18-08-2015 09:11

Unity council proposes early warning system to predict racial flare-ups

An early warning system that could have predicted the Low Yat riot is among a slew of proposals the National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC) has tabled to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Based on a similar mechanism used in Indonesia, the system can predict whether an ordinary incident, such as a traffic accident or police case, can spiral into a racial flare-up, said NUCC member Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah.

Predictions are done by studying the histories of the environment of individuals involved in the incident, or by looking into the economic health of a neighbourhood of diverse groups, among other factors considered, said Saifuddin.

The proposal on the early warning system was included in NUCC's report on a study of ethnic relations in the country that was presented to Najib on July 19, along with recommendations for the National Harmony Bill, he added.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s (UKM) department of Inter-Ethnic Studies (Kita) was behind the development of a prototype of the mechanism.

In a typical incident such as a traffic accident, for example, the system will take into account where and what kind of neighbourhoods those involved were from, which could indicate how they might react, Saifuddin said.

This would be after the accident is reported to the police.

"Two individuals from two different ethnic groups get into a traffic accident and both go and lodge police reports.

"The system can predict whether in the next few hours one of them could decide to racialise the incident in social media," Saifuddin told The Malaysian Insider.

If one of the individuals is from a neighbourhood that has experienced racial discord before, his experience could act as a trigger to how he might react to the accident.

With the system in place, this information could red-flag him as being at risk, said Saifuddin, who is a former deputy minister and federal lawmaker.

“The system has been used to some success in Indonesia to deal with inter-religious conflict," he said.

“Our proposal is for Kita to be turned into a national-level institute so that it can deploy the mechanism throughout the country."


Though largely peaceful, inter-ethnic tensions have simmered quietly beneath the surface in Malaysia, heightened more over the years with debate over economic policies that give preferential treatment to Malays, as well as legal battles involving religious conversion and child custody, and over the right of Bumiputera Christians from Sabah and Sarawak to use the word "Allah" for God.

On July 11, a shop lifting case in popular electronics mall Low Yat Plaza in Kuala Lumpur spiraled into a racial riot the following day. This was after social media postings on the crime and the retaliatory attacks on the sales staff who apprehended the thief became racialised.

The next day saw a crowd of people, including members of Malay supremacist groups, such as Pekida, gather outside the mall at night threatening to storm it. Fistfights broke out and five were injured.

The incident revived debate over the need for national harmony laws, which were at one time supposed to replace Malaysia's Sedition Act.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Tan Sri Joseph Kurup has said that a bill for harmony laws would be tabled in the next parliamentary sitting, due in October.

He said the new law would focus on education and awareness about inter-racial harmony.

Saifuddin said the NUCC's report was a study on the state of ethnic relations in the country and how to improve it.

The 30-member council comprises retired civil servants, professional bodies, politicians from the ruling Barisan Nasional as well as the opposition and activists from a wide spectrum of groups.

The council started work in November 2013 and has held numerous field surveys, community dialogue sessions and meetings all over the country with all ethnic groups, before compiling its report.

Eight other recommendations in the study are for:

1) Government to institutionalise the consultation process whenever it crafts policy or deals with issues.

2) Political literacy to be spread so that citizens understand concepts such as democracy, elections, the role of MPs and their own rights.

3) Understanding of the Constitution to be deepened.

4) Low-income groups, or the bottom 40% of households, are helped so that they are not easily instigated by extremists due to their poverty.

5) Both the public and private sector commit themselves to hiring people regardless of gender or ethnicity.

6) Malaysians to gain a real understanding of other ethnic groups instead of relying on stereotypes and prejudices.

7) Development of conflict resolution and mediation mechanism for disputes.

8) The NUCC to become a permanent body. – August 18, 2015.

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05-08-2014 05:57

Unity council proposes teaching Constitution to students, civil servants

The National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC) will be proposing that Putrajaya introduce Constitution literacy programmes in schools, higher learning institutions and in the public sector, when submitting their first National Unity Report to the prime minister.

NUCC's Law and Policy committee member Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah (pic) said NUCC was asking the programme to be introduced to educate the public on the Federal Constitution, after the council realised that even those in decision-making levels have not understood it as well.

"We have stumbled on people who are part of the decision making process but do not understand the Constitution," he told reporters after speaking at a roundtable discussion on national unity with some 40 student leaders in Sunway University today.

The objective of the programme, he said, is to ensure the understanding and appropriate interpretation of the Constitution.

"We don't want people to interpret it wrongly."

Another objective of introducing the Constitution literacy programme is to understand that there may be laws or enactments that contradict the Constitution.

"So we need to reconcile by amending these certain acts or state enactments that contradict the Federal Constitution," he added.

The last objective is make sure that there was no "rewriting" of the Constitution through other channels, Saifuddin said.

He also revealed that the NUCC will also propose to appoint renowned constitutional expert Professor Shad Saleem Faruqi to head this programme.

"There are already people on the ground working on creating awareness on the Constitution as well, like MyConsti, whom we are proposing to work with.

"This programme doesn't have to be a formal subject in schools that you need to sit a test for," he added.

Besides the Constitution literacy programme, the committee is also putting together the feedback it has received over several months now on the proposed Harmony Bills, which is due to replace the draconian Sedition Act.

The council has received a barrage of criticism over the three bills it has proposed, namely the Racial and Religious Hate Crimes Bill, the National Harmony and Reconciliation Bill and the National Harmony and Reconciliation Commission Bill.

Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had raised concerns that the proposed laws would cause inequality among Malaysia’s three major ethnic communities as it would erase all remaining efforts to balance the economic standing between the communities through the New Economic Policy (NEP) because they would end discrimination based on ethnicity and introduce the principle of meritocracy in giving out government contracts, jobs and university scholarships.

Saifuddin had earlier told The Malaysian Insider that the NUCC has successfully established a new and better was of law-making through consultation with the people.

"This is opposed to the usual way of doing it, where most of the times, the MPs only get to see the bills when they are about to be tabled in the Dewan Rakyat," he added.

He said that the input received from the several consultations done with the public, including lawmakers, civil society and students, would also be sent to the Attorney-General's Chambers, who will draft the bills.

The 30-member NUCC is expected to hand on the report to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in September. – August 2, 2014.

29-12-2013 16:02

Saifuddin and the quest to reclaim the 'centre'

As 2013 draws to a close, Malaysia has seen its fair share of events with people who either inspire or bring despair to the country. It has been a year where some feel a sense of entitlement, that it is their way or the highway, that they have to make a name for themselves no matter what and where the little people's hopes have risen and have also been shattered. Yet, there are the few who do good work quietly to help their fellow man, to make Malaysia a better place. Over the next few days, The Malaysian Insider will feature some of them – Malaysia's Inspiring People 2013 – the ordinary heroes who never cease to amaze us with their perseverance, diligence, empathy and vision for a happier nation.

Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah believes he is on the right side of history, no matter how small his voice is in an Umno that has become increasingly intolerant and xenophobic.

Since the 13th general election, voices like him in Umno are hard to find. At a time when his colleagues demand more special treatment in getting government projects, Saifuddin has called for serious measures to curb government wastage and corruption.

When, recently, party leaders took turns condemning Shia Muslims, Saifuddin was the sole Umno voice calling for dialogue with the followers of Islam’s second largest denomination.

But he believes that he is not alone. Just like he is convinced that those sharing the values of moderation, inclusiveness, openness and ethics are not in the minority.

For Saifuddin, he is right not just because his stand is virtuous. He believes a significant and growing section of the public hold the same views. And he has the numbers to prove it.

It is this section of the public which he said will hold the key to fight back ignorance, bigotry and deceit plaguing the country.

The growing 'centre'

Saifuddin calls this section of society the “middle ground”. On the political spectrum, with Barisan Nasional at one end and Pakatan Rakyat on the other, this group would occupy in between.

“They represent about 30% of the electorate. They are young, educated and professional. They also represent the civil society,” he told The Malaysian Insider who met him recently.

The "middle ground" grows as more Malaysians become educated, and as the country becomes more advanced. They are not consistently pro-BN or pro-Pakatan, but support the coalition whose policies make the most sense, he said.

“These individuals want rational justification for every policy that is made. They are also critical and are open to argumentation and dialogue.

“If you talk down to them, they will feel their intelligence is insulted and they will not support you,” said the former deputy higher education minister, citing findings by Universiti Malaya’s Centre for Democratic and Electoral Studies.

He said those in this group would scoff at the Prime Minister's claim that Malaysia is a moderate Muslim country, when at the same time Shia Muslims are persecuted and restrictions placed on non-Muslims.

Among others, they also cannot accept the Prime Minister's justification for price hikes and the Goods and Services Tax, when little was done to combat corruption and wastage of public funds.

Saifuddin said that in the last general election, the middle ground did not vote for the BN because of the coalition’s contradictions.

When he pointed this out to his colleagues, as proof that Umno should not say one thing and do the opposite, they called him naive.

“But if they don’t think that the rakyat care about doing things the right way, then they are naive. Because it has been proven they do.”

Reclaiming centre-stage

Saifuddin admits that the current state of fear and distrust generated by a section of Malay-Muslim extremists, has scared away the moderates to speak up.

This is especially when religious issues are discussed in terms of rulings and fatwas, while dissenters are conveniently labelled deviant and anti-Islam.

“I just have to soldier on. Hopefully more people will speak up,” he said, adding that his views are shared by Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin, Public Accounts Committee chairman Datuk Nur Jazlan Abdul Rahman, and Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister, Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan.

The social media, said Saifuddin, helped provide space for discussion and the exchange of ideas that can lead to understanding.

He believes that it is the relative security of cyberspace that allowed moderates to come together, sharpen their ideas and congeal their positions, eventually leading them to vote almost collectively in the last general election

But ultimately, said Saifuddin, the moderates must be brave enough to speak up in public.

“One of the characteristics of moderation is that most Malaysians are moderate but do not realise that they are,” he said.

At the same time, the moderates often forget that there are more people like them in society than there are extremists, which is why the majority are called “silent”.

“Conflict is always caused by extremists. They always try to take the centre stage. You can’t always prevent extremists from speaking up.

"But if moderates speak up, you can drown out extremist voices”. – December 28, 2013.


Source :

26-12-2013 06:59

PAS' Mujahid, Umno's Saifuddin to co-write book to prove a point

Global Movement of Moderates chief executive officer Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah is interested to breach the Barisan Nasional-Pakatan Rakyat political divide. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Najjua Zulkefli, December 25, 2013.
Global Movement of Moderates chief executive officer Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah is interested to breach the Barisan Nasional-Pakatan Rakyat political divide. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Najjua Zulkefli, December 25, 2013.

Two leaders from Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat are set to co-write a book to prove that there is a middle ground in Malaysia’s often fractious politics.

Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah of Umno and Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa of PAS have agreed to write a book to prove to their colleagues and other Malaysians that bi-partisanship is possible.

Although its subject has not been determined, Mujahid said the book would focus on finding a way forward for Malaysia’s diverse ethnic and religious communities and its economy.

The book is also expected to deal with issues of social justice.

“In the current situation, Malaysia needs new ideas in order to move forward,” said Mujahid, who is also is Parit Buntar MP.

“Any developing country will take a relook at how far it has come after 50 years. It is a normal process. It is not that we are rejecting the past but we are looking for a new dawn.”

In a separate interview, Saifuddin said that the initiative was to bridge Malaysia’s political divide by finding fundamental issues on which both sides could agree.  

“After the 13th general election, it’s pretty clear that the rakyat is not going to give two-thirds majority to any political coalition,” said Saifuddin.

 “So what are we going to do? There must be certain fundamental issues that both sides can come together.”

Although the topic was still undecided, said Saifuddin, author Anas Zubedy has agreed to be its publisher.

Saifuddin, who is CEO of the Global Movement of Moderates Foundation, has been a leading figure in calling for a more inclusive and rational approach in dealing with issues that cropped up in Malaysian society.

Mujahid is known for his outreach work among non-Muslims, especially Christians.

He recently published a book on his inter-faith dialogues with churches throughout the country.

Both have been tapped to sit on the Government’s new National Unity Consultative Council, a body tasked with finding solutions to the social and cultural rifts plaguing Malaysian society.

Work on the book will start next year.  – December 25, 2013.

Source :

17-05-2013 17:43

Saifuddin Abdullah tetap berkhidmat biarpun tewas

KUALA LUMPUR, 16 Mei — Biarpun tewas kepada lawannya dalam Pilihan Raya 2013, Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah (gambar) tetap sibuk menjalankan khidmatnya kepada masyarakat walaupun bukan lagi bergelar ahli Parlimen.

Mewakili kerusi Parlimen Temerloh pada Pilihan Raya 2008, beliau yang tewas di tangan Ketua Dewan Pemuda PAS Nasrudin Hassan pada Pilihan Raya Umum ke-13 (PRU13) pada 5 Mei lalu mengakui sejurus keputusan diumumkan pada malam Ahad, tugasnya sebagai pemimpin tetap diteruskan pada keesokan harinya seperti biasa.

“Saya dah mula kerja 24 jam selepas keputusan PRU pada Ahad (5 Mei) diumumkan ... bermula dari Isnin malam sampai hari ini, setiap hari ada forum atau temubual akhbar atau televisyen termasuk akhbar Cina dan akhbar dan juga televisyen dari luar negara,” kata Ahli Majlis Tertinggi Umno itu yang ditemui selepas program Pasca PRU ke 13: Ke arah mana politik Malaysia anjuran Universiti Malaya (UM) di sini.

Beliau yang memperkenalkan budaya politik baru dalam kalangan pemimpin Barisan Nasional (BN) turut dilihat bergerak aktif apabila memenuhi undangan forum dan seminar termasuk bual bicara anjuran media-media tempatan, termasuk diskusi bersama rakan-rakan parti lawan dalam program anjuran badan bukan kerajaan.

“Saya ada tanggungjawab untuk menjelaskan sudut pandangan kita dalam BN terhadap keputusan Pilihan Raya ... mana persepsi yang silap dan menyatakan bahawa walaupun PRU kali ini BN menang, tapi kalah ‘popular vote’ tetapi kita nak tunjukkan BN masih lagi sesuai dan kita akan memperbaiki prestasi kita bukan sahaja untuk BN, tetapi juga negara,” katanya yang tewas majoriti 1,070 undi kepada Nasrudin.

Nasrudin memperoleh 28,267 undi manakala Saifuddin Abdullah memperoleh 27,197 undi.

Bekas Timbalan Menteri Pengajian Tinggi itu turut berkata, beliau merasakan terpanggil untuk memberi penjelasan terhadap dakwaan sesetengah pihak kepada kerajaan.

“Misalnya apabila media barat mereka petik sebahagian sahaja ucapan (Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri) Najib (Razak), saya bertanggungjawab untuk jawab laporan mereka,” katanya.

Beliau turut menjelaskan, Akademi Belia yang dipeloporinya juga kini dihidupkan semula di Temerloh dengan berlandaskan gerakan badan bukan kerajaan.

“Tiga orientasi utamanya adalah pendidikan dan latihan, penyelidikan, penerbitan dan ia juga saya nak tubuhkan di Temerloh ia spesifik sebagai platform untuk warga Temerloh walaupun bukan lagi ahli Parlimen.

Seminar yang bermula jam 9 pagi itu turut membariskan beberapa pembentangan daripada wakil pembangkang seperti ahli Parlimen Serdang, Ong Kian Ming, ahli Parlimen Bukit Katil, Shamsul Iskandar Mat Akin dan wakil BN Saifuddin sendiri.

Selain itu, seminar anjuran Pusat Kajian Demokrasi dan Pilihan Raya UM (UMCEDEL) itu turut menjemput wakil daripada pusat kaji selidik ternama, Merdeka Center, Ibrahim Sufian, Institut bagi Hal Ehwal Demokrasi dan Ekonomi (IDEAS) Keeran Sivarajah dan juga wakil blogger, Datuk Rhuhanie Ahmad.

14-10-2012 07:07

Cybertroopers, media sosial kunci kepada kejayaan BN pada PRU 13, kata Saifuddin

KUALA LUMPUR, 14 Okt — Kandungan oleh “cybertroopers” Barisan Nasional (BN) dan seluruh platform media sosial akan menentukan kejayaan parti pemerintah dalam pilihan raya umum akan datang, kata ahli Majlis Tertinggi Umno Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah (gambar).

Kata timbalan menteri yang popular itu, BN telah menerima pelajaran penting sewaktu pilihan raya umum 2008 selepas kalah teruk ekoran kegagalan mereka menguasai dunia siber yang ketika itu lebih dikuasai parti yang akhirnya membentuk Pakatan Rakyat (PR).

“Kita tiada di sana (dunia siber) pada 2008 ... kita handicap. Kita tewas pada masa itu, sebab itu kita hilang pengundi muda.

“Tapi kini BN telah bersedia, kita mempunyai pasukan blogger dan media baru yang dikenali sebagai “BNcybertroopers”, bezanya sekarang adalah isi kandungan media itu,” kata Ahli Parlimen Temerloh itu kepada The Malaysian Insider dalam satu temuramah eksklusif baru-baru ini.

BN hilang majoriti tradisi dua pertiga di Parlimen dan hilang empat negeri kepada PR sebelum Perak jatuh kembali ke pangkuan mereka pada tahun 2009. Sebahagian daripada kekalahan itu telah dikaitkan dengan BN meninggalkan laman web media sosial pada tahun 2008 apabila bilangan pengundi celik internet semakin bertambah.

Saifuddin yang seringkali mengeluarkan pendirian berbeza daripada pemimpin Umno yang lain turut menjelaskan, pucuk pimpinan BN dan juga Umno turut dilihat bergiat aktif di laman sosial seperti Twitter dan Facebook.

“Kita lihat Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri Najib Razak, beliau sanngat aktif dengan media baru menjelang pilihan raya umum, berbanding pemimpin-pemimpin BN terdahulu.

“Boleh dikatakan majoriti pemimpin sekarang aktif menggunakan media baru,” kata Timbalan Menteri Pengajian Tinggi itu lagi.

Beliau juga menegaskan, kehadiran unit media baru BN dan PR kini mempunyai kekuatan yang setara, namun perbezaannya hanyalah daripada isi kandungan blog dan laman web mereka.

“Kita sama kuat ... tapi isi kandungan itu yang akan menentukan pilihan pengundi.

“Kalau mereka (pengundi) rasa isi kandungan kita bagus, mereka pilih kita, tapi kalau PR bagus, mereka akan pilih PR,” katanya dan menambah, BN kini mula menyedari pengaruh yang dimainkan media sosial sangat besar untuk menjadi penentu dalam pilihan raya umum.

Menurut Saifuddin, berdasarkan kaji selidik yang dilakukan oleh Pensyarah Sains Politik dan Kajian Politik Malaysia dari Universiti Teknologi MARA Malaysia (UiTM), Prof Madya Dr Shaharuddin Badaruddin sebelum ini menunjukkan orang muda yang mengambil tahu berkenaan politik tanah air, 90 peratus daripada mereka mendapatkan maklumat daripada media media baru.

Manakala 60 peratus memperolehi maklumat daripada media alternatif, 25 peratus daripada media arus perdana seperti televisyen, dan hanya 15 peratus yang menggunakan akhbar untuk mendapatkan maklumat berkenaan politik.

Situasi itu jelas Saifuddin membuktikan kandungan media alternatif yang lebih meyakinkan dan lebih bersifat “memujuk” akan membolehkan parti politik meraih undi dan sokongan mereka.

Dengan jumlah pengundi muda dan kelas pertengahan meliputi 30 peratus daripada daftar pengundi, mereka merupakan penentu kepada kemenangan sesebuah parti politik yang bertanding dalam pilihan raya umum.

Jelasnya lagi, dengan perubahan dan akses untuk laman sosial yang tidak mempunyai batasan, istilah luar bandar dan bandar hanyalah perbezaan dari aspek fizikal sahaja.

“Luar bandar dan bandar hanya perbezaan fizikal, tetapi tiada istilah luar bandar untuk media sosial ... bezanya hanyalah kelajuan dan kemudahan kepada akses internet itu sahaja,” katanya lagi.

Mengulas berkenaan tuntutan pengundi kelas pertengahan ini Saifuddin menjelaskan, tuntutan yang dibuat kumpulan ini semakin kompleks.

“Isu-isu pokok seperti keperluan asas bukan perkara utama bagi mereka, kerana itu Fardhu Ain.

“Isu yang dibangkitkan mereka adalah Isu fardhu Kifayah, setiap pemerintah akan memberikan kemudahan asas kepada rakyat, namun berapa ramai yang bersedia untuk memberikan kebebasan media, memberikan perhatian kepada hak asasi manusia dan pilihan raya yang bersih dan adil,” katanya.

Justeru, beliau turut berkata, Bantuan Rakyat 1 Malaysia (BR1M), baucar buku, dan sebagainya yang diumumkan Najib ketika pembentangan Bajet 2013 itu tidak mencukupi untuk meraih sokongan kumpulan ini.

“Mereka terima pemberian kerajaan itu, tapi mereka inginkan lebih daripada itu kerana beranggapan tindakan seperti itu juga akan dilaksanakan mana-mana parti yang memerintah.

“Tuntutan mereka lebih kepada hak asasi manusia, kebebasan bersuara dan sebagainya,” tambahnya.

Saifuddin melihat tindakan reformis Najib dalam becakap soal kebebasan bersuara, hak untuk berhimpun dan pemansuhan Akta Keselamatan Dalam Negeri (ISA) bakal berupaya menarik undi kumpulan ini.

“Transformasi yang dilakukan Najib itu bukanlah biasanya datang dari suara pemimpin Umno.

“Tapi beliau lebih progresif, dan merupakan seorang reformis,” katanya menambah.




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