Whistleblowing speech by YB Wee Choo Keong in Parliament


March 29, 2010

by YB Wee Chee Keong

Teks ucapan YB Wee Choo Keong,  Ahli Parlimen Wangsa Maju,  pada 29-03-2010 – Perbahasan Titah Seri Paduka Baginda Yang  Di Pertuan Agung.

Datuk Yang Di Pertua,

Saya bangun untuk membahas Titah Ucapan Duli Yang Maha Mulia Seri Paduka Yang di-Pertuan Agung. Titah Ucapan Seri Paduka Baginda yang merupakan ucapan dasar kerajaan perlu disokong oleh rakyat jika ianya dilaksanakan dengan ikhlas dan adil oleh kerajaan. Saya menyokong sepunuhnya Titah Sri banginda iaitu “..negara kita terus maju dan rakyat hidup dalam harmoni serta menumpahkan taat setia yang tidak berbelah bagi kepada tanah air yang tercinta.”

Datuk Yang di-Pertua

AIRASIA

Saya telah dimaklumkan bahawa AirAsia telah menjelaskan semua airport  tax yang di hutang dan tangguh untuk beberapa tahun dahulu. Saya tidak boleh menerima bahawa AirAsia boleh hutang ariport tax selama 8 tahun dan mengapa MAB boleh memberi diskaun RM25 million.  Ini mustahil sekali. Sepatutnya MAHB kena caj faedah dan penalti terhadap hutang tersebut kerana wang tersebut digunakan oleh AirAsia.  Financial costs, dengan izin untuk hutang lebih kurang RM100 juta (hutang airport tax) mesti ditanggung oelh AirAsia.

AirAsia mengutip airport  tax sebagai agen mengutip bagi MAB dan ia sepatutnya membayar semua airport tax yang dikutip tetapi ia tidak membayar airport  tax untuk penumpang-penumpang yang tidak boleh terbang.  Apabila pelanggan meminta AirAsia membayar balik airport  tax AirAsia akan caj administrative fees lebih kurang berjumlah airport tax yang mereka telah bayar.

Saya percayai bahawa jumlah airport untuk penumpang –penumpang yang tidak terbang adalah berpuluh-puluh juta Ringgit.  MAB bertanggung jawab untuk mengambil tindakan untuk menuntut airport tax  tersebut dan selepas itu MAHB perlu membayar balik (refund) kepada setiap penumpang yang tidak terbang tanpa apa-apa potongan.

Datuk Yang di-Pertua,

Saya berharap Kementerian Pengangkutan atau Kementerian Kewangan memberi penjelasan berapakah jumlah airport  tax untuk  katigori ini yang masih di dalam simpanan AirAsia dan samada MAB akan mengambil tindakan undang undang terhadap AirAsia untuk menuntut hutang tersebut.

Datuk Yang di-Pertua,

“AIRASIA SELLING TICKET IN ADVANCE – NO BAILOUT”

AirAsia juga menjual tiket “in advance” dengan izin dan saya percaya bahawa jumlahnya adalah beratus-ratus juta Ringgit . Ahli-Ahli YB sedia maklum bahawa kebanyakan “low cost airlines” dinegara lain  telah gulung tikar.  Japan Airline pun telah gulung tikar. Saya kwatir dengan expansion oleh AirAsia tetapi airport tidak dibayar.

Saya ingin bertanya kepada YB Menteri  Pengakutan atau Menteri  Hal Ehwal Pengguna adakah mereka bercadang untuk mengeluarkan peraturan atau syarat kepada AirAsia supaya wang yang dibayar terdahulu oleh pelanggan-pelanggannya adalah sentiasa selamat jika AirAsia menggulung tikar.

Saya ingin menjelaskan disini bahawa soalan diatas tidak wujud jikalau Kerajaan boleh memberi jaminan di Parlimen bahawa Kerajaan tidak akan “bailout” AirAsia jika ia menggulung tikar kerana wang rakyat tidak boleh digunakan untuk membela sebuah syarikat swasta.

Datuk Yang Dipertua,

SETIAUSAHA POLITIK MENTERI TERLIBAT DENGAN RASUAH

Ahli-ahli YB sedia maklum, dua bulan berlepas seorang setiausaha politik kepada salah seorang Menteri telah ditahan oleh SPRM di Pulau Pinang kerana dia mempunyai wang tunai berpuluh juta Ringgit dan memiliki beberapa buah condominium mewah.  Selepas sehari dia ditahan oleh SPRM, YB Menteri di Jabatan Perdana Menteri mejaga EPU (YB Tasek Gelugor) mengisthirakan setiausaha politik tersebut telah letak jawatannya.

Orang ramai mempersoalkan kedudukan boss setiausaha politik tersebut.  Bagaimanakah YB Menteri tersebut tidak menyedar  kegiatan rasuah setiausaha politiknya atau pun beliau mengalakkan tingkah laku setiausaha politiknya.  Saya amat hairan kenapakah sehingga hari ini setiausaha politik tersebut masih tidak dituduh di Mahkamah.  Saya ingin menanya YAB PM  bilakah setiausaha tersebut akan dituduh di Mahkamah dan samada sesiatan juga dijalan oleh SPRM terhadap YB Menteri, Ahli Tasek Gelugor tersebut.

Bilakah setiausaha politik YB Perdana Menteri, Shafee Abdullah, akan dissiat oleh SPRM ?
Datuk Yang Di Pertua,

WHISTLEBLOWING BILL

Ahli-Ahli YB telah dimaklumkan bahawa Kerajaan akan membentangkan Whistleblower Bill dalam sessi Parlimen ini.  Saya percaya semua rakyat mengalu-alukan Rang Undang-Undang ini.

Saya ingin menarik perhatian YAB Perdana Menteri kepada satu atikal bertajuk “Is Whistle-Blowing Really Serious?”  diterbitkan dalam majalah Malaysian Business dalam muka surat 44-45 pada 16 mac 2010. Penulis atikal ini adalah seorang bekas Ahli Palimen dan Presiden Dewan Negara, YB Tan Sri Adam Kadir. Saya juga difahamkan bahawa beliau adalah bekas Pengurusi POS Malaysia Bhd, sebuah GLC, dimana Kerajaan melalui Khazanah memengang 32.2% saham didalam POS Melaysia Bhd.

Izinkan saya memetik beberapa perenggan didalam artikel tersebut.

“I am endowed with the knowledge of a GLC which sustained a loss of half  a billion Ringgit caused by misplaced controls from outside the company over the sale of 40 million “X”.   shares. [saya difahamkan bahawa maksud “outside controls” disini adalah control dari Khazanah Bhd, yang diketuai oleh Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar dan “X” shares adalah Transmile Bhd ]


Sources in the company chose the accepted method of whistle-blowing to the relevant authorities, but nothing has come out of it. The blow could easily lead to the conflict of governance, at best, or corruption, at worst. The latter had most likely evolved from an understanding between the relevant GLC control-lever (adalah Khazanah Bhd) and the controlling shareholder of the “X” company.

Tucked in the GLC’s board record were resolutions to sell at RM10, RM12 and RM14 sequentially over a period of time. Soon after the ‘stop-sell” order from the control-lever (Khazanah Bhd) at RM14 to a specific buyer, the share collapsed on reaching RM14.50 plummeting to as low as 50 Sen. It hovered below Rm1 for a sustaained for a period of time. On February 26, 2010, the closing was 35 Sen, the proceeds are merely RM14 million – a difference of RM546 million! ”

Apa yang didedahkan adalah amat mengejutkan dan serius – seperti PKFZ.  Jikalau tuduhan tersebut adalah benar, tindakan segara perlu diambil terhadap pegawai yang bertangung jawab  di Khazanah Bhd kerana wang rakyat berjumlah RM546 million telah hagus dengan beberapa panggilan talipon sahaja keapda pegawai POS Malaysia Bhd – saya percaya.  Ini adalah satu contoh yang jelas : Harap Pagar pagar makan padi!


Saya merayu kepada YB PM / Kewangan untuk menjalankan satu sesiatan dengan segera apa yang telah didedahkan.  Jikalau tuduhan tersebut adalah benar, saya percaya benar, YB Menteri yang bertangung jawab untuk Khazanah  Bhd pada masa itu Jika masih memengang jawatan Menteri  mesti meletak jawatannya dengan segera untuk memikul tanggungjawanya, dan tindakan keras mesti diambil terhadap Menteri tersebut dan pegawai Khazanah Bhd yang terlibat.

Datuk Yang di-Pertua

SKIM CEPAT KAYA

Sun Shine Empire Sdn Bhd, Empire Property Venture Sdn International Bhd, Empire Property Sdn Bhd, Sunshine Villa Project di Melaka yang telibat dalam kegiatan deposit taking / skim cepat kaya. Syarikat tersebut di ketuai oleh James Phang, warganegara Singapura dan Datuk Alex Teh Cheong Teong di Malaysia.

Saya difahamkan bahawa Bank Negara telah mengambil tindakan terhadap Empire Property Venture International Sdn Bhd.  Saya dapat aduan bahawa directors syarikat ini telah mengutip deposit beratus juta Ringgit dengan mengunakan pelbagai penipuan melalui skim-skim palsu seperti project perumahan, Sunshine Villa Projek di Melaka.

Walaupun tindakan telah diambil oleh Bank Negara tetapi tidak mencukupi kerana Datuk Alex Teh masih menerima deposit melalui skim-skim lain. Pada kini Datuk Alex Teh ini menggunakan syarikat bernama YUAN ZHONG SIU SDN BHD untuk menerima deposit melalui kad kredit.

Saya menyeru Menteri Kewangan mengarahkan Bank Negara mengambil tindakan dengan segera untuk mempertahankan kepentingan orang awam supaya rakyat tidak di tipu oleh James Phang dan Datuk Alex Teh Cheong Teong tersebut.

Datuk Yang di-Pertua,

FORGERIES –LITOGRAPHS IBRAHIM HUSSEIN

Saya di maklumkan bahawa litographs “Line Series” 8 keping Alayarhum Ibrahim Hussein, seorang artis Malaysia yang amat terkenal di dunia, telah di tiru dan jual di Malaysia seperti original copy dengan harga RM800,000. Saya dimaklumkan bahawa forgeries ini di jual melalui syarikat frame, WL Fine Art Sdn Bhd, No 3,5,9 & 11, Jalan Chantek  5 / 13, 46000 Petaling Jaya. Satu laporan polis bernombor 009155 / 2009 telah di buat di Balai Polis Pantai pada 04-09-2009.  Pada kini kegiatan forgeries masih berterusan.

Saya berharap Kementerian Dalam Negeri menyatakan kenapakah tiada tindakan positif diambil and apakah tindakan akan diambil terhadap laporan tersebut.

Datuk Yang di-Pertua,

MODEL EKONOMI BARU

Saya bersetuju dengan YAB PM untuk mengadakan satu Model Ekonomi  Baru yang boleh selaraskan dengan dasar Kerajaan iaitu “1Malaysia” dan “Rakyat Didahulukan”.

Jikalau Kerajaan berhasrat untuk satu dasar demi “nation building”  and mencapai dasar 1Malaysia dan Rakyat Didahulukan, Kerajaan perlu mennghapuskan semua subisidi based on race dengan izin. Contohnya AP yang diberikan eklusif kepada kroni-kroni pihak tertentu sahaja. Rakyat tidak bantah AP di jual oleh Kerjaan tetapi rakyat bantah AP diberikan kepada kroni-kroni.

Saya bersetuju bahawa subsidi di kekalkan kepada bumiputra dalam satu masa transition katalah dalam 5 tahun supaya sahabat-sahabat saya boleh menggunakan masa transition ini untuk mereka menyedia untuk bersaing dalam semua kegiatan dalam negara.

Kalau subsidi masih dikekalkan tanpa syarat dalam Model Ekonomi Baru yang akan dilancarkan oleh YAB PM tidak lama lagi, berani saya mengata dengan terus terang bahawa dasar 1Malaysia atau apa-apa dasar untuk menyatupadukan rakyat tidak akan berjaya kerana yang dapat manafaat adalah “a small percentage of the population only as can be seen from the existing New Economic Policy” dengan izin.

Akhir kata, saya yakin bahawa jika kita beri perluang dan galakan sewarjanya, orang Melayu dan bumiputra lain boleh bersaing di galangan global. YES, WE CAN. WE CAN DO IT EVEN BETTER UNDER A REAL 1MALAYSIA, dengan izin.

Datuk Yang di-Pertua,

FITNAH MENFITNAH

Saya menyokong dengan taat setia Titah Ucapan Seri Banginda mengenai dengan fitnah-menfitnah dan izinkan saya memetik: “Beta juga dukacita kerana masih terdapat banyak perbuatan fitnah, pembohongandan putar belit terutamanya dalam media baru. Semua yang terlibat hendaklah sedar perbuatan ini tidak diterima oleh mana-mana agama. Beta menyeru pihak berkenaan menghentikan perbuatan tidak bertanggungjawab tersebut. Dismaping itu, pihak berkuasa hendaklah mengambil tindakan keras terhadap pihak-pihak yang terbabit”.

Saya tidak berniat membahas mengenai dengan perkara ini tetapi saya tidak boleh sabar lagi. There is a limit to everything, dengan izin.

Dalam pengalaman politik yang terhad selama  25 tahun, saya amat kesal dan sedih bahawa politik tanah air yang kita cintai telah mencapai tahap yang amat mebinbangkan. Kepetingan rakyat nampaknya “has taken a back seat” dengan izin.  Saya pasti rakyat mengikuti perkembangan ini dan lambat laun akan sedar dari dibuai slogan-slogan dan retorik politik semata mata.

Kehadiran saya dalam lawatan kerja ke Washington adalah untuk satu tujuan sahaja iaitu berjumpa dengan Department of Trade, Ahli-Ahli Congress dan Senators, Centre of Strategic International Studies (CSIS) di USA untuk “foster a better diplomatic and trading relationship with USA “. Lawatan kerja ini pun tidak dikecualikan.

Saya percaya perhubungan baik dengan USA akan mendatangkan manfaat kepada rakyat dan negara dimana lebih banyak trading relationship dengan izin diantara dua negara. Ini bermakna lebih banyak kegiatan ekonomi dalam negara dan juga mewujudkan lebih banyak kerja untuk rakyat Malaysia.

Lewatan kerja ini pun di putar belit fakta di dalam internet untuk mencapai matlamat agenda politik kumpulan tertentu.

Fakta di forum CSIS adalah wartawan Malaysiakini datang dari San Francisco sahaja yang berada di forum CSIS pada hari tersebut tetapi laporan dengan putar belit fakta dengan serangan peribadi yang tidak berasas tidak diterbitkan di Malaysiakini tetapi di portal lain. Selepas sehari dua barulah diterbitkan di dalam Malaysiakini lebih kurang sama dengan apa yang di laporkan di dalam portal tersebut tetapi tanpa serangan pribadi.  Fakta ini adalah amat mustahil!

To be fair dengan izin, YB Padang Rengas tidak menfitnah sesiapapun dan semasa beliau menjawab soalan ditimbulkan oleh representative dengan izin dari Amesty International mengenai kes liwat terhadap Ketua Pembangkang, YB Permatang Pauh.

YB Padang Rengas menyatakan bahawa YB Permatang Pauh adalah sahabat beliau dan conscience beliau tidak membenarkan beliau menfitnah sahabatnya dan kes tersebut adalah antara majikan dan seorang perkerja, dan laporan polis telah dibuat oleh perkerja. Jikalau tiada tindakan diambil, maka pihak perkerja akan menuduh kerajaan tidak adil.

Saya amat kesal dengan tindakan yang tidak bertangungjawab dan untuk menjejaskan kepentingan negara dengan lapoaran tertentu.  Kemungkinan matlamat pihak tertentu mahu menjahanamkan negara dari segi pandangan antarabangsa . Saya minta maaf bahawa saya tidak boleh memain peranan senyap lagi dalam keadaan yang amat jelas dimana fakta-fakta diputar blitkan oleh spin doktor dengan izin dan membenarkan mereka mencemarkan imej negara dengan agenda sempit yang didorong oleh motif memengtingkan diri semata-mata.

Tugas utama saya sebagai Ahli Parlimen adalah untuk mempertahankan kepentingan rakyat dan “act as a check and balance against the government of the day in the interest of the people”, dengan izin, dan bukan untuk memutar belit fakta untuk menjejaskan imej dan kepentingan negara.

Ahli-Ahli YB mesti bersetuju dengan saya bahawa kita mesti membezakan kepentingan politik  dengan kepentingan negara dan lebih teruk politik pribadi. Janganlah mengadakan benda-benda yang tidak wujud.

Datuk Yang di-Pertua

THE LITTLE NAPOLEONS

Tetapi saya amat dukacita apabila beberapa Little napoleons di sebelah sini (disebelah sana pun ada juga tetapi bukan hal saya). Little napoleons  menyoal kedudukan saya dalam mesyurat rasmi parti kenapakah saya dipilih oleh Parlimen Malaysia sebagai ahli untuk lawatan kerja di Washington baru-baru ini dan kenapa mereka tidak dipilih. Saya tahu “little napoleons” dan Ahli-Ahli YB dari PAS dan DAP pun pernah dipilih sebagai ahli lawatan kerja dengan Menteri-Menteri atau Sepaker ke Parlimen atau kerajaan negara lain.

Kalau pilihan saya menjadi satu persoalan, maka PR memerlukan satu dasar baru bahawa Ahli-Ahli Parlimen PR tidak boleh mengambil bahagian dalam semua lawatan ke luar negeri dengan Menteri, Speaker atau Ahli-Ahli Parlimen Kerajaan.

Walaubagiman pun saya tidak pernah mempertikaikan perlantikan little napoleons kerana saya tidak ada perasan cemburu walaupun little napoleons tersebut sideline saya dan menklasifikasikan saya senbagai seorang “junior MP”.

Walaupun saya tidak bersetuju dan saya tidak pernah mempertikaikan YB Batu, YB Bukit Lanjan dan YB Macang apabila mereka telah dilantik untuk “to chase after BN MPs in Taiwan to cross-over” walaupun tiada hasil.
Ada juga little napoleons yang pintar sedikit, mereka yang memlemparkan batu sebunyikan tangan.

Segelintir little napoleon sanggup melakukan apa sahaja termasuk “manufacturing lies” dengan izin seperti dengan “superimposed” gambar dan  diterbit dalam internet untuk fitnah dan mengaibkan tokoh politik negara semata-mata.  Tindakan FITNAH ini telah diakui oleh little napoleon tertentu tetapi tiada tindakan diambil terhadap dia. Sebaliknya tidakan disiplin diambil terhadap peminpin lain atas perkara yang temeh remeh.

If these little napoleon could stoop so low to do such thing like superimpose picture to defame others for political reason, nothing on earth will stop them from destroying the country, dengan izin.

Saya juga amat kesal dengan tingkah laku Little Napoleons terhadap isu-isu yang dibangkitkan mengenai dengan peristiwa September 16 atau isu-isu yang lain di Parlimen atau di luar,  tidak dijawab langsung. Jawapan little napoleons adalah serangan pribadi “in the hope that all will be well and the public will be fooled again”, dengan izin.  Little napoleons, nasihat saya adalah: If you have no answers to what have been said just hide under the saying “SILENCE IS GOLDEN’, dengan izin.

Saya juga berharap bahawa the little napoleons tersebut  jangan memaksakan saya untuk membongkarkan politics of deceit, politics of expediencies mereka dengan izin  dan politik cakap tak serupa bikin atau politik bermusin.

Dengan ini saya berharap these little napoleons berhentikan kegiatan politik kotor dan fitnah menfinah mereka melalui internet atau lain untuk satu tujuan matlamat poltik sempit mereka yang mementingkan diri sahaja tanpa mengambil kira kepentingan rakyat.

Jika kegiatan ini berterusan maka parti ktia akan hancur, perjaungan akan jadi sia-sia shaja dan dua parti sistem akan menjadi bayangan atau impian semata-mata.

Terima kasih

I am Malay first, says DPM


March 31, 2010

Deputy Prime Minister’s Score: I am Malay First

By FMT staff (http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com)

Although the scoreline indicates that “Malaysian” won the match, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, however, said as far as he is concerned, he is Malay first.

The UMNO Deputy President said if he called himself Malaysian first, he would be shunned by his own race. However, Muhyiddin also stressed that he is very much Malaysian. “I am Malay first but this doesn’t mean I am not Malaysian,” he told reporters in Parliament.

Muhyiddin was responding to a challenge by DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang, who asked the Deputy Premier to state which came first for him – being Malaysian or Malay.

Lim does not understand 1Malaysia

According to Muhyiddin, Lim has failed to grasp the true meaning of the government’s “1Malaysia” concept. “How can I say I’m Malaysian first and Malay second?” he asked. “All the Malays would shun me… and it’s not proper.”

Earlier today, Lim said Muhyiddin should resign if he is not prepared to declare that in accordance with 1Malaysia goal, he is Malaysian first and Malay second.

The opposition stalwart was reacting to Muhyiddin’s earlier comments, where he accused Lim of attempting to create fissures between Najib and him. Muhyiddin had taken the Ipoh Timur MP to task for questioning his commitment to the 1Malaysia concept.

He explained that the concept is aimed at fortifying racial unity, and is not a form of assimilation where a person’s indentity is erased and does not reject the special rights of the Malays as claimed by Lim.

‘Malaysian first, Chinese second’

However, Lim, who declared himself Malaysian first and Chinese second, said it is clear that Muhyiddin believes in the maxim that the best defence is offence.

“He completely evaded the three questions which I described as the three acid tests as to whether he really supports Najib’s 1Malaysia concept and has the 1Malaysia DNA,” he added.

The three acid tests for Muhyiddin were:

  1. Whether he agrees to the establishment of an opposition-headed Parliamentary Select Committee on 1Malaysia;
  2. Is he prepared to declare that the basis of 1Malaysia is ‘ketuanan rakyat’ and not ‘ketuanan Melayu’; and
  3. Is he prepared to endorse the objective of 1Malaysia as defined by the 1Malaysia Government Transformation Programme (GTP) Roadmap to create a nation where every Malaysian perceives himself or herself as Malaysian first, and by race, religion or region second.

Lim said he also framed a fourth question as a result of the “evasion and prevarication” by UMNO Youth Chief Khairy Jamaluddin during the exchange in Parliament.

The fourth challege to Muhyddin was: Whether he is prepared to declare that the basis of the Malaysian Constitution is Ketuanan Rakyat and not Ketuanan Melayu?

‘Desperate politician’

Lim lambasted Muhyiddin for going on the offensive to launch a baseless and scurrilous attack against him, “alleging that I had questioned Malay special rights and rejected the differences in identity of the different races and the spirit of the constitution”.

“Muhyiddin must be a very desperate politician that he had to make such a baseless charge, as I had refuted the allegation that I opposed Article 153 of the Constitution.

“Isn’t Muhyiddin’s refusal to make such a declaration the best proof that he does not fully support Najib’s 1Malaysia concept?” he asked.However, Muhyiddin claimed that the “chauvinistic” DAP was rattled by 1Malaysia’s success.

Arguing that there is nothing wrong in leaders fighting for the needs of their race, the deputy premier asked if Lim would state that he is not going to stand up for Chinese rights.

“It does not mean that when we help the Malays, we won’t help the Chinese,” he said. Muhyiddin also took a swipe at DAP’s ‘Middle Malaysia’, challenging Lim to prove that PAS and PKR supported compared to the 1 Malaysia concept which is backed by all BN component parties.

During his first Cabinet meeting after taking over the leadership reins last April, Najib had reportedly urged his ministers to think of all citizens as members of one team rather than people of different races. He also made a plea for all Malaysians to discard their ethnic mentality and think and act as one people.

NEM: Some Initial Thoughts from SakAK47


March 31, 2010

NEM: Some Initial Thoughts

by SakmongkolAK47

The PM has outlined the main aspects of the NEM. I was waiting to read strategies to unleash the entrepreneurial energies of economic agents besides the same old players. Private sector means what? Does it mean the same old companies, friendly parties or the faceless multitude of ordinary business people?

Since 2004 ,for example, Khazanah has been divesting its holdings in many companies- may we know who and on what criteria? People can say all sorts of things on paper- using highly technical financial jargon which actually means they were hiding something.

What I take as entrepreneurial agents to turn this country into a nation of high-incomers are the large number of businessmen- the SME people, research of which has shown are more productive and generate more income that the big guns. These are the people who have been excluded from participation simply because they only have technical skills but no patronage and no intimate relationship with powerful decision makers. So why do we pander to the wishes of the superleaguers?

I was reading some comments given by ex-banker Amirsham who is the Head of the NEAC. He was telling that maybe some contracts should be given to a certain group of contractors not including the big leaguers. I would support the idea by pushing it a bit further. Why don’t for the next 5 years, we declare that all listed companies engaged in construction are not to participate in government mega contracts?Or the big suppliers are excluded in the next 5 years to participate in big government supply contracts. You have made large profits previously and you can hold on for the next 5 years. This would allow the middle and even top bottom leaguers enough room to prove themselves to become big leaguers. Such an interim policy of 5 years would also re-distribute contract opportunities from the current big leaguers to others.

Amirsham shouldn’t say- we leave it to the government to do that. As Head of the NEAC-  you must say it and say it loud  and clearly what needs to be done lah, tauke! Then we wouldn’t hear the stomach turning spectacle-  YTL Corp this and that, GAMUDA this and that, Syed Moktar this and that, Berjaya this and that.

Let’s see whether the big leaguers, without the traditional patronage, can be creative and venture elsewhere? Can they do that? They must- after all smaller contractors have been excluded from participating in big contracts. Remove all the classes in contractors. In 5 years’ time allow every contractor, on a Classless basis to compete on equal footing. I am sure the up and coming and qualified contractors can also do strategic partnership. Many of the smaller bumi contractors, for example, are highly trained people- engineers and technicians.

I have written a number of articles on what I wanted the NEM to be. At that time, we had no inkling what the NEM will be. I start from some key phrases the PM used. These included competitiveness and creativity. I had to re-read what Porter said about competition and competitive advantage. The key word of creativity pushes me to re read Joseph Schumpeter- creative destruction.

As I look into the NEM, I will have to say it is not actually a new construct at all. It is just a grandiloquent way of saying, we will do it differently. The PM said it himself-

I pledge this: we will work tirelessly to develop and implement the economic reforms that our nation needs to grow, our businesses need to succeed and, above all, for our people to prosper,” he said. “Some people are questioning the need for urgency to break the habits of the past. Do not be fooled. We need a new way of doing things. We must act now to position Malaysia for the future. We need to have a sustained and consistent big push if the reforms set out today are to gain momentum and help us achieve our goals.

I do not doubt the sincerity of this PM to carry out what he has said- a new way of doing things. This would certainly demolish the hopes of those hankering for a return of the inglorious past- where patronage and who you know rule the day. Since 1981, the driving force behind almost all businesses has been the dubious factor- hey do you know this Pengarah, this Ketua Pengarah, this Minister and the PM?

It is precisely that weakness that has created and sustained a select group of rent seekers and patronage hunters. Their success depended less on meritorious skills and expertise and more on harnessing the right political networking relationships. Success depends on sharing privileged information which excluded the real entrepreneurs out there.

The new model must strive to be closer to a market driven economy in the sense that it must introduce system that many free marketers believe- placing wealth creating assets closest to actual economic agents. Hence I welcome an assurance that our GLCs right from Khazanah to state owned companies will be divesting their holdings. Allow private sector entrepreneurs to develop the assets and apply better work ethics and different motivations.

Khazanah, for instance, will sell 32 percent of its stake in Pos Malaysia but let us do it on open tender basis, not “direct ngo”. But not before Pos Malaysia account for its humongous loss of over RM 500 million. Then not only must it be privatized, we must also make those responsible for the losses accountable. Do not allow those responsible for the losses to come back with a MBO plan or any business plans for that matter.

If it is not tenable to have one Pos Malaysia let us do a Mama Bell and Papa Bell — break it down to regional Pos Lajus. Let them compete among themselves and see who can offer better services. Why don’t we allow online tendering so that people in Khazanah or decision makers don’t come face to face with bidders until they are called in the final round? Hands off and on line tendering will allow the government avoid being accused of cronyism or patronage.

I have long advocated the freeing of the market from the clutches of state owned companies. In the absence of competition for example how do we know whether the State Owned Enterprises (SOE’s)  function on operating efficiencies or are just passive beneficiaries of the nature of the product? For example, in Pahang there are a few SOEs which are given monopolies in developing land for palm oil. I suspect, they enjoy good earnings simply because of the natural price of the product. Palm oil has a good price. All you need to do is to ensure you produce a certain quantity and sell at the good prices.

We really do not know whether this is due to productivity, efficiency, best practices or what? Because as soon as you compare productivity with private companies, then you will realize that SOEs have not been efficiently run. Their comparative productivity is lower than many private owned companies.

As long as you allow SOEs monopolies, you impose the crowding out effect. Genuine investors are sidelined from participating in certain economic segments. SOES get priority in many areas- land allocation and application, financing, guaranteed credit etc.

On these points, I have advocated when I was a state assemblyman  the closure of several GLCs and their subsidiaries. If they are not able to compete with even some upstart companies, while they have been receiving a variety of privileges, they might as well close down. Naturally, those suggestions were not well received by the CEOs of the various SOEs.

Message to All Malays who still live the Past


March 31, 2010

PERKASA: Have lunatics taken over?

by Mariam Mokhtar (March 30, 2010)

When one reads about an organisation led by an insecure, attention seeking leader, who revels in obfuscating remarks to “defend Islam, the special rights of Malays and bumiputeras”, it does seem that the lunatics have taken over the asylum.

So, am I alone in thinking that Malays should debunk Ketuanan Melayu (Malay supremacy)? When challenging small, hate-filled groups we must be aware of the risks in talking up the threat they pose.

perkasa publicationThey may hope we would demonstrate or march to the police station and make reports (the police have better things to do) and give the group added gravitas.

Probably the more invectives that are hurled in retaliation, the happier they would be. No, we are not a hysterical lot. Clamours for Ketuanan Melayu are an insult to me and right-minded Malays.

Malays today are knowledgable. Extremist views on race and religion are not our vision of Malaysia. We aim for solidarity by encouraging participation from all sections of society for a truly democratic nation.

Confident Malays are not threatened by other races. Nor do they feel inferior or undermined. They are not spiritually bankrupt and do not get confused when non-Muslims use words like Allah.

Too few benefit

The NEP made a few Malay millionaires into billionaires. It excluded the Malay majority and hence failed spectacularly in its objectives. The government must be more creative in helping Malays attain success. Why stick with a recipe for failure?

Last week’s histrionics demonstrate that you can take the boy out of the kampong but you cannot take the kampong out of the boy. Fortunately, not all Malays live under their tempurung (coconut shell). We don’t need men who profess to be leaders by espousing Ketuanan Melayu but in reality are just sabre-rattlers.

perkasa first agm 270310 bannerMalaysians are aware of their surroundings – abuses of power, select Malays selfishly milking the NEP, endemic corruption, public institutions compromising their neutrality by becoming political stooges, no accountability in government bodies and politicians.

There are many disadvantaged people in Malaysia. Our urban and rural folk lead parallel lives, with little overlap. Our society consists of the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’. Racism, sexism and ageism are rife. It is little wonder there is a rise in cynicism. It is amusing to see the ’1Malaysia’ concept in a mess because of these.

We are a young nation, and we attained independence through the collective effort of the peoples of Malaya:  the Ordinary Malayans – rubber tappers, tin coolies, jungle clearers, road builders, railway workers, teachers, policemen, port labourers.

They were Malays, Chinese, Indians, Eurasians, Orang Asli. Some made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of independence. Must we now forget their contributions and treat their children and grandchildren not as true Malaysians, but merely as immigrants? Are we not indebted to them?

My great-grandfather was a rubber-tapper and he encouraged his son (my grandfather) to study and lift them out of poverty. At night, he studied by the light of a kerosene lamp. During the day, he escaped being called out to play by the other boys, by hiding and reading in the middle of a patch of long grass.

The daily journey to secondary school in Ipoh was by train and on foot. He then entered the Malayan Civil Service (MCS), worked his way up and was sent to England for various courses and tests. He grabbed every opportunity and was a success.

He worked in the towns and villages throughout Malaya, but complained that the Malay youth then were indisciplined, were bad at time-keeping and had an attitude problem. Many suffered from kais pagi, makan pagi (living from hand-to-mouth) and lacked motivation to work. The majority considered the bounties from the fruit trees or rivers sufficient for their daily needs.

This lack of incentive is deeply entrenched and will remain entrenched unless there is a brutal effort to exorcise it from the Malay psyche. We must give Malays a way out of poverty and halt their dependence on the NEP. The challenge is for them to break out of the spiral of underachievement and low expectation.

A crutch, not a panacea

The NEP, or its reincarnation, will not help the Malays or Malaysia. Instead of making Malays more competitive, it will make them more reliant on false hopes. It will make them idle and addicted to being the master, the supreme race, with little effort involved. It is a destructive ideology. It destroys their character and robs them of an identity. It is an admission of weakness. It relieves them of pride and dignity.

The Malays have had large amounts of money spent on them. No amount of money will elevate them unless it is put to good use to improve themselves. The desire to improve must come from within. They must understand that ambition and aspiration entails hard work and perseverance.

Malays have a strong cultural identity and family values but the NEP has helped to  institutionalize underachievement. So how can we offer security to our children if our adults lack ambition?

perkasa first agm 270310 bigger kerisEducation and a strong stable family life must be foremost in policy changes to make a difference. But politicians have messed up our education system. Government must create opportunities. We need investments, both locally and from abroad, but Malaysia’s negative image precludes that.

Those who champion Ketuanan Melayu should concentrate on the Malay community and seek answers for the following:- Malays lacking aspiration; Malay girls outperforming boys; Malay men abrogating responsibilities towards their family, spending money on successively younger wives, leaving families severely disadvantaged; high divorce rates in Malay marriages;

Most drug addicts and HIV/AIDS sufferers are Malays; abandoned babies are primarily Malays; incest, rape and sexual crimes are committed mainly by Malays. Why not sort out your priorities, clean up your own house first and stop pointing fingers?

Sadly, few Malays are willing to admit the faults within them but would rather lay the blame on other races. And please stop brandishing the keris about. They are revered items, as any good Malay knows, and should never be used in a cheap publicity gimmick.

Anwar has links to Apco, says Khairy Jamaluddin


March 30, 2010

Khairy Jamaluddin: Anwar too has links with Apco

UMNO Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin said that Anwar Ibrahim should not be too hasty to accuse the government for its links to Apco when the opposition leader too has connections with several personalities on the global consultancy firm’s advisory council.

khairy jamaluddin kj interview 190310“We have heard the explanation from opposition leader on Apco, which I find a very tenuous argument, saying that Apco is connected to the Israel regime and the country’s security is threatened when Malaysia hired Apco as a communications consultant,” said Khairy, who is Rembau MP.

He said it is for the government to explain the role of Apco and its terms of reference, but he accused Anwar of having links with several members in the company’s advisory council.

“Members of the International Advisory Council of Apco that Anwar has accused of having strong links with the Israeli government include those who have very strong personal and professional links with Anwar,” said Khairy.

Reading out a list of names of people who are on Apco’s International Advisory Board, Khairy said if Anwar claimed that Apco has direct connections with Israel by virtue of its members, the latter too has direct links to Israel.

Among them were former US congressman Stephen Solarz, who had worked together with Anwar on various issues and they are both executive committee members of the global NGO International Crisis Group and former Canadian ambassador Sergio Marchi, who while in the World Trade Organisation, had openly gave his support to Anwar during his incarceration in 1998.

Others were former Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski and former Indian foreign minister Lalit Mansingh.  “If Anwar’s allegations are true, then he also has direct links with what he has alleged today. This is not only one individual, but six individuals with connections to Anwar in the International Advisory Council of Apco,” said Khairy.

“Clearly, 1Malaysia was mentioned by Najib Abdul Razak in his first speech immediately becoming prime minister (April), while the contract of Apco appointment was made in August last year,” said Khairy.

Links to Ethos Consulting

Asked on his links to local firm Ethos Consulting – said to have recommended Apco to Najib – Khairy said that this was a deliberate action to malign his image.

Khairy assured that he would be submitting the information of Anwar’s connection to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz who is in charge of parliamentary affairs.

“This is a tactic from the opposition to divert the attention especially from their internal problems. What is more appalling is that this is to divert attention from the international lobbying done by Anwar to gain support in his court case.

He is mobilising international pressure. He went to the UK, the memorandum from the MPs of Australia… meeting former US president Al Gore in the UK – all this is to divert attention and to show that he is getting international support, which one day he might be able to show his thanks,” said Khairy.

Apco: In Mercenaries we trust


by Tian Chua
March 30, 2010

Apco: In Mercenaries we trust

In this dynamic and ever-changing world, Apco Worldwide stands tall as the giant of the lobbying industry. The firm, in its own words, offers “professional and rare expertise” to governments, politicians and corporations, and is always ready to help clients to sail through troubled waters in the complex world of both international and domestic affairs.

Malaysia isn’t Apco’s only client. In my last article, I described Apco’s relationship with homeland security and risk management consultancy firm Asero Worldwide. Asero is almost like a retirement home for ex-Mossad and ex-Shabak secret services officials.

Going through Apco’s record, it is amazing to see the audacity of the company in being so consistently and persistently opposed to the cause of social justice.

Dressing up dictators

As we all know Apco and its strategic partner Asero serve Israel and its Zionist agenda. On the international stage, Apco in particular is well known for assisting dictatorships across the globe.

Gujarat’s Hindu nationalist Chief Minister Narendra Modi hired Apco as image consultant in August 2007. The BJP politician was implicated in the religious riots that killed some 1,000 people.

Besides anti-Muslim chief minister Modi, APCO is well-known for running public relations campaigns for disgraced politicians.

In the mid-90s, the company was contracted by former Nigerian president-for-life Sani Abacha. Apco represented the dictator when the regime clamped down on a popular uprising and executed 9 pro-democracy activists, including the famous environmentalist-artist Ken Saro-Wiwa.

After the collapse of the Eastern Bloc, Apco found new fortunes in Russia, Eastern European states and Central Asia.

Ken Silverstein, the editor of Harper’s Magazine (June 30, 2007) described Apco lobbyists as the “crucial conduit through which pariah regimes advance their interests in Washington”. He exposed APCO’s specialised experience in working on behalf of authoritarian regimes such as Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan.

china celebrates 60th birthday anniversaryIn China, Apco helps Israeli firms to do business. In one of its brochures, Apco advertised that: “Apco will conduct and guide a participant through locating and screening processes relating to a potential business partner or a participant’s potential China distributors, integrators, agents, suppliers or competitors.”

Beating the war drum

Doing public relations for dictatorships is perhaps the more charitable part of Apco’s activities. Apco has a battalion of pro-war lobbyists under its wing. The firm is also a strong advocate of expanding armaments and the US military role in world affairs.

In October 2004, Apco and Kissinger Associates (owned by Henry Kissinger) formed a strategic alliance. Beside Kissinger Associates, Apco also built a broad network or coalition of conservative pro-Zionist lobbyists and consultancy groups including Heritage Foundation, Frontier of Freedom, Jewish Policy Center, etc.

In the name of war against terror, Apco helped to coordinate government communications to convince the public of the necessity of war. Its job also included manufacturing public opinion and feedback in supporting the war efforts. Basically it exploited Islam-phobia in Western society to sell aggression as the solution to regain security in the West.

george w bush awards three friends of america tony blair john   howard 140109 03In addition to supporting George Bush (right in photo), Apco also defended British prime minister Tony Blair’s unpopular move to enter the Iraq war. Apco had assisted Tony Blair (left in photo) to consolidate the war alliance. Together with the London-based Foreign Policy Institute, Apco prepared and published the pamphlet, ‘A Global Alliance for Global Values’ in which Blair declared:

“We must commit ourselves to a complete renaissance of our strategy to defeat those that threaten us.”

After the invasion of Iraq, Apco swiftly positioned itself to help American companies plunder Iraqi wealth and resources. In May 2003, Apco Worldwide launched a task force headed by Marc Ginsberg, the former US ambassador to Morocco, to help U.S. clients secure contracts for Iraq’s rebuilding.

Anti-reform in US

All evils start at home. Apco is not an angel in its home base either. Armed with such a heavy conservative political outlook, it is always ready to serve the right-wing political agenda against reforms and public interests.

Apco Worldwide was born out of the law firm Arnold & Porter, one of Washington DC.’s largest law firms that is well connected to the tobacco industry.

Apco is described as a lobby firm that “specialises in helping corporations advance their goals by manipulating legislators, and drafting and advancing model legislation and regulations. Key tools… include the creation of business coalitions and fake, corporate-funded ‘grassroots’ groups tailored to specific issues.”

In 1993, tobacco giant Philip Morris hired Apco to counter public awareness campaigns against tobacco. Apco organised a pseudo-NGO front known as The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (TASSC). The objective was to fight public health efforts seeking legislative change, and fence off attempts to restrict tobacco sale.

tobacco convention protest 151105 grim reaperNot only does Apco want people to think smoking is good for health, it also represents the profiteering interests of pharmaceutical companies and health care industries. Thus we are not surprised to notice that Apco is actively resisting and undermining Obama’s initiative for health care reforms.

One of Apco’s favorite legislators is Senator Joe Lieberman, who is a staunch supporter of military aid to Israel. Lieberman’s wife, Hadassah was Apco’s leading lobbyist for health care and pharmaceuticals clients.

On behalf of big drug companies, Senator Lieberman organised anti-health care reforms that hardliners hoped would frustrate Obama’s initiative; and have successfully delayed the passage of the new health care schemes.

Outside the US, Apco led the legal campaign against the distribution of cheap AIDS drug in South Africa.

Apart from health, Apco is also in league with big multinationals in the energy sector to reject concerns over global warming. Again, the assignment of TASSC was to present ‘rational’, ‘level-headed’ scientific evidences to paint the danger of global warming as illusion of alarmist environmental lunatics.

Paid by companies like Exxon Mobil, Apco was tasked to assemble an army of climate change skeptics to oppose the Kyoto Treaty’s “science and technology fatal flaws”.

In all these, APCO’s means and ends have been none but profits and bigger profits.

The public relations captains in Malaysia

Apco’s managing director in Kuala Lumpur is Paul Stadlen. Stadlen came to Malaysia in 2008, around the time of ISA crackdown against Teresa Kok, Raja Petra and Sin Chew journalist Tan Hoon Cheng. He was recruited to assist the communications strategy of the Home Ministry to justify the ISA arrests, particularly with regard to the international community.

Apco’s vice chairman Larry Snoddon was appointed Asian regional CEO on January 2009. H Snoddon was previously CEO of Burson-Marsteller, a UK-based public relations big player.

barrack obama and budget for iraq and afghanistan 100409 01Burson-Marsteller too had a very interesting record. Like Apco, Burson-Marsteller was hired by Nigerian Ministry of Information in the late 60s to counter international condemnation over alleged genocide and systematic human rights violations conducted by the Nigerian military.

Similarly, the firm was appointed shortly after Lee Kuan Yew’s infamous ‘Op Cold Store’ during Singapore’s formative years. Lee sought its services to help Singapore develop a 10-year program to attract overseas investments.

More recently, Burson-Marsteller represented US. private security services firm Blackwater in a controversial case. It was engaged to defend Blackwater employees, who had killed 17 Iraqi civilians following a shoot-out in the street of Baghdad on September 16, 2007.

However the real boss of Apco’s operations in Malaysia is based in Washington DC. The person in-charge of Najib’s image consultancy is Jonathan M Winer, the senior vice president of Apco Washington DC.

Formerly, Winer served as the US deputy assistant secretary of state international law enforcement from 1994 through 1999. During his term as deputy assistant secretary of state, he was known to be an expert in terrorist finances.

NONEIn U.S. domestic politics, Winer had once helped Kerry’s presidential campaign. Unfortunately unlike his boss John Kerry, Jonathan Winer is not a good friend of Anwar’s. Jonathan Winer had in fact started to help Najib to campaign against Anwar prior to the Apco contract.

As far back as 2005, conservative US groups cited Jonathan Winer’s congressional testimony to paint World Assembly of Muslim Youth (Wamy) as terrorist-linked organization.

Winer’s claim was never vigorously challenged. He based his conclusions solely on a single event when Wamy had invited Hamas leader Khalid Mishal as a VIP to its Riyadh conference held on October 2002.

Besides being sympathetic to Zionist causes, Winer had on many occasions expressed his deep prejudice towards Muslims and Islam in general. In his testimony to the US Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs on 31 July 2003, Winer described the organisation Ikhwan Muslimin (Muslim Brotherhood) as “terrorist group”.

He said, “The Brotherhood’s role in the development of other militant Islamic organizations is also illustrated by its relationship to the establishment of the Indonesian terrorist group Jemaah Islamiya, the JI, created with the aim of setting up an Islamic state in Indonesia. JI’s founder has acknowledged being inspired by the Brotherhood in the goal of jihad as a means to the creation of an Islamic state in South East Asia covering Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and the southern Philippines.

“JI then received funding from wealthy Saudis affiliated with Al Qaeda. In turn, the Brotherhood’s central financial mechanism, Al Taqwa, established operations in Malaysia that linked to JI… the al Taqwa group…has long acted as financial advisers to Al Qaeda, … providing direct assistance to Osama bin Laden as well as investment advice and cash transfer mechanisms for Al Qaeda and other radical Islamic groups.”

I presume the above view expressed by Jonathan Winer is not acceptable to my friends from Barisan Nasional. Nonetheless, has the Malaysian government requested the Apco consultant to change his view before signing the lucrative RM23m contract?

Can we trust Apco?

The modus operandi of Apco has been the same; it provides the public relations legionnaire that advocates the cause of those who can pay, and can pay the most.

The points I raised in this article have somewhat been included in my debate of Royal Address in the Parliament on 29 March, 2010. In the debate, I appealed to the BN, as well as fellow Malaysians, to treat this issue seriously.

Apco might provide a convenient shortcut to face-lift the government. But seriously, can we really trust a mercenary to serve our national interests?

And ultimately, if 1Malaysia, as the government claims, is about fulfilling a shared destiny of Malaysian people, we should not need any external intervention to shape our country’s future.

Tian Chua is member of Parliament for Batu and is also director of strategy for Parti Keadilan Rakyat.



NEM: Market-Based Approach to spur Economic Growth at 6.5% p.a. to 2020


March 30, 2010

NEM will be market-based to spur economic growth

People like this political katak (frog), Ibrahim Ali, Member of Parliament for Pas Mas, Kelantan and others like him will derail any attempt  to change the way business is done in Malaysia.  Listen to this video clip, form your own conclusion and then decide what you can do to support an agenda for progressive economics where private sector initiative (foreign direct investment and local entrepreneurship), technology and innovation will be the main drivers of economic and social development for our country.

We need to institute urgent and serious reforms in education, health care,  public housing  and transport and  public administration. We must restore the Rule of Law and eradicate corruption. The road towards a high income economy will be paved with many challenges and obstacles and we must never underestimate the  daunting tasks we  have taken upon ourselves as Malaysians.–Din Merican


The government has pledged to take a market-based approach to affirmative action in launching the New Economic Model but touched very little on the current practice of racial quotas.

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak told the Invest Malaysia 2010 conference that the affirmative action policies shall remain.”Affirmative action programmes and institutions will continue in the NEM but, in line with views of the main stakeholders, will be revamped to remove the rent-seeking and market-distorting features which have blemished the effectiveness of the programme.”

He said that government will help all poor Malaysians regardless of race.” Affirmative action will consider all ethnic groups fairly and equally as long as they are in the low income 40% of households.”

Under the New Economic Policy, introduced by Najib’s father Abdul Razak, the affirmative action policies are bolstered by a litany of racial quotas involving university entrance, education scholarships, business licenses, investments, government contracts and many more.

“Quotas have been used extensively in the past. The streamlining of quotas will require a re-examination of how quotas have been applied, their transparency and effectiveness.

The NEM report says that racial quotas should be slowly phased out as its excessive use had resulted in the use of less-qualified recipients and bred inefficiency.

“The NEM recommends the shifting of affirmative action programmes to emphasise opportunities rather than outcomes. The remaining quotas should be progressively phased out.”

As for university enrolment, the NEM suggests a hybrid approach – the use of racial quota but taking into account the need and merit of the applicants.

“If quotas are to be progressively phased out, their continued used in the interim should be targeted at the bottom 40% low-income group.”

Slashing of subsidies

Najib’s NEM launch is accompanied by the release of a report ‘New Economic Model for Malaysia, Part 1′. He will be announcing the second part of NEM during the announcement of the 10th Malaysia Plan in June.

The NEM report also highlights the need to slash the current subsidy regime in order to reduce “serious leakages”.

It says the federal subsidy bill accounts or a fifth of the country’s operating expenditure with a large part used for fuel and petroleum products.

“Some estimates indicate that more than 70% of the beneficiary of the subsidies for fuel products has been enjoyed by the higher income groups.”

Plans to streamline petrol subsidy through a tiered system earlier this year was scrapped due to public outcry. The government currently subsidies a host of products including sugar, flour and rice. The NEM also addresses the thorny issue of government procurement, through the introduction of a more open tender system, in the place of direct negotiated tenders.

The report says government procurement accounts for 17% of the federal government expenditure including spending on supplies and services such as repair and maintenance, professional and other services, communication and utilities, supplies and rentals.

In his speech today, Najib announced that parcels of government owned-land in prime areas including along Jalan Ampang and Jalan Stonor will be tendered out for development by the private sector.

Three Key Goals

Najib lamented that “excessive focus on ethnicity-based distribution of resources has contributed to growing separateness and dissension”.

He announced that an “Equal Opportunities Commission will be established to ensure fairness and address undue discrimination when occasional abuses by dominant groups are encountered”.

In taking a leaf out of opposition Pakatan Rakyat’s manifesto, Najib said that the government’s inclusive approach “based on needs, not race” will translate into greater support for the bumiputera.

NONE“The bumiputera segment still forms the majority in the vulnerable groups by any measure,” he stressed.

He also said that instead of concentrated on target setting, the government will now focus on “structured and dedicated capacity-building investment” that allows the bumiputera to take advantage of new opportunities.

Najib added that the country can no longer tolerate practices that support the behaviour of rent-seeking and patronage, which has tarnished the spirit of NEP.

According to Najib, NEM has three main goals.

1) High income

Targets US$15,000-20,000 per capita by 2020 by ensuring an average of 6.5% per annum from 2011-2020.The main driver of this growth will be private investment, complemented by efforts to reduce the growing fiscal deficit.

2) Inclusiveness

Enables all communities to fully benefit from the wealth of the country; a key challenge of inclusive growth is the design of effective measures that strike a balance between the special position of bumiputeras and legitimate interest of different groups.

Hence, among the market-friendly affirmative action programmes include targeting assistance to the bottom 40 percent of households. It stressed 77.2% of these households are bumiputera-owned, and many are in Sabah and Sarawak.

3) Sustainability

The NEM seeks sustainable growth through the effective management of natural resources, as well as the establishment of fiscal discipline in order to saferguard macro-economic balance and stability.Thus, the public sector will be reformed to become more efficient and customer-focused.

Achieving 6.5% target ‘challenging’

The NEM will boost the quality of the workforce and reduce dependence on the millions of foreign workers who power Malaysia’s plantations and manufacturing sectors.

“We need a new way of doing things. While the recovery has begun, we must act now to position Malaysia for the future,” Najib said.

“And this is the choice we now face: To rise out of the ‘middle-income’ trap that will be a precarious position for any nation in the new global economy, or to stick to what we know, and what is comfortable.”

“We want to see a Malaysia that makes a quantum leap from the current US$7,000 per capita annual income to US$15,000 in 10 years,” Najib said.”Bold reform measures will unlock investment, drive labour productivity and boost efficiency, lifting real growth rate to an average of 6.5 percent per annum over the 2011-2020 period.”

CIMB chief economist Lee Heng Guie told AFP that the policy announcement was a “strong statement of intent” but details of how Najib intended to achieve the grand goals were lacking. Lee said the 6.5 percent annual growth target is “challenging given the uncertain external economic environment”. The economy shrank 1.7 percent last year as its crucial export markets dried up during the global downturn.

NEM Highlights


March 30, 2010

NEM: Market Friendly Affirmative Action Policy (Highlights)

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak today unveiled a raft of economic measures that he said would propel Malaysia to developed nation status by 2020.

Following are some of the highlights of what he announced at INVEST Malaysia 2010:

  • State investor Khazanah to sell 32 percent stake in Pos Malaysia.
  • To list stakes in two Petronas units.
  • Facilitate foreign direct and domestic direct investments in emerging industries/sectors.
  • Remove distortions in regulation and licensing, including replacement of Approved Permit system with a negative list of imports.
  • Reduce direct state participation in the economy.
  • Divest GLCs in industries where the private sector is operating effectively.
  • Strengthen the competitive environment by introducing fair trade legislation.
  • Set up an Equal Opportunity Commission to cover discriminatory and unfair practices.
  • Review remaining entry restrictions in products and services sectors.
  • Phase out price controls and subsidies that distort markets for goods and services.
  • Apply government savings to a wider social safety net for the bottom 40 percent of households, prior to subsidy removal.
  • Have zero tolerance for corruption.
  • Create a transformation fund to assist distressed firms during the reform period.
  • Easing entry and exit of firms as well as high skilled workers.
  • Simplify bankruptcy laws pertaining to companies and individuals to promote a vibrant entrepreneurship.
  • Improve access to specialised skills.
  • Use appropriate pricing, regulatory and strategic policies to manage non-renewable resources sustainably.
  • Develop a comprehensive energy policy.
  • Develop banking capacity to assess credit approvals for green investment using non-collateral based criteria.
  • Liberalise entry of foreign experts specialising in financial analysis of viability of green technology projects.
  • Reduce wastage and avoid cost overrun by better controlling expenditure.
  • Establish open, efficient and transparent government procurement process.
  • Adopt international best practices on fiscal transparency.

APCO and Malaysian Government: A Pakatan Rakyat Point of View


March 30, 2010

APCO and Najib: Tian Chua*’s Take

Tomorrow (March 30, 2010), Barisan Nasional parliamentarians will be gearing up to crucify Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim (below) for his comments on APCO. The MPs might think that they are doing the BN government a favour by defending Najib and his high-flying consultancy company.

police interrogate anwar 110310 anwar pc 02In the minds of most BN lawmakers, defending the government is equivalent of defending the country. By the same logic, people who criticize the government are simply traitors to Malaysia.

I would like to invite my friends from the other side to think harder, and look harder. In fact, it does not require a lot of effort to find out the connection between APCO and Israel.

But before I go further, I wish to make myself very clear on this; the discussion has NOTHING to do with the ‘Jewish Question’. There is a great difference in being Jewish and being the adherents of ideological Zionism.

Malaysians are often proud to proclaim solidarity with the oppressed Palestinian people. We have also maintained an independent foreign policy and have had a long record of being fully committed to the cause and principles of the non-aligned movement.

In this context, it is hard to understand how our prime minister could hire a public relations firm that is well known for its shady ties with international Zionism? Why should we trust a company with Zionist agenda to handle Malaysian strategic communications?

Not just another Jewish firm

Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim has raised several critical questions in Parliament on the similarities between the slogans ’1Malaysia’ and ’1Israel’. He also challenged the government to justify spending RM23 million of taxpayers’ money on APCO.

NONEThere is also the question of why didn’t Najib (left) and his government engage local public relations firms to undertake such work?

According to APCO’s own statement, its responsibilities cover a wide scope – beyond communications. “APCO’s work has included communication support for a broad range of reform initiatives undertaken by the government of Malaysia, especially in the areas of creating jobs, promoting education, and strengthening delivery of services to the people.”

Indeed, it is strange that this clarification did not come from Najib or the Prime Minister’s Office.

The reason Pakatan Rakyat raised these issues was not for political point-scoring, but because they warrant genuine concern for national security.

APCO Worldwide is based in Washington DC and has 23 offices all over the world including Tel Aviv. It is common knowledge that many of its key personalities and advisers are associated with Zionist Israel, e.g. Shimon Shein (former Israeli Ambassador to Germany), Itamar Rabinovich (former Israeli Ambassador to the US), etc.

APCO and ASERO

But APCO cannot deny that its operators in Tel Aviv have close links to the Zionist regime. Its CEO in Israel, Gad Ben-Ari, was a personal adviser of the late PM Yishak Rabin. APCO in Israel undertakes various communications and strategic development work for both corporate and governmental organisations.

Also, the relationship between Israel and APCO is more than merely having an office in Tel Aviv. APCO’s activities in the Zionist state go beyond the civilian sectors. Notably one of the members of Apco’s International Advisory Council is Doron Bergerbest-Eilon, who was a former security chief for the Israeli government.

NONEAPCO’s involvement in various intelligence and security-related projects is done through its strategic partner and sister company ASERO Worldwide. While APCO’s expertise is in the field of communications, ASERO specialises in homeland security and risk management consultancy.

APCO and ASERO have many overlapping consultants and management members. For example, Doron Bergerbest-Eilon who sits on APCO’s International Advisory Council was also founder and president of ASERO Worldwide.

Doron Bergerbest-Eilon was formerly a senior ranking security official of the Israeli Security Agency (ISA). He was the head of the protection and security division and held a position equivalent to the rank of major-general. His dedication to Israeli secret service has even earned him a prestigious Director’s Recognition Award by the U.S. Secret Service.

Mara Hedgecoth, the daughter of APCO CEO and President Margery Kraus also sits in ASERO as Vice President. At the same time, she also serves as Vice President and Director in APCO Worldwide.

ASERO’s Senior Vice President, Carl Truscott was another tainted figure under Bush Administration. Carl Truscott was the Director of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Bureau.

But he resigned in August 2006 after a report by the Justice Department found he had wasted tens of thousands of dollars on luxuries, wasted millions on whimsical management decisions and violated ethical standards by ordering employees to help his nephew with a high school video project.

Recruited from Mossad

ASERO Worldwide advises Israeli military/civilian agencies on strategic and tactical security challenges and provides assistance to both governments and corporations to prepare, mitigate and recover from threats of terrorism and other hazards, as well as to protect lives and critical assets and ensure continuity of operations.

ASERO’s staff are filled with recruits from the Israel Security Agency (also known as Shabak or Shin Bet) and the infamous Mossad. As we all know, these agencies’ standard operation procedures in counter-terrorism include torturing suspects, assassinations, etc.

In 2006, APCO and ASERO introduced Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to Israel, and helped to develop Israel’s airport security system – the Suspect Detection Systems. The TSA was designed by John Magaw, another Apco leading consultant who used to serve as director of the U.S. Secret Service.

Links to Singapore

It is no secret that Singapore and Israel covertly engage in extensive cooperation in the fields of defense and intelligence. The cooperation between the two countries can be traced back to the 1960s.

singapore defence poster 170505Within the high-ranking ASERO directors and managerial officers, the only non-American or non-Israeli appears to be a Singaporean.

ASERO and APCO provide consultancy service on homeland security to the Singapore Government. ASERO, in particular, assists Singapore with technical and intelligence services in aviation and aerospace security. Their services and expertise have facilitated the rapid transfer of Israeli military and security technologies to Singapore.

The two companies are also involved in promoting Israeli participation in long-term research and cooperation in strategic fields that have security or military implications. One such institution is the Singapore-Israel Industrial R&D Foundation (SIIRD) established in 1997.

In recent years, ASERO has actively participated in many counter-terrorism activities. In the quest for academic exchange, ASERO joined the Centre of Behavioral Science (CBS). The objective of CBS is to serve as a “platform for the transfer and exchange of leading-edge knowledge and ideas which contribute to the transformation of the life of individuals, organisations and society at large”.

Access to sensitive material

Against this background, there are ample of reasons for patriotic Malaysians to question the wisdom of engaging Apco. There is no doubt that APCO does not share the vision and objective of our nation-building. It is not surprising that ’1Malaysia’ has not been resonating well in our local context.

In fact historically, ’1Malaysia’ sounds too similar to the various one-nation movements around the world. Unfortunately, the one-nation slogan has become inevitably associated with conservative tendencies.

As we know, ‘One Israel’ was the slogan of a failed attempt to forge unity in a fragmented political landscape. Then there was also ‘One Britain’, which had been the theme of notorious UK Conservative politicians and far-right, anti-immigration groups.

john howard malaysia visit 301106 talkingIn Australia, ex-Prime Minister John Howard (left) formulated a ‘One Australia’ policy in 1980s. In essence, ‘One Australia’ was a reaction against multiculturalism and it insisted that Australia must retain the domination of the Anglo-Saxons.

Howard’s ‘One Australia’ theme was later picked up by racist politicians such as Pauline Hanson who founded the One Nation Party. This party’s sole platform was based on fiery anti-migrants and anti-foreigners rhetoric and policies.

Surrendering sovereignty

A year after launching, the concept of ’1Malaysia’ is still too ambiguous to the majority of Malaysians. Although the slogan has generated lots of hype, there is no substance in it.

In fact, Malaysians of all ethnicity are equally lost in this mantra-like rhetoric. The ‘feel-good’ effect cannot sufficiently cover the disappointment or disillusionment over inaction in addressing real issues affecting the nation, such as corruption, falling productivity, poverty, national unity etc.

Our concern is more than just wasting tax payers’ money on all those glitzy advertisements, billboards, songs, concerts, essay-writing competitions etc. We must address the core issue; how secure can the country be when we voluntarily expose all governmental functionaries to a private firm with a strong foreign interest?

In its work, APCO has been given access to many highly sensitive government materials which I believe even most Malaysians are denied access to. It would be absolutely naïve for us to believe that APCO will handle our state secrets ‘professionally’, especially when we run into conflict with global powers.

I hope legislators and leaders of BN would pay some attention to this serious issue. If you are truly patriotic, stand up now. Please do not surrender the fate of Malaysia into the hands of foreign powers.

*Tian Chua is member of Parliament for Batu and is also director of strategy for Parti Keadilan Rakyat.

Where are RM52 billion worth of Bumi Shares? asks LG Eng


March 29, 2010

Of RM52 billion  worth of shares , only RM2billion remain in Bumiputra hands

By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng wants the government to investigate why RM52 billion worth of shares in public listed companies allocated for Bumiputras under affirmative action policies were no longer in their hands.

He told reporters in Parliament today that the fact that the shares were no longer in the hands of Bumiputeras was an act of betrayal. The Penang Chief Minister suggested a Royal Commission be set up to investigate such leakages. He said that out of RM54 billion in shares allocated for Bumiputras only RM2 billion were still in their hands.

“According to a Bernama report, the Prime Minister had been quoted as saying that of the RM54 billion in shares allocated, only RM2 billion worth of shares were left in the hands of Bumiputras,” said Lim.

“There is a leakage of RM52 billion which is not in the hands of the Bumiputras. This is a betrayal. The government has to arrest and take action against the people who have hijacked the money,” he added.

When asked by a reporter whether Pakatan Rakyat had any ideas or leads as to who now held the shares, Lim smiled and claimed that PR knew who had control of them, and also why there was inaction from the part of the government.

“We in PR know who has the shares, it is held by the cronies of  Barisan Nasional, that’s why the government has not taken any action. If the government really cares, they need to send a message to show their seriousness in taking action.”

“The government should set up a Royal Commission on the Bumi equity. This is an admission from the Prime Minister himself,” asserted the Penang Chief Minister.

Lim’s initial response was towards a newspaper report on which Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had commented on the distribution of wealth among Malaysians. “He is talking about the distribution of wealth among Malaysians, who has got what and who did not, the ones who have got nothing are the rakyat,” said Lim. The total Bumiputra equity currently stands at 19.4 per cent from its targeted 30 per cent some 19 years ago.

NEM could be a big disappointment


March 29, 2010

New Economic Model could be a BIG Disappointment, according to Reuters

by Razak Ahmad & Royce Cheah

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak will unveil initial details of a new economic model tomorrow (March 30) to boost growth and win back foreign investment in this Southeast Asian country.

The NEM aims to lift the country from a middle income economy that is heavily dependent on trade and commodities to developed nation status in 2020 through economic liberalisation and a greater focus on services. After Tuesday’s announcement there will be a period of public consultation before it is set in stone as the 10th Malaysia Plan in June.

Why does Malaysia need a new model?

Malaysia has fallen behind in the race for global investment and domestic investment rates are among the lowest in Asia, relative to the size of the economy.

Half of the foreign direct investment money that flowed into three countries, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand from 1990-2000 went to Malaysia. Now that figure is under a third, according to United Nations data. Investment by Malaysia’s private sector stands at around 10 percent of GDP, according to the World Bank.

Malaysia’s education system churns out tens of thousands of graduates who are ill-equipped for high knowledge jobs. A report from investment bank Morgan Stanley said its gross tertiary enrolment ratio and gross tertiary completion ratio are 7 percent and 6 percent lower than the average of economies with its level of GDP per capita.

Will the reforms be clear and unambigious?

Despite expectations among some fund managers and economists this is unlikely to be a radical proposal with great detail. PM Najib has shown he is an incremental rather than radical reformer since he took office in April 2009.

According to a draft of the plan seen by Reuters, there are no firm measures to be announced, just a raft of ambitions for growth and to re-orient the Malaysian economy to high-value services and to boost domestic investment and consumption.

The draft sees economic growth at 6.5 percent to 2020, after Malaysia’s export dependent economy shrank 1.7 percent in 2009 and is expected by the central bank to expand 4.5-5.5 percent this year.

The draft also stresses the need to cut the budget deficit which hit a 22-year high of 7.4 percent of gross domestic product in 2009, although it does not specify how. There are plans to cut subsidies and to introduce a goods and services tax. Both of these measures were recently delayed by the government.

Malaysia’s subsidy bill accounted for 24.5 billion ringgit in 2009 out of 160.2 billion in federal government operating spending.

Why will the measures disappoint?

In part at least because expectations among many fund managers and investment banks have been set too high. Many lauded Najib’s earlier services and financial sector liberalisation, despite the fact that they were already contained in the country’s “Financial Sector Master Plan”

Najib himself has promoted the NEM as a completely “new model” although many of the proposals such as shifting to an income based view of poverty from a race-based one have been around for years and were in the 9th Malaysia Plan. Expectations that Najib will deliver a raft of privatisations that could cut the budget deficit are also likely wide off the mark.

Government funds that own around half the market capitalisation of Bursa Malaysia are separate entities from the federal government, so money raised from stake sales will not go to the finance ministry.

Najib is too weak politically weak to deliver radical reforms

Although Najib has steadied the Barisan Nasional coalition since he took office a year ago in the wake of national and state elections in 2008 where the coalition that has ruled Malaysia for 52 years fell to its worst ever losses, his coalition is weak.

Any plans to dismantle the extensive system of privileges for Malays and other indigenous peoples that account for 65 percent of the 28 million population may trigger popular discontent.

A radical group called Perkasa has been formed to “defend” Malays and Islam. A rising tide of Islamism has seen Malaysia cane women under sharia law for the first time, seen a caning sentence for a woman who drank alcohol and a row over whether Christians can use the word “Allah” for God. Some political analysts say that Najib will only be able to implement meaningful reforms after winning a new electoral mandate, although that is a risky process, and Najib does not appear to be a risk-taker.

Although new polls do not need to be held until 2013 at the latest, they could come as early as next year. The later elections come, the later will be any reforms, allowing Malaysia’s rivals in the battle for foreign investment more time to surge ahead.

If Najib called snap polls and the BN was returned with a two-thirds majority in parliament, then he could probably reform as much as he liked. But with the BN’s ethnic Chinese and Indian parties still in tatters, two-thirds looks like a tall target.

What will be the market impact?

More of a whimper than a bang. The ringgit currency has outperformed other Asian currencies this year, gaining 3.46 percent on the back of a Bank Negara Malaysia rate hike in March after under performing most of emerging Asia in 2008 and 2009. Flows have recently returned to the domestic bond market, which is one of emerging Asia’s largest and most liquid.

If radical plans are unveiled all these assets could rally further, but if there is another round of promises but no firm time-frame for implementation, then any market rally could lose steam.

Due to high levels of ownership by state funds in both equities and debt as well as by local banks, there is unlikely to be a big selloff if the measures do disappoint.

- Reuters

Najib-Muhyiddin team


March 29, 2010

by Dr M. Bakri Musa

The Labu-Labi team of Najib-Muhyiddin

Dr M. Bakri Musa@Morgan-Hill, Cal.

The dynamics between Prime Minister Najib Razak and his deputy Muhyiddin Yassin is one of rivalry. They compete rather than complement each other. They give every indication to be the least productive and most dysfunctional ‘team,’ if I can stretch that term. Their relationship has awful feng shui and exudes bad karma.

They are politics’ Labu and Labi, the bumbling hired hands in P. Ramlee’s comedy movie of the same name, who spent their time fantasizing about their employer’s daughter while neglecting their chores.

Alas, leading the nation is anything but a comedic act; it is an awesome responsibility. Najib and Muhyiddin, however, are treating their position as they would a trophy wife; with Najib consumed with displaying it while Muhyiddin is busy licking at the chops barely concealing his own desires.

Najib has nothing substantive to show after a year in office. It is emblematic of his inept leadership that when the recently-acquired new Scorpene submarine could finally dive, it made the headlines! Incidentally, that submarine was bought during Najib’s tenure as Defense Minister.

We have significantly lowered the bar for and expectations of our leaders. Next, we will be excited if Najib were just to show up! Consider that former Prime Minister Mahathir had praised Najib merely for not dozing off at meetings! As for Najib’s much ballyhooed “1Malaysia,” a check on its website today showed that it is still inviting readers to register to join him for tea on March 13, a good two weeks ago! Well at least that is better than the fate of his deputy’s blog.

On the major issues, from the teaching of science and mathematics in English to the controversy over the “Allah” terminology, the two are not even on the same page. They are complete opposites. Often that is the catalyst for a dynamic and creative relationship. That however, is true only with highly-accomplished and self-confident personalities. Najib and Muhyiddin are far from being that!

I will compare the current duo of Najib and Muhyiddin to their predecessors, and then suggest a course of action Najib should take to salvage his tattering leadership. I will focus on three preceding pairs: the best and ideal team of Tun Razak and Dr. Ismail; the longest and most enduring partnership of Tuanku Abdul Rahman and Tun Razak; and the destructive and dysfunctional combination of Mahathir and Anwar. These three examples (two positive and one negative) provide many relevant lessons for Najib.

Unaltered the present course will lead to a breakup of the two, with destructive consequences to them, their party, and their country. The scale would be many times worse than the Mahathir-Anwar explosion of 1998. The latter crippled the party and deeply divided the country, but only temporarily. In that ruinous split there was a definite victor, the mercurial Mahathir, which made the conflict mercifully not protracted.

If Najib and Muhyiddin were to split, it would come at a time when their party is at its weakest and most vulnerable; likewise the nation. As neither Najib nor Muhyiddin is strong enough or commands sufficient respect and support within the party and country, their split could consume both of them, as well as fatally cripple UMNO.

As for Malaysia, it has come a long way since the traumatic events of 1998 and could thus take the Najib-Muhyiddin breakup in stride. Indeed I would argue that the split would be good for the nation.

Nothing however, is preordained; prophecies need not be self fulfilling. Even bad karma and ill feng shui can be ameliorated. Najib’s future is in his own hands and in the fateful decisions he makes, not with the alignment of the stars or the tea-leaf reading of some village soothsayers.

Earlier Teams

The first and longest pair was that of Tunku Abdul Rahman and Tun Razak. It spanned over 15 years and was the most successful the country has ever seen, or likely to see again. Even when the duo broke up following the 1969 race riots, it was done discretely and with minimal public repercussions. The pair remained unique in that they maintained their respect for each other long after one exited the stage. They never uttered an unkind word for the other, at least not publicly. It was a class act right to the end.

Compare that to the nasty things the Tunku and Hussein Onn heaped upon Mahathir when he was Prime Minister, or the scorn and contempt Mahathir poured on his chosen successor, Abdullah.

At the other extreme, we had the initially very promising and dynamic but later proved to be highly destructive and dysfunctional pairing of Mahathir and Anwar. The nation is still playing the price for that ugly split. The pair was like an unstable radioisotope; when it split it continued spewing its toxic radiation, defying all attempts at containment.

The team of Tun Razak and Dr. Ismail that succeeded the Rahman-Razak duo was easily the best and ideal. Perhaps the brevity of their tenure spared them from the inevitable tensions and rivalries. Malaysians today look forlornly to that team, especially considering what is being served to us today.

The Razak-Ismail team was not the briefest; that distinction (if it can be called that) belongs to the immediately succeeding team of Razak and Hussein Onn. That was also the most forgettable pairing. The Razak and Hussein duo demonstrates that it would take both sides to make a great or at least workable team. It is not enough to have only one member shine; a laggard partner would bring the pair down. This observation would be validated many times later, as with the Mahathir-Musa Hitam and Mahathir-Ghaffar Baba pairings.

When both members are lightweights, then we would have a laughing stock of a team, a political Labu and Labi team. At worse it would be a disaster, for them as well as for the country. We had that with the Abdullah and Najib; we are now we re-living it with Najib and Muhyiddin.


Chua’s Victory and Political Comeback in MCA


March 29, 2010

Chua’s Brilliant Political Comeback could lead to Cabinet Reshuffle

By Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani and G. Manimaran

The Najib administration will see its first reshuffle soon after two ministers lost their positions in the MCA elections, and Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek made a political comeback by winning the party presidency.

The new MCA president will oversee the choice of candidates for Datuk Seri Najib Razak to consider if he decides to replace Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat and Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Kong Chong Ha, both lost in yesterday’s race.

It is understood that the changes could be delayed until after the Hulu Selangor by-election where MIC deputy president Datuk G. Palanivel could run and be in line for a Cabinet appointment if he wins the seat for the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.

There will also be likely changes in MCA resources and assets, including at The Star daily, which saw some editorial promotions last week.

“At this stage, to focus on party rather than government position. I think April would be good to do the reshuffle either mid or end of that month… Najib can evaluate his Cabinet after first year appointed as the prime minister,” said Universiti Sains Malaysia political analyst Associate Professor Sivamuragan Pandiayan.

He said Dr Chua and deputy Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai have a very challenging task ahead to bring together all factions. They will have to come up with a master plan to win back Chinese voters and build “a team” rather than be individualistic in their approach to running the party.

“The president needs a government position besides [being] appointed as BN’s service centre director,” Sivamurugan noted, referring to Dr Chua’s job as the BN co-ordinator in Pakatan Rakyat-ruled states.

Associate Professor  Dr Ahmad Nizamuddin Sulaiman from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia also felt that Dr Chua needs a Cabinet position in order to provide effective leadership.

However he assumed that Najib will have his new Cabinet after the Hulu Selangor by-election, the date of which will be decided at the end of this week.

“In terms of Cabinet position, I think that Tee Keat will resign before he being dropped as Minister of Transport… and for time being, I also think that Dr Chua will remain outside the Cabinet,” he said.

As the delegates have chosen a mixed lineup, including Liow as number two, rather than Kong, the health minister will also need to show undivided support and loyalty to Dr Chua as the new president to build back the MCA.

“I have strong a feeling that Dr Chua will get greater support in the MCA as the new president,” he added.While Dr Chua was able to win with 901 votes, the veteran politician still has to appease the 1,411 delegates who voted for Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting and Tee Keat.

Political analyst Khoo Kay Peng said that Dr Chua must carefully thread his way through the different party personalities.

“He has just won the presidency so we have to see his announcement and how he is going to deal with two ministers who just lost in the election. We have to see whether he has learned from his own experience. Even though he must accommodate Liow but we also cannot rule out the five hundred-odd delegates that voted for Tee Keat,” he told The Malaysian Insider.

Khoo said the party president must decide whether to strip Tee Keat and Kong of their ministerial positions.“He has made the announcement that he will not be seeking a ministerial position and what you see is that there are four newly elected vice-presidents. By convention the VPs [are] made ministers. Two of the ministers have lost their position in the party. How is he going to deal with that?” he added.

The four new vice-presidents – Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen (1,528), Datuk Donald Lim (1,469), Datuk Chor Chee Heung (1,202) and Gan Ping Sieu (1,202) — are each linked to one of the three rival presidential candidates.

Ng is a known ally of Dr Chua while Chor is close to Liow and Gan with Tee Keat.In his bid to re-unify a divided party, Dr Chua must negotiate with his deputy as he appoints eight central committee (CC) members and 10 members to the presidential council.

The new president must also decide whether to include Youth chief Datuk Wee Ka Siong and Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun in the presidential council. They were removed by Tee Keat after they were seen to be close allies of Liow.

He will also have to appoint his own secretary-general, treasurer-general, and national organising secretary.But Dr Chua’s biggest challenge is to recover support and to reassert the MCA’s political relevance in the Chinese community.

James Chin believes that Dr Chua’s presidency will have no significant impact as the MCA has already lost its credibility in the community.

“There are no implications because the MCA will still be off track to lose the next general election even with Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek as the president. However, I suspect the reason why he won is because the delegates voted for him so that he could put things in order before the next general election.

“I don’t think he will be able to recover the Chinese ground if the election is held this year,” the academician said.Merdeka Center director Ibrahim Suffian stressed that Dr Chua must resolve the party’s internal crisis before gaining public confidence.

“Dr Chua definitely has a mandate to re-unite the party but given the fact that he has18 months before the next party elections, I don’t think he has the time to do so.

“He definitely could try to regain the support of the Chinese community but he has bigger problems than that, in trying to solve the internal problems in the MCA,” he said.

Prime Minister Najib will unveil New Economic Model on March 30, 2010


March 28, 2010

New Economic Model: Modified NEP, a New Road Map for a Competitive Malaysian Economy or Balancing Act  for Investors and Voters?

The government will this week unveil a New Economic Model aimed at luring foreign investors who analysts say have been alienated by corruption, political brawling and uncompetitive policies.

Prime Minister Najib Razak, who will announce the reforms on Tuesday, must strike a balance between the demands of investors and those of voters who handed the coalition its worst ever results in 2008 elections.

“We realise, whatever we do must be market-friendly and have the support of the people,” he said at the weekend, according to state media.

Economists said the plan, aimed at attracting much-needed foreign funds to boost economic growth and create employment, will include the privatisation of government assets and the rolling back of an affirmative action programme.

The New Economic Policy, introduced in the 1970s to close the wealth gap between the minority Chinese community and majority Muslim Malays and indigenous groups, known as “bumiputras”, is criticised as outdated and uncompetitive.

Foreign investment in Malaysia plummeted last year as a result of the global financial crisis, while its economy contracted by 1.7 percent as the crucial exports sector dried up.Malaysia, Southeast Asia’s third-largest economy, recorded RM32.6 billion worth of investments in 2009, down from RM62 billion in 2008.

Economists said that as the region emerges from recession, competition for investment has become fierce, with Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam eroding Malaysia’s attractiveness.

Efficient Government

Manokaran Mottain, a senior economist with AmResearch, said Malaysia urgently needs to transform itself into a high-value economy, and not remain stuck as a middle-income nation.

Najib is likely to introduce strategies to promote a quality workforce, to develop more competitive markets, and introduce incentives to encourage private investment in Malaysia, he told AFP.

Yeah Kim Leng, group chief economist with RAM Holdings, said Malaysia only had to look south to tiny Singapore to see how billion-dollar investments are won thanks to efficient government and a big pool of talented labour.

“In Malaysia, corruption, lack of skilled human resources, the affirmative policy and red-tape are among the impediments to woo investors,” he said.

Yeah said Malaysia’s image abroad has been hammered by recent incidents including the caning of three Muslim women for having sex out of wedlock – a first for the nation – as well as conflict within the ruling coalition and an unprecedented challenge from the opposition.

“It has created a negative perception among international investors who are concerned about the future political stability of the country,” he said.

Najib’s new model, however, has excited Yeah who said the premier is “pressing hard on the accelerator of a locomotive”.

Bumi Policy to stay

He said he expected government-linked companies to divest their holdings in the utility, banking and services sector to boost liquidity in the stock market. Najib will also identify ways to cut red tape and boost poorly rated public sector services, he said.

Yeah said he also expected the new model to include a rethink of the affirmative action plan introduced by Najib’s father Abdul Razak, the country’s second prime minister, after deadly race riots.

“We will not see a 100 percent roll back in the affirmative action plan but we will see some market-based policies to woo investments,” he said.

Despite concerns the policy has bred an over-reliance among Malays and improperly benefited the elites, it has been fiercely guarded by the coalition which has ruled since independence in 1957.The multi-racial coalition was deserted by ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities in the 2008 polls and now risks losing the support of Malays, who have long been its bedrock, to the resurgent opposition.

Tough Road Ahead for Anwar Ibrahim


March 28, 2010

Tough Road ahead for the “Marathon Man” of Malaysian Politics

by Terence Netto

No doubting it but Anwar Ibrahim has to be the ‘Marathon Man’ of Malaysian politics if he’ is to succeed at running the gauntlet of legal, political, and even, physical obstacles to Putrajaya.

Yesterday was a case in point. Anwar’s already obstacle-strewn path to power was made more carking by three police road blocks on the North-South Highway which delayed his appearance at a PKR gathering, billed ‘Gempita Perak ke Putrajaya’, in Taiping.

NONEThe English rendition roughly translates as ‘Perak Tremors for Putrajaya’. No doubt the contest for power in Malaysia has had an inventive effect on the Malay language.

Would something as salutary rub off on certain quarters in this fight? They seem bereft of creative ideas to counter their opponents, resorting instead to the petty and the crass.

Road blocks at Tapah, Simpang Pulai and Kuala Kangsar on the highway forced the PKR supremo to tactics of evasion.

His motorcade diverged to trunk roads before rejoining the highway to make his appointment, albeit two hours late, at the Dewan Chen Chi Zong Ci in Simpang, Taiping.

The delay had the obverse effect on the crowd that had started to gather from late afternoon to hear him.  It swelled by evening, aided by a shower that briefly cooled the heat of the earlier part and brought the people out who might otherwise have kept away because of the sultry conditions.

Had Anwar been on time he would have been received by a smaller crowd.  In the event, his enforced tardiness and the sudden change in the weather combined nicely to fill the hall to overflowing, as about 2,000 people assembled to hear him.

Though the public address system was not good and the acoustics of the hall poor, the mainly Malay crowd, with proportions of Chinese and Indians cognate to their percentages in the overall population, just wanted to see and hear him, after having witnessed a retinue of Chinese lion dancers, Indian drummers and Malay kompang beaters, take pulsating turns to give Anwar a welcome suitable for a head of state.

The late start meant that Anwar was hastened to the podium where he preferred a rapier tipped with wit and sarcasm to the bludgeon.

Anwar slams Perkasa

Inevitably, the Perkasa gathering earlier in the day in Kuala Lumpur received the brunt of his scorn. He said the so-called defenders of Malay rights only speak up for poor Malays when their power to appropriate the wealth of the country for themselves is threatened.

Otherwise, Anwar said, they are silent, conniving at the disproportionate allocation of the nation’s wealth from its timber resources, oil and gas deposits, and corporate profits to a plutocratic few.

He said none of the Pakatan component parties had been on record as questioning the role of the Malay rulers, position of Islam, and special status of bumiputeras, but this portrait of them as a menace, promoted by a manipulative mainstream media, is drummed into the public mind.

Fortunately, he said, the alternative media of the Internet was available to counter this BN propaganda and so their prudent stances and the good deeds of the Pakatan state governments could be highlighted to the people.

Otherwise, he said, the country would have been at the mercy of a well-connected few who pretend to be defenders of the Malays when it suits them while their children and cronies helped themselves to wealth they don’t deserve.

“Under such a regime, what we call corruption, they call commission that runs into hundreds of millions,” said Anwar, using key terms which the crowd recognises as connoting the misdeeds of the BN government.

He added that these pretenders to the role of protectors of the Malays also talked of defending Islam, while holding shares in companies that produced alcohol and promoted gambling.

Next stop, Bagan Serai

This crack brought titters of laughter among the crowd, indicating they have been keeping abreast of the stories on the Internet that highlighted the discrepancy.  But one got the impression that this narrative of BN misrule was not what the crowd wanted to hear, that it was deja vu to them.

They had essentially come to see Anwar, how he is standing up to the pressure of multi-pronged targeting of him, whether he is intact, physically, morally et al.  The moment he ended his speech, they dispersed quickly, apparently satisfied that their expectation of wholesomeness in the man was confirmed.  It sustained the impression that the more his adversaries targeted him, the more popular a draw he becomes.

That was probably why though wan, weary, and late, from all the campaigning, he was off to the next stop of the day in Bagan Serai, where the MP Mohsin Fadzli Samsuri, formerly of PKR, has not been seen since deserting the party to become an independent.

The turnout for Anwar at Bagan Serai was impressively large, many of them Banjarese who are said to be angry with clansman, Mohsin, who is secretary-general of the Malaysian Banjarese Association.

Malaysia ranked 59 on 2010 Index of Economic Freedom


March 28, 2010

Freedom, investment freedom, and property rights.Visit the Countries or See the Top Ten


For over a decade, The Wall Street Journal and The Heritage Foundation, Washington’s preeminent think tank, have tracked the march of economic freedom around the world with the influential Index of Economic Freedom.

What is economic freedom?

Economic freedom is the fundamental right of every human to control his or her own labor and property. In an economically free society, individuals are free to work, produce, consume, and invest in any way they please, with that freedom both protected by the state and unconstrained by the state. In economically free societies, governments allow labor, capital and goods to move freely, and refrain from coercion or constraint of liberty beyond the extent necessary to protect and maintain liberty itself.

How do you measure economic freedom?

We measure ten components of economic freedom, assigning a grade in each using a scale from 0 to 100, where 100 represents the maximum freedom. The ten component scores are then averaged to give an overall economic freedom score for each country. The ten components of economic freedom are:

Business Freedom | Trade Freedom | Fiscal Freedom | Government Spending | Monetary Freedom | Investment Freedom | Financial Freedom | Property rights | Freedom from Corruption | Labor Freedom

2010 Index of Economic Freedom: Malaysia ranked 59 in the world and 9 in the Asia-Pacific Region

http://www.heritage.org/index/Country/Malaysia

Malaysia’s economic freedom score is 64.8, making its economy the 59th freest in the 2010 Index. Its score is 0.2 point better than last year, reflecting improvements in four of the 10 economic freedoms. Malaysia is ranked 9th out of 41 countries in the Asia–Pacific region, and its overall score is above the world and regional averages.

Malaysia’s ongoing reform measures have enhanced the overall entrepreneurial environment. The economy scores above the world average in eight of the 10 economic freedoms. The labor sector is relatively flexible, with simple employment procedures and no mandated minimum wage. The top income and corporate tax rates are moderate and have been reduced, and the overall tax burden is low as a percentage of GDP.

The financial sector has weathered the global financial crisis relatively well. Limits on foreign ownership in financial sub-sectors were eased, improving financial freedom, and numerous domestic equity requirements that restricted foreign investment were eliminated. Corruption and a judicial system that remains vulnerable to political influence remain significant challenges to economic freedom in Malaysia.


Background

Malaysia, an ethnically and religiously diverse constitutional monarchy, became independent in 1957 and has been ruled since then by the United Malays National Organization. Huge electoral inroads made by the opposition coalition, led by the People’s Justice Party, in March 2008 were due largely to popular dissatisfaction with pro-Malay affirmative action programs and widespread corruption. Malaysia has slowly liberalized its economy, but government ownership in such key sectors as banking, automobiles, and airlines remains high. Malaysia is a leading exporter of electronics and information technology products, and its industries range from agricultural goods to automobiles.


Business Freedom69.9

The overall freedom to start, operate, and close a business is somewhat limited by Malaysia’s regulatory environment. Starting a business takes an average of 11 days, compared to the world average of 35 days. Obtaining a business license takes more than the world average of 18 procedures and 218 days. Bankruptcy proceedings are relatively straightforward.


Trade Freedom78.7

Malaysia’s weighted average tariff rate was 3.1 percent in 2007. Some high tariffs, import and export taxes, import restrictions, high services market access barriers, import and export licensing, non-transparent regulations and standards, non-transparent government procurement, export subsidies, and weak protection of intellectual property rights add to the cost of trade. Fifteen points were deducted from Malaysia’s trade freedom score to account for non-tariff barriers.


Fiscal Freedom84.3

Malaysia has moderate tax rates. The top individual income tax rate is 27 percent (non-residents are subject to a flat 28 percent tax). The corporate tax rate has been reduced to 25 percent from 26 percent. Other taxes include a capital gains tax and a vehicle tax. Under a single-tier tax system that became effective on January 1, 2008, dividend income is exempt from income tax. In the most recent year, overall tax revenue as a percentage of GDP was 14.8 percent.


Government Spending81.3

Total government expenditures, including consumption and transfer payments, are relatively low. In the most recent year, government spending equaled 25.0 percent of GDP.


Monetary Freedom76.7

Inflation has been moderate, averaging 4.4 percent between 2006 and 2008. Most prices are determined in the market, but the government influences certain prices through state-owned enterprises; controls the prices of petroleum products, steel, cement, wheat flour, sugar, milk, bread, and chicken; and usually sets ceiling prices for a list of essential foods during major holidays. Ten points were deducted from Malaysia’s monetary freedom score to account for policies that distort domestic prices.


Investment Freedom30.0

Foreign investment is welcome in certain sectors, and some domestic equity requirements have been eliminated. Certain kinds of investment are screened, though commercial operations can begin before approval. Resolving commercial disputes can be complex and time-consuming. Regulations are burdensome and non-transparent, and skilled labor is in short supply. Residents and non-residents may hold foreign exchange accounts, subject in many cases to government approval. Nearly all capital transactions are subject to restrictions or require government approval. Ownership of agricultural land is restricted to Malaysians.


Financial Freedom50.0

Supervision of banking has been strengthened, and non-performing loans have decreased to less than 5 percent. Mergers among local banks have been encouraged to increase overall competitiveness. There are 38 commercial banks, 20 of which are domestically owned. The central bank licenses and regulates banks. Islamic banking based on Sharia law accounted for around 17 percent of total banking assets in 2008. Foreign firms’ overall participation in the financial sector remains restricted. Equity participation is limited to 30 percent for commercial banks, but in 2009, the central bank raised the foreign ownership limit concerning Islamic banks, investment banks, and insurance companies to 70 percent from the previous 49 percent. The financial system has withstood the global financial crisis relatively well, and banks remain generally well capitalized and liquid.


Property Rights55.0

Private property is protected, but the judiciary is subject to political influence. Corporate lawsuits take over a year to file, and many contracts include a mandatory arbitration clause. Despite plans to ratify the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty, complaints about lax enforcement of intellectual property rights persist, and the manufacture and sale of counterfeit products have led to serious losses for producers of consumer products and pharmaceuticals.


Freedom From Corruption51.0

Corruption is perceived as present. Malaysia ranks 47th out of 179 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index for 2008. The law provides criminal penalties for official corruption, but it has not been implemented effectively, and officials engage in corrupt practices with impunity. The media have reported numerous cases of alleged official corruption.


Labor Freedom71.4

Labor regulations are relatively flexible. The non-salary cost of employing a worker is low, but dismissing an employee remains difficult and costly. There is no national minimum wage, and restrictions on work hours are flexible.

Perkasa Launch–March 27,2010


March 28, 2010

Mahathir Speaks

Mahathir to Najib: Listen to PERKASA

by Hazlan Zakaria & Jimadie Shah Othman (March 27, 2010)

Former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamed today told his successor Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak to open his ears to the voice of PERKASA and other Malay NGOs.

“I would like to remind the current leadership to listen to the Malay NGOs. They represent the Malays. He should be mindful of the Malays for they are his constituents. They hold the votes (in their hands).”

perkasa first agm 270310 mahathir speechSpeaking while officiating the inaugural Perkasa general meeting at PWTC in Kuala Lumpur today, Mahathir echoed PERKASA chief Ibrahim Ali’s earlier speech, warning of dire electoral consequences should Najib fail to listen and address the needs of the Malays.

He also reiterated what former minister Azmi Khalid told Malaysiakini prior to the PERKASA’s meeting today, which was attended by 4,000 people.

“The Malays are flocking to PERKASA because UMNO has failed to promote and fight for the Malay cause.”

Several times during his speech, Mahathir also rejected critics’ view of him being a racist.”I am not a racist,” he said, and repeatedly stressed, “I am a son of Malaysia.”

‘You can’t clap with one hand’

At a press conference after the opening ceremony, Mahathir lashed out at his former deputy and present Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim and his many conspiracy claims. “If he cannot defend himself, he calls it conspiracy. It is as if everyone is hatching a conspiracy against him (Anwar).

perkasa first agm 270310 crowd“When I was in power last time, everyone knew there was a conspiracy to topple me. As my number two, he never said anything about it, but he used others to say things.”

Asked to comment on UMNO veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah’s vocal views and recent appointment as advisor to Kelantan over the oil royalty issue, Mahathir dismissed the matter.

“This is a free country, he can say what he likes. They (Kelantan in appointing Razaleigh) can do what they like, but they can’t do anything if they clap with one hand (without the federal government’s cooperation).”

Mahathir also accused Kelantan MB Nik Aziz Nik Mat of colluding with those behind the September 16 , 2008 takeover bid when the latter advised Bayan Baru MP Zahrain Hashim not to release embarrassing details about his former party.

“If he asked not to reveal, he must be in league with them.”

Suara PERKASA’s debut

Meanwhile, the event also saw the debut of PERKASA fortnightly publication Suara Perkasa, which was distributed to all those who attended.

perkasa publicationThe publication, recently approved by the Home Ministry was filled with articles promoting the NGO and its stand.

Interesting, three articles from Malaysiakini also appeared in Suara Perkasa‘s maiden edition, despite the online portal being lambasted for “working hard to disunite Malays” by Ibrahim.

One of the articles was an exclusive interview with Ibrahim written by two Malaysiakini journalists, one of whom has been referred to by the PERKASA chief as “penulis dajal”, or demon writer.

In an immediate response, DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang lamented Mahathir’s backing of PERKASA.

“Mahathir has come full circle, from an ultra back again to an ultra – repudiating Bangsa Malaysia and Vision 2020 which he enunciated in 1991. This is the greatest tragedy.”