PKR, doing a fine job of crushing dreams


July 30, 2014

Message to Anwar Ibrahim and Cohorts

PKR, doing a fine job of crushing dreams

After pledging to effect political reform, all PKR has succeeded in doing in Selangor is plunge it into chaos, making it the laughing stock of the nation.

“Many voters today concede that their vote for PKR was a mistake as they have been forced to put up with a ‘comedy of errors’ literally, with the operative word here being ‘errors’, in the last one year.”-Fernandez.

COMMENT

July 29, 2014

Dear PKR leaders,

AzizahWhat happened to Ubah sebelum Parah?

I am a Selangor resident who unashamedly and proudly voted for PKR in the last two general elections.I voted for reforms, a better Selangor and a “new Malaysia” after being sick and tired of the UMNO brand of politics.

Today after six years, my fellow voters in Selangor will agree that many of us are disillusioned with the state of affairs both in Selangor and within PKR. The party’s many instances of infighting, the practice of nepotism, the abuse of power among their power crazy leaders and the sheer lack of strategy and direction have left many voters wondering what happened to their dream of change that was promised.

The Kajang Move was an excellent example of a poorly thought through strategy. It was doomed to fail from the start. This is a typical case of a blind “de facto leader” who only seems to be promoting his personal interests while indulging in self-glorification (He only wants to be the Prime Minister of Malaysia).

Whilst the prudent financial management of the state’s coffers is commendable, the irony is that the Menteri Besar has failed to address basic issues that matter most to voters. Poor rubbish collection, water shortages, increases in the cost of living, poor public transportation, clogged drains and filthy eateries are just some of the issues voters face on a daily basis.

Many voters today concede that their vote for PKR was a mistake as they have been forced to put up with a ‘comedy of errors’ literally, with the operative word here being ‘errors’, in the last one year.

The writing on the wall is clear.

Abe's StatueUnless PKR has the political will to reform itself and address critical issues affecting the daily lives of the people of Selangor, it can rest assured it will not retain power in Selangor in the next elections. This would be extremely sad as many of us in the state had places our hopes on CHANGE-UBAH.

Let me conclude with a thought-provoking quote from President Abraham Lincoln that should serve as a reminder to our leaders from both sides of the political divide.” You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.”

*W. Fernandez is a FMT reader.

US penalises Malaysia for shameful human trafficking record


June 23, 2014

COMMENT: Malaysia’s Human Trafficking Record

Congratulations to the Ministry of Home Affairs, The Inspector-General of Police of the Royal Malaysianimage Police and related agencies under the charge of Home Minister Dato’ Seri Dr. Zahid Hamidi on our human trafficking record.  Tier 3 is not bad; we could have been worse. As a reward, we deserve what is due to us in terms of likely punitive actions from Najib’s strategic partner, the Obama Administration, for doing a brilliant job that has enabled us to join the ranks of Zimbabwe, North Korea and Saudi Arabia.

Frankly, coming after the MH370 debacle, this downgrade is another blemish to our image. But aren’t we  known for shooting overselves in the foot! I wonder what our beloved Prime Minister would say if he should meet President Obama again. I suspect the answer would likely be: “Mr President, we are doing about our best and given this downgrade by the State Department, you can be assured that we will be double our efforts in fighting this scourge.”–Din Merican

US penalises Malaysia for shameful human trafficking record

Continued failure to curb traffickers prompts US to downgrade Malaysia in its annual Trafficking in Persons report

by Kate Hodal @ the guardian.com, Friday 20 June 2014 13.59 BST

The US has downgraded Malaysia to the lowest ranking in its annual human trafficking report, relegating the southeast Asian nation to the same category as Zimbabwe, North Korea and Saudi Arabia. The move could result in economic sanctions and loss of development aid.

Malaysia’s relegation to tier 3 in the US state department’s Trafficking in Persons (TiP) report – published on Friday – indicates that the country has categorically failed to comply with the most basic international requirements to prevent trafficking and protect victims within its borders.

Human rights activists in Malaysia and abroad welcomed the downgrade as proof of the government’s lax law enforcement, and lack of political will, in the face of continued NGO and media reports on trafficking and slavery.

“Malaysia is not serious about curbing human trafficking at all,” said Aegile Fernandez, Director of Tenaganita, a local charity that works directly with trafficking victims. The order of the day is profits and corruption. Malaysia protects businesses, employers and agents [not victims] – it is easier to arrest, detain, charge and deport the migrant workers so that you protect employers and businesses.”

According to this year’s TiP report – which ranks 188 nations according to their willingness and efforts to combat trafficking, and is considered the benchmark index for global anti-trafficking commitments – trafficking victims are thought to comprise the vast majority of Malaysia’s estimated 2 million illegal migrant labourers, who are sent to work in the agriculture, construction, sex, textile or domestic labour industries.

Many of the victims are migrants who have willingly come to Malaysia from neighbouring countries like Indonesia, Burma, Cambodia and Bangladesh, attracted by Malaysia’s large supply of jobs and high regional wages. But once in Malaysia they fall prey to forced labour at the hands of their employers, recruitment companies or organised crime syndicates, who refuse payment, withhold their documents or force them into indentured servitude.

The Malaysian government has continuously failed to provide basic rights protections to migrant workers and instead has created a system where unscrupulous labour brokers, corrupt police and abusive employers can have a field day,” says Phil Robertson, Asia’s Deputy Director of Human Rights Watch.

Refugees are particularly vulnerable to trafficking within Malaysia’s borders, the report states, as the government does not grant them formal refugee status or allow them to work legally. As a result, many of the 10,000 refugee Filipino muslim children who reside in the Sabah region are subjected to forced begging, while reports of abuse, detainment and torture by Malaysian traffickers of Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution in western Burma made headlines earlier this year.

“When you Google ‘Malaysia’, it’s among the five worst countries for refugees,” said Lia Syed, Executive Director of the Malaysia Social Research Insitute, which supports refugees. “There is no policy for refugees in Malaysia at all. They are not recognised, they do not have legal status, they are just considered illegal migrants. It doesn’t matter what country they come from, what their story is, they do not get any support officially from the government.”

Malaysia’s downgrade to tier 3 is an automatic relegation after four years on the tier 2 watchlist and it is the third time in seven years that the country has sunk to the lowest ranking.The downgrade is likely to be seen as a considerable blow to Malaysia’s image and is sure to strain diplomatic relations. Malaysia is a strategic US partner in President Barack Obama’s “pivot” to the east, with the US serving as Malaysia’s largest foreign investor and fourth-largest trading partner.

The downgrade could spell economic sanctions and restrictions on US foreign assistance and access to institutions like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. However, such punishments can be waived under national security considerations.

While Malaysia has increased its preventative efforts against trafficking via public service announcements, there were fewer identifications of trafficking victims, fewer prosecutions and fewer convictions this year than in 2012, the report stated, with poor victim treatment posing a “significant impediment” to successful prosecutions. Authorities not only failed to investigate cases brought to them by NGOs, they also failed to recognised victims or indications of trafficking, and instead treated cases as immigration violations. Some immigration officials were also accused of being involved in the smuggling of trafficking victims, yet the government did not investigate any such potential individuals or cases.

“Unfortunately Malaysia’s victim care regime is fundamentally flawed,” said Luis C deBaca, the ranking state department official for combating trafficking. He pointed to Malaysia’s use of detention centres for people, mainly young women, identified as having been trafficked into the country for illegal purposes.

 “Malaysia has a strong focus on getting rid of illegal aliens rather than a progressive compassionate response to its many victims of trafficking. There has been lots of promised future action but no signs of things happening on the ground to deal with their significant problems,” he said.

 Key recommendations issued by the US included amending the current anti-trafficking law to allow victims to travel, work and reside outside government facilities, and increasing efforts to investigate, prosecute and punish any public officials who might profit from trafficking or exploiting victims.

Malaysia’s Deputy Home Minister, Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, said earlier this year that the country was in a “very difficult position” as it knew it needed to increase trafficking victims’ rights, yet it didn’t want to encourage illegal migration to its borders.”

“If we allow these people to start working, everybody will start coming here,” Wan Junaidi told reporters after a conference on human trafficking.


 

“When you Google ‘Malaysia’, it’s among the five worst countries for refugees,” said Lia Syed, executive director of the Malaysia Social Research Insitute, which supports refugees. “There is no policy for refugees in Malaysia at all. They are not recognised, they do not have legal status, they are just considered illegal migrants. It doesn’t matter what country they come from, what their story is, they do not get any support officially from the government.”

 

Malaysia’s downgrade to tier 3 is an automatic relegation after four years on the tier 2 watchlist and it is the third time in seven years that the country has sunk to the lowest ranking.

 

The downgrade is likely to be seen as a considerable blow to Malaysia’s image and is sure to strain diplomatic relations. Malaysia is a strategic US partner in President Barack Obama’s “pivot” to the east, with the US serving as Malaysia’s largest foreign investor and fourth-largest trading partner.

 

The downgrade could spell economic sanctions and restrictions on US foreign assistance and access to institutions like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. However, such punishments can be waived under national security considerations.

 

While Malaysia has increased its preventative efforts against trafficking via public service announcements, there were fewer identifications of trafficking victims, fewer prosecutions and fewer convictions this year than in 2012, the report stated, with poor victim treatment posing a “significant impediment” to successful prosecutions. Authorities not only failed to investigate cases brought to them by NGOs, they also failed to recognised victims or indications of trafficking, and instead treated cases as immigration violations. Some immigration officials were also accused of being involved in the smuggling of trafficking victims, yet the government did not investigate any such potential individuals or cases.

 

“Unfortunately Malaysia’s victim care regime is fundamentally flawed,” said Luis CdeBaca, the ranking state department official for combating trafficking. He pointed to Malaysia’s use of detention centres for people, mainly young women, identified as having been trafficked into the country for illegal purposes.

 

“Malaysia has a strong focus on getting rid of illegal aliens rather than a progressive compassionate response to its many victims of trafficking. There has been lots of promised future action but no signs of things happening on the ground to deal with their significant problems,” he said.

 

Key recommendations issued by the US included amending the current anti-trafficking law to allow victims to travel, work and reside outside government facilities, and increasing efforts to investigate, prosecute and punish any public officials who might profit from trafficking or exploiting victims.

 

Malaysia’s deputy home minister, Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, said earlier this year that the country was in a “very difficult position” as it knew it needed to increase trafficking victims’ rights, yet it didn’t want to encourage illegal migration to its borders.

 

“If we allow these people to start working, everybody will start coming here,” Wan Junaidi told reporters after a conference on human trafficking.

 

Wajarkah Tengku Adnan Rob Malay Businesses ?


June 22, 2012

WAJARKAH TENGKU ADNAN ROB MALAY BUSINESSES?

dinmericanby Din Merican

On  June 6, 2014, Utusan Malaysia exploded a story about Sultan Johor’s interference in the Johor State Assembly (Dewan Undangan Negeri) by seeking to have executive control over the Johor Housing Board. The headline was a simple “WAJARKAH?”:

Utusan Malaysia then unfolded the real story. The real disaffection with Sultan Johor was that His Highness was seen as getting involved in businesses including selling large valuable parcels of lands in Johor to Singaporeans and lately to developers from China. This was further incensed by the fact that Malaysian billionaire tycoon Tan Sri Francis Yeoh of the YTL Group had made very damaging and insulting statements against the Malay leadership in the government accusing it of crony capitalism whereas it was a public secret that the YTL Group was the biggest beneficiary of Dr Mahathir’s privatisation policy. The TNB Employees Union then exposed that Sultan Johor’s power company SIPP was the JV partner of the YTL Group in the Pengerang IPP (independent power producer) project.

The Sultan of Johore's sale of 116-acres of prime land in Johor Bahru last December to China developers Guangzhou R&F last year as a major turning point. BN upset with royal housing bill too 01 The deal pocketed the Sultan RM4.5 billion.  The Sultan of Johore's sale of 116-acres of prime land in Johor Bahru last December to China developers Guangzhou R&F last year as a major turning point. BN upset with royal housing bill too 01 The deal pocketed the Sultan RM4.5 billion.

The Sultan of Johore’s sale of 116-acres of prime land in Johor Bahru last December to China developers Guangzhou R&F last year as a major turning point.
BN upset with royal housing bill too.
The deal pocketed the Sultan RM4.5 billion. 

So, the whole thing was really about UMNO’s anger towards Sultan Johor’s perceived betrayal by selling out on Malay rights. UMNO may be justified to come out strongly against Sultan Johor. UMNO is justified to chide any Malay Ruler and any GLC that disregards Malay rights. UMNO can do that because it perceives itself as the protector and guardian of Malay rights as guaranteed by the Federal Constitution. That’s what UMNO’s existence is for, and that is what most Malays expect of UMNO. But, is UMNO really the champion of Malays and Malay rights? Or, must the Malays also be protected from the rogues in UMNO?

Beside Johor Sultan, UMNO via Khazanah Nasional Berhad owns one of the largest development land in Johor. And UMNO is selling land at equally crasy rate to foreigners, disguised under the name of “joint development”.

Beside Johor Sultan, UMNO via Khazanah Nasional Berhad owns one of the largest development land in Johor. And UMNO is selling land at equally crasy rate to foreigners, disguised under the name of “joint development”.

For UMNO to regard itself as the Champion of Malay rights, UMNO must also not allow its politicians, its leaders especially the UMNO Ministers to betray and rob legitimate Malay businesses. UMNO must not allow Ministers like Tengku Adnan Mansor who is the Federal Territories Minister to do what is reported in MKini in the story below.

Damai Kiaramas was set up in early 2009 to provide a long-term solution for the former estate workers living on prime land of currently TTDI after their estate was closed down 32 years ago.

Damai Kiaramas was set up in early 2009 to provide a long-term solution for the former estate workers living on prime land of currently TTDI after their estate was closed down 32 years ago.

So, just as Utusan Malaysia had rebuked Sultan Johor by that simple phrase – “WAJARKAH?”, these Malay businessmen would equally be entitled to rebuke Tengku Adnan and ask him : “ WAJARKAH TENGKU ADNAN ROB MALAY BUSINESSES?”

I think it is time that UMNO admonish Tengku Adnan before UMNO loses Malay support in GE14!Now read what Malaysia kini reported below:

UMNO men’s firm gets injunction against Ku Nan

By Hafiz Yatim@www.malaysiakini.com

 A group of bumiputera entrepreneurs today obtained an injunction against Federal Territories Minister and UMNO Secretary-General Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor and two others from being involved in a joint venture project involving a five-hectare plot of land in Bukit Kiara.

Last week, Damai Kiaramas Sdn Bhd, owned by UMNO members, filed a suit in the High Court in Kuala

WAJARKAH TENGKU ADNAN ROB MALAY BUSINESSES?

WAJARKAH TENGKU ADNAN ROB MALAY BUSINESSES?

Lumpur against Tengku Adnan, also known as Ku Nan, for breach of contract. The company claimed it had fulfilled all the conditions set by the ministry to develop the land, including getting the agreement of those living in longhouses in the vicinity for 32 years, to be placed in a mixed development project on the land.

However, the company claimed, Tengku Adnan had favoured a company owned by the Pavilion group to be given the project. Today’s ex-parte injunction was granted by judicial commissioner Kamaluddin Md Said.

Damai Kiaramas named its joint-venture partner Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan, Tengku Adnan and the Pavilion group-owned Memang Perkasa Sdn Bhd as defendants in the suit. They had since 2008 proposed to redevelop the five-hectare land, which was then part of the Bukit Kiara estate, large portions of which have become the Kuala Lumpur Golf Club and Kelab Golf Perkhidmatan Awam.

The displaced estate workers are staying in dilapidated longhouses on the five-hectare plot and pay monthly rental to the Kuala Lumpur City Hall.Damai Kiaramas claimed it had obtained the backing of the then federal territories minister Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin and got the cabinet’s support.

Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan agreed to appoint Damai Kiaramas as a joint-venture partner on December 17, 2012, after it obtained signatures from all the longhouse residents to support the project, in which they would be placed in their new houses there.

A draft of the joint-venture company was produced several weeks later stating the terms that included the company having to pay RM60.702 million in land premium to Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan.

A meeting was held between Raja Nong Chik, Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan and Damai Kiaramas on Feb 22, 2013, at which they all agreed to the terms of the agreement and also agreed to the signing of the formal agreement only after the 13th general election.

Several declarations, general damages sought

However, with Raja Nong Chik having lost in the last general election, Damai Kiaramas had to deal with Tengku Adnan, the new minister in charge of the Federal Territories, and they held several meetings, last year and this year.

At subsequent meetings, the statement of claim from the firm states, Tengku Adnan requested that the land premium and return to be paid to Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan, be increased from RM60.702 million to RM96 million. Tengku Adnan allegedly asked that the amount be increased further to RM140 million and then to RM160 million, to which Damai Kiaramas is said to have reluctantly agreed.

The joint-venture agreement between Damai Kiaramas and Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan was formally signed and a copy was sent to the foundation on Sept 17 last year. However, on December 5 last year, Damai Kiaramas obtained a termination notice from Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan, which stated that there was never an agreement between them, that Damai Kiaramas failed to comply with the foundation’s demand and had not presented a detailed development plan.

Damai Kiaramas maintained that it briefed Tengku Adnan and the foundation representative on this on Sept 25 last year. The company claimed the reasons for the termination of the joint-venture agreement came as an after thought, and that it tried to revive the project by agreeing to pay the RM160 million that Tengku Adnan sought for the foundation.

The company also demanded, in April this year, that Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan reveals whether it had entered into an agreement with other companies to develop the project.Damai Kiaramas claimed that all the defendants had hidded from its knowledge that secret negotiations had been carried out with Memang Perkasa and further claimed that there was interference from the firm.

Damai Kiaramas further claimed that because it had agreed to pay the RM160 million as demanded, the joint-venture agreement stands and that the action of the other party amounted to breach of agreement.

Hence, the company is seeking a declaration that the joint-venture agreement dated September 17 last year is constituted and continues, and wants another declaration that the termination notice is set-aside.

Damai Kiaramas also wants Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan to continue with the joint venture and an order that any agreement that the foundation has with Memang Perkasa should be declared null and void. It is also seeking general damages and any amount the court deems fit for loss of profit and exemplary damages.

READ HERE: by Ida Lim@www.themalaymailonline.com

June 21, 2014

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/developer-insists-has-funds-for-ttdi-project-labels-ku-nans-claims-prematur

June 19, 2014

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/ku-nan-shrugs-off-court-injunction-by-developer-says-firm-could-not-perform

On Taiwan


 

June 20, 2014

Taipei, Taiwan

On Taiwan

by Din Merican

image

My wife, Dr. Kamsiah, and I spent the last few days in Taipei and its surrounds and met a number  of her Taiwanese counterparts. We asked them a lot of questions about their history, culture, their economy and government. While my wife was occupied with her course, I was  able to interact with them. Although those  we met and talked to were hampered by their limited English vocabulary and  we have zero knowledge of their language (Mandarin), we are able to understand why they are very proud of their country and its economic success but they are critical of their government. Off the bat, we can say that their society is an open one founded on democracy. They are a very hardworking and disciplined people.

I searched google and found a report from the Heritage Foundation, which confirms our cursory impressions of the country.  See below:

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Paying Tribute to Integrity


June 14, 2014

Paying Tribute to Integrity

by Ahmad Zakie Shariff (received by e-mail)

Like many others of his generation, my late father rejoiced when the Union Jack was lowered, that fateful night in August 1957. We were finally independent and free to set our nation’s future course. He was a simple man of integrity and he admired the great qualities of our Founding Fathers and he passed on that admiration to me.

hj-ahmad-zakieAs I write I am paying tribute to the founding spirit of this nation; a spirit of collective optimism and idealism. True, we may not feature in this year’s World Cup in Brazil (we can still dream, 2030 anyone?), but Malaysia is still a place where people can dream and achieve lofty goals together. United we stand, divided we fall.

But for too long, the economics discipline has understated the critical role of cooperation in economic activity. Emphasis on the individual has risen above all else and overshadowed the profound ways we depend on each other. You may have recently heard a prominent business person say “I did it all myself. I had no help from other quarters.” I want to interrupt that point.

Every successful business venture requires the cooperative effort of many people – the policymaker who believes in the benefits of the project, the banker who believes in the business plan, the customer who believes in the product, the employee who devotes precious time to the business and its owners.

A relationship exists when trust and integrity exists, and when they do, remarkable efficiencies result. Partners are spared a multitude of worries – whether they’ll get paid, whether they’ll get what they think they’re paying for. They are freed to act quickly and with confidence, again and again.

Pervasive integrity is fundamental to our society and the growth of its economy. Integrity, therefore, is not something that’s nice to have. It’s something we have to have.

The dictionary defines integrity as adherence to moral and ethical principles, rectitude, honour, and honesty. These are certainly admirable qualities. But we need to understand integrity as not simply a virtue, but a shared asset that brings social and economic rewards. Sometimes we take integrity for granted. We learn from infancy to count on other people to tell the truth, to keep their promises, and respect the rights of others.

This trusting attitude is ingrained in our culture, learnt from the cradle and accumulated over the years. However in this era, where so much seems to be going wrong, many have lost trust in their fellow citizens. Some of us have lost faith in integrity.

The path forward can’t be to stop trusting. We need to build the trust that will power our nation for decades to come.If mistakes are learning experiences, the painful lesson of recent events that pervaded our nation is that integrity really does matter. Not just to our moral wellbeing but to our economic wellbeing too.

Conventionally, integrity is considered a “behind closed doors” topic: a personal issue, entirely up to the individual. If you are upright, good for you; if not it’s no one else’s affair. We should turn conventional wisdom on its head. The real value of integrity is not personal; it’s collective. It is the underpinning for all our social relationships. We are heirs to a huge stock of integrity, built up over the years by our predecessors and visible in every aspect of our society.

It is a shared asset that has made us quite wealthy.Without integrity, our nation cannot function. There would be no trust, no mega projects, no trading, no credit, no buying and selling. Our oft-praised economy would quickly degenerate into a primitive system, and our nation’s wealth would disappear long with it.

Integrity is collective action.To actually practice integrity, to deal honestly, there has to be someone on the other side of the transaction. That means that to really understand integrity, we have to appreciate it as a relationship of trust.

An example: The Asian financial crisis of 1998 was in my mind, first and foremost, a crisis of integrity. It was by far the biggest economic disruption of my lifetime, more so than the subprime crisis of 2008.  In both crises, the seeds were sown when a number of people sought their own short-term advantage, knowing that they were putting others at risk. There was no thought spared for the collective good.

The things that will destroy us are: politics without principle; pleasure without conscience; wealth without work; knowledge without character; business without morality; science without humanity; and worship without sacrifice.–Mohandas K. Gandhi

In that climate, greed great and small multiplied and spread like potent germs in a warm petri dish. The result of all that integrity and trust unravelling was an economic contraction so profound that it impacted vast populations and diminished wealth around the globe.

It was a wake-up call. Ignoring or, worse, abusing integrity isn’t just unpleasant forGandhi a few bad apples and their unlucky victims. It had profound economic consequences. At stake were the entire regional economic system and our way of life.

There is another way to think about integrity. What if we invested in integrity? What if we took a different approach and focused on “increasing the good stuff that people do” instead of highlighting the scandals, the frauds and the cheatings? What if?

The ultimate point is that if we invest in our collective integrity, we invest in our collective wealth. We can create wealth together in ways that are not possible alone. Despite all the dishonesty, the falsehoods, the cheating and even the outright fraud we’ve seen exposed, there’s actually a lot of integrity left in this world. Without it, financial activity and the vast majority of commerce would stop completely.

Mohandas K. Gandhi once said that there are seven things that will destroy a society – wealth without work; pleasure without conscience; knowledge without character; religion without sacrifice; politics without principles; science without humanity and business without ethics.I agree with the Mahatma. He was cautioning us against the loss of integrity.

Malaysia–A Paradise Lost


June 7, 2014

Malaysia–A Paradise Lost

by Cogito Ergo Sum@http://www.malaysiakini.com

COMMENT: Superficially, Malaysia, for all and sundry, is a nation that is not onlyhype_najib1 doing well, but even thriving in all its endeavours. Foreigners and locals are told that we are a model of tolerance and harmony in a plural society and that others must emulate our ways if they want to succeed.

Unfortunately, even a cursory look at the state of things will give away this lie, so lyrically waxed in the mainstream media. And unless one has access to news portals like Malaysiakini, we would be blissfully ignorant under the onslaught and media blitz of the government controlled media machinery.

For one, we seem to be on a runaway train towards an Islamic state, when the Federal Constitution has overtly stated that we are secular nation.

So-called defenders of the faith and race like ISMA and PDRKASA have become not only very vocal, but also dangerously influential. They promote laws and legal systems that are in opposition to a multi-ethnic and plural society, and is deemed inappropriate for a modern economic system that can compete on an equal footing with our neighbours.

These so-called NGOs, considered to be on the fringes, seem to be getting theirIsma President funding and encore from a benign government that that is even seen as fanning these inciting and seditious pronouncement by its very silence and inaction.

And yet, we have an official propaganda that is portraying our ‘moderation’ and moderate ways to foreigners and foreign investors. But walking the talk is futile as the antics of such official ‘guardians of the faith’ like JAIS, are a stumbling block to this false mirage we are trying to project in a desert of what used to be an oasis of goodwill.

And as if to prepare us for the inevitable, the government has even set up a ‘hudud implementation committee’ for the day when the shariah system becomes law of the land. And if this carries on, we are well on track to go the way of Brunei, Sudan and several other failed states which have adopted hudud laws. And we are a ‘moderate’ nation with moderate policies and people?

Intruders beware

But we are indeed a nation of tolerance. Pushed to the limits of accommodating preferential treatment and affirmative action, Chinese and Indians are declared ‘intruders’ who have no business to have any business or rights as equal human beings.

And despite these provocative and obviously false, seditious accusations by radicals and self-proclaimed ‘fundamentalists’, we have either a mute BN which distinguishes itself  as a multi-racial coalition, or one that is too stupefied to respond decisively.

Newspapers that are unofficial mouthpieces of the authorities like Utusan Malaysia have a penchant of publishing rubbish and peddling it as sacrosanct news. Racial and religious slurs are printed and sold as if it is bread butter of the nation. Yet, the authorities are impotent or choose to be, against such slurs and often given official sanction by remaining dumb and unresponsive to such blatant lies. The tolerance and moderation, unfortunately is from the victims of such hate-filled messages.

Our Education system sucks

Bakri Musa's BookA serious flaw in the fundamentals of this nation is the education system. Our school system and education promotes learning by rote and regurgitating facts for examinations. No attempt is made to foster critical thinking and questioning of subject matter. Facts of history, and now even geography, are being manipulated to fit a distinct political agenda.Well accepted historical facts have been altered and even changed to leave out pertinent points of history that made this nation once great.

The roles of our forefathers like the late Tan Cheng Lock and VT Sambanthan are either missing or dealt with in passing. These men (and many women) played an integral part in getting the British to give us independence.And it was the Malay, Chinese and Indian Police officers whot beat the communists in a urban and guerrilla warfare.

No one race could have achieved this as Malaysia became the only nation to beat the BRAIN DRAINmovement in open combat. No other country has achieved this in the history of warfare.By the time students reach universities, their language skills in English can only be described as atrocious. Research papers and standard texts are written in the English language.

An erstwhile student in at a university is required to not only know the current trends in whatever fields he or she is pursing, but also critically evaluate such studies. That ability to valuate studies by others is a critical component in the pursuit of higher learning. Learning by rote and spewing out wrong facts at public exams are of no use in evaluating research papers because it does not require thinking. And the vicious cycle goes on when these graduates become teachers themselves. Results have shown that our students performance in science and mathematics is among the poorest in Asia.

We need a revolutionary education system to set thing right. A system that will ‘uneducate’ our children from the current ‘copy and paste’ mentality so prevalent that the word plagiarism is as alien as the concept of unity in diversity.

Economic descent

From a house of plenty, we have now become a nation of borrowers. Our household debt is at its peak at 80 percent. Families in urban areas find it impossible to meet ends and unless you are a favoured despot, you will find yourself drowning in a sea of personal debt.

Poverty cuts across racial and religious barriers. Despite government efforts to prop up the rural population, the urban Malays are finding it hard to meet the expenses of daily city life.

The sheer weight of managing and balancing a domestic budget is actually a microcosm of the national economy.Our current account (money received from imports minus the money that goes out for exports) has fallen.

Malaysia's Current Acc to GDP RatioAnd the figure has been steadily falling according to numbers released by the Department of Statistics, Malaysia since the year 2004 (see chart above).

John Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’, is an epic poem of the fall of man. Like the Garden of Eden, Malaysia was once an advanced and prosperous nation in not just Southeast Asia, but Asia. But sin crept into Paradise and it all was lost. And like Eden, we have allowed corruption, decay and prejudice to destroy the once paradisiacal state we were in.

In his poem, Milton painted the devil in such colourful language, that some haveMilton's epic poems even argued that Satan was the hero in ‘Paradise Lost’! And, much like Milton’s Eden, we seem to have fallen to the devilish ways of religious and racial bigotry that is transforming us, from the proverbial paradise, to a living hell on earth … for the average person.

One is left to contemplate if there is a way out of this runaway train that we have seemingly boarded. Will sanity, in the end prevail and will there be economic, social and political salvation? Milton pointed to a new future with his second epic poem entitled ‘Paradise Regained’.

As Malaysians, we have a duty to regain that lost paradise. We owe it to the next generation and the generations to come so that the story of Malaysia will be remembered as one of victory over darkness, of good over evil, of sanity over insanity and of one of moderation over extremism.

Let us not end up as an epic tragedy.

Malaysia truly Asia’s weakest link


June 7, 2014

Malaysia truly Asia’s weakest link thanks to Putrajaya, says Bloomberg

Published: 5 June 2014 | Updated: 5 June 2014 10:33  PM

http://www.themalaysianinsider.com

kuala-lumpur-skylineKuala Lumpur: Beautiful  outside but Rotten Inside

Putrajaya’s one-party policy and its 40-year-old pro-Malay affirmative action programme will spell trouble for the country’s economy, effectively turning Malaysia into the weakest link in Asia, a Bloomberg columnist said today.

http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-06-05/is-malaysia-asia-s-weakest-link

William P2William Pesek is a Bloomberg View columnist based in Tokyo and writes on economics, markets and politics throughout the Asia-Pacific region. His journalism awards include the 2010 Society of American Business Editors and Writers prize for commentary. Since joining Bloomberg in 2000, Pesek’s columns have appeared in the International Herald Tribune, the Sydney Morning Herald, the New York Post, the Straits Times, the Japan Times and many other publications around the world. Pesek began his journalism career writing for the American Banker and Bond Buyer newspapers.

He also worked for Dow Jones Newswires, where he wrote the daily credit markets column for the Wall Street Journal. Pesek earned a bachelor’s degree in business journalism from Bernard M. Baruch College-City University of New York

Citing Putrajaya’s poor handling of opposition politicians and the search for MH370, William Pesek said Malaysia will continue to hog headlines for all the wrong reasons if Putrajaya continues to be complacent in economic matters.

“Its 40-year-old, pro-Malay affirmative-action program chips away at the country’s competitiveness more and more each passing year. The scheme, which disenfranchises Malaysia’s Chinese and Indian minorities, is a productivity and innovation killer. It also has a corrupting influence on the political and business culture,” Pesek said.

Pesek based his observations on a new report from Sarah Fowler of UK-based Oxford Economics, which ranks Malaysia the “riskiest country in Asia of those we consider,” more so than India, Indonesia and even coup-ridden Thailand.

In the report, Fowler said: “Prompted by its high levels of public debt, rising external debt and shrinking current account surplus, there has been a shift in the perception of risks towards Malaysia and away from Indonesia”

Pesek added that current-account surplus is dwindling, from 16% of GDP in 2008 to 3.7% last year, while household debt, according to Fowler, is “worryingly high” at more than 80% of GDP compared to less than 60% in 2008.

Fowler also wrote that Putrajaya’s “climate of entitlement amongst the Malay community limits entrepreneurialism and vested interests within UMNO still resist change.”

Pesek said that the only thing holding Malaysia back is its insular political culture.“The government’s handling of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 said it all. Its deer-in-the-headlights response to the plane’s disappearance was the product of an insular political culture.

“The trouble is, that insularity is holding back a resource-rich economy that should be among Asia’s superstars, not its weakest links.” – June 5, 2014.

 

YTL’s Francis Yeoh apologizes


June 6, 2014

Francis Yeoh apologizes for Speaking Out against Crony Capitalism in Malaysia

Under heavy fire for daring to speak out against crony capitalism in Malaysia, YTL Corporation Managing Director Francis Yeoh has apologised for his remarks. Yeoh, the eldest son of Malaysian billionaire Yeoh Tiong Lay, said he regrets saying things that caused the furore.
YTL-apologises-in-UTUSAN-picture-01-360x216“I am truly saddened that my words have been misrepresented. Nevertheless, I humbly apologise if offence has been caused as a consequence. “I very much regret it,” Yeoh said in a letter to Utusan Malaysia, which was also carried on the front page report of the New Straits Times today.

“We are genuinely thankful to the Malaysian government and the people of Malaysia for allowing us to continue to thrive in this beloved country of ours.”–Malaysiakini (June 6, 2014)

Of Cronies, Sweetheart deals, IPPs and Francis Yeoh

TigerTalk  |  JUNE 5, 2014 5:17 PM
by P. Gunasegaram –guna@kinibiz.com

YTL group’s Francis Yeoh has got himself into quite a bit of a pickle over some statement on cronyism he made at a talk on going global. He denies he is a crony and that the crony way is not how business is done in Malaysia. But is that the truth? Let Tiger dig to unearth the bare truth with his claws.

Who is a crony really? Tiger, without any reference to a dictionary, thinks it’s a cosy relationship with the powers that be so as to obtain an advantage over others and get what is commonly known as a sweetheart deal, that is an uncommonly good deal which no government in its right mind will give you.

And crony capitalism defines a situation where this is rampant – that is a cosy relationship between the state and businessmen for the benefit of the businessmen primarily and often the state leaders too.

Just to be sure Tiger looked it up. Merriam-Webster defined a crony as “a friend of someone powerful (such as a politician) who is unfairly given special treatment or favours.” And Investopedia (Tiger’s favourite site for business terms) defined crony capitalism as a capitalist society based on the close relationships between businessmen and the state.

In Tiger’s books his definition is not significantly different from the dictionary definitions – just a matter of phraseology and an emphasis here and an emphasis there – nothing anyone will tear their hair out over discussing differences

Now that we are clear on what we mean by crony and crony capitalism. Let’s dig in. This is going to be a long dig so be prepared to stay with it – it will show things up quite clearly as we unearth the truth.

YTL Corporation Bhd group managing director Francis YeohThere are two parts to it. Is there crony capitalism in Malaysia? And the second part is this: Is Francis Yeoh a crony? If you have not already, read how he became caught up in the crony controversy here. And read here how he got whacked by Utusan Malaysia for it.

Let’s try and answer the second part first and it will be easier to answer the first part after that. And let Tiger take you back in time to the early nineties and a major blackout in Malaysia when there was power outage across the land.

We Tigers never noticed it of course because it’s always dark in the jungle at night except for the moon now and then and the question of whether the jungle was close enough to be affected by haze through which starlight seldom penetrates.

Former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir MohamadBack to the story, this prompted then Prime Minister (Tun) Dr. Mahathir Mohamad to launch perhaps his most expensive (to the Malaysian that is) privatisation plan – to privatise the generation of electricity, alleging that our electricity utility Tenaga Nasional Bhd or TNB was inefficient, hence the blackout.

TNB had by then been producing electricity without problems for many decades and was able to raise funding for its power stations without government support. It was considered to be quite efficient.

There were allegations that the blackout happened because TNB was not allowed to plant up, hence reducing the reserve production margin it was supposed to maintain for eventualities.

In fact, in an interview with The Star in 2006, former TNB Executive Chairman Ani Arope (pic below) alleged that TNB had been ready to plant up following the 1992 blackout, but that it was prevented from doing so by none other than the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) under the prime minister’s department. TNB was ordered to surrender the land it had acquired to the government, and not long after the government announced plans to privatise power plants.

Ani Arope

Former TNB Chairman Tan Sri Ani Arope

Ani also alleged in the interview that it had no negotiations with the IPPs. TNB had to deal with the EPU, who gave TNB the terms and asked management to agree. Ani refused to agree. In the interview, Ani also said that the pricing and terms of the PPAs “was all fixed up”. “They said you just take it and I refused to sign the contracts. And then I was put out to pasture,” he was quoted as saying.

Later, the government did put in the checks and balances to ensure that IPPs do not continue earning ludicrous profits from their PPAs, but the damage had already been done. The IPPs created overnight billionaires and many of them continue to profit at TNB’s expense even today.

Recall that among the first-generation of IPPs was YTL Power International, often said to be the richest IPP. It was a lucrative deal for YTL Power, with the pricing of power based on at least an internal rate of return (IRR – the correct way of calculating returns on investments) of a high 16% at least.

If the project is structured such that equity is 20% and the rest 80% financed by debt and if we assume an interest rate of say 7.5% (it’s much lower now), then calculations show that the return on equity is at least 50%. In two years, you recover your equity investment!

And the risk is minimal – the person who supplies the power plant will guarantee the performance and TNB will guarantee take up of the power or pay a capacity charge. What a wonderful sweetheart deal and this is confirmed by no less than the TNB executive chairman at the time!

YTL Power International Bhd 050614 edited

If there is still doubt, here is more evidence. The table (above) shows YTL Power’s power businesses. The TNB contract has a profit margin of 14.1% while other power businesses are less than half that at 6.2%. Yes, Francis Yeoh now takes pride in the fact that most of YTL Power’s business is overseas but it was Malaysia that provided him the base and Malaysia where his business it still most profitable.

Did Francis Yeoh know Mahathir? Yes and by most accounts very well. Then, we can assume that he was indeed a crony – certainly not the only crony, because every IPP owner subsequently was also one and many more besides but a very major one nevertheless. This bit of crony capitalism catapulted his family into billionaire status.

It was recently reported that the same YTL Power has won the Project 4A award for a new power plant as part of a consortium linked to the Sultan of Johor with Tenaga Nasional taking a 20% stake via direct negotiations. And so cronyism marches forward and onward.

The model that YTL Power pioneered with the connivance of the EPU under Mahathir was copied by those following him, the other cronies, if you will but no one else got as good a deal as he did.

Even now, the IPP project is  a sure and easy path to massive riches, selectively handed out to connected businessmen who carefully cultivate the politicians who dish them out. One can safely say that anyone who gets an IPP contract is a crony – that makes for a fair number of cronies in this sector alone.

And if the entire IPP sector is owned by cronies would it not be fair to say that crony capitalism is not only alive in Malaysia but well and thriving? That answers the first the question this article was examining.

To summarise: Yes, cronyism is part of doing business in Malaysia and Francis Yeoh is a crony. But to be fair to him he is just one of many and it is not easy to do business in Malaysia unless you are a crony.

Although he denies having said that, he is right when he said that in developed countries he does not need to toady up to prime ministers and other leaders before and after he gets a project. Which implies that he has to here.

tenaga-nasional-genericThis Tiger has always maintained that IPPs are actually unnecessary and merely add another layer of costs to the ultimate consumers of electricity. The best way is for Tenaga Nasional to own and run the plants – its been doing it for many decades before privatisation.

So long as the staff of Tenaga Nasional are kept clean, honest and efficient and paid a good salary for their work, this will provide the lowest cost of electricity to consumers. Why? Simply because you don’t need to provide an IRR of 12-16% for meddling middlemen cronies who become multi-millionaires and billionaires on the back of these needless contracts.

http://www.kinibiz.com/story/tigertalk/89444/of-cronies-sweetheart-deals-ipps-and-francis-yeoh.htm/%5D

The Muslim World’s Challenges (Part 2)


May 29, 2014

The Muslim World’s Challenges (Part 2) : Islam and Moderation

By Dr Farhan Ahmad Nizami@www.nst.com.my

Dr Farhan Ahmad NizamiTHE ideal of government as service cannot be realised without tackling corruption. Ultimately, this depends on personal integrity. However, much can be achieved by strict implementation of accountability procedures.

People’s everyday transactions — like getting a passport, a telephone connection, a licence to start a business or being free to travel — can be needlessly complicated by discriminatory application of regulations, or by having to pay bribes. As part of the commitment to justice and fairness, it is essential that Muslim identity is detached from crude forms of tribal and sectarian politics.

The Quran censures those among the Israelites who claimed salvation on the basis of tribal belonging. A central feature of Islamic civilisation was its understanding that values — like knowledge and skill and virtue — are by no means a monopoly of the Muslims.

Islam was a learning and teaching civilisation, and for that reason, a force for good. Between communities, there is need for both fences and bridges. Muslims must recover their talent for managing the shared and separate spaces.

If they do not, their sectarian and ethnic divisions will always be vulnerable to cynical exploitation.

The Quran describes the Muslim community as ummatan wasatan: the middle or moderate community, the anti-extreme or mainstream. The community of Muslims must not cut itself off; it must be inclusive and assimilative, go east and west, learning as well as teaching. That is an ideal worthy of presentation to all the peoples of the world.

In the end, people must have good reasons to prefer life in societies identified as Muslim, if they are to give their hearts to making those societies successful. Therefore, among the general objectives we pursue, some are bound to be specific to Muslims. Others may see the sense in them or they may not. But Muslims have a commitment to them from faith.

Human beings must expect to be questioned about the ends they pursue and the means they engage to realise them. For Muslims, there are issues of haram and halal in both means and ends.

With that in mind, Muslims should strive for a resetting of the international financial system and its regulation. They can draw upon their wealth of past and recent experience with Islamic financing.

A 100 per cent reserve ratio may be an impossible target, but significantly raising it is not impossible. Muslims can also demand much stricter regulation and more transparency in the relations between banks and regulators.

Islamic banking must practise what it preaches. To promote research and analysis in the general field of Islamic finance, a small positive step is the annual roundtable jointly organised by the Securities Commission of Malaysia and the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies.

Muslims can and should intervene, more strongly than they do, to limit dependence on commercial and industrial processes that are life-threatening. Harm that happens far away is called an “external cost of business”. This is morally repugnant and, sooner or later, self-destructive.

Muslims can make common cause with non-Muslims to build the will to sacrifice present comfort for future wellbeing. Muslim states have contiguous borders, large populations and considerable financial weight. There is no reason why they cannot lead efforts to preserve natural resources and environments.

In many Muslim societies, the lives of women are diminished by ingrained social and economic injustices. Men and women have aspirations and duties for which they have equal capacity and equal need. Therefore, they have an equal right to be prepared for those duties. This means education and the freedom to test that education in appropriate occupations.

Any policy oriented to human values, if not expressed in local cultural idioms, will not have local buy-in. Granted that Muslims have much to learn from the West, their first and last responsibility as Muslims is to embody the teaching of God and His Messenger. It is not permissible for them, where they have a choice, not to discharge that responsibility.

Within the debate among Muslims about political and human rights, there is broad agreement on the need for reform of attitudes and institutions. But political models imposed from above will not lead to open, accountable government sensitive to human rights. Such models, in practice, exclude the society they are claiming to serve.

Effective, stable representative government can only evolve from the collective will of the whole society. It will realise broad and enduring legitimacy only when it adapts the full resources of the society’s history and culture.

That is a good reason for beginning with reflection on past achievements. We do that to identify the general objectives that are desirable now. But we also need to identify actual, present commitment to those objectives, and to recognise and celebrate the progress that has been made. In this respect, Malaysia is the right place to be doing that.

Malaysia is an example of the political wisdom of which Muslims in the modern world are capable. It has demonstrated that, where social and historical circumstances permit and outside influences do not prevent, Muslims can build a stable society alongside non-Muslims.

Malaysia is a thriving nation whose Muslims remain, through their embrace of modernity, true to what is universal in their cultural and religious values.

I know there are tensions. But ways have been learnt to contain the tensions, and they are ways of peace. Differences intelligently managed have been converted into the advantages of diversity and moderation.

It is appropriate that the call for a Global Movement of Moderates has come from Malaysia. Since it is active in various international forums, and is the next chair of  ASEAN, it can project that message to many others.

The message is listened to because it is supported by a lived, achieved example.Within the struggle for political independence, there had also been a struggle for Malay/Muslim rights and identity.But that struggle did not, despite imbalances in educational opportunity and economic leverage, decay into sustained ethnic conflict.

Such conflict was viewed as an aberration from the norm, and Malaysia’s different communities learnt to co-exist and cooperate for the benefit of all.

Some of the reasons for this success are local, peculiar to the situation in this country. But the deeper reasons have to do with an Islamic tradition of tolerance and neighbourliness with peoples of different religion and ethnicity.

I would argue that, even in circumstances that differ markedly from the situation in Malaysia, the most promising basis for initiating and sustaining such a political settlement is religious conviction. It is a responsibility of those who believe in and value their faith to engage religious conviction as a means of promoting tolerance and peace within and between nation-states.

Malaysia’s political stability has been accompanied by equally impressive economic development. Malaysia took the lead in setting up the World Islamic Economic Forum. This initiative carries forward years of effort to improve economic cooperation between Muslim countries.

I mentioned earlier the lack of cultural contact among Muslim countries. Again, Malaysia is at the forefront of putting this right. It attracted some 73,000 visitors last year from Saudi Arabia alone. Its universities offer high-quality advanced education and training to students from the developing world. Many Muslims are taking up the opportunity.

Malaysia’s policymakers have identified a long-term need and committed resources to scholarship programmes that will encourage students of all backgrounds to take part.

Perhaps consideration could be given to the establishment of a National Endowment for the Humanities in Malaysia. Aside from the enrichment in perspectives, this policy will also, over time, contribute to reducing the flow of cultural product from the West into the Islamic world.

Muslims in the past, when confident of their religion and of themselves, were not intimidated by the ancient prestige of the learned traditions of the Greeks, Persians and Indians.

They were sure that Islam could absorb them, since whatever is truly of value to human life is, ultimately, compatible with the compassion and beneficence embodied in the teachings of the Quran and God’s Messenger. Muslims have a responsibility to contribute to the mainstream of world civilisation. There are several areas in which Muslim history and experience have something to teach:

The Muslims’ experience of pluralist societies could enrich contemporary constitutional debates which express individual rights but have no language for community rights. Their experience of the tension between scientific and religious thinking could shape a philosophy of science to reconcile belief in a Creator with rigorous scientific study.

Their experience of economics is relevant to ethical business, the balance between market freedom and state intervention, between private profit and public welfare, the cost of money. All these topics require the commitment of resources for the long term.

That commitment must come alongside a confidence in the ability of Muslims to find answers to the concerns that preoccupy all of us: the fight against the expulsion of religious authority from the public domain, and its growing irrelevance in the domain of individual lifestyles; the fight against consumerism and the widening gulf between those who have and those who do not have buying power; the fight against scales and patterns of economic activity which are pitilessly indifferent to their consequences for human lives and the natural systems we depend on; the fight against a near-autonomous technology answerable only to the economic interests that finance it; the fight against injustices, some located in particular persons or regimes, others anonymous and inaccessible behind the visible structures of power.

Alongside this fight against, there is a fight for — for the recovery of habits of worship (ibadat) and religious reflection; for the self-discipline which enables disinterested service of others; for the alleviation of poverty through healthcare and education; for effective conservation and environmental protection; for the preservation of family life which, however imperfectly, is still the most tested way to raise adults capable of moral autonomy.

Ultimately, the quality of commitment to a goal is dependent upon the quality of human resources carrying it. It is in the domain of education which builds human resources that Muslims need to work the most.

They need to learn how to organise and manage effective faith-based schools (pondok). They need to relearn how to devise and balance curricula to equip students for an effective life as believers in the contemporary world.

They need to teach students not only the externals of their faith, but also how to understand and carry their faith within themselves and translate it into self-transcending service of others.

This Muslims cannot do until and unless they appreciate that other traditions of learning have also achieved worthwhile progress in advancing human knowledge and know-how, and challenged received wisdom with sound arguments from human reason, observation and experience.

Muslims need to inculcate that mental and moral discipline which stops believers from bringing into the zone of the sacrosanct narrow issues of custom and practice that pertain, not to belief as such, but to local identities and local manners.

It is not an easy discipline; if practised properly and sustained, its fruit is tolerance and peaceful co-existence with others of the same and other faiths.

All of that can be summed up as an effort to teach values that are authentically derived from religious commitment. I have explained that this effort needs to be, for Muslims, commensurate with the legacy of their past. It needs to be forward-looking and outward-looking. It needs to be comfortably multi-cultural, willing to learn, to go abroad. And it has to be confidently Islamic.

A Critic Returns to Malaysia


A Critic Returns to Malaysia

by John R. Malott

27 MAY 2014

After the long journey from Washington, DC, I approached the immigration officer at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. It was Friday, May 16, 2014, and the moment of truth was at hand. Would they let me, a former US Ambassador to Malaysia, into the country? Or was I – someone who Asia Sentinel calls one of the Malaysian Government’s severest foreign critics – going to be barred from entering, when all I wanted to do was attend a wedding?

Despite concerns, former US Ambassador allowed past KL immigration to attend an Anwar family wedding

Despite concerns, former US Ambassador allowed past KL immigration to attend an Anwar family wedding

In February 2011, I wrote an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal-Asia (here).The basic theme was that the international image of Malaysia as a harmonious, multi-racial, multi-religious society was no longer valid. Instead, the Malaysian government was condoning and sometimes even provoking racial and religious tensions in order to shore up its political base among the Malay population.

I explained that many Malaysians, and especially the Chinese minority, were tired of being treated like second-class citizens in their own country and were leaving for better opportunities abroad. In fact, according to government statistics I cited, almost 500,000 Malaysians left the country between 2007 and 2009, more than doubling the number of Malaysian professionals who live overseas.

I thought it was important to tell the world to wake up and pay attention. Things were changing in Malaysia, and not necessarily for the better. The Journal editors attached the headline, “The Price of Malaysia’s Racism.” I knew that the article would be controversial, because it ran counter to the government’s carefully cultivated image promoted by a multi-million dollar public relations campaign in America and Europe. So the op-ed was well-documented.

Then all hell broke loose. While I was accustomed to being attacked by the so-called UMNO cybertroopers who stalk the internet, this time the comments were especially vile and even obscene. A few days later I read that Nazri Aziz, then a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, said he would propose to the cabinet that I be banned from entering Malaysia. Nazri said that because I had not visited Malaysia in years (actually I had been there just a few months before), I did not know the true situation. So his cure for my ignorance was to prevent me from ever visiting Malaysia again.

Two months later, the World Bank published a major 150-page report on Malaysia’s brain drain. It confirmed in great detail what I had said about Malaysian migration and its consequences. The Bank said that one million Malaysians (over 3 percent of the country’s population) were living overseas, including two out of every ten college graduates.

These people had the skills that Malaysia needs to escape the so-called middle income trap and take their country to a new level of development. The World Bank survey showed that the migrants still felt a strong personal attachment to their country, but their talents were no longer available to Malaysia.

When the Bank asked members of the Malaysian diaspora why they were working overseas, 66 percent cited career prospects and 54 percent said compensation. But the second most cited reason was social injustice (60 percent). When asked what might entice them to return to Malaysia, the No. 1 answer, cited by 87 percent of the respondents, was there would have to be a change in Malaysia’s affirmative action policies from a race-based to a needs-based approach.

Three years later, racial and religious tensions continue to rise in Malaysia. If I were to update my Wall Street Journal op-ed today, there would be even more examples, which the Asia Sentinel has reported so well. There is the ban on the word “Allah” and the confiscation of Bibles. There is Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’sreference to the “Chinese Tsunami” that voted against his party in the last general elections, and his party newspaper’s screaming headline, “What More Do the Chinese Want?”

The government has admitted that it has provided funds to the Malay chauvinist group Perkasa. While it has charged a Chinese-Malaysian Member of Parliament with sedition over a satirical video, the government has done nothing about the far more serious (and dangerous) anti-Chinese, anti-Indian, and anti-Christian remarks of ISMA, a Malay Muslim organization.

After Nazri said in 2011 that I should be barred from Malaysia, I sometimes wondered whether he carried through on his threat. But because I had no intention to travel there, it did not matter.

But a month ago Dr. Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, the wife of Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, emailed me to say that one of her daughters would be getting married, and that I was invited to the wedding. Over the past 15 years, after I retired from the US Department of State, my wife Hiroko and I grew close to Anwar, Azizah, and their family, especially during the time that they lived here in Washington, DC. Their six children called us Uncle and Auntie, and they were frequent visitors at our home. Hiroko wrote a biography of Wan Azizah, and the two women – a Malaysian and a Japanese – grew very fond of each other. When Hiroko died in 2012, Azizah flew to Washington to speak at her funeral.

Hiroko wrote a biography of Wan Azizah, and the two women – a Malaysian and a Japanese – grew very fond of each other. When Hiroko died in 2012, Azizah flew to Washington to speak at her funeral.

Hiroko wrote a biography of Wan Azizah, and the two women – a Malaysian and a Japanese – grew very fond of each other. When Hiroko died in 2012, Azizah flew to Washington to speak at her funeral.

I knew it was a long way to go for a wedding, but Azizah had travelled those thousands of miles for Hiroko. I thought of Nurul Iman, the beautiful bride-to-be, and how she had studied Japanese in high school here, due to Hiroko’s influence. I thought it might be my last chance to see Anwar before the government locked him up again, this time for five years. There were many things going through my mind, but overriding everything was one basic concern: if I travel halfway around the world to Kuala Lumpur, will the government let me in the door?

I called the Malaysian Embassy in Washington and informed them that I was going and why. In the interest of total transparency, I gave them my flight details and told them where I would be staying. I said I would do “nothing political” during my time in KL. The officer said he would check with KL to see if there was a problem. I then made a comment for the record: “I hope they understand that if they bar a former American Ambassador, who only wants to go to a wedding and visit with friends, it will be very bad publicity for Malaysia around the world.”

Meanwhile, American friends in Malaysia also were making inquiries, but they never got a straight answer whether I was on a blacklist or would be admitted. They were told, however, that if the decision were made to bar me, “We will not put him in a cell. We will put him in a nice room until we can arrange for a flight to take him out of the country.” I thought what a remarkable commentary that was – they would not lock up a former US Ambassador in a jail cell.

I told my children and friends about my decision to go, and the risk that the trip involved. I explained that this was not some paranoid fantasy on my part; in 2013, the Malaysian government had banned an Australian senator, Nick Xenophon, from entering, detaining him for eight hours at the airport. Later that same year the Sarawak government deported Clare Rewcastle Brown, the sister-in-law of former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and an environmental activist, who had come to Malaysia to defend herself in a lawsuit.

Nevertheless, a common reaction among friends was that the Malaysian government would not be so foolish as to prohibit the entry of a former American Ambassador, especially just two weeks after the visit of US President Barcak Obama. In reply, I quoted a Malay proverb, katak bawah tempurong, about the frog who lives under a coconut shell and comes to believe that that his coconut shell is the entire world. There have been so many cases where the UMNO government gets a black eye internationally but doesn’t seem to care (although in reality they do). The most important thing for them is to assert their power and authority inside their own little world, their own coconut shell.

So on Friday, May 16, I approached the immigration officer and waited, looking like any other elderly foreign tourist. He scanned my passport, and then his eyes got big as something appeared on the computer screen. He started reading, and reading more, and then went to get his supervisor. So yes, I was in the system. After 5 or 10 minutes, the supervisor told his officer to write down my passport number, and then they stamped me into the country.

When I left Malaysia four days later, a similar incident took place at the immigration departure counter. After five minutes, I was permitted to leave the country.

I am grateful to the Malaysian government for letting me do what I said I wanted to do – go to a wedding and visit with friends. I was happy to see KL again and be reminded what a beautiful country Malaysia is, and how wonderful its people are.

I am grateful to the Malaysian government for letting me do what I said I wanted to do – go to a wedding and visit with friends. I was happy to see KL again and be reminded what a beautiful country Malaysia is, and how wonderful its people are.

But at the same time, to stand before a Malaysian immigration officer and realize that the UMNO regime has placed a red flag next to my name has only strengthened my resolve to carry on. If this is the kind of government it is, then the world needs to hear more about it.

John R. Malott was the US Ambassador to Malaysia from 1995 to 1998.

Asia’s tomorrow has come–PM Najib Tun Razak


May 24, 2014

Asia’s tomorrow has come

by Dato Seri Najib Tun Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia

http://www.nst.com.my (05-23-14)

RISING ASIA’: This is the full text of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s keynote address at the Nikkei’s 20th International Conference on The Future of Asia in Tokyo yesterday (May 22, 2014)

PM NajibPrime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak delivering a speech at the Nikkei’s 20th International Conference on the Future of Asia in Tokyo yesterday. Najib says theLook East policy will move into a second phase, focusing on high technology and highly skilled workers. AFP pic

I am honoured to join you today. This is the second time I have spoken at the Future of Asia conference, and it is wonderful to be back in Japan. Under Prime Minister Abe’s leadership, the Japanese economy has burst back into life, with strong early promise. Now, Japan looks set to usher in a new period of sustained growth,  and set a new standard for reform.

Abenomics–Resurgance of Japan

Japan’s reputation for economic leadership is well-known and well-deserved. In the early 1980s, under Prime Minister Mahathir’s leadership, Malaysia began a ‘Look East’ policy, turning to Japan and Korea for inspiration, helping to train the next generation of Malaysian students and businesses leaders in the East Asian way.

Not only has the Look East policy continued under my tenure, but in line with our transformation programme for Malaysia, it’s moved into a second phase, focusing on high technology and highly skilled workers — helping us move our economy up the value chain, and onto high-income status.

Back in the 1980s, things were different. Asia was rising, but the truly explosive growth was still to come. The emergence of the ‘Tiger’ economies, and the reforms in China, showed the world that something was stirring in Asia. It was the 1980s that the phrase ‘Asian Century’ was coined. But for many observers, Asia was still tomorrow’s story.

Tomorrow has come to Asia (and Malaysia)

Tomorrow has come. Economically and politically, Asia is now at the heart of world affairs. The most populous region on earth is also one of the most dynamic, and increasingly, one of the more contested.

Remarkable economic development has focused global attention on Asia’s prospects. When the recent financial crisis shook confidence in established markets, more companies, and countries, began to ‘look East’.This growing sense of economic momentum has also raised the geopolitical stakes, as emerging and established powers vie for influence in Asia.

This trend shows no sign of abating. Within 20 years, Asia is set to account for more than 40 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP), and 60 per cent of the world’s middle class. This phase of growth will be accompanied by growing global stature, influence, and interest. We must come to terms with life in the spotlight.

Asia’s economy will remain in focus; our internal dynamics under the microscope. There will be, InsyaAllah, no return to Asia’s age of isolation. We are one of the new centres of gravity in a newly multipolar world.

For the Asians of tomorrow, what matters is how we respond to this scrutiny; whether we build strong and sustainable economies, or simply inflate more bubbles. Whether we show security leadership, or allow internal tensions to derail the peace upon which prosperity depends.

That is what I would like to talk about today — the challenges to Asia’s economy and security, and how we can respond. Let me start with the economy. There are a number of trends that will determine Asia’s continued success. The first is economic integration: the removal of trade barriers, and cooperation on monetary and fiscal policies.

According to McKinsey, in 2012, cross-border trade accounted for a third of global GDP. By 2025, that figure could reach half. In the past 20 years, emerging economies have more than doubled their share of cross-border goods, services and finance, but are still lagging far behind developed markets.

For Asian economies, integration offers significant benefits, including the ability to negotiate together. It can increase the power of middle nations, and raise living standards for all. It can help developing nations climb the ladder, and ensure fewer citizens are left behind, as common standards and entry requirements filter back into domestic policy.

I believe Asian states must look to build stronger, more lasting economic connections — both within our region, and with the outside world. That is why I strongly support the push to create a single market in Southeast Asia. The ASEAN Economic Community will support jobs and growth for more than half a billion people, and help ensure Southeast Asia’s growth spills across into all member states.

Trans-Pacific Partnership and Integration for Economic Growth

In an interdependent global economy, the benefits of greater cooperation extend far beyond Asia’s borders. Malaysia looks forward to the completion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership on terms acceptable to us. The TPP will strengthen our ties with the wider world; as will the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which will bring three of the largest economies into the world’s largest trading bloc.

For governments and businesses, trade agreements such as these often have a visible logic. We see the negotiations unfold, often over years. We see the compromises that are made, and the benefits that are secured.

The risk of public disaffection can grow. In an age of increasing integration, we must ensure we take people with us — explaining the process and describing the benefits more clearly. Education and engagement can help address public concerns, and win support for agreements that can unlock growth and create higher paying jobs.

To prevent the build-up of risk, we must also ensure reforms to our financial and regulatory regimes keep pace with innovation in the financial sector. In the next decade, Asia’s financial sector is projected to grow by 50 per cent, accounting for almost a third of global banking sector assets. Yet, as the International Monetary Fund points out, Asia’s financial integration is not keeping pace.

As Asian firms ‘build out’ beyond their borders, and Asian investors seek new opportunities, they will be bound more closely into the global economy. There will be new regulatory challenges, such as the growth of shadow banking, and new problems of scale. As Asian capital stretches into other emerging markets, financial supervisors must be ready to address a much wider range of cross-border risks.

Focus on the reforms needed at home

We must also focus on the reforms needed at home. As the Hong Kong Monetary Authority has pointed out, despite a considerable pool of savings, and strong inflows of capital, some Asian infrastructure projects struggle to attract investment due to political, legal and governance risks. Stronger credit, risk management and corporate governance norms can make it easier to secure foreign capital. These must be complemented by a commitment to institutional reform to boost business and public confidence.

These reforms must be undertaken with an eye on the big picture: Asia’s changing role in the world economy. For many years, emerging Asia’s development model was based on a trade surplus with rich-world markets. But rebalancing is under way, as our nations grow richer and our labour costs rise. Some Asian economies are focused on building domestic demand — laying the foundations for more independently sustainable growth.

Alongside macroprudential policies, this approach will help cushion us from the near-term problems, such as the ongoing effects of sluggish growth in established markets, the withdrawal of United States stimulus, whilst also preparing our economies for the next phase of development. They will pave the way for Asia to play a greater role in shaping the global financial architecture, for the ultimate benefit of our citizens. Such structural changes take time and commitment. They can be socially disruptive. But the reward is a stronger and more secure economic future.

The Challenge of Inequality

The second trend we must come to terms with is inequality.Over the past few years, the growing gap between rich and poor in developed economies has become a pressing policy issue. This is not just the battle cry of the Occupy Wall Street protesters: many research institutions have pointed to the corrosive effect of structural inequality.

A little inequality encourages individuals to work hard and innovate; but an unequal system creates hollow economies, where wealth and opportunity are kept for the few, at the expense of the many. Excessive inequality has serious, and avoidable, effects on health, education and life outcomes. When soaring GDP outstrips living standards, people feel they do not have a stake in their nation’s economic success. That, in turn, undermines social progress and threatens stability.

With rapid growth at a time of globalisation and technological change, emerging Asia is particularly exposed to widening inequality. Over the past two decades, eight out of 10 Asians found themselves living in areas where income inequality is rising, not falling. Whilst inequality has narrowed in emerging regions such as Latin America, it has widened in Asia. As the Asian Development Bank has pointed out, had inequality stayed static, an extra 240 million people would have been lifted out of poverty.

Behind the headline growth figures, it is clear that Asia’s future success depends on broader and more diverse economic development. For Asia to truly prosper, we must give our citizens greater equity, as well as greater equality. Again, this will not be easy. Even the most successful economies have struggled to tackle inequality. There is no straightforward solution. But there are a number of things we can do.

We must invest more in public goods such as education and health: increasing access to quality education and narrowing the divide between urban and rural health outcomes. It means strengthening social safety nets and deploying targeted subsidies that support the poor at the point of need. It means encouraging the private sector to do its part, with corporations providing labour with flexibility, training and support. And, it means building more balanced economies, with higher quality jobs and more even growth spread across sectors.

Fight Against Corruption

It also requires a lasting commitment to the fight against corruption. Corruption suppresses meritocratic opportunity, undermines social cohesion and eats away at people’s confidence in the state. Tackling corruption is not the work of a year, or even a decade; but it can and must be done. Government procurement should be reformed to introduce open bidding, bringing transparency to a process often blighted by graft. Strengthening independent anti-corruption institutions, and increasing prosecutions for both bribe takers and bribe givers, can help change attitudes — even when corruption is deeply rooted.

Responding to these two trends — integration and inequality — will be critical. The changes I have spoken about will not always be easy; they require the investment not just of resources, but of political will. Difficult conversations will be had; in my country, for example, where income inequality remains a concern, we are working to find the right balance between affirmative action and individual opportunity.

With courage and foresight, however, we can deliver a stronger economic future for Asia. But, this future will not be assured unless we deliver the security and stability on which economic success depends.

To do so, we must manage our own rising influence, whilst responding to more intense outside interest in Asian security matters. We must make headway on non-state threats such as terrorism and piracy, and act on the ‘new security’ issues such as climate change. And, we must prepare to play a new leadership role in global security issues.

Rise in Asian military power must deliver peace

First and foremost, we must ensure the rise in Asian military power delivers peace, not instability.Over the past decades, Asia’s strong economic growth has obscured a military build-up that is almost as strong. In 1988, Asian defence spending constituted eight per cent of global military expenditure. By 2012, that figure had risen to 20 percent. In the last 25 years, overall military expenditure has grown by 187 per cent.

Countries have every right to defend themselves. But regular arms replacement programmes aside, this trend indicates deeper concerns about security and conflict — concerns that could swiftly become self-fulfilling. To address this risk, we should reject the siren song of competitive armament, and seek wherever possible to strengthen the multilateral and diplomatic ties that check instability.

We should also redouble our commitment to negotiation. Confronted with complex disagreements between states, Asia must place its trust in diplomatic solutions. We should heed the fundamental principles on which good diplomacy is conducted: sovereign equality, respect for territorial integrity, peaceful settlement of disputes and mutual benefit in relations.

And, we must affirm our commitment to rule-based solutions to competing claims. International law, and not economic or military coercion, should guide the resolution of disputes over resources. I also believe Asia can explore ways to make a bigger contribution to global security challenges.On non-proliferation, for example, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations has adopted a comprehensive treaty, the Southeast Asian Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone.

We should also make a concerted effort to implement and enforce strategic trade controls to cut the risk of dual-use goods.Our regional agreement on piracy is cited as a strong example of regional cooperation by the International Maritime Organisation, which seeks to replicate it elsewhere. The same principles — of sharing information and building capacity – could be applied to anti-terrorism initiatives, which, despite some successes, have sometimes lacked the coordination needed to be truly regional.

Peacekeeping and Conflict Resolution

On peacekeeping and conflict resolution, Asian nations are already ramping up their involvement in the promotion of global peace. Malaysia, which has already played an active role resolving regional conflicts, is bidding for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council for 2015-2016. Japan has made peace-building one of its main diplomatic priorities, South Korea has markedly increased its peacekeeping and post-conflict work, and many ASEAN nations, such as Vietnam, which will join UN operations next year, are looking to play a more active role.

This is driven partly by pragmatism: we have seen from the rise of nations that growth in influence and hunger for resources can bring new tensions, and exacerbate old ones. But it is also about acknowledging that with rising influence comes rising responsibility; that for Asia to continue to prosper in a stable global security environment, we must play our part not just in the enforcement of international norms, but in their creation, too.

By laying the foundations for greater Asian engagement in the international security agenda, and preparing our economies for more integrated and sustainable growth, we are recognising that our position in the world is changing.

As we leave behind the era of single hyperpower dominance, as the global economy becomes more connected and as nations converge around democratic market liberalism, a broader policy approach is needed. Today, more than ever, consensus, cooperation and constructive engagement are the basis for success.

Thirty years after it was proposed, the Asian century is upon us. By reforming at home, and assuming a greater international role, we can ensure it brings stability, prosperity and growth.

Defending our airspace is not a video game


By Mariam Mokhtar, FMT

May23, 2014

PlayStation-crazy Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein thinks that RMAF jets sent to investigate an unidentified aircraft must fire missiles and shoot it down. He must realise that the defence of Malaysian airspace is not like playing ‘Grand Theft Auto’.

It has been 10 weeks since MH370 disappeared without a trace en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur and in the absence of anything substantive, speculations and intrigue are taking hold in the public space.

It has been 10 weeks since MH370 disappeared without a trace en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur and in the absence of anything substantive, speculations and intrigue are taking hold in the public space.

It is bad enough having to suffer an inept Cabinet. We do not need trigger-happy ministers to start a war because of their stupidity.Hishammuddin’s performance, in the interview with ABC’s Four Corners programme, was embarrassing. He wasn’t just evasive, he was reckless and negligent.

He misunderstands his role as Defence Minister. On the night Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared, he justified the failure of the RMAF to scramble a fighter jet to investigate because the blip on the radar was “…not deemed a hostile object.” He said, “If you’re not going to shoot it down, what’s the point of sending it (a fighter) up?” The Defence Minister does not need Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim or other people to tarnish the reputation of Malaysia. Hishammuddin is doing a splendid job by himself.

Malaysia's defence minister defended his military's failure to scramble a fighter jet to follow a Malaysian airliner when it veered off course and vanished two months ago, saying it wasn't seen as a hostile object.

Malaysia’s defence minister defended his military’s failure to scramble a fighter jet to follow a Malaysian airliner when it veered off course and vanished two months ago, saying it wasn’t seen as a hostile object.

As Defence Minister he should have known that to shoot a plane down, one does not need to send a fighter jet to apprehend it. One can target it with a surface-to-air missile. Hishammuddin’s justification for not sending fighter jets to investigate a possible incursion into Malaysian airspace is no different from his reaction to last year’s invasion of Sabah.

When Hishammuddin was told about the incursion of the Suluk militants in Lahad Datu in Sabah, he was very laid-back and told the public not to be alarmed because the Suluks were probably a bunch of old men enjoying a picnic. We subsequently found out that he was wrong!

Hishamuddin's reaction defies logic and common sense.

Hishamuddin’s reaction defies logic and common sense.

As Defence Minister, he has much to learn, and a schoolboy probably knows more than him. During peacetime a lot of the work of the military and armed forces is routine, like guarding key premises, weapons depots, telecommunications facilities or border posts.

Perhaps the most excitement the military gets is when they have to investigate reports of an incursion or to check-out sightings of people, straying close to important installations. Investigating any unknown activity does not necessarily mean the military has to engage in hostilities.

When a navy vessel encounters a boat full of asylum seekers they do not blow it out of the water.

The two aeroplanes which crashed into the twin towers on the Sept 11 terrorist attack were commercial aircraft and were not deemed hostile. What if MH370 had been commandeered by terrorists and turned into a missile?

A whole nation betrayed

After the Sept 11 attack on the twin towers, countries throughout the world put their air forces on red alert, ready to escort any plane which strayed from its flight path. They would only be shot if they were considered a threat.

Hishammuddin has often repeated that the RMAF knew the blip on the radar was not hostile. He has refused to explain how the RMAF knew this.

Although there was no radio contact with MH370, the RMAF fighter jets could have done a visual confirmation by the paintwork and the markings on the body of the plane. They could have trailed MH370 and known in which general direction it was heading.

The Search and Rescue (SAR) mission could have been better coordinated instead of sending search teams on a wild goose chase, wasting time and resources. The MH370 investigations highlighted a lack of communication between the Malaysian military aviation and the civil aviation authorities. How is Hishammuddin resolving this?

We spend hundreds of millions of ringgit on aeroplanes, submarines, patrol boats, defence equipment and radar but the leaders of the armed forces seem to be irresponsible or incompetent, or both. In most air forces, strategic airfields have two pilots ready to take-off at a moment’s notice and intercept unidentified aircraft.

The military did not intercept flight MH370 because Malaysia was not in war mode, says Acting Minister of Transport Hishammuddin Hussein.

The military did not intercept flight MH370 because Malaysia was not in war mode, says Acting Minister of Transport Hishammuddin Hussein.

Planes which have not filed a flight plan and which stray into prohibited airspace are intercepted and escorted out of the airspace. Sometimes rival countries may want to test the air defences of a country and check the capabilities of that country’s air force.

Hishammuddin has betrayed a whole nation. Perhaps, his most cruel act and his worst indiscretion was to insult the families of the passengers and crew of MH370. He has failed them. He gave conflicting and inconsistent reports on the military radar detection. There were allegations that the radio transcripts between the control tower and cockpit were doctored.

Why is there so much intrigue over the cargo manifest? Because of incompetence, he and Najib Tun Razak directed SAR to the wrong areas. Why are we at the mercy of ministers who are both reckless and dopey? Hishammuddin is not fit to be the Defence Minister, let alone a future PM. Trying to appease the rakyat by flying in economy will not do.

Hishammuddin defends the people who did not do their jobs. So, why is he rewarding failure? We owe it to the families of the passengers and crew of MH370 and that is why Hishammuddin must resign, along with the head of the RMAF and the chief of the armed forces.

They are only good at showing off their medals at the National Day parade. The rest of the time they act irresponsibly and treat the defense of the nation as a matter of inconsequence.

Mariam Mokhtar is an FMT columnist

The Insolence of Attorney-General Gani Patail


May 6, 2014

The Insolence of Attorney-General Gani Patail

by Terence Netto@http://www.malaysiakini.com

May 6, 2014

image
COMMENT: Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail, who seems to enjoy the sort of power and the amorality to go with it that makes him a cross between longtime FBI Director J Edgar Hoover and Stalin’s infamous prosecutor Andrey Vyshinsky, is shaping to crowd out a slew of judges who have placed trammels in his prosecutorial path.

Long the target of allegations of grave misconduct and impropriety by accusers ranging from Anwar Ibrahim to former top cops, Ramli Yusoff and Mat Zain Ibrahim, Gani has nevertheless proceeded unperturbed like master sleuth Hoover, who nursed one secret too many about the powers-that-be, and coupled that arrogant aplomb with the amorality of Vyshinky, for whom the law was what the Marxists have always held it be – a masquerade for class interests.

On April 11, Judicial Commissioner Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera, in a ruling that would have made Gani’s hair stand on edge, dismissed the A-G’s attempt to strike out suits brought against him by Ramli and lawyer Rosli Dahlan for alleged malicious prosecution over corruption charges.

On April 25, a Court of Appeal panel composed of Judges Mohd Arif Mohd Yusof, Mah Weng Kwai and Hamid Sultan Abu Backer unanimously ruled that the provision in the Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA) requiring an organiser to give Police 10 days’ notice of intent to hold a demonstration was unconstitutional.

Nik Nazmi to be charged again despite Court of Appeal acquittal.

Nik Nazmi to be charged again despite Court of Appeal acquittal.

The ruling freed Deputy Speaker of the Selangor state assembly, Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad (left), from a lower court’s finding of guilt on a charge of having illegally organised the Black 505 gathering at Stadium Kelana Jaya last year.

The landmark ruling enabled organisers of the ant-GST rally on May 1 to go ahead with their gathering unconstrained by the Police who were not only adequately notified of the organisers’ intent to demonstrate but whose suggestion of an alternative venue for the demonstration was ignored.

The anti-GST rally was held as the venue the demonstrators had wanted – Dataran Merdeka, intended scene of storied gatherings in the past where demonstrators sought to drape their anti-government sentiment in the mantle of the country’s historic site of proclamation of its independence.

The powers-that-be in Malaysia do not usually accept with sangfroid the chastening experiences inflicted on them by the two judicial rulings that went against the AG and the government.image

The word yesterday that Nik Nazmi would be charged today in court with alleged offences against the PAA and that DAP MP for Seputeh, Teresa Kok (right)  is to be charged, also today, under the Sedition Act for releasing a video that had lampooned assorted policies and public figures, are the just the way the government and its leading counsel react when things don’t go their way.

Symptoms of a siege mentality

All these are proliferating symptoms of a siege mentality evident since the oppisiton Pakatan Rakyat bested UMNO-BN in the popular vote at the 13 th General Election held on May 5 last year.

A government that had long since lost the moral legitimacy to govern was dependent on a gerrymandered plurality in Parliament and in a majority of the state assemblies to hold on to the reins of power.

The deficit in the popular vote meant that the government’s political legitimacy to govern was also eroded and this was conduced to a situation where its leading lawyer has had to resort to legal sorcery to sustain the edifice of dictatorial rule by law instead of democratic rule of law.

As a consequence, the A-G has had to comport himself the way Vyshinsky did for the tyrant Stalin – frame charges against targeted members of the opposition which a supine press and compliant judges can be counted on to legitimise.

There are the show trials of an increasingly authoritarian state that cannot abide the notion that the lease on its tenancy in authority has expired. A state and its lead counsel that are willing to usurp authority when the legitimacy of that authority has manifestly deserted them have proven their selves barbarous event if it does not resort to mass arrests and concentration camps

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

One missing jet, one sunken ferry, two responses


May 2-3, 2014

MY COMMENT: William Pesek is generous. I would give Malaysia  ‘F’ imagefor its handling of MH370 tragedy. Nothing illustrates this more than the release of the preliminary report which confirms what most of us in Malaysia knew about MH370 and that is our government has shown the world that it is incompetent, inept and poorly led. Our leaders lacked an appreciation of the severity of the tragedy in terms of national security. And that means we never learned the lessons of Lahad Datu. Arrogance will get us no where. Humility will since it is when the learning process begins. –Din Merican

Thanks, CLF…Be Yourself… this poem…it is still a beautiful world…we are children of the Universe–Din Merican

Crisis Management: Malaysia gets ‘D’ and South Korea earns ‘A-

Malaysia getsD ’, South Korea ‘A-’ in handling of tragedies, says Bloomberg columnist

www. themalaysianinsider.com

Putrajaya was once again slammed by a Bloomberg columnist who compared Malaysia’s handling of the MH370 saga with South Korea’s response to the recent Sewol ferry tragedy.

We accept God's will but at the same time, wants us human beings to be accountable for our actions, lest another tragedy such as this will strike again due to our ignorance.

We accept God’s will but at the same time,  we want as human beings to be accountable for our actions, lest another tragedy such as this will strike again due to our ignorance.

In a scathing attack, columnist William Pesek said he would give top marks to South Korea for their handling of the ferry tragedy but found Malaysia sorely lacking in handling the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

He said the incidents could be described as tests for the two governments, if not of Malaysian and South Korean societies. “The grades so far? I’d give Korea an A-, Malaysia a D,” he said in his Bloomberg column titled “One missing jet, one sunken ferry, two responses”.

Pesek said in the two weeks since the ferry sank, killing about 300 people on board, the South Korean government had reacted with self-questioning, shame and official penitence.

President Park Geun-hye issued a dramatic and heartfelt apology. Her No. 2, Prime Minister Chung Hong Won, resigned outright. Prosecutors hauled in the ship’s entire crew and raided the offices of its owners and shipping regulators. Citizens and the media are demanding speedy convictions and long-term reforms,” he said.

Najib must emulate SKorea's accountibility. It's President apologizes, it's PM resigns over the ferry tragedy.

Najib must emulate S Korea’s accountability. Its President apologizes, its PM resigns over the ferry tragedy.

On the flip side, there was no such reaction on the part of Malaysian authorities 56 days after MH370 vanished, said Pesek. “No officials have quit. Prime Minister (Datuk Seri) Najib Razak seems more defiant than contrite. The docile local news media has focused more on international criticism of Malaysia’s leaders rather than on any missteps by those leaders themselves,” he said.

Pesek said although both countries are democracies, the key difference is the relative openness of their political systems.

“One party has dominated Malaysia since independence, while Korea, for all itsgrowing pains and occasional tumultuousness, has seen several peaceful transfers of power over the past quarter-century. Unused to having to answer critics, Malaysia’s government has responded defensively.

“Korean officials, on the other hand, are reflecting, addressing the anger of citizens, and delving into what went wrong with the shipping industry’s regulatory checks and balances,” he pointed out.

Pesek said South Korea was most likely to emerge from the crisis stronger than ever, unlike Malaysia. He said this could be seen from the way both countries handled the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

Pesek said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who was the Prime Minister then, had blamed the ringgit’s plunge on some shadowy Jewish cabal headed by George Soros instead of internalising what had gone wrong.

“It didn’t admit it had been using capital inflows unproductively and that coddling state champions – including Malaysia Airlines – was killing competitiveness. Never did the ruling United Malays National Organisation consider it might be part of the problem.”

Pesek said South Korea, on the other hand, forced weak companies and banks to fail, accepting tens of thousands of job losses. South Korean authorities, he said, clamped down on reckless investing and lending and addressed moral hazards head-on.

“Koreans felt such shame that millions lined up to donate gold, jewellery, art and other heirlooms to the national treasury.” Pesek said while South Korea’s response wasn’t perfect, the country’s economic performance since then speaks for itself.

“Now as then, Korea’s open and accountable system is forcing its leaders to look beyond an immediate crisis. Ordinary Koreans are calling for a national catharsis that will reshape their society and its attitude toward safety. Park’s government has no choice but to respond.

“Malaysia’s government, on the other hand, appears to be lost in its own propaganda.

Hishamuddin HusseinTo the outside world, acting Transport Minister (Datuk Seri) Hishammuddin Hussein performed dismally as a government spokesman: He was combative, defensive and so opaque that even China complained.

“Yet Hishammuddin is now seen as Prime Minister material for standing up to pesky foreign journalists and their rude questions. The government seems intent on ensuring that nothing changes as a result of this tragedy. As hard as it seems now, South Korea will move past this tragedy, rejuvenated. Malaysia? I’m not so sure.” .

May 3, 2014

To those who must take responsibility for mishandling MH370: Just RESIGN

By Robert Chaen@www.freemalaysiatoday.com

Hisham, Najib, and Muhiyuddin

Here are three good reasons why Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya or Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein –or, better still, both—must resign immediately: to save MAS, to save the tourism industry and, most importantly, to save the reputation of Malaysia and Malaysians.

Malaysians, Chinese and other nationals affected by the MH370 crisis want someone to be accountable—a real person.

They don’t want a thousand and one excuses or those public-relations statements coming from the Prime Minister, such as “this is an unprecedented disaster, 26 countries are involved in the search, we are doing our very best” and so on.

Malaysia Airlines is already losing badly. Bookings are significantly down, and it is likely that more celebrities, holiday makers and travel agents will boycott the airline. And there is now serious talk about the company being split up.

Malaysia’s tourism industry will lose billions of ringgit. Business will be down for hotels, taxis, shopping malls and even roadside stalls. Because neither Jauhari nor Hishammuddin is willing to resign, much less apologize, Malaysians everywhere—not just Malaysian singers in China—will lose respectability in the eyes of the world.

Selfish and arrogant

mh370-hishammuddinIt would seem that the only ones not losing are those clinging to their jobs and salaries despite their responsibility for Malaysia’s loss of face. How selfish and how arrogant of Jauhari and Hishammuddin?

Why can’t they follow the example of South Korean Prime Minister Chung Hong-won, who resigned over the recent ferry disaster in order to calm down his countrymen and let them have closure and move on?

Even if just one person had taken responsibility over the MH370 debacle, the tide of resentment against Malaysia might have turned to sympathy.Because the Malaysian government does not have the courage to admit that its agencies and officials have bungled and that it has botched its public relations, the world’s media have rightly lost trust in it.

It is obvious that the government is hoping the public and the media will start to dim their focus on MH370 after nearly two months and move on to other events such as the football World Cup.But one can be sure that the affected relatives will not let it all go away until they find closure. They will continue to hound Putrajaya.

TDM LatestMalaysia’s mainstream media may well play their usual role of spin masters in an attempt to cover up what is rotten in the system, but it will not work this time around because the world media now have the country on their radar. Even Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s attempt to shift the blame to Boeing will not work.

People are not stupid. And that’s the good news. Even readers of Malaysia’s mainstream newspapers are getting wiser and are no longer willing to swallow everything fed to them.

Jauhari or Hishammuddin—or both—please have the decency to resign before you plunge Malaysia into deeper loss. Don’t wait for us taxpayers to rise up and demand your unceremonious sacking. Do the right thing for once. It’s not too late.

Robert Chaen is an international change expert and online pollster.

MH370 Preliminary Report: Not a Good Day to a Malaysian


May 2, 2014

MH370 Preliminary Report: Not a Good Day to a Malaysian

by  Lim Kit Siang

Hisham, Najib, and MuhiyuddinToday is not a good day to be a Malaysian as the world wakes up to critical and adverse media headlines on the Malaysian preliminary report on the missing MH370 Boeing 777-200 completing its eighth week of vanishing into the air with 239 passengers and crew on board without leaving any wreckage or clue as to what had happened on the fateful morning of March 8.

The Four Hour Gap

It took 17 minutes for air traffic controllers to realise that Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 had disappeared from their screens - and four hours to launch a rescue operation.

It took 17 minutes for air traffic controllers to realise that Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 had disappeared from their screens – and four hours to launch a rescue operation.

All over the world, the media splashed the shocking headlines of the admission from the first Malaysian official report that nobody noticed that Flight MH370 was missing for 17 minutes and no search was launched for another four hours.

Instead of answering the many questions that have been raised in the past eight weeks of the MH 370 disaster, both the preliminary report and the statement by the Acting Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein accompanying it have only provoked more questions.

Firstly, the five-page preliminary report on the missing MH 370 had been described as “scant at best” in contrast to the preliminary report into Air France 447 which was released one month after the plane disappeared and which was 128 pages long, while a preliminary report into the Qantas engine explosion over Singapore in 2010 was more than 40 pages with diagrams and charts.

The table below is based on recorded communications on direct lines, summarising the events associated to MH370 after the radar blip disappeared until activation of the Rescue Coordination Centre.

The table above  summarising the events associated to MH370 after the radar blip disappeared on the first day .

The Malaysian government preliminary report makes one safety recommendation, for real-time air tracking to be installed on all commercial aircraft, viz:

“There have now been two occasions during the last five years when large commercial air transport aircraft have gone missing and their last position was not accurately known. This uncertainty resulted in significant difficulty in locating the aircraft in a timely manner.”

The same recommendation was made after the Air France jet crashed into the Atlantic in 2009, though nothing was done to satisfy the proposal.

Prime Minister Najib Razak said Malaysia’s democracy is best in the world.

Prime Minister Najib Razak said Malaysia’s democracy is best in the world.

More pertinent, however, is why the preliminary report which was dated three weeks ago on April 9 was not made public earlier, and why the relatives of the passengers and crew on board the missing plane had not been briefed on its contents before its public release.

For the first time in 56 days, Malaysians are told that the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had on the very same morning of the missing MH370, ordered the search and rescue operations to be extended to the Straits of Malacca, alongside that being carried out in the South China Sea.

Was this true that right from the very beginning of the search-and-rescue operation for the MH 370 on the morning of May 8, the search area had been extended from South China Sea to the Straits of Malacca?

If so, why didn’t Hishammuddin announce it earlier, instead of waiting for 55 days until yesterday in a statement accompanying the publication of the government’s preliminary report on the missing MH370?

It is to be noted that this new and hitherto unknown information to the public that the SAR operation area had right from the beginning on the same morning of the missing Boeing 77 been extended from the South China Sea to the Straits of Malacca was not disclosed in the preliminary report dated April 9 but in Hishammuddin’s statement dated May 1, 2014!

Furthermore, Najib himself did not seem to know that he had ordered the search area to be extended from the South China Sea to the Straits of Malacca the very same morning of the missing aircraft, for he made no mention of such extension in his press conference on May 8 held just after 7 pm where he announced the expansion of the search area after the SAR mission team found no wreckage in the plane’s last location before it disappeared from radar at 1.21 earlier in the morning.

Najib had said then that the first phase of the search efforts focused on the area where the plane’s signal was last picked up, had proved unsuccessful in locating it, and the search area was being “expanded as wide as possible”.

Civil Aviation Department Director-General Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman (pic–on Hishamuddin’s left), mh370-hishammuddinwho was present at Najib’s press conference, spelt out the meaning of this expansion of the search area by saying that “we are searching in Malaysian and Vietnamese waters”.

The next day, on Sunday, 9th March, Azharuddin told the press that the search operation had been expanded further from the initial 20 nautical miles in the South China Sea to 50 nautical miles – no mention whatsoever of its expansion to the Straits of Malacca.

Unless Hishammuddin can give satisfactory explanation for these new additional discrepancies in the latest official accounts of what happened in the first crucial days of the SAR for the missing MH 370, he has only himself to blame if the government preliminary report and his statement accompanying it suffer a serious credibility gap.

This is why a report by an Opposition-headed Parliamentary Select Committee on the MH 370 disaster would have greater credibility than a unilaterial statement by Hishammuddin, especially when new facts suddenly surface as if to embellish the government’s version of what happened in the crucial first few days of the MH 370 disaster.

Fatal omissions

Chief of the RMAF, Rodzali DaudThere are many fatal omissions in the government preliminary report – for instance, the failure to explain the many flip-flops, contradictions and confusions in the information given out by the various authorities, for instance, the initial information that MH 370 had lost contact at 2.40 am when it was subsequently established that the aircraft disappeared from the Malaysian air traffic controllers’ radar at 1.21 am Malaysian time.

But the most fatal error which still cries out for explanation is why it took another four hours before the search-and-rescue (SAR) operation was launched, when time is of the essence in such cases as the sooner a SAR mission is initiated, the greater the possibility of finding the wreckage and casualties.

Under civil aviation emergency standard operating procedures, an Uncertainty Phase (INCERFA) should be invoked within 30 minutes when there is concern about the safety of an aircraft or its occupants.

An Alert Phase (ALERFA) should be invoked when there is apprehension about the safety of an aircraft and its occupants, or when communication from an aircraft has not been received within 60 minutes.

A Distress Phase (DETRESFA) should be invoked when there is reasonable certainty that the aircraft or its occupantsw are threatened by grave and imminent danger – or when following an Alert Phase, further attempts to establish communications with the aircraft are unsuccessful

All these emergency standard operating procedures were violated in the MH 370 case, for ALERFA should have been declared at 1.51 am, ALERTA at 2.21 am and DETRESFA before 3 am to lauch a full-scale SAR operation instead of delaying until 5.30 am that day!

Another grave omission is the role of the Royal Malaysian Air Force and the military radar in the MH 370 disaster.

Lim Kit Siang is the DAP Adviser & MP for Gelang Patah

 

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


April 24, 2014

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

by Malaysiakini

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 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 and 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.