Daim: What’s wrong in owning bank in Tanzania?


Daim: What’s wrong in owning bank in Tanzania?

by Malaysiakini

April 24, 2014

Former finance minister Daim Zainuddin has asked just what the problem is in owning a bank in Tanzania.

This is in response to Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who recently in the Keadilan Daily, claimed that he has evidence of Daim allegedly swindling money from Malaysia and keeping the money there.

Daim served as Malaysia's finance minister on two occasions, from 1984 to 1991, and from 1999 to 2001.

Daim served as Malaysia’s finance minister on two occasions, from 1984 to 1991, and from 1999 to 2001.

Daim dismissed Anwar as a “kaki goreng” (someone who makes things up), adding that if Anwar has any evidence on his alleged misconduct then he should make a detailed report to the authorities, he was quoted as saying in the Utusan Malaysia today.

“Anwar  when meeting with the Tanzania president in an investment session there asked about my assets. The president replied that I have a bank in Tanzania, so what is the problem?” Daim asked.

Daim Shrugs Off Anwar’s Claims, Says He Was Cleared In Probes.

Daim Shrugs Off Anwar’s Claims, Says He Was Cleared In Probes.

“Anwar, after he was expelled from Umno, everything is described as improper. So what was he doing in the party?” he added.

Anwar has met the president, finance minister and Bank governor of Tanzania

“The governor said Daim has a bank in Tanzania and I asked him where did the money come from. Certainly it is from Malaysia and kept there,” said the opposition leader.

He added there was evidence of Daim had abusing his power, when the person responsible in managing the bank was arrested in London.

“I brought this to the attention of the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission but there has been no action,” the Permatang Pauh MP has said.

Daim revealed that Anwar has lodged various reports against him asking for an investigation.

“The call for investigation is based on letters I sent to him. However, he blanked my name and claimed he obtained the letters on his own.

“Twice the authorities have investigated me on my assets. At that time Anwar was finance minister and also chair for corruption, why did he not take action?

“Only after he was expelled from Umno that he start raising this,” Daim asserted.

He added that Anwar had previously claimed to hold boxes of documents of alleged abuse of power by Malaysian politicians but till today, has not exposed anything.

 

 

Malaysia gets top prize for football match fixing


April 14, 2014

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

Bolehland (Malaysia) gets top prize for football match fixing

 by Nicolas Anil

PETALING JAYA: “If there was a gold medal for football match fixing, Malaysia would win it.”

Declan Hill's bookThis is the damning verdict of Declan Hill, the Canadian journalist and academic who has been called the world’s foremost expert on match fixing and whose book, The Fix: Soccer and Organized Crime, is an international bestseller.

Hill has testified on the issue before the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the British and European Parliaments as well as the integrity units of the European Union of Football Associations. He has hard facts to back his claims.

Indeed Malaysian football has become synonymous with match fixing since 1994, when 21 players and coaches were sacked, 58 players suspended and 126 players questioned over corruption.

Two decades on, little has changed. In 2012, the Malaysian Football Association (FAM) suspended 18 President Cup players and banned a former Negeri Sembilan coach for life after they were found guilty of fixing matches.

Last year, five Kuala Lumpur players and three officials were slapped with life bans FBL-GERMANY-CANADA-CORRUPTION-HILLand 17 others were fined after FAM found them guilty on match fixing charges. A few months before that scandal, the Perak FA suspended its entire team for two weeks on suspicion of match fixing after they lost heavily in several matches.

In fact, according to Hill (right), match fixing has been spreading like cancer since the 1994 disgrace.“Malaysian match-fixers were not stopped in 1994,” he said recently. “They decided to keep local fixing under the radar and spread their activities throughout the world [instead], where the profit was much more lucrative.

“In 1994, we barely had the Internet. There was hardly any live coverage of European football and this was a massive change in Malaysian and Singaporean society. And so, gradually, Malaysians identified something that the rest of the world was just waking up to, which was globalisation.

“These people were really intelligent businessmen. They started to send their people around the world, proposing deals to dubious players, coaches and team owners to fix the games in their leagues.

Irresistible deals

“These Malaysians would propose the following to local fixers: ‘You fix the local game, and we’ll fix it on the Asian gambling market.’

“These deals were simply irresistible. They could make 10 times the profit because there was demand for it on the Asian gambling market. Now, suddenly, you have a second division game in Italy that could generate around a hundred thousand Euros.

“With this kind of money, more people could be bought and so it became a pattern. Malaysians have certainly become a household name on the match fixing market, having traces in Greece, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Belgium, Italy and Germany.”

Hill has a suggestion on how to stifle Malaysian match fixers.“A special, independent unit needs to be formed to crack and clean this phenomenon,” he said.

Kj“Pressure must be put on the Malaysian officials, and pressure has to come from men like me.There is an expectation of corruption in Malaysian football amongst the fans, players, coaches and officials, because there is a bigger fish involved in this.So that is why an elite task force has to be formed, and they must have the guts to go after these fixers.”

Hill said that if Malaysia did not act soon, there would be ramifications that could damage the nation’s prestige.

“As I have testified before various Parliaments, we have to tell the IOC that if Malaysia doesn’t clean up this problem, they will be banned from international sports. Not being able to participate in the Olympics, for instance, would be a damaging blow to the country’s pride. So it may be just be the tonic for them to get down to the root of this problem.”

It is certainly hard to argue with Hill when Malaysian football keeps making the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Perhaps it is time for the Police and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to sit down and brainstorm a way to kill this cancer.

Nicolas Anil is a sub-editor with Sports247.

Good Governance NOW


March 29, 2014

Good Governance NOW

COMMENT: I agree with Ms Tay. We have regressed as a nation due to Din MericanXweak and irresponsible leadership. Incompetence, inferiority complex from the top to bottom of our bureaucratic totem pole, and rampant corruption were  laid bare by MH370.

We should replace those who are not up to their tasks with with those who can get things done. We have competent people but they are have been ignored by their present bosses. Incompetence breeds incompetence.We have allowed kaki bodeks (yes-men) to rise to the top.The Peter Principle is at work in the Najib Administration. Unfortunately, our  Dear Leader is sleep walking.  –Din Merican

Speak up for good governance

by Salena Tay@http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

Najib+Tun+Razak.snoozeHe is not Leading; he is being Led

Malaysia is now undergoing a tough time due to the MH370 tragedy.  It certainly did not help that two passengers managed to get on board with stolen passports.However, credit must be given to the Malaysian government for heading the largest ever Search And Rescue (SAR) operation in history.

Learning from this episode, our airport immigration and security procedures have to be improved. The government must acknowledge that there were weaknesses and these have to be acted upon and rectified.

The two major issues pertaining to the MH370 tragedy which posed questions are why was no action taken to check on the turn back done back by MH370, and also the issue of the contents of its cargo.People are demanding answers to these questions.

In addition to the above incident, on March 21 flight MH114 from Kuala Lumpur to Kathmandu was hit by ducks while approaching Tribhuvan International Airport in Nepal and MH066 from KL to Incheon in South Korea was directed to Hong Kong on March 24, 2014 due to a generator problem.

From here it shows that we are still far away from achieving Vision 2020 status, what with the recent news that the water ration will continue indefinitely.

The way things are going, we resemble a Third World nation. If we are on the road towards industrialisation and First World status, there should not be a water ration now as we are only six years away from year 2020, not sixteen years away.

No. We have not progressed but regressed. Our nation too has a big national debt (official figure of RM531 billion) and a big household debt (standing at 82%). This does not bode well for the nation despite economic growth of above 5%. The money is just not trickling down to the poor and the lowly.

Recently in Parliament, the government has also requested for more funding via the Supplementary Supply Bill. The additional funds requested amounted to RM2.39 billion. The breakdown is as follows:

1. Treasury allocation to the statutory funds – RM2 billion

2. Natural Resources and Environment Ministry – RM8.4 million (inclusive of panda project of RM5.6 million)

3. Public Service Department – RM55 million

4. Prime Minister’s Department – RM53 million

5. Works Ministry – RM50 million

6. Communication and Multimedia Ministry – RM46.9 million

7. Foreign Ministry – RM28 million

8. Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry – RM20 million

9. Home Ministry – RM15.9 million

10.Energy, Green Technology and Water Ministry – RM13.8 million

Is the government spending wisely? What is happening? What can we as the small, powerless Joe Public say? We are voiceless.

Stop playing politics

We the citizens should speak up and tell the government where they are going wrong.

It is not enough to just rely on the opposition to speak up. We too have a job to do because it is our duty as a good and responsible citizen to see that Malaysia is well-governed. We owe it to our nation to see that things are run well.We must improve as our ASEAN neighbours are moving forward. Those who used to lag behind us in the not so distant past are now ahead of us.

The Federal Government must pull its socks up and start getting serious. There is no time to play politics. It must be noted that earlier this month (before the third week of March), the Transport Ministry had held a briefing for only the BN MPs regarding the MH370 issue. Why only for the BN MPs? Are the Opposition MPs not Malaysians too?

The Opposition MPs request to discuss this issue in Parliament was also rejected. Why so? Isn’t this amounting to politicking?Definitely the credibility of the nation will go down if we continue in this manner.

As mentioned many times earlier, the government must work together with the opposition for the good of the nation. And the people must keep both the government and the Opposition on their toes.

We must save our nation and save ourselves by abandoning all communal selfishness and siege-mentality.Let us speak up without fear or favour. We must sound out anyone in authority who does wrong.

We the rakyat of Malaysia must act now before it is too late. Time is running out. Citizens of Malaysia, let us work together for the common good and for the good of this nation.

Selena Tay is a FMT columnist.

MH370: Asking the Wrong Government for Straight Answers


March 27, 2014

NAJIB_RAZAK_091213_TMINAJJUA_05_540_360_100

On March 24, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (above) appeared before the press to announce that missing flight MH370 “ended in the Southern Indian Ocean.” Najib’s statement finally gave the families of the passengers an “answer” on the fate of their loved ones. But it comes after weeks of spectacular obfuscation by Malaysian government officials, who repeatedly fudged details, contradicted each other, or used the tragedy to score points against the political opposition.

Just to add insult to injury, Malaysian Airlines informed the families of the sad news by sending them a text message. Small wonder that some of the relatives are now accusing Malaysian officialdom of orchestrating a “cover-up,” and demanding to see concrete evidence such as the plane’s black box.

The rest of the world has reacted to the half-truths of the Malaysian authorities with bewilderment. But to us Malaysians it’s nothing new: We’ve been putting up with this sort of crap our entire lives. Our officials are incapable of communicating because they’ve never felt the need to. Our corrupt and incompetent bureaucracy regards its own citizens with such top-down contempt that its dialogue muscles have simply atrophied.

So it’s no wonder that Malaysians have spent the past few weeks coping the way we’re accustomed to: by indulging in conspiracy theories, the last pathetic refuge of people who know that they can never expect the truth from their own leaders. So we’ve seen some Malaysians blaming the loss of the plane on everyone from our own government to the United States, China, North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan, and — why not? — aliens. Yes, it’s sad. And yes, it’s more than a little crazy. But in the final analysis you can’t really blame us. Where else are we supposed to find any answers?

The Malaysian government’s response has been dismal almost from the moment MH370 went missing. In most countries, the prime minister would step forward and take the lead during a catastrophe of this magnitude. In Malaysia, however, our Prime Minister decided to spend his time boasting about his skill at buying cheap chicken, analyzing the economy’s health based on the price of kangkung (water spinach), or strolling around shopping malls. He’s left the bulk of the mundane task of disaster management to the acting Transport Minister cum Minister of Defense, Hishammuddin Hussein, who has figured as the official government spokesman at a number of press conferences following the disappearance of MH370. (Hishammuddin, it’s worth noting, is a cousin of Prime Minister Najib — a coincidence quite widespread in a country where politicians are often linked by clan ties.)

Hishamuddin HusseinJudging by the reactions from passengers’ families and the international media, Hishammuddin (left) hasn’t exactly been doing a stellar job. In the early days of the investigation, the minister and his team event offered a conspiracy theory of their own.

In this case, Malaysian officials speculated — without offering any particular evidence to back up their claim — that the plane’s pilot, a “fanatical supporter” of Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim and a relative of Anwar’s son-in-law, might have been motivated to hijack his own plane for political reasons.

The day before, a Malaysian court sentenced Anwar to five years in prison on sodomy charges, a decision that bars him for running for office in upcoming elections. Again, none of this comes as a particular surprise. In recent years, government officials have developed the habit of blaming everything and anything on the Opposition, and especially on Anwar.

One side effect of the government’s inept response to the MH370 catastrophe, according to some, is that it has prompted some unwelcome analysis of the country’s political system, which has been dominated by the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition for the past 57 years. So is Malaysia’s paternalistic political culture really being challenged now that MH370 incident has exposed its leaders to the withering judgments of international critics? I’m inclined to doubt it. As soon as the MH370 issue cools down, Malaysia’s government will return to business as usual. Nothing will change.

Just consider the scandal surrounding Abdul Taib Mahmud, the Chief Minister ofSararwak's CM the Malaysian state of Sarawak. According to the Bruno Manser Fund, a Swiss environmental group, and local critics in Sarawak, Abdul Taib, who’s held office since 1981, has amassed enormous wealth (and caused vast environmental damage) through his unchallenged control of the state’s forests. These critics allege that Taib has used his power to enrich his own family and well-connected cronies, who have harvested billions of dollars’ worth of tropical timber.

Early last year, the international corruption watchdog group Global Witness released extensive video footage from a covert investigation that showed Taib’s cousins explaining how they had circumvented state laws to acquired vast tracts of forest land. In January 2013, 20 Swiss members of parliament filed a motion calling for an immediate freeze of assets held by Swiss banks on behalf of the Malaysian Taib family.

In a normal, democratic political system, all this would have prompted official investigations, parliamentary inquiries, demands for accountability. The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission did organize a probe to investigate Taib — but the minister simply declared, with apparent impunity, that he would not cooperate with the “naughty” and “dishonest” commission. As a result, Malaysian officials have yet to open a domestic investigation into the case. One year later, in February 2014, the probe made the improbable claim that it could not find any evidence that Taib had abused his power. On March 1 of this year, Abdul Taib was sworn in for a term as Sarawak’s Governor — a position even more powerful than the one he held before.

Taib can get away with this sort of thing precisely because of his cozy relationship with the ruling BN coalition and the party that dominates it (the United Malays National Organization, or UMNO). The ruling coalition sees Sarawak as a vital cache of votes for the party, and within this system, Taib is untouchable.

In our general election last year, the main opposition coalition, led by Anwar Ibrahim, won just over 50 percent of the vote — yet BN still ended up with 60 percent of the seats in the national parliament. That’s because the government uses gerrymandering and elaborate dirty tricks to divide up the election system in ways that ensure continued BN rule, regardless of the way Malaysians actually vote. It’s not surprising, then, that there is zero sense of accountability in our country — and that the government officials who have risen to the top of the system feel little pressure to respond to those pesky demands for information from ordinary people.

The Malaysian government has a long history of ignoring its citizens’ right to know. Just take one of the most notorious cases. Back in 2002, an international human rights group filed an international court challenge alleging that the Malaysian government had accepted millions of dollars in bribes from a French shipbuilding company in the $1.25 billion purchase of two Scorpene submarines. Though the French investigation produced enough evidence to implicate top Malaysian officials, the government summarily denied the claims, and no one was ever punished. Over a decade later, the scandal is still unresolved.

Or take the murder of Mongolian model and translator Altantuya Shaariibuu (which has also been linked to the submarine case). Witnesses linked Altantuya romantically to one of Najib’s best friends and close policy advisors, a man named Abdul Razak Baginda. Sources claimed that she was trying to blackmail Razak with her knowledge of the shady submarine deal before she was killed by two of Najib’s bodyguards.

Rosmah and NajibThough the case implicated both the Malaysian Prime Minister and his wife, the government never initiated any official investigation. The case has remained in limbo ever since.

A private investigator, P Balasubramaniam (known as “Bala”), made a convincing statutory declaration for the prosecution in the Altantuya case — but soon retracted the statement, and subsequently dropped out of sight, along with his entire family.

Bala turned up again a few years later, claiming that he’d been offered $1.5 million by a businessman close to Najib’s family if he’d take back his original declaration. Bala died of a heart attack on March 15, 2013, in the midst of campaigning for the opposition in the upcoming election. Then Olivier Metzner, a French lawyer involved the submarine court case, was found dead in “an apparent suicide” two days after Bala’s death.

Not long after that the Malaysian Court of Appeals decided to acquit the two policemen who had been sentenced to death for Altantuya’s murder. The court’s decision provoked an angry response from Altantuya’s father and the Mongolian government.

But, as we’ve pointed out, foreigners apparently have just as little right to satisfactory information from the Malaysian government as Malaysian citizens do.We Malaysians, in short, have been putting up with this culture of official impunity for decades. Without having much choice in the matter, we’ve become accustomed to living under an authoritarian bureaucracy that mocks our requests for honest dialogue, and revels in its own contempt for basic rules of transparency and accountability. Now the international community is getting its own taste of what dealing with this system is really like.

What’s more, MH370 proves that Malaysia’s political immaturity is not merely a domestic issue, but threatens the citizens of other nations as well. As Malaysian citizens, we offer our sincerest condolences to the families of the passengers and the  international community — and we hope that you’ll join us in the fight against our government’s blatant corruption.

Rich Guys Pay Taxes, says Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. Do You Agree?


March 22, 2014

Rich Guys Pay Taxes, says Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. Do You Agree?

by Lawrence Yong (March 20, 2014)

@http://www.malaysiakini.com

TDM--21 MarchFormer Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad today said that Malaysia needs rich people who can pay taxes, and this is not cronyism even if some of them are now his friends.

Mahathir said that since the British left in 1957, Malaysia has mostly taken a ‘pragmatic’ approach to its economy – neither free-market capitalist nor socialist – and he therefore shot down critics who said he enriched only an elite class of people during his 22 years as prime minister.

He said that while government borrowed some socialist ideas – backing affirmative action for Malays, created state enterprises and gave land away, it also gave businesses a free hand to profit
handsomely.

He was giving the primary lecture for the Centre of Poverty and Development Studies at the Universiti Malaya campus in Kuala Lumpur.

After his talk which was titled ‘Poverty issues in Malaysia’s economic development’, human rights activist and lawyer Haris Ibrahim stood up to grill Mahathir for letting Malaysia’s inequality get out of hand.

Haris (left) pointed out that some households now live on RM29 a day amidst Kuala Lumpur’s famous Twin Towers, while just one percent of the richest Malaysians control over 10 percent of the country’s wealth. This is despite Malaysia’s oil wealth which has flowed since 1974.

Haris then asked Mahathir to explain “What went wrong?” and insisted that the elder statesman apologise for failing to eradicate poverty.

The audience cheered and applauded before waiting in anticipation for Mahathir’s expected comeback.

“You will find that the rich people are useful people. We were a business-friendly government and I told these people, when you make money, 28 percent belongs to us (through taxes)… that’s why we were helping them.

“Now suppose these people are absent… who are you going to tax? You can’t tax the poor. We need the rich!” Mahathir said, reading from his little notebook which he used to busily take notes when Haris spoke.

Mahathir also then quickly answered Haris’ three questions: “Do I ever drive in KL? I drive every weekend because I love driving. In the past, I used to drive around the check the construction sites.

“What went wrong? You don’t expect every prime minister to follow what the previous prime ministers have done… that you will have to ask them.”

And then he finished off with: “As for apologising… I should expect the questioner to apologise to me!” The audience erupted in applause. Mahathir’s solution was modernisation. In his speech earlier, Mahathir noted that when Malaysia gained independence, more than half were living in poverty.

He added that this disparity, which was marked along racial lines, was one of the reasons for the May 1969 racial riots.

Multiracial and multireligious Malaysia could not survive with such instability, said Mahathir, whose most famous economic writing was the formerly banned book ‘The Malay Dilemma’.

“How do we solve that problem? Dole out money like BR1M (Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia)? But we didn’t have money back then,” Mahathir said, adding that his own solution was modernisation to expand the economic pie.

“In fact, we grew the economic cake so large that people who were poor at one time are now rather rich.”

Looking around at international students and undergraduates who were among the attendees at the lecture, the octogenarian medical doctor who became a politician ended his speech with this advice for fighting poverty.

“Reject ideologies. We are pragmatic people – do what we think will give results,” he said.

Later, a law undergraduate also stood up to ask the doctor for his solutions to the perceived crony capitalism and the middle-income trap problems.

He cited the recent study from The Economist which put Malaysia as one of the top three countries in the world for rent-seeking behaviour which let the rich get richer.

Mahathir again defended his past economic policies, saying that students who wanted income equality had no idea what they were really asking for.

“Who are these cronies? They were unknown people… for example, I didn’t know these people until they were successful. Now supposing I have a million dollars to give as capital and I give it to a trishaw rider – what does he do with the money? He will spend the money.

“But if I give it to someone who understands business, he will succeed – the moment he succeeds… ahh, he is a crony! So in order to avoid this accusation that there is cronyism, you must ensure that everyone in this country fails.”

Pointing to Malay entrepreneur Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary (right), who is said to be the government’s most preferred business partner, Mahathir applauded the billionaire for giving jobs to over 120,000 people through his huge chain of enterprises which spans from carmakers to post offices and book shops.

“But he wasn’t always that. He started off selling cows and sugar and rice and now he’s a billionaire. What’s wrong with that?

“You want him to be a rickshaw puller? That’s easy… just take away all the opportunities from him and he will become a rickshaw puller but what good does that do? You can’t tax a rickshaw puller and you will have no money,” Mahathir said.

On the middle income trap, Mahathir said that it isn’t so bad as it could be worse. Malaysia could be stuck in a “poor income trap”, and the audience laughed politely.

Dear Tuanku, Please stop this Robbery in the Name of Islam


February 12, 2014

Dear Tuanku, Please stop this Robbery in the Name of Islam

MY  COMMENT: A few days ago in my article “Islam at theFacebook-K and D Crossroads in Malaysia”, I raised several issues that have been plaguing our country. I received both positive and negative comments, all of which I posted in the comments section as I believe that a healthy exchange of ideas is the foundation for freedom of expression. Even comments from UMNO Cyber troopers were allowed access and posted, so long as they respect my condition for non-vulgar or crass exchanges. It is difference of opinion that will strengthen us as a people of one nation. We must be allowed to disagree. Unity in diversity. That is what that has made Malaysia unique.

I am gratified that most readers were equally concerned about my safety upon hearing about my accident. Even old friends like the former US Ambassador John Mallot wrote in to express concern. But I also wrote about current issus that troubled me, especially about the abuses of the law and legal processes by religious authorities. I also wanted to give moral support to my young friend, Lawyer Rosli Dahlan, that he should not feel guilty about doing cases against the religious authorities. He should not feel guilty about representing Chinese companies or individuals who are robbed of their land, whose premises are violated and trespassed. For that matter, neither race nor religion should be of any consideration when one fights for truth and justice.

The secret of life is to have no fear; it's the only way to function.

The secret of life is to have no fear; it’s the only way to function.

Today, I read in the Malay Mail that Rosli Dahlan had succeeded in persuading the High Court to check the misconduct of Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor (JAIS). Yes, the same JAIS that seized the Christian Bible with “Allah”. I say bravo to Rosli. I say fight on without fear or favour. I am proud that there is a fearless Malay Muslim lawyer who will take on JAIS, which of late has been committing mischief and seems to be on a frolic of its own. If, as many have said, JAIS takes directions only from HRH The Sultan of Selangor, then I say this to HRH Tuanku:

“Ampun Tuanku, Sembah patek harap diampun. JAIS yang dibawah naungan Tuanku bertindak sesuka hati sehingga mencemarkan nama Islam dan merosakkan perpaduan kaum. Maka Patek mohon sudilah Tuanku perhatikan sedikit hal ini supaya Negeri Selangor Darul Ehsan tidak bertambah porak peranda. Ampun Tuanku.”

Now read the report from Malay Mail below and tell me is JAIS is not committing land robbery in broad daylight in the name of Islam.–Din Merican

THE MALAY MAIL ARTICLE:

February 12, 2014

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/developer-wins-leave-to-challenge-land-acquisition-by-islamic-authority

Developer Wins Leave to Challenge Land Acquisition by Islamic Authority

by Ida Lim

The Shah Alam High Court today allowed a private developer to legally challenge the Selangor religious authorities’ compulsory acquisition of its land.

According to private developer United Allied Empire Sdn Bhd (UAE)’s lead counsel Rosli Dahlan, High Court judge Vernon Ong also froze all action on the 26-acre plot of land until the end of the judicial review proceedings.

“The judge gave a full stay until the judicial review (is fully heard),” Rosli told The Malay Mail Online.

On January 23, the High Court had granted an interim stay, temporarily blocking all action on the land until it delivered its decision today on UAE’s application for a judicial review.

Rosli said the judge today also allowed UAE to include their requests for declaratory reliefs in the judicial review case. He explained that the court usually only allowed judicial review applicants to ask for an order to quash the alleged wrongful actions.

The hearing date for the judicial review has not been set.

In the lawsuit, UAE had accused the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) of abusing their powers to grab its land in Bestari Jaya — an area formerly known as Batang Berjuntai — in the state’s Kuala Selangor district.

 The developer claims JAIS’s declared intention for land acquisition in a government gazette contradicts a notice of MAIS's proposed project, which is seen in front of the existing Masjid Ar-Ridwan mosque in Batang Berjuntai, Selangor.


Given 1 acre by UAE (the Developer) for a Mosque, but MAIS acquired 26.281 acres

UAE had written to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim last April 12, seeking their intervention on the dispute with Jais and other state bodies, but no reply was received, Rosli said last month.

UAE had written to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim last April 12, seeking their intervention on the dispute, but no reply was received, lead counsel Rosli Dahlan said last month.

UAE had written to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim last April 12, seeking their intervention on the dispute, but no reply was received, lead counsel Rosli Dahlan said last month.

As a last resort, UAE last April 22 applied for a judicial review to revoke the compulsory acquisition of its land measuring 26.281 acres — roughly the size of 20 international football fields.

UAE said Jais had hidden their real intention to build a fully integrated Islamic school with hostel, shelter and rehabilitation centre on the land. The government had gazetted the land for the construction of a giant mosque.

The ethnic Chinese-owned company has also accused the state authorities of purported racial oppression and violation of its constitutional rights. It alleged that the religious bodies had abused their powers to avoid paying fair compensation for the land and had shored up their land bank for future development.

According to UAE, compulsory acquisition of private land was only allowed if it benefited the public under Article 13 of the Federal Constitution. The same article also says that property owners should receive adequate compensation for the compulsory acquisition or use of their property.

In its judicial review application, UAE named the Director of Selangor’s Land and Mines Department, the Kuala Selangor land administrator, Jais, the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (MAIS), Selangor Zakat Board and the Selangor government as respondents.

The developer also argued that the land authorities’ decision to allow the acquisition amounted to an “unreasonable exercise of power” for failing to ensure legal compliance.

Also read the previous article : here

India’s Moral Compass swings violently


January 31, 2014

SPEAKING FREELY

India’s Moral Compass swings violently

By Samir Nazareth@asiaonline.com

In the 66 years of Independence, India has lived with a certain set of moral codes that called for respect of regulation, sacrifice for a greater good, duty towards society and accountability. An accepted definition of what was expected from members of society and from those in power gave the country its navigational apparatus and heroes. That definition allowed heirs to rise from the miasma to take over the reins when those in positions of authority stepped down. It also marked the scales on which people were measured and judgments passed. It is difficult to deny that moral codes were the cornerstone of trust between all parts of society, and the grease that allowed society to function.

There is a need for a new morality in India today, or at least for a call to recognize the new morals we live with compared with those of six decades ago. One may ask why, and the answer is simple, if we don’t recognize new morals and spread them, the result can be unrest. Things are already changing in India – look at who we consider our leaders, look at who we put in jail. We get affronted when our film stars are held up at foreign airports and derive a sense of pride when citizens of other nations though of Indian ancestry achieve recognition in their country.

Our “philosopher kings” are businessmen who equate foreign investment with national prosperity, who see environmental protection and concern for the marginalized as being bad for the country. They decry government expenditure on the economically bereft while seeking tax breaks for themselves. We find solace in the deep voice of a septuagenarian who made his mark in the country’s dream factory. We seek the counsel of the glitterati who tweet from their ivory towers and from TV studios far removed from the humdrum of daily existence. For what we value to change, wouldn’t our moral scales have to change too?

The Fallout

As citizens of a democracy, Indians have become inured with our choice of electoral candidates. They swing between brilliant home-economists whose assets magically increase annually and Houdini like magicians who can’t be confined within the thick walls of a prison cell.

Though most citizens’ views have gone beyond contempt for the politician, there is a burgeoning group who are now involved and committed. This is a class of people who not only have ideas on who should be in power but also do what they can to get these people in power. There is a meeting of minds here; the dreams of the common person and the politician merge. There is also a belief that these chosen ones can make such common dreams come true.

The Triumvirate

Let’s narrow down to three people on whom many pin their hopes in this year’s general election: Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal. The three are very different politicians,their socio-economic backgrounds, political philosophy, manner of functioning and experience all dissimilar. But they have one thing in common as the first surfers riding a new wave of morality.

Narendra ModiNarendra Modi became the prime ministerial candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after stomping all over the patriarch of the party, Lal Krishna Advani. The very same person who stood by Modi after the 2002 religious riots, where many allege Modi played a role in the what can only be called a state-sponsored pogrom. His form of governance is held up as the way ahead.

For a party whose philosophical fountainhead is the desire to bring back Ram Rajya (something everyone is unsure what that connotes) and which speaks about Raj Dharma (rule based on spirituality and positivity), the Machiavellian machinations that went to create Modi were the very antithesis of their foundation. That the patriarch was discarded and shouted at goes against the Hindu dharm (respect for elders) that the party wishes to preserve and promote.

Then there is the whole idea of protecting the weak and the helpless, which is part of Raj Dharma. In the case of Modi, this was tossed out in the 2002 riots and continues to be ignored, with economic policies that has led to increased state debt, child malnourishment and low wages in Gujarat, where he is Chief Minister. Given all this, Modi is still a darling of the many. The very same people who espouse respect for the elderly and speak in glowing terms of India’s past – and even the need to protect the weak – say goodbye to all this when it comes to bringing Modi as the nation’s leader.

Is the new morality that allows support for Modi based on less concern for our elders and the weak? And if so, wouldn’t this go against the many tenets of Hinduism, a religion (or way of life) that the BJP wishes all Indians to convert to?

Then we turn to Rahul Gandhi, the scion of a dynasty. While many of us speak againstrahul_gandhi dynastic politics, we have no qualms in ensuring that wealth and power remain within the confines of our family. Most marriages in business families are fixed on the basis of love – a love of money and finding ways to increase it. Marriage ceremonies are a time to repay or exact debts. The power that congregates in one location during such occasions could create a new industry, light a city, bring down a government or even create a new one.

Given this state of affairs one wonders why many think awry of the “dynastic politics” of the Congress Party. How different is that from Narayan Murthy of Infosys bringing his son into the company as his executive assistant and then promoting him to a vice president? There was hardly a peep from the business community after this action from a man many consider to have sound ethics. Why shouldn’t sauce for the goose be sauce for the gander?

So the second moral dilemma is the support by many for Rahul Gandhi as India’s future Prime Minister. Proponents of that cause choose to ignore that Rahul, whose candidacy has yet to be declared but is widely regarded as a shoe-in, has absolutely no experience in politics or in working in government. The political statecraft that goes with such a position, along with the knowledge of the workings of the government and the country, is not easily acquired. It could be argued that his name and the experience of those working with him would pave the way for a successful stint as premier. One wonders, why is such an opportunity not given to others of the same age and similarly haloed backgrounds but of more experience?

The pertinent question here concerns the differing moral scales used by those opposing the Congress, but silent on other similar issues, and by those within the Congress who promote Rahul on the one hand and on the other do not give Rahul’s party members similar opportunities.

Arvind KejriwalArvind Kejriwal, Chief Minister of Delhi and the force behind the Aam Admi Party (AAP), is a different kettle of fish. The reasons for his rise to power range from public disaffection with entrenched politics to a collective victimhood that is finally raising its head. During his journey to power he tarred all government institutions with the same brush – everything was dirty – and promised to clean up their mess. Having achieved power, he seems to have gone a step further and is now living by the “heads I win, tails you lose” philosophy.

Kejriwal seems unable to work with the power given to him by the people but undermines it by sitting in protest, a protest which has led to no resolution and instead is converting an inability to channel powers to make change into a form of martyrdom which allows him to continue functioning by attracting people’s sympathy and even admiration.

The AAP leader, whom the party has yet to declare as its prime ministerial candidate, is a dream come true for Indians who in general have no love for authority or social order. Here is a man after their own heart, a man who though in a position of authority does everything to undermine it. The protest warms the cockles of the common person because they see a man with immense power acting as if helpless. So they believe he is still like them – an outsider fighting a firmly dug-in cabal.

No one questions the fallout of such actions – if people in power begin to protest in this way then what will the common person do? Kejriwal is destroying institutions without providing an alternative while also usurping public space used by the truly powerless to make themselves heard.

His code of conduct has not only diminished the office he holds by portraying it as one without power but has also left the common person bereft of means of communicating with higher-ups. Kejriwal has not shared his idea of what a leader should be and for what he should be held accountable, while he is simultaneously laying to waste institutions that have been the bulwark of society. So he has given himself an open canvas to do what he imagines to be right, which may soon inspire the common person to imitate him.

Though Kejriwal calls himself an anarchist he cannot absolve himself of the trust and the mantle of leadership that people have reposed in him through an institutionalized election process that he was part of, and which people believe in. Can an anarchist be a leader? It goes against the very grain of anarchic philosophy. Or is he using the term because he realizes that today most Indians don’t know what it takes to be a leader and are quite happy with someone who can destabilize the establishment?

Society becomes redundant and dysfunctional in two instances – when it has no morals or when society’s thoughts and actions far outpace its moral strictures. With Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal we seem to have arrived at the latter. Their presence and their impact indicate that subliminally moral codes in India have changed. Isn’t it time therefore that we shout it out from the roof tops and get everybody on the same page?

Speaking Freely is an Asia Times Online feature that allows guest writers to have their say. Please click here if you are interested in contributing. Articles submitted for this section allow our readers to express their opinions and do not necessarily meet the same editorial standards of Asia Times Online’s regular contributors.

Samir Nazareth is a commentator based in India. He can be contacted at samirnazareth@hotmail.com

(Copyright 2014 Samir Nazareth)

Najib’s Days as Prime Minister nearing the End?


January 26, 2014

Najib’s Days as Prime Minister nearing the End?

by Asia Sentinel Correspondent (01-24-14)

http://www.asiasentinel.com/politics/time-running-najib-tun-razak/

Mahathir and his allies want to set a date for Malaysia’s Prime Minister to move out

Najib and His RoseJet setting in stead of Governing

Forces aligned with former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad appear to be attempting to push embattled Malaysian Premier Najib Tun Razak into giving a time frame for his eventual departure from office and naming a successor, sources in Kuala Lumpur say.

The sources say that successor could be hard-line Home Affairs Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, 61, who was once an ally of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim when Anwar was still in Mahathir’s government. Zahid is third in line for succession and his rise would bypass Muhyiddin Yassin, the current Deputy President of UMNO and Deputy Prime Minister, who is 66. Muhyiddin has said he will retire soon.

It should be noted that Najib operates from a position of relative invulnerability, given that both national and intra-party elections are out of the way, leaving him  secure at least until the next UMNO general assembly late this year. However, the scenario, the sources say, is similar to that forced upon Najib’s immediate predecessor, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who was pushed come up with a timeline in 2008 after the Barisan’s disastrous political showing in general elections. At that time, the ruling coalition lost its two-thirds majority in Parliament for the first time in history. The campaign to push out Badawi lasted from the May 2008 election until April 2009, when Najib took office.

Although Mahathir left office as Prime Minister in 2003, he has kept up a constant barrage ofDr M criticisms about the way the country has been run, quitting UMNO near the end of Badawi’s reign in supposedly outrage over party politics. He reawakened with force after the 2013 general election, charging that Najib’s election strategy of reaching out to the country’s 40 percent of minority voters was a mistake.

Najib is also under heavy public pressure because of rising prices due to the withdrawal of subsidies and other reasons, not least of which is dissatisfaction with the ostentatious behavior of his wife, Rosmah Mansor. He has also been widely criticized for being out of touch with the rakyat, or citizenry. He was ridiculed for saying that while some prices had gone up, the price of “kangkong [water spinach] has fallen but why don’t they praise the government?”

The drumbeat of anger over corruption in UMNO also continues, with the Mahathir forces alleging that vote-buying was used to deny Mahathir’s politician son Mukhriz a top position in last September’s UMNO party elections.

An increasing number of Mahathir’s long-time allies, including former New Straits Times Editor-in-Chief umno-tikam-belakangA. Kadir Jasin and Zainuddin Maidin, the former Information Minister, have called for the Prime Minister to take the 88-year-old Mahathir back into government as a “minister mentor” akin to what Lee Kuan Yew did in Singapore from 2004 to 2011 before ostensibly retiring from politics. Former Finance Minister Daim Zainuddin, another Mahathir ally, has also made public statements disparaging Najib’s premiership.

Mukhriz on Sunday gave an interview to the Malay-language newspaper Berita Harian, saying that “Defeat [in the next general election] is a real possibility if Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak continues with his present policy of correct but unpopular decisions, especially on issues concerning the rising cost of living.”

Mukhriz was subsequently slapped down publicly by Tengku Adnan Tenku Mansor, the UMNO Secretary General, and told to use party channels to express his concerns. Some sources in Kuala Lumpur say the move to return Mahathir to government is unlikely to succeed.

One UMNO source aligned with the Mahathir wing of the party, said the real game is getting Najib to move along.“The ball is in Najib’s court,” he said. “If he prefers war, he will get it.”

Zahid Hamidi has been regarded as something of a loose cannon. Once a close Anwar ally,Zahid HamidiX Zahid was arrested and held in prison along with Anwar in 1998. However, he later returned to UMNO saying Anwar had impelled him to raise allegations of cronyism and nepotism in the party.

Since becoming Home Affairs Minister, he has issued a number of incendiary statements against opponents who were unhappy with the political system after the Barisan lost the popular vote but held onto its majority in Parliament. He has threatened to crack down on opposition leaders, dissent and crime.

During a speech in Malacca, he was recorded as saying police should “shoot to kill” gangsters in a campaign to cut down violent crime. He has also become a lightning rod for making racially inflammatory remarks that have alienated the Chinese and Indian minority.

Sorry Riza Aziz, your Mom’s Money can’t buy everything


January 23, 2014

Sorry Riza Aziz, your Mom’s Money can’t buy everything

http://www.malaysiakini.com

Buying over the rights and financing a film does not actually qualify one as a producer. At least not according to Hollywood’s premier motion picture body, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

In what the industry views as a “rare move”, the Academy yesterday dropped Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s stepson Riza Aziz from the Oscars nominations list for best picture nominee, Wolf of Wall Street.

Instead, in the list of producers nominated for the US$100 million film are director Martin Scorcese, lead actor Leonardo DiCaprio, Riza’s business partner Joey McFarland and Scorsese’s partner Emma Tillinger Koskoff.

The list of nominated producers for the ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ was finalised by the Academy yesterday, a week after the other nominations were announced.

This marks a departure from the Producers Guild Association, that nominated Riza as producer but not Scorsese and DiCaprio, for the controversial film about debauchery in the world of finance.

According Deadline Hollywood, DiCaprio had worked to get the film to screen as producer for six years and had roped in Riza and McFarland’s fledgling production company Red Granite Pictures, that fully financed the venture.

Red Granite then purchased the rights from Warner Bros and was caught in a legal battle with the original producer Alexandra Milchan for compensation. The matter has been resolved out of court.

Responding to the Academy’s announcement, Red Granite, in a media statement, said it will not contest the decision and that Riza is honoured to have been part of the project. Riza is the son of Najib’s wife Rosmah Mansor from her first marriage.

The movie has been banned in Malaysia, and his financing of the film has drawn scorn from right-wing Malay supremacists Perkasa.

Hollywood disdain

Meanwhile, whistleblower Sarawak Report as part of its expose on Riza cited “Hollywood insiders” as saying that the decision to dump Riza follow industry concerns over financiers “attempting to claim producer credits for films they bankrolled but did not make”.

“They are greener than green,” one “experienced producer” told Sarawak Report of Riza andRiza and J Low McFarland, whom the portal reported previously acted as party planned for Malaysian wheeler dealer Jho Low (right).

They are financiers, but have also taken producer credits. The producer credits have gone to Riza, Joey and some other producers, but the actual work is being done by people working for Red Granite and the other producers,” another unnamed “senior Hollywood producer” is quoted as saying.

Those in the know credit Milchan as the main driver for the film, having procured the rights to the Jordan Belfort (the jailed financier played by DiCaprio) story and commissioned the script before the project was taken up by Warner Bros.

Insiders say it was her who roped in DiCaprio and Scorsese, despite the Red Granite duo claiming to have done so in media reports, citing their friendship with the Hollywood heartthrob. They also claim that that Milchan “came back and took over” after Warner Bros dropped the film and then sold it to Red Granite.

“It’s common knowledge. That is what producers do, but Red Granite just bought over a done deal. They aren’t what I would call producers, they are financiers and money men,” one insider said.

Industry professionals told the website that while the film cost US$100 million, publicity and marketing would have cost an additional US$35-40 million. The film has grossed US$80 million so far, the insiders said, but producers only get a fraction of the takings.

“The threatre keeps 60 percent and the studio 40 percent, then there are all the payments before the producers get anything back,” one Hollywood professional is quoted as saying.

Deep pockets

Insiders also revealed that the film was not “pre-sold” for three months after it started production, and everything was on Red Granite’s expense. Sarawak Report noted that the new kids on the block’s deep pockets have also set tongues wagging, with seasoned professionals questioning the rookies’ ability to raise so much funds.

It also reported that there is speculation that Riza was cut by the Academy over comments by “close friends” in Malaysian media which could be viewed as anti-semitic.

The Malaysian Gazette, a portal run by a journalist close to Riza’s mother Rosmah Mansor, quoted these “close friends” as saying that Riza should be celebrated for “breaking the monopoly of Jews in Hollywood”.

Riza, it reported, has never made any overt statements of bigotry but such sentiments by Riza’s “close friends” and his failure to “disown” the remarks have “appalled the liberal and egalitarian community in Hollywood”.

“Many of Hollywood’s high flyers are indeed rightfully proud of being Americans of Jewish heritage. However, America is passionately committed to success through merit, unlike in Malaysia, where it is increasingly complained that only certain well-connected families can expect to monopolise money-making opportunities.”

Sarawak Report had earlier exposed that Riza had purchased a US$17.5 million ((RM58.21 million mansion) in Hollywood, after purchasing a US$33.5 million (RM110 million) apartment in New York in 2010.

It reported that Riza, 36, worked with HSBC Bank in London for three years before making his Hollywood bid.

 

 

Malaysia’s Najib Faces Party, Public Protest


January 14, 2014

Malaysia’s Najib Faces Party, Public Protest

Subsidy cuts play into UMNO rebellion

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak enters 2014 beset by growing hostility from both the public and within his own political party, the United Malays National Organization, characterized by a deluge of New Year messages across cyberspace celebrating the “year of barang naik,” Malay language for rising prices of items.

Najib+Tun+Razak.snoozeThe Father of Kangkong Economics

That is a play on the initials BN, for Barisan Nasional, the national ruling coalition. It has become an opposition battle cry to the point where Najib mentioned it himself in a recent speech

Najib is making an astute move now, after national and intraparty elections have been completed, taking on the necessary but unappetizing task of dismantling decades of subsidies that have driven government debt close to the statutory limit of 55 percent of gross domestic product. In the wake of both sets of elections, he is temporarily invulnerable to both opposition and intraparty assaults.

However, electricity tariffs have risen by 15 percent, sugar subsidies have been cut. Last September, Petronas, the national energy company, cut fuel subsidies in a move that it said would save the government RMB1 billion annually. Public anger at the cutting of the subsidies is substantial and growing

In addition, many in the party rank and file are still furious over widespread spending to keep the current leadership in place in the September intraparty elections.

That has brought the Prime Minister under unprecedented attack from bloggers aligned with the wing of the party controlled by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who are delivering an extraordinary onslaught on his lifestyle and that of his wife, even going so far as an unprecedented call for attention to corruption within UMNO itself. The attacks had been expected from the time Najib blocked Mahathir’s son, Mukhriz, from becoming one of the party’s three vice presidents in the September polls.

Rosmah and NajibNajib has sought to deflect criticism, saying the price hikes have been caused by factors such as the global economy and extreme weather that cut into the fish catch and drove up the price of vegetables. The government has also sought to spread the pain by cutting government ministers’ allowances by 10 percent, banning civil servants from business class flights, restricting expenses on official government functions. However, that hasn’t mollified voters, who staged public protests over New Year’s.

Najib also enraged voters by leaving for most of the holidays, going to Las Vegas and other watering holes with his wife, Rosmah Mansor, whose free-spending ways have alienated large swaths of the conservative Malay Muslim community. He is being called “Mr Nowhere” because of his absences from the country.

“A putsch is in the air, definitely, as the frustration with Najib’s free spending and extravagant lifestyle increases,” a Malay businessman told Asia Sentinel. “Najib is in the weakest position any Prime Minister in Malaysia has ever seen.”

Calls have been rising to have Mahathir Mohamad come back to the government administrative center of Putra Jaya as an “adviser” to right the ship, something that appears highly unlikely. Mahathir himself made light of the idea.

kadir_jasin_350_238_100In the meantime, bloggers who have been described as aligned with Mahathir have been raising their game, making broadly based attacks on Najib and even other UMNO officials, calling attention to what appears to be corruption in the award of highway contracts.

Kadir Jasin, a former New Straits Times editor and close longtime Mahathir ally, wrote recently that “To many UMNO leaders, the measure of the party’s success is big cars, big houses and expensive watches whose names they can’t even mention.”  In particular, Rosmah has been criticized repeatedly for her taste in vastly expensive watches.

Kadir also called attention to “people with no formal appointments and duties (who) are known to use government on pretext of serving the country,” an apparent reference to Rosmah’s November commandeering of an official government jet to fly to Qatar to attend an international forum.

“Do they know that even the Queen (of England) uses trains and charters planes when travelling overseas? They should because many like the PM studied in the UK. Air transport for the British Royal Family and the government of the UK is provided, depending on circumstances and availability, by a variety of military and civilian operators. But most often they fly using scheduled commercial flights, normally the British Airways.”

“We are complaining about the wrong things he is doing in accommodating the wishes of his wife,” Kadir wrote. “We are asking the government to be accountable. The PM should answer these allegations. The way he bragged about his wife in public, he was in fact saying that his wife has more influence than him with foreign leaders.”

“Outsyedthebox” suggested that Najib, who had never finished his economics degree, actually “imbibed from the “Proton school of management” (the money-losing national car) “where it is a good thing to buy something high and sell it low.  Or buy something high and then sell it even higher to people who have few options.: 

“Mahathir’s and (former Finance Minister Daim Zainuddin’s) hands are all over the place but the point isTDM that Najib and his wife are providing all the ammo,” a source said. “Without the ammo, Mahathir would be hard pressed to rally his troops against Najib.”

Everything “down to the price of ice has increased in a manner of two weeks,” said another UMNO loyalist. “Everything in Malaysia shot up in one month without notice. The government keeps the ringgit so weak against the US dollar, the cost of living keeps bouncing, salary increases are nothing. Crime is up, corruption is up. People are getting really upset.”

During the waning days of the premiership of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, as the rank and file sought to push him out, “similar contempt was restricted to some segments of UMNO and the ruling elite,” a source told Asia Sentinel. “With Mahathir, it was disgust and contempt from intellectuals and rights groups. But with Najib – it’s across the board and it extends to his wife and friends.”

Pak Kadiaq: Talking Tough on Najib


January 8, 2014

Pak Kadiaq: Talking Tough on Najib

by V. Anbalagan, Assistant News Editor@www. themalaysianinsider.com

kadir_jasin_350_238_100Pak Kadiaq

Pro-government supporters should realise that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is not above criticism for Putrajaya’s cost-cutting measures which had resulted in price hikes, says a former editor of an UMNO-linked newspaper.

Veteran journalist Datuk A. Kadir Jasin  wrote that Najib and his advisers were not above criticism when the public reacted to Putrajaya’s way of managing the national economy.

“It was Najib and his advisers during the general election who promised the people that prices will not be raised. So, who is going back on their word?” he asked in a posting in his The Scribe blog yesterday.

He also questioned whether the Prime Minister was an absolute monarch who could not be criticised or questioned. Or is he a living saint who is free from any kind of slip-ups?” asked Kadir, who was the Group Editor-in-Chief of the New Straits Times when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was the Prime Minister.

Since September, Putrajaya has introduced a series of cost-cutting measures to rein in a chronic budget deficit which includes a reduction of fuel subsidies, removal of subsidy for sugar, allowed an increase in power tariffs and confirmed the introduction of the goods and services tax (GST). Putrajaya is also mulling a revision of toll rates while the 20% rebate offered to frequent users of tolled roads in the Klang Valley is being scrapped.

The increasing cost of goods and services had also triggered a protest on New Year’s Eve by an undergraduate non-governmental organisation, Turun, which attracted more than 10,000 people.

In defending his strident criticism of Najib, the veteran journalist also rebuked his critics who had claimed that he only lambasted the Prime Minister on “economic management but did not offer advice and pointers”.

Kadir felt his critics did not read his long “advice” to Najib and his government through his blog and also through his writings elsewhere.Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was the Prime Minister following drastic hike in the price of fuel and cooking gas which resulted in the price increase of essential items and services.

“I had written several articles then to remind the government on the implication and ways to reduce the burden of consumers,” said Kadir, who owns Berita Publishing which produces the Malaysian Business magazine. He added it was not his responsibility to teach Putrajaya economic management for that was the responsibility of ministries, government agencies and the advisers of the Prime Minister who were learned.

“My job is to offer feedback. However, there are those who equate that to going against the establishment. This is the result of a society who are not critical and extremely partisan,” he said.

Kadir also said that he had repeatedly stated that subsidy was unsustainable, distorted the market and led to the people to rely heavily on the government. “But I only questioned the way the government, especially under Abdullah dan Najib, managed the subsidy, price control, distribution of savings from the subsidy and ways to reduce financial wastage,” he added

Malaysia: Corruption–A Thing of the Past?


January 4, 2013

Malaysia is of course free of corrupt practices amongst top civil servants, political leaders, police officers and judges. This probably explains why we have not heard of any “big fish” being hauled up except for a few discredited former grandees.–Zaid Ibrahim

MY COMMENT: I hope Zaid Ibrahim will read what I have to say to him and offer an appropriate response. What is happening to you? Suddenly, you have become an apologist for the Najib administration. You know that corruption is rampant in Malaysia. Facts are there for all of us to note. Ask any businessman and he will tell you that nothing gets done without some gratification.

His and Hers now ? PMO, please clarify.

This is irresponsible

Najib himself has been misusing the power of his office. Stories about his lavish ways (and his wife’s excesses) which can be found in the social media apparently does not seem to bother him. Tell me that these stories circulating about him and Rosmah are without any foundation. Come on, Zaid, you can’t be serious. 

We all know that Najib can no longer be relied to match his words with action. He has no credibility. The appointment of Paul Low as Minister charged with ensuring that Malaysia practises good governance has become the butt of jokes on our golf courses and other places. The truth is that there is no political will to fight corruption. Yet you say Najib’s statement is reassuring. Your comment on the MACC makes me and others laugh. We know that Abu (Ash) Kassim who reports to the Prime Minister is toothless and the MACC is dysfunctional.–Din Merican

Malaysia: Corruption–A Thing of the Past

by Zaid Ibrahim (01-03-14) @http://http://www.thejakartapost.com

zaidMalaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has declared war on corruption. In September 2013, Bernama reported him as saying in San Francisco that he wanted to make corruption part of Malaysia’s past and that it had no place in our future.

Najib added that he had “created a new governance and integrity minister role in the cabinet; it is held by the former President of the Malaysian chapter of Transparency International” and that the Anti-Corruption Agency had been elevated to that of a self-regulated and independent Commission.

This is a very reassuring statement, coming especially from the Prime Minister himself. Incidentally, former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad made the same vow when he took office in 1981.

In November, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief Abu Kassim abu-kassimMohamed added credence to the claims of a new corruption-free culture by saying that the MACC’s conviction rate was comparable to that of Hong Kong, Singapore and Indonesia.

“Thanks to improvements introduced, we have reached a (conviction) rate of 71% in 2010, 75% in 2011 and followed by 85% (in 2012),” he said. In other words, it looks like the Prime Minister’s wish for zero-tolerance on corruption has been granted earlier than most people have expected.

The only troubling blot on this landscape has been the claim by Mahathir that corruption now is higher than it was under his administration. Also, the Transparency International Global Corruption Barometer has found that, in 2011, fewer than one in three Malaysians believed that the government’s fight against bribery was effective.

Paul LowDespite these reservations, there is no doubt that the Prime Minister is dead serious in combating corruption. His appointment of an integrity minister (left) specifically in charge of integrity is unprecedented and now many government agencies, departments and government-linked companies have set up integrity units to make sure all their business decisions and processes are ethical and free from abuse of power and corrupt practices.

As such, the people of Malaysia must continue to be vigilant and do whatever they can to assist the Prime Minister in creating a corruption-free country, and a good way to contribute towards this is to be a whistleblower.

An effective whistleblower is someone who is unafraid of the consequences of divulging information that can lead to the discovery of a corrupt act or other crime. In theory, the law may protect a whistleblower but in reality only courage and a great abhorrence of corruption can provide the needed strength.

In Indonesia there have been a number of whistleblowers who have become “national celebrities” – their popularity stemming from a willingness to take on huge risks even to personal safety in order to expose the activities of the corrupt.

Sukotjo Sastronegoro Bambang, himself a corrupt businessman, exposed a massive graft syndicate within the Indonesian National Police Force (Polri) and became a celebrity in doing so. He took on the “mafia” within Polri and even the Chief of Police was implicated. When Sukotjo squealed, the rotten branches of Polri shook with fear and his family had to be placed under the witness protection programme of the Indonesian Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) for its own safety.

Then there is lawmaker Agus Condro Prayitno, who has been jailed for corrupt practices. He divulged some big names (including that of the regent of Batang, Bambang Bintoro) and was sacked from his own party, Partai Demokrasi Indonesia-Perjuangan, but bravely announced that he would rather serve time in jail for two years than be in “hell” forever.

Even the powerful Chief of the Constitutional Court, Akil Mokhtar, and the Governor of Banten, Ratu Atut Chosiyah, have been charged for corrupt practices.

Indeed, 2013 was a good year for anti-corruption operations in Indonesia. In January, Partai Keadilan Sejahtera president Luthfi Hasan Ishaaq was arrested for taking bribes in a beef-import scandal.

In February, the Chairman of the ruling Partai Demokrat, Anas Urbaningrum, resigned after the KPK named him as a suspect in a graft case involving the construction of a sports complex. In August the KPK arrested Rudi Rubiandini, the head of SKKMigas (Indonesia’s oil and gas regulator) and a former deputy minister, for taking bribes.

Due to the increasing participation of whistleblowers in the machinery of Indonesian government, top army officials, businessmen, judges and politicians have been hauled up on corruption charges, with many ending up serving time in prison.

There is now huge public interest in volunteering information to the KPK and the Indonesian Press where malpractices and corrupt activities are concerned. Indonesia still has a long way to go in eradicating corruption, but there is no doubt about their commitment towards that end and it appears that ordinary Indonesians value integrity as the chief principle of national governance.

Malaysia is of course free of corrupt practices amongst top civil servants, political leaders, police officers and judges. This probably explains why we have not heard of any “big fish” being hauled up except for a few discredited former grandees.

Still, it is our collective duty to use the full protection we have under the Whistleblower Protection Act 2010 and, more importantly, our conscience to free our country from the scourge of corruption.

We must to do all we can to help the Prime Minister achieve his dream of making corruption a thing of the past. However, having impressive buildings with well-manicured lawns to house the enforcement agencies is simply not enough.

Equally useless are the numerous committees we have set up to oversee the many departments and processes of our great bureaucracy. The only certainty in all this is our disgust at corrupt decision-makers and our willingness to blow the whistle without fear or favour.

Thus, I hope all Malaysians will make a vow to help eradicate corruption in the new year. As a Muslim country it is unbecoming of us to be soft on corruption and abuse of power. Muslims know that there is no place in heaven for those who are corrupt, so let the fear of God visit us all.

To Ash (Abu) Kassim and MACC: Investigate the Corrupt Elite or Shut down


January 3, 2014

To Ash (Abu) Kassim and MACC: Investigate the Corrupt Elite or Shut down

by Jeswan Kaur@http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

Najib in PenangRakyat DiBelakangkan, Hidup Shiok Sendiri

While Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor enjoy life on the fast lane expecting everyone to put up with their spendthrift lifestyle, his stepson Riza Shahriz Abdul Aziz proved no different, lavishing RM110 million on a condominium in New York.

When the very leader who promised to stand by his rakyat under the ‘People first, Performance now’ banner makes a U-turn and defies cries for him and his controversially flamboyant wife to cut back on their expenses, there is little saying what next is in store for the people.

This show of defiance has left the rakyat unhappy and the recent announcements of hike in essential goods and services further compelled the people to vent out their frustrations – which they did on the eve of new year 2014 when thousands turned up to march in protest against the rising cost of living.

The problem is not that Malaysians are a rowdy bunch; nor is it true that they have embraced anarchy to vent their frustrations against the Barisan Nasional administration. Rather, the issue that needs to be dealt with is this – Putrajaya is acting irresponsibly and ‘independently’ from the rakyat, unwilling to empathise with them at a time when the cost of living has shockingly skyrocketed.

Instead, the BN government is busy ‘looking the other way’, playing politics by way lgeof condemning the opposition parties for spending beyond their means. One such case involves Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng who recently found himself cornered when the RM298,263.75 silver Mercedes-Benz S300L the state purchased for his official use became the bone of contention for Barisan Nasional politicians.

Perhaps Lim’s timing in buying the luxury car was out, given the fact that the rakyat is now facing an avalanche in rising prices of items. But then when Rosmah’s travel to Qatar using the government jet was deemed necessary to ensure her safety, the same concern seems flippant in Lim’s Mercedes Benz issue.

Najib claims he “feels the rakyat’s pain” – but does he really when the premier turns vindictive against anyone who dared question his and Rosmah’s spending habits?

The Heat weekly publication showed gumption when it published an article titled ‘All eyes on big-spending PM Najib’ published for the week Nov 23-29, which subsequently led to the tabloid newspaper being suspended indefinitely without even being given a chance to explain itself.

Deep rooted corruption

It is bad enough that the country’s leadership unabashedly misuses public funds or turns a deaf ear when such abuses are reported. What is even more distressing is the fact that the relevant government agencies are afraid to act against unscrupulous politicians, especially when it involves the Prime Minister and his family.

The C-3

Be it former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad or his successor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi or the present Premier, they are all guilty of abusing the nation’s coffers. A decade back Mahathir denied that he had helped the disgraced Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe build a new mansion worth millions near Harare and gifted him with rare Malaysian rainforest timbers.

During his days as advisor to Petronas, Mahathir made sure son Mokhzani benefitted directly or indirectly through Kenchana Petroleum.Likewise, son Mirzan too enjoyed his share of good fortune via Miguel Corp. Mirzan was appointed a director of the Philippines conglomerate after acquiring a 19.9% share in the corporation for RM2.9 billion through an investment vehicle.

Even though Mirzan later resigned from the board of San Miguel Corp in April 2010, he stayed on as a director of Petron Corporation, an associated company of San Miguel Corp that owns a network of refineries and petrol dealership in Philippines.

Badawi’s son Kamaluddin too made news for the wrong reasons. He was the leading shareholder of Scomi Group, a local oil and gas company which manufactured centrifuge parts allegedly ordered by a businessman BSA Tahir who was later arrested on suspicion of involvement in an illicit nuclear network run by Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan.

And Scomi, during Abdullah’s tenure, had secured government contracts worth RM1 billion and Kamaluddin, then in his late 30s was estimated to be worth RM90 million, something which baffled industry analysts.

Rakyat getting frustrated

Clearly, the country has no dearth of cases for the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to investigate, especially those involving children of VIP and VVIPs. The problem is that MACC does not have the guts to go after these ‘elite’ wrongdoers, choosing instead to bully the likes of Teoh Beng Hock, a political aid who in 2009 was found dead under ‘mysterious’ circumstances at the MACC building in Shah Alam.

MACC when pressured by opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat to investigate Najib, his wife Rosmah Mansor and their family for living beyond the means of a politician confessed that it lacked the power to do so.

Incredulous as it sounds, MACC has gone to reveal that it is yet another ‘toothless tiger’ in the BN administration. That MACC needs approval from its political masters to investigate known personalities tells it all, that the commission can never carry out its duties unbiased.

Had MACC any gumption, it would long put an end to the corrupt regime of Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud, whom the Swiss-based NGO, Bruno Manser Fund in its report: ‘The Taib Timber Mafia. Facts and Figures on Politically Exposed Persons from Sarawak, Malaysia’ revealed to be worth US$15 billion (RM45 billion) and the “richest man in Malaysia”, his wealth having been derived from “plundering the state during his three decades as Chief Minister of Sarawak”.

The report added that Taib and his 20-member family clan are collectively worth US$21 billion (RM64 billion). Is this piece of information not damning enough for the MACC to act upon? Until such time that the MACC can muster the courage to haul up corrupt leaders, the rakyat will have no choice but to consider other options of getting their frustrations heard.

Ramon: Need for Structural Change and Reform


January 1, 2014

Ramon: Need for Structural Change and Reform

by Liew Jia Teng
sunbiz@thesundaily.com

Ramon14Tan Sri (Dr.) Ramon Navaratnam

Structural changes and reforms are necessary for the sustainable growth of Malaysia’s economy, but a reshuffle of the Cabinet in 2014 is even more important to stop the country from stumbling and falling, said Asian Strategy & Leadership Institute director and the Centre for Public Policy Studies chairman Tan Sri (Dr.) Ramon V. Navaratnam  (pix above).

“We are already stumbling as we are not doing as good as we should, given the fact that Malaysia is a blessed land with plenty of resources and we had a good head start after the Merdeka Day. Neighbouring countries are moving at a faster pace. The world is running, and we are just walking,” he told SunBiz in an interview recently.
Ramon, who has held several key positions in government including the posts of deputy secretary general of the Treasury and the secretary general of the Transport Ministry throughout his 30-year tenure before retiring in 1989, attributes the current state of affairs to “selfish, self-centred and greedy” politicians who encourage cronyism and money politics.
“The time has come, now that the General Election 2013, UMNO election and its General assembly are over. This year, I hope the Prime Minister (Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak) will be able to move strongly and bravely with greater determination to fight corruption and bring back national unity so that we get our economy back on track and grow at a faster pace,” said Ramon.
He opined that Najib must reshuffle the Cabinet this year, with the aim of going for leaders with quality and integrity to serve the country inclusively, and not exclusively.
“They need not be politicians, but they need to have political appreciation, and we need more technocrats,” he added.Ramon urged the government to also introduce more structural reforms, by adopting the the New Economic Model (NEM) and phasing out the New Economic Policy (NEP).
“We have been pushing the NEP too far, it was not meant to be that way. (Instead), it was meant to promote growth and income distribution. But we seem to be adapting policy and principles of what I call “raceconomics”.
“I was one of the officials drafting and dealing with the NEP when I was in the Treasury. We never envisaged it would go this way. There has been a distortion and departure from the basic thinking of the former Prime Minister (Tun Abdul Razak Hussein),” he said.
For example, Ramon said, while the recently announced series of subsidy rationalisation is bound to lead to a higher inflation rate, most people never ask, “Why is there inflation and how can we counter the inflation?”
He believes that prices can be stabilised if there are more products available in the market, meaning that the country will have to do away with policies that restrict supply. To counter inflation, Ramon said, the level of competition needs to be increased, while cronyism and corruption need to be eradicated.
“Less competition, less quality, less production, less discipline, more corruption and wastage cause the price increase. These factors must be controlled, this is why I said there is a need for structural reform,” he reiterated.
“If somebody is good, give them the licence. Don’t give it to your friend. The world does not owe us a living. We must give them not only the fish, but also the rod,” he added.
Ramon said the announcement of the Bumiputra Economic Empowerment Plan (BEEP) which grants bumiputras access to over RM30 billion in funding and contracts, is one such example. He added that BEEP should have been fairly applied to all Malaysian entrepreneurs, with perhaps a preference to bumiputras, making it a more acceptable and productive policy.
“They should not make it exclusive (for bumiputras). The policy should have been inclusive. As long as it is reflective of ‘raceconomics’, it appears divisive and debilitating. We should practise what we preach, as there is too much gap growing between rhetoric and reality,” he said.
This is not say, however, that Ramon believes in sidelining the majority Malays. He acknowledges that Malaysia’s growth very much depends on the enlightenment of the Malays. Only the Malays, he said, as the majority race, can put the record straight and provide leadership that is fair to all.
“If there is no fair play and inclusiveness in the country, then what can the minorities do? They will feel a sense of hopelessness and lack of belonging. I hope people will realise the mistake and recognise that they are cutting off their nose to spite the face,” he said.
Ramon highlighted the need to upgrade education standards to root out corruption in the country. “It takes time (to start from education), but we should do it now. One should follow principles of religion and must be trained and educated at home as well as at school.
“More importantly, we should fear it (corruption). Why doesn’t a poor man rob a bank? Because he is afraid that he might be caught, besides knowing that it is a bad thing,” he said.

 

Lack of Accountability


December 31, 2013

Lack of Accountability is a major stumbling to Malaysia’s progress

by Tan Siok Choo@ww.thesundaily.my

Tan Siok ChooACCOUNTABILITY is an infrequently used word in Malaysian authorities’ lexicon. Regulators’ persistent refusal to determine who was responsible for a mishap is effectively a denial of accountability. If allowed to continue, this no-fault syndrome could stymie Malaysia’s progress.

Parts of buildings and flyovers sag, MySikap, a new online transaction system, generated chaos while Malaysian students fare poorly in international assessments.

Despite injuries to individuals, property damage, massive inconvenience to car owners and question marks about Malaysia’s education system, determining how and why all these reversals happened is still lacking.

Possibly the most egregious example of construction frailties is Serdang’s seven-year-old hospital. Since 2011, the hospital has suffered from seven instances of crumbling masonry.

On December 4 this year, the emergency ward’s ceiling fell, the second occurrence within a month. Five days later, a similar failure hit its staff quarters. A partial collapse also plagued the intensive care unit, maternity ward and the main lobby which suffered twice – first in January 2011 and again a year later.

Thanks to tremendous public pressure, the Health Ministry named Ranhill Sdn Bhd as the developer who built this hospital. Till today, the authorities have yet to publicly announce whether an investigation has been undertaken to explain why these mishaps happened and what action is being taken to prevent future recurrences.

On February 28 this year, part of a flyover in Cyberjaya tumbled.According to newspaper reports, the flyover was built by PKNS, completed in 2009 and handed to Projek Lebuhraya Utara Selatan (PLUS). Denying the flyover was handed over to it, PLUS disclaims responsibility for the partial collapse.

On the issue of responsibility for the flyover, the authorities remained resoundingly silent.Terengganu has witnessed so many instances of crumbling construction that Kuala Terengganu MP and architect Datuk Raja Kamarul Bahrin says the state is now nicknamed “Terengganu Darul Runtuh”.

Incidents that have given the state this unofficial moniker include:

  • in June 2009, the ceiling of the RM292.9 million Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Stadium broke while early this year, the steel structure propping up the roof fell;
  • in October 2009, the roof of the Masjid Kampung Batu Putih in Kerteh crumbled;
  • in May this year, the roof of Masjid Kampung Binjai Kertas in Hulu Terengganu gave way; and
  •  in September this year, the Kampung Tebauk mosque in Bukit Tunggal was similarly afflicted.

Despite the plethora of construction woes bedevilling Terengganu, state and federal officials have remained eloquently silent.

Another eyebrow-raising event was the shambles caused by the new MySikap portal that prevented thousands of consumers last month from registering car ownership, renewing their driving licences and undertaking other car-related transactions.

Initially, a top official from the Road Transport Department announced the setting up of an independent panel to assess MySikap’s problems. Several days later, he reversed this decision without offering any explanation.

Although he proposed a system upgrade and suggested the portal could be stabilised by using additional servers loaned by IBM, will these proposals prevent another mishap without launching an investigation into why MySikap failed?

Emulating the Transport Ministry is their counterparts from the Education Ministry. Admittedly, the latter has announced their determination to improve Malaysian students’ dismal performance in Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).

No Education Ministry official has explained the performance gap between local and international assessments. Without this root cause analysis, how will these officials know whether Malaysia’s education system needs a revamp?

In the recent PMR examinations, 7.33% of students obtained Grade A in all subjects. In contrast, only 2% of our students were the highest achievers in the 2011 TIMSS and 1.3% in the 2012 PISA, Gelang Patah MP Lim Kit Siang claims.

Yet another troubling issue – why was Malaysia ranked 52nd among 65 countries in the PISA assessment while Vietnam attained a surprisingly lofty ranking of 17th?

Differences in the marks obtained by Vietnamese and Malaysian students aren’t a fissure but a chasm. Vietnamese students scored 511 for maths, 509 for reading and 521 for science while their Malaysian counterparts’ results were nearly 100 points lower – with 421, 424 and 425 respectively.

Accountability doesn’t mean indulging in a blame game. Without determining why the performance of Malaysian students have stagnated and possibly declined, will the authorities’ proposed remedial action be effective?

This is akin to a doctor prescribing a proposed course of treatment without undertaking a biopsy to determine whether a growth is benign or malignant.

A starting point for any improvement must begin with an understanding of what went wrong. Next is determining why the failure happened. Only then can the process of renewal and rebuilding begin.Acknowledgement of a failure is the essential first step towards progress.

2014 calls for PRUDENCE


December 28, 2013

2014 calls for PRUDENCE

by The Editors@www.freemalaysiatoday.com

2013 is coming to an end. It started highly charged on issues surrounding the 13th General Election; which witnessed Barisan Nasional retaining their power for the next 5 years. Various promises were made. Sweeteners were sprinkled to hood the public into believing that a better future holds in the coming months and years.

Nevertheless, barely 6 months into regaining Putrajaya, all hopes of joy and dreams of the rakyat to enjoy their hard eared money have been shattered in the wake of escalated cost of living. The government has made their promises sour in taste by announcing various prices hikes of goods and services as the closure to the year.

The public by large are flabbergasted in the manner policies are being hammered through, that will take toll on their incomes directly.

Big Spender Rosie and accomplice NajibIn the name of subsidy rationalisation and strengthening fiscal position, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has not left any stone unturned in ‘punishing’ the people of Malaysia by upping prices on daily essentials. First it was the hike in fuel price by 20 sen. Well as usual his justification was that we have one of the lowest priced fuel in the region. So subsidising it heavily does not make sense.

Then the sugar subsidy was removed. Again a very unsubstantiated, flimsy and lame excuse was used. Apparently the number of diabetics are on the rise because the government is subsidising sugar, thus the need for the move. What a genius deduction made by a person who has pretty much lost touch with the reality indeed.

But Najib was still not too appeased with the savings as he felt that more needs to be done to ‘safeguard’ the  interest of the public. Thus we are bracing a further rate hike on highway tolls and electricity in 2014.

And as icing, there is near confirmed possibility of hike in school bus and public transport fares. Taxis, buses, trains, and the LRT will all cost more in the coming year.A timely Christmas and New Year gift from Putrajaya for 2014.

As cumulative consequences and in definite terms, the overall cost of living will only spiral up as production of goods and services will also cost more. The entire supply chain  will not be spared and eventually the cost will drop flat on the laps of the consumers.

The hardest hit will be the middle income group which is already in a limbo with the current economic situation. Wages have not seen significant changes in parallel to inflation. The power of each ringgit has shrunk in its capacity over the years. It is baffling as to what is defined as a high income nation in the eye of the Malaysian government when in actual sense the purchasing power does not improve with time.

Consumers will need to dig in deeper into their pockets come 2014. A chunk of their salaries will go to paying higher current bills for sustenance; thus what will be left for savings will demand sharp juggling skills.

With a gloomy outlook on the global economic front coming ahead next year, it will be a much tougher battle to handle.

With many drawing up their New Year’s resolutions for 2014, please do keep in mind that financial prudence is highly recommended to be on the top of the list. That little pay increment or bonus one may obtain should be spread thin and well to cover any other surprises that BN may further spring on us.

Ramon’s Resolutions for 2014


December 28, 2013

Ramon’s Resolutions for 2014

by Tan Sri (Dr.) Ramon Navaratnam, Chairman, ASLI Centre of Public Policy Studies

Dr. Ramon NavaratnamWE are relieved that major elections at national and party levels are over. Thankfully they were conducted under peaceful conditions, although many would have preferred more “free and fair” elections.

We have passed the stage of politicking and rhetoric and should seek to implement all the election promises and deliver beneficial outcomes to the rakyat.Thus, it would be useful for us to review the past, examine our present concerns and needs and to propose inter alia, the following eight resolutions, for the adoption by our leaders and people.

We should resolve as follows:

  •  Peace and national unity must be strengthened. We should all refrain from hurtful and divisive comments and actions that will cause disunity. We should isolate all those who indulge in extremist remarks and actions that erode our peace and national unity.

The Government should come down hard on all persons who pose a threat to peace and unity in a fair and equitable manner that is accepted by all;

  •  Security standards have to be enhanced by greatly improving the crime index with more urgency.

The Police could use their new laws to go all out to break up the crime syndicates and get the kingpins, as they promised they would do, in order to get public support for the introduction of the new Crime Prevention Act;

  • Corruption is still high and despite all government initiatives, it has hardly improved. New laws need to be introduced and the MACC has to show that it is more effective by reducing the TI Index considerably and more significantly;
  •  Inflation is a growing threat to our well-being. The poor and lower income groups are now burdened with rising prices.

Despite the BR1M, they find it difficult to cope with daily living costs. The recent reduction in subsidies and the increase in toll, electricity and property rates are not the only cases of rising prices. There has to be an anti-inflation strategy to combat inflation.

The Government has to remove or reduce monopolies, closed and negotiated tendering practices and liberalise the economy much more. We have to adopt principles of the New Economic Model and phase out the abusive practices of the protective policies;

  • Social stability has to be buttressed by basic needs policies that have to replace race-based policies and practices.

Race economics have also undermined national unity.Some even claim that there is political and economic apartheid, which is quite ridiculous.However, these issues have to be boldly addressed and overcome, to give greater priority to the poor of all races;

  • Unemployment is looming as a serious problem and must be curbed quickly.

Graduate unemployment is a rising social threat. Can the Government seek faster ways of improving our education system by introducing more technical teaching to make our school graduates more productive and thus employable. We might also be able to reduce drug consumption and gangsterism;

  • Religious bigotry and religious intolerance have to be clamped down more strenuously before we have more disharmony and less religious appreciation and understanding of each other in our multiracial society.

Can a National Interfaith Council under the Prime Minister or his Deputy be formed next year to promote more religious goodwill?; and

  • Malaysia’s Human Rights record has to be improved as a matter of high priority.

We have not signed and ratified all the Core Human Rights Conventions.Malaysia has now to respond to 232 recommendations before the Human Rights Council in March 2014.

Surely, we can show the world that we are far better disposed to the promotion and protection of human rights in our country?

In conclusion, I believe that if we can sincerely adopt and implement the above eight New Year Resolutions, we would make a big leap forward in ensuring for ourselves – a more Happy and Prosperous and United Malaysia in 2014 and beyond!