Malaysian and the captive mind syndrome

It has become a norm for me to indulge in newspapers every weekend. One of the catchiest article I have read this week echo the same worry that I have since I become much more critical in observing our culture. Andrew Sia has written an awesome piece of analysis (which I copy pasted from the Star website. See below) regarding our attitude towards the Western culture. He was referring specifically to the Chelsea Asian Tour which had landed on our soil few weeks ago. It shows how our people really upholding John Terry and Co. by prepairing the Chelsea team with lavish and extravaganza treatment beginning from the arrival at the airport till the night Chelsea whipped our Malaysian boys 2-0.

Full of humor and cynical statements, Andrew has managed to captured my intention so vividly that I could relate his article directly with what the late Syed Hussein Al-Atas has famously promulgated as The Captive Mind Syndrome.

As you can see whatever happen during the Chelsea Asian Tour in Malaysia as being mentioned extensively in Andrew’s article below perfectly described the syndrome. As a 3rd World Nation who being continuously assault by the globalization demonic influences,  we the Malaysians, especially the younger generations like me has being reduced into a pathetic state of, to borrow Andrew’s phrase “worshipping the west“.

If I were to elaborated further the connotations of “worshipping the west”-I mean literally surely people will accuse me Taliban etc. But that is the naked truth of our people. Well, the syndrome is not merely being imposed through external forces of the Westernization a.k.a Globalization but also due to our weakness in upholding our cultural roots which are rich with beautiful values.

What can I say? As a Malay who lived in the city, my struggle to uphold the values of our roots still far reaching than I thought. If you want to understand this problem deeper I recommened you to read Syed Hussein’s The Myth of Lazy Natives (cost you about RM 300 in Kinokuniya KLCC) or the brilliant Islam and Secularism by Prof. Syed Naquib Al-Attas (the small brother of Syed Hussein).

Till then enjoy reading your heart our with the article below!


Worshipping the West

By ANDREW SIA

The way we feel about foreign football idols may reflect the kind of people we are – and it’s not a pretty picture.

LAST Tuesday, we had the Chelsea superstars come here to play a game at half-pace against a Malaysian selection, with the local crowd awash in the blue Samsung T-shirts of the English Premier League (EPL) boys.

Some local fans waited for hours to book the best standing spots at the team’s hotel, desperate for a morsel of affection from their idols. How did Chelsea’s multi-millionaire footballers return our love?

“Most of them just walked past, with their ears plugged into their music. They didn’t seem to have much time for us, even though some fans were waving flags and cheering,” recounts Eric Samuel, a StarSport Senior Writer who was at the scene.

We even welcomed them with elaborate Sarawakian cultural dances, and again we seemed to be “bothering” Chelsea’s megastars.

“From their faces, they must have been thinking, ‘Aiyoh what-lah, coming to this sakai (savages, a derogatory term for the orang asli) country’. At least stop and admire the dances for a little while-lah,” chips in another StarSport writer.

Malaysian Chelsea fans showed so much love for their team but got little back in return. EHFAN SHAH/ The Star

In other words, it looks like we gave Chelsea the red carpet treatment and got a cold blue shoulder back.

“While local reporters were playing cat-and-mouse games to get to any one of the superstars during their two-day stay, (foreign) news agencies and British newspapers had loads of stories quoting the superstars. A case of double standards, perhaps?” wrote R. Manogaran, Deputy Editor of StarSport in a comment piece on Wednesday.

And how were the local slobbering fans treated?

“At the official training session on Monday, thousands of fans thronged the Shah Alam Stadium to catch a glimpse of their aces in action and, hopefully, get an autograph or snap a picture for posterity.”

Manogaran continued: “While a select few, probably with connections to the organisers or someone higher up, managed to get onto the pitch for their autographs and snapshots, many of the die-hard fans could only watch from the stands — anger seething and tempers flaring.”

“Hopefully, when other bigger teams come our way, local media will not have crumbs thrown their way and the fans will be given their money’s worth!” concluded Manogaran. To be fair, there were some autograph sessions and Chelsea’s captain, John Terry, did make some effort to be friendly to the fans. But overall, by our standards of warm-hearted Asian hospitality and effusive politeness, where we go out of our way to make guests comfortable, the Chelsea visitors’ response seemed rather gruff.

In retrospect, it’s fortunate that the proposal to bring in Manchester United on July 27 last year to “celebrate our 50th Merdeka” did not happen.

First of all, it might have been a humiliating repeat of their last visit in 2001 when the national team were whacked 6-1 by Man U – while Malaysians cheered on the bashing. Or would Man U have been discreetly asked to play at half-pace to “give face” to us? Just as Luis Scolari, the Chelsea coach, admitted that last Tuesday’s game was nothing more than a warm-up “training match”?

I am not really a fan of, nor hold grudges against, any particular EPL team. My only beef here is, why do we so slavishly indulge in this West Worship, while receiving so little love back from our idols? Are we so lacking in self-worth?

At times, we seem like under-appreciated, love-struck women who pine after indifferent or callous men, the perfect candidates to read the book, He’s just not that into you (you stupid woman!).

What causes our lack of self-esteem? To start with, Malaysian football is abysmal. The problems – unpaid players’ salaries, bankrupt state FA’s, politicians hogging posts, lack of grassroots development and bookies fixing matches – have been dragging on for years.

TSo we have a Third World soccer mentality, but at least we still have First World physical infrastructure right? Sorry again, no. When Brazil came here to train before the 2002 World Cup in Korea-Japan, Scolari was then the samba boys’ coach. They had to run around looking for proper venues as the playing pitches were so bumpy and badly maintained that they posed an injury threat.

Have things improved since that international embarrassment? Scolari, now coaching Chelsea, was anxiously “waiting for the final whistle”, fearing that the poor condition at the Shah Alam pitch might injure his precious players. Given that some of them are paid £100,000 (RM700,000) a week, each of their toes must be worth, what, RM10,000,000?

West Worship is a prevalent theme in our society. The list includes, service staff who treat Mat Sallehs extra nicely over locals, VIPs who prefer sending their children to British universities over local ones, our architecture blindly copying European styles despite the searing tropical heat here, the proliferation of English-derived words in Bahasa Malaysia and people who miraculously acquire American accents after a two hour stopover at Los Angeles airport.

But even if we’re going to worship the West, let’s at least do it properly. Let’s revere not only the external stuff, like their football players, but also the deeper substance – the professional sports management, youth skills development and corruption-free leagues – that allowed these great players to emerge. So that one day, we will have players that can storm the World Cup, as South Korea did in 2002.

Otherwise, we will be perpetually reduced to bowing in adoration before Chelsea’s demigods, begging for scraps of their attention, as they brush past us nonchalantly.


Copy pasted from the Star website.

Interview with Shell CEO

Why is oil so expensive?

“The short answer is: nobody knows. Suffice it to say that, ten years ago, when the oil price was $10, nobody foresaw that it would be $140 today. So, even if I had any particular insight, there would still be a 50/50 chance of getting it wrong. That also explains why we have stopped to make a lot of forecasts.”

Still, what factors determine the price of oil?

“We look at fundamentals — as well as small shifts. We always ask, What’s going on in the Middle East? How many refineries are online? Is there enough gasoline in the stations?

“So beyond the fundamentals, the price of oil is determined by psychologies, tensions in the world or lack of spare capacity.”

Every power plant has got to be zero emissions. Widespread deployment of CO2 capture and storage (CCS) at power stations is crucial for that to happen.

Is the era of cheap fossil fuels coming to an end?

“I think that easy oil and easy gas — that is, fuels that are relatively cheap to produce and very easy to get to the market — will peak somewhere in the coming ten years.”

Why is that?

“Mother Nature has put enough of it out there. In other words, there’s no shortage of molecules out there. It is just that she has put it in difficult places, like the Arctic, or in the form of “difficult oil and gas”. Where before you would drill a hole in the ground and gas would come out — that is “easy” gas — now you will drill a hole in the ground and you can see the gas, but it won’t come out.”

What challenges does this pose?

“You have to invest a lot, per unit, per lot, per barrel

Ten years ago, when the oil price was $10, nobody foresaw that it would be $140 today.

of oil — and it is not just the dollars per barrel, but the brain cells per barrel that go up as well. That changes the nature of the industry completely. It becomes very technology-intensive, capital-intensive, top-expert intensive.”

How is Shell meeting these challenges?

“We have hired thousands and thousands of experts mid-career, which we have never done in the past. This is a clear indication we are sure there is an opportunity for those unconventional energy sources.”

How can international oil companies such as Shell compete with national oil companies in developing oil resources?

“If we can only do the same as national companies in producing easy

The industry has become very technology-intensive, capital-intensive and top-expert intensive.

oil, then the value proposition we can make to those governments who have a very strong agenda will be quite difficult. So for us, it is very important that we have something distinctive — such as unique technologies, large project management, operational excellences, track records of working cheaper or having access to markets.”

Why is this important?

“If we bring something to the table that others don’t have, the national oil companies will probably invite us to form joint ventures, as they have done in the past. If we don’t, they won’t.”

What must we keep in mind when planning the world’s energy future?

“One of the key things about planning the future of the energy system is to recognize the natural timeframes. If you get a car today that is of high quality, you know that it is still going to be on the road in 20 years, somewhere in the world.

“And if you build a power plant, it is going to be operating in 40 years. So, if there are any brand new technologies, they need to be out of the lab now to be of significant scale in the time period that we’re talking about.”

And what must we keep in mind when setting greenhouse gas standards?

“The world faces a rise in emissions by 25% between now and 2020, because of the surge in energy

The price of oil is determined by psychologies, tensions in the world or lack of spare capacity.

demand in Asia. To cut CO2 emissions in half by 2020 effectively means that by that time, you have got to get into place a zero-emissions power sector and a more-or-less zero-emissions transport sector. So, starting today, that means every plant today, every power plant, has got to be zero emissions. That’s what it means. But it is not going to happen that fast.

“However, we believe that if the world makes the right choices in the next few years, we could bring down energy-related emissions substantially after 2020. Widespread deployment of CO2 capture and storage (CCS) at power stations is crucial for that to happen.”

And finally, what is a specific example of how companies can reduce CO2 emissions?

“We put quite a CO2 penalty on every design we make. Why? Because many of our installations are built for decades — and if you put a high CO2 penalty on every total CO2 you emit, you will have higher efficiency units.”

How important are biofuels?

“Our aim is make transport fuels out of next-generation bio-fuels — that is, the sustainable, non-food variety. To that end, we are on the move all the time by collaborating with small companies and by doing our own research.”

Do they have potential to be an important part of the world’s energy mix?

“I think that the way that we look at next-generation biofuels is that you have to look at an integrated way: How sustainable are the biofuels? What is the CO2 footprint? Will you eat up your own biofuels? That is very much part of our thinking.”

“We have already learned from hard lessons in developing renewables — but we are very committed to developing renewables and to making them cheaper.”

Do biofuels have a future?

“Yes. In the end, the aim is to make sustainably sourced next-generation biofuels that don’t compete with foods, and are more CO2 efficient “from well to wheels” than products based on fossil fuels. And they certainly will be a lot better than transport fuels based on coal.”

How is Shell attempting to create a market for biofuels?

“The thing you have to do, is to go through the learning curves as fast as you can. That has to do with reserves, demonstrations, projects and brains.”

Where does the investment come in?

“Only if you have a value proposition for the consumers which is attractive, then you can invest a lot. And that we have already learned from hard lessons in developing renewables. We have been too early in technologies that people didn’t like to buy. But, we are very committed to developing renewables and to making them cheaper.”

How does nuclear energy fit into the mix?

“Nuclear energy is very important. However, over the next 20 years, there is such a decommissioning program under way that you have to have massive construction just to hold it steady — and then you have to build on top of that.”

Why is that such a challenge?

“How sustainable are the biofuels? What is the CO2 footprint? Will you eat up your own biofuels? That is very much part of our thinking.”

“You essentially have to recreate three industries — construction, uranium mining and waste management — that have effectively been depleted over the last 20 years. So it takes time to rebuild the industry, and then have the scope that grows. We see it growing, but we don’t see it able to be the silver bullet.”

What does the future hold for hydrogen?

“I worked in the United States in the 1990s and I picked up this idea here — I was quite enthusiastic about it. We are still enthusiastic, but it will be less and later. Everybody in the field still has to work out a lot of problems. While it is still a quite exciting fuel, you have to still figure out from what you can make the hydrogen. So, we think that there is a future — and it may compete with all kinds of alternative forms of transport, but it will not be there tomorrow.”

And finally, what will it take for renewable energy to go mainstream?

“Once the footprint of those renewables is really environmentally ok, and the technologies can compete on price without subsidies, then we are convinced you can attract capital — that is nothing new. That is what we see in those start-up companies with the new technologies.”

Taken from The Globalist.com

The Naked Truth of Oil Crisis

The current oil crisis that has been sweeping almost everybody who live, eat and travel using the black gold and had caused a massive setback to all people. In Malaysia itself, we have been bogged down with emotional and politicized issue regarding the oil crisis. Bulk of the argument was due to the abandonement of subsidy which have amounted around RM50 billion.
By continuously championing this issue using populist reasoning, most Malaysians will fall into the trap of the politicians who normally do not think far enough in analyzing this crisis. Hopefully the article below could serve some understand of the big picture we are facing. For sure, the Age of Oil is rapidly declining and we need to prepare a mat to land comfortably and safely.
Why are oil prices soaring so high, and will they ever return to Earth? Fatih Birol, chief economist at the International Energy Agency in Paris, explains why peak oil is real, why biofuels are indispensable, and how China determines what you pay at the pump.

Foreign Policy: The Wall Street Journal recently reported that your agency is preparing to revise its estimate of future oil supplies. Can you tell us a little bit about your preliminary findings?

Fatih Birol: We publish a book every year, World Energy Outlook (WEO), that lays out strategies related to energy and climate change. For this year’s WEO, we wanted to look at oil-supply prospects, as there are a lot of question marks. So, we are looking at 400 top oil fields, on a field-by-field basis, asking how much oil we can realistically expect to come to market. We not only look at the geological part of the issue, but also the economics. We are going to publish our study on the 12th of November, so I don’t know the results yet. What I can tell you is that what we are experiencing in the last few years—high prices, lack of investment in many areas, and the significant decline rates, especially in the North Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and elsewhere—will be considered.

We are entering a new world energy order. Today, demand for oil is dominated by China, India, and even by the Middle East countries themselves. The main actors of the recent past—namely the OECD countries, rich countries, the United States, Europe, Japan—their time is passé. It’s over.

FP: Why aren’t more new supplies coming online, given the current high prices?

FB: The bulk of the oil has in the past been produced by the international oil companies, so-called Big Oil. But their existing reserves are declining in what they have under ownership. They have no access to new reserves, the bulk of which are in Middle East countries. In most of these countries, only the national oil company can, by law, invest. So, even though the international oil companies may have the capital and the technology, they don’t have access to the reserves. Therefore, the bulk of the growth in the future needs to come from the national oil companies, and perhaps price will no longer be the main determinant when they make their [production] decisions, because for many countries, oil is their only natural endowment. And those countries legitimately value and want to leave their one and only natural endowment for future generations.

FP: Do you believe in peak oil?

FB: Of course, but the question is when? Global oil resources are limited. We have conventional oil; we have unconventional oil. We have oil in the North Sea, in the Gulf of Mexico. We have more oil in the OPEC countries. What I can tell you is that one day global conventional oil will peak. This will depend on many factors, including the role of technology, investment, and production policies. When we look at oil outside of the OPEC countries, when you put all of them together, I think it is going to peak very soon. But we have unconventional oil, and we have oil in the Middle East as well. How much will come to the market from unconventional oil?

FP: As we’re seeing at the United Nations’ food crisis meeting in Rome, biofuels are becoming a huge source of controversy. What impact would a backlash against biofuels have on energy prices? How important are biofuels to the oil market?

FB: Biofuels, in the last two years, played a crucial role. When you look at the numbers, almost one third of the growth in liquid [fuel] production came from biofuels. If we didn’t have that one third, the prices today that we are experiencing could be much higher.

FP: How much of the current oil price is explained by financial speculation? Is there an “oil bubble,” as George Soros and others are claiming?

FB: There is definitely financial speculation, but the main reason for the high prices is the growing perception in the markets that the future demand growth may not be met by the supply growth. This provides fertile ground for speculators, and they play a triggering role in increasing prices.

FP: Will prices stay at this level for the next, say, 12 months? Do you believe the Goldman Sachs estimate that oil will hit $200 a barrel next year?

FB: As the chief economist of the IEA, I cannot by law make any predictions about prices. But what I can tell you is that I expect that for the next years to come, we will have a high price trajectory. There may be zigzags, but I would be very surprised if prices go down to the levels we saw three or four years ago, in the long term.

FP: The price, or even the price trajectory of oil, is notoriously hard to predict. What are the biggest uncertainties in trying to make forecasts?

FB: On the demand side, I think the biggest uncertainty is how much the Chinese economy will grow in the next 10 to 15 years. If the Chinese economy grows at 7 percent level or 9 percent, there is a huge difference for global oil demand growth. This two percentage-point difference has implications on oil demand that are higher than all OECD countries’ oil demand growth.

On the supply side, when we look at how much money we need to invest to increase production, we mainly look at how much oil demand will grow in the future. But this is only the tip of the iceberg. The main problem here is that the existing fields, many mature fields, are declining. So we have to increase production, not only to meet the growth in demand, but also to compensate for the decline in existing mature fields outside of OPEC. These decline-rate issues are not really taken into consideration, which is much more important than demand growth when it comes to production prospects. Our book, World Energy Outlook 2008, will provide a lot of data on that.

This interview is taken from the Foreign Policy magazine website: http://www.foreignpolicy.com

Fatih Birol is chief economist at the International Energy Agency.

Shame on the Arabs, shame on the Muslims, shame on humanity

 
[ 02/03/2008 – 02:00 AM ]
By Khalid Amayreh in the West Bank

As Israel is fulfilling its threat to inflict a “greater holocaust” (greater than the German Holocaust) on the Palestinian people, the vast bulk of Arabs and Muslims, as well as the rest of the world, are looking on passively as the Judeo-Nazi state is having a free season on the helpless Palestinians.

This is not a matter of controversy and the facts are neither nebulous nor incomplete. You are all watching the slaughter show before your eyes, on you TV screens.

Yes, the scope of the massacres has not yet reached the Auschwitz proportions, but soon it will if you continue to play deaf and dumb as if the wanton slaughter is taking place on a different planet.

To the Arab masses and governments, I say shame on you. You are not worthy of being true descendants of Ali Ibn Abe Taleb, Abu Bakr al Siddique and Omar Ibn al-Khattab. You are the worst progeny of the best of mankind. Can’t you see your shame? Your ignominy is clarion, your apostasy is striking.

How could you continue to look yourselves in the mirror? Have you lost all your senses, all your sensibility, your honor, your humanity? How could you go on living normally while your brothers and sisters in Gaza are being slaughtered like helpless sheep at the hands of the Nazis of our time?

Shame on you, shame on your Petro-dollars! What good could there be in your billions or trillions when they can’t protect our crying women and children from the bayonets of the Judeo-Nazis? What good can there be in your hefty bank account when you can’t look Israel in the face?

Have you completely lost your dignity, your sense of honor and pride, even humanity? When will you stop kissing the hands of your child-killers?

Are you dead?

And to the Muslims? You babble endlessly about solidarity with the Palestinian people. But you are busy killing each other in Iraq and Pakistan and Lebanon while Jerusalem is being decapitated, very much like the children of Gaza.

You, too, are liars and hypocrites. You claim to be followers of the Prophet Muhammed who said a Muslim is a brother to every other Muslim. So why have you betrayed your Muslim brothers and sisters in Palestine, leaving them at the mercy of the Nazis of our time? Why? Are you afraid of upsetting your perfidious rulers, the slaves of America? Are you worried about losing a day’s wage? Are you so addicted to the comfort and luxury of life that you can’t devote a day for the people of Palestine and al-Masjidul Aqsa.

You are more than 1.4 billion human beings living on a vast expanse of land extending from Indonesia in the east to Morocco in the West . How is it that you can’t do anything to help your Palestinian brothers who are facing the prospect of annihilation at the hands of Nazis of our time?

Yes, you, too, are responsible for the merciless murder of these innocent children in Gaza. What will you tell your maker when you meet Him on the Day of Judgment?

Shame on you for your silence, passivity and cowardice. You surely could do a lot to save the Palestinians from this ongoing genocide in Gaza.

Take to the streets wherever you are and make your voices heard. Let the Judeo-Nazis and their supporters feel your presence.

Try to pressure your respective governments to sever ties with Israel and her supporters. You can always do much more…if you have the will.

And a last word to the peoples of the world, if you think that the Judeo Nazis are only after the Palestinians, you are dead wrong. The Judeo Nazis are after world domination. They are after you freedoms, your resources, and your future. The Palestinians are only the first step, and then will come your turn.

So, wake up, speak up and make your voices heard, or they will control your life and enslave you as they have enslaved the United States and much of Western Europe.

Zionism is simply the Nazism of our time; it is a real cancer.

If you don’t defeat it, it will kill you.

 

Source: The Palestinian Information Center

Why World Bank can never be trusted as long it runs by the Western leaders.

 It is a distress to read the news below. Even though Wolfowitz have been kicked out, yet the ‘wolf in the sheep skin’ still lurking inside the World Bank albeit promising reforms by Robert Zoellick. These Neo-Cons can never be trusted. Never!

 World Bank pledges to save trees… then helps cut down Amazon forest

By Daniel Howden

A month ago it vowed to fight deforestation. Now research reveals it funds the rainforest’s biggest threat.

The World Bank has emerged as one of the key backers behind an explosion of cattle ranching in the Amazon, which new research has identified as the greatest threat to the survival of the rainforest.

Ranching has grown by half in the last three years, driven by new industrial slaughterhouses which are being constructed in the Amazon basin with the help of the World Bank. The revelation flies in the face of claims from the bank that it is funding efforts to halt deforestation and reduce the massive greenhouse gas emissions it causes.

Roberto Smeraldi, head of Friends of the Earth Brazil and lead author of the new report, obtained exclusively by The Independent on Sunday, said the bank’s contradictory policy on forests was now clear: “On the one hand you try and save the forest, on the other you give incentives for its conversion.”

There are now more than 74 million cattle reared in the Amazon basin, the world’s most important eco-system, where they outnumber people by a ratio of more than three to one. Fuelled by massive illegal ranches, the South American giant has become the world’s leading beef exporter, rearing more cattle than all 25 EU members put together. This industrial expansion comes despite international agreements to combat deforestation, and claims from the government of Brazil that it is succeeding in slowing the destruction of the world’s largest standing forest.

“Land-use change in the Amazon is first and foremost a product of ranching. It is on the hooves of cattle, out on the forest fringe, where the repercussions are being felt,” said Mr Smeraldi.

The new report, “The Cattle Realm”, comes after a year in which deforestation was acknowledged as the second leading cause of carbon emissions worldwide and was included in the plan for a new global treaty to fight climate change. But the catastrophic destruction of the Amazon to make way for ranches is being funded by the same international institutions that have pledged to fight deforestation.

The World Bank, which unveiled a new programme to fund “avoided deforestation” at the UN climate summit in Bali last month, is at the same time pouring money into the expansion of slaughterhouses in the Amazon region. The new report estimates that the internationally funded expansion of Brazil’s beef industry was responsible for up to 12 billion tons of CO2 emissions over the past decade – an amount comparable to two years of emissions from the US.

The World Bank, which British taxpayers help to fund, lent its backing to the inclusion of deforestation in the Bali “road map” signed by 180 countries last month. At the summit the bank unveiled its Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), aimed at reducing deforestation by compensating developing countries for carbon dioxide reductions realised by maintaining their forests. The pilot programme has received more than $160m (£82m) in funding from donor governments.

The World Bank’s president, Robert Zoellick, claimed that the project “signals that the world cares about the global value of forests and is ready to pay for it. There is now a value to conserving, not just harvesting the forest.” But the institution, set up to provide loans to developing countries aimed at reducing poverty, has been accused of hypocrisy as it talks up relatively low levels of funding on “avoided deforestation” while spending millions more on the industries – such as cattle ranching and soya production – that are the acknowledged drivers of forest destruction.

In a single project last year, the IFC – part of the World Bank group – handed $9m to Brazil’s leading beef processor to upgrade its slaughterhouse operations in the Amazon, despite an environmental study, carried out for the IFC, which showed that expansion of a single slaughterhouse in Maraba would lead to the loss of up to 300,000 hectares of forest to make way for more cattle.

The project was signed off despite angry resistance from up to 30 NGOs in Brazil and the intervention of the influential US lobbying group the Sierra Club, all of which pointed out that the high-risk agricultural project contradicted the bank’s stated aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

In the past three years Brazil’s National Development Bank and the World Bank have poured funds into the southern Amazon, fuelling the expansion of the cattle industry with new slaughterhouses and four million additional head of cattle. “While governments insist they are doing their utmost to stop deforestation they have been putting in place incentives for the destruction of the forest. It is taxpayers’ money fuelling this,” said Mr Smeraldi.

Only the US rears more cattle than Brazil, which since 2004 has led the world in beef exports. The endangered eco-system of the Amazon basin has accounted for 96 per cent of all growth in the country’s cattle industry. The ranchers are expanding as meat consumption soars both in Brazil and the rest of the world. Britain is the sixth largest importer of Brazilian beef, buying more than 80,000 tons in the year to November 2007.

The Amazon basin is home to one in 10 of the world’s mammals and 15 per cent of land-based plant species. It holds more than half the world’s fresh water, and its vast forests act as the largest carbon sink on the planet, providing a vital check on the greenhouse effect. This vital resource faces three main dangers: the expansion of the soya industry, driven by high prices for animal feed; the surge in sugarcane plantations to feed the sudden and insatiable global appetite for bio-fuels; and the traditional threat of cattle ranching, underestimated in recent years as soya and sugarcane have received more attention.

Since the “Save the Amazon” campaigns of the 1970s the role of illegal ranchers in the destruction of the rainforest has been widely known. Virtually non-existent government control has allowed ranchers to clear large areas of remote forest for pasture. But the land – while initially fertile – quickly erodes, spurring the need for new pasture and driving the chainsaws further into the forest, in a vicious cycle largely unchecked for decades. Carbon dioxide emissions from the fires set to clear the trees have helped to propel Brazil into the top four carbon polluters in the world, exceeded only by the US, China and Indonesia.

At the end of each dry season, in anticipation of the first winter rains, farmers and cattle ranchers throughout South America set fires to “renovate” pasture land. But this process has spun out of control as deforestation and climate change have created a tinderbox, leading to ever-larger blazes. Last October a record area of the rainforest went up in flames, choking vast areas of not just Brazil but Paraguay and Bolivia.

There are increasing signs that the strain placed on the Amazon’s eco-system could lead to an irreversible breakdown Last month the WWF predicted that the combination of drought and fire could wipe out the Amazon by 2030, with disastrous consequences for the world.

The Eastern Neo-Colonialism

20080119issuecovus400.jpg

The cover from The Economist depicts the ‘saviour of Capitalism’.

One of the biggest heist the Americans currently facing is no longer a secret. I’m not talking about those Neo-Conservatives government led by Mr Bush and Co. but I’m referring to the other 300 million Americans who have been duped alive by so-called Bushenomics ( a nickname given by economist for Bush admin’s economic thinking) which favoured the filthy rich corporations rather than people who votes for him. Oh, I forgot, those corporations is his sleeping partner. I dont know how much Mr Bush being funded by those corporations in his rally for White House few years ago, but I’m pretty sure it’s a big one.

As Muslim, we do share the same paradigm of thinking with our fellow conspiracy theorist brothers and sisters who have done so much to expose the fiasco of using fiat money in daily economic scheme. Plus, usury is greatly forbidden in Islam and that strengthen my believes upon the just Islamic Economic system which have not come out in the broad day light yet. Yes, the malaise of economic injustices today is largely being influenced by the capitalistic-usurious economics system.

I bet many of Muslim intellectuals (plus Tun Mahathir Mohamad) are expecting the meltdown of dollar and the Western economic system. It will decay first in their own backyard (read: United States) than it will engulf the rest of the world that stupidly being loyal towards the Greenbacks.

I don’t know why on earth most of the developing countries or even the developed one from Asia the likes of Japan, China, UAE, Singapore and Saudis willing to give their reserve to ‘save’ America. I mean, should we just let the Consumerist Nation the likes of United States rot slowly in order for them to wake up and smell the real deal of their greed. This mad nation need to be taught a lesson of starvation, and poverty in order for them to realise their sin upon the Third World nations.

Well, The Times of India wrote a wonderful piece of article regarding the current debacle of this mess in the context of EASTERN NEO-COLONIALISM! Nonetheless, like I said before, before we accept this notion blindly we need to ask why one earth those Asian countries try to save the usurious Western bank rather than their fellow Third World comrades? Strange.

Strange rise of Eastern neo-colonialism

by Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar

For 60 years, the International Monetary Fund has bailed out distressed economies, imposing onerous conditions aimed at ensuring that the loans are repaid. The borrowers have often complained that loan conditions violate their sovereignty. The IMF is dominated by rich countries, and always has a European chief. So, leftists have long accused the IMF of being a tool of western imperialism, controlling the Third World through financial muscle.

Today, a remarkable transformation has taken place. Very few developing countries are borrowing from the IMF, which therefore cannot meet its running costs and is retrenching 400 of its staff. Meanwhile, developing countries have amassed trillions of dollars of foreign exchange. They are using these funds to bail out Western financial institutions hit by the housing collapse in the US. In the process, they could acquire more influence over those they rescue than the IMF could ever dream of. This can with only modest exaggeration be called Eastern neo-colonialism, in financial, though not military, terms. It is already giving the shivers to Western governments.

Last week, Citibank — the world’s biggest commercial bank — received $ 14.5 billion from investment funds in China and Kuwait, over and above the $ 7.5 billion it got last November from the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority. Merrill Lynch got $ 5.6 billion from Temasek of Singapore last November, and is now negotiating another $ 6.6 bn. The top Swiss bank, UBS, suffered mortgage losses of $ 10 bn and was rescued by investors from Singapore and the Middle East. The list of distressed Western financial institutions keeps growing, and many will need repeated injections of billions. In the process, they are increasingly becoming owned by Asian government funds.

These flows from Asia to the West now dwarf anything the IMF ever gave. Most IMF loans were well below $ 1 bn, and virtually none exceeded $ 4 bn. Never has the world witnessed such a remarkable reversal of financial roles and muscle. Western countries are now the ones worrying about loss of sovereignty, and of neo-colonial subjugation by the new financial overlords of Asia.

Historically, Third World countries have depended on dollars from the West. But after the Asian financial crisis, many Asian countries decided to run big current account surpluses, and so accumulated billions in forex reserves. Meanwhile, the sharp rise in oil prices gave oil exporters unprecedented surpluses, estimated at $ 300 bn per year. So, the balance of financial advantage shifted from the West to the East.

Countries with long-term financial surpluses have placed part of their forex reserves in what are called Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs), to make long-term investment for future generations. These funds today control a mighty $ 2,876 bn, almost thrice the GDP of India. The lion’s share belongs to oil and gas exporters. India too should enter the fray, with a modest kitty of say $ 30 bn.

What are the main differences between the old and new rescue outfits, the IMF and Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs)? The IMF provides loans to distressed governments, while SWFs invest in equities, including those of distressed MNCs. The IMF imposes onerous conditions on borrowers. SWFs don’t impose conditions, but become part-owners of the distressed corporations, with obvious implications for influence and control. The IMF takes many months to draw up detailed loan agreements with conditions, whereas SWFs make money available almost instantly.

This makes SWFs more attractive to those in distress, but also more dangerous in a long-term sense. Successive injections of equity by SWFs may enable them to not just influence but take over western MNCs. This is the new fear stalking western governments.

Already France and Germany have said that they will not allow backdoor takeover in this manner. No backdoor takeovers have been attempted so far. But given the sheer size of SWFs, it will happen in some cases. In Thailand, Singapore acquired control of a Thai telecom firm owned by former Prime Minister Shinwatra, and caused a full-blown political crisis. J Sainsbury, one of the biggest British retail chains, has been acquired by Qatar’s SWF.

The US in 2005 refused to allow the Chinese to take over Unocal, a big oil corporation. When Dubai Ports acquired P&O, the British–based ports MNC, it acquired several port operations in the US. This led to an outcry about security in the US, and Dubai Ports had to sell all its US operations.

Western countries want SWFs to provide money but not exercise any influence. Exactly as Third World borrowers from the IMF wanted money, but without conditions. Alas, there is no such thing as a free lunch in finance. Up to a point, SWFs may be passive investors. But as their stakes rise, they will demand additional seats on the boards of MNCs, as befits part-owners. This could provide them with long-term influence, exceeding anything the IMF acquired through loans. Ultimately, it could lead to complete takeovers, something the IMF could never do.

So, the balance of world financial power has changed, probably forever. Eastern neo-colonialism is combating the western variety, and India needs to become a small part of it. This will transform global relationships.

source; The Times of India

FTA: Malaysian government should walk away

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This is another form of neo-colonialism which I dearly despise since 2 years ago. The struggle to end this negotiation is still in the pipeline. Sadly not many of the political parties the likes of PAS, DAP and Keadilan are serious enough to engage in this matter. Only few NGOs that are being spearheaded by Jerit, Parti Sosialis Malaysia and CAP putting this agenda as one of the serious cases to fight against. Remember, this is not about narrow minded political issues but a matter of this nation survival. I bet Pak Lah and co. are clueless about the impact and the one who going to taste this is my generation ( including Khairi’s newborn son) in the future! I will not let MITI sell off our country so cheaply to the giant capitalist who can never be trusted! Check out this press statement made by S.M Idris, president of Consumer Assoc. of Penang:

On Jan 14, the US and Malaysia resumed formal negotiations on the proposed Malaysia-US Free Trade Agreement (FTA) after talks were deadlocked early last year over 58 contentious issues.

Among the contentious issues were government procurement and financial services. Policy space on these issues is important for Malaysia’s development. Government procurement is a valuable macro-economic development tool that can help address socio-economic imbalances. And in light of the Asian financial crisis, Malaysia has been very careful in the sequencing and timing of financial services liberalisation, making decisions at its own pace and in national interests.

A news report quoted US ambassador to Malaysia James R Keith as saying: ‘A bottom line for us [the US] on government procurement is transparent and reciprocal market access … We have to have that. If we don’t have that, then it would become a deal-stopper’. Moreover, Keith has admitted that the US is seeking ‘substantial market access’ in areas including financial services.

Previously, the government has made assurances that it will not sacrifice our national interests in order to forge a deal with the US. International Trade and Industry Minister Rafidah Aziz has said that the government would not be moved on its bumiputera policies nor on liberalising the country’s financial services sector.

Unless the government has reneged on its promises, it appears that the US and Malaysia are irreconcilably at odds on fundamental issues. Given this, why is Malaysia even persisting in negotiating with the US?

The proposed FTA will have far-reaching impacts on the economic and social well-being of Malaysians and we are likely to emerge as a net loser. Up till today, despite numerous requests, no comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of the FTA has been made available to the public.

Instead, negotiations have not been transparent and there has been little consultation with the public. In fact, the level of transparency has even decreased. There has not been any feedback on whether the 58 contentious issues have been resolved or whether any concessions were made by the Malaysian government in order to reach an agreement.

The government appears to be prepared to give in to US demands on intellectual property rights that will harm consumers, patients in need of medicines and the local industry including generic medicine manufacturers. Even if the FTA negotiations were to fail, the US will continue to press for unilateral changes in Malaysia’s intellectual property laws knowing already what the government is willing to give up in spite of public objections.

We strongly reiterate our deep disappointment at the government’s blatant disregard for the nation’s long-term interests. The right thing for the government to do is to walk away from these negotiations.

The writer is president, Consumers Association of Penang.