Friday, October 31, 2008

Introduce Mandarin/Tamil at primary levels

Good thing that Razak Baginda is a free man now. As I know him quite well, let him take sometimes to recover... and let other bloggers write about this Altantuya's episode.

I just want to comment on what Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein said Thursday, that students should be given sufficient guide towards enhancing national unity. It was a good point, indeed.

However, my point of contention is that, after 51 years of Independence and after so much talks about racial harmony, we may have overlooked at one important issue - language.

The government has all this while made it compulsary for all students, irrespective of their race and religion, to master Bahasa Malaysia and ensure that they score in this language as a ticket to higher education.

Also yesterday, Shahidan Kassim, in commenting MCA calls for the abolishment of the New Economic Policy, suggested all non-Bumi companies to employ at least 30 per cent Bumiputera staffs into their respective entities.

Well. My personal view is that, why cant the government consider introducing Bahasa Mandarin or Tamil as another compulsary subject at primary levels? I believe when more Malays are conversant in either languages, their chances to serve the non-Bumi companies will increase.

Language plays an important role in bringing closer all Malaysians. If any of you want to deny this, you may pen your views.

Understanding each others' mother tounge, too will develop our society into a more harmonious lots who will live without prejudice. Language barrier is a factor we should solve. Dont you remember what happened to the Malay students when the government abolished all English-medium schools in late 70s?

The Malays and the Bumis found it difficult to enrol into most higher learning institutions locally and abroad and was a killing factor for them to get good jobs. Only after years later, our government realised the blunder, hence placed a strong emphasis for them to concentrate more in mastering English.

Languages can unite the world, too...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Yoga and mosques: What's the issue?

All about Islam. I dont know whether this has a lot to do with its 'hadhari'. Readers comments are most welcomed to correct me if I am on the wrong footing.

1. Yoga - Some Muslim clerics are already branding this ancient Hindu-style healthcare excercise as un-Islamic and may issue a fatwa banning Muslims from practising it in the near future. After so many years, someone - through her researches - found out how this ala-Hindu movement may adversely affect a Muslim's 'aqidah', and that this yoga is not supposed to be practised as a health routine because it contains a lot of Hindu elements. As to whether they are right or wrong, I would like to contest this argument.

For hundreds of years, the Malays (in Malaysia, all Malays are Muslim, right?) have been adopting to some foreign practises that are 'imported' from India, China, the Arabs, British or other races. In Melaka, most Malay weddings are still favoring the Indian+Chinese style 'bunga sanggul' which weighs up to 5kg. The 'pelamin' is sometimes more-Indianiase than Malay while the 'kompang' is believed to be a mixture of Indians and Arabs. The Malays started to wear 'sarung' after the arrival of Indians a few hundred years ago (according to Hikayat Abdullah Munshi). At the same time, does a songkok really reflects Islam as the Bataks and many non-Muslims in Indonesia who breed and sell pigs also wear it to their custom.

If you say yoga contains 'mantra', let us take a look at some other health and self-defense organisations, including the silat. Some silat teachings - I know you are aware of it - contains a lot of mantras which are from unknown origin. Even nobody understand what it means. Some are al-Quran verses which are 'modified' to suit the spirit of the silat. Remember Nasrul-Haq which was banned about 20 years ago? And what about our 'bomoh', 'dukun' and all sorts of talisman? What do they normally recite?

Do you know that some politicians, too, go to 'bomohs' to secure their survival, especially at this time around when Umno general assembly and elections are just four months away?

2. Mosques - Minister at Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was right when he defended the idea to erect a Chinese-style mosque somewhere in Kuala Lumpur. What's really wrong with the people who protested it was they are just like 'katak di bawah tempurung' (a toad under a coconut shell).

Islam makes life simple and without complication in its many aspects. A mosque is still a mosque and a place to worship Allah may it comes in many structural design. In China, all mosques are Chinese-designed and so are the ones in India, Spain, Russia and all parts of the world. We have a Hindu-style mosque in Masjid Kampung Hulu in Melaka. Even its Masjid Negeri is a combination of Malay, Chinese and Middle East architecture.

Why make a fuss out of design, shape and structure. No matter how big and beautiful a mosque is built, it meets no purpose if it fails to attract enough 'jemaah' on Fridays... or if its 'kiblat' is not properly arranged.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

IMF, too is running out of cash

British Premier Gordon Brown yesterday warned that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) might not have enough money to halt the spread of financial "contagion" through the world's economies. Embarking on a diplomatic offensive to secure hundreds of billions of dollars in additional financial support for the IMF, Brown called for immediate action. His intervention came after Hungary and Ukraine accepted IMF assistance to prop up their battered economies as the financial crisis has torn through Eastern Europe. The 250 billion dollar fund currently available to the IMF to lend to financially stricken states "may not be enough". "It is becoming increasingly clear to me that we cannot delay and that we now need substantial additional resources in addition to the 250 billion dollars the IMF already has available," he said. Aides later refused to set a figure but said the required cash was likely to run into hundreds of billions. The premier did not rule out a British contribution to the enhanced fund, but made clear he believed the bulk of any additional money should come from China and the oil rich states of the Gulf. "Yes, we will play our part, but the biggest part can be played by countries that have got the biggest surpluses," he said.

How much should be spent...

Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar said Umno must draw a line as to how much a candidate can spend for party elections. Brilliant idea, sir!

He also suggested Umno to adopt the ways how candidates of the US presidential elections raise their funds and spend them.

Well... it is time for Umno to to so. After so many years of money-politics which led to a few senior officials being suspended, Syed Hamid's view should be well attended to.

However, what will be the wise 'ceiling' for such campaigning expenses and in what context the money should be spent, is up to the party leadership to decide.

In previous party elections, some candidates were said to have spent between RM200,000 and RM30 million to secure votes from delegates.

Do this people really got that amount of money, anyway? Looks like the delegates are the ones making money...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Come Nov 10, Najib is Umno President... what will Pak Lah be?

Umno divisional meetings will conclude on November 9, about 10 days from now. Looking at it, there will be 'tough fight' for all top positions in March 2009 general assembly, except for the presidency. By virtue and by logic, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak will emerge winner for the no.1 post as nobody has offered anybody else the chance to contest. Being unopposed, Najib will become Umno President on November 10, 2008 and automatically 'a seat as the new Prime Minister'. I seldom write politics but this Umno presidency issue attracts much of my attention. Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said he will hand over the presidency and premiership to Najib after the March general assembly. As to whether Pak Lah will attend the assembly as an Umno president, a Prime Minister or as an Umno member, only God knows. Some say that by Umno constitution, Najib will automatically become Umno president and Prime Minister on November 10. Then, what will Pak Lah be? Najib is the only candidate not to be opposed and will definitely win it. Even if there are other last minute candidates, they wont be able to meet the qualifying mark. Has Pak Lah make a mistake when announcing that he will retire in March or did he anticipate Najib will meet his compatible opponent running for the same post, and that the no.1 position will see a contest? In any elections, a candidate winning unopposed when dateline of nomination is closed, will be declared a winner and thus has every rights to the title contested. The only technicality remains is its legitimacy has yet to be instituted by the authorised entity, i.e the Elections Commission, the Dewan Rakyat, Dewan Negara or a party's general assembly. In Najib's case, his win will be legitimate based on the party constitution that whoever wins any seat unopposed will be declared the right officio for that position. Many say it will be very confusing. By Nov 10 Pak Lah will no longer holds the party presidency. What will he be before March 2009?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

To make a start, see things first hand: Aso

Hello, this is Taro Aso

In the period right up until I became Prime Minister, hardly a day went by without my embarking on a new leg on my nationwide travels. Whatever it is you seek to do, you must start by seeing things first hand. Though I have Diet deliberations to attend, I try to get out as much as possible to see for myself what is happening, rather than merely reading the reports I receive.

I have been concerned about retail prices and stocks in the stores running low, so I visited a supermarket on Sunday to see the situation for myself. I looked at the items in the supermarket and talked to people shopping there with their children.

At the supermarket, I saw that the prices of items such as pasta made from wheat flour had gone up. Packages of other wheat-based products still cost the same, though the quantities of the contents had been reduced. I also noticed that fish prices are more or less unchanged, reminding me of the difficulties that the people in the fishing industry are facing.

It obviously becomes harder for families to get by if prices of things like crude oil and cereals increase while salaries stay the same. We need to do something to ease the situation.

In the Comprehensive Immediate Policy Package announced the other day, the Government kept down the increase in the selling price of the wheat it imports to less than the actual increase in the wholesale price of wheat. The Government has also eased regulations on corporate stock buy-backs, so that the portion of company profits that would go on dividends can be channeled to the employees. I believe that we have to take whatever concrete actions we can, including measures in areas such as these that have an immediate impact on the people.

The main thing is to protect the people's everyday lives and the Japanese economy. I will compile new economic measures by the end of this month.

Measures to support the people's lives will come first and foremost. Also, there will be measures for micro-, small and medium-sized companies, which are hard hit by the financial crisis, and measures to vitalize the regions, which are affected straight away by fluctuations in business conditions. These are the focus of the new economic measures, along with the provisions of the supplementary budget passed last week.

The day before yesterday, the House of Representatives passed a bill to extend the new Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law.

Japan has been carrying out the replenishment support activities in the Indian Ocean, in line with our own national interest. As other countries step up the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan, it is out of the question for Japan alone to pull back.

Members of the Maritime Self-Defense Force are working in the scorching heat of the Indian Ocean. The turbulent sea is a constant danger. There is no harsher environment, but I trust that they, representing the nation, will succeed in their mission.

I will e-mail you again, soon. Thank You.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Where's the announcement?

The much awaited announcement on the new downward pricelists of some itemised goods, went dead yesterday. Domestic Trade and Consumers Affair Minister Datuk Shahril Samad did not make any statement as promised earlier this week.

What happened, nobody knows.

However, it is not going to be easy to revise the price downward as what the government did on the prices of petrol and diesel.

Itemised goods are under the control of wholesalers and retailers. In remote areas, the prices are exhorbitant. For the government to deal with them will take more than just what the enforcement unit could do.

Prices may differ from one place to another. If we have 200 consumer items under the controlled price list, it will take much time to conduct a study and a market survey before the prices can be lowered.

Even the Association of Petrol Station Owners claimed that most of its members incurred losses due to the reduction price of petrol and diesel. Wholesalers and retailers of itemised goods may concur the same thing. To them, anthing that goes up must not come down!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Anwar got a point there...

Face the fact. There were truth in Anwar Ibrahim's counter budget proposals. Like it or not, the BN government should consider such an option if we want to restore foreign investors' confidence. The 2009 Budget in August was tabled by Prime Minister (also Finance Minister then) when the world crude oil price was still above US$120 per barrel and the Wall Street was still unaware of the incoming economic bashing which initially sent the Lehman Bro and Merill Lynch tumbling down. Its impact sent the world markets reeling, some to their 10-years low. Malaysia was not spared. Looking at the current economic trend, we need a lot of sacrifices to the original Budget proposal. We need to steer the country out of the economic turbulence, yes! I believe Anwar, too, is concerned about the economy and may consider not to become a Prime Minister (if he got the chance) at this time around. We can rest on our strong fundamentals but some big economies have not been able to face the onslaught without some revamps to their existing monetary, banking, investment and administration budget policies. Anwar, as a former Finance Minister, was seen here as 'sincere' in his counter proposal which include a cut to government expenditure, public open tender, reduction to projects budget and putting to shelve some mega projects. Being an opposition leader does not mean he cannot be allowed to come up with positive plans to save the economy. There are times when both sides - the ruling and opposition parties - need to sit down and discuss some urgencies. Economy is a big issue. It leads to inflation, recession and in some cases, food crisis. Malaysians, at large, will support any move to ease them on their expenditure costs. We have good economists around, be it from the government or the opposition. Even the Americans came together when it comes to finding solutions to their economic woes. Japan and South Korea, too. Malaysia is not as developed yet. And so, all sectors of the community deserve to give opinion and suggestion as to how some issues should addressed for common interest.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Musa Hitam wants a younger Umno team

Former deputy premier and ex-Umno deputy president Tun Musa Hitam said on Wednesday it was time for Umno to choose young bred of leaders who are vibrant, full or ideas and wise enough to lead the Malay-dominant party.

Somehow or rather, I do agree with him.

When you are too old and too long at the helm, your cadres and members at the grassroot may find it 'not proper' to tell you what you did was right or wrong. On the other hand, being too young for a senior position will open you up to simple criticism should you fail to move around 'correctly'.

So, Tun... what is the ideal 'young' age to lead the party? Those 35 to 60 maybe?

MCA has, in its just-concluded elections, saw a balanced mixture of veterans and youths. It was perhaps the best results the country and the party have seen in many years. Datuk Seri Chua Soi Lek whose sex-scandal forced him out of the Cabinet, gained popularity by emerging as the party no.2 man.

We can say that MCA members were wise in chosing who they wanted, regardless of one's personal scandal or problems. To the Chinese, track record of service and the acceptance of party members are more important.

Umno has so many factions, a texture of old and old, old and young and the young ones. Which one do we prefer? Some veterans and seasoned leaders cannot deliver anymore but still want to hold on to their position. A few who realised that they cant even make the cut for Supreme Council and vice president seats, were still hoping for miracles.

What are the criteria and ingredients to become Umno leaders? Tengku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak, Tun Hussein, Tun Mahathir and Datuk Seri Abdullah have got their own supremacy elements as leaders, then and now. Najib is emerging fast while Muhyiddin gains so much support fron the divisions.

What about others? Some may get enough nominations and some may have to bow out. Names like Hishamuddin, Mukhriz, Khairy and few others are young leaders who can chart the party's next move towards becoming more relevant in Malaysian politics. Nonetheless, back-stabbing, money and all sorts of tactics are being used to gain that few seats.

The veterans and youth combination should augur well to stabilise and reconcile all factions in Umno. Many may say there were no factions, that no money was being offered to delegates and no match-making was involved.

It is time for Umno to wake up in the midst of post-12th general elections dilemma. Its leaders and members must realise that whoever they may choose for no.1, no.2, vice presidents and other positions MUST bear the responsibility to regain confidence from grassroot members, work as a formidable team and close ranks with everybody.

Yes, we need some GOOD young leaders, irrespective of where they come from and with whom are they close to. As long as this seasonal and young leaders can secure satisfaction within the party and uphold Umno to the ideas mooted 61 years ago, then there will be nothing to worry.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Others should SHUT UP!

Let's not be sensitive or emotional about it. The Tun Mahathir vs Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi episode gets overheating. Both are our leaders, one being the former premier.

We should not add fuel to it like what some Umno leaders had done or are doing so. The party members must be sensible when it comes to attending to such an issue.

Nothing's wrong with Tun or Pak Lah. Both have their own credence and styles. Tun has left the Cabinet while Pak Lah will do so in March next year.

In my earlier posting, I used to point out something - will both leaders meet up as friends and old buddies when they are no longer in the Cabinet, or as to whether they will shake hands and sit down over tea or coffee...

We should find solution, instead of joining the bandwagon of vociferuous remarks. Aren't we Malays, known for our tolerance among each other and always courteous with our words?

For Tun to pass comments about Umno... well, it is his rights. For Pak Lah to chide at his ex-boss, it is his rights, too. However, let both of them settle their difference come post-March 2009.

Let us see if they will be together again...

Friday, October 17, 2008

Suhakam is NONSENSE!

Making calls for the government to immediately lift the ban on Hindraf, makes Suhakam just like the Hindu group and other outlawed Islamic organisations. They want freedom, absolute freedom!

Suhakam, in its capacity as a human rights commission, is portraying Hindraf as a social and peaceful group. Hence, Suhakam feels the government should 'legalise them and let them do whatever they wish'. Looks like it.

I personally think Suhakam and Hadi Awang (PAS president) prefer the American-style of robust, unruly and radical ways of freedom. Suhakam, too, may feel obliged by its 'human rights' ticket, thus should champion any sorts of 'freedom' - speech and action.

Just like the Bar Council which lost its balance, Suhakam would prefer to see the country in jeopardy. Its leaders would be happy to turn Malaysia into a chaotic place to live - killings, bombings, riots and disarray.

Supporting Hindraf is like supporting a-Maunah, al-Arqam and other outlaws organisation. They, too, fought for their own cause.

Suhakam is not wise this time around. Its full of shit and nonsense! I dont wanna say more...

The corridors may come later

Decision to shelve mega projects such as the development corridors was wise. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, in making the announcement Wednesday, said the world economic and financial scenarios did not permit such projects to be carried out now as the government needs to concentrate in other important things.

The corridors involve some RM800 billion in local and foreign investment. However, while many foreign companies, including large financial institutions are having problems with their purse, these corridors may not get good response after all.

There will be delays but it is better than seeing lots of hiccups in these corridors. The government should instead stay focus on major aspects of rural and human developments, giving emphasis in consolidating racial harmony and housing the nation for those still without proper settlement.

In Sabah and Sarawak, for instance, effort must be multiplied to address the issue of logistic - proper roads and bridges and schools still without electricity.

The corridors may come a bit later once our economy is on solid footing. Datuk Seri Najib may say that our fundamentals will be able to weather the world financial crisis but we must not be over-confident.

A small house with too may corridors wont be too good. It will be difficult to monitor from which direction the wind or the dust may blow in...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Good move to ban Hindraf

The government has finally decided to put a ban on Hindraf. A good one. As what Pasir Mas MP Datuk Ibrahim Ali told the Dewan Rakyat on Tuesday, Malaysia cant afford to plunge into racial disorder, neither can it withstand unruly organisations. After 51 years of Independence, we must not accord too much room to anyone, including politicians, to champion what is described as 'absolute freedom'. Malaysia differs from others. Bear in mind the consequences we may face should our streets are full with demonstrators who interupt traffics, burning shops, looting and other physical abuses. Worse still to live in a country where bi-partisan sects start to kill leaders, using explosive to voice out their demands and resorting to other free-hand methods. What will become of our economy? However, the government should consider revising the Internal Security Act (ISA) as some of its provisions are not relevant anymore. Hindraf, too, should observe the 'Malaysian code of conduct' if they want to pursue their case. Be more professional and do not add sentiment and emotion to it. Keep this country as harmonious as it can be, then everybody will enjoy the benefit of 'perpaduan kaum'.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

TV3 gets more absurd!

"Pemberian gelaran Datuk kepada Shah Rukh Khan akan menjadikan Malaysia lebih popular" (Awarding the 'datukship' to Shah Rukh Khan will make Malaysia more popular) - was a poll conducted by TV3 via its 'Buletin Utama' on Monday.

I dont know whose idea was it but it looks like the people attached to the newsroom of the private TV station are of low IQ. The catch-line is 'popular'. How popular can Malaysia be by conferring that Hindi movie star a 'datukship?

Why didnt Melaka State Government award the same 'datukship' to Amitabh Bachaan, Dhamendra, Ashwarya Rai, Kajol, etc so as to make Malaysia even more popular in India?

To become popular, you can either advocate to being good or evil. Ariel Sharon is popular, too, right? The whole world knows who Sharon is. The late Yasser Arafat, Saddam Hussein, Indira Gandhi, Konstantin Chernenko and Khomeini are popular figures, too. And so are Chin Peng, Rashid Maidin, Botak Chin and Mail Kerbau. There were once very popular.

Of course TV3 feels the number of viewers for its Hindi movie slot on Saturday will multiple. With Datuk Shah Rukh Khan stars in most of the movies for that slot, advertisers may come in between the commercial breaks.

That will augur well for TV3 but they looked stupid with that poll. Why didnt they poll for 'Patutkah Malaysia memberi gelaran Datuk kepada Shah Rukh Khan' instead? That was a primary school standard poll!

I wont question the 'datukship' but just hope for TV3 to be more professional in such polls. You ask silly questions, you will get silly answers!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Hello from Taro Aso

Hello, this is Taro Aso wishing you well. As the Cabinet has been corresponding with you regularly since Junichiro Koizumi was in office, I am happy to carry on.

On September 24, 2008, I assumed the office of Prime Minister of the 92nd Cabinet of Japan. The grave responsibility of the premiership has fallen upon my shoulders, and I feel its weight keenly.

In particular, I have taken sternly to heart the fact that we are in the midst of a crisis encompassing the people's anxieties about the economy, as well as their daily lives and the future, and moreover, their dissatisfaction with politics that have failed to assuage these anxieties.

I believe my mission is nothing less than to revive Japan, making it once again a strong and bright nation. To rebuild the Japanese economy and to increase the prosperity of the people are issues of utmost urgency.

I will immediately take measures to revive business activity and to cope with rising prices. The Japanese economy needs three years for a full recovery; in three years, Japan must break out of its mold. I believe in the latent power of Japan. We are a hard-working people with technological prowess.

The Japanese economy has boldly met countless severe challenges, and each time it has emerged stronger. There is absolutely no reason to be pessimistic. I will devote myself to ensuring politics that do not shy away from the tasks at hand but instead carry them out responsibly.

I am determined to build a strong and bright nation -- a nation of which we, the people of Japan, can feel proud. Over the past year, I have toured 161 locations around the country in order to listen directly to what the people in the regions have to say.

This e-mail is not just to express my ideas; it also provides an opportunity to listen to your views, so that I can reflect them in the conduct of the affairs of state.

Thank you.

Dtk Shah Rukh Khan, Hadi & ISA and KJ-Mukhriz

What a Raya holidays! I didnt post anything since the eve of Aidilfitri. However, I was reading some good and bad blogs... and some interesting news from all over the country. Here are my personal comments:

Datuk Shah Rukh Khan

Congratulations, Shah Rukh Khan for the conferment of the 'Datukship' by Melaka State Government. I dont know what this Hindi movie star has contributed to Malaysia or Melaka (hehehe)... but sooner or later, we should also consider giving the 'Tan Sri' or 'Datuk Seri' or perhaps 'Tun' to other prominent movie stars, world leaders and other popular figures. Perhaps its time to consider giving the 'Tun' to George Bush for his anti-terrorism campaign, 'Tan Sri' to Jackie Chan for chosing Malaysia as his host nation for his movies or 'Datuk Seri' to Tony Blair for coming to Malaysia recently to give talks at University Malaya. We may also consider RPK for a 'datukship' for being the most popular blogger in Malaysia.

Hadi Awang and ISA

PAS president Datuk Seri Hadi Awang made a statement to support the rowdy actions of Hindraf supporters at the Cabinet Hari Raya open house at the PWTC on October 1. He said there was nothing wrong with it as it was an 'American-style' provocative. Well, as he likes 'American style' so much, perhaps he also prefer to see our youths taking the streets with guns in their hands. Maybe it is also nothing wrong (to him) to launch a bloody anti-government campaign in this country.

Umno elections

The run-up to March 2009 Umno elections is giving us more 'kicks'. My attention is drawn at the possible clash between Khairy Jamaluddin and Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir for the Umno Youth head. Some say KJ has got his own individual strength towards victory. Others say that since Paklah is stepping down, may as well KJ go down as well. As for Mukhriz (as at today leads in the number of nominations), many associated him to his father and his blessing for the Najib-Muhyiddin combination after March 2009. Well... what have you gotta say?