Magpies are birds of the Corvidae (crow) family, including the black and white Eurasian magpie, which is one of the few animal species known to be able to recognize itself in a mirror test. In addition to other members of the genus Pica, corvids considered as magpies are in the genera Cissa, Cyanopica and Urocissa. I am sharing this globe with these birds!
Sunday, September 26, 2010
A good piece on Malaysia written by an American journalist!
By Rachel Motte - writing for the Daily Caller.
Today, President Barack Obama addresses the US-ASEAN summit taking place in New York City, concurrent with the United Nations General Assembly. Among the heads of state he will speak with is a familiar acquaintance — Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, whom the president last saw at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C., this past April. Though he’s not a flashy newsmaker on par with some of the other ASEAN figures, Najib is no less newsworthy — and in some ways, the country he represents is one of the most important to the United States in an era where the meeting of Islam and democracy seems less a union, and more a collision.
In Najib’s Malaysia despite some real challenges, the future of majority-Muslim, multiethnic democracy is slowly taking shape. This past Sunday Najib joined with his country’s minister for unity, minister for religious affairs, and others in endorsing the work of Malaysia’s Inter-faith Relations Working Committee. The committee, which is composed of Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Taoists and Sikhs, was formed in February in response to the widely publicized racial and religious tensions that plagued Malaysia in early 2010. In endorsing the committee, Najib is affirming his commitment to Malaysia’s unity and diversity, and he’s doing so at the expense of his own political standing.
If there’s one thing Najib wants, it’s national unity — and that’s not something he’s going to get easily, especially if his political opponents get their way. Fifty-three years after declaring independence, Malaysians are still unsure of what it means to be Malaysian. With countless political parties and coalitions, dozens of cultural barriers, and the geographical imposition that is the Java Sea, it’s difficult to discern what sort of unifier will serve to carry the country forward. To further complicate matters, only the nation’s Muslims are subject to Sharia law; the 40% of citizens who hold different beliefs are all served by a separate court system. Far from asking his countrymen to adopt a homogenous national identity, however, Najib has set for himself the harder task of fostering and encouraging Malaysia’s differing societies while simultaneously working toward a concrete sense of national unity.
It’s not an easy task. The Borneon states of Sabah and Sarawak, for example, present a particular challenge. They joined the union in 1963, only a few years after Malaysia declared independence from the British in 1957. Even so, peninsular Malaysians are still getting used to their Eastern neighbors, and many feel the island states have not yet been fully incorporated into the union. While the mainland boasts the highly-developed capital at Kuala Lumpur with its famous Petronas Towers, Sabah and Sarawak
are still home to hunter-gatherer societies, and poverty in the island states is rampant despite long-standing efforts to correct economic imbalances.
Najib’s extensive and ambitious 1Malaysia campaign proves that he will go to great lengths to achieve Malaysian unity despite the obvious difficulties. A new national holiday, celebrated for the first time this past September 16, commemorates the addition of Sabah and Sarawak to the Malaysian state and adds to the existing August 31 Independence Day celebrations. His plans for Malaysia’s economic future include significantly updating Malaysia’s schools, creating 3.3 million jobs by 2020, and helping Malaysia make the difficult transition from a middle-income nation to a high-income nation. His New Economic Model aims to do away with racially-grounded affirmative action policies in favor of need-based assistance, and his newly-reaffirmed commitment to religious diversity ensures that Malaysia can move forward without sacrificing its own unique heritage.