Saturday, November 29, 2008

Life is too short

I was away when our beloved 'makcik' passed away at 9pm Tuesday at Pusat Rawatan Islam (Pusrawi) Kuala Lumpur.

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

Citigroup in BIG trouble

US authorities moved on Sunday to prop up Citigroup and prevent it from joining the growing list of financial giants felled by the spreading global economic and financial contagion.

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

What a F E E...

I received a phone call from Penang informing that the consignments sent by a friend in Africa have arrived and that I have to pay 2020 British pound before collecting it at their security office in Seberang Jaya.

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

The end of yoga for Muslims...

In my earlier posting, I did argue about the 'yoga' issue - that Muslims are not allowed to practice it.

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

Economic crisis: Japan to lend IMF USD100b

Hello, this is Taro Aso.

Last weekend, I attended the Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy for the leaders of 20 nations, including both developed countries and emerging ones such as India and China.

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.

It goes without saying that taking these actions is of the utmost importance. It was a historic summit at which the world took, at the very least, its first major strides toward overcoming the crisis.

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.

Thank you.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Be more careful, bloggers!

That's what happened if you think you are free to post anything on your blog, that you are not bound to any sensitivities.

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

Stop attacking the police force!

I prefer to stand by Syed Hamid Albar who lambasted some politicians and NGOs for their disparaging remarks about our police force - dubbed as one of the world's best.

Sentiments about Polis Diraja Malaysia (PDRM) have been there since decades. They who hold grudges against our police personnels are usually those involved with the police administration 'in whatever manner'.

Some are ex-criminals, suspects, ISA detainees and families while the rest could have some failed 'dealings' with the police. Most of this people see the police force as the government's DOG! And to be true, most of those who always hurl abusive words toward the police force are from one of our ethnic groups which formed only a 'small minority of the entire police service'.

Yes, there are good cops and bad cops but there are also good and bad politicians, NGOs, journalists, bloggers, teachers, enginneers, parents etc. However, blaming each and every one of them over minor issues is totally unfair.

The PDRM has played a pivotal role in keeping the country as peaceful as it could. Together with the armed forces, their contribution in maintaining Malaysia as a harmonious nation is undeniable.

Of course they cannot attend of settle all problems. That's why the public is encouraged to provide necessary assistance to facilitate their duty. Their percentage of failure is perhaps one of the lowest in the region. Even the FBI and Scotland Yard tend to fail in some of their duties.

They need to be appreciated, too. We all do. Keeping up with the law and order is not an easy job and yet there are still members of the public who dont feel at ease with them. Why? If you are clean, there is no reason to worry.

In spite of that, accusations that the police force are on the take have tarnished its image to the extent that seeing the police on patrol will mean that the personnels are doing some 'cari makan' or looking for 'victims'.

It is true that there are bad policemen but to blame the entire force is not right.

I was involved in preparing the reports "Laporan Suruhanjaya Diraja Mengenai Penambahbaikan Perkhidmatan Polis" in 2004 and among the contents was that, the police was not on the highest list in graft or bribery.

They came only fourth after education, construction and customs but they were the ones made to wear the 'Saya Anti-Rasuah' badges during duty.

Graft activities take place anywhere, even in your own house. Without you realising it, you sometimes have to give 'extra' to your children just to make them go to the shop to buy some grocery items. This is how you train them to become adults and if they are destined to join the police forces somedays, they would find it difficult to distant themselves from such 'rewarding activities'.

No doubt that 'on the take' happens everywhere and at all levels of services. It is up to you to define what graft is.

Let us be sensible about it. As I mentioned earlier, there are good and bad cops and so are politicians, leaders, lawmakers, doctors, lawyers and even judges. When you give a prosecutor something as a reward to drop charges in some cases, what do you call it?

Without the police force, we may end up like a cowboy country. Please appreciate what they are doing for us. If you know how to criticise, you may as well know how to compliment.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

World affairs: Where do we stand now?

Former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Malaysia should invest more in poor and under-developed countries as it will not only augur well in establishing diplomatic ties but also in its long-term hefty returns.

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

The KING in Samy Vellu

Samy Vellu said on Sunday he wouldnt mind a contest for MIC presidency during the party's general assembly in March next year. In fact, he would like to see 100 candidates contesting for the seat.

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

Nazri just can't accept the fact...

Nazri Aziz wants Tun Dr Mahathir to proof his 'allegation' that the other two candidates running for Umno deputy president post could have indulged in 'buying' nominations. On the contrary, Muhyiddin Yassin said the former premier was pointing out at facts. Looking at it, Nazri may be a bit naive to notice the sudden 'climb' in the number of nominations for Ali Rustam and Muhammad Taib just a few days before Umno divisional meetings concluded on November 10. Prior to Nov 10, many were of the perception that both would not make the cut as nomination for the run-away candidate Muhyiddin was already soaring, and that almost each and every division gave him their votes. It was rather 'weird' when Ali and Muhammad hit the benchmark on Nov 10, thus opening up the position to a three-corner fight. There are possibilities. What Dr M said contained lot of logic. As Umno today belong to 'the rich and famous', money politics get to its mark in this case. Well, the rest of the divisions that held their meeting on the 9th and 10th could have also decided to see a contest for the No.2 position, not letting Muhyiddin to score an uncontested win like Datuk Seri Najib Razak. Dr M could be right, and so were the last-minute decision by the division. Nazri should look into this. Too many people agree to the fact that it was not easy to produce evidence on money politics as it could be done in many ways. Even the party's Disciplinary Committee found it difficult to ascertain some reports made my members. Since Zaid is gone, Nazri shows a sudden interest in legal. Although admitting the fact that he regretted making statement about the 'x-gratia' payout to the sacked judges, he seemed to be not perturbed by it. Asking Dr M to produce evidence was just like asking the sacked judges to admit their mistakes.
Bro, regrets are as personal as fingerprints!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A premier from Bangsa Malaysia next?

Now that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has said it, we hope Malaysians are now at ease. His statement that any Malaysian, irrespective of race and religion, can become a prime minister, could have triggered an alarm to the Malays, whom all these while strongly held to the 'believe' that only a MELAYU can sit at that position, and not others.

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

South Korea, anyone?

Aiyong haseyo
Dear bloggers,

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.

Cheers! Kamsa-hamnida

Monday, November 10, 2008

A lesson from Helen Clark

When I came face-to-face with Helen Clark during a 1-to-1 interview at the New Straits Times in late 1998, I knew by then that this 'tough' lady would one day become the new Prime Minister of New Zealand.

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'.

I dont know where I kept that note as that was almost a decade ago. At that time, Clark was visiting Malaysia as the Opposition Leader. She was also against the detention of Anwar Ibrahim.

However late last week, she lost after three decades at the helm. National's election victory has led to a clean sweep of the Labour leadership with Clark and Michael Cullen both announcing they were stepping down from their respective jobs as leader and deputy leader.

When Clark swept to power in 1999, she described her aspirations at the time to be a social democrat that 'led New Zealand out of the cul de sac' of laisse faire government. The government reintroduced unions to the centre of industrial relations, renationalised some entities and introduced lower rents for state housing tenants.

On defence and foreign policy, Miss Clark sought a more independent stance and moved the military away from a strike capability. But it was Miss Clark's political and policy partnership with her deputy and finance minister Michael Cullen that built a legacy that is likely to stand the test of time.

The introduction of Working for Families, the New Zealand Superannuation Fund (also known as the Cullen Fund), Kiwibank, KiwiSaver and the renationalisation of the rail system all stand as a complete turn around of the policies of the 1990s.

It is a testament to the Clark/Cullen administration that the only way National leader John Key could win office was by promising to keep all of those institutions in place or tinkering with them at the edges.

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.

Over the weekend, Clark admitted defeat saying her greatest fear was the Clark/Cullen legacy would be placed on the political bonfire by National. The fact is that if John Key is true to his word it is a legacy that will last for some time to come.

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'.

All the best to you, Helen Clark...

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Of money politics, power and contracts...

The new Umno President and incoming prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said Umno MUST reject leaders mired in money politics. Nothing new as more and more leaders and people are saying it.

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

No more racial politics, please!

MCA president Ong Tee Keat has called on all Malaysians to put a halt to racial politics. Saying that the orthodox way to rally supporters behind political ideology by subscribing to racial sentiments, was destroying the nation.

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

Come what may, Obama!

Obama is now the US President. As to whether he will change the White House into a Black one, nobody cares.

What matters now is US foreign policy. After three decades of US-hatred under the Republican, Obama should switch his set of foreign and military policies into a more friendlier ones. Bush has blackened his country's reputation over the last eight years. Will Obama 'whiten' it?

What Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said was right. The new US President should study more about Asia as this part of the world gets more important to the whole world, economically, socially and strategically.

Perhaps his memories of staying in Indonesia (his parents should remind him of that) will spark interest in him.

The US-led pre-emptive attack was a doomned and incorrect. Its war on Iraq and Afghanistan were merely based on biased intelligence reports on weapons of mass desctruction (WMD). Its war on Osama bin Laden-led Al-Qaeda group has killed thousands of innocent people and it looks like Iran will be next.

The wars have eaten out much of the US pocket. Another war will see the whole world being affected economically. If Obama continues this harsh and unfriendly policy, the already falling US economy will prey on others, too.

Let us see whether Datuk Seri Najib Razak will rush to see Obama when he becomes our next prime minister (Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi went to visit Bush a few months after taking over from Dr Mahathir).

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Obama or McCain?

The US presidential campaign comes to an end today, with either Barack Obama (Democrat) or John McCain (Republican) will go to the White House.

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 Afghanistan and Iraq, most Americans are said to be against ‘terrorising other countries’, which was meant for Iran and Sudan. Luckily, Bush’ era is coming to a close.

Malaysia, too, will wait for the result although many Malaysians would prefer Obama to win, hence creating history as the US first non-white president.

"Having a black president does not necessarily change US foreign policy, with regards to protecting its interest worldwide,” said an analyst.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Thank you, Dato' WCW... and readers

My sincere appreciation goes to Dtk WCW for his posting which came in support of my 'Introduce Mandarin and Tamil at primary level'. As far as comments from readers go, about 90 per cent were with me and WCW while the rest were bound to their own perspective.

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

The suffering of a girl soldier...

This is one of dozens of e-mails I receive from the United Nations News Centre everyday since 11 year s ago. However, this particular story gained much of my attention. I just want to share it with you...

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 Story

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.