Friday, August 31, 2012

Mat Rempit to Help Fight Crime? This is a Signal that Hishammuddin Hussein's Time as Home Minister is Up!

The Home Ministry wants to engage the mat rempit to help fight crime in the country. Describing the idea as out-of-the-box thinking, Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said the ministry had asked selected non-governmental organisations and groups to enlist the bikers' co-operation in the fight against crime.
Calling this an 'out-of-the-box thinking' goes to show that our minister is really suffering from a serious mental block or he is totally not qualified to hold the position. Any credible home minister would have instructed his top home security officials to come out with a comprehensive plan and strategy to curb and combat crime. 
Second, he should address the issue of a lack of police personnel doing patrolling and just desk jobs. He should be mindful not to abuse security forces to meet political ends or using them to stop freedom of assembly and expression. 
The full brunt of security forces should be used to protect and guarantee public safety.
Hence, using mat rempit to help fight crime is not even an idea, let alone an 'out-of-the-box thinking'. It epitomizes Hishammuddin's state of mind and his suitability to continue serving as our home minister. No wonder, he has a knack to ignore distortions in crime statistics posted by his ministry.
I am not looking down on these mat rempits. The right thing to ask them to do is to get a job and help contribute to this nation's development. By getting themselves duly employed, we do not have to rely on so many foreign workers.
Second, these mat rempits are not trained and equipped to handle criminals. What if some of them get hurt or killed in the process of fighting crime? Will Hishammuddin be responsible for their safety?
What if these mat rempits take Hishammuddin's instruction and suggestion too seriously and start to act like enforcement officers and abuse their 'power'? Will Hishammuddin be responsible for their action and behaviour?
What is some of the criminals are fellow mat rempits too? Can we depend on them to take action against their own kind? Afterall, they are not paid to do the policing job.
If Hishammuddin is keen on this 'idea', he should encourage these mat rempits to attend interviews and apply for positions in the security forces. 
The last thing Hishammuddin should do is to belittle our intelligence with his so-called idea and out-of-the-box thinking.
If our current home minister is feeling the fatigue, he can volunteer to step down and allow a fresher person to take over. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Penang PKR Wikileaks: Wrong to Humiliate Mansor Othman Because Dap Could Lose More Malay Support

The Dap led Penang state government is almost certain to renew its mandate for another term. Dap strategists are hoping to consolidate and maximize Chinese support to over 80-90% in order to overcome a possible slight shift of Malay and Indian support back to BN. 

To do so, there is a need to project Lim Guan Eng as a strong and dominant leader of the Chinese community. He cannot be seen as weak when dealing with his opponents or alliances; including his deputy chief minister Mansor Othman. 

Minutes of a private meeting between Mansor and several Chinese representatives were published verbatim in a blog, namely Gelagat Anwar, in its June 16, 18 and 19 postings. The leak revealed that Mansor had described Chief Minister and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng as “cocky and arrogant”. He had also said that Lim was revered like “tokong” (deity) by Chinese voters in Penang.

Mansor was 'persuaded' by his colleagues in the state exco council to to “eat humble pie” by reading out a prepared text before an army of pressmen. Dap Chow Kon Yeow was the first to kick up a fuss over the revelation and demanded an explanation from PKR.

Dap could have gotten what it wanted to preserve the dignity and dominant image of Lim Guan Eng but the party could have handled it differently and ended up looking more magnanimous and forgiving than the current image of being cocky and unable to accept even the mildest criticism.

The fact that Mansor was 'persuaded' to read out his statement at a press conference over something so menial magnifies the insecurity of Dap and its supremo Lim Guan Eng. 

Mansor is being made to look weak and meek over something which is so trivial. Dap leaders could have made similar remarks about some leaders in PKR and PAS in private too. 

While Mansor has been successfully portrayed as weak and meek, the party should not forget that he is the current Deputy Chief Minister and a leader of the Malay community in Penang. A weak Mansor is going to be perceived as marginalization of the community under the leadership of Dap led PR government. As a result, more Malay voters are going to shift back their support for UMNO regardless of whether their leaders are being more polished or not. 

Sometimes ego can get better of a good political strategy. Dap, being the government, is still acting like an opposition. It does not have to be about 'mojo' (manhood) all the time. 

Lim could have laughed it off and throw words of support for his deputy believing that he would not have uttered such words. Blame it on the BN and trojan horses but never run down your own general. Haul up Mansor if he wants to but please do it in private. I am sure he could have gained more mileage from Mansor and his own Malay support in the end. 

Many pundits have observed that it could be all over for Mansor Othman. Yes, by being forced to read from a prepared statement to a room filled with reporters could have rendered him impotent and weak in the eyes of his own party members and leaders. Mansor knows what is in store for him and he has privately hinted on being replaced by someone else who could be parachuted into Penang.

In this episode, Dap should learn a lesson. Political power can be projected softly and deftly through good PR and strategy. The party does not have to seek out to quash all criticisms all the time using a sledge hammer.  


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Anti-Hop Law: Both Coalitions Should End Hypocrisy

MCA leaders have been attacking the DAP relentless for proposing to pass an anti-party hopping legislation at the Penang state level. 

Its leader, Chua Tee Yong, asked “Why only push for the Bill in Penang or Opposition-held states? Why did they not include the Bill in their Buku Jingga and push for it at federal level?” Chua has criticized the move as a political gimmick.

Chua could be referring to DAP's stand towards Tuaran MP Wilfred Bumburing and Beaufort MP Lajim Ukin resigning from Upko and Umno respectively to align themselves with Pakatan last month. DAP leaders were seen welcoming the duo 'defections' in Sabah.

However, both Wilfred and Lajim did not join any Pakatan based parties. 

Similarly, MCA had hailed the defections of 3 Pakatan lawmakers in Perak which had resulted in a change of government in 2009. MCA Dr Mah was even appointed as a special officer to the chief minister.

Party hopping or freedom of association is a constitution right. However, an elected representative of state assembly of parliament is elected based on his/her political affiliation too. It is only to allow the representative to recontest the seat should he/she chooses to defect to another political party. It allows the people to make a choice.

Democracy must respect the choice of the people. What is wrong for both MCA and DAP to respect such fundamental right of the voters? Both parties should make their stand clear on anti-hopping legislation for elected representatives. Anti-hopping law doesn't need to apply to all party office bearers. 

A clear stand should clear the hypocrisy shown by both parties.

Just like any public tender too, the winning party/tenderer should not sell/flip or transfer the tender to another non-tenderer. If such a case happens, the tender should be rendered null and void and a new tender process should be restarted. 

I urge political parties to stay consistent with their stand on all social, economic and political issues. It is meaningless to only support an issue which brings political advantage to them. We have seen too many of such leaders who would not mind manipulating public sentiment for their own political gains. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

UMNO Youth Bigotry Against Christians: Khairy Jamaluddin Must Apologize!

It appears that Khairy Jamaluddin had lied about the UMNO Youth Facebook page. Khairy had even lodged a police report, claiming that the person who put up the poster with the controversial remarks was “unauthorised” to do so and that the page was not the youth wing’s official Facebook page.

The administrator of the page had posted an apology on the page. But irreparable damage had been inflicted and UMNO/BN are set to lose more middle ground votes that they could ever imagine.

Kami minta maaf secara terbuka kepada semua rakyat atas kesilapan mengeluarkan gambar yang tidak patut pada 17/18 Aug 2012. Admin itu sudah dikeluarkan dari fanpage,” the page’s administrators wrote in a posting late last night, just hours after Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin told the media that he was closing in on the culprit behind the poster.

The police is quick to say that the newly enforced Section 114A of the Evidence Act will not be used against UMNO Youth in this case.

If nothing is being done to haul up the culprit, the federal government is going to face more credibility issue. It is clear cut that BN/UMNO is immune to prosecution. No wonder unscrupulous UMNO linked bloggers are even used in advertisements promoting the party. 

It is not enough for the administrator of UMNO Youth Facebook page to apologize alone. Khairy Jamaluddin must tender his sincere apology for trying to dupe us that UMNO Youth was not at fault in this senseless propaganda which screams religious bigotry!

This is another reason why a major overhaul is needed in Malaysian politics   

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Is Lim Guan Eng Running Penang Berhad or Penang State Government?

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng did it again. After the controversial sale of Bayan Mutiara prime land to private developer linked to Danny Tan and Vincent Tan, he is involved in the RM11mil sale of a 0.4ha land in Taman Manggis, which was previously earmarked for affordable housing.

The Taman Manggis land, which Barisan claimed to have been earmarked for affordable housing by the previous state government, was instead proposed by the present administration for a private medical centre.

Barisan had also contended that the land at the junction of Jalan Zainal Abidin-Lorong Selamat had been sold to the Kuala Lumpur International Dental Centre at RM232 per sq ft or RM11mil, far below the market price of RM450 per sq ft or RM21,562,200.
In an immediate response, Lim said the land had been awarded via open tender to the bidder with the highest price.
The main point is not whether the land is being sold to the bidder with the highest price. There are several other considerations:
1) Why would the state government sold a land earmarked for affordable housing to a private business group?
2) The present government affordable housing scheme is flawed. It is not about just providing low cost housing but the state must take cognizance not to push out the working class and lower middle class from the island. A few people remarked to me that Penang island is soon becoming a place for the rich locals and foreigners. Workers enclave must be created near to economic hubs/areas on the island and not only on the mainland. 
3) Using the highest price to justify a sale of land earmarked for affordable housing makes Lim sounds like a CEO of a private company who is just interested to make the highest profit. Is Lim now being overly business friendly and neglecting the interests of 70% lower-middle class Penangites?
The issue of Bayan Mutiara is far from over. We shall monitor the situation to see if the state government is going to make the private developer deliver on the 30% affordable housing promise/requirement. 
Lim may be riding on high popularity wave due to his populist policy and an irreparable and divisive UMNO but the impact of his decisions on land sale and land swap to finance infrastructure and housing projects in Penang is going to prove costly in the 14th General Election for DAP and Pakatan.

Harping on "Small Issues" is Going to Make Penang BN Sounds Desperate

So what if Penang DCM Mansor Othman may have said that Lim Guan Eng is cocky and arrogant. He may have uttered the remarks in a private meeting. Penang BN and many others have been saying the same about Lim openly and repeatedly. There is nothing new.

However, it is futile for Penang BN Chairman Teng Chang Yeow and his coalition leaders trying to turn this issue into a political gain. There's nothing to gain from harping on non-issue or small issue. Most of us, the middle ground, would find him petty and small minded instead of being a leader worthy of a shot at the state leadership.

He should be aware that his statements would indicate his stature. Teng did not start on the right footing when he brought up a seemingly outdated suggestion and a lofty promise to turn the Penang Port into a free port. Obviously he needs to beef up his own team with the right people.

With the full implementation of AFTA normalization programme by January 2015, even the most reclusive Asean member, Myanmar, has to open up.

Most top manufacturers can easily set up shop in the region with slightly more than 700 million people and take advantage of the regional trade agreement.

It would be more useful for Teng and his team to focus on core issues such as:

1) What should be the next economic direction of Penang?
2) How can Penang capitalize on regional opportunities especially around Asean?
3) Can Penang take a lead by positioning itself as a regional centre for mobile applications or any key technology?
4) Politically, how can Teng convince voters that a vote for Gerakan/MCA is not a vote for UMNO friendly/subservient CM/Government?
5) What can BN do better than Pakatan in Penang?
6) How can BN correct the past mistakes, bad policy decisions and excesses?
7) Can the federal government allocate a more equitable development funds for the state?

Teng should not position himself as a small and petty leader who is so desperate to jump at anything. He might just be fighting his own shadow.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Rafizi Ramli's Prosecution is a National Embarrassment

The decision to charge PKR leader Rafizi Ramli for disclosing four financial accounts related to the National Feedlot Corporation (NFC) and its chairperson Mohd Salleh Ismail is putting the entire value system of the nation at test.

He claimed trial to the charge, under Section 97 of the Banking and Financial Institutions Act (Bafia), of having disclosed the financial accounts held by Public Bank to two reporters, one of them Erle Martin Carvalhoe of Star.

Bank Negara started investigations after Mohd Salleh’s police report against Rafizi for 21 alleged breaches of private and confidential banking details that are protected under Part XIII of Bafia on secrecy and information.

Mohamad Salleh himself has been charged with two counts of criminal breach of trust (CBT) and two alleged offences under the Companies Act 1965 involving a total of RM49.7 million, related to the purchase of two luxury condominium units.

What kind of message does Bank Negara intend to send to the people? Rafizi had taken great risk to disclose crucial and incriminating financial information related to criminal breach of trust.  

The Rafizi expose has helped to safe the country from another attempt to plunder public funds for self enrichment. It is without a doubt that Rafizi could have been fed the information by an insider. Nevertheless, the last thing the authority should do it to charge him breaches of private and confidential banking details.

National Feedlot Corporation was a beneficiary of public grant. As a recipient of RM250 million of low interest loan, the NFC should be subjected to the strictest scrutiny. A lack of check-and-balance mechanism had resulted in billions being wasted or siphoned off each year. The fact that the government did not act on the AG's warning earlier is a prime example of poor governance. It merely strengthens the need for responsible whistleblowers like Rafizi Ramli.

The NFC scandal had tainted UMNO Women Chief Sharizat Jalil and prompted her removal from the cabinet. But the treatment she received from the UMNO led government is starkly different from the treatment received by the whistleblower Rafizi. He was prosecuted mainly because of his political affiliation.

The federal government must not underestimate the Malaysians and their ability to separate the wrongs and the rights.

Rafizi's prosecution is going have a bigger impact than the defections of two Sabah BN leaders on voters. 

It is time for the federal government to start waking up to its many weaknesses and abuses of power. Top officials in Bank Negara should do a deep soul searching too. Professionalism must be practiced within a good value system.