Tuesday, November 30, 2010

MCMC falls to Wikileaks as well?

Wikileaks is taking its toll. China is said to have secretly harbored its support for the unity of Peninsular Korea with Seoul becoming its administration center. That would, of course, come as a tight slap to the faces of North Korean leaders.

Some countries like it while some (especially the economic capitalist of the West) are taken aback. A few governments even pointed directly at the United States for 'planning the wikileaks game' as to suppress its competitors.

Iraq admitted the fact that such a leak has an adverse impact on its relation with Iran while Turkey and the Middles East group finally realised how they were being toyed around by Washington.

However, an article in the Columbia Journalism Review draws my attention. Its about telecommunications industry in the US and Malaysia.

Julian Assange, Forbes cover boy this week said during an interview (whether he is a free market proponent):

Absolutely. I have mixed attitudes towards capitalism, but I love markets. Having lived and worked in many countries, I can see the tremendous vibrancy in, say, the Malaysian telecom sector compared to US. sector. In the US. everything is vertically integrated and sewn up, so you don’t have a free market. In Malaysia, you have a broad spectrum of players, and you can see the benefits for all as a result.

And on why transparency is important to free and fair market, he said:

To put it simply, in order for there to be a market, there has to be information. A perfect market requires perfect information. There’s the famous lemon example in the used car market. It’s hard for buyers to tell lemons from good cars, and sellers can’t get a good price, even when they have a good car. By making it easier to see where the problems are inside of companies, we identify the lemons. That means there’s a better market for good companies. For a market to be free, people have to know who they’re dealing with.

I was wondering how our MCMC disburse its telecommunication contracts...

Also read Rocky's Bru as this 'transparency' issue is very much related to us.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Good blogs are helpful, says Naoto Kan

"It will be nice if this blog helps lead to these outcomes..." Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said at the end of his e-mail Q & A to local and foreign bloggers who e-mailed him a question each a month ago.

Blogs (the constructive ones) are getting recognition from his Cabinet as they provide good inputs to the government in administering the country and in improving diplomatic relations.

Excerpts of the Q and A:

Q: Your supplementary budget is entering its final phase. What is the main thrust of it?

A: Economic Growth Policies Will Not Be Put Off. Employment will be a decisive key factor for the Japanese economy, particularly to break free from the current deflation. That's how I basically see it.

Q: You have placed employment measures for economic growth at the top of your policy agenda leading up to the formulation of next fiscal year's budget. How do you attend to it?

A: The first is the dispatched workers' village. Two years ago, in Hibiya Park, I met people there who told me they had absolutely no prospects. As I listened to them, I felt once again how disconnected people have become. I thought, we need to have a society that can somehow lend a helping hand to them. That was one of the things that ignited my passion.

Q: From this emerged the following slogan "1. Employment, 2. Employment, 3. Employment!" Please elaborate.

A: Some people interpreted my call for more employment as a call for a public works program to absorb the unemployed. They imagined a lot of money would have to be poured in. This is not at
all what I have in mind.

Q: You are saying creating employment by pouring money into public works programs is outdated?

A: Even after basic infrastructures were in place, a lot of money was used for public works programs to flow money into businesses, which became the goal in and of itself. Sure, this led to employment and to income while money was flowing in the short-term. But once the program was finished, only bears and boars were walking on the completed road. I call this the "First Way".

Q: The "First Way" trod by bears and boars. Who then chose the "Second Way"?

A: Mr. Koizumi and Mr. Takenaka wanted to make the economy stronger, to streamline. What happened, simply put, is corporate restructuring. But this causes the unemployment rate to
increase and disparities to widen. Then people with little income cannot get married and also hardly spend any money. In other words, what may be good for each individual company is, on the whole, really bad for the entire country.

Q: These two approaches are both outdated today. What should Japan do then?

A: What is needed is the "Third Way." We must focus on areas where there is demand, generate employment in these areas, and increase production including services. That is what we have to
be thinking right now.

Q: The Government should target areas where there is demand and support them with policies. For example...

A: Look at nursing care, or child care, or medical care, they all generate a useful service, i.e., the
caring of people. Caregivers can feel happiness and joy. This in and of itself is a positive thing in terms of how a society ought to be, and will prompt nursing care to grow as a new industry. In
Japan, there are still many more areas with such possibilities.

Q: However, to increase employment, the companies must be willing to employ new people. The Prime Minister explained how difficult this was based on real life experience.

A: It costs a small-to-medium sized company quite a lot to recruit people. And, as you know, it is quite difficult to know which person is the right match from just one interview. There is a lot of risk involved.

Q: You say it is difficult to hire one person at a small business. Is this also how you felt back when you ran your own patent office?

A: Of course.

Q: In your younger days, you were a certified patent attorney, actually ran a microenterprise, Kan Patent Office, which had only one other staff member. In light of your experience, how do you discuss the equation from employment measures to economic growth?

A: There are people who work as or want to be caregivers, but due to the low salary, they tend not to stay in this work very long. For example, if public finances are used to help increase the salary, this will generate service, i.e. production. Then the unemployment rate will go down, which will help wages go up. Such a model can also be a path to break free from deflation. Further still, GDP will increase, in other words, the economy will grow. At the same time, if people who are not working start to work and earn a salary, they will be paying taxes.

Q: The agency in charge of the theoretical work to support this policy is the Economic and Social Research Institute of the Cabinet Office. Its president and economist, Dr. Yoshiyasu Ono, directs the work.

A: Once a convincing model is developed, I want to incorporate it into one of the mainstream approaches to the budget formulation.

Q: On the first day of the current extraordinary session of the Diet, the Prime Minister vowed to take on this challenge.

A: I said, we will bolster the creation of demand and employment! This Cabinet will not hand down the major issues which have been put off for the past 20 years to the next generation. I said this Cabinet will tackle these issues, that it will stay true to its word... (and) it will be nice if this blog helps lead to these outcomes. Thank you.

The United States of Amerijuana

I found a 'marijuana' article in Time.com quite interesting. Amid the US on big hunts for drug dealers, especially in Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia and other countries, its control on domestic consumption can be contested.

Marijuana is sold openly in all parts of the country under the pretext of 'medical purposes'. Although there are laws prohibiting it in many cities, no record has shown any local pushers being slapped with heavy punishment.

Excerpts: The medical-marijuana industry relies heavily on such genteel euphemisms. To medicate is to smoke pot, and no one in the industry calls pot pot anymore; it's medicine now. Dealers are called caregivers, and the people who buy their dope—medicine, medicine—are patients. There's no irony here, no winks or nudges to signal that someone's leg is being pulled.

The euphemisms are an important element in the larger movement to bring marijuana use out from the shadows, as advocates say, so it can take its place innocently on Americans' nearly infinite menu of lifestyle preferences, from yachting to survivalism to macrobiotic cooking. So far, the strategy is working. Colorado and 13 other states, along with the District of Columbia, have legalized medical marijuana in the past 14 years.

Mo
re than a dozen other states are considering the idea. Overnight, dispensaries have sprung up in hundreds of towns and cities; billboards touting one outlet's pot over its rivals' are plastered all over Los Angeles. In some parts of California—where marijuana is the biggest cash crop, with total sales of $14 billion annually—medical pot has become such an established part of the commercial base that cities are moving toward taxing it.

read more...


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Avoiding a nuclear war

"How I wish Panmunjom DMZ be torn apart, just like how the Berlin Wall crumbles..." Kim Young-sam told us on Oct 22, 1996. He was South Korean President then. Together with Roy Trinidad (The Manila Chronicles), Zeenat (editor, Hindustan Times) and 12 senior Asian journalists, the 10-minutes audience was part of our Fellowship stint with the South Korean Press Institute.

We were taken straight to Panmunjom DMZ (Demarcation Military Zone) after that. Dr Hung, an associate editor from Hanoi whispered to me, "No way, bro. Not easy to deal with the North."

The whole world was concerned about an escalation after North Korea turned Yeonpyeong Island into an inferno on Tuesday. Many parents and girlfriends of conscripted soldiers are extremely worried after the latest incident. Seoul cannot proudly declare that South Korean forces are eager to risk their lives to fight against the North.

So what can they do to resolve the dilemma? They cannot continue to allow North Korean provocations, but they also cannot start a war.

In early 1951, when Winston Churchill was the leader of the British opposition, he told his fellow members of Parliament, “It is lucky for me that the Korean War broke out now. We have no choice but to fight, but if I were still the prime minister, I would have been called a war maniac. I would have been the one to send young Brits to the battlefield. The omniscient God did a favor for me.” Even the 'heroic leader' did not find it pleasant to make the decision to go to war.

No citizen in the world welcomes war. That’s why peace has always been an ace in the pocket in American presidential elections. The candidates knew too well that they would not be able to keep their election promises, but they pitched antiwar slogans nonetheless.

President Woodrow Wilson’s successful re-election campaign in 1916 had the slogan, “He kept us out of war.” Twenty-four years later, Franklin D. Roosevelt was re-elected with the same campaign promise. Of course, the US ended up in both WWI and WWII.

It is only natural that former US President George W. Bush is one of the least-loved presidents after starting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The two wars are criticized for lacking justification. The United States relies on an all-volunteer military, but only 2 per cent of congressional representatives’ children are enlisted.

During the Vietnam War, half of the graduates of Princeton University served in the military. In 2006, only nine Princeton graduates participated in wars. If the privileged class shared the sacrifices of war with the poor, America might not have started its wars, argued American philosopher and Harvard University professor Michael J. Sandel.

Korea requires its citizens to serve in the military, but its far from a fair system. The president, the prime minister and members of the cabinet did not fulfill their military duty.

While some analysts saw the latest incident as a North provocation, it raised concern that should the South returns fire, a new Korea War would flare again and this time, the possibility of dragging the whole world into a nuclear war cannot be discounted.

No one wants the tensions between North and South Korea to escalate into full-scale combat. But neither can North Korea be allowed to attack its neighbor at will.

Convincing the North of that demands a firm response to its brazen and apparently unprovoked attack this week on a South Korean border island that triggered an exchange of fire and left two South Korean marines dead.

President Barack Obama has promised a "unified response," meaning he will work with US allies to on an appropriate answer to North Korea's aggression. That's appropriate. But it can't be a timid response. North Korea is becoming increasingly aggressive, and must be shown that its current path will lead to its own destruction. Much depends on how China reacts.

China is North Korea's sponsor, and has the most influence over the erratic regime. All China has said publicly is that the United States, Japan and South Korea should agree to return to the Six Party talks, the bargaining pact aimed at curbing North Korea's bad behavior.

Rewarding North Korea's military attack with an agreement to resume diplomatic negotiations would be a mistake. North Korea must be weaned of the idea that whenever it wants concessions from the West, all it has to do is rattle its sabers.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Singapore, the land of nepotism and cronyism

Our Prime Minister gets a monthly salary of only RM22,826.65, his deputy RM18,168.15 while the Cabinet ministers are paid RM14,907.20, according to the Members of Parliament (Emolument) (Amendment) Act 2005 which came into effect on Jan 1, 2004.

The monthly salary of a political secretary effective from Jan 1, 2004 was RM5,709.99 (
here).

So, critics and allegations that the PM receives more than RM50,000 a month is baseless. And those who all the while look up at Singapore as
the most 'graft-free' nation, again they are wrong. Perhaps, Singapore is the country with the highest record of cronyism and nepotism.

S
ingapore Prime Minister's Salary $US2.47 million, or about six times more than the U.S. President, who currently takes home US$400,000. The monthly pay for a Singapore Member of Parliament (who does virtually nothing) is S$12,000 (US$8,600 ) per month or S$144,000 (US$103,200 ) per year and tax free.

A website about The Greed of Singapore's Rulers also reveals how the Prime Minister, his wife, his brothers, his father, his friends and 'culai' holding senior positions at leading conglomerates. The MPs too are given equal special 'seats' as board of directors in the government's most privileged companies.


Note: At age 55, Singapore Ministers collect both a salary and their full pension.

United States:
President Barak Obama: US$400,000, with US$50,000 expenses
Vice President Joe Biden: US$202,900
Cabinet Secretaries: US$157,000 - $186,600
Secretary of State (Hillary Clinton) - $186,600

United Kingdom: Prime Minister: $US279,000

Australia: Prime Minister: $US229,000

Hong Kong: Prime Minister: $US516,000

Japan: Prime Minister: $US243,000

Canada: Prime Minister: $US246,000

Germany: Prime Minister: $US303,000

France: Prime Minister: $US318,000

In addition to their inflated salaries,
the Singapore elite gets extra pay as appointed company directors!

That's what Singapore administration is all about (and controlled by one single race).

read more...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Its time to reduce 'political-related' contractors

Will the Federal Government engage new contractors to salvage its mega projects in East Malaysia or not is not an issue. The burning question is whether engaging new takers would mean additional budget.

The Transport Ministry yesterday promised to ensure the completion of the runway for Kota Kinabalu International Airport and Tanjung Aru flyover projects following the bankruptcy declaration against its contractor, Tan Sri Dr Ting Pek Khiing.

Dr Ting is Managing Director of Global Upline Sdn Bhd (GUSB) that was awarded the two mega projects in Sabah (here).

It is a normal practice for new contractors to review the BQ, costing and other aspects based on current market price of building materials. Both contracts are already behind schedules.

Ting, 67, the developer of the Bakun Hydroelectric Project via Ekran Berhad, of which he is Executive Chairman, was declared a bankrupt after he withdrew his application for the bankruptcy order not to be enforced on him on Nov. 12.

Ting's bankruptcy declaration follows a legal suit initiated in 2004 after he defaulted on a loan by Bank of Commerce Bhd. That loan was to part-finance his subscription of shares under Ekran's rights issue in 1997. As at July 2005, Ting owed some RM60.79 million to the bank.

And what will happen to Bakun?

Our government has got this habit of awarding mega projects to 'selected' contractors. They are the big brothers of the industry. Over the last 20 years, few big names were awarded 'out of tender' to carry out important projects, and some had faltered.

I am not sure. Is the government still skeptical in trying out the new and upcoming players? While we chant the 'level playing field' slogan, we dont really put them to test. It doesnt mean the big players do not have problems.

In fact, some new players are much better as they, too want to get fast recognition from the government.

Over the years, the big chunks of contracts are given out to the same names like MMC, Gamuda, YTL, UEM and others. During the 80s, Renong and Landmark were the heroes but what happened to them now?

I think its time to spread our choice and selection. If we fail to try out the new players, we wouldnt know their strength and ability, thus depriving them the equal rights to compete. And if we keep on depending on those 'political-related' conglomerates, we would be frustrated should they fail.

Please la, bos! Orang lain pun nak cari makan jugak. Kalau orang yang sama je dapat kontrak, tutup je PKK!

If we keep on looking for the best in life, we may end up getting nothing...

Why Msian Chinese refuse to join the army - 'Govt's faults!'


They are pointing fingers at the government, accusing the present Malay leadership of being bias not to accept the non-Malays into the public service, and of course 'tak cukup makan' if they join the army (making Singapore as a comparison).

MYSinchew.com guest writer Koon Yew Yin, an engineer, a corporate figure and a well-known philanthropist (what?) wrote (here) that "the sense of patriotism is a complex one but it does not include supporting your country and your government all the time. It can include supporting your country but not the government of the day, especially when that government is perceived to engage in policies and programmes that treat you as second class citizens.

"Unfortunately, the Malaysian Chinese do not feel that the current government has treated them fairly or deserves their loyalty. They have come to the point when they are now saying “Go and do your own killing”.

(My argument - Second class citizens? In countries all over the world, any second class citizens are not as rich as the Chinese in Malaysia. In fact, second-class citizens are not allowed to dominate the economy. So, who are the second class citizens in Malaysia?)

He went on: "I concede that there may be other reasons to explain the Chinese reluctance to join the military but these have nothing to do with the lack of patriotism. There is a Cantonese saying “Hoi chai mu tong ping, hoi chai mu cho kait”. Literally it means that the “good son does not become a soldier and good wood does not become sandals”.

"Perhaps this deep seated cultural aversion to the military also explains why Chinese youth are reluctant to join the military. However, a fair, just and widely admired government and equitable policies can overcome such cultural complexes."

(What equitable policies and what cultural complexes? Is it by amending the Federal Constitution for the non-Malays to become Prime Ministers or to have a special ministerial portfolio in-charge of the non-Malays?)

"Let’s not forget that the courageous defence to the Japanese takeover of Malaya in the Second World War was mainly put up by the Chinese who paid for their patriotism to the country with countless lives and other sacrifices. Let’s also not forget that the emergency was won with Chinese blood and that the majority of Chinese rallied round a non-communist government. The historical evidence is clear that when their country is in danger and they are fighting for a cause they believe in, Malaysian Chinese are not lacking for patriotism."

(The Japs were after the Chinese. They hated the Chinese in their colonialisation scheme. Any country they went, they would look out for the Chinese first. In Malaya then, the Chinese were their victims. The Malays did not kill or attack the Chinese but helped them, instead. So, the Chinese had to defend themselves... is that patriotism? Why must you rekindle the past? Again, if I may ask, for what reason did their ancestors come to Malaya a long time ago? To defend the country?)

He also said: "Hundreds of thousands of patriotic non-Malays are trying daily in vain to get employment in the government services. That is why so many non-Malays immigrate to find better countries to live in. Many have gone to work in nearby Singapore which incidentally is doing much better than us as a result of this non-Malay exodus."

(Come on laaaa.... they are not keen to join the public sector for its low wages. Nothing's wrong with that. The Malays are OK with it. As the Chinese are good traders and prefer to do business, especially after the late 1970s when we first moved into industrialisation programme).

"Patriotism in Malaysia – if you are a non-Malay -- does not find you work in the government service or pay your bills. It does not ensure a bright and equitable future for your children. Umno leaders – rather than mourning and groaning -- should appreciate the fact that millions of non-Malays continue to be loyal and patriotic to the country despite the many reasons for not doing so."

(Let me give you this Malay saying - di mana bumi dipijak, di situ langit dijunjung. Since we are citizens of this country, we must abide and respect the laws. Or, shall I remind you of what I wrote recently about the Chinese? That they are good in business, they help in boosting Malaysia's economic growth. In that sense, the Malays have long accepted the fact that the Chinese who are citizens of Malaysia are free to do what they want to and will live with it. The Malays will defend the country to enable the non-Malays to get rich and in prospering themselves. I am also of the opinion that the Chinese will only be interested to join the army and defend a country where they form the majority. In the United States, Canada, Australia and other countries where they form a 'bigger-minority', they are still not keen to join the armed forces!. Singapore used to be 'not a Chinese territory' but they now control the armed forces because they are the majority. So, dont make Singapore a comparison!)


Monday, November 22, 2010

Johor needs the Bridge, Labuan asking for one too!

Its about the Jambatan Bengkok (Crooked Bridge) again. Sultan Ibrahim of Johor today called for a new bridge to replace the causeway to Singapor, saying the bridge would be convenient for people travelling to Singapore and back and encourage tourists from the neighbouring country (here).

"I appreciate that the government is caring and constantly striving to tackle problems facing the people. However, there is one wish of the people of Johor that has yet to be fulfilled, and that is for a bridge to replace the causeway," he said at Istana Besar (the main palace).

Replacing the causeway would enable water at the strait to flow unhindered and at the same time improve the environment, he added.

The bridge, mooted by former premier Tun Dr Mahathir was 'put to rest' by his successor Tun Abdullah in 2004. I think this is the second time Sultan Ibrahim has reiterated his calls for such a bridge.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib has yet to make any stand about the project.

And in Labuan, the Opposition said Dr Mahathir has insulted the people of Labuan in saying that having a much-awaited bridge linking it to mainland Sabah will not do the island any good.

Sabah DAP Labuan Chief, Lau Seng Kiat, said Labuanites felt cheated because time and again people on the island returned Barisan Nasional (BN) candidates in every general election.

"It has been a 15-year wait for the people of Labuan. In fact during his campaign trails, Dr Mahathir had promised to make Labuan the pearl of South China Sea (here).

"Unfortunately, until today Labuan continues to be a sleepy town," he said, adding that failure to fulfil the bridge promise may cost BN the Labuan Parliamentary seat in the 13th general election.

He felt a bridge connecting Labuan to the mainland would boost the socio-economy of the region as prices of general food and everyday necessities are extremely unreasonable in Labuan due to high transportation cost, including ferry charges.

Lets get the boss to comment on this two 'jambatan'.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

More Chinese join Rela

More Chinese, Indians and Orang Asli aged between 18-30 have joined Rela over the last 10 years or so, according to records with the Home Ministry. This is very encouraging although their participation in the Armed Forces was put to question.

At least, they are showing strong spirit of patriotism. The youth, especially is engaging themselves more in such volunteer forces rather than 'makan gaji' by becoming a full-time policeman or soldier.

As to date, Rela has registered about 2.1 million members, setting it to be 2.5 million by year end. Out of this, about 25 per cent is non-Malays, especially Chinese and Orang Asli. In some areas, the number of Chinese is more than that of the Malays although the population ratio in such areas is 55:45 in favor of the Malays.

Rela or Volunteers of Malaysian People was formed on Jan 11, 1972 under the Special Emergency Act. Under the Government Trans­formation Programme’s (GTP) Crime National Key Results Area (NKRA), Rela is listed as one of the enforcement units that assists the police in combating crime.

At the early stage of its formation, Rela was joined mainly by ex-army and ex-police members and the kampung folks. The trend, however, took a more positive mode when youth at the age of 18 (at least) has shown more interest in it.

However, what happened to a government plan last year to uplift Rela's position by making it a special task force unit under the Police?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Why RM65m to refurbish Seri Perdana?

A whooping RM65 million to renovate Seri Perdana? That's too much, sir... too much money going to waste! Why such a big budget and what are there to be refurbished? The master bedroom? Or the guest rooms? Gold toilet bowls, perhaps?

During Pak Lah's era, the PM's official residence spent RM15 million of taxpayers' money for some 'improvement works'. And now its Najib's turn.

Many think it was not Najib who asked for the renovation budget. Then, who? Such a budget could produce another Seri Perdana elsewhere!

I hope the Prime Minister call it off or ask for a smaller budget instead. That RM65 million could may as well be spent on more important projects i.e establishing a special training centre for local maids (and we dont need to depend on the Indonesians and Filipinos again).

Its really beyond comprehension, thou. Its a habit that each time new ministers, deputy ministers and other high-ranking officials take over a new portfolio, they will ask for some refurbishments to be done to their office.

They will ask for new desk and chairs, new cabinet, new wooden paneling and all sorts of items to replace the 'not so old' ones used by their predecessors. I dont think its necessary. And in some cases, their spouses became their advisor when it comes to choosing what furniture to buy, and of course, some are imported!

This is a waste of money, the government's and the taxpayers'. We should control this 'bad' habit...

Dont you think so, sir?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ramai bekas tentera hidup melarat, Najib... Persatuan Bekas Tentera pula cuma main-main!

My father, Hj Harun Abu Bakar is now 75. At this age, he walks on his third leg, a 'tongkat'. Many years ago, he was one of the Malayan heroes in Congo and among those few who survived the communists assault in Sungai Siput, Perak.

He was among pioneers of Askar Melayu, used to answer directly to his officer-in-charge during the 1960s, (now) Tan Sri Ghazali Che Mat. They were together with the rest of the battalion members during Confrontation and Emergency. He was also a member of the ADP (Army Depot Police) which enforced the Gurkhas, Sikhs and the Australian Army together.

He didnt retire. He quit after completing his compulsary and royal service. No pension, no nothing. But when the government announced a few years ago that those who used to serve in the Malay Regiment, with or without pension, would be given some 'token of appreciation' and a service medal, he was excited.

He registered with the Persatuan Bekas Tentera Malaysia (PBTM) in Melaka a few months ago and the officer on duty promised to visit him at home, at my sister's house in Bemban, Jasin to have a chat with him and probably an interview.

After months of wait, he called the PBTA office and again, they promised to come. But they didnt. So, he called again... and got the same answer. They were actually toying him around!

Abah saya bukan nak duit atau pembelaan tetapi dia amat berpegang pada janji. Jika Persatuan Bekas Tentera tidak mahu menjalankan tanggungjawabnya, usahlah memberi harapan kepada seorang yang sudah setua dia. Rawan hati orang tua tidak sukar dipujuk.

Saya nak tegur sikit persatuan dan Kerajaan Malaysia. Harap Menteri Pertahanan ambil 'pot'. Begitu juga Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak.

Tahukah mereka bahawa kebanyakan bekas tentera hidup daif selepas bersara? Do you know that most of them still receive a monthly pension of between Rm50 and RM100 over the past 20 or 30 years?

Di manakah perasaan kasih dan terhutang budi kita terhadap mereka yang berjuang sebelum dan selepas Merdeka, mempertahankan negara daripada Parti Komunis Malaya dan konfrontasi dengan Indonesia, sehingga kita dapat mengecap nikmat keamanan dan pembangunan hari ini?

Fikirkanlah. Dah tak ramai daripada saki-baki orang tua seperti abah saya ni yang masih hidup. Saya masih ingat ketika Tun Mahathir menjadi Perdana Menteri, beliau mengundang satu bas veteran perang kita sempena Hari Kemerdekaan (saya lupa tahunnya).

Ramai yang menitiskan air mata apabila melihat mereka membuka kasut di luar pintu bilik hotel. Kebanyakannya tidak pernah sampai ke Kuala Lumpur pun!

Di manakah mereka sekarang? Where are our unsung heroes? Jika kita tidak mahu melayan 'karenah' mereka, saya harap janganlah ada pihak yang berjanji akan membantu mereka dengan itu dan ini. Tak payahlah Persatuan Bekas Tentera beriya-iya menunjukkan keikhlasan sedangkan mereka sendiri berat untuk melaksanakannya!

Kita memang bangsa yang tidak mengenang budi...

The cat that was out of the bag a long time ago

You may want to read this article here about another typical 'airtime scandal'. However, its not about one who monopolises it but a TV commentator who went against the journalism ethics by dedicating much of his shows to the politicians he supports.

MSNBC commentator Keith Olbermann was suspended without pay for giving too much airtime and also cash contributions to three Democratic politicians in his “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” show last week.

What the so-called Olbermann scandal has done, though, is reignite a national dialogue about a code of conduct for journalism in a new age of modern digital media and news saturation, and at the same time further underscore the confusion among many information consumers about the increasingly blurred line between news and opinion.

Olbermann is known for blasting the political right, particularly Republicans, and touting the policies of the political left.

In short, his program gives Democratic candidates and liberal causes the air time equivalent of millions of dollars in free publicity. Some would say that benefit greatly overshadows a few thousand dollars in personal contributions

Wow! But here in Malaysia, it is not a 'sin' to contribute thousand hours of airtime to politics. In fact, our TV stations, irrespective of government-owned or private-owned 'pro-govt', have subscribed to this form of propaganda a long time ago. Even the pro-Opposition private station like TV Selangor is specially founded to support the Pakatan Rakyat-led state government.

Such a 'ball game' by newscasters and news producers used to draw viewers to incline towards the political party they ride but the perception has changed. Most of us are getting blase!

And this monopoly will go on unchecked. Just like the awarding of television airtime to selected few, other airtime (including that of telecommunications) will come under the control of the same players. If you are new, dont waste your time, effort and money trying to get one!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Selamat Aidil Adha

Muslims descended on the Mina valley Tuesday to mark the third day of the hajj, known as the Eid al-Adha or 'Festival of Sacrifice'. Pilgrims hurled pebbles at the 30-metre long structure the longest of three walls said to symbolise the devil, also referred to as Iblis.

Some three million pilgrims are taking part in this year's hajj, the world's largest annual pilgrimage that retraces the route taken by the Prophet Mohammad 14 centuries ago. Most arrived in the central western Saudi Arabia tent town Mina overnight, after returning from rituals marking the peak of the hajj on Monday at nearby Mount Arafah.

The Eid al-Adha festival is also usually marked by the ritual of sacrificing an animal, usually a lamb.

Pilgrims then head to the holy city of Mecca, some five kilometres west of Mina, to perform Tawaf. The hajj ends Friday.

(Going to Mecca now is easy, by planes. During the 60s and 70s, chartered ships were used and it took about three to four months before the pilgrims were back in Malaysia after completing the hajj).


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Now that Suu Kyi is free...

We laud the unconditional release of Myanmar democratic icon Aung San Suu Kyi by the junta yesterday and hope to see gradual changes to the country. Reforms should take place and the path to a democratic government and an open economy will augur well not only to Asean but to the people of Myanmar.

However, the march is still a long one. The junta needs to recognise international concern for the country, where social and ethnic problems are closely related to how it is being administered over the last 40 years, even before Suu Kyi came into the picture.

Democracy is the only solution for Myanmar to prosper. A free election must be held soon as to avoid concussion stemming from the the release of Suu Kyi and international pressure for Yangoon to adhere to democratic calls.

While the world lauds Yangoon, her release is still being monitored cautiously as the junta is known to reverse its decision should the pressure applied by the international community is treated as more in Suu Kyi's favor.

This may be all good and well for Aung San and her followers but before the celebrations carry us away we should realise that at any moment the regime can and no doubt will pull the plug and return her back under arrest.

The military regime have still very powerful and influentual backers that need them for their self interests and protect them accordingly. As they have done in the past they release her for their own reasons but watch her carefully and any moves that threaten them they react as they have done.

Not until this regime is removed by democratic reforms will any hope of a better future be possible for the Burmese people and its potential leaders.

Most important is how the United Nations can tag itself along with the junta in convincing them that what Suu Kyi champions is for the betterment of the country and its people.

A little bit about Suu Kyi:

The world knew little about this remarkable woman beyond her name. Now aged 65, she is the most famous political prisoner since Nelson Mandela and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate for standing up to the regime.

On Saturday, unbowed and as demure as ever, she was freed from years of house detention. She had been in prison or under house arrest for 15 of the past 21 years.

To the adoring crowds 22 years ago when her ordeal started, the name of Suu Kyi was very special. Her father, general Aung San, was Burma's national hero. The reason so many had camped out in the open all night was because they saw in the daughter of this most revered figure in modern Burmese history their greatest hope for change.

Suu Kyi was making a political speech for democracy and freedom at a critical juncture. Burma was in chaos after students had led an uprising against the military. Blood flowed in the streets from the crackdown that followed.

General Ne Win, the hated dictator who had dominated Burma for three decades of economic stagnation and isolation, had resigned. His successor, Sein Lwin, who had ordered troops to open fire on massed demonstrators demanding an end to military rule and the introduction of democracy, had also quit.

It was hoped that Burma's third president in a few weeks, Maung Maung, would make concessions. It turned out to be a vain hope. Burma is still in chains. Suu Kyi's speech that day, though, was a defining moment in her life. It marked the instant when she turned her back on her comfortable life in Britain and returned to her roots.

Asia has had its share of family dynasties, but nowhere has the idealism and sense of duty been as strong and principled as in the case of Suu Kyi, who that day took the heartbreaking decision to put her commitment to Burma above her family.

Until a few months before, she had been an Oxford housewife, living happily with her husband, academic Michael Aris and their two children Alexander and Kim, in a smart town house. Now she was deliberately entering the brutal and devious world of Burmese politics.

She has never emerged from it. Her lonely vigil, which began with her addressing the crowds that day in 1988 challenging the generals, has continued unbroken to this day, much of it under house arrest and at a tragic personal cost.

For as well as a political story, Suu Kyi's is ultimately a family tragedy. She arrived at Oxford in 1964 to study philosophy, politics and economics. Her contemporaries remember her beauty, a flower always in her long dark hair.

Aris met her at the university and courted her on a holiday in Bhutan, where he was teaching. At their wedding, Kipling's poem Mandalay was recited: "I've a neater, sweeter maiden in a cleaner, greener land! On the road to Mandalay."

Aung San was assassinated in 1947, on the threshold of gaining independence for Burma from Britain. Aged two, his daughter was too young to have known him. But she cherishes the photo she has of him holding her in his arms and, although she had left Burma at 15, she was never allowed to forget she was his daughter.

On that day in August 1988 she told the adoring crowd that the political uprising was a "second struggle for national independence" and, as Aung San's daughter, she could not remain indifferent.

And that's how it started....

read more about her here...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Datuk Seri, the APs conman


Thanks to Tok Pa who replied my SMS with a solid answer: "Pengeluaran AP, surat hanya ditandatangani KSU dan TKSU saja. Orang lain tak boleh..."

That was on Wednesday Nov 10. His SMS 'rescued' a Datuk and his friend from surrendering a bank draft of more than RM4 million to one 'Datuk Seri H' who claimed to have been awarded with 200 APs for imported cars.

(Someone told me this guy is not really a Datuk Seri but a bogus Datuk staying somewhere in Klang).

The LA was signed by one Mohamad Ramdan of MITI. It appeared to be very original, except for the Sec-Gen or Deputy Sec-Gen signature not on it.

And again, this rascal used Mukhriz Mahathir's name. The 200 'APs' were said being approved under a special political allocation, and that RM2 million has to be paid before it appears in the MITI computer system. It was also meant to help Mukhriz 'political agenda'.

I believe this 'Datuk Seri' has been preying on Malay entrepreneurs who found it difficult to get the APs from MITI. They include those wanting to have more.

APs are like gold. Those awarded with are usually Bumiputera car importers. However, there are people who make quick bucks by selling it at between RM30,000 and RM45,000 each.

Mukhriz, the Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry said earlier this month that the Bumiputera Automotive Fund, which was set up to boost development of Bumiputera entrepreneurs in the automotive field, has so far collected almost RM226 million in levy paid for open APs this year.

The fund gets its source from the RM10,000 levy imposed on each open AP to import cars. As of October 15 2010, the fee collected from open APs is RM225.91 million.


The RM300,000 dinner


The Sultan of Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah has declined to attend a function to commemorate Selangor Foundation's 40th anniversary.

The reason being, it costs Yayasan Selangor more than RM300,000. What an amount for a dinner! What would they be serving? Golden egg? Or mermaids?

The Sultan had initially agreed to attend the function with the hope that his presence would inject new spirit for the staff at the foundation and in appreciation of their efforts in helping to improve the performance of students from less fortunate families in the rural areas in Selangor (here).

The function was planned to be held on Nov 15 at the Tun Dr Ismail Hostel, Kampung Pandan, Kuala Lumpur.

The sultan had suggested that the foundation organised a lunch, which would be cheaper, instead of a dinner, but it was not heeded by the foundation.

The latest news was, Mentri Besar Khalid Ibrahim too has decided to stay away from the dinner. And did he say anything about not being advised of the cost?

Then, who actually decided on the RM300,000?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Zahid Hamidi is right!

I have to come in support of Zahid Hamidi, our Defense Minister and Umno vice-president. Like it or not, the conservative mind of most Malaysians still lingers on the believe that the Malays' duty is to defend the country, the Chinese shape up the economy while the Indians flourish the commodity.

No, sir! I am not racist. Facts are facts. Zahid is neither a racist nor a Malay warrior. But what he said at the Parliament yesterday should not be misinterpreted, especially by MCA President Chua Soi Lek and the non-Malays.

Zahid was talking about the pathetically duty of the Armed Forces, the no-interest shown by the Chinese and the Indians. He was not questioning the loyalty and integrity of the non-Malays but their poor response to new intakes in the armed forces.

There were only 903 non-Malays in the Malaysian Armed Forces who had joined the service within the last two years. They comprised 82 Indians, 26 Chinese, while the remaining 795 were from other ethnic groups from Sabah and Sarawak (read here).

He was not being insensitive by attributing the 'less sense of patriotism' among the non-Malays for their poor response toward calls to join the armed forces.

"There was also a possibility that it was because of the fear of the strict discipline in the Malaysian Armed Forces (ATM), less attractive pay compared to the offer from the private sector, lack of encouragement from family members, and that there was less encouragement to join the ATM among the ethnic community because of the various negative prejudices," he said.

The Chinese is the second largest community in the country compared to the Indians but their participation was the least. Why?

Such a question normally draws simple answer - that majority of the Chinese are more keen in business and building up their own economy. Making money and getting rich is their utmost objective in life, no matter where they are.

Indonesia, the United States, Australia and Canada where many Chinese from the mainland had migrated a long time ago, the same pattern thrives. They are less concern in national security matters. When communal riots erupted in many parts of Indonesia in the late 90s, many Chinese millionaires fled the country for Singapore, Hong Kong and other nations.

So, what Zahid said is nothing new. He was reminding the needs for Malaysians (rpt, Malaysians) to come together in defending the country. I guess this is one of few major issues Prime Minister Najib got to address before he can claim success in his 1Malaysia. The other is to introduce 'Satu Sekolah Untuk Semua'.

There is no need for Chua and others to make a fuss out of it. It is a fact that the Malays are more concern for national security and defending the country. The number of Malays and Chinese in Malaysia is almost compatible, yet the Chinese is not keen (except for defending their money and property).

We cant blame them because they are such. In fact, its a good practice. The Malaysian Chinese have been sentimental in developing Malaysia's economy, and so are the Indians. The Malays, Chinese, Indians and other races of Malaysia have been living together with that 'understanding'.

But please dont accuse the police (where most of its members are also Malays) of being racist too. As records show more crimes are committed by the non-Malays, they (the non-Malays) are drawn to a conclusion that they police is always bias and racist in expediting their duty.

Lets not rekindle the past as to why their ancestors came to this country a long time ago. Did they come to defend Tanah Melayu, if one may ask? As far as I can recall, the Gurkhas did help defend Malaya!

My apology... but let us think about it.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Airtime scandal...

Its all about this guy again, and the TV station he controls. Maybe its not his fault (in this case) but he should know and apply some controls here.

(I dont want to mention his name here as I dont want any police reports be lodged against me). I just want to ask him - does he know about one ANUAR who gets a few hundred hours of airtime with the TV station?

This ANUAR is close to a high ranking officer in-charge of signing the airtime's letter of award (LA). And this ANUAR fella is getting rich by selling the airtime (which easily costs RM25k per hour) to film producers who are so hard up of having their production being aired on the TV station but find it difficult to get the airtime.

Looks like ANUAR is monopolising the airtime business to the extent that some movie/drama producers have to beg from him.

The story about ANUAR and this Datuk goes back a few years back. If I am not mistaken, the same ANUAR was responsible in introducing an attractive broadcast journalist (known as 'ZZ') to this Datuk as a 'token' for such a lucrative airtime.

And their meeting place, among few, is an exclusive restaurant in Jalan Langgak Golf.

Was this the same Datuk nabbed for 'khalwat' with the lady not long ago?

Actually, I dont care much about their affair or why ANUAR was given such a 'big' airtime. I just want the boss to know that such a malpractice is not healthy, not only to the government but also to him and the organisation he leads...

It is also not fair to others...


PS - pls do not lodge a police report as I didnt mention any names, thank you


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Misappropriation of relief fund?

Sometimes in November 1991, I was with the then Deputy Agriculture Minister Shariff Omar making rounds on a boat in Pinang Tunggal, an area heavily affected by flood. Apart from visiting the victims, we also handed out blankets, food and medical supply to them.

Although we didnt manage to meet all victims (a few thousands of them), we knew that there were other people and agencies - volunteers, the army, police, the Red Crescent, Rela - carrying out similar duty in assisting them. And such an operation would not be successful without financial aids from the government via the National Disaster Relief Fund (Tabung Bantuan Bencana Kebangsaan).

Since it was formed in the late 1980s, about RM30 million was allocated to help to help those struck by disaster, namely flood, landslide, typhoon, fire, etc.

When Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Abdul Razak issued a directive today for ample assistance be extended to the flood victims in Perlis, Kedah and Kelantan (read here), a few questions came to mind.

First, how much money was allocated since the Fund was established? How much of it was spent or disbursed to respective parties, authorities or people in charge of relief operations? Did all victims get full assistance in form of cash money to repair their damaged properties?

Most important question is whether all the money allocated and disbursed was audited by qualified auditors. According to an officer with the Fund (at the Prime Minister's Department), most of the money was not properly audited, and this opens up doubt that some of the funds might have been misused by certain people.

I agree. Over the last 10 years or so, no official record was publicised or revealed to the public. We are still in the dark as to whether the money was used appropriately in helping out disaster victims in the country.

Could there be fraud? Could be, and could be not until the respective authorities responsible for the fund come up with a clear statement of expenditures.

The money is for badly-stricken people. Should any of the officials enthrusted with the responsibility are found using it for their own personal need, then the MACC should step in and investigate.

And now that Nazri Aziz is the chairman of the Fund, he should look into this and start digging.

I have valid reasons for making a posting on this issue...

Friday, November 5, 2010

Obama will not get any coconut in India

I had a good laugh. I dont know about you people. However, the Indian Government was serious... dead serious. A few days ahead of Barack Obama's visit to Mumbai, the authority has removed all coconuts from the trees around the Gandhi Memorial Museum as to avoid one from falling on the US leader's head.

Such action was chided by some American media. NY Daily News said, "While President Obama may have taken one on the jaw in Tuesday’s elections, officials in India are seeing to it he doesn’t take one on the head during his upcoming visit..."

City officials in Mumbai have ordered the removal of all the coconuts from the trees around a museum dedicated to Gandhi for fear one could come loose and fall on the President’s head. CBSnews also made fun of it, saying 'Obama's head is already swollen with problems, and the coconut is not a threat'.

Similarly, Atlantic Wire published a comment, "...Okay, so the Commonwealth Games held in New Delhi didn't go so well. Not to worry. When Obama visits India on Friday, all will be made right. Local officials don't want any screwups this time, so to make sure the appropriate areas are secure, they are removing coconuts from nearby trees. Why? They're worried, reports the BBC, that a coconut might fall on the president's head, killing him..."

I think if Obama plans a visit to Iraq or other Arab states, the host will have to consider other safety precaution to safeguard the US leader. However, knowing how good India is at winning the Americans, they are more than willing to paint their face white to impress him.

And what about his planned trip to Indonesia? Will Jakarta order the Merapi to stop erupting?

What would our leaders do if Obama comes to Kuala Lumpur? What extra measures do you think Najib and his team might take?

I just hope Malaysia will not play so many balls!


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Galas and Batu Sapi are ours!

Barisan Nasional today wins the Galas state constituency by-election in Kelantan by a majority of 1,190 votes when its candidate Abdul Aziz Yusof polled 5,324 votes to that of 4,134 for Pakatan Rakyat's Dr Zulkefli Mohamad.

However, Dr Zul and his supporters were nowhere to be seen when the official results were announced at 8.55pm at the Civic Centre, Gua Musang.

A total of 132 votes were spoilt. Voters turnover was an encouraging 83 per cent.

The results for 25 ballot boxes were available via news portal Malaysia Aktif, whose bloggers were inside the counting centre.

The victories, including another by-election for the Batu Sapi parliamentary seat in Sandakan, Sabah are a boost for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib's 1Malaysia maxim.

BN ready for next PRU, says Najib

BN is ready for the next polls, said Prime Minister Najib. And the ruling party will not be intimidated by the ongoing sodomy trial of Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.

He made the statement a few hours before voters decide on who should represent them in two by-elections - Batu Sapi parliamentary seat in Sandakan, Sabah and Galas state seat in Gua Musang, Kelantan.

"We are willing to compete against anyone, this is democracy. Let the best party chosen by the people form the government," said Najib, who is also BN chairman (read here).

He made these remarks in a recorded interview on CNN's TalkAsia aired Wednesday night when asked by anchor Anna Coren whether Anwar, the former deputy prime minister, would be a threat to BN in the next general election.

Najib also refuted claims that the trial was politically motivated to keep Anwar, the current Opposition leader, out of the picture in the next general election, which some speculated would be held next year.

I must commend the premier for showing some guts, finally. He hardly comes down that sharp on Anwar and Gang.

I also hope what he said will have a positive impact on Batu Sapi and Galas. By the way, I dont think he simply chose the eve of polling for that interview...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

European Union is being absurd!

Press freedom, human rights, minority rights and democracy are among the conditions set by the European Union before Malaysia can enter into a free trade agreement with them. Absurd and unbelievable!

Visiting European People's Party member Dr Werner Langen said at the Parliament lobby on Tuesday that the EU would be looking into this areas, which includes public procurement and social services.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Nazri Abdul Aziz agreed with Langen, saying that Malaysia needed to look deeply into matters such as affirmative action. Not sure whether he agreed to the conditions or with what he only understood. We have yet to hear from Tok Pa, our MITI minister.

However, the EU dropped such conditions on Singapore and South Korea. Even Thailand, a country with so many coups and political instability, was given a leeway by having its democracy, human rights and public procument spared.

Such conditions do not reflect a well-composed EU. Many of its countries are still plagued with minority problems. Denmark, Germany, Spain, the UK, Holland and Switzerland still hold a bad record when it comes to minority treatment.

Minority Muslims and foreigners are still being oppressed and mistreated by local authorities, if not by the government for certain rules and restrictions.

Some countries still hide the fact that they too are actually racist and anti-immigrants. I wonder why Turkey (for its bad public procurement and political instabililty), among EU's newest member was accepted easily while Croatia (a peaceful and fast growing economy, its per capita among the highest in Europe) was slapped with so many pre-requisites.

Did Nazri give a good answer to the EU envoy? Did he try to explain the nature of our politics, our freedom of the Press and human rights to him? I doubt it (and why must he was chosen to attend to Langen).

And the fact that Langen also met with Anwar Ibrahim and Suhakam (apart from his meetings with Foreign Minister Anifah Aman and the Federal Land Development Authority) tells us everything. Suhakam, in collaboration with Anwar must have given Langen (and their allies in the West) a distorted picture.

Speak for your EU, Langen! Tell them that Malaysia is better off than some of its member countries in the context of human rights, Press freedom and minority rights. And we dont separate mosques from churches like what they are doing.

Malaysia has signed many FTAs with other countries and organisations. Only EU and the United States imposed silly and unacceptable conditions on us.

We wont lose anything if we dont sign up with them!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Najib down with chicken pox

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Razak was asked to rest at home and avoid all official functions as a result of an early signs of chicken pox.

According to Bernama last night, the prime minister began to feel unwell and subsequently developed rashes, muscle aches and joint pains on the last day of the Asean summit and related summits in Hanoi.

His media adviser Datuk Seri Jalaludin Bahaudin said:

"On arrival in Kuala Lumpur today, he showed early signs of chicken pox and was immediately started on appropriate treatment. As medication was started early, the prime minister has responded well," he said, adding that Najib's personal physician had advised the prime minister to rest at home and avoid all public and official functions.

"The prime minister apologises for any inconvenience caused," Jalaludin added.

Get well soon, Mr Prime Minister!