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: 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

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

Friday, November 21, 2014

Umno General Assembly - the time for Chinese bashing

We have to be reminded time and again as to who is the boss and they have to be reminded again and again of our rights too.

Attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail reminded Malaysians the need to abide by the “social contract” developed by the country’s forefathers.

Kim Quek's reply to that statement:

'Yes, the 1957 Constitution is the social contract that embodied the consensus reached among the three major races at the time of independence. However, Article 153 of the Constitution has been widely and persistently misinterpreted to mean “special privileges” for the Malays, whereas it only provides for “special position” of the Malays whereby the Agong is entitled to request for reservation of quotas in three fields, namely a) public service b) education and c) trading licence.

Our Constitution is an egalitarian constitution that provides for equality and full fundamental individual rights, and certainly contains no room for anyone to create the concept of two or more classes of citizenship, as Barisan Nasional has been trying to do in the past decades.

This subject was fully explained in my book “The March to Putrajaya” under article no. 54: “The Constitution and Malay Rights”, which can be accessed at: '


'According to A Kadir Jasin, fear of the Chinese was among the key reasons behind the Malays returning to Umno’s fold in the last general election.
"Images of tens of thousands jubilant Chinese and Indian supporters of the opposition taking over towns in Johor during election rallies struck fear among the Malays and they rallied behind Umno," he said.
He added that the bumiputeras, in particular the pro-BN Malays, were afraid if the Chinese dominated the government in addition to the economy, they would lose their rights and privileges
However, the former New Straits Times Group editor-in-chief said if Pakatan Rakyat could convince the Malays that it would be fair to them, BN would be in deeper trouble.'

Communications and Multimedia Minister Ahmad Shabery Cheek has questioned Bukit Bendera MP Zairil Khir Johari who had said that the BN was responsible for the plight of Penang's poor Malays.
Instead, he questioned why Zairil did not say that the state's Chinese are 'rich' due to BN's previous administration.

The simple truth is: Malays are poor because of BN, but Chinese are rich despite BN. - Kim Quek

In the debate on whether ministers send their children to national or private schools, the general consensus seems to be:

‘Gov’t leaders must show faith in it; opposition doesn’t have to.’

DAP MP for Raub, Mohd Ariff Sabri:

'I have long advocated that Chinese schools seem to prosper only because national schools declined in quality. During the time when I went to school, where English medium schools had better teachers, produced better results, provided education in the language medium that is a pillar of communication in the world- performed better than vernacular schools of any kind, Chinese schools did not prosper. Chinese parents would want their children to go to Chinese schools up to standard 6 and then go on into English medium schools.'



1MDB - the most controversial sovereign wealth fund

1MDB seems to court controversies from day one, especially when it was associated with no-expense spared parties of flamboyant high-flier Jho Low and world famous Paris Hilton.

After 5 years of operations, it is clear that its activities had been anything but above board: shrouded in secrecy (like using well known tax haven, Cayman Islands and Hong Kong fund managers); tardy in late filing of accounts; suspicious changes of external auditors (3 times in 5 years); poor performance (having to use revaluations of properties to mask huge losses); and so on.

Anil Netto sums up best:

'1MDB’s predicament can be summed up as follows:
Its assets amount to RM51.4bn
Its liabilities RM49.0bn
Equity RM2.4bn
But 1MDB’s assets include ‘goodwill’ of RM3.3bn less RM1.2bn already written off. (Goodwill here refers to the amount it paid for power assets less the actual value of those assets. The Edge calls it an “overpayment”.)
Its assets also include RM5.0bn in revaluation gains mainly on its land bought cheaply from the government.
If not for these non-cash items i.e. ‘goodwill’ and property revaluation surplus, 1MDB’s equity would have been RM4.7bn negative (i.e. not a pretty picture) instead of RM2.4bn positive.
These items have enabled 1MDB to show rosier bottom-line figuures than it otherwise would have posted in the last few years.
And let’s not forget the assets also include the billions parked in the Cayman Islands.
Figures from The Edge, 17 November 2014'

The total liabilities of 1MDB is so huge that it can have an impact on government should it be unable to pay off its debts. How much of the debts are guaranteed by the government was the subject of heated debate in Parliament with each side accusing the other of lying.

Malaysiakini's selection of letters provide some perspective of the debate:
YOURSAY ‘Ahmad got off because the pro-BN House speaker saved his neck.’
Let off, Ahmad now wants MPs to apologise
Did Ahmad intend to lie? Rakyat be the judge


Last minute actions of a Menteri Besar

I can still remember in 2008, when BN lost Selangor to Pakatan, outgoing MB, Khir Toyo was alleged to have carted away or shredded important documents before he left. Balkis was quickly dissolved and its funds transferred to Bakti, at a speed which many believed, did not follow proper procedures. But then again, with the acquiescence of the ROS (especially to do with BN), it was sort of expected and accepted without any problems.

In 2014, outgoing Pakatan MB (who became ex-PKR), Khalid Ibrahim created a state constitutional problem by refusing to quit, then did so, but after some actions which could only be described as out of spite, like sacking Anwar Ibrahim as State Economic Advisor. Months later, he is now accused of having paid off his aides without following proper procedures!

'The four PAS exco who had served under Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim in his last days as Selangor menteri besar were not aware of the RM2.6 million “golden handshake” to his aides, nor endorsed it.
This was made known to Selangor PAS representatives at a meeting last night, said the Islamist party’s Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad, who added that the four were taken by surprise by the quantum, which was approved by the Menteri Besar Incorporated (MBI) board.
"They were only informed by Khalid that the payouts were according to procedures and adhered to the contracts.
"They were surprised when they found out the money was transferred electronically to Khalid's aides at night on his last day as MB," he said at the Parliament lobby today.
The four who formed Khalid's exco were Dr Ahmad Yunus Khairy, Iskandar Abdul Samad, Dr Halimah Ali and Sallehin Mukhyi.'



Thursday, November 13, 2014

Cheng's doctoral thesis public defence at Maastricht University

It was a long journey for Cheng, a long wait for us as parents, to finally see the fruits of her endeavour in pursuit of a Ph D.

Ironically, for a subject which is also relevant to her home country, Malaysia, she obtained a grant in the Netherlands to do her research there.

A few days before her public defence on November 14 (, she held a press conference in Maastricht and the response in terms of national and regional press coverage surprised some of her colleagues and friends in Holland. 

'Overwhelmed by all the press attention today. I am worried how this particular finding of my thesis will be (mis)used in the Dutch ethnic segregation debate. Data analysis always rests on many assumptions and data constraints. May it also hold true, that any publicity is good publicity.'

I Googled 'Cheng Boon Ong Maastricht' and I could see a long list of news reports relating to her thesis. Of course, all the articles are in Dutch and we can only recognise her name in those articles. Fortunately, we can get almost instantaneous translations from either Google or Microsoft.

Anyway, for those who are inclined to read her thesis, here is the link:

Ethnic segregation in housing, schools, and neighbourhoods in the Netherlands

Excerpt of her Acknowledgements:


Shortly before the start of the 20th century, my great-grand parents joined the
historical wave of Chinese emigration and ventured to what was then British
Malaya as low-skilled economic migrants. They were different from previous
cohorts, the Peranakan or Straits Chinese, who came educated, in smaller numbers,
and inter-married with the locals while adopting local customs. When the
Federation of Malaya gained its independence in 1957, roughly half of the
population consisted of ethnic minorities of migrant background. Ethnic
segregation was a collective reality inherited from the British ‘divide and rule’
colonial policy, later sustained and reinforced by the post-independence political
and educational structures. One’s choices in peers, schools, neighbourhoods, and
(ethnic-based) political affiliation became unremitting conscious acts of integration
or segregation. And so it was, the seed of my PhD research, sown long before I was

'As an ‘allochtoon’ with smattering knowledge of Dutch, it was my privilege and
pleasure to be able to dedicate my research entirely on one country that was not
my own: the Netherlands. Reading my first-year notes, I was struck by how close
my final thesis came (despite the long detour) to resemble my original ideas for a
PhD project (e.g. looking at preferences from two different modelling frameworks:
hedonic pricing and discrete choice). This reveals, to a large extent, the level of
flexibility and trust offered to me by my supervisors, Henriëtte and Kristof. …'

'The PhD project would not have taken off in the first place if it were not for the
opportunity, grant, and support offered by the Maastricht Graduate School of
Governance and later the United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and
Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (UNU-MERIT). ...'

A short interview on Dutch television channel 1Limburg:

To sum up...
One of the main findings of the thesis gained a lot of media attention. The left/liberals are quick to criticize the data or research methodology to downplay the findings, while the right-wing/conservatives are quick to pounce on it for their own anti-immigrant agenda.  Prof Jaap Dronkers, had defended the thesis in a Dutch national newspaper and gave a fair assessment, concluding with a remark: 'Don't shoot the messenger.'

Further update: Dr Ong - the Movie

Compiled by her paranymphs, Paula and Jennake, this video shows the route to a Ph D could also be a lot of fun!

Photos on the day of her public defence, courtesy of United Nations University - MERIT (ie. without permission):


Monday, November 10, 2014

Hardup KTM Batu Gajah railway station makes cheapskates of some of us.

After introducing parking charges which system was ineffective, now KTM BG set up controlled entry and exit booths which effectively ensure a minimum charge of Rm1 upon entry, more if it exceeds an hour, based on hourly rates.

This morning, I could see many cars parked along the roadsides outside its compound. These vehicles were parked there to avoid the charges, especially if the people were there just to buy tickets, send off or pick up someone.

My son commented that even KL Sentral allows free entry and exit for such purposes. They even allow cars to wait at specific bays so long as the drivers are in them. It is inconceivable that KTM BG has to resort to this just to increase some revenue when their losses were actually due to 'inefficiencies' at the top national level.