Malaysia’s new power brokers – Part 1: Raja Nazrin      
Posted by kasee  
Friday, 21 March 2008  
There are Malaysians who will become important opinion-makers in the country as it goes down the road not travelled before. Not all of them are in the Cabinet, or even politicians. The Malaysian Insider will feature a few individuals who we believe will shape how Malaysians think and feel about this country. Raja Nazrin Shah SOME Malaysians believe that the best candidate to lead this country did not contest the elections. Raja Dr Nazrin Shah, the erudite, urbane Regent of Perak has won the support of many with his common touch and willingness to speak candidly on a range of delicate issues which have troubled Malaysians over the past few years. In 2006, just after a clutch of Umno politicians spooked the country with their sabre-rattling speeches at the party’s general assembly, the Oxford and Harvard-educated Raja Nazrin provided the balm with his sensible comments, reminding all that race relations was not a zero-sum game and scolding the irresponsible loose-cannons. Since then, the heir to the Perak throne has used all his speaking engagements to talk about the supremacy of the Constitution, the need for a strong judiciary, the need to fight corruption and why every citizen must feel that their place under the Malaysian sun is guaranteed. By touching on all these topics, he was giving voice to anxieties felt by non-Malays over the encroachment of Syariah laws into their lives, creeping Islamisation, racial polarisation and the nagging feeling that Indians and Chinese were becoming second-class citizens in their own land. In the absence of any other leaders speaking on these topics so passionately, he became the spokesman of all Malaysians. This is what he said: On the constitution The Constitution is the supreme law of the land and guarantees the rights of every Malaysian. Get a copy of the Federal Constitution and read it, he advised young Malaysians. The integrity of that document must be protected at all cost,” he said to applause at the first Malaysian Student Leaders Summit 2007 on March 20, 2008. On race relations Some groups bear grudges against what is perceived as preferential treatment. Others regard preferential treatment as their indisputable right. Matters of faith, he said, were becoming topics of immense controversy. “They promote over-zealousness and coercive action, and drive Malaysians further and further away from each other. Our diversity was meant to be our unique asset.” Good governance Only those who are capable, responsible and scrupulously honest should be allowed to serve in positions of leadership. Those who are inefficient, incompetent and, most importantly, corrupt, should be held in absolute contempt. It was very important, he added, to have leaders who were earnest in building unity and did not resort to religious or ethnic posturing to further their careers. Role models He said: “Tun Dr Ismail was an exemplary Malaysian. He envisaged a Malaysia for all without colour lines, without ethnic borders and without any one group feeling a sense of inferiority. He recognised the importance of open-mindedness in addressing day-to-day issues and problems; the importance of listening and learning from others, particularly from those who are more advanced. He put his country above himself and served till the very last day of his life.” As Ooi Kee Beng, a fellow at the Institute of South East Asian Studies (Iseas) noted in an article: “In a country where royalty is often silent, a vocal prince speaking about issues that interest the general public has been more than welcomed. The approach the prince has developed over the last few months strikes a chord with many, even leading an Opposition leader to request that he be made adviser to the prime minister.” Not all politicians were pleased with his high-profile and thought-provoking speeches. Some of them started a whispering campaign and even sent messages through intermediaries asking that Raja Nazrin stay clear of hot-button issues. But what the ruling coalition did not realise was that the royalty had begun to sense that doubt and restlessness had begun to rent space in the minds of Malaysians. They knew that a growing band of middle-class Malaysians was looking for answers and salvation. The royalty just seemed to have the conviction to play that role. That probably explains why the Malay Rulers Conference intervened and blocked the Prime Minister’s choice for the Chief Justice, knowing that the institution needed a man of integrity at the helm. Since then, Raja Nazrin has moved beyond speech-making. Just after the Opposition took control of Perak on March 8, he played the role of kingmaker, sorting out the power-sharing agreement which saw a PAS candidate being named the Mentri Besar and others from the DAP-PKR-PAS alliance agreeing to a formula for state executive council seats. The reason for his intervention was simple: he wanted to ensure that this coalition did not fall prey to petty politics a few months down the road. There is every possibility that he will “get involved” if the state executive council falters. When that happens, it would take a brave man to chastise him. DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang’s knee-jerk reaction to tell DAP assemblymen to boycott the swearing-in ceremony during talks over the Menteri Besar’s position invited an avalanche of criticism in cyberspace. This reaction forced him to issue an apology to Raja Nazrin, and accept the reality that in a Malaysia where the centre is not as strong as it was, individuals like the Regent of Perak are going to matter more than ever. They will be the bedrock of certainty and clarity in uncertain times. – THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER  

Source Malaysia Today

 Government reaches out  to Bloggers

In shift, gov’t reaches out to bloggers
Mar 24, 08 5:03pm
The government has said it will reach out to bloggers, dropping threats of arrest in a major change of policy triggered by a shock election loss that has raised calls for reform.The nation’s mainstream media is mostly part-owned by parties in the ruling coalition, and what was seen as biased coverage in the run-up to last month’s vote has boosted demand for alternative news sources including blogs.

After being hit with the worst results in its half-century history, including the loss of its two-thirds parliamentary majority, the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition now says it wants to listen to dissenting voices.

Newly appointed Information Minister Ahmad Shabery Cheek said he is keen to meet bloggers.

“I am trying to build a bridge between the government and the people so that we can have a two-way dialogue – and bloggers are a key part of this,” he told AFP.

“I am planning on meeting them soon,” he said.

But prominent bloggers have questioned the commitment of the government, which until recently had accused them of spreading lies and threatened severe punishment including detentions without trial.

“We welcome the government’s move to engage bloggers but we are not in any hurry to meet them,” said National Alliance of Bloggers president Ahiruddin Attan.

Ahiruddin, who met with Ahmad Shabery on Friday, said the offer of talks with bloggers needed to reflect the political will of the government.

“The success of the talks will depend on what kind of mandate he has from the cabinet,” he said of Cheek’s proposal.

“He is going to be acting against the popular stand of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi that bloggers are a nuisance.”

Bloggers change Malaysian politics

Media analyst and blogger Nuraina Samad said bloggers have changed the face of Malaysian politics, becoming a vocal group that the government has to deal with.

“Many bloggers who turned to opposition politics before the last elections won the seats they contested,” she told AFP.

“You look at the issues people were talking about before and during the elections – many of them were raised by bloggers, and you did not see them raised even once in the mainstream media,” she said.

“Despite this, the points raised became major issues among the people during the election campaign, with the government parties forced to address these issues that had been blacked out in their media.”

Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders ranks Malaysia 124 out of 169 on its worldwide press freedom index.

It says that the mainstream media are “often compelled to ignore or to play down the many events organised by the opposition.”

Source: Malaysiakini


One Response to “Malaysia”

  1. dana2sara Says:

    Major developnents in constitutional law.A good article by Prof Shard Faruki in stat newspaper today.

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