Tuesday, December 30, 2008

malaysiakini and our "SUKA SUKA" POLICE

Maybe the Home Minister has forgotten that he is not in charge of Foreign Affairs anymore.
How else can he explain the absence of any police action as detailed in this malaysiakini article, against the 500 protest Israeli air strikes outside US embassy? This is located in a prominent part of KL and allowing 500 protesters to protest for an hour appears to be an irresponsible act as KL struggles to attract foreign investments.
I do not think any permit to hold this gathering was approved so why do the police act so inconsistently?
Furthermore they are not in charge of foreign relations.
Consider this appeasement with the actions given to the candle-lit vigils and the Jerit bikers who numbered not more than 50 and it is a clear indication that the police do have practice a fair implementation of their unknown rules.
Political expediency perhaps?

malaysiakini and the KT BY-ELECTION

I concur with this malaysiakini article that any fuel price reduction will not affect voter sentiments much. In the article 'Petrol price cuts won't help BN ', the writer suggests that the Pro-opposition trend will continue.
Perhaps the more important factor would be the "bribe" of paying the oil royalty directly to the state once again but even that has limited value as the state has not yet developed programs like granting scholarships and grants to ALL poor students and families.
The usual mode of distribution is development(?) projects that enrich the few cronies via over-priced contracts.
The other aspect of fuel price adjustments is that most Malaysians know that the government is profitting from the high prices now and any miniscule adjustment is considered by the citizens as getting back a little of what is due.

BTW have you heard of any major plans to improve public transport like for JB? The new CIQ plan for bus passengers is a major disaster as they could not even provide a basic shelter for passengers who disembark at the so-called Central Bus stop.

Monday, December 29, 2008

malaysiakini and the TOP News for 2008

I have not read their list as detailed in this article Top 10 News of 2008 but here are the things I consider the most significant:

1.The beginning of the end of the USA as a world superpower. With its economy failing, the USA will lose much of its influence and will make a hasty retreat from Iraq; just like how they withdrew from Vietnam.

2.The pending demise of the BN coalition in the next elections as more moderate Malaysians realise that the BN has been in power for too long for the well-being of the nation.

3.The failure of local authorities to safeguard the safety and security of neighbourhoods as shown by the Bukit Antarabangsa landslide.

4.The rise of NGOs registered or otherwise like JERIT and the candle-lit vigils against the ISA as a sign of growing awareness among ordinary citizens to demand change in Malaysia.

5.The failure of the Prime Minister to execute the necessary reform programs for the Judiciary and the Police.

6.The inability of the federal authorities to respect and work together with states controlled by the opposition; thereby damaging the federal-state relationships.

If you have any item you consider of significance, please put in the comments section.

Friday, December 26, 2008

malaysiakini and the PROBLEMS of the NEW CIQ

After spending more than RM1bil on a new CIQ (the famous crooked bridge) project, it is a downright shame that we still read of basic problems that affect thousands of travellers who use the facility every day.
This letter in malaysiakini highlights the problem. In Traffic solutions needed for Johor's CIQ complex the writer suggests that the old complex should still be used for bus passengers and other pedestrians.
There are some advantages to this such as:
1.Perhaps 60% of passengers will disembark at the old checkpoint and walk to the town; thereby generating more revenue for the shops in the area.
2.There will be less congestion at the new CIQ.

I wonder if the authorities actually made any studies on how many actually left the buses at the old CIQ and how many walked the Causeway to/from Singapore.
The main problem with more passengers being handled at the old checkpoint is the flow of traffic and some security/safety issues.
For pedestrians, the new CIQ appears to be a traveller's nightmare.

I guess the old checkpoint will be converted into commercial space as part of the Crooked Bridge Project.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

malaysiakini and the SEASON of GOODWILL?

We all know that the NEP has been successful but mainly in making mostly BN cronies fabulously rich and other Bumis getting something from the trickle-down effect of mega-projects.
Meanwhile many tens of thousands of Malaysians are living close to the poverty level and many in Sarawak and Sabah don't even enjoy basic amenities.
So it is surprising that according to this malaysiakini article Gov't offers to help minority Malays in other countries and one wonders what is the rationale and purpose of such generosity?
Our own citizens are struggling to cope with rising costs and the government is so generous with taxpayers' monies.
I suggest that they should use UMNO funds if they want to start such a program.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Wishing ALL malaysiakini READERS "MERRY CHRISTMAS and a HAPPY NEW YEAR"


OK the next year looks gloomy for at least another 9 months as the USA economy struggles with slow or negative growth.
You can read more details in this malaysiakini article Complacency comes at a price.
But there are many things we could be thankful for, such as:
1.We have established the basis of a 2-party system in Malaysia, though a little more work is necessary.
2.If you have a job and can service your loans, you are much better off than millions who are jobless and homeless.
3.If you are healthy enough to celebrate a little with your friends and family, that is a major blessing.

So as Christmas draws near, I wish all those who celebrate Christmas many blessings and a Happy New Year.

Thanks to YouTube friscochristmas.com

malaysiakini and the LESSONS from BUKIT ANTARABANGSA

The latest reports of the Bukit Antarabangsa landslide make for grim reading. According to this malaysaikini article, 1,000 barred from returning home as homes in the vicinity of the landslide are still considered unsafe.
There are many important lessons we can learn from such a landslide. These include:
1.It is just as dangerous to live at the top as at the bottom of any hill-slope.
2.Drainage systems must be in place and properly maintained.
3.Those buying property in hilly areas must learn of the risks involved and take precautionary measures.
4.Local authorities must ensure common areas are properly maintained with annual inspections of such homes for which a fee is payable.
5.No development of hill-sides allowed unless safety issues are properly enforced.
6.All those negligent persons should be brought to justice.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

malaysiakini and the NO BRAINER Problem

Why are qualified Malaysians not returning to serve in Malaysia?
It is a "no-brainer" question and has a few dimensions.

First of all, there are problems in our system such as:
1."Ketuanan Melayu" policy which creates discrimination against non-Bumis so that career prospects are severely curtailed.
2.Extremely poor working conditions, especially for new doctors.
3.Failure to administer scholarship programs properly so that bond holders are made to return after their courses.
4.Failure to prevent scholarships holders from marrying overseas and creating excuses not to return home.

Things back home are so bad that even Malays are staying back in foreign lands as life is much better there with little political meddling in appointments. So this letter in malaysiakini Chua: Why skilled M'sians don't come home is kind of a no-brainer. .
My own experience with children working overseas:
My second daughter, an accountant is working in London and after having worked in Singapore for a few years prefers the life-style there compared to Singapore.
Another daughter graduated as a doctor in Canada and has signed up at a hospital in Newfoundland. To encourage new residents, the hospital has given her a sign-up grant of C$50,000 for a 3-year contract.

So I think Malaysia is find it difficult to attract graduates home unless we have better policies and a more even handed administration.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

malaysiakini ~ to TEACH or NOT to TEACH in ENGLISH?

As the Cabinet ponders on this serious issue that will affect thousands of Malaysian children, it is good to note that the Education Ministry has listened to the views of the stakeholders such as the parents, the teachers and the school administrators.
The teachers have made their views known as based on this malaysiakini article
NUTP: Switch to English from Form 1, not Standard 1, they feel the medium change should be done in secondary school.

The switch back to English was made just before TDM retired and it must have come as a major shock to both teachers and students and I believe some teachers had more of a shock than some pupils who were familiar with using English.

All my children except one in University have completed school and they all used English as the medium in Singapore. Maybe I will relate my own experience during my school days in Malaysia between 1955 to 1966. English was the medium of instruction in the major schools and we did accept a few students in Secondary One from remove class and vernacular schools. These poor chaps had to struggle to cope with the language.

Therefore this suggestion by the NUTP will not help those who can progress faster with the English language and the Education Ministry is going to have the most difficult problem of trying to please all the interested parties.

Since feedback has been obtained from both parents and teachers, I suggest the Ministry can use the following to suit all the various demands.

1.There must be a definite plan to use English as the medium of instruction for Science and Maths by Darjah 4 in all schools. Secondary One is too late.
2.More teachers must become proficient to teach in English and definite targets should be set.
3.In any town with a few national schools, some will continue to teach in English and the rest can revert to BM or POL as selected by schools.
4.Parents will be able to choose which school they want their children to attend.

Of course it won't be easy to achieve such a scheme but I feel reverting back to the old scheme will not improve the standard of English that has sunk to new lows in recent years.


POL(Pupil's Own Language)

malaysiakini WARNING! Make Sure YOU Get AUTHORISED for DANGEROUS WEAPONS

Most Malaysians are peace-loving folks and many are reluctant to take part in demos etc and they had the notion that the government was generally OK and most things do work even if late or erratically.
However after more than 50 years of independence, some citizens feel that the government has become complacent and many policies like the infamous NEP have failed miserably.
That is the main reason for the dramatic election results of March 2008 that saw the BN lose its coveted 2/3 majority in Parliament.
The police too have become unpopular as many believe there are many rogue cops and even some in high positions. Tne public also have the perception that police do not act with due regard to the law but more due to political considerations.
The latest police-public confrontation is over the Jerit cycle tour of Malaysia and you can read malaysiakini's readers' responses to the recent police actions against young Malaysians who were armed with their touring bicycles.
It is a historical fact that when the Japanese invaded Malaysia during the Second World War, some of their troops used bicycles to move faster.
It appears that the police want to antagonise more Malaysians to vote against the government the next time.

photo: thanks to http://static.howstuffworks.com/gif/bicycle-9.jpg

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

malaysiakini on the BULL in the CHINA SHOP

The saying "Let the bull in the china shop" refers to a situation wherein a careless person is placed in a situation where he/she can do great damage or harm.
Some concerned Malaysians probably have that feeling when we have so many major laws being passed like instant noodles.
Debates are kept to a minimum and the damage is done to the Federal Constitution; especially the latest bull that has been let loose. According to this malaysiakini article, Parliament passes JAC Bill and even though there are "strong concerns from lawmakers from both sides over its constitutionality and independence."
Why the indecent haste? This bill has not even been adequately debated but simply bull-dozed through.
BTW, the PM who is so engrossed about his major reform legislation will soon be away on a retirement jaunt.
The House should have been recalled during Ramadhan instead of taking such a long break. Two weeks of proper debate on such major laws like the MACC and the JAC would have benefitted everyone.
Unless of course these bills are nothing more than mere smokescreens?

Graphics: thanks to http://www.spectator.co.uk/article_images/articledir_61/30678/1_fullsize.png(Bull looks like the UK's PM Gordon Brown)

malaysiakini and the MACC BILL-Will Anything CHANGE?

So the BN Government has managed to steamroll the MACC Bill that gives a makeover on our laws on corruption despite some objections from the Opposition benches.
This article in malaysiakini MACC Bill passed indicates our AG who is already tasked with so much of the burden of going after crooks and accumulating files that cannot continue will be the main actor under the direction of the PM.
I watched Nazri perform on the TV and his main argument was that MPs cannot control the MACC as a popular MP could get away with corruption as his popularity would protect him.
I guess the integrity of the PM overrides those of the MPs who answer to their electorate. Now do you really believe that?
To me if the AG is still the main man determining the advancement of cases, it is still back to square one.
In order words, "Show us the proof" before anything happens and even if there is proof we may decide not to bring to trial as "very susah lah".

malaysiakini and MORE on BUKIT ANTARABANGSA LANDSLIDE

The dust has still not settled on this tragedy and it seems the Army is not happy at accusations that their people were involved in some incidents as mentioned in this malaysiakini article 'Bukan ucapan terima kasih...'.
There is a more disturbing letter in the NST that Agencies did not act fast enough.

Bukit Antarabangsa is not in some remote jungle area but just within 8 miles of the capital city and it is indeed shocking that there is so little coordination from the authorities. Is there no defined chain of command for such disasters?
We have spent many million ringgit on equipment and training for such events and yet when it happens, security is lacking.
What is disturbing from the letter is that
" Within 48 hours, several homes in residential areas adjacent to TBU, where there was minimal or no coordination among the residents, were broken into."
I believe with better coordination, a security perimeter could have been set up to ensure outsiders are prevented from entering the disaster zone and a reasonable response time would be three hours after the report.
It's probably no use to seek an official inquiry as we all know what happened to the IPCMC.
If you want to see the area before the landslide, go to the Google Map of KL and you can see the row of houses that seem to be abandoned as the trees are too dense and there is no road for the houses.
(Set the map to max minus 3markings and use hybrid to see the road names plus the terrain; any larger setting and you get only the terrain)
Use the Impian Selatan Condo (in photo)to get your bearings.

Photo: thanks to http://all4one4all.wordpress.com/2008/12/16/news-at-ground-zero-bukit-antarabangsa/

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

malaysiakini and the GREAT RM2bil LETDOWN

Yes we spent almost RM2bil on that new CIQ complex but as usual only the rich and the well-to-do have been catered for.
Maybe we will see some improvements if the Transport Minister or the Consumer Affairs Minister try out the public transport to and from Singapore.
According to this malaysiakini letter Law and order urgently needed at CIQ Complex.
What a great disappointment that so much money has been spent and yet such a simple system for an orderly queue has been overlooked; even after the project completion has been delayed by more than a year.
This is a major planning failure - I notice too that exiting after the Immigration check for cars can be a source of accidents and near misses as it seems the traffic flow is not well regulated.

malaysiakini on the PM's PROBLEM

I wonder why the "Cops livid being targeted by IPCMC" as suggested by this malaysiakini article PM to face even bloodier battle with SCC Bill.
To put things in the correct perspective, the Royal Commission was held after it was discovered that the police had forced a "Chinese woman" to perform nude squats and the film was shown on You-Tube. After a Minister's hasty trip to China to apologise, it was discovered the victim was a Malaysian
Apart from the commission that recommended better discipline via the IPCMC that was rejected by the police, those responsible did not face any major corrective action.
Instead the government "chickened out" from disciplining the police who appear to have the upper hand as pay and perks were increased substantially as recommended by the Inquiry but the more important and fundamental control elements were omitted.
This is a major failure of the government.

Perhaps too many top leaders are working in cahoots with the police and there is the perception that it is not the police for Malaysians but police for BN leaders.
After all there is the ongoing murder trial of the murdered Mongolian woman who was allegedly blown up by members of an elite team.

The big mistake the PM made was not to implement the IPCMC when all the service conditions were improved like better pay, allowance and housing.
Based on this alone, this government has lost its moral authority to govern.

Monday, December 15, 2008

malaysiakini MISSED this IMPORTANT STORY

In an important development just before the Kuala Terengganu by-elections, the government has announced that it will revert to the original scheme of paying oil royalties to the state government.
As a major sweetener for the KT polls, a RM10Billion state sovereign fund will been set up to ensure the state will continue to enjoy development even after the oil resources are depleted.
You will remember that oil royalties were discontinued when the state fell into opposition hands and now it seems with UMNO in control again, the direct payment is deemed appopriate again.
I wonder what is the principle involved?
It is good that the state will be paid royalties directly again and not through some agent that may not have the state's best interests at heart. But the timing indicates it could be considered a form of bribery.
This move will improve the state-federal relationship and should be extended to all states as far as a fair allocation of revenues are concerned.
I suggest that we should explore how other states can benefit from such revenue sharing.
It is a little unfair that only oil royalties are calculated for revenue sharing. I believe that all states should receive some share of the taxes they generate for the federal government. In this way, states that do not have oil but whose residents pay taxes can also provide funds for state projects and better maintenance.
It will improve budget controls as too often federal projects are rather badly managed while states simply do not have enough funds.
For example, in the income tax payments, the department will refund to the state say 20% of all income and company sales taxes paid based on the address of the resident or the company.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

SPECULATING on the BUKIT ANTARABANGSA TRAGEDY

This malaysiakini article suggests Hillside developers 'abuse' their power and the MCA Deputy President alleges
"some hillside developers have abused their power to get approval from the local authorities to proceed with their projects" in the article.
The above graphics gives some indication of what could have happened.
It seems that some of the houses at the center of the landslide were part of an abandoned project and if you look at the graphics, you can make the logical conclusion that these decaying structures (abandoned for more than 10 years) could cause ponding and a water-logged surrounding.
So it does not really make sense for trying to suggest that property owners need to get a structural engineer to inspect your site every 6 months. Those bungalows that were destroyed below the slope failure would have passed the inspections.
I believe there are enough by-laws with the local authorities to enter abandoned properties and do appopriate maintenance works such as grass-cutting etc. In this case it would have also included the maintenance of the drainage of the abandoned houses and then bill the owners.
I suggest the state should amend land laws so that properties abandoned for more than 10 years should revert back to state ownership.
Assessment rate for hill-side properties should also be higher so that the local authorities can be held responsible for the overall integrity of the drainage systems.
But the malaysiakini article does not give exact details and I wonder how developers can "pressure" local authorities to get approvals?

Graphics: Thanks to NST

malaysiakini and BUKIT ANTARABANGSA - this SENTENCE Says it ALL

Finally KL City Hall has taken action to prevent or postpone another landslide caused by development on steep slopes.
This article published in malaysiakini says it all. This survivor believes that
We are victims of corruption.
He is so enraged that he will be going to campaign against UMNO in Kuala Terengganu by-elections - so they should hope he is not from that state or the people there are going to hear the evils of corruption and deceit.

It should not be too difficult for the authorities to discover how the land use got changed.
According to the report, the disaster area
"stands on de-gazetted forest reserve, and that whole of what is now Bukit Antarabangsa was once a water catchment area."

I would imagine the land was not de-gazetted and sold directly to the developer but passed through a few RM2 companies linked to special cronies who would have made millions through the deals.
So instead of political leaders pointing fingers, let the ACA probe this claim of corruption as lives have been lost.

Friday, December 12, 2008

malaysiakini and MIRAGE2020

We don't need TDM to proclaim that as detailed in this malaysiakini article headed Dr M: Vision 2020 now doubtful as the original plan was flawed anyway.
The 20+ years of his leadership made many fabulously rich, thousands pushed up the pecking order but sadly it was not s sustainable process but based on the "crutch mentality" aka as the AP Syndrome.
When the NEP ended, they simply repackaged it and when TDM retired he selected someone that he thought would follow the old game plan.
Any fool could have told you that Vision2020 was just a political ploy to fool most people.
In light of the new realities, we should rename this concept MIRAGE2020

malaysiakini and our NATIONAL PROBLEMS

The ongoing problems of Bukit Antarabangsa continue and even a minister has declared that the problem was probably "not man-made" so I guess we have to put that to Allah's account.
But these 2 problems cannot be caused by Allah.
First of all there is the RM5 mil to light up court complex since May 2007 which equates to roughly RM260,000 per month.
Since no comparative figures are available, it is difficult to gauge if this building is energy efficient but the number appears high.
One common problem with most government buildings is that we build without much thought to saving energy.
Instead of using those high roofs to reduce electricity usage - we can still see some fine example of this with old railway stations and churches where natural ventilation keeps the place cool, we build pseudo Moorish-style structures and then air-cond the building and set the temperature to 20C as the high venting system does not reach the floor levels effectively.
The second man-made problem is another high-profile example of incompetence or negligence or both. Of course Parliament House was the more prominent case.
In this case, the NST reports It's raining inside Putrajaya Corporation 600 business executives were given a vivid demo of how rain water can be harvested.
Maybe this is the hand of Allah at work - it is a reminder that we must take more responsibility for our duties and actions or our incompetence will be displayed for all to see.
Perhaps Allah feels not enough attention was given to the care of Bukit Antarabangsa and send this wet reminder to VIPs that even important buildings are not exempt from proper maintenance.
This type of incident rarely occurs within the private sector for the person responsible will be sacked.
So do you still think we can trust this government with operating and controlling a nuclear power plant?

Photo: Thanks to NST. Nice red bucket sets up the scene nicely!

WHY am I NOT SURPRISED at this malaysiakini Article?

So the much heralded bills on the MCAC and the JAC have been tabled but surprise, surprise there are no surprises.
Everything changes but nothing changes.
Of course there will be thousands spent on new stationery and office equipment but there really is no fundamental reform.
malaysiakini's article is headed Bills fall far short of PM's reform pledges .
Maybe when the PM plans to leave office in March 2009 and tell us it is all an APRIL FOOLs' joke and we were fools to believe he was really serious?
The PM's major weakness is that he always promises much but delivers little.
MAJOR DISAPPOINTMENT with these 2 bills.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

malaysiakini on the EXTRAVAGENT LIFESTYLE of LEADERS

We spend at least RM9,400,000 per annum on housing just 2 Ministers ie. the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister according to this malaysiakini article Pak Lah: Gov't spends RM6mil on my house.
So between the two of them, the nation has to fork out almost RM783,000 each month. Don't you think that's a ludicrously high amount to splurge on housing?
I suppose the money is paid to Putrajaya Holdings that is owned by the government and which is not making any profits.
I read somewhere that each year the government has to allocate funds to them to operate ~ otherwise they will not be able to maintain and operate all the white elephants in Putrajaya.
Before the government owned properties in Kenny Hills and there was no need to pay rentals. Now the government owns the Putrajaya company but has to fork out amounts fit for kings.
If we take that JUMBO-sized cabinet and do some estimates, we could come up with a guess of RM25MIL each year for the entire cabinet.
It should be interesting to discover what is the breakdown for rentals and renovations. The latter should not be a recurring sum and is usually absorbed by the landlord and calculated into the rental.
Now we get an idea when they tell us
"Change your LIFESTYLE LA"

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

malaysiakini on SOMETHING We REALLY DON'T NEED

After so much fanfare and whoha over creating a world-class Judiciary that can redeem some of the foul smell that followed the sacking of the judges in the 80s, we now have a tepid, watered-down version called the JAC and according to this malaysiakini article JAC to remain firmly under PM's thumb .
Instead of the cloak and dagger stuff of the 80s, this is a definite refinement and we will deal with recalcitrant judges in a more civilised manner.
Of course the PM still gets to play the Great Dictator.
Given the ease with which the PM himself gets manipulated by UMNO politics, this means that Malaysians may well experience an even darker shade of justice.
What a SHAM!

malaysiakini and FOOL MINISTERS

In Malaysia we are supporting an XXL CABINET made up of umpteen deputy ministers and once a deputy is good enough, he/she gets to be a FOOL Minister but that is spelt as FULL with all the extra perks and privileges.
Thereafter as long as he obeys all Cabinet directives he enjoys the unrivalled access to the media to make any and all kinds of FOOL statements.
Even today you can witness this SOP as according to this malaysiakini article Landslide: Minister rules out human negligence.
The experts have not completed their probes but this guy can make such a sweeping statement. It sounds like the usual remark on corruption, "There is definitely no corruption in Malaysia unless you show concrete evidence."
I'm not sure which claim is more asinine - this claim or the one from the Information Minister that developers and property owners were responsible for the land-slides.

malaysiakini and BUKIT ANTARABANGSA is MALAYSIA as DEPICTED by NATURE

There used to be a saying "As old as the hills" but somewhere in the obscene rush to development, people in Malaysia have ignored nature and defied all the laws that must be followed if we are not to become victims of the most powerful forces of nature.
In a way the Bukit Antarabangsa tragedies can be considered a snap-shot of the many problems that beset our nation.
First of all, there are powerful people involved in corrupt practices, from developers who see a quick profit from selling expensive properties with a view, to authorities with great appetites who approve land that is really not safe, to contractors who cut corners in construction, to local authorities who neglect proper maintenance.
As the Judiciary is still under a dark cloud after the sackings decades ago, some people even think that the very powerful can cause the disruption of justice with missing files being one of the techniques.
So it is not surprising to read this sad malaysiakini report that 'She would be alive if they had helped' - the guy's wife was in the rubble and according to him, he was only given a shovel. I wonder what is the response of those "rescuers" to this complaint? We do not know the full story and perhaps those present should tell the other side of the story too.
Even the top leaders of PKR and BN have started pointing fingers at each other. It is a sort of CATCH-22 situation as the PKR government took control of the state in March 2008 whereas the BN has been in charge for more than 50 years in Selangor.
If any blame is to be shared, it will be in the ratio of BN:PKR as 600:9 (months)ie the BN rule is about 55 TIMES more responsible for the problems than PKR.
The Selangor government should take the brave step to put an end to this vicious cycle of greed, corruption, destruction and death by setting up an official inquiry and letting the blame fall where it may.
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

PHOTO: Thanks to the Star. Pic shows an abandoned house near failed slope. Such houses (with damaged roofs) will be water-logged can collect excessive rainwater and collect water during heavy rains. There was a row of abandoned houses at the top of the slope.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

malaysiakini ~ Remove IMMUNITY or BETTER to REMOVE GOVERNMENT?

In the aftermath of Bukit Antarabangsa, the Bar Council urges the government in this malaysiakini article Gov't told to remove immunity for local councils as no authority can now be held responsible for such incidents that are caused by corruption, negligence and dereliction of duty.
We read in other articles that the police are acting tough against peaceful cyclists and detaining them in their ride across Malaysia.
Then there is the major showdown in education brewing over the English for Maths and Science.
The government has been extremely slow in self-reforms and some believe that money politics in party polls has become worse.
So maybe the Bar Council message needs to be modified.
If we cannot remove the immunity for local councils, the next logical move would be to remove the government in the next elections.

malaysiakini on EDUCATION ~ Back to SQUARE 1?

In a major U-turn before he retired, TDM ordered all schools to teach Maths and Science in the English language as everyone realised that the standard of English in Malaysia had fallen to abysmal lows.
It was one good thing he did before retiring 5 years ago and one can feel that more ordinary folks now accept that more can be done to improve the standard of English, especially among young adults.
I am not sure if anyone has done a study of the Malaysian education during the past 25 years but many attribute many problems of nation-building to the day that Bahasa Malaya(at the time) was used as the medium of instruction and English became just an exam paper.
I am not against BM but it should be not too difficult to realise that when BM became the Medium of Instruction(or MOI), it was the beginning of moves that widened the gap between private schools, vernacular schools and national-type schools.
Today some vernacular schools have become so influential that according to this malaysiakini article Switch or we strike, warns education group some schools are not happy with the switch back to English.
The Ministry of Education is meeting all the interest groups to make a decision on the English experiment and there will be those who oppose a switch-back as results are promising in some schools.
Let us hope that the department will make a decision that is in the best interests of our children's future. For many years, education has been a political football and our children have suffered.

photo: thanks to http://www.tiggysribticklers.com/images/bush_dunce.jpg

Monday, December 8, 2008

malaysiakini and WHY the HOME MINISTER is SO UNPOPULAR?

It seems the Police are not helping much when they use up so much resources like "manhandling teenage cyclists" as reported in malaysiakini.
Of course they are acting within their authority but one wonders if they ever use any cow sense in dealing with situations like risk/reward analysis especialy when dealing with peaceful citizens.
What does the MALAYSIAWATCH POLL Reveal?
The question was
What Do You Think about the APPEAL against RPK?
Here are the results:

Thanks to the 200 readers who took the poll.

83% or 165 readers felt The Home Minister Deserves to Be SACKED
8% or 16 felt The Home Minister Made a Big Blunder to Use the ISA
4% or 8 chose The Government Should Accept the Decision
3% or 6 chose The Home Minister is Doing a Good Job
3% or 5 chose The MPs Should Pass a Censure Motion Against the Home Minister
(rounding error in % calculations)

In the words of the famous game-show,
YOU are the WEAKEST LINK, GOODBYE!

malaysiakini and ALARMING NEWS after the LANDSLIDES

The landslides in Bukit Antarabangsa will continue and the authorities must be blamed for allowing so many houses to be built near such steep slopes.
Now this malaysiakini article suggests that Condo 'may collapse anytime' and thousands are affected by an order to evacuate.
This is a photo I took on a recent trip to HongKong on the Peak. When I got off the tram at the top, instead of heading for the shops, I took the exit and walked to the right - the road is called Ludgar Road if I remember correctly.
It is a circular road and it took me about 80minutes at a leisurely pace. At times you could imagine being in the middle of a forest reserve as nature is everywhere, especially the birds.
The road is narrow and only a single lane for vehicles - I counted only a handful of parked cars and perhaps there were only about 20 to 30 homes that were accessed from this narrow road.
You can get a beautiful view of HK from a few points but I was more interested in the type of trees and this photo is a good specimen. Can you guess what it is?
If you examine the photo, you will notice two man-made objects - the "NO ENTRY" sign and the address of a house at the bottom right corner.
At first I thought it was a banyan tree with all those roots but on reading the sign that is placed on many trees, it is a rubber tree.
Of course HK also has landslides but if you compare the way they preserve the hill-slopes compared to what happens in Malaysia, it is not surprising that more Malaysians will become victims in future.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

malaysiakini and the WRONG FOCUS of the AUTHORITIES?

Of course the police will claim that they are just following the laws of illegal assembly when they detain peaceful cyclists as told in this malaysiakini article 16 Jerit cyclists arrested in Johor.
Don't the powers-that-be realise that such a heavy-handed approach to peaceful protests is a sure way to push more moderate Malaysians to vote for Opposition? Maybe we should thank the cops for the assistance!
This is another tragedy that should have been prevented but as usual no one is looking out for the ordinary folks.
According to the Star this accident Nine die, 19 injured in bus crash near Tangkak occurred at 2am and both the driver and co-driver were killed.
I will not be surprised if the driver had not been working overtime beyond permitted hours and had fallen asleep at the wheel.
If the company had breached labour laws, it should be hauled to court and relatives of victims should sue for compensation.
This tragedy shows how dangerous it is for drivers to be on the roads between 1am and 4am which is an important sleep period.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

malaysiakini and our MAN-MADE TRAGEDIES....

It is a sad fact of life in Malaysia that most of our tragedies are man-made.
While the latest landslide in Bukit Antarabangsa as reported in this malaysiakini article Landslide tragedy: 4 killed, one missing is not as tragic as the Highland Towers of 1993, the loss of any life through human error or greed should be avoided.
The moment such a tragedy occurs, we have the usual cacaphony of leaders calling for the immediate ban of hill-slope development.
I believe that even 15 years ago one could see high-rise apartments perched high on the Bukit Antarabangsa area and I wondered then that it really looked so precariously positioned.
I recently took a stroll around the Peak in HongKong and the view was fabulous. There were only a few houses or mansions about and also lots of maintenance of the hill-slopes - quite major civil works.
In Malaysia when a hill gets developed, it seems most of the original vegetation is removed and as many houses as possible are built.
Even the Drainage Department seems to be trying to avoid being responsible for proper drainage of the area.
According to this report the area is considered safe.
"A check on the department's website on Saturday showed that it had listed Bukit Antarabangsa as facing no risk of landslides from either a single rainstorm event or successive days of moderate rain."
It seems to me that our states need to apply more stringent rules to ensure the safe development of hill slopes.
This might include buffer zones perhaps 10meters wide so that the Drainage Department can do regular checks on faulty pipes, drains etc. Now the system seems to assume that every property owner is responsible enough to maintain his property in a safe condition.
What happens when a hill-top property is abandoned? The most common development is decay and damage to systems and that can jeopardise the properties below. With an appopriate buffer zone various authorities can examine for soil erosion, drains overflow etc.
Once a property is abandoned for more than say 10 years the state should reclaim the land and restore it back to reserve land.
Property owners who have houses built on hill-slopes should pay extra property taxes so that authorities will conduct an official inspection of the slope and certify it safe for occupation.
That way we will be able to hold local authorities liable for such tragic events that can be prevented.

Friday, December 5, 2008

malaysiakini THRIVES because We ALLOW WHITE ELEPHANTS

malaysiakini has become a success because it reports many cases of corruption scandals - the latest sea sand being used in KK's hospital more than 25 years ago as in this malaysiakini article MP a blast from the past, warns QEH consultant. For this case no need for sabre-rattling and the authorities can decide that they want a second opinion on the remedial works if at all possible.
That would include where was the sea sand concrete placed and why it was allowed to happen.
Sometimes we make major changes and even after spending billions of ringgit, there is no major improvement but instead make life more inconvenient for consumers. Just look at the proposal for the thousands of bus commuters who travel to Singapore.
If you look at the present system in JB it is not bad but can still be improved. Now you walk about 400meters to the JB Checkpoint.
But it seems that the proposed system is going to enforce all travellers to start from the Larkin terminal that is about 12km from the town center. If this system is put in place it will mean that the poor commuters will spend at least RM2 extra each way plus all the additional time travelling.
You can read the details here.
That overhead pedestrian link-way is about 1km from the town center and is a steep slope. Walking up is going to be a major challenge.
I suggest that all buses going to Singapore be allowed to only pick up passengers at limited stops and also allow disembarkation at fixed stops.
Surely after spending so much monies on a major CIQ we should have better plans for our taxpayers?
What do you think?

malaysiakini does not CARRY this STORY

Malaysia seems to have many serious issues like foul-mouthed MPs, "Ketuanan Melayu", Lingam tapes and rampant crime.
The police have scored some major hits on serious crime but to the ordinary folks, there is definitely an air of apprehension when going out.
My house in JB was burgled this week and the person/s probably made a quick exit on hearing my car when I returned - that was 11:30am.
The police were OK as far as making reports was concerned but when they came to the house all they did was to take a photo of the broken grille. No dusting for finger-prints or checking out the area for clues.

The story I want to highlight is about what happened in Singapore at the Immigration inbound-side.
I went to Singapore at about 4pm and there were about 40 people in each of the 3 queues for the "Other passports" counters.
In one queue, there was a young Chinese mother with 2 children and she was carrying a small child who was asleep and her relative also carried a smaller child.
As usual the Singapore officers asked the queue to double up as the queue had reached the end of the waiting hall.
The young mother was about 6 turns from the Immigration checking when 2 Indian young adults asked her to go ahead of them.
SYABAS to these young adults for being kind souls. It shows that ordinary Malaysians are capable of seeing beyond race and acting with a good heart.
Unfortunately the act of kindness was not repeated further up the queue and they still had to wait in line.
I suggest to Singapore Immigration and others that it would be good if the very old (say 65+), the infirm and those with babes in arms be provided a special line where they are allowed to go straight to the end of a single queue(for others) to get some priority treatment.
If you think carrying a child is not your problem to solve, just try carrying say 8kg sack for about 25minutes.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

malaysiakini on an INDEPENDENT ACA?

I thought that the newspapers reported a few months ago that the ACA would become independent and not depend on the AG's office to bring charges on anyone.
So this malaysiakini article reporting that ACA completes probe on Lingam tape, AG to decide next suggests that the ACA is not really independent as they are not taking the final decision as to whether to press charges or not.
Already so many cases have been buried in the AG's office that many Malaysians perceive that the AG's office is one where only political opponents are entertained.
BTW what has happened to Anwar's case against the AG for allegedly fabricating evidence when he was the DPP?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

malaysiakini and BLAMING the IPPs

No one likes to accept responsibility for any problems even if they themselves are a major part of the problem.
So this article in malaysiakini asking long-suffering consumers to Don't blame IPPs for energy woes: group is quite pathetic.
Part of the blame lies with the government that gave such sweet-heart deals to the IPPs that some of them like YTL Power can make margins like 50% operating margin and net profit margin of 24%.
(Based on the Star's business section)
I think what should happen with the IPPs is that their AGREEMENTS(under OSA) should be made public so we can have a proper debate of how to put matters right.
To be fair to such companies, I believe if they make 10 to 15% consistently net profit no one is going to complain.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

malaysiakini - Which PLANET are YOU LIVING ON?

People who read malaysiakini must be getting really confused.
Some people claim Recession is HERE, measures needed now but only recently our PM proclaimed Economy expected to grow 5.5% in 2008.
Then there was Najib claiming that the crime situation in Malaysia is comparable to HongKong and Japan - I wonder if any special agents over there also double as hit men?
After the heated debates over yoga, the Cabinet now wants to up the ante with this ridiculous enforcement of banning the airing of clean laundry - maybe the government has too much "dirty laundry" hidden and now also want ordinary folks to hide their laundry.
I guess in another 20 years we will have a new generation of males who will become asexual - I mean they would have missed all those black and red undergarments that form an important part of sex education.
But seriously, do you think some crony has cornered the market for clothes dryers in Malaysia?
Ahh.. Malaysia, TRULY Absurd!

Photo:thanks to http://k43.pbase.com/g6/55/736955/2/72083592.1nclXmdq.jpg

malaysiakini and the NUDE THREAT?

Nude squad to stalk S'gor MB over rent hike as a protest against the Selangor government's decision to raise public housing rental from about RM125 per month to RM250.
I believe these rentals were fixed many years ago and the present rent does not reflect market rates.
These flats and low-cost units have to be maintained and I think the mistake of the government is that the agreement did not include rental review at a regular interval.
While the cheap rental is to help those who are considered poor, one would be surprised to look at some of the assets that tenants own.
It is not uncommon for some tenants to make good in business and own a few cars.

There should be a clearer policy guideline on those who qualify for subsidised public housing - these include:

1.A means test to check family income.
2.A repeat of the means test after 5 years to replace those who have become successful.
3.A definite rental increase every 3 or 4 years by 5% or the CPI whichever is lower.

It is ironic that many such tenants operate food business and they have no qualms to up their prices by 25 to 30%.
I suggest the MB should not be upset at the suggested threat but take it all in with a hearty guffaw - after all they are going to be totally disarmed.

malaysiakini on the SICK Hospital of KK

In Malaysia it is part of our building tradition that hospitals need to experience some "sickness" before it can be used to treat sick patients. Maybe it is a new building code so that the building will create a more sympathetic atmosphere for the visiting sick.
Remember the spanking new Sultan Ismail Hospital of Johor Bahru that is still infected with fungal growth?
Now this is an older story as described in this malaysiakini article there is Growing opposition to demolition of KK's general hospital . I wonder if soneone already has an eye to capture this valuable piece of real estate?
Perhaps the opposition is about who has managed to secure the site and the others are envious as it is probably way below the market value.
The NST has a different story on the same hospital. It seems that Sea sand the cause of 'sick' tower . This means that the Ministry was cheated by the company that built the hospital and I suggest that the government should sue the civil engineer and the contractor. It does not matter if the person responsible has died - if it was built by a company, the latter can be held liable.
For a start, the NST report should have disclosed the names of the civil engineer and the company that built the hospital.

malaysiakini on KETUANAN MELAYU and the ISA

There are two important issues that adversely affect all Malaysians as described in these malaysiakini articles:
DPM: Use BN channels to resolve Ketuanan Melayu issue and
MCA backs Kayveas on amend ISA call
Now we all can imagine what happens at BN channels where both MCA and PPP will be told to shut up or they can leave the BN; just as what happened at the PPP Congress just a few months back when Ali Rustam pointedly told PPP to leave the BN - they should have expelled him from that meeting and left the BN then.
I believe that these 2 issues are not just BN concerns but involve all Malaysians and suggest we would all benefit from a public debate similar to the one held between a Minister and Anwar on fuel prices.
Such debates will improve the public speaking skills of all MPs and those who participate should be allowed to choose which side they want to represent without party consideration.
The 2 topics are:
1.Should the ISA be abolished or amended?
2.Is Ketuanan Melayu provided for in the Federal Constitution?

Secret meetings are not really healthy and such topics should be discussed more openly.

Monday, December 1, 2008

malaysiakini on the MORE FUNDAMENTAL CAUSE of NATIONAL DISUNITY?

It is good that some UMNO leaders are considering the causes of the divisiveness that are present in society and many older citizens lament the fact that today after more than 50 years of nation-building, our children do not mingle and interact as freely as say 30 years ago.
It is possible that having schools that cater to different (and separate) races contributes to separate development and therefore lost opportunities to build more cohesive ties.
So this proposal in malaysiakini by Mukhriz: Close down vernacular schools certainly attracts attention especially during the UMNO polls.
To me the more fundamental cause of national disunity is the operation of race-based political parties and I suggest that instead of merely singling out vernacular schools that reflect race-based political realities, political leaders should work out ways to permanently replace racist parties.

malaysiakini on MALAYSIA being a BIZARRE NATION

malaysiakini has this article headed When it comes to news of the bizarre, Malaysia boleh.
At least they did not use the word "queer" or that would have sent the religious scholars scurrying to their books.
Maybe those PEMPENA offices that are riddled with scandals can make use of this article to truly promote Malaysia as a nation of many attractions.
Don't just promote family holidays as I think there is a market for those interested in Bolehland attractions such as the following:

1.JB's infamous Crooked Bridge
2.KL's Ring Road should interest hundreds of civil engineers.
3.Bakun Dam for ecologists.
4.Kamunting for those thousands of civil rights activists.
5.Those 24-hour eating outlets would interest those organising eating contests.
6.Private hospitals nearby that can treat your heart attack after an eating marathon.
7.Law students who want to research on how a Judicial System can be compromised.

Any others you want to add?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

malaysiakini and the TERROR ATTACK in INDIA

The terror attack in India is a major tragedy for all peace-loving nations but the Indian government has shown what it is to be a responsible authority.
According to this malaysiakini article Indian home minister quits over terror attack .
In Malaysia we have had so many scandals over faulty contruction, project failures and abuse of the ISA and thus far no minister has quit as a matter of honour or to preserve the Prime Minister's integrity as with so many scandals, the entire Cabinet becomes tarnished over time.
In fact we can even re-cycle leaders with major flaws.
BTW if you have not taken the green poll on the left, please take a minute and do so.

malaysiakini and IMMUNITY for the ROYALTY

At one time many years ago, the exploits of the royalty were not so royal and many were able to get away with misdeeds that need no repeating.
TDM made an important change to the laws and today only the Sultans and the Agong cannot be sued or charged.
In a constitutional monarchy, where members of the royalty do mix with ordinary citizens to socialise and do business it is important for a uniform set of rules to apply or there can be chaos.
I am sure you would have read that members of the royal family are fined regularly for speeding.
So this article in malaysiakini is a little surprising Pakatan willing to 'return royal immunity' .
Unlike the UK where there is only one royal family, we have many different royal families.
I think the present law is appropriate. No Ruler should be charged in connection with the discharge of his official duties.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

malaysiakini on Malaysia's ECONOMIC PROSPECTS....

Six months ago, no one would have predicted that important companies like Lehman Brothers(now defunct) and CitiBank would have been so adversely impacted by the sub-prime problems that has seen roughly 40% of value wiped out from equity markets.
Even today, CitiBank is negotiating with the authorities for more support.
So most Malaysians may be puzzled by the repeated pronouncements from Bank Negara that Malaysia will be only slightly affected as described in this malaysiakini article that Malaysia to escape recession: Bank Negara.
We know that Malaysia is a major exporter of goods like oil, palm oil and manufactured goods especially in electronic components and electrical goods. We know that oil and palm oil prices are depressed and in Penang they predict that Unemployment rates to soar after March.
If thousands are laid off, how can consumer demand be strong? Some folks may not even have enough to feed their families.
Unfortunatey in our Parliament we still have MPs who behave in an uncouth fashion instead of asking our Finance Minister some important questions.

Friday, November 28, 2008

malaysiakini on MORE GOVERNMENT WASTAGES

The Malaysian government behaves as if it has a Treasury that is unlimited and even the global financial crisis sees it in a extravagent mood.
Firstly, according to this malaysiakini article, those over-generous IPP concessions that cost RM8 bil in excess capacity.
Now we have reserve capacity of 40% instead of a more reasonable 20 to 25% and TNB has to pay the IPPs. If IPPs install capacity in excess of their allowance, they should not be compensated and perhaps MPs should demand the IPP agreements be disclosed for a public debate.
The other aspect of government excesses as described in this NST article is that now more than 40,000 civil servants are being given the option to receive their pension .
I wonder if this is the result of the poor response to reduced EPF deductions to encourage more consumer spending?
If 40,000 people do not have to put away say RM100 monthly EPF on average, that means RM4000000 monthly will boost spending.
Of course taxpayers will bear the brunt of this generosity in the long term as already our cost of civil servants is spiralling with no sight of any control.
Just to compare with Singapore, top civil servants have to take a pay cut of about 15% next year.
In Malaysia, the problem is worsened with high pension costs and escalating medical claims. So far there are no studies done on derivative pensions caused by multiple families that can span more than 50 years.
For medical bills, I suggest all retirees be entitled to just 2 categories - third class and second class for officers. Civil servants should be encouraged to buy health insurance if they want better benefits.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

malaysiakini on MPs' ERRANT WAYS

I wonder when will our Speaker and Deputy Speaker learn to rein in MPs of both sides so that we have develop a better Parliament?
Opposition MPs are usually dealt with swiftly but when it comes to BN recalcitrant MPs, the Parliamentary Speakers just act dumb.
Is the pay and perks so lucrative they are afraid to act as a fair referee?
This malaysiakini article on MP reveals Tajuddin's 'sexual innuendos'

Meanwhile the numbers given by another Minister appears to warrant further explanation and maybe it is another case like Nazri's where the Minister is not giving the full story.
According to the NST (yesterday), they used RM9.7m for trips abroad and the table shown was derived from the numbers given yesterday but in the latest article, some numbers are missing.
If you analyse the numbers, I wonder where did the 503 officers go for their training as the amount spent per trip is just too low - maybe they attended an overnight trip to Thailand?

malaysiakini and the CONFUSING STATE of FATWAS....

Most people will understand that mixing politics and religion will create a heady cocktail and the recent furore over the practice of yoga by Muslims is a case in point.
First we have the National Fatwa Council(NFC) coming out with the proclamation that yoga is haram for Muslims.
Fortunately many Muslims in Malaysia can think clearly and this letter in malaysiakini shows that critical thinking is not lacking in Malaysia.
Fatwa must not result in confusion, injustice strongly suggests that fatwas are "to enlighten and educate the public so Muslims can arrange their affairs in accordance with Islamic teachings".

The letter also suggests that "a voluntary and optional concept throughout the history of Islam and in the current practice of other Muslim countries has been turned into an instrument of law and coercion in Malaysia".

In other words, it seems fatwas can be used in Malaysia as a form of oppression and easily manipulated for political reasons. It also makes it easier for men to control women for men have more authority in such bodies.

If Muslims are confused, the rest of the population must be wondering why they pay taxes to support such a confusing state of affairs. In other words, such unnecessary and unjustifiable expenses on enforcement would be better spent on better education and recovery programs like single mothers etc.

For a start, the NFC should not have issued such a proclamation unless it had already been approved by the Council of Rulers. Only then do we accord the Rulers with due respect as the protector of the religion.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

malaysiakini and the PALM OIL Barons

This malaysiakini article Palm oil farmers hit hard by price decline and the report in the Star should be read before we can evaluate the problems in the palm oil industry.
In the malaysiakini article, it is reported that farmers prefer to let the ripe fruit rot on the trees and this appears to be such a waste unless it is the millers who do not want to buy unless at steep discounts.
In the Star article, there is a United call for government help from the major plantation groups.
These companies are requesting that TNB burn their bio-diesel so that demand for palm oil is maintained. We know that TNB is already suffering from the lop-sided IPPs that benefitted BN cronies and taxing consumers more.
It reminds me of the comment made during the USA hearings on the Auto Big 3's request for US$billions to save the auto industry. One congressman said,
"It did not help their case when each of the CEOs flew to Washington in their executive jets."
Plantation companies have been reaping record profits in recent years and ironically on the same day, the Star published KL-Kepong's latest annual reports that showed significant increase in profits.
As a very minor stakeholder in Batu Kawan, I am glad to see the latest report but I feel these big companies should provision for bumper years as well as lean years.
For those small-holders, they should be encouraged to form co-ops so that they can achieve better economies of scale or perhaps FELDA or other large group can purchase the crops instead of wasting the fruits.
I am sure the fruits should be worth more then the cost of harvesting that is done by mostly foreign workers. Maybe all the details of this problem have not been discovered.

Photo: thanks to malaysiakini

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

"TOUGH" is Not the WORD but "IMPOSSIBLE"

The future PM of Malaysia is quoted in this malaysiakini article Najib says 'tough' challenge awaits him as he intends to win back the 2/3 majority that will enable the government to ride roughshod over all the voters as happened in the past.
Perhaps he is suffering from acute jet-lag but he should realise that ARB's press conference did not answer any doubts about that murder case. Even if the world is not undergoing the present turmoil, he would suffer from a lack of credibility from many Malaysians.
Given the extreme turmoil caused by the global meltdown, he wants Malaysians to accept past standards of accountability?
Let's face it - the world is undergoing a major transition with the USA losing a lot of its financial and political clout that will surely decline over the next 20 years. The Americans have been living beyong their means for umpteen years and now the day of reckoning is nigh.
In a similar fashion, Malaysia too has been too indulgent with the NEP that has sucked the nation dry for more than 35 years with only temporary results.
So I think the going will not be tough but impossible unless he is willing to make drastic changes.

MISDEEDS of a MINISTER - Parliamentary PRANKS

Our Parliament has all the markings of a third world country; especially when the little Napoleons who run the show are so biased in favour of the government that they cannot make any decision that go against BN MPs.
This article in malaysiakini Nazri escapes privileges committee relates how the Minister got away from being investigated for misleading the House with his claim that the judges were not sacked but asked to retire earlier.
The least he should have done was to apologise to the House for his misinformation unless he actually wanted to mislead the MPs.
Given the manner in which things operate in Malaysia, I think it is possible he was not given all the facts.
However, knowing that the Deputy Speaker was not going to decide against him, he proceeded to bait the Opposition MP who was suspended for 2 days.

malaysiakini and the YOGA Fatwa....FAIR COMMENTS?

Religion is always a sensitive subject in Malaysia and part of the reason is that non-Muslims are always not encouraged to discuss religious matters as far as Islam is concerned.
This malaysiakini article Yoga ban: 'Let Muslims deal with it' shows the range of comments.
Government policy too has not helped much in the inter-religious dialogue although at the grass-roots level there is better communications among the various religious groups.
It is impossible for non-Muslims not to be engaged in religious topics especially when certain aspects of Islam can also impact them as the undiscovered conversion of family members until death and the unpleasant practice of body-snatching for burial.
Besides non-Muslims pay most of the taxes to the government so I believe fair comment on religious issues is justified.
The other important issue is that of justice and human rights. The Jews were almost exterminated during WW2 as most of the locals were unwilling to help them.
If fair-minded people simply ignore injustices that do not affect them directly and keep their heads buried in the sand, they are ignoring their most basic human character - that of using their Allah-given ability to think critically.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Did Irene Really WIN?

malaysiakini has the article Irene Fernandez acquitted and if one looks at the details, her case has been going on for 13 years.
For the AG's office, that means a little for it is funded by taxpayers and that means public monies has been wasted on a case that they botched up years ago.
For the individual like Irene, her human rights have been encroached upon for she was charged with publishing false news about the torture of migrants under detention.
Just imagine the time wasted with all the time in court and even the control of her passport.
I hope the following will happen after her acquittal:

1.She sues for damages.
2.Those responsible for the botch-up like losing files are brought to account.

We can also be thankful that we do have some good judges left and we must ensure we protect them from the Executive so that the dark days of the Judiciary will not be repeated.

malaysiakini and the BAN on the OLYMPICS?

OK this is stretching things a little but if we use the same reasoning as the ban on YOGA as described in this malaysiakini article Fatwa Council under fire for banning yoga, then participation in the Olympics Games also becomes unacceptable.
If you read about the origin of the Ancient Olympics Games it included offerings and also competing in the nude. I recently attended an Olympics Games Exhibition in HongKong and the exhibits showed how the games were organised.
Does anyone know if Malaysia's most famous dancer Ramli Ibrahim was hauled up for performing and promoting classical Indian dance?
As a non-Muslim this fatwa appears to be encroaching on human rights and a more progressive stance would have been to advise yoga practitoners that using chants and mantras that are non-Islamic are not permitted.
Surely a mantra like "Allah is great" or similar is a good practice?

malaysiakini and WHY Missing PI Not CHARGED?

Many Malaysians believe we are a nation that practises double and maybe triple standards.
These are for ordinary folks, connected folks and the Untouchables. I leave the reader to decide which category you fall under.

According to this malaysiakini article Syed Hamid: 'Missing' PI may be extradited to answer his alleged crime of making a false Statutory Declaration. This guy made one SD stating certain facts and then within 24 hours made another SD refuting his first SD 100%. Either way, he has made one untrue SD and that makes him liable for an offence.

The Home Minister earlier disclosed that the cops interviewed him in Bangkok a few months ago and no reason was given why he was not brought back to Malaysia. Is the PI being given protection under a sort of witness protection action?
It's better for the Home Minister to explain to taxpayers why rather than worry about the "bloggers code". Maybe starting with a Minister's code would be more beneficial for taxpayers.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

malaysiakini and the AD HOC Government of MALAYSIA

This malaysiakini article Floating mechanism to manage fuel prices shows the the authorities really think only on a short term basis even though the ruling party has been in control for so many years.

The problem this time is that oil prices are now half of what the price was when the government made the drastic 60% fuel price hike in March 2008 when the oil price was about US$140 a barrel and doomsayers were saying that oil could easily reach US$200.
Most Malaysians now perceive that the government is now using low oil prices to profit out of long-suffering motorists who think a fair fuel price should be around RM1.50 a liter.

To me the major strategic mistake of the government was to actively promote 2 national car projects and try to emulate the American way of promoting car ownership instead of developing good public transport systems.
One the car projects were in place, it became a most convenient way to enrich cronies who were given undisclosed toll concessions that really became an easy way to get rich quick as most tolls were underwritten with compensation clauses.

So this floating rate mechanism is just another ploy by the government to keep the affairs of PETRONAS ultra-secret. For all you know, it may be the means to help PETRONAS tide over a difficult period of low oil prices.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

malaysiakini and the WANITA Fallout - Good for the Women

Let's hope the women leaders will show the guys a little more style and finesse in how leadership disputes should be settled.
I think Najib wanted to stay out of this one but now he too has to give some advice as indicated in this malaysiakini article Najib: Close ranks after elections.
Rafidah,the minister in charge of the controversial APs and shares allocations was allowed to let her connections prosper under TDM, was dumped by AAB after she lost her seat in the March political tsunami.
Even Shahrizat lost her seat so both women are not even MPs.
After so many years in power and having been rejected by the voters it is a mystery that Rafidah wants to contest so that she can do the "leadership transition" in June 2009 just 3 months after getting elected.
To me her leadership of Wanita effectively ended in the March elections and she should have retired from politics then. Now she wants to get reelected but what is her intention?
WANITA UMNO is not her personal fiefdom and the grassroots should demonstrate how they expect their leaders to lead.
Just like UMNO needs the injection of fresh ideas to remain relevant, the Wanita too need more democratic practices and having a leadership contest is a vital part of this development.

Friday, November 21, 2008

malaysiakini FILM FOCUS on the POLICE....

This malaysiakini article Lawyer: Police shouldn't have edited footage shows how urgently the government in authority should implement the IPCMC so that the PDRM will act with more honor and integity.
Apparently a malaysiakini reporter's video-camera was confiscated and retained for some days and when the video-camera was returned, the film of the candle-lit vigil had been tampered with.
If that is the case, the police can be considered to be tampering with evidence and the defence lawyers can definitely make a case of the police destroying evidence that could the help the case of the peaceful Malaysians.
It is time the government proves it deserves the support of all Malaysians.

malaysiakini and OIL PRICES - the DISINGENUOUS Argument of the MINISTER

This malaysiakini article Gov't should profit from low fuel prices, says Shahrir shows how the government is struggling to come to terms with declining oil prices.
I am sure most Malaysians understand that there are many processes involved in converting a barrel of crude oil into the different grades of fuel and by-products.
But once the basic material cost drops it is expected that the final products costs should all drop if all the middle-men operate on a fixed margin that is not based on percentage cost.
We also know that the government imposes taxes on oil products like fuel and we can understand that the government needs to raise funds for its operating and development budgets.
The cost of government in Malaysia has become too large and shows no sign of reduction; especially with the ever-increasing manpower numbers.
I suggest that fuel prices should be reduced to about RM1.80 and the Minister should create a special fund for the "excess fuel profit" to improve public transport in the major cities.
But have a good debate in Parliament where the pricing mechanism is disclosed; how the government budget has been adversely reduced and how much "extra taxes" are being paid by motorists now.

WARNING. I believe there are 2 major issues that the government must properly tackle if it is not to lose the next GE. These are the ISA and accounting for the fuel taxes.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

malaysiakini and Abdul Razak's WILD CLAIMS....

Of course the judge dismissed the charge against him and the AG's office decided not to appeal. To most Malaysians the manner in which the cases against the 3 accused did not seem right.
To me the most unusual fact is that the immigration records of Altantuuya and her friends were erased and the prosecution did even attempt to uncover why and how this was done.
So the article in malaysiakini that Abdul Razak: Najib not involved really carries little credibility.
This guy cheated on his wife and to me whatever he says carries little credibility.
Besides how can anyone guarantee that someone is not responsible for any crime unless you are pretty sure who committed the foul deed?
And the only way you can be sure is you did it yourself.

Graphics: thanks to http://static.howstuffworks.com/gif/dynamite-sam.jpg

malaysiakini on the TOLLS Discount - FULL DISCLOSURE Better

The reaction of Malaysians to the toll discount as described in this malaysiakini article Longer toll discount hours requested shows that most Malaysians are thinking more critically now as some consider the midnight discount to be more unsafe for driving.
The hours between 12midnight and 2am are the most dangerous as that is the time that most people experience "deep sleep". Unless you work on a 12hour shift and adjusted to being awake those hours, driving on the highway during those hours is not recommended.
If you want to feel what it's like, just try to stay awake for those 2:30am Champion Leagues football matches or go to bed at 11pm and try to wake up at 2am.
You may save a few ringgit on tolls but a car accident may cost thousands if not your life.
It is better if the government discloses all those toll agreements and let the public study if they have been taken for a ride.
The government should also disclose all the tenders(?) received for the Waste Disposal plan that is being opposed by a few states.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

malaysiakini on the WANITA UMNO Transition

I think it will be good for Wanita UMNO if there is a challenge for the top post as indicated by this malaysiakini article Shahrizat plans to take on Rafidah as any leader worth his or her salt must be prepared to face leadership challenges.
Otherwise Shahrizat will always be known as the leader who chickened out of party elections.

After all Rafidah has declared she will step down in June 2008. If the leadership is then passed to Sharizat ala UMNO, Sharizat really has not received her mandate from the members and will be susceptible to challenge.
Those who want to lead political parties are too squeamish to battle it out via their polls, they should avoid politics.

malaysiakini and the PETROL FAIRY TALES?

In a way it is good that we had the petrol shock price increase in March 2008. Fuel prices were relatively stable until the government panicked and made the most dramatic price increase that has increased inflation by at least 20% for ordinary folks.

There is a good letter in malaysiakini on how the government wants to "eat its cake and have it too".
The letter Petrol price reductions: Don't con the rakyat.
Of course the Consumer Affairs Minister now tries to claim that Shahrir: No need for petrol subsidies.
I am sure most ordinary folks believe that indeed there is now no subsidy provided by the government. At today's oil prices of about US$60 a barrel, it is the consumer who is subsiding the government and PETRONAS is now extracting profits from taxpayers.

PETRONAS should be ordered to publish it full accounts so that all Malaysians can better understand the oil dynamics better.

Monday, November 17, 2008

malaysiakini on Hell Hath NO FURY Like a WOMAN Scorned....

malaysiakini has this telling story on Axed UM VC says its because she's a woman.
The article quotes her:
‘Just because we are women and we don’t have that thing between the legs so we are not good,’ says Rafiah Salim over her contract's non-renewal.

I think the university authorities owes everyone a proper explanation on why this lady thinks she has been victimised. Did I say "lady"?

We should hope that the authorities decide on the basis of what is between the ears and not other parts of the anatomy. As she was on contract terms that she accepted, surely it is up to the ministry to extend (or not)the contract if she was doing a good job.

malaysiakini and UMNO's FAILED Policies

UMNO has been the main political power in Malaysia since 1957 and if we consider the failure to achieve the noble objectives of the NEP, no one should have any doubt that UMNO has failed ALL Malaysians.
The reason is not hard to find - NEP objectives have been cleverly disguised so that UMNO cronies reap the cream of mega-contracts while some goodies trickle down to the other citizens who are "brainwashed" that the NEP is doing them good and should continue for the next 50 years or more.
This article in malaysiakini 'Umno must steer gov't policies' is hardly surprising. You cannot kill the goose that lays the golden eggs, can you?

Malaysians have been sleeping for 50 plus years - it is time we all woke up and take a long hard look at what is happening in the nation.

Graphics: Thanks to http://cn1.kaboodle.com/hi/img/2/0/0/a4/0/AAAAAuK5LHUAAAAAAKQJvQ.png?v=1196635546000

malaysiakini and ISA - POLICE a THREAT to NATIONAL SECURITY?

Give anyone too much authority and there is a danger of gross abuse of power.
According to this malaysiakini article Peaceful anti-ISA protest in PJ a police permit was granted for the gathering in PJ but if you read some of the conditions, it is patently absurd for the police to require some conditions to be met.

I wonder if they were told to put in such conditions like:
1.No candles allowed
2.No anti-ISA T-shirts and banners allowed.

This is what happens when the BN leadership caved in when the PDRM objected to the IPCMC and now they are behaving like legalised gangsters for their BN political masters.
This government has lost the moral authority to govern anymore.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

malaysiakini and a NO-BRAINER Inquiry

Just 2 words are necessary to determine the findings of any unbiased inquiry into why many Malaysians are not interested in working for the government : KETUANAN or MERITOCRACY.
According to this malaysiakini article Why the disinterest in civil service? the EPU will conduct an official inquiry into why the problem exists.

To me it should be a no-brainer and probably the EPU is not the best organisation to do the study. I am sure there are NGOs who can produce a more independent audit of government recruitment and promotion policies.

It is no secret that many senior non-Malays were consistently bypassed for promotions in the 80s onwards and the very few who remained were too senior to move elsewhere or they became comfortable on the job.
The many protests about the woman who was appointed the PKNS GM speaks volumes of the attitude of the PKNS staff.

Unless the government is serious about transparency in the following employment factors, this so-called inquiry is a real waste of time:

1.Recruiting policy and intakes.
2.Training opportunities.
3.Promotion prospects.
4.Non-interference by "big shots"
5.Fairness and consistency in practices.

To me any government that wants to control the civil service performance and provide a good service to taxpayers should create a more balanced work force that is highly motivated.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

malaysiakini and the NO APPEAL Decision....

I think most Malaysians are surprised that the AG's office has decided not to appeal against the judge's decision to throw out the case against ARB for the alleged murder of Altuntuuya.
According to this malaysiakini article No appeal against Abdul Razak's acquittalthe DPP claims that the 'Court made a finding of fact'. The judge may be wise but he is not infallible. Is the DPP saying that he blew the case against ARB?
That seems to be the easy way out but now we have 2 masked cops who do not have a motive to kill an unknown foreign woman; let alone blow her to bits.
It seems that it is not only the police who plant incriminating evidence as seen in the decision of the Federal Court to enable the HK resident escapes gallowsbut some DPPs do not take their jobs seriously.
Maybe I should rephrase that - some DPPs really take their duties seriously as they seem to act based on political considerations. Truly we have serious problems not only with some judges and some policemen - the ENTIRE administration of justice stinks from rot.

Friday, November 14, 2008

malaysiakini and the POLICE. A Question of ARROGANCE or INCOMPETENCE?

The police are being questioned about their heavy-handed tactics against peaceful Malaysians and I just wonder if they are being arrogant or plain incompetent.
Just take the arrest of Ronnie Liu, the Selangor state Exco - this response from a malaysiakini reader says it all VoxPop: Why 8 cops to arrest Ronnie Liu?.
What a waste of police resources!
They could have saved all that manpower by just using the phone and ordering him to turn up at the police station - maybe the price of petrol has become so cheap now they can afford to send 8 cops for a joy-ride. Of course if he refuses, then by all means issue an arrest warrant.

Wait a minute! This guy is a powerful politician and even the Home Minister remarked earlier that the cops were afraid to man a police beat in the notorious Chow Kit Road area as they could contact some dangerous disease from the transvestites.
Of course after realising that was a most unbecoming statement to make for the bravado of our cops who operate outside the IPCMC, a better excuse has been given.
I really wonder if the Director of Public Relations in the PDRM is having sleepness nights? The way the police are acting is truly atrocious.
Maybe that explains the spike in the crime scene - the public now refuse to coperate with the law enforcers.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

malaysiakini and When the TRUTH is CONCEALED


This article in malaysiakini shows what happens when the truth is concealed and how embarrassing it is for a Minister to admit he did not know the full details as theKing wanted pension for sacked judges.
So the "sacked" judges were given their pensions on "grounds of compassion".
Or perhaps the authorities wanted the judges to be quiet and not seek legal redress and with a pension, they decided to call it quits.
Unless there is another official inquiry into the Dark Days of the Judiciary in 1988, this sorry episode remains another skeleton in the BN cabinet of infamy.
One other aspect about this case that puzzles me is the law on pensions.
According to what TDM mentioned in his statement that questioned the RM5mil ex-gratia paid to the former Chief Justice, he states that the guy enjoys 3 pensions - 2from his service in the Judiciary and 1 from being a state exco.
Now we all know that government maintenance costs are escalating with more and more civil servants pushing up salary and pension costs.
At one time, they wanted to put new civil servants on the EPF scheme but chickened out when CUEPACS objected; just like how the police object to the IPCMC.
It would be quite a revelation to find out the actual pension costs in terms of those enjoying multiple pensions.
I am not worried about those who get pensions of RM5000 or less and many struggle with only RM1000 per month.To cut this financial burden of pensions, I would suggest pension reforms like:

1.only one pension of one's choice qualifies as a tax-free payment.
2.other pensions are not tax-free and need to submit to income tax department.
3.studying the cost of extra wives on the pension budget life-span.

I had written earlier on the growth in government spending The GOVERNMENT is Not "FAT and UNWIELDY" - It is OBESE!

Graphics: thanks to malaysiakini.

malaysiakini and RACE Politics - Only Some Malaysians are NOT PREPARED

Further to the recent article in malaysiakini where the former PM expounds that racist parties are still relevant, my thinking is that UMNO with its supremacist policy of Ketuanan whatever they conceive it to be has made the Bumiputras to become complacent and acquiescent; willing to listen and follow leaders who may not have their best interests at heart.
Let's face the inconvenient truth - the NEP has been used to brainwash Bumis into becoming unwilling to compete as they think the government will provide them with the good life.
But just take a good look around and you will notice that perhaps out of every RM100 that is spent by the government on so-called development projects, the benefits follow an unstable pyramid somewhat like:

35% go to the top 10% political elites and cronies
25% go to the people having to manage the projects
40% trickle down to the people actually doing the work

That possibly explains why so many projects like the infamous Hospital Sultan Ismail are still having fungus problems.
So when we have 2 PMs claiming that non-Malays too can become the Prime Minister of Malaysia, they must be high on some substance like NEPbu.
Neither has spoken up in support of the Chinese who was appointed GM of Selangor PKNS. So the question that they should be asked is:
"Instead of postulating that Malaysians still want racist parties, would YOU agree to have a non-Malay to become the PM? If NO, why not?"

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

malaysiakini and RACIST Parties

According to this malaysiakini article Mahathir: Race-based politics still relevant the former PM takes the view that Malaysians still want race-based parties.

As someone who was in control of the nation during many dubious distinctions like

1.the rape of the Judiciary
2.the spread of the Ketuanan concept that has seen Malaysia lose its competitive edge
3.the decline of the local universities
4.the cult of personality and not good policies
5.the piratisation of the economy

all under the BN regime that has mainly race based parties in its fold.
Of course one does not expect the former PM to promote parties based on principles like accountability and integrity as money politics started in his time and he did little to curb it.

But the March election results has dealt a serious blow to race-based parties and it is up to us and not the former PM to ensure they get buried in the next elections.
For a start all those who have not registered to vote need to do your part and make sure your vote counts.

malaysiakini and Sending More MPS to TAIWAN

malaysiakini had a few articles on the trip to Taiwan by a busload of BN MPs all at taxpayers' expense but so far we have not heard anything on how the nation has benefitted and what projects have been secured to boost local agriculture.
Maybe it was the first time that some MPs learned that chickens came with feathers etc unlike what you can see on the supermarket shelves.
Now is a good time to send half a dozen more MPs, maybe opposition ones to learn how their justice system operates.
According to this article from the Star Taiwan ex-president formally arrested in probe. That shows their justice system has the authority to bring even the most powerful politicians to account for corruption.
In Malaysia? Well the ACA is really too busy checking out 900 odd cases of money politics and so far we only hear talk. As for the VVIP cases, I reckon they are praying for God to strike the corrupted with a bolt of lightning.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

malaysiakini and the PM's Chickening OUT

According to this malaysiakini article, Zaid Ibrahim wants the PM ticked off for buckling to pressure .
You see the PM had agreed that the amount paid to the "sacked" judges would not be disclosed as a way of giving them a little more dignity.
Now that the amount has been disclosed and even the former PM has come out with a definitive statement that indeed they were "sacked" but that the pension was not denied on humanitarian grounds, I believe this matter regarding the judges should be officially examined using a public inquiry.
Many Malaysians still have the perception that the damage inflicted on the Judiciary has still not been rectified and we must put this right.
Unless all aspects of events of 1988 are thoroughly examined, I am sure those judges will not be at peace with themselves and the treatment they received.