Little prospect of outburst
against Thai military rule
its role is glamourised as saviours
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 27 May 2018
First published in the Bangkok Post, Saturday 26 May 2018
Re: "Lasting lessons from Malaysia for
South East Asia", in Bangkok Post, Opinion,
Friday May 25.
There is a common thread that links all Asean members.
Historically speaking, some are autocratic, a few of them are authoritarian
and others are ruled by a combination of corrupt elite and military
I am not sure what kind of lesson Thailand can learn from Malaysia
where Mr Najib was on the top of the list of most corrupt politicians
in the region.
What sort of lesson can Thai people learn from Malaysia when the
duly elected governments in Thailand are uprooted, not at the ballot
box, but by a junta?
There is a very little prospect of a tsunami or an outburst against
because its role has been glamourised as a saviour.
In a country where politicians are bundled together with corrupt
civil servants, police force and mafia, there is little hope of
cultivating any form of a democratic system.
Hence the use of force and fear will continue to shape its politics
Democracy is not just about conducting elections, it is about empowering
Call for Filipinos to
Liberation of Marawi
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 26 May 2018
Liberation is more important than the breaking point,
according to President Rodrigo Duterte.
He will visit Marawi City on the first anniversary of its liberation
by government forces from terrorists in October saying, We
will go on the liberation of Marawi not at the start of the siege
on May 23. Why honor the anniversary of the siege?
With Presidents statement, I am also urging Filipinos to look
back and celebrate their countrys triumph over violent extremism.
Marawi has been liberated.
If we have to look back to it, lets do so to learn from it
and move on.
As a critique, the military may not have been as prepared as the
local police (as foretold by outsiders) but we have to take not
that any initial information is always coming from the ground which
means police personnel has always been the first taker of any reaction
from the enemies since Philippine National Police (PNP) is under
Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
Meanwhile, toe backtrack, the Marawi City Mayor was very much aware
of the situation, which led to the secured premises of vital infrastructure
including the National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR), the hospital
at Amay Pakpak which was recovered after a short gun-battle.
The disaster response preparedness of the province executed their
response immediately setting up command and control.
What was underestimated was the ferocity of the jihad mind set of
If there was an institution that was not prepared, it was the National
Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Department of Justice (DOJ).
The response to the capture and confirmation of the identities of
the jihadists should have prompted them to raise the issue to the
UN Security council of the presence of foreign funded Islamists.
The issue in Syria of the fate of the captured, the conditional
surrender, the dead Islamist is whether to allow Shariah justice
or the bill of rights to prevail Turkey is silent but that is basically
the issue. In a democracy like the Philippines, where the bill of
rights is supreme, we should have deported those ISIS Islamists
to their home countries and have them deal with the problem.
Indonesia, for example, has publicly tried the Bali bombers and
promptly sentenced them to death under a Shariah tribunal.
As of this moment, the situation in Marawi has stabilized.
Security forces are in full control of the situation.
The armed men we are dealing with are not ISIS but members of Local
Terrorists Groups. Meanwhile, the Battle for Marawi underscores
the complexity of urban warfare compounded by the unfamiliarity
of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to fight in cities
but in the end, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) wins the war
for peoples security and welfare.
In line with this, we urge the public to pay tribute to the heroism
and sacrifice of 165 soldiers who were killed.
One year thereafter, we recall memories and success stories.
This is for all Filipinos!
Jumel G. Estrañero,
Defense Research Analyst & College Faculty,
The Malaysian People's
Is watching Dr Mahathir
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 25 May 2018
First published in the Star, Friday 18 May 2018
Congratulations to the new Pakatan Harapan government
and especially to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed, our seventh prime minister.
It has been a tough and challenging time for Dr Mahathir and the
other Pakatan leaders immediately after the 14th General Election
as much groundwork has to be done in forming a new government.
Malaysians, and people around the world too, are amazed by Dr Mahathirs
strength and spirit; he has made the impossible possible in steering
Pakatan to victory in the 14th General Elections (GE14).
Pakatan MPs and ADUNs, you must now stand united to rebuild the
When you were the opposition, you were able to perform well even
with the minimum allocation you received.
You did your part for your constituency and country.
Now that you are the government, we, the rakyat, are expecting more
from all of you.
There are true leaders among you who have been fighting for change
for many years, and the dream has come true at last.
But everyone is fighting for position now.
If you are a true fighter, position and fame will be given to you
at the right time.
Meanwhile, please stop demanding for more positions just because
your party won more seats in the election.
Remember that Malaysians voted for Pakatan Harapan.
Let Dr Mahathir decide the overall structure of the new government
as he has been prime minister before.
His decisions are bound to be accepted by the Parti Rakyat Malaysia
(PRM, Malaysian People's Party) raky at.
Together we stand, divided we fall.
And watch out, too.
We, the rakyat, are watching your action, reaction and your performance.
Thomas Zacharia George,
naval power is seen as striving
To overtake U.S. power in Asia
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 24 May 2018
China is getting bigger with its first home-built
aircraft carrier that has completed five days of sea trials, putting
it closer to joining its sister flattop in the countrys increasingly
The still-unnamed ship completed all assigned tasks before returning
to its construction yard in the northern port of Dalian, state media
Chinas first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, was bought as
a mostly empty hull from Ukraine and was commissioned in 2012 along
with its flight wing of Chinese J-15 fighter jets.
What is interesting here is that the carriers are based on the former
Soviet Unions Kuznetsov class design, with a ski jump-style
deck for take-off and a conventional oil-fueled steam turbine power
This unveiling of power capability of China is seen as striving
to overtake the U.S. as the dominant naval power in Asia and already
boasts the worlds largest navy in numbers of vessels.
The ever unchanging narrative of China is that its aircraft carriers
are needed to protect its coastline and trade routes, but they are
also seen as backing up Beijings claims to self-governing
Taiwan and virtually the entire South China Sea. Ironically, Chinas
narrative is widely accepted by its allied states.
Chinas capability might be alarming I believe that even if
we are synonymous like David, the Philippines is always prepared
whatever the stake will be; cooperation, coordination or anything
I do not see this as a threat but in case they go beyond the glib
of language of security, we need to defend what we needs to be defended
for our people.
Jumel G. Estrañero
Defense Research Analyst & College Faculty,
Manila China relationship
cannot be seen
To erode Philippine national security or
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 23 May 2018
In South China Sea, I can sense that the small power
shifts from Westerlies to Easterlies will make a BIG impact in Southeast
This has been clearly visible from the first two quarters.
Last April, China was seen to be aggressive militarily in the South
China Sea but come this month (May), China made an unprecedented
move in the contested region landing BOMBERS on SCS isles
with their famous H-6K from Chinas military base on Woody
Island in the Paracels.
While China has installed jamming equipment in the contested Spratlys
Islands last month.
This kind of pre-positioning is somewhat alarming among ASEAN member
states specifically for claimant states; deemed as militarization
of the South China Sea according to some analysts and experts.
Before, there was a suspected communications and radar jamming equipment
on Mischief Reef, the largest of Chinas seven outposts that
is located within the 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone
of the Philippines.
Now, we see a double edged sword of Chinas defense diplomacy
that has already put the Philippines in demise.
Whether we like or not, Dutertes seemingly acting as alter
ego and lapdog of Xi Jinping is technically working as hedging strategy
He could have forecasted since he took the seat that agitating Chinas
ego (soft or hard), will eventually leads to inevitable war (military
or trade) or any sort of it.
On the other hand, US warships can only be determined as soft as
it has been since former President Obamas Pivot to Asia stratagem.
A lot see US as inept and can only perform its regular freedom-of-navigation
exercises in the contested sea as its usual force projection, in
an attempt to prevent a Chinese lockdown.
But to no avail, the creeping power of China is a strong renegade
over US clout.
Lastly, for oppositionists (i.e. Congressman Alejano and Senator
Trillanes), they only trigger the public to demonize the Armed Forces
of the Philippines (AFP) and the Executive Department to inject
a unwarranted syringe of venom a more chaotic rift they kept
Philippines must also be alert though and I know that we are mature
as a state to allow such kind of caprices of self-centered propaganda.
At large, the AFP still knows that based on 1987 Philippine Constitutions
Article 1 that Manilas improving relations with China cannot
be used as an excuse to erode our own national security or sovereignty.
In this regard, the Philippine military has also have even bigger
threats to address: threats like cyber security and terrorism.
Jumel G. Estrañero
Defense Research Analyst & College Faculty,
Scale of justice tilted
to the unprecedented
Removal of the Philippines sitting chief
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 22 May 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday 17 May
The Supreme Court being the Olympus of the countrys
premier magistrates, the dream pedestal of every lawyer and aspiring
law students, amidst all controversy of personal enmities and affairs
with the executive, has bowed down to oust Chief Justice Maria Lourdes
Sereno in favor of the unconstitutional quo warranto petition filed
by the Office of the Solicitor General.
Voting 8-6, it is with great regret and disappointment that the
scale of justice has initially tilted to the unprecedented removal
of the sitting chief justice, not through the provision of the Constitution
that limits such authority within the House of Representatives and
the Senate, but through a circumvention of the proper process.
No one can deny that the decision is a blatant violation of the
very integrity of the Constitution they vowed to uphold.
What has happened is a cop-out of justice seemingly fueled by their
lack of personal esteem for Sereno. The last bastion of democracy
has unfortunately started to fall.
The seeming disregard for justice that they have committed evidently
tramples the authority and trust of the people vested upon them
as signified by their dignified robes.
The dignity of their sacrosanct commitment to arbitrate with the
dictates of jurisprudence has been blemished.
With the subversion of the checks and balances and with the impairment
of their own institution, they have sunk the Supreme Court into
a deep quagmire.
And now, how will the populace rely on the judicial independence
of the Court if impartiality has been compromised despite all heads
turned to them?
With all due respect, we implore the supremes
to hold sacred once more their vow to defend the power of the Constitution
and embody the paramount judicial independence in rectifying their
final and landmark decision to the expected motion for reconsideration.
This is not about the recently removed Sereno and their personal
disputes, but this is definitely about the future of the judiciary
as an institution at stake. Please, be not on the wrong side of
Australian nun Sister
Ordered to leave Philippines by 25 May
Southeast Asain Times, Monday 21 May 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 18 May
There is only a week left before Australian nun Sister
Patricia Foxs stay in the Philippines will be considered undocumented
with her missionary visa downgraded to a tourist visa.
The Bureau of Immigration has ordered her to leave the country by
May 25 for being an undesirable alien who interferes
in the political affairs of the Philippines.
Sister Pats case is only one of the many modes of the reactionary
character of the Duterte administration in stifling dissent.
Sister Pat stayed in the Philippines for 27 years espousing selflessness
in pursuit of her noble mission to help poor Filipinos.
She did not come to the Philippines aiming for a leisurely life
as a tourist but went to the most remote and poorest areas where
poor farmers, workers, indigenous people, and the urban poor continue
By declaring Sister Pat as an undesirable alien,
President Duterte, in effect, is implying that it is undesirable
to help the poor and marginalized.
He has a twisted concept of sovereignty.
While he invokes sovereignty in the issue of
Sister Pats alleged interference in the
political affairs of the country, he cannot even raise a simple
whimper of protest, and has instead offered the Philippines to be
a province of China.
Sister Pats persistent fight to stay in the country is an
example of enduring struggle for meaningful transformation.
She is a true Filipino by heart whose life is an affirmation of
humility, compassion and love for the poor.
John M. Lozande,
Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura,
Call for Filippino's to
loan agreements with China
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 19 May 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday 17 May
The countrys loan agreements with China for
its infrastructure projects will not entail any collateral, according
to the head of the Duterte administrations economic team,
allaying fears the Philippines will similarly fall into the mainlands
debt trap like other countries,DOF: No collateral
for China loans, In Philippine Inquirer 15
We must think twice.
Think of the Chinese governments invasion of Philippine territories
in the Spratlys and West Philippine Sea.
There is no need for us to see an official document marked collateral
signed by officials concerned.
In the same issue of the Inquirer, and previous issues as well,
we read updates on the aggressive and ominous Chinese military buildup
going on out there on said Philippine territories.
Filipino citizens, think twice!
No need to think a third or fourth time.
Benedictine Sisters of Tutzing,
Malaysian PM Najib Razak
To be held accountable under PM Mahathir
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 18 May 2018
With newly elected PM Mahathir Mohammed's order to
lift the Official Secrets Act seal on the 1MDB, put in place by
former PM Najib Razak, it appears that the former PM Najib Razak
will now finally be held to account ('Malaysia's Official Secrets
Act lifted on 1MDB audit report' The Southeast Asian Times 17/5/18).
Najib is alleged to have transferred US $700 million from the state
fund into his private bank account when he reportedly was Finance
Minister and Chairman of the state fund ( 1MDB ).
From its own investigation the US State Department reckons the amount
involved is as high as $1.7 billion.
It's suspected a $250 million super yacht was bought with that fraudulently
acquired money apart from other upmarket investments in Manhattan
Democratic accountability and the rule of law has regained its rightful
place in Malaysian society.
That is as should be.
In a democracy power is always held to account.
That's what makes a democracy qualitatively different to a dictatorship.
New South Wales
trusted Dr Mahathir
More than they trusted United
Malays National Organisation
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 17 May 2018
First published in the Star, Monday 14 May 2018
The one undeniable conclusion that can be drawn from
the 14th General Election (GE14) is that democracy is alive, well
and maturing in Malaysia. Despite allegations of bias in the various
election machinery, the opposition coalition managed, for the first
time in Malaysias history, to garner sufficient votes and
parliamentary seats to set up a federal government.
Democracy, however, is a multi-faceted creature and travels with
an entourage. Among others, the doctrine of separation of powers,
the rule of law, meritocracy and personal freedoms accompany democracy.
It will be a significant challenge for the incoming ruling coalition
to accommodate these travelling companions while not jeopardising
the fragile balance among the multiracial, multireligious and multicultural
masses which form the Malaysian people.
On the positive side, at the helm of our new government is Tun Dr
Mahathir Mohamad who is probably the man most suited and capable
to successfully pull off this daunting task.
Although touted as the coming of age of Malaysian politics, my personal
view is that a mature democracy is not metamorphosed overnight.
And just to avoid misinterpretations, by mature democracy I mean
a society which is able to accept and adhere to measures enacted
by a democratically elected government even though some or even
a majority of that societys members do not wholeheartedly
agree with these acts or policies.
Thus, once the euphoria of winning a historic victory simmers down
and the real work begins, Dr Mahathir and his cabinet will have
to decide on quite a few sensitive and all too real issues.
An example is to what extent meritocracy will be implemented in
the immediate aftermath.
Please do not get me wrong, I support equal opportunities for all
regardless of race, gender, religion or other differences inherent
in a diverse society such as ours. I also believe that not implementing
m eritocracy fosters laziness, corruption, feelings of disenfranchisement
On the other hand, I also believe that sincere and mutual respect
must be the bedrock upon which a meritocratic society can be built.
Without this respect, the same feelings of disenfranchisement and
intolerance may arise and perceived injustices would result in meritocratic
policies being viewed as oppressive even though the opposite is
So, in implementing meritocracy and other well-developed democratic
policies, the newly elected government must also concurrently seek
to carry out measures which foster sincere mutual respect among
Malaysias diverse society.
It is vital for the development of our democracy that all races,
especially the majority race of the Malays, not be given the impression
that they have paid too high a price to depose of an autocrat.
I acknowledge that in saying this I may be wildly presumptuous and
am underestimating the voting maturity of the majority of the Malays.
If so, I apologise to those who take offence.
Needless to say, as I have a right to an opinion, I also respect
anyones right to civilly disagree with me.
All Malaysians must also bear in mind that although both loose and
formal opposition political coalitions have existed before, none
had been viewed viable enough by a sufficient number of voters to
break the Barisan National stronghold of the federal government.
I would submit that on this occasion, the viability only existed
because of the elderly but brilliant politician leading the coalition.
In truth, Malays trusted Dr Mahathir more than they trusted Umno.
Let us not take one step forward and two steps back in developing
our democratic values.
Let us build a nation which will be, in time, immune to the vagaries
of race, religion and other differences.
Let us not rush self-righteously into the future but tread carefully.
Above all, let us preserve the peace our nation has enjoyed, for
only with continued peace can we concentrate on developing ourselves
and ensuring our nations success.
Ahmad Zaki Ismail,
Call for respect and tolerance
Of non-Muslims in Malaysia
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 16 May 2018
First published in the Star, Monday 14 May 2018
Much has been made of the fact that our seventh Prime
Minister and his wife Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali and the deputy
prime minister are all doctors who appear to have come at the right
time to heal the nation of the many things that have been ailing
In the days and months to come, economists, financiers and business
people will be training their eyes on the fiscal state of the nation
and making recommendations to address the attendant issues.
The newly elected government has promised a slew of measures to
ease the financial difficulties of the rakyat as well as re-examine
mega projects and deals. The lawmakers, meanwhile, are going to
have their hands full with alleged legal and financial transgressions
that have taken place over the past few years.
While all of these are taking place, I sincerely hope the new government
will also pay attention to restoring the heart and soul of the nation.
Close to 13 million people or 82.2 percent of eligible voters turned
out to vote in an election that has changed Malaysias political
Many flew or drove miles to return to vote, and young and old patiently
stood for hours for their turn at the polling booths to elect leaders
that we hope will have the interest of the rakyat at heart.
We hope the leaders we elected will help us rebuild the nation with
a culture that no longer solely emphasises material wealth.
We need our leaders and citizens to work towards the greater good
and with a common sense of purpose.
The amazing outpouring of patriotism, the notion of Bangsa Malaysia
and sense of pride and accomplishment that were seen in writings,
postings and pictures in social media following the announcement
of the results of the elections attest to the joy and hope of everyone
for a new beginning.
Let this be translated into a renewed vigour by every citizen to
work together towards rebuilding Malaysia without race and ethnicity
defining us, backed by policies and programmes to ensure that.
Our doctors in charge will have to inject a large dose of respect
and tolerance as necessary medicine into our society that has in
the last few years seen an erosion of the harmonious and mutually
respectful way of life that we once enjoyed in this multiracial
country of ours.
After the episodes of inter-religious conflicts that have been fuelled
by increasing conservatism and ethno-religious politics, such as
the ban on the use of the word Allah by non-Muslims and harassment
of or attacks on non-Muslim houses of worship, policies and programmes
to improve and promote religious freedom as enshrined in our constitution
will need to be established or improved upon. The new administration
will need to ensure that these policies are on par with international
human rights standards, especially in terms of religious freedom
and the right to religious expression.
In addition, respect and tolerance of sexual diversity and basic
human rights and dignity need to also be practised. Practices such
as the demonisation of transgenders and other sexual minorities
must no longer be tolerated.
While the French national motto of liberty, equality, fraternity
had its origins from the 1848 February revolution, we in Malaysia
have proudly shown the world that the peoples desire for change
can be achieved through a peaceful democratic process.
Fundamental to this desire for change has been the growing concern
and impact of the large income disparity between the rich and poor
and a desire for a just and caring society in which the wealth of
the nation is equitably distributed.
While the need to fix the ever-increasing financial gap is essential
and urgent, other forms of inequality will also need to be addressed.
Equality must be promoted and practised in every aspect of life.
Central to this is to recognise the equality of all individuals
as citizens and as children of God.
Replacing the decades-long race-based policies with one that is
merit-based and favours the poor in general regardless of race or
religion will be one of the biggest challenges the new government
has to face.
Much hope is being pinned on this new administration to right the
wrongs of the last few decades and to rebuild the nation.
However, change can only come if each and every one of us embraces
a new culture that values integrity over dishonesty, excellence
over mediocrity, and hard work over handouts.
Openness, transparency and accountability will be our new essential
medicines. Malaysia has been blessed with an abundance of natural
resources, is free from natural disasters such as earthquakes and
typhoons, and is on a strategic geographic location.
Our diversity is our strength. Let us together move forward to heal
and rebuild the nation and put it back on track to become a developed
nation not just in our economic achievements but also in our moral
substance and values.
Professor Datuk Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman,
Faculty of Medicine
Call for street names
in Port Moresby
of APEC meeting
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 15 May 2018
First published in the National, Thursday 10 May 2018
Despite having lived in this city for over 30 years,
I still do not know the names and locations of some roads and streets.
New roads and streets have been constructed and are in use, but
they do not have names and signpost labels.
Port Moresby, being the nations capital and the gateway into
the country, has fast becoming a modern metropolis and we expect
foreign visitors to increase.
These visitors cannot even find the streets indicated in old city
maps, because they have no signs to mark them.
Even worse are the new ones that have no names.
I understand the city commission, under Governor Parkop and the
city manager, are responsible for these streets and roads.
It is imperative, therefore, that NCDC must promptly set side funding
to have people name and label the streets.
This is in fact a national embarrassment, so the city administration
must act quickly.
Naming and labeling of these modern roads and streets must be prioritised
before the months of August to October.
This is because during that period we expect foreign visitors to
flood the city to witness the Apec meeting in November 2018.
Papua New Guinea
Call for adoption of science
To improve socio-economic status of Malaysia
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 14 May 2018
First published in the Star, Sunday 13 May 2018
The 14th General Election showed that Malaysians are
politically mature and democracy is still very much alive in our
All parties showed responsibility and the Election Commission carried
out its duties satisfactorily according to the law, rules and regulations.
Syabas to the new representatives who have been chosen; those who
lost, please do not lose heart as you have done your part and will
have opportunities in the future.
To the civil servants, continue your efforts to make Malaysia a
I had in a previous letter pleaded for a peaceful campaign and balloting.
At the polling centre at Bangsar, people were very friendly and
the officials on duty carried out their work efficiently.
I would like to ask all the leaders to adopt the spirit of mandelaism,
which I coined in December 2013, and resolve conflicts through perseverance,
tolerance and peaceful negotiations unfettered by past bitterness.
We should continue to adopt science and technology to improve the
socio-economic status of the country together with some old-fashioned
moral and cultural ethics.
I have confidence in the experience and wisdom of Tun Dr Mahathir
Mohamad and his team to manage the country. God bless Malaysia.
President of dissolved
Cambodian opposition CNRM party
Accused of carryng out anti-China campaign
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 12 May 2018
First published in the Khmer Times, 9 May 2018
Sam Rainsy, president of the illegal Cambodia National
Rescue Movement, is misleading the world and discrediting Cambodia
for its fast development.
He is carrying out an anti-China campaign in order to damage the
image of China as well as to challenge the legitimacy of the Cambodian
government, which has cemented close ties with Beijing.
Mr Rainsy is not consistent and does not respect his own words.
In his interview with Phoenix Television in 2014, he said, CNRP
is ally of China.
He even firmly expressed his support of Chinas assertion
of sovereignty over the South China Sea and claimed that
CNRP stands with China.
China is not a threat to Cambodia and the region.
The rising power of China has benefited and will continue to generate
opportunities for the whole region.
Cambodia has an advantage in seizing the opportunities due to the
political trust it has garnered and its geographical proximity to
the economic center of the world. Some concerns over the increasing
economic presence and influence of China in Cambodia are legitimate.
However we need to understand that many Chinese investment projects
generate job opportunities and incomes for our people.
For instance, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) proposed by China
in 2013 is a new catalyst of global growth.
BRI is an inter-continental economic venue for more than 60 countries
to cooperate and connect.
Mr Rainsy has raised concern over the debt service issue.
Lets apply statistics here.
Cambodias debt to GDP ratio remains low at 37 percent in 2017
it is below the average ratio for a developing country that
is at 40 percent.
From 1996 to 2017, the debt to GDP ratio was at 35 percent.
We should not be too much worried that about the fact that 60 percent
of Cambodias debt is owed to China.
This is due to the economic size of China.
Such debt would not make Cambodia to become a province
of China but instead will strengthen the complex interdependence
between both countries.
China has more stakes in Cambodia. Both countries and people will
benefit from a high-stakes bilateral partnership. Historically,
China does not pose any threat to Cambodia.
There is no strong scientific proof that indicates Chinese investments
adversely affect Cambodias ecological balance.
Concerning the hydroelectric power plants, the benefits overweight
the costs. Cambodia needs cheap electric power supply to accelerate
economic growth and of course it needs to compromise a certain degree
of environmental cost. Environmental and social impact assessments
were carried out before constructing the dams. The cost of electricity
has continually dropped to less than 20 cents per KWH.
Energy security is critical for the development of Cambodia and
China is also the main producer of solar panels.
Future cooperation on solar energy will help diversify the sources
of energy of Cambodia.
Chinese investments in Cambodia concentrate on labor-intensive industries
particularly the garment industry which provides about one million
jobs to Cambodian workers.
The current minimum wage is $170 per month.
If a worker wishes to work overtime then he/she will earn nearly
$300 per month. This salary is relatively higher than that of Laos,
Myanmar and Bangladesh.
China has started investing more in the semi-skilled and skilled
Technology and knowledge transfer is taking place, although at a
China has a great source of knowledge to transfer to Cambodia as
it is pursuing an innovation-led development model.
Chinese aid has significantly contributed to the improvement of
the living standard of the local people.
For instance, early this year China pledged to provide 100 Cambodian
children who have congenital heart disease with free surgery in
three years in a programme called China-Cambodia Love Heart
Also every year, China provides about 200 scholarships to Cambodian
students to pursue their higher education in China.
Cambodians should not be afraid of the rising economic presence
and influence of China.
They need to adapt and explore ways to grasp the opportunities stemming
from Chinas economic powerhouse.
Of course to optimize the benefits from China either through
development assistance or trade and investment Cambodia needs
to strengthen its governance and capacity.
Both the public and private sectors in Cambodia need to enhance
their capacity to better grasp the opportunities generated by China,
particularly under the new initiatives such as Belt and Road Initiative
and Mekong-Lancang Cooperation.
Member of Parliament of Cambodia.
for end of exploitation
Of Filipino domestice workers
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 11 May 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday 10 May
Since the Marcos regime, remittances from overseas
Filipinos have grown in volume and value; the benefits of these
inflows to our country cannot be overemphasized.
It must be recalled, however, that the deployment of workers beyond
our shores was started only as a temporary measure during the Marcos
era but the succeeding administrations failed to put a stop to it,
particularly the placement of helpless Filipino women as domestic
helpers in foreign households where culture, values and religion
were alien to them.
Looking back, succeeding administrations after Marcos were blinded
by the dollar sign at the cost of our countrys social fabric.
So what started as a temporary thing is now a permanent fixture
of our socioeconomic life.
Today, no less than 10 million Filipinos - more than half of them
deployed as household help - are sweating it out in foreign lands
to help their families back home to survive.
Undoubtedly, Filipino women working as maids are the most vulnerable
sector. Are our national leaders even aware that there are cultures
in certain parts of the world where a woman, working alone in a
foreign household, is looked down upon with utter contempt?
Given this cultural milieu, is it so difficult to imagine that deploying
our womenfolk to such unfamiliar environment would be tantamount
to sending lambs to the lions den?
Through the years so many horror stories primarily
involving our women overseas workers have been occurring tragically
on a regular basis.
They used to sleep on top of refrigerators; now they are being stored
in them like meat.
President Duterte is on the right track in ordering a deployment
ban to Kuwait.
It is hoped that before Mr. Dutertes term ends, the sending
of Filipino domestic workers overseas, particularly to the Middle
East, would be terminated. I have no doubt that our President could
Jorge B. Osit,
Call for Malaysians not
to vote for
Extremists, deviationists, racists and religious
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 10 May 2018
First published in the Star, Tuesday 8 May 2018
On the eve of polling day for Malaysia's 14th General
Election, we the voters are faced with a major dilemma.
Having had a reasonably and relatively peaceful, stable and successful
country since independence, we now face the dilemma of voting for
either continuity or change in government!
How then do we try to resolve it?
Firstly, since there are little real ideological differences in
the electoral manifestos of the major political parties, we could
fully utilise the power of the peoples vote on the careful
choice of the candidate offered to us.
We should choose only the honest, able, service-oriented and dedicated
candidates with a proven track record.
Secondly, we should reject outright those candidates who are known
to be extremists, deviationists, racists and religious bigots who
have run down other religions in our precious multicultural society.
Thirdly, all those candidates who have said or done anything to
erode national unity should be rejected at the polls without hesitation.
We should vote only for the candidates who aspire to make Malaysia
great, united and moderate, progressive and prosperous and, most
If we follow some of these principles and arguments, and of course
your very own, we the voters will overcome the doubts and fears,
and the dilemmas we face as we prepare to vote tomorrow.
But to choose the right leaders, we have to turn up in full force
and vote wisely.
We all hope that we will have a clean, free and fair election that
will give us pride and maruah (dignity). Jom undi!
Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam,
Asli Chairman of the Centre for Public Policy Studies
Was removal of comfort
women statue due to
Fear of losing Japanese aid to Philippines?
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 9 May 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 4 May 2018
I have never heard of anything more disgusting and
cowardly than the report about the comfort woman
statue, newly installed on Roxas Boulevard, removed after a mere
four months Removal of comfort woman statue
draws protest, in Philippine Inquirer 29 April
The fact that the National Historical Commission, the Manila government
and Tulay Foundation initiated the installation of the statue makes
it laudable indeed.
But the report does not state if those organizations were consulted
before the statue was removed.
On whose orders, and why was it done in the dead of night?
It reminds of the stealthy and nefarious way Ferdinand Marcos
corpse was carted to Libingan ng mga Bayani not long ago.
The German death camps, like those in Auschwitz and Dachau, still
stand in Europe to remind people of war crimes.
Statues on comfort women exist in the United States and some other
places as reminders of atrocities committed by Japan during World
But even though that country has acknowledged its past crimes, it
still has not atoned properly on the matter of the forced prostitution
of women in Asia.
Why is Manila behaving in such a pusillanimous manner?
Or is it just carrying out orders from the Duterte administration
to remove the statue, fearful of losing aid provided by Japan?
The admirable Teresita Ang See and her group need more supporters
to display true patriotism in this country, something which too
many of our officials cannot do. The demand to remove Marcos from
Libingan ng mga Bayani failed.
This time we should all demand that the statue be put back where
Isabel T. Escoda,
the opposition wins the elections
Malaysia will be sidelined from OBOR
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 8 May 2018
First published in the Star, Friday 4 May 2018
IF the Opposition wins:
1. ECRL, TRX, Country Garden and all the China projects will be
halted and Malaysia will be sidelined from OBOR (One Belt One Road).
China will buy more palm oil from Indonesia rather than Malaysia.
Malaysias palm oil industry, after being boycotted by the
EU, will have more problems with Chinas boycott.
Our port industry, especially at West Port and Port Tanjung Pelepas,
will decline and many Malaysians will lose their jobs.
Shipping, logistics and even manufacturing will decline as Malaysia,
strategically positioned between the East and West sea lanes via
the Straits of Malacca, will lose its significance.
It will become cheaper for factories to relocate to Thailand. Industry
4.0 (the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing
technologies) will also take a bad hit, not to mention the DFTZ
(Digital Free Trade Zone).
2. GST will be abolished and the Government will lose a huge income
With Petronas not as formidable as it was in the 1980s, 1990s, and
the first decade of the 2000s, the Government will have to find
alternative income sources.
Privatisation will be increased to sell more assets to friendly
parties via cheap loans guaranteed by the Government.
The national debt will go up like it did in the 1980s and 1990s.
Remember the debt-to-GDP ratio back then?
3. Tolls will be abolished by the Government to buy back (highway)
assets, as Tony Pua has said.
Without oil money, and with China and the Middle East not as strong
as before due to the decline in oil prices (plus, they have been
focusing on their own super projects like Dubai, Qatar and Bahrain)
and with Saudi Arabia also modernising, Malaysia has nowhere to
go except for borrowing money from, say, the United States, while
at the same time privatising other assets.
Without GST, government employees will also be retrenched to work
with corporations, which are already overburdened with high labour
costs, with many moving overseas especially the Chinese tycoons.
So privatisation to cronies to hire these government servants will
only make sense.
Crony capitalism will return where indirect taxes in other forms
like in the 1980s and 90s will return.
Think about it, with the oil subsidy in the 1980s and 90s, the price
of petrol at the pump was three to four times the price of Brent
Now without the oil subsidy, the price ratio of pump to Brent is
only 1.3 times.
If the opposition wins, they will gloss over taxes and call it a
subsidy to hoodwink the rakyat.
4. BR1M will also be abolished and the B40 people (those in the
bottom 40 percent of income) will be encouraged to work hard and
be thankful to newly privatised companies.
However, to be globally competitive, these privatised companies
will have to keep costs low and our high income nation dreams will
Foreign workers will return as in the 1980s and 90s to compete with
locals. Industry 4.0 modernisation, which the whole world is going
through, will not happen in Malaysia.
The NEP (National Economic Policy, affirmative action for bumiputra)
will come back stronger.
Prior to the NEP in 1974, our GDP per capita was only behind Japan
and Singapore in the whole of Asia. But by 2003, our GDP per capita
had become lower than Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
If the opposition takes over, by 2023 we will be behind Thailand,
Vietnam and Indonesia.
This is because as China evolves, its manufacturing costs will be
only 20 percent cheaper than the United States and China-friendly
countries will inherit its low-cost economy. But remember, Malaysia
will not be one of them.
5. All said and done, privatisation and crony capitalism will return,
only that this time there will be little oil money to bail out mistakes.
The only way is to have fake subsidies funded by the rakyat. The
rakyat will suffer but will still clap their hands.
The happiness index will be the key KPI, just like in some countries,
where the poorest people in the world are also the happiest.
Ng Yeen Seen,
Ceo of Centre for Research, Advisory & Technology (CREATE)
Chinese investment in
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 7 May 2018
First published in the Phnom Penh Post, Monday 30 April 2018
Following The Phnom Pen Posts article titled
Hun Sen comes to Chinas defence, praises investment and development
aid (April 26), I would like to make the following remarks.
The main problem with Chinese investments is their complete lack
of transparency, which favours corruption among both Chinese investors
and Cambodian government officials.
These investments generally consist of win-win-lose
arrangements, with the Cambodian people being the silent loser.
Foreign investments are expected to create jobs in the host country,
which is not the case for Chinese investments in Cambodia because
the needed workers are brought from China, where a portion of the
money from the investments therefore returns.
Moreover, transfer of technologies - another benefit normally associated
with foreign direct investment - does not exist.
With the import of Chinese labour, no Cambodian workers are trained
to acquire professional skills and there is no opportunity to develop
the human resources the country badly lacks, as pointed out by Prime
Minister Hun Sen himself as an excuse for the omnipresence of Chinese
The Hun Sen government is therefore developing a vicious circle
that maintains Cambodia in ignorance, poverty and dependence.
We often notice that, when dealing with Hun Sens Cambodia,
China generously gives with one hand but greedily takes back with
the other immediate and disproportionate advantages in the form
of mining, forest and land concessions as well as lucrative risk-free
business contracts, for example in the production of hydroelectricity.
Massive Chinese tourism is organised around Chinese companies and
the remaining money left in Cambodia hardly outweighs the ecological
and social costs incurred by our country.
We know Hun Sen desperately needs Chinas support to help defend
and protect his regime because China does not pay any attention
to the rule of law, democracy and human rights in countries where
By recklessly siding with China just to cling on to power Hun Sen
shows his economic shortsightedness and his lack of consideration
for Cambodias interests.
Former president of the dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party
President of the Cambodia National Rescue Movement
Philippine government attack on sister Patricia Fox
Is an attack on the church of the poor
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 6 May 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Wednesday 2 May
The Damdaming Katoliko sa Teolohiya (DaKaTeo), also
known as the Catholic Theological Society of the Philippines, condemns
the arrest, detention of and deportation order against Sister Patricia
Sister Pat, a 71-year-old regional superior of the international
Catholic congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion, follows
in the footsteps of many foreign missionaries who have chosen to
serve our people and who have shown what it means to be truly in
solidarity with Gods suffering people.
She has been living in the Philippines for the past 27 years.
She headed the formation program of her religious congregation in
the country in 1990.
Sister Pat, who is also a lawyer, has been involved in helping peasant
and tribal communities in their fight for their right to life and
right to land.
Her duty as a religious missionary brought her to places where there
is great oppression and lack of recognition of basic human rights.
She has tirelessly and selflessly dedicated her missionary life
to accompanying the poor and spreading the Gospel of liberation.
To accuse her of engaging in illegal political activities
is to misunderstand the demands that the Gospel of Jesus Christ
compels her and other missionaries to enflesh.
To promote and defend the rights of the poor is an act of evangelization
that is at the heart of the call for Gods Kingdom.
We believe the arrest and detention of Sister Pat is part of a large-scale
crackdown of the government against church people and organizations
that oppose antipoor government policies and that criticize its
dubious human rights record.
The attack on Sister Pat is clearly an attack on the church of the
poor and an attempt to silence dissenting forces against the creeping
authoritarianism and increasingly oppressive policies of the present
We urge the government to step back, respect the democratic space,
and, in the name of religious freedom, let church people do their
prophetic-missionary work for the upliftment and defense of the
dignity of the poor.
Damdaming Katoliko Sa Teolohiya (DaKaTeo)
Development of Port Moresby
At the expense of the rural populace
Southeast Asian Times, Sayturday 5 May 2018
First published in the National, Wednesday 2 May 2018
The Governments focus now is being concentrated
only on developing Port Moresby.
Papua New Guineans have witnessed Port Moresby changing overnight
with huge projects such as sports stadiums, flyovers, bridges, huge
Most of our leaders will say, Port Moresby is the eye and
gateway to Papua New Guinea.
Yes correct, we understand that.
But the question is: Is Port Moresby the entire Papua New Guinea?
Is Port Moresby the only place contributing to the Government purse?
Why are we doing that while our rural populace is still struggling
to see, feel and access basic Government services?
Government service delivery mechanism still has huge gaps to patch.
One example: Our provincial governors received provincial services
improvement programme (PSIP) grants and all MPs received district
services improvement programme (DSIP) grants.
Where is the LLG (LLGSIP) component for all our elected presidents?
Our rural population does not see any changes because the Government
does not give direct funding to our local level governments.
Hanam Bill Sandu,
Papua New Guinea
in Port Moresby and Goroka
Taken over by foreigners
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 4 May 2018
First published in the National, Wednesday 2 May 2018
It would not be a surprise if foreign businesses operating
in Papau New Guinea are operating without an IPA Foreign
Enterprise Certificate but with only the IPA
Company Incorporation Certificate or IPA Business
And, if they have one, then was it given when they had an initial
bank balance of K100,000?
What is the shareholding sharing percentage with the nationals if
any are involved?
It would be interesting to do a massive inspection and auditing
on this right throughout the country.
Send them packing out of the country, and punish those aiders.
I am in Goroka now, and it seems like what is happening in Port
Moresby is also happening here: All the trade stores, tucker shops
and business are taken over by foreigners.
These foreigners should have their visa checked as well.
Foreigners with work visa permits should not do or own businesses
in Papua New Guinea.
Foreigners with dependent visa permits should not get employment,
do businesses or own businesses in Papua New Guinea. Period.
This also includes foreigners doing health businesses in Papua New
Is this how leaders and employees of the Government and business
sector aid foreigners to come and do this in this country?
Dr James Naipao
National Doctors Association
Papua New Guinea
Motive for killing of anti-mining priest
the Philippines is apparent
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 3 April 2018
It quite frankly is sickening to learn that a Catholic
priest, Rev. Fr. Mark Ventura, known as an anti-mining priest, was
shot dead as he was blessing his parishioners at a church service
at a gymnasium in the Phillipines early Sunday morning
( southeast Asians times 1/5/18 ).
Another priest, Fr Marcelito Paez, was similarly executed by unindentified
gunman in December 2017.
The killers might be unindentified but the motive for the killing
is apparent : to silence influential critics of corporate greed
and political patronage.
And, we in the democratic world had come to believe that the Phillipines
was heading towards becoming a good democratic country with the
end of the brutal Marcos dictatorship.
That has not happened, has it?
The saying that the more things change the more they remain the
same seems to apply aptly to this troubled country.
Call for education in forest ecology
Responsible for the destruction of Doi
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 2 May 2018
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday 30 April 2018
Re: "Regime must forget 'face' and do right
thing", in Bangkok Post, Opinion, April 28.
A person doesn't have to be a legal scholar, a judicial expert,
or even a forest ecologist to know what is the "right thing"
to do with respect to the judges' housing complex carved out of
the forest on the lower slopes of Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai.
Even a cursory glance of the aerial photos of the ugly gash inflicted
on the Doi Suthep forest screams, "This is not right!"
This affront to one of the last remaining bits of intact forest
around Chiang Mai should be bulldozed and restored to forest immediately,
and the people responsible for wreaking such destruction should
undergo some basic education on forest ecology and environmental
And, please park the goofy idea of allowing the houses to be occupied
for 10 years and then assessing the situation.
We all know that if these villas are occupied now, they will forever
activists and agrarian reform advocates
Under attack in the Philippines
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 1 May 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 27 April
The Rural Missionaries of the Philippines denounces
the decision of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to forfeit the missionary
visa of our former national coordinator, Sister Patricia Fox, NDS.
Sister Pat has been here in our country for 27 years doing missionary
work with the rural poor.
She has seen the miserable conditions of Filipino farmers, fisherfolk
and indigenous people.
Called by her faith, Sister Pat supported the plight of the rural
poor for genuine agrarian reform.
The decision of the BI is hasty, baseless and unjust.
As a rural missionary, Sister Pat is merely extending her solidarity
with the Filipino rural poor and fulfilling servant leadership through
collective witnessing and prophetic action.
Under the Duterte administration, rural sectors, activists, and
agrarian reform advocates have come under increasing attack.
This is part of the administrations effort to terrorize and
silence those who are speaking up against the worsening state of
human rights in the country and to suppress the growing dissent
of the Filipino people amid antipeople policies of the government.
We rebuke this attack against Sister Pat and against her Christian
We enjoin the Church people and other sectors to stand with Sister
Pat in her plight against this injustice.
Sister Elenita Belardo, RGS,
Rural Missionaries of the Philippines,
be surprised if Marcos propagandists
Join the present Duterte administration
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 30 April 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 27 April
Did you know that as early as the middle 70s,
former president Ferdinand Marcos and his cohorts already considered
him a hero together with Imelda Marcos?
This was done when they were included on the list of heroes in books
published by the Marcos regimes education ministry for the
subject Araling Panlipunan (social studies).
With their pictures, the write-ups about Mr. and Mrs. Marcos were
placed alongside the countrys authentic heroes like Jose Rizal,
Andres Bonifacio, Apolinario Mabini, Marcelo H. del Pilar and Francisco
Textbook writers from the education ministrys home office
on Arroceros Street and later in Palacio del Gobernador in Intramuros
where the Commission on Elections office is now located were
reportedly afraid to defy the order to include the Marcoses in the
roster of heroes of the Philippines, while others readily agreed
to the project to ingratiate themselves to the Palace occupant.
Thats only one scheme where Marcos tried to fool the people,
especially the students.
But these unprincipled people - especially the writers and peddlers
of lies, falsehoods and half-truths - did not succeed in their evil
scheme to mislead the people.
They later reaped the consequences of their bad intentions.
The judgment was very clear.
The Filipino people became fed up with gargantuan cases of corruption,
oppression under a tyrannical rule, wanton disregard for human rights,
freedom, truth and justice, cruelty to opposition leaders and unimaginable
abuses of the dictatorship.
And it happened.
Filipinos staged a peaceful four-day revolution which reverberated
around the world.
On February 22-25, 1986, they ousted the regime which ruled the
country for 20 years, 14 years of which was under dictatorial rule.
And the rest was - and is - history.
The Filipino people became known and acknowledged by the international
community for their contribution to the cause of justice, freedom
and democracy. People power became a byword and
model, especially in Eastern Europe.
What happened to the paid hacks who masqueraded as writers
of textbooks in the public schools?
Many of them became silent and kept a low profile away from public
The thick-skinned among them tried to ingratiate themselves to the
new administration which replaced the unlamented martial law regime.
The cowards sought refuge with the scoundrels.
We wont be surprised if, after their hiatus, they will surface
again and join the present administration.
Pakapalan lang! Nakakahiya!
Eusebio S. San Diego,
Kaguro and former president,
Public Teachers Association,
education is limited to
Cram, jam and pass the exam
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 29 April 2018
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday 27 April 2018
Re: "Education sandbox: Reforming the way
to reform", in Bangkok Post, Opinion, Wednesday
25 April 2018.
Reforming education in Thailand will require removing people who
heads buried in the sand.
In the name of reforms, there is a lot of talk but no "walk
Most Thai state-run schools, colleges and universities still proudly
use the "big brown envelope" approach for face-to-face
The instructors are given brown envelopes by the principal, directors
and deans with the syllabus, teaching instructions, test and exams.
The instructors open the envelopes and teach to the tests, that
too, in a way that half the class goes to sleep. In a nutshell,
Thai education is largely limited to "cram, jam and pass
The educational reforms in Singapore are based on two major factors
- the use
of English language and embedding of Science Technology Engineering
Math (STEM) at all levels and using technology in the delivery of
the curriculum or the
In addition, extensive training of teachers as well the educational
innovation and practices has led to creating a world-class educational
The Singaporean model makes it clear that all teaching and learning
Pride, identity, jobs, careers and success will follow.
Hence, any educational reform in Thailand should focus on the three
major components: the teachers, the curriculum and the mode of delivery
for which competent visionary professionals are needed.
Thailand needs more highly trained teachers in the areas of Science
Technology Engineering Math (STEM) and English.
Thailand 4.0 will require policy makers and teachers with vision,
not bureaucrats with their eyes or heads in the sand.
tourist Island cleanup
not include solutions for stray animals
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 28 April 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Wednesday 25 April
We represent the Aklan Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation
Center (AARRC) based in Kalibo, Aklan. AARRC is a local animal welfare
organization for cats and dogs and we specialize in disabled animals.
Our mission is to serve the community in which we operate by providing
sustainable solutions for stray animals and associated issues.
As far as we are aware, none of the communications about the proposed
Boracay cleanup released so far addresses animal-related issues.
We strongly believe that a cleanup wouldnt be complete without
a sustainable, animal-friendly and effective method of stray animal
Although we have unsuccessfully tried to convince local authorities
of the need for a continuous program, the cleanup will further increase
this need as we expect that a significant portion of migrant workers
leaving the island are going to leave their pets behind.
In cooperation with the Philippine Pet Birth Control Center Foundation
and other welfare organizations, as well as local government units,
we intend to organize a spay/neuter/vaccinate/deworm program that
efficiently addresses issues related to stray animals.
However, the clearly earmarked animals that go through our program
should not be harmed or detained by the local authorities because
this will jeopardize the continuity of the program.
In addition to this program, we also intend to rescue a number of
dogs and cats for adoption at a later time.
Our request to you is two-fold: Firstly, we implore you to consider
promoting the only proven and efficient method of stray animal population
control, spay/neuter, which in combination with vaccination and
deworming, will form the basis for future work and a healthy future
for both animals and residents and visitors to the island. We offer
to help organize and implement this program in cooperation with
the cleanup authorities.
In return we ask that the animals in our program be exempt from
capture and euthanasia by local authorities to safeguard the continued
participation of both foreign and national sponsors.
Secondly, to be able to help the cleanup effort, our people all
based in Aklan and helpers will likely require occasional access
to the island and we ask for your cooperation in granting them this
Michel J.L. Van Der Kleij,
Aklan Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Center,
Sisters cannot comprehend
capitulating sovereignty to China
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 27 April 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday 26 April
We, the Missionary Benedictine Sisters of the Manila
Priory and the academic community at St. Scholasticas College,
express our deep concern over the disturbing events happening in
our country that pose a serious threat to the democratic and moral
foundations of our society.
We protest the continued killings, mostly of poor people in relation
to the war against drugs even after the change in command of the
Philippine National Police.
We are ashamed of the invectives spewed by President Duterte against
international bodies and officials who have expressed concern over
these killings, and those who have declared their intent to investigate
them in the performance of their duties.
We are alarmed at the suppression of dissent, critique and opposition
in the following cases:
The unjust detention of Sen. Leila de Lima using fabricated evidence
and testimonies of compromised witnesses.
The impeachment case filed against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno
without citing any impeachable offense and the attempt to unseat
her unconstitutionally through quo warranto.
We are appalled by the disrespect for the law by those who are supposed
to enforce and protect it.
The attempt to silence Rappler through the withdrawal of its license
to operate and by the discrimination against its reporter.
The recurring threats against Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales.
And lately, the arrest and detention of Sister Patricia Fox who
has spent over 27 years in the Philippines helping to protect the
rights of the poor especially the farmers.
We cannot comprehend how a supposedly independent foreign
policy has our government virtually capitulating sovereignty
over the West Philippine Sea to China.
We strongly oppose the changing of our Constitution through a constituent
assembly and without thorough study, especially of provisions that
would repeal the protection of our patrimony.
We unite with all freedom-loving citizens in standing up to oppose
these threats to democracy and the erosion of our moral fabric.
Sister Mary Francis Dizon,
OSB President St. Scholastica's College,
Sister Adelaida Ygrubay,
OSB Prioress Missionary Benedictine Sisters
means giving important jobs
To your pals
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 26 April 2018
First published in the Bangkok Post, Tuesday 17 April 2018
Re: "Cronyism 'typical'?"
in Bangkok Post, Friday 13 April 2018
Khun Korn Chatikavanij said, "First, we need to establish
that governments are in power to do a job and the civil service
is the manpower it needs to use to effect its policies".
Surely you must have excluded Yingluck's government?
Two weeks before the coup, the Constitutional Court sacked Yingluck,
then caretaker prime minister, and nine of her ministers for
"improperly" sacking National Security Council secretary-general
About the meaning of "cronyism", I think Khun Korn
is too picky.
It is generally accepted that the word means the practice of giving
important jobs to your pals, siblings, including people you can
trust, regardless of their qualifications.
The Ati Negritos are the victims
Of Boracay tourist Island habitat destruction
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 25 April 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Saturday 21
In recent weeks, much has been written about the environmental
disaster borne out of greed wrought on tourist magnet Boracay.
We would like to point out one aspect that, thus far, seems to have
been minimally discussed.
The Ati Negritos, the original inhabitants of the island, are primary
victims of the habitat destruction and pollution in this location
and it has become increasingly difficult for them to make a decent
living the traditional way.
In 2012, the Ati were awarded a certificate of ancestral domain
title, comprising of a plot of a mere 2.1 hectares in Barangay Manoc-Manoc.
However, this tiny piece of land is not only insufficient to cater
to the communitys needs, encroachments on it also have continued
to take place.
A win-win solution could be giving what is left of the islands
public timber lands Philippine Indigenous Communities Conserved
Areas (ICCA) status. This would imply, that the Ati community is
made the steward of these lands.
In this capacity they could help conserve the natural resources
therein, with actual use limited to light traditional
occupations, such as the gathering of wild foods, medicinal herbs
and other nontimber forest products.
This is not a new idea.
Way back in 2012, during the Dimgo Ke Eata Ribo
cultural revival festival and development forum held in Malay, Aklan,
a senior officer of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources
suggested exactly this option.
Now appears to be the right time for considering implementation.
Conchita C. Calzado,
Melvin R. Guilleno,
National program coordinator,
Sentrong Pagpapalakas ng Negritong Kultura at Kalikasan,
missionary, Sister Patricia Fox
of Philippine political persecution
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 24 April 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Sunday 22 April
The Church in the Philippines lives in perilous times
as an increasing number of clergy, religious and church workers
face unspeakable violence and whose rights are violated by President
Church people who join the pilgrimage of poor communities and support
their struggle for justice, peace and human dignity suffer state-perpetuated
The assault against Sister Patricia Fox, who is an Australian religious
missionary and the regional superior of Our Lady of Sion Sisters
in the Philippines, is the most recent blow against church workers
and religious institutions.
For the past 27 years, she has immersed herself in the arms of the
toiling Filipino masses and worked hand-in-hand with farmers, supporting
through her prayers and selfless service their struggle for land
Sister Pat, as she is known in the ecumenical community, was illegally
arrested by elements of the Bureau of Immigration at her residence
in Quezon City.
She was detained for two days, from April 16 to 17, following allegations
of her participation in political actions against the Philippine
The soft-spoken and good-natured missionary nun was released, following
strong condemnation from faith communities, human rights defenders,
and members of civil society groups and peoples organizations.
We cannot comprehend why church people become targets of political
When has it become a crime to accompany the poor and the oppressed
in their struggle?
When has it become a crime to preach the words of God and live out
the works of Christ?
Recent events manifest a systematic state-sponsored attack on church
Last December. 4, Catholic priest Marcelito Paez was killed after
facilitating the release of a political prisoner.
On May 11, 2017, Iglesia Filipina Independiente Bishop and peace
advocate Carlo Morales was arrested, detained for nearly a year,
and was recently released upon the granting of his bail plea.
We hold the Duterte administration accountable for the many cases,
documented or otherwise, on the persecution of church people.
We demand that this administration stop the increasing and increasingly
hostile attempts at silencing church people who accompany those
that experience far greater historical and structural injustices.
We call upon all Christians and people of good will to boldly resist
state violence and political oppression, and continue to stand up
for and work in solidarity with the poor, deprived and oppressed,
so that justice and peace may reign and life, in all its sanctity
and dignity, can be enjoyed.
Bishop Deograacias S. Iniguez Jr.,
Rt. Rev. Felixberto L. Calang, IFI.,
Ecumenical Bishops Forum
Philippine president Duterte
Given royal treatment in China
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 23 April 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 20 April
In light of the presence of the Chinese in the West
Philippine Sea, the royal treatment accorded
President Duterte during his recent visit to China brings to mind
Francisco Balagtas Florante at Laura that
I learned in high school:
Kung ang isalubong saiyong pagdating ay masayang mukhat
may pakitang giliw,
lalong pakaingatat kaaway
na lihim siyang isaisip na
It wasn't the Chinese who said
Chinese and dogs not allowed
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 22 April 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 20 April
This is regarding the Inquirers headline, "China
military planes land on Philippines reef" 18 April
President Duterte said it does not make sense ruining our relationship
with China as the Chinese are our friends.
Really, what is the sense in challenging China while it lands planes
in some territory that it claims as its own?
Yet, we allow the United States, Japan, Australia, Russia, India
and many other countries to anchor in our ports.
China and the Chinese have been our friends since years back.
Many other races have inflicted hardships, murder, rape, slavery
and other crimes upon us.
The Chinese in our country were also victims.
Whoever said: Chinese and dogs not allowed or
Filipinos and dogs not allowed?
Certainly, not the Chinese.
By pursuing an independent foreign policy, we are a friend to everybody
and we get aid from China, the United States, Japan, Australia and
We need all the help to improve our lives and make our internal
security strong, for as long as the aid has no strings attached.
Antonio E Sotelo,
Retired Lietenant General,
May the best candidate
Win in the Malaysian elections
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 20 April 2018
First published in the Star, Tuesday 17 April 2018
As a former senior civil servant (secretary-general,
Transport Ministry) and thus like all members of the G25, I humbly
congratulate my former colleagues warmly for their excellent letter
Current reality in Malaysian politics in The
Star, April 16.
I sincerely believe that the deep patriotic and nationalistic sentiments
expressed in the G25s timely message have the full support
of most former and current civil servants, the armed forces and
police, other uniformed services and members of the entire public
service like teachers and those under the big Cuepacs umbrella.
Indeed, the vast majority of the 1.6 million public servants would
surely support fully the brave message from G25, which has appealed
to all eligible voters to come in full force to vote.
This clarion call is particularly pertinent as we, Malaysian citizens,
have a great opportunity to exercise our sacred duty to vote wisely
instead of, as some plan to do, irresponsibly wasting or spoiling
our precious votes.
Too many Malaysians also just grumble and wont vote.
Please do so and feel better for it!
G25 has requested employers to liberally grant leave to their employees
to encourage them to vote.
This is essential as the Election Commission (EC) has made it somewhat
difficult for voters by not holding election day on a Saturday to
help the out-of-town voters to cast their votes.
The business sector must also realise that they can only prosper
if there is an able government with good governance.
So please do your part to make sure that we all get the best, honest,
efficient and compassionate government for all Malaysians regardless
of race or religion.
G25 has also urged the Election Commission (EC) to be free and fair
in conducting General Elections 2014 (GE14).
Already, the Election Commission (EC) has created some public doubts
with their latest redelineation exercise, the choice of Wednesday
for election day and inability to reduce or erase some public concerns
of possible malpractices on polling day.
As G25 has well cautioned, international and local observers will
watch with eagle eyes all the happenings at the polling stations
and maybe the EC itself too.
So lets work hard for legitimate election results to justify
a legitimately elected government that we can all be proud of.
G25 has already mentioned the need to restore confidence
in the future of the country as a stable and mature democracy.
Will GE14 be able to restore this confidence?
G25 has called for all political parties to avoid exploiting
the issues of race and religion.
Any candidate who stoops so low as to use racial and religious sensitivities
for their parochial political gain should be rejected by the voters.
This will teach irresponsible politicians and candidates a good
lesson and enable us to show that Malaysians are now mature.
We all, especially youths, have a special responsibility to do good
on this matter.
G25 also called upon the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC)
and police to ensure that all candidates obey the law in their campaigns.
This is vital as any disrespect for the law can lead to lawlessness
and even instability, which can seriously affect the social sustainability
and unity of our beloved country.
As an honorary commissioner of the MACC, I would also stress the
need for the Commission to effectively combat and control money
This alone could corrupt the whole election process and distort
or destroy the whole foundation of our electoral system.
The MACC and police must be more determined to fight money politics
and any corruption or bad practices during the elections.
GE14 provides the best opportunity weve had so far to strengthen
the growth and development of a more meaningful two-party
electoral system that is less race- and religious-based.
There should therefore be more national socio-economic and political
structural issues to debate and discuss during the election campaigning.
We have to ensure that the best candidates are elected to serve
our people fairly and justly and on a sustainable basis.
We hope and pray that we will all strive to fulfil the amanah which
the Almighty has blessed us with to do our duty to fully support
the G25 stand and message to serve God, King, country and our Malaysian
society to the best of our abilities.
May the best candidates, political parties and promises prevail.
And God bless Malaysia!
Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam,
Asli Chairman of Public Policy Studies,
Who is the real thief ?
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 19 April 2018
First published in the Bangkok Post, Tuesday 17 April 2018
Re: "A thief is a thief",
in Bangkok Post Friday 13 April 2018
Jack Gilead tried to claim that China is as greedy as the UK, by
forcibly marched uninvited into Tibet in the 50s."
Can J Gilead answer me who invited the Briton to cross the ocean
to usurp India
also the Australian continent, Falkland island, Gibraltar, etc.?
While Tibet has been a part of China off and on for thousands of
wasn't long ago when British troops lead by Col Francis Younghusband
into Tibet of course uninvited after occupying India.
In the process,
thousands of innocent Tibetans who only had ancient weapons to defend
themselves were slain.
Can J Gilead answer me who is the real satanic thief is, China or
Call for learning centre to teach Thai
In opposition to self determination
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 18 April 2018
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday 13 April 2018
Re: "Army chief: Turn Doi Suthep complex
into learning centre", in Bangkok Post Wednesday
11 April 2018
I like army chief Chalermchai Sitthisad's suggestion that the "housing
for judicial officials at the foot of Chiang Mai's Doi Suthep be
The most appropriate learning centre is one devoted to teaching
of the supreme pillar of the Thai nation from which all other laws
and institutions derive their legitimacy, the constitution, and
the sad history thereof at the hands of those opposed to the Thai
people determining their form of society and its government as though
they were a free people.
indigenous communities attacked by military
Under the guise of Oplan Kapayapaan.
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 17 April 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday 9 April
Agriculture paved the way for the civilization of
the world, but without land tillers, it would be impossible to cultivate
millions of hectares of lands to produce food and materials that
sustain the world until today.
Yet, no matter how essential lands are in producing and sustaining
the necessities of the people, farmers are not given equal importance
in order to enjoy their rights as land tillers, at least in the
Seven out of 10 farmers still remain landless due to land monopoly
by oligarchs and landlords.
Lands tilled for agriculture are either in the form of haciendas
owned and operated by landlords and politicians, or owned by foreign
investors as plantations.
Thus, farmers continue to be farmworkers, silently enduring the
low wage from farming and high debt from usurers and their landlords.
Further, when farmers start to collectivize themselves and push
for their right to land and just compensation, they end up being
tagged as rebels or allies of the New Peoples Army, hence
killing them is so easy.
A current study of human rights group Karapatan has documented 126
victims of extrajudicial killings as of December 2017; 110 of them
were peasants and leaders. The majority of these killings happened
Various human rights violations were also filed such as illegal
arrest, torture, forcible evacuation, threat, harassment, and intimidation.
There are also cases of indiscriminate firing and forced/fake surrender
of farmers as rebels.
Indigenous communities are also affected due to militarization.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines is the primary force of counterinsurgency
in Mindanao, attacking peasant and indigenous communities under
the guise of Oplan Kapayapaan.
All these violations are seen as the governments tack to secure
lands for local and foreign investors and to pave the way for foreign
loans from international financial institutions for President Dutertes
Build, build, build infrastructure program.
The infrastructure projects will require thousands of hectares of
lands to be converted, thus displacing more farmers and indigenous
peoples in Mindanao.
Using the rights-based approach, all these cases clearly violate
human rights using its three principles - respect, protect, fulfill.
As a duty-bearer, the government has the obligation to refrain and
prevent others from interfering with the enjoyment of the rights
of the people.
The government also has to adopt appropriate measures toward the
full realization of the peoples rights.
But with the present administration, the state vividly prevents
the farmers to enjoy their rights.
Economically, farmers are still deprived of their land, and their
wages are still low. Socially, they cannot access basic services
due to inadequate government services especially in rural places.
Politically, they are silenced when they voice out their needs and
demands to call out for adequate support.
They are robbed of self-determination, human rights, and social
The vicious cycle of a farmers life must be stopped.
A farmers life is not a toy that can be played with by a powerful
entity any time.
A farmers life is precious as it sustains the people of the
If they die and cease to exist, who will feed us in the future?
for inclusion of environmental conservation
In Malaysia's general election
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 16 April 2018
First published in the Star, Friday 13 April 2018
We would like to remind the leaders of every political
party in this country to include environmental conservation in their
election manifestos for the 14th General Election.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by 193 countries
including Malaysia in September 2015 at the United Nations Summit
encompass environmental, social and economic dimensions.
These are now considered as universal goals for development and
indicators of a countrys wellbeing.
We believe that environmental conservation deserves greater emphasis
in your aspirations for our country.
Sustainable development should be a goal that ensures a win-win
situation in the environmental, social and economic dimensions.
By telling voters of your aspirations and plans for sustainable
development in Malaysia, you will allow them to make informed decisions
about their candidates.
Please recognise the environmental aspirations of the citizens of
Malaysia, especially the youth, by including these concerns in your
party manifesto and also ensuring that they are given top priority
to ensure sustainable development for current and future generations.
Also, please inform voters how you will work towards realising these
aspirations in the first 100 days of successfully forming the next
Malaysia is recognised as one of the top 12 countries in the world
Blessed with tropical rainforests, mangroves, peatland and montane
forests, Malaysia is ranked fourth in the world for having the most
Our surrounding seas are important parts of the Coral Triangle,
which contains more than 75 percent of the worlds known coral
Our biodiversity is certainly one of the reasons why many tourists
come to Malaysia.
As we all know, humans cannot survive without nature.
While development is meant to improve our standard of living and
grow our economy, unsustainable development will inadvertently destroy
the very element that provides the services we take for granted
such as our clean air, fresh water, food and protection against
In the end, we would be left worse than expected.
But this need not be the case.
We must aim to achieve development in a sustainable way to balance
our aspirations for economic growth without compromising our natural
capital (environmental assets, social systems, cultural resources).
Only then can we ensure higher standards of living for our current
and future generations.
In the absence of sustainable development and without proper protection
of nature, the risks of flash flood, air pollution, landslides,
shortage of clean water resources and expanding urban heat islands
We have already seen instances of this happening and the frequency
and intensity will only get worse due to the pressures of increasing
population and changing climate.
The forests, wetlands and oceans play vital roles in providing food,
nutrients and recreational space for humans, regulating the climate
and buffering against extreme weather.
We are putting forth this appeal in a neutral and non-partisan manner
on behalf of our supporters your constituents.
They expect us to engage with the political system to advocate sustainable
development and to urge political leaders to make this a priority
above party politics.
Announce to the voters your aspirations and plans for sustainable
development in Malaysia and allow them to make informed decisions
with their votes.
Civil Society Organisations for Sustainable Development Goals (CSO)-SDG)
Alliance Ecocentric Transitions
Environmental Protection Society Malaysia
Friends of Sarawak Museum
Hunger Hurts Malaysia
Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP) Spiral
Malaysian Nature Society
Reef Check Malaysia
Sabah Women's Action Resource Group
Sabah Environmental Trust
Sabah Wetlands Conservation Society
Sarawak Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
Society for the Promotion of Human Rights
Treat Every Environment Special (TREES)
Wetlands International Malaysia
fine saving the environment
don't people's livelihoods matter
The Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 15 April
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday 12 April
In dealing with Boracay and the aftermath - feared
chaos, massive layoffs, business losses - we ought not to forget,
as Lon L. Fuller said, that:
government is a human
affair, and that men are ruled, not by words on paper or by abstract
theories, but by other men. They are ruled well when their rulers
understand the feelings and conception of the masses. They are ruled
badly when that understanding is lacking.
Here we know what conquering former generals Roy Cimatu and Eduardo
Año, and their commander in chief want.
Have they factored in what Boracays poor masses, local officials,
and civic, business and religious leaders, want?
What they want, hardly reported, should have been factored in to
avoid another confusing fire-aim-ready decision.
Its fine to save the environment but dont peoples
lives, livelihood and well-being also matter?
Given what President Duterte does in thrashing the Chief Justice,
no local court in a terrorized judiciary would meddle.
Absent the reign of terror, a tough and fair-minded judge could
have patiently guided the parties to an expedited win-win solution,
not one imposed by outsiders or dayo.
On the timing for instance, maybe closure should not be on April
26 but a few months later so everyone would have a chance to adjust
and avoid unemployment and starvation, or resort to crime - survival
is the first law of mankind - and bankruptcy.
A truly independent judiciary can decide on the least restrictive
alternative to arrive at the greatest good for the greatest number.
In his mythopoetic The Case of the Speluncean Explorers,
Fuller also said: I must confess that as I grow older
I become more and more perplexed at mens refusal to apply
their common sense to problems of law and government.
So if I may ask, with Mareng Winnie Monsod, How was close-Boracay
decision made? in Philippine Inquirer 7 April 2018, "Get
forged between New Mexico National Guard
And Philippine Scouts are unbreakable
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 14 April 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday 12 April
My name is James Alderman, a retired American soldier
living in Bacolod City with my Filipino wife, Lynn, since 2009.
Ramon Farolans column, Bataan revisited 4
September 2018, was true and factual. I have read Stanley Falks
The only thing I disagree with is what he wrote in the final paragraph.
Farolan is perhaps unaware that the US Army does remember Bataan
and Corregidor. Perhaps the largest ceremony outside the Philippines
takes place at White Sands in New Mexico every year.
The Death March is reenacted through the desert and almost every
major unit in the US Army sends participants.
Last year over 23,000 people, soldiers and civilians took part.
I took part in two of these marches while I was assigned in Fort
The Philippine Scouts are honored with a statue at the main entrance
to White Sands.
The bonds forged between the 146th Coast Artillery Regiment of the
New Mexico National Guard and the Philippine Scouts are unbreakable.
We do remember the humiliating defeat.
Pearl Harbor would be another example.
From the ashes of total defeat comes a stronger bond and lessons
learned in order to not let it happen again.
Why shouldn't the Pacific Islands
Have Chinese military bases?
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 13 April 2018
If China is to build a military base in Vanuatu (as
is being claimed by Australia)
then it shows Vanuatu and indeed other Pacific island countries
have wisened up and no longer put their eggs in one basket, the
basket of the surrogate of their European colonial rulers in the
Australia is guided by its own national interest in the adoption
of its foreign policy. Why shouldn't small Pacific island countries
do the same in the post colonial era?
What gives the Australian state the right to bitch about who is
building a military base where?
rice farmers call for food security
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 12 April 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday 9 April
We, small Filipino rice farmers, call on the government
to immediately incease the support price for palay to enable the
National Food Authority, the alternative buyer of our produce, to
ensure sufficient buffer stocks, and to reduce dependency on rice
Palay support price is the governments guarantee for a fair
return of our little investment.
Yes, the current farm gate price of palay may be high but the harvest
of many from our ranks is procured at a lower price as loan payments
to traders - the real benefactors of this price escalation.
We are not delighted at the present high retail price of rice in
the market since we are also at the losing end as consumers.
As a result of inflation, we also suffer from the erosion of our
In Indonesia, for example, rice farmers are assured of a fair price
of their produce through a government support price that is higher
than the prevailing world market price.
Its government also subsidizes the price of farm inputs and provides
budget for research and development, infrastructure and credit.
President Duterte is pursuing an aggressive infrastructure investment
under the Build, build, build program.
Soldiers and the national police, other public sector employees
including Cabinet officials and legislators, have benefited from
salary increases (and relief from income taxes), while minimum wage
earners from the private sector are free from income taxes resulting
in an increase of their take-home pay.
Yet we, in the farming sector, are deprived of the same preferential
attention from the government.
Our country must not just rely on the kindness of neighbors and
other developed countries for our food security. Instead of spending
taxpayer money on projects that benefit only a few, the government
should not ignore farmers.
There has to be adequate farm funding and other farmer support programs
to increase income and consequently improve the countrys food
Pursue food security through food self-sufficiency!
Increase the government support price of palay from P17 to P22 per
Implement policies to reduce cost of production and price of farm
Edwin Y. Paraluman,
Philippine Farmers Advisory Board,
General Santos City,
for Malaysia's politicians to return
To the fold of country and nation first
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 11 April 2018
First published in the Star, Monday 9 April 2018
I wrote a letter to the editor on December 11, 2012
to urge political leaders and eligible citizens of Malaysia to campaign
peacefully so that the old and young could cast their votes in the
13th General Election without any fear.
In the short time of about six years, the mode and spirit of campaigning
has evolved from the festive-style atmosphere back then to the rancorous
events of the present where opposing sides hurl personal assaults
against each other.
The democratic process we have been practising has been taken to
the streets. Political speeches are no longer subtle and light-hearted
but threatening and vulgar, especially at branch level.
Leaders of all political parties and their lieutenants who intend
to deliver speeches in public should be reminded that 99 percent
of Malaysians are literate and are now exposed to news from multiple
sources, including from outside the country.
It is time the egoistic characters return to the fold of country
and nation first.
The mature leaders must remind themselves and their over-zealous
spokespeople to use respectable words and phrases and that the election
campaign is not war or a fight with enemies.
Its a once-in-five-years opportunity for the rakyat
to choose a leader whom they think is fit to govern the country.
Try to campaign with dignity this GE14.
It doesnt mean campaign speeches have to be mundane or delivered
I am for a boisterous gathering myself but speeches must be factual
and stay within the political arena.
Do not cook up tales that hurt innocent people.
There are so many issues of importance to the people and the environment
to talk about, including food (availability, affordability and accessibility),
health, education, income disparity, environmental destruction,
sensible spiritual guidance and so on. Peaceful campaigns also reflect
the intellectual nature and maturity of the party and candidates.
I pray for justice and peace, and all the best to the parties that
put the rakyat before self.
A. Mustaffa Babjee,
for Thai PM to look into threats made
Over posting of ancient kings wearing pollution
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 10 April 2018
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday 9 Apr 2018
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha should look into
the case in which the Chiang
Mai governor has threatened the editor of a Chiang Mai magazine
charges - for posting on Facebook a student's painting of ancient
Most Chiang Mai people regard the editor in this case as one of
He has been fighting for the preservation of the city as a peaceful
locality as well as a popular tourist attraction.
Chiang Mai governors are appointed by the central government.
They come and go as per the government's command.
Hence unavoidable misunderstandings and conflicts sometimes occur
between the governor and locals.
The government should be reminded that governors are transitory;
while we the
people of the city are destined to die here - along with our children
With that said, the government should be careful not to allow the
misunderstanding between the city governor and the local citizens
into a large-scale conflict.
Thai ancient kings today
Might appreciate wearing masks
The Southeast Asian Times, Monday 9 April
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday 8 April 2018
Re: "Magazine sued for 'blasphemous' kings
painting", in Bangkok Post, March 31.
Chiang Mai governor Pawin Chamniprasat said that the Three Kings
"very sacred", but other than in obligatory state-sponsored
rituals, older Lanna
folk may not choose to propitiate this site in preference to others.
Designed by a Bangkok-based artist and inaugurated in 1970, the
monument represents a Bangkok version of Lanna history.
King Ramkhamhaeng is depicted on the auspicious north side in accordance
with his perceived senior status, his right hand gesturing as if
The apparel of the three kings portray them as akin to Devas before
might become mere specks of dust, probably of less than 2.5 microns
many float around the city these days. Like many of the city's residents,
the kings alive, they might appreciate having masks.
standard of workers in Malaysia
Due to wage stagnation
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 8 April 2018
First published in the Star, Saturday 7 October 2018
I refer to the letter More guides for workers
in The Star, April 4.
I would like to thank the writer for the thorough overview of the
initiatives undertaken by the National Institute Of Occupational
Safety And Health (NIOSH) to ensure the safety of workers, particularly
those in the construction industry.
I believe that if accidents in the workplace continue to occur despite
all the good and appropriate steps taken by the authorities, then
they must be due to the workers own disregard for their personal
This could mean that the standard of workers is lower now that it
was in the past, a situation brought about by wage stagnation.
A contractor will now get lower quality workers rather than pay
The person himself /herself must have the first line of defence.
A worker must be able to judge when the situation is safe for him,
and thereby determine whether he can or cannot do a job.
He can refuse to do the task if he feels it would put his life in
Workers who both need the money and also want to live will take
any job without considering their personal safety.
Employers will take advantage of this situation.
Language skills here are crucial.
A person cannot value his life unless he/she has good language skills.
By the same token, an employee, and an employer too, cannot understand
the instruction unless he/she understands the language.
Although courses are conducted for employers and employees on safety
measures to be undertaken while at work, is the course instructor
sure that his/her audience has sufficient language skills to understand
the information being delivered to them?
It is possible that most workers just nod in approval, get on with
the work and so get their pay even though they havent really
understood what has been said.
Punishment is also crucial.
A good one makes the culprit understand the gravity of his/her offence
and make him decide never to commit the offence again.
Contractors and sub-contractors who do not meet safety standards
as directed by the relevant authorities and thereby endanger the
lives of their workers, while also compromising the quality of the
work they do, should be instructed to do the same work they told
their workers to do, for a certain time under the same conditions
This should give them a feel of the situation and make them learn
to treat their workers with respect, justice, and consideration.
Police reports on extrajudicial killings
be admitted in Philippine court
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 6 April 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday 6 April
On behalf of the petitioners and all family and kin
of victims, CenterLaw thanks the Supreme Court for rejecting Solicitor
General Jose Calidas appeal to rescind its 5 December 2017,
order requiring the submission of official police reports on the
killings of drug suspects during the implementation of Oplan
This is an important step in the search for accountability for the
extrajudicial killings (EJKs) in the Tokhang operations.
We are fortified by this triumph of the rule of law.
The Supreme Court has demonstrated with this initial order that
it will perform its role as our peoples beacon and bastion
We hope that the information that will be gathered from these documents
will help not only the families of EJK victims, but more importantly
the authorities, to file the necessary cases against those responsible
for the killings.
The information the Court requires the Philippine National Police
(PNP) to submit are what it is actually required to produce under
the PNPs own Manual of Operations.
These are no national security documents.
These are documents meant to ensure that the PNPs officers
and men faithfully comply with the rules of due process and the
human rights of the subjects of their future operations.
In fact, these are documents that loved ones of anyone killed during
police operations are entitled to have under the PNPs own
It is in the best interest of the PNP and its top officers to comply
with the Courts order, if only to show that the government
is willing and able to prosecute unlawful deaths arising from Tokhang
We hope that this will start the police in doing what it should
be doing for each and every crime, regardless of the perpetrators.
CenterLaw trusts that this directive by the Supreme Court will help
save lives and promote the rights of the Filipino people.
Center for International Law (CenterLaw)
of racial and religious discrimination rejected
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 6 April 2018
First published in the Star, Wednesday 4 April 2018
There have been reports about Malaysians using racial
and religious discrimination to seek asylum in other countries after
failing to fulfil the stipulated immigration conditions for permanent
Their claims of racial and religious discrimination are lame excuses
as there are many Indian, Chinese and other races holding senior
positions in government and public organisations in Malaysia.
You can find mosques, churches, and Indian and Chinese temples everywhere
here for people to practise their religious beliefs freely.
So how can these people claim that they are being discriminated
against because of their race or religion?
I agree that there are some extremists here who have uttered discriminatory
remarks on religion and race but these are in the minority and their
views are rejected by the majority of the population.
There are a few extremists advocating white supremacy in the United
States of America and Australia, so are we going to believe that
there is widespread racial discrimination in these countries?
There are many Malaysians with vast experience in their profession
who have migrated to countries like Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
Unable to obtain jobs in the same field in their adopted country,
they cried discrimination even though the real reason might be because
their experiences were not relevant.
A senior bank manager with vast experience in Malaysia may have
to start as a junior executive in his or her adopted country in
order to acquire the necessary local experience to become a senior
Similarly, a senior Malaysian advertising executive may face the
same problem obtaining a senior position in Australia.
This is not discrimination. .
Those who use racial or religious discrimination in Malaysia as
grounds to obtain permanent residence in other countries should
I know a few people who were holding good jobs in other countries
who have returned to Malaysia for good.
They are highly educated professionals who would not have returned
if there was widespread racial and religious discrimination here.
Signaled the legitimacy of the Moro
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 5 April 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday 2 April
As our forefathers did five decades ago, the Moro
youth and students vow to continue the fight for the right to self-determination
in defense of the Bangsamoro, even as the government continues to
disregard the civil and political rights of the Moro people and
wages wars that destroy peoples lives and communities.
Akin to the Jabidah massacre on March 18, 1968, and a long list
of mass killings by the Marcos regime, the Moro people - the Maranao
in particular - were subjected to the same situation: Marawi City
was bombed incessantly by the military under the pretext of capturing
Our fellow Maranao were subjected to various human rights violations
such as extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, illegal
arrests, forced evacuations, and their houses and properties destroyed
The Jabidah massacre reminds us of how the Philippine government
plotted the taking of Sabah, through a covert military operation
-Oplan Merdeka- that used the Moro youth as soldiers
to stage an attack that would claim Sabah.
Defying the operation, these youth were killed and evidence of the
operation were covered up.
The Jabidah massacre signaled the legitimacy of the Moro people
to take up arms in defense of their communities and people, and
wage the struggle for right to self-determination.
As the government continues to commit wars and a genocidal campaign,
the fervor to continue the arm struggle intensifies.
The massacre that happened decades ago paved the way for the rebirth
of the Moro peoples armed struggle, and the present situation
of the Bangsamoro might again ignite the need to revolt.
We must be reminded of the tragedy and significance of the Jabidah
massacre in the history of the Moro struggle and the challenges
that lay ahead of us.
Let us continue to fight amid martial law in Mindanao and the governments
bogus war against terrorism.
Justice must mean liberation of the Bangsamoro from discrimination,
land-grabbing, militarization, and national oppression. Justice
must mean our right to self-determination.
League of Filipino Students,
Mindanao State University (MSU)
Thai Lese Majeste law
Anti-smog campaign in Chiang Mai
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 4 April 2018
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday 2 April 2018
Re: "Magazine sued for 'blasphemous' kings
painting", in Bangkok Post, Saturday 31 March 2018
Yet again the knee jerk reaction in Thailand to any criticism
is to kill the
messenger rather than fix the problem.
Your report says the governor of Chiang Mai wants criminal charges
a local magazine for posting a "blasphemous" painting
on Facebook showing
ancient kings, Mengrai, Ramkhamhaeng and Ngam Muang, wearing pollution
masks as part of a campaign to protest against hazardous smog.
The English-language magazine Citylife Chiang Mai posted the illustration
local teenage artist to promote a rally urging authorities to tackle
haze that plagues the northern province annually.
The charge of blasphemy, if correctly translated and reported, is
these three long historical kings were mortals, and the use of the
Crime Act to press the charge is risible.
We can only hope this case will be treated with the contempt it
deserves and be thrown out.
So to governor Pawin Chamniprasat: Do the job you are paid to do
and clean up
the pollution and stop acting like a petulant child.
for boycott of zoos
That hold animals captive for profit and
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 3 April 2018
First published in the Star, Friday 30 March 2018
Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) is concerned about the
alleged shooting of a chimp at a zoo in Langkawi, which was highlighted
by animal rights activists.
Why was the chimp shot?
Because it made a daring escape from its night den, into its enclosure
and into the open?
Adult chimps can be very dangerous and they can be a threat to people
in zoos, if they escape.
But zoos must also be prepared with humane options or non-lethal
methods of subduing a chimp, such as a tranquilliser dart or net,
for cases of escaped wildlife. At the time of this escape, the zoo
was closed to the public.
In this case, serious questions need to be raised immediately about
how an adult chimp managed to escape, and why the animal was shot
Zoos are required to ensure that enclosures and boundary fencing
are designed and maintained to prevent escapes.
In the wild, chimps live in large groups.
It is psychologically damaging for them to be in small barren cages
because they lack mental stimulation and the company of their own
Action should be taken against the zoos management for any
psychological abuse suffered by the chimps.
Often, animals normal behaviour is seldom discussed, much
less observed, and their natural needs are rarely met.
The Zoo Licencing Act should be amended to force zoo managers to
ensure the psychological needs of the animals are met.
The only welfare protection zoo animals have is not to be treated
The fact that an animal is not able to behave in a normal way for
its species is not considered cruelty.
This means that local zoos can continue to house animals in a space
likened to a menagerie from the last century.
Wildlife officials need to heed increased public awareness of the
suffering of captive animals and listen to wildlife experts who
recommend that zoos be phased out. SAM believes that visitor experience
at zoos should not be considered more important than animal welfare.
If one is truly concerned about the impact that zoos have on animal
welfare, it is best to stay away from zoos and businesses which
hold animals captive for profit, and as a source of entertainment.
S.M. Mohd Idris,
Sahabat Alam Malaysia
Philippine divorce bill
with avalanche-like speed
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 2 April 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday 29 March
As I read the editorial about the divorce bill in
Philippine Inquirer, 24 March 2018, I recalled what Stanislaw
Jerzy Lec, a Polish poet, rightly said: No snowflake in
an avalanche ever feels responsible.
The avalanche-like speed with which the divorce bill went through
Congress was timed with the publishing of a survey which claims
that more than 50 percent of Filipinos are in favor of divorce.
If the task of lawmaking is now a matter of following the party
line and clamor of surveys instead of the pursuit for societys
good, then citizens have reasons to be afraid.
King Henry VIII, having been denied a divorce by the pope, proclaimed
himself head of the Church of England, followed by a cruel persecution
of those who opposed him.
Thomas More, although he was the kings chancellor and friend,
was no snowflake. Of course, he was beheaded; but his head now wears
the halo of a saint.
As to the king, he married five other women after dumping his first
wife, Catherine of Aragon.
Two of them, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, ended up decapitated,
accused of infidelity.
Historys snowflakes pass into oblivion, but it is their descendants
who will have to extricate themselves from all sorts of social avalanche.
It would be wise not to attempt to bend the arm of the Church to
get from her what we want (which we know to be wrong, like divorce)
- the purpose of that arm is not to strike but to pardon, and to
pull us out of the muck into which we thoughtlessly jump (quite
Fr. Luis P. Supan
for environment crime verdict in Indonesia
serve as a model for ASEAN and Australia
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 1 April 2018
The Indonesian anti- corruption court's decision to
send the Sulawesi governor
Nur Alam to jail for 12 years and to fine him $US 72,000 for misuse
of authority - for bribery in the granting of mining licences that
led to environmental destruction -
( The Southeast Asian Times 31/3 ) should serve as a model for other
countries in the region that corrupt leaders will be held to account
no matter how high your status.
for Philippine government, Catholic Church and Business
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 31 March 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday 26 March
A report showed that there are now 26 million people
who are under the category of poor and half of
them are living under extreme poverty. in
"Earning less than $1 a day, that is equivalent to P30 per
kilo of rice and one small can of sardines."
In a talipapa or wet market in Taguig City, I
witnessed an 8-year-old girl haggling with a rice store owner if
she could buy one-half-kilo of rice.
I was luckier because my money was good for buying a kilo of rice
for my six children. A day after, I saw that same girl riding a
jeepney with her tambourine, singing a plaintive song and begging
We are familiar with dramatic scenes of poverty in the Philippines.
Our priests preaching in the holy altar have been pontificating
the neglect and deprivation of people who are destitute, lacking
the basic necessities of life and how our better-off brethren should
share their blessings.
Pope Benedict XVI said: There are clear signs of the profound
division between those who lack daily sustenance and those who have
huge resources for disposal. Given the dramatic nature of the problem,
reflection, and analysis are not enoughaction must be taken.
Poverty causes the breakdown of lifes values.
This is one situation where our Church hierarchy is having difficulty
in imparting to indigents the Catechism of the Catholic
How can you explain succinctly our Catholic faith to people who
have empty stomachs?
Instead of avoiding the issue, this is one of the challenges for
our laypeople and Church authorities: How to motivate, reach out,
and nurture the virtue of faith. Instead of discouragement, this
is the best time to sow good faith because a lot of Catholics are
moving out from our camp to join other sects.
A fast-growing sect employed a recruitment method by providing employment,
job promotion, and feeding programs to these poverty-stricken Catholics.
And instantly, many have forsaken their Catholic faith.
The head of the family is under pressure for providing the needs
of his family under a Catholics faith versus a new faith.
A solution to this economic crisis, according to Pope Benedict XVI,
is to strengthen the family, the fabric of our society.
The government, Catholic Church, and business sector should work
together to reduce the poverty gap in the Philippines.
Isidro C. Valencia,
economic growth and less investment
Malaysian talent moves to Singapore and Australia
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 30 March 2018
First published in the New Straits Times, Wednesday 28 March
The National Transformation Programme (NTP) is successful
but will this success be sustained?
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak presented the NTP Annual
Report 2017 with much justified fanfare last week.
He was also interviewed by the NTP adviser Datuk Seri Idris Jala
on a wide range of socio-economic issues raised in a survey of thoughtful
The PM said that Malaysia is now at the cusp of rapid change
and stressed that the Government is determined to drive
the countrys development to greater heights in the future.
He also urged Malaysians to place their confidence in the
All this is well and good but there are many Malaysians who believe
that while we can celebrate our NTP successes now, future progress
can be questioned unless we adopt new and fundamental development
Even the past successes can be qualified as they have shown some
weaknesses that are not highlighted in the NTP Report.
In fact, the report should have shown more balance and indicated
plans on how to overcome our current structural weaknesses to ensure
sustainable success as well. Lets examine how the NTP Report
could have been better balanced.
Firstly, while it is true that the economic growth rates, especially
the 5.9 percent expansion last year, have shown much success, what
assurance is there that we will be equally or more successful in
achieving high rates of growth in future?
What new strategies do we envisage to attain faster and sustained
Even the wide public consultations on TN50 do not indicate the vital
need for major changes in our socio-economic sector.
It seems to be more of the same and this is unwise for future sustainability.
How can we then assume that we are no longer stuck in the
middle income trap given our reluctance to introduce more
essential competitive policies to take on our economic rivals in
Asean and all over the world?
The NTP has to undergo more structural changes in order to sustain
its laudable successes!
Secondly, higher growth rates have not sufficiently raised the standard
of living and quality of life of Malaysians in the bottom and middle
In fact, the rakyat have been suffering from low salaries and steadily
rising prices of goods and services.
The Happiness Index for Malaysia does not show that our people are
really happy. Will the Government use this UN-sponsored Happiness
Index more extensively in our annual budgets and the five-year economic
plans to ensure that high-growth rates bring greater benefits to
the middle and bottom income groups?
What is the use of high-growth rates when the rich gain more than
the poor? Instead of being confident in our economic growth, the
rakyat could become more depressed and even feel relatively neglected
by public policies!
Thirdly, unemployment should decline with higher economic growth.
But among youths, especially fresh graduates, unemployment is rising.
There must be many things wrong in our economic planning and implementation
for this sorry state of affairs.
Our education system at school and tertiary levels should take some
criticism for this. Is there an avoidable mismatch in our labour
Are our new graduates weak in critical thinking, subject content
and communication in English?
Are we churning out graduates who meet the rapidly changing demands
of the digital economy?
If this is the case, can the unemployed feel confident of benefiting
from the projected greater heights in the future?
We have to be careful to avoid social unrest emerging from this
dissatisfied sector of our society.
Fourthly, our national institutions are vital for our survival and
The sustainable success or failure of our institutions was unfortunately
not emphasised in the NTP Report.
Economic growth, better income distribution, higher quality of life
and indeed greater happiness cannot be built up and adequately sustained
without having stronger national institutions.
Thus, more strenuous efforts have to be made by the Government to
strengthen our national institutions as a high priority.
The parliamentary system, judiciary, Election Commission, Malaysian
Anti-Corruption Commission and the entire civil service, among
others, must step up the fight against money politics.
This is essential to strengthen and sustain national unity, peace
and security and racial and religious harmony.
The NTP Report should focus on the soft side of development as well
to achieve sustained success.
Fifthly, the 17 United Nations Sustainable Goals, including our
environmental protection, could have been given more prominence.
Again, what use is our emphasis on economic growth if we inadvertently
and carelessly destroy our earth?
We hope future NTP reports will stress not only growth and infrastructure
projects but also the means of providing basic needs and human rights
and attaining the UN Sustainable Goals to directly benefit all Malaysians.
We need a more bottoms-up, less top-down approach in our socio,
economic and even political development.
Malaysian talent and skilled workers who are now in very short supply
will then be encouraged to stay at home and contribute to a more
If our talents continue to move to Singapore, Australia and elsewhere,
there will be slower economic growth and even less investment.
The NTP report is most welcome because it lists down many successes.
But unless more structural and long-term reforms are introduced
soon after GE14, these successes will not be sustainable.
We cannot afford to follow past policies that served us well before,
particularly in the future.
We have to transform more radically and change direction to truly
break out of the middle income trap.
If we dont do so soon, our economy will just chug along like
an old and tired locomotive!
In fact, as a nation, our prospects for further progress and national
wellbeing may decline.
These structural reforms must be introduced by the NTP as soon as
possible to meet our national challenges and aspirations for TN2050!
For this reason, we must all vote wisely.
God bless Malaysias future!
Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam,
Chairman Asli Center of Public Policy Studies,
Malaysia is rightly concerned
personnel in schools
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 29 March 2018
First published in the New Straits Times, Monday 26 March
Writer James Campbell and those whose work he quoted
in his opinion piece in the New Straits Times, Consequence
of increased security in schools, March 23, rightly
observe that the more non-white students a school has, the more
likely it is to have security on campus and to have students arrested.
But, this is no doubt because more crime, especially violent crime,
is committed in these schools by non-white students from impoverished
backgrounds with multiple problems like absent fathers and criminal
parents or siblings.
The problem among ethnic minorities is not unique to America.
Look at the knife crime statistics among black teenagers in London.
Schools have a legal and moral duty to protect their pupils from
crime, and security personnel are a regrettable, but, reasonable
What matters is how they are used and how they are presented to
students and parents.
Firstly, I feel they should not be seen as the bogeymen to be avoided.
They should be integrated into the school community so that children
feel free to engage with them at any time, as with a neighbour or
neighbourhood police officer.
Secondly, it should be made clear to students and parents on joining
the school community that crime will not be tolerated but will be
And herein can lie a problem.
In my home city, Melbourne, Australia, we have, for some time now,
had a problem with theft and violent crime committed by immigrant
youth to whom the courts give a verbal slap on the wrist and release.
When they re-offend, the process is repeated many times over in
So, the judiciary needs to be brought on board so that there is
consistency in sentencing, insofar as it can be achieved without
Thirdly, programmes where youth of concern are taken to prisons
so they can see what awaits them have had a measure of success.
Campbell is right to be concerned about security personnel in schools,
but the solution is not to wish them away, thereby leaving students
at more risk, but to bring them into a planned and integrated programme
for the benefit of the school community.
Anthony J. Whitmarsh ,
Church preoccupied with self preservation
No time to prepare couples for marriage
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 27 March 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday 26 March
In his column on Irregular Families?,
23 March 2018, Michael Tan revealed some very significant government
statistics on Filipino marriages i.e., declining number of marriages
in the last decade, a third of the female population that were never
married, a significant percentage of women in live-in relationships.
They constitute a disconcerting set of factual realities that can
explain the acceptance by the majority of our predominantly Catholic
nation of the divorce bill and should jolt the Roman Catholic Church
hierarchy from its complacency and ivory-tower dogmatism.
If the state of many marriages in the country is so distant from
the permanent, stable, and sacred state that is envisioned for couples
bound together by the sacrament of matrimony, something must be
wrong with the way Catholics are being formed and guided by the
This explains why Catholics can have a casual and dispassionate
attitude toward divorce and the dissolution of marriage bonds.
As a Filipino Catholic, I think that our institutional Church has
been generally remiss in guiding its members, particularly those
facing distressed marriages, and providing them pastoral care and
It has been too preoccupied with self-preservation and maintaining
physical and bureaucratic structures to even have time to prepare
couples for marriage and resolving marital difficulties.
More fundamentally, it has for centuries routinely shepherded a
community of believers that has not gone past ritualistic practices
and self-oriented spirituality owing to its own ministers
neglect of the spiritual formation needs of the faithful.
The result has been a church of unthinking, passive and doctrinally
and spiritually undernourished members, who believe that being a
Catholic in good standing merely entails attending church services
on Sundays and major liturgical feasts (Lent, Advent, feast of patron
saints) and for more enthusiastic members becoming church servers
of the parish priests (lay ministers, lectors, etc.).
I am saddened as a Catholic by these developments and close to losing
hope in ever seeing the Church recover from its sick and lethargic
No wonder many erstwhile Catholics (here and elsewhere) have either
stopped practicing their religion finding it irrelevant in their
personal lives, joined other non-Catholic Christian religious sects
which are able to offer greater fellowship and spiritual dynamism,
or simply became an agnostic or atheist.
Sadly, the Church hierarchy and ordained ministers have much to
do with these tragic outcomes because they have not seen and addressed
the growing uneasiness and deterioration in the faith of their flock
that they are supposed to shepherd.
They seemed content and even pleased with the status quo for as
long as church coffers are overflowing, Mass attendance is high,
church buildings are constantly being added or improved, and lay
leaders are kept at bay and submissive in parish pastoral councils.
Despite being 80-percent Catholic (at least nominally), the Philippines
remains to be immersed in widespread poverty and endemic corruption,
and the majority are not morally disturbed by, or at least tolerant
of extrajudicial killings, and now, are even in favor of having
divorce in the country. This should be a huge wake-up call for the
Donato P. Soliven,
Call for the Inter-American
Convention on Protecting the
Human Rights of Older Persons as model for
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 27 March 2018
First published in the Bangkok Post, Thursday 15 March 2018
Re: "Showing our age" in Asia
Focus, March 12.
If, indeed, "ageing is a privilege" or even a "most
because not everybody gets to age, is it possible to extend the
longevity in the future?
While a universally acceptable answer is still on the waiting list,
countries could take useful inspiration from the practice of Latin
The adoption of the Inter-American Convention on Protecting the
Human Rights of Older Persons (2015) might be used as an encouraging
model for negotiating a similar Asian-Pacific legal instrument on
The Inter-American Convention (41 articles), in force from January
defines ageing as a gradual process that develops over the course
of life and
entails biological, physiological, psychosocial, and functional
varying consequences, which are associated with permanent and dynamic
interactions between the individuals and their environment.
The lifetime knowledge of senior citizens, their talents and competence
are an added value for society and should be seriously taken into
account and strictly protected by law.
Philippine president Duterte
Wants to pull out of International Criminal
published in the Philippine Inquirer, Sunday 25 March 2018
The Southeast Asian Times, Monday 26 March 2018
As a history teacher, I must object to President Dutertes
order to quit the International Criminal Court (ICC)
With it, we lose our dignity as a nation.
The ICC is part of the United Nations, and the Philippines is part
of the United Nations. Back in 1945 when the UN was founded, there
were only three other Asian nations that participated.
Our officials signed the original charter, hoping that we would
become an upstanding member of this important organization.
The UN and the Philippines both grew up together.
Since 1945, our soldiers have been actively involved in peacekeeping
missions. Our dues have helped other nations, and during catastrophes,
the UN has helped us.
We have gotten advice from Unicef on Filipino child health and welfare.
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea backed us up
in the West Philippine Sea dispute with China.
Our government and nongovernment officials have become leaders in
Carlos P. Romulo was elected president of the UN.
We have been president of the Security Council seven times.
The UN and its judicial wing, the ICC, put pressure on nations to
uphold human rights.
We agreed to these human rights.
We agreed to uphold the goals of this body.
Yet now, President Duterte wants to pull out of the ICC, and put
our good reputation in the trash bin.
If he does not have anything to hide, why is he afraid?
Why must we tear up our agreement with the rest of the world?
Obligations are obligations and should not be thrown away, just
because of the bad behavior of one president.
Jonatgan C. Foe,
Friends of the Earth Malaysia
call on the government
To protect critical water resources
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 25 March 2018
First published in the Star, Thursday, 22 Mar 2018 Thursday
22 March 2018
This years theme for World Water Day, Nature
for Water, explores nature-based solutions to the water
challenges we face in the 21st century.
The central message is that nature-based solutions such as planting
trees to replenish forests, reconnecting rivers to floodplains and
restoring wetlands are sustainable and cost-effective ways to help
rebalance the water cycle, mitigate the effects of climate change
and improve human health and livelihoods.
The Eleventh Malaysia Plan recognises forests as the nations
natural capital due to the ecosystem services they provide.
This can be exemplified by the importance of the forest reserves
in Ulu Muda, Kedah which are vital sources of water for Kedah, Penang
and Perlis, supplying 96 prcent, 80 percent and 70 percent of the
daily water needs in the respective states.
In conjunction with World Water Day, Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM)
(Friends of the Earth Malaysia) is calling on the Malaysian Government
to protect critical water resources in this country to ensure water
This requires classification of permanent reserved forests for protection
purposes, proper management of wetlands and intensifying efforts
to harvest rainwater.
A permanent reserved forest (PRF), unless classified under Section
10, subsection (1) of the Forestry Act 1984, is deemed to have been
classified under Section 10 (1) paragraph (a) as timber production
forest under sustained yield.
Failure to classify the PRF means that state governments can issue
permits to take forest produce from the PRF, hence threatening its
The Ulu Muda Forest Reserve situation, where logging and mining
activities have been approved, is reflective of the need for a uniform
national policy to protect forests in Malaysia as national water
Rivers are the main source of raw water in this country. In Peninsular
Malaysia, the major rivers flow from the Main Range, which forms
the backbone of the peninsula. The major rivers that flow towards
the Straits of Malacca include Sungai Muda, Sungai Perak, Sungai
Bernam and Sungai Linggi. Sungai Pahang, Sungai Rompin and Sungai
Kelantan flow towards the South China Sea. The sources of all these
rivers are inevitably enveloped in tropical rainforests that catch
water for the rivers.
Under the Federal Constitution, the governance and protection of
the rivers as raw water resources come under the jurisdiction of
state governments. Classification of forests as soil protection
forest, flood control forest, and water catchment forest is crucial
to protect water resources.
However, when it comes to the governance and protection of forests
that catch water for the rivers, very few states have passed state
enactments. In Penang, a total of 62.9km2 of forests have now been
gazetted and protected as water catchment areas. Other states appear
to be reluctant to pass similar laws, possibly due to potential
losses in revenue from premiums and royalties from logs and other
The sixth Sustainable Development Goal commits the world to ensuring
that everyone has access to safe water by 2030, and includes targets
on protecting the natural environment and reducing pollution. Hence,
Malaysias rainforests must be protected as national raw water
catchment areas to ensure sustainable water supply for the people.
We strongly urge that the power of protecting critical water catchment
areas be brought under Federal legislative powers. This is because
if the rainforests are destroyed, the rivers will eventually run
dry, causing a national water supply crisis that would affect millions
of people and disrupt economic activities.
Rain water, an accessible and sustainable water resource, is an
important component in attaining water security. In this context,
protecting the forests, rivers and wetlands which are natural water
catchments should be regarded as a matter of national interest.
S.M. Mohamed Idris,
Sahabat Alam Malaysia
Chinese community in Malaysia
That hoping for fairness will get them nowhere
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 24 March 2018
First published in the New Straits Times, Friday 23 March
In his recent editorial about Chinese votes in Barisan
Nasionals equation, A Jalil Hamid, in my opinion, penned an
interesting point: The reality is that the Chinese could
probably have made up their mind long ago.
This is worthy of deeper appreciation, taking into account how the
Chinese community reacted to certain issues that cropped up recently.
Several political analysts echoed similar observation about the
relative calmness among Chinese voters this time around compared
with the previous two general elections, the last one being emphatically
labelled as the Chinese tsunami that reduced
MCA and Gerakan representation in BN to the lowest in BN history,
with the cheeky catchphrase apa lagi Cina mahu?
coming along later.
The observation about calmness, however, may not be credible when
measuring the reaction of the Chinese community when issues close
to their heart are being scrutinised.
A case in point, the sudden and unsubstantiated accusation against
billionaire Robert Kuok by a blogger.
The Chinese community viewed the attack as blasphemy,
given Kuoks stature in the global Chinese community.
The testimony about Kuoks contribution and the legacy that
he built stamped the journey of an ordinary man who worked his way
to the pinnacle of success.
It accorded Kuok the status of a living legend.
Credit to the prime minister for putting an end to an issue that
many believed should not have started in the first place.
Nonetheless, those who have observed the development of the issue
would find it difficult to justify that the issue was to BNs
benefit, especially from Chinese voters perspective.
Moreover, the reaction from the Chinese community also serves as
a chilling reminder that while it is true to suggest that the Chinese
community seems calmer and more sensible, but when the wrong button
is pushed, it will unleash a tidal wave that will slam through any
structure that stands in its way.
That issue taught all parties a lesson, but it also exposed what
matters the most to the Chinese community - the aspiration for fairness.
This aspiration may sound general, but, throughout many generations
of struggles and sacrifices, the Chinese community has realised
that hoping for fairness would get them nowhere.
To realise that aspiration, they would have to earn it, which motivated
many into making political choices that they believe were correct
and relevant to the aspiration, even if it meant siding with an
unproven political alliance over an established one.
Fairness also means not living in denial and not practise double
These are the 101 of Malaysian Chinese political behaviours worthy
of attention if one is to make further assessment of the Chinese
It is not without reason why some opposition leaders thrive in political
debates with emotional rhetoric because they know which issue would
rally the Chinese sentiment the most.
Looking beyond the Chinese vote bank, many studies have been conducted
about Chinese voting trends, mixing it with the political inclination
of other communities.
Research houses and think tanks have also revealed their numbers
on what they believe is the baseline figures of Chinese support
for BN after dissecting the below 15 per cent registered in the
last election, which contributed to the triumph of the opposition
in Penang and Selangor.
The next general election promises a different battle ground.
The Penang government is no longer scandal-free as it once proclaimed;
Selangor has its own issues to deal with, including the water crisis;
the dissolution of Pakatan Rakyat after bitter squabble with Pas;
DAP forging another political marriage with a leader it once chastised
for decades; the peculiar emergence of spoil-vote movement; and,
the birth of many small political parties that called themselves
the third force.
Due to the conflicting chemistry in the opposition pack, some analysts
are confident that the instability of the pack would irk the Chinese
community, hence, returning 10 to 15 per cent of Chinese votes back
This is good enough to deliver additional parliamentary seats to
MCA and Gerakan.
DAP did not take that equation as a reliable indicator, judging
from its decision to shift party big names to contest in Johor and
taking the fight for Chinese political hegemony to top MCA leaders
Some say this daring strategy was fuelled by the DAP leaderships
confidence that the opposition alliance, with Bersatu in the mix,
would deliver enough Malay votes to make up for a loss of Chinese
That sense of supreme confidence by DAP about a Malay vote swing
is the reason why DAP leaders are singing the praises of Tun Dr
Mahathir Mohamad, 92.
They hope to create a Malay tsunami led by the former prime minister
to offset a loss of Chinese votes.
And, that is why Lim Kit Siang, the Mursyidul Am
of DAP, who spent a few decades condemning Dr Mahathir, is embracing
him in what many bill as Lims final attempt to dethrone BN.
Lim Chee Wei,
Philippine President Duterte
accused of eliminating competition
To facilitate Chinese business and capital
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 23 March 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday 22 March
We in the Kalikasan Peoples Network for the
Environment decry the recent
statements of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor)
to allow Macau gambling company Galaxy Entertainment Group to push
through with the
construction of a casino, one of two pending, in Boracay.
It smacks of hypocrisy, if not duplicity, to sensationalize the
crackdown on tourism
establishments aggravating ecological carrying capacities on one
allow large-scale entertainment facilities on the other.
Foreign big businesses trump environmental and peoples interests
despite the bombastic pronouncement of President Duterte to blow
This is hypocritical especially in the context of apparently clearing
the beaches only to eliminate competition for incoming Chinese business
and capital investments whose entry into this country the government
has been facilitating.
Local government data show there is an average of 781 visitors per
day over the
past six years.
A 1998 study by tourism scholar William Trousdale already indicates
that even at that level of visitors number in those years,
the island has already been loaded with garbage pollution, e-coli
contamination, and water depletion.
Almost 10 years ago, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources
called for a tourism limit.
These two megacasinos are clearly two steps backward from the ongoing
Just imagine what would happen to the island if the 781 average
number of visitors per day is increased by another 4,224 visitors
per day, twice the average number of visitors an individual casino
in Macau receives in a day.
The average rate of 345 visitors per day has already been shown
detrimental, what more with the influx of tourist-gamblers should
The Duterte administration, especially its environment and tourism
should go beyond its papogi crackdown and ensure
that the development of
tourism hubs especially in critical ecosystems should be sensitive
ecological boundaries, cultural development, and community development.
We reiterate our call on the Duterte administration to strictly
moratorium on new tourism construction projects and issuance of
permits, including the planned casinos.
Kalikasan Peoples's Network for the Environment,
Infighting among justices
of the Supreme Court
Makes you wonder if the Philippines has
gone to the dogs
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 22 March 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday 13 March
John Nerys March 13 column, Enrile
is proof of politicized Court, seemed to speak the truth
about how easy it is to make fools of supposedly
brilliant minds dispensing justice and passing final judgment upon
the lives and fortunes of the people of this benighted nation -
if considerations outside the merits of the case
come into play, as they often do where VIPs are involved.
Former senator Juan Ponce Enrile got the full benefit of a friendly
majority in the Supreme Court who granted him bail in a nonbailable
plunder case on grounds that Enrile did not even raise!
For so-called humanitarian reasons, those justices
handed his freedom over to him on a silver platter.
Nery omitted to mention the case of former president Gloria Macapagal
Arroyo whom the majority of the Supreme Court justices too eagerly
did the huge favor of acquitting before trial could be terminated
by a lower court.
What do Enriles and Arroyos cases have in common?
Special consideration was apparently given to their political and
social status and, of course, their pitifully poor state
Enrile was portrayed to be almost dying and, if his detention continued
any longer, to surely die!
Arroyo was portrayed as about to physically and mentally fall apart
but for the ubiquitous neck brace she was wearing during photo opportunities.
And as soon as the Supreme Court set them free, Enrile became the
picture of spectacular health.
He even went campaigning for his favorite candidates during the
2016 elections. On the other hand, Arroyo immediately shed off her
neck brace and was herself the picture of an old lady still in the
pink of health.
Special treatment from the Supreme Court, not medical attention
from doctors, was all they really needed to bring them back to
Did the Supreme Court justices whose hearts supposedly bled for
them realize theyve been had?
It would be very naive of everyone to think that those justices
were fooled at all. To paraphrase Nery: Supreme Court justices have
no problem bending over backwards and sideways and upside
down- in deliberately mocking all laws of the land where
favored parties are concerned.
What kind of rotten justice regime is this?
The present infighting among the justices of the Supreme Court themselves,
and the battle lines drawn between red and purple
among lower court justices and judges and instigated by Court
Administrator Midas Marquez himself who is shamelessly using the
influence of his office, make the people wonder if this country
has already gone to the dogs!
Romano M Montenegro
Under the equal protection
clause of the Phillipine Constitution
is space for LGBT couples
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 21 March 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday 20 March
Oscar Franklin Tan frequently likes to skewer - unsuccessfully
- in his columns
the fact that I challenged alone, without a partner, the unconstitutionality
the Family Codes exclusion of same-sex couples from the definition
He tries to poke fun at the supposed basic violation of legal procedure
challenging a law.
He is entitled to his armchair criticism but the critic must also
be critiqued lest the criticism misleads the public.
We must ask the hard questions.
Has he attended the latest Mandatory Continueing Legal Education
on political law discussing the trends about legal procedure in
constitutional law? Does he know about the newest doctrines on the
expanded power of judicial review?
Has he read the latest jurisprudence where petitioners successfully
challenged laws such as the Reproductive Health Law and Cybercrime
Prevention Act, even if the petitioners were not personally and
Most worrisome, has he read the petition in full?
The petition has been uploaded by different news sites but it doesnt
seem he has read the procedural parts arguing that the Supreme Court
should adopt Justice Arturo Brions fresh approach
in his separate opinion in the case of Araullo v. Aquino.
Its understandable that he calls vigilante lawyering
what is legitimately accepted in other liberal countries as public
He has never been a pro bono advocate in court for issues involving
public interest and has never appeared before the Supreme Court
for oral arguments to the best of my knowledge.
The role of advocacy is to push the boundaries of what is possible
Advocates do not bend or break the law.
Advocates find spaces of inclusion.
And under the equal protection clause of the Constitution, there
is a space for Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) couples.
Oscar Tan himself argued as much in his past column on October 22,
Of course I am not the best petitioner.
The best petitioners are the gay and lesbian couples.
But no one dared to file a case until after I filed mine.
Tan seems to not have read or learned about the latest news.
A petition-in-intervention was filed (almost a year after my petition)
by gay and
lesbian couples - Rev. Crescencio Agbayani and Marlon Felipe, and
Ibanez and her partner.
And they have trusted me to represent them as well.
Fortunately, the Supreme Court will hear the case through oral arguments
If Tan thinks many lawyers are engaging in vigilante lawyering,
he should show
them what the proper way of lawyering is by appearing in oral arguments
the Supreme Court.
Otherwise, his columns will forever remain as extrajudicial opinions.
Jesus Nicardo Falcis111,
Same-sex marriage petitioner,
Call for Filipinos to
On the killings
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 20 March 2018
First published in The Philippine Inquirer, Monday 19 March
Alarmingly, yet another minor was killed recently.
As was expected, a cop is the alleged culprit.
I could not help but wonder what has become of this country and
of our government.
Indeed, we have been baffled since July 2016, but from my point
of view, the situation is becoming increasingly worse that even
a boy in his teens could fall as victim.
What if one of these days the victims age would get even younger?
Do we have to wait for that horrifying circumstance to happen?
I am not inciting, but rather imploring citizens to speak up, because
it seems that we are again being cloaked by the evils of an autocratic
Not since the regime of Marcos have we witnessed how uniformed men
could be as bloodthirsty and ruthless, and how the state is inclined
to blatantly commit atrocities against its own citizens.
The statistics alone corroborates our continued degeneration.
Should we expect the worst in a few years or so?
Is it plausible, should these killings continue, that we would soon
be regarded by the international community as the summary execution
capital of the world?
It couldnt be denied that impulsive pronouncements were likely
behind this mess that has already cost the lives of thousands.
Had the words been weighed carefully or had we witnessed statesmanship,
the war that was meant for the future of the children
wouldnt have resulted in unwanted casualties.
Yes, tolerance of the disparities of our beliefs is everyones
responsibility in a democracy.
But isnt the danger of being misguided also a price one has
to pay for democracy? If those millions of followers of Mocha Uson
are all existing individuals, I really feel sorry for them.
Ian Carlo Aragon,
Cambodia is not a federal
state of Australia
And not a colony of Australia
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 19 March 2018
First published in the Khmer Times, Monday 12 February 2018
The Phnom Penh Post reported in an article on 07 February 2018 mentioning
about the motion raised by Australian lawmaker Mark Butler, Federal
President of the Australian Labor Party, to press the Australian
government to take action to defend Cambodias fledgling
Cambodia has reached a point of deep political crisis,
I call on this Parliament to acknowledge that Australia has
an important role to play in the safeguarding and furthering of
His speech was commended by Mu Sochua, whose delegation will visit
Australia for the full month of March, and will meet with Butler
and other members of Parliament personally, the Phnom Penh Post
He raised this motion in an almost empty chamber with the presence
of eight people including himself.
He did make some other speeches regarding Kem Sokhas arrest.
In his previous speech on 23 October 2017, he said: In
September I spoke in this chamber on the arrest of Mr Kem Sokha,
leader of the Cambodian opposition party, the CNRP, on charges related
to a speech he gave here in Australia
Last month I met with
the former opposition leader, Mr Sam Rainsy, and several leaders
of the local Cambodian-Australian community. There are now very
serious doubts about any prospect of free and fair elections being
held when theyre due, in mid-2018. This silencing of the voice
of the people is of deep concern to the Labor Party.
His motion raised the question who is Mark Butler?
What is his connection with Cambodia?
Why all of a sudden has he made headlines about Cambodia?
He is definitely not John McCain, whose father had a bloody connection
with the US invasion of Cambodia, and McCain himself had a bloody
hand owing to his cooperation with Islamic terrorist groups within
the framework of the Arab Spring in Libya and
Syria and with extreme-right groups during the Colour Revolutions
in Eastern Europe, according to Khmer expert Raoul Marc Jennar.
McCain is still haunting Cambodia as if Libya and Syrias blood
is not enough for his thirst for global regime changes.
From his background, he does a have superficial connection with
Cambodia that can be seen through an international network of opposition
One would wonder whether he had ever been to Cambodia.
When the Southeast Asian region is now more concerned about humanitarian
crisis such as the Rohingya issue, Mark Butler has not made any
headlines raising concern about this issue.
This questions his ability to get himself updated about the current
regional trends, not to mention the ability to grasp the complexities
of Cambodian politics. Such background does not give him the slightest
credibility to comment and make judgments on Cambodias democracy.
His own party in fact is facing a democratic crisis.
He said in one of his January speeches that Labor remains
a party that gives ordinary members fewer rights than any other
Labor or social democratic party I can think of.
Troy Bramson wrote in an article of The Australian on January 30,
2018, that When Mark Butler was elected Labors national
president in 2015, it was on a platform to bring sweeping changes
to Labors structure, philosophy and culture
years on, Butlers presidency has been one of unmitigated failure.
He has not achieved anything that he spent years pushing for
greater internal accountability, transparency and democracy. And
he did not even try. He has been a president missing in action.
He has not led any debate, formally proposed any reforms or used
his authority in any noticeable way
Butler has been a useless
national president. If there is a backroom buffoon, it is Butler.
For Australian Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull, Mark Butler is a
hypocrite for his criticism on the governments energy policy.
In February 2017, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has labelled South
Australia a socialist paradise that needs home
generators to keep the lights on and called the states approach
to renewable energy absurd and hypocritical.
Does the honourable member (Mr Butler, Labor MP for Port
Adelaide) have a backup generator at home?
Does he really do that? I think he probably does.
I think he has got it hidden under a tarp in the garage because
he knows that in that socialist paradise, you cant keep the
The minister suggests maybe he has a bicycle. Maybe he has
become a political version of a squirrel, running around keeping
the lights on in his place there in South Australia.
After all, Cambodia is not a federal state of Australia and definitely
not Australias colony.
By demanding Cambodia reverse our judicial decisions, he is rudely
provoking Cambodias judicial sovereignty.
This is driven by the colonial mentality that
was commonly seen in imperialist powers, which such countries should
be ashamed of themselves.
Some countries obstinately view Cambodias legal measures as
inferior to theirs and Cambodias refusal to act on their demands
as not being on legal differences but as political differences,
with their fixed mind that they are representing the worlds
only source of political correctness.
Defining Cambodias domestic legal measures as political persecution
and arbitrarily demanding Cambodia to act according to their will
with a clear contempt toward Cambodian law, if it is not a colony
then what is?
MP Mark Butler should clear the democracy mess
in his own party first, address challenges in his state and Australia,
and try to learn more about Cambodia probably from former Australian
peacekeepers who might have a better ability to compare Cambodia
in the 1990s and the current Cambodia.
Finally, he should awake from his colonial mindset for such a mindset
is no longer a noble enterprise of civilisation as conceptualised
and justified in the The White Mans Burden
by Rudyard Kipling.
Cambodia is not Australias backyard and Cambodians are not
from International Criminal Court
Will plunge the Philippines deeper into the
quagmire of impunity
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 18 March 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 16 March
President Dutertes decision to withdraw from
the International Criminal Court gives the false impression that
government agents, especially our police force, can continue to
perpetuate a culture of impunity and that they can evade international
accountability for crimes against humanity.
CenterLaw shares our peoples fear that this attempt to withdraw
from the ICC will plunge the country deeper into the quagmire of
impunity - one that has already claimed thousands of lives.
Contrary to the Presidents claim, the Rome Statute became
effectual as domestic law when the Senate gave its concurrence to
the Rome Statute in 2011.
Said concurrence by the Senate is a necessity provided for under
Article VII Section 21 of the Philippine Constitution.
This is a point well established in our constitutional jurisprudence
as the doctrine of transformation.
There is no further requirement of publication in any newspaper
of general circulation to make the treaty binding upon the Philippines,
as the President contends. In fact, the Philippines now has an International
Humanitarian Law Act, Republic Act No. 9851, which allows our courts
to try cases cognizable by the ICC under the principle of complementarity.
The Presidents claim that we embraced membership in the ICC
on false representations of complementarity by its international
proponents is erroneous. The country in fact had a leading participation
in the establishment of the ICC, as the Philippines actively participated
in the drafting of the Rome Statute.
The Philippine delegation brought with them to the Rome Conferences
in 1998 our rich jurisprudential heritage in international criminal
law, borne of our countrys tragic experience in World War
II, and embodied in the landmark war crimes cases of top generals
of the Japanese Imperial Army - Tomoyuki Yamashita and Shigenori
The ICCs initiation of preliminary examination on his drug
war does not deny him his right to due process and his right to
be presumed innocent until proven otherwise.
Even if the process progresses to the investigation proper, he will
be accorded his right to contest the charges, or even disclaim the
courts jurisdiction to try him.
The principle of complementarity triggers the ICCs jurisdiction
over a situation in a state party if that state party is unable
or unwilling to prosecute international crimes happening within
its territory that are cognizable by the ICC.
The attempt to withdraw from the ICC will not save anyone responsible
for crimes against humanity from the ICCs jurisdiction. The
rules of the ICC are clear that it has jurisdiction over crimes
committed in a states territory while the latter was a party
to the Rome Statute.
Center for International Law (CenterLaw),
Thailand imports fish
products from Japan's
Nuclear meldown Fukushima coast
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 17 March 2018
First published in the Bangkok Post, Tuesday 13 March 2018
Your March 9 editorial, "Fretting over fishy
business", justly criticises the
Thai government's impetuous commitment to being the first overseas
fish products from Japan's Fukushima coastline, which was devastated
nuclear meltdown in 2011.
To make a melancholy addition, Thai consumers have long been exposed
pathogenic and toxic microorganisms that cause food-borne diseases.
I allude to filth and poor hygiene practices in dirty premises where
food is prepared daily, which might sadly include most of the restaurants
and street stalls throughout
Rodent and cockroach infestations are prevalent, sparing no luxurious
department stores or buildings, an alarming fact customarily brought
under general notice but tolerated perhaps by the majority of Thai
Negligence in this matter is as unwise as it is malicious.
The infection of food is an avoidable evil.
The government can no longer afford to be complacent about food
safety and sanitary regulations.
Food businesses are obligated by their professional conscience,
too, to ensure that high standards of cleanliness are maintained.
Those who fail safety inspections and endanger consumer health must
receive harsh punishment.
Call for change to ruling
that foreign workers
Can only work as cooks in Malaysian restuarants
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 16 March 2018
First published in the Star, Thursday 15 March 2018
The Immigration Departments ruling that Foreigners
can only be hired as cooks in The Star, March 13
and not as front liners such as waiters and cashiers need to be
addressed urgently by the Government.
This is especially in view of the fact that some 2,000 Chinese coffee
shops and 400 Indian-Muslim and banana leaf restaurants ceased operation
last year, Eateries seek urgent govt help with labour problems
in The Star, March 12.
Eating out is a great Malaysian tradition which also provides a
relatively affordable outing for time-restricted working families.
These budget food outlets are good, too, for our tourism business.
It is common knowledge that frontline jobs in these food outlets
are not popular with local workers.
Thus, it is rather fortunate that we have a willing and ready foreign
workforce who are happy to do these jobs that take up many hours
of the day.
Local workers demand much higher pay and better working conditions
than can be afforded by the budget of Chinese and Indian coffeeshop-style
It is only a practical and common sense option to allow these food
outlets to employ foreign workers for any role they are deemed suitable,
be it waiters, cashiers, cleaners or cooks.
The Government has always prided itself on looking after the interests
of the ordinary rakyat.
Therefore, please review and change the Immigration Departments
ruling to make life easier for these food outlet operators and,
by extension, for the rakyat.
Sze loong Steve Ngeow,
not what Papua New Guinea can do for you
Ask what you can do for Papua New Guinea
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 15 March 2018
First published in the National, Tuesday 13 March 2018
If you are someone who thinks that success will come
and find you at your doorstep, then you are wrong.
Wake up Papua New Guineans, hard work is what you need in order
to succeed. Show me someone who does not work hard and Ill
show you a lazy person who begs all his life.
We can never change this country if we are expecting everything
to be given to us.
John F Kennedy, the late American president, said it well. Ask
not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your
We were all born with a purpose.
There is something that you can do that others cannot do.
No matter where you are, no matter how many people look down on
you, you are an important to humanity.
See it from this perspective: If all we have in this country are
doctors and engineers, who will teach our children?
Who will produce our food in the garden?
Who will drive us around?
And most importantly, who will be our patients.
So now I believe you can see the importance of every human being
on this planet.
Being a film director does not make me better or worse than a bus
Being a journalist does not make me better than the mother who is
selling food in the market.
We all need each other to make life possible.
You should find the courage wherever you are to find the best in
yourself and give it all out to the world.
Be the best you can be.
Never rest for something low.
If you are a security guard, be the best security guard this country
has ever had.
If you are a cashier, be the best cashier this country has ever
Take pride in whatever you do even if others dont see it.
Know this for sure: Whatever you are doing is helping humanity .
Dont live to die my friend but die to live.
Divine Word University,
Gun deaths in Thailand
More than double of that in America
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 14 March 2018
First published in the Bangkok Post, Tuesday 13 March 2018
It is incredibly frustrating to read on a continual
basis the product of
media-programmed minds regurgitating the latest liberal agenda in
Post. Thai and foreign contributors alike are now parroting the
need for gun
control in the United States, cued by media hyper-attention to the
shooting in Florida.
The fact is the rate of gun deaths in Thailand is more than twice
America, yet Americans own more than six times as many guns per
capita as Thais!
There is no second amendment in Thailand, carry permits are uncommon,
hunting is a minor occupation, so gun control is presumably in effect
country. So how does one explain the fact that Thais kill more than
many of their fellow citizens with guns as Americans, (who have
by far the
highest rate of gun ownership in the world)? Furthermore, the overall
rate in both countries is quite similar and approximates the global
Gun control is not the antidote to overwhelming anger. A solution
to happiness as an alternative to anger may have a better chance
Philippine president accused
of blatant distrespect
the Magna Carta of Women and the 1987 Constitution
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 13 March 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Saturday 11 March
Change is not coming when even the frontrunners of
supposed change become the bearers of discrimination against women.
The Presidents series of anti-women remarks and rape jokes
are a blatant disrespect to the Magna Carta of Women and the 1987
Female critics are unceasing subjects of sexist slurs in online
spaces. These remarks are a reflection of a sexist and misogynist
culture that targets and punishes women for being women, and contribute
to the invisibility and normalization of sexual violence against
women and girls. This makes access to justice for women and girls
challenging and elusive especially when the judicial institutions
that are supposed to ensure legal remedies are also being threatened.
We cannot and never will be silenced. We must not fear these attacks
against women and girls by any individual or institution.
We continue to resist the continuing disrespect to women and girls
rights, dignity and freedom.
We call on all women, allied individuals, organizations, and social
movements to continue to challenge and expose institutions and agencies
that reproduce a sexist and biased culture against women and girls.
We are in solidarity with those who continue to fight for human
rights and justice, with those who detest this administrations
war on drugs, with those who oppose the Tax Reform for Acceleration
and Inclusion Act, with those who continue to fight for their ancestral
lands, with those who are relentless in fighting for womens
As long as discrimination and sexual violence against women and
girls persist, women will continue to rage and resist.
Jelen C. Paclarin,
The Womens Legal and Human Rights Bureau,
for Thai government to prohibit
The catching and marketing of crabs
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 12 March 2018
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday 11 March 2018
I was pleased to learn about the government's policy
for crab banks for pou ma
for conservation reasons as well as boosting the fishermen's income
in Bangkok Post, March 7.
I believe the policy does not go far enough to conserve the crab
as long as
female crabs are allowed to be caught.
As mentioned in the article, only about 1 percent of crab eggs survive
the natural process to become adult crabs.
I suggest a policy to prohibit catching and marketing female crabs
as being done in the USA where female blue crabs (Callinectus sapidus)
along the East Coast of the USA are not allowed to be caught.
For info, male crabs are bigger in size and have more meat for consumption.
The situation is even more critical for mud crabs or pou talay as
it is a common
practice among many Thais to consume crab eggs.
As a result, mud crabs become so scarce that the price is around
1,000 baht/kg as most of the bigger size being marketed have to
be imported from Myanmar.
As a crab lover, I request the government to issue a policy in prohibiting
catching and marketing female pou ma and pou talay so we and our
have plenty of crabs in the near future at an affordable price.
Call for Malaysians to
Malaysia's 14th general elections
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 11 March 2018
First published in the Star, Wednesday 7 March 2018
I recall as a 13-year-old listening to Datuk Zainal
Alam singing that catchy, simple but so meaningful song Vote...
vote... vote... everybody vote.
When you vote, you must vote wisely.
What people say, you jangan peduli. Use your head. Think very carefully
over the radio.
This was before the first General Election in 1955.
So the question for the 14th general election is what are our standards
for electing those who will lead us.
We must elect women and men known for their wisdom, who stand for
reason, are courageous, honourable, upright and not tainted by self-preservation
If in the next 60 years we are not a great nation, it will be because
we failed to demand these high qualities from those who represented
us in our legislature and because our culture and morality were
not able to control the political forces that governed us.
We need leaders with understanding and foresight who will commit
to improving the quality of education in the country.
Such an endeavour requires cultivating the minds of our children
It will require investment in people more than infrastructure or
hardware and not just financial allocations but our time, energy
and genuine dedication.
It must be channelled not just for the acquisition of knowledge
but, more importantly, to build character, cultivate competencies
and the entrepreneurial spirit, inspire creativity and critical
thinking and develop problem-solving capabilities too.
Our leaders must also be prepared to work cohesively to ensure we
have quality human capital to match the challenges of the times.
Of course, major societal issues we face, such as drug addiction
and trafficking, abuse of human sexuality, inequality and poverty
(even if only certain segments of society are affected), and crime
in all its manifestations must be addressed as these can easily
deprive us of the quality human capital we need.
At the macro-level and in our mutual relations across borders and
globally, we must be an active part of the effort to deal with the
challenges of protecting our security in the face of internal and
external forces, climate change, conserving the environment and
our natural resources, and addressing the issue of migrant labour
upon which we have become overly dependent, and undocumented migration.
All these require leaders with vision.
We are now standing at the crossroads. As Zainal Alam exhorted us
more than six decades ago, come GE14 lets vote wisely.
Letter to Philippine president
of Rafael Baylosis
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 10 March 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Wednesday 7 March
Dear President Duterte,
As a defender of truth and justice, I write in behalf of Rafael
Baylosis whom I have known for many years as an intellectual. He
is not the person that the military and police claimed him to be
just to back up the illegal and warrantless arrest they effected.
Despite my age (I am 82), allow me to participate in establishing
the truth about him. His objective in all his activities has all
been for the good of the country to be attained in peaceful ways
and means. And I pray for continued strength for him and for small
people like me to attain this objective.
Remedios C. Balbin, Phd.,
Foundation for Social Justice.
Decentralisation in Cambodia
Is a roadmap to improved governance and
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 9 March 2018
First published in the Khmer Times, Thursday 22 February 2018
Decentralisation gives more power to districts and
In the past two decades, the government has transferred about $2
billion to lower level administrations in an effort to decentralise.
The figure was revealed yesterday during the first day of a two-day
conference on decentralisation on Koh Pich.
Based on these resources, lower level administrations implement
many small infrastructure plans including rural roads, irrigation
systems, rural sanitation construction and water supply construction,
along with schools and health centres, a statement released
after the conference said.
Interior Minister Sar Kheng, who presided over the meeting that
included thousands of commune officials, said that decentralisation
reform has helped increase the capacity of lower level governance.
Decentralisation is a roadmap to better governance and
democracy, said Mr Kheng."
The funds given to districts and communes allow those administrations
to manage their own affairs and provide good public services.
Commune council members are the main people to implement
democracy and decentralisation, he added.
Sak Setha, secretary of state at the Interior Ministry, said the
budget transferred to lower level administrations has increased
In 2017, the government transferred $97 million to the
commune level and we transferred $108 million to the commune level
for 2018, said Mr Setha. We hope that the lower
level administrations will use the budget to aid the people.
Advice wanted on what
colour shirt to wear
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 8 March 2018
First published in the Khmer Times, Wednesday 28 March 2918
I am a foreign retiree and have been living in Cambodia
for several years now after becoming fed up with Thailand, where
I tried to retire to quite a few years ago.
My life as a retiree started well enough in Thailand and it was
certainly cheaper than living in my own country, England.
At first the hot and spicy Thai food didnt agree with my stomach
and I needed to get a good pair of running shoes, but then I discovered
a lot of Irish and English pubs with real food fish and chips,
toad in the hole and bangers and mash.
Then there was some sort of political trouble and thousands of people
took to the streets wearing yellow shirts.
They set up stages, made speeches and generally made a nuisance
Not too long after they disappeared, another group of angry people
wearing red shirts took over the centre of Bangkok.
It was dangerous to go to that area and eventually Thailands
army got rid of them, but not before buildings were burned and a
lot of people were killed.
I saw it all on the BBC from the safety of my apartment.
My English-speaking landlord had advised me to throw out all my
yellow and red shirts so I wouldnt get mistaken for a local
with a political agenda.
Then another group of angry people took to the streets, mostly wearing
yellow shirts again, and blew whistles non-stop and nearly drove
So I decided to move somewhere more peaceful and came to Cambodia.
Theres English and Irish pubs here and the bangers and mash
is cheaper than Bangkok. And so is the beer.
But now I read in the papers that theres warnings about a
colour revolution in Cambodia.
I dont have any interest in politics anywhere, but I want
to be sure I dont wear the wrong colour shirt when I venture
Can you advise me on a neutral colour so Im not mistaken as
one of the rabble rousers?
G Raffe (ret),
calls on Council of the EU
To respect Cambodian sovereignty
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 7 March 2018
First pulished in the Khmer Times, Friday 2 March 2018
Cambodias democracy is on the right track, with the presence
of a multiparty political system, freedom of the press, and respect
of civil and political rights.
It is not fair and just to see Cambodia only from one negative angle.
The statement of the Council of the European Union on Cambodia is
flawed it does not reflect the realities in Cambodia and
violates Cambodias sovereignty and self-determination.
Cambodia is a sovereign country and this sovereignty must be fully
It is a UN member state along with your countries and the UN charter
very clearly stipulates that no state has the right to
intervene directly or indirectly for any reason whatsoever in the
domestic affairs or in matters affecting the territorial integrity
or political independence of any state.
The Paris Peace Agreement that you raised in your statement also
mentions about non-interference in any form, whether direct or indirect,
in the internal affairs of Cambodia.
In the agreement, all signatories have the duty to respect the sovereignty,
independence, territorial integrity and inviolability, neutrality
and national unity of Cambodia.
We express our sincere gratitude to countries that have assisted
Cambodia in restoring and rebuilding Cambodia.
However, we need to live in dignity as an independent and sovereign
state. Cambodia has experienced and is now confronting again the
pressures and attempts of some foreign countries to impose a new
type of colonialism.
Cambodia is a fully independent state and a responsible member of
the international community.
The Cambodian people have suffered enough going through three
decades of civil war and foreign intervention and we will
take all measures at any cost to maintain peace and stability.
We dont want to see a return to the countrys tragic
Your conclusion based on the inputs from the opposition movement
does not reflect realities on the ground.
You have been politically manipulated.
Most voters casted their vote for the Cambodias People Party
and they are confident the ruling party will carry on with its development
mission, as promised. However, the Western-backed former opposition
party with lesser votes has been trying to take the ruling party
and the Cambodian people as hostages, hindering Cambodias
democratic process and causing setbacks to the countrys development
The Cambodian people do hope that the Council of the European Union
would continue to support peace and development in the country through
your official aid assistance programmes.
We also hope your investment and purchase orders from Cambodia would
We urge you to castigate the outlawed opposition movement and advise
them to behave responsibly and professionally.
They should not hurt their beloved country.
The Cambodian people are against any form of violence.
They know what its like to live in blood and tears that has
caused families to be separated for decades.
The pain, till today, lives on.
Orchestrated regime change by the West only has one result: it ends
up in war and tragedy.
If you decide to cease aid, investments, or impose a ban on Cambodian
products, based on the oppositions call, it means you are
taking sides to destroy the Cambodian peoples livelihood and
to kill our countrys thriving democracy.
The Cambodian people strongly believe that the Council of EU will
respect Cambodias self-determination and continue to support
the democratic process that is evolving and thriving in the country
rather than imposing conditions that require Cambodia to violate
the will of the majority and rule of law. Democracy does not work
unless peace and development prevail.
a good friend of both China and the US
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 6 March 2018
First published in the Khmer Times, Monday 12 February 2018
I refer to the commentary by Chan Kunthiny, titled
Can Singapore be an honest regional broker?, published
by Khmer Times on 1 February 2018.
The commentary seems to suggest that Singapore has taken sides against
I am writing to correct this misperception.
Singapore is a good friend of both China and the US.
The 2017 visits of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to Beijing in
September and to Washington DC in October highlight the importance
Singapore pays to broadening and deepening ties with our major partners.
Other Singapore leaders also regularly visit both China and the
US to better understand the respective governments priorities
and perspectives. Economically, Singapore has been the largest foreign
investor in China since 2013 and is the second largest Asian investor
in the US, which is a testimony to the confidence we have in both
Our cooperation with China has been longstanding.
Our multi-faceted cooperation with China has constantly evolved
to keep up with each others changing developmental priorities
Aside from our three government-to-government projects of the China-Singapore
Suzhou Industrial Park, the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city and
the China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on Strategic
Connectivity, we have many high-level bilateral mechanisms for both
sides to discuss existing and new areas of cooperation.
Singapore has consistently supported Chinas peaceful development
and welcomed Chinas active participation in a rules-based
international order. We are an early supporter of Chinese initiatives
such as the Belt and Road (B&R) Initiative and the Asian Infrastructure
Investment Bank (AIIB).
This is because Singapore believes that a successful China is not
only good for its citizens but for the region and the world.
At the same time, we also support continued US engagement in the
region. As a major investor and security guarantor in the region,
the US has undergirded peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia
Pacific since the end of World War Two.
As previously articulated by my Prime Minister, Singapore believes
that the Asia Pacific region is big enough to accommodate both China
and the US. We do not see a growing Chinese role in the region as
being at the expense of US contributions to regional stability,
security and prosperity.
We fully agree that the US and China should cultivate common
circles of friends and Singapore is part of this common circle
Singapore seeks to be a friend to all and an enemy to none. We are
a founding member of Asean and will always advocate for Aseans
unity and centrality. As Asean 2018 Chair, Singapore will continue
to promote an open, transparent and inclusive regional architecture
and act as an honest broker to build trust between all regional
It would be most appreciated if Khmer Times can publish this letter
in full, in the interest of professionalism, objectivity and openness,
so that your readers can be accurately informed.
Singapore Ambassador to the Kingdom of Cambodia
Call for Phillipine government
killings in war on drugs
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 5 March 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 2 March
The assertion by Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano
that critics of the governments drug war have
politicized and weaponized human rights
in Philippine Inquirer 1 March is totally without basis.
It only serves to frustrate calls by many on the Duterte administrations
accountability for atrocities related to the so-called war on drugs.
The truth is, the Philippine government needs to answer for the
more than 12,000 lives lost without due process in this brutal campaign
across the country. The government should stop depicting itself
as the victim.
The Philippines should heed Icelands call to cooperate with
a mission of experts mandated by the UN Office of the High Commissioner
for Human Rights. The UNHCHR should take all the necessary measures
to help end extrajudicial killings in the Philippines drug
war and bring those responsible to justice, including establishing
an independent international body to investigate these abuses, which
may amount to crimes against humanity.
Human Rights Watch,
say of the proposed divorse bill
"Till death do us part"
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 3 March 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 2 March
And so, a divorce bill is now being cooked in Congress.
A grandson of mine asks me why I am against divorce, even if we
are today the one and only remaining country in the whole world
that does not allow it.
My answer is plain and simple. I do not wish to lose or remove this
time-honored vowas well as the rings, which symbolize unending
relationshipin our wedding ceremonies:
In sickness or in health,
In happiness or in sorrow,
Till death do us part
Or else, let the couples and the solemnizing priest or other authority
altogether indulge themselves in monumental hypocrisy!
Rudy L. Coronel,
UNESCO in Papua New Guinea
Is awaiting appointment of a head
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 2 March 2018
First published in the National, Monday 19 February 2018
I am writing in response to Papua New Guinea Taunas
Thank you for your sentiments shared in light of the matter.
With regards to the Papua New Guinea National Commission for the
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
(UNESCO), it was created under three National Executive Council
(NEC) decisions to be a standalone organisation from the Department
These decisions supported it to be given autonomy status.
The agency currently is in impasse due to political manoeuvering
and other issues unbeknown.
The agency is still awaiting the appointment of a head.
While this is ongoing on, certain individuals have been apppointed
and are being paid.
I am speaking for and on behalf of all current staff who are the
original substantive position holders since this organisation was
granted autonomous status in 2008.
We are currently in the dark as to why we are not given access to
Why there is also another office created against National Executive
Council (NEC) directives with people placed against our positions?
They do not know their job descriptions and most of all, the roles
and functions of Unesco in the country.
Respective authoritative bodies such as National Executive Council
(NEC) and Department of Personnel Management are still confused
with Unescos mandates and its role in member states.
This is causing inconvenience to projects that United Nations Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), should be implementing
in the country.
We are all professionals in our jobs in each field of competency
that Unesco covers.
We were selected through the correct Government selection process.
We feel we need the rightful authorities to step in and assist us.
We cannot just shut down an international organisation which was
in Papua New Guinea before Independence and has played an important
role in the development of this country.
Papua News Guinea
Thai PM changes his mind
on southern Thai
Coal-fired power plants
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 1 March 2018
First published in the Bangkok Post, Saturday 24 February
Re: "Ministry downplays need for southern
power plants," in Bangkok Post, Friday 23 February
What a difference a day makes!
For years, the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat)
and the Energy Ministry have insisted that the southern coal-fired
power plants were absolutely essential for the energy security of
They repeatedly warned of dire consequences for the economy should
power plants not be built.
Now that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has reluctantly agreed
to put the
southern power plants on hold, suddenly the story has changed and
officials report that power needs can be met with biogas and other
It really begs the question of what kind of energy expertise the
possesses and/or alternative motivations for building power plants
political winds are so favoured.
for removal of PNG Church Health officials
On Integrated HR Payroll system Management
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 28 Feb 2018
First published in the National, Thursday 15 February 2018
To clarify, Unesco does not have an
office in Papua New Guinea.
Its regional office is in Apia-Samoa which manages the affairs of
the 16-member states, including Papua New Guinea.
Any member state around the world has what is called national commission
for Unesco (Natcom).
The national commission for Unesco is established in a country by
the government of the host country.
As a constituent element of Unesco and a unique network within the
United Nations system, national commissions are a very special resource
for the organisation.
They contribute significantly to the pursuit of its objectives and
the conceptualisation and delivery of its programmes.
National commissions are crucial to forging partnerships with civil
society, local authorities, the academic community, the private
sector and other core stakeholders.
They are vitally important to enhancing the visibility of the organisation
and protecting its image.
They are also actively helping to strengthen Unescos action
in the field, as well as in UN-common country programming exercises.
For Papua New Guinea, this has been lagging since assuming its autonomous
status in 2008.
Countries like Australia and New Zealand have national commission
as a programme unit under their departments of foreign affairs.
I cant understand why Papua New Guinea Government wants it
as an autonomous status when it, in its wisdom, amalgamated it with
the Education Department.
Let it be in its current form and remove the 30-plus officers on
the Integrated HR Payroll system Management System (Alesco) payroll.
This is a total wastage of taxpayer money which can be saved and
used for purposeful development for the people of this country.
Papua New Guinea
Charges against Senator
Leila de Lima changed from
Illegal drug trading to conspiracy to commit
illegal drug trading
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 27 February
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Sunday 25 February
Today marks the first year of Sen. Leila de Limas
She was arrested not because the government has a case, let alone
against her, but because she adamantly opposed its murderous war
on drugs making her the first high-profile political prisoner of
the Duterte administration.
She is also a victim of a vicious political vendetta because she
President Dutertes abuse of power and approval of extrajudicial
he was mayor of Davao, and now his failed war on drugs.
Powerful personalities now affiliated with the current administration
whom De Lima pursued as justice secretary are also likely behind
Government resources are continuously being used to brainwash the
believe that De Lima is an evil woman, corrupt and a conduit in
the illegal drug
trade in the New Bilibid Prison.
But almost a year after her arrest, the Philippine Drug Enforcement
Agency has affirmed that drug trade in the state penitentiary continues
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II and the President are suspiciously
silent on this issue because we suspect they have an ex-deal
with these convicted drug lords in exchange for their false testimonies
against De Lima.
Three hundred sixty-five days after her arrest, government prosecutors
recently amended their charge against the lady senator from illegal
trading to conspiracy to commit illegal drug
trading, meaning, she was
detained for the wrong accusation.
This is a violation of her constitutional right and the grossest
injustice as described by Justice Antonio Carpio.
Three hundred sixty-five days and counting but De Limas vindication
in the same way that justice will come for the families and victims
killed in this administrations bloody and shady war on drugs.
The Free Leila Movement challenges every Filipino to actively seek
Free Leila Movement,
Cambodian senate and legislative
to go ahead
Without Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP)
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 26 February 2018
First published in the Phnom Penh Post, Thursday 22 February
Cambodias Senate election is to be held on February 25.
According to the Constitution, out of the 61 senators, two are to
be nominated by the King, two to be chosen by the National Assembly
and the remaining 57 must be elected essentially by a college of
commune councillors who are themselves elected through universal
suffrage at local elections.
The problem with the new Senate to be formed next Sunday revolves
around the legal status of 5,007 Cambodian
Peoples Party (CPP)-affiliated
commune councillors out of a total of 11,572 (43 percent) who are
called to participate in the vote even though they have never been
elected through universal suffrage: those 5,007 councillors affiliated
with the ruling party were actually given their
seats which originally belonged to 5,007 councillors affiliated
with the opposition Cambodia
National Rescue Party (CNRP), who were
duly elected at the June 4 commune elections.
The seat redistribution immediately followed
the much-decried dissolution of the Cambodia
National Rescue Party (CNRP) on November 16.
If the Senate election is to proceed the way the Cambodian
Peoples Party (CPP)-led government plans it, the consequences
will be as follows:
The will of 3.05 million Cambodian citizens (representing 43.8 percent
of the electorate) who voted for the Cambodia
National Rescue Party (CNRP) at the last local elections,
will be totally ignored.
With its 5,007 elected councillors being stripped of their positions
and their rights to elect senators, the Cambodia
National Rescue Party (CNRP) will be deprived of up to 25
senator positions (out of the 57 up for grab) it is entitled to.
By expediently and timely dissolving the Cambodia
National Rescue Party (CNRP) and redistributing
to itself the 5,007 commune councillor positions originally
won by the opposition Cambodia
National Rescue Party (CNRP) through universal suffrage,
the ruling Cambodian
Peoples Party (CPP) will secure 100 percent of the
57 senator seats up for grab, which concretely announces the return
to a one-party system as before the signing of the 1991 Paris Agreements
The world community of democratic nations must denounce and condemn
such an electoral farce, which is to be followed by another one:
the legislative election due to take place on July 29 this year.
This is an important test of consistency and firmness for the international
community. Those who will condone Cambodias February 25 Senate
election are likely to condone the July 29 legislative election
which is going to take place without the participation of the Cambodia
National Rescue Party (CNRP) as the only parliamentary opposition
party representing half the nation.
But those who uphold democratic rules and principles will condemn
both polls as undemocratic and the ensuing government as illegitimate.
President of the Cambodia National Rescue Movement and former president
of the Cambodia National Rescue Party
International Corruption Perception Index (CPI)
Performance in Malaysia worst in five years
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 25 February 2018
First published in the Star, Friday 23 February 2018
As the former president of Transparency International
Malaysia and now an honorary commissioner in the MACC, I am deeply
disappointed with Malaysias poor performance in the International
Corruption Perception Index (CPI).
We have dropped seven places from 55 to 62 out of 180 countries.
Our CPI score has declined to 47/100, well below the perceived passing
mark of 50/100.
This is the worst result in the last five years.
Its not only deeply disappointing but gravely disturbing and
damaging to Malaysias aspirations in building the image of
a developed or high-income nation.
Why did the CPI fall so fast?
MACC chief Tan Sri Dzulkifli Ahmad, the whole of Malaysia Anti-Corruption
Commission (MACC) and indeed the Government and the minister in
charge must be very upset with the result.
The reasons for the fall have been partially provided frankly by
Dzulkifli himself in an immediate and knowledgeable response.
He says that its the overall perception of the country.
Its not corruption per se in its narrow concept but the decline
in good governance. He is surely right.
This means that too much politicking, growing racial and religious
intolerance, wastage of public funds, a weakening of morality and
some big scandals are also responsible for the bad Corruption Perception
And dont forget money politics which will be rearing its ugly
All the good work done by the Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission
(MACC) to robustly fight corruption has been negated by the apparent
inability to do more to contain grand corruption.
Although medium-sized and petty corruption could have been reduced,
it is the grand corruption that matters to Transparency International
What can be done now to improve the Corruption Perception Index
Many recommendations made by TI Malaysia and other NGOs have been
presented and pushed for a long time.
But they have been dashed in the hope that we can combat corruption
within the current framework of governance.
This mild approach cant achieve much, as the latest depressing
Corruption Perception Index (CPI) result has shown.
What is needed are more radical and meaningful structural reforms.
For example, the MACC should be made responsible only to Parliament
and report directly to Parliament.
The Whistleblower Protection Act must be improved.
This will encourage more whistleblowers to come out without fear
of being charged and convicted themselves.
The Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) should also be a
more independent body with full powers to hire and fire its staff
who would not be beholden to government employment.
There are many other global best practices to adopt if we are really
serious about combating corruption more effectively.
There is no need for the Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC)
to ask the Government for feedback or direction on what to do next
to get out of this corruption trap.
The Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) is fully aware about
what has to be done.
Lets hope it will give the Cabinet a full and honest appraisal
on what has gone wrong and what needs to be urgently done to prevent
further deterioration in the Corruption Perception Index (CPI).
Then let the rakyat judge the future direction to fight corruption
which is causing inflation and undermining national unity and destroying
our national soul.
God bless Malaysia!
Tan Sri Ramon Vavaratnam,
Asian Strategy & Leadership Institute (ASLI),
Center for Public Policy Studies,
embassy in Phnom Penh denies US involvement
attempt to overthrow Hun Sen government
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 24 February 2018
First Published in The Khmer Times, Thursday 22 February 2018
Do you know what is plausible deniability?
It is, in the American law, the ability of senior officials to deny
knowledge of or responsibility for any damnable actions committed
by others in an organizational hierarchy.
In the case that illegal or otherwise disreputable and unpopular
activities become public, high-ranking officials may deny any awareness
of such acts to insulate themselves. The expression plausibly
deniable was first used publicly by CIA director Allen Dulles.
In 1956, the US National Security Council decided to support with
money, arms and ammunitions the Khmer Serei, an extreme right militia
based in South-Vietnam and Thailand and opposed to then Prince Norodom
Sihanouk. But in 1956, Washington vehemently denied any support
to these rebels.
In 1959, there were three attempts to overthrow Prince Norodom Sihanouk
and even to kill him.
Traitors like Son Ngoc Thanh, le leader of the Khmer Serei, Dap
Chhuon and Sam Sary, all against the policy of neutrality and all
passionate supporters of the USA, were the operators of the CIA,
as it is proved today by the archives.
But in 1959, the Americans denied that the USA was involved in the
plots for a regime change.
In 1963, the Khmer Serei activities increased dramatically as they
were integrated partly in Special Forces under US command.
But in 1963, the State Department informed the Cambodias Ambassador
that there was no evidence of American involvement with the Khmer
When all the CIA activities against Norodom Sihanouk during the
previous decade have been confirmed and explained to President John
Kennedy, he decided to send Dean Acheson, his special envoy, to
Cambodia to normalize the relations between the two countries.
But he was assassinated two days later.
The 18 March 1970 coup led by Lon Nol and Sirik Matak, (soon joined
by Son Ngoc Thanh), was coordinated by the CIA station and American
military intelligence in Saigon, with the implication of Khmer Serei
in deadly anti Vietnamese demonstrations in Phnom Penh. Of course,
Nixon and Kissinger denied their involvement in the change of regime.
These are facts and there are undisputable.
Reacting to the recent accusations and indictments about a US-backed
plot by the CNRP to overthrow the Cambodian government, the Embassy
of the United States of America in Phnom Penh called this accusation
"absurd" and without a shred of serious credible
A strong denial, indeed.
Like in 1956, 1959, in 1963, in 1970.
No doubt, on behalf of plausible deniability.
Raoul Marc Jennar, PhD, is a Political scientist.
Rampant poaching biggest
To pangolins in Southeast Asia
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 23 February 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Wednesday 14 February
Pangolins, the majestic ant- and termite-eating secretive,
solitary and nocturnal mammal, are facing an alarming decline in
number in the wild.
There are eight species of pangolins known to zoologists: four from
the continent of Africa and another four from Asia.
In the Philippines, the endangered pangolin can be found in Palawan.
The biggest threat to pangolins has been rampant poaching, which
is the single biggest factor for their rapid decline across China
and Southeast Asia.
Pangolins are currently the most trafficked and poached mammal on
the planet and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered
Species of Wild Fauna and Flora has listed them as one of the species
that is in immediate need of maximum conservation efforts, or else
they run the serious risk of becoming extinct.
The massive trafficking and killing of pangolins in China and Vietnam
for their scales (believed to have medicinal properties, with no
scientific foundation) and bush meat as a delicacy in several high-end
restaurants are posing serious threats.
If the Chinese, South and Southeast Asian governments do not take
appropriate steps in the conservation of pangolins, the majestic
mammal has very little option left.
Asian countries need to work jointly in cracking down on illegal
A multination joint management of fringe, remote border areas, natural
forests and wildlife could help in pangolin conservation.
Saikat Kumar Basu,
New Guinea citizens
Pitted against each other
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 22 February 2018
First published in the National, Monday 19 February 2018
Papua New Guineas youths can become agents of
change or they can become a very destructive force in our society.
You just have to walk the streets of our overcrowded cities and
towns to get an impression of what good or evil our youngsters are
capable of in a very tough economic environment.
The youths are a force to be reckoned with nowadays.
Their youthful energy has an uncanny ability to multiply itself
into a myriad of ugly encounters on the streets where they congregate
Recently, while waiting for a Public Motor Vehicle (PMV) at the
Mt Hagen bus stop, a drunk young man walked up to me and pulled
out a bush knife tucked under his trouser belt.
I put on a bold face and did not give in to his malicious intent.
He left me and instead grabbed an elderly woman nearby who was also
waiting for a Public Motor Vehicle (PMV) bus.
The poor woman was scared out of her wits.
The incident I had witnessed is a scenario that repeats itself across
Papua New Guinea towns every week.
The experience is not new to me, but what is profoundly disturbing
is that ordinary citizens are pitted against each other in their
never-ending struggle for survival.
The masses are battling against each other for survival, all the
while wallowing in the muddy waters of a very stifling socio-economic
environment created by sinister forces from both within and beyond
Like a flock of sheep bound for the slaughterhouse, the masses are
being dragged deeper and deeper into the abyss of insecurity and
The common folks are battling against each other all the while,
not caring or seeming to know that we can find a way out of our
dilemma if only we can channel our collective energies against the
institutionalised injustices prevalent in this country.
We can find a way out of our dilemma if only we can seriously fight
against corruption, which is the most-serious impediment to progress
in our country.
Paul Waugla Wii,
Papua New Guinea
Call for Philippine president Rodrigo
To lift martial law in Mindanao
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 21 February 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday 19 February
I recently heard three lumad women give their testimonies
on their experience in Mindanao.
They are sending a plea to President Duterte to lift martial law
Apparently, the military is using that as an excuse to harass the
The lumad people had decided to establish their own school in their
locality as there was none and they felt the need of education for
However, the military started accusing them that what they did was
illegal, harassing the teachers.
At the same time, the military was using drones to spy on them,
limiting the amount of rice that they can bring to their village.
When the harassment continued, they decided to evacuate the place
and settle somewhere else.
The women also fear that putting a price of P20,000 for each alleged
member of the New Peoples Army could incite violence and create
division among the lumad people.
Anybody can point out anyone allegedly to be an NPA. In my opinion,
such a strategy is a devious manipulation on the vulnerability of
people who are poor.
It is also reminiscent of the Pharisees paying 20 pieces of silver
to Judas to point out Christ - a betrayal. Training their youth
to become Cafgus (Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit) makes
no difference, or at most, just complicates the
So, Mr. President, if you truly love Mindanao as you have always
claimed, it is imperative that you lift martial law in Mindanao.
A brighter model for the Philipines indigenous
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 20 February 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday 12 February
The Inquirers editorial, Where will
the lumad go? 8 February 2018 is a question applicable
to other indigenous Filipinos like the Dumagat of Sierra Madre
Mountain Range, Aeta of Caraballo, Igorot of the Cordillera, Mangyan
island of Mindoro, and many others, when claimed ancestral domains
and lands are
offered by the government as collaterals in enticing multinational
I am an Igorot who is like any lumad whose sense
of being is tied to a claimed
ancestral home territory.
Culture and history are results of creative interactions in these
Such bodies of knowledge are transmitted by one generation to another
dialects and languages.
That bodies of knowledge form part of the Filipino heritage which
President Duterte and minions of Imperial Manila need not destroy.
Destroying it would contradict his proposal of turning the Philippines
federal republic, which I think is a brighter model where indigenous
could federate in order to have stronger representation in building
police track record
Southeast Asian Gimes, Monday 19 February 2018
In his/her illuminating letter (The National 2/2/18, Southeast Asian
Times 5/2/18 ) Nongli Eniil Ngalkhay informs us that in PNG "
The majority of our people are now in great fear of police, rather
than criminals" and appeals " to the police hierarchy
to train and their officers to treat and talk to the people with
respect, according to the laws of this country. We hope to see change
in the near future".
Is that change to come from the cooperation in capacity building
and institution strengthening between the PNG Police and the Fiji
Police as reported in the Fiji Times article ' Fiji-PNG sign MOU
for police cooperation' ( Feb.16 )?
I hope it does because Fiji police own post-coup professional track
record is far from exemplary .
to free Mali the elephant
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 18 February 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Wednesday 14 February
Thirty-five-plus years ago in a lush forest in Sri
Lanka, Mali, a barely past-weaning baby elephant, was stolen from
She was transported to a zoo in Manila where she continues to languish
to this day. Elephants are intelligent and very familial.
Can you imagine being separated so young from your mother?
Mali has led a sad life in captivity, alone, no other elephant for
Jeered at by onlookers, Mali has no veterinary treatment and paces
daily in her small captivity area.
Thousands of caring people around the world have petitioned to have
Mali moved to Boon Lotts Elephant Sanctuary in Thailand for
The powers who run the zoo refuse to let Mali live the natural life
she was intended to live. Mali deserves to roam free and smell trees,
leaves and walk in grass.
Her feet are sore and cracking from pacing the dry dirt in her small
Many animal organizations have tried to purchase Mali to release
The Manila Zoo refuses to let Mali live naturally.
It is so sad to see her hold her own tail for comfort.
Is there no humanity that can be compassionate for a poor neglected
elephant such as Mali?
Peta Asia has worked hard for her release.
Please live with compassion.
Speak up for Malis release to Boon Lott.
Contact the zoo, tell them how you feel.
Contact local officials who can help free Mali.
Go see Mali if you can, it will bring tears to your eyes.
Animals suffer at the hands of humans who only think of their ego
Please help free Mali. She deserves to live the life she was intended
to live as a free elephant.
Of Philippine government
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 17 February 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Wednesday 7
Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives
are mandated by our Constitution to make legislation.
To do their job, the same Constitution allows them to conduct hearings
in aid of legislation.
Invited to these hearings are resource persons
- not accused persons who need to be investigated or cross-examined.
These are not and should not be investigations,
or worse, trials - which are unconstitutional.
And many of these hearings or investigations
or trials do not result in the creation of
Because of the free, nationwide TV coverage, our publicity hungry
senators and congressmen really grandstand in verbal bullying in
aid, not of legislation, but of titillation and demolition.
We have enough laws. And weve had enough of senators and congressmen
who waste taxpayer money in pursuit of personal political glory.
It is time to remove one layer of national politicians - replace
them with the new legislature of governors and mayors - thus decentralizing
our government and saving billions.
"I disapprove of what you say
But I will defend to the death your right to say it"
The Southeast Asian Times, Friday 16 February 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Wednesday 7
President Dutertes threat to UP student ralliers
sends repressive signals.
Is it only the administrations bloggers who may invoke Voltaires
I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the
death your right to say it?
The youths hearts and minds are part of the shaping of Philippine
democracy - indeed a very human journey of both faith and doubt.
But, as Wilson Mizner once said, I respect faith, but doubt
is what gets you an education.
One hopes that even now that we have made some progress from a state
of democracy which Aristotle observed as
from the hands of men of low birth, no property and vulgar employments.
On a lighter vein, for there is wisdom in occasionally laughing
at ourselves, we could enjoy the humor of Logan Pearsall Smith:
The denunciation of the young is a necessary part of the
hygiene of older people, and greatly assists the circulation of
Youthful vitality might be flawed, but a society transforming itself
needs it: A dead thing can go with the stream, but only
a living thing can go against it. (Aphorism). May I paraphrase
J.B. Priestley as a last sobering thought: Like its politicians,
and its war, so society has the youth it deserves.
for United Nations to investigate
Drug war killings in the Philippines
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 15 February 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Saturday 11
A Philippine court filed murder charges against three
police officers for the alleged summary execution of 17-year-old
Kian Loyd delos Santos during an antidrug operation on August 16,
2017, in Caloocan City, north of Manila.
The killing of the teenager prompted mass protests.
Police antidrug officers claimed they killed Delos Santos after
he fired on them during an antidrug operation.
However, both witness accounts and close circuit television camera
footage indicate that police executed the unarmed youth while he
was in police custody and dumped his body in an alley.
This case is a rare instance in which the Philippine justice system
has taken genuine steps to prosecute anyone for killing suspected
drug users and dealers under President Dutertes war
on drugs, launched in June 2016.
The handful of previous prosecutions of police personnel implicated
in the thousands of alleged drug war killings have not resulted
In July, Philippine National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa reinstated
18 police officersfacing homicide charges in the 2016 killing of
Rolando Espinosa Sr., mayor of Albuera, Leyte. Dela Rosa announced
that those officers, released on bail in June, can be utilized
again by the PNP for whatever assignment.
This, despite compelling evidence that the officers committed premeditated
murder when they shot Espinosa to death in a jail cell
on November. 5, 2016. Espinosa had surrendered to the police following
public accusations by Mr. Duterte that he was a drug trafficker.
Accountability for drug war killings has been hobbled by the refusal
of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the government to allow
for an independent inquiry of those deaths.
Dela Rosa has dismissed calls for such an investigation as legal
harassment and said the demand dampens the morale
of police officers.
In August, Mr. Duterte vowed to pardon and promote any police personnel
implicated in unlawful killings.
Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano has sought to deter
calls for accountability by deploying blatant falsehoods to whitewash
the antidrug campaign as lawful and rights-respecting.
These challenges underscore the need for a United Nations-led investigation
to help provide accountability for all drug war victims, including
Kian Loyd delos Santos.
Human Rights Watch
Philippine grandmothers ask questions about
The administration of the deadly Dengvaxia
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 14 February 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 9 February
My grandson Isaac is one of the 830,000 children administered
with the Dengvaxia vaccine. Ordinary layman that I am, I think the
core of the problem emanated from political intervention with the
consent of former health secretary Janette Garin.
Who gave the order to Garin to purchase and implement?
Sino kaya ang tirador if she is not the one?
Who gave the assurance for funding?
Who gave the legal basis that it does not violate election
Why did then President Noynoy Aquino give the go signal after the
For and on behalf of the 830,000 children vaccinated with Dengvaxia,
my grandson included, I want to know:
How long do we have to wait for the vaccine to do damage?
One, two, three years ?
Does anyone feel the pain of the parents whose children died?
Can you quantify the cost for the loss of a loved one?
What is this we hear that drug companies are funding government
personnel from the Department of Health, (DOH) Food and Drug Administration,
Is this country already under mafia-controlled
multinational drug companies?
Will the government correct the situation?
To Department of Health (DOH) and Department of Budget and Management
officials under P-Noy, among others, have you considered the future
of the 830,000 persons who are still in a quandary until now?
We just hope that your conscience will bother you daily with sleepless
nights coupled with nightmares for the next 2,274 days (830,000
vaccinated individuals divided by 365 days) if ever you live that
Senate investigation to start into
acquisition of war ships
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 13 February 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 9 February
This is in response to That sinking feeling:
The story behind Navy chiefs sudden fall 28 December
2017 by Nikko Dizon regarding the alleged anomalies of the frigate
acquisition project of the Philippine Navy.
I have been following this issue with great interest since I am
really alarmed with how powerless we are in international disputes.
We need warships to give us a certain measure of confidence in dealing
with other countries that wish to intrude on our sovereignty.
As a concerned citizen, my view on this is simple.
Let me throw out a few questions which have been bugging me to start
the discussion. Why are some people so hellbent on insisting that
a certain brand be used for the so-called combat management system
for the warships we want to buy? As I understood it, isnt
this against our procurement law?
To add to all these, it seems to me that the words used in the arguments
are mere copy-paste of each other, from news
sources, blogsites, to statements of politicians.
I am not one to buy into conspiracy theories, but the similarities
are really obvious. Is this nothing more than an elaborate PR operation
or operation giba?
It makes me wonder who would benefit the most should the project
fail. I hope that the people behind all of these realize what they
They are endangering the security of the Filipino people by blocking
a very important modernization project.
I cant wait for the Senate investigation to start so we can
finally shed light on the matter.
Philippines demand reimbursement
From Sanofi Pasteur for Dengvaxia vaccine
Southeast East Asian Times, Monday 12 February 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday 8 February
The Department of Health has finally come to its senses
by demanding a full reimbursement of P3.5-billion-worth of Dengvaxia
vaccines from Sanofi Pasteur, bought under the Department of Health
(DOH) massive immunization program.
I fully blame Sanofi for withholding its advisory during the contract
signing that the vaccine, when given to subjects who have not been
previously infected by the dengue virus, can develop a more serious
form of the disease called dengue hemorrhagic fever with overall
bleeding tendencies to vital organs like the brain, liver, lungs,
gastrointestinal tract and skin. With uncontrolled bleeding, the
patient goes into hemorrhagic shock or syndrome and ultimately,
dies. Corticosteroids had been tried but were not successful.
R. Reblando, MD.,
Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines,
Call for LGBT to be included
In Japan school curriculum
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 11 February 2018
First published in The Japan Times, Friday 26 January 2018
Its time to make a change!
Regarding the January18 story, Kojien dictionary criticized for
inaccurate entry on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender
A vast majority of Japanese citizens are still uneducated about
these existing communities.
The inaccuracy in defining the term LGBT by the publisher of Japans
most authoritative dictionary is certainly an issue that should
not be taken lightly.
However, the bigger problem revolves around the fact that school
administrators and educators have yet to expand awareness of the
LGBT community and modify their current ineffective school curriculum.
As Mameta Endo states, the mistake by the authoritative dictionary
reflects the reality of Japanese society, where many are still uninformed
on issues related to sexual minorities.
The most simple solution is for school administrations to start
organizing an LGBT-inclusive school curriculum, teaching students
about homosexuality as part of sex education. Doing so will not
only help educate students on the topics of the LGBT community,
but will also spread awareness and safety to those regardless of
sexual orientation or gender identity.
Japan certainly has a long way to go, but education is our best
for the USA to apologise
support given to Pol Pot
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 10 February 2018
First published in the Khmer Times, Wednesday 7 February
To ignore or to rewrite the past are efficient tools
for governments that want to fool the people.
The US embassy in Phnom Penh on Sunday gave a new example of such
diplomacy as the patriotic art to lie (Ambrose
In a statement about January 7, the US embassy wrote that Phnom
Penh was liberated from the notorious Khmer Rouge regime.
You read well: the representation of the US government is calling
January 7, 1979, a liberation.
More: they celebrate the ingenuity, courage and perseverance
with which the Cambodian people have emerged from this period of
Who are they kidding?
What was the US reaction in 1979 about that liberation?
A strong condemnation of the military violation of Kampuchean
sovereignty and replacement of the government by force.
They said that the Pol Pots government was the only
legitimate government of Cambodia.
In 1979, not that word about a liberation.
They decided that the legitimate ambassador of the Cambodian people
at the UN was a representative of Pol Pot.
The victims were represented by one of their torturers.
They decided to support a decision that prohibited any aid for the
development of Cambodia, a country devastated by the US bombing
and a population of survivors from one of the worst criminal regimes
in the twentieth century.
In 1979, the USA denied the right of Vietnam to protect its own
security as it was, since 1975, under violent and bloody attacks
by the Pol Pot regime that had caused thousands of casualties.
They denied to Vietnam the exercise of a right recognised by article
51 of the UN Charter.
In 1979, the USA denied the request for liberation expressed by
thousands of Cambodians that had fled to Vietnam to escape the genocidal
regime of Pol Pot. The US that pretended to defend human rights
refused to recognise the fundamental right of the Cambodian people
to overthrow a regime of terror and to request the assistance of
a foreign country to achieve such a goal (a right yet recognised
in 1971 to the people of Eastern Pakistan that became Bangladesh).
The US position lasted 12 years.
A delay in the reconstruction of a Cambodian society and the recreation
of human resources that has still consequences today.
Instead of giving the impression that they used to support the Cambodian
people after the 1979 liberation, the USA should apologise for their
diplomatic and military support given to the Pol Pots movement
during the 12 years that followed the fall of this barbaric regime.
Raoul M. Jennar, PhD,
Doctor in Khmer Studies,
for China to assure ASEAN
That China is not pursuing an expansionist
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 9 February 2018
First published in the Khmer Times, Wednesday 7 February 2018
Chinas growing influence is not welcome by Asean
member countries such as Singapore, the Philippines, Vietnam and
Within the increased power competition between China and the US,
when Cambodia is seen as Chinas vessel state, Singapore is
seen as the protector of the American international order.
The Philippines is seen as the hypocrite that cannot cry foul in
its own house.
Vietnam is seen as the complicater or like pills
that give everyone sleepless nights at every multilateral forum.
Indonesia is seen as the big brother without followers.
Malaysia is becoming invisible.
Laos, Myanmar and Brunei are voiceless.
Lastly, Thailand is seen as the number one escaper that no one can
In the good old days, Indonesia used to have big clout when it was
holding a neutral position that could accommodate and give space
for maneuvering for both big and small states in Asean.
It no longer does that once it became one of the actors in influence
Externally, the US is dividing Asean.
According to the National Security Strategy of the US published
in December last year, the US will strengthen quadrilateral
cooperation with Japan, Australia and India and will re-energise
alliances with the Philippines and Thailand and strengthen partnerships
with Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and others to help
them become cooperative maritime partners.
The US has shown assertiveness at the beginning of the year and
shows no restraint in instigating China. Its rationale is all
operations are conducted in accordance with international law and
demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever
international law allows.
For this year, it is likely that the US, India, Japan and Australia
will gear up their mutual coordination within quadrilateral
cooperation to give an impression that Chinas containment
policy is heating up.
This will create tension in the region unless North Korea once again
diverts regional security attention.
If such tension between China and quadrilateral alliances
lasts, coupled with a partially unwelcoming Asean, Chinas
image will likely suffer.
Amid such an unfavorable environment, maybe China should start rethinking
its Asean policy to give less focus on multilateral engagement and
promote more bilateral dialogues. It is in the interests of China
and all Asean member states if China diverts its focus to promote
trust and confidence not through money, but through
bilateral dialogues and practical cooperation with the understanding
that some states see China as a money-bags to
be exploited and blackmailed by their unfavorable positions.
Should China wish to use Asean platforms to promote its image as
a benign superpower and that its growing influence is to everyones
benefit, China needs to assure all the suspicious states that it
will not pursue an expansionist policy that it
once endured and was humiliated as a victim of Japans aggression
For the current environment between China and Asean, trust is elusive
and a mere illusion and China needs to accept this inconvenient
A growing concern
Papua New Guinea
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 8 February 2018
First published in the National, Wednesday 7 February 2018
Sorcery is becoming more common in all parts of Papua
New Guinea and appearing on our daily media.
People are blaming and accusing each other for practising sorcery.
I say that the practice of sorcery is real.
This is due to my personal experience, which I was one of the victim
of sorcery-related illnesses.
Medicine could not help me cure me, so I had to travel all the way
from Pangia Secondary School in Southern Highlands to the north
coast of Madang for a witchdoctor to treat me.
And I got better after the treatment, which would have cost my parents
almost K2000 to seek treatment in a hospital.
Of course there are lack of conventional evidences, but the practice
Philemon L. Piriwi,
Yamba Village (RAKS)
Papua New Guinea
In Thai government report on Rakhine state
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 6 February 2018
First published in the Bangkok Post, Tuesday 6 February
Former foreign minister Surakiart Sathirathai says
one of the objectives of the
government-appointed advisory board he heads in Myanmar is to narrow
gap of international interpretation and domestic interpretation
of what happened in Rakhine state".
It is a challenging objective because the Myanmar government and
are obviously in denial about the violence in Rakhine.
That's why they banned independent media, UN agencies and humanitarian
organisations from northern Rakhine after the latest violence began
The access ban creates a delicate issue for the board led by Mr
Its role is to provide advice to another panel formed by the Myanmar
government to implement recommendations on Rakhine state made in
August by a commission headed by former UN secretary-general, Kofi
Noting that "full transparency is the most effective way
to dispel false and
inaccurate representations of the situation on the ground",
the Annan commission recommended "full and regular"
access for media to all areas of Rakhine.
It is this recommendation that raises questions over State Counsellor
Suu Kyi's reportedly "furious" response when Bill
Richardson raised the issue of
the two Reuters reporters on trial in Yangon before his dramatic
from the board.
Mr Richardson cites her as saying that the decision to charge the
under the 1923 Official Secrets Act, after they were arrested in
circumstances with documents about the security operation in Rakhine
the work of the advisory board".
How can that be if the Annan commission specifically recommended
media access to Rakhine?
As the commission noted in its final report, policies based on media
restriction that inhibit the flow of information are counterproductive.
It added: "More than anything, they undermine trust in the
Government, and give the impression that Myanmar has something to
Mr Surakiart said he believed the credibility of the advisory board
despite Mr Richardson's departure.
Many will be watching to see if the board's final report to the
Myanmar government uses "Rohingya", or if it acquiesces
to policy and calls the victims of violence "Bengalis",
because Nay Pyi Taw wants the world to believe they are all illegal
immigrants from Bangladesh.
of authoritarian rule
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 6 February 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday 5 February
The present administration seems to be rattling impulsively
toward authoritarian rule.
See how it appointed former military and police officers to key
government or civilian positions.
What expertise did these men in uniform learn to make them competent
in the field of civilian posts like environment, ecology, food authority,
irrigation administration, etc.?
Recent events show how this government gradually tries to destroy
the check and balance roles of its coequal branches in government
including the Fourth Estate, the bedrock of a working democracy.
It coerces into submission through a supermajority coalition, like
in the case of the House of Representatives, which is currently
becoming too subservient with what the executive branch wishes.
Apparently unable to stand the continued independence of the Supreme
Court with Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno at the helm, the minions
of this administration ran roughshod into stockpiling a mountain
of cases out of trumped-up molehill issues.
All these were done ostensibly to shame, maim and coerce into compliance
or at worse, force the lady Chief Justice to vacate her position
out of pressure or fear for her life and her familys.
Once it succeeds to overthrow CJ Sereno, a new and more submissive
chief justice would then be handpicked by the President assuring
him of a Supreme Court that kowtows to his whims and caprices.
The recent radical decision of the Securities and Exchange Commission
against Rappler canceling its registration to continue operating
as an online media entity without due process is a bad omen to the
independence and objectivity of the press as the Fourth Estate.
It proves the present dispensation is dead serious in maiming and
killing dissent at all costs.
Earlier threats hurled by the President against critical media are
worrisome indications that this administration abhors the plurality
of opinions, which are hallmarks of a good leadership and a vital
element in forming best decisions in a strong democracy.
Exchange of opinions and ideas whether positive or negative are
primordial ingredients for an intelligent, enlightened, morally
As citizens of this country who benefited from over 10,000 brave
young men and women who had shed their blood against the Marcos
dictatorship to regain our lost democracy and freedom, let us learn
from our darkest lessons and experiences by being vigilant.
Lest it would be late to learn that our hard-earned democracy has
been snatched away from us by those in authority who profess to
defend the democratic constitution.
But they lied.
Romy O. Ponte,
Papua New Guinea people
Rather than criminals
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 5 February 2018
First published in the National, Friday 2 February 2018
The police force is an important institution in any
It protects and guides citizens accordingly.
Once a person commits a crime or breaks any law, police then step
in to deal with him or her.
Some police officers act beyond standard practice.
They take advantage of ordinary people, destroy their properties
and worst of all, spit betelnut on someones face.
That is a very animalistic behaviour.
I witnessed this on two different occasions at Gerehu.
The first one was between a taxi driver and police officers next
to the main bus stop.
An officer spat a mouthful of betelnut right onto the face and body
of a taxi driver who stand helplessly.
Members of the public who saw what happened were shocked.
The other occurred on the opposite side of the same bus stop at
It happened to the driver of the Route 9 bus, I was in.
I saw officers on this Chinese-donated vehicle approach the bus
driver, ask him if he knew how to drive, hurled verbal abuse at
him and then landed a punch on his face.
He then copped a mouthful of betelnut spit from one of the officers
s we watched helplessly.
The majority of our people are now in great fear of police, rather
This is so unlike the past.
This is an appeal to the police hierarchy to train and their officers
to treat and talk to the people with respect, according to the laws
of this country.
We hope to see change in the near future.
Nongii Eniil Ngalkhay,
Papua New Guinea
Philippines give green light
And Indonesian vessels to enter Philippine waters
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 4 February 2018
First published in the Star, Friday 2 February 2018
Last Saturday, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gave the green
light for Malaysian and Indonesian vessels to enter Philippine waters
in pursuit of pirates, kidnappers and militants.
The clearance to enter our neighbours waters is part of a
trilateral maritime security agreement discussed by Malaysias
defence and foreign ministers with their Philippine and Indonesian
Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) chief Hazani Ghazali welcomed
this new development.
The opening of the maritime borders between the three countries
will cut the lag time between when a Malaysian vessel has to halt
its pursuit at the border and when the neighbouring country continues
Before this, criminals and terrorists were able to seek refuge upon
reaching Philippine waters because entry by foreign armed vessels
without permission is an intrusion into the nations sovereignty.
Esscom oversees security in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone),
a special security area spanning some 1,700km of coastline in the
east coast of Sabah.
To boost the security of Esszone even further, vessels used by Esscom
should be able to outrun the fastest speedboats, or carry a high-speed
helicopter on its deck, to drive fear into any intruders and inspire
confidence for safe passage in the Sulu Sea.
Crime or corruption occurs when perpetrators think they can get
away with it, including snatch thieves on motorcycles, as it is
common for many of them not to stop at red lights.
Likewise, if the escape routes are cut off, it would not be just
another day in the office for pirates, kidnappers and terrorists
should they strike again.
Call for amendment to
Local Government Code
Philippines under federalism
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 3 February 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 2 February
As an American living in the Philippines, please allow
me to give advice on the federal system.
Although many Americans like how the federal structure works there,
they have a different history.
The United States of America started out as 13 separate states,
not one nation. People identified first with their state, and after
decades, identified primarily as an American.
This is not the Philippine experience.
There is a bigger problem.
Depending on which state you live in of course, Americans pay about
one-half of their taxes to their city and state, and the other half
to the federal government. People like it because the local people
best know where their money should go, and it is easier to keep
track of government projects.
Here, federalism plans are vague.
But its easy to see the big financial problem.
According to the National Statistics Office, the National Capital
Region and Calabarzon together produce 53 percent of the nations
Under federalism, why would the local elected officials of these
rich areas fund projects in needy South Cotabato or Eastern Samar?
Even if the infrastructure is needed in these provinces, why would
the local elected officials be generous to outsiders?
Clearly, underfunded Mindanao and Samar will sink.
Saying this, I realize that when I go to the province, people complain
about the arrogant rules made by our national government.
Their complaints seem justified.
But theres no need to change the Constitution to address that;
it can be done by amending the Local Government Code and professionalizing
The provinces should be are of the false promises of their local
Under federalism, the needed money will not be shared.
Be careful what you wish for!
Jonathan. C. Foe,
Call for mandatory death
In Malaysia for corruption
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 2 February 2018
First published in the Star, Wednesday 31 January 2018
Social media has become a hobgoblin thats running
amok with its swiftness and ease of use.
It has become the playing field for calumnious postings without
much regard for human etiquette and respect.
The Malaysian political arena has not been spared either.
One of the favourite allegations among the cyber troopers is corruption.
Corruption allegations have been directed at both the Government
and Opposition. Half-baked evidence are presented
to prove the allegations.
This is not good for most of the rakyat who do not have the capacity
to vet through such allegations.
This letter is written in the hope that corruption will be totally
wiped out and no further allegations will be made.
Like it or not, being exposed to such unrestrained propaganda can
leave a bad impression on the rakyat.
It has become deeply ingrained among some that Malaysia is not a
country of law and they feel the leaders are able to carry out whatever
I beg to differ.
Malaysia is still governed by law.
Our nations leaders still have to toe the line set by our
As such, to prove that the Government is sincere in combating corruption,
I implore it to introduce a mandatory death penalty for corruption.
We stifled drug trafficking in Malaysia via the mandatory death
We can do the same for corruption.
Let us make Malaysia a respectable country with zero tolerance for
Mohamed Hisham Yahya,
for Philippine senate to ensure
change for federalism
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 1 February 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday 30 January
Senators insist that they should vote separately for
or against Charter change.
Big question: What happens if the Senate cannot get the three-fourths
It will mean that all the blah
as well as the work of the consultative committee headed by former
chief justice Reynato Puno would go down the drain.
The House of Representatives leadership is correct that the voting
must be three-fourths majority of both chambers to ensure that Charter
change for federalism shall push through.
Consuelo de amor propio - allow the senators to vote separately,
but in computing the three-fourths majority, the total must be the
entire Senate and Congress membership.
We should not allow the Senate to trap Charter change.
Obesity increasing in Thailand
not in Laos
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 1 February 2018
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday 29 January 2018
Re: "Fast-food track to obesity", in Bangkok
Post, Monday 29 January 2018
I'm not sure how PostBag contributor Eva Redelinghuys has managed
to come up
with her unsupported observation that "since about 2010
the number of fat people - especially in Bangkok - has increased
yearly", which she attributes to fast food outlets here.
She then suggests Laos has acted better in never allowing fast food
that country, resulting in "hardly a fat person in the street".
Perhaps dear Eva is unaware that Laos is a communist state with
its poverty-stricken people unlikely to be able to afford fast food,
or fattening food for that matter.
Is that the price she would want for slim people?
allows colonial heritage buildings
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 30 January 2018
First published in the Star, Friday 26 January 2018
I was driving past the old Railway Station in Kuala
Lumpur when I noticed that this national treasure was in such a
There was even a tree plant growing in a crevice that was very visible
This is an iconic building and a national treasure.
How can the responsible authority allow such deterioration to occur
to such a magnificent building that has framed the covers of numerous
books and featured in calendars, postcards, etc?
Surely there is sufficient funding to maintain and care for our
countrys heritage buildings?
Some four years ago, I enjoyed high tea at Seri Carcosa with several
A few days ago, I went back to make a reservation for tea at this
beautiful colonial property hotel only to be informed that it is
no longer a hotel and had stopped serving tea since last year.
I was also utterly disappointed when I saw just how run-down this
national historical property was.
Someone with a sense of responsibility needs to take stock of our
national heritage buildings and maintain them with the care and
love they demand.
Otherwise our future generations will have nothing but concrete
offices and malls to call their nations heritage buildings!
troubled and disappointed observer,
Outbreak of rabbies in
to quality of vacine
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 29 January 2018
First published in the Star, Thursday 18 January 2018
I refer to the letter Learn from Bali
to contain rabies in The Star, January 13.
Yes, the initiative outlined and initiated by the Food and Agriculture
Organization (FAO) and World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)
when the outbreak occurred did reduce rabies significantly among
the stray population in Bali.
However, in the past three years, the outbreak of rabies on the
island has spiked and the government of Indonesia has reinitiated
the culling of strays.
The main reason for this outbreak was the source of the rabies vaccine
Instead of getting the vaccine from the international source, the
government opted for those produced within Indonesia.
The quality of the vaccine was not of international standard.
This shows that unless one is going to carry out an effective Trap-Neuter-Release
campaign of all stray dogs, the reoccurrence of a rabies outbreak
will be very high.
A Trap-Neuter-Release and rabies vaccination
campaign needs to be carried out over a span of at least two years
in order to reduce significantly the population of strays as well
as the risk of a rabies outbreak.
Kalimantan has an open border with Sarawak and Sabah. Until one
can concretely prevent stray dogs from crossing the border, both
states will be constantly challenged with a rabies outbreak.
Zoonotic diseases are of significant and serious importance across
the world, and until one can eradicate these diseases we have to
be alert at detecting as well as controlling a possible outbreak.
Dr Amreet Singh Gill
Filipino millennials are intelligent
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 28 January 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday 16 January
It is so revolting and disgusting how politicians
act and speak, showing how interested they are to hold on to their
They leave a legacy of greediness, even to their children and grandchildren.
The Filipino people will always despise and remember them with hatred,
even their own families, I hope.
Millennials are intelligent and think straight.
They cant be fooled.
May the Lord bless and guide those who are true servants of the
Im already sickly and old and cannot participate in rallies.
Please fight for us who voted for and trusted deserving public servants.
MA. Luisa Cruz,
Call for Malaysians to adopt
The Dialog Rakyat code of ethical conduct
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 27 January 2018
First published in the Star, Tuesday 16 January 2018
The increasing tide of divisive rhetoric and actions,
which threaten our national harmony and make a mockery of our proclaimed
adherence to moderation, is causing alarm among concerned citizens.
As the 14th general election approaches, this tide is becoming a
Now, hate politics is also coming into the picture so much so that
the Prime Minister has recently come out strongly against it.
Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam has given an excellent list of proposals
on how to combat this hate politics in his letter, Keep
hate politics out of GE14 in The Star, January 9.
For sustained national harmony and to minimise the impact of hate
politics, I think Malaysian citizens should adopt and practise a
certain code of ethical conduct.
In this respect, I would urge concerned Malaysians to adopt and
practise the Dialog Rakyat code of ethical conduct and make it our
New Year resolution.
The code of ethical conduct is as follows:
We, the concerned and responsible citizens of Malaysia, undertake
to adopt a set of behavioural patterns that embody moderation, respect,
understanding, trust, transparency, tolerance and accommodation
Respect for one another regardless of ethnicity, religion, geographical
region, status or political leaning; and Recognition of our similarities
and acceptance of our differences.
We, the concerned and responsible citizens of Malaysia agree to:
Respect the Federal Constitution and uphold the Rukunegara so as
to preserve the independence and sovereignty of our nation;
Promote activities that nurture civic consciousness, civic nationalism,
patriotism, national cohesiveness, harmony and unity at all levels
Advocate justice and fairness, transparency and integrity in all
aspects of management and governance;
Resolve contentions and differences through constructive engagement,
always seeking for equitable, mutually beneficial outcomes;
Refrain from actions that offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate
Reject any form of discrimination, bigotry, extremism, unjustified
acts causing harm to any individual or group, including any action
that can disrupt harmony and cohesion; and Fight corruption and
kleptocracy at all levels and in all its manifestations.
We, the concerned and responsible citizens of Malaysia, resolve
Adhere to and promote the Code of Ethical Conduct, and to Mobilise
citizens towards a Citizen Movement for National Cohesion and Unity.
This code of ethical conduct is the outcome of the first Dialog
Rakyat on National Cohesion and Unity held in December 2016. Since
then, three other dialogues have been convened to translate the
code of ethical conduct into actionable practices respectively
for individuals, universities and community groups such as residents
associations and rukun tetanga.
Dialog Rakyat is an initiative of seven organisations initially,
Association of Voices of Peace, Conscience and Reason (PCORE), Parent
Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE), Malaysian Invention
and Design Society (MINDS), Nation Building School (NBS), G25, Inter-faith
Spiritual Fellowship (INSaF) and Asian Strategy and Leadership
Institute (ASLI). They were joined later by Yayasan 1Malaysia and
the National Council of Womens Organisations, Malaysia (NCWO).
The dialogues have been jointly convened by a number of universities,
residents associations and rukun tetanga.
More are planned for 2018 to get the support of other organisations
and citizen groups.
We can continue to express concern and assign blame about the unhealthy
development in our country but we cannot control the action of those
with selfish agendas.
It is better therefore to focus on what we can control ourselves
and together we CAN make a difference.
Tan Sri Omar Abdul Rahman,
Dialog Rakyat for National Cohesion and Unity
Kuala Lumpur ,
for Philippines Supreme Court justices
To behave with cold neutrality
Southeast Asian Times, 26 January 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Wednesday 17 January
I really find it very amusing how the current Supreme
Court justices are falling all over each other in giving derogatory
testimonies before the House justice committee investigating the
impeachment charges against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
The justices are not supposed to blabber about their decisions outside
of their own conclave.
Once promulgated and sent out for public consumption, the decisions
(the Supreme Courts, not theirs individually) speak for themselves.
Further pontificating and editorializing about them by any sitting
justice or even the writer thereof is uncalled for and erodes the
integrity of the high courts decisions.
In contrast to the time when the late chief justice Renato Corona
was the one in the dock for betrayal of public trust and his own
cabal of associate justices was circling the wagons to protect him,
the point the public is perceiving right now is, the justices who
have gleefully denounced Sereno really hate their chief that much!
Politics is written all over the entire scenario.
And we thought all along that Supreme Court justices can rise above
themselves and behave at all times with cold neutrality!
But the picture we see is a cat that just ate the canary!
Concern in Malaysia of increasing number
Of elephants killed on the road
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 25 January 2018
First published in the New Straits Times, Monday 22 January 2018
Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) is astounded by the death
of another wild elephant in Gerik, Perak.
In the incident on January 3, a 40-year-old female elephant was
electrocuted at a construction site.
Elephants enter populated areas to search for food. These pachyderms
have lost their natural habitats due to land clearing.
According to an elephant expert, natural habitats are lost when
roads are built across grasslands, causing automobile traffic.
Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) other non-governmental organisations
and the public have expressed concern over the increasing number
of roadkill involving elephants and other species.
However, it appears that the Malaysian Highway Authority has not
addressed the issue, as many letters from Sahabat Alam Malaysia
(SAM) have gone unanswered.
Elephants are exposed to dangers from poachers, automobile accidents,
poisoning, and are shot or killed by plantation workers.
The electrocution of this lactating female elephant brings to mind
a similar incident in Sabah, where seven pygmy elephants died in
an abandoned quarry pond in 2016.
It is irresponsible to leave work sites that are hazardous to humans
Which government body, department or agency is responsible for putting
up the cabin and later abandoning it upon completion of the project
without disconnecting its electrical supply?
Who will be held responsible for this unsafe work site?
What if a person had walked near the cabin and stepped on the live
The loss of one elephant is a number less, but what about its baby?
It may follow the herd, but what are its chances of survival without
This death should not be taken lightly by the Department of Wildlife
and National Parks.
Given this situation and neglect of safety protocols, SAM urges
the department to probe into the incident and release the results
of its findings to the public.
S.M. Mohd Idris,
President, Sahabat Alam Malaysia,
Call for stand-alone law
For workplace dress code in Malaysia
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 24 January 2018
First published in the Star, Wdnesday 17 January 2017
Recently, the Human Resources Ministry announced that
the proposed draft of an amendment to the Employment Act 1955 to
address the issue of workplace discrimination is being finalised.
The move was initiated in light of the ban on women wearing headscarves
as frontline staff in some hotels.
However, it is worth noting that the Employment Act 1955 only applies
to certain categories of employees, namely those whose monthly salary
does not exceed RM2,000, workers engaged in manual labour regardless
of their salary or in the operation or maintenance of mechanically
propelled vehicles, those who supervise or oversee other employees
engaged in manual labour, employees engaged in any capacity on a
vessel (subject to certain other conditions), and domestic servants.
Furthermore, multiple parts of the Employment Act do not apply to
domestic servants, including termination benefits, hours of work
and maternity protection.
Also, for employees to come within the purview of the Employment
Act 1955, they must be employed under a Contract of Service
as opposed to a Contract for Services.
In addition, the Employment Act 1955 is only applicable in Peninsular
Malaysia and Labuan. Sabah and Sarawak are governed by their respective
As such, it would be difficult to address workplace discrimination
under the existing legislation.
Another option which the Government could consider is to have a
stand-alone legislation to address the issue.
Under a stand-alone law, various aspects of workplace discrimination
could be addressed clearly and properly, including employees
dress code, age, individual disability, health, genetic information,
national origin, and personal beliefs.
Dr Muzaffar Syah Mallow,
Faculty of Syaria and law,
Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia,
governance in the Philippines
Not in conflict with federalization
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 23 January 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday 18 January
I am pleased to read Michael Henry Ll. Yusingcos
commentary, Decentralized governance is the goal,
in Philippine Inquirer Wednesday 10 January 2018.
I agree with him and I hasten to add that an improved, enhanced
and perhaps an expanded decentralized governance
is now necessary.
Many countries have long been working on decentralized governance.
The Philippines is a recognized leader on decentralization in the
Asian region, yet ours is not a perfect model, and many arising
challenges make it imperative to take a second look at the Local
Government Code of 1991.
Thats what the Senate committee on local government under
the chairmanship of Sen. Sonny Angara is working on.
I am privileged to be part of the technical working group of this
Initial scoping by the group shows that patches of good
governance do not suffice anymore.
There is a need to upscale and expand local governance to meet the
complex challenges, such as disaster and climate risk management,
the consolidation of solid waste management, and the horrendous
management of traffic, infrastructure development and connectivity
- all of which cut across towns and cities.
Disasters such as typhoons do not choose towns or cities to hit
because natural calamities know no political boundaries.
There is a need to go the way of a bigger territorial development
or an interzonal development cooperation especially if the country
wants to manage natural resources.
Watersheds, for example, cut across towns or even provinces.
These natural resources are the bases of wealth and revenues, and
as such, it is necessary to manage and sustain them.
All these need a targeted, shared management of wider territories
beyond voluntary interzonal cooperation.
A robust, well-thought-out and expanded system of local governance
is not in conflict with federalization, as the Swiss put it. Still
and all, decentralized governance remains the goal and the challenge.
Edna. E. A. Co.,
The Tax Reform for Acceleration
and Inclusion Act
Response to neoliberal push
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 22 January 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday 18 January
The new TRAIN (Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion)
Act will bring about the reverse of President Dutertes electoral
promise of encouraging overseas Filipino workers to go back to the
Philippines for good.
Instead of sending us home, TRAIN will keep us abroad for a long
time while also sending millions more just so we can answer the
needs of our families.
Yet again, the burden of President Dutertes kowtowing to foreign
lords and local oligarchs will have to be borne by poor and ordinary
Filipinos including OFWs who are mostly the main breadwinners of
their households back home.
Touted as the Duterte administrations best Christmas
gift to Filipinos, TRAIN took effect earlier this year.
The generated income from TRAIN will be used for the Build,
build, build program of the administration that is set
to benefit rich contractors and foreign companies who will be involved
in the megainfrastructure projects that are to be built not in poorest
regions but mainly where big foreign companies are operating.
Immediately, TRAINs impact on prices is already being felt.
In the next months, rates of public utilities, as well as transportation
are also set to increase. Food prices will also be soaring up as
additional taxes on oil impact production and distribution.
Such increases will have grave impacts on OFWs who are already facing
indebtedness, high recruitment fees, depressed or minimally increased
wages abroad, high fees for government requirements and difficulties
in ensuring the education and health needs - social needs that are
not provided by the
government - of their children.
To add insult to injury, TRAIN doubles the documentary stamp tax
(60 centavos now from 30 centavos) for every P200 of remittance
sent to the Philippines.
This will definitely eat into the usual amount we send to our families
already challenged to make ends meet with the effect of TRAIN on
prices of commodities.
To supposedly mitigate the impact, a cash dole-out program is going
to be implemented which, with the current rotten corrupt system,
will be just a source for more plunder and anomalies.
It will also be a temporary patch as the strategic economic capacity
of the people is not enhanced.
TRAIN responds to the neoliberal push of foreign powers, chiefly
the US government, who want to lessen the costs of business transactions
and pass it on to the consumers.
In the end, President Dutertes TRAIN will lead the Philippine
economy to more wreckage and further perpetuate the countrys
dependence on remittance and overseas labor export: another broken
promise of the President in the interest of new and old elites in
Bayan Hong Kong and Macau,
Call for Rukun Negara
as the guiding compass
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 21 January 2018
First published in the New Straits Times, Saturday 13 January
As the 14th General Election draws close, and the
various political parties go all out to woo the voters, Malaysians
should pay close attention to the manifestos of the actors, their
present and past records, and the issues and concerns that are shaping
the political milieu as they prepare to make some critical decisions
about their own future.
Pakatan Harapan, a grouping of four political parties - Parti Keadilan
Rakyat; Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia; DAP; and Parti Amanah Negara
- announced its manifesto on January 6.
While the 13-point manifesto contains some commendable elements,
it is deafeningly silent on one of the greatest challenges that
has always confronted our nation - the challenge of promoting unity
within our multireligious and multicultural society.
In the last few years, this challenge has become even more pronounced
with the decline of social interaction among people of different
ethnic backgrounds, especially in Peninsular Malaysia, and the intensification
of exclusive attitudes adopted by fringe groups in all communities
which have had an adverse impact on the social fabric.
These exclusive attitudes assume many forms. Among them are the
antics of certain vocal groups who claim to speak on behalf of Islam
when in fact their pronouncements and actions undermine the universal
essence of the religion and alienate the large non-Muslim population
in the country, including those from Sabah and Sarawak.
Some of these exclusivists even argue that since Islam is the religion
of the federation as provided for in Article 3 of the Malaysian
Constitution, the syariah should supersede existing laws and their
interpretation of certain Islamic precepts should be accepted by
all without question.
Beyond espousing respect for the Constitution, the Pakatan Harapan
manifesto does not take a clear stance against narrow interpretations
of religion or religious authoritarianism.
By the same token, the manifesto appears to be oblivious to the
danger posed by chauvinistic thinking that shows very little appreciation
of the role of the Malay language as a channel for effective inter-ethnic
interaction or the position of the Malay sultanates in shaping the
nations character and identity.
In this regard, Pakatan Harapan has not even acknowledged the one
document that was presented to the nation as its unifying ideology
and its instrument for nation-building by the fourth Yang di-Pertuan
Agong on August 31, 1970.
Recently, on Oct 10, the Conference of Rulers urged everyone - leaders,
administrators and the people as a whole - to uphold the five goals
and five principles of Rukun Negara.
It is significant that the rulers described Rukun Negara as the
guiding compass for the nation.
At a time like this, when divisive tendencies are getting stronger,
a guiding compass that articulates inclusive goals and principles
Our rulers realise this, which is why they reiterated their commitment
to Rukun Negara in its entirety a few months ago.
The least that political parties like the component parties of Pakatan
Harapan can do is endorse the clarion call of our Conference of
If Pakatan Harapan had emphasised Rukun Negara, whose first goal
is national unity, it would not only have shown that it was serious
and sincere about one of Malaysias foremost challenges, but
would have also demonstrated that it was crystal-clear about the
direction we should take as a people.
It is a lucid articulation of national goals that the people demand
and political parties should live up to this expectation if they
intend to give hope to the rakyat.
Dr Chandra Muzaffar,
Board of Trustees chairman
Call for legalisation
of cross-border transport service
Between Thailand and Malaysia
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 20 January 2018
First published in the New Straits Times, Saturday 13 January
I refer to the New Straits Times report on December
19, titled Thais flouting International Circulation Permit
May I humbly point out that the action of flouting
the International Circulation Permit (ICP) is not one-sided.
In fact, every day a number of the so-called excursion
buses have been offering scheduled services shuttling
between southern Thailand and Malaysian cities, including to and
from Kuala Lumpur, all serving beyond the 2km exemption as well,
none of which have permits from the Thai authorities.
There are also many trucks operated by Malaysian companies registered
both in Malaysia and Thailand carrying goods across the border into
Most of them serve beyond the 2km exemption, while some go even
as far as the northern part of Thailand. Rarely have these illegal
services been in the news, and for the benefit of people on both
sides of the border, the Thai authorities have all along exercised
leniency and been casual in the implementation of the rules.
In fact, every day a number of the so-called excursion
buses have been offering scheduled services shuttling
between southern Thailand and Malaysian cities, including to and
from Kuala Lumpur, all serving beyond the 2km exemption as well,
none of which have permits from the Thai authorities.
I should also point out that these services, which flout the rules,
have existed for decades and proved to be popular among tourists
and locals alike.
This shows strong spontaneous demand in cross-border services between
Thailand and Malaysia.
It is hoped that we will find a mutually agreeable arrangement that
allows the services to operate legally.
To this end, I should point out that since last year the two countries
have been working on a memorandum of understanding on the cross-border
transport of goods and another on the cross-border transport of
We hope we can conclude the MoUs, under which such cross-border
services are duly recognised and legalised as soon as possible.
We believe that they will contribute to cross-border trade and tourism
activities and a much better understanding between the peoples of
Royal Thai Embassy,
Pakatan should look at
Before criticing the government
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 19 January 2018
First published in the New Straits Times, Saturday 13 January
The articles on Selangor and Penang government property
related taxes in the New Straits Times and Berita Harian on Monday
and Tuesday are a reminder to the people in both states and also
the country that the higher cost of living is not entirely due to
the Federal Governments policy.
The writer, Isham Jalil, put forward a convincing argument that
the issue of cost of living should be put into the proper context
and that there are also other reasons for the high cost of living.
The fact is we have been overwhelmed by so many unverified opinions
that labelled the Goods and Services Tax or some other government
policy as the reasons for the higher cost of living that precious
little spotlight is shone on the opposition-ruled states.
I would be very surprised if the Pakatan governments will continue
to deny or even blame others in light of this expose by such a highly
trained person with a professional background.
The facts and figures are there for all to see.
Most damning are the two graphics showing the raising of property
related taxes by the two states which started before the implementation
of GST and more hikes as time passed.
I noticed that even the recent Pakatan manifesto mentioned taxation.
I support Ishams contention that Pakatan should look at itself
first before criticising the government.
by ASEAN Charter
In its relationship with China
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 18 January 2018
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday 5 January 2018
the Asean-Sino relationship", in December 29.
There is no doubt that the 10 Asean members will have to move beyond
self-serving diplomacy and opt for more far-sighted approaches in
their relations with China.
It demands a well-shaped multilateral diplomacy, fully adaptable
to a world characterised by global vulnerabilities, perplexities
The guiding light for such complex diplomacy is expected to be provided
Asean charter, which came into force on December 15, 2008.
Indeed, in accordance with this multilateral legal instrument Asean
shall be the
primary driving force in arrangements that it initiates and maintain
its centrality in regional cooperation.
Moreover, in the conduct of their external relations Asean member
on the basis of unity and solidarity, coordinate and endeavour to
positions and pursue joint actions.
It should be also remembered that the strategic policy directions
diplomacy are being set by the Asean Summit, upon the recommendation
Asean Foreign Ministers Meetings.
This year will offer persuasive illustrations about the capacity
of Asean to
give tangibility to its diplomatic objectives in its relationships
Sale of souvenirs made from ivory products
Are not permitted in China
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 17 January 2018
First published in the Star, Wednesday 3 January 2018
It is heartening to read about the Chinese governments
decision to impose a total ban on the sale of ivory products to
prevent the unnecessary killing of elephants.
Even online sale of souvenirs made from ivory products are not permitted
in China now.
Chinese are also not allowed to bring home souvenirs made of ivory.
This ban has reduced the price of raw ivory by 67 percent, and seizures
of ivory entering China have been cut by 80 percent.
We hope other countries will emulate the Chinese government by imposing
a ban on products made of ivory.
This will save the elephants from being killed for their tusks.
Sharks are also savagely killed for their fins because of the demand
for their cartilage to make soup.
The cartilage in shark fins is tasteless, but the addition of crab
meat and other ingredients in the cooking makes the soup tasty.
Shark fins, which were difficult to obtain in the olden days, were
dishes on the tables of the rich and imperial families in China.
And now, many people are consuming shark fin soup.
But cruel methods used by fishermen cutting the fins of live
sharks and throwing them back into the sea are disgusting.
People should stop eating shark fin soups to prevent the brutal
killing of sharks.
We hope that the Chinese authorities and other governments will
ban the sale of shark fins as well, to save the killing of sharks
for their fins.
Another novelty dish is the braising of bear paws in China, which
has led to bears being killed for their paws.
The cruel ways of extracting the bile of the bears for making Chinese
medicine is another inhumane treatment of animals.
But not to forget, feeding geese to artificially increase the size
of their livers for food in the West should also be discouraged
to prevent cruelty.
We hope that people will refrain from using and consuming products
or foods derived from animals using cruel methods.
We also hope that all governments in the world will ban the sale
of such products.
to stop interferring
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 16 January 2017
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday 12 January 2018
The media report of a group of former MPs from the
Northeast paying a visit to
three of their party's "respected elders" should
be a cause for concern for
democratically minded Thais.
The first "elder" is Thailand's former prime minister
and former army chief.
This man is now 86 years old.
Some 20 years ago, the government under this PM was responsible
for the 1997 economic crisis that affected many countries across
Many blamed him for the tumult that took place in Thailand in the
The second "elder" (85), is the caretaker leader
of Thailand biggest party.
He is another elderly Thai who cannot say with pride that he has
done anything good for society.
The last is a notorious politician (84) who came to prominence by
acting as a local boss in the Northeast - after becoming owner of
a fleet of transport trucks operating in the region.
During his time as a cabinet minister in the early 2000s, this person
alleged to have ordered for a piece of land that belonged to a Buddhist
to be transformed into a privately owned golf course.
Be that as it may, he could not be brought to trial because of a
lack of evidence.
It looks like Thailand's road to democracy is doomed as long as
these three octogenarians keep interfering in politics - instead
of taking care of their great-great grandchildren!
media seems to shy away
From criticism of the Duterte administration
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 15 January 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, 10 January 2018
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Ceres Doyos column,
SOS for polices mistaken targets, in Philippine
Inquirer 4 January 2018.
As a former naval officer and also a Boy Scout, it was good to see
how she used that traditional signal.
Sadly, it does not seem to matter what the innocent do, the use
of deadly force seems to be in the institutional culture of the
Philippine National Police!
I was most impressed by Ceres willingness to call a spade
a spade, so to speak. So many media commentators seem to shy away
from criticism of the Duterte administration and its armed forces
on the streets.
With trigger happy police, encouraged by a buffoon for chief of
the PNP, and the encouragement of the President who seems to wish
to solve so many issues with violence, Mandaluyong was an accident
waiting to happen.
Thanks so much for making that point so cleverly.
Macquarie University Law School,
Papua New Guinea landowners call on government
release Gulf infrastructure development grant
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 14 January 2018
First published in the National, Monday 8 January 2018
We impacted landowners of the oil and gas pipelines
in Kikori are calling on National Government, through the National
Planning Minister Richard Maru, to release Gulf infrastructure development
grant (IDG) balance of 2013 of K6.7 million.
This is to fund badly-needed infrastructure projects in Kikori which
has the footprints of the two pipelines.
We also have outstanding Gulf infrastructure development grant (IDG)
for 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.
Grants like Gulf infrastructure development grant (IDG) are part
of our landowner benefits under oil and gas agreements.
We demand that these monies are spent on Kikori projects through
We look forward for development action in 2018.
Kikori Oil and Gas Pipeline Landowners,
Papua New Guinea
Australia sticks to the U.S. line
Rather than recognize the reality of China
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 13 January 2018
First published in the Japan Times, Friday 29 December 2017
I found Ramesh Thakurs opinion piece on Australias
approach to its foreign policy with China interesting, though with
questionable arguments, Australia charts a flawed foreign
policy course in the Japan Times December 8.
Correctly, Thakur notes that the U.S. has exercised coercive power
far more than any other nation over the past several decades.
Given Iraq and other misadventures it is difficult to dismiss this
criticism; however, great powers historically have coerced other
nations in their perceived self-interests.
Who is to say that China would be any different?
An interesting paragraph reads: The vision outlined is
of the rear-view mirror of a world already fading from memory, namely
the liberal international order created and underwritten by the
U.S.-led West. This would deny China agency as the rising power
to write global rules, and design and control the institutions of
global governance. An editorial in the South China Morning Post,
Australia turns its back on the new Asia with white paper,
correctly concluded that Canberra has chosen to stick to the U.S.
line rather than recognize the reality of China, work to improve
relations with Beijing and commit to global organizations.
Seems to me that this simply reflects Chinas desire to assert
its dominance on the world stage and supplant the West.
I have to ask, why is that a good thing if China rewrites the rules
I trust that many of us wish for a prosperous, stable and secure
This does not, however, require a China that rewrites the rules
of global governance solely to its liking.
China may have never been a global power during
its history, but that is very likely due to limitations on its reach
due to insufficient technology at the time.
It has historically been a regional hegemon and has never shied
away from force to achieve its goals and ambitions.
Eric (Rick) Lewis,
for straight railway lines in Malaysia
prevent rail kills
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 12 January 2017
First published int the Star, Thursday 4 January 2017
There has been concern over the possible impact of
the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project on wild animals, some of
which are endangered.
The ECRL, which links Port Klang to Kota Baru in Kelantan, is a
totally new railway line.
As such, the project would encounter less constraints and fewer
problems compared to widening the present coastal line to the
east coast, and proper planning would enable it to have the latest
features for the betterment of the environment, humans and wild
One of the more effective ways to prevent wild animal accidents
(rail kills) is to ensure that the railway line is constructed as
straight as possible, especially in areas where endangered animals
like elephants, seladang, tigers, leopards, bears, tapirs, etc are
A straight line would ensure that the train driver is able to see
from afar whether these animals are on the track and thus slow down
to prevent an accident.
The driver could also use a telescope as an aid for this purpose
during the day.
Since the railway line will be electrified, motion detection cameras
can be placed in some sensitive areas to detect the presence of
animals crossing or straying on the tracks.
An electrified fence would be of limited use to keep wild animals
off the tracks.
It can be dangerous to small animals and could also be destroyed
by the larger ones like elephants and seladang.
Power cables for the railway line need to be placed higher as well
to ensure that animals such as elephants can cross the track without
Viaducts, which would be components of the ECRL, close to the habitats
of endangered animals need to have trails or roads on either side
to enable wild animals to cross over to the other side safely and
without any obstacles. The trails should be between 1km and 3km
deep into the forest on either side of the viaduct. Animals, like
humans, are accustomed to habit and prefer the path of least resistance;
and when animals such as elephants, seladang and tigers start to
use these trails, they would avoid the tougher paths to cross the
tracks. The Wildlife and Forestry Departments can offer their inputs
on these matters.
The East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) has immense potential as a tourist
attraction too, as it would be passing through densely forested
areas, scenic landscapes and over large rivers.
One way to enhance its tourist appeal is to plant beautiful flowering
trees of Malaysian and tropical origin along the railway reserves.
When these trees bloom profusely, they would be a wonderful sight
to behold. Imagine gazing at beautiful flowering trees for tens
of kilometres on end; it would be like seeing the world- famous
cherry blossoms in Japan.
It is hoped the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) would have safety features
for wild animals and also be a big tourist draw for the east coast.
for eduaction of Papua New Guinea
To be job-orientated
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 11 January 2018
First published in The National, Monday 8 January 2018
Unemployment is a serious problem in the country.
It is becoming more and more serious by the day.
The problem of unemployment will create difficulties for the development
of the country.
Many established businesses are not able to cope with the changing
The economy is down and retrenchment is taking place.
When there is a slump in business, many people find themselves without
From my knowledge and findings, I suggest a few points that could
Family planning scheme should be made popular.
People should be educated about the importance of having small families.
The education system should be made need-based.
The education of our country should be job-oriented.
It must make our student self-dependent.
Changing the mind-set the young is necessary, as many of them do
not want to take risks.
A desire for doing something for ones own may solve, to some
extent, the problem of unemployment for both the uneducated and
the educated people.
To sum it up, we have to solve the problem of unemployment on a
We need educated people in the Government and private sector not
to manipulate the system for their own good, but to build the nation
based on reliance, equality and transparency.
Nongii Emiil Ngalkhay,
Papua New Guinea
Call for education not
Must be the shot for the Philippines
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 10 January 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday 8 January,
The Dengvaxia controversy in the country has reportedly
affected some 830,000 schoolchildren.
That of course involved peoples money to the tune of P3.5
We are lucky enough that the Bicol region was spared from its troubles
as no Dengvaxia vaccines were distributed to children here.
Understandably, there was no dengue epidemic in our region that
The Sorsogon Provincial Health Office (SPHO) and the Department
of Education were instead awarded by the Department of Health (DOH)
as best implementers of school-based immunization
The SPHO was also a hall of famer in terms of best health practices.
Heres the rub: What if dengue was a serious problem during
Dengvaxias procurement and planned distribution?
Health, education, as well as local government officials would naturally
have consented to the use of those deleterious vials, too!
In such a case, I wouldnt blame them.
No one should blame them; when an emergency arises, or when a situation
is a matter of life and death, people whose conviction
on the curative value of medicine (many people concede even if it
is prescribed by a quack doctor) will always act in accordance to
their faith, more so if its part of their
mandate. Worth stressing is the fact that parental waivers were
obtained prior to inoculations.
Revisiting how our government effectively educates people and eliminates
dengue prior to or following an outbreak must be given premium -
education , not killing people must be the shot!
Learn from the experience of Sorsogon so as to parry the infectious
Dengvaxia and still garner DOH awards amid the said issue.
Look, if we can fire the shots to kill drug personalities, or terrorists,
why cant we target the virus-carrying mosquitoes - so that
people will survive, and no Dengvaxia would be prescribed.
Joey L. Gois,
On sale of ivory in Thailand
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 9 January 2018
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday 3 January
Re: "Beijing enacts sweeping ban on entire
ivory trade", in Bangkok Post December 28.
Plaudits to China for outlawing all sales of ivory.
As the main consumer market for ivory in the world, the ban on all
sales - if strictly enforced - will go a long way toward ending
the senseless slaughter of elephants around the world.
Pressure should now be placed on Thailand, and all other countries
allow the sale of ivory, to enact and enforce similar bans.
Only when the sale of ivory is completely ended will the poaching
of elephants stop.
Climate change denial
Should be considered a crime
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 8 January 2018
Fisrt published in the Japan Times, Monday 29 December 2017
The future demographic picture of the world is billions
of climate refugees storming across borders to seek water and to
find shelter from the searing heat and deadly drought conditions.
Climate change deniers like U.S. President Donald Trump will have
wealth and power to live in secure walled, gated communities with
an army of guards to keep the refugees out.
Actually that wall along the U.S.-Mexico border begins to look very
sensible given the fact that millions upon millions of refugees
from Latin America might seek safety in the United States as climate
conditions in their own countries goes from bad to worse to life
Drought could kill off all the livestock and destroy crops.
Famine is a very real risk.
The heat will prove devastating to poor everywhere, many succumbing
to heat related illness and death.
The elderly and the very young will be at greatest risk.
And theres the plutocratic Trump telling everyone that climate
change is no threat, that its fake science.
What an evil man he truly is. Sorry, but he is.
I look upon the threat of global warming much as the Jews in Europe
looked upon the rise of Adolf Hitlers Nazi Germany in the
Denial will end in tragedy for millions upon millions of human beings
and the Earth itself.
Climate change denial should be considered a crime.
Its much worse than denying that smoking tobacco is linked
to cancer and other deadly diseases.
Smoking is an individual act and smokers are stupid or suffer from
addictive personality disorder by nature.
The industrialized world is collectively responsible for global
warming, but its the third world that will suffer the most
in the first stages of global climate collapse. Wars could be triggered
by climate change when countries begin to fight over dwindling water
supplies or good farmland.
Oh well, a merry Christmas to all the Trump klan.
Filipinos a Hopeful New Year
of a happy New Year
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 7 January 2017
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday 4 January
It is with apprehension and impossible hope that I
will be wishing anybody Happy New Year for 2018.
It will be merely lip service.
On reading the recent Reuters report on the existence of the Davao
Boys, I have only two questions:
Why did it need Reuters, with foreign-sounding names of reporters,
to write this report?
Are we going to let these Davao Boys to continue their executions
I am very sad for our country.
Our President continues to fire appointees who show promise trying
to run their departments or commissions with honesty and sincere
intent for the common good.
We have members of Congress who merely echo the wishes of the President,
who approve P1,000-budget of human-rights-related committees, or
none at all for opposition lawmakers.
We have a Supreme Court which allows Marcos a place in our heroes
cemetery, which weakens the reproductive health law by making it
hard for poor women to have access to pills for family planning
by their amendments.
So I will just wish us all Filipinos a Hopeful New Year
Nenita Tapia, MM,
Call for Malaysia for openess of government
management of economic, social and religious policies
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 6 January 2017
First published in the Star, Tuesday 19 December 2017
Both the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World
Bank, in their regular reporting on our country, have made encouraging
forecasts about our economic prospects, stating that the GDP growth
momentum will continue into 2018 on the back of world economic recovery,
strong export performance and expanding domestic demand from the
private and public sector.
They attribute this favourable outlook to the good policies which
the Government has implemented, including the introduction of GST
and removal of wasteful expenditures on fuel subsidies.
Their forecasts on national and household debts indicate that these
are manageable and therefore unlikely to cause a risk to the countrys
Their assumption is that the contingency liabilities of 1MDB and
the other GLCs will not materialise to fall on the Federal Governments
These two international organisations typically do not discuss in
their published reports, although they agree in closed door discussions,
the need for structural reforms for Malaysia to get out of the middle-income
trap and become a fully developed country.
And while investors and financiers are encouraged by the various
reform measures taken in Malaysia in recent years, they also notice
that the structural reforms recommended in the New Economic Model
(NEM) report to the National Economic Action Council have not made
much progress, particularly on the race-based economic policies
and the large presence of government-linked companies (GLC) in the
Although the Government has introduced high standards of corporate
governance guidelines for GLCs to make them operate along commercial
lines, private businesses remain sceptical that there is a level
playing field especially for young entrepreneurs and start-ups.
Entrepreneurship and risk-taking need to be encouraged by freeing
the economy from restrictive policies and reducing government presence
in commercial activities.
The recent G25 Report on Invigorating Economic Confidence in Malaysia
also covered the same issues raised in the NEM study.
In discussing the economic and financial issues, it focuses on the
current concerns on inflation, cost of living and disposable incomes,
drawing the same conclusion as in Bank Negara and other reports
about the need for wage levels to increase through labour market
reforms, higher quality of education and training of school-leavers
and graduates, and stricter control over the influx of cheap foreign
workers, particularly illegal and undocumented workers, which is
causing social and security problems for the country.
More importantly, the easy access to cheap unskilled foreign labour
acts as a disincentive for businesses to change their methods of
production from labour-intensive to automation and their lines of
business from low to high value-added goods and services.
Malaysia cannot remain a labour-intensive economy if it wants to
be a high-income country.
Virtually all reports on Malaysia from local and foreign analysts
stress on the urgency for a wide range of institutional reforms
to create openness of Government and transparency and accountability
in the management of the countrys economic, social and religious
Many from developed countries and our own well-educated middle class
tend to be suspicious about corruption, nepotism and cronyism when
the government of a country is shrouded in mystery and secrecy at
the official level.
Business leaders are more comfortable with an open system of government
that can deal with issues like 1MDB, syariah laws or English as
a second medium of instruction in schools in a transparent manner.
Institutional reforms for responsible government should begin with
Parliament setting the tone for public institutions to be professional
and independent in carrying out their management and regulatory
As an example, Parliament can establish select parliamentary committees
to exercise oversight responsibilities on the executive functions
of government such that ministers and their civil servants are made
answerable for the management of their ministries.
The committees should sit in open sessions with professional advisers,
assisting the members of parliament in raising relevant questions
and evaluating the annual and special reports of government agencies
such the Auditor-General, police and MACC.
As financial issues have become controversial matters of wide public
interest, the committees should also conduct hearings on the GLCs
by instructing the Finance Ministry and Khazanah Nasional Berhad,
or bumiputra development agencies like PNB, Felda, Mara and Tabung
Haji to appear before them for briefings, with permission for the
public to also attend and listen to their discussions and debates.
The two agencies that need to be closely monitored by the Auditor-General
and Parliament are Jakim and Iksim in view of the secrecy surrounding
their budgetary allocations and expenditures and their activities.
They must be made publicly accountable like other government agencies
and not exclude themselves from public scrutiny.
Appointments of officials to key government posts should be based
on merit irrespective of race and religion and open to independent
scrutiny by the relevant service commissions to ensure they are
not favoured based on political affiliations or business connections.
This should apply especially to senior positions in the civil service,
the legal and judicial branches of government and the regulatory
agencies as they must be seen to be clean of any suspicions and
These are some examples of the best practices which are important
for ensuring that whatever the political changes, the country has
strong institutions to lead its development and maintain high standards
in upholding the rule of law for justice and fairness.
Malaysia is eminently capable of becoming a high-income country
in a few years time because of its rich resource base, well-developed
infrastructure, cultural diversity of population and its geographical
location in the fastest growing region in the world.
To achieve that goal, it must quickly get its governance system
right, with checks and balance among public institutions to prevent
abuse of power and make the authorities accountable for any mismanagement
and injustice in the implementation of its economic, social and
A government that is open and accountable will generate confidence
that Malaysia is a progressive Muslim-majority country with good
economic and social strategies for the inclusive development of
It will be a government that cares for the rights of all races not
only for their basic necessities of life but also in their access
to the democratic values of freedom and liberty as enshrined in
the Constitution and expressed in the Rukunegara, the national ideology
for uniting Malaysians.
Thats the way forward to becoming a fully developed country
in the true sense of the word.
Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim,
you have a garden and a library,
you have everything you need
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 5 January 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Wednesday 3
The Roman philosopher and statesman Cicero famously
stated: If you
garden and a library, you have everything you need.
Inarguably, that would nearly be a complete life.
I say nearly because it is beyond contestation that in order for
us to have a good and meaningful lives and worthwhile existence,
we utterly need those necessary elements.
They are vital ingredients that we need to use for us to fully harmonize,
develop further and ultimately complete ourselves and our humanity.
Nonetheless, in light of the present era, I would very much like
to add, in my
view is another utterly indispensable need or element and that is
no other than
Today, I am sad and disappointed to note that in our country, the
well-being of our parks are decaying. Worst, their numbers are not
only dwindling but miserably limited.
When I was working a couple of years ago as an expatriate (I taught
ethics and anthropology at Nilai University in Malaysia), I was
enchanted by their numerous and spacious public parks and recreation
The same is true of Singapore.
That nation-state is truly amazing.
They are so small yet the number of their public parks is outstanding.
Hence, every day after my work and lectures, I just change my clothes
hostel, put on my sneakers and go to their padang (park) either
basketball, walk or simply sit at one of many tables where I could
notes on a piece of paper or to simply enjoy the scenery and surroundings.
Here in our country, I am utterly dismayed.
Do we all have to go to Luneta to enjoy our right for a public park?
Why cant the central government order the local government
units or better yet,
the LGUs themselves have the initiative, imagination and will to
own public parks?
The world today is becoming more and more compartmentalized. It
seems that we
are (de)limiting our already squeezed public spaces in the name
instant satisfaction, fast-paced lives, tap-and-go
Consider the case of the malls. Prior to their arrival and eventual
proliferation, we already have monstrous traffic woes.
Now the future of our public metropolis is even bleaker.
Malls seem to have contributed in no small way to the destruction
(at least in aesthetic terms) of our cities and communities.
Because everything is already there or available
at the mall, people would
rather go to the supermarket instead of the local market (palengke).
This seems to be a nonissue but think about it in the long run.
What will happen to our palengke in the future?
Palengke is one of our childhoods beloved public spaces.
Will we also say goodbye one day to the talipapa (wet market), too?
Another utterly important thing that I would like to highlight is
the playground. Because of our limited or lack of public parks with
our kids, a great number of parents today are patronizing playgrounds
available at malls. Again, if we will look closely, this will pose
in the immediate future.
As a philosopher and an educator, it is my belief that our children
outside/indoors, in the full view of the world, not in an encampment,
space, in short, in a given structured box - subject to monetary
To a child, playing is everything and time for that matter does
not exist for
I call on all the relevant authorities and agencies of this government
unto this matter with utmost and utter urgency.
In conclusion, public parks are utterly necessary in order for us
Jose Mario De Vega,
government hitting on organisations
Fighting for economic rights
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 4 January 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Sunday 28 December
The government, in its drive to end the decades-long
armed rebellion of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New Peoples
Army, has stuck to its militaristic campaign in the decision to
extend martial law in Mindanao. Unfortunately, in the past months
since its proclamation, it has done more damage to civilians than
to the armed group it has vowed to target.
The solons once more turned their backs on the Filipinos in Mindanao
who exist on the fringes of society, who time and again are the
sacrificial lambs to political and economic agendas.
They have forgotten that these sectors too are part of their constituency
the sectors that compose the countrys expendables.
Who are the terrorists targeted by martial law?
From the documentation of the Mindanao Observatory on Human Rights,
the pattern of the states targets is obvious - they are hitting
organizations and communities that have been fighting primarily
for economic rights. These are the people and organizations that
have criticized the governments development agenda that does
not respect the rights of the poor sectors. These are the people
and organizations that have been calling for access to basic social
These are the terrorists the government is protecting
the Filipino people from. And people supporting martial law conveniently
forgot that the society we live in now is actually on these expendables
The economic benefits we enjoy now have been built on the toil of
millions of laborers who had taken to the streets decades ago, demanding
for just labor practices. Had they been silent, had they accepted
their oppression and exploitation as fate, most of us would still
be slaving day and night in cramped quarters, unable to access any
opportunity of rising beyond meager daily existence.
The civil liberties we have had been paid for with bloodfrom
our colonizers, from repressive and tyrannical governments. Had
they not dare fight, we would have continued to exist as second-class
citizens of our country which we could not call our own.
The diminishing power of the people to freely express their opinions
and complaints against state policies is an affront to our democracy.
Democracy is not only a matter of being able to participate in elections.
Democracy means the power is held by the people not by a few
politicians, nor economic elites, and definitely not by the military.
We continue to stand against martial law.
Czarina Golda Musni,
Mindanao Observatory for Human Rights,
To be tested on Philippine children
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 3 January 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 29 December
As the Philippine Senate grapples with the controversial
Dengvaxia vaccine, a new type of rice never before consumed by humans
is already set for testing and eventual release in our country,
Golden rice is genetically modified to force
the rice plant to express beta carotene in its grains. Hailed as
an answer to Vitamin A deficiency, an application to field and feed
test the GM grain is now lodged under the Bureau of Plant Industry,
an agency tasked to regulate GM applications.
The Golden Rice Project is hauntingly similar to Dengvaxia as the
target sectors are our children. Its proponents, Philippine Rice
Research Institute and International Rice Research Institute, have
applied a permit under Direct Use, wherein target populations will
be fed with golden rice to test if the genetically modified rice
is effective in providing Vitamin A.
Most likely, the target sector of the Golden Rice Project are children
aged 0-5 years old and pregnant and lactating mothers, the sectors
where Vitamin A deficiency has been observed.
The Golden Rice Project, however, is fraught with problems.
The application for Direct Use will subject unknowing populations,
most likely children, to golden rice feeding tests whose potential
risks are unknown.
In a public dialogue held by the National Anti-Poverty Commission
last August, medical doctors warned that there are not enough data
presented to establish safety of golden rice to human health thus
warranting the disapproval of human feed trials.
They are saying that more information is needed as the risks of
eating golden rice are not yet known.
Civil society organizations, including the Resist Agrochemical TNCs
network, have also pointed out that the protocols, risk management
plans and guidelines to ensure the protection of the public against
the possible risks of golden rice remain wanting.
In China, the public was outraged when grade school children were
subjected to golden rice feed studies.
Three Chinese officials were sacked for allowing the said feeding
trials without informed consent among the parents or schoolteachers.
The project did not even state that the rice the kids were consuming
is genetically modified, nor did it state uncertainty around the
potential risks of ingesting genetically modified rice.
Apart from an application for Direct Use, the proponents have renewed
an application to open field test of golden rice in the municipalities
of San Mateo in Isabela and Muñoz in Nueva Ecija.
In a recent study, scientists from India showed that the derived
lines of golden rice produced phenotypic abnormality and poor yield
performance making it unfit for commercial cultivation.
Farmers are worried that the trait can transfer to other rice varieties
or weedy relatives through cross-contamination once the open field
testing is approved.
Interestingly, while golden rice is planned to be distributed among
farmers royalty-free, its patents are still owned by agrochem giant
Syngenta, a Switzerland-based company whose products include genetically
modified crops and pesticides. Syngenta was recently bought off
by ChemChina, one of the largest chemical corporations in China.
Golden rice is said to be a Trojan Horse that will further open
our agricultural sector to seeds and inputs owned by huge agrochemical
transnational corporations, including Syngenta and ChemChina.
The problems surrounding Dengvaxia are no different from golden
However, Dengvaxias effect can be minimized once the vaccination
program is terminated or regulated. Golden rice differs because,
once in the market, it will be very difficult to monitor its effects
given that rice is a staple food consumed by most Filipinos. Golden
rice is also a living organism that, if released in the environment,
has the possibility to increase exponentially due to cross-contamination
of other rice varieties.
As rice is a staple of Filipinos eaten three times a day, the extent
and coverage of golden rice will be far reaching than Dengvaxia.
Liability and redress will also be difficult to establish.
Such are the problems of the parents whose children have become
victims of this Dengvaxia fiasco.
Many times the golden rice proponents, and even government regulators,
have assured the public of the safety and efficacy of the genetically
modified crop and putting paramount importance to Filipinos
health and the environment.
However, if not for the vigilance of the public, golden rice would
have been approved as early as 2015.
We should learn our lessons from the current Dengvaxia controversy,
where the health of the people has been put at risk because the
proper safety processes were not observed by the very authorities
who should have been safeguarding our health. We implore our regulatory
bodies to not commit the same mistake that might result to even
graver harm to the people.
PM's list of Thai values
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 2 January 2018
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday 1 January 2018
As the example of Jatupat Boonpatararaksa and others
constantly remind us, the
PM's list of 12 Thai values are self-contradictory:
Thai law often criminalises honesty, making it impossible to legally
practice both value number 2 (honesty) and value number 8 (respecting
But this is no surprise: The PM's 12 values of Thainess were made
up to reform education by replacing solid virtues such as critical
thinking, respect for facts and healthy truth seeking, things the
Buddha calls "right understanding", with mindless
respect for authority based on tradition.
The 12 values of traditional Thainess as listed by the PM are not
fit for decent
people to live by, but are, like so many hoary traditions serving
status quo, themselves in urgent need of critical reform.
Suggestions to cushion
Of typhoons in the Philippines
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 1 January 2018
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Wednesday 27 December
This refers to the editorial, Need for permanent
evacuation centers 21 December 2017.
It noted how local government units continue to house evacuees
in makeshift tent cities or in multipurpose halls and public school
classrooms with inadequate facilities and water supply and limited
In order to enhance further our disaster preparedness and response
to these typhoons, I humbly offer the following suggestions, concrete
and practical as they are, to cushion their negative impact:
Relief goods should be distributed to would-be victims before the
onslaught of typhoons.
It would be difficult and risky to distribute them when a monster
typhoon turns communities into wasteland littered with fallen trees
and electric poles, blocked roadways or landslides.
Incorporate disaster risk factors in comprehensive land use plans
(CLUP) of local government units to analyze land use patterns of
their respective areas given the LGUs exposure to natural
CLUP should serve as a tool in decision-making by local officials
concerning which areas of the LGUs are habitable and not prone to
Barangay, municipal or city-owned gymnasiums should be designed
not only for sports activities as their main feature but to also
be considered as typhoon-proof shelters for calamity victims.
Strictly speaking, schools are meant for academic instruction and
are not designed as safe evacuation centers.
When the sanggunian cannot muster a quorum during a session to declare
the LGU under a state of calamity, then they could consider the
correspondence session of the Marikina City Council
as an option to be adopted.
This is a special session that requires the use of cell phones while
conducting a session.
However, it shall only be resorted to as a last option if the council
is unable to muster a quorum 30 minutes after the presiding officer
called the special session to order.
The correspondence session shall last at most 24 hours from the
time it was called and shall be conducted only during the occurrence
of disasters with the sole purpose of declaring the LGU under a
state of calamity.
Others, I am sure, have their own splendid suggestions to advance.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council should
solicit proposals from all sectors on how to improve our disaster
preparedness and response to calamities like typhoons.
Reginald B Tamayo,
Assistant city council secretary,
Southern Philippines says
thankyou to Japan
For help in aftermath of tropical storm
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 31 December 2017
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday 28 December
I would like to thank Japan for their gesture of kindness
to the victims of recent Tropical Storm Vinta
(international name: Tembin) that hit Mindanao last week.
In a bid to outdo China whether newfound ally or not, our next best
friend Japan is stepping up and doubling down on aid to our country.
We thank PM Shinzo Abe and the Japanese people for their prayers
When Abe visited Davao last January 2017, he shared with us fond
memories Japanese migrants had of Davao.
There used to be an enclave of Japanese migrants who cultivated
and exported abaca from Davao, which later became known as Manila
Our relationship with Japan has improved after World War II. Indeed,
Japan stands with the Philippines in overcoming difficult times.
To Abe-sama and our Japanese friends, welcome to Davao, your furusato
Ricardo E. Catindig,
"Mr Marcos does not work here anymore"
Said senator Saguisag in 1986 on first
day in the job
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 30 December 2017
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Wednesday 27
Power corrupts, is how you began and ended
your characteristically insightful and felicitous editorial, Ben
Dioknos political tool 22 December 2017,
on Budget Secretary Benjamin Dioknos hypocrisy.
I was in power from 1986 to 1992.
Was I corrupt?
My children should be reminded that what Lord Acton actually said
was that power [only] tends to corrupt and absolute power
corrupts absolutely. And that in my six years in power,
I never validated what Oscar Wilde said, that he could resist everything,
In my first week in Malacañang, someone called offering P3
million up front and P3 million when a certain shipment I was to
I said sorry, Mr. Marcos does not work here anymore.
In my first week in the Senate, somebody said a wealthy businessman
would give me P50,000 in cash, no receipt, at a time when I was
to take home P14,612.50 monthly.
I told him where to go.
Open letter to former PM of Malaysia, Dr Mahathir Mohamad
On Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) losses
The Southeast Asian Times, Friday 29 December 2017
First published in the Star, Wednesday 27 December 2017
Many of my friends who are readers of Tuns blog have contacted
me for clarification regarding Tuns latest writing titled
Dear Mr Johari on the issue of speculative foreign
At first I told them that I have already said enough about the subject
matter and I do not want to prolong the discussion on this issue,
especially since there is already an independent team at PDRM investigating
The subject of foreign exchange activities can sometimes be too
technical for the ordinary man on the street to understand, particularly
in relation to the role of Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) in the management
of the countrys international reserves. However, I felt it
best that I try to hopefully close the discussion by putting the
matter in simple perspective for ease of understanding.
It is very important for the public at large to understand the difference
between speculative foreign exchange activities and orderly management
of foreign exchange market.
The speculative foreign exchange activity, to put it in simpler
words, is a kind of gambling activity with the
hope of quick returns.
The orderly management of foreign exchange market, however, is very
much different in that it is a facilitation of liquidity by BNM
to market participants in the country for the purpose of mitigating
imbalances with respect to the ringgits supply and demand
in the market.
To put the matter in perspective, it was highlighted in an Internal
Audit Report prepared by BNMs Internal Auditors dated Jan
21, 1994, that the Foreign Exchange Operation Division of the Banking
Department in BNM was involved in voluminous foreign exchange trading
activities, so much so that the monthly maturing buy and sell foreign
exchange transactions which amounted to an average of RM140bil in
1992 increased to a staggering RM750bil in 1993!
The substantial portion of such transactions was very speculative
in nature and did not reflect BNMs mandate to maintain orderly
condition of the foreign exchange market as per Section 4 of the
Central Bank of Malaysia Ordinance 1958.
The said Internal Audit Report also highlighted that the magnitude
of such foreign exchange speculative transactions was considered
very excessive, given that the shareholders fund of BNM was
only RM4.4bil and the countrys international reserves were
merely RM43.98bil at that material time.
These speculative activities had caused BNM to suffer foreign exchange
transaction losses amounting to RM31.5bil during the period
The Audit Report also stated that the voluminous speculative foreign
exchange trading activities that the central bank had undertaken
during that time were carried out by the Foreign Exchange Division
of the Banking Department of BNM, headed by its adviser/manager
then, a Mr Nor Mohamed Yakcop, who later became the countrys
Minister of Finance II.
Because of the scale of these foreign exchange speculative activities
losses, the Government was forced to transfer its shares in Telekom
Malaysia Bhd and Tenaga Nasional Bhd to BNM at the nominal value
of RM1 per share and these shares were immediately revalued by BNM
at RM22.10 per share and RM19.30 per share for Telekom and TNB respectively.
In addition, BNM had to dispose of its Malaysia Airlines shares
to a third party at the price of RM8 per share and MISC Bhd shares
at RM10 per share to Kumpulan Wang Pencen in order to realise the
If these speculative foreign exchange losses were not real, the
Government would not have taken these drastic actions in order to
cover the BNM losses at that material time.
BNM and the country have since come a long way, particularly in
instituting the necessary reforms and check and balance with regard
to its foreign exchange forward transaction activities.
As a result of these reforms, despite volatility of capital flows
and the ringgit in the recent period, our economy continues to remain
resilient and BNMs ability to safeguard the financial and
economic stability remains uncompromised.
In fact, our international reserves continue to strengthen ever
since and as at end November 2017, the reserves amounted to US$101.9bil
and were able to support 7.5 months of retained imports.
I have said enough on this subject and if understanding of the truth
is not the objective of the discussion, then there is nothing more
I can say on this.
I wish Tun and family the very best of health and a very Happy New
Year; may the New Year be peaceful and prosperous for all of us
Johari Abdul Ghani
for Malaysian PM to urge US to reverse decision
recognise Jerasulem as capital of Israel
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 28 December 2017
First published in the New Straits Times Tuesday 19 December
The status of Jerusalem in the 10th century BCE is
a major subject of debate.
Jerusalem was then a small village in the Judean hills, not a national
According to the Hebrew Bible, the kingdom of Judah resulted from
the break-up of the United Kingdom of Israel (1020 to about 930
BCE) after the northern tribes refused to accept Rehoboam, the son
of Solomon, as their king.
Then, the Assyrians conquered the Kingdom of Israel circa 722/721
It was followed by the Persians and Romans.
Large Jewish communities disappeared or were expelled by the Romans.
In the 7th century, the entire Jewish population of Galilee was
massacred or expelled, following the Jewish rebellion against Byzantium.
Under Islamic rule (6381099), Jewish communities began to
grow and flourish.
Caliph Umar Al-Khattab allowed and encouraged Jews to settle in
It was the first time after almost 500 years of oppressive rule
that Jews were allowed to enter and worship freely in their holy
The waves of crusades destroyed hundreds of Jewish communities in
Europe and in the Middle East, including Jerusalem. Later, the Jews
were expelled from Bavaria, France, Italy, England, Spain and Portugal.
Sultan Bayezid II, who ruled the Ottoman Empire (1481-1512), welcomed
the Jews who were expelled from Spain under the Alhambra Declaration.
The British conquered Ottoman in 1917 and ruled it until 1948.
The Jewish State of Israel was then proclaimed, which was made possible
by the Zionist movement and its promotion of mass Jewish immigration.
It is to be noted that during World War II, the US government turned
away thousands of Jewish refugees, fearing they were Nazi spies.
At the end of World War II, Jewish survivors of the Holocaust were
violently turned away from the shores of Palestine.
The Jewish Agency and the Haganah continued to smuggle Jews into
Underground cells of Jews (the Irgun and Lehi) engaged in open warfare
against the British and their installations.
The British could no longer manage the Jews and transferred the
issue to the United Nations (UN).
The British mandate over Palestine officially terminated at midnight,
May 14, 1948.
David Ben-Gurion, a major Zionist leader, proclaimed the creation
of the State of Israel and became its first prime minister.
The US was the first to recognise Israel.
The Arab-Israeli conflict ensued.
We have heard about the Camp David Accords, the Oslo I Accord and
the IsraelJordan peace treaty. Despite these efforts, the
In the Quran, Israel means the servant of Allah.
Originally, this was the name of Prophet Yaqub (Jacob), from
whose 12 sons evolved the 12 tribes of Israel.
Later, Prophet Moses released the Israelites from the bondage of
The Quran speaks of the Jews as incurring Divine displeasure in
various chapters and verses.
We strongly urge our prime minister to call on President Donald
Trump to reverse his move.
Demonstrations will not achieve the desired results.
Malaysian students locally were the first to express their support
for and solidarity with the Palestinians and Arabs in 1973. Thousands
of students, me included, demonstrated peacefully in front of the
US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur to oppose the US role in the Middle-East
Another historic demonstration a few days later headed towards the
Lincoln Cultural Centre, allegedly a centre involved in espionage.
It was an anti-American demonstration.
The US has always be supportive of Israel, despite opposition from
freedom-loving people all over the world .
We can also propose for the UN to set up a commission to deal with
Thais warned against
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 26 December 2017
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday 20 December
As a farang I try to stay out of Thai politics, but
as a retired world history
teacher I would be wrong not to remind my friends that buying Chinese
and letting them build train tracks to more easily exploit your
resources looks a lot like giving away Laos to the French during
Maybe it's a Buddhist thing but China will tear down your temples
and ship them
back to turn them into tacky hotels.
Please don't give away your home to them.
A Farang Reader,
Let's celebrate Christmas
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 26 December 2017
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Wednesday 20 December
I read Ceres P. Doyos Christmas
trash and Christmasaya, Opinion, Philippine
Inquirer, 14 Dec 2017 and liked the term.
It suits me well because I belong to the kuripot
sector of society.
Our culture is full of wasteful consumers who do not realize that
their being careless results in millions going hungry.
On the matter of simplicity Doyo was advocating/recommending, this
is one virtue hard to define not only on Christmas but during celebrations,
fiestas, birthdays, weddings, etc.
Where is the boundary between simplicity and extravagance?
I wish one can provide the formula especially against the backdrop
of a poor nation like ours.
Our library decoration now is made of waste materials - used cartolina
or bits of it.
No foils, silver dust, and other hazardous materials or pollutants.
No Santa Claus, no stocking, no white Christmas motif.
The main focus is a 6x8 tarp depicting the Nativity.
This is not bragging but seemingly along the wisdom of Doyos
article on simplicity.
Lets celebrate Christmas with simplicity.
Arturo O. Barboso,
of high fructose corn syrup
for decline in price of sugar
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 23 December 2017
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, 16 December 2017
It is not surprising that the price of sugar continues
to decline by 21-26 percent in the current milling season.
This despite the increase in the sweeteners demand by more
than 30 percent.
Surely there is something amiss with the law of supply and demand.
The Department of Agriculture and the governments continuous
importation of high fructose corn syrup as approved by the agriculture
secretary and the President.
They have been encouraging the use of HFCS because of its low price
and the reduction in the production process, thus maximizing profits.
Sugar farmers, factory workers and small landlords are definitely
affected. On the other hand, big landlords remain unaffected because
of the arriendo system wherein theyre sure of the land rent
by the arriendadores, usually on a 3-5 years term lease.
Sugar farmers (sacada) and factory workers are the ones most affected
because the milling season is not a whole- year activity.
During the off-milling season, which lasts for a few months, farmers
and workers are in debt because they dont have work.
During the milling season, they are just paying their debt (with
interest, of course) incurred during the off-season.
So for the whole year, farmers and workers are in debt which keeps
on piling up.
We are witnessing, once again, the sugar industry crisis that started
in 1974, when the United States law on sugar quota expired,
and Philippine sugar was sold in the open market.
The unfortunate consequence was the dramatic decline of sugar shipments
to the United States.
The surplus supply was stored in basketball courts, bowling alleys,
warehouses, even in backyards.
Years later, one sees the face of poverty in Negros with that of
Joel Abong, the severely malnourished child of a sacada, who made
And now, the social volcano of poverty is ready to erupt any time
That is the problem with monocrop agriculture.
This agrarian problem of hacienda system has been going on for centuries
since the Spanish colonial period and yet, no Philippine president
has tried to solve it.
If only sugar farmers and workers could have a piece of land they
can cultivate for their partial subsistence, especially during off-milling
season, then there will be poverty reduction.
How is that for inclusive growth?
are no winners
In a nuclear confrontation.
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 22 December 2017
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Wednesday 20 December
North Korea built the ICBMs in response to the proximity
of US presence, the
defense missiles in their South Korea bases.
If the Americans left, which they will never do, there would be
no need for Pyongyang to build ICBMs. American presence breeds war
and their absence breeds peace.
You have a gun, I get a gun. You have a bigger gun, I get a bigger
It is a never-ending vicious cycle of escalation by the determined
bully and the defiant bullied until it explodes on all our faces.
The basic principle is there are no winners in a nuclear confrontation.
You cannot say the United States is absolutely safe.
The scenario is not absolutely predictable.
ICBMs are not meant for South Korea or Japan.
They are peripheral.
They are meant primarily for the United States.
The US policy since Hiroshima and Nagasaki has always been from
a position of superiority, because they were successful in ending
World War II.
Let the small fries cower, or else.
But this time, their or else falls on deaf ears.
This time, the United States may ironically trigger World War III.
That is the North Korea dilemma.
The United States will never pull out of South Korea. Pyongyang
will never stop the ICBM program, which is in reply to US presence.
A preemptive strike is dangerous.
So lets all get ready for World War III.
North Korea may never concede even if the sanctions are quadrupled.
If it is obliterated, it may take down with it the entire planet.
It is suicidal geopolitics for both the United States and North
Korea to toy with nuclear diplomacy.
God can permit World War III to happen the way he permitted World
Wars I and II.
He sent floods in Noahs time, fires in Sodom and Gomorrah.
He permitted terrorists to destroy the twin towers of New York,
as He permitted the Tower of Babel to crumble.
The North Korea impasse has the imprint of a biblical cataclysm.
All this is related to our becoming arrogant and ignoring Him.
The love principle, which speaks of bread as a response to a stone,
is the Christmas message.
Dismantle the sanctions.
You will be surprised how much it can soften hard hearts.
The solution to the North Korea impasse is not threats, intimidations,
Diplomacy will no longer work.
Too much bad blood has caused distrust.
Just withdraw unilaterally from South Korea.
Yes, you say, Never!
Then lets prepare for World War III.
You say, if you withdraw, North Korea will conquer Asia.
It just wants to be left alone, believe me.
Bernie V. Lopez,
Philippines women condemn
acts of violence
By the state on the people
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 21 December, 2017
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday 18 December
We are women from all walks of life and from various
regions of the country.
We condemn attacks on human rights, and the deployment of state
power to curtail basic freedoms and suppress calls for social justice.
We speak on behalf of women who stand to suffer the most from acts
of violence by the state on the people.
We particularly speak for our Moro and Christian sisters in Marawi
whose lives were devastated by the destructive war launched by the
We likewise rise for our indigenous women, especially the lumad,
who are experiencing the worst forms of abuse in the hands of the
state, and whose children are being deprived of their fundamental
right to education.
We express grave concern over the continuing assault on human rights
and civil liberties in the Philippines.
We oppose the unconstitutional and anti-democratic extension of
We are likewise alarmed by the suspension of the writ of habeas
corpus in Mindanao that we know paves the way for warrantless arrests.
We believe that this lays the groundwork for a declaration of martial
law in the entire country and we call on all concerned Filipino
women to join us in our fight to resist the evil descending upon
our beloved Inang Bayan.
Voices of Women For Justice & Peace Network,
Diandra Dita Macarambon,
Voices of Women for Justice and Peace,
Babai Women's Network,
Filipina Pen and Ink,
Gabriela Network of Professionals,
Gantala Press Inc.,
Good Food Communty,
Me & My Veg Mouth.
congress has the power
revoke martial law proclamation or extension
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 29 December 2017
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday 18 December
If only the critics of President Duterte would realize
the nature and limitations of the chief executives constitutionally-conferred
power of proclaiming and extending martial law in Mindanao, they
would not be as unnecessarily resistant, aberrant, and frightened
as they are at the moment.
First and foremost, now that Congress has concurred with the Presidents
sought-after martial law extension, one of the main apprehensions
I observed is
the most-feared executive arbitrariness that
may accompany such extension.
While this may be a valid concern, it is however suggested for Filipinos
the initiative of informing themselves of the dynamics of martial
law proclamation under the 1987 Constitution before entertaining
this unfounded apprehension and spreading malicious opinion about
this subject matter.
The Constitution made it quite clear that the Presidents exercise
of his discretion in proclaiming martial law and suspension of the
writ of habeas corpus is limited.
This is manifested by the fact that Congress actually has the power
to revoke any martial law proclamation or extension.
Otherwise, President Duterte could have just proceeded with the
martial law, as well as its extension, and dispensed with the required
imprimatur of Congress.
Accordingly, people should also realize that the legislature, just
like the judiciary, is a separate, independent, and equally powerful
branch of government accorded with powers that are designed to institute
check and balance in our jurisdiction.
Therefore, we may say that any martial law proclamation and/or extension
is always safeguarded and accounted for.
Second, it must again be noted that in case of invasion
or rebellion, when the
public safety requires it, President Duterte is empowered
Constitution to proclaim martial rule and seek for its extension.
Thus, as soon as presented with the exigencies present in Marawi
City and the
whole of Mindanao, President Duterte resorted pronto to exercise
constitutionally-sanctioned power of his as chief executive.
As someone who is mandated by his public office to secure the safety
protection of the Filipino people, without diminishing the civilian
and liberties enshrined by the Constitution, I opine that he cannot
for doing so.
As a matter of fact, President Dutertes exercise of such prerogative
already been upheld by no other than the Supreme Court.
Finally: Does the current milieu sanction the granting of extension
Dutertes martial law?
In my unsolicited yet ardent opinion, I am one with the legislature
the grant of said extension.
It is too apparent for anyone to neglect that factual bases exist
in the form of terrorism and ongoing activities of communist takeover,
which are even greater and graver than the (actual) rebellion required
by the Constitution.
Suffice it to say that the status quo that necessitated the proclamation
extension of President Dutertes martial law has been duly
substantiated by no
other than the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the martial law
himself, the secretary of defense.
In addition, the Presidents vast network of intelligence,
defense analysts, has revealed that other than the ongoing violent
the New Peoples Army, an emerging number of Islamic State-inspired
in continuous effort to strike back with the same atrocious war
as the Marawi
siege - or even worse.
This is not merely an imminent danger as alleged by Mr. Dutertes
critics and it
would be a shame on the part of the government to ignore such an
I believe that the framers of our Constitution, in providing for
martial law powers, did not intend to limit its operation in a way
government would be too incapacitated to address exigencies, whose
implication to our national security may be far worse than those
contemplated at the time they drafted the organic law.
In view of the actual threats and challenges against our national
we allow the Duterte administration to use its constitutionally-sanctioned
prerogatives within this premise.
general of the Armed Forces of the Philippines
Salutes Philippine president Duterte
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 19 December 2017
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Saturday 16 December
President Duterte in his closing presscon at the Asean
Summit last November14 reiterated his pronouncement to double the
salary of soldiers next year because of their sacrifices.
His concern for the morale and welfare of our soldiers and veterans
is not matched by any president before him.
He has previously released P4.7 billion in unpaid disability pension
and P6.5 billion for veterans pension differentials.
To double the base pay of soldiers in active service will also mean
to double the pension of retirees and veterans as provided under
Presidential Decree No. 1638.
Hopefully, the Department of Budget and Management and the Department
of National Defense will find means to support such increase in
Mr. Duterte, the retirees and veterans are forever grateful to you
for all the benefits you have afforded them in the twilight years
of their retirement. Again, we all salute you, sir.
Joel R Hinlo,
Retired Brigadier General,
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)
Call for Philippine police
To go to jail
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 18 December 2017
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Saturday 16 December
I was reading your news about a policeman who shot
two security guards in a restaurant in Pasay City Drunken
shooter in resto a PO1 from Parañaque, 14 December
According to the report, the said policeman also has a pending case
in Cavite for illegally discharging his firearm and may have been
jailed for discriminate shooting in Manila.
Then there is the case of the two policemen charged for the murder
of an anticrime crusader in Mindoro but are now back on the job
2 Mindoro cops in slay of crime crusader back on duty,
7 Novemebr 2017.
How about the killers of Jee Ick-joo, the Korean businessman murdered
in Camp Crame?
Are they all back on the job and promoted as well?
This is a very alarming trend.
These perpetrators are out and out criminals and terrorists.
Why are they not in jail?
In fact we have to hold policemen to a higher standard because they
were specifically hired to keep peace and order.
If our culture is to reward or enable criminal behavior, then what
have we become? Do we now plunge ourselves into deeper chaos?
Are these law enforcers serving the people or are they involved
in organized crimes that victimize and keep the country down?
In Thai antisex campaign
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 17 December 2017
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday 11 December 2017
Re: "Sex campaign set to backfire",
in PostBag Sunday 10 December 2017
I see a letter by RH Suga that alerts me to a Thai anti-sex campaign
that I was unaware of.
This is apparently separate from America's War on Sex and America's
Trafficking in Persons Report.
Thailand can make a difference on their own.
Maybe any Thai campaign against sex work should backfire.
There is a huge potential for harm in it.
In Thailand, tourism is important and remittances to poorer village
areas are also important, yet hypocrisy abounds.
Bars which are obviously places to meet sex workers are licensed
and legal but prostitution itself is technically illegal.
Sex work should be decriminalised. Germany, Holland, New Zealand,and
other places where sex work is decriminalised are also great family
tourist destinations -- without hypocrisy.
Corruption and crime persists
in the Philippine government
perpetrators are able to get away with murder
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 16 December 2017
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday 12 December
The Inquirer reported that President Duterte is set
to abolish an entire commission due to corruption Rody
to fire entire commission tomorrow 10 December 2017.
Does the President naively think that giving these government officials
the easy way out - assuming they are indeed corrupt by simply firing
them or asking them to resign when found to be corrupt without taking
the further step of prosecuting them and meting out punishment if
found guilty, will solve the problem of corruption in government?
Corruption and crimes including extrajudicial killings in government
persist because the perpetrators are able to get away with murder
so to speak, and with absolute impunity for example, those government
officials who, in conspiracy with drug lords, allowed P6.4-billion-worth
of shabu to pass through Customs.
Firing or asking them to resign will not end corruption in government.
What will deter these crimes is the certainty of investigation,
prosecution and eventual conviction of their perpetrators; that
is, for everyone to be made aware that an investigation will be
conducted without fail, with the suspected perpetrators subsequently
prosecuted and those found guilty thereafter meted out the punishment
The President just recently created an Anti-Corruption Commission
tasked to investigate and/or hear administrative cases primarily
involving graft and corruption against all presidential appointees.
Why have we not heard from this commission yet?
Besides, does the President not know that it is the system itself
which allows these government officials to abuse or misuse their
public office or the power entrusted to them solely for their private
interest or gain? How many morally upright men, once in power, end
up becoming corrupted by the system? The system is characterized
by lack of transparency and lack of peoples participation
in decision-making. Just imagine corruption taking place behind
a stone wall. We cannot prevent it because we do not see it. But
imagine the wall to be transparent. We may not also be able to prevent
it if there are no mechanisms for us, the public, to intervene and
participate in decision-making.
If our President is indeed serious in crushing graft and corruption
in government, he should take the lead in amending our laws and
administrative procedures so that these structural causes of graft
and corruption will be addressed. Sadly, all he knows are facile
solutions like killing crimina ls and giving the corrupt a slap
on the wrist by merely firing them, which casts doubt on his sincerity
in fulfilling his campaign promise of ending crime and corruption
in our country.
US decision makes the
Palestinian peace process
An even more difficult task to achieve
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 15 December 2017
First published in the Star, Monday 11 December 2017
Muslim countries and American allies are shocked and
dismayed that US President Trump has defied their advice and gone
ahead to implement his campaign pledge to recognise Jerusalem as
the capital of Israel and move the US Embassy there.
As Jerusalem is a Holy City to Muslims just as it is to Jews and
Christians, Trumps decision will have a destabilising effect
on the already volatile region, making the Palestinian peace process
an even more difficult task to achieve.
By his stubborn behaviour of acting to please his electoral base,
he has effectively destroyed whatever confidence the Palestinians
and Arab nations had on the sincerity and reliability of the US
as an honest peace broker for the two state solution of creating
an independent state of Palestine existing alongside the state of
Trumps decision will reverberate across the Muslim world and
raise anxiety even in South-East Asia as to whether this will give
the militant Islamic extremists a propaganda tool to legitimise
their random jihadist attacks on innocent citizens in retaliation
for what they see as US injustice to Muslims and their Holy City.
The prospects are it will embolden the extremists and make our security
situation much more difficult for the police to handle.
The majority public opinion in America is that the US recognition
of Jerusalem as the Israeli state capital at this juncture is not
in the best interest of their country because it will throw a spanner
into the peace process, prolong Muslim anger over the Israeli occupation
and make Americans more at risk abroad.
Its clear that President Trump does not care about American
public opinion too.
Having seen how Trump behaves to honour his campaign promises, and
keep himself popular with the extreme right of the political landscape,
we hope that Americans will now realise that their military chiefs
should not trust him with the nuclear button because he may suddenly
wake up one morning in an angry mood and decide to fulfil another
of his wishes - destroy Iran and North Korea and show leaders in
other countries who insult him what he can do to them.
Trump is clearly a menace to world peace and only the American people
can teach him to change his vengeful mentality.
I hope that with the recent outburst of public outrage over the
widespread occurrence of sexual harassment of women by the men who
had control over their career, making the women submit to humiliation
for fear of losing their jobs, Americans will realise the need to
make their president accountable for the allegations that several
women have made against him for touching and grabbing them in an
The president and his close family members are also under suspicion
from the FBI investigations into their links with Russians during
the last elections.
As we understand it, when it comes to Russia, all Americans from
the left to the right, will put their country first, no matter what
they feel about their president.
We hope that when the investigations prove that Trump has conducted
himself in a disgraceful manner in his sexual advances on women
and has compromised the security of his country by his secret dealings
with the Russians, all Americans will rise to demand that the US
Congress take the appropriate steps to censure their president and
put him out to pasture.
With a new president in office, we hope that the Palestinians will
then have a new chance to return to the negotiating table to work
out a lasting peace with the state of Israel.
With peace in the Middle East, Malaysia too will have a stronger
hand in dealing with militant Islamic extremism.
Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim,
for extention of Martial Law in Mindanao
Comming from the Armed Forces of the Philippines
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 14 December 2017
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday 12 December
It is not about President Dutertes prerogatives.
The proposal of martial law extension in Mindanao is coming from
the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police
and local government units themselves.
They know whats best for the countrys security situation
because it is their field and they have the information on what
is really going on in there.
Let us set aside politics here.
Safety of our people in Mindanao is what we are all after.
If we dont put Mindanao under martial law, groups with evil
motives will feel free and confident to plot another siege there.
They would think that what happened in Marawi could be easily staged
somewhere again because the focus of the government is now elsewhere.
They should feel that they are still being carefully monitored,
and what they did in Marawi will not be allowed to happen, ever
Lindsay Cristine Antonio,
US president Trump's action
Can have serious implications in the Middle
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 13 December 2017
First Published in the News Straits Times, Monday 11 December
United States President Donald Trump has made the
most foolish decision thus far in his presidency by recognising
Jerusalem (Baitulmaqdis) as the capital of Israel on Wednesday night.
Such a decision will not only create chaos in the Middle East and
other parts of the world, but would also affect the battle against
Militants and terrorists will certainly use this unilateral recognition
as an excuse to cause more violence.
Trump needs to be smart when it comes to international and diplomatic
It is not like running a company, which he used to do before becoming
A simple action by him in his capacity as the leader of a country
can have serious implications for people, especially in the Middle
He needs to be more cautious and think deeply before taking any
action, especially one as serious as this.
When its comes to the conflict between Palestine and Israel, the
US president needs to be just and exercise a higher standard of
professionalism to solve the protracted disagreement peacefully
and satisfactorily as it involves highly sensitive issues concerning
race and religion.
Trump cannot make a unilateral decision on his own without consultation
with and getting the agreement of relevant parties. Recognising
Jerusalem as the capital of Israel will not solve any problems.
Instead, it will lead to many problems in the future, and Trump
will have to bear the responsibility for all the consequences.
Dr Muzaffar Syah Mallow,
Faculty of Syariah and Law,
Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia
Tendering a forged medical
For sick leave application is a serious
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 12 December 2017
First published in the Star, Thursday 7 December 2017
There must be complete trust and confidence between
an employer and an employee.
Dishonest acts to defraud the employer - such as tendering false
academic certificates to support a job application or promotion,
falsification concerning work, falsification of medical certificates
to support sick leave claim, telling lies to cover up work errors
or for other reasons, being untruthful on the reasons for leaving
previous jobs, withholding information on past criminal conviction
and disciplinary action are workplace misconduct.
Falsifying or faking certificates to support a job application is
a criminal offence.
A single dishonest or deceptive act of an employee may warrant dismissal
if the conduct deals with a serious enough matter.
Making false entries in the official records or certifying receipt
of goods which were never received are examples of serious acts
of dishonesty that would entail dismissal.
This is so because dishonesty inevitably reflects on the fitness
of the employee to continue in office. Dishonesty of a less serious
nature, such as submitting a falsified medical certificate to support
the sick leave application, unless it is a repeated offence, may
not warrant dismissal from service but would be punishable by a
warning or suspension from service for a certain period.
An employee who tendered false certificates to secure a job is taking
a serious risk of immediate dismissal once the fraudulent deceit
is uncovered after months or even years of employment.
Likewise, a misrepresentation on qualification and skills is sufficient
to warrant dismissal even if this was uncovered after a lapse of
several years, irrespective of the employees satisfactory
Again, tendering a forged medical certificate to support the sick
leave application is a serious misconduct.
In Ibrahim Bin Ab dul Hamid v Malaysia Airline Systems Bhd (MAS),
the employee was dismissed from his job after the domestic inquiry
panel found him guilty of tendering a forged medical certificate
purportedly issued by Hospital Putrajaya.
During the trial, the employee admitted that he had bought the said
medical certificate. The Industrial Court found that the company
had a valid reason for terminating the employee due to his dishonest
and fraudulent conduct.
Even obtaining sick leave or medical leave on false pretences of
being ill and then using the leave to do other errands is workplace
misconduct. This would also include making false representation
to the company as to the reason for leaving the companys premises
during working hours.
The action of employees affects the implied trust and confidence
as employers expect their employees to be honest and trustworthy.
In Azali Elias v Crown Jewel Hotel , the claimant, who was
supposed to be on sick leave, was seen participating in a football
The company dismissed him for abusing the companys sick leave
It must be noted that when the medical certificate was issued to
the employee, it was assumed that he was sick and unfit to work
and thus, would not be fit to be involved in sports activities.
In short, an employee is expected to act with complete honesty and
integrity, no matter what position the employee holds in an organisation.
Once an employe
e exhibits dishonesty or a lack of integrity, the trust and confidence
reposed in him by the employer can no longer subsist and it justifies
the employer discharging the employee from employment as his act
was detrimental to the best interest of the company.
Prof Dr Ashgar Ali Ali Mohamed,
Ahmad Ibrahim Kulliyyah of Laws,
International Islamic University Malaysia,
Look what happened in
Cory Aquino declared a revolutionary government
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 11 December 2017
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Wednesday 6 December
Mendiola has been a melting pot of shared and even
Last week, I was there when Mula sa Masa Duterte Movement was shouting
for revolutionary government.
At the same time, opposition groups shouted anti-Duterte sentiments.
To the supporters of RevGov.
I hope you know what you are fighting for.
It is unconstitutional and might result in the withdrawal of the
international communitys diplomatic recognition of the Philippines.
In our countrys history, no constitutionally elected president
has ever junked his constitutional legitimacy in order to install
himself as an extra-constitutional president.
Look what happened in 1986.
Cory Aquino declared a revolutionary government after the military,
supported by civilians on Edsa, ousted Ferdinand Marcos.
To the leftists, I hope they also know this: As far as I witnessed
in Mendiola, emotions were just the basis of most militants without
examining the implication of being too hardcore with their twisted
belief of a Maoist-Lenin ascendancy.
Far from the noble cause of fighting what is just, a lot of them
are merely bandwagoning.
They warn about absolute dictatorship, but I do not think we are
going toward that political climate.
There is no such thing as an overwhelming demented belief that the
only way to save our failing state is to raise its head to the summit
Juanito E Damaso,
Jesus Christ said in John 8:7:
the man who has no sin be the first to cast a stone
The Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 10 December
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday 4 December
Government officials from the lowest village councilor
to the highest elected official of the land are public properties.
Such being the case, they are expected to work for the publics
interest - not against it.
I have watched and followed past and present goings-on in Congress,
where many representatives appear like Mr. Clean
probing or, as some quarters say, persecuting fellow officials who
are either critics of President Duterte or simply in the firing
range just because they were appointees of the past president.
These unlikely undertakings involving government personalities with
their own record of graft charges, if not convictions, will never
help refine the image of the said chamber.
For they reek of malice and political vindictiveness, hence, bereft
of credibility and moral ascendancy.
As Jesus Christ said in John 8:7: Let the man among you who
has no sin be the first to cast a stone at her.
This applies to the ongoing impeachment proceedings against Chief
Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
Who among the lawmakers can look St. Peter in the eye and claim
innocence on the use of the previous Priority Development Assistance
Fund or the national budget?
Keep throwing stones at others as you may, but just be very sure
that your hands are clean.
Or else, your showing would simply smack of arrogance and hypocrisy.
Mark E Paras Jr.,
language to unseat English
The Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 9 December 2017
First published in the Star, Thursday 7 December 2017
On December 3, The Star published an article,
Sway of the Chinese language, detailing the rising
popularity of learning Chinese.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, US President Donald Trumps granddaughter
and billionaire investor Jim Rogers daughter are among some
of the famous people or their family members brushing up on their
Chinese language skills.
Tourists from China are splashing their cash all over the world.
In some countries such as Thailand and Malaysia, the Chinese can
also go cashless by making their purchases through Alipay.
Meanwhile, economists predict that the GDP of China, currently the
worlds second largest, would surpass the United States
within 10 years.
As the economic value of the Chinese language grows, it will unseat
English to become the worlds leading language.
Or so we are told....
But if history is a clue, this may not happen so soon.
In the heyday of the Roman Empire, as the great Julius Caesar and
his successors conquered the Mediterranean, Latin became the dominant
language of the European continent.
The Roman Empire began to disintegrate in the fifth century. Latin,
however, remained relevant for many centuries to come. (The Eastern
Roman Empire, also known as Byzantine Empire, survived into 15th
century, but its capital was in Constantinople, and its official
language was Greek.)
In year 1215, the unpopular King John of England, pressured by rebel
barons, issued Magna Carta.
The document established for the first time the principle that everybody,
including the king, was subject to the law.
It is considered one of the first steps taken in England towards
establishing parliamentary democracy.
The Magna Carta was initially written in Latin.
In year 1687, Sir Isaac Newton published three papers which were
collectively known as Principia Mathematica.
These works form the foundation of classical mechanics. Principia
Mathematica, like the Magna Carta, was written in Latin.
That was more than 12 centuries after the demise of the Roman Empire.
In ancient times, Malay language was the lingua franca of the Malay
Archipelago. Then the Western powers came, created the modern states
of Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Indonesia. Post-independence,
Javanese, who make up 40 percent of Indonesias population,
dominate the republics politics and economy. Somehow, Bahasa
Indonesia is based on Malay rather than Javanese.
By 2050, China will become the worlds largest economy.
The US will drop to second place. In the third spot, as economists
believe, will be India. Like Malaysia, India was a British territory.
And like our country, English, the language of the former colonial
master, is still widely spoken.
By mid-century, the combined GDP of English-speaking and English-as-second-language
nations, which include US, India, Britain, Canada, Australia, New
Zealand, Ireland, the Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia, will
likely be larger than that of China.
I do not doubt that Chinese language will get more important every
year, and I encourage everyone to learn it if conditions allow.
However, it would be foolish if we, in the advent of Chinas
Century, neglect English.
Chew Kheng Siong,
embassy in the Philippines
Russian militant presence in southern Philippines
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 8 December 2017
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Wednesday 6 December
Having read Foreign fighters seen in North
Cotabato in Philippine Inquirer 19 November 2017, I was
most surprised to see that the author, Edwin Fernandez, put Chechnya
on the list of countries whose nationals were among foreign militants
that took part in the attack on Marawi last May 23.
This statement is wrong on so many levels that an explanation is
in order to prevent similar mistakes in the future.
Let us begin with the simple fact that Chechnya is not an independent
country and, as such, not a subject to international law. It is
a constituent unit within the Russian Federation and therefore on
the international level, people from Chechnya are Russian.
Furthermore, representatives of the Department of National Defense
(DND) have issued several statements confirming that no Russian
citizens were present during the attack on Marawi. The Inquirer,
on the other hand, has been known to specifically emphasize the
presence of Chechen, which would be very difficult to determine
since if the people in question were actually present in Mindanao,
they would carry Russian documents identifying them as citizens
I assure you that if DND were to determine the presence of Russian
citizens among the militants, they would most definitely have approached
the embassy and such facts would have been very thoroughly investigated
both by the Russian and Philippine sides. For now, however, neither
the DND nor any other Philippine agency has contacted us regarding
the matter, which makes one question the credibility of those reports
of Chechen fighters in Marawi and wonder why the Inquirer would
publish such questionable information.
Please kindly refrain from publishing material that distorts the
current international situation and cast a shadow on friendly relations
between Russia and the Philippines.
The embassy would gladly provide advice on the current state of
relations between our countries or the Russian position on any international
Embassy of the Russian Federation in the Republic of the Philippines,
Malaysia has the opportunity
to lead the world
it comes to the treatment of animals
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 7 December 2017
First published in the Star, Monday 27 November 2017
Malaysians consume chicken meat and eggs on a daily
basis yet hardly a thought is given to the horrendous conditions
in modern livestock raising systems known as factory-farming.
Malaysia is largely self sufficient in poultry meat production with
over 81 percent of the local domestic demand for meat and more than
111 percent of the countrys demand for eggs met by the local
However few are aware of the way in which most eggs are produced
by hens crammed in small wire cages, sometimes in tiers in dimly
lit sheds, without access to sunlight or natural surroundings, and
so denied the ability to exercise even the most basic natural instincts.
The extreme confinement denies or seriously restricts the birds
freedom to express patterns of behaviour.
Deprivation of basic needs and behaviour such as walking, turning,
exploring, interacting with or avoiding others, or being able to
lie in peace and comfort endanger the physical and psychological
health of animals.
Under such unnatural confinement the birds are under enormous stress
resulting in feather pulling and pecking.
Beak trimming or de-beaking in poultry management is done to prevent
such acts of frustration.
They are bred as egg producing machines, the aim being to obtain
the optimum production from each bird regardless of its real welfare.
And what happens to hens that no longer can produce eggs after about
two years in the battery cages?
They are then sent to slaughter to be turned into chicken soup and
emulsified chicken products such as frankfurters and bologna and
in canned products such as soups, sauces, stews and gravies. A tragic
end for a hen who spends its
life producing eggs to feed the masses.
The other purpose of a chicken is to produce excessive flesh for
the meat industry called broiler chickens. They are crowded by the
thousands and confined along with their waste on a small piece of
land. Though not confined in cages, they also experience a crowded
confinement, poor air quality and stressful handling.
In addition to intense confinement, they are subjected to massive
doses of antibiotics. They have the potential of exposure to various
viruses and bacteria via the manure and urine in their environment.
When finally grown large enough, the birds are packed tightly into
crates, stacked high on top of each other onto trucks, and transported
over many miles through all weather extremes, typically without
food or water, to the markets for slaughter.
Consumers are unaware about cruel practices under the veil of secrecy
that has protected animal abusing industries for a long time. These
industries operate outside the public spotlight because the way
they treat animals would not be condoned by those concerned about
Malaysia has the opportunity to lead the world when it comes to
treatment of animals. Yet we are behind other developed nations
shows how clearly change is needed.
It is about time the Ministry of Agriculture look into a enacting
a Farm Animal Act prohibiting the rearing of birds in cages, crates
or other forms of intensive confinement that violates the Animal
Welfare Act 2010, with acceptance of best practices and continuance
for changes in regulation with animal welfare being a strong driver
for increased regulation.
Change is needed, not only for animals but for farmers who need
to be able to plan for the future with certainty and confidence.
S M Mohamed Idris,
Sahabat Alam Malaysia.
Refute of Philippines
Does not apply to armed rebels
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 6 December 2017
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday 4 December
We would like to correct your banner story titled
Duterte shoot-to-kill order illegal - Robredo
December 1, 2017 written by Vince F. Nonato, Philip Tubeza, and
The first paragraph of the article states: President Dutertes
shoot-to-kill order, even if aimed at suspected armed rebels, is
not in accordance with the Constitution, Vice President Leni Robredo
said on Thursday.
This misrepresents what the Vice President said as she did not refer
to armed rebels, as a transcript of the said interview attests.
We underscore that terrorism is a crime against the Filipino people
and must be dealt with in a wholistic manner, including use of force
The Vice President was emphasizing that the proper process prescribed
in the Constitution and our laws should be followed when force is
to be used by the government.
It was not a categorical statement that all use of force is illegal.
The due process enshrined in the law for those suspected of violating
it is there for a purpose: to make sure that the allegations are
correct and to make sure that the penalties given are fair.
The Vice President reiterates that strong institutions like the
Philippine Constitution are critical in protecting peoples
lives and societys wellbeing.
She calls on every Filipino to nurture, strengthen, and protect
institutions to maintain peace and order in the country.
Philip Francisco U. Dy,
chief of staff,
Office of the Vice President,
Blinded belief in Communist
Party of the Philippines
Making a fool out of all of us
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 5 December 2017
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 1 December
I find it absurd when some uninformed Filipinos find
Proclamation No. 360, Declaring the termination of peace
negotiations with the National Democratic Front-Communist Party
of the Philippines-New Peoples Army a disappointment
while caring nothing about the attacks, extortion and other atrocities
these Maoist rebels commit.
If they find the termination of peace negotiations with the NDF-CPP-NPA
horrendous, then I dont know how they are supposed to make
sense of the deaths
and destruction of properties and communities brought forth by them.
Most Filipinos dont have any idea how hard it is to thrive
provinces and communities like ours while facing threats of violence
made by these communist rebels.
They dont know how painful a struggle it is not to enjoy ones
life to its fullest potential as we are compelled to periodically
relocate just because some Maoist rebels and bandits are destroying
and plundering barangays and other innocent lives.
But then, I cant blame the uninformed majority for having
toward the NDF-CPP-NPA and its organizational units. I find this
belief owing to the communists success in making a fool
out of all of us when
they conducted and disguised themselves in a manner that would make
as the champion and hero of the oppressed
and the poor. In previous decades,
both thriving and struggling Juan dela Cruz believed
that they had been
fighting only for magnanimous causes such as the so-called liberation
masses, equality, and progress. Consequently,
most Filipinos fail to see
the NDF-CPP-NPAs true colors and the deceit it continuously
employs in order to
justify the attainment of its selfish objectives, which obviously
really included Filipinos welfare in the first place.
As someone who has witnessed the NDF-CPP-NPAs atrocities despite
peace talks spearheaded by the government, I do believe it is high
to put an end to these communists existence.
The NDF-CPP-NPA is but a mere scintilla of this peace-loving and
country. We should not let this amalgamate of unscrupulous criminals
aspirations of our present and future generations and hamper the
development, which our far-flung communities equally deserve.
Call for Filipino-only owned corporations
To extract minerals
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 3 December 2017
First Published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 1 December
Many of the problems that hound the mining sector,
including the recent ruckus
over the lifting of the ban on open-pit mining, can be solved by
a proposed new
law: the Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB).
The measure, crafted in consultation with environment NGOs, indigenous
and mining-affected communities, provides the answer to the controversies
issues surrounding mining today.
The House of Representatives committee on natural resources
has wrapped up the Technical Working Group discussions on the bill,
and it will be up for second reading in the plenary.
The AMMB, or the proposed Philippine Minerals Resources Act, will
Mining Act of 1995 so that the people affected by mining projects
can share the
power to participate in the approval of mining permits through the
creation of a
multisectoral mineral management council.
The bill changes views on mineral resources, from simply profiting
extraction to actually benefiting from them.
The extraction should fuel the countrys industrialization
through the development of manufacturing and downstream mineral
Correcting one of the flawed provisions of the Mining Act, the bill
will not any more allow the extraction of ore minerals for export.
Under the AMMB, only Filipino-owned corporations will be allowed
mineralsa - complete opposite of the current mining law that allows
mining, mostly operated by multinational corporations.
The criteria for areas where mining is prohibited are clear.
The no-go areas include those declared no-mining zones by the local
government; densely populated, especially residential areas; head
waters of watershed areas; those with potential acid mine drainage;
critical watershed; critical habitat; disaster-prone areas;
geo-hazard areas; key biodiversity areas; prime agricultural lands;
natural or primary and secondary forests; watershed forest reserves;
wilderness areas, among others.
The bill intends to protect small island ecosystems, such as Manicani
the Leyte Gulf, from mining.
Residents of Manicani have camped outside the Department of Environment
and Natural Resources offices to oppose the new application of Hinatuan
Mining Corp.s mineral production sharing agreement on Manicani,
which expired last October. 27.
The communities bear the brunt of the destruction and harm caused
Aside from instituting clear-cut conditions on the mining that will
be allowed, the AMMB allows allocation to local communities from
the mining taxes collection.
Based on the figures of the 2016 Extractives Industry Transparency
report for fiscal year 2014, only 17 percent of total revenue payments
the local government.
This amounts to P1.8 billion of the P11.1-billion total revenue
collection from mining.
A provision in the proposed bill is the increase of the excise tax
from the current marginal rate of 2 percent.
It is not surprising that revenues from mining and mineral products
account for a mere 2.4 percent of the countrys total excise
The Philippines is the fifth most mineralized country in the world,
contributes only 1.1 percent of the gross domestic product, 0.4
percent of total
employment, and 0.6 percent of the governments total revenue
The landscape of the mining industry is definitely inequitable and
The harm and destruction caused by mining on the environment, the
people, and the economy are not worth the supposed benefits.
I hope that my colleagues in the legislature will hear the cry of
It is time to replace the current system while we still have time.
Rep. Teddy Baguilat,
Lone District of Ifugao,
ASEAN lanes at ASEAN airports
Southeasr Asian Times, Saturday 2 December 2017
First published in the Myanmar Times, Wednesday 27 November
As part of ASEAN solidarity and identity, Myanmar
set up ASEAN lanes for visitors arriving at Yangon International
Airports Terminal 1 early this year.
Nay Pyi Taw wants to implement the ASEAN Charter, which stipulates
that all member countries should set up an ASEAN lane to facilitate
people-to-people exchanges within the group.
So far, most of its members have arranged exclusive lanes for ASEAN
citizens, but Malaysia is the only country that strictly enforces
Any ASEAN visitor arriving at its airports must only queue up in
an ASEAN lane, even though at certain times the line in it could
Likewise, non-ASEAN visitors who line up in the ASEAN lane must
move to a foreign passport lane if caught.
Malaysian immigration officials are strict and outspoken. In contrast,
other ASEAN members, such as Thailand and Vietnam, allow foreign
visitors to get in any lane, even the one reserved for ASEAN citizens.
Thai Immigration officials never turn away queuing visitors even
though the sign in their lane says ASEAN passport holders
At Yangon International, there are three ASEAN lanes, but they are
not properly labelled.
The word ASEAN is displayed on a TV monitor in
front of the immigration counter, but tourists appear to mistake
it for an advertisement for ASEAN.
It is imperative to have clear signs that reserve the ASEAN lane
for ASEAN visitors.
The airport authorities should inform non-ASEAN passport holders
about these special lanes.
Recently at 8pm, I waited for nearly 70 minutes at passport check-in
at Yangon International because foreign passengers were lined up
in the ASEAN lanes (nos. 11-15). Airport officials made no attempt
to tell non-ASEAN passport holders to get in the proper lane.
The ASEAN Charter states clearly that all member countries should
have ASEAN lanes to increase public awareness of ASEAN identity.
This is the least that a member country can do to help realise the
goals set forth in ASEAN Vision 2025.