular Muslim necessarily indulges in pork or wears pig skin leather shoes.

It just means that he or she is aware and is comfortable with how his or her Chinese friends choose to celebrate the new year.

Similarly, it also means that the Christians can show the cross as they see fit, while Muslims continue on their religious ways without batting an eye because they are secure in their faith and knowledge that Malaysia is a multireligious society that allows it.

And all of us will respectively jam the roads by parking illegally on Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons and nights for trips to the mosque, church and temple, which will have others passing through cursing it for causing traffic congestion – perhaps a warped example of unity in a distressing situations.

So with all this in mind, it is perhaps time for some recommendations. Primarily, to have people understand Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and even Christianity, requires that everyone has the same platform to speak to one another.

Former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi tried to start interfaith talks for this specific purpose.

It is my belief that to push through an agenda of unity through promoted understanding among all communities, would require such a platform.

And this can only start through one media channel – Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM).

The SunDaily, Published: 21 Jan 2019 / 19:11 H.
Get to know other faiths and cultures
By Hafidz Baharom, a public relations practitioner

posted by fom_club at 12:48| Comment(0) | 日記 | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする

Newspapers are not dying

Please refer to Mr Yahho's Blog under the title of "Malaysian journalism" dated 2019年01月04日.

Today please read more based on the following letter to The New Straits Times:

Is there a need to publish newspapers and will digitalisation finally nudge the old print out of business?

This was a pertinent question raised by New Straits Times (NST) group editor Rashid Yusof in his recent column after assuming the important post in the Malaysia’s oldest newspaper.

As someone who has been reading newspapers since young, never in my wildest dreams did I think that one day the print will become part of history.

An avid reader, I always start my day reading the mainstream newspapers, including NST.

Flipping through the newspapers, I would immerse in a myriad stories that range from hard news to crime stories, social issues, sports and features.

One exclusive quality that print has and the digital media can never match is its tangibility . There is also the smell of ink on paper or the scent of newsprint which is a powerful stimuli that gives a tremendous boost to the reader’s taste.

Maybe some people may claim that I’m old school but time and again it has been proven that the newspapers will survive. While all the newspapers are focusing on digital and online transformation, I am confident that the hard copy will continue to exist and be preserved.

Doomsayers will say the days of print media are numbered. Many question what incentives readers get from the dailies when most, if not all, of their content is available online for free.

I believe that newspapers must focus on their target groups.

Print media is very much ingrained in the consumers’ collective memory, especially those aged 40s and above. This means that people will continue to be attracted and subscribe to print media, provided that we know who they are, what they are interested in and what their needs are.

Compared with teenagers or millenials who prefer short news reports with sensational headlines, mature readers prefer in-depth news, analyses and special reports, accompanied by compelling images and graphics.

However, we should not forget the young generation, especially the students.

Newspaper in Education (NIE) programme, for example, has encouraged students to read English newspapers and nurture their reading habit at a young age and contribute towards a reading culture.

It has been proved that students who read English newspapers, including those in the rural areas, gain better grades in their English papers.

As chairman of EcoWorld Foundation, I learn that non-governmental organisations could help the newspapers expand their reach to rural schools and assist the students excel in their studies through education pullouts and programmes such as NIE.

To create similar effects in other sectors, newspaper companies can collaborate with ministries and agencies apart from engaging the private sector.

The new government’s hands-off policy towards newsroom decisions should give the New Straits Times Press and other newspapers the opportunity to promote themselves as serious papers which practise ethical journalism. Lure them to share their policies, programmes and advertisements in the newspapers.

Other parties such as hotels and restaurants could support such initiatives by providing discount vouchers and offers to those who buy newspapers.

Newspaper companies must highlight the advantages of print advertising, which is more tangible and where readers could give their full attention on the written material. This guarantees greater engagement with the advertisement.

For older people like me, we think that the newspapers must thrive partly because the social media is full of half-truths while the online media is struggling to stay afloat due to the low advertisement rates and a lack of viable business models.

And I could not agree more with Rashid when he said that in order for the print to survive, it should take the form of daily news magazines with brilliant journalism, biting commentaries and dazzling analyses!

Facilitator Vincent D Silva conducting the ‘New Straits Times’ Newspaper in Education programme at SMK Convent in Johor Baru. The programme nurtures a reading culture among students.

New Straits Times, Published: January 19, 2019 - 11:01pm
Newspapers are not dying

posted by fom_club at 12:39| Comment(0) | 日記 | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする