Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Lame Duck EC

Reported in The Star, the Election Commission wants the power to sue critics who make baseless allegations against it.

Its chairman Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman said: “There are those who take to the streets (telling lies) and getting the publicity, and we (the Election Commission) suffer. “If we have the power to sue, we can take action against those who spread lies without evidence,” he told newsmen.

I am astounded by his statement. What is the use of EC if it can't even defend its own image and credibility? Does the EC needs to be given special power to sue? I do not think so. The chairman, on the behalf of EC, can file a defamation case against any critic. I am not surprised if what Abdul Rashid really wanted is power to put someone in jail without trial.

“These people are traitors (for hurting the image of the country). Vote-rigging is not possible here because the electoral boxes are there in front of the eyes of the agents (representing the candidates and parties) at all times,” he said.

Despite his experience of running elections over the past many years, the EC chairman's understanding of the electoral process seems to be quite limited. Fraud and vote rigging can be conducted through many ways e.g. phantom voters, vote buying, unfair access to media, sheer financial strength etc.

This is why the calls to clean up the electoral roll must be acted upon. Even Dr Mahathir has warned of possible vote buying in the upcoming elections.

For example in Germany, the publicly funded broadcasting stations are obligated to provide equal access to all politicians regardless of their affiliation. The access is important so that voters are well informed of their choice and selection of candidates.

Abdul Rashid should ask for power to prosecute and punish those who played dirty in the upcoming elections and not power to sue critics. The inability of the EC and its chairman to accept open criticisms does not augur well for the openness and transparency of the institution.

Election Campaign

While walking down the street one day a politician is tragically hit by a truck and dies. His soul arrives in heaven and is met by St. Peter at the entrance.

"Welcome to heaven," says St. Peter. "Before you settle in, it seems there is a problem. We seldom see a high official around these parts, you see, so we're not sure what to do with you." "No problem, just let me in," says the man.

"Well, I'd like to, but I have orders from higher up. What we'll do is have you spend one day in hell and one in heaven. Then you can choose where to spend eternity." "Really, I have made up my mind. I want to be in heaven," says the Yang Berhormat

"I'm sorry, but we have our rules," says St. Peter. And with that, St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to hell. The doors open and he finds himself in the middle of a green golf course. In the distance is a clubhouse and standing in front of it are all his friends and other politicians who had worked with him.

Everyone is very happy and dressed in the finest batik there is. They run to greet him, shake his hand, and reminisce about the good times they had while getting rich at the expense of the people. They play a friendly game of golf and then indulge themselves on lobsters, caviar and the most expensive food there is.

Also present is the devil, who really is a very friendly guy who has a good time dancing and telling jokes. They are having such a good time that before he realizes it, it is time to go. Everyone gives him a hearty farewell and waves while the elevator rises.

The elevator goes up, up, up and the door reopens on heaven where St. Peter is waiting for him. "Now it' s time to visit heaven." So, 24 hours pass with the Yang Berhormat joining a group of contented souls moving from cloud to cloud, playing the harp and singing. They have a good time and, before he realizes it, the 24 hours have gone by and St.Peter returns.

"Well, then, you've spent a day in hell and another in heaven. Now choose your eternity." The Yang Berhormat reflects for a minute, then he answers: "Well, I would never have said it before, I mean heaven has been delightful, but I think I am better off in hell."

So St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to hell. Now the doors of the elevator open and he's in the middle of a barren land covered with waste and garbage. He sees all his friends, dressed in rags, picking up the trash and putting it in black bags as more trash falls from above. The devil comes over to him and puts his arm around his shoulder.

"I don't understand," stammers the Yang Berhormat. "Yesterday I was here and there was a golf course and clubhouse, and we ate lobster and caviar, drank champagne, and danced and had a great time. Now there's just a wasteland full of garbage and my friends look miserable. What happened?"

The devil looks at him, smiles and says, "Yesterday we were campaigning." "Today you voted."

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Slash Foreign Labour

Khoo Kay Peng from Malaysia’s think tank the Sedar Institute said the campaign was sending the wrong message about the nation.

“What Malaysia should be telling the world is that we’re an open economy, we encourage talent to come here to work, and that at the same time we need to specify the kind of help we need.”

“We must not appear to be inward-looking and introverted.”

Click here for the full article from AFP.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Changing Mindset

There is some truths in UMNO Youth deputy chief Khairy Jamaluddin's statement that the opposition had failed "to come up with ideas which reflect their credibility to be an alternative to the BN government."

Since memorial the opposition parties have relied on issues and faults made by the BN to win seats. It shows that even the oppositions are not convinced they could become the next ruling government. Their campaign tagline merely focused on denying the BN a two-third majority. In the end, the oppositions actually complemented the BN quite well. They are needed to play a role in the democratic process of electing a government.

The opposition parties, often unprepared and lacked of talents and ideas, are happy enough to carve an existence in the political landscape of this country.

Until and unless the oppositions can pull up their socks and work out a longer term collaboration to establish a coalition or an alternative front to take on the BN, the latter will be in power despite all the faults and bad policies it made.

Voters in this elections must be convinced to go beyond skin deep. They must be moved to choose good governance, nation building, rule of law, accountability and exemplary leadership instead of communal concerns.

I support a two-party system if we can manage to forge one. It takes a serious change of mindset. Since we have chosen to live, work and play together as a society, we should be able to set aside our communal differences.

Stay Out says Samy Vellu

MIC President S. Samy Vellu, said there were some BN component party leaders who had been meeting the Indian community and trying to get it to voice its problems.

"They are trying to stir the pot. Let the MIC worry about the Indian community. The other parties should concentrate on helping their own communities," he said without naming the parties.

The recalcitrant MIC leader is again trying to monopolize the voice of Indian community. He should be reminded that other component parties do have a strong Indian membership base as well. From several dialogues, many of these Indian members do not think highly of Samy Vellu and his party's ability to represent the voice of the community.

Moreover, multiracial parties such as Gerakan, PPP, PKR and others should be encouraged to speak up for all, including marginalised members of the Indian community. Granted, not all Indians are marginalised. Some, like VK Lingam, are extremely privileged and powerful.

Samy Vellu also said that the MIC was confident of winning all the seats it would contest in the next general election despite the current unhappiness among the Indian community. (it will be interesting to see how many percent of Indian voters voted for MIC candidates in the next GE).

"MIC has a very good record in the general election and I am confident that the Indian community will continue to support BN." He said that only a small segment of the community was dissatisfied and behind demonstrations and protests.

Samy is obviously out of touch with the community. He should hire a private research company to do a detailed study on Indian sentiments in the country post-Hindraf.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Chill 'n' Chat with Gavin Khoo



I have started an internet talk show and food review. This talk show will be filmed on location around Malaysia. For the first segment, I have invited a rising star of the DAP, Tony Pua, to join me for a food review and a short chat on himself.

Watch the video if you want to find out more about Tony Pua, who he wanted to challenge to a game of golf and the FOOD at Chef Loong Restaurant in SS2.

More videos and reviews can be found at http://www.myhappygolucky.wordpress.com/

This is my new food review and travel blog. Watch this space for an interview with another personality next week. This chat show is open to both politicians (from both sides of fence) and non-politicians.

If you would like to join me for a food review, have some fun and talk about yourself, please send me a message (and recommend a restaurant).

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Lingam: ‘I talk rubbish when I drink’

He could have had too many drinks. This was why he could not remember the occasion in the video clip that allegedly showed him brokering the appointment of judges.

Lawyer V.K. Lingam told the Royal Commission of Inquiry that the video clip was made more than six years ago and that he could not recall the occasion at all. The video showed several bottles of whisky, brandy and wine as well as a bottle of soft drink, he added.

“It looks from the video clip that there was a party (with) drinking going on,” said Lingam. At this juncture, commissioner Mahadev Shanker commented: “There is truth in wine.”

Lingam: “Well, my friends tell me I talk rubbish when I drink wine.”

Earlier, he told the commissioners “Irrespective of what others have said, it looks like me, it sounds like me. But stop short of admitting it was him.

VK Lingam appeared drunk in the court too. He talks rubbish when he drinks. Next time, conduct a blood test on him before the proceeding.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Najib Should Stop Playing With Communal Fire

Reported in Malaysiakini.com, Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak today defended the government's crackdown on dissent, including the arrest of ethnic Indian activists and suppression of street protests, saying it had averted a serious risk of racial violence.

He was quoted as saying, "If the Malays of Kampung Baru come out then we have the spectre of a serious possibility of a racial clash in this country," Najib told the AFP. The Malay enclave was one of the flashpoints of the 1969 riots. "There were signs that they were preparing to come out so we had to tell them, 'look, don't make the situation any worse'," he said."The government was actually taking action to prevent anything worse from happening."

The deputy premier suggestion is totally irrational. I am surprised he tried to link the Hindraf's protest to the Malay community. I have argued earlier that UMNO is not synonymous with the Malay community. A large number of Malays - at least 40 percent - are not UMNO members or supporters.

Hindraf leaders, although I may not necessarily agree with its leaders' statements or the method used, have specifically said that the protest was against UMNO and not the Malay community.

The DPM is doing an injustice by trying to draw the Malay community into what was presumably a protest against his party. His justification of using the ISA is unacceptable to a country where there is a rule of law. Citizens, including politicians, must abide by the law.

I have a few questions for the DPM and it is important that he ponders hard on them:

1) Is he using the Malays in Kampung Baru as a threat to all Malaysians who wanted to exercise their constitutional rights to assemble, speak and association?
2) What will the government do if the Malays in Kampung Baru turned violent? Will the ISA be used against them as well?
3) From his statement, it is obvious that the government has established communications with the Malays in Kampung Baru. Why didn't the government take preemptive action against the leaders of Malays in Kampung Baru for displaying violent tendency? Is the government practising double standards?
4) Is Najib's statement seditious?

I would like to register my protest against a leader who has called for no racial sensationalising in the forthcoming general elections just weeks ago. I am surprised he is now trying to involve the Malay community in the Hindraf issue. It will inevitably pit the Malays against the Indians - whom majority are sympathetic to the cause of Hindraf.

Najib, a touted successor of Abdullah Badawi, should behave and speak like a national leader worthy of helming the country in the near future.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Hindraf and Malay Community

I was interviewed by a reporter from Singapore Straits Times yesterday on the possibility of releasing the 5 Hindraf leaders from ISA detention. She suggested that PM may not want to do because the decision to release them may 'anger' the Malay community.

Quoted in the article:

Observers say the government risks continued Indian anger if the Hindraf chiefs are not freed, but it could lose Malay votes for being soft on street 'troublemakers' if they are. (This is not my stand.)

'What the government needs to do is to allow for the rule of law and give them a fair trial. If they cannot pinpoint a particular offence, they should be released,' said political analyst Khoo Kay Peng.

Hindraf is seen negatively by Malays because it pushes for equal rights.


I disagreed with her suggestion. It is without a doubt the government is not above the law and the same goes to any community. It is not for the Malay community to decide if the 5 Hindraf leaders should be detained without trial or not.

What is abvious the police must charge the detainees in court as soon as possible so that justice can be meted out. However, we do not see this forthcoming. Hence, the government is wrong to insist that the leaders have terrorist links and are a danger to the society. A government who can put people behind bars without the need for solid evidence is more dangerous.

The Malay community should not be dragged into this issue. UMNO and the Malay community are not synonymous. I have met some Malay students in London who are quite sympathetic to the cause of the Indian community. Not all Malays are against equal rights. A Malay friend who works as a special officer to one of UMNO top leaders told me, "The problem with us Malays is the ketuanan issue."

It is time we view this issue through a non-racial lenses.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Poor Malaysia!



In the prologue to ‘Dr Mahathir's Selected Letters to World Leaders’, he writes: "It did not cross my mind that after I left (office in October 2003), there would be such a change as to make pleasing the prime minister more important than anything else."

Referring to the state of media freedom under the Abdullah administration, Mahathir writes that news in the mainstream media is “so censored and spun by spin doctors that the prime minister cannot possibly know the feelings and frustrations of the majority of the people ... fortunately for the government, Malaysians abhor violence when expressing their anger”.

He then notes: “So things must become much worse before they would show their (people's) true feelings in any way. In the meantime, the sycophants will continue to enjoy their day. Poor Malaysia!"

I am looking forward to read his newly launched book. It is interesting to read the prognosis of a former premier who is credited with much of our democratic destruction in the last two decades.

Remnants of the destruction are now catching up with the ex-premier - the VK Lingam's scandalous tape. I am sure more scandals will be unveiled if the current premier decided that he had enough of Dr Mahathir.

One should remember that Abdullah is warming a seat, entrapped with all its power and influence, created by Dr Mahathir. By his own doing, all check-and-balance systems are not working eventhough they may be in place on paper. Both UMNO and the executive are popping their noses into every aspect of Malaysian life. Never in the history of Malaysia, politicians are so influential in this country.

Perhaps someone should write a book reminding Dr Mahathir about all his past (mis)deeds and abuse of power.

The people are not meek by nature but they were cowed into this behaviour by the administration and Dr Mahathir was the administration's chief architect. No thanks to you.
Yes, Malaysia is poorer as a result of your actions. The current premier is merely trying to emulate Dr Mahathir.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Contestation of Views

Helen Ang, a Malaysiakini.com columnist, alerted on her two articles on Hindraf's postmortem.

Click here (Part 1) and here (Part 2) for her articles.

Friday, January 11, 2008

www.ceku.org.uk

An Insighfttul Afternoon with Khoo Kay Peng

Dec 28, 2007 at 07:59 AM

On the afternoon of 8 December, a handful of students gathered at you-know-where to participate in a dialogue with political analyst Khoo Kay Peng of SEDAR, the research arm of Gerakan. But as Amir Fareed Abdul Rahim notes here, the enthusiasm with which the man led the discussion would put many of us “young-gun wannabes” to shame. At one point he even remarked, “I will speak even if there is (only) one person listening.”

By Amir Fareed Abdul Rahim

Walking towards MSD on a gloomy Sunday afternoon- alone, is not the most desirable way for an “out-of-towner” like my self to spend a weekend in London. Nonetheless, being a firm believer of Bangsa Malaysia, I committed myself in attending today’s discussion led by a political analyst, Khoo Kay Peng on the issues surrounding the state of our beloved country. On the rusty steps leading to the canteen door, I peeked through the stained glass window and caught no recognizable sight of my UKEC comrades. “It’s quarter to two, I’m early I guess,” I told myself sighing in regret that I did not google the speaker’s background up before hand due to my inaccuracy of timing myself to get from home to MSD. The only information I received from an undisclosed source is that he is the son of prominent Malaysian historian Professor Khoo Khay Kim (Of which, later Amir and friends were told that Prof Khoo son is much better looking - KP). Hence my overzealous mind pictured a man nearing mid-life and with physical attributes similar to the distinguished academician, and my eyes searched wild for this character in the half empty food hall.

Not a single person in there matched my imagination, but there was a young man sitting alone on an empty table in the middle of the hall, sipping his cup of warm tea on the cold afternoon, generously smiling at me. Without hesitation, I approached this man and introduced myself. Much to my pleasant surprise, he was the one scheduled to lead today’s discussion, and no, he is not the historian’s son. I bet he must be tired of explaining that to many. Kay Peng, as he likes to be known, later explained that he is a distant relative of Professor Khoo, and they belong to the same Chinese clan, the “Khoo kongxi”. He politely introduced himself as a political analyst and consultant working for Parti Gerakan’s think-tank, SEDAR, and one armed with a degree in economics and postgraduate studies in International Relations, focusing on East Asian countries. We chatted to kill the time, but even the quarter of an hour talk with this erudite gentleman led us to deep micro-history discussion about the Malaysian society.

At about ten past two, Mr. President joined us and looks worried waiting for people to show up. He told Kay Peng, that most of the students have started their Christmas vacation and hence there will be a low turnout. The guest speaker promptly replied, “I will speak even if there is one person listening.” Kay Peng’s remark astonished me, as it echoes his determination to reach out to fellow Malaysians in the UK .

The discussion started with Kay Peng introducing himself formally, followed by the rest of the participants which at that point numbers at five, including the MSD director, Mr. Nazri. Then Kay Peng started on his brief timeline of Malaysian political history. This is arguably the best approach towards learning Malaysian history as our country is one which is young and lacks historical depth-discounting Malayan history which will then bring the Mallacca Sultanate into picture. I would say that the fifty years of historical sense that we possess are shaped in general by politics and not culture, gender or economy.

Kay Peng simplified our political history to four parts, pre-independent, post-independent from 1957-1969, 1969-1974, and then 1974 till present. The first part as he argued was the period of “active nationalism.” Kay Peng touched on the existence of AMCJA-PUTERA, which fought for Perlembagaan Rakyat 1947, an alternative to the one demanded by UMNO’s Onn Jaafar. In this document, the “left-wing” political groups fought to have all the citizen of Malaya to be known as Melayu, and according to Kay Peng, this was accepted wholeheartedly by the Chinese and Indians. However, due to British interference, these political groups were crushed and buried as they were considered “extremists.” Kay Peng notes that from that instance, our country has only known to accept racial based politics offered by Perikatan and endorsed by the British government. It is a colonial imposed system upon our country. We settled for what sociologists termed, “event-centric politics” rather than ideology based political model.

The second period which is the first part of post independent political history is the time when this model was seriously challenged as Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore offered an alternative leadership to Tunku and Perikatan. Tunku managed to compress the opposition by PAP by revoking Singapore’s membership of the Malaysian Federation, but ethnic backlash of 1969 showed him the exit door from the political helm. Kay Peng’s smooth presentation was constantly interrupted by the sound of the door screeching open, welcoming more participants of the intellectual discussion. Nonetheless, the eloquent speaker proceeded with his presentation which then touched on the third period which according to him witnessed the struggle of Perikatan in remaining relevant to Malaysians. Racial based politics were rejected openly by 40 percent of the nation, leading to reformation within Perikatan. The start of the current period, 1974 gave birth to a new form of Perikatan, known as Barisan Nasional which as argued by Kay Peng aims to be a more “national” political force. By this time of the presentation, the audience grew larger and the near empty room looks decently occupied. The speaker went on to speak of the modern day Malaysia.

But my thoughts were still on his political history timeline which I deemed incomplete as I would suggest that 1981 is also an important phase in Malaysian political history. It was the start of the Mahathir era, which lasted for 22 years. This period saw turbulence within the internal workings of the component parties – not the coalition. It also offered Vision 2020 – with nine principle aims, a political strategy which will safely put Barisan Nasional in power, at least until 2020. Open leadership challenges within UMNO were also recorded from 1981 onwards, which should distinguish itself from the classification made by Kay Peng of the 1974 model. I am of the opinion that the framework of Barisan Nasional from 1981 till now has been completely controlled by UMNO, with leaders from other component parties prowling at the periphery of the corridors of power.

Kay Peng then spoke of the need to reject race-based politics, and UMNO should step up to the challenge of being more nationalized. What he means by this, is not dismantling UMNO or accepting non- Malay members as proposed by Onn Jaafar fifty odd years ago, but simply for UMNO to stop looking for the Malay interest solely and use its supreme power to make other races better off too. Kay Peng insists that UMNO should stop fearing its own shadows, and be confident. Malay leadership has been soundly accepted in the country since time immemorial, and hence UMNO should go beyond its racial rhetoric and project a Malaysian image. I agree with his sentiment, and personally believe that for every step we are taking forward as a “bangsa Malaysia”, UMNO takes two steps in the opposite direction. If this is to continue, a truly Malaysian nation will not materialize, and UMNO-led Barisan Nasional will jeopardize the fabrics of racial harmony which we have been carefully building over the fifty years of independence. We are in what I think as “a state in stable tension” but recent public displays of dissatisfaction suggest that things may come to a head sooner rather than later.

Kay Peng also touched lightly on the ever controversial Malay subsidy idea. With the population burgeoning to 30 million in the next five years and the fastest growing race being Malays, the government is tied down to financing all this increase. It is detrimental to the economic growth of the country to say the least. As Kay Peng concludes his thoughts on the important issues, the discussion was now open to the rest of the floor. An interesting question fielded by the audience was about the rural Malays rejecting the Malaysian race concept as it corrodes the “Malay” identity. The speaker’s answer was simply a “no”, because he argues that the Malays are confident enough to accept the concept, only and only if UMNO is willing to embrace it. The discussion closed with a final question from the MSD director who asked Kay Peng for his thoughts on then prospects of a Barisan Nasional General Assembly. The speaker welcomed this prospect as it would be going back to the actual consensus of having a coalition in the first place.

As the clock paced towards four, we adjourned the discussion and headed for the aromatic fried rice prepared by the canteen staff at the back of the hall. But the a actual session did not end there; most of us joined Kay Peng later for the tarik and more of his political insight. With the general elections looming, our conversation seemed endless before Kay Peng excused himself to get some rest and the day drew to a close. An insightful afternoon indeed.

Thanks to Amir for his article on my talk in London. I sincerely we can stand together to promote a new dawn for Malaysia - a place where all Malaysians can find their rightful place.

Kayveas: Samy Out of Control



In India, an angry Samy Vellu lashed out at a "PPP member" for disputing his statement on the state of the Indian community in Malaysia.

Reported in Malaysiakini.com, "Here I am telling the Indians that we are all doing well and that the Indian community in Malaysia is well take care of and yet there are some individuals who rebut me by stating the opposite," he told the media, which was shown in TV3 late news on the same day.

He said an individual named S Nadarajah was one such person, claiming that he (Nadarajah) was a PPP member who had strayed out of line from the BN principles by attacking the government in India.

A furious PPP President Kayveas said that he was going to sue MIC president S Samy Vellu for defaming his party at the recently ended meeting of the Indian diaspora in New Delhi.

Both Nadarajah and Kayveas have denied the former association with PPP. Hence, the rift between PPP and MIC deepens.

He retorted that “Samy Vellu is getting paranoid as a result of the public anger against him. It is unfair and uncalled for to deflect his failures to us”.

“He has lost control of the situation, not just here in Malaysia but also in India." This is an apparent reaction to Samy's denial that Indian community in Malaysia is happy with the way they are treated.

If they are well treated, why is there a need to create a special committee to look into the plights and grouses of the community? Samy should not try to MISLEAD the public and the press.

A better political strategy would be to accept the marginalisation and to announce a concrete plan and a political will to do away with race affirmative policy.

The marginalisation of the Indian community is a result of the government's socio-economic policy failure and misdirection. Samy is to be blamed because he has claimed credits for representing the community over the last 50 years.

But in reality, Samy is helpless. He is merely using the claim to keep MIC relevant in Malaysia's racial political landscape. MIC, with its sole cabinet minister position, has find it difficult to present the views and needs of the community to be considered in a cabinet largely dominated by UMNO.

UMNO's own quest for survival and political dominance has resulted in the "Bumiputerisation" of major socio-economic policies formulated in the country. Its top leaders such as PM Abdullah, DPM Najib, Women's chief Rafidah, Youth leaders Hishamuddin and Khairy have put both the Malay Agenda and Islamisation at the forefront.

The current racial political model does not benefit any race-based political party in BN except for UMNO.

Within the political milieu and the current environment, I do not how Samy can justify the government's good treatment of the Indians. In the past, most Indians work in the rubber estate. Socio-economic transformation and the consolidation of the estates have pushed Indians out of the estates into semi-urban and urban areas.

Felda, created to manage rural development, should have helped the Indians to relocate to other agricultural activities and to encourage entrepreneurship within the community but did not do much. Felda is focusing mainly on Bumiputera farmers. As a result, many displaced Indians are living in abject poverty and neglect.

MIC's formula to distribute corporate equity amongst Indians through Maika is riddled with mismanagement, self-interest, greed and a lack of political will to help the community.

Indians continue to face limited choices in education, jobs, business opportunities, civil service and others. The community is facing various social problems including youth delinquencies and dropouts, drug abuse, crime, suicide and others.

With such a track record, no wonder many Indians - including Indian members of BN component parties - have voiced their dissatisfaction and anger towards Samy Vellu and his leadership of MIC.

It is time the veteran politician must come clean or risks tarnishing his political legacy. I managed to browse through a book on his achievements. Many have spoken kind words of him, calling him a hero, godsend, special one etc.

Perhaps there could be another book in progress documenting the exact opposite about the feisty leader.

Picture courtesy of Malaysiakini.com

Thursday, January 10, 2008

12th General Elections - A Test of Malaysian Mindset

Many pundits have predicted the 12th General Elections as a sure fire for non-UMNO component parties in BN. The main beneficiary of the perceived growing negative sentiments towards the government which stemmed from several minority communities are expected to be the Democratic Action Party (DAP).

Both PKR and DAP have announced an election pact in Penang and leaders from the parties are working on similar arrangements around the country. Penang is expected to be a frontline state for the opposition. A number of politicians from the BN have expected some mega contests in the state.

Meanwhile, the opposition is buoyed by the negative sentiments and hope that the shift of voters' sentiments will be to their advantage. I am sure they will stand to benefit from some shift of support from BN to the opposition especially in urban seats. However, such a shift is not sustainable or permanent.

The opposition strategy of harping on issues and faults of the BN does not guarantee them a winnable strategy or a shot at governance. They must be able to convince voters to seriously consider an alternative government.

Malaysian voters must not vote on their sentiments alone. Majority of the voters still vote along ethnic lines. This general elections will be a test on the maturity of the voters. They must vote for candidates, regardless of political affiliation, who are trustworthy, capable and incorruptible.

Malaysians will decide if we are ready to demand for better accountability and move beyond racial politics.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Higher Crime Rates - What is the Police Doing About It?

Reported in Malaysiakini.com, there was a DRAMATIC INCREASE of 13.4% in violent crimes last year, of which rape cases were up by about 30% and gang robbery by a whopping 160%.

According to the latest crime index released by the police today, the average increase in overall crime in 2007 was 7.1%, but the jump in serious crimes was much higher.The highest spike involved the category of gang robbery involving weapons other than firearms - from 2,723 cases in 2006 to 7,076 in 2007 - or a jump of 159.5%.

These are the percentage increases for a selected breakdown of crimes in 2007:
  • Rape - 3,177 cases (+29.5%)
  • Outraging modesty - 2,320 (+12.4%)
  • Night-time home break-in - 24,440 (+21.7%)
  • Day break-in - 9,159 (+4.2%)
  • Motorcycle theft - 67,854 (+3.2%)
  • Car theft - 12,427 (+11.4%)
  • Snatch theft - 11,127 (+0.5%)
  • Other theft - 44,617 (+5.1%)
  • Rioting - 2,608 (+13.8)

According to the PM Abdullah, the police would focus on four core areas:
  • Re-hiring retired police officers and training new officers to increase the number of personnel by 60,000 in 2011
  • Increasing the number of civilians in the police force (e.g. for secretarial work)
  • Compelling private property owners to install CCTV cameras
  • Constructing more police stations and beat-bases

Unfortunately, the premier did not mention about enhancing quality and integrity of the force. Even in cases where the culprits were caught, prosecution was found to be wanting due to poor investigation.

No doubt we should address the manpower issue and the need to put more policemen on the streets. Steps must be taken to improve their integrity and professionalism.

Earlier, I have warned that the IGP (Musa) should stay out of politics and focus mainly on issues concerning public safety. The police force must be used as a political tool to suppress freedom of expression.

Apart from the steps suggested to boost the police force, the implementation of the IPCMC should not be swept under the carpet. The government must support genuine action to improve the image and efficiency of the police force.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Nallakarupan - The Next Wee Choo Keong?

Reported in Malaysiakini.com, Nallakarupan, who helms the fledgling Malaysian Indian United Party (MIUP), challenged Anwar to reveal what he did for the Indian community when he was deputy premier and finance minister.

Taking a similar step like Wee Choo Keong, who established the Malaysia Democratic Party, after falling out with his party boss, Nallakarupan has thrown his new party's support behind the BN. The idiom, "there is no permanent enemy or friend in politics", seems to apply here. Nallakarupan was badly treated in the Anwar saga and suffered personal humiliation as well.

Now all these sufferings are forgotten. However, like many political pundits, I can't help to ask what is the political purpose of MIUP. Was it set up to run down and get even with Anwar or to provide better representation to the Indian community.

The second objective looks very dim if Nallakarupan insists on doing it within the BN. Samy has claimed an exclusive right to this domain since the establishment of IPF in trying to do same.

By accusing Anwar, what is Nallakarupan hoping to achieve for the Indian community?

He should focus on answering the second question and work out something rational and inspirational to end racial politics in Malaysia. This way, the needs of all communities especially those at the lower strata of the society will be taken care of minus the racial polemics.

Cooking Oil Shortage

It is not only the oil price surge which is giving us a headache in Malaysia. Recently, there is also cooking oil shortage in Malaysia. DPM Najib Razak has said that there should not be a supply shortage if people do not involve in panic buying.

I was interviewed by ABC Sydney this morning on the issue. One of the questions was directed at the impact on small businesses. What is obvious is the current shortage has enticed many market unfriendly habits. A number of traders were found selling the commodity at a higher price to profit from the situation.

Meanwhile, hawkers have warned that they may have to raise their prices if the situation continues. This reaction will lead to worsening inflation in the country.

I have suggested that we do away with the price ceiling and let market forces do the balancing act. This will not create a supply shortage problem. Subsidy given means our cooking oil price is lower than other neighbouring countries and this encourages smuggling activities - just like our heavily subsidised diesel.

It is obvious that the Ministry of Domestic and Consumer Affairs is not implementing any sustainable measure to ensure this will not happen again in the future. Tightening border surveillance is only a short term measure if socio-economic policy concerning price ceiling and subsidy is not fixed.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

The Oil Curse

As the global oil price is trading above USD100 per barrel, there is talk of subsidy eating into our country's budget. We might ended up subsidizing RM40 billion a year on oil and gas alone.

Now, with such a huge sum of money involved it becomes a real issue for us to ponder on. The government said it cannot continue to sacrifice other developments for the subsidy alone. This is a logical statement but what can it do to reverse its own policy malaise which created this monster (subsidy) in the first place.

What is obvious is Proton, the national car project, is not sustainable with such low sales and production volume (<150,000 cars a year). The need and urge to protect the company by being overly generous with fuel subsidy and outright encouragement of private car ownership has become unsustainable.

The government should now seriously look into improving the public transport system by calling for a white paper and a focused effort in planning and building a network of efficient and reliable public transport system with the public bus and LRT systems as the backbone.

It is also time to liberalise licensing for commercial/public transportation e.g. taxis. The present 'Ali Baba' system which gives thousands of licenses away to politically connected individuals who in turn lease out these licenses to taxi drivers must go. It must be replaced with a direct licensing system and a good monitoring system to ensure that complaints of shoddy services are taken seriously. Drivers can be made directly accountable for their service rendered.

If the government is serious in finding better ways to use the RM40 billion, it must act immediately to correct its past decision and action. It was bad policy but talking about it alone will not help solve the problem and the public cannot be made fully accountable for the government's past folly.

Ong Tee Keat: Name Your Enemies


Expose the culprits behind your downfall, if there are any, urged MCA vice president Ong Tee Kiat to the fallen shining star of the party Dr Chua Soi Lek. (Malaysiakini.com)

Only be revealing these perpetrators can Chua help identify the persons involved in secretly video-taping him in a compromising position with a woman, said Ong, who is also the deputy higher education minister.

Commenting on this, Ong said that by revealing more on the political rivalry aspect, Chua could put an end to any kind of negative political culture in the country.

“Let's make this a lesson for everyone. We need to address it before it develops into some kind of unhealthy political culture.”“Anything bad must be weeded out,” said Ong.

I totally support Ong's urge to Dr Chua to reveal the people behind his downfall if he has the proof.

This is not the kind of political culture we want to promote and encourage in this country. In a way, Dr Chua is a victim of character assasination.

We must get our senses right. The politicians who should resign and follow his example include those who are corrupted, incompetent and racist.

The society while displaying a high moral ground must expand this ground to include these abuses which are far more damaging and dangerous compared to what Dr Chua has done. He hurts only himself, his lady friend and his family.

Corruption, racism, incompetency and abuse of power hurt us all.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

MIC Show of Strength - Indians Still Languishing


MIC President S Samy Velly has announced a mammoth gathering of 15,000 MIC members and supporters on Jan 20. They will gather in Kuala Lumpur to show their support for Barisan Nasional (BN) and Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

According to Samy, the gathering, to be held at the Cheras Badminton Stadium, would be the first in a series of gatherings throughout the country aimed at bolstering the party's strength and support for BN ahead of the coming general election.

On the outset, the show of strength is an impressive way of assuring PM Abdullah of Indians' support for the BN. However, looking deeper, one intends to ask how is this going to help solve the multitude of problems faced by the Indian community?

Does the PM need reassurance? And what can Samy hope to achieve with the reassurance? That MIC still command the support of the community?

The larger issues the party leadership should focus on are the state of Indian vernacular schools (which among the most dipilated in the country), high criminal activities amongst Indian youths, lack of economic opportunities, under representation in the civil service and others.

This episode proves that Samy has yet to learn the lesson of listening to the voices of the community he claimed to represent. MIC should instead spend its valuable resources and time on finding out what is wrong with the community and why are they disgrunted if Samy really hope to help win back their support.

The show of strength is very 'mafia-ish'. What we need is a pragmatic and humble political approach to help the community. Nothing heroic. Just simple compassion, acknowledgement of the problems and work on providing real solutions.

Perhaps Samy has been at the top for far too long. Time demands that he goes down to the ground.
Picture courtesy of Malaysiakini.com

Chua Resigns

Dr Chua Soi Lek read the reaction of the people and decided to resign from all party and government positions (including his MP position).

Although he should know better that his action has created a negative perception of his public image, his decision to be made accountable is still laudable.

More politicians should follow such example if they are found guilty of similar offences, worse if it is corruption and abuse of power. Will Zakaria Mat Deros be the next?

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

United Kingdom and Eire Council's Discussion in London


I would like to extend my warm regards and thanks to Mr Ahmad Nazri Sulaiman, Director of Malaysian Students Department in London, Khairizul, Chairman of UKEC, Shahril, Deputy Chairman of UKEC and other committee members for hosting my talk in London on 16th December 2007.

I am glad to know that you thought the frank and sincere discussion was worth your time. It must be difficult to miss the clash of titans (Arsenal versus Chelsea and MU versus Liverpool) at the same time.

However, I am sure we can agree that the future of Malaysia is even more important and required our immediate attention. Moving forward, we know the race model is facing a serious bottleneck. The next political model/solution must come quickly and it must recognise the need to unite all Malaysians.

Any political model which chooses to exclude and create a special realm for a specific race or religion is outdated. Unlike what others, especially politicians, would like us to believe the racial political model promoted by BN is sustainable. In fact, the Alliance model was abandoned in 1969 and a more inclusive model (Barisan Nasional) was introduced in July 1974. It is time for the model to undergo another review and restructuring to focus on global positioning and nation building.

I was fortunate to meet Wan Saiful of Malaysia Think Tank London and Wan Firdaus who is the special officer to Johor CM. Both of them agreed too that we must take a bold step forward and Malays must not hold on to their false sense of supremacism.

I am heartened to know that many Malaysians have emerged to share their thoughts and I am sure together we can make a change.

Chua's Fall from Grace


I was asked by a prominent writer and political analyst about the upcoming leaders to watch in MCA. Chua Soi Lek was one of them. He is known to be a serious but competent leader who has a large following in the MCA.

Several days ago, an unexpected event happened. A senior politician from Johor was first identified to be involved in a sex video circulated in Johor, Seremban and Malacca. Yesterday, at a press conference, Health Minister Dr Chua Soi Lek has admitted that he is the politician shown in the sex DVD that is being circulated in Johor. He said the woman seen in the DVD was a personal friend.

He has since apologised to his family, the party and his supporters. I am not too sure if our conservative political environment, where religion is highly politicised, will be able to accommodate and embrace Dr Chua from his fall from grace.

Furthermore, Johor is the heartland of UMNO. No matter how generous and forgiving the PM is, he will be facing serious questioning from the opposition PAS if he allows Dr Chua to remain in his ministerial position. Dr Chua should expect that irreparable damages have been done to his political reputation.

He said, “Of course, as a responsible citizen I will assist in the police investigations. It is a crime to intrude into people’s privacy or into a person’s room,” he said. It is also a morality crime to sleep with another woman apart from his wife. Is he a responsible citizen? We are entitled to our own judgement on this claim.

Of course, his division leader claims political conspiracy against him. Dr Chua Soi Lek was stabbed from behind by certain parties who want to destroy the leader politically, said Labis MCA division chairman Tan Kok Hong. He urged MCA to act against those involved in the production and distribution of the DVDs. (Funny, is he suggesting an insider job when he asked the party to take action against the framers?)

Tan said the division would support Dr Chua to contest for the Labis parliamentary seat in the next general election despite the DVD issue. Tan should understand that it is not for his division to decide and they will sheepishly accept whatever decision made by the BN supreme council. BN interest will override Dr Chua's and the coalition is heading towards a testing time.

“We want the party and the authorities to investigate who is behind the distribution (of the DVD) as it is a dirty move for anyone to intrude into one’s personal life. If it can happen to Dr Chua, it can happen to everyone,” he said.

It should not have happened if Dr Chua is as highly experienced as claimed. If his keeps his pants zipped up, no conspiracy could have brought him down.

He should not blame others but himself.
Picture courtesy of The Star.

Happy New Year 2008




Wishing you and family a Happy and Joyous 2008! May all your wishes and aspirations are fulfilled this year.
Let's work towards a better society and a better Malaysia. Say NO to racism!