Sunday, October 31, 2010

Unsustainable Politics & Bastardisation of Citizenship

Like the Malay Rulers, I share their concern over current political trend. However, I am surprised that the Rulers have taken such a one-sided approach regarding their concern. There is no democratic government in the world which has done so much to bastardize the sovereignty of citizenship like Malaysia.

A Malaysian citizen is a citizen regardless of race or creed. This federal government has tried to usurp the sanctity of the federal constitution by creating a politically motivated multi-tiered citizenship e.g. Malay Bumiputera, Non-Malay Bumiputera, Chinese, Indian & Others. This action is a dangerous attack on the federal constitution.

The Malay Rulers urged the people to understand and appreciate the history of the formation of the country and the Federal Constitution founded on the social contract, that is the spirit of consensus and understanding among the races and the concurrence of the Malay Rulers.

It is pertinent for the Malay Rulers to touch on the need to appreciate the nation's history. The history content of this country must be objectively presented and shared with all Malaysians. However, the Rulers should be mindful of attempts to rewrite our nation building history which may alter the multiracial dynamics of this society. Malaysia's fate since independence was to become a home to a multiracial society.

Politicians and Rulers had agreed that there was a need to restructure the society to ensure equitable distribution of wealth and opportunities. This task must be complemented with efforts to build the capacity of Malays and indigenous people to compete on the same level playing field with the rest. It is important to note the difference between privileges & rights. There was no perpetual exclusive rights embedded in the federal constitution. It would be against the spirit of the constitution to subjugate any person(s) or community in the Malaysian society.

The statement said that the meeting viewed with great concern the current political trend, which was seen to be stoking racial sentiments and challenging the sovereignty of the Federal Constitution.

It said the meeting took note of current developments as well as the anxiety expressed by individuals and non-governmental organisations over matters touching on Islam, the position of the Malay Rulers, the Malays and the Malay language.

Make no mistake that politicians who refused to accept and respect the full citizenship rights of non-Malays as enshrined in the federal constitution should be found guilty of challenging the sovereignty of the federal constitution. The constitution does not only protect the rights of Malays. It protects the rights of all Malaysians. The federal constitution is citizenship centric and there is no special mention of the term 'Bumiputera' - which was a political creation.

Hence, the Rulers should reprimand politicians who have continued to belittle, show disrespect and try to marginalize the minorities through their governance. Malay Rulers should review their position within the constitution. They are not only Rulers to the Malays but to all Malaysians. Malaysians respect the role and sanctity of constitutional monarchy, the position of Malay language and the supremacy of the federal constitution.

However, the people cannot and must not tolerate attempts to bastardize the citizenship, distort the nation's history, subjugate the federal constitution, corrupt the public institutions and abuse their constitutional power to protect their personal and political interests.

The statement said the Malay Rulers and all the Yang Dipertua Negeri understood and appreciated the efforts of the federal government to unite the people based on the spirit enshrined in the Federal Constitution.

Apart from praising the federal government, the Rulers should remind the government not to perpetuate the current political practice. It is clearly unsustainable. National unity is synonymous with equal rights, mutual respect and justice for all citizens. History had shown us that governments which tried to create and sustain a supreme race had perished in the world. Rebellions and revolutions were started because there were political & class arrogance, feudalism, massive corruption & poverty, oppression and unfairness in societies.

How many 100 storey towers this nation can afford to build in order to impress the outside world of Malaysia's socio-economic superiority and advancement? The credibility gained can be quickly cancelled out by acts of contempt, unfairness, brutality & lawlessness as shown in the cases of abuse & unlawful detention of witnesses, unnaturally delivery of justice, massive corruption, failure of governance, mediocrity, malaise and political violence?

Race supremacy & national unity are different sides of a coin.

Who is threatening the federal constitution? One who champions race supremacy or one who asks for equality & fairness?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Social Contract & 1Malaysia

PM Najib Razak should know that he cannot have the whole cake and eat it. He cannot champion the 'social contract' and promote 1Malaysia at the same time. It would be a hard sell. These two concepts are contradictory.

1Malaysia speaks of unity and equality. 1Malaysia should focus on the primacy and importance of citizenship. Malaysians should be proud of their nation and society. 1Malaysia is consistent with the vision of our forefathers to ensure that Malaysia develops as a secular democratic country.

However, his party had attempted to distort history, create an imaginary multi-tiered society of bumiputera Malay, non-Malay bumiputera, Chinese, Indian and others. His speech at the recent Umno generally assembly intended to stop this twisted notion of social structure and class from being properly debated by researchers, intellectuals and general public.

Years of social intoxication under Umno rule has made it almost impossible for any concept/vision such as Vision 2020, Bangsa Malaysia, 1Malaysia or a just and democratic society to work. The interpretation of Umno's social contract has created a generation of Malay students in one race institutions who are ignorant of the nation's history and its socio-political development. Click on this video to watch an example.

His administration, past administrations and his party annual assemblies have been repeating the same mantra of Malay supremacy, Malay rights and the social contract.

The fact that Umno has failed to acknowledge that Malay competitiveness is being eroded due to this false shield of Malay supremacy is the biggest sin committed by the party in order to sustain its grip on political power.

Malay students are make to believe that they do not have to excel in their studies because they have special birth rights and direct claim to the wealth and resources of this country.

They believe an easy passage in life is being laid for them by the government because they are special and supreme.

The social contract mantra promoted by Umno to get whole sale Malay support is going to erode the Malays socio-economic position in the future. Without real capability, knowledge, skill and communication ability, this special status is not going to help any Malay becoming a successful global citizen.

Malays should not blame other races for not being able to compete in the private sector. The rule of the game in private sector is merit based. There is no special quota or privileges. All participants have to play and accept the same rules.

Sadly, the more Najib preaches about the social contract the worse his reform credibility gets. A reformer should understand how this social contract is poisoning his own community.

Yes, I do agree with some Umno delegates on the 30 percent quota. Why just 30%? Like many others, I would like to see more capable Malays and would be happy if they can earn more than the 30% share of equity through their own capability, business acumen and know-how.

It is time this government stops flip-flopping. Between 1Malaysia and Social Contract ala Umno, the PM should just choose one. He cannot have the whole cake and eat it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Malaysian Dilemma: 2 Kali 5 Politicians

I read with incredulity the recent 2011 budget announcement made by PM Najib Razak. So much money will be allocated to several mega projects e.g. 100 storey tower, new LRT lines, 1Malaysia Malls in Vietnam and China (how is this project going to create jobs for Malaysians?) and several others.

Yesterday, he announced several key projects at the PWTC. I got several calls from reporters/journalists asking my take on his announcement. The sheer amount mentioned is mouth watering but can Malaysia really become a high income nation and a competitive economy is something the government has yet to convince us.

The projects are:

* Germany’s LFoundry will invest a total of RM1.9bil to set up five wafer fabrication plants in Kulim Hi-Tech, Kedah. The initial investment is RM214mil.

* St Regis will build a six-star hotel and residence worth RM1.2bil in KL Sentral. The 208-room hotel and 160-unit residence will be built on a 0.88ha plot.

* Mydin is investing RM1bil to open 14 new branches and assisting the Government in its sundry shop transformation programme.

* Schlumberger has invested RM300mil to establish a new Global Financial Hub and shared services in Bandar Utama, Selangor. This is part of the Greater KL New Key Economic Area to attract 100 multinational corporations to relocate to Kuala Lumpur by 2020.

* Premium Renewable Energy will set up a RM124mil bio-oil plant in Lahad Datu, Sabah. It is also investing in 29 bio-oil plants by 2020 as part of the Palm Oil NKEA to commercialise second-generation biofuel using oil palm biomass.

* Mubadala of Abu Dhabi is investing in the RM26bil KL International Financial District on a 34-ha plot near Jalan Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur.

* Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd had awarded a 25-year concession to WCT Bhd to build a RM486mil integrated complex at KLIA 2, the upcoming low-cost carrier terminal in Sepang.

* Asia e-University has been picked as the gateway university for international education in distance and on-line learning. It is expected to generate gross national income of RM100mil.

* Genting is investing RM150mil to build Johor Premium Outlets in Genting Indahpura.

Most of these projects are construction/property development related. It is sad that the Malaysian government is still having the build-and-attract mindset. It hopes to build mega industrial zones, regional development zones and mega towers and try to attract multinational companies to relocate to Malaysia.

It is not the question of space availability. It is all about the availability of skilled workers, a proactive government policy which supports the growth of private sector, liberalisation, good education system, credible judiciary, low corruption, efficiency, productivity, good transportation system and other KPIs. KPI minister Idris Jala should be well versed in these KPIs.

The government keeps spending and building as though we have had all these elements in our closet and we are ready to draw them out when asked by potential investors.

Any relevant government cannot continue to endorse and spend multibillion dollars without correcting the processes, systemic failure, wastage and weaknesses of past projects. Do we need to remind this government about the monster of all failures, the PKFZ? The government must be accountable for the lack of success of Cyberjaya and Putrajaya. The new federal territory remains a ghost town at night.

Why rush into building new lines of LRT system when there is no comprehensive blueprint on public transport system? Did the government conduct any study to correct the current weaknesses and identify the best ways to satisfy the public transportation requirements and needs? The current LRT systems do not even connect! It is a shame to travel to cities such as Singapore, Hong Kong, London, Paris, New York and others to find out how inefficient and ridiculous our LRT systems are. Where in the world an LRT station needs a huge carpark to accommodate for private cars? It is because we do not have a proper feeder bus system. We do not even have a proper public bus system!

The same problem - of malaise, mediocrity and inefficiency - is repeated in all sectors e.g. education, healthcare, civil service etc.

This government must be building castle in the air if they think we can be fooled that Malaysia is ready to become a fully developed nation by 2020. Again, which government of the day would spend RM1 billion to build a new palace for the royalty? The government could easily provide 10,000 new homes for Malaysians. It is ridiculous for the government to suggest a two-generation loan or 70 years loan period to buy new homes.

This is classic Malaysian mentality. What we cannot solve we avoid or find another short cut.

What is Economic Transformation Plan if the government speaks nothing about socio-economic reforms to empower Malaysians especially the Malays and indigenous people? There is only a 'commitment' to open tender by the PM and his KPI Minister contradicted him by saying that negotiated contracts can be good. So now, is the government really serious about reforms? Transparency, accountability and good governance are important criteria to attract more investors to Malaysia not new buildings or new industrial zones.

No wonder is certain towns in Johor many SME industrial zones have turned into swiftlet farms due to lack of industrial activities. Maybe the 100 storey Warisan Merdeka could become the biggest swiftlet farm in the world - a new Malaysia Boleh record!

Back to the opposition, their response is equally disappointing. Apart from raining criticism on Barisan Nasional initiatives and budget plan, did the opposition come out with their own alternative plans and budget? Nothing. It shows that there is a lack of thinking activity in the newly minted coalition.

Pakatan is still hoping to coat tail on Umno/Barisan failure and weaknesses to win the government. Most Pakatan controlled states are still working on ad-hoc basis. There is no real coalition framework for parties to work together to contribute to state development. Worse, it is not yet know how these parties are going to work together at the federal level. What is the shadow cabinet doing? Or is it doing nothing since it was formed nearly 6 months ago?

Malaysia is clearly in a dilemma. I do sympathize with those who are choosing to migrate rather than hoping for this country to change. It may or may not happen in our life time.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

PM Najib Should Create More Towering Malaysians and Not a RM5bil Tower

The 100-storey building under the Warisan Merdeka mega project will have a multiplier effect on the economy and generate business opportunities for all races, said PM Najib Tun Razak.

The Prime Minister said the project was not government-initiated but was planned and proposed by Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB).
First, Najib should try to convince us that the investment in Warisan Merdeka will generate great economic benefits for the rest of Malaysia. He mentioned the Petronas Twin Towers. How many local retailers can afford to rent a retail space in the complex? How many local companies had benefited from the PTT? How can SMEs benefit from the project?
Najib ought to be reminded that good businesses can run from anywhere and not necessarily from a 100 storey tower. Both Bil Gates and Michael Dell started their multi-billion business empire from their garage.

KLCC and PTT had driven up property value around the area. It has benefited property developers and attract foreign buyers/investors. How many locals can afford to buy these properties?

However, if the RM5 billion is used to assist the SMEs, truly genuine ones, through low interest loans and business support grants the government could help to create some prominent local companies able to compete with the region's best and create more jobs.

PM Najib should derive a valuable lesson from a 23-year-old Malaysian has emerged as the top student in his final-year law examinations at Cambridge University.

Tan Zhongshan obtained a first-class honours in the Bachelor of Arts (Law) in June this year at Queens’ College, which is part of the university, one of England’s oldest and most prestigious.

He even scored the “Slaughter and May” prize given by the university’s Law Faculty – an award given to those who achieve the best overall performance in the final-year law examinations.

Other coveted prizes he bagged include The Norton Rose Prize for Commercial Law, the Clifford Chance Prize for European Union Law and the Herbert Smith Prize for Conflict of Laws.

Queens’ College dean Dr Martin Dixon said Tan “ probably the best Malaysian student I have seen in the last 10 years.”

The sad part is Tan was given a scholarship by the Singaporean government. “I will also join the Singapore Legal Service in January,” said Tan, who was awarded an Asean scholarship by Singapore’s Ministry of Education after completing his A-Levels at the Temasek Junior College there.

Instead of building more white elephants or another expensive tower, Najib should focus on producing more towering Malaysians. The good part is we do not need to spend RM5 billion on a towering Malaysian. A towering Malaysian may even win us a Nobel prize in the future and contribute invaluable intellectual property to the country.

Can the RM5 billion tower make Malaysians smarter or more successful? It will probably be designed by another Japanese architect and built by a Korean construction and engineering company.
Second, it is ridiculous for Najib to push the idea to PNB alone. Who is Najib? What is the position of PNB? It is a GLC answerable to the government. Who is the head of the government? It is Najib!

Malaysia needs to get serious about the quality of its intangibles especially talents and skills. Not another 100 storey building which stands out like a sore thumb amidst choking traffic jam, congested roads and run down surrounding.

We do not need another 100 storey white elephant to be successful. We need our politicians to use their brain and not their ass to think and to formulate policies.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

2011 Budget Fails to Address Key Issues

On the surface, the 2011 Budget sounds rather bombastic. Mega projects have made their way into in the budget i.e. MRT project worth more than RM40 billion, a mega 100 storey tower, Warisan Merdeka, worth some RM5 billion, Sungai Buloh development worth RM10 billion, eco-nature resort in Sabah worth RM3 billion, freeze of toll scheduled toll hike charges for the next five years which is going to cost the government a few billion ringgit.

The total budget is almost 3% higher than the 2010 budget. A bulk of the total budget goes to operations @ RM162.8 billion. A meagre RM49.2 billion is allocated for development.

The main issue is the failure of the government to restructure the burgeoning civil service sector of some 1.3 million strong. Without restructuring the civil sector, curb excesses in public expenditure, creating tougher guidelines to curb unnecessary spending in public sector, and introduce an open tender system for all public procurement, there is no way the government will be able to reduce budget deficit and spend more on development.

The burgeoning civil sector is a prime example of the government's failure to grow the private sector, help to create more jobs and opportunities in the private sector, and reduce government's burden of having to employment for Malay graduates and school leavers.

The government cannot ignore the need to observe austerity. A leaner and meaner government should use and adopt the ICT to improve and enhance its service delivery. Public sector is not a welfare department.

Unfortunately, not much has been set aside to assist the SMEs which represent more than 75% of total registered businesses in Malaysia. Big infrastructure projects do not necessary create more jobs for the locals. We need a comprehensive strategy to improve the local economy e.g. manufacturing, services, retail, F&B, tourism, hospitality, creative, cottage industries and others.
Instead of spending so much of PNB money to build a mega tower, more resources should be allocated for actual urban renewal. What is the point of building a mega tower when its surrounding consists of old & worn out buildings, collapsing infrastructure and narrow roads which will be choked with more traffic congestion after the mega tower is ready?

What about second tier town/cities such as Ipoh, Penang, Seremban, Kota Kinabalu, and others?
The construction of a mega tower will not help small & medium businesses to gain access to more affordable rented space. Property rentals have escalated in the city centre and have driven many small businesses and retailers out of business.

Warisan Merdeka would probably ended up hosting more GLC clients such as PNB, Khazanah, EPF and Sime Darby who would be arm-twisted to rent the empty spaces. Is Warisan Merdeka a symbol of Najib's mega ego?

Where is a comprehensive public transport plan? We have been asking the government for one since the Mahathir administration. A comprehensive public transport strategy covers not only MRT but a variety of transport systems which are affordable and flexible to service different needs.

I am not sure how the government can help to increase income per capita when there is no mechanism or plans to help the people to earn more. Talk is cheap. Numbers only look good on paper. It is without a doubt that increasing income per capita is a good strategy to make Malaysia's small local market and low consumption power more attractive to local and foreign investors to invest in the country. But how can the government achieve this objection without focusing on SMEs which employed more than 60% of Malaysian workers? Mustapa Mohamad said the money will eventually trickle down to SMEs. This is such a weak assumption.

The government has provided tax discounts, guarantees and loans to home buyers especially civil servants but it has not solved the source of the problem - growing property bubble and high property prices. A lack of affordable homes may drive many people away from city centres. Lower consumption power is attributable to home and car mortgages.

Spending on mega infrastructure projects to pump prime the economy is not the right economic remedy for Malaysia.

Looks like it is Mahathir era all over again. Without focus on intangibles, processes, models, mindset, work ethics, education quality, etc. it is without a doubt that this budget will fail to help turning Malaysia economy around.

Looks like the Idris Jala prophecy - that Malaysia may go bankrupt in 9 years- might turn out to be self-inflicted one.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

1Malaysia versus Bangsa Malaysia

I read Mahathir's statement on 1Malaysia with a sense of disappointment. He is a classic example of politician-in-denial and behaving like an 'ostrich'. A 1Malaysia concept which promotes national building, just and fair society, meritocracy and competitiveness is not a threat to the Malay Malaysians. A politician like Dr M is a threat to his own community.

Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today that Malays must continue to be given handicaps, while arguing that PM Najib Razak’s 1 Malaysia was a confusing concept which means different things to different people.

What did Mahathir achieve during his 22 years of premiership? Poor Malays remained poorer, a few Malays had grown into 'Superbumi-class' (to quote Sakmongkol AK47), the income gap between poor and rich Malays had grown wider during his tenure and after 40 years on NEP the Malays still need to be given handicaps.

If 1Malaysia can help to make Malays more confident and can cut off those who no longer need government assistance (esp. the middle and upper classes) in the next 10 years, it would have been more successful than Mahathir's tenure.

Is Mahathir afraid that his 'legacy' might be outshone if a policy focusing on building capacity of Malay community is allowed to continue?

He accused the Chinese and Indian communities of continuing to identify with their countries of origin, and argued that Malays would continue demanding special treatment as a result.

It is most ridiculous for an ex-PM to make such baseless accusations. Does Mahathir have any evidence to back his accusations? As an ex-PM, his allegation has destroyed whatever little credibility left in him as a statesman and a leader of this multiracial country. At least Najib had acknowledged the contributions of Chinese and Indian Malaysians for than 3-5 generations.

Writing in his blog, Mahathir said the Malays interpreted 1 Malaysia to mean the abolition of Chinese and Tamil schools and a “fair” participation of Malays and Bumiputeras in the private sector.

I am again very surprised with his interpretation of 1Malaysia. A campaign launched by Mahathir supporters and self-proclaimed pro-unity group, 1 Sekolah Untuk Semua, has attracted only 2768 signatures to date which is far off its target of 100k signatures. This campaign was launched in April 2009. On the other hand, more than 70,000 Malay students are attending the Chinese vernacular schools. Mahathir should apologize to the parents of these students on his senseless accusations which may deny their rights to mother tongue/vernacular education.

Participation for the Malays and Bumiputeras in the private sector has been fair and merit driven. This is reflected in Mahathir's next statement.

The Chinese and Indians, he claimed, interpret 1 Malaysia to mean an end to special treatment for Malays, the removal of quotas and the end to NEP-style affirmative action policies favouring Malays.

The former prime minister also accused the Chinese and Indian communities of preferring to be identified with their countries of origin, and this, he said, caused Malays to expect special treatment.

It is true that we demand the end of NEP which has been bastardised and abused by the ruling regime to benefit their cronies and proxies. We do not object help and affirmative action to help those needy ones or less fortunate - the real bottom 40% of the society.

We do not think that special treatment currently practiced by the UMNO led government is even right for the Malays.

Mahathir has put it very well below:

“I am not ashamed to admit that I cannot compete with the Chinese and Indian students when studying medicine. They had much better results than me and the other six Malay students for entry into the Medical College. Even at that time the British promised to the Rulers to help educate the Malays. I had my chance because of the affirmative action then. On pure merit I would not be a doctor today, not because I was not qualified, but my qualification was lower than others.

Let me ask you a question, whether you are a Malay, Chinese or Indian, would you trust a doctor to treat you if he has admitted that he was not qualified to study medicine in the first place?

The world has changed, the society has moved on...Mahathir should read the book, "who moved my cheese?" to understand the meaning of complacency.

It is a fact that the 21st century Malays must compete with the best in the world. Competition will find us. We do not have to look for it. Hence, a fair participation in the private sector and the globalised economy (where there is no affirmative action), the Malays will not enjoy any handicaps. We want and welcome qualified Malay doctors and not one such as Dr Mahathir. No wonder Mahathir had wisely chosen a career in race politics rather than medicine.

"One has to remember that the Chinese civilisation is more than 4000 years old. No other civilisation has lasted that long. Naturally they have developed a culture better able to survive under all conditions. It is my belief that if the percentage of Chinese in the United Kingdom for example is the same as in Malaysia, UK would be better developed than it is now. It is not surprising that the Chinese excel in developing Malaysia (for which they are amply rewarded).”

On the Chinese civilisation, I do not see how it can help to benefit Chinese Malaysians today if they do not work hard and smart to succeed in their undertakings. Where there are successful Chinese Malaysians, there are also thousands of mediocre ones, poor ones and unsuccessful ones just like Malay Malaysians if they do not work hard, take chances and build their own capacity.

Mahathir should learn one thing: there is no free lunch in this world. Fortunately for him and his family, this is something he did not have to teach his rich children. They were born with a silver spoon in their mouth.

Which one do you prefer? 1Malaysia or Bangsa Malaysia?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Is PM Najib Serious Enough to Launch a New Social Contract?

PM Najib Razak said the Chinese should not be seen as kaum pendatang (migrant folk) and have been loyal citizens of Malaysia for the past three to five generations.

I would like to applaud the PM for saying the obvious. However, it is a shame for a head of government to recognize the status of Chinese Malaysian after more than five decades of independence.

If the Chinese were seen as 'kaum pendatang' it is because the only ruling government in Malaysia has denied them of rightful place in the Malaysian constitution as citizens of this country with equal rights.

If PM Najib is serious about his statement, he should be ready to announce a new social contract acknowledging that all citizens are born equal and should be treated equally by the government and political groups.

It is ridiculous for him to suggest that he has no control over certain individuals in Umno, Perkasa and BTN who had incited racial hatred and displayed bigotry in their speeches. The government has shown that it is in control when comes to detaining cartoonist and banning books which are critical of the government.

Is the PM willing to walk his talk to correct the politically motivated 'social contract' his party was adamant that the Chinese should observe with respect? A social contract should be inclusive and not divisive.

At the same MCA event, Najib said there was a need to develop the economy equitably to have a fair distribution of wealth depending on the size of the community.

"It is a conventional wisdom and rational thinking that if the majority of a country has a very small percentage of the wealth, that is not equitable. I think MCA would also agree.

"So, we need to have a nice balance that the Malay feels they have a bigger share in economic wealth but the Chinese also feel they are growing economically in our system,” he said. His statement does not show that he understands the current malaise. He might as well declare Malaysia a socialist country.

Yes, the nation wealth should be distributed more equitably to all citizens. The fact that the bottom 40% of the nation owns less than 13% of the nation's wealth is unacceptable. The disparity in the country is growing.

Equitable wealth distribution cannot be seen from only the Malay versus the others perspective. There is a gross income and wealth disparity among the rich and poor Malays.

Hence, why is the government continue to enrich a few well connected Malay billionaires and neglected the rest? Umno has an uninterrupted 40 years to implement the NEP and yet it has created nothing but a few rich kingpins and cronies. Why is the party blaming others? Why should the country continue to suffer the mismanagement and poor implementation of the policy?

No one is against the government helping the poor. If the government wants to help the poor they should help all regardless of race.

We should be able to agree that the likes of Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary, Mirzan & Mokhzani Mahathir, Nazir Razak, Halim Saad, Francis Yeoh, Vincent Tan, Ananda Krishnan and other rich and power do not need any more help and assistance from the government.

Is Najib serious enough to launch a new social contract? And to correct the excesses and weaknesses of the NEP?

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Boring KL

According to a TMI report, Malaysia’ capital city has dropped eight spots to 48 in a ranking of the world’s most global cities by international management consulting firm AT Kearney, suggesting the Najib administration has to try harder to make Kuala Lumpur a world class city.

In terms of liveability, KL ranks just 79th out of 130 cities in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2010 ranking of easiest places to live and was stagnant at 75th in the Mercer study of best places to live from 2006-2009.

The city also failed to make the list of the top 100 most innovative cities with strong cultural and human infrastructure and global links as assessed by Australian innovation consultancy firm 2thinknow.

The city’s attractiveness however is hampered by an absence of world class universities, relatively low salaries, lack of major cultural and outdoor attractions, lack of orderliness and poor maintenance, low levels of sophistication, creeping urban sprawl, crime, unhygienic conditions and traffic congestion.

AT Kearney noted that global cities are the urban elite and are shaping the future with new deals and ideas.

“Global cities are where you go to do business, yes, but also to see the greatest art, hear the greatest orchestras, learn the latest styles, eat the best food and study in the finest universities,” said the report.

“They have global corporations. But they also have think tanks, jazz bars and broadband. In a word, they have clout.”

What do we have in Kuala Lumpur? Traffic congestion, poor infrastructure, poor public transport system, rubbish, high crime, and a total lack of government's commitment on urban renewal.

Reality hurts but it is true that KL does not have much to offer. Simply because there is a lack of commitment, will and effort to promote art, performing art, creativity and innovation. We are a nation which is still at odds with affirmative action, race, religion and wasteful politicking.

KL is a boring place. Cut the crap about Perkasa, Malay supremacy, ethnic rights etc. It is time to start doing something serious. Otherwise, when this boat sinks we all go down as well.

Najib's policy makers and strategists should take a hard look at the report and think of what they should do to make KL a truly world class city. Stop hallucinating and convince us that ETP, NEM and 1Malaysia are achievable and not hot air.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

ETP, NEM & Monopolies

I fully agree with Dap national publicity secretary Tony Pua and blogger Sakmongkol AK47 that the NEM is determined to continue serving the interest of well-connected big players in the country such as the likes of Gamuda, MMC, YTL, UEM and others.

The DAP suggested today that the Najib administration’s commitment to open competition under the New Economic Model (NEM) was “nothing but rhetoric,” citing as examples of patronage the MRT project, the proposal by Asas Serba to take over highway concessions, Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary’s bid to buy UEM and YTL’s involvement in the high-speed rail link to Singapore.

"Should the government decide to proceed with any of the above projects or privatisation of assets without any form of open competition, it will not only reflect the fact that the NEM is nothing but rhetoric, but it has no sincerity in wanting to promote “dynamic and efficient markets” or isn’t serious about “tapping new sources of growth,” Tony Pua said in a statement today.

I have a nagging feeling that the ETP will be used as a face by the current administration to squeeze the last drops of resources from the country through the ridiculous 131 projects worth more than RM1.4 trillion.

I had spoken against the big infrastructure projects e.g. the MRT and high-speed rail link to Singapore as non-essentials for the moment. I do not see how these projects will able to transform the country's economic landscape. The government should focus on intangibles or knowledge capital. This idea was mooted by Abdullah Badawi in his maiden Oxbridge speech and was very well received by all parties.

Malaysia's education system and a lack of skilled talent pool are not going to help in any transformation plan if they are not quickly rectified. Until today, none of PM Najib's plans and acronyms provide a comprehensive response to the need to uplift our education standards. The launch of Talent Corp is another flimsy initiative to camouflage a lack of direction on education and labour policy.

Why would talents come back to work here? Expensive researchers, spin masters and consultants should do their homework before suggesting the same which had failed in the past e.g. Talent Corp. There are several important factors why talents do not come back. First, a lack of recognition for merit and ability. Second, low salary scale and lack of a productive environment to help the knowledge workers to be most productive. Third, an irresponsible and racial based political system. Fourth, overzealous implementation of race affirmative action at all levels of government and GLCs. Fifth, a limited economic scope and base. There are not many knowledge based jobs/positions created in the economy- lack of real opportunities.

The government mentioned about a Greater KL plan. It is unfortunate that the government has done nothing in the last decades to create and rejuvenate second tier cities such as George Town, Ipoh, Kota Kinabalu, Kuching, Seremban, Kota Melaka and others. Urban planning and renewal is the most important area to promote knowledge capital.

NEM & ETP are most misguided and incomplete. Najib flip-flops on simple principles in his own policies. Should NEM promote competitiveness and meritocracy or continue as an extension of NEP? If NEM = NEP, why do we need a NEM?

ETP is supposed to promote economic development by being inclusive but it is seen as a consolidation of proposals from big companies hoping to eat the last chunk of Malaysia's economic pie.

What is the future of SMEs in Malaysia?

What is the future of Malaysian economy under BN/Umno?

Turning a Blind Eye on PKFZ?

PKA chairman Lee Hwa Beng's revelation is quite startling:

He said, "The Port Klang Authority cannot repay turnkey developer Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd (KDSB) for the financially-scarred Port Klang Free Zone – even if the PKFZ had 100% occupancy today."

Lee said for it to happen, a restructuring of the PKFZ was needed.

He said the PKA was also waiting for a development plan from a special Cabinet task force headed by Chief Secretary to the Government Sidek Hassan.

"There has been no news from them, and I’m not a member of the committee,” he added.

PKFZ ran into financial controversy when its development cost multiplied several times from an initial cost of RM2bil. Total cost could reach RM12.5 billion in the next few years.

Finance Minister & PM Najib should immediate respond the issue of PKFZ's financial position and to address if the project is still viable.

The task force was formed during the tenure of ex-minister Ong Tee Keat and it has not been able to deliver its report until now. The government cannot choose to ignore the seriousness of the financial problem faced by PKFZ. Ongoing legal cases could take years to conclude and more taxpayers' money will be wasted to finance the project.

It is time for the government to tell the truth and be accountable for the financial losses. Stakeholders/voters must insist on transparency and accountability for the losses or we should choose to punish those who are behind the fiasco.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Recalcitrant is the New Name for BTN & Perkasa?

Recalcitrant should be the new name for both Perkasa and BTN. Perkasa is hitting a new low as a brainless group championing race supremacy. It is not uncommon for communities to form organisations to fight for their collective rights. However, the process of doing so must not come at the expense of other communities.

Unfortunately, this is exactly what Perkasa is trying to do - defending the Malay supremacy regardless of the (mis)deed. It has defended the racist headmasters and now throwing its support behind BTN deputy director Hamim Husain on his racist remarks.

Perkasa Youth chief Arman Azha Abu Hanifah said he had accompanied BTN deputy director Hamim Husain to lodge a police report against The Malaysian Insider for “misinterpreting” the contents of his speech during a Puteri Umno function last week.

"He (Hamim) had lodged a report against the reporter and the news company for entering a private function, as well as misinterpreting what he had said,” claimed Arman.

"Perkasa stands firm with Hamim. He is not wrong with what he said... it was said during a private closed-door function. Media has to respect when it is a private function. If you report about what was said privately, you are jeopardising the country’s racial harmony,” said Arman.

So, the recalcitrant Arman is saying that Hamim was right about his 'Si Sepet' and 'Si Botol' analogy about the Chinese and Indian?

Is Arman being stupid or ridiculous when he suggested that the reporter from Malaysia Insider was inciting racial conflict when she had reported what was said in a Umno Puteri private function?

The fact is BTN Hamim was there in his capacity as a deputy director of the organisation. If he is man enough to stand by his statement, why trying to dodge by saying that he was misquoted. Tell us that you are standing by what you have said.

What is Umno Puteri's stand Hamim's statement since he was invited by the movement to speak at their function?

We should reject all Umno leaders who are associating themselves with Perkasa. Who is afraid of Perkasa? Perhaps only the racial bigots like themselves.
BTN Hamim is receiving 'gaji haram' from the non-Malay tax money. He should return his salary to the federal government. Hamin has shown that he is non-repentant. The government MUST SACK him for his lack of sensitivity and for sabotaging 1Malaysia.

Bigotry & Hypocrisy in Penang

Umno's incessant attack on the Penang state government on the RM100 compassionate payment to citizens above 60 years old is pathetic, bigotry and hypocritical.

Lim’s administration has been under attack by Umno in the recent weeks following claims that that the state government used a RM2 million donation from the Penang Turf Club for its poverty-eradication programme.

Following this, 100 senior citizens from Penaga and Bayan Baru has since returned the compassionate payments they received to state Umno leadership.

The state government has vehemently denied the allegations, explaining that the donation was separated from the pool of funds in the state’s Rakan Anti-Miskin (Friends Against Poverty) programme and was channelled only to the non-Muslims.

If Umno is so pious and holy, they should revoke all gaming licenses, pull out their investment from liquor producing companies and stop taking illicit payments from underground night clubs and entertainment outlets.

It is sad that Umno continues to play a dangerous game of inciting hatred and spreading false news.

Where is the president of Umno? Who is leading who?

Pemuda Pulau Pinang should stage demos against unscrupulous tycoons/politicians who are sucking this country's resources until the last drop. Does Umno feel uncomfortable seeing money being given to the poor and underprivileged?

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Third Force: The Two-Year Fallacy

When the idea to establish a movement, third force for national reform, to monitor the performance, integrity and credibility of politicians and political parties was proposed, I have received a number of responses from Straight Talk and Malaysia Today's readers.

Some supported the idea and others believe that we are not yet ready for a third force. Those who are against the idea opined that we need a to experience at least a change of federal government before a third force should materialize.

They argue that Pakatan state governments were given only 2.5 years to govern and they should be given a longer period to prove themselves. Granted, we agree that 2.5 years is not a very long time.

However, it is a reality that political parties cannot 'learn' the rope of governance, policy making and administration only after they have won the right to govern. Political parties in the newly minted Pakatan coalition are not new players in Malaysian politics. PAS was established in 23 August 1951, the DAP was established in 1965 and PKR was created in 1999. They should be prepared to lead at least two decades ago.

If not, the Pakatan politicians would become perpetual oppositions rather than policy makers. Political parties must be prepared to rule even when they are in the opposition. This is the most important tenet of competitive and democratic party politics. Political parties compete for power to govern and NOT just to oppose.

The political process takes its effect every five years. Political parties are given a maximum of 5-year period to prove themselves at governance. Ruling parties need to seek a new mandate after a 5-year period.

How long does Pakatan need to justify its ability to govern? 20 years? Would it be democratic to give them a blank check to govern for the next 20 years without a proper check-and-balance?

This third force cannot act selectively. We must subject the two coalitions to the same level playing field. The barriers for both Pakatan and BN must be the same.

It is even more important for Pakatan to live up to our expectations. They are the most vulnerable between the two coalitions. More than 10 of their elected representatives had 'defected' to the other side and the defections had caused a collapsed of a democratically elected government, bastardizing the mandate given by the majority of voters.

If Pakatan is not being pressured to pull up their socks and offer us better candidates, how can we so sure that history will not repeat itself should the coalition wins a simple majority at the federal government?

Defections and an undemocratic change of government will destabilize the country and cause unnecessary economic hardship.

Malaysians must think hard. Spare the rod and spoil the child.

A third force represents thinking voters/stakeholders is very important to ensure that a change for the better becomes mandatory for all political parties who want to rule the country. They need our mandate and this mandate must not be given without rules, expectations and conditions.

We must set these conditions, expectations and rules now before their political arrogance and selfishness destroys the rest of us.

It is time to tell them to respect our constitutional rights, stop sectarian politics of race and religion and respect the rule of law.

Politicians are not above the law, not even Umno leaders.

We need to build a consensus for a New Malaysia now. The future of this country rests on a non-racial, non-discriminative, progressive, innovative, creative, democratic and dynamic path.

A third force or not, you decide.

I would like to urge you to support the right of overseas Malaysians to vote. Read here.

Since 60% of a million overseas Malaysians are working in the Southeast Asian region, I would like you to support a FLY BACK programme this blog and a third force movement are supporting.

FLY BACK has two components:
1) Make sure you are registered as a voter
2) Please make sure you can make a quick arrangement to come back to vote within 2 weeks when a general election is called.

600,000 voters can help to transform the political landscape of this country. You need to help us to help you!

Please rally all your friends (Malaysians) overseas to make this commitment in the 13th general election.

Any CHANGE must start from OURSELF/YOU!

Do not make the word 'change' just a jingle but an action.