Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Manek Urai needs no bloggers... Really?

"The question to hire two or three Umno bloggers for Manek Urai by-election does not arise, not just yet. We may not need bloggers there..."

That was the answer I got from a high-ranking Umno leader about the possibility of 'employing' few pro-BN bloggers to help the campaign.

Few minutes ago, I stumbled into A Voice posting about 'To Blog or Not To Blog' for Manek Urai (MU). Interesting piece.

Reading postings on pro-Pas and the Opposition blogs make me shudder. They were quick with their ammo, gimmicks and nasty words about Umno.

So far, no Umno or pro-BN bloggers have shown any indication about the opportunity in MU. Although its gonna be a tough one, Umno could at least deploy a good team of Media/blogger to help sharpening up its tool.

I wont comment further...

Monday, June 29, 2009

Financial crisis pushes more of world's poor into hunger

The United Nations committee tasked with building alliances in the global fight against hunger has warned that the world financial crisis will aggravate malnutrition among the most vulnerable in developing countries.

According to the UN Standing Committee on Nutrition (UNSCN), recent estimates suggest that soaring food prices combined with the global economic meltdown will push more than 1 billion of the world’s poorest people into hunger in 2009.

The group is pressing governments to invest in programmes that increase the productivity of smallholder farmers, strengthen the livelihoods of the poorest households, and supply local markets with affordable and safe foods for a healthy diet, in the margins of the upcoming summit of the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized nations in Italy.

“Experience from previous food crises show that the first move by poor households is to reduce food expenses and cut down on non-staple food consumption,” the UNSCN said in a news release.

“These coping mechanisms first affect the diversity and safety of diets, the size of portions and ultimately the energy intake,” it added.

With the global economy expected to shrink by 1.7 per cent, gross domestic product (GDP) growth in developing countries forecast to slow to 2.1 per cent and recession predicted for those nations, a “shocking” 53 million people will join the ranks of extremely poor in 2009, on top of the jump from 130 to 155 million in the previous three years, said the Committee.

The poor economy coupled with rising food prices in many countries has meant that the working hours needed to feed a household of five increased by 10 hours a week or more, and with higher unemployment the number of family members supported by wage-earners is growing.

The Committee said that the resulting malnutrition has economic and social consequences for any population, including a deterioration in the ability to work, lower potential incomes for individuals and households, and higher health costs in the short and long term.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Informers not protected

A lawyer friend called me yesterday, saying how dissappointed she was with the authorities who are supposed to protect the public who helped giving infos on loan sharks but ended up to be working with the ah longs.

Why must they revealed details of informers to the loan sharks, is a BIG question but she believed some members of the police force are collaborating with the syndicate.

"Then, how did some informations about the informers such as their names, address and phone numbers get to the ah longs?

"When the police is on pursuit of the loan sharks, few of their members are on the take by leaking this informations to them. In the end, the informers are being threatened and not the borrowers!," she said.

I believe in her. 'On the take' happens everywhere and at all levels of services but this one has gone too far, I suppose.

Some friends in the media and also in Bukit Aman told me they believed a few persons whom loan shark victims always seek solace from, are also connected to the syndicate. There are politicians too.

"We are trying to gather enough evidence to nail them," said a senior Bukit Aman officer.

However, will they nab this 'famous' guy?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Najib and Hadi are sincere

So, what's wrong with a 'kerajaan perpaduan' anyway? As Najib and Hadi Awang were sincere with their remarks and statements, the Malays believe the time has come for Umno and Pas to reconcile.

No...this has nothing to do with efforts to uphold the 'ketuanan Melayu', instead its a move to bring the Malays together as they are divided by so many groups and political factions. This is not good for Najib's 1Malaysia. Why? Political segmentation will jeopardise national unity and development.

I hope the non-Malays will not feel dejected should Pas and Barisan Nasional join hands to foster a better Malaysia. In many countries, such governments do thrive and were successful in managing the people, the economy and political stability.

The Chinese (many of whom voted in favor of MCA leaving BN in Ong Tee Keat's weblog) should be more supportive of such an idea. They should understand the whole idea of the proposed pact and not lamenting it as a Malay agenda to confiscate what they already have.

And I dont agree at all with those digging up what Najib did in 1987 (as written by Rockybru...) because it will be turned into 'the start of a war' against the Prime Minister, just like what they did to Tun Abdullah Badawi in 2004.

Najib and Hadi & co like Nasaruddin and Husam are leaders who favor Malay unity. If the Chinese in DAP can accept Anwar Ibrahim in the Pakatan Rakyat pact, they must try to accept efforts to consolidate the Malays.

A united Malays will augur well for the rest of the multi-racial nation. Once they are one, they will have to work as one and think as one. The Malays, I think, are the most tolerable ethnic on this planet as they are willing to give up some of their rights for the benefit of the nation.

I dont know whether the idea will work or not as Pas cleric leader Nik Aziz Nik Mat is against it, describing Pas members who support the idea as 'Umno stooges.

Correct me if I am wrong. During the 1980s when Tun Mahathir was our PM, there was a plan by Pas to join BN but it was rejected for a reason - Pas must retain their position as a strong and constructive Malay opposition.

Who knows one of these days MCA and Gerakan would merge...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Doubts over Ahmadinejad's victory

President Ahmadinejad's victory over Hossein Mousavi in the just concluded election has put Iran in a political disarray.

The US, Canada and even some members of the United Nations were doubtful about how the presidential election was organised. On polling day, the government shut off all SMS system and blocked some websites belonged to Mousavi's supporters.

Ahmadinejad was accused of wanting to thwart any effort by Mousavi to 'liberalise' Iran as this will open the door to Teheran-Washington revived relationship (read here...)

My diplomatic friends in Kuala Lumpur were quick to question Ahmadinejad's 'dirty tactics' to secure his victory over Mousavi.

"We believe most of the Iranians are ready to join the global community again as a free country which abides all international laws. They want no confrontation with anybody. That's why they pinned their hopes on Mousavi," said a Middle East diplomat.

With US President Barack Obama had last month offered a pre-condition for US-Iran renewed diplomatic relations, many Iranians saw the opportunity in Mousavi's plan to improve the country's relation with the rest of the world, according to a Western ambassador.

"However, Ahmadinejad wants to keep the country under a tight policy which puts his people under a difficult situation. We dont know how Iran can attend to its domestic problems if its administration refuses to work with the international community."

We will have to wait for further developments in that beautiful country...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Najib's Cabinet a gold mine?

Meeting old friends and making new ones in Putrajaya today. The feeling is good, of course.

As usual, I exchanged business cards (although I got no business at all) with them. Most of the old ones were the people I knew for many years, some had served with the government, some worked with the ministers and the rest are still serving their bosses at various ministries.

Najib's Cabinet is still a few months old. If I am with any of the ministers, it will take me years to change my National Car into a BMW or Merc, if I am lucky or make enough savings.

However, few of them who just joined the ministers for a couple of months are now driving this luxury. I didnt ask. I didnt dare to ask, actually.

Where the hell did they get the money from? They were just like me a few months ago. Afterall, they are just 'pegawai khas' to the ministers.

No wonder so many candidates offered themselves to be one...and no wonder Malaysians are getting crazy over politics nowadays!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Ahmad Talib is back at NSTP

My heartiest congratulations to Dtk Ahmad A Talib for being appointed the executive director, news and editorial operations for Media Prima Bhd and NSTP.

The Pahit Manis blogger who was 'booted' out by Kali during Pak Lah's reign as the Prime Minister, is now back at the right place and at the right time when NSTP was seen losing its supremacy as the country's key player in printed news industry.

The announcement to Bursa Malaysia (read here...) came as speculations within the media industry was high in the wake of the departure of Dtk Hishamuddin Aun as NSTP group editor in-chief.

Congrats, too, to Zainul Ariffin who replaces Hisham and Shaharudin Latiff who is now out of the 'freezer'. (also read Rockybru here...)

I remember taking over Shaha's position as Berita Harian bureau chief for Penang in late 1990. This guy was full of ideas and helped BH to improve its circulation in the northern region then.

For Ahmad T, Zainul and Shaha, you are just the right people for the job.

My question, will some heads roll?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Smidec should be revamped!

It took me few days to do some diggings. Its about Smidec, the government agency under the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) which was incorporated to assist entrepreneurs.

Yes, Smidec has helped some. However, sad to say that another some were left unattended to or being sidelined just because of their political outfit or no 'kickbacks' for Smidec officials dealing with their case.

When Smidec CEO Datuk Hafsah Hashim said last week (read here...) that 21 per cent of our SMEs were severely affected by the world economic downturn during the first quarter of 2009, I agreed to the fact that more should be done to help them.

However, Smidec was a proud organisation, to say. Why? Many potential businesses were denied any kind of assistance such as bank loans or grants.

I dont know how Smidec categorised its duty. Datuk Mustapa Mohamed and Mukhriz Mahathir should look into this as so many SMEs were plagued with problems to get sufficient financial assistance from participating banks and agencies.

My findings noted that more than 60 per cent of those who managed to get Smidec aides wear Umno or Barisan Nasional political outfit. The rest, no matter how promising their business are, we denied for their 'wrong' outfit.

I spoke to some of them. The most common questions asked by Smidec officers are 'Are you Umno or what...?'. Some had to lie while others had to defend their ideology.

So, if this is how to benchmark your assistance, we will find many SMEs will have to wind up soon. Only those who support the government will survive. Please dont forget that some of the neglected SMEs employ thousands of people, most of whom are BN supporters. 'Boleh fikir ka?'

Another issue here is, Smidec only help those without 'side problems'. If you have outstanding loans, forget about it. Go back and 'tutup kedai', regardless of whether your industry is in a good position to grow.

An example (I got to mention the company's name... not as an ad, ok?), a Bumi company operating in Balakong, Cheras has came up with the only invention - the first in the world - canned drinks that gets boiled when you shake it for 20 seconds.

Hot Can Sdn Bhd spent about RM3 million for its R & D since 2005 for this innovation. Its asset is worth RM9 million. They went to Smidec to get just RM2 million to buy aluminium for its can-processing. They even got orders from Australia and other countries worth RM25 million this year.

However, Smidec refused to help them just because they still had an outstanding RM500,000 with Maybank. They tried not once but several times, only to be treated like dogs! So, shall we tell the company to 'bungkus?'

Hafsah, are you reading this?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Get this ministry sec-gen!

I would like to take this guy to task. If its true that he and his associate 'belasah' so many projects at his former ministry (a Tier-2) before being transfered to a Tier-1 ministry, he should be investigated by the MACC.

After his MCA minister completed his 2-term after the 12th general election, an MIC minister walked in. This guy, a sec-gen (an Indian) was believed to have taken all the opportunity to secure several projects for his friends and family members before being 'promoted'.

His partner is another Malay senior official, still serving the ministry.

The value of projects this two got was estimated at RM600 million. Now a secretary-general at the most busiest ministry, he should know how to 'songlap' available projects there too.

My hope is for a few senior officials at his old ministry to come forward and expose his wrongdoings. As I got this news from them, may as well they prepare themselves should the MACC calls me up for proofs.

We cant just let this nonsense goes on and on. Now that the sec-gen has been thrown into a gold mine, the minister (a Malay) should put an eye on him and his team. That was the reward he got after his 'makan besar' at his former ministry.

Unless the senior officials at his ministry refuse to cooperate, then we will be allowing this culprit to prey on other potential contractors and suppliers.

God damn it!