Category Archives: World

‘Hello Kitty’ criticism and Avril Lavigne

Avril Lavigne
Avril Lavigne

Avril Lavigne’s new music video for “Hello Kitty,” which features the singer parading around Tokyo with a group of four expressionless Asian women, has taken its share of rightful criticism since first popping up online. On Wednesday night, the pop singer strode forward to laugh off claims that the bizarre clip was meant to ostracize her Japanese fan base.

“RACIST??? LOLOLOL!!!” Lavigne posted on Facebook and Twitter “I love Japanese culture and I spend half of my time in Japan. I flew to Tokyo to shoot this video specifically for my Japanese fans, WITH my Japanese label, Japanese choreographers AND a Japanese director IN Japan.”

“Hello Kitty” is the fourth music video to be released from Avril Lavigne’s self-titled fifth studio album, but the clip has garnered by far the most Internet buzz. Billboard’s Jason Lipshutz did not charge Lavigne with racism while recapping the music video, but instead detailed the video’s laziness, including the generic dance moves, clumsy guitar-playing and cringeworthy lip-synching.

On the otherside before that, Alice (Underground)” written by Avril Lavigne and produced by Butch Walker. ALMOST ALICE boasts an eclectic array of recording artists with original songs based on some of the most charismatic characters in literary history, the soundtrack song from Disney’s film “Alice in Wonderland”.

LATEST: Avril Lavigne has a released a teaser for new music video “Give You What You Like.”

“Give You What You Like” is from Lavigne’s fifth studio album, Avril Lavigne. The record debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 in 2013, and includes the singles “Here’s to Never Growing Up,” “Let Me Go” and “Hello Kitty.”

Lavigne revealed in December she is struggling with undisclosed health issues. The singer dismissed rehab rumors weeks later on Twitter, but declined to elaborate on her medical condition.

Copyright 2015 by UPI Entertainment, E! and AvrilMusicChart News!

What all men’s want in fashion

Fashion is something about you way of life
Fashion is something about your way of life

Whats exactly all men’s want in fashion and equivalent to their needs. Men’s style inspiration is no exception. Whether you’re a dude who’s looking for some advice, a gal who loves to borrow from the boys, or well, anyone who loves a pet that wears human clothing. With a mix of styles from classic to eccentric and to truly unexpected.

Building a smart wardrobe is one of the most important investments a man can make. The compound benefits over time are truly immeasurable. Like any smart investment, it should involve research, planning, and efficient execution. This is your hero. Your workhorse. Your go-to. Your three days a week, but nobody really notices.

men's wardrobe
men’s wardrobe
leather jacket = powerful skin for men's
leather jacket = powerful skin for men’s
time and future
time and future

When staring longingly at a luxury watch in a display counter, many gentlemen find themselves torn between the financial cost of the timepiece and the potential benefits of owning it. But what, exactly, are those benefits, and why do so many men make the plunge and invest their hard-earned money in a brand name watch? From social cues to investment advice, let’s take a no-nonsense look. 

The most important thing to remember when building a wardrobe is keeping synergy between all the pieces! This is your wild card. Your secret weapon. Your Ace on the river.

hair stylist
hair stylist

Nobody expects you but when you do, they’ll never forget it. It also opens-up plenty of opportunities for different style and combinations. That’s how much of an impact I think it can have on your wardrobe. Once you have these ten foundational suits in your rotation, you can start to get a little more creative and experience the true joys.

Getting dressed, like many things in life, would probably be easier with an instruction manual. There are more than a few men in our lives who often ask for some simple guidelines they can follow to get their wardrobes on track.

Luckily, men seeking fashion advice have plenty of awesome resources. The result is pretty awesome and worth forwarding to all the dudes in your life. There are a couple of particular trends that I’m excited about focusing on..

Copyright 2014 by y a n s, GQ.com, MadMen, fashion.tv, huffington post & YouTube

Ralph Lauren lifestyle

Since its inception in 1968, Ralph Lauren has become a powerful global empire that has put its stamp on everything from tuxedos to tennis skirts.

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Ralph Lauren began with a handmade line of wide, colorful ties and menswear, which paved the way to launch his own in-store boutique in Bloomingdale’s in 1969. The designer expanded to encompass womenswear (1971), his signature polo shirts (1972), fragrance (1978), home furnishings (1983), sportswear (1993), paint (1995), denim (1996), and even a restaurant, in Chicago in 1999.
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Lauren’s lavish Madison Avenue flagship was built into the renovated Rhinelander mansion in 1986, a retail space that doubles as an opulent, high-end boutique and a tourist attraction. Though the label is perhaps best associated with its signature preppy polo shirts and tweed blazers, Lauren has shown range and innovation each season, from the cowboy-inspired looks of the seventies to the Santa Fe prints of the eighties to the more recent high-fashion twenties safari looks of the 2000s.

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The apparel is divided into a dozen lines, including the purple label for men’s eveningwear and hand-tailored suiting, the black label for women’s eveningwear, RLX for ski, golf, and tennis attire, and Rugby for a more youthful buyer. Today, the iconic polo emblem adorns everything from Pink Pony tees benefiting cancer research to tiny plaid high-tops for tykes and miniature polos for pets.
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The Ralph lifestyle has shown staggering staying power, thanks to loyal fans who ride horses, get chauffeured in Town Cars, and everything in between.

Copyright 2014 by nymag.com

Unconventional reasons why we should reading books

And that’s hardly the only way being a bookworm can boost your mind and well-being. Below, six more science-backed reasons to swap the remote for a novel.

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Reading can chill you out

Stressed out? Pick up a paperback. Research showed that reading was the most effective way to overcome stress, beating out old favorites such as listening to music, enjoying a cup of tea or coffee. It took the study participants just 6 minutes to relax (which was measured by evaluating heart rate and muscle tension) once they started turning pages.

“It really doesn’t matter what book you read, by losing yourself ina thoroughly engrossing book you can escape from the worries and stresses of the everyday world and spend a while exploring the domain of the author’s imagination,” -study researcher

It could help keep your brain sharp

A lifetime of reading might just help keep your brain in shape when you reach old age, according to research published earlier this year in the online issue of the journal Neurology. The study, which included 294 participants who died at an average age of 89, found that those who engaged in mentally stimulating activities (such as reading) earlier and later on in life experienced slower memory decline compared to those who didn’t. In particular, people who exercised their mindslater in life had a 32 percent lower rate of mental decline compared to their peers with average mental activity. The rate of decline amongst those with infrequent mental activity, on the other hand, was 48 percent faster than the average group.

“Study suggests that exercising your brain by taking part in activities such as these across a person’s lifetime, from childhood throughold age, is important for brain health in old age,” Based on this, we shouldn’t underestimate the effects of everyday activities, such as reading and writing, on our children, ourselves and our parents or grandparents.”

And it might even stave off Alzheimer’s disease

According to research, adults who engage in hobbies that involve the brain, like reading or puzzles, are lesslikely to have Alzheimer’s disease. However, the researchers identified only an association, not a cause-and-effect relationship: “These findings maybe because inactivity is a risk factor for thedisease or because inactivity is a reflection of very early subclinical effects of the disease, or both.”

“The brain is an organ just like every other organ in the body. It ages in regard to how it issued.” Just as physical activity strengthens the heart, muscles and bones, intellectual activity strengthens the brain against disease.”

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Reading may help you sleep better

Many sleep experts recommend establishing a regular de-stressing routine before bed to calm your mind and cue your body up for shut-eye– and reading can be a great way to do so (just as long as the book isn’t a page-turner that’ll keep you up all night). Bright lights, including those from electronic devices, signal to the brain that it’s time to wake up, meaning reading your book (under a dim light) is a better bedside bet than a laptop.

Getting lost in a good book could alsomake you more empathetic

According to a study, losing yourself in a work of fiction might actually increase your empathy. Researchers in the Netherlands designed two experiments, which showed that people who were “emotionally transported” by a work of fiction experienced boosts in empathy.

“In two experimental studies, we were able to show that self-reported empathic skills significantly changed over the course of one week for readers of a fictional story by fiction authors Arthur Conan Doyle or José Saramago,” they wrote in the findings. “More specifically, highly transported readers of Doyle became more empathic, while non-transported readers of both Doyle and Saramago became less empathic.”

So go ahead, let yourself get caught up in a particularly compelling story, or swept away by a powerful character — it’s good for you!

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Self-help books, on the other hand, can ease depression

Self-help books might actually help you help yourself. Combined with support sessions on how to use them, was linked with lower levels of depression after a year, compared to patients who received typical treatments. “We found this had a really significant clinical impact and the findings are very encouraging.” “Depression people’s motivation and makes it hard to believe change is possible.”

And self-help books could even work in cases of severe depression. People with severe depression can benefit from”low-intensity interventions,” including self-help books and interactive websites, as much or more than those who are less severely depressed.

Copyright 2013 by HuffPost

1940 Adolf Hitler tours in Paris

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Germany’s invasion of France culminated in France’s surrender in a formal ceremony held in a railroad car in Compiegne Forest on June 22, 1940 (see France Surrenders, 1940). The terms of the surrender called for all hostilities to cease on June 25. Shortly after this ceremony, Hitler summoned Albert Speer – his favorite architect -to join him at his headquarters in a small village in northern France. The village had been cleared of its inhabitants and many of its homes commandeered as living quarters for Hitler and his staff.

Upon arrival, Speer was informed by Hitler that he intended to take a tour of Paris in a few days and wanted the architect to accompany him. Speer remained in the village and joined Hitler and his entourage in a peasant’s cottage on the evening of the formal end of hostilities between France and Germany. As the time of the armistice approached, 1:35 AM June 25, Hitler ordered the lights in the home turned out and the windows opened. Sitting silently in the darkness, Hitler and his entourage listened to a thunderstorm in the distance and to a bugler blowing the traditional signal for the end of fighting. Hitler then ordered the light turned back on.

Three days later, Speer accompanied Hitler as he flew in the early morning hours to an airfield near Paris.

“I often considered whether we would not have to destroy Paris.”

We join Speer’s narrative as he and the rest of Hitler’s entourage arrive at an airport near Paris on June 28, 1940:

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“Three days after the beginning of the armistice we landed at Le Bourget airfield. It was early in the morning, about five-thirty. Three large Mercedes sedans stood waiting. Hitler as usual sat in the front seat beside the chauffeur, Breker [a sculptor] and I on the jump seats behind him, while Giessler [an architect] and the adjutants occupied the rear seats. Field-gray uniforms had been provided for us artists, so that we might fit into the military framework. We drove through the extensive suburbs directly to the Opera, Charles Garnier’s great neobaroque building. . . . It was Hitler’s favorite and the first thing he wanted to see. Colonel Speidel, assigned by the German Occupation Authority, was waiting at the entrance for us.

The great stairway, famous for its spaciousness, notorious for its excessive ornamentation, the resplendent foyer, the elegant, gilded parterre, were carefully inspected. All the lights glowed as they would on a gala night. Hitler had undertaken to lead the party. A white-haired attendant accompanied our small group through the deserted building. Hitler had actually studied the plans of the Paris opera house with great care. Near the proscenium box he found a salon missing, remarked on it, and turned out to be right. The attendant said that this room had been eliminated in the course of renovations many years ago. ‘There, you see how well I know my way about,’ Hitler commented complacently.

He seemed fascinated by the Opera, went into ecstasies about its beauty, his eyes glittering with an excitement that struck me as uncanny. The attendant, of course, had immediately recognized the person he was guiding through the building. In a businesslike but distinctly aloof manner, he showed us through the rooms. When we were at last getting ready.to leave the building, Hitler whispered something to his adjutant, Briickner, who took a fifty-mark note from his wallet and went over to the attendant standing some distance away. Pleasantly, but firmly, the man refused to take the money. Hitler tried a second time, sending Breker over to him; but the man persisted in his refusal. He had only been doing his duty, he told Breker.

Afterward, we drove past the Madeleine, down the Champs Elysees, on to the Trocadero, and then to the Eiffel Tower, where Hitler ordered another stop. From the Arc de Triomphe with its tomb of the Unknown Soldier we drove on to the Invalides, where Hitler stood for a long time at the tomb of Napoleon. Finally, Hitler inspected the Pantheon, whose proportions greatly impressed him. On the other hand he showed no special interest in some of the most beautiful architectural works in Paris: the Place des Vosges, the Louvre, the Palace of Justice, and Sainte Chapelle. He became animated again only when he saw the unitary row of houses on the Rue de Rivoli.

The end of our tour was the romantic, insipid imitation of early medieval domed churches, the church of Sacre Coeur on Montmartre-a surprising choice, even given Hitler’s taste. Here he stood for a long time surrounded by several powerful men of his escort squad, while many churchgoers recognized him but ignored him. After a last look at Paris we drove swiftly back to the airport. By nine o’clock in the morning the sightseeing tour was over. ‘It was the dream of my life to be permitted to see Paris. I cannot say how happy I am to have that dream fulfilled today.’ For a moment I felt something like pity for him: three hours in Paris, the one and only time he was to see it, made him happy when he stood at the height of his triumphs.

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In the course of the tour Hitler raised the question of a victory parade in Paris. But after discussing the matter with his adjutants and Colonel Speidel, he decided against it after all. His official reason for calling off the parade was the danger of its being harassed by English air raids. But later he said: ‘I am not in the mood for a victory parade. We aren’t at the end yet.’

That same evening he received me once more in the small room in the peasant house. He was sitting alone at table. Without more ado he declared: ‘Draw up a decree in my name ordering full-scale resumption of work on the Berlin buildings. . . . Wasn’t Paris beautiful ? But Berlin must be made far more beautiful. In the past I often considered whether we would not have to destroy Paris,’ he continued with great calm, as if he were talking about the most natural thing in the world. ‘But when we are finished in Berlin, Paris will only be a shadow. So why should we destroy it ?’

Copyright 2013 by EyeWitness to History.com & YouTube

‘Mademoiselle’ is history

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Last 2 weeks, I’ve known a french lady. She’s very kind, educated, well-spoken, intelligent, beautiful & everything words that can suits her was ‘PERFECT.’ After have a conversation with her, I’ve been noticed by my uncle.. ‘The french lady was my cousin by a far distance’. It’s quite awkward that moment, cause we never known her before..

What I’ve try to write was about a words ‘Mademoiselle.’ She’s been correct me after I call her mademoiselle..then she inform to me that words, its history nowadays..

Articles from NY Times By SCOTT SAYARE on February 22, 2012

PARIS – With nary a kiss to the hand nor tears of parting, the French government this week bids adieu to “mademoiselle.”

In a memo addressed to state administrators across France, Prime Minister François Fillon ordered the honorific —akin to “damsel” and the equivalent of “miss” —banished from official forms and registries. The use of “mademoiselle,” he wrote, made reference “without justification nor necessity” to a woman’s “matrimonial situation,” whereas “monsieur” has long signified simply “sir.”

The choice of mademoiselle, madame or monsieur appears most everywhere one gives one’s name in France: opening a bank account, shopping on the Internet or paying taxes, for instance.

Mr. Fillon’s order, signed on Tuesday, came after an advocacy campaign of several months by two French feminist organizations, “Osez le féminisme!” (“Dare to be feminist!”) and Les Chiennes de Garde (The Watchdogs). The government minister Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin, whose portfolio includes questions of “social cohesion,” pleaded the groups’ case with Mr. Fillon.

“You’ve never wondered why we don’t call a single man ‘mondamoiseau,’ or even ‘young male virgin?’” the feminist groups ask on a joint Web site. “Not surprising: this sort of distinction is reserved for women.”

Magali de Haas, a spokeswoman for “Osez le féminisme!,” expressed the hope that, in time, private organizations would also drop “mademoiselle” and that the term would fall out of popular use.

The niceties of the French language are monitored and debated by an august institution, the Académie Française, which typically operates on a time scale commensurate with its venerability and has yet to offer comment. Nor have all Frenchwomen rejoiced at news of the change, given not only long tradition but also widespread disdain for more avid strains of feminism, deemed to lack sufficient appreciation for the joys offered by the differences between the sexes.

Men are often called “jeune homme,” or “young man,” through their 20s, and not “monsieur,” Ms. de Haas noted. She suggested a similar distinction be made between the “young woman” (“jeune femme”) and more senior “madame,” thus avoiding “mademoiselle,” a term that harkens to notions of female subjugation, she said.

As early as 1690, the terms “mademoiselle” and “demoiselle” were used to signify “unmarried female,” according to the French National Center for Textual and Lexical Resources. “Mademoiselle” entered into official use under Napoleon I, the creator of the French civil code, but came into broader use only in the 20th century, according to Laurence Waki, the author of a recent book on the subject.

Historians know remarkably little about the origins of the term, Ms. Waki said, which she saw as unsurprising because it refers to women. “It always seemed such a minor detail,” she said, “especially because the majority of historians are men.”

Ms. Waki said she was “thrilled” to learn that “mademoiselle” would disappear from official forms, though she added, with a bit of chagrin, “I can’t really believe that we’re still only at this stage.”

Some women deplored the seriousness with which feminists have approached the “mademoiselle” question, shrugging off what Ms. de Haas called “symbolic violence” of the word.

“I find it’s a shame,” said Juliette Beniti, 61, a former factory worker puffing on a cigarette on a sidewalk just outside Paris. “ ‘Mademoiselle’ had its place.”

“It’s flattering,” she said. “I often call women ‘mademoiselle.’ It’s pleasing. It makes a person feel younger!”

Olivia Cattan, the founder and president of Paroles de Femmes (Words of Women), an aid group, said the move was frustrating, given deep gender inequities in pay and political and corporate prominence.

“We think this measure is just smoke and mirrors, to avoid talking about more important issues,” she said. “The urgency was elsewhere.”

After a contentious cultural debate decades ago, English-speaking nations have largely replaced “Mrs.” and “Miss” with “Ms.” In Germany, the term “fräulein” (“little woman”) is no longer in official use. In Italy, honorifics are typically not used on official documents. And in the French-speaking Canadian province of Quebec, “madame” is used for all except the very young and those who insist on “mademoiselle.”

On state forms in France, the terms “maiden name,” “patronymic” and two expressions meaning “married name” are to be replaced by “family name” and “used name,” Mr. Fillon said in the memo. Apparently hoping to avert waste, he instructed that old forms should remain in circulation until the “exhaustion of stocks.”

No official estimates were offered on Wednesday as to when those supplies might run out, but there were concerns among some that, given the French state’s penchant for bureaucratic paperwork, its current provision of forms might last some time.

After read this articles, then I’ve know.. Au revoir ‘mademoiselle’

Copyright 2013 by NY Times & YouTube

Malaysia Election face knife edge from youth

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Malaysian election campaign is intensifying and the southern state of Johor could provide early indications of voter intentions.

Johor is the birthplace of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the dominant party in the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition that has ruled Malaysia since independence.

Across the country, from Sarawak and Sabah, to Penang and Johor and places in between, candidates are out campaigning and fighting for every last vote.

Experts agree Malaysia has never seen an election like this, with BN under real pressure to prove its relevance to voters.

BN figures say the party is quietly confident but admit the Opposition has put up its best fight yet and is more organised this time around.

Pollsters say it is too close to call.

Prime Minister Najib Razak is urging continuity in Malaysia.

“Our message to the people is look we have done so much over the last 4 years, if you give us the mandate I assure you we will do even better the next 5 years,” he said.

On social media, Mr Najib has signalled the importance of Johor, where his party is under pressure from the Opposition Pakatan Rakyat.

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim says he is very encouraged by the upsurge in public mood, telling voters a new awakening is underway in Malaysia.

Thirteen million Malaysians are registered to vote on May 5, 20 per cent of them are voting for the first time.

Cost of living, taxation laws, educational opportunities, health services are all key issues, as is the economic progress of the country and desires for social and political liberalisation.

Barisan Nasional

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The ruling Barisan Nasional (National Front) coalition is led by Prime Minister Najib Razak. He launched his party’s manifesto “A Promise of Hope” on April 6 which includes a boost in family financial support and policies to address urban pressures with a focus on the country’s economic development.

Prime Minister Najib has opened the door to broadening of BN social policies in response to growing domestic pressure and social change. He is promoting greater involvement of women in the coalition and recognising that young Malaysians are wanting more freedom.

The manifesto states “Our youth today make up two thirds of the population and their voices cannot and must not be ignored.”

The Prime Minister says only a BN government can ensure Malaysia’s continued economic success.

Prime Minister Najib presided over a closed door party meeting where candidates were being finalised.

“Forming a strong and viable government should be the ultimate objective of all Barisan Nasional members,” he said.

There are tensions within Barisan Nasional over how far and how quickly the party should liberalise.

Pakatan Rakyat

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The Opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat (People’s Pact) is led by the country’s former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.

His coalition includes varied parties in term of ethnic and philosophical make up that come together around cross racial issues.

As a grouping on the federal level they have never had to test how they would operate as a united political outfit with a detailed agreed political platform.

Within the Opposition coalition, Anwar is the leader of the People’s Justice Party (PKR).

Also part of the grouping is the Democratic Action Party (DAP) Malaysia’s oldest opposition party. DAP is a multi racial party with a core constituency that is Malaysian Chinese.

Next is PAS – the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party supporting the Islamisation of political life.

Anwar Ibrahim said on twitter after the election date was announced “This election is not about parties or leaders. It is about the people demanding change in this country.”

Election issues

In the last election BN faced what locals call an ‘electoral tsunami’ when the Opposition’s support surged in the final days. In that election BN lost its crucial 2/3 majority in Parliament but was returned.

This time according to Dr Amrita Malhi from the Hawke Research Institute at the University of South Australia “it is on a knife edge.”

Speaking from Adelaide she said “anticipation is building, this is the hottest contest people have seen.”

“The way the Opposition is presenting itself is to make sure the election and conduct of national public life are election issues.”

Copyright 2013 by Australian Network News

Malaysia New Election landscape

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Prime Minister Najib Razak recently dissolved Malaysia’s 222-seat parliament, paving the way for the country’s next general election, which is now scheduled for May 5. Electioneering in Malaysia has been at fever pitch for many months, and it will only grow more intense in the coming weeks.

In this analyze on Malaysia’s political landscape why this election, which pits the long-dominant Barisan Nasional coalition against the up-and-coming Pakatan Rakyat, could be pivotal.

What is the significance of the upcoming general election?

This election will likely be the most hotly contested in Malaysian history. Since the country’s first vote in 1959, one coalition—Barisan Nasional (BN or National Front)—has dominated the political system and easily won every election.

But the last general election in 2008 foreshadowed a shift in the mood of the electorate. For the first time, BN lost its two-thirds parliamentary majority in the national legislature and thus its power to amend the constitution, as well as five of thirteen state elections (one of them, Perak, later returned to the BN fold). The surprising performance of the opposition coalition, Pakatan Rakyat (PR or People’s Alliance), in the vote added new energy to Malaysian politics and a powerful voice critical of the incumbent administration.

Although according to the latest figures, BN, with 137 seats, still had a commanding lead in parliament, PR came away from recent elections with the most seats it has ever had—76 (see figure 1).

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Both coalitions have ramped up their political campaigns for what could turn out to be a pivotal moment in Malaysia’s electoral history. The current consensus appears to be that BN’s majority will be further eroded in the 2013 election, although an outright win by a resurgent PR cannot be ruled out.

While Prime Minister Najib Razak’s approval rating remains above 60 percent, the BN coalition is less popular—its approval rating is 45 percent—and is the target of many allegations of corruption and cronyism. Most recently, a Global Witness report on land grabs in the state of Sarawak highlights the systemic corruption that appears to permeate all levels of government in Malaysia. Not surprisingly, Malaysia’s ranking in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index has slipped steadily over the years from 25 in 1995 to 56 today.

What is the makeup of the two main political coalitions?

BN consists of thirteen parties. The largest of them, the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), has traditionally led the coalition and occupied the most seats in parliament (see figure 2).

Prime Minister Najib and Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin are members of UMNO. They are the most viable candidates for the position of prime minister should BN win. Some speculate that Muhyiddin may replace Najib as prime minister if BN once again fails to capture a two-thirds majority .

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PR is made up of three major parties: the People’s Justice Party (PKR), Democratic Action Party (DAP), and Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS). While DAP draws its core support from ethnic Chinese and PAS from Muslims, PKR has been able to forge a more diverse support base across different ethnic groups and is seen as the leading party within the coalition (see figure 3). The current leader of the PR coalition, former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim, is also the de facto leader of the PKR and would most likely become prime minister if PR won a parliamentary majority in this election.

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How has PR performed thus far?

Compared to BN, PR is a relatively young coalition. It was called Barisan Alternatif when it was established in 1999, but that coalition fell apart before the 2004 election (over disagreements about the role of Islam in the state). It then came into its own after the 2008 election.

PR’s performance in 2008 in the state legislatures was a significant improvement over 2004 (see figure 4). But given Malaysia’s first-past-the-post electoral system, PR’s share of the popular vote, which was within a few percentage points of BN’s in 2008, exceeds its share of parliamentary seats (see figure 5). In 2008, PR won almost half the popular votes (47 percent), but it took just over a third (37 percent) of the parliamentary seats.

PR’s biggest challenge in the upcoming election will be to increase its share of seats, not just its share of the popular vote. Doing so is possible given the existence of several “swing” constituencies in which a small change in the popular vote can significantly alter the allocation of seats.

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What makes BN appealing to the electorate?

BN has significant advantages thanks to its half century in power, stretching back to Malaysia’s independence. Not only has it accumulated substantial experience in state affairs and electioneering, it has presided over fifty years of impressive economic performance. Malaysia’s GDP growth averaged 6.4 percent a year between 1961 and 2011, with especially high growth in the 1990s under Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

Malaysia’s continued strong economic performance at a time when the rest of the world is experiencing economic turbulence is, in fact, BN’s strongest appeal. Success has reaffirmed BN’s competence in economic management and has made Malaysia an attractive destination for foreign capital.

Prime Minister Najib’s Economic Transformation Program and Government Transformation Program, which aim to make Malaysia a high-income economy by 2020, have received favorable reviews at home and internationally. Malaysia’s standing in international surveys of competitiveness and the investment environment have improved under his watch, private investment picked up dramatically last year, and economic growth has remained steady.

Prime Minister Najib’s economic policies have been accompanied by some deft political moves. These included repealing unpopular laws curtailing human rights (such as the Internal Security Act) and dealing firmly with a recent invasion by an armed Muslim group from the Philippines.

BN has also used the budget to improve its appeal with the electorate. For instance, the BN government introduced a rebate program for smartphone purchases and the 1Malaysia People’s Aid program that doles out cash to low-income families regardless of race—a significant move in a country that has long been divided along racial and ethnic lines. BN’s newly released manifesto also promises a million housing units, rural infrastructure, and higher civil service salaries.

BN enjoys the solid support of Malaysia’s dominant Malay community, which accounts for 60 percent of the population. That support has, in part, stemmed from an affirmative action program called the Bumiputera—or sons of the soil—policy. Under the policy, which BN says it will continue if it wins, Bumis (ethnic Malays and indigenous groups) get preferential access to a range of economic opportunities, including jobs, education, business ownership, real estate, procurement contracts, and finance. As important, two parties in BN’s coalition —the Malaysian Chinese Association and the Malay Indian Congress—covering Malaysia’s two other important ethnic groups, have also helped broaden BN’s political base.

What has PR done to boost its chances with the electorate?

PR is striving to demonstrate its viability as an alternative government that has strong credentials in managing the affairs of state and that is prepared to clean up corruption.

It has shown over the last five years that it is capable of running a successful administration, at least at the state level. States run by PR have by and large been managed competently even though, as some have alleged, the BN-run central government has limited their authority and reduced federal funds for some projects.

More importantly, Anwar Ibrahim is the opposition coalition’s strongest weapon. Notwithstanding allegations against him for homosexuality (a crime under Malaysian law) that have been largely discredited as maneuvers to ruin him politically, he is regarded as an accomplished politician with an impressive career. He served in many ministerial positions under Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and eventually became deputy prime minister before a falling out with his boss.

Since then, Anwar Ibrahim has survived much travail—including imprisonment and mistreatment —to emerge as a leader of the major opposition party. But he and his PR coalition partners have found it difficult to resolve their ideological and strategic differences. While some progress has been made—for example, PKR and DAP have persuaded the Islamic PAS to adopt a more moderate platform—the three parties appear to be united more in their opposition to BN than in their support for any common political platform.

Even so, PR’s recently issued election manifesto contains many sensible proposals. It starts with a call to “eliminate racial discrimination and the incitement of antagonism between community groups,” which can be read as the coalition’s intention to end the divisive and anachronistic Bumiputera policy.

What potential obstacles lie ahead?

With so much at stake in this election and with the likelihood of a tight race, every vote will be valuable. As a result, many observers in Malaysia believe that this may be the dirtiest election that the country has seen in a long while. Although violence is unlikely, allegations of electoral malpractice could mar the postelection announcement of the results.

In response to concerns expressed by Malaysian NGOs over the years about the flaws in the electoral system—especially by the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih)—the prime minister established the Parliamentary Select Committee on electoral reform in 2011 that was made up of five members from BN, three from PR, and one independent. The committee submitted its report to parliament in April 2012 and most of its recommendations were accepted by the Election Commission. Reforms included allowing Malaysians living overseas to vote, providing equal media access to all parties, and using indelible ink to prevent voter fraud.

Recently, for the first time, the Election Commission also selected sixteen local NGOs (five from peninsular Malaysia, three from Sabah, eight from Sarawak) to monitor the upcoming elections and invited NGOs from ASEAN countries to do so as well.

While these reforms have gone some way toward assuaging government critics, there remain significant concerns in the NGO community about the fairness of the electoral arrangements, particularly with respect to discrepancies in electoral rolls, restrictions on NGO monitoring activities, and the lack of detailed instructions on how parties can use government-controlled media when campaigning.

Copyright 2013 by Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Malaysian Rally #KL112

Organisers of the mammoth #KL112 rally held in Malaysia’s historic Stadium Merdeka have estimated a crowd attendance of at least 500,000-less than their one million target but more than enough to send a shiver through Prime Minister Najib Razak’s government.

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“This show of strength is a real warning to the Umno-BN. If they continue to cheat at the general election, the Malaysian people won’t stand for it. They will come out to the streets & demand justice,” Hishamuddin Rais, a prominent activist who sits of the #KL112 organising committee.

Hishammuddin also sits on the steering committee of free & fairpolls movement BERSIH.

Police fudging the numbers?
The official figure released by the HKR #KL112 committee makes Saturday’s rally the largest ever in Malaysia, topping last year’s BERSIH 3.0 which drew more than 250,000. Those present at the Stadium are not surprised at the number.

However,what was shocking were the estimates furnished by the police & used by the government-controlled media. These ranged from a paltry 50,000 to 100,000 & can easily debunked as within the stadium itself & its immediate compound, there would have been at least 150,000. Including the crowds that met at the 8 designated meeting points & along the way to the Stadium, there were tens of thousands more.

But apart from possibly fudging the numbers, police who were out in full force were on their best behaviour, helping to control the crowd which was remarkably disciplined & well-behaved.

“Malaysians are well-known to be adocile & modest people. This is why when the violence broke out in BERSIH 3.0, the police & umno-BN were blamed for planting provocateurs. I am glad it didn’t happen again this time,” said Hishamuddin.

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10-point declaration
The #KL112 rally, also called the Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat or the People’s Awakening Rally, has 10 major objectives. They are:

1.A call for clean, fair & transparent elections with a free & independent press

2.A call for the prestige, image & reputation of FELDA to be saved by guaranteeing its agricultural role in the economy & the land ownership of the settlers.

3.Fair treatment & allocations to Sabah & Sarawak vis-a-vis Peninsular Malaysia

4.20% of oil royalty to be returned to the producing states

5.To raise professionalism, assure welfare & protect the future of civil servants including teachers & the armed forces

6.A call for a green environment that is clean & wholesome

7.A call for the national language to be supported, vernacular language to be preserved & standards of English to be raised in the education system, with free education for all Malaysian citizens.

8.A call to free all political detainees who have been unfairly imprisoned

9.A call for all traditional villages & places of heritage to be preserved,protected & defended

10.A call for a better lifestyle for women as promised in the Agenda Wanita Malaysia (The Malaysian Women’s Agenda)

Copyright 2013 by Malaysia Chronicle

Google celebrated any anniversary with Doodles

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Doodles are the fun, surprising & sometimes spontaneous changes that are made to the Google logo to celebrate holidays, anniversaries, and the lives of famous artists, pioneers & scientists.

In 1998, before the company was even incorporated, the concept of the doodle was born when Google founders Larry and Sergey played with the corporate logo to indicate their attendance at the Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert. They placed a stick figure drawing behind the 2nd “o” in the word, Google, and the revised logo was intended as a comical message to Google users that the founders were “out of office.” Whilethefirst doodle was relatively simple, the idea of decorating the company logo to celebrate notable events was born.

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Two years later in 2000, Larry and Sergey asked current webmaster Dennis Hwang, an intern at the time, to produce a doodle for Bastille Day. It was so well received by our users that Dennis was appointed Google’s chief doodler and doodles started showing up more and more regularly on the Google homepage. In the beginning, the doodles mostly celebrated familiar holidays; nowadays, they highlight a wide array of events and anniversaries from the Birthday of John James Audubon to the Ice Cream Sundae.

Over time, the demand for doodles has risen in the U.S. and internationally. Creating doodles is now the responsibility of a team of talented illlustrators (we call them doodlers) and engineers. For them, creating doodles has become a group effort to enliven the Google homepage and bring smiles to the faces of Google users around the world. The team has created over 1000 doodles for our homepages around the world.

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A group of Googlers get together regularly to brainstorm and decide which events will be celebrated with a doodle. The ideas for the doodles come from numerous sources including Googlers and Google users. The doodle selection process aims to celebrate interesting events & anniversaries that reflect Google’s personality and love for innovation.

Google has been adding interactive, animated doodles to its home page with more frequency in recent years. Others in 2012 have paid tribute to the London Olympics, Valentine’s Day, the 79th anniversary of the first drive-in movie, and Robert Moog, inventor of the electronic synthesizer.

Copyright 2012 by Google.com