Zhang Ziyi and China-Malaysia relations...

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 08:52 PM PDT

In the past few days, everyone from celebrities to leading bloggers have posted angry comments aimed at Malaysia, with some even calling for a boycott of all things Malaysian.

Zhang Ziyi, an actress known for her starring roles in Hollywood hits such as 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon', took to Weibo, China's Twitter-like micro-blogging service, to berate Malaysia. 
"Malaysian government, you are wrong not to revere life. You are wrong not to respect the universal quest for truth," she wrote.

Chen Kun, a popular actor who has 72 million Weibo followers, appealed for decisive action. 
"For the clownish prevarication and lies of the Malaysian government and the MAS (Malaysia Airlines), and your disrespect of our people, please let me, coming from my heart, boycott all Malaysia-related commercial products and tours related. Not just for the brief moment when the missing plane is in the heat of attention, but indefinitely."

Not all agreed with Chen Kun. One Weibo user retorted:
"Malaysia is nice -- I stayed there for a week in 2007 and had pleasant memory of the place. To boycott the airline because of the incident is like stop eating after choking on food. To boycott the whole country because of the unreliability of the Malaysian government is also a personal loss for you. It's not the Chinese government is that reliable."

Beijing said the government did not encourage the outburst but 'had to tolerate it'. There are many malcontents in China and they may join the angry families and shift the target from Malaysia to the government. The aim is to let them express anger while keeping them restrained.

China-Malaysia relations remain intact, with both trying their best to convince families of the passengers and crew that the incident was very unprecedented. Keeping bilateral relation continues to be Beijing and Kuala Lumpur's top agenda.

For geopolitical reasons, China needs to carefully manage relations with Malaysia, an important partner in the Asean bloc. Beijing's relations with Malaysia have generally been more cordial than with other neighbors in the region, even though they have conflicting territorial claims over a group islands in South China Sea.

China cannot afford to alienate Malaysia. It needs Malaysia as a counter-weight to countries like the Philippines and Singapore in its diplomatic strategy in the region, especially in Southeast Asia.

Malaysia and China enjoy an economically significant and politically sound relationship. Bilateral trade was US$106 billion in 2013, making Malaysia China's largest trading partner in Asean and third-largest in Asia, behind Japan and South Korea.

Chinese tourism is an important contributor to the Malaysian services industry. Since signing a Memorandum of Understanding on defense cooperation in 2005, military exchanges have increased. The first annual Malaysia-China Defense and Security Consultation was held in 2012, and in December last year joint drills and exchanges between naval forces were agreed upon.

A long-term fallout seems unlikely, for two reasons. First, official Chinese admonishment of Malaysia's handling of the crisis has been predictable. It has reacted as any government would in the face of inadequate handling of a case of missing citizens abroad and demanded speedy answers.

But it has also been driven by a desire to ward off questions at home. Perceived apathy on the Chinese Government's part would provoke domestic criticism, a perennial fear for Beijing.

Even despite China's leading role in search efforts, some criticism has been meted out to authorities here: witness relatives at Tuesday's protest in Beijing shouting 'The Chinese and Malaysian governments are the same. They're all corrupt.'

                                                          Zhang Ziyi and Chen Kun

In short, Beijing's tough talk on Malaysia is for a domestic audience. MH370 is an isolated incident; once the Chinese public comes to peace with the tragedy, the government's rhetoric will quieten down.

Secondly, the tragedy has not fundamentally altered Chinese perceptions of Malaysia. Beijing has long looked down on the countries of South East Asia as culturally and administratively inferior. MH370 has reinforced these prejudices in the case of Malaysia.

China-Malaysia relations will likely continue to be dictated by the bigger regional issues: China's relationship with Asean, and local perceptions of China's expanding military influence.

In both cases, the South China Sea dispute looms large. Malaysia has benefited from its reticence on China's territorial claims there. A change in Malaysian leaders' public statements on the dispute would do more to damage relations than MH370 ever could.

Closing in...

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 01:41 PM PDT


These are the '300 objects' registered by a Thai satellite, believed to be debris of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

While the search goes on - with Perth becoming the center of operations - bad weather and rough sea had been dampening effort to comb the area.

Let's hope for the weather to be with us today.

Printing permit - one too many!

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 02:23 AM PDT

I believe the Home Ministry must come up with a strong guideline for printing permit. No point issuing new ones, especially to those who want to use the newspaper as a platform to bash up the government, incite racial hatred and provoking inter-religious sentiment.

We have too many dailies already, both for pro and anti-government and we need to avoid more confusion among the rakyat should more of them are allowed to operate without observing the stipulated law and provision.

Most important is to regulate stiffer penalties on those who breach the terms and conditions of the permit.
KUALA LUMPUR: The publication permits for two online dailies were rejected to prevent confusion among the public, said Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi on Thursday. 
"It may be seen that the news published may have the tendency to be sensationalised and controversial to attract the readers," he said in a written reply to Datuk Johari Abdul (PKR-Sungai Petani) who asked why the publication permits for FZ Daily, Malaysiakini and Suara Keadilan were rejected. 
According to the Home Ministry, the publication permit for Suara Keadilan was rejected as its contents were against the Printing Presses and Publication (Amendment) Act 2012. 
It said the publisher did not reply to a show cause letter, thus contributing to the delay in the decision of the publication's application. 
Last year, the Court of Appeal dismissed the Home Ministry and the Government's appeal against a High Court judgment that Malaysiakini portal operator, Mkini Dotcom Sdn Bhd, be issued a publication permit. 
This meant that Malaysiakini could resubmit an application to the Home Ministry for a publication permit. 
It was reported that Malaysiakini CEO Premesh Chandran said the company would pursue the matter with the Home Minister. 
FZ Daily's newspaper permit application by Edge Communications Sdn Bhd's was approved in August last year but the Home Ministry deferred the permission a week later. 
It was reported that the ministry did not respond to a letter by the company seeking reasons why the application was deferred. 
The Edge then filed a judicial review against the deferment of the licence approval and on Feb 5, it was granted leave by the High Court to challenge the decision. 
However, hours later, the Home Ministry in a letter dated Jan 21 rejected the application. 
In 2010, Suara Keadilan was given a show cause letter over a controversial article it had written on Felda in one of its publication. The same year, the Home Ministry had also issued three show cause letters to the newsletter.
I think the number of dailies in the country is sufficient to disseminate news. Some are even running out of steam due to stiff competition, shrinking readership and advertisement, unless the paper is fully-sponsored and distributed for free.

Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi can also start investigating some tabloid newspapers that operate without permit; there are quite a number of them.

Newspaper industry is feeling the pinch ever since Internet was introduced. Worldwide and censored news are easily available for free at a faster rate, while advertisers too are getting the 'kick' from putting up their ads on the social media.

We also need to protect the industry by limiting the number of players, don't you agree... while those who applied for the printing permit are neither pro-government!


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