Monday, February 28, 2011

For 1Malaysia to Succeed, We Must Get Over Mahathirism

I believe the current ruling regime and Malaysians must answer a very crucial question; is Mahathirism a catalyst or a barrier to 1Malaysia?

What is the main purpose of 1Malaysia? If it intends to forge greater unity amongst multiracial Malaysians the proponent of 1Malaysia must correct Mahathir's statement which mentioned that other races must accept that this country belonged to the Malays.

Mahathir claims that Malaysia is successful today because the Malays are willing to share the country with others.

Firstly, Malaysia is not a property of any single race. Malaysia was established as a multiracial country. Post-independence generations in the country had adopted this country as their motherland.

Malaysia as a nation is a legal and geo-political creation. It was established in 1963 and this nation belongs to all Malaysians and not just the Malays.

Malaysia is successful because it had embraced multiculturalism. All races had contributed or are still contributing to it's socio-economic development. Malaysia's success was not due to the generosity of the Malays alone.

Mahathir, who has a Kerala parentage, was able to ascend to the highest political position in the country not because he was a pure Malay but a fact that this country, before his premiership, was willing to put the best Malaysian in the right position.

If 1Malaysia embraces all citizens of this country as equals, it should debunk the outdated Mahathirism which is still play off a race against another.

Mahathir's tirade against Singapore, especially MM Lee Kuan Yew, is again a reflection of his hypocrisy.

Mahathir said that racism in Malaysia was clearly the result of Singapore’s short membership in the country, and not because the island was “turfed out” as suggested by the republic’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew recently.

It is unbelievable for Mahathir trying to pin the blame on Singapore's short membership of Malaysia. It does not take a rocket scientist to tell Mahathir that Malaysia's racism is the result of Barisan's and Umno's race based politics, policies and governance.

Mahathir said that Singapore is not truly multiracial because it is dominated by a single race. Malaysia is no exception. The difference is Singapore does not have a two-tiered nationality - Bumiputera and non-Bumiputera. The race dichotomy is most pronounced during Mahathir's tenure.

For Malaysia to move on to achieve greater things, the country must lose its fixation with race which has created social polarisation which does not benefit anyone.

Mahathir's insistence to create a permanent wedge between the Malays and non-Malays is damaging and destroying his legacy beyond any repair. Even the best spin doctor in the world cannot help to salvage his self inflicted destruction.

As a leader and an ex-premier, if Mahathir cannot even bring himself to respect his fellow citizens as equals what gives him the legitimacy or credibility to tell the Middle Easterners that their quest and struggle for freedom and greater democracy might be wrong?

The regime must address the issues of race inequalities and abuses and poor race relations seriously. Issues such as the controversial Interlok book, repeated racial abuses especially during elections, 'Allah' issue and others should not have been allowed to prolong if the government is serious about its 1Malaysia slogan.

Malaysia must move forward as a cohesive and united society. We must work together to reposition the country strongly in the new global economic landscape. Otherwise, Malaysia will be left behind and forgotten in the race for resources, investments and talents.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Penang Truly Asia

Dawn Jeremiah wrote:

This statement alone reminded me of the question I was asked by Sham (Hisham Hamzah), then a DJ with MixFM during the grand finals of Miss Malaysia World back in 2007.

He asked me “Among all the tourist destinations in Malaysia, which would you recommend most to tourists and why?”.

The answer was so simple. Of course I would say Penang! And no, it’s not only because it’s where I’m from, but more so because of a major keyword: variety.

Penang can have everything and anything to make everyone and anyone happy.

I forgot the exact answer which I gave on stage, but this is the gist of it: If you want a city, you’ll get a city. If you want the beach, you’ll get a beach. If you want to explore the jungles and forests, there’s plenty to choose from. If you want the hustle and bustle or quiet time being one with nature, you have it all in this idlyllic little Pearl of the Orient.

Not forgetting the fact that it’s the food capital of Malaysia, with choices that range from hawker centres to fine dining.

Heck, even my Convent Green Lane Secondary School canteen has better food than most shops by my office! Penangites are very protective and defensive about their cuisine (more about that another day!).

Come celebrate with us the beauty of Penang on 5th March, 9pm at the Dewan Sri Pinang. Get your tickets to the MACC: Internal Affairs (Penang Edition) Stand Up Comedy in English. Tickets (RM35 & RM50) are available at the Red Rock Hotel, Jalan Macalister.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Anwar Ibrahim & The Way Forward

It takes a great courage for Dr Malcolm Puthucherry to write a soft criticism of Anwar Ibrahim's assertion that he does not need a shadow cabinet because Pakatan had set up parliamentary committees to mirror the ruling party's cabinet.

Malcolm wrote:

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s assertion that Pakatan Rakyat (PR) does not need a shadow cabinet is nothing less than an admission that the three-party pact he leads is very much less than the sum of its parts.

He added:

No, the real reason for not having a shadow cabinet which Anwar, ever the consummate political creature, refuses to tell the public is plain and simple: PR lacks the necessary cohesion and collective vision to come to an agreement between its member parties as to which ministerial portfolio ought to be entrusted to which party and the courage of conviction to announce it to the public. No amount of obfuscation by Anwar or any other PR leader can cover up that vulnerability of the pact.

Real proponents of a two-party system would have been able to view the issue in a broader perspective. It is sad to find the writer, Malcolm, being personally and viciously attacked by Anwar's hardcore supporters. By doing so, these supporters are missing an opportunity to urge Anwar himself to take a serious look at the gains and losses he has made since the last general election.

Malcolm's argument on the need of a shadow cabinet is legitimate and logical. It has been my fear that Pakatan coalition members may not have a post Putrajaya plan. What happens after winning the federal power? The ideological and policy differences may be easily diverted and avoided for the moment because these parties are bounded by a common aim to bring down the Barisan government.

It is impossible for us to be convinced that Pakatan is ready to govern if the Anwar-led Pakatan does not convey to us a comprehensive and detailed roadmap to governance.

It is illogical and desperate to suggest that any announcement now will render these shadow cabinet members to vicious attacks from Perkasa, Utusan and Umno. Any Pakatan politicians hope to be part of the next cabinet must be able to withstand any political onslaught. If they cannot take the heat now what make us think that they will be able to do so later?

The only Pakatan MP who is actively engaging the ruling government is MP Tony Pua. What have happened to the rest? Where's Pakatan alternative budget if there is a whole parliamentary committee mirroring the finance ministry? How can Pakatan reverse the fortune of PKFZ, Bakun dam and a host of other financially disastrous projects? I don't think these issues can be easily swept under the carpet.

I would like to go beyond the issue of shadow cabinet. I would like to urge Anwar to take a deep look at his own leadership of Pakatan and PKR.

He must address these issues if he is hoping to make bigger gains/inroads compared to 2008:

1) Organisational weakness within PKR and Pakatan. Surely Anwar cannot walk on a moral high ground for what had happened to the defections in Perak, Penang & Selangor. Anwar must answer to the political chaos of Sabah PKR which has badly affected the coalition's chance in the next state elections.

2) Anwar must initiate a sincere and honest audit of his own leadership. It has become rather meek and unconvincing to continue positioning the whole coalition's fate on Anwar's leadership alone. Anwar's own political star is waning. The coalition needs to offer something more and something new to complement Anwar's oratory ability and personal charm alone. Anwar needs to facilitate and groom a list of next line leaders who are capable to take over from him. No one is indispensable and Anwar has appeared weary and tired compared to the 1999 reformasi movement. Age is a contributing factor. Next is complacency in his own party ranks.

3) Anwar must seriously ask himself if he had contributed to the dispersion and disintegration of the opposition front. Anwar was also a contributor to the creation of UBF, Kita, MCLM and others. If he had not being distracted by the latest sodomy scandal, a lack of new ideas to organize his party better and possibly poor decision to back some wrong individuals in his party these new forces would have been created because there is no real reason for their existence or need.

4) Caught in the web of sodomy scandal 2, Anwar should have made some strategic decision to initiate a leadership transition in his party and the newly minted coalition. I am not saying that we should use the sodomy case to push down Anwar. But Anwar should know who the authority is up against. A way to divert the attention away from him which may slow down the progress of his party and the coalition to build on the 2008 gains is to divert the target and attention away from his leadership of PKR and Pakatan. New leaders should have been groomed to take over his reforms agenda and work on strengthening the party and coalition.

It is still not too late for Anwar to rethink his own political strategy and positioning.

Meanwhile, I hope pro-Anwar supporters would react more kindly to criticism. By doing what they did to Malcolm is not going to set Pakatan supporters apart from the Barisan's.

Malaysia a Model to the Muslim Nations?

Prime Minister Najib Razak said Malaysia has proven that its system of governance, based on moderate Islam, has worked and can be a good model for other countries in the world to emulate, especially Islamic countries.

He said in view of what was taking place in the world today, it was important to ensure that the system of administration adopted was working.

The key consideration, he said, was that “if you have a system, would it work to produce good and effective governance?”

No one should blame Najib for being overly excited to position Malaysia as a model Muslim nation amidst the socio-political chaos in some Muslim countries. Oddly, Malaysia has been using the Middle East as an example in managing its own Islamic affairs.

Moreover, the Muslim community has been going through the 'Arabisation' process for decades since the 1980's. The government had sent a few hundred thousands students to receive their higher/tertiary/Islamic education in several Middle Eastern countries such as Egypt, Jordan, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain etc. Thousands of them are still being send there to receive their education.

On the other hand, how many Middle Eastern students are studying in Malaysia? How influential is Malaysia among the Middle Eastern governments or regimes?

Najib should be cautioned not to use the word 'moderate' too loosely. How can Malaysia be a moderate Muslim nation if Shiite followers are banned in the country? Islam in Malaysia is heavily regulated and controlled by the government. Islam in Malaysia has become a state-led religion. Islam is not only politically intertwined but it has been racialised too. Muslim rights are synonymous to Malay supremacy. In fact, Najib has suggested that Islam cannot be seen as an equal to other religions.

How can Malaysia be a moderate Muslim country if the word 'Allah' can be used by others to describe god when the term has been widely used by Christians in Arab countries freely?

How can Malaysia become a model nation when the freedom of press is being curtailed, oppressive laws such as ISA are still being used to detain government critics or when separation of power is being compromised?

It is pertinent for the PM to ask himself the same question: does the Malaysian system produces good and effective governance?

The answer lies in the integrity, capacity and capability of the Malaysian public institutions or civil service. The main problem in this country is the inability of our public institutions/government linked companies/private companies to implement policies and to deliver effectively. Remember the PKFZ, Bakun Dam, 10 battle ships, Cyberjaya, Proton, Perwaja and the list goes on.

What about the capacity and integrity of our sacred institutions such as the police force, judiciary, anti-corruption agency, election commission, educational institutions and others?

By offering Malaysia as a model Muslim nation to be emulated the PM is giving others and the world an impression that we have already reached our peak and a huge success story.

The fact is Malaysia is actually trailing behind some of the very best in the region and is slowing losing our comparative advantage over the newly emerging economies too.

It is time for PM Najib to reach out to the best in the country, regardless of race or religion, to help his administration deliver good and efficient governance.

Otherwise, the political upheaval in several Muslim nations may actually produce more inertia and good things when the dust settles compared to Malaysia.

This is not the time to blow our own trumpet. We should accept the fact that Malaysia is still a work in progress.

Anti-Interlok Rally: Muhyiddin Should Refrain from Acting Like an Autocrat

Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin wants firm police action against a group calling itself Hindraf which is reported to be trying to hold a mass rally this Sunday.

He said that Hindraf, the Hindu Rights Action Force, had been banned and using or championing its name was in itself an offence.

“They (planners) know that they would need permission from the police (for such a rally),” he told reporters here.

Muhyiddin said it was up to police to “shape” the action to be taken, but they have to be firm against such activity as a rally by a banned organisation.

It is important for the deputy prime minister to get his facts right. First, the right to a peaceful assembly is guaranteed by the federal constitution. If members of the Indian community would like to hold a peaceful assembly to voice out their opposition against the controversial Interlok book they are acting within their constitutional rights to do.

The police is not above the law. The action of the police must be bounded and limited by what is allowed within the highest law of the land - the federal constitution. The police should facilitate and control the peaceful demonstration so that it does not become too emotional or a threat to public safety.

Muhyiddin's call for a stern police action is actually unconstitutional.

Second, if Hindraf has been banned by the government why are groups such as Perkasa are still allowed to hold their meetings, talks and demonstrations?

I must reiterate that I do not support race based organisations but the government must be consistent in its action.

Hence, I would like to advice Muhyiddin - for his and his party's own sake - to stop acting like a legal thug and an autocratic leader who continues to trample on the rule of law. It does not make Muhyiddin looks gungho or smart calling for a stern police action against the Hindraf peaceful demonstration.

Let it be if PM Najib really want other Muslim nations to follow the example of Malaysia. It is precise acting the same way like Muhyiddin now - trampling on the basic rights of the people - that decades old regimes/autocracies have been defeated and dismantled by the people's power.

Muhyiddin should appreciate that sometimes less is more. Yes, talk less and contribute more.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Public Transport System Woes: Are Malaysians so Tolerant?

The federal government is prepared to spend big on the MRT project. The project proponents of which MMC-Gamuda had estimated will cost at least RM36 billion. Sceptics had put the price tag at at least RM46 billion upon its eventual completion.

The main question is, would the MRT project be able to solve the Klang Valley public transport woes?

Transit, a local advocacy group, does not think so although the project consultant, ERE Consultancy Group, opined that MRT is a better solution than others.

The transport advocacy group claimed today that it was impossible for the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system to achieve its ferrying targets based on its fleet size and passenger capacity.

In a statement on its website this morning, the Association for the Improvement of Mass Transit (Transit) argued that with only 58 available MRT trains, each with a maximum passenger capacity of 1,200 people, the system would not be able to achieve its 30,000 passengers per hour per direction (PPHPD) target.

The group added that even if all 58 carriages were to ply the 90-minute route from Sungai Buloh to Kajang (SBK), the first in the proposed three-line project, the system would still only achieve 24,000 PPHPD.

Even then, it said this was unlikely as at least 10 per cent of the fleet should be reserved as spare trains, meaning that only 52 or 53 trains would be available for use.

“If you look closely at the numbers, there is no way for the MRT to achieve 30,000 PPHPD or the 40,000 as targeted by the government,” the statement said.

To achieve 40,000 PPHPD, said Transit, the system would have to provide at least one train for every 109 seconds or 33 trains for every hour, which would allow the MRT to achieve 39,600 PPHPD. (more on Malaysian Insider website)

It is fair to insist on a thorough study before such a big financial commitment is being made on the proposed MRT project. The current LRT system has a few weaknesses which have yet to be resolved:

1) A lack of feeder bus system to ferry passengers out from the housing estates to the LRT stations. RapidKL service has deteriorated over the years. Hence, traveling by LRT is not only time consuming but inconvenient. For example, a resident in SS2 housing estate would have to take a taxi to the LRT stations in Taman Bahagia or Kelana Jaya. The taxi ride would cost an additional least RM6-RM8.

2) The current LRT lines are not connected and poorly located. The government must address the current weakness and address the connectivity issue. There is a need of a better and standardized payment system too. Most of the self-service machines are not in proper working order.

3) The trains do not have enough coaches to allow for bigger passengers capacity. Transit has made a legitimate observation of the inability of the MRT frequency to meet the targeted load capacity.

I would like to echo the call from various parties to urge the government to consider other cheaper options too such as the Bus Transit System.

BTS has been a key pillar of a good, affordable and efficient public transport system in major international cities. It makes more sense for the government to consider BTS as a viable option due to the development structure and demographic to Klang Valley.

It has been long overdue for the government to come out with a workable and cost efficient public transport system to lower the burden of public especially those at the lower income bracket.

A good public transport system is key to ensure a faster and efficient socio-economic development. It could ease the congestion in the Klang Valley and the government could consider shifting the oil subsidy for private cars to public transport system to ensure that such benefit drips down to the bottom rung of society (especially those who do not own a private vehicle).

Over the last 3 decades, the government has irresponsibly chosen to support the local car producers and private car ownership and ignore the need to provide an efficient public transport system. As a result, the government is now facing a burden of RM14 billion annually (and growing) in oil subsidy.

The government had mischievously tried to use the private car ownership data as a measurement for wealth and well-being. This is not only misleading but also inappropriate and irresponsible. More affluent societies such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan registered more than 70% public transport users.

The government must get the public transport system policy right and not continue to waste scarce public funds on another half-baked and poorly planned solution.

The space for the government to continue making such a costly mistake is narrowing and it is best for the current regime to take note of this fact.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Teoh RCI a Test for Malaysia's Institutional Credibility & Integrity

From the commission earlier failure to include a critical witness, chemist who refuses to answer questions to cops who gave conflicting statements, the Teoh RCI is a real test for Malaysia's institutional credibility and integrity.

It is unprecedented anywhere in the world where a government spends so much effort to protect and shield the integrity and a possible breach of ethics of an independent anti-corruption body which had resulted in a death of a witness in its custody.

It is also malicious for any top politician to suggest that Teoh's family is trying to slow down the RCI investigation until the next general election and hoping to turn it into a political issue. Like other families, I am sure the Teohs would appreciate and welcome a quick justice for their loved one.

However, in the run up to the RCI the public institutions in the country had created more doubt than confidence of their ability and sincerity to seek justice for the Teoh's family members.

I am sure many of us had viewed with disbelief the attitude of a federal counsel representing the MACC and his conduct during the inquest. The purported 'suicide note' had created more public anguish and anger.

We do not need hard facts to understand why the Malaysian democracy is being looked down by foreigners including the former US ambassador to Malaysia, John Malott.

If the Teoh RCI continues to disappoint, there is nothing probably nothing royal and respect left in any future RCIs.

What the Malaysia government need to do is not to give an impression that it is trying to protect any recalcitrant or disgraced institutions in the country. Otherwise, it would be a joke trying to suggest that there is democracy - separation of power, rule of law & humanity - in Malaysia. It must deliver justice to the Teohs.

It does not take any rocket science to understand why this country continues to embrace the ranks of mediocrity if such incredulous things continue to happen.

Malaysians must really move beyond puppetry and blind loyalty to self-appointed race defenders. The biggest problem with this society is the mindset. Any political leader or party hoping to carry out meaningful reforms in the country must first address the mindset issue. Otherwise, Malaysia will continue slipping down the slippery slop into oblivion.

In no time, we may be trailing countries such as Cambodia, Laos, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain and others.

Malaysia must get away and rise above its fixation with race, religion and royalty/feudalism.

Bailout & More Bailouts

How much longer can bailouts continue? The government is hit by yet another possible bailout. What's next? PKFZ? Ports? More companies and individuals?

Hit by escalating cost of operations, stage bus operators nationwide have asked the Government to take over their businesses and liabilities.

Pan Malaysia Bus Operators Association president Ashfar Ali has sent a memorandum to Land Public Transport Commission (LPTC) chairman Syed Hamid Syed Albar proposing that the Government buy over their assets. (and take over their debts)

The association, which comprises members from 130 bus companies operating more than 3,200 buses, said the fares that they collect can no longer cover rising operational costs.

The stage buses ply about 80% of the routes outside the Klang Valley.

Syed Hamid, in his response, admitted that the issues raised were valid and promised to look at the memorandum before meeting the association for further discussions.

The government must take a comprehensive look at the public transport policy. It must come out with a proper system to ensure that while it does not burden the people, public transport providers are able to operate viably.

In the spirit of 1Malaysia's people first agenda, the government cannot ignore the need to revamp and restore the public transport system to world-class standards. A good public transport is essential to positive socio-economic development.

Otherwise, more bailouts will not help to improve the situation. Even if Syed Hamid or the government agree to the bailout, the final say belonged to the people/tax payers. The government had created a precedent by bailing out groups previously and more will come forward with similar proposal in the future. We should not encourage businessmen to treat the government as an insurance policy whenever their business is not doing well.

More burden on the taxpayers will reach a breaking point. I would like to urge the government to take a serious look at the current public transport system or a lack of it and address the problems immediately.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Here's Why You Should Not Miss the MACC (Penang Edition)

For the special showcase in Penang on 5th March, 9pm at the Dewan Sri Pinang get your tickets at the Red Rock Hotel, Jalan Macalister.

Or come to the bridal fair at 1st Avenue from tomorrow till Sunday to grab your tickets now. Tickets are priced at RM35 & RM50

Don't miss the fun!

Malaysia A Police State?

Mahathir wanted to abolish the ISA but the police said NO:

"I suggested scrapping of the ISA, but I depended on national security advice from the police and they said 'cannot' (because) there still are threats,” he said.

BUT Hanif Omar said his duty at the time was to uphold the law and that amending or abolishing the ISA was the duty of the Parliament.

Mahathir did not want to use the ISA BUT the police made him do so.

Mahathir did not want to sign the extension of detention order BUT the police made him do so.

He wanted to shorten the detention to a year BUT the police wanted it to be extended to 2 years.

So, who was the head of government? PM or IGP?

Abdullah Badawi wanted to implement the IPCMC BUT the police said NO.

The public/Anti-ISA activists/pro-democracy activists/Bersih/Hindraf wanted to gather peacefully, a right which is guaranteed by the federal constitution, BUT the police said NO.

So, which is the highest authority of the land? Police or Federal constitution?

We need to get it right and clarified once and for all. Is Malaysia a democratic country or a police state?

Who is providing a check-and-balance on the police if they are so powerful?

Imagine Mahathir being led by the nose by the police, or so he claimed. This is a serious matter. The police image is being tarnished by Mahathir's revelation.

Or Mahathir is turning into a forgetful stand up comedian?

Malaysia's Economic Woes: A Self Inflicted Act

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak revealed that Malaysia's GDP growth in 2010 exceeded six percent, hitting the target to achieve a high-income nation in the year 2020.

He reiterated that the Economic Transformation Plan (ETP) target to achieve US$15,000 income per capita in the year 2020, can be realised if Malaysia is able to hit six percent growth in the next 10 years.

The main problem is Malaysia may achieve GDP growth of 6% per annum and USD15k income per capita by 2020 but the growth is not spread out equally to all citizens. It is important to look at where the growth sectors are located. The biggest contributors to the growth numbers may come from the oil & gas and plantations. How many percent of total Malaysian workforce are working in both sectors?

The government must also focus on the urban economy especially the manufacturing, ICT and services sectors which are providing huge employment opportunities for urban based workers. More than 180,000 graduates are registering themselves with the public employment agency annually. Growing number of youth unemployment is going to pose a major problem for the country.

Suicide rates are increasing among Malaysian youths. A great number of them are facing extreme difficulty to cope with the pressure of living in urban areas especially cost of living and a lack of employment opportunities.

The government must address how it is going to help create 3.3. million jobs if there is little shift in the nation labour policy. It should emulate certain countries such as Taiwan to lower the use of foreign workers in the local economy to encourage the use of local workers. The use of local workers could encourage better focus on staff training and better customer service. The use of low skilled foreign workers in the F&B, retail and services is affecting the quality of customer service.

The government need to seriously look at and address the issue of employment creation if it wants to avoid social strife in the future.

A lack of political will and policy direction to address serious issues in the economy will ensure that more young brains flowing out of the country and a lack of investment to create more jobs in the country.

The government and the opposition should minimize politicking and focus more on real policy debate and initiative to address Malaysia's economic woes.

What is the point of achieving 6% growth or USD15k per capita if the wealth is concentrated in hands of a few?

The government needs to help the SMEs too and help must be extended regardless of race or creed.

Malaysia must shed its pre-independence past and learn to accept its multiracial society without having to go back and enlarge the communal wound. I agree with Farish Noor that race relations in Malaysia is dangerously close to absolutely breaking down if racial politics is not kept in check.

It is almost becoming a long lengthy joke to see our politicians fighting over trivial race and personal issues.

How long since we have last heard a meaningful and intellectual policy debate from both sides of the fence?

Malaysia MUST wake up! It is time to focus on competency, innovation, integrity, hard work and know how.

Stop the useless debate over race supremacy and birth rights!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Here Are New MACC Internal Affairs (Penang Edition) Promo Videos

Grab your tickets now! There is only one show...only this special show at the Dewan Sri Pinang on 5th March 2011 at 9pm. Get your tickets at the Red Rock Hotel, Jalan Macalister.

May you have more laughter in the new year...

See you in Penang. Let's enjoy some laughter together...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid's Dare is Less Than Heroic

Ahmad Zahid said opposition MP Tony Pua should come forward and provide evidence to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to allow investigations to be carried out on the matter.

"What is he so afraid of? Please give whatever evidence (you have) to the MACC.

"I’m ready to be investigated. My officers are also ready to be investigated if there are irregularities in the procurements,” he told reporters after a visit to the Boustead Naval Dockyard.

Ahmad Zahid has missed the main point here. His dare against Tony to file a report with the MACC shows that the minister is trying to divert our attention from the real issue. The main issue is why is the defence ministry giving another contract to a company which has failed to deliver the last batch of OPVs? What has happened to the contract?

Is the new management of Naval Dockyard willing to assume the responsibility and compensate the government on the company's failure to deliver?

Ironically, this government has been talking about KPIs and its commitment to performance. Is the same set of KPIs being applied to this new defence procurement?

Kua Kia Soong's recent article merits a read:

In 1993, Najib announced that the cabinet had given the go-ahead to the RMN to acquire 27 OPVs costing RM4 billion over a 20-year period.

He said that Naval Dockyard Sdn Bhd, the company which took over the naval dockyard at Lumut, had been appointed the main contractor. The construction of the vessels would be spread out from then up to 10th Malaysia Plan; each warship would be 80m long and weigh 1,000-1,300 tonnes, and be fitted with basic armaments including naval guns.

Still, note that the cost quoted for 27 OPVs in 1993 was RM4 billion. By 1997, the project cost had climbed to more than RM5 billion. (NST, 17.10.97) In recent years, the price quoted for these 27 OPVs became RM24 billion. And now we know that the new cost for just six of these OPVs is at least RM6 billion and no doubt there will be the usual cost overruns!

By the mid-2006, only two barely operational patrol boats had been delivered. In 2007, the auditor-general tabled a report in Parliament alleging that the contract given to PSC-NDSB was in serious trouble. There were 298 recorded complaints on the two boats, which were also found to have 100 uncompleted items in one boat and 383 in the other.

According to the auditor-general, 14 progressive payments amounting to RM943 million had been paid out despite the fact that he could find no payment vouchers or relevant documents dealing with the payments. He attributed the failure to serious financial mismanagement and technical incompetence stemming from the fact that PSC had never built anything but trawlers or police boats before being given the contract by Mindef. (Auditor-General's Report 2006, Sept 7, 2007)

The Auditor-General's Report estimated that the government could claim at least RM214 million in penalties for the late delivery of the two OPVs and non-delivery of the remaining four. However, the cabinet decided to waive the claim of penalties and even awarded the contractor an increase in the contract price of RM1.4 billion in January 2007. Mindef paid in advance RM4.26 billion to the contractor in December 2006 when the progress of the work done only amounted to RM2.87 billion. (ibid)

Despite the fiasco and the great financial loss to taxpayers, the mammoth contract was awarded to yet another local company - Boustead Holdings which effectively took control from Amin Shah.

Amin Shah suffered no greater punishment than being reduced to the status of 'non-executive chairperson' in the company. Now, which Malaysian would not want to be a favoured bumiputera entrepreneur like Amin Shah who could get away so lightly after such a fiasco?

Ahmad Zahid should explain why only two barely operational boats were delivered after nearly 13 years after the contract was signed and the company was commissioned to build the boats?

Will Ahmad Zahid's head roll if there is going to be another fiasco? Looking at the precedence, it is hardly possibly for Ahmad Zahid to face the music. The last defence minister is now the prime minister of this country.

The government must walk the talk about putting the people's interest ahead of its administration own agenda. The last fiasco has put a burden on taxpayers. This is only a tip of the iceberg. The administration should be accountable for more than a few dozens billion ringgit fiascoes around the country before committing itself into another big money contract/project.

The government must learn the lesson of other regimes which had failed the people and suffered their wrath.

Monday, February 14, 2011

MACC Internal Affairs (Penang Edition) Preview

Got your tickets already? If not, head now to the Red Rock Hotel, Jalan Macalister to grab your tickets (RM35 & RM50) now. This is a one show special.

Venue: Dewan Sri Pinang
Date: 5th March
Time: 9pm

Doctors say humour is good for your health!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Hanif Omar Defends Mahathir Only Partially

Hanif backs Mahathir's claim on Operasi Lalang:

"You can't blame him. He is right. As a matter of fact, it was entirely the police's decision. It was not his (Mahathir's) decision. Mahathir was actually opposed to it... He was against Ops Lalang," said Hanif.

In the 1987 crackdown on Oct 27, 106 people - mostly opposition and a handful of MCA and Umno politicians - were arrested under the Internal Security Act while the publishing permits for The Star and Sin Chew Jit Poh and Watan were revoked.

However, Hanif added that it was Mahathir's responsibility as the home minister to sign the detention orders once the first 60-day detention provided for under the Internal Security Act expired.

While most of the detainees in the Ops Lalang were released either conditionally or unconditionally, 40 were issued two-year detention orders, including then DAP secretary-general Lim Kit Siang and party deputy chairman Karpal Singh.

Mahathir did not order the crackdown but he did sign the 2-year detention orders to keep a few top opposition leaders including the opposition leader Lim Kit Siang in Kamunting.

Second, it is near impossible for Mahathir to completely wash off his hands because it was him who revoked the permits for several local newspapers.

Hanif may be one of the most respected and credible IGPs in the country but his argument that the police force were independent of political influence is rather unconvincing. If so, why didn't the police arrest some UMNO youth leaders including the current PM Najib? In response, Umno held a counter protest, where notably then-Youth chief Najib Abdul Razak led a mammoth rally in Kampung Baru days prior to the arrests.

Both Mahathir and Hanif's statements cemented the need to abolish the ISA to avoid it being abused as a political tool to detain detractors and to implement the IPCMC to monitor the police force conduct.

My Ship is Right, Your Ship is Wrong! Please Don't Shit on Us...

DAP's Petaling Jaya Utara parliamentarian Tony Pua was making unreasonable comparisons when he claimed that the Defence Ministry is going to pay up to 8.7 times more for the warships it is proposing to buy, a defence analyst says.

According to Dzirhan Mahadzir, correspondent for noted defence magazine Jane's Defence Weekly, this is because the specifications of the vessels mentioned by Pua vary.

“Some warships he compared are less in tonnage and size than the (vessels proposed for purchase)… so it is like comparing a Mini Cooper with a four-wheel drive in price,” he said in a lengthy commentary on his Facebook page.

It is also very difficult to make comparisons by dividing price by tonnage as even similar sized ships can come in very different specifications, he said.

The rest of Dzirhan's comment can be read from the article. Maybe Dzirhan is right about Tony's over simplistic comparison.

However, this is not the most contentious point. The point is why is the government spending so much money (RM6 billion) on OPVs? What is the purpose of this expenditure? To enlarge and renew our armoury or to help build the local defence industry?

On Saturday, Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi announced that the government has agreed to allocate RM6 billion to purchase six OPVs from Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd.

Ahmad Zahid said the deal would give the local defence industry a boost as at least RM2 billion of the allocation would benefit the 632 vendor companies partnering with Boustead Naval Shipyard.

As a defence commentator, it is important for Dzirhan to also analyse the capability of our local defence industry to build the OPVs. As taxpayers, we need to know what has happened to the last batch of orders from PSCI? Is Boustead Naval Shipyard resurrected from the ashes of PSCI?

If the main purpose is to strengthen our sea defence, why didn't the government call for an open tender? Shouldn't the government be accountable for such a large expenditure? The last thing we need is a government acting like a sugar daddy to the local industry. Granted that the intention is right but will it really help?

Tony's comparative analysis may not be that accurate but it does not make Dzirhan's justification reasonable enough for us, taxpayers, to accept the RM6 billion bill.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

The Three Guys Behind the M.A.C.C.: Internal Affairs Are Invading Penang on 5th March!

First and foremost, this M.A.C.C. does not have anything do to with THE M.A.C.C. The three guys, Douglas Lim, Kuah Jenhan and Phoon Chi Ho, behind the popular stand up comedy in English just had another sold out shows at the PJ Arts Centre at Jaya One.

On their first foray out of Klang Valley, Chi Ho said:

"Of late, many parties have cashed in on comedy, particularly stand-up comedy. While comedians and comedy spots are scarce, local comedians are positive that one day, Malaysia will become an Asian destination for comedy, albeit Malaysians, as comedy audiences, have yet to reach a mature state of that of those from the UK, US and Australia.

But first, Malaysians must now how comedy can bring all the Malaysians closer, defuse the ensions related to 'sensitive' issues and reinforce the idea of 1Malaysia by helping to set aside our differences in the name of laughter.

Also, we can touch on the need to bring local comedy to the masses outside of the Klang Valley."

Come catch the guys at the Dewan Sri Pinang on 5th March, 9pm. Tickets are priced at RM35 & RM50 and are available at the Red Rock Hotel, Jalan Macalister. Those outside of Penang can purchase/book their tickets via email: or call: 012-325 5965.

Don't worry, I can assure that no one will be harmed visiting the M.A.C.C. on 5th March, 9pm at the Dewan Sri Pinang.

Organizer: GFW

Official Media:

Official Hotel: Red Rock Hotel

Ahmad Rejal Arbee Responds

Ahmad Rejal or a reader who claims to be him responded to my post on his statement about loyalty and the use of Malay language:

A friend e-mailed me your half cock shoot from the hip comment about what I

Please read the whole article properly and not just bit and pieces of
it. And don't be crude about it. We can discuss this gentlemanly without
bringing in unrelated things.

So what was the crux of what I wrote?

I questioned why is it that even after 53 years of independence there
are still citizens of this country who can't understand and speak the national language, the language of this country?

I am not questioning the whole of the Chinese who are citizens of this country. Only those who still can't understand or converse in the language of the country which they call home.

Is that being an extremist?

I also questioned the propensity of some housing developers and products being advertised through flyers sent to homes including Malays homes and especially in Shah Alam where I reside and where the majority are Malays, only in English and Mandarin. What happened to Bahasa? Why such disrespect? Aren't these companies operating in Malaysia where the language of the country is Bahasa? Is that asking too much?

So don't cloud it with fact that Hokkien having some Malay words. So what about it? I am not questioning Hokkien but only question why can't the language of the
country be given the proper respect it deserves.

And don't go about the Malays not knowing Mandarin either. Is Mandarin the National language of this country?

It is good for the Malays to also learn Mandarin but even if the majority of them do so, BM is still the language of this country and should be accorded the respect it deserves where every citizens can understand and be able to converse in the language. Is that too much to ask?

Can we go to France, Germany, Japan or Korea and not see the languages of those countries not used at all - not even a word - in the menus of their restaurants.
But this is going on in this country. Go the White House coffee in section 13 Shah Alam and look up its menu. Its only in English and Mandarin. Why this disrespect for BM. Yet most of the clientele of the shop are Malays.

These people have scant respect for the language of their own country. If you are loyal to this country then you should also be loyal to the language of the country.
I am not questioning those who know the language and are able to use it and
understand it. But knowing alone is also not enough, but you must also be proud
to use it.

And don't cloud it with encouragement being made to learn English. Yes we should learn and be proficient in English. But does it mean that we don't need to use BM or know and be able to speak it.

That is all what I wrote about my friend. Is that being extreme? And what has that got to do with Umno?

And try not to be insulting. It doesn’t show good breeding.

rejal arbee

If Ahmad Rejal is trying to be constructive, he should not use any race label indiscriminately. He claimed that there are citizens who can't speak or understand the Malay language. The national secondary school system which adopted the Malay language as the sole medium of instruction was implemented in 1974. It is granted that those who finished their secondary school prior to 1974 may not be conversant in the Malay language.

Today, it is not possible for any Malaysian who has completed his/her six years of primary education, in both national or vernacular school, not to be able to understand or converse in the Malay language.

However, many of them (especially those above the age of 50) are able to converse and communicate in the language through socialisation with other Malays. In fact, it is not uncommon to find Malays being able to speak in Chinese dialects as a result of socialisation with their Chinese friends.

I would like to urge Ahmad to provide me with statistics of non-Malay citizens who are not able to speak or understand the language. I dare say that they belonged to the minority. If Ahmad hopes to see more people using the Malay language, he should sound more constructive and encouraging.

If Ahmad is trying to pick an issue with non-Malays not using the Malay language when socializing among themselves or with their family members, then I would say that he is just being discriminatory. Using one's own mother tongue when conversing with family members and friends of the same ethnic origin does not mean that he/she is unpatriotic or disloyal to the nation.

Is it trendy for editors or columnists of Malay mainstream newspapers to use the non-Malays especially the Chinese as punching bags? Is Ahmad hoping to make an editorial comeback with his unwarranted and unfair criticism of non-Malays or Chinese?

If Ahmad is not pleased with some property developers, retailers or restaurants not using the Malay language, he should just limit his criticism to these companies or persons. By using the race label, he not only being racist but also an opportunist.

I pray that he does not turn into a race extremist. I hope his statement is made out of ignorance and a lack of understanding of non-Malay Malaysians.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Ahmad Rejal Arbee & Shallow Thinking

Ex-editor Ahmad Rejal Arbee wrote in Umno-controlled Berita Harian today that after 53 years of independence, non-Malays should be proud of the national language if they were loyal citizens.
“They get so sensitive when their patriotism is doubted but make no effort to use and understand Malay,” the former Berita Harian group editor said.

“What loyalty is there if they do not try to learn and use their own national language?” he wrote, adding that what was learnt in Chinese vernacular schools was only to pass exams.

Ahmad Rejal said that there were non-Malays that did not care about and deliberately “belittled Malay” despite calling Malaysia their country.

Ahmad Rejal is naive to suggest that non-Malays are not patriotic because they do not use the Malay language in their daily conversation. For a record, Ahmad should be refrained from making a sweeping statement. Many non-Malays do speak fluently in the Malay language and took great interest in understanding the Malay culture. In fact, some Chinese dialects such as the Penang Hokkien had incorporated many Malay words e.g. tuala, batu, kuih, etc.

I studied both the Malay literature and Malay language at the pre-university level and did remarkably well in both subjects. Will I be regarded as being more patriotic and enjoy better privileges from the UMNO-led government? To people like Ahmad Rejal, I am still a Chinese and a non-Bumiputera. It is also a fact that not many Malays speak the Chinese language or understand our culture. To forge a better cultural understanding, the effort must be reciprocated. How much does Ahmad understand the non-Malay culture?

It is also the duty of the Dewan Bahasa & Pustaka to expand the use of the Malay language. The language must be developed to facilitate acquisition of knowledge and skills. How many educational books are being written or translated in Malay?

The Malay language too had evolved and is still evolving. It has absorbed many English words into the language e.g. diskusi, institusi, kasyer, polis, eksploitasi, ekspres and thousands of other words and terms. Ahmad should take note of this phenomenon we called "pencemaran bahasa" or pollution. Replacing the original Malay words with these English terms will ultimately spell an end of the language and create a 'rojak' language.

Why blame the non-Malays when there are far greater threats to the Malay language? Are the Malays faring any better in the language in exams since Ahmad said that non-Malays are only interested in passing exams. You cannot deny that it takes a certain level of proficiency of the language to pass exams and it is the only formal yardstick to measure mastery of a language.

If Ahmad wants us to be proud of this country he should advise the government to respect all Malaysians as equals. He should give a leader such as Mahathir an ear full for suggesting that this country belonged to only the Malays.

He should advice the government to curb corruption, abuse of power, disrespect for the federal constitution, protect the democratic system and focus on addressing real socio-economic issues.

The fact that Ahmad sounds so ignorant and silly in his accusation that non-Malays are not patriotic enough just because they use their mother tongue does not give me much hope that he understands the real issues.

He was just probably a mediocre editor who was more interested in forms than substance.

Racism & Whither Malaysia

Dr Mahathir is not new to controversy. I had said that the ex-premier will only tarnish is already poor image and thinning legacy with more vicious statements and speeches.

In a speech on Tuesday, Dr Mahathir told Malaysians to admit that the country belonged to the Malays and that they had to accept the culture and language of the dominant community.

The former prime minister said that the country’s forefathers gave the Chinese and Indians citizenship because they expected the communities to respect Malay sovereignty.

"This country belongs to the Malay race. Peninsular Malaysia was known as Tanah Melayu but this cannot be said because it will be considered racist.

"We must be sincere and accept that the country is Tanah Melayu,” he said.

He also said the administration must be clear on what is 1 Malaysia.

Mahathir's speech shows why Malaysia is a state but not a country. How can Malaysia achieve greater success in attracting and retaining talents at home if this government continues to belittle almost half of its citizens? Mahathir was a president of UMNO and a premier of this nation. His position on this issue deserves an explanation from the current UMNO government.

I fear that many, especially those in Perkasa, share his view on Tanah Melayu. Perkasa and UMNO share almost the same membership base.

Mahathir, himself of an Indian origin, refuses to accept and respect the constitutional rights of all Malaysians to equal opportunities, safety and respect after being a premier of this country for more than two decades is a contempt of the federal constitution.

He had insulted the federal constitution for refusing to respect the citizenship rights of all Malaysians. Shouldn't Mahathir be brought to justice the same way the Sri Muda assemblyman is being charged for sedition?

Unfortunately, there is no rule of law in this country. Racism and race politics will destroy the nation's social fabric. It is sad that politicians in this country are more preoccupied with race supremacy, religion and monarchy than putting more attention on the state of economy and the need to reposition Malaysia in the changing global order.

Sadly, if the Malays in this country continue to believe in the flimsy notion of Malay supremacy being a protective shield of their existence and survival this country will not be able to change its course and will head for eventual destruction.

Yet, there is little done by Pakatan leaders to correct the notion and to reassure the Malays that a positive mindset change is the only way to secure their survival in the increasingly competitive global economy.

Many of us had hoped for a better start in the new year. I hope we will not be disappointed. Malaysians must stay focus on the agenda of change and reform. Without a real political reform, the whole nation is going to continue its slide towards a failed nation.

As for MCA, MIC and Gerakan, Mahathir's statement and their silence is the last nail in the coffin. It shows that minority race parties in Barisan are ineffective and irrelevant.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Gong Xi Fa Cai 2011

I would like to wish Straight Talk readers and friends a Happy Chinese New Year.

May the year of Rabbit brings you and family abundance of joy, good health and best wishes!