Wednesday, March 31, 2010

R16 Southeast Asia Final Launched!

Folks, B-boys and hip-hop fans...R16 Southeast Asia Final is launched!

B-boys are encouraged to register for the Malaysia Audition to select the two best teams to participate in the R16 Southeast Asia Final.

Visit R16 Southeast Asia website for more info.

Turned 21? Register to VOTE!

EPIC efforts are being put up to register 1 million voters by the next general election.

It is important for all citizens to fulfill their duty to vote in elections. Otherwise, you deserved the government you did not vote for.

Visit here for more info.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

New Economic Model and Expectations

Prime Minister Najib Razak is set to unveil part of his new economic vision today, the New Economic Model. Expectations are running high but his sceptics have warned us not to place too high hope on the announcement.

According to several news who had a glimpse of the draft, nothing new or transformation is expected from the NEM. Najib's reform initiatives have yielded limited success so far. His NEM is risking a protest from a newly minted Malay right winged coalition, Perkasa, headed by an ultra independent member of parliament, Ibrahim Ali.

Najib's new initiative will be tested against these challenges:

1) A new strategy and action to plan to jumpstart a mediocre economy. The Malaysian economy is neither cost competitive nor innovative. Suffering from years of brain drain, the industrial development may have collapsed, thus making any efforts to move the economy to a higher value chain a near impossible task in the short and mid terms.

2) NEM needs to work on a thin balance - between satisfying his elite Malay segment and political cronies who enjoy the privileges from the NEP and boosting economic competitiveness by promoting a need and merit based economic model. This morning he announced in his first NEM related speech on his intention to review the affirmative action but stopped short on explaining the review measures and mechanics.

3) He needs to be able to walk his talk. Najib's NEM must not only sound good on paper and publicity campaigns. His administration and PR consultancy are expected to launch a grand campaign trumpeting the attractiveness of his plan. Often these PR initiatives sounded like a policy direction is an end in itself. Based on the current strength of his civil service and administration, there is a danger than none of the more elaborate and grand reform measures can be carried out or implemented.

4) Najib cannot avoid playing coy to an organisation like Perkasa which is prepared to challenge his intention to review the NEP. By announcing a review and not a total retirement of the 4 decades old policy is already a bad PR for Najib's new economic model. Perkasa is already inflicting a deep political and psychological fear in Najib. This is exacerbated by Mahathir's warning against any intention to scrap the affirmative action and not listening to the Malays (read Perkasa).

5) NEM must be able to restore confidence of the business and investment community (both within and without) and skilled workers to give this economy a chance. The government's plan to implement the GST may further erode consumer power. Average salary for a young graduate has not changed much since the post financial crisis in 1997. Inflation has soared a number of times during the oil price spikes. NEM must address the demand issue, otherwise it will become detrimental to local investment.

This blog will discuss and scrutinize the NEM when more details are made available.

Share your thoughts here.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

MCA Elections & Disunity

All three presidential candidates in the MCA party elections had claimed that they can unite the party but differed on who is going to lead the process.

MCA fued was so bad that former president Ong Ka Ting had decided to make a rare comeback by participating in the presidential race. Ka Ting and his brother, Ka Chuan were finger pointed as the main culprits which led to the sacking of Dr Chua Soi Lek from his deputy president position and the party.

Ka Ting would have created a better a legacy for himself by staying out of the race but contribute by rallying support from other party veterans to help mediate the party rifts. It is difficult to reconcile Ka Ting's decision to contest the president position with his intention to unite his party.

His detractors had criticised and questioned his intention to contest the position and claimed that Ka Ting was nowhere to be seen during the leadership feud.

Incumbent MCA President Ong Tee Keat, who was regarded by his detractors as the worst MCA president, has made a similar pledge to help unite his party. Tee Keat did not draw up a “cai dan” (menu) and get his supporters to contest for all positions because he wants to unite the party later.

Ironically, his pledge is hampered by a confident factor. Can the MCA delegates trust his ability to unite the party because his leadership was seen as a seed of disunity and power struggle between him and Dr Chua Soi Lek?

Tee Keat's strategy of not naming his team has weakened his election strategy. He had employed the right strategy for being factionless and unhampered by political baggage at the last party elections. Running as an independent candidate again would open up a question of his ability to get leaders of other factions to accept his leadership and work with him again to restore the party's unity. His GUP was a failure and it was rejected by more than two thirds of CC members.

Chua Soi Lek appears to be the front runner in the race. His sex scandal would not play a central role to his nomination as a presidential candidate. However, Soi Lek suffers the lowest public ratings for his leadership of MCA. The fortunate thing for him is the public are not voting for him to become the next president but the 2,300 odd delegates.

The margin of support received by Soi Lek in the past several party polls will not decrease or increase by much. His support base is probably the most solid amongst the 3 candidates.

Both Chua and Tee Keat have complimentary strengths. Chua has a solid internal party support but Tee Keat enjoys better public perception. However, the election of any one of them is not likely to help revive and restore the fortune of MCA. Chua's public perception and his sex video scandal was a political end game. It may not be so for his career in MCA but can he be reappointed as a cabinet minister?

Tee Keat's victory may not be decisive (more than a simple majority). His reelection may be achieved within a fractious party landscape. Can Chua, Liow and Ka Ting factions accept his leadership?

Moreover, it is best for Ka Ting to remain in retirement. His decision to contest the leadership position makes him just another candidate and his defeat will destroy his legacy. His decision to accept responsibility of the 2008 general election setback was applauded. The applause may turn into jeers and boos on Sunday.

What MCA need is fresh faces, untainted personalities and transformation leadership. It is time for a leader who can help to transform the party and maybe end its racial political model. MCA can be more embracing by accepting other races especially in urban areas.

The contest for urban multiracial support is still wide open. Malaysians yearn for a trustable and solid non-racial party.

Qua vadis MCA?

More on MCA elections tomorrow:

Catch me LIVE from Wisma MCA on Bernama TV (9am to 2.30pm) and Astro Awani LIVE (8.15pm to 9.00pm)

Befriend Perkasa to Lose Polls

Perkasa president Ibrahim Ali today warned political parties especially Umno not to be “enemies” with the movement if it wants support in the next general elections.

“But don’t be enemies if want to win in the elections. If we are enemies, they will lose,” said Ibrahim.

On the contrary, Perkasa is a splitting image of the radical side of UMNO. The growth of Perkasa means a decline of UMNO. Perkasa is already an "enemy within" for UMNO because both organisations are competing for the same membership base.

Ibrahim should go a step further by registering Perkasa as a political party. It can now afford to play a bully to other political parties especially UMNO because it does not have to face the electorates. Perkasa should test its real strength and acceptance of the Malay community in the polls.

Najib administration should take a serious note. The reverse is true - befriend Perkasa and face polls setback.

UMNO reluctance to speak up against Perkasa for undermining its president's 1Malaysia initiative is telling. Does Najib enjoy the full support of the party members and leaders?

Perkasa's inaugural congress was launched by former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad who once made Ibrahim a deputy minister of law in his 22-year administration.

Dr Mahathir told the congress that Perkasa’s existence is due to a weak Umno and that the government should listen to the Malays, not just the non-Malays.

Mahathir's antics lately are further undermining his already poor legacy. Now, we know that Vision 2020 is piece of useless policy paper and a PR spin. When did UMNO listen to the non-Malays?

Of all people, Mahathir should know this best. Other race based parties in Barisan such as MIC and MCA are suffering a lost of popularity and political relevance because they never insisted that UMNO listen also to the non-Malays who are legitimate Malaysians.

If Perkasa is to become a political entity, perhaps Mahathir can come out from his retirement to test his political theories about Perkasa and Malay supremacy.

Leaders such as Ibrahim and Mahathir want to see Malaysia forever stuck in a racial pit.

Ibrahim is just another opportunist who started Perkasa to save his political career. Only silly voters would put him back in the 13th parliament.

PKR Sivarasa & the Race Card

At the upcoming Hulu Selangor by-election, both Pakatan and Barisan would be put through a real test. Pakatan has a chance to find out how the continuous struggle, squabble and defections amongst its ranks are being perceived by the people.

Barisan's failure to capture the seat may add more pressure on Najib's leadership. Like his predecessors, Dr Mahathir and Abdullah Badawi, he has been making several reform pledges. UMNO and Barisan's decline was felt during the end of Mahathir's reign.

Abdullah tried to ride on a reform platform by was consumed and dethroned by his reform agenda.

However, I am sad to note that an enlightened leader such as Sivarasa is playing a race card again. PKR vice-president R Sivarasa said putting up an Indian candidate would be most favourable for the party in light of the constituency’s recent voting pattern.

“It will be most favourable to have an Indian candidate contest there from the winning point of view so yes I would be leaning towards that idea,” he told The Malaysian Insider.

Sivarasa's argument is flawed and contrary to the non-racial/people's supremacy platform his party is promoting.

It is sad to note that PKR politics is about winning and capturing power. Race being put as the main criterion to select a candidate is most unfortunate.

The party should learn its lesson from the several defections. A candidate, as long as he/she is a Malaysian, should be appraised based on commitment, quality, knowledge and ability to serve the Hulu Selangor constituency.

Playing a race card against a race card is most unfortunate. Late Hulu Selangor MP Dr Zainal was a Malay and yet he defeated a strong MIC leader. PKR should show more confident in its struggle to end racial politics.

Why the regression, Sivarasa?

Wanna Become the Next Super Junior?

‘Korea Be Inspired’ Festival 2010
Korean Wave Contest

In conjunction with ‘Korea Be Inspired’ Festival 2010 and ‘Visit Korea Year 2010 – 2012’, the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) is organizing a Korean Wave Contest.

The competition is open to all Malaysians and K-pop fans in Malaysia. Participants are required to perform on either Korean song, dance and impersonality show. Participants would be judged on their singing/dancing ability, stage performance, costume and creativity. Participants are required to prepare their own minus one music. They can contact KTO for further assistance.

The competition offers many attractive prizes:-

Grand prize : 5 x Tour packages to South Korea + gift
1st Runner up : 2 x Tour packages to South Korea + gift
2nd Runner up :RM1,000 + gift

Along with this event, KTO will also be launching a special ‘Hallyu’ (Korean Wave) tour package to visit South Korea. The ‘Hallyu’ tour package is specially targeted to the ‘Hallyu’ fans in Malaysia.

People who are interested to participate in the competition can register their interest at Korea Plaza, Ground Floor, Menara Hap Seng, Jalan P. Ramlee, Kuala Lumpur or email us at or contact KTO at 03 2143 9000. Registration begins from 26th March to 14th April 2010. (Materials submission deadline: 14 April 2010)

An audition will be held at the Korea Plaza, Ground Floor, Menara Hap Seng on 17th April from 2pm to 5pm. Participants can sign up as an individual or a group performance.

Korean Wave Contest final will be held at KL Live Centre, Jalan Sultan Ismail, on 15th May from 2pm to 4pm.

For more information, kindly contact:
Valene Tan
Communications & Events Manager
Korea Tourism Organization
Contact: +603 2143 9000

‘Korea Be Inspired’ Festival 2010 Facebook.

Top 8 Crews, One Ticket to R16 Korea

Got what it takes?

Friday, March 26, 2010

R16 Southeast Final is Launching Soon!

To all my media friends, please take this post as an invitation:

Making its way to Malaysia this May is one of the world’s top 5 B-boy competitions – R16 Southeast Asia Final - the regional spin-off of the R16 World B-boy Championship. Created by Korea Tourism Organization and the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the global competition has attracted participation of more than 50,000 artists, musicians and dancers from all over the world since its launch in 2007.

Aptly, the R16 Southeast Asia Finals is sponsored by LG Electronics, a global leader and technology innovator in consumer electronics, home appliances and mobile communications. In conjunction with this, a special Malaysian audition will also be held where the winners will compete in the regional finals.

To announce the competition details, we would like to invite a journalist and photographer/ camera crew from your organization to join us at a joint press conference hosted by Mr. Jeff Cheh, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of LG Electronics (M) Sdn. Bhd. and Mr. Kim Kee Hun, Managing Director of Korea Tourism Organization. Details of the event are as follows:

Date : Tuesday, 30th March 2010

Time : 2.30 p.m.

Venue : Korea Plaza
Ground Floor, Menara Hap Seng
Jalan P. Ramlee
50250 Kuala Lumpur

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

IGP Musa Hassan Claims Are More Serious Than One Israel = 1Malaysia

I had asked Anwar Ibrahim and Barisan Nasional leaders not to play up the controversy between One Israel and 1Malaysia. It is natural for APCO, an international PR company, to work with many governments in the world.

It is both racist and pathetic trying to drag the Jewish into the local bi-partisan battle. Can Anwar be so sure that he did not receive any funds or assistance from any Jewish backed or linked organisations?

However, IGP Musa claims of third party interference is a serious one. If the government responsible enough, it should immediately direct a parliamentary committee and a special commission (since there is no IPCMC) to investigate Musa's allegations.

Musa Hassan has declined to explain further his claims that a 'third force' comprising 'politicians or certain individuals' was influencing the police force.

His claims in an interview in Mingguan Malaysia on Sunday prompted Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein to ask the police force to investigate the matter further.

If not thoroughly investigated, Musa's claims will further erode the credibility of the government and the police force. Many were doubtful of the police impartiality because stern actions taken against Pakatan talks and functions had happened quite frequently.

Hishammudin should shoulder the responsibility to investigate the claims. If Musa is found vindicated, actions must be taken against the third force. Otherwise, Musa should be hauled up for disciplinary action for making false accusations.

It is time for the government and the police to be accountable.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Malaysia Audition & R16 Southeast Asia Final

R16, one of the biggest B-boy competitions is in town! We would like to invite all B-boys who want to pit their skills on a world's stage to register for the Malaysia Audition on the 24th April, 1pm to 6pm at the Berjaya Times Square.

Two best crews will be invited to represent Malaysia to compete against six top crews from Vietnam, Singapore and Thailand in the R16 Southeast Asia Final on 15th May from 7pm to 11pm at the KL Life Centre.

The winner of R16 Southeast Asia Final will automatically qualify for the R16 B-boy World Championship in Seoul, South Korea.

R16 Malaysia Audition and R16 Southeast Asia Final are presented by LG Electronics, organised by Korea Tourism Organisation and managed by GFW. The official media is 8TV. Berjaya Times Square and KL Life Centre are the venue partners.

We welcome brands and companies who want to work with us.

For more information, visit the R16 Southeast Asia Final.

Media Release

‘Korea Be Inspired’ Festival 2010
R16 Southeast Asia Final

In conjunction with ‘Korea Be Inspired’ Festival 2010 and ‘Visit Korea Year 2010 – 2012’, the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) is organizing R16 Malaysia audition and R16 Southeast Asia Final in Malaysia. LG Electronics is the Presenter of the audition and R16 Southeast Asia Final.

The objective of festival is to promote the Visit Korea Year 2010- 2012, the R16 urban youth culture and the Korean wave (Hallyu).

KTO and Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports & Tourism created R16 in 2007, to support grassroots youth culture such as Hip-hop & B-boy.

Since 2007, the 4-days event has regularly attracted more than 300 artists, musicians, dancers and promoters from all over the world to South Korea. R16 is rated as one of the top 5 B-boy competitions in the world which included the Battle of the Year, UK B-boy Championship, IBE and Freestyle Session.

Malaysia audition will be held on 24th April at Berjaya Times Square. Two top Malaysian B-boy teams will be selected to compete in the regional final.

All Malaysian B-boy teams who are interested to join the audition are welcome to register themselves at the Korea Plaza, Ground Floor, Menara Hap Seng, Jalan P.Ramlee, Kuala Lumpur or visit to download a registration form or send their particulars to

Each team is allowed to register a maximum of 8 crew members. Registration is free and begins from 16th March to 17th April 2010.

The winner of R16 Southeast Asia Final will be invited to compete at R16 World B-Boy Masters Championships in South Korea.

Besides, KTO will also be launching a special R16 tour package targeted to people who are interested to watch the final in South Korea in July 2010.

R16 Southeast Asia Preliminary and ‘Korea Be Inspired’ Festival will be held on 15th May from 2pm to 11pm at KL Life Center, Jalan Sultan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur. Event managed by GF World (GFW).

For more information on registration and event, kindly contact:

Ashty Tan
Project Manager
GF World Solutions
Contact: +603 7960 9604

For general information, kindly contact:

Valene Tan
Communications & Events Manager
Korea Tourism Organization
Contact: +603 2143 9000

Friday, March 19, 2010

Zahrain's Parliamentary Antics & MP's Responsibility

Bayan Baru voters must be feeling really frustrated and disappointed with the MP Zahrain Hashim's parliamentary antics.

The ex-PKR leader has been using his parliamentary privilege to launch personal attacks against his former party leaders and to wash some dirty linen.

He had named eight MPs, whom he claimed were ready to jump ship in the opposition’s bid to takeover the government on Sept 16, 2008. They were Datuk Seri Abdul Ghapur Salleh (BN-Kalabakan), Datuk Seri Anifah Aman (BN-Kimanis), Datuk Bung Moktar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan), Datuk Chua Soon Bui (Independent-Tawau), Datuk Eric Majimbun (Independent-Sepanggar), Dr Mohd Puad Zarkashi (BN-Batu Pahat), Datuk Seri Tengku Azlan Sultan Abu Bakar (BN-Jerantut) and Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah (BN-Gua Musang).

Tengku Razaleigh has refuted his claims today.

Zahrain claimed that there was a link between online newspaper MalaysiaKini and Raja Petra Kamarudin (RPK)’s news portal with the opposition and urged the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission to probe into it.

He is expected to make more allegations in the coming days. It is not surprising that Zahrain is using his parliamentary immunity to run various allegations against his former colleagues.

Zahrain's action has two implications. First, it reflects an inherent weakness in the Pakatan leadership. This is something the coalition must correct before the next general election.

Second, it reflects badly on Zahrain's position as an elected representative. His elected position is not personal. He is accountable for his action and behaviour in the parliament. He should use his debating time to focus on key issues such as socio-economic policy, GST, strategy to address economic malaise, abolishment of ISA, inter-ethnic relations, Penang's development and others.

Zahrain wants us to respect his position and rights as a member of parliament. He has to first respect the wishes and expectations of his voters.

Zahrain's unparliamentary behaviour should be severely criticized by groups monitoring the performance of parliamentarians.

One Israel & 1Malaysia = Silly Politicking

One Israel and 1Malaysia. Yes, there is a striking similarity. A number of institutions globally are using One, 1 or something similar as their brand name e.g. One Hope Foundation, One Academy, Packet One etc. but they might not be related.

Likewise, some may be serious about their aim to become no.1 or the top in whatever they strive to achieve while others might just bask in the glory of sloganeering. In Bahasa Malaysia, we called it 'shiok sendiri' (self gratification).

Interestingly, Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim had claimed that Prime Minister Najib Razak's '1Malaysia' was a carbon copy of the 'One Israel' concept.

Predictably, the Barisan leadership has reacted strongly against his claims. "It is a serious matter when a Muslim leader is associated with the Zionist. As you know, we support Palestine and we are against the Zionist and Israeli administration".

It is baffling why a politician like Anwar Ibrahim, who claims to walk a higher moral ground, is trying to manipulate the One Israel slogan to score some political points and belittle the 1Malaysia concept. It is equally unnecessary for Nazri to react so strongly against the Isreal government or the Zionist regime.

We should focus on the content (or the lack of it) of 1Malaysia instead and push the government to walk its talk about equality and justice. The government should be taken to task on its intention to retain a race affirmative action on one hand and trying to promote equality and unity on the other.

We should really mind our own business. Politicians should focus on real tasks and not waste their energy on meaningless squabbles and quarrels. There is already enough drama going around.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Nothing New in the New Economic Model?

The New Economic Model (NEM) will not abolish bumiputera special rights, but will lay more stress on inter-communal cooperation, the Dewan Rakyat was told today.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said such cooperation will be on political aspects and business promotions.

If what Nazri said is true the government should not call the much anticipated plan, the New Economic Model.

There is no economic in the model but only politics and promotions. UMNO's inability to address serious socio-economic issues will be severely tested when the NEM is announced by the PM at the end of March.

I had warned that NEM may be a kiss of life or death to Najib's political career. In the past, initiatives to foster better inter-communal cooperation in the economy had failed largely due to the abuse of NEP.

An equal business partnership can only be fostered through value added and synergistic relationship. Sadly, a large number of inter-communal relations were "Ali Baba" centric. Non-Bumiputera businessmen were attracted to build relations with Bumiputera businessmen who had been given NEP privileges by the government.

Hence, what Nazri mentioned about building inter-communal cooperation cannot work and prosper if there is no emphasis on real partnership.

My expectation for NEM to turn out something real and sustainable for the economy is reduced to a rock bottom low after reading what Nazri had said in the parliament.

With such a leadership mentality, be prepared for more slogans and empty talks. Don't hope for more jobs, more opportunities and a more dynamic economy.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

GST, Referendum & A Confused Minister

First, he said there is no need to hold a referendum (the submission of a proposed public measure or actual statute to a direct popular vote):

Minister in the Prime Minister Department Nazri Abdul Aziz today shot down calls for a referendum on the controversial Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill.

"Referendum is not the way to solve this issue, that is what the parliament is for," he said.

"If you want to ask the rakyat (for their opinion), you take the matter to Parliament. We are the their representatives."

Nazri's statement is indeed very confusing. Parliament is a symbol of democracy. A member of parliament is voted into the august house through a direct popular vote. Why can't a referendum be held to determine the popularity and acceptance of a bill or policy?

The minister contradicted himself in the next paragraph of his statement:

On the government decision to postpone the tabling of the GST bill, Nazri said the government needed more time to source public feedback. "As our prime minister said before, the age of the government knowing all is over. Now we will consult and engage the rakyat in what we do."

Nazri should be reminded that another way to gauge public feedback is through a referendum. A decision such as the implementation of GST affects everybody. Hence, the feedback process must all inclusive. One of the best way to make a democratic and well informed decision is through a referendum.

This is basic democracy.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

New Economic Model & Rhetoric: A Kiss of Death or Life For Najib Leadership

After a hollow 1Malaysia slogan, the Najib administration must be careful not to sound rhetorical on the soon-t0-be announced New Economic Model (NEM). Najib said the NEM will be announced in two parts starting from March 30.

It is obvious that his administration, his advisers and PR consultants are working overtime to ensure that the model balances the expectations of all Malaysians and the exclusive interests of the Malay community.

His administration is being pressured by a Malay centric umbrella of organisations, the Malay Consultative Council, which is led by Perkasa to include the retain NEP's race affirmative policy. This policy provides special privileges and various opportunities to the Malay community.

However, the policy has come under heavy criticism since the last few years. Critics had pointed to an abuse of the policy by political elites, mainly UMNO linked politicians, to benefit their cronies and supporters. The NEP is also being manipulated and intentionally misinterpreted to link the policy to Malay supremacy and special status in the federal constitution.

What appeared to be a temporary policy intervention to allow the largely backward Malay community to catch up with other communities after the 1969 interethnic strife, it had been restated by UMNO as a permanent symbol of Malay supremacy.

Regrettably, the implementation of the policy although almost unchallenged by other race based parties in the Barisan Nasional did not lead to a betterment of the Malay community since 1970. Wealth in the community is held in the hands of a few industry chieftains created by the regime and several government linked funds and trust companies.

Surprisingly, the party has remained unwilling to admit its failure to enhance the capacity of the community. Pulai MP Nur Jazlan, in defence of his party, said Umno have been doing nothing but protect Malay interest and dismissed accusations that the Malay-based party have been short on delivering the goods.

Nur Jazlan is right about his party "doing nothing" but merely being involved in polarizing racial attacks against the country's ethnic Chinese for monopolizing the economy. It is difficult to argue that Perkasa is not another political creature created by UMNO.

Its president, Ibrahim Ali, was a UMNO member. The bulk of the organisation supporters are UMNO members who had wanted the party to take a hardline position against "demands" and "rudeness" of other communities. Eerily, this group's statements sounded like a broken record in the 50's to 80's where the Chinese community was often made a scapegoat of UMNO's failure to help alleviate the socio-economic position of the community.

Fortunately, there are many urbane Malays professionals and intellectuals who are standing up against the fallacy of both UMNO and Perkasa. Perkasa's rhetoric is no longer moving mountains or creating uprising against the non-Malays. This is not the era of silly provocation.

Najib's NEM is hardly a sure-win political strategy. It is a yardstick of his leadership. Any attempt to tinkle and tweak the policy to appease all parties especially Perkasa and its coalition partners is going to cause a diversion of its original intention.

NEM is supposed to make Malaysia a vibrant economy and a knowledge economy by 2020. It is supposed to address tough issues like brain drain, FDI, keeping local investment at home, jobs creation and others. Najib had said that Malaysia's economy needs to be both innovative and competitive.

Unfortunately, his party's direction is still being dictated by conservative forces such as Perkasa, Nur Jazlan and others. UMNO was given an opportunity to extend its influence nationally when it received overwhelming support from non-Malay communities during the first reformasi in 1999. It had squandered this opportunity by being too selfish and incapable to change to adapt to new political changes.

There are many socio-economic issues faced by the society especially urban folks. Najib's NEM is supposed to provide answers and solutions to these issues and problems.

A failure to deliver a comprehensive solution will render Najib as yet another reformist wannabe or an opportunist who wanted to use a reformist language to resurrect his political career.

Even if the NEM language sounds right and engaging, he has to see through its implementation. We know how cumbersome the civil service can be and their stubbornness can derail any well-meaning plan or policy.

Will the NEM be a boon or bane for Najib?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Kelantan Oil Royalty Row: UMNO Should Lose Its Lawyer

Using the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 1969 as a reason to deny Kelantan its oil royalty is rather pathetic.

Mohd Hafarizam Harun said provision No.7 of the Ordinance stipulated that the state’s boundary which is the state’s land mass and its territorial waters stretched three nautical miles measured from the low-tide water mark. However, two oil wells disputed by the Kelantan state government are located outside the ‘area’.

“To my knowledge, the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 1969 is still in force and has not been abolished by the government. In fact, there are Ordinances formulated at that time, such as ESCAR (Essential (Security Cases) Regulations 1975), which are still in force,” he said.

It makes us wonder why the Ordinance is still in force and not repealed since the incident had lapsed for more than 40 years.

Regardless, Hafarizam should not have used the Ordinance to deny Kelantan a share of the nation's wealth.

It is pathetic to use an archaic Ordinance to justify the federal government 'taiko' (big brother) action against the Kelantan state government.

Tengku Razaleigh is right to call for a review of federal-state government relationship.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The myth of reform and March 8

Today is the second anniversary of the historical March 8, 2008 general election. This is the date any public relations adviser would tell the Barisan Nasional to avoid in calling for future elections.
It was clear that Pakatan did not win the 2008 general election. It took the three main opposition parties nearly 18 months to formalise a coalition and to iron out their differences.

Without the rejection of BN government in the five states and 82 parliamentary constituencies, the electoral pact between PAS, PKR and DAP would have remained just that - an electoral pact.
BN's stunning electoral setback was inflicted by mostly urban voters who had had enough of political excesses, corruption and power arrogance of the ruling class. And the problems continue.

There are enough signs pointing to a slow meltdown of the urban economy. Malaysia's growth sectors - plantations and oil and gas - are mostly concentrated in rural and semi-rural areas. These sectors do not offer many job opportunities for locals.

The urban population is facing a rising crime rate, slow economic growth, lower new jobs creation, steady increase in inflation and deterioration of living standards. The number of delinquents, dropouts and unemployed are on the rise. An informal report has put the undergraduate unemployment figure at almost 80,000 and climbing.

The workforce structure is another big dilemma for the government. Local unskilled workers find it difficult to compete with cheaper foreign labour who do not mind accepting low wages and zero housing allowance and insurance protection. Almost half of the three million foreign workers have entered the job market illegally.

Skilled and highly educated Malaysians are being led away by higher salary and better perks overseas. This group topped the list of overseas migrations. A parliamentary report had put the migration figures from 2007-2009 at almost 300,000. More than a million skilled Malaysians are believed to be working abroad.

Hence, a number of companies have lamented over the fact that they are facing a serious challenge to fill up highly technical and middle and top management positions.

Ironically, politicians have participated in a blame game. For example, there is an allegation that Penang government had turned away millions of ringgit worth of investment because it could not guarantee the supply of 1,000 skilled electronics engineers. However, it did nothing to facilitate the potential investor's needs.

The incident has a far reaching consequence. It is one of the strongest indications that Malaysia's industrial development structure may have collapsed due to excessive brain drain.

Our economy's inability to retain and attract skilled labour may dent our national development ambition to become a knowledge-based economy and society by 2020. We simply do not have the brain power to move up the economic value chain.

It will not take too long for a full hollowing out effect to be felt in several key sectors - high-technology manufacturing, information technology, financial, professional services, telecommunications and others. Even our assembly plants and low-cost manufacturers are relocating to other lower cost destinations.

Moderates vs conservatives

The administration of Najib Abdul Razak has responded to the socio-economic challenges rather meekly. The premier's liberalisation effort has lost steam after the opening up of 27 service sub-sectors.

Najib's economic vocabulary is quite limited. Arguably, economic liberalisation is not the only option in re-energising the economy. He needs to focus on apolitical reform of the education system which, in turn, will reflect on the quality of knowledge acquisition.

Moreover, his administration has to work extra hard to return public confidence and trust in the public institutions. The market reacts on perception. If public perceptions of Malaysia are negative, the country will not attract productive and long-term investment.

Malaysia must demonstrate its commitment to the rule of law and democracy. The administration must show that it has the wisdom to focus on the important big picture and not on petty religious and racial squabbles which do not benefit anyone.

Two years after March 8, there is little indication showing that the moderate voice in BN has prevailed over that of the conservative. Najib's reform agenda has hit the racial barrier before even it was fully implemented.

A coalition of more than 80 Malay organisations, the Malay Consultative Council (MEC), has stepped up its pressure on the government to keep the affirmative action in the soon-to-be announced New Economic Model. If it prevails, the economic model will be another case of putting 'old wine in a new bottle' and inspire no change to jumpstart the mediocre economy.

Najib faces the risk of being labelled as yet another Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (left), a reformist-wannabe who fears - and is toppled by - his own reforms.

There is a possibility that Najib administration might respond through a conventional way. Faced with the opposition to open up the economy and to allow the private sector to develop freely - which means dismantling the decades old race affirmative policy - the government has reacted by increasing the intake of public servants.

He has an option to expand the civil service and sustain all subsidies and grants. He has dropped the intention to tweak the petrol subsidy structure. His federal budget contained a huge amount of subsidies and grants. He had created a vehicle to help shore up bumiputera equity shareholding and to fund development on Malay reserved land.

These actions will aggravate his operating budget and leave very little for development expenditure. Like Anwar Ibrahim, the premier must exorcise his political ghosts. By allowing Perkasa more room to stir up communal sentiments, he is digging his own grave which may eventually bury his political career.

Read the rest on

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Urban Cultural Festival: Coming Soon!

This is a special notice to those who belonged to the urban artistic community e.g. graffiti artists, hip hop dancers and performers, skate boarders and roller skaters, painters, indie artistes, street dancers, b-boys, b-girls etc.

It is time for some tribute, recognition and respect! GFW will be organizing an urban cultural festival to celebrate some of our best urban artists and performers.

GF World is looking forward to work with interested groups, individuals and corporations to make this festival a success.

Please contact or email me if you are interested to contribute to this festival. We expect to host this festival in November 2010.

Stay tuned!

PM Najib Rejects Local Council Elections

Najib's rejection of local council elections is likely going to affect the Election Commission's decision on the request submitted by the Penang State Government to restore the third vote.

Najib gave the flimsiest excuse to reject the need to restore democracy at the local councils.

He claimed that reviving local government elections would only give rise to politicking at the local government level and would not improve services for the people.

He said the Barisan Nasional Government was putting its attention raising the level of services to the people and having local government elections would not necessarily help towards this effort.

The fact that all local councillors are political appointees makes the whole process even more political. Politicking is worse when political warlords and their 'mah chais' (followers) are lobbying hard to fill up the appointments.

Deteriorating service quality and misappropriation of public funds are the two most important reasons why tax payers and voters would like to have their say on who should be elected to represent them at the local authority level.

Najib's rejection of local council elections is also a rejection of democracy.

I have said earlier that Barisan should convince us that it is pro-democracy and not otherwise. PM Najib's stand on local council elections says it all.

As a proponent of the third vote, I am prepared to reject any Barisan candidates in my constituency until a full democracy is restored at the local council level.

This is a dark day for Malaysian democracy. He should say no to all racist bodies and not to local council elections.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Restoring Third Vote: Penang & Selangor Taking the Lead

Those of us who have been pushing for a third vote should be glad that both Penang and Selangor have decided to restore local council elections.

Selangor will emulate Penang in restoring local council elections in the state, said Selangor Mentri Besar Khalid Ibrahim.

Local council elections which was called off since 1964 should be restored immediately. Some local councils had implemented unscrupulous and non-beneficial projects using their council funds which were contributed by tax payers.

As a result, a number of local councils are facing acute financial problem. This problem has hampered their ability to serve the people by supplying essential amenities and providing good local services.

A negative reaction by the Election Commission to disallow the requests of both Penang and Selangor to restore local council elections will make the commission totally irrelevant in a democratic context. The role of election commission is to help facilitate elections and to ensure that the process is being implemented fairly and smoothly.

Barisan led state governments should emulate the decision to restore local council elections too. A refusal to allow a third vote will put the coalition's 1Malaysia pledge: People's first under scrutiny.

The only way for Barisan to win back multiracial support is to prove that it is pro-democracy and not autocracy or neo-feudalism.

Supporters of a third vote and activists should now stand behind these two state governments to help restore local council elections now.

Sacking of MP Zulkifli: Reaffirming PKR's Moderate Position

The PKR's supreme council decision to sack MP Zulkifli Noordin is a move to reaffirm the party's moderate position. Many voters who had voted for PKR against the communal based Barisan can breath comfortably with this decision.

This is a political first for any party in Malaysia. Malay-based political parties normally shy away from taking any disciplinary action against their members who may have overstepped the racial and religious boundaries. Politicians have been using the justification to defend their race supremacy and religious exclusivity as a shield and immunity against any action - party or civil.

This is no longer working for Zulkifli Noordin. Zulkifli has been taking a hard line position which is not consistent with his party's policy which threatens its popular multiracial appeal.

The federal government's decision not to pursue an action against two Al-Islam journalists stood in stark contrast against the decision made by PKR to sack Zulkifli Noordin. Self-proclaimed non-racial proponents in the Barisan coalition should stand up and take note. Barisan may just take in Perkasa, which the coalition cannot afford not to, and it will expose the hypocrisy of these non-racial proponents.

Better late than never, Anwar's stand against his party member is a step in the right direction. This is what we called real political will although Anwar is fully aware that this decision may earn a wrought from UMNO and other hardliners.

Malaysians must learn to appreciate the decision to sack Zulkifli. It is not just a disciplinary problem but a real ideological test. It will test if we are ready to walk a moderate path. This path must be layered with equality, mutual respect and respect for the rule of law.

If Zulkifli cannot even protect his own political career, how can he protect and defend God?

Anwar has proven that he is no longer a political chameleon.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

UMNO's End Game

Prime Minister Najib Razak will not be attending the disputed MCA annual general meeting this Sunday. Najib's absence is going to be read as a lost of support for incumbent MCA President Ong Tee Keat.

The presence of UMNO President to launch the annual general assembly of Barisan component parties is the clearest sign of UMNO's superiority over other parties. Previous presidents who did not enjoy the support of UMNO president/prime minister were quickly removed from the party.

Dr Lim Chong Eu was strong enough to defeat Tan Cheng Lock for the MCA presidency but his dispute with UMNO president Tunku Abdul Rahman over seats allocation was quickly manipulated by his party leaders to push him out of MCA.

Sadly, history is going to repeat itself again here. Ong is not expected to be able to launch a strong challenge to defend his post if the delegates want a closer relationship with UMNO. It is customary for parties in the coalition to compete for the attention and goodwill of UMNO.

However, it is unlikely for Ong to follow the footsteps of Dr Lim in forming an opposition party, the United Democratic Party (a backbone for the formation of Parti Gerakan) after a two-year hiatus from politics.

In an equal partnership, there should have been a rotating coalition chairmanship. No other leader from a non-UMNO party has ever led Barisan.

Hence, a leadership change in MCA will not help the party to resolve its own political crisis or to recapture the support of Chinese community.

MCA's main problem is the prevailing ugly elitist and discriminative politics in Malaysia. This brand of elitist politics is merely manipulating and abusing race and religion to benefit their own kind.

MCA's decline is irreversible and imminent if UMNO is allowed to perpetuate its brand of elitist politics unchecked and unchallenged.

UMNO is not going to and cannot leave its "ketuanan Melayu" (Malay supremacy) politics behind. UMNO's survival depends on its ability to convince the Malays that they are the princes of the land and the party's its protector.

Post-Mahathir, its leadership is also trying to mend its rift and rebuild its alliance with the monarch, another useful symbol for Malay supremacy.

Events in the last months suggested that UMNO may have unleashed all possibilities to strengthen its ethnoreligious credentials hoping to shore up its Malay support base. It hopes to unite the Malay under the pretence to protect the Malay special status, its symbol of supremacy - the monarchy, Islam as an exclusive religion and the sacred Malay social status in Malaysia.

However, the more UMNO pushes its Malay-Islam agenda the more doubts it is going to cast on Najib's 1Malaysia agenda. Compared to Vision 2020, Mahathir was smart enough to create a time frame for equality which was way beyond his tenure so that Malaysians of all races remain hopeful as long as we have not touched the finishing line.

1Malaysia to the skeptics is a mere slogan. The cynics see it as a ploy. The pragmatists know that it will not and cannot be achieved. The moment there is equality for all it marks an end for UMNO.

Racial equality and the realisation of a truly Bangsa Malaysia is an end game for UMNO. UMNO becomes irrelevant once it is no longer needed to defend Malay supremacy which is a disguise of its elitist interests. Najib and all UMNO leaders would definitely want UMNO to remain for the next 500 years.

Hence, Perkasa was expedited. Perkasa will say and do whatever UMNO cannot or would not say in order not to lose its 1Malaysia mask.

From Dr Mahathir to Najib, the believers of Vision 2020 and 1Malaysia should know by now that they have been conned.

MCA should wake up from its slumber. It is time for its leadership to sober up. MCA under the leadership of Ong, Chua or Liow is not going to help save the party if it wants to continue to be 'henpecked' by UMNO.

My advice to Ong is to issue a full disclosure on what has happened to the PKFZ investigation. His days as the MCA president may be numbered but the people will remember him as a fallen angel if he can walk his talk on his intention to make those who were responsible for the fiasco be brought to face justice.

My previous articles in The Star supporting his intention to conduct a thorough investigation on PKFZ had led to people speculating that I had joined his team of advisers. I had hoped that it was true because I would have advised him to stand up against those who had colluded to sweep this scandal under the carpet and to demand for an equal partnership in Barisan.

MCA leadership has proven that it is part of the greedy and dangerous elitist politics and not fighting to end it.

What good can it do if it can't contribute to end racism, corruption, mismanagement and power arrogance?

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Get Ready For More Politics

Dr Chua Soi Lek resigned as deputy president of MCA today, while seven of his supporters in the central committee will also quit, in a move that will pave the way for fresh party polls. The total of 21 resignations, or two-thirds of the central committee, will now be enough under the MCA Constitution to trigger new elections which must be held within a month.

President Ong Tee Keat has confirmed that fresh elections must be held within a month. Ong's position has been weakened following a no-confidence vote against his leadership at the EGM triggered by Dr Chua Soi Lek. Ong, who lost the support of MCA delegates, has lost his control over the Central Committee too.

He is expected to face an uphill battle to retain the presidency. However, Ong's support is still crucial for any presidential aspirant if he decided not to defend his post.

It was rumoured that Dr Chua had met up with PM Najib before announcing his resignation at the party's HQ. Ironically, it was Chua who had told the MCA delegates to focus on the next general election instead of fresh party elections.

It is widely perceived that the current MCA leadership needs to seek a new mandate and legitimacy from the members. Without a new mandate, the leadership might not be able to face its grassroots.

Chua's resignation can be seen a step taken to prepare the Barisan war machinery for the 13th general election.

This is probably the best period to hold a new general election. There are several reasons which work against the Pakatan:

1) The coalition is jolted with several resignations from its MPs. It creates a bad perception for Pakatan. Those who had voted for these candidates might be disappointed with the resignations. The power grab is Perak is a classic example. While many Perakians are angry of Barisan's power grab, probably as many are disappointed with Pakatan's failure to pick reliable candidates. Unreliability creates bad perception and poor credibility.

2) Anwar's sodomy case. If a general election is being called during an ongoing trial, it may distract Anwar from participating and campaigning in the general election. Anwar is still the most suitable leader to lead the coalition. Despite his error of judgement, Anwar's leadership is irreplaceable.

3) Pakatan's manufactured conflicts in Selangor and Penang are detrimental to its leadership of the states. Although Penang Pakatan is probably the more solid of the two, it may not register an easy win in the next general election. Barisan would want to capitalize on Pakatan instability to strike.

4) Barisan is working extra time to stabilize its coalition by healing rifts within its component parties. A new MCA leadership should be able to stabilize the party within 6 months after party elections. A stable MCA is important for Barisan to reduce its loss of Chinese community support.

5) Barisan needs to call for a general election before the implementation of GST. The implementation is expected to create enough issues for Pakatan to capitalize on them politically. Its decision to scrap the tiered fuel subsidy is another indication that the federal government is trying to reduce new controversies before the next polls.

6) The formation of a Malay Consultative Council is expected to help Barisan win back some lost Malay votes. Pakatan's position on the use of 'Allah' by non-Muslims is going to cost the coalition some Malay support. If this trend persists, the next general election will be even more polarised that the previous ones.

We should expect more politicking over the next 6 to 9 months. Both coalitions are expected to gear up preparations for the next general election. The country's economy is going back on an auto pilot again.

Till the dust settles, we are not able to count our collateral damage. The period after the 13th general election will determine if brain drain from Malaysia will intensify.

Monday, March 01, 2010

MPs Tan Tee Beng and Zahrain Hashim Missed the Point

Ex-PKR members of parliament, Tan Tee Beng and Zahrain, both ex-Barisan leaders have missed the point when they quit the party.

Tan and Zahrain were upset with the leadership of Penang CM Lim Guan Eng. Both cited Lim's leadership as "chauvinistic, arrogant and communistic'".

He said, "Pakatan will not last long. It is people like Lim Guan Eng that shall destroy Pakatan. I will not be a part of this group of people which are destroying my country, my race and my religion.

Both Tan and Zahrain should be reminded that we did not vote for Lim Guan Eng. Lim was a political newcomer although he was an ex-MP of Kota Melaka.

We had voted against institutionalised racism, political excesses, corruption, power arrogance and irresponsible leadership.

Until and unless the present regime proves that it is pro-democracy and pro-people, it will continue to be voted out.

Tan and Zahrain should have put their personal dispute and uneasiness with Lim or PKR leadership aside if they are interested to pursue their political career. It appears that both wanted to be taken seriously and treated decently due to their personal and political status.

As a voter I can sympathize with both Tan and Zahrain but my priority is to end racial politics in this country. If Tan and Zahrain truly embrace a new non-racial political paradigm they should be able to put their dispute with Lim above the people's interest.

Ironically, now Zahrain is keen to defend his race and religion. The fact is his race and religion do not need his protection. He should help to give his race and religion a good name by showing others the real image of Malay culture and Islam.

Racial dominance and religious exclusivity have never been truly celebrated in any democracies.

As a voter and proponent of non-racial politics, I am truly disappointed with both Tan and Zahrain. On Lim's personal attitude and leadership style, it is his own business to see if the criticism does hold any good lesson for him personally.

We should be diverted by these superficial and unprincipled politicians. We need to defeat racial politics. We must stay our course on this very important agenda.