Friday, 9 January 2009

Malaysian Campus Politics: Maintaining The Status Quo?

UKM polls: Anti-establishment students draw first blood

Fauwaz Abdul Aziz & Jimadie Shah Othman Jan 8, 09 5:18pm

The anti-establishment Pro-Mahasiswa group at the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) drew first blood at the campus polls by bagging four seats at the end of nomination period today.

Of the 23 ‘faculty' seats on offer, the opposition group claimed two seats from the Engineering Faculty and another two from the Faculty of Islamic Studies.Other than the contests to represent the respective faculties, UKM's campus elections on Jan 15 will also see the undergraduates vying for 11 ‘general' seats.

According to Pro-Mahasiswa candidate Mohd Hariszuan Jaharudin, the four unopposed wins were declared by the university's Students Affairs Department (HEP) at about 12:45 this afternoon. Hariszuan, who is from the university's social and human sciences faculty, said the wins were due to the failure of the pro-Barisan Nasional ‘Aspirasi' group to nominate candidates for the engineering faculty's two seats and one of the seats for the Islamic studies faculty.

The other remaining seat at the Islamic studies faculty was given to the Pro-Mahasiswa candidate after objections against the Aspirasi candidate resulted in the latter's disqualification.In recent years, the UKM campus has been controlled by the Aspirasi faction.

Barometer of influence

The nominations process today started at 9am and ended at 12:45. The university's Students' Representatives' Council was dissolved last October, and will be refilled after elections on Jan 15.The results are expected to be announced on the same day.

Pro-Mahasiswa activist Saidatul Hafizah Mohd Shubaii said that the group had a large group of supporters at for the nomination process today.She said that about 200 of their supporters marched from UKM stadium to Dataran Pusanika - the nominations venue - chanting various slogans such as "Student power!" "We unite for students!" and singing "The Students' Wave".

About 100 Pro-Aspirasi supporters were also present at Dataran Pusanika, said Saidatul.UKM's campus elections are widely watched as they are regarded as a barometer of influence enjoyed by BN or Pakatan Rakyat on university students.

Other than UKM, USM announced yesterday that it will also hold elections on Jan 15.Pro-Mahasiswa hopeful is USM Nominations of candidates who will be contesting for 37 seats will take place for three days starting Jan 12.

When contacted, USM's student leader Muhammad Ashraf Mohd Saleh said the Pro-Mahasiswa grouping believed it will be able to nominate one candidate for each seat contested by the Aspirasi students.

He said further that he hoped the coalition could reverse the predominance of the Aspirasi students, who last year won 28 of the 37 seats on the university's Students' Representatives' Council.

Yesterday the Pro-Mahasiswa representatives submitted a memorandum to USM Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Student Affairs and Development) Prof Omar Osman, which Muhammad Ashraf said was "positively received".

The memorandum contained students' demands for the abolition of the Universities and University Colleges Act, the presence of an external group to monitor USM's campus elections and the appointment of an independent body to conduct the election process."Prior to this, we have found that the university tends to choose ex-USM students working in its Student Affairs Department who had themselves been Aspirasi students during their student days to run the campus elections," Muhammad Ashraf explained."We hope that this time and in the future, they could appoint other staff or employees of the university who would be less Aspirasi-inclined," he added.


Thursday, 8 January 2009

Malaysia Withdraws Ban on Catholic Newspaper

Agence France-Presse - 1/8/2009 11:49 AM GMT

Malaysia has withdrawn a ban on a Catholic newspaper's Malay-language edition imposed in a row over the use of the word "Allah", an official said Thursday.

The decision was made after the "Herald" weekly threatened to sue the government, the Home Ministry's publications control unit secretary Che Din Yusof told AFP.

"We received their letter. We have reviewed the decision and we will now allow them to print the Malay version provided that they don't use the word 'Allah' until it is decided in court," he said.

"They can publish as long as they don't use the word 'Allah', just use the word 'God'."

The Herald, circulated among the country's 850,000 Catholics, nearly lost its publishing licence last year for using the word "Allah" as a translation for "God". Authorities said "Allah" should be used only by Muslims.

Last week, the newspaper was told it must stop publishing its Malay edition while the issue is resolved in the courts, as part of conditions for it to be allowed to continue printing its editions in English, Chinese and Tamil.

Murphy Pakiam, the Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur and publisher of the weekly newspaper, said the move "reeks of ill will and bad faith" and was effectively retribution over the legal battle that is due to be decided next month.

Che Din denied the government was trying to punish the Herald.

"We have long banned the word Allah (from being used in publications of other religions), it's not new," he said.

The Herald's editor, Father Lawrence Andrew, welcomed Thursday's decision.

"It's good. Our right has been reinstated, it was taken away from us unjustly," he told AFP.

On the condition that it will not be allowed to use the word "Allah", the editor said the issue will be left to the court to decide.

Religion and language are sensitive issues in multiracial Malaysia, which experienced deadly race riots in 1969.

About 60 percent of the nation's 27 million people are ethnic Malay Muslims, who dominate the government.

The rest of the population includes indigenous tribes as well as ethnic Chinese and Indians -- practising Buddhism, Christianity and Hinduism, among others.

Father Lawrence has said that more than half Malaysia's Catholics are from indigenous groups, most of whom live on the Borneo island states and who mainly speak Malay.

Source: MSN News Services

If Allah is the name of God that every believing Muslim and Christian worships then let His name remains as Allah. In some of the rare books collection available at the UL (University Library of Cambridge University) the oldest Christian Bible written for the indigenous tribes of Borneo in the 19th century had already employed the term Allah for the Almighty God and terms like Roh Kudus for the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit. So why should the government of Malaysia insists that God which is already known as Allah by the Christians be called by another name by Malaysian Christians? Perhaps the Malaysian ministry involved should check with some of the oldest libraries in England or Holland on how the Almighty God has been referred to in the Christian Bible used in the interior of Sarawak, Indonesian Kalimantan, and other parts of Christian inhabited islands of Indonesia during the early days of British and Dutch colonial rule. One might ask why the oldest university or church libraries in both England or Holland? The answer is quite simple. England and Holland were the two Christian colonial powers who introduced Christianity to Nusantara: the British in Sarawak and Sabah, and the Dutch in various parts of Indonesian islands including the Indonesian Kalimantan. A.H. Awang Mois

Moozookahshee des ne: Japan slowly learning to Grapple with the end-product of Globalisation and Gaijins (II)

Sunday, Jan. 4, 2009


Multinationalism remains far from acceptance in Japan


Staff writer

Third in a series

In a country notorious for its exclusive immigration policy, the question of whether to allow Japanese to hold dual citizenship became a surprisingly hot policy topic last year after members of the ruling party breached the issue.

In many other parts of the world, it's a matter that has already been discussed in great depth, and observers agree that an increasing number of countries are moving toward allowing citizens to become multinational.

As of 2000, around 90 countries and territories permitted dual citizenship either fully or with exceptional permission, according to the "Backgrounder," published by the Center for Immigration Studies in the United States, and "Citizenship Laws of the World" by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Since the reports came out, several countries have lifted bans on dual nationality. As a consequence, there are more than 90 countries backing dual nationality by default today.

"The trend is dramatic and nearly unidirectional. A clear majority of countries now accepts dual citizenship," said Peter Spiro, an expert on multi nationality issues at Temple University Beasley School of Law.

"Plural citizenship has quietly become a defining feature of globalization."

Countries such as the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom who go by the principle of jus soli, which gives nationality to everyone born on their soil and territories, have long been lenient in permitting dual citizenship.

The shift is also being seen in countries that have traditionally adhered to jus sanguinis, which says that a child's nationality is determined by his parent's citizenship.

The change in jus sanguinis countries first grew prominent in European countries, followed by some South American and Asian states, largely as a result of economic globalization and the expansion in people's mobility over the past few decades.

Europe's general acceptance of dual nationality is stated in the 1997 European Convention on Nationality, which stipulates that while member states can define their own citizens, they must at least allow children of international marriages and immigrants to hold dual nationality.

This was a major shift from traditional attitudes in the region, stated in a 1963 convention that supported the single nationality principle.

Atsushi Kondo, a law professor at Meijo University, explained that the economic growth after World War II and the formation of the European Union are two major reasons driving the change.

After WWII, the western European countries, who had been a source of emigrants, began accepting foreigners in their labor forces to deal with the rise in economic development they were enjoying.

Contrary to the initial presumption of European states that immigrant workers will eventually pack up and leave at some point, many foreigners have stayed longer and settled. They not only brought in more family members to their new homes, but married citizens of those countries as well, Kondo said.

As more immigrants virtually became permanent residents, many governments eventually reached the conclusion that securing the rights of foreigners and integrating them with society was unavoidable if they were to bring about a fair and democratic society, he explained.

"These countries have become aware that leaving the status of foreigners unstable was violating their human rights and making society unfair" and wanted to avoid that, Kondo said.

Meanwhile, countries whose citizens are migrating to other countries have also granted dual citizenship to the Diaspora.

Among them are many Latin American countries, who took this step in the 1990s because many of their citizens were immigrating to the U.S.

For example, Colombia acknowledged dual nationality in 1991, the Dominican Republic in 1994, Brazil in 1996 and Mexico in 1998.

Joining the club in recent years have been Asian countries, such as the Philippines, India and Vietnam.

Since September 2003, native Filipinos who have become citizens of other countries through naturalization have been able to reacquire Filipino citizenship by taking the oath of allegiance to their motherland.

In 2005, India began granting people of Indian origin living in other countries, except Pakistan and Bangladesh, "Overseas Citizenship of India" if their habitual resident countries recognize dual citizenship.

While voting rights are not given, OCI holders will be allowed multiple-entry visas and hold equal economic, financial and educational benefits.

And from this year, some 3.5 million Vietnamese living abroad will also be able to obtain citizenship thanks to legislation passed by the Vietnamese parliament in November allowing dual nationality.

Last year, South Korea began reviewing ways to permit Koreans to hold dual nationalities under certain conditions. This is in line with the policies that President Lee Myung Bak has said he wanted to actualize.

Spiro of Temple University, who recently wrote the book "Beyond Citizenship," said states that are major producers of immigrants have been looking into cementing ties with emigrant populations, largely for economic reasons.

"Embracing dual nationality is like a tool for harnessing the economic power of external citizens," Spiro said.

"Instead of forcing emigrants to make a choice, or treating them like traitors to the homeland, emigrants can both integrate with their new place of residence at the same time that they maintain the citizenship tie with their homeland," he noted.

While simultaneously holding citizenship in more than one country can bring more opportunities to individuals, it also brings risks, such as mandatory military service or taxation obligations.

But both Spiro and Kondo said many countries have reconciled this on the basis of residence.

For example, in European countries, if one holds citizenship in two countries where military service is mandatory, the person only need serve one of them, usually the country in which they reside.

People with dual nationality are also warned about the risk of running into trouble or accidents when one of the two countries does not acknowledge dual citizenship. In those circumstances, the other government is limited in what it can do for the person.

Kondo, however, said that in many cases, especially emergencies, many governments take humanitarian actions and make claims to the other country in a peaceful manner to secure the safety of the citizen.

Jus sanguinis countries like Japan have traditionally been less tolerant of dual nationality because people tend to regard themselves as an exclusively racially homogeneous, Kondo explained.

While Japan does not allow dual citizenship, people can acquire more than one nationality upon birth if the parents are a Japanese and a foreigner, or if a Japanese couple have a baby in countries where citizenship is given to those born on their soil.

For babies, nationality depends on birthplace, parents

In such cases, Japanese nationality law stipulates that the child must select one of the nationalities permanently before turning 22 years old.

While the law is rigid about this rule, the reality is that the Justice minister has never strictly imposed it on anyone who actually has two nationalities.

"It's not favorable to force a citizen to choose one among his parents," Kondo said.

"It will take a very, very long time before Japan becomes a jus soli country, but at least it is possible to gradually set the bar lower" and accept dual citizens as other countries have done, he said.

Even in countries like the U.S., for example, there are voices calling for scaling back birthright citizenship to children of illegal immigrants.

However, Spiro said that there is very little real political support in U.S. for opposing dual citizenship.

This is partly due to the rise of dual citizens among powerful political constituencies, such as Irish-, Italian- and Jewish-Americans, but also because dual citizens pose very little threat of any description to local society, he said.

"The U.S. and many European nations now understand that dual citizenship doesn't pose much of a threat . . . In many states, the acceptance is now nearly absolute," Spiro said.

Source: The Japan Times
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