How should we judge a government?

"If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing." - Malcolm X

In Malaysia, if you don't watch television or read newspapers, you are uninformed; but if you do, you are misinformed!

Why we should be against censorship in a court of law: Publicity is the very soul of justice … it keeps the judge himself, while trying, under trial. - Jeremy Bentham

"Our government is like a baby's alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other. " - Ronald Reagan

Government fed by the people

Government fed by the people

Career options

Career options
I suggest government... because nobody has ever been caught.

When there's too much dirt...

When there's too much dirt...
We need better tools

Prevent bullying now!

Prevent bullying now!
If you're not going to speak up, how is the world supposed to know you exist? “Orang boleh pandai setinggi langit, tapi selama ia tidak menulis, ia akan hilang di dalam masyarakat dan dari sejarah.” - Ananta Prameodya Toer (Your intellect may soar to the sky but if you do not write, you will be lost from society and to history.)

MyCen News

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Enforced absence from blogging

During last few weeks, there were two funerals (close family members) within 2 weeks, and my notebook crashed and could not be restarted.

Tried using wife's iPad to post something in this blog, but could not get past the heading: just could not get the keyboard activated at the content section. This could be a security feature to prevent unauthorised intrusion, as I was informed by email about the use of iPad to gain access. I just left it at that.

The stock market crashed too, a prolonged one, for one reason or other, and almost all shares lost substantially in market capitalization, and for those who held shares, would have lost at least in book values. Surprisingly, I have yet to read about anyone complaining about the effects on their personal finances. I am pretty sure there are those who speculate, trading on margins as well as contras. These speculators are likely to have their fingers burnt, despite their years of experience. As my friend would have put it: we cannot get past the 'greed factor'. Many people talked about selling their shares prior to the expected downturn, but most of them just loved their shares too much to sell, even for taking advantage of further drop in prices so that they could easily buy back at much lower prices. For those with extra cash waiting to buy, they hope for buying at the lowest, and would have either missed or glad that they did not buy as some prices dropped even further.

Forex exchange rates also worked against our Malaysian Ringgit (dubbed Shringgit) when it dropped to over Rm4.20 against the US Dollar, the lowest in 17 years as well as the worst performer among Asian currencies. Even against Singapore Dollar, it is now over Rm3.00, as compared with their parity in 1967.

Those with children studying in the USA, UK and Australia, are feeling the pinch because the fees and costs of food and lodging would have gone up substantially. While those who are working in such countries and Singapore are laughing because their savings can be translated into more Ringgits.

For the past few days, we cannot miss news about the forthcoming Bersih 4 rally. As usual, the government and police will try their best to frighten the people from participating, so that a lower turnout would mean less support for the opposition, activists and members of the public who are upset with the government. But based on feedback within families and friends, this rally is going to be the biggest and expected to be carnival-like. Let us hope there would not be saboteurs to blame any stupid acts on the organizers and participants, and that the police would not spoil the peaceful event by antagonizing them.


Saturday, August 15, 2015

GLCs: Sink or swim together?

According to E.S. Shankar, just the following GLCs/Statutory bodies having invested in FGV have suffered huge book losses as a result of the recent stock market downturn totaling almost Rm8 billions:


    % No. of Shares     @4.55  @1.56BOOK LOSS

        RM      RM         RM
Felda Land20.00%      729,629,800     3,319,815,590  1,138,222,488  2,181,593,102
Felda Asset13.66%      498,321,192     2,267,361,424      777,381,060  1,489,980,364
Tabung Haji7.78%      283,710,100     1,290,880,955      442,587,756      848,293,199
Felda Co-operative5.80%      211,758,908         963,503,031      330,343,896      633,159,135
KWP5.63%      205,763,500         936,223,925      320,991,060      615,232,865
EPF5.28%      192,587,200         876,271,760      300,436,032      575,835,728
Pahang State Govt5.00%      182,407,575         829,954,466      284,555,817      545,398,649
Amanah Saham Bumiputra4.13%        89,010,989         405,000,000      138,857,143      266,142,857
Sabah State1.81%        65,934,066         300,000,000      102,857,143      197,142,857
PNB1.58%        57,803,700         263,006,835        90,173,772      172,833,063
Amanah Saham 20201.22%        44,601,400         202,936,370        69,578,184      133,358,186
LTAT0.97%        35,535,900         161,688,345        55,436,004      106,252,341
Yayasan Islam Terengganu0.45%        16,455,100           74,870,705        25,669,956        49,200,749
Socso0.33%        12,200,000           55,510,000        19,032,000        36,478,000
Lembaga Air Perak0.27%        10,000,000           45,500,000        15,600,000        29,900,000

73.91%  2,635,719,430   11,992,523,407  4,111,722,311  7,880,801,096

But of course, like in any investments, it could have been bountiful book profits too, during economic boom.

The question arises as to why those GLCs invested in FGV in the first place, especially despite fierce criticisms against the listing of FGV because at the time, it appears to be at the expense of the Felda settlers. Were they under pressure to make up the numbers?  Events since have also shown how the management have invested overseas, buying properties at above market prices and so on.

The recent fall in share prices at Bursa Saham was mainly because of withdrawal of foreign investment funds from it. Was it because of our questionable political situation where the rule of law seems topsy turvy?

Friday, August 14, 2015

Lim Kit Siang questions the abuse of power under Section 124B of the Penal Code

Police arrests and investigations under Section 124B in the current crackdown against the Ministerial assurances when the law was passed in Parliament that this section will only be used against those who used “violent and unconstitutional means”

Until a month ago, nobody has heard of Section 124B but in the past few weeks, Section 124B of the Penal Code has forced itself into public consciousness as the new monstrous weapon which the Najib administration is using to launch a major crackdown and usher a new Dark Age in Malaysia.
How many people have been arrested or investigated under Section 124B of the Penal Code.
I do not know, but it is safe to say that never have so many people been arrested or investigated under Section 124B of the Penal Code on “activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy” which can send a person to jail for a maximum of 20 years – and all these police arrests and investigations are against the ministerial assurances given to Parliament in 2012 when the new law was enacted that it would only be used against those who carry out “activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy” by “violent and unconstitutional means”.
When pressed in Parliament on why Section 124B had not spelt out clearly that Section 124B only referred to “activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy” by “violent and unconstitutional means”, the then de facto Law Minister, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz claimed that this is understood and even referred to Oxford Dictionary that “activities detrimental to Parliamentary Democracy” means “by violent and unconstitutional means”.
When Nazri presented the Penal Code amendment of the new Section 124B, Parliament was in fact given to understand that it was meant to tackle terrorism previously covered by the already repealed Internal Security Act.
Unfortunatley, what was clear and obvious to the Law Minister in 2012 at the time of the passage of Section 124B in Parlaiment is no more “clear and obvious” whether to the new Attorney-General or the Inspector-General of Police as I dare say that all the police arrests and investigations under Section 124B in the past month do not have the element of “violent or unconstitutional means”.
It would appear that we have reached a stage where anyone who wants to have a change of Prime Minister or government is liable to be investigated, arrested and charged under Section 124B for “activities detrimental to Parliamentary Democracy” which is a total betrayal of both the Parliamentary and Ministerial intention in enacting Section 124B of the Penal Code.
The majority of Malaysians (as the Umno/BN government is a minority government winning only 47 per cent of the popular vote in the 13th General Election) would want to see Datuk Seri Najib Razak toppled as Prime Minister and the UMNO/BN Government replaced as well.
But this cannot bring them under the ambit of Section 124B of the Penal Code for “activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy” which can send those guilty under this section to 20 years in jail because they reject any violent or unconstitutional means of change and are only committed to peaceful, democratic and constitutional means of change or toppling of the Prime Minsiter or government.
If a law which is meant to deal with the advocates of violent and unconstitutional means of political change could be used on those advocating peaceful, democratic and constitutional means of political change, it would even mean the death of democracy itself!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

To give an idea of Rm2.6 billion (British not American)

To put in figures: 2,600,000,000 in British billions, and not in terms of American billions: 260,000,000. 1 American billion is only 100 million, unlike British 1000 million.

In Chinese terms, 'yat yik' or 1 'yik' means 100 million, or 1 American billion. So Rm2.6 billion is actually 26 'yik' or 26 American billions.

I can still remember Nurul Izzah posting a picture of a container truck with notes at the side to try and give a perspective of how much if the amount were in Rm1 notes. Not sure if it is actually accurate when put to the test. But this is another perspective...

Pic courtesy of Zunar Kartonis Fan Club

Abacus users might need this for calculating the 2.6 billions.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Perception of salaries and incomes

In the West, you are unlikely to be asked how much you earn, unless it has to do with a survey or research. It is impolite to ask and if you did, you are unlikely to get a straight forward answer... much like asking a lady for her age.

Over here, especially in Malaysia, people openly enquire about salaries and compare them, at social gatherings and in coffee shops. This could be a reason why people try so hard to be able to have something decent to show, for comparison purposes. Some would try to impress with cars instead of house or apartment which could be rented. While some try to impress, there are others who actually try to downplay their actual earnings, either because of illegal business or unreported or under-reported incomes. Sometimes, it is amusing when the same person could be showing off in front of people he is trying to impress, but pretend to face financial difficulties when sensing a friend or relative is about to ask to borrow money!

Parents would even compare the initial investments on education and professional training with future returns. Then there is the comparison between those educated overseas and locally. Some parents are likely to think: 'Why spend a fortune just to have an overseas education, when you can buy a shop house for less for each of the children? It is solid investment where he or she can start a business or earn rental income immediately, instead of the uncertainty of the future.' When they come across professionals like doctors, lawyers and engineers having businesses like cafes or restaurants, where some actually gave up their professions to do it, such examples seem to bear testimony to their wisdom! Well, to each his or her own. There is no right or wrong decision where this is concerned. Personally, depending on our own financial circumstances, I believe in allowing and encouraging a child to do what he or she chooses to study, and later on, in his or her choice of a job or profession.

Then, we have the 'kiasu' parents who tend to overstate the incomes and perks of their children's employment so that they do not lose face, much to the embarrassment of their children who should know how much they actually earn.

Those having children working overseas where the exchange rates of the countries' currencies are favourable are generally envied. But, end of the day, it is the actual disposable incomes (after tax and other deductions) available for spending (bear in mind the higher costs of living overseas) and for saving, which are more relevant. To parents, the amount which a son or daughter could spare for them is also important, even if it is only symbolic of their filial piety. While some are well trained to save some for the parents in case of contingencies, some are more concerned about inheritance to be expected from their rich parents. There is a Cantonese saying, 'thoong yan, ng thoong meang' or 'we are similar as human beings, but our lives can be very different'. So what is necessary for some might be something taken for granted by others.

At my age, health is definitely to be wished for than wealth, not that I have much of the latter! I still cannot get over what a dying rich man said to me, 'I really envy you.' Simply because he was immobile and not allowed to eat anything which he liked, compared with my mobility and apparent good health and can eat anything I fancy.