Saturday, November 29, 2008
I just arrived in Penang when my cousin called to inform me. I couldnt make it to SLN for the funeral a day later. I wonder if Rockybru attended it.
That's life. No matter how fond you are towards someone, it will come to an end one day. I remember discovering Rocky in Singapore (Jurong) in mid-1970s without sensing that we would work together for the same Press institution in 1980s.
As we get older, we should be wiser, as the saying goes. Unfortunately, some of us are not. They tend to be more childish and off-balanced. God knows everything.
Life can be short or long... love can be right or wrong (BREAD)
Al-FATIHAH for makcik Salimah...
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Following a nearly 60 per cent slide last week in Citigroup’s share price that sent shock waves through global financial markets, the US Treasury department, the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) issued a joint statement saying the government would invest an additional US$20 billion in the troubled New York-based lender and guarantee another $306bn of its property-backed loans and related securities.
The US government, it seemed, was committed to support financial market stability, which is a prerequisite to restoring vigorous economic growth. With these transactions, the US government is taking the actions necessary to strengthen the financial system and protect US taxpayers and the US economy.
Citigroup’s rescue marks the third time in as many months that Washington has stepped in to prevent the collapse of a major financial institution. It also represents a new milestone in the wholesale nationalisation of global banks that began when the crisis began gathering speed in September.
Propping up Citigroup, whose $2 trillion in assets make it America’s second-largest bank, was clearly aimed at preserving an institution whose failure would have had wider global repercussions than even American International Group (AIG), which was pulled back from the brink by a government rescue in September.
Some analysts heralded the deal as a confidence-boosting success, and that the bailout is to prevent the global financial system from collapsing. It is presence in 106 countries, including Malaysia.
Citigroup’s plight sparked a renewed flight from risk by investors. Emerging markets are being pummelled as investors move more money into US dollars and the perceived safety of US government bonds, sending the yield on US Treasuries to its lowest since 1940.Stocks in Asia and the Gulf slid yesterday.
China’s benchmark stock index was down more than 4 per cent and South Korean stocks fell by more than 3.5 per cent. Stocks fell 3.3 per cent in Bahrain and dived by 5.3 per cent in Dubai, although Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index flouted the trend by staging a 2 per cent rally.
For a while, it seemed that Citigroup might avoid the fate of smaller rivals such as Lehman Brothers, which has gone bankrupt, or Merrill Lynch, which survived by selling itself to Bank of America.
Citigroup was formed in its present shape by the merger a decade ago between Citicorp and Travelers Group. The deal included Travelers’s newly merged brokerage operations, Salomon Smith Barney, which was placed under Citi’s management. But the bank’s history goes back much further, to the founding 196 years ago of the City Bank of New York, which eventually became Citibank.
Today Citigroup has 350,000 employees servicing its 200 million customers worldwide.Citigroup had already received $25bn under the $700bn Troubled Asset Relief Programme (TARP), through which Washington has doled out more than $300bn to the nation’s banks.
Losses in the subprime mortgage market had already cost Citigroup billions of dollars in write-offs and investors and analysts were prodding the bank to sell off assets or split up to boost its share price. Soon, however, the subprime crisis began to spread to other forms of lending where Citi is a leader.
On Thursday, Citigroup’s largest shareholder, Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, said he would invest an additional $350 million in the bank, raising his stake to 5 per cent from 4 per cent.
Monday, November 24, 2008
The UK-based International Security Company gave me a shock as I was told to pay for custom duties and fast clearance.
I called up my friend in Rabat and he said he already paid all fees at its ports of origin plus the air-fare and clearing at Penang Airport.
We normally dont have to pay anything or being charged at a minimal fee (if any) for getting foreign deliveries. Another thing, how come the consignments are already at their store if the duty and clearing fees were not settled?
When I called up the security company in Penang, the manager couldnt answer me. Neither could he give tangible reasons for the heavy fees imposed.
I will get to the bottom of this...
Sunday, November 23, 2008
And today, I have to abide by the 'fatwa' issued by the National Fatwa Council that Muslims should stop practicing YOGA as it is HARAM.
I cant say more. As a Muslim, I still believe the Council must look at other practices, too, like some of the silat camps that contain a lot of mantras and 'unislamic' elements. Many 'bomohs', are of the same practice.
RockyBru is of the opinion that such a fatwa has hurt the Hindus. I personally believe we should not mention 'Hindu' in the fatwa as it will bring about uneasiness atmosphere in the country.
What else can I say...
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Expectations for Japan stem from its experience in single-handedly recovering from the collapse of the bubble economy. There are also expectations for Japan in view of the role that the world's second largest economy can perform.
Immediately after my speech, leaders including Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Gordon Brown told me that they thought it was a good speech with a great deal of concrete content.
Although the summit was brief, limited to just two days, many of the concrete proposals Japan made based on its experience, including proposals on the importance of the injection of public funds, were reflected in the subsequent summit declaration. Problems like the current crisis, including moral hazard issues, cannot be averted through reliance on US-style market fundamentalism.
Conversely, if we were only to strengthen regulations, as in Europe, the economy would not be so free. The middle course may be the right one. In discussions on financial regulation and supervision, too, Japan's proposals garnered the support of leaders of various countries.
It is the economies of emerging nations, such as India, that are growing significantly. The global economic pie as a whole will not get bigger unless these economies are supported. To this end, Japan announced that it is prepared to lend a maximum of 100 billion dollars to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
This demonstration of leadership by Japan was evaluated highly by Managing Director of the IMF Dominique Strauss-Kahn. In a special statement on Japan, he said that the country had made "a major contribution to maintaining the stability of financial and capital markets."
We are now facing a so-called once-in-a-century financial crisis. A crisis, though, presents opportunities for the future. History shows us that a new order arises when a crisis is overcome.
At the summit, we were able to agree on specific actions that nations need to take in concert.
The day after I returned home, I received a sudden request for a meeting from President of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) Ichiro Ozawa. During the meeting, he stated that a second supplementary budget should be submitted to the current Diet session. If not, the DPJ would not allow a vote to take place in the House of Councillors on measures such as the bill to extend the new Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law.
The purpose of the bill is to enable Japan to play a part in the international community's fight against terrorism through the continuation of its replenishment support activities in the Indian Ocean. It has absolutely nothing to do with the second supplementary budget. Politics that turns its back on the decision-making process will not lead to any progress.
The DPJ still avoids party leaders' debates. If the DPJ does put the people first, instead of political point-scoring, it should engage in the Diet discussion openly and squarely, and join hands with us in making decisions that are in the interests of the people.
Friday, November 21, 2008
In Indonesia, a blogger called BATAK caused an uproar among the Muslims for his posting depicting the Prophet Muhammad SAW.
His article which belittled Islam and made fun of the Prophet ha triggered alarm across Indonesia, a country with more than 260 million Muslims. The police has to issue advisory for the people to be calm amid rising tensions in some parts of Java and Sumatra.
Despite a promise to conduct full investigation and detect the culprit. As to whether he is a Muslim or not has yet to be ascertained.
In Malaysia, bloggers, writers, journalists and the rakyat have been reminded from time to time not to 'play with fire' by posting religious and race sentiments or even to call an open debate (forum) to discuss about it.
Religion and race issues tend to develop into time-bombs...
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
As a journalist who joined some of his oversea trips before 2003, Dr Mahathir was and is still a recognised figure in promoting South-South Cooperation, apart from his key roles in the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), the Non-Alligned Movement (NAM), G-15 and other international bodies.
I am not trying to belittle the current government of Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi but the global framework laid by Dr M during his tenure as the prime minister, came to almost a halt since 2004.
Dr M was sentimental in bringing closer the South-South countries into an economic, cultural and political organisation, thus seeing each and every member country reaping the benefits of inter-tradings and other bilateral coordinations.
The impact of his efforts could be felt and observed across Asia, Africa, Middle East, Latin America and even in inner Russia and Mongolia.
However, it is sad to note that such efforts were 'discontinued' after he left the Cabinet.
What happened to the significantly SAID (South African International Dialogue), for instance, nobody knows. Malaysia played a leading role in that dialogue since the late 80s, being the only country to open up the African markets to the rest of the world.
I remember attending two SAID meetings in Botswana and Zimbabwe in the 90s, during which Malaysia was such a big name by its products and facilities in the 'Dark Continent'. We were seen as the champion for the African economies.
What is our position in Africa now after the Koreans, Chinese and Indians presence have overtook our role? What is our diplomatic and political status to the eyes of the Africans today?
Even Langkawi International Dialogue (LID) was held only once (correct me if I am wrong) after Dr M passed on the baton to Pak Lah. Lets not talk about our declining image with the OIC (as we made the last stand in some issues affecting its member countries) and our role in the G15.
Since Dr M left, did we hear anymore strong critics being hurled at the West and Superpowers for their robust foreign policy? Who? Can you name them?
Sunday, November 16, 2008
And then what, Datuk Seri? Leave those trying to unseat you on the sidelines? It happened in the past.
I dont want to comment on behalf of the Indian community. I would like to say something from a Malaysian perspective.
For this 'longest-serving MIC president so far' (I dont like to be superlative as who knows, there might be another longer-than-Samy's term in the near future), we would like to see him passing on the baton to someone else.
Time is changing. The Indians have demonstrated it in some ways. Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting, too has relinquished power which opened MCA to contests which saw Ong Tee Keat becoming No.1. Datuk Seri AbdullahBadawi is leaving in March 2009 and Najib is taking over.
If Samy wants to stick to his decision to step down only in 2012, it will be a long wait. Why 2012? Is he waiting for the 13th general elections as to enable him wrest the Sungai Siput parliamentary seat? Or is he having problems to find a good man to replace him?
Cant he realise the tussle between Rafidah and Sharizat for Wanita Umno chief post when the latter received overwhelming nominations to contest against her 'boss' who will only bow out in June 2009, that the 3-months wait is irrelevant!
Many MIC members even attributed BN poor performance during the last general elections to Samy's failure to detect the 'repelious' Indian community against him and his style of administering the party.
The problem with being too long at the top is the tendency for one to feel like a king, and that nobody else should dare to unseat and challenge him. When this happens, you only see the blue skies and not the deep blue ocean beneath.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Dr M said anyone from Bangsa Malaysia is eligible for the position provided that he heads the party with majority power (at the Parliament).
It was only a few days earlier when Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi hinted to the Press that 'anyone could become the prime minister'.
Former MCA president (if I am not mistaken), Tun Ling Liong Sik used to become acting premier when Dr M was away during the late 1980s.
Let's not bicker over this issue. Bangsa Malaysia will come soon although it may takes time. When it comes, there will be more Malaysians that 'Malaysian Chinese' or 'Malaysian Indians'.
But of course will dont want to end up like Indonesia where each and every single citizen must bear the 'Indon' name. It wont apply to Malaysia. We will still retain our Malay, Chinese, Indian, Sikh, Iban or other names as Bangsa Malaysia.
So, when the idea to form a multi-racial party (instead of Barisan Nasional) was mooted, the groundwork has been laid down.
I dont want to talk more about this. Leave it to our experts as I dont want to offend anybody. Maybe Datuk Wong Chun Wai wants to add something to this....
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
There was an invitation from the Korean Press Institute for 5 senior journalists and 10 bloggers to attend a 'working visit' to South Korea in March next year. I am still one of its Fellow members (since 1996).
If you are keen, do contact me at this blog. I know that March 2009 will be packed with Umno general assembly and other loads.
Monday, November 10, 2008
When she won it in the 1999 general elections which saw her Labour Party shot to power, the New Zealand's high commissioner in Kuala Lumpur sent me a note from Clark that reads 'Thank You for having strong confidence in my struggle for the people of New Zealand'.
The Clark/Cullen political agenda has also led National to occupy political ground it once would have considered as anathema -- such as support for a nuclear-free, independent foreign policy. Clark said as she stood down that she was proud of her record and had to take the bad times with the good.
After first coming to Parliament in 1981, Miss Clark went through many ups and down. When Labour swept to power in 1984 and was re-elected in 1987 she went into cabinet and held conservation, housing, labour and health.
She has described those years as fighting a rearguard action against the forces of Rogernomics. She was deputy prime minister from August 1989 to October 1990, when Labour lost power. Labour was smashed in that election, but Miss Clark rebuilt the party and took it back into office in 1999. Three terms later, she wanted a fourth, but it wasn't to be.
I have lots of respect for this lady who really worked hard for the cause of the people. Even when she was the Opposition Leader, she was very constructive in assisting the government to correct whatever imbalances may there be.
John Howard, former Aussie premier used to describe her as a true leader of New Zealand, 'both as an opposition and also as the prime minister'.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Money politics is for those with cash, enabling them to 'buy' nominations and votes. Its nothing new already.
On the other side of money politics is also an 'old' issue. What about leaders who give away contracts to their cronies, friends and family members, building a business empire which was meant to be distributed to Malaysian ailing contractors?
Former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad used to write in his blog about a wife of a senior minister being awarded a 15-year supply contract to Pusat Latihan Khidmat Negara (PLKN), about someone close to another key minister changing the LA (letter of award) already given to a Perlis guy for an aquaculture project, and some other instances of 'direct nego' involving contractors who are called 'the ministers' and politicians' friends.
Should someone out there wants to take me for task for this posting, I am more than ready but I will have to refer to Tun... I believe he and God will be on my side.
Many say that getting an LA for a government project is not a guarantee that the project is already yours. LAs can be manipulated to change hands. 'Under table' money being flushed to a minister's camp, too will not guarantee you of even a small Class C contract.
Some projects are publicly called for tender in newsapers advertisement while some are not, especially the big ones. Sources from the Works Ministry once revealed that even some open tender projects already have got its 'bin' or 'owners', means some tenders were advertised to enable the JKR to make money out of tender forms and build of quantities (BQ).
What do you call this? Money politics, too? Or what?
We want Najib to be more transparent when he takes over from Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in March 2009. Only a resilient and transparent administration will gain public and business confident.
Most of our leaders are already rich (at least they live comfortably) after serving the government for at least two terms. Maybe as to appreciate their service, its okay if they have 'something' for the good terms they have served. I think Malaysians will agree to that.
However, to secure to many for their friends and families prior to retirement, will be seen as greedy and denying others of their opportunities.
Malaysians are a 'give and take' society... or are they not?
Friday, November 7, 2008
A wise advise from a young Chinese-dominant party leader. In fact, Umno and other party leaders should share this view, that bipartisan and ethnic politics are no more in favor of national unity and development.
Of course, no Malaysian should be allowed to test and question each other's integrity, neither should they take to the streets to champion the interest of JUST one race. For as long as we adhere to the facts that all Malaysians share equal rights to live, do business, study and work together (without having to challenge the Constitution), then we will be just fine.
Let us admit that a slight 'social error' will take the country to rumble. Past experience should be made as barimeters to all politicians in carrying out their duties for the multi-racial citizens.
Do I have to say more? Lets live on simple minds...
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Americans who tuned in to the last round of campaign rallies yesterday will cast their votes with some false notes ringing in their ears along with the hurrahs.
McCain and running mate Sarah Palin, right down to the wire, persisted in distortions that were discredited long ago. Obama, who has been more responsive lately to being called out on his misstatements, did a rhetorical dance that avoided some of the bogus claims of the past. Even so, not all of his words bore up to scrutiny.Altogether, facts took a beating in the campaign. McCain and Obama produced enduring myths that their running mates and supporters amplified and distorted even more.
However, its much awaited result gains world attention. US allies are pondering as to whether the new president will still adopt Bush’ anti-terrorism war or to make the country more friendlier.
While bombings and killings seemed to be out of control in
"Having a black president does not necessarily change
Monday, November 3, 2008
My intention was clear - to inculcate more marketable Bumiputera workforce and to promote national integration. I didnt say anything about abolishing the Chinese or Tamil medium schools. As Malaysians, they deserve every rights to their own set of education.
I was more concern about the Malays and Bumiputeras. After so many remarks made by our politicians pertaining to the lack of commitment from non-Bumi companies to employ more Malays, it raised concern about the future of the Malay generations now studying at higher levels.
As competition for good jobs is getting stiffer while the public sector, too, does not excercise heavy annual intakes, the issue of placing Malay fresh graduates and school-leavers on the job sector must be taken up seriously. Politics and sentiments aside, the ability to converse in Mandarin and Tamil will augur well for these jobseekers.
As what WCW said, China is becoming one of the world's largest economies. And so is India. Do you have any idea how many Malaysian companies are investing and doing business in this 2 countries? How many Bumi are on their payroll?
While many Bumi-status companies do not practice any 'race gap' in employing the Chinese and Indians, we the Malays and Bumiputeras must not blame the non-Bumi companies for imposing, among others, a proficiency in Mandarin as a compulsary element. About 20-30 years ago, most of the workers in sewage and rubbish-collection businesses were Indians, and so were drivers for 'bosses'.
However, the Indians standard of living has changed, thus leaving it to the Bumiputeras. While the Chinese and Indians can be mobilised by all sectors for being bi-lingual or tri-lingual, the Malays are getting it harder to move around, hence making some of them (including our politicians) to harbor discontentment and prejudice towards the non-Bumiputras.
Thank you, WCW. For those, especially the Malays who are against my personal view, I cant change such a perception as each and everyone of us should stand by our views, just like some politicians who will go on fighting for the wrong cause.
I believe many Chinese companies will be happy enough to employ more Mandarin-speaking Malays as this will enhance them socially and politically. We cant please everybody but we can close what 'gaps' may there be. We just dont want the police and armed forces to become the last resorts for the Malays to get jobs.
I rest my case.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Although the plight of child soldiers embroiled in conflicts across the globe is better known, the fate of girls remains overlooked. They are often the victims of sexual violence and exploitation, recruited by rebel groups to serve as combatants and “sex slaves”. And even when they are freed, the stigma of rape and their association with militias remains.
The way Eva, all of 13 years old, carries her four-month old baby shows the burden of her suffering. She was abducted on her way to school, gang-raped, subject to forced nudity, and used as a sexual slave by a dissident armed group in Eastern Congo for more then two years. After several attempts, she managed to escape and realized that she was pregnant.
Rejected by several communities, she roamed from one village to another before finding shelter in the Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). “We miss girls in our interventions because many of them are unwilling to come forward in the first place, to be identified as “bush wives” or to have their children labelled as “rebel babies,” says Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.
Communities often stigmatize and ostracize girls because of their association with rebel groups and the “taint” of having been raped. But ironically, even where associations between perpetrators and their victims began with abduction, rape and violence, over several years “family units” might have developed which include babies born of rape.
Often, rebel groups categorically refuse to give up the girls at all, even after having committed to release children. Reintegration is generally seen as the final stage of disarming and demobilizing armed groups. For child soldiers it can be a complex and difficult process, requiring counselling, monitoring and other forms of care over and above economic and educational support.
For the girls, many of them mothers, rebuilding their lives requires long-term support. Building emotional trust and reconciling with family and community are as key as providing access to education and developing a means of livelihood. A community-based approach, in which families and communities are central to defining and providing support, affords the best chances of success.
This must be the focus for the international community, while at the same time it works to ensure there is no impunity for those who enslaved the child soldiers.
BUJAI's comment: Malaysia is most fortunate. We may have remote cases of child labor but most of them are doing it 'to help family business'. We should remain patriotic in order to keep the country free from the wrongdoings reported by the UN.