Friday, September 28, 2007

Myanmar Crackdown and Repressive Regime


At 1.30 am this morning, I received a sms from a friend about a planned protest at the Burmese embassy this morning. I was not able to participate in the protest but was definitely appalled with the crackdown on the peaceful march.

Myanmar's police and military were out in force again Friday, patrolling the deserted streets after a two-day crackdown on mass protests left at least 13 people dead and hundreds more behind bars.

Reported by AFP, a Japanese journalist was among those found dead on Thursday as security forces raided monasteries, beat protesters and carried unknown numbers of people, including many of the country's revered Buddhist monks, off to prison. But the crackdown failed to stamp out the protests, as an estimated 50,000 people still swarmed into the streets, sometimes fighting pitched battles with police and pelting them with stones.

The bloodshed triggered international condemnation of the country's ruling generals, who unleashed security forces on demonstrators to put down the biggest wave of public dissent in the Southeast Asian nation for 20 years.

In Kuala Lumpur, about 2,000 people flooded the Burmese Embassy to protest against the violent military crackdown in Burma this morning. A sea of people, all clad in red, gathered at Jalan Ampang as early as 9.45am after arriving on chartered buses and marched about half a kilometre to the embassy located on Jalan Ru.

The bloody and heavy handed crackdown against the monks, seen as a symbol of peace and humanity, is unacceptable and must be condemned. It is time for ASEAN to prove that the grouping can be successful in its attempt to promote the creation of a democratic and peaceful ASEAN community. ASEAN leaders must pressure the junta government to stop its repressive and violent acti0ns against its own people and allow the course of democracy to progress.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Islamisation of Government Linked Companies and Public Offices


On the wall of a post office in Tesco, Jalan Puchong, is a Quranic verse. No wonder, some UMNO leaders, such as the Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi and his deputy Najib Razak, openly labelled Malaysia as an Islamic State.

Walk For Justice



Almost 2000 people were there at the Palace of Justice. Most of them are young lawyers and first time participants of a peaceful demonstration. But they came and many stayed on even when it was rained cats and dogs minutes after the Bar Council representatives lead by its president Ambiga went into the PM's office.

Earlier, the Bar Council President told the crowd not to 'politicize' and not to prejudge the alleged persons caught in the video. The walk was to demand for a swift action on the allegation.

The conscience of Malaysians is awaken! I was proud to be a witness.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Separation of Power - UMNO's Way

De facto law minister Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz said he issued a denial on behalf of the chief justice in relation to the explosive ‘Lingam tape’ revelations because “I am his minister”.

“I am his minister. I am the minister in charge of legal affairs. He is clever enough to know that the reporters will ask me for a response,” Nazri explained when contacted today to explain his intervention in the matter.

Once again, Nazri demonstrated his lack of respect for the practice of separation of power in a democratic country. How can an executive claims to be the 'boss' of the chief justice who helms the judiciary, a distinct branch of the country?

Nazri's statement does more harm to Ahmad Fairuz, the chief judge, rather than helping him. First, it is now confirmed that Ahmad Fairuz is not free from the influnce of the executive branch. Nazri, a cabinet minister, has claimed that he is 'his minister'.

Second, Ahmad is acting in a irresponsible manner in not answering directly to the public. Lawyer and immediate past president of Bar Council, Yeo Yang Poh, in a chinese language talk show opined that the chief justice should immediately file a police report and respond to the media if he is not involved in the purported video showing VK Lingam talking to a 'senior judge' on fixing judicial appointments.

Like many have said, nothing less than a royal commission will do. This controversy is beyond Nazri and Malaysians must remind the minister to act constitutionally.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Umno Psyche: Whither the Direction?

Stanley Koh wrote:

Spiritual laws may have existed long before any government conceives legislations and laws. But of late, numerous political developments seemed to message Malaysians that this is an age where morality seems to be disappearing and is being replaced by politics.

Hence, it came as no surprise when de-facto minister Aziz Nazri who is also Umno Supreme Council member viewed that the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) has no powers to initiate investigations on reports and charges of money politics and bribery within Umno. He backed his argument saying, “Dalam Umno kita bagi orang makan, itu adapt bila nak bertanding,” (In Umno we “feed” people, this is the culture when contesting). “It is not a public infration, but it is considered one within the party,” he added.

Does this reflect the collective changing “psyche” of Umno? From lessons in our local history, we have noted major events that have had affected Umno’s collective psyche. Notably in the recent past, the breaking away of the Semangat 46 grouping about 18 years ago and second, the agitation caused by the removal of Anwar Ibrahim. Today, the public row between the prime minister and Dr Mahathir Mohamad besides causing much political fatigue among the followers also suggested that individual and leadership values including proper societal values are being put in the backburner.

Yet the type of “psyche” Nazri is arguing for his party suggested that the “meal ticket” as very much a part of Umno’s culture. Does this mean that Umno should continue to practice the meal ticket policy to power and riches as recently witnessed in the Zakaria’s fiasco.

Paradoxically, it was ex-premier Mahathir who had repeatedly warned his party in his major speeches on this “meal ticket” syndrome that the danger would be the downfall of any political party. One may even ask if it is wise for its party followers to latch themselves on a meal ticket to certain corrupted rank or file leaders solely based to their close relationships with certain top leaders particularly the prime minister, and not on leadership values, morals and ethics. This political culture of party followers who determine their support to leaders on the basis of party posts instead of leadership and spiritual qualities undermine the maturity process require of a party being the backbone of this country.

All Malaysians are stakeholders

It is Umno which determines the prime minister of this country and the maturity of its delegates must surely be considered of great significance. Hence, whether Nazri likes it or not, all Malaysians are stakeholders in the well being of Umno and “money politics” in Umno is a concern for every Malaysian. When Nazri remarked that ACA has no powers to deal with its members in particular leaders indulging in all manifestations of “money politics”, he has unconsciously thrown out many policy creations of the prime minister including Islam Hadhari and the comprehensive 5-year National Integrity Plan specifically dealing with integrity, ethics and morality.

If that is the case, non-partisan Malaysian voters irrespective of their race, color and creed should cast their votes on Nazri’s latest opinion in the next general elections. Whether they agree that Umno, and solely Umno alone should deal with its members particularly leaders indulging in “money politics” activities which include all evidenced definitions like graft, bribery, money laundering, buying-off, paying off, giving illegal inducements and the abuse of powers. Whether they feel Umno is capable of such enforcement and more importantly, does it involve a conflict of interest? In short, Malaysians should judge with the vote at hand whether the prime minister has dealt efficiently on the corruption issue?

Obsession to pragmatism and adaptability even to the extend of compromising fair justice and integrity is already entrenched in some political parties since Mahathir ironically in the past introduced a dictatorial ruling that no party dispute can be brought to the courts for final settlement. It is even more telling that the principles of democracy including “free voting” within party elections are undermined by all sorts of underhanded tactics orchestrated by incumbents to influence the outcome of the election results, ignoring the unethical but often discreet display of obscene power politicking. Is this the type of democracy that our Prime Minister has so selectively protected and simultaneously in condemnation of the Western-type and on several occasions proudly declared to foreign visiting heads of government that we have our unique “Malaysian-type of democracy”.

Many of our political leaders have become wealthy and extremely comfortable while others exposed through telling signs on “multi-million ringgit” matrimony settlements relating to divorces unabashedly splashing in newspaper reports. Moral rights and wrongs are blurred and those who are conscientious are deliberately denied the right of freedom to choose what is right and wrong. Party policies of “toeing the line” and threats through instilling fear on those who oppose the unscrupulous become the order of party life. Bad and destructive decisions and policies become acceptable and eventually the norm in party life, with its meetings and elections, like a cancer patient living a “normal” life.

Same principle should apply

Mahatma Gandhi said, “We must become the change we want to see”. But what changes can a prime minister expects to see when he is perceived in not “walking the talk” and his senior followers “walking the take”?

Some of our arrogant leaders despised Western leaders for whatever reasons they know best. Abraham Lincoln once said that “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” True enough, we have our local political tyrants, whose philosophy best interpreted as “breaking the law, despite knowingly,” as though they have the right to do so when they are empowered in a government post through party appointments. So we were told recently by a senior state official. What rubbish, remarked a political observer. If the IGP has the courage to publicly announce that he would take disciplinary actions against any police supervisor if their constables under their charged misbehave or commit any serious offences, surely the same principle should apply to this senior state government official.

Kahlil Gibran in his wisdom manifested, said, “Safeguarding the rights of others is the most noble and beautiful end of a human being. Progress lies not in enhancing what is, but in advancing toward what will be.” Contrary, in our midst we have politicians safeguarding his own rights instead of others, living true to the condemnation of politics that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Political power is indeed a strange commodity. Matthew Boulton is probably the only person in the world to have said of “selling” political power reflected in his quotation, “We sell here, Sir, what all the world desires to have - POWER.”

Indeed, many Malaysians are beginning to feel their country is facing a scenario between the “devil and the deep blue sea.” Suddenly, politics is not the art of the possible. It is more a choice between the disastrous and the unpalatable. It is not a joke anymore. However the problem with political jokes is like Will Roger having said, “The more you read and observe about this politics thing, you got to admit that each party is worse than the other. The one that’s out always looks the best.”

The truth of the matter is that a government is a trust, and the officers of the government are trustees. Both the trust and the trustees are created for the benefit of the people. When any political leader harbors the view that members of a political party should not be subjected to laws outside its party, Malaysians should think hard.

“As a political party, Umno is responsible for protecting the integrity not only of its leadership, but also its membership and indeed the entire nation. Hence every move it makes must be good for the good of the Malaysian society, which expects nothing less.” (Anwar Ibrahim: Sept 5, 1997 Umno Youth and Wanita Assemblies)

Irresponsible Courier Company


I received this complaint letter from Ms Jessie Loh:

On behalf of my company, I used a courier company, Skynet Worlwide (M) Sdn Bhd, to send five laptops (two new Toshiba and three repaired laptops) from my branch in Prangin Mall, Penang to another branch in Sungai Petani, Kedah (consignment number: 201 23474 5165 (date: 10/8/2007). Sadly, when parcel arrived at its intended location we found out that a new Toshiba laptop was not in the parcel.

To verify, I played back the CCTV at my Prangin Mall branch. It clearly recorded that five laptops were put into the box. After inspection, a Skynet’s employee sealed the box. When the parcel arrived at the Skynet’s office in Penang, it was weighted at 44kg and was recorded in their consignment note. When the parcel arrived at our Sungai Petani’s branch, the weight registered for the consignment was 39kg. Clearly something had been taken out from our parcel while it was being delivered from the Skynet’s office in Penang to our branch in Sungai Petani.

Subsequently, I complained to the Branch Manager of Skynet’s Penang, Mr Looi Han Why. A few days later, he told me that the company has offered me a RM200 compensation for the missing new laptop. Not satisfied with the offer, Mr Looi passed me the contact details of their Customer Management Manager Ms Shirley. I called Shirley and ask her to reconsider the compensation.

She said that the matter should be in the police hand and their company is not responsible for the theft, even if the theft is from their company. She reaffirmed the company’s decision to compensate me RM200 only for a laptop which is valued at RM 4099 market price. Then, I received an email reply when I asked about the compensation, Mr Looi replied that the company is only willing to RM100 as compensation for the lost laptop.

After the incident, I spotted gross negligence of the company. They did not advise us to insure our package and there is no security seal to ensure that the parcel will not be tempered with before arriving at its destination. It is unfortunate that Skynet, which is supposed to be a trusted logistics partner to many small medium enterprises like mine, is acting in such irresponsible manner. The company should practice all necessary security measures to safeguard and protect clients’ items and parcels at all times.

Due to a lack of protection for corporate consumers like my company, I felt that it is necessary to take up this complaint through the media to ensure that service providers adhere to serious corporate governance and good customer service.

Ms Jessie Loh
General Manager
DSnet Computer Technology (M) Sdn Bhd
Tel: 04-6590288
Fax:04-6590299
Email: jessielgp@esquare.com.my

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Judicial Fiasco

If the judiciary is in trouble, it will spell trouble for the rest of us, citizens. In other democracies, the judiciary is supposed to be the guardian and interpreter of the rights ascribed to the people in the federal constitutions.

Reported in Malaysiakini.com, an expose on the No. 1 judge is serious and deserves our full attention.

An explosive video clip released shows senior lawyer VK Lingam in a phone conversation, purportedly with current Chief Justice Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim, allegedly fixing the appointment of ‘friendly’ senior judges.

Background to the Lingam tape

The grainy eight-minute video footage was taken in 2002 at senior lawyer VK Lingam’s Kelana Jaya house. At that time, Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah was chief justice. Appointed in 2000, he was seen as a fresh break from his two previous predecessors - Mohd Eusoff Chin (1994-2000) and Abdul Hamid Omar (1988-1994). Dzaiddin was to retire in 2003, and the video showed Lingam expressing concerned that the outgoing CJ was moving his ‘men’ into top judiciary posts. The conversation revolved around the urgent need to get Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim, then chief judge of Malaya - the judiciary’s No 3 - appointed as Court of Appeal president (No 2) and then chief justice (No 1). There was also the plan to get former attorney-general Mokhtar Abdullah, who was then a Federal Court judge, to replace Ahmad Fairuz as No 3. To do that, Lingam had roped in tycoon Vincent Tan, a close crony of then prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, and Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, a key minister in PM’s Department. They were to talk to Mahathir on the appointment of judges.

Postscript

Ahmad Fairuz was appointeded Court of Appeal president in December 2002 - months after the telephone conversation. Dzaiddin stepped down as CJ in 2003 and he was replaced by Ahmad Fairuz. Mokhtar, however, could not take the No 3 post as he was in coma after suffering from a fall in August 2002. He died in 2003. Ahmad Fairuz' term as CJ will end in October 2007.

This allegation is very serious because it shows that those who are affluent and in the position of power can decide the fate of the nation even to the extent of influencing government decisions. Something must be done before our democracy is threatened and jeopardized.

I would like to thank some readers who have responded to my call for action. This is our first call for action. Please send a message out on the impact and implications of a judicial fiasco in the making. Malaysians must not be made to suffer from the actions of unscrupulous people.

RETURN POWER TO THE PEOPLE! SAY NO TO POWER CORRUPTION!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Get the Killer Rapist!



This is an act of a sadist and a crime which cannot be tolerated in any societies. Malaysians must work together to ensure the safety of our children and loved ones.

Could this be a job of the 'Kampung Baru' molester? We want an answer soon.

We need to help to find these missing kids including Nurin Jazlin Jazimin.
Pictures courtesy of NST and The Star.
Update:

PETALING JAYA: The police have said that DNA tests on the body found stuffed in a sports bag on Monday in Petaling Jaya show that it is that of missing girl Nurin Jazlin Jazimin.
Petaling Jaya OCPD ACP Arjunaidi Mohamed on Thursday said that DNA tests have so far indicated that the body found in a shophouse at Jalan PJS1, Petaling Jaya Utama is that of Nurin, 8, who had been missing since Aug 20.
At Hospital Kuala Lumpur, Nurin's father Jazimin Abdul Jalil, 33, a taxi driver still denied the body was that of his daughter, reports
BERNAMA.
I would like to extend my condolences to the family of Nurin. May God bless her soul. To all Malaysians, lets work together to nail the culprit.

A Call for Action


After an exhaustive day, I was trying to get a good sleep last night. Gosh, a friend called at nearly 8 am to ask if I have watched the Hard Talk video (you should know which one) on YouTube. Yes, the one where Foreign Minister Syed Hamid was interviewed by Sarah Montague. Looks like many people are very angry. But I hope their anger lasts till the next general elections.

To tell the truth, I was not very impressed with Syed's answers. It was obvious that fella did not understand what people like you and me think and feel in this country. He has absolutely no clue of our sentiments. What is worse, he repeated what both Prime Minister Abdullah and Deputy Prime Minister Najib said, that Malaysia in an Islamic state "but not an authocratic one." Silly, if you are not authocratic, why force the principles of a particular faith on everybody?

On power sharing, the minister was asked why key cabinet positions are monopolised by UMNO only. He replied there was no problem because both MCA and MIC agreed with the current arrangement. I am not sure about Samy Vellu but I am sure Ong Ka Ting would not mind the minister of finance position is given. The dominance and hegemony of UMNO is evident but we should look at the role played by other component parties in BN. It is fair to say that they allowed themselves to be dominated. Hence, Syed Hamid may be half right.

At a private meeting in Penang, a retired BN politician told me they (his party leadership) are not happy with the newly launched Penang Global City Centre. Many Penangites and local developers are not too pleased as well. More so when the prime minister helped to launch a project which has yet to obtain local authority approval or conducted any socio-environmental study. The Prime Minister was reported to urge the Penang Chief Minister Dr Koh Tsu Koon to help expedite approvals to a private company (Abad Naluri Sdn Bhd)?

He said although they are not happy with the project there isn't much can be done because any action taken will be seen as a deviant act against the prime minister. The prime minister is an elected person and not a demi-god or an emperor. His business is our business. He is expected to listen to the people and not the other way round. Folks, these people want to continue 'apple polish' and kiss the prime minister' ass no matter how smelly it is. Hence, it has gone down to just you and me to correct the wrongdoings.

So, it is time to act. I would like to initiate a small citizens' movement amongst readers and bloggers who are responsible members of the society. We should help one another to coordinate messages and information we post on our blogs and get them delivered to a larger audience and in a consistent manner.

For those who are interested in this initiative, please email me at kpkhoo@yahoo.com

Express Bus Crisis



A letter I wrote to a member of parliament upon returning from Penang:

Dear YB,

I bought a ticket to board an express bus from Penang to Kuala Lumpur yesterday (18th September). My bus was scheduled to leave at 9am. I paid an additional RM2 for a van to take me from Komtar to Sg Nibong bus terminal.

I reached the terminal at 8.45am. There were less than 30 passengers at the time but the bus which was scheduled to leave at 9am did not have a second driver and could not depart. Apparently, many bus drivers dare not turn up to work fearing that they may be hauled up by JPJ officers who were conducting an 'operasi' at the terminal. I was only able to get on board a bus which embarked at 11 am and from a different operator (Plusliner) who was faced with similar shortage of drivers.

My complaint is two-fold. First, the express bus operator is oblivious to the plights of the passengers who were held back unnecessarily. Some of their agents (especially those from Konsortium Sdn Bhd) acted rudely and asked some passengers to leave the bus if they cannot wait for a later bus when questioned about the delay. As a result, I opted out and went to buy another ticket from Plusliner.

Second, it is obvious that the express bus industry is facing an acute crisis due to a lack of enforcement for far too long. A sudden show of enthusiasm by the law enforcers (JPJ, Police and Puspakom) created another problem for the industry - a lack of good, clean and law abiding drivers and buses which are road worthy.

As a result, I am sure we will face an acute shortage of buses to ferry people across peninsula Malaysia during the upcoming festive period.

Please help to look into this problem.


Regards,
Khoo Kay Peng

What is the government, especially the Ministry of Transport, going to do about this? We deserve an answer now.

Hooligans! Pure Hooliganism!

I have seen many of these people around, little "Napoleons" working in public institutions. In this case, they think that they can act above the law.

This video is a good depiction of these little "Napoleons". The university staff should protect the interests of students and not abuse their position. It makes a mockery of the institutions of higher learning. Kudos to the students who stood up for their right. More should act like them, take up a legitimate cause.

I will relate my own story/experience tomorrow.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Penang Global City Centre - Good or Bad?


The RM25bil Penang Global City Centre (PGCC) masterplan, covering 104ha at site of the Penang Turf Club, was unveiled yesterday by PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. The project will comprise, among others, hotels, condominiums, commercial centres and a central park. The Prime Minister, a Penang boy, said this would be a “meaningful” project to the state and country.

What they say?

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi:

“As Prime Minister, I know that it will contribute significantly to the national economy,” Abdullah said.
“While Kuala Lumpur has its KLCC (Kuala Lumpur City Centre), Penang will have its very own PGCC. Both make me proud. “PGCC is a high-impact project to complement the Northern Corridor Economic Region. I know Penang will do well,” he said when unveiling the masterplan at a hotel here.

"I hope the rest of the approvals will be given quickly by the Penang government," he said, adding that Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon should also ensure the successful implementation of the project.

Penang Chief Minister Dr Koh Tsu Koon:

Koh said the PGCC was a long-awaited project which would fulfil what Penang people had always been looking for. "The people in Penang have been envious of iconic landmarks like the Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) for the past 10 years. "Now we are getting similar world-class icons through the PGCC," he said, expressing confidence that the PGCC would eventually end up better and more beautiful than KLCC.

He also assured people that the state government would see to it that the PGCC was developed in an environment-friendly and socially acceptable way while taking into consideration the smooth traffic dispersal on roads leading up to the project site.

Anil Netto (social activist):

I don't know about you, but it looks like a soulless alien colony to me - as if a mothership from a distant galaxy has docked on the Turf Club land!

Vast parks? Do you see vast parks (see image below)? Looks like the only "vast parks" are those narrow strips of green between rows of building complexes. The 10 hectare one-kilometre- long narrow "Central Park" is just a little bit wider. Even the "Central Park" will be full of "development" worth RM40 million: "playground, fitness stations, multipurpose outdoor courts, jogging path, children wading pools, garden pavilions and an amphitheatre. " So what is the actual green space left?

Nasrine Seraji (architect of PGCC):

The client wanted a density that was twice the density of Hong Kong. We convinced him that he needed to come down in density, that nobody would ever want to live there.

The environment is a big issue. You're talking about huge amounts of car exhaust. Everyone has cars. Petrol is cheap.

The developer only wants luxury housing. We say you can't just have luxury housing because then it becomes a gated community.You need to also have social housing. These are the negotiations that take place in order to allow integration of different income levels of society. So the developer only wants luxury housing, presumably because such housing has fatter proft margins.

But then, there is a quota requirement for developers to build low and low-medium cost housing in such upmarket projects. In this case, apart from the 7,000 upmarket homes at the Turf Club site, the developers would be required to build a further 1,300 homes for the lower-income group.

What do you say? Is Dr Koh right about Penang people's aspiration to have something like KLCC on the island? Will you and I be able to afford owning a property there? Will it be good for the state's overall economy?

I would like to hear your views.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Budget 2008

See here for my comments on the 2008 Budget.

Police Brutality and the Erosion of Democracy

At a forum over the weekend, I met Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim and he told me about the Bersih event in Trengganu which was interrupted by the police. When he told me that someone was shot by the police and he needed to verify the incident, I was shocked and disgusted by the action taken by the police on our own Malaysians.

I have seen several political gatherings by Malaysians. None of them was violent and unruly. For example, the Puchong toll rate hike protest was calm and orderly until the policemen started arresting the participants, some of them helpless women. This is a democratic country and in a democratic country, dissents must be accepted and tolerated by the ruling government and the law enforcers.

When I was in Amsterdam on a personal visit in 2004, I witnessed a peaceful protest held by muslims in the city. The policemen were there to help clear the streets so that the protesters can walk through at ease.

In Trengganu and most places in Malaysia, police heavy handed approach towards the protesters is uncalled for and illegal. Opposition parties PAS and PKR are claiming that the police used unprecedented violence - including firing live bullets - to disperse a ceramah in Pantai Batu Buruk, Terengganu.

Terengganu police chief Ayub Yaakob, in a specially arranged press conference this afternoon, confirmed that one live bullet was fired by one of his officers.

Ayub said the officer, who is from the Federal Reserve Unit, was set upon by a group of men in the vicinity of the ceramah. However, several eyewitnesses told malaysiakini that more than one shot was fired at the crowd last night.

It is a serious offence to open fire on the public. The police should not resort to violence unnecessarily. Their duty there is not to hurt but to protect. Suhakam must conduct a thorough probe on this incident.

The call for the implementation of the IPCMC looks unavoidable.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Merdeka? Think of the Destitute

I am flabbergasted to learn that the Federal Government has budgetted over RM100 million for the 50th Merdeka anniversary celebrations.

When pushed by Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang, Deputy Minister of Finance Dr. Awang Adek replied:

This was finally admitted by the Deputy Finance Minister, Datuk Dr. Awang Adek this evening during the winding-up of the two-day policy debate on the 2007 Supplementary estimates.

At first Awang said the original estimates for the 50th Merdeka
Anniversary celebrations under the Prime Minister’s department was RM74 million, and with the additional supplementary vote of RM18.25 million requested, making
up a total of RM93 million. The government spent RM38 million for the Merdeka anniversary in 2006 and RM35 million in 2005.

He said the expenditure of RM93 million for the 50th Merdeka
anniversary celebrations were proper and justified once in 50 years and in creating a sense of national unity for the occasion, which was priceless.


I asked for the ‘grand total” of all expenditures for all Ministries in connection with the 50th Merdeka annivesary celebrations and not just the allocations for the Prime Minsiter’s department.

In his reply, Awang admitted that there were other items of
expenditures outside the Prime Minister’s Department like the RM7.2 million figure (he did not touch on the RM8 million item) which would bring the total to RM100 million. He said he could not give a categorical answer that there would not be other figures but as far as he knew these were the substantial sums, and if there were other items they would not be major ones.

He said with 26 million population, the RM100 million tag worked out to about RM3 or RM4 per person once in 50 years, symbolising the peace, harmony and welfare enjoyed by the people.

RM100 million? I am sure many of us would have agreed to distribute the money to the country's poor so that they can enjoy a better life. Celebrating our nation's independence by helping the poor is so much more meaningful than all the fireworks, dances, entertainment events and grand events.

I hope in the next merdeka celebration, we can spare some thoughts and money for the nation's poor and not waste our resources on superficial events which are meaningless.

Please do not turn us into another North Korea. The failed state was able to celebrate a public event in a grand style but allowed many of its citizens to live in poverty.

Monday, September 03, 2007

The Cost of Racial Politics: Billions of Ringgit, 20 Deaths and Counting


The National Service programme was introduced in 2004 with the main objective of enhancing inter-ethnic relations amongst our youths.

It was made mandatory by a cabinet decision on the same year and a National Service Act was approved by the parliament. Those who refused to attend the 3-month program can be charged in courts.

After committing so much resources to the programme (almost RM500 million a year), I am NOT so sure if the programme is successful in bridging our social gap.

In contrast, we do not have to spend any money if we can do away with racial politics and race-based political parties. It is first class hypocrisy to watch politicians shouting 'national unity' but blindly championing their communal rights (and a tasteless display of keris) as well.

How much more do we have to pay for their hypocrisy? Billions of ringgit more and hundreds more lives? Until when do we need to play their scapegoats?

Photo:Mohd Rafi Ameer, the latest victim who lost his life to national service. RIP.

Forum: Why Are You Upset With UMNO?

For the next 3 days, I am running a forum here on the reason you are upset with UMNO. I hope to gather some of your views here which will form my next analysis.

Please share your thoughts.

Know Your Rights

In yesterday's NST, MCA President Ong Ka Ting urged the Chinese community to educate themselves and read up on their rights as stated in the federal constitution.

Ong said that understanding the spirit of the constitution would also raise political awareness and boost the confidence among the Chinese in regards to their position in the country’s future.

"If you know the constitution well, then all this talk about Islamic state versus secular state would not worry you."

In what he claimed would be his final statement on the issue of whether Malaysia was an Islamic country, Ong said that "nothing any politician said could challenge the sanctity of the constitution".

Earlier, at the MCA Annual Delegates' Conference, Ong proclaimed that UMNO is the most suitable partner for MCA and the party will not work with other Malay based party. I am sure Ong's proclaimation had moved many UMNO top leaders to tears.

Hence, it is not too unreasonable for one to reflect on what would be MCA's position should UMNO decides to amend the federal constitution so that Malaysia can properly be considered an Islamic State?

Knowing our rights alone is not enough if politicians such as Ong and his colleagues in the BN are not committed to the struggle of preserving the spirit of the federal constitution.

YB, we will read the federal constitution and we hope you will do your part in the BN and the parliament.