Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Is MCA Backing the Right Move?

MCA President Chua Soi Lek has made several controversial decisions. He had backed the controversial decision to allow sports betting in the country. Coincidentally, Dr Mahathir had backed the same decision and cited gambling as a Chinese culture. This was an insult to the community.

Now, Chua backs Dr Mahathir's crooked bridge project. The MCA president has called on PM Najib to consider the construction of the bridge to fulfill the wishes of the people.

Interestingly, Chua is so concerned about the people's wishes. His political comeback could be something which may not be consistent with what the people wanted especially among the Chinese Malaysian voters.

The idea of building a crooked bridge between Malaysia and Singapore is a total diplomatic disaster. Any bridge between the two countries cannot be confined to a physical structure alone. It should consider the approval and acceptance of the Singaporeans too.

I would be surprised if the Singapore government agrees to the construction. Our intention to enhance the linkage between Singapore and Malaysia to improve trade and investment is a mistake. We should focus on soft linkages including diplomatic relations, people-to-people connections and business linkages.

Malaysia should focus on being more consistent and predictable with its foreign policy vis-a-vis Singapore. The two countries should start by building trust and mutual respect if Malaysia wants to see more investment from its southern neighbour.

Dr Chua should act as ridiculous as the attention seeking ex-premier.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Malaysia Will Be "Young & Poor" by 2030

Malaysia’s relatively high population growth rate will see the country remain comparatively young over the next two decades but economic growth is not expected to keep pace with population expansion, according to a report by Bank of America Merril Lynch.

Putting us in the same category as Philippines, India and Indonesia for getting younger but poorer is not a cause to celebrate.

PM Najib's economic policy has failed to outline specific and concrete steps to help revitalise the economy, create more jobs and to help enhance the salary level of employees.

The prime minister had announced some lofty targets in his newly launched 10th Malaysia Plan but it lacked the necessary mechanism and strategy to help achieve these targets.

On the NEP, his government has failed to its plan to review the policy which has failed so many Bumiputeras in the last 40 years. It is not good enough to continue with the affirmative policy if the actual target group, those who are poor and under capacity, are being helped to move up the society's ladder.

The government must be serious enough to rectify the weaknesses in the system. Otherwise, the prediction by Merril Lynch will become a reality.

It is time for politicians to understand that the mandate to rule and govern must come with full responsibility and accountability.

From now onwards, the government needs to scrutinize its own plans, action and behaviour to ensure that the people are not being victimised for their government's follies.

If not, Malaysians should choose between real change or poverty.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Ironic Malaysia : No More PSD Scholarship But Spending Millions on New Buildings

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz had said that government scholarships for undergraduate studies overseas would be phased out from next year.

He was quoted as admitting that the government does not have the “capacity” to finance the studies of the growing pool of bright students.

Although it is an unpopular move, the public will have to accept the reality of the government's situation, he had added.

Both MCA and MIC are against the move. What else can they do?

Ironically, this government is willing to spend another RM800 million to build a new parliament building in Putrajaya.

More than RM810 million has been budgeted for the still under construction new palace at Jalan Duta. I am sure the the royal highness would rather see the money being used to send our brightest to acquire skills and knowledge from some of the best universities in the world since ours can't even break into the top 500 league.

With such contradictions, how can the government help to move our workforce up the value chain and help to enable them to earn higher salary?

This is the second flip-flop after the finance minister said that no sports gambling license was ever issued to Ascot Sdn Bhd.

Who is telling the truth? Vincent Tan or Finance Minister?

Welcome to Boleh Land!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

10th Malaysia Plan - Rhetoric or Reality?

Firstly, the government should have done away with the 5-year economic planning. At today's pace, any economic model would have to be readjusted every six months to a year. Market is fluid and ever changing. It is almost impossible to plan anything for five years.

Fine, if the government insists of doing it the same old way. However, the plan must have a wow factor. It is obvious that PM Najib is a non risk taker. Some of the details in the 10th MP have been repeated far too many times but with little to show e.g. attracting foreign talents.

Cyberjaya was created specifically for the same purpose- attracting talents from abroad. What has happened to it since the last 4-5 years? It is no longer the industry buzzword.

Simply, there is no major transformation proposed for the Malaysian economy. What is our new game to bring this country to the next level? Creating a Talent Corp is not a solution. What makes Malaysia an attractive destination is a serious question which must be answered by the PM and his team of advisors.

Likewise, he wants to attract back investments into the country. What are the main elements which would attract investors to put their money in the country?

PM's flip flop on the Bumiputera equity requirement is not going to endear the country to foreign talents and investors. This is a reality and not a rhetoric. Why would a skilled foreign talent come to a country which does not practice full meritocracy?

It appears that the government is again lacking in creativity when comes to the education sector. It proposes the creation of "trust schools". The main issue is not how many categories of schools are being created e.g. Vision Schools etc. The main issue lies with the curriculum, teaching method and teachers' competency.

Does the government know how to make our primary and secondary schools world-class? Can the government put an institution of higher learning in the top 100 best schools in the world?

Some of the plans are quite notable e.g. severance pay of RM600 per month for up to six months, artistic development, foreign talents etc.

However, the government appears to be silent on several key issues which it must address e.g. the need to streamline the civil service, real capacity building of the Bumiputeras, curbing wastage and implementation flaws/inefficiencies in the federal government process, combating corruption, addressing regional economic disparity and others.

The government cannot rely on nice sounding words alone. At the end of the day, the plan will be judged according to its successes.

PM Najib must address his implementation system to ensure that the key elements of the plan can be implemented fully and effectively.

Otherwise the 10th MP will suffer the same fate like the past plans - mostly rhetoric and not reality.

Monday, June 07, 2010

New Transport Minister Kong Contradicts Himself on PKFZ

Signs are not good for those who wanted some accountability over the PKFZ financial scandal. The newly minted transport minister Kong Cho Ha has contradicted himself on the first day in office.

When asked about the investigation, Kong Chor Ha has deemed the probe into the PKFZ scandal as being 'sufficient', also saying there is no need for the issue to be re-examined.

"I think enough investigations and studies have been done on that issue. So, I don't think there is need to (re-examine) the investigation," he said today.

He was also ambiguous as to whether he would follow up on the issue.

In the same breath, he denied knowing enough about the scandal. He said, "I also have to know exactly what the PKFZ is about".

How can he assume that the investigation is sufficient if he does not know enough about the scandal or probe?

K0ng has to be reminded that people's expectations of the investigation is very high. Nothing short of a full disclosure is going to satisfy the people. Why should people pay high prices through subsidy cuts while the government is allowed to let such a mammoth financial scandal go unpunished?

Is Barisan going to sell their assets and shares to reimburse the public for the financial losses incurred in the scandal?

Kong's tenure will be shortlived if he does not provide us with a good answer. Who is going to pay the RM 15 billion bill?

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Israeli's Attack on Ship is a Black Day for Humanitarian

International media reported that Israeli Naval commandos stormed the Mavi Marmara (left) killing at least 16 activists.

The Israeli government had vowed to prevent the convoy, a "Freedom Flotilla" of six ships carrying 10,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid, from reaching Gaza's shores.

Twelve Malaysians, including two members of the media, are confirmed on board the Mavi Marmara, the lead vessel of a pro-Palestine flotilla that was attacked by Israeli forces today.

The attack must be condemned by the international community. If the attack on South Korean ship is risking economic sanction on North Korea by some of the most powerful nations, I hope they will react the same towards Isreal and its cowardice attack.

This is a black day when a humanitarian initiative is being attacked and suppressed.