HOW CORPORATE LOBBYISTS STOLE FROM THE POORS AND MIDDLE CLASS MAKE MALAYSIAN BILLIONAIRES
here is one colourful aspect of elections that has been sadly neglected in the coverage of this vibrant game called democracy. resurrected UMNO a party killed by corruption and complacence, was sabotaged by his Tun Mahathir sent his henchmen to defeat
It is axiomatic that you have to be dumb in order to be dumbfounded, but political parties are not run by dumb people. They only pretend to be dumb, in the hope that the people are too dumb to see through the artifice. It is a hopeless hope. Others may labour over the finer points of logic, and debate whether one element might not turn counterproductive. But Congress has no qualms. It shoots from the hip with speed and conviction, and if the ammunition is only a sequence of blanks, no problem: the primary purpose, of making noise, has been served, for television loves noise with an owner’s possessiveness.
even more ludicrous. You need a large dose of hallucination to defend the indefensible
Why the TV3 and Utusan are taking out TV ads about each other
Overheard, this exchange between two newspaper readers, Gup and Shup.
Credibility is like virginity. It either exists or does not. Unfortunately, some top names in malaysian journalism have lost their credibility. In the few cases that are in the public domain, they have been found lobbying for the scam-ridden”right” party. They behaved like powerbrokers and crossed the line between legitimate news gathering and lobbying. It is like the fence eating the crop.How they will extricate themselves from the mire is difficult to say. The sad part is that they have brought a bad name to the profession. Politicians are jubilant because they can now say, “Physician, heal thyself.” The media has the duty to inform the public without fear or favour in a free society. At times this can be an unpleasant job, but it has to be performed because free society is founded on free information. With what face can the profession point a finger at those who are found wanting in integrity?
The mystique of journalism has been decreasing over a period of time. And now media has been reduced to tittle-tattle. Newspapers copy TV channels in sensationalism and the latter, in turn, copy newspapers in pontificating.
True, politicians tend to use us. They have their own interests to serve. But then we play into their hands for the vicarious satisfaction of being close to ministers or party leaders. When we slant the news and accept money or favours for putting across a particular point of view, we are not truthful and fall from professional standards expected in a democratic structure. Why is the press called the Fourth Estate? It is because it is one of the pillars on which the democratic edifice rests.
Has malaysia become a bastard nation run by and for opportunists who will stop at nothing to line their own pockets or wield influence?
Where has idealism gone?
Once the profession attracted the best and the brightest. They wanted to combat parochialism, archaic ideas, bullying by powerbrokers and anything that could be construed as threatening to the common man.
Take the newspapers and TV channels of today. They avoid debates on issues. They present a point of view of their own or of vested interests. They deny a voice to those who do not tally with their bias or prejudice. In fact they are undemocratic species talking in the name of democracy. What kind of a country do they want? On what are their sights set?
I feel disappointed when I see the attitude of journalists who know that low integrity is a problem, but prefer to sweep the issue under the carpet. In Sharizat’S case, they have been willing partners or fixers.
I know of a senior journalist who has become a member of a government-appointed commission. He is happy to occupy both positions. Technically he may be right, but the question is not legal.
Gup: Hey, did you get to see that TV ad showing this guy who’s always falling asleep at all sorts of places, including at a parade in which a band is playing real loud music? Anyway, this guy keeps nodding off all the time, and then it turns out that the reason he’s always so sleepy is because he reads Utusan, which is so boring that it puts anyone who reads it to sleep. So the ad suggests that if you don’t want to snooze off at odd times, you’d better switch to the excitement-filled TV3 from the boring Utusan.
Shup: Boring! Utusan boring? Listen, buddy, let me wisen you up. A drill is something that is boring; it’s used to bore holes with. Utusan is not a drill; it’s a newspaper and it’s not at all boring. Far from it. What Utusan has is gravitas. In fact, it’s got gravitas with a capital G.
Gup: Gravitas? Isn’t gravitas that thing that the guy discovered when he was sitting under a tree and the apple fell on his head?
Shup: No, that was Newton and what he discovered was the Law of Gravity. It was Utusan which discovered the Law of Gravitas, which involves making everything you say seem weighty and profound, through the use of Capital Letters for everything, including knock-knock jokes. Which in Utusan are called Knock-Knock Jokes. That’s Gravitas, and that’s what Utusan has. Unlike the TV3 which makes everything it says seem light and frothy. Like that TV ad Utusan did which showed young people being interviewed on the street, and who couldn’t correctly answer questions on current affairs but knew everything there was to know about Barisan trivia. The ad hinted that all these clueless people were Target TV3 Readers.
Gup: No, kidding. Must catch that ad on TV. Maybe it’ll tell me something i’ve never been able to figure out: Why is MAHATHIR called MAHATHIR?
Shup: What on earth is a MAHATHIR? A new subatomic particle scientists have discovered in the CERN hadron collider experiments? Anyway, have you heard the one about the TV3 reader who went to his doctor for a check-up and was told that he should join a gym and get some exercise? A couple of days later, the doctor saw the reader walking down the street with a blonde on each arm. ‘What are you doing with those blondes when i told you to go to a gym and get some exercise?’ asked the doctor. And the TV3 reader said ‘Right on, doc – the guy at the gym told me to pick up a couple of dumb belles, and these are the two dumbest i could find to pick up.
Gup: Hey, that’s a good one! Maybe i’ll send it to TV3. They might like to use it in 8pm news they have called Freaking Spree. But tell me, why have TV3 and TV3 declared a TV ad war on each other? Why couldn’t Utusan be happy with its Gravitas and its Knock-Knock Jokes, and the Utusan with its dumb belles?
Shup: Simple. You’re a TV3 fan, right? But after you heard about Utusan ads, you also want to get Utusan to see if it’s really as boring as TV3 ad says. And i’m a Utusan reader, but after seeing the ad about the TV3, i want to get the TV3 too to see if it’s really as air-brained as the ad makes out.
Gup: You mean…
Shup: Exactly. The ads are part of a master marketing strategy by which Utusan gets TV3 to buy it, and tv3 gets Utrusan readers to buy it, so it’s a double-whammy and both the TV3 and Utusan have the last laugh. On us.
Gup: You’re right. I can hear someone laughing – all the way to the bank
This problem is but one piece of the larger crisis facing America in 2012: the capture of government — and both major parties — by well-heeled special interests. While we would all like a simple fix, the reality is that the solution is more complex. We must advance a range of reforms: from limiting super PACS, campaign spending and contributions to requiring full transparency of all political spending, including think tanks like these. From blocking the “revolving door” of politicians and K Street, to fixing the gerrymandering of congressional districts. From increasing voter participation to fixing antiquated legislative and election rules like the filibuster and the electoral college.
Complex, yes, but a common sense reform agenda is emerging that must be foisted upon our nation’s leaders with the brute political cudgel of pure populism: the same kind that ushered in the greatest political triumphs dating back to the birth of the republic. No, America, our leaders will not fix this problem out of the goodness of their hearts. If we want the republic to survive and thrive, it’s up to us to force them.
Malaysian billionaires became rich because of the country’s policy and stability, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak today.
“I looked at yesterday’s newspapers… the list of Malaysian billionaires. I studied each one of them. Maybe some in this room today. Every one of them became rich because of our policy,” he said when opening the one-day “Malaysian Chinese at the Political Crossroads” conference jointly organised by the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute and the MCA think-tank, Insap, here.
Najib said these billionaires either hold concessions or were in the right place and at the right time.
He said that the billionaires benefited from the stability of Malaysia and the government would continue to ensure growth and create more and more opportunities.
According to Najib, the Malaysian Chinese are more entrepreneurial compared to the Bumiputeras and the government would continue to make Malaysia a better place to do business.
“Even if they don’t get concessions, they have to be in the right place and at the right time. They benefited from our policy, they benefited from the fact that we give stability to this country.
“We will continue to ensure that the nation will grow and will create more and more opportunities,” he said.
Najib also said that the government would continue to listen to the problems of the Malaysian Chinese.
“We will make sure there are more opportunities for them to advance in this country,” he added. that is what he said but in realty
This week, climate blogs includingDeSmogBlog and ThinkProgress Greenuncovered a leaked document precious to public interest advocates: a confidential memo and fundraising plan from the “conservative” Heartland Institute that lists its corporate donors, as well as the group’s strategic plans.
Heartland is one of many so-called “conservative” think tanks that “promote[s] free-market solutions to social and economic problems.” The document exposes what everyone knows, but is rarely proven: that Heartland and other “free-market” think tanks are nothing but lobbying vehicles for the largest corporations and billionaires who own them. These groups were the lead actors in the D.C. dramas that killed consumer protections that could have prevented the banking crisis, the Gulf oil spill, tax breaks for millionaires, and countless other affronts against America’s middle class. They are the secret agents artfully promoting the agendas of Big Insurance, Big Pharma, Big Phone and Cable, and anyone else who ponies up the cash. The leaked documents even admit that Heartland’s funders “want project-specific proposals”
Real conservative Americans should be seriously pissed off about this. Think tanks like Heartland falsely brand themselves as conservative while blindly espousing a free market free for all that history proves — over and over and at extreme cost to society — as untenable: a fig leaf that covers their real goal of destroying any consumer protections that could hurt profitmaking and the consolidation of wealth into the hands of billionaires. Reporters and pundits hear this: they are corporate, not conservative think tanks.
Polls show that conservatives are already outraged at how Big Money buys laws and the politicians who vote for them. Conservatives should be equally outraged that these think tanks and corporate-pawn politicians who do their bidding are co-opting their conservative brand to undermine the public interest. A great video from the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last week shows Tea Partiers and Occupiers agreeing that crony capitalism is the issue that unifies them.
In the big scheme of things, Heartland Institute is a small player, with an annual budget of just $6 million. Heritage Foundation rakes in $75 million a year to shill for corporations;American Enterprise Institute, around $30 million, and the list goes on. What the leaked documents prove is what everyone in Washington knows: most Washington think tanks are a who’s who of the major corporations that own American democracy. And they are the same corporations that are increasingly buying favor at liberal institutions like theNAACP and Sierra Club.
– Karl Marx never visited the United States, but he nevertheless understood the country, because he understood capitalism. As you know, there’s no American ideology that’s mightier than capitalism. Equality, justice and the rule of law are nice and all, but money talks.
In their 1846 book The German Ideology, Marx and co-author Frederick Engels took a look at human history and made a plain but controversial observation. In any given historical period, the ideas that people generally think are the best and most important ideas are usually the ideas of the people in charge. If you have a lot of money and own a lot of property, then you have the power to propagandise your worldview and you have incentive to avoid appearing as if you’re propagandising your worldview. Or, as Marx and Engels would put it: The ruling ideas of every epoch are the ideas of the ruling class.
Listening Post – Super PACs: A new media weapon
The ideas of the one per cent become the dominant ideas because the one per cent convinces the 99 per cent that its ideas are the only rational and universally valid ideas. Consider free-market capitalism. The idea says that growth provides prosperity to all, that government governs best when it governs least, so there’s no need to discuss the redistribution of wealth. That’s neoliberalism and that idea has been the only acceptable economic policy since the Clinton era. Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan was its greatest champion. After the collapse of the housing market, he said he was dead wrong. Even so, the idea remains dominant. Why? Forgive me for pointing out the obvious, but the ruling class happens to make a lot of money from a free market.
Americans tend to look askance at Marx and I don’t blame them. He was, after all, the father of socialism, as well as the guy associated with Josef Stalin, who was, you know, a homicidal totalitarian dictator. But as philosopher John Gray has noted, Marx got a lot wrong about Marxism but he got a lot right about capitalism. He understood that ideas don’t exist in bubbles – they have a concrete material context and have a human cost.
The late Steve Jobs, for instance, was a man of ideas. He was widely considered a visionary and a prophet of technology, and Jobs took great pains to encourage that way of thinking. After his death, however, Mike Daisey, the acclaimed playwright and monologuist, revealed something about Jobs that should have been plain to see – Jobs’ prophecies came at the expense of poor Chinese sweatshop workers who make iPads and other Apple products for middle-class Americans to buy at affordable prices. The Great Man theory of history is more like intellectual cover (or what Marx called the illusions of the ruling class), for the exploitation of labour.
It’s hard to imagine a better illustration of Marx’s theory of the ruling class than Citizens United, the 2010 case brought before the US Supreme Court in which the majority decided that political action committees (or PACs) cannot be subject to campaign finance laws. PACs do not formally represent candidates and instead, express their own political views. So the money they spend is more like free speech. Therefore, political money is speech protected by the US Constitution’s First Amendment.
In theory, this is an egalitarian ruling. Any citizen can spend any amount of money to promote or attack any issue they want. But we don’t live in an egalitarian society. As Gore Vidal has said, America is a very good place to live if you have money and property. Not so much if you don’t.
Now we have 364 so-called super PACs dominating the national political dialogue as candidates compete for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination. These organisations can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money as long as they don’t explicitly endorse or challenge a specific candidate. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, they have raised more than $130m in 2012 and spent almost $75m on attack advertisements carried over broadcast, cable and radio. Of that total amount, 25 per cent comes from just five people.
What these ads say is less important than their results, one of which is the curious political phenomenon of the zombie candidate. Without a billionaire casino tycoon who keeps obligingly writing checks to a super PAC, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich would have quit a long time ago. Then there are candidates like Mitt Romney who need not be especially good at being candidates. Romney is preternaturally unable to ignite the party’s base, yet he continues winning primaries because his backer, a super PAC called Restore Our Future, has spent $37m in two and a half months, more than any sum spent on any candidate in any election ever.
Some super PACs don’t even support candidates, but instead attack incumbents. The Campaign for Primary Accountability is spending millions to oust representatives who’d otherwise be safe. Political activity, moreover, isn’t restricted to super PACs. Americans for Prosperity, officially a “non-profit advocacy group”, has supported Tea Party candidates and has launched propaganda campaigns in Wisconsin that touted Governor Scott Walker’s austerity measures and newly passed anti-union laws. Americans for Prosperity is funded by libertarians Charles and David Koch, brothers whose combined worth is estimated to be about $50bn. Instead of targeting politicians vying for public office, the Kochs are taking aim at ordinary middle-class workers who might otherwise have reason to believe in the American Dream.
Columnist EJ Dionne of the Washington Post summed it up when he wrote:
Oh, yes, it works nicely for the wealthiest and most powerful people in the country, especially if they want to shroud their efforts to influence politics behind shell corporations. It just doesn’t happen to work if you think we are a democracy and not a plutocracy.
And perhaps there’s the real problem. If you believe the US is a democracy, if you believe in the rule of the many and not the rule of the few, then the Citizens United ruling could not be more troubling. But what if this is not a democracy? What if this, as Dionne suggests, is an oligarchy of billionaire capitalists? More horrible to ponder, what if democracy is yet more intellectual cover, another one of those illusions, for the exploitation of American workers?
Then the theory of the ruling class fits perfectly. Citizens United and the United States were made for each other.