Politics is Money, says Mahathir

May 25, 2010

Politics is Money

Former and current BN leaders have admitted that UMNO and MCA have used money in questionable ways during internal and legislative elections, according to a new report on political financing.

mahathir ikmal presidential lecture 290410“There can be no escaping from the fact that politics is money. You see, without money you just cannot move,” said former premier and UMNO president Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

He was speaking in an interview last year with Transparency International-Malaysia (TI-M), which published this in a report Reforming Political Financing in Malaysia, launched last Sunday.

Because of the inherent link between politics and money, Mahathir said UMNO has had to raise money from members of the public, resulting in rent-seeking behaviour.

“People in Malaysia don’t need much persuasion. They believe if they contribute, they might get some leverage,” said Mahathir, who headed UMNO for 22 years.

“So when election comes, people just come… and the money taken is sometimes without receipt. “So, it depends on whether you’re going to be honest or not.” Mahathir went on to claim that vote-buying has been prevalent during the party’s triennial elections and accused “practically everyone” elected into the supreme council of using such means.

“So you can say that UMNO central committee is actually made up of corrupt people,” he said.  Mahathir then related his own experience in 2006, when his bid to become a delegate to the party AGM that year was allegedly thwarted due to vote-buying by his opponents.

book reforming political financing in malaysia 240510He was referring to his failed attempt to be voted in as one of the seven delegates from the Kubang Pasu division, which he had led for more than three decades.

“I lost. Because UMNO headquarters sent money to pay all those people not to vote for me. The division leader got RM2,000, each member RM200. I was disgusted, you know? RM200, I’m so cheap?” Mahathir said tongue-in-cheek.

“How much can you buy with RM200, how much food, how many plates of mee? You sell the power to determine the leader for RM200?”

Warlord Contractors

The TI-M report includes excerpts of interview with former finance minister and UMNO treasurer Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, who spoke on how the party has fed rent seekers through government contracts.

NONEHe argued that, because the contracts usually have to change a number of hands, profits would trickle down. This has led to shoddy work in infrastructure projects.

“All these hospitals cracking up, stadiums collapsing, are all the result of warlord contractors,” he said.

“It’s not always a result of corruption. They could be due to bad design, etc, because there’s little margin for contractors to make because the top has been creamed off by these greedy politicians. It breeds itself.

“If you just became a warlord, and you don’t give money, they are not interested in you. You want to amass funds, illegally, to feed your followers.”

MCA leader Dr Chua Soi Lek, when he was party No 2 last year, revealed that many BN candidates spend more during a general election than the ceiling stipulated in election laws.

NONE“The limit on candidates’ election expenses is RM200,000, but the official accounting does not reflect the true spending,” he said.

“Usually a candidate spends between RM500,000 to RM1 million during campaigning.”

In the 234-page report,TI-M criticised UMNO and its BN allies for its business interests as well as its control of media organisations.

It also made 19 recommendations to stem corruption and improve transparency of political financing.

Sime Darby Code

May 25, 2010

Sime Darby Code


We have a non-functioning board of directors. We also have a management committee that misleads the board.

I read in the Edge recently the thinking that asking the board to resign is NOT going to sort out Sime Darby’s recent financial mess. I think otherwise. It should be made to resign so that an impartial and unfettered inquiry can be made into the losses. Its removal or resignation helps to unravel the Sime mess in the sense that it removes the need to be less thorough and less severe. The existence of a board and close proximity with board members may be a cause of restrained investigation. Better to remove any fetters that could hinder an honest thorough, rigorous and stringent investigation.

Would the young man with that formidable accounting degree be self assuring enough to ask tough questions to the Tan Sris, Dato’s and the Sime Tun? The agenda of uncovering this mess requires absolute thoroughness and ruthless forensic accounting, the two requirements that could be hampered by the existence of the same board under whose supervision, the rogue management carried out its misdeeds.

The existence of a board of directors seen to be ineffective and part of the whole mess should not fetter any impartial inquiry into the fiasco. At the very least they should stand down until investigations reveal their non complicity and ignorance. If there is no conspiracy, then it was complete ignorance. And in law, we cant plead ignorance of the law as an excuse for doing or not doing what we did.

Indeed as a redemption measure, the board should make haste in calling an independent inquiry team to look into this mess.

By his own admission, Tun Musa Hitam said: “Semua laporan yang sepatutnya (sampai), tidak sampai kepada pihak Lembaga Pengarah. Kalau ada pun, ia tidak memberi gambaran sebenar. Kami tidak mempunyai laluan untuk maklumat sebenar.”

The second part is intriguing. If the reports were presented to the board, at what point in time did the board realise that the information given were misleading? Was it after the mess became public knowledge? Saying so, does not absolve the board.

That places the board in the same category as the ignorant public. The public can be excused but not the board- because the board is an involved and interested party. It can’t be conferred the same leniency as the uninvolved public. You are liable for the behaviour of those over whom you exercise duty.

How does the board establish the veracity of the information given? That could only suggest that the board has a possible source channelling the real information to counter the misinformation given. Why was this source act so belatedly? If it does, then its actions (the source) can be conspiratorial.

Musa’ statement taken as a whole also mean, that beside the board of directors, the management committee is also responsible and therefore liable for its actions. The million dollar question then is why the punished should be confined to Zubir Murshid only. The responsibility and liability should go down the entire line of decision makers involved in the business deals.

The overall strategy is to isolate the gangrenous parts lest they infect the whole body.How extensive is the rot? If every level of Sime’s management bears the fingerprints of Zubir’s kind of management, then Sime Darby and Malaysia are looking at a bigger catastrophe in the making. If Zubir’s style of management is characterised most of all by a cloak and dagger approach, the current Sime Darby’s financial mess is just the tip of the iceberg.

If the original merger between Sime Darby, Golden Hope and Guthrie was kept secret by Zubir and his collaborators , it seems likely that the current ‘costs overruns’ are also kept secret until the very end. Tun Musa’s admission that the board is kept in the dark or was fed with false information, confirms that this is the management style of Zubir and his coterie of like minded managers.

If that is so, removing Zubir and having him replaced by a person moulded in the same management philosophy, isn’t going to save Sime Darby. The person currently standing in for Zubir is one such person. Indeed Azhar and Zubir and another one Zarif( the person in charge of foreign labour) are known within Sime Darby as the 3 Abduls. They all came from the same division- Sime Tyres. And there’s nothing comical about how these 3 are running Sime Darby.

This strengthens the reasons to look at the other operations of the Sime Darby group. Tun Musa appears to pre-empt any moves to look into Sime’s other business operations when he stated that the problems are confined only to the E&U division. But because the overall style of management at Sime is dictated by Zubir and gang, and problems can occur, it doesn’t hurt to look into Sime’s other businesses.

For example, now is the right time to start looking also on how the plantations division are managed. Why do we need to? Because the public is made to believe that the losses incurred by the Energy and Utilities division can be cushioned by the healthy earnings from the plantations division. The losses can still be absorbed and Sime as a whole can still remain profitable.

That belief can only be supported IF the plantations division continue to be profitable. Its profitability depends on good management and productivity. These two things are fast depleting. As we are aware, the turnover rate of experienced managers within the plantation division is very high. Good managers are leaving the division.

As a result productivity is adversely affected. In Sime’s estates a lot of palm fruits remain unharvested because of chronic labour shortage. Losses are mounting. If fruits are unharvested, that translates into millions ringgit losses per month.

Jeffery Kitingan is back in the news

May 25, 2010

Jeffery Kitingan is back in the news

By Luke Rintod (www. themalaysianinsider.com)

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah opposition politician Jeffrey Kitingan may again be in the political wilderness if his recent utterences are any indication.

Jeffrey, who is one of the vice-presidents of PKR, seems to be increasingly distancing himself from the opposition party.His muted salute to Pakatan Rakyat’s victory in the recent Sibu by-election has added grist to speculations that he is about to formally cut ties with the opposition coalition.

Fresh from a four-day trip to celebrate the Harvest Festival in Pontianak, Indonesia, he reaffirmed his long-held view that Sabah and Sarawak must be autonomous.

It is an open secret that the PKR vice-president, who is in charge of Sabah and Sarawak, avoided the Sibu by-election and that he has kept a low profile on PKR activities of late.Speculation is rife that he may be about to spring a surprise. With the upcoming PKR congress in Kota Baru, Kelantan, Jeffrey’s presence or absence will take on new meaning.

It is well known that Jeffrey has had an uneasy relationship with the peninsula-based opposition party he is leading in Sabah and Sarawak. He believes the two states should be left to Sabah and Sarawak political parties to govern. “The only solution is to restore Sabah’s autonomy and to leave Sabah parties to manage Sabah politics, Sarawak to Sarawakians and Peninsula to penisular parties,” he said.

Jeffrey is also upset with Universiti Utara Malaysia academic and Foreign Ministry consultant professor Ranjit Singh’s views made at a recent state government-sponsored talk. Ranjit said Sabah and Sarawak should no longer consider themselves equal partners in the formation of Malaysia.

Jeffrey disagreed with the academic’s suggestion that Sabah and Sarawak were merely two of the 13 states in Malaysia.Ranjit said the constitution had undergone changes since the time of the federation of Malaya where it is stated that Sabah and Sarawak are states in the federation.

While declining to talk about his immediate future, Jeffrey told FMT that it was wrong to believe that Sabah and Sarawak were mere pawns in the formation of Malaysia.

A Lesson in History

Breaking down his argument into points, he listed down the following facts:

  • Sabah, Sarawak, Malaya and Singapore formed Malaysia in 1963 as equal partners with equal powers and status;
  • Malaysia was formed through a merger and not a takeover of one party by another;
  • Malaysia was to be a new federation, and not a unitary system;
  • Sabah and Sarawak shall not be equivalent in status with the existing states within Malaya because Sabah and Sarawak were equal partners and it was Malaya which signed the Malaysia Agreement, and not the individual states; and
  • Sabah and Sarawak would retain their individuality and would have special rights and autonomy as outlined by the 20-point/18-point… agreement.

“These are the facts of history. Of course, there were niggling problems with this arrangement,” said Jeffrey. “One of them was that the federation of equal partnership was created at a time when the Federation of Malaya already existed with 11 states.

“This meant that the (newly formed) Malaysia was going to be a two-tier federation. The other question was, how was the new federation of equal partners going to relate and function with the 11 states whose status is not equivalent to that of Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak?

“We must remember that Singapore even had its own prime minister, and Sabah and Sarawak, too, has this proposal in the original 20-point agreement.”

“The government at that time realised these complexities and took the easy way out by first kicking Singapore out of the federation and then changing the federal constitution and even unilaterally changing the concept of Malaysia to what it is today,” said Jeffrey.

“We have become a neo-federation that is now unitary rather than a true federation. Ranjit has exposed the true colonial intention of Malaya, which is the subjugation of Sabah through the federal power-play by bringing down the then Chief Minister of Sarawak Stephen Kalong Ningkan, and Sabah’s Donald Stephens and increasing the number of parliamentary seats by more than 70 in favour of the Peninsula in 1973-74 and then eventually amending the federal constitution.

“It is unfair to say that the amendments to the federal constitution and the downgrading of Sabah and Sarawak were with our consent as suggested by (Sabah Cabinet Minister) Masidi Manjun, in his comments on Ranjit’s view,” he added.

Present situation unacceptable

According to Jeffrey, Sabah leaders were overpowered and bullied into submission because they were naïve, unprepared and subjugated by condescending federal leaders as shown by the example of Ningkan and Donald, and the many ISA arrests, including he himself for three years under the ISA for raising the issue.

“Can we say that these amendments to the federal constitution are really what we wanted, or what the leaders wanted or what Sabahans wanted?

“Are we saying that the leaders wanted to erode our own rights and special positions to our own disadvantage? Are we saying that we are stupid to do that?” asked Jeffrey.

“I don’t think so, but the unfettered power of the federal government caused this to happen. Look at what Dr Mahathir (Mohamad) did to Sabah, for example, when he was bringing UMNO into the state.

“The government under Mahathir was using every means to weaken the democratically-elected government with the use of the then ACA (Anti-Corruption Agency), police… and what not. He made it sensitive even to mention the 20-point agreement, and anyone who raised it was arrested.

“He introduced the two-year rotation system, which is not in our constitution; he recruited foreign voters and gave them MyKad through Project Mahathir to maintain power and even changed the election boundaries to increase the so-called Malay seats, and then eventually took over the government.

“Is this really a solution? I don’t think so. It has brought more wrongs than good,” said Jeffrey.

Shortly after he was made PKR’s chief for Sabah and Sarawak late last year, Jeffrey had urged Sabah MPs and leaders to throw their weight behind de facto party leader Anwar Ibrahim to bring change to the state. He may no longer be feeling that sentiment.

KTMB to relocate to Woodlands, Singapore

May 24, 2010


Kereta Api Tanah Melayu (KTMB) to relocate to Woodlands, Singapore

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong agreed today to relocate to Woodlands the 78-year-old Tanjong Pagar railway station operated by Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB).

The relocation, to take place on July 1 next year, marks a major step in resolving a number of outstanding bilateral issues between the two countries, as first reported by The Malaysian Insider last September 29.

According to a statement released after a meeting between Najib and Lee here today, the two governments will also form a company to jointly develop parcels of land now owned by KTMB.

The two leaders agreed that Malaysia would co-locate its railway and Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) complex to the Woodlands train checkpoint.

Singapore would facilitate the relocation to the Woodlands train checkpoint, and ensure bus service connectivity from the KTMB station at Woodlands to a nearby MRT station for the convenience of train passengers.

Both countries also announced that a company, known as MS Pte Ltd, will be established no later than December 31 this year to jointly develop the parcels of land. Malaysia is to hold a 60 per cent stake in this company under Khazanah Nasional Berhad, while Singapore will have a 40 per cent share held by Temasek Holdings.

The three parcels of land in Tanjong Pagar, Kranji and Woodlands, along with another three pieces of land in Bukit Timah, will be vested by MS Pte Ltd for joint development, which in turn could be swapped on the basis of equivalent value for pieces of land in Marina South and/or Ophir-Rochor.

The joint statement said both sides would conduct their respective valuations. Lee will visit Kuala Lumpur within a month with a proposal for the land swap with Malaysia.

The transfer of the land parcel to MS Pte Ltd will take effect at the time when KTMB vacates the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station. Singapore’s land swap proposal involves valuable parcels near the island state’s first casino in Marina South, instead of scattered pieces across the tiny republic.

Singapore had submitted a proposal to Wisma Putra last year for the joint-venture company that will develop the new piece of land.

It is understood that Malaysia has already appointed private valuers to ascertain the exact land value of the site, which is in lieu of the 217 hectares that KTM now owns in Singapore.

The site is near the Marina Bay Sands, which was recently opened. It also overlooks the Singapore F1 race track comprising streets in the republic’s priciest commercial zones.

The land swap has been contentious since the Malaysia-Singapore Points of Agreement (POA) was signed in 1990 over the issue of the future of the railway land. The POA was signed between former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and former Malaysian Finance Minister Tun Daim Zanuddin.

Under the agreement, KTM was to vacate its historic station at Tanjong Pagar and move to Bukit Timah while all of KTM’s land between Bukit Timah and Tanjong Pagar would revert to Singapore. The land at Tanjong Pagar would be handed over to a private limited company for joint development — of which its equity would be split 60 per cent to Malaysia and 40 per cent to Singapore — as it is in the latest agreement.

But the key contention was the interpretation of the agreement as Singapore insisted the agreement meant KTM had to move its terminal from Tanjong Pagar to Bukit Timah within five years of its construction, when the republic moved its railway immigration in August 1998.

But Putrajaya said it would only be effective once it decided to move the station. The railway land was acquired under a 1918 colonial ordinance specifically for use by Malayan Railway (Keretapi Tanah Melayu or KTM) for a period of 999 years. That same ordinance limits the use of this land. The land, which the main railway station is situated on, is considered prime land.

The 1990 POA states that the KTM railway station would be moved either to Bukit Timah first, or directly to Woodlands. In exchange, under the 1990 POA, three parcels of railway land — at Tanjong Pagar, Kranji, and Woodlands — would be jointly developed on a 60/40 basis with the Malaysian Government holding the larger share.

However, three years later, former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad expressed his displeasure with the POA as it failed to include a piece of railway land in Bukit Timah for joint development.

In September 2001, both neighbours reached a comprehensive agreement with an understanding that the Malaysian immigration checkpoint on the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore railway line will be moved from Tanjong Pagar to Kranji.

Dr Goh Keng Swee: He turned the tide for Singapore

May 24, 2010



May 23, 2010
The Family of the late Dr Goh Keng Swee

Mr President

Distinguished Guests

Friends and Fellow Singaporeans

May I, on behalf of the government and people of Singapore, convey our deepest condolences to Mrs Goh and the family of the late Dr Goh Keng Swee on his passing at the age of 91.

Great leaders shape and influence the course of events through their actions and ideas. Singapore is a small country with a short history. But we too have had giants in our midst – men who have turned the tide for Singapore, and created a successful nation against the odds.

Dr Goh was one of our nation’s founding fathers. In our formative years, he dealt with the most pressing problems of the day. But more importantly, he introduced sweeping initiatives that set the basis for the country’s long-term prosperity and security. Without him, much of today’s Singapore would not exist.

Dr Goh was a nationalist and a strong advocate for independence from British rule. After earning his PhD in England, he worked for a few years in the social welfare department, while supporting the People’s Action Party (PAP) from behind the scenes. In 1959, Singapore won self-governing status from the British, and general elections were held. Dr Goh resigned as a civil servant to contest as a PAP candidate. When the PAP won, Dr Goh became our first Finance Minister.

Dr Goh soon discovered that the government was almost broke, and expected a budget deficit of $14 million that year. Prudent and thrifty by nature, Dr Goh immediately introduced drastic measures to cut spending, including cutting civil service salaries. This was obviously unpopular, but Dr Goh stood firm. When he delivered the Budget at the end of the year, he proudly declared that the government had achieved a small surplus of $1 million. He had drafted the speech personally, after secluding himself on the remote island of Raffles Lighthouse to concentrate on the task. Dr Goh set the tone for the PAP government, which ever since has steadfastly upheld budget discipline and fiscal prudence.

Dr Goh next turned his attention to jump-starting the stagnant economy. He decided on a strategy of rapid industrial’isation, attracting investments from MNCs to create jobs and exports. This was a radical and untested approach. It was contrary to the conventional wisdom then, that poor countries could achieve economic development through import substitution, and that MNCs were new colonial powers out to exploit impoverished workers in the Third World.

Key to the industrialisation programme was an ambitious project to transform the swamps of Jurong into a modern industrial estate. Dr Goh saw this as “an act of faith in the people of Singapore”. He and his friend Mr Hon Sui Sen, then Chairman of the Economic Development Board, set out to develop Jurong with energy and determination.

The strategy did not work immediately. Investors were put off by the instability and mayhem created by the Communists and their sympathisers. There were more troubles after Singapore joined Malaysia, and the federal government in Kuala Lumpur controlled the award of Pioneer Certificates (for tax holidays) to investors. Not a single application for Pioneer Certificates was approved during this period. Given these problems, Jurong made little progress. Cynics mocked the venture, calling it “Goh’s Folly”.

But after independence we left these problems behind. The industrialisation strategy proved its worth, and Jurong industrial estate took off. By 1968, almost 300 factories operated in Jurong, employing 21,000 workers. Today, the Jurong project has far outgrown its geographical boundaries. Jurong Town Corporation was renamed JTC Corporation, because it was managing industrial estates all over Singapore, not just in Jurong. JTC Corporation has also spun off commercial arms, like Ascendas and JTC International, which have planned and built industrial parks and townships in many Asian countries. These successes have won Singapore an international reputation as a first class infrastructure provider.

Dr Goh pioneered many other economic institutions. He helped create the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), where he laid out the policies that produced a stable Singapore Dollar and preserved the purchasing power of Singaporeans, not least their CPF savings. Years after Dr Goh retired, I served as Chairman of MAS. My task was to revise and update MAS’ policies, many of which traced back to Dr Goh. We changed course very cautiously, always mindful of the good reasons and careful analysis that underpinned the original policies. For example, Dr Goh firmly opposed allowing market players free rein to speculate on the Singapore dollar, say by borrowing Singapore dollars in order to short the currency. Our small, open economy depended too much on a stable exchange rate. MAS applied a very strict policy, famously known as “the non-internationalisation of the Singapore dollar”. By the late 1990s, we needed to relax these restrictions, in order to grow the fund management industry in Singapore. We did so in careful, incremental steps, over several years, loosening the implementation but never giving up the principle.

Beyond economics, Dr Goh helped to steer our nation through its difficult birth. His was often a backroom role, developing strategies and arguments to counter first the communists and then the communalists. But his robust attitude encouraged the whole team to press on against seemingly unwinnable odds, eventually to prevail and create today’s Singapore.

Once Singapore became independent, we faced a pressing need to develop a defence capability and safeguard ourselves in a dangerous world. Although Dr Goh initially knew little about military matters, he took on the heavy responsibility as our first Defence Minister, and built up the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) from scratch.

Dr Goh took a personal interest in all aspects of the SAF. No detail was too small for him. I once followed him to visit a field engineer defence exercise. We passed one site where the troops were digging a large bunker. It was a hive of activity: all the soldiers swarming over the work site, hard at work. This did not escape Dr Goh’s practised eye. He commented that the soldiers should have been divided up into shifts – one third working, one third resting, and one third on guard. They should not all be working at once, and especially not to impress the minister.

Dr Goh understood that what counted most to the SAF was ability and talent. The SAF needed commanders and staff officers with the leadership qualities, intellectual abilities and professional competence to build and operate a modern, high-tech defence force. He created Project Wrangler, a talent management scheme overseen personally by the Minister, to identify promising officers, and systematically track, groom and advance them to key command and staff appointments. He introduced the SAF Scholarship scheme to induct top talent into the SAF. But he did not forget the older officers, mostly non-graduates, who had got the SAF off the ground: so he implemented a programme to enable deserving ones among them to study for Master’s degrees at Duke University in military history and strategy. This is why today we have a cadre of capable and committed SAF leaders who understand defence technology, appreciate the strategic context, and can make sound decisions on and off the battlefield to ensure Singapore’s security. Without such a team, we could not have built up, nor could we operate the 3G SAF, a professional and credible deterrent force respected alike by Singaporeans, partners and other armed forces in Asia and around the world.

I was in the first batch of SAF Scholars. Dr Goh took a special interest in us, and met us before we left for our overseas studies. He presented us each with two military classics: Sun Tzu’s Art of War and Liddell Hart’s Strategy: The Indirect Approach. He had specially ordered the books, and inscribed them to each of the young second lieutenants, “wishing you a successful military career”. Dr Goh’s gesture showed both his grasp of strategy and security issues, as well as his keen interest in nurturing talent for the SAF.

Dr Goh’s last ministry was education. Here too he introduced major reforms, leaving his imprint on a fundamentally changed education system. His approach was systematic, analytical, and results oriented. Today, nearly every student completes secondary education, masters both English and a mother tongue, and attains standards of mathematics and science that are among the highest in any country. As in so many other areas, Dr Goh’s work laid the foundation on which his successors have built, to reach greater heights.

With a creative mind and wide-ranging interests, Dr Goh had a tremendous zest for life and work. He would come up with new ideas every day for the civil servants to study and implement. Submissions to him frequently came back covered with corrections, to polish the language and sharpen the arguments, or sometimes demolish them. Many young officers benefited from his guidance. Their careers and lives were changed by their interaction with Dr Goh, who more than once intervened at critical points to overcome an obstacle or to guide them in the right direction. They included President S R Nathan, Mr Goh Chok Tong, Mr Wong Kan Seng, Mr Mah Bow Tan, and Mr S Dhanabalan, as well as Permanent Secretaries like Ngiam Tong Dow, Lim Siong Guan, Philip Yeo, and Joe Pillay, and many others.

Dr Goh was a hard task-master but also a teacher and mentor. He recognised good work, and would back officers who had done well. He promoted and appointed people on merit, disregarding seniority in order to get the job done. He would fight for their promotions, which were not always within his dispensation because he needed to persuade the Public Service Commission. He would stand up for them publicly. I remember when I resigned from the SAF to enter politics, an opposition MP filed a Parliamentary question which was obviously targeted at me. Dr Goh was then no longer the Minister for Defence, but he nevertheless rose in Parliament to defend me, and the integrity of MINDEF’s personnel and promotion system, in his usual robust style. Many other officers who served him had similar experiences.

Dr Goh also had a fun side to him. In MINDEF, he became frustrated that directives from headquarters to the units were having so little effect. As an experiment, he ordered a directive issued to all units that comprised nothing but the Bible passage on Noah’s Ark. The directive made its way through the organisation – some units simply passed it on to their subordinate units for implementation, others filed it for reference, and only one person asked what it was for. Dr Goh wrote up the results into a paper, which he entitled “Noah’s Ark Progresses through the SAF”.

Dr Goh’s writings and speeches reflected his depth of thinking and broad range of reference. He published three volumes – The Practice of Economic Growth, The Economics of Modernization, and The Wealth of East Asian Nations. Many of the pieces are gems that remain well worth reading today, decades later. Those wishing to learn about economic management and governance in modern Singapore will gain much from studying them.

A whole generation of Singaporeans has grown up enjoying the fruits of growth and prosperity, because one of our ablest sons decided to fight for Singapore’s independence, progress and future. Instead of pursuing a private career, Dr Goh chose to serve the larger good, and stayed in public service for more than 25 years.

Thousands have paid their last respects to Dr Goh this last week, in gratitude for what he had done for Singapore, and often personally to themselves. The media have reported a few of their stories – the old lady who was visited by Dr Goh when the family was very poor; another lady whom Dr Goh had come across as a little girl weeping in school, and had comforted; the young navy officer who reported to Dr Goh after making a grave mistake, but was forgiven because he owned up. These personal gestures and kindnesses reflected Dr Goh’s character and compassion, which underpinned his enormous contributions to Singapore.

Singapore is forever indebted to Dr Goh Keng Swee.

Goh Keng Swee: “He made the greatest difference to the outcome of Singapore”(MM Lee Kuan Yew)

May 24, 2010


The Family of the late Dr Goh Keng Swee

Mr President

Ladies and Gentlemen

It was my good fortune to have strong men around me. Of all my Cabinet colleagues, it was Goh Keng Swee who made the greatest difference to the outcome for Singapore. He had a capacious mind and a strong character. When he held a contrary view, he would challenge my decisions and make me re-examine the premises on which they were made. As a result, we reached better decisions for Singapore. In the middle of a crisis, his analysis was always sharp, with an academic detachment and objectivity that reassured me. His robust approach to problems encouraged me to press on against seemingly impossible odds.

If ever there was a slow developer, it was Goh Keng Swee. He did not shine until he got to Raffles College where he was the best student of his year in economics. I first met him there when he was my economics tutor in 1940/41. He had a large Adam’s apple and a gruff voice as he mumbled his comments on the essays of the five students who appeared before him for tutorials. I did not then realise how sharp and clear a mind he had. We met again during the war when he was an impoverished government servant, paid in Japanese “banana notes”.

Our friendship developed when we met in London in 1949-1950 when he was studying at the London School of Economics on a scholarship. I was in London preparing for my Bar finals. We shared a common view that we could run Singapore and Malaya better than the British colonial officials. We became close friends. Together with Kenny Byrne, Toh Chin Chye and S Rajaratnam, we planned to build up a mass movement, to form a political party, win elections and take over from the colonialists. We were blissfully ignorant of the wide tentacles of the communist underground that gripped the Chinese educated world.

By the time we discovered how ubiquitous the communists were in the Chinese schools and universities, clan associations, chambers of commerce, and old boys’ associations, they had their tentacles around us. Together we planned and got rid of the communists from the PAP, then beat them in the referendum in 1962 to join Malaysia and in the general elections in September 1963.

He was hopeless as a campaign orator, but a formidable analytical mind. His writings were crisp, elegant and forceful. After we had joined Malaysia, he stood up for our rights and fought to protect Singapore’s interests against the Federal Finance Ministry. After two years of constant friction and two race riots, in July 1965, he met with then Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak and Minister for External Affairs Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman. I had asked him to negotiate a looser re-arrangement for Singapore but keep Singapore within the Federation. He decided that the best alternative was a clean break.

After Tun Razak and Dr Ismail agreed, Eddie Barker and I worked furiously to settle the terms of the separation. To avoid tipping off the British, the constitutional amendments had to be done with utmost secrecy and executed in three readings of the legislation in one session of the Malaysian Parliament. Hence on 9 August 1965, the Republic of Singapore became independent.

He was my trouble-shooter. I settled the political conditions so that his tough policies we together formulated could be executed. I gave him the toughest jobs in government: the Ministry of Finance from 1959 to 1965 when economic survival was crucial; Ministry of Defence in 1965 when all we had were two battalions of the Singapore Infantry Regiment, that then had more Malaysians than Singaporeans.

When the British announced withdrawal of their forces in 1967, I sent him back to the Ministry of Finance to deal with the loss of 20 percent of our GDP with the withdrawal of the British military spending. When that problem was resolved, he was back in 1970 as Minister for Defence. He mastered defence matters, read up the classics on strategy, Sun Tze, Clausewitz and Liddell Hart. He subscribed to military journals to know the latest in military weaponry. He sent me books and articles, sidelined and flagged, insisting that I must know enough to decide what I had to approve. I read them to have serious discussions with him on our options on arms purchases. He was, de facto, the armed forces chief of staff. He built up the SAF that we now have, an effective fighting force. He set up the Defence Science Organisation for R & D, and created several defence industries from scratch. The Singapore Technologies group now manufacture arms and ammunition and are into aerospace, electronics and computer systems.

After I merged Nanyang University with the University of Singapore in a joint campus, I appointed him Minister for Education. The dropout rate was high and many students left school illiterate. He had come across them as the “Hokkien soldiers” and instructed them in Hokkien. He re-organised schools into one national type. We decided English was to be the language of instruction and of government; the mother tongue the second language.

In 1981, I asked him to take charge of the Monetary Authority of Singapore where our CPF and other reserves were managed. He set up the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation, and built up the organisation to invest and manage our growing reserves worldwide. I became the Chairman. Many enduring organisations, a sturdy SAF, an education ministry that keeps abreast with the times; the MAS and GIC; EDB and JTC were built by Hon Sui Sen and Keng Swee.

He wanted Singaporeans to appreciate the arts. He promoted the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, the Singapore Zoological Garden, the Jurong Bird Park, Sentosa, the Chinese Garden and the Japanese Garden. He persuaded me to subsidise them for Singaporeans to have a feel for beauty and the arts. He lived a simple and frugal life and managed Singapore’s assets in the same way, avoiding waste and maximising value for money. His prudence built up Singapore’s reserves.

Keng Swee and Rajaratnam helped me to select and ensure that we had a team of younger men who would take over the government without a drop in competence, drive or dynamism. We began the system of identifying talented people to bring them into government. In his last major speech in 1984 he reminded newcomers to the PAP to “regard the present condition of the Republic not as a pinnacle of achievement but as a base from which to scale new heights.”

He chose to retire in 1984.

PKR should look at itself

May 24, 2010

PKR should look at itself, says Kulim Assemblyman

by Susan Loone (May 23, 2010)

Kulim assemblyperson Lim Soo Nee, dubbed the most likely PKR representative to ‘jump ship’, blamed the party’s defection woes on insiders who speculate or conspire against their colleagues.

kedah defection ceramah 220510 kulim assemblyman lim soo neeDuring his speech at a PAS organised rally in Kota Sarang Semut last night, Lim (right) was the only assemblyperson who criticised PKR openly, saying the party was responsible for the loss of confidence over its leadership.

Lim identified what he called the ‘push and pull’ factors that may explain why PKR reps were abandoning the Pakatan Rakyat cause.

He urged the leadership to conduct a post-mortem immediately to find a solution.

“The pull factors are conspiracies and disturbances by BN and UMNO, which we are all familiar with,” he told the 2,000-strong crowd, which fell silent at his revelations.

“The push factors are disturbances from people inside the party who purposely issue wrong information to destroy the reputation of party members,” he added.  “I do not deny that this is happening to bring the downfall of Pakatan Rakyat,” he admitted.

Need for post-mortem

Lim was speaking at the event where he and three other assemblyperson were compelled to pledge their loyalty to the PAS-led government after rumours of their defections spread like wild fire across the country.

Lim, who is also a state exco, said he was extremely sad over the defection of two Kedah PKR assemblypersons, Tan Wei Shu (Bakar Arang) and Mohd Radzhi Salleh (Lunas), who have since become independents. “Why do we only blame others (for their resignation), why don’t we sit down instead and analyse why our assemblypersons are leaving us,” he said.

NONE“So many have left the party but until today, there has been no post mortem to find out why at all,” he exclaimed.

Lim then expressed deep dissatisfaction with the party’s leadership and the state government, at which point an elderly man in the audience broke the silence shouting, “What is it you are not satisfied about?”

Lim ignored the question and continued to say that he preferred to express these feelings than bury them in his heart.

The Kulim ADUN said he used to raise many issues publicly so that the rakyat would be aware of what is happening within the state.

“But BN played around with these issues, and I was deemed the ‘opposition’ in the Kedah government. But then if we do not talk, then what is the difference between us and BN or MCA?” he asked.

‘Give and take’

azizan abdul razak lim kit siang kedah dap issue pc 080709 08At a press conference after the event, Menteri Besar Azizan Abdul Razak (left in photo) accepted Lim’s open criticism of his administration, saying he will look into the latter’s concerns.

“We’ll have to see what were the problems he had raised; sometimes we can resolve them, at other times (we cannot); we have to look at the issues first,” he added.

State PKR chief Ahmad Kassim added that the party held monthly meetings where problems could be discussed.

“(These) issues we can discuss openly and in detail within these party meetings, whether in the political bureau or executive committee. But some have to be brought to the menteri besar or state government,” said Ahmad.

“There are many problems which he has raised, but we cannot resolve all of them because we have to consider other factors and communities as well. We have to give and take, and Lim understands this very well,” he added.

Farewell, Dr. Goh Keng Swee

May 23, 2010

Singapore’s Economic Miracle Man, Dr. Goh Keng Swee, passes on

Dr. Goh Keng Swee died recently after leading a life full of achievements for Singapore. Often regarded as the father of Jurong, Dr. Goh is a man of integrity with an awesome intellect. He was also a marvellous Singaporean.

The following quotation reflects the qualities of this selfless man, ever so humble and simple.

Because I think my effectiveness depends on whether I can make a contribution in terms of analysing a problem and telling them that these are the priorities or that is the way of doing it, or whatever. If they accept it, and they find me useful, okay, I carry on. If after some time they say, ‘Look, what you are saying is absolute rubbish,’ then you just hang up your gloves and call it a day.”Dr Goh Keng Swee (1982)

I reproduce in full the tribute by His Excellency President S.R. Nathan.–Din Merican


Many will be the tributes that will be paid to this marvellous man, who devoted so much of his life for the advancement, progress and security of Singapore and our people.  To that I would like to add my own tribute – as one who learnt so much at his feet.

He was the foremost among the architects of the transformation of Singapore.  He was behind many of our achievements as a Nation – be it in our economic progress and transformation in education, in defence and security or the enhancement of Singapore so that its people can have a better life.  Nothing was too small or insignificant to be worthy of his attention.  Whether it was the Girls’ Pipe Band, the SAF, the Music and Drama Company, the Zoo, the Jurong Bird Park, the Singapore Symphony Orchestra – he had a hand in all these.  He was always steered by ideas, but his course was always determined by whether the idea would work.  His consuming passion was how to help propel this Nation and people to greater heights.

As a Straits-born, multi-racialism to him was not just a habit.  He genuinely believed in it.  He practised it in all his dealings with people.  He was Calvinist in his thrift, scrupulous in his honesty and determined in his perseverance in whatever task he undertook.  He had his principles as well as his prejudices.  He had his moods and momentary indignations.  But, above all, he was always prepared to listen.  He had extraordinary energy and a sense of selflessness.  He had a quick mind and the ability to make deep incisions of a problem, before suggesting a solution.

He pursued with child-like enthusiasm whatever matter attracted his fancy, so long as it was something worthy of his pursuit.  But always driven by whether its pursuit will be in the best interest of Singapore and the welfare of our people. Whatever aroused his interest he pursued with serious determination.

Working with him in several areas was a unique experience.  It gave me much satisfaction and a sense of fulfilment.  He was by no means an easy person to work for.  He had a formidable intellect and a photographic memory.  Nothing escaped his scrutiny.  He would be presented with a monumental volume for consideration over a weekend.  Despite his many public engagements, he would always come to meetings, having got to the nub of the matter, and identified the weaknesses in the recommendations or the errors in the analysis.

He was particular of the language used in communication and abhorred jargon. He always insisted that one writes simple English so that even a fool will understand

He was a man to work with in a crisis. If he was confident that one was up to the task of overcoming the crisis, be it an aircraft hijack or a serious bilateral problem with another nation – he hardly interfered in their handling.

He was never shy to say that he did not know something or understood what they stood for.   When he introduced “Religious Studies” in our Schools, he had a noble purpose.  He felt strongly that it was through religious fables that one could pass on “moral lessons” to our children and in a way they can always relate to.  He believed that “story tellers” should write such books, if children are to appreciate them.  Proselytising a faith was not his purpose.  He studied the textbooks of each faith and religious philosophy with equal interest and discussed them dispassionately, without allowing his own religious beliefs to interfere in their evaluation.  He never failed to point out always that behind all the successes we have achieved there was always the hand of providence.

He will be remembered by all who knew him, as a humble and simple man, who in his quiet way inspired one to achieve great things.  He was indeed a gem of a man in all respects.

I hope that future generations will think and ponder about his ideas, and appreciate what Dr Goh has contributed to Singapore’s development and growth and what some have called the ”magic of our success”.

RPK: Fight me in the UK

May 23, 2010

From Alor Setar, Kedah

http://www.the malaysianinsider.com

RPK dares Malaysia to fight him in the UK

By Shannon Teoh
May 23, 2010


Fugitive blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin has thrown down the gauntlet to Malaysian authorities, challenging them to bring standing charges against him to the courts in the United Kingdom.

Swaggering into a packed hall in the UK capital yesterday and flanked by two burly men in dark glasses, the controversial Malaysia Today writer insisted that he would fight charges of criminal defamation and sedition as well as the appeal against his Internal Security Act (ISA) detention, given a level playing field.

“I will take on the government and I will fight them but I will do what Sun Tzu said, ‘Fight him in your territory.’

“So my territory is here in the UK,” he declared to applause from a largely partisan crowd of over 300, who had their bags searched before entering the hall at the BPP Law School.

Many had to stand for the two-hour talk by the blogger, who repeated what he had written over the years, in his first formal appearance after over a year in self-imposed exile.

Raja Petra wore his now signature beret and immediately refuted the notion that he should return home to prove his innocence of the charges leveled against him.

“A first year law student can tell you that it is not the job of the accused to prove his innocence. It is the job of the prosecution to prove guilt.

“There is the UK court here. There need not be phone call or phone call from someone’s wife,” he said in a thinly-veiled jibe against Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, whom he has previously accused of interfering with institutions such as the judiciary.

Despite calls from various BN lawmakers to bring Raja Petra to justice, the government has so far not followed up on suggestions that they apply to extradite the runaway blogger who has made many claims, including the involvement of Najib and Rosmah in scandals such as the murder of Mongolian translator Altantuya Shariibuu.

Police have said they were looking into reports that he was seen in several countries, including the UK and Australia, after he absconded but have not reported any success.

Raja Petra, widely known by his initials RPK, also explained that Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who is facing a sodomy charge which Pakatan Rakyat insists is trumped up, was in a different boat.

“Anwar has accepted the fact that he has to stay (in Malaysia) as he aspires to be the next prime minister. I have no political aspirations.

“I’ll probably be a free man longer than Anwar,” he quipped.The member of the Selangor royal family referred to several incidences in his previous brushes with the law to back his claim that the Malaysian judiciary was not independent.

He questioned why the Federal Court had yet to decide on the government’s appeal against his release from the ISA, after more than a year.

He also said that he had tried to obtain a full bench of nine judges and “thought that maybe we will get seven but we ended up with just three.”

“We were told it was an administrative decision but nobody told us who made the decision or who were the judges until the day of the hearing.

“On the morning of the hearing, we found that one of them was Augustine Paul,” Raja Petra said, repeating what he had written about the hearing.

The late judge had in 2001 denied a habeas corpus application by Raja Petra to declare his first ISA detention illegal. Raja Petra had also written numerous articles criticising the judge who had also presided over Anwar’s first sodomy trial, which saw the sacked deputy prime minister being jailed for six years.

“I’ve written a lot of nasty things about him and called him all sorts of names. Even I would cite myself for contempt of court! How will he give me a fair trial?” Raja Petra said.

Happy Birthday, Din Merican from All of us.

May 22, 2010

Din Merican turns 17 again on May 23, 2010: Many Happy returns of the Day

Dear Friends and Members of his Blogging Fraternity,

Din and I today, Saturday May 22, 10

I have taken over the DJ role from our blog host. today . This is because he is busy reflecting on his life and future. I have chosen songs that he used to sing to me whenever he is in the singing mode (apologies to Rais Yatim). On your behalf, I wish  Happy Birthday, Din Merican: You are 17 again or will be on May 23, 2010.  He has been very active all his life and led an examined life with little or no regrets. It is my privilege to be married to this gentle soul who still has so much to offer the country of his birth which he loves very much. We wish him all the best.

I start this week’s entertainment with two songs by Julio Iglesias that Din particularly likes. The one by Cliff Richard and the other by Frank Sinatra and others are what I have specially chosen for him. Once again, Happy Birthday and May God Bless you with continued good health on behalf of your friends, associates and fellow bloggers. My wishes, of course, will be different and more intimate.–Dr. Kamsiah G. Haider

Julio Iglesias –Crazy (in Indonesian)

Julio with Anggun– All of Me (in Indonesian)

Cliff Richard–The Young Ones

Frank Sinatra- Young at Heart

Joni James–My Foolish Heart

Your Say: Mahathir should be bow out !!

May 22, 2010


‘Dr M should bow out as nation’s healer

‘He should end his career to unite the people whom he was partly responsible in dividing. He could be the catalyst of integration. It is time for him to give back to the non-Muslims whom he has hurt so much in his career.’


The Two Sides of Mahathir Mohamad

Multi Racial:  I believe Dr Mahathir Mohamad wanted to develop Malaysia. But not necessary what he did was right. I believe he genuinely want to help the Malays. Again, not necessary what he did was right. If you look back on his journey. There were good things done and there were bad ones too. I suppose the bad ones left a big wound in the nation’s soul that will takes years to heal. I understand he championed the Malays when he was a young politician. A lot of it got to do with the UMNO  style of politics where one needs to be racist to go up the leader.

Look at Najib Razak when he was a youth leader. The same applies to Hishammuddin Hussein, who did equally racist things. But this got to stop especially for a former prime minister. He (Mahathir) should end his career to unite the people whom he was partly responsible in dividing. He could be the catalyst of integration. It is time for him to give back to the non-Muslims whom he has hurt so much in his career.

Ubi Wan Kenobi: Barry Wain has done an admirable job with his book on Mahathir. But I differ with him when he states that Mahathir was only pretending to believe 9/11 was staged. I think Mahathir has researched the subject sufficiently to realise it was just another sandiwara, but on a mind-boggingly colossal scale.

Chuentick: “He taught his children right from wrong, how to work hard, no short cuts to success, good manners and respect for authority” – are you sure about this? Look at the instant millionaires in his family!

Susah Kes: By their fruits, you will know them. And what are Mahathir’s fruits in the years that he ruled? I don’t need to second guess Mahathir and his motives. What he is fighting for today has a lot to do with the possibility that there is a genuine chance of Pakatan Rakyat taking over Putrajaya one day.

Mahathir isn’t stupid to know what happens to dictators – and their family members – when there is a change in government. He remembers well Suharto, Marcos, the Shah of Iran, etc. Thirty years of Umno rule from the time Mahathir stepped into the PM’s post and his foundations for nation-building have us now staring at the possibility of a failed nation, if we haven’t become one yet.

We – the present generation – have to now undertake to clean up the mess that he and Umno have made of this country so that perhaps our children can get a decent chance in this country.

Magnus: Perhaps if Barry Wain were to read up on the personality traits of the Myer-Briggs ESTJ (Extroverted thinking with sensing) psychological archetype, he will come across a more plausible personality analysis for this politician, who without batting an eyelash, executed an unimaginably cruel and unIslamic political hatchet job on his own chosen deputy, fellow UMNO member and pedigree Malay “prince of the soil”.

As he now desperately wants to prevent Anwar Ibrahim from becoming the next PM, I’d take a wild guess that this is really why he now appears to fight tooth and nail “for the Malays” who if you recall, he so conveniently abandoned in favour of the elitist Umnoputras for all those 22 long years while he held power.

Anonymous: He destroyed the Malays who challenged him, using all the apparatus of government shamelessly. He robbed and conned the rakyat in every elections and stole the people’s money through his negotiated tender system, which was actually a robbers’ system. He messed up education, the judiciary, the transport system, the constitution, the police, security of the people and screwed Malaysia up with his hare-brained ideas.

Fairplayer: I doubt whether Dr M ever had/has any conscience. To me, he is a man who would stop at nothing to get to the top, regardless of whose heads he steps on. I can never forget his Operation Lallang swoop on the rakyat. He literally killed freedom from then on…

Myop101: All said and done, his era has ended. It is time we take stock and move ahead. It is easy to destroy, but it takes real courage and determination to build. The independent institutions that were undermined would need years to rebuilt, and getting rid of BN would be the first step.


This is what I got on my e-mail:

I read Barry Wain’s book from cover to cover and congratulate him for a task well done. Dr. Mahathir fired the imagination of our country when he took over from Tun Hussein Onn. He introduced the Malaysia Inc. idea and transformed our economy. His taglines “Bersih, Cakap Amanah” dan “Leadership by Example” (Kepimpinan Melalui Teladan) were catchy and genuine I felt at that time (1981). But he changed after 1987 after he formed UMNO Baru. Money Politics, cronyism and corruption started under his 22 year rule.  He also destroyed our institutions of governance.

How can we explain this change in the man who you (Mr Din Merican) admired so much? I can only say that it is due to absolute power. Lord Action is right when he said, ” power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Dr Mahathir was a man with alsolute power after he eliminated his political opponents (Tengku Razaleigh, Musa Hitam) and his anointed successor, Anwar Ibrahim.

Today, he is tragic figure, trying hard to defend his legacy. He relied on people like Daim and his boys and they let him down. That is the price of leadership. Choose the wrong  people and you are in deep trouble. His biggest mistake by his own admission was to appoint Abdullah Badawi as his successor. Now our Prime Minister No. 6  Najib will be have hard time to reform his UMNO party and  implement his New Economic Model and 1Malaysia concept.–Anon.

Pakatan Rally at Kota Sarang Semut, near Alor Setar


Pakatan rally to prove Kedah’s stability

By Clara Chooi and G.Manimaran
May 22, 2010

The Kedah Pakatan Rakyat government will make an attempt to prove its solidarity tonight by calling on all three of its PKR assemblymen to speak at its mammoth rally in Alor Setar.

Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Azizan Abdul Razak said the gathering in Kota Sarang Semut near capital Alor Star should quash all talk that it would be hit by a spate of PKR defections that would cause it to topple.

“All those who are supposedly going to defect will be there — all my three PKR assemblyman. They will be speaking to the people to dispel talk of their possible defections,” he told The Malaysian Insider when contacted by phone.

Azizan reiterated that he had no plans to dissolve the Kedah assembly, not even if two assemblymen defected.His words goes against his earlier statement that he would dissolve the assembly at the slightest indication that one of his men were about to leave.

“Why should I? We still have the majority. We can still govern the state even if they leave,” he said confidently. He acknowledged that he had already received many “indications” of the purported defections but said they were merely malicious rumours spread by “troublemakers”.

“The question is whether those indications are true or not. Some people have even said that the consent of the Sultan has already been sought for the Barisan Nasional to form the state government but can we believe them?” he said.

In the recent days, talk was rife that more PKR defections would soon follow, particularly in Kedah due to the small seat-majority between the BN and PR assemblymen. PR holds 20 seats in the 36-seat assembly with PAS holding 16, PKR three and DAP one, while the BN has 14.

The assembly’s two independents Radzhi Salleh (Lunas) and Tan Wei Shu (Bakar Arang) are, however, said to be pro-BN.

The High Court had ordered the Election Commission to call a by-election for the Kota Siputeh state seat in Kedah after the assemblyman Datuk Abu Hasan Sarif twice went AWOL from the state legislative assembly meetings.

The decision is currently being appealed by the EC.If PR loses three more assemblymen from the assembly, BN’s seat number would shoot to 17, with the support of the two independents while the PR would only have 17 assemblymen.

“But still, don’t forget about the Kota Siputeh seat. The status of that seat is still in question,” Azizan reminded.

When contacted, PKR assemblyman Lim Soon Nee confirmed with The Malaysian Insider that he would be speaking at the rally.

“Whatever I need to explain to the people will be said tomorrow night,” he said yesterday, confidently adding that he would not leave PKR.

A PKR source had named Lim as one of the possible defectors from PKR as he was a close friend of Tan.

PKR’s other two assemblymen Tan Chow Kang (Sidam) and S. Manikumar (Bukit Selambau) had already both denied there was any rift in the PR and assured The Malaysian Insider that they were loyal to their party when contacted earlier.

“I am tired. I think I have spoken about this issue more than 50 times. I have many times denied but people still ask when the issue is brought up,” Tan told The Malaysian Insider.

“I want to close the file, I don’t want to talk about this issue anymore. They invite me for this event, so I will use the gathering to explain and I hope people will know my stand … and not raise the issue again,” he said.

DAP’s sole assemblyman Lee Guan Aik (Kota Darul Aman) had also agreed with his colleagues and insisted that the Kedah PR government was very strong.

“There may be some problems in the PKR but I do not think it will come to that level. I believe this is just the work of our opponents who are plotting to create this sense of uneasiness in hopes of destroying us,” he had reportedly said.

Dr. M and Mr. Mahathir–Barry Wain (Part 2)

May 21, 2010

The Two Sides of Mahathir Mohamed

by Aidila Razak

EXCLUSIVE It is a case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – or more aptly Dr M and Mr Mahathir – when it comes to Malaysia’s fourth prime minister, said ‘Malaysian Maverick’ author Barry Wain.

A “talented politician”, Mahathir had compartmentalised his life, and adopted a completely different rule book for politics, Wain told Malaysiakini in an exclusive interview yesterday.

Through his conversations with Mahathir’s (left) family, the author said, he found that outside of politics, Malaysia’s longest-serving prime minister was in fact an upright family man.

“He taught his children right from wrong, how to work hard, no short cuts to success, good manners and respect for authority.

“(But) how do you square that with dumping someone in prison under the Internal Security Act for getting in your way politically?” asked the seasoned journalist, who had followed Mahathir’s political career since the 1970s.

ahmad mustapha book lauch by musa hitam 141107He added that former deputy premier Musa Hitam (right) explained it best: “(With Mahathir it is the case of) ‘You can be my friend today, but tomorrow morning, you could be my mortal enemy.'”

In Kuala Lumpur to promote his best-seller that will also be translated into Bahasa Malaysia, Wain admitted that he found the politician’s ability to keep aspects of his life separate “extraordinary”.

In fact, he was taken aback to find that Mahathir’s wife Dr Siti Hasmah only learnt that her husband wrote a highly critical letter to then premier Tunku Abdul Rahman in the wake of the May 13, 1969 riots only after it had been mailed.

“Even when he wrote (that letter), he probably expected that the Tunku would put him in jail, he didn’t even bother telling his wife,” he said.

Did Dr M neglect rural Malays?

Wain felt that Mahathir was so hell-bent on pushing Malaysia up the development scale that he would stop at nothing to fulfill his dream.

“He didn’t do enough to correct abuses in the New Economic Policy, corruption in UMNO … he undermined institutions … he wasn’t going to be thwarted by independent courts ruling (in a) way,” he said.

ku li tengku razaleigh interview 241106 significantIt was this determination which led Wain to believe that he would have found a way to remain in power even if he had lost to Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah (left) at the 1987 UMNO General Assembly.

“When (Mahathir) was defending the sacking of the (Supreme Court Lord President Salleh Abas), he said that he didn’t have to worry about sacking the chief justice or stacking the odds because (he) would have found another way.

“You are left with the impression that he was so determined in his political career that it would be almost impossible to cut him out in any way,” he said of the string of events which many believe had heavily influenced Malaysia’s political landscape.

In his book, Wain said that Mahathir may have had a hand in the sacking of Salleh Abas who was expected to find in favour of Razaleigh in the court appeal which followed the election.

While powering through at all costs, Wain observed, Mahathir had to an extent “neglected” the rural Malays, whom he had championed early in his political career.

Instead, he chose to back the new Malay elite – a breed of nouveau riche Malays who benefited from the bumiputera-friendly affirmative action.

“I think he genuinely forgot about (the rural Malays, living mostly in poverty)… there was no room for Malay smallholders, farmers, fishermen (in his vision of Malaysia).

“When I discussed this point with (Musa) – but I did not discuss it in the book – he told me that he used to remind Mahathir that the poor Malays were being left behind.

“(But Mahathir) pitched his sights far afield and in the great scheme of things (the rural Malays) did not fit into his ambitions,” he said.

Death grip on PM’s post

Wain added that Mahathir was entirely consumed by his vision for Malaysia, that it occasionally brought him to tears – an act which his detractors dismissed as mere theatrics.

“I didn’t think he was acting at all. He was in tears because he was genuinely overcome with emotion,” he said.

But for all his clarity of vision where the future of the nation was concerned, Wain said, Mahathir could not foresee that his chosen successor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi would be “a disaster as a prime minister”.

“(Mahathir told me) ‘I didn’t know (Abdullah) was going to turn out like that. The Americans didn’t know George (W) Bush was going to be like that,” he said.

He added that it was probably Mahathir’s death grip of the prime ministerial post that blocked talented potential successors out of the leadership pipeline.

Those who have followed Mahathir’s colourful career closely, he said, should not be surprised that the octogenarian is still so vocal in his retirement, although the real motives is anyone’s guess.

Wain said that while he vowed not to interfere after stepping down, Abdullah’s faltering leadership was likely to be what forced the former premier to butt in.

najib mahathir pak lah umno 2009 agm final day 280309 02Somewhere along the line I guess (Mahathir) expected Abdullah to follow what he prescribed… he had no doubt whatsoever that his way is the right way.

“But there is definitely an element where he really craves the limelight and he finds it hard to be ignored (which motivated him to) sometimes to write some extreme things on his blog,” he said, adding that he does not buy that Mahathir believes that the September 11 tragedy was staged.

And by lending support to Malay rights’ group Perkasa, Wain said, the ‘maverick’ appears to have “gone full circle” – returning to the early days of his career when he was the firebrand champion of the Malays.

Asked if he has set his sights on another Malaysian politician, Wain said, “Probably (Opposition Leader) Anwar Ibrahim, but only if he becomes prime minister.

“Mahathir and Anwar are probably the two most talented politicians Malaysia has seen in the last decades,” he said.

Netto’s Comment on Sodomy 2

May 21,2010

Netto’s COMMENT: Sodomy II: Battering ram vs stonewall strategy

The battering ram strategy projected by Anwar Ibrahim’s legal team against the legal version of the ‘Stonewall Jackson’ tactics of the prosecution enters its latest phase at the Court of Appeal today.

American civil war general Stonewall Jackson’s name has been subsumed to describe tactics which entail standing like a wall of stone in the face of barging pressure. Against this stonewalling strategy, antagonists have little choice but to project a battering ram that they hope will bore a hole in the wall and collapse it eventually.

This appears to be what Anwar’s lead counsel Karpal Singh and his team is up to, scouring every wall that the prosecution has placed in their path.

The appellate court hears Anwar’s application for a stay in the proceedings at the High Court which has rejected his request for statements to the police made by his accuser, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan.

Anwar is appealing the rejection.

High Court justice Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah has accepted that there is a material contradiction between statements made by Saiful that the alleged sex between him and Anwar was non-consensual and the actual charge against Anwar which holds that he had consensual sex against the order of nature.

While agreeing that there is a contradiction, Justice Zabidin has however ruled it did not merit compelling the prosecution to release statements and reports made by Saiful to the investigating officer.

The norm in matters like this is that all statements and reports pertaining to the charge are made available to the defence once charges have been preferred.

A watching public is being asked to believe that this departure does not vitiate the government’s claim that Anwar is being accorded due process of the law.

Alice in Putrajaya

The claim puts you in mind of Humpty Dumpty’s definition of what he means whenever he uses a word, in Lewis Carroll’s ‘Through the Looking Glass': “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more or less.”

To this his interlocutor, Alice, responded: “The question is whether you can make words mean so many different things.” Humpty Dumpty’s terse reply to this was: “The question is which is to be master, that’s all.” Nicely put.

Post-Sibu by-election, it would difficult for the powers-that-be to let slip who the eventual master is – the electorate, of course. They can’t all be thinking that the Malaysian courts are the final arbiter of Anwar’s guilt.

There’s the courtroom of public opinion where the battle will eventually be decided. Need it be said that any deficits on due process to Anwar will be offset by surpluses in votes for him and the coalition of reform he leads.

TERENCE NETTO has been a journalist for close on four decades. He likes the occupation because it puts him in contact with the eminent without being under the necessity to admire them.

Raja Petra to speak on ISA in London

May 21, 2010


Raja Petra to speak on ISA in London

By K Kabilan

The Iconic RPK

Exiled popular blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin will be making his first public appearance this Saturday to give a talk in London on his alleged persecution in Malaysia.

In the talk to be organised by the Solicitors International Human Rights Group (SIHRG), Raja Petra will be giving an account of his personal experience in campaigning for greater transparency and accountability in Malaysian politics.

FMT spoke to Raja Petra on his first public appearance since he left Malaysia last year and asked him on his decision to come out in the open.

“They (SIHRG) picked me and asked me whether I would be prepared to give a public talk and I agreed,” he told FMT in an email interview. He quickly added that it was not as though he was hiding from the public ever since he left Malaysia.

“I was always in the open. I walked the streets and attended functions and met many people, Malaysians as well as non-Malaysians. UMNO people, ex-ministers included, even came to my house for dinner,” he said, adding that he had been meeting more Barisan Nasional people now than when he was in Malaysia.

He also said one such visitor even asked his permission to give his (Raja Petra’s) phone number to former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Is ISA still relevant?

On the talk itself, Raja Petra said he will be talking about the Internal Security Act and his personal experiences during two detentions in 2001 and 2008.

“My message will be about whether the ISA is still relevant and how it has been abused,” he said.

“What is the ISA all about — an anti-terrorism law? — or is it merely a law to stifle dissent and curtail freedom of expression? This is the focus of my talk on May 22.People ask me: do I wish to see the ISA repealed and if so, how would Malaysia combat terrorism? Am I not being irresponsible or idealistic? My reply is: we have to decide whether we are prepared to accept the concept of ‘the ends justify the means’.We can keep a draconian law like the ISA to serve a higher purpose, which is national security.”

“But if we open the floodgates of ‘the ends justify the means’ then how far can we allow this to go? Are we not using one evil to fight another evil?” he asked. He added that although the ISA is legal law passed by Parliament, “legal does not always make it moral”.

No immediate plans

When asked if he would be seen in more public talks after this, Raja Petra said that he will consider it if he was approached to do so. “But I will not be embarking on a roadshow as such,” he added.

Asked on his future plans, he said he had none. “I have no plans to speak of. I will just continue doing what I have been doing for more than 30 years since the 1970s and over the last 12 years since reformasi in 1998. And that is to write and speak on matters of social justice and fundamental human rights,” he said.

He also openly admitted enjoying Malaysian cuisine in the UK.“Do you know how many Malaysians (Malays, Chinese, as well as Indians) own restaurants here in the UK (not only in London but in the other cities as well)? I have been to almost all these restaurants and have met all the owners. I even signed the visitors’ book and many other Malaysians who signed the book after me have seen my name and one even took a photograph of that page and put it in his blog,” he said.

Iconic figure

SIHRG, in an open invitation for the talk, labelled Raja Petra as an iconic figure in the Malaysian blogosphere.

“No other blogger has been so systematically targeted for speaking out and fighting for greater democratic space, justice and a more inclusive society in Malaysia,” the group said.

It also noted that Raja Petra has also been charged with sedition and criminal defamation for allegedly implying that Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor were involved in the murder of a Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu.

“Today, Raja Petra remains in exile, unconvinced that he will be afforded due process and justice in defending himself against these charges and in responding to the appeal regarding his ISA detention,” added SIHRG.

The talk will be held at the BPP Law School lecture theatre in Holborn, London, from 1pm to 3pm. Following the talk, Raja Petra will be signing copies of his latest book “The Silent Roar, A Decade of  Change”.

Barry Wain speaks on the Malaysian Maverick (Part 1)

May 20, 2010

Barry Wain speaks to Malaysiakini (Part 1) on the Malaysian Maverick

by Aidila Razak

EXCLUSIVE Just how did author Barry Wain manage to interview Dr Mahathir Mohamad on three occasions for his book, ‘Malaysian Maverick: Mahathir in Turbulent Times‘, which offers a highly critical look at the former premier’s career?

Some have suggested that Wain, a veteran journalist formerly with the Asian Wall Street Journal, managed to beguile the octogenarian statesman into doing so, a suggestion which the author flatly denies but instead considers it a compliment.

NONEIn an interview with Malaysiakini today, Wain said he did not trick Mahathir, but was amused by the suggestion of his detractors.

“(Mahathir) is one of the most consummate politicians of all time and anyone who can outwit him should be elevated to a higher status, but I don’t think I did,” he added.

In fact, Wain, who is in town to promote the book which was recently given the green light by the Malaysian authorities after five months of pondering on whether to slap a ban, insists that he has been fair to the former premier.

“You could describe my book as critical in the sense that I look at the issues very closely… but critical as in disparaging, no.

“It is understandable that he should feel a bit defensive because you have to understand that with Mahathir, he doesn’t really accept that he has ever done anything wrong or that he made a mistake.

“I’m very happy that a number of reviewers who have no stake in Malaysian politics (have said) that the book is extremely fair to Mahathir,” he said of the best-selling book, now in its seventh edition.

Dr M’s short memory

Soon after hitting the bookstands, the book made it into the best-sellers list for several weeks in Singapore, where it was published, but the Malaysian authorities withheld the books allegedly for “insulting the national leadership and the institution of the Malay rulers”.

NONEMahathir himself was very displeased with the book and initially threatened to take Wain to court. He also claims he was misled by Wain during the course of three interviews.

“I thought he was a reformed character. He used to criticise me before. He was so very nice when he came to see me. He asked me very nice questions. On the topics he wanted to say nasty things, he didn’t say anything. That’s journalistic freedom,” said Mahathir.

Wain defended the integrity and factual accuracy of his book, claiming it was “100 percent accurate”, because the allegations were backed up by evidence referenced in 1,326 footnotes.

Among the contentious claims made by Wain was that Mahathir had squandered about RM100 billion through several financial scandals during his 22-year premiership.

One such scandal was the case of Perwaja Steel, which Mahathir was quoted in the book as stating losses involved of “maybe RM1 billion or RM2 billion”, instead of RM15 billion to RM20 billion as estimated by others.

“He’s got a short memory. His finance minister (Anwar Ibrahim) actually introduced an audit report by Pricewaterhouse (Coopers) in Parliament in the mid-1990s, and that the losses then were I think RM9.5 billion and they accumulated after that.

“He won’t be very happy to be reminded of this, but that’s life as they say. As long as I’m fair to him, and I have put across his point of view,” he said.

Willing to be challenged

Other denials by Mahathir include dismissing Wain’s claim that UMNO’s 40-storey headquarters at the Putra World Trade Centre was financed by public funds and that UMNO was broke when Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah stepped down as party treasurer in the 1980s.

putra world trade centre pwtc“I’ve got a copy of UUMNO’s audited accounts, including (data on) the secret political fund and it shows quite clearly, they had tens of millions of dollars in that account when (Daim Zainuddin) took over,” he said to stress the veracity of his facts.

However, Wain did admit to one instance in which several anecdotal accounts by second prime minister Abdul Razak Hussein’s political secretary Abdullah Ahmad, could not be corroborated and backed by documentary evidence.

Referring to Abdullah’s claim that Razak had instructed him to ensure the loss of several UMNO members in the party’s 1975 General Assembly, Wain said: “It is impossible to get another person to corroborate this since Razak is dead.

“I have chosen to accept a detailed explanation because I have gone through it over and over again and I am convinced that it is true.”

In any case, the seasoned journalist will not have to worry about defending his claims in court, as the ‘maverick’ himself, despite an initial outcry, chose not to sue after all.

“I feel entirely calm and happy, quite content that he is not going to sue me,” he said, laughingly, thanking Mahathir also for doing his bid in marketing the book which has sold about 17,000 copies thus far.

He added that in the five months since his book was launched, it has been reviewed throughout the world and no one has challenged his facts to this day.

Helping people remember Dr M

Wain also appeared unperturbed by critics who claim that there is nothing new in his book, and that it is just a compilation of old allegations. “If it were merely a compilation of whatever’s that is already there, then why are people buying it?” he said tongue-in-cheek.

He added that many people around the world are interested to read about Mahathir and his career, and that for these people, the story must be told in full, whether or not it has been reported before.

“A lot of the financial scandals were not published in Malaysia (and) many young Malaysians were two years old or weren’t born when the Mahathir administration decided to manipulate the tin price,” he said.

NONEInterestingly, he added, some readers have dubbed his book a “political thriller” which has found fans in the banking industry, with several foreign banks buying it in bulk to give to their clients as a sort of handbook on understanding Malaysia.

Will this account of Mahathir’s colourful political career make it onto the reading lists of university courses?

“This is a hybrid book, the best of journalism and academia. I hope it gets accepted for undergraduate political science or Southeast Asian studies. Heaven forbid, students may actually enjoy reading it!” he said.

Wain, who is the writer-in-residence at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, explained that he had intended to write a book that was easily readable for the masses but properly referenced for the academia.

Tomorrow: The two sides of Mahathir

Musang Hitam promises ‘thorough probe’ on Sime’s losses

May 20, 2010

Malaysiakini reports:

Musa Hitam promises ‘thorough probe’ on Sime’s losses

The Musang and the RI President SBY

Sime Darby Group chairperson Musa Hitam remained mum over crucial details of the investigations into the company’s cost overrun fiasco, reportedly amounting to about RM1 billion.

He also refused to entertain calls by parties demanding for his resignation, and also refused answer questions on whether he is prepared to resign. “Let the due process of the investigation run. If the conclusion shows that we are accountable, then we will take the responsibility,” he said.

The financial fiasco in the GLC – the biggest in the country – was revealed following the company board’s decision to ask Chief Executive Officer Ahmad Zubir Murshid to take a leave of absence.

He was blamed for the RM946 million in cost overruns from the Bakun hydroelectric project and three other energy and utilities project by the conglomerate under his leadership.

Calls for Musa’s resignation

Following this, there has been calls for Musa’s resignation as well. Musa promised that a thorough investigation would take place but was scant on details – such as the time frame and personalities to be investigated – but assured that it will be conducted by internal and external financial experts.

“We are not here to point fingers at anyone. We are just going to look at the short-term solutions, as well as the long-term solutions,” he said.

Dr M’s RM1.8 billion claim

He also refused to address the claims, publicised by former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad in his blog, that the total cost overrun could balloon up to RM1.8 billion. “Let’s just stick to the figure in the statement,” he said, referring to the press release by the conglomerate on May 13.

He revealed that “restructuring of all levels” can be expected and that investigations will encompass all divisions in the conglomerate. “Give us an opportunity to look into the whole group,” he said.

Speaking at a Press conference after closing the sixth World Islamic Economic Forum in Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre on Thursday night, he said that he has always been espousing transparency even during his time as deputy prime minister, and that he has never committed anything in bad faith.

He also vehemently defended the integrity of the Board of Directors, saying that the members are of the highest credibility. “We have the courage to admit when necessary,” he said during the lengthy press conference.

PM wants probe

The scandal first hit the limelight when a business daily reported of cost overruns with the hydroelectric Bakun Dam earlier this month. However, Sime Darby said that the Board of Directors have been aware of the overruns when a board working group was formed in October last year to “assess the corporate governance and performance” of the conglomerate’s Sime Darby’s energy and utilities division.

The work group is chaired by Andrew Sheng Len Tao. Other group members include Wan Mohd Zahid Mohd Noordin and Zaitoon Othman.  They also discovered losses in the Bulhanine and Maydan Mahzam project with Qatar Petroleum (the “QP Project”), the Maersk Oil Qatar project (the “MOQ Project”), and a project concerning the construction of vessels for use in the MOQ Project (the “Marine Project”).

The President and Group Chief Executive Officer Ahmad Zubir Murshid has also been asked to take leave of absence until his term expires on November 26, 2010.Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak has asked for a probe of the losses but has refused to point fingers at the culprits.