ASTRO: Customer Unfriendly Cable TV Network


February 27, 2015

ASTRO: Customer Unfriendly Cable TV Network

by Marion Tharsis (02-26-15)@www.malaysiakini.com

Logo-Astro-01

Today, ASTRO enjoys an unwavering dominance of the cable television network  in Malaysia. Consequently, we have to follow, and accept, any implementation changes to their existing packages whenever they feel like doing it.

They no longer have the courtesy to call you to seek your acceptance or offer any explanation as why these changes need to be implemented.Their current trend of operation is, just splash the news about imminent changes on television and expect us to ‘swallow’ it.Call their customer service and you will get a ‘dumb’ reply.

I just want to highlight two recent encounters that I have been subjected to. Firstly,Ananda Krishnan ASTRO increased its high-definition channels that are included in the package I subscribe to. By doing so, I have to pay more without any consent of mine or prior formal advisory. Secondly, out of the blue, ASTRO splashed a news banner on television to advise all Sports Package subscribers that the Golf Channel will no longer be included in this package, effective February 26, 2015. Pay more – if you want channel back!

And if we wish to view this popular sport, we have to pay for it as and when we want it. Here again it, this was done without any formal advice or consultation with the subscriber.One if the main reasons why I subscribe to the Sports Package is because of this Golf Channel and now I am deprived of it.

Want it back, I have to pay more – which I think is absurd and ridiculous. Logically speaking, the cost of this package should be reduced, but this is not the case. You still pay the same amount. But then again, if monopoly exists, then we are ‘slaves’ to it, without any other choice.

I am sure there are other cable television operators who want to establish their networks in Malaysia and I think they should be given an opportunity to do so, just to allow some competition and break this monopoly.

Otherwise, ASTRO will get bolder, and change and implement according to its whims and fancies, without due respect or concern for the subscribers. As it is, we are given channels that are of no use to us, but ASTRO says it is “under the package” and you have to accept it. What a rip-off!

Kassim Ahmad: Stay Granted vs JAWI!


January 14, 2015

Newsflash: Breaking News

Kassim Ahmad: Stay Granted vs JAWI!

by Din Merican

Last week January 6, 2015, Public Intellectual Kassim Ahmad was devastated that Judge Asmabi dismissed his Judicial Review application despite seeing all the illegalities committed by JAWI in breaching their own laws, the laws of other states and the Federal Constitution just to arrest Kassim Ahmad and abduct him to Kuala Lumpur.

On January 8, 2015, Kassim’s lawyer Rosli Dahlan filed his appeal to the Court of Appeal. On January 9 the lawyer filed a Stay Application to hold back the syariah prosecution from proceeding. On January 10, Judge Asmabi Mohamed heard arguments from Rosli Dahlan and Senior Federal Counsel Shamsol Bolhassan. Judge Asmabi orderd the court’s doors to be locked and declared the open court as her chambers. Reporters were barred from coming in.

Rosli further argued that the warrant of arrest issued by the Putrajaya Syariah subordinate court was in breach of the Federal Territory Syariah Criminal Procedure Code (FT Syariah CPC) and Kedah Syariah Enactments. Kassim, argued Rosli, was wrongfully charged before the Syariah subordinate court and hence the charges were also illegal.

Rosli  argued that the warrant of arrest issued by the Putrajaya Syariah subordinate court was in breach of the Federal Territory Syariah Criminal Procedure Code (FT Syariah CPC) and Kedah Syariah Enactments.Kassim was wrongfully charged before the Syariah subordinate court and hence the charges were also illegal.

Judge Asmabi also fixed clarification and decision to this morning January 14. However, this morning was also fixed for the Syariah Trial. The Syariah prosecutors refused to back down. They disregarded Rosli’s request for postponement. They insisted that he must come. But Rosli can’t be in two courts at the same‎ time, one in Jalan Duta and the other in Putrajaya.

Rosli laid down these facts to Judge Asmabi including the fact that JAWI instituted disciplinary action against Rosli for acting for Kassim in filing the Judicial Review. They wanted to disqualify him from ever appearing in the Syariah Court. They wanted to make sure that they do not have an opponent like him ever again.

Finally the Judge saw how oppressive JAWI can be.‎ Finally something pricked the Judge’s conscience after Rosli showed all the facts and the law that are all in Kassim’s favor and there was just no reason for the Judge to still rule against Kassim. Finally, Rosli’s perseverance paid off. And it helped that this morning reporters were in court to hear further arguments from Rosli and SFC Maisarah which clearly showed that the facts and the law were all in Kassim’s favor. Rosli was unmincing in his words in pointing out that the Federal Counsel had misled the court in the cases cited.

Just now at 12.30, Judge As‎mabi relented. She held that the civil High Court can stay JAWI and the Ketua Pendakwa Syarie from proceeding with the Syariah Prosecution in the Syariah Court. ‎Rosli thanked the Judge profusely and then ran off to go to the Syariah Court in Putrajaya. What drama!

Congrats to Kassim Ahmad. Congrats to Rosli Dahlan. And shame on you JAWI and the Ketua Pendakwa Syarie for acting in such oppressive way. In the end, that became JAWI’s undoing. In the end, the Judge had to look into her conscience and decided enough is enough. Kudos to Judge ‎Asmabi.

Much as the Judge did wrong in not granting the Judicial Review, she still had judicial wisdom and conscience not to perpetrate an injustice. Kassim Ahmad is 82 yrs old, frail and sickly. What good does JAWI achieve in doing all these? In the end, JAWI will only earn public displeasure and disapproval.

To Kassim and his lawyer, I say well done. I say your fighting spirit will help develop a more robust law. Your fighting spirit will inspire younger people that the history of Man has shown that you cannot imprison the mind.

That is what democracy is about. That is what the Rukun Negara states that Malaysia shall be a democratic society where pluralism of cultures and beliefs are embraced and liberal ideas shall flourish. Judges must therefore uphold the philosophy of the country and the Federal Constitution!. Hidup Malaysia!

READ: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/jawi-barred-from-acting-against-kassim-ahmad-rules-court-bernama

Question and Answer with Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak in Kelantan


December 28, 2014

Question and Answer with Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak in Kelantan

NAJIB / BANJIRPM Najib with Dato’ Seri Mustapha Mohamed

http://www.nst.com.my/node/66520

Excerpt of Q&A with Dato’ Seri Najib Razak at the press conference during his visit to Kelantan yesterday (December 27, 2014).

Question (Q): Why is a state of emergency not declared for the floods?

Prime Minister: There are many implications. Firstly, if we declare, insurance companies will be exempted from paying compensation for damages to properties and vehicles. When we declare (emergency), it means a “forced measure” category that insurance companies need not make settlements. Secondly, we are already moving within an emergency situation now as government machinery has been directed to perform at its maximum level.

Q: Will BR1M be paid in three stages?

PM: BR1M will still be in three stages but the (first) payment will be speeded up to the middle of January.

Q: Any help from outside?

PM: So far we have received none and we can manage this on our own.

Q: Has the government made any assessment of the damages caused by the flood?

PM: We have not done it as the flood is still here. If we make an estimation now, the damages will not be the overall value as we do not know how long more the flood will last.

Q: When will the RM500 million be disbursed to flood victims?

PM: Next year when the flood is over and the victims have returned home. They certainly need a sizable budget and that is why we will distribute the funds.

Q: How do we assist flood victims when the situation is very bad?

PM: We have decided that the committee which is chaired by Dato’ Seri Mustapa Mohamed will ascertain where there is a landing point, we will send help using helicopters. The Armed Forces have been carrying out such operations. Additional food supplies, seven days worth, are being flown via Charlie (transport aircraft) which is carrying out five, six sorties now.

Q: Could you tell us about your visit to meet US President Barack Obama?

PM: Actually, when President Barack Obama visited Malaysia, he had mentioned to me that if I was in Hawaii while he was there, he wanted me to play golf with him.

Golf Diplomacy

Playing golf is not something which is strange or out of the ordinary because from the time of Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak, Tun Dr Ismail, playing golf with other world leaders is something that can be called golf diplomacy.

I played golf to build relationship with world leaders to benefit the country. It doesn’t mean we agree to everything, but only on things that benefit Malaysia. Such social ties will benefit Malaysia. I made the decision to do that (play golf) as I was invited by him (Obama) and it was difficult for me not to do so as it had been planned earlier. However, every day when I was overseas, I received latest updates on the flood situation.

 

Malaysia can’t afford a botched handling of MH17


July 20, 2014

MY COMMENTWe have been hit by two tragedies, MH 370 and MH 17 a few days ago,Din Merican both within a space of four months. MH370 is still shrouded in secrecy and  it is a public relations disaster; our leaders and public and security officials handled the foreign media poorly. MH17 was brought down by Russian made missiles in the hands of Ukrainian rebels backed by  Prime Minister Putin’s government. Our political leaders and officials are again in the eyes of media. Let them handle the situation better this time.

Those who are behind this dastardly violence must be brought to account. Our diplomats and those of countries which lost their citizens and the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon must act in concert to ascertain the facts about the downing of this ill-fated 777 aircraft. At home, the new Transport Minister has to ensure that there are no cover-ups, blame games, excuses, and conflicting or contradictory statements. Please provide facts as they come to light, and do it well and ensure that there are no fumbles.

I am glad that our Prime Minister has allowed debate in our Parliament on MH37. I hope Parliamentarians on both sides of Dewan Rakyat can be rational and constructive in their deliberations so that we can achieve consensus on what we should do to restore national self confidence and pride in our national flag carrier, Malaysian Airlines.

No shouting matches please. Bung Mokhtar types must not be allowed to disrupt the debate or make fools of themselves. In this time of national crisis, UMNO-BN and Pakatan Rakyat must stand together. The debate should result in a plan of action for the government. To nudge the debate along orderly lines, there should be a White Paper to Parliament on MH17 in which the government can present its views on what it has its mind to deal with the aftermath of MH 17.Din Merican

http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-07-18/malaysia-can-t-botch-another-air-tragedy

Malaysia can’t afford a botched handling of MH17

by William Pesek (07-18-14)

There’s nothing funny about Malaysia Airlines losing two Boeing 777s and more than 500 lives in the space of four months. That hasn’t kept the humor mills from churning out dark humor and lighting up cyberspace.

Liow_Tiong_Lai-MH17_PC

Actor Jason Biggs, for example, got in trouble for tweeting: “Anyone wanna buy my Malaysia Airlines frequent flier miles?” A passenger supposedly among the 298 people aboard Flight 17 that was shot down over eastern Ukraine yesterday uploaded a photo of the doomed plane on Facebook just before takeoff in Amsterdam, captioning it: “Should it disappear, this is what it looks like.”

That reference, by a man reportedly named Cor Pan, was to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, whose disappearance in March continues to provide fodder for satirists, conspiracy theorists and average airplane passengers with a taste for the absurd. On my own Malaysia Air flight last month, I was struck by all the fatalistic quips around me — conversations I overheard and in those with my fellow passengers. One guy deadpanned: “First time I ever bought flight insurance.”

MH17 CrashThere is, of course, no room for humor after this disaster or the prospect that the money-losing airline might not survive — at least not without a government rescue. This company had already become a macabre punch line, something no business can afford in the Internet and social-media age. It’s one thing to have a perception problem; it’s quite another to have folks around the world swearing never to fly Malaysia Air.

Nor is no margin for mistakes by Malaysia or the airline this time, even though all signs indicate that there is no fault on the part of the carrier. The same can’t be said for the bumbling and opacity that surrounded the unexplained loss of Flight 370. Even if there was no negligence on the part of Malaysia Air this week, the credibility of the probe and the willingness of Prime Minister Najib Razak’s government to cooperate with outside investigators — tests it failed with Flight 370 — will be enormously important.

As I have written before, the botched response to Flight 370 was a case study in government incompetence and insularity. After six decades in power, Najib’s party isn’t used to being held accountable by voters, never mind foreign reporters demanding answers. Rather than understand that transparency would enhance its credibility, Malaysia’s government chose to blame the international press for impugning the country’s good name.

The world needs to be patient, of course. If Flight 370’s loss was puzzling, even surreal, Flight 17 is just MH 17plain tragic. It’s doubtful Najib ever expected to be thrown into the middle of Russian-Ukraine-European politics. Although there are still so many unanswered questions — who exactly did the shooting and why? — it’s depressing to feel like we’re revisiting the Cold War of the early 1980s, when Korean Air Flight 007 was shot down by a Soviet fighter jet.

More frightening is how vulnerable civilian aviation has become. Even if this is the work of pro-Russian rebels, yesterday’s attack comes a month after a deadly assault on a commercial jetliner in Pakistan. One passenger was killed and two flight attendants were injured as at least 12 gunshots hit Pakistan International Airlines Flight PK-756 as it landed in the northwestern city of Peshawar. It was the first known attack of its kind and raises the risk of copycats. The low-tech nature of such assaults — available to anyone with a gripe, a high-powered rifle and decent marksmanship — is reason for the entire world to worry.

The days ahead will be filled with post-mortems and assigning blame. That includes aviation experts questioning why Malaysia Air took a route over a war zone being avoided by Qantas, Cathay Pacific and several other carriers. The key is for Malaysian authorities to be open, competent and expeditious as the investigation gains momentum. Anything less probably won’t pass muster.

Weathering the storm in Johor


June 15, 2014

Weathering the storm in Johor

by Jocelyn Tan@www.thestar.com.my

For a while it looked like Johor was heading into a constitutional crisis but the storm has passed thanks to a daring Malay newspaper, the groundswell of public opinion and a Mentri Besar who was willing to listen.

Sultan of JohoreIT was one of the biggest political storms to have blown over Johor and it all began with the stunning frontpage report in Utusan Malaysia. The paper’s bold headline “Wajarkah?” alongside a prominent photograph of the Sultan of Johor in his ceremonial uniform sent shock waves through the country, especially among Malay circles.

Utusan Malaysia, long seen as the champion of all things Malay, had taken the daring step of questioning the Sultan’s role in the administrative affairs of the state or as stated in the paper’s headline: “Is it proper?”

 The issue in question was the Real Property and Housing Board Enactment that would have given the Sultan the final say over the operations and composition of the body that will oversee the state’s housing development.

In the following days, people up and down the country voiced their opinion on the issue and, for a while, it looked like Johor was headed for a constitutional crisis.But the state government reacted quickly and the storm passed together with the tabling of an amended version of the enactment that excluded any direct role for the Ruler. All 38 Barisan Nasional assemblymen voted for the Bill while the opposition bench, which had demanded a deferment, voted against it.

Everyone heaved a sigh of relief. Any issue involving the Malay Rulers is regarded as ultra-sensitive. Very few people want to be on the wrong side of the Rulers even though a 1993 amendment to the Federal Constitution has eased some of the dos and don’ts of commentary about the royals.

The Malay politicians in Johor shrank back from commenting on the enactment and some of them were petrified. One Johor-based Malay journalist said he had goose pimples when he saw the Utusan Malaysia headline.The Chinese vernacular papers were the first to report on the controversial Bill and this was picked up by a pro-Pakatan Rakyat news portal.

Everyone was tip-toeing on eggshells until Utusan Malaysia stepped up to the plate. The game changed after that and the other media took the cue. From then on, the issue snowballed and acquired a life of its own.

The amended enactment was a compromise of sorts – the people sent the right signals, the powers-that-be read the signals and acted on it.“It ended appropriately,” said one corporate figure with Johor ties.

Johor Palace officials have been at pains to explain that the Sultan had no role in the drafting of the Bill. Datuk Abdul Rahim Ramli, President of the State Royal Court Council, insisted that the Sultan did not ask for the word “ruler” to be added to the enactment nor did he interfere in the state administration.

The Sultan himself has personally quashed rumours that he would not give royal assent to the Bill. At a late evening meeting with representatives from The Star and another English daily on Wednesday, the Tuanku said he was ready to sign the Bill at any time. He also stressed that he had agreed to the amendments and has asked the state government to go on a roadshow to explain to his subjects and clear the confusion.

The controversy has been a baptism of fire for Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin.The Johor Mentri Besar’s job has never been easy even from back then. The Johor royals are known for their big and outspoken personalities, they have clear views about the state and they are also rather business-minded.

For instance, former Mentri Besar Tan Sri Ghani Othman’s ties with the Palace were quite tense towards the end of his term and that was a chief reason why he could not continue on. Ghani’s relations with the late Sultan Iskandar Sultan Ismail was also quite choppy in the beginning and only warmed up as time went by. Ghani was not the typical politician and did not play political games, but his respect for and loyalty to the Sultan were beyond question and he would sit for hours by the hospital bed when the late Tuanku was often unwell.

The present Mentri Besar appeared to have settled into his job without many hiccups and the Sultan had even praised him during the opening of the State Legislative Assembly.

Khaled and the Sultan were classmates in secondary school although that should not be taken to mean that they are friends because the royals move in their own rarefied world.

The perception is that Khaled misread the ground when he tried to rush the Bill through.“The opinion out there was that the enactment was not consistent with the principles of constitutional monarchy. There was a sense that a line has been crossed,” said the above corporate figure.

Everyone agrees that the enactment was needed to facilitate Johor’s housing needs, especially in the area of affordable housing.And, as some have pointed out, the original enactment that gave the Sultan a big role was no different from the rules governing Johor Corporation, the state development arm better known as JCorp. The parallels are there except that JCorp deals with commercial development whereas the current enactment involved state land and also Malay Reserve Land which can be a sensitive issue.

But more than that, Khaled had overlooked the undercurrent of misgivings about land and development issues in Johor arising from the impact of the Iskandar Malaysia regional scheme.

Gossip about multi-billion ringgit land transactions have been the stuff of kopitiam chatter. Khaled did not seem to realise that the land deals in Johor were being discussed and dissected on the Internet. Almost every Tom, Dick and Harry in the state was aware of what is going on, they were talking about it in a very critical tone.

Among many nationalistic Malays, there was concern about land falling into the hands of Singaporeans and China nationals. Land carries quite a bit of emotion for many Malays – after all their national bumiputra status comes from the word itself.

The Malay blogs had been abuzz about a Singaporean billionaire owning a piece of land along a strategic stretch of the Causeway that has national security implications. All this provided the backdrop to the groundswell of opinion over the problematic enactment. Rightly or wrongly, many people inside and outside Johor were already uneasy about what was happening and the enactment sort of tipped the scale of public opinion, the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Some have unfairly blamed Utusan Malaysia for instigating the uproar. One Barisan assemblyman has even demanded that the paper apologise to the Palace.aziz-ishak Utusan Malaysia group editor-in-chief Datuk Aziz Ishak is an intense and serious-minded journalist but he is at heart a Malay nationalist.

There is little doubt that his paper got the greenlight from “up there” to pursue the issue. But the paper has earned renewed respect for rising to the occasion – to defend national interests and also to protect the good name of the constitutional monarchy.

Some have even blamed Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for fuelling the issue. The former premier had penned a cryptic piece entitled “Jual Tanah” in his Che Det blog on May 30. He did not name names but everyone knew where he was coming from.

A week later, he wrote a more forthcoming piece on the Federal Constitution where he said: “There is already a feeling of disrespect for the royals. This may lead to other forms of disrespect. Although, by and large, the Malays are for the institution of the monarch, when their ability to defend is eroded, they might forego their adat (customary norm).”

TDMMany more said they would have been shocked if Dr Mahathir had kept quiet. After all, this man had dared to bell the cat, so to speak. He had clipped the wings of the monarchy in 1983 when he was struggling to make his mark, and again in 1993 when he was at the height of his power and popularity.

“Tun Mahathir wanted to make the concept of constitutional monarchy very clear. He was not against any particular sultan. His argument was that if the royals respect their own role, the people will respect them,” said publisher Juhaidi Yean Abdullah.

Every monarch wants to be loved and to be known as the people’s sovereign. It was easier in the old days before the era of the Internet where almost everything and every one is regarded as fair game. It is something that those who hold public office have to note.

Khaled was very stressed out and taken aback by the uproar. At a war room meeting a night before the Bill was tabled, the Mentri Besar had insisted that even if there were no revisions, it did not mean that the Sultan would be in charge.

Johor is a modern state but Johoreans have a very strong sense of the powers of the monarch. What happened was a test of the Malay psyche of Johor. There has always been this tension between the concept of daulat (royal sanctity) and derhaka (treason) in Malay society and the contestation between the two concepts was put to the test when Utusan Malaysia took up the issue. But these age-old concepts are also being challenged by public opinion on the role of a constitutional monarchy and the desire for transparency and accountability in the affairs of state.

There is a much more informed and sophisticated society out there which is not afraid to be heard. And that was why it responded to Utusan Malaysia’s daring move.