Monday, August 30, 2010

PM's Zero Tolerance Applies Equally to Ibrahim Ali, Utusan Malaysia & Namewee?

Wee Meng Chee, a rapper, is being investigated for sedition, police said Monday, after posting a YouTube video which drew allegations he was stirring up ethnic tensions in the multicultural nation.

Wee is in fresh trouble for posting a three-minute rap titled "Nah" criticising a Muslim Malay headmistress accused of making racial slurs against her ethnic Chinese and Indian students.

PM Najib has to get his fact right; who is inciting racial hatred? The one who criticizes the perpetrator or the perpetrator herself?

I may not agree with the way Wee presented his criticism against racism. His vulgarity is not entirely acceptable to all Malaysians. But Wee should be treated fairly in the PM's new pledge on zero tolerance against racism.

Is the PM prepared to set up a committee to investigate Wee's latest video or leaving the matter entirely to the police? Why is Siti Inshah given a different treatment? Is is because she is a Malay teacher and a government servant? Does this treatment points to another form of discrimination.

PM Najib must state his stand clearly and this stand must be spelled out in his administration's action against all who made racist statements.

Ibrahim Ali and Utusan Malaysia have tried to confuse and incite religious hatred by manipulating the issue of a DAP member of parliament who visited a mosque in her constituency in her call of duty. Aren't both Ibrahim and Utusan guilty of being mischievous when a few leading religious leaders had said that non-Muslims should not be barred from visiting mosques especially those invited by Muslim leaders and with a good intention?

Is Najib prepared to take action against both Ibrahim and Utusan Malaysia?

PM Najib wants to be known and supported for his liberal and reform credentials but his tendency to flip-flop is going to confuse his would-be-supporters. Clearly, it is not the minorities who are testing the patience of the majority. It is people like Ibrahim Ali, several Umno leaders and Utusan Malaysia who are testing the patience of the minorities. I would urge them to take their grouses to the ballot boxes.

We need to show the ruling regime that we are the real masters. We can put up or tear down a government with our votes.

Make this choice loud and clear if this regime still cannot fathom the virtue of fair and reasonable governance.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Imminent Slide to Oblivion with Racial Politics

Prime Minister Najib Razak has come out strongly to denounce racism, saying that the federal government should adopt the policy of zero tolerance on the issue, with special focus on those who try to incite racial hatred.

I applaud the PM for his statement and would like to hold him accountable for what he has just said at the BN Youth Lab townhall meeting.

He should be commended for his courage to make a stand on racism despite relentless criticism from leaders in his communal party including Dr Mahathir, individuals, organisations and publications supported by his party. Dr Mahathir had went as far as saying NEM and 'meritocracy' is a conspiracy against the Malay supremacy and survival.

Worse, non-Malay political parties such as MCA has started to manipulate race and religion to stamp their own popularity slide too. MCA's president Chua Soi Lek is trying to pit DAP against PAS and its Islamic agenda.

Here is the challenge, a real political will to end racism in politics, policy making and public institutions including the media. Can the PM walk his talk on weeding out racism?

Is his zero tolerance for racism includes leaders in his party and organisations and individuals aligned to his party? Can his party give a firm deadline to turn BN into a real multiracial political coalition cum national party?

Can he direct his civil servants and leaders to focus on helping the poor and needy ones instead of focusing on race and religion?

Is he willing to instruct the formulation of anti-racism act to be passed in parliament to end all racial discrimination?

For now, we will hold him to his commitment to denounce racism and to punish those who incite racial hatred.

Utusan, Ibrahim Ali, Ahmad Ismail, Ridhuan Tee, Chua Soi Lek, teachers, civil servants and those in the opposition camp too should be careful not to incite racial hatred.

I hope that PM's zero tolerance is not only referred to those who are not on the same side of his political equation.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

MCA's Warped Logic on Press Freedom

MCA Chua Soi Lek's understanding of press freedom is odd and bizarre. Does he really understand the meaning of press freedom?

“We value press freedom, we value freedom of the radio but with all freedom, it comes with responsibility. No country in the world has unfettered freedom. No, so every freedom must come with responsibility. More so in a multi-racial country like Malaysia which still have a lot of sensitive issues."

The question is who decides the spectrum of responsibility? MCA? Umno? BN? These are political entities. There are enough mechanism in the legislation to protect and regulate press freedom. Readers and subscribers are very powerful check-and-balance mechanism too.

Second, why can't this country debate and discuss 'sensitive issues' regarding race and religion if it can be conducted maturely?. Ironically, it's race political parties and politicians such as MCA & Umno which are most involved in the use of race and religion as a political tool. Who should regulate these political parties? A free media could play a role to moderate these political parties.
Third, it is the biggest irony that MCA controls both Star Publications and StarFM despite its leadership pledging their support for press freedom. Can a media organisation controlled by a political party become totally free and impartial? Anywhere in the world, there is a reason to ban political parties from controlling any media organisation. It should be the same in Malaysia.

“It is because of this freedom of responsibility that Malaysia continue enjoy its stability and social cohesions,” Chua said.

Chua appears to support the level of press control in Malaysia and what MCMC just did to 988FM deejays on the morning talk show. If this is so, what reform credential can Chua hope to use to convince the Chinese voters that MCA can help to make this country more democratic and less racist?

Dr Chua said that the party practices political non-interference in the media.

“We want to be very clear, we adopt non-interference in The Star and following that 98.8 because that 98.8 is a subsidiary of The Star. We adopt the attitude of non-interference as The Star is a listed entity and it has its business considerations.

If so, the MCA should divest its interest in the Star and StarFM. Allow these organisations to flourish under truly independent shareholders - the public! I offer to take up some shares. I am sure many Malaysians may do the same too to ensure that media organisations serve the interest of the people and not political parties.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Removal of Jamal a.k.a. Jiama of 988FM is Another Black Eye for Press Freedom in Malaysia


The removal of Jamaluddin Ibrahim - a host of the Chinese radio station 988's popular Hello Malaysia programme - for allegedly offending the authorities with his remarks on sensitive racial issues is another black eye for press freedom in Malaysia.

PM Najib's administration is again showing its insecurity and intolerance over dissent and discussion over political, social and governance issues. Unfortunately, the MCMC and the Home Ministry had practiced double standards when parties such as Perkasa and Utusan Melayu had manufactured more racial hatred, lies and hostility.

Jamaluddin told Malaysiakini that the management told him that he had been taken off the air indefinitely from today.

According to him the management received a letter from MCMC yesterday.

The letter named him, saying that the programme is suspected of "threatening national security" and "compromising race relationships".

I had known Jamal for a couple of months and might even use him for a movie my company is jointly producing with a Beijing production house and the famed Beijing Film Academy. Jamal had consistently stayed away from any political related events and tried to stay neutral. He has persistently promoted multiracialism and a truly multiracial political model.

Although a Malay by ethnicity, Jamal is truly reflective of 1Malaysia. He studied in Beijing and took the interest to learn about another culture. His educational background did not make him less Malay unlike a particular Chinese Muslim academician who had forgotten his racial roots.

I had a pleasure to join him twice on his radio programme despite my lack of Mandarin proficiency. He assured me that language is only a medium of communication and took the pain to translate and explain to the listeners my comments.

If his programme is deemed a threat to national security, those cow head protesters, Ibrahim Ali, Ahmad Ismail and other Perkasa members should be locked up in high security prison for life.

I would like to urge all of you to PROTEST the action taken against Jamal. I heard both Qiu Yue and Joe Liaw will be taken off over the next few days too.

This country has stooped too low. Only those as idiotic and ridiculous as the MACC prosecutor Abdul Razak Musa will climb up the leadership ladder.

In this case, 988FM did not have a choice but to remove Jamal and the rest from the morning programme. The radio station was threatened with a removal of their operating license if they refused to take any action against the hosts.

This is a black day for Malaysia press freedom. Ironically, I had just commented on our depressing press freedom index at an international online journalism forum this morning.

Any democratically elected government must be open to criticism. This government, surprisingly, has taken a dangerous path of intolerance and repression.

So shameful!

TBH Inquest: A Classic Case of Nation in Peril

Why a nation in peril? When there is comedy in the court on something as serious as an inquest...
1) MACC Prosecutor Abdul Razak asked Thai pathologist Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand if she had come to “to attack the MACC".

2) "Did you know that the university that you graduated from is not recognised in Malaysia?" he asked, eliciting disgruntled murmurs from the gallery.

3) Abdul Razak next had the gallery groaning in disbelief when he suggested that Teoh had strangled himself and was "depressive".

4) Abdul Razak riled up those in the gallery further by suggesting to Pornthip that her report was "based on her imagination".

5) He then puzzled the court when he stated, "If (Teoh) was unconscious, his body would be heavier."

6) In an effort to make his point, he asked if Pornthip has any experience jumping off a building.

Many of us would be tempted to ask if Abdul Razak was drunk, trying to be funny or plainly unqualified, arrogant and silly.

Pornthip calmly said: "I am here to defend the rights of the dead. Not for the Selangor government or anyone."

This is a statement many local politicians, prosecutors, law enforcement officers and those holding high public positions should ponder and take heart - your duty is to protect and defend the rights of the people.

Abdul Razak should stop embarrassing the nation and his profession by focusing on the factual and scientific evidence on the case. His duty is not to defend/protect the MACC from any wrong doing.

Monday, August 16, 2010

NEM: Flogging a Dead Horse


The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has asked Malaysia to take "decisive" action on reforms under a model programme aimed at revamping a controversial four-decade-old affirmative action policy.

Prime Minister Najib Razak announced in March a 'New Economic Model' or NEM, aimed at reforming elements of the policy favouring the country's majority ethnic Malays in a bid to boost economic competitiveness.

Apart from his announcement, nothing concrete was implemented. Even his reform content has been disputed by proponents of NEP within his party and a newly minted Malay-based rights organisation, Perkasa. Details of the reform programme, including its timing, have not been announced yet.

The Washington-based IMF said yesterday it was looking forward to the NEM's rollout.

IMF call has triggered Ipoh Timor MP Lim Kit Siang to ask whether the model is 'myth or reality'.

This blog opines that the push for a full implementation of NEM is akin to flogging a dead horse. Here are several reasons:

1) The NEM was introduced as a political vision and not a new economic model. As a result, there was so much hesitation from the PM office to roll out the full details of the model. NEM is reactionary step to sooth the public discontent of NEP which has been 'bastardised' since the 1990's. Dr Mahathir had tried to rebrand the NEP by calling it a different name e.g. New Development Model, New Vision Model and subsequently the Vision 2020. NEM is a result of the failure of the NEP and the rest. Since it was a political vision, the NEM does not have a comprehensive economic model to arrest the current malaise and bottlenecks. Cutting subsidies, providing grants or liberalising certain economic sectors alone cannot help this country to reverse its slide and mediocrity. NEM does not stand for long-term economic strategy.

2) PM Najib alone cannot realise or implement his own economic vision if his civil service and political base remained lacklustre and uninterested. The support from his cabinet colleagues has been lame and quiet. More are being cynical of its success than being supportive. Najib is aware that he cannot and not willing to antagonize the conservative leaders in his party by pushing for a complete reform. These conservatives still believe in governance ala Malay supremacy and NEP. This group includes Dr Mahathir, still a popular figure amongst Malay right-winged.

3) Even if the NEM is fully adopted by the government, its implementation may be slow and sluggish. There is no shared values amongst all races and economic consideration is often based on zero-sum game. The government has never truly explore the possibility of multiracial partnership for economic prosperity.

4) Most of the people in this country DO NOT think they can succeed in this country. Hence, many of them do not see Malaysia as a platform for HOPE and PROSPERITY. This translates in outflow of private investment and brains. If the country's foundation is not premised on HOPE and some positive vibes, the NEM is just but a slogan.

Hence, the call for PM Najib to implement the NEM is akin to flogging a dead horse if all parties do not see it necessary to work towards making this country great. Racism must be stopped. Good governance must be the new social glue.

For a start, reject people like Ibrahim Ali and Ridhuan Tee Abdullah. Only in Malaysia, an academician can ask the minorities to go back to their 'motherland' if they are not satisfied with the race affirmative and religious exclusivity policy in the country. The government should do the right thing to remove Tee from his teaching role in the university. He is a threat to a multiracial society.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Political Promises & Superficiality

The bid for Putrajaya has heated up. Political parties are starting to make promises, give sugar coated speeches and offer "goodies".

A party which was associated with democracy, reform and good governance has made some very superficial promises. It's party secretary general Lim Guan Eng has instructed his party leaders to explain the 3 promises.

First, he again committed an annual payment of RM1,000 to senior citizens, whom he defines as those aged 60 and above, as part of the government's annual welfare contribution.

He promised the abolishment of the saman ekor, a notorious form of traffic fines, and the practice of blacklisting vehicle owners from renewing their road tax should they fail to pay outstanding summonses.

Lastly, he promised to provide a free Wi-Fi service for the whole of Malaysia.

Most of us, observers and analysts, had expected something more 'solid' and long-term which include the changing our societal values, ethics, public institutions and democratic structure.

We expected the secretary general to speak about decentralisation of federal power, curbing corruption by enhancing the separation of power and check-and-balance mechanism, to arrest the decline of our education quality, to ban race & religious based political parties, to return full democratic rights to the people and to turn Malaysia into a knowledge hub.

If DAP can win federal power through these 3 promises, then I can safely say that we are truly desperate for change. With or without these promises, Malaysians have had enough of the current regime. It is again this strong push factor which will deliver DAP the government, not the 3 promises.

We should be careful of superficial promises. It is not that I do not enjoy free wifi but anything free does not have good maintenance and support service. I am willing to continue paying for a good wifi service BUT I would rather political parties focus on the collective betterment.

Like now, I am facing an agony of a failed modem and Telekom Malaysia's misplaced sense of customer service. TM service centres are only open from 8.30am to 4.30pm from mon to fri. How on earth can the company serve its customers better if it does not consider opening at least on Saturdays?

Is this a making of superficial Malaysian society?

Maybe we need a smarter Third Force. Haris Ibrahim, where are you?

Bastardisation of NEP by Racist Bastards!

I applaud CIMB group CEO Nazir Abdul Razak for his frankness.

He described the the NEP has having been bastardised over the deviation from its original purpose.

Saying that it has come a long way from the social engineering experiment originally aimed at eradicating poverty, Nazir said that the NEP has appeared to enrich small pockets of people.

He criticized the issuance of Approved Permits (AP) to certain well connected people. In fact, the Naza group was able to grow into one of the largest beneficiaries and companies through this AP scheme.

AP is just a scheme created by the government to squeeze private car owners in the country. We are not given an option to choose e.g. between buying our own private car or using the public transport. Malaysia's public transport is worse than some third world country. Do not be surprised if you find it extremely difficult to find public buses on the road.

Nazir said, "If you just want a small number of people to make money, might as well just give them money." The government did just that - with our money!

Leaders in both Umno and Perkasa continue to defend the NEP because it is a potent tool to line up their pockets and to perpetuate their racist politics.

Race politics is justified through the use of NEP to protect the Malay interests. Interestingly, no leader in Umno can tell us why the community is still lagging behind the Chinese.

The failure of NEP requires a thorough study and review. I hope Khairy will do the same to warn his leaders not to sweep this failure under the carpet.

Maybe he could call up Nazir for an enlightenment.

To stop this bastardisation, SAY NO TO RACISM!

DAP, UMNO & MCA Must All Walk the Talk

Umno and MCA Youth leaders have criticized the DAP’s handling of the letterhead issue and the “OMG! The real culprit freed” tweet.

Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin said it did not make sense for Selangor DAP leader Teng Chang Khim to use a movie as a cover-up for his tweet, and that he believes Teng had actually meant to describe another DAP leader.

On Selangor exco member Ronnie Liu, he said Liu’s explanation was weak when he claimed he was not aware his letterhead had been used in a supporting letter for a company linked to the son of a Klang councillor.

“It is nothing less than covering up what they did. They try to sweep things under the carpet,” Khairy said yesterday.

I agree with the Umno youth chief that any mischief in the party must not be covered up. I hope he and other youth leaders in MCA and Umno can use the same yardstick on other issues and controversies.

Why is there no action on V.K Lingam's judicial fixing case although an action was recommended by the Royal Commission of Inquiry?

Why are some of the culprits not investigated thoroughly in the PKFZ case?

Why is there no investigation on the allegations of Sarawak CM's huge wealth?

What about the Auditor General's annual report which highlighted abuse, misuse and wastage of resources?

When a RCI on custodial deaths will be established? When will the IPCMC be implemented, as proposed by another RCI?

There are too many cases swept under the carpet by the BN top leadership both Khairy and his MCA youth chief are serving.

DAP should come clean on Ronnie Liu because his explanation is not satisfactory. In the past, the party had tried to introduce parliamentary resolutions to cut salaries of ministers who were not performing satisfactorily. Ronnie had admited to his own folly and ineptness as a state exco. Isn't there any other leader who is capable enough to fill his position?

Umno and MCA must stand accountable for the cases listed above too and dozens more.

Politicians must walk their talk. I thought Khairy was just trying to so hard to rebuild his credibility. Why is he being selective here?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Road to Financial Disaster?

  1. Scorpene maintenance for 5 years - RM1.3 billion
  2. PKFZ in the next 5 years - RM12.5 billion
  3. Bakun Dam - RM7.3 billion
  4. Putrajaya & Cyberjaya - RM15 billion
  5. More and counting...

Corruption and abuse of power is a disease in our society. Can Malaysia survive and thrive if financial abuses and wastage were to continue?

Only in Malaysia, we pay senators who are only interested in someone else's private sex life and not policy making or fixing problems.

Or politicians who are only good at making threats and not solutions.

Or politicians who abuse their power and position but push the responsibility to someone else.

How long can Malaysians can tolerate this situation until we realize that the future of this country lies in us and our choice of good and honest people to lead the country?

Stop quarreling over colour and creed. It is plain common sense that we get over them the soonest the better.

Tony Pua Receives Bullet for His Statement, Umno Suffers an Electoral Blow

MP Tony Pua receives a live bullet and a threatening note for his statement on scrapping Bumiputera discount for luxury and commercial properties above RM500k.

Is this what Umno Ahmad Maslan meant when he advised Pua not to 'play with fire'? It looks like someone in Johor has taken the remark quite seriously.

Politicians should learn how to debate sensibly and respectfully. However, the death threat should be taken seriously. Moreover, indirectly and whether Umno likes it or not, the threat has dented the party's credibility with even more voters.

Public perception of the party is so poor that an act like this, although may not be directly linked to the party, will affect the party's credibility the same. It means Umno should seek out the culprit and kick his ass for creating another perception problem for the party.

BN or Umno must be confident enough to engage with their competitors through healthy and clean competitions. Ultimately, the party can only win back lost support by being responsible and reasonable.

Definitely not through hurling threats, abuses or sending death threats.

This is yet another sign of this country going the wrong path.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

TBH: "Suicide Note" May Turn Into a "Death Warrant"

The plot gets thicker. First, a note was said to be found in Teoh's sling bag. Here's part of the AG Chamber's press release:

"The Attorney-General Chambers was informed of the discovery of the note by the investigating officer, ASP Ahmad Nazri Zainal on Oct 7 some two over months after Teoh Beng Hock's death. According to the investigation officer it was not found when he first searched the deceased's sling bag after the incident. The note was immediately translated and there was sufficient cause to send it to be analysed by a Document Examiner of the Chemistry Department. The said note was sent on Oct 9 and subsequently on Oct 20."

A number of parties have alleged that it was TBH's 'suicide note'. Even DAP Lim Kit Siang was pushed to ask if TBH was forced to commite suicide.

Here's another latest development:

The family of the deceased Teoh Beng Hock has pointed out several discrepancies in the handwritten note purportedly left by the former DAP exco aide, casting serious doubt on its authenticity and press speculation that it was Teoh's 'suicide note'.

"Even Teoh's purported signature is far from his signature on documents. I have been handed the note and (accompanying) documents, with a view to obtain the services of a handwriting expert to give evidence in the inquest," said Karpal Singh.

"As the attorney-general (AG) had expressed doubts over the note, the hearing of the evidence by investigating officer ASP Ahmad Nazri Zainal should be deferred until the coroner enlists the services of an internationally-reputed expert in handwriting to give evidence."

Karpal said the government should foot the bill, adding that in view of public interest surrounding Teoh's mysterious death, the public will be more than happy to provide the funds to do so in the event the government shirks their responsibility.

Earlier, I opined that the government MUST set up a RCI to investigate this case. Next, it is almost impossible for the court not to instruct a thorough expert examination of the note to determine if it comes from the deceased or not.

What the family has disputed is very critical to the outcome of the case. If the note is false, then it shows that the rot in some of our public institutions is deep and serious. It may indicate that some parties have been trying to frame the death as a 'suicide'.

If the note is genuine, the other side of the political fence may need to look deep into their own ranks to ensure that they nip corruption at its bud.

Either way, the death of TBH must not be in vain.

It is of utmost importance to look into the family testimony that the note is fake.

Nazri Aziz may not like this case to politicize. Too bad, it was political right at from the start when TBH was hauled in for questioning. The political cost will be very high for some political parties.

Yes, 1Malaysia Concept is Not a Failure But...

I concur with 1Malaysia Foundation chairman Chandra Muzaffar that the concept is not a failure or bad for the people.

What is lacking is the political will to implement the real spirit of 1Malaysia e.g. offering equality, sense of belonging, fairness, socio-economic justice and mutual respect to all Malaysians regardless of race or creed.

For the concept to be successful, the BN government must not continue to play its race supremacy game. If a particular race is seen as more supreme or privileged than others, the concept of 1Malaysia will remain a mere concept without a soul.

I agree with Chandra that a lack of understanding should not be construed as a failure, as portrayed by various quarters (chiefly Dr Mahathir).

Hence, his foundation should participate positively to ensure that all racist statements, unfair racial practices and policies are curbed and reduced.

As a respectable researcher, Chandra should refrain from comparing us to those countries at the bottom of the league. He said that "Malaysia's level of violence has been minimal and we should be proud of it. So much less than Sri Lanka, India, Kosovo, Bosnia, Ireland or Lebanon."

He should know that this is not a good yardstick to move this nation forward to become a fully developed country by 2020. We will not get there by benchmarking us with amongst the worse nations. Try Norway, Japan, Sweden, New Zealand, Switzerland and others.

For once, the government should prove that it is efficient and competent and should strive to make 1Malaysia a real success.

SAY NO TO RACISM!

RCI for Teoh Beng Hock a MUST!

Teoh Beng Hock's sudden death case is not and should not become a political tool for any parties. The Teoh family deserves to know the truth and the real reason which led to his sudden demise.

Hence, we should be surprised if there has been a lot of criticism of the AG's Chambers who are assisting in the inquest of Teoh Beng Hock, over a sudden appearance of a mysterious note which can provide an insight to the political aide's state of mind before his death.

Rightly the Bar Council has called for the setting up of a Royal Commission of Enquiry, to not only investigate the death but also the shortcomings within the criminal justice system. The government has NO CHOICE but to set up a RCI to investigate a gross misconduct of justice here.

"We are disappointed with the Attorney General Chambers which has withheld a crucial document from the Coroner's Court. The suppression of evidence particularly in such a high profile matter, is disturbing regardless of the reason," said Bar Council chairman Ragunath in a statement.

"This action is indicative of a serious lapse of judgment and undermines the proceeding of the inquest."

He added that a fundamental tenet in a criminal matter is that all evidence must be disclosed, and made accessible to all parties, including evidence which could also be detrimental to their case.

Teoh's case has become a hot potato for the ruling government because he was an aide to a state DAP lawmaker/exco in Selangor. The BN government had insisted that it did not play a role in the MACC investigation of the late Teoh.

As such, BN politicians should not and must not be too quick to defend the AG or MACC on their ineptness. Doing so would only create a perception that these agencies are acting in cahoot with the politicians. As the ruling government, they should play a role to facilitate the process of justice.

Both agencies should be well trained to handle such evidence. As Ragunath said, the suppression of evidence in such a high profile case is totally unacceptable. Someone must take responsibility for the abuse of justice.

Why tender the 'note' only now? Why not at the early stage of inquest?

Is the AG convinced that the note is genuine?

Malaysians must rally to ensure that this country and its institutions do not stray from their original purpose.

Politicians must be taught to respect democracy and independence of public institutions.

Monday, August 09, 2010

This Country Needs a Little TLC - We Need Real Heroes

Many of us would agree that Malaysia is a beautiful country and a comfortable place to live in. It is blessed with natural beauty, tropical climate and is largely protected from any major natural catastrophe. Unsurprisingly, Malaysia has become a favourite golfing destination to many golfers.

What this country need is a little tender loving care. How often have we walked into a filthy, dirty and smelly wet market? Almost everyday. How often do we find rubbish littered and drain clogged neighbourhood and yet residents in the area continue to live their life as though they are not threatened by any health risk? Quite often.

Malaysians need to care more for their own country, society, community and neighbourhood. The state of our public transport system, education system, economy, governments, politics and public amenities reflects how much we care for this country. We have allowed them to rot and deteriorate.

We have allowed the politicians we have elected to continue using race and religion to sway us from focusing on their real incompetency and weaknesses. Some politicians are spending more time on their racial agenda more than trying to find useful solutions to help address some of these issues.

It is a myth that these racist politicians and political parties cannot be defeated. They prevailed because we had allowed them to do so.

It is time to focus on the real community heroes especially those who aspire no political power nor fame but have gone out in their small ways to help the poor, the unprivileged and the oppressed.

I would like to dedicate this blog to highlight the heroic efforts by some of our people. You help find these heroes, file a story and send us some pictures and we will highlight their story.

It is time not to depend too much on people (especially politicians) who are only working for their own selfish interests and not ours.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

MCA President Chua Suffers From Inconsistency & Delusion

MCA president Dr Chua Soi Lek criticized both Umno and PAS for using religion to strengthen their influence over the Malays and to garner support from the community.

When the two dominant Malay-Muslim dominant parties compete, Chua said, the consequence would be the implementation of non-progressive policies, resulting in the country being 'trapped' in the middle-income category for more than 10 years.

He noted that Umno has become more conservative to compete with PAS in getting Malay support.

For the first part, Chua is not wrong in his observation that Umno is trying to become more Islamic than PAS albeit superficially. Ironically, he was flayed by DAP leaders who had said the same prior to the 2008 general election.

Political contestation between Umno and PAS has now taken a larger form. The fight is no longer confined to the two political parties but included parties in both coalitions. It is obvious that DAP needs to defend PAS in order to retain both Malay and non-Malay support for the coalition. It is a fact that PAS has never backed down from their intent to establish an Islamic nation.

Both parties are still hoping to convince the other on the merits of constitutional secularism or Islamic nation. PAS Youth still protest at every concert featuring Western artistes especially female. Yet, many of us are wondering why many international artistes prefer to go to Singapore or Thailand and not here.

MCA president Chua, despite his stinging criticism of PAS and muslim-majority countries, was quick to point out that Malaysia is 'lucky' and different under the leadership of Umno-BN. How lucky or different are we compared to the others? Corruption, cronism, nepotism, racism and abuse of power are rampant in Malaysia. His party just did a flip-flop on the 'Allah' ban issue.

Chua is a very lucky man. He was successful in a party leadership coup despite being caught in an affair recorded on video and shown to the world. In a true Islamic state, he would have been stoned to death as a punishment for infidelity. Perhaps this is his reason for stating that Malaysia is different. Not Malaysia, only those in BN are different.

The problem with Chua is a lack of consistency. He would have been applauded if he had chosen to stick to his position on politicizing religion. He should have put it in clearest terms that his party will not have anything to do with both Umno or PAS should the practice persists.

Referring to Syed Akbar Ali's book 'Malaysia and the Club of Doom', Chua points out the weaknesses of muslim-majority countries e.g. less democracy because of the emphasis on religion; they have elections but also have councils of Muslim elders enjoying absolute power; practise of absolute monarchy; and formulating policies not on par with global development.

Malaysia under the BN regime is faring no better. The quality of education is taking a dip and most non-Malay parents are shunning the national schools which have been pursuing policies which are detrimental to multiracialism. The ban of non-Muslim extra curricular activities e.g. Christian and Buddhist clubs is a prime example of overzealous Islamisation.

Yet, political parties and individuals cannot speak up on the issue due to threats by Umno politicians. MCA was made to retract its own statement on the 'Allah' ban issue. The subjugation of civil courts is another contentious issue which the party has failed to provide any leadership in the BN.

Malaysia, as a muslim-majority country, could have been a beacon of light and a great model for other muslim-majority countries to follow. We could have shown to the muslim world that it is possible to flourish and develop through brain power and by adopting real democracy and not just oil money.

Chua should admit and recognise that Malaysia has failed as a knowledge economy. We are more dependent on oil revenue compared to 2-3 decades ago. More than 1 million brains had left the country and more will follow soon if Malaysia remained the same way.

Undeniably, MCA is already in its twilight zone. The space for minority race based political parties is limited and narrowing. Most Chinese voters have moved beyond the 'new village' politics of the 60's and 70's.

Chua's statement against muslim-majority countries is bold but not wise. MCA may end up angering the Umno support base which is its lifeline in the next general election. It is hard to imagine MCA winning more than 30% support from the Chinese community. MCA has not caught up and it was left behind by the community.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Sime Darby Financial Losses: A Ticking GLCs' Timebomb for BN

I was asked to comment on the Sime Darby financial losses by Reuters. Alarmingly, this should not be viewed as a stand alone case. The Sime Darby management fiasco and poor investment decisions should trigger a deeper look at the government's GLCs strategy. I will touch on a few key points which must be considered before other time bombs are being set off.

The Malaysian Insider reported that the government conglomerate will next month announce that potential full-year net loss could top RM2 billion — and go as high as RM2.5 billion. Most of the losses are down to ill-advised investments in the energy and utilities sector in Qatar as well as tardy business practices in the development of the Bakun dam in Sarawak.

The online news portal also mentioned that property division managing director Tunku Badlishah Tunku Annuar has been removed from some units within his division while other top officials are being put on notice after Sime Darby instructed former chief executive Datuk Seri Ahmad Zubir Murshid to take a leave of absence last May 13 in relation to the losses.

There are several issues which must not be taken lightly:

1) There were calls for the removal of the entire BODs led by Chairman Tun Musa Hitam whom most critics argued was responsible for the losses and poor investment decisions. However, it must be noted that the removal of the BODs is not a solution to the current problem. It is a non-issue that the directors are responsible for the poor results and ought to step down. The main is the direction of the conglomerate and all other GLCs. Eventually the government should shoulder some responsibility for not properly defining the scope and objectives of the GLCs. What is the main purpose of GLCs?

2) The investment evaluation process for GLCs should be more transparent and stringent because they are public trust companies. GLCs should have a clear risk barometer or level that they should not break.

3) The executive appointment process has been in the limelight for many years. Are we putting the best people to run these companies? Are the executives and directors subjected to same rigorous standards set by private practices? Is affirmative action involved in the selection process and is it contributing to the poor placement record? Political nominees and retired politicians should stay out of running the GLCs if the government wants to protect its investments.

4) Are GLCs performing at their optimal level and doing business within their scope of core competency? In the case of Sime Darby, it is obvious that the company had overstepped its boundaries by investing in projects beyond its capability and capacity. This is not the first time it had happened. Its foray in the banking industry was equally disastrous.

5) GLCs are being assigned to help catalyst the development of several regional economic corridors. Now, the government must relook at this possibility of not overloading these companies. Should GLCs be further burdened with public projects and at the same time expected to deliver profitability as public listed companies?

6) Does the use of GLCs to spearhead and help fund public projects exposes the flaws and weaknesses in the BN socio-economic policies? Why aren't we able to attract private investments and foreign direct investments to help spur the economy through our economic policies?

The catastrophic performance of Sime Darby should not be taken as an isolated case. It may just be a trigger for similar cases in GLCs. We do not know how well or poorly these companies are being managed unless something bad has happened.

It is inevitable for the government to admit the weaknesses in its GLCs strategy and socio-economic policies and find proper long-term remedies to address them. Otherwise, it will turn into an agitated spirit which will haunt the coalition for a long time to come.

If not carefully managed, Malaysia may already be on a path of financial crisis.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

22 UMNO Youth Divisions Acting Silly by Lodging Police Report Against Tony Pua

A total of 22 Umno youth divisions in Selangor lodged police reports simultaneously against Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua.

Selangor Umno Youth information chief Sufarizul Mustafa said the reason for the police reports were due to the MP’s suggestion recently to scrap the discount for bumiputras when purchasing commercial properties and luxury homes in the state.

"The MP's suggestion can be considered insensitive and provocative in nature.

"It also challenges the Article 153 of the Federal Constitution (which safeguards the special position of Malays and bumiputra) and is an offence under the Sedition Act," said Sufarizul.

In the old school Umno's politics, Sufarizul and his division leaders are expecting to receive a pat on their back. Unfortunately, in today's political reality, Sufarizul and his division leaders are acting silly and childish.

Umno of the past was protecting poor Malay farmers and general workers. It was a voice of the downtrodden. Interestingly Sufarizul and his colleagues are now championing and protecting the rich.

Sufarizul should have taken up causes such as anti-corruption, the provision of low cost houses, employment, access to good education, crime prevention and affordable healthcare which would have direct benefit to the poor and low income Malay families.

Is Sufarizul helping or destroying Umno's credentials?

Let's find out if the police are equally silly to investigate Tony.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Whither Brand Malaysia?

A short opinion piece on what hurts a brand by Richard Hartung makes an interesting read. Faced with escalating cost pressure and a lacklustre economy, many companies are cutting back on their service and product quality.

Keeping cost low has been the single biggest factor contributing to many industries using unskilled foreign labour. Years ago, the Malaysian F&B industry is not only known for its good taste but also warm and courteous service. Many of us had worked in some of the food outlets during school breaks.

Today, most of these outlets hire foreign workers to run their kitchen and customer service. Alarmingly, most the outlet owners feel that their business is not sustainable if they were to pay local salary. Sadly, this is a wrong perception. Foreign workers especially those who are customer facing should still be properly trained to deliver their duties professionally and diligently. The sad fact is most of them are not properly trained. It would mean additional cost to business owners.

Without a proper intervention, the service and food quality of a restaurant may drop to a level where customers/patrons will move to competitors. Malaysian F&B and hospitality industry should rethink their human resource strategy to improve service and product quality.

Brand Malaysia is facing a similar problem. Governments, individuals and companies in the country do not embrace a shared sense of responsibility to enhance Brand Malaysia. Often, we hear harsh criticism against the country but very little is being done/initiated to make this country a better place to live in.

The erosion of Brand Malaysia is real. We no longer command a goodwill we used to enjoy. We have lost this harmonious multiracial and multicultural country decades ago. There was a time when our people of races were able to sit, eat and live together without having any fuss, fear or suspicion. This golden era is over. Like some political parties, this is Malaysia Baru which is not necessary better than the old, friendly and warm Malaysia we used to inherit from our forefathers.

Governments, politicians, individuals and companies need to take the right step to stop the slide. Ultimately, when this ship sinks it will take us all down with it.

Yes, Dr Mahathir and DPM Muhyiddin were spot on about the failure of 1Malaysia. Ironically, they were contributors to its failure. Dr M is a patron of Malay pressure group, Perkasa and Muhyiddin has just warned the MCA on the 'Allah' appeal.

Racism, extremism and parochial politics are tearing apart the social fabric of this country. It is time for the country to get serious about multiracial Malaysia or 1Malaysia.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Police Action Against Anti-ISA Vigils Tears Apart PM Najib's Reform Credentials

Riot police broke up several candle-light vigils across the country tonight, detaining 30 people here, four in Penang and one in Ipoh.

The crowds had gathered to protest the Internal Security Act (ISA) which turned 50 today. The security law allows for detention without trial and has been wielded against more than 10,000 people since it went to effect on August 1, 1960.

The least the government could do is to allow for peaceful demonstrations and vigils against the draconian which the ruling regime had the privilege to abuse and misuse for nearly 5 decades.

Peaceful demonstrations and assemblies are a common feature in a healthy democracy. In a democracy, it is difficult to get the support of all citizens. Some may like the legislation (e.g. the 10 pro-ISA thugs in Penang) and others may disagree with its continuation.

The most important thing is to allow for freedom of expression to flourish. PM Najib should prove that he is sincere with his various reform pledges. Unfortunately, he had lost the golden opportunity to show that his administration is able to handle peaceful protests and engage with the protesters respectfully. His government is not an absolute monarchy and it is answerable to the people.

The police would have acted in such an uncivilised and brutish manner if they are not supported by the higher level which points to the Home Ministry and Hishamuddin Hussein and IGP Musa Hassan and the buck stops at the PM office. It is a big PR blunder. It makes me wonder what is APCO getting paid for?

The police may have successfully broke up the vigils but the regime is suffering another blow to their credentials.

It is such a shame!

Would investors put their money in a country which cannot tolerate peaceful dissent?

A Litmus Test for DAP - Rogue Councillor & a Twitter Post

DAP, of all parties, has been making the loudest noise on fighting graft and cronyism. As a result, when the 'rogue councillor' allegation surfaced against one of its top state leaders, Tee Boon Hock, the party has acted swiftly to expel the former.

However, the party's disciplinary committee action to summon Selangor state assembly speaker Teng Chang Khim over his Tweet has raised some eyebrows.

The party's move is in relation to a Twitter post by Teng over the expulsion of Klang municipal councillor Tee Boon Hock from DAP yesterday, for allegedly misusing a Selangor exco member's letterhead to secure contracts for his cronies and family. Tee had earlier denied doing so.

In an immediate reaction, Teng had wrote: “OMG (oh my god)! Real culprit is freed.”

The party should treat Teng as a potential witness and he should be given due respect. The main culprit is not Teng and the party must walk its talk on protecting whistle blowers.

There are several irregularities in the case:

1) Why is Ronnie Liu not aware that his assistant had used his official letterhead to secure contracts for certain parties?

2) Who allows Tee to use the letterhead?

3) What's worse it took The Star to blow the cover. Tee should still go ahead with his plan to sue the daily.

4) Is Ronnie performing his exco duties diligently?

Yes, Ronnie should be made answerable to all allegations including his ineptness as a state exco.

If Teng is punished by the party, DAP will walk along the aisle of hypocrites. This is a litmus test for the party.

Ahmad Maslan is a Symptom of Mediocrity

Umno information chief Ahmad Maslan told Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua not to "play with fire" by proposing the scrapping of discounts for Bumiputera for the purchase of commercial and luxury properties in Selangor.

He said the current percentage of shophouses and business premises owned by bumiputeras in the urban areas was very low, at only 14 per cent, and that the scrapping of the discounts would only make things worse.

"So, I'm asking YB Tony Pua not to play with fire," he said, "Don't even light a match."

Ahmad said the DAP leader had clearly made the suggestion with total disregard of the sensitivity of the Malays and bumiputeras in the country who made about two third of the country's population.

He told reporters here that he also believed that the statement was a part of DAP's long lists of attempts to question the Malay and bumiputera privileges in the country.

The fact is Ahmad is only speaking from his deep conscious. Never mind if the Umno information chief sounded so unpolished and brash. Although, his mannerism will not endear him to many Malaysians he is still entitled to his views and opinions.

The only problem is Ahmad has portrayed the Malays as angry people who will go berserk and run amok if their rights are being challenged. Hence, Ahmad had reminded Tony Pua not to play with fire.

Hurling threats and abuses may get Ahmad somewhere within the hierarchy of his party but it does not exclude him from having to justify if giving purchase discounts for luxury properties meets the objective of NEP?

Indirectly, Ahmad's hostile reaction is a fine example of the failure of NEP. The policy was supposed to help and assist the poor, create more middle-class families and to build capacity of Bumiputeras (not just the Malays). We agree and accept a policy which helps the poor regardless of race including the original intent of the NEP.

If the policy was implemented properly, Ahmad Maslan, Ibrahim Ali and Muhyiddin Yasin should be excluded from the NEP category. All three are making quite a decent income as MP, company director or cabinet member.

Here is where our disagreement of NEP lies. Umno wants the policy to continue benefiting the rich and well-connected. We want the policy to benefit only the poor and underprivileged.

This is the reality - the ruling elites and well connected upper echelon would not want to replace the NEP. They want to use it to their advantage to continue to enjoy special privileges, deny the needy ones from getting them and to create unfair competitive advantage (e.g. Bumiputera privileges for public contracts and access to certain industries) for themselves and their cronies.

The scary part is everybody in the country is acting like a savage. Everybody is only going after its resources without having a sense of responsibility and commitment to build a better society for our next generations.

Once these resources are depleted, this country may be abandoned and others who are not so fortunate may fight over crumbs or may even kill for things we used to waste when there are still plenty to go around.

Does Ahmad or his party love Malaysia?

Sunday, August 01, 2010

MACC Abu Kassim Mohamed Must Walk His Talk

Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief Abu Kassim Mohamed intends to push the Najib administration members to declare their assets publicly.

The Cabinet members now declare their assets to Prime Minister Datuk Seri
Najib Razak annually but it is not made public.

He was responding to a suggestion from former Bar Council president Ambiga Sreenevasan that the assets of politicians - particularly those in the Cabinet - and the judiciary be made publicly available for the sake of transparency.

"I agree with you... Everybody - for example, the minister or the judiciary - has to declare," he told Ambiga.

Some already doubted his ability or persuasive power to get the PM and his cabinet members to give their nod.

Abu Kassim's promise is crucial and should be supported by all. It will test if the MACC is a truly independent body and not answerable to the politicians. It will be near impossible for the anti-graft body to function efficiently and without fear or favour if it cannot even compel the politicians especially those serving in high public office to declare their assets publicly.

MACC must ensure that the process and procedure is correct and credible too.

Abu Kassim should be held accountable to what he had promised - to get the cabinet ministers and judiciary to declare their assets publicly. Otherwise, he should walk his talk - be willing "to go down". He is answerable to the people and not any politicians.

This is a first positive statement from the MACC chief.

Did DAP Overeact on Tee Boon Hock?

Tee Boon Hock was accused of abusing the state exco, Ronnie Liu, letterhead to approve projects worth more than RM1 million to some 20 companies. One of the companies enlisted Tee's son as a partner.

Tee was expelled by DAP to quell criticism against the party's appointed official. DAP has been trying to build its credential as a crusader of corruption. Penang CM Lim Guan Eng has been leading the call against corruption in Penang through his CAT initiative. He was recently embroiled with a federal officer over some financial issues and has been critical of BN federal government over several financial scandals.

Hence, DAP's reaction on the Tee Boon Hock case is predictable. However, some party members accused some state leaders in the party of conspiring against Tee due to the forthcoming state party elections.

Klang DAP liaison secretary Lee Fu Haw said it was a harsh treatment meted against a DAP activist who had made many contributions to the party since he joined almost three decades ago.

Tee also reiterated his stance that he had not known a contractor had taken his son, Tee Chin Chin, as a partner in the company when he signed a letter of support for in 2008.

Lee's allegation is so predictable too. The most important issue here is public accountability. Tee or DAP internal politicking is none of our business. But how councillors conduct themselves is our business especially when some of them such as Tee were given an authority to approve contracts.

What did Tee do when he found out that his son was a partner in the company? Did he act on it swiftly to ensure that the contract was retracted?

DAP may have overreacted due to its own political interest. A suspension would have been sufficient since investigation is still ongoing but Tee's justification is totally unacceptable too.

This is a good lesson for all appointed and elected political representatives. All of them must be accountable for their own action especially those holding public office. Tee's record for decades of public service has been tarnished by a single act of unprofessionalism. He should have studied the background of all contractors bidding for projects. Most importantly, he should communicate with his son more.

His ex-boss, state exco Ronnie Liu, must ensure that only he is allowed to do such an important task - supporting or recommending contractors for state projects. Better still, the state government should establish an independent and transparent procurement system to evaluate all bidders.

Generally, DAP did the right thing.

50 Years of ISA: Enough is Enough!

50 years of Internal Security Act, this is the time to say NO to this scandalous and draconian archaic legislation which was misused and will continue to be abused by people in power for their own political interest.

It is time to say NO to this legislation. It is to REPEAL a legislation which is outdated and outmoded. ISA is not consistent with the kind of society we wanted to create. We want a society in which a real democracy can flourish.

Democracy means freedom of view, opinion and speech.

Democracy means justice for all. Hence, it is time to end ISA and to say NO to Racism.

We should tell the federal government that we do not need the ISA. We shall tell them that racial politics is the lowest denomination of human civilisation.
Say it TODAY!