Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Eyeing my foreword message to the China Aid Alumni Association Malaysia Magazine

First of all let me take this opportunity in congratulating the committee members of the China Aid Alumni Association Malaysia for their inaugural publication of the CAAAM Magazine. It is indeed a very constructive and paramount effort in enhancing and distributing information amongst the alumni members and related stakeholders. Under the advice and guidance of the Economic and Commercial office of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Malaysia, I am very confident that this magazine will be able to be successful and meet its objectives.

The new Central Leadership of the Communist Party of China with Xi Jinping as the General Secretary and President of the PRC has led the Party and the people of China in confronting the problems and challenges they face, to drive reform and opening up to a deeper level, to modernize the national governance system, and to marshal their enormous strength behind the Chinese Dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese Nation.

China is attracting growing attention worldwide. The world wants to know what changes are in progress in China and what impact they will have on the rest of the world. This magazine through the contribution of Alumni members who will have direct excess and experience in China can contribute to better understand in their own words the thoughts, views and direction of the CPC Central Committee and the President.

This magazine will definitely be very useful in responding to the rising international interest and to enhance the rest of the world’s understanding of the Chinese Government’s philosophy and its domestic and foreign policies.

We are very confident and positive that the Chinese Dream will benefit not only the people of China but also of other countries. The One Belt One Road initiative will not only bring prosperity to China but also along the 21st century maritime silk route. To achieve this goal we will need to share accurate information. We need to build the trust and good neighborly ties. Trust is the very foundation of both interpersonal and state to state relations. This magazine indeed will be one of the building blocks in disseminating the real, true and accurate information in creating and building the trust.

Sincerely yours,
Professor Datuk (Dr.) Naim Mohamad

Advisor China Aid Alumni Association Malaysia.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Eyeing the Inaugural OCBC Cycle SEA Speedway Championship 2015

Malaysia underlined their status as the dominant force in cycling in this region after they won the inaugural OCBC Cycle Speedway SEA Championship in convincing fashion yesterday.
Powered by double SEA Games gold medallist Mohamed Hariff Saleh, the Malaysians led from start to finish in a three-way final race against Singapore and Brunei at the Sports Hub.
The quartet - comprising Hariff, Mohamed Saiful Anuar Aziz, Muhamad Adiq Husainie Othman and Muhammad Fauzan Ahmad Lutfi - clocked a time of 18min 44sec, far ahead of Singapore (22:44) and Brunei (22:54) to win the 10km race.
The teams were among the first to race in a new format. Two riders of each team would tackle the first 5km, followed by the next pair.
The team's time would be clocked when the last rider crossed the finish line.
If the Malaysians were unfamiliar with the format, they certainly did not show it, as they surged to about a minute ahead of the rest of the pack by the halfway mark.
"It seems like I can always do so well and win races here," joked Hariff, whose love affair with Singapore continues after his feats at the SEA Games.
Malaysia coach Sebastian Duclos felt that the race was won by adopting the right tactics.
He said: "We made sure that all of our riders kept up with one another, opening up a big gap right from the start, and staying focused throughout the race.
"I hope they can do well not just in the region but also in Asia."
There was drama surrounding the second- and third-place finishes. Entering the home stretch, Brunei's Abdul Hadrie Morsidi had crossed the finish line narrowly ahead of Singapore's Low Ji Wen.
But Brunei were later docked a 10-second penalty for going beyond the dismount line at the changeover, thereby lifting Singapore to second spot.
"It's probably the most tactical race I'd been in.
"But it's a big change from what we are used to and it's refreshing," Low said.
The two-day OCBC Cycle event concludes today with the mass-participation races - the 42km Sportive Ride and 23km The Straits Times Ride.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Eyeing the present economic situation

Here is a broad summary:
Why the sell-off
·      While China’s growth story and plunging commodity prices may have been at the back of investors’ minds, China surprised markets in early August when it moved to devalue its yuan.
·      This fed fears that China was slowing faster than expected and triggered a vicious cycle of capital outflows.
·      The capital flight put downward pressure on emerging market (EM) currencies, resulting in weaker import demand and growth and spurring further outflows.
·      Investors are now worried that the global economy could plunge into a recession, as EM accounts for about half of global GDP.
·      This fear has caused equities to be sold off, led by EM and Asia and spreading to developed markets like the U.S., Europe and Japan.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Eyeing Shad Saleem Faruqi's reflecting on the law - Honouring Constitutional Promises

The Federal Constitution grants to Sabah and Sarawak a number of iron-clad guarantees of their autonomy and special position.
THE “Borneoisation case” of Fung Fon Chen @ Bernard v Govt (2012) is slated for rehearing on July 23. It relates to alleged violations of Sabah and Sarawak’s special position in the Federal set-up.
When Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore joined hands with Malaya to constitute Malaysia, the significantly amended Federal Constitution granted them a number of iron-clad guarantees of their autonomy and special position.
Some in the peninsula feel that 52 years after Malaysia Day the special rights and privileges must give way to more unity and uniformity on such issues as right to travel, live and work throughout the Federa­tion. Many Sabahans and Sarawa­kians, on the other hand, lament that they have been shortchanged and that there is a distinct whittling down of the privileges promised to them in 1963.
Gleaning over existing literature, a list of the main complaints may run as follows:
Political control: The Federal Government dictates political outcomes. The Federal Government’s choice of Mentris Besar and Governors does not always reflect popular sentiments in these states. The declaration of emergency in Sarawak in 1966 and the dismissal of Chief Minister Stephen Kalong Ningkan indicate that state autonomy is rather frail. Interference by Federal politicians in Sabah’s politics in 1994 led to the replacement of popularly elected local leaders.
Expanding Federal jurisdiction: Labuan was ceded to the Federal Government in 1984. Water and tourism have been federalised. Federal trespass on Sabah and Sarawak’s right in relation to amendments to the Federal Consti­tution was highlighted in the landmark decision of Robert Linggi vs Government of Malaysia (2011).
Religion: At the time of the 1963 merger, there was no state religion in these two states. Islam is now the official religion of Sabah. Articles 161C and 161D, which imposed procedural restrictions on laws favouring Islam, were repealed in 1976. The seizure of Bibles and the judicial decision on the kalimah Allah issue have angered many Sabahans and Sarawa­kians.
Finances: There is an allegation that these states do not derive the kind of financial benefit they deserve as a result of their contribution to the national coffers from petroleum, hydroelectricity and tourism.
Immigration: The influx of illegal immigrants and the alleged ‘’naturalisation’’ of thousands of them are violations of Sabah and Sarawak’s right over immigration.
Parliamentary representation: In 1963 it was envisaged that the Borneo states and Singapore shall have no less than 33% of the Dewan Rakyat seats. The percentage has now dipped to 25%.
20-Point Agreement: Within Sabah there is considerable disquiet that some of the safeguards of the ‘’20 Points’’ have not been converted to law. A prominent complaint is that Borneoisation of public services in Sabah has not proceeded vigorously. It is alleged that insufficient protection is being given under Article 153 to natives of Borneo states.
Secession: In the light of the above, a movement has sprung up asking for Sabah to secede from the Federation. Legally speaking, our Constitution contains no provision for the secession of any state from the Federation. The disintegration of the Federal union is not contemplated by the Constitution. Any attempt at separation or incitement to secede will actually amount to treason and sedition under our criminal laws.
Even the 20-Point Agreement with Sabah explicitly states in para 7 that there is no right to secession.
But what about Singapore? Contrary to what is believed by some, Singapore did not unilaterally secede from Malaysia. Its “separation” was accomplished by several mutual acts between the Malaysian Federal Government and the state Government of Singapore.
Among these were the Inde­pendence of Singapore Agreement 1965 and the Constitution and Malaysia (Singapore Amendment) Act 1965. The latter made significant modifications to the 1957 Federal Constitution and the 1965 Malaysia Act and explicitly stated, “Parliament may by this Act allow Singapore to leave Malaysia”.
Self-determination: What about international law? One has to concede that the law of nations recognises the right of a people to self-determination. The law was born in an era of decolonisation and embraces the notion that people who have a common historical, ethnic, cultural, linguistic, religious, ideological, territorial or economic identity have a right to determine the political and legal status of their territory. They may set up a new State or choose to become part of another State.
In recent memory, Crimea (2014), Timor Leste (1995) and Bangladesh (1971) travelled down the painful, blood-soaked path of national liberation.
The principle of self-determination is recognised in Articles 1(2), 55, 73 and 76(b) of the United Nations Charter and in many other international documents. However, international law scholar Abdul Ghafur Hamid asserts that the legal right of self-determination applies primarily to colonised, trust and mandated territories: “The effect of linking self-determination to decolonisation seems to deny a general right to secession of groups within a State”.
I believe that despite some ambiguity in international law, the various regions (states, cantons, provinces) of a Federation do not have a legal right to walk away from the union. A unilateral act of separation is permissible in confederations like the European Union or Asean but not in a Federation united by a written, supreme Constitution which describes the territories of the Federation.
Leaders of Sabah and Sarawak must, therefore, disassociate themselves from all separatist movements. Instead they must negotiate with the Federal Government about their discontents.
In turn, Federal leaders must recognise that Sabah and Sarawak’s restiveness is real and must be addressed. The Federal Government must return to the meticulously negotiated compromises of 1963. It must balance the concern of equity with efficiency in inter-governmental financial relations.
It must strengthen institutional me­­c­h­anisms for regular, non-partisan dialogue between the centre and the states. If the root causes of dissent and disenchantment are addressed, this Federal union can survive the challenging decades ahead.
Shad Faruqi is Emeritus Professor of Law at UiTM. The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Eyeing Datuk Wong Chun Wai's "One for all, All for One" in Education.

Education is for all, it’s time we think of the bigger picture affecting all children.
MY colleague received a press statement sent by a very high-ranking official of a government department recently. It was personally written in English by the official and sent by WhatsApp to ensure it was speedily delivered.
The only snag was that his command of the language was so horrendous that my colleague had to suggest to him, politely, that he might want to stick to Bahasa Malaysia to ensure accurate reporting on our part. He got the message. A new version was eventual­ly sent.
Then, there are also the vice-chancellors of a few public universities who face the same language problem despite having spent much time in overseas universities to pursue their post-graduate studies.
We have also met Malaysian diplomats who cannot carry out a proper conversation in flawless English and we know some of them even shy away from social functions, which is a shame as this where they can pick up nuggets of information for their intelligence reports.
A few generations, yes, a few generations, are paying the price – unable to speak and write in proper English – because of our education system.
At best, they may have some semblance of communication English, but without the proper foundations in grammar, many are unable to even string a sentence together correctly.
Because English is just a subject, there is hardly any opportunity to use and practise the language on a regular and extensive basis within the school system.
That’s how low we have sunk. Forget about the occasional use of some Latin words to make the language more refined, if not, more classy. Getting through the basics is tough enough.
It is no surprise, therefore, that they really struggle when they reach tertiary level where much of the information is in English.
And even upon graduation, many employers are reluctant to hire them when they cannot function properly in an environment where the working language is English.
Controversial MP Datuk Bung Mokhtar became the butt of every joke on social media when he introduced a hashtag ­#earthquack for his postings on the earthquake situa­tion in his home state.
Well, we also can see that some of our Chinese politicians, from both sides of the political divide, struggle with English, judging by some of the postings they make on Facebook.
Every now and then, we have reports about bad English in an English examination paper. We have more or less gotten used to the fact that the English in many of our official websites are littered with mistakes.
It doesn’t seem to bother our politicians and decision makers one bit, as they will simply shrug off calls to allow English as a medium of instruction in our education system.
Why should they be worried as many of them are able to send off their children to boarding schools overseas at a young age? After all, the only ones that would bear the consequences would be the students in the rural areas.
The Ruler of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar, recently suggested that English be made a medium of instruction – he didn’t say make English THE medium of instruction.
The reality is that English, as a medium of instruction, is already available but it is restricted only to private and international schools, mostly in urban areas.
And despite the high fees charged, more urban parents are opting to send their children to such schools because they simply want their children to be proficient in this international language.
The urban-rural divide is accentuated because while children in the rural areas are sometimes teased for using English, it is perfectly normal for English to be used at home in middle-class Malaysia.
And with greater exposure to the language, the urban children do have an edge over those in the rural areas.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. As his Royal Highness the Sultan of Johor said, these politicians are using nationalism and race to champion communal rights and the Malay language at the expense of the English language.
They are doing so to protect their interests and political positions. Unfortunately, many seem to buy into their agendas.
We must also be clear that the lack of proficiency in English cuts across all races.
Many Chinese parents send their children to Chinese schools at the primary level because they want their children to be able to speak and write basic Chinese as they eye the growing economic power of China.
Many shy away from the national schools because there is a strong perception that these schools have turned more religious in character with a single race dominant in the overall attendance.
The national schools that many of us from my generation and earlier grew up in, where English was the medium of instruction, were different as all races were well represented.
But in our current situation, many Chinese parents also find that sending their children to the Chinese primary schools does not help their children have a good command of English either.
The English proficiency of the majority of Chinese teenagers, because of their background in Chinese schools, is just as bad as their counterparts in the rural schools.
They live in the Chinese world, watching Taiwanese and Hong Kong movies, with little interest in the real world.
Their worldview is shaped pretty one-­dimensionally and because of the environment they grew up in, they are unlikely to have real friends from those of other races.
Many of us in our 50s have been lucky – we were probably the last batch of the English-medium schools where we sat for the Malaysia Certificate of Education (MCE) and the Higher School Certificate (HSC) examinations.
The English-medium schools were neutral grounds as students of all races attended such schools and the best friendships were forged there.
We had real friends from all races because we were growing up together for at least 10 years in the schools. It was not functional friendship at work, but real bonding as we studied and played together.
I feel really sorry for many Malaysian kids who do not have friends outside their own race as they are not be able to shape their thinking in a more open way.
So, when a hot issue comes up in the country, especially those involving race and religion, they are not able to see things from another perspective.
Like many, I also worry about the future of Malaysia and our children, as the performance of our schools continues to falter. Beyond our concerns over language skills, we should be even more worried about the quality of our education.
Our ranking in Science and Mathematics is already reportedly low, although our politicians question its accuracy. But the reality is that many of us are no longer surprised by such trends.
Our politicians will continue to tell us that all is well and fine in our schools, and that we have little influence to change anything. Some of us may believe that to be so.
But if we really care for the country, we should not be afraid to propose radical changes for the sake of our future generations.
Education is for all and it is totally selfish if we only think of our own interests while the majority are stuck in a system which does not empower them to reach for the stars.

Eyeing Joceline Tan's "Death of Pakatan Rakyat"

Pakatan’s ‘seven-year itch’

The Penang Government will also become shaky if DAP carries out its threat to pull out of the Selangor administration.
SELANGOR Mentri Besar Azmin Ali was in Kelantan the day DAP declared that Pakatan Rakyat had ceased to exist.
It was quite ironic because there he was, looking so cosy and chummy with his Kelantan counterpart Datuk Ahmad Yakob while there was hue and cry elsewhere over the news.
The PKR deputy president is not the sort to wear his feelings on his sleeve and he seemed unruffled even as the rest of his party was behaving as though ants had invaded their pants.
Azmin was there for the signing ceremony to build homes for those displaced by the great floods last year and he had brought along several state exco members and civil servants. Selangor will build 60 houses at a cost of RM6mil in Kuala Krai, the Ground Zero of the Kelantan floods.
Was it his way of telling everyone that ties between PKR and PAS are on track even if DAP is pulling away?
The PKR deputy president has struggled to remain calm in the days following what some have termed as the “death of Pakatan”.
The jury is still out on whether Pakatan is really dead or still alive.
The joke is that Pakatan is going through the seven-year itch. It has been seven years since the three parties came together under the Pakatan umbrella and it seems like the threesome have begun to get antsy about their significant other.
PAS election director Datuk Mustafa Ali’s tongue-in-cheek take is that the coalition haspengsan (state of unconsciousness).
PKR’s admission that the coalition still exists but can no longer function formally suggests that Pakatan is in a wheelchair – it can still roll on but cannot walk or run.
Itchy, pengsan, in a wheelchair or whatever you call it, Pakatan is in a bad place at the moment. The coalition that won 52% of the popular vote in the general election and which regained Penang and Selangor with bigger mandates has squandered its opportunities and made a mockery of the new politics that they promised.
It is broken and that is perhaps the most accurate definition at this point in time.
PKR sources said their ketua umum Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is furious that one party should decide on the status of a three-party coalition. He finds it “bloody arrogant” and has made it known to his party.
Well, he has a point there – this is a three party set-up and it needs at least two to decide.
Emotions are high and the administer for Anwar’s Chinese Facebook “Ah Hua Gor” had posted: “Thank you DAP for burying PR”.

Lee: ‘We are in uncharted waters’.
The DAP cybertroopers came down so hard on him and even put pictures of his children online that he had to apologise and take down the posting.
“The word from our topmost leadership is that there must be continued engagement even if we cannot work as a formal pact,” said PKR vice-president Shamsul Iskandar.”
DAP’s haste to issue Pakatan’s death certificate was aimed at appeasing its Chinese support base which has become very critical of PAS. It needs to distance itself from PAS or risk losing support in the next general election.
There is a very strange situation going on. PAS has severed ties with DAP and DAP is dead against PAS’ Islamic agenda but both do not want to leave. They are waiting for each other to get out.
As a result, DAP has resorted to pressuring PKR to choose between the two parties. But PKR feels that it does not have to choose because it can work with both parties.
Behind the scenes, Selangor DAP is threatening a pullout of sorts from the Selangor government if PKR does not choose.
Selangor DAP chairman Tony Pua has been the most hawkish of the lot. He has been quoted in the Chinese media demanding that Azmin choose between DAP and PAS.
Recently, Chinese media reports quoting sources from Selangor DAP claimed that if Azmin did not choose, DAP state exco members would resign after Hari Raya. The DAP had done the same thing to force Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim to resign.
The anonymous DAP leader also demanded that Azmin sack the PAS state exco members who want to ban alcohol sales in Selangor.
Softer approach
Azmin did not retaliate. Instead, he used the personal touch to reach out to DAP leaders when he met them in Parliament a few days later. He approached the MPs personally, asked for their understanding and urged them not to make such public statements.

Shamsul: ‘Continued engagement goes on'.
“The three parties in Selangor have to respect the wishes of the voters who gave them such a big mandate. People are fed-up with the politicking, we need to find a way to manage things until the term runs out. Dissolving the state assembly is an option of last resort,” said DAP’s Jelutong MP Jeff Ooi who is also a columnist in Sin Chew Daily.
However, Ooi did not rule out a “final fallout” taking place between DAP and PAS.
The blame game is still going on but the fact is that all three parties contributed to the crisis.
PKR sparked it off with the controversial Kajang Move. PAS regarded it as a disrespectful unilateral decision and refused to support Dr Wan Azizah for the Mentri Besar post.
Then PAS moved to introduce hudud law in Kelantan which erupted in a war of words with DAP. The PAS muktamar decision to severe ties with DAP was the catalyst to DAP jumping the gun to declare that Pakatan is finished.
It was a domino effect phenomenon, and it is unclear whether the last domino has fallen yet.
The perception is that PKR has the most to lose if DAP pulls out from the Selangor government.
But PKR will not take it lying down, it can also pull out from Penang and put Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s government in jeo­pardy.
In Penang, DAP has 19 out of 40 state seats, PKR has 10, PAS 1 and Umno 10. The Penang government can still survive as a single-party government but it will be a government standing on one leg.
It will be a very weak government that is unable to pass laws in the state assembly or make major decisions. It will also become a near mono-ethnic government that will be highly unstable.
And if the Selangor DAP state exco members carry out their threat to quit, PKR could do the same to Lim’s state exco in Penang. In the end, both governments could come tumbling down.

Ooi: Final fallout ahead for DAP and PAS.
“We are in uncharted waters, we need to exercise restraint. A tit-for-tat game is not good for anyone,” said former Kajang assemblyman Lee Chin Cheh.
The political chatter is that DAP’s aggression in Selangor is also connected to DAP wanting a bigger slice of the pie in the state such as appointments to important state GLCs and other government posts. There is also a rumour going around that a Selangor DAP leader wants to become the Mayor of Petaling Jaya.
DAP is trying to change its Chinese image, hence, its attempt to recruit pretty Malay girls and high-profile Malay names. It is trying to recruit credible Malays whom it can put as candidates in the next general election.
New multiracial flavour
The party is also trying to woo the PAS moderates who lost in the recent party PAS election. It will be quite a catch if big names like Mohamed Sabu or Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa sign up.
It has managed to recruit national laureate Datuk Samad Said while law professor Dr Aziz Bari, who contested but lost in the general election on a PKR ticket, may soon join DAP.
DAP does not want to depend on PAS or PKR for the multiracial flavour if it wins well again.
That is the DAP plan for the next general election and the day when Selangor has its first DAP Mentri Besar may not be far off.
But the “Pakatan is dead” pronouncement has made things terribly awkward for the three parties.
Will DAP state exco members still attend the weekly state exco meetings with their PAS counterparts? Is it going to be business as usual or will it be like a funeral?
The Penang government has begun to use the term Kerajaan Negeri Rakyat Pulau Pinang. Will DAP politicians in Selangor follow suit or will it continue to labour under the old name? It is so easy to say die, but the devil lives on in the details.
DAP leaders have also begun promoting the notion of a new political realignment.
Veteran Lim Kit Siang said the new coalition will comprise political forces of like-minded people with the interests of the people at heart.
Hmmm ... wasn’t that what they said when they set up Pakatan Rakyat?
Everyone had settled in with their popcorn and soft drinks to watch the Mahathir-Najib action movie.
But that was so yesterday – the audience has moved on to a more gripping thriller called the “Death of Pakatan Rakyat”.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Eyeing Dr M’s ethical years and BMF case by Tunku Abdul Aziz

EXCESSES: The unresolved BMF scandal looms large even while some seek answers to the 1MDB puzzle In researching my subject I came across an article that I wrote for the Australian Journal of Public Administration in December 1999, titled “Malaysia Incorporated: Ethics on Trial”, as well as a paper that I delivered to the International Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House, London on March 19-20, 2001 titled “Has Reform Revived the Miracle?” I struck some historical nugget of information about Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s outrageously questionable ventures that many may have forgotten. I believe it is important for our youth to know something about the Dr Mahathir years. For example, the country’s oldest English language broadsheet, the New Straits Times, felt constrained to editorialise on Sept 23, 1978, no doubt more in sorrow than in anger, “there was once a time when a Malaysian could indulge in a little smile of condescension when stories of corruption in developing countries, other countries of course, were entirely justified: virtually every aspect of administration was clean, abuse of power unheard of, departmental morale was high, public confidence was vibrant. For whatever reason, the present conditions have called forth a litany of exhortation against corruption”. The nostalgic “there was once a time” was a pointed reference to the administration of the first prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, to whom service before self was an important personal creed. Soon after Dr Mahathir took over the reins of government, a horrendous financial scandal engulfed Bank Bumiputra Berhad, incorporated in 1978 as the vehicle to launch the Malays into business. Touted as the “flagship” of the New Economic Policy, by 1988 it had assets worth more than US$15 billion (RM54 billion). Moving aggressively into overseas ventures, lending recklessly to politically well-connected companies and individuals, many of them possessed neither the capacity nor the intention of repaying the loans. The bank shifted large sums of money to its wholly-owned subsidiary, Bumiputra Malaysia Finance Limited (BMF), which in turn lent in total close to US$1 billion to a Hong Kong $2 company called Plessey Investment Limited and another, Carrian Investment Limited. George Tan, the man behind Carrian, within months of the BMF money going through the books, ran his company into the ground. Billions disappeared into thin air. In Malaysia a committee of inquiry was set up, headed by Datuk Ahmad Nordin, the fearless auditor general whose report stopped just short of naming senior members of government who had profited from the loan disbursements. Nordin recommended that criminal proceedings be instituted against those involved. No such action took place in Malaysia. In Hong Kong, criminal action was taken under the law against the crooks as soon as the scandal broke. Scapegoats or, to use the modern expression, fall guys were quickly identified and “persuaded” to fall on their swords. One of them was Lorrain Osman, the then chairman of BMF, who went into exile in England. In Malaysia, Dr Mahathir’s studied indifference served to reinforce suspicions of high-level complicity. The most damning indictment was the claim made by a Hong Kong lawyer that BMF and its parent, Bank Bumiputra Malaysia Berhad, accepted an arrangement based on incestuous relations between senior politicians and bank officers and that his client simply carried out orders (Clad 1989:53). This, as to be expected, was never proven in Malaysia. I have highlighted just one incident that I was prepared to treat in a spirit of charity as an aberration. A few years ago, before he died, I met Lorrain in the company of my old friend, Datuk Yunus Rais, in London and over a meal asked Lorrain who was behind the Carrian affair? He asked me whether I thought that he alone could have made the decision to move billions of US dollars without instructions from “high above”? I had the answer I had been after all those years. In a more open and accountable society, the wrongdoers would not only have been dragged through the courts, but the government, too, would have been brought down. We need to find all the answers to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) financial conundrum, and the prime minister has done the right thing by getting the auditor general to investigate the operations of the company. Before we deliver a guilty verdict, let us exhaust all investigations and other avenues before we call anyone to account. We will, in our current climate of openness, get a lot faster to the bottom of 1MDB’s shortcomings, if indeed there are problems, than we got out of the investigations into financial and other excesses during the lost ethical years when Dr Mahathir was prime minister. (In the writing of this article, I have used information from the works of Gale, B; Clad; Jomo, K.S.; Hussein, S.A.; and the ‘New Straits Times’ Sept 23, 1978. I am indebted to them all.) The writer is a director of International Institute of Public Ethics and board member of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Eyeing the Malaysian Sour Grapes

In an old fable by Aesop, a hungry fox noticed a bunch of juicy grapes hanging from a vine. After several failed attempts to reach the grapes, the fox gave up and insisted that he didn't want them anyway because they were probably sour.

Nowadays when somebody expresses sour grapes, it means that they put down something simply because they can't have it.

Merriam-Webster -  unfair criticism that comes from someone who is disappointed about not getting something.  

The phrase is often used incorrectly as another way to express bitterness or resentment.

My friend once told me that in his country there was a powerful politician who ruled the country for many years, more than two decades. He introduced the heavy industry policy which is not a success story. Others are successful but the company that he is now the Chairman of the Board is not doing so well. He complains of other companies that is in the same activity that is doing very well serving the people including holders of approved permits. He is very bitter and full of resentment.

My friend’s friend told me that he grooms one young dynamic activist into his party and his government. This guy looks religious, brings Islamic values it seems. But did not practice what he preached. Trust him to look after education portfolio and screwed up. Trusted him to look after the economy and nearly sold out the country. The Bursa plummeted and plunges to diminishing values. He allowed this guy to climb the ladders of power and until his own position was at stake, he had to uproot the seed he planted, he is still bitter and full of resentment.

Another friend told me that he got a close friend who in good times do business and in bad times receives salary from the government and look after money. There are a lot of private tied business going on. Lucrative projects gone into private hands. Utility services palmed out to friends. National assets becomes privately owned. And some are stripped. The majority suffered in the hands of the few. When these is being reversed, where the people comes first instead of the few. When a special purpose government vehicle bought over these activities to benefit the people in the long run, he is very bitter and full of resentment.

A colleague told me that once he had a friend who he appointed as the Secretary General of his party. During that guy’s tenure, he allowed his party to be deregistered and forms a new party. This is actually the result of wanting to maintain political influence when a majority of the party members are against him. There is an occasion when he offered himself to be voted as a delegate to the General Assembly but was not chosen by the division. And blaming others for his debacle. He is still bitter and full of resentment about it.

Another friend told me that people die of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), his political career and government dominance ended because of AIDS. Nobody asks him to resign, that country is heading the Non Aligned Movement and also chairing the Organization of Islamic Conference, a powerful and influential period. But GOD almighty is great, he is not GOD. In no particular reference to Ai or D or S. the power succumbs to the acquired immune deficiency syndrome. And he is still bitter and full of resentment.

Another friend told me that because of all these bitterness and resentment, he is deaf to logic, blind to political realities and not so dumb to be criticizing and criticizing and criticizing his predecessors and successors.  Sour Grapes.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Eyeing Azmy Kelana Jaya's comment on previous call for the resiganation of Mahathir Mohamad

TAHUKAH anda? pada zaman pentadbiran bekas Perdana Menteri Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, ada lapan individu pernah mendesak beliau meletakkan jawatan sekitar tahun 1987, kira-kira enam tahun selepas beliau menjadi Perdana Menteri.
Pada ketika itu pun, Dr Mahathir tidak  mempedulikan desakan tersebut dan terus menjadi Perdana Menteri selama 22 tahun sebelum meletakkan jawatan pada 2003.
Terdapat lapan individu yang pernah mendesak beliau meletakkan jawatan sebagai Perdana Menteri yang pernah diperkatakan iaitu Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, Bekas Timbalan Perdana Menteri Tun Musa Hitam, Bekas Perdana Menteri Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Tan Sri Dr Rais Yatim dan Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar.
Baki mereka yang mahu Dr Mahathir meletakkan jawatan ialah Bekas Menteri Penerangan Tan Sri Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir dan Datuk Seri Shahrir Abdul Samad dan bekas Menteri Perusahaan Awam Datuk Abdul Manan Othman.
Kebanyakan daripada individu itu merupakan anggota awal Parti Semangat 46 dipimpin Tengku Razaleigh. Parti itu ditubuhkan selepas Dr Mahathir enggan meletakkan jawatan biarpun didesak.
Daripada beberapa laman blog, ada mengatakan bahawa Dr Mahathir merupakan Perdana Menteri yang paling banyak menerima desakan untuk melepaskan jawatan.
Tetapi beliau berkata “Saya tidak pernah didesak letak jawatan sepanjang jadi Perdana Menteri,” kenyataan yang dipetik The Edge baru-baru ini.
Antara kejadian yang menyebabkan timbul desakan itu ialah peristiwa Memali, pemilihan Presiden UMNO 1987, pengharaman UMNO pada 1988, kerugian Bank Negara, kes Perwaja Steel dan isu berkaitan pemecatan Bekas Timbalan Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
Beliau juga pernah didesak letak jawatan kerana skandal pembelian 88 buah pesawat pejuang jenis Skyhawk pada awal 80-an.
Ia menjadi satu kontroversi kerana dari 88 buah yang dibeli, hanya separuh sahaja boleh digunakan itupun dengan pelbagai masalah teknikal sehingga dikatakan ramai juruterban Tentera Udara Diraja Malaysia (TUDM) hilang atau terbunuh dalam nahas.
Sebenarnya, ia merupakan sesuatu yang biasa bagi seseorang Perdana Menteri itu didesak meletakkan jawatan tetapi adakah desakan itu sesuai atau tidak untuk disuarakan.
Dr Mahathir pada ketika itu tidak langsung mengendahkan desakan itu dan terus kekal sebagai Perdana Menteri jadi tidak ada salahnya Perdana Menteri kini Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak untuk mentadbir negara secara tersendiri dan terus kekal.
Tambahan lagi, Najib memperolehi sokongan demi sokongan dari para pemimpin parti komponen Barisan Nasional (BN) dan juga sokongan dari sayap parti dalam UMNO di belakang beliau.
Ia bagi menunjukkan kepimpinan Najib disokong oleh mereka biarpun dikritik secara bertalu-talu oleh Dr Mahathir melalui media, blog dan video ke atas kepimpinan beliau.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Eyeing Najib's positive intervention on current issues

TV3 interviewed me tonight. Here are some key points I wanted to make:
I had the privilege of working with both of these fine public servants and I can tell you that their contribution to the government, to UMNO, and to our country was immeasurable.
They were committed to a strong and prosperous Malaysia, a regional powerhouse that serves as an example for other countries. Whilst we have made significant progress towards this, there is still work to be done.
Within their loss, I am more determined than ever to lead our country towards realising this goal. That is what they would have wanted.

I respect Tun Mahathir as I respect every other citizen of this country. It is the rakyat’s right to ask questions of me, to question my performance as Prime Minister, and the performance of the Government I lead.
However, at the end of the day, we are a democracy. I was elected by my party, and by the people of this country, to lead them. As such, I am answerable only to the people – not to any one individual. And if at the next general election, the people want change, they will let us know through the ballot box.

I understand that there is some concern around the introduction of the GST. However, for the long term good of the economy, it is important that we broaden our tax base.
As Prime Minister, it is my responsibility to make the right decisions for all Malaysians, even if it can seem difficult at the time. I believe the introduction of the GST is an important reform that will help us build a stronger, more sustainable and transparent economy.
I have been made aware that some unscrupulous businesses, both big and small, are trying to take advantage of the introduction of GST to increase prices above the 6% rate. This is completely unacceptable.
I have instructed the relevant ministry to step up their enforcement efforts to ensure that any increases introduced by shopkeepers and business owners are in line with the 6% GST rate, and that any abuses of this system which negatively harm the consumer are brought to a halt.

Despite criticism from certain quarters, which damages investor confidence and harms our economy, our economy continues to develop fast and our economic fundamentals remain strong.
However, no country is isolated from global events, and we have already had a taste of the challenges with the falling oil price affecting everything from the ringgit to rubber.
Our economy’s growth and success did not come out of thin air. It came because we made the right decisions for Malaysia. I have always maintained that in politics you have to make the right decisions, not just the easy and populist ones.

At the start of the year, 1MDB came under new leadership, and a strategic review of the business was carried out.
Following its completion, a decision was made to restructure the business, and this process is currently underway.
However, it is important to remember that 1MDB’s assets are greater than its liabilities. So, in very simplistic terms, if 1MDB were to be wound down tomorrow, the company would still have some assets and money left even after paying off all its debt.
At the same time, I recognise that there are a number of questions swirling around 1MDB. Some of these questions are valid, but there are others that appear to be directed at the company solely with the intention of creating controversy.
That is precisely why I have instructed the Auditor General to undertake a comprehensive audit of the company and independently verify its accounts. This report will then be passed on to the Public Accounts Committee, which as you know is a fully bipartisan body for scrutiny.
This should ensure that the process is open and transparent, and all questions that have been asked of the company should be sufficiently and independently answered. Now, we must let the process run its due course.
However, there are certain elements who continue to repeat the same old allegations about 1MDB, more often than not without full knowledge of 1MDB’s affairs.
The people behind these attacks know that they have the potential to damage investor confidence in the country, which in turn would have a negative impact on the economy, but continue to do this. That is irresponsible and putting politics before the national interest.

The result of the next general election will be decided by the people.
What we know is that, as long as BN and UMNO remain united, we will win the election. And that is certainly the case as leaders from Sarawak and Sabah, from the Peninsula, from many different parties in BN have made clear in recent days.
The only way we would lose the election is if there is internal sabotage and bickering, but I am confident that the party would not tolerate any acts of betrayal within it, and will stay united.

You have to bear in mind that circumstances change. From time to time, we need to re-evaluate things, and leaders can change their mind when it comes to doing what is best for the rakyat.
In order to realize our goal of building a stable, peaceful and harmonious state, the Sedition Act has been maintained.
The Sedition Act is not just for Muslims; it is for the protection of all Malaysians. It is aimed at preventing any person who promotes feelings of hostility between persons or groups on the grounds of religion - whether the religion attacked is Christianity, Hinduism, Islam or any of the other faiths Malaysia is proud to be home to.
We will not and cannot stand for the incitement of racial or inter-ethnic conflict. We have come too far to harm the progress that we have made. And that is why the government decided to keep the Sedition Act and amend it to make it a better and more suitable law.

I have no greater priority than the safety and security of Malaysians. I take the threat of terrorism very seriously. The new anti-terror laws will help us address the threat that radical and extreme ideologies pose to Malaysia and how we are to stop it.
Contrary to what some are suggesting, these laws will not be used against critics of the government; rather, they will be an extra tool for dealing with the militant threat that all countries face.
We will do whatever necessary to prevent this sort of extremist ideology, which opposes Islamic teachings, democratic practices and humanitarian values.