How should we judge a government?

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

"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

Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience - Mark Twain

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.

Corruption so prevalent it affects English language?

Corruption so prevalent it affects English language?
Corruption is so prevalent it affects English language?

When there's too much dirt...

When there's too much dirt...
We need better tools... to cover up mega corruptions.

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.)

Friday, February 29, 2008

In support of Nik Nazmi in N32 Seri Setia

Nik Nazmi was founding editor of youth webzine, SuaraAnum where I got to know him through a letter I wrote. I introduced his site to my daughter, Cheng, who sent an article on UUCA, which was published.

It was a quirk of fate that the article helped Cheng to gain admission into University of Essex for Politics and International Relations.

Excerpt from my blog post dated June 30, 2006:

“In retrospect, I was surprised my suggestion, that she forward an article which she wrote to the now defunct website, SuaraAnum, criticizing the Universities and University Colleges Act, was so effective that the Admission Officer changed his mind within 24 hours, saying: “I enjoyed reading your letter enormously and believe that it illustrates both your commitment and ability to study politics.”I can still remember asking her why she could not wait till the next day to appeal as she was already dressed to go to work at the Japanese restaurant in Nikko Hotel. She replied that she had to get it done immediately. What a fateful decision it turned out to be! When she returned from work late that night, she checked her email and exclaimed that she was accepted! When the Admissions Officer mentioned that he was due to go on a one-year sabbatical the following day, we could not believe our luck! Would the person taking over his position have reconsidered her case favourably?”

When in UK, Cheng got in touch with Nik who held the post of Vice Chair Information in UKEC and he asked her to be his assistant. He recommended her to take over the post the following year.

For the simple reason that Nik could have chosen a shortcut to better prospects via Umno a la Khairy, instead of struggling with the opposition, I admire him. He had his problems with his sponsors because of activities involving opposition leaders like Anwar Ibrahim. My daughter’s dislike for being questioned by the Malaysian Students’ Department because of her involvement with organizing seminars, again, involving ‘blacklisted’ leaders like Anwar, and Prof. Ramasamy, reinforced her disdain against our government’s way of controlling the students and the people in a sham democracy. Lest anyone reading this think that I am influencing her, she will consider it as an insult to her intelligence!

I believe Nik is part of a movement for change towards equality among the races in Malaysia. This growing phenomenon is worrying Umno because of its inherent racism and they have become increasingly defensive. So long as the official policy favours the poor regardless of race, there is nothing wrong with it. What we are against is the abuse of NEP favouring a select self-serving few in the name of race, neglecting the intended group.

I hope the constituents in Seri Setia will vote for Nik Nazmi in his debut and his noble quest to improve our political system and to provide good governance.

Today’s young ADUNs and MPs will be our country’s future leaders. Please judge them by their principles and personal integrity, but for now, give Nik a chance to prove himself.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


From DAP:

Do your part! Ensure a clean and fair 2008 elections - VOLUNTEER AS A POLLING AGENT and/or COUNTING AGENT!

A polling agent is someone who sits in a polling stream (the classroom where the voting takes place) and observes the voting process. Each school may have a different number of polling streams (saluran mengundi) depending on the number of voters in that area. Each polling stream caters to a specific age group.

A counting agent is someone who observes the counting of the votes after polling closes at 5pm.

You don't have to be a member of a political party to become a PA or a CA. You have to be Malaysian and above 21 to register as a PA or a CA. This is done through the political parties.

A PA is armed with a copy of the electoral roll for that particular classroom, pencil/pen and a ruler. The PA basically observes the voter as he/she enters the room. The election officer will read out the voter's name, IC number and his/her number on the electoral roll. The PA will cross out the voter's name on the electoral roll to ensure that we know exactly how many people voted in that classroom.

A PA must be alert and take note if there are any irregularities, eg. the voter is female but the IC number denotes the voter is male, the voter is much older or younger than the IC indicates, the voter is Indian but has a Chinese name, etc. The PA has a right to object and raise questions.

From susan loone’s blog:

EC request for polling agents this Friday is scandalous

The Election Commission’s requirement to have the full details of polling agents by this Friday is indeed scandalous! Another bully tactic by the BN government to ensure that the Opposition fails in all accounts. (Read this in Eli Wong’s)

I remember being a polling agent for the Opposition (PRM under PKR ticket) in Sungai Ara (Penang) in the 1999 general elections. All our details were only to be given on the eve of polling day. And until that time, the Opposition will be scrambling to look for agents. It was quite a pitiful sight.

I hope the Opposition will have better luck this time.

I have always voted the Opposition and have given my time and energy for their cause in two elections - 1999 and 2004.

I believe that no Parliament should be dominated by a single power - a racist one at that. I have never voted BN because it is a grouping of racist politicians with the determination to enforce racist policies. No matter what their manifesto can be, no matter what their threat is - I believe that denying them 2/3rd is NOT enough. They should be ousted altogether.

But during the time when I indulged myself in active politics (even almost being a candidate in the 2004 elections - I declined in protest as I could not stomach nor accept the manner and method in which PKR and DAP were negotiating seats) - supporters for the Opposition was hard to come by.

When we started campaigning with PKR and PAS in 1999 (there was the Barisan Alternatif then), PRM members like us often felt uneasy. We often did things voluntarily, with no hope nor request for allowances, monetary or otherwise. We spent our own money, time and energy to volunteer for party or election activities. Our reward: the satisfaction of giving racist BN a tough fight, if not a good one.

And so when PKR and PAS volunteers ask if there were allowances for campaigners or polling agents, we laughed to ourselves. There were others demands, requests as well. My Muslim friend was told ‘diplomatically’ that she had to wear the tudung (head scarf) if she wanted to campaign in the kampungs. This friend was elderly, and a fierce socialist at that. She was also a women’s libber. When she did finally contest in the 2004 elections, well…she had to wear the tudung. So much for socialism and women’s lib.

Anyway, it was no fun being a polling agent though we enjoyed it immensely. Just to be there meant everything. But it was tedious as Opposition polling agents had only one shift - the whole day. We had to double up as counting agents as well, which meant that ur duties will continue until after polling time. We had to try our best to control nature’s call, until by some divine intervention, we get a replacement.

Unlike the BN polling agents who had two or three shifts. The BN polling agent who sat beside me said he was paid RM40 for a shift, which did not include lunch and drinks. There were separate agents for counting so a BN polling agent’s job finishes at 5pm on the dot. A very lucky lot, indeed!

I hope the Opposition can come up with their list of polling agents by Friday. I fear for them, though. But I have faith that supporters for change are a lot more these days.

If you have time, do sacrifice one day to make sure that the BN won’t get away easily if they have ghosts or phantom voters up their sleeves!

They have gotten away too easily for 50 years. Do you want to give them another 50 years?

My experience in the 2004 experience was quite similar to Susan’s in that it was 'voluntary' vs 'paid service' and the best part was I was not complaining but just like to show others that not all people are mercenaries. Anyway, Po Kuan came personally to see if everything was ok and thanked me.

As it was my first time, I noted a guide from the internet posted by someone. Then I attended the briefing given by DAP in Bemban. What was supposed to be 8 pm turned out 11pm and there was some rush to get some last minute photocopying done or something. I vaguely remembered having to report for duty at SM Sultan Yussuf the next morning and was taken by surprise that the ‘hot tents’, which were originally banned, were allowed which caught the opposition off guard.

I was on duty the whole day except lunchtime when Po Kuan’s former assistant came to take my place for a while. It gave me a chance to vote at a school near Clearwater Sanctuary (Parliamentary: Gopeng; State: Rapat Setia). MCA had 2 representatives taking turns. Yes, they were paid and the guy happened to be my house neighbour who even gave me a bottle of mineral water(he had 2) as mine came later!

I still remember the state of confusion after the election time was over and I did not know where to go after meeting some party helpers in a government building in Changkat, BG.

Before I went home, I had dinner alone, at Wong Kok Restaurant which is near my house while watching the television for the results. It was gratifying and a bonus to have helped a victorious opposition candidate against money politics.

BN is not meant to be fair...

anyone who speaks out will be dealt with, regardless of whether it makes sense or not. While the PM, DPM and Ministers sometimes contradict themselves, lesser beings are being disciplined just 'to toe the line'. In so doing, Nazri came out looking senseless.

I spotted this in Malaysia Today:

Some quotes from your MPs - flip flops and contradictions
Usman Bawang

There is no point in voting good BN candidates (if there is such a thing). You will see that there are good BN MPs/reps in UMNO/MCA/MIC etc. Politicians with a bit of spine and some principles. But what's the point of voting them when they are overpowered by the hoolligans within their parties?

Good people join BN to change and improve the system, from within. They stand up for the people and are shot down by the party and system. Why waste your votes on them then if they are powerless?

S. Sothinathan, MIC (Telok Kemang), was suspended from his deputy minister's position in 2006 for criticising the government policy on the recognition of foreign medical degrees. He felt that the many of the students at the Crimea State Medical University (CSMU) in Ukraine, which woudl be derecognised, were Indians and because of this, being a BN component party, the MIC is duty-bound to protect their interest.

Loh Seng Kok, MCA (Kelana Jaya), complained in Parliament about 'imbalanced' history textbooks, new prayer recital guidelines and the problems faced by non-Muslims with regards to places of worship. Six days later, some 50 Umno Youth members, led by Kelana Jaya division chief Abdul Halim Samad, paid him a visit late at night to deliver a "warning letter".

Shahrir Samad, UMNO's conscience, supported an opposition motion (to censure the one eyed Jasin MP), did not receive support from his fellow government backbenchers to condemn the corruption within his own party.

Tan Cheng Liang (Jawi) and Lim Boo Chang (Datuk Keramat), two BN state assemblymen in Penang abstained from a vote on the Penang Outer Ring Road (PORR) in 2002. The controversial PORR was proposed by the BN government and vehemently opposed by the opposition. Both were meted "disciplinary action" for not supporting the government, even though they thought that the project would not best serve the interest of Penang.

K. Devamany of MIC (Cameron Highlands) had said the fact that 50,000 people showed up at the Nov 25 2007 Hindraf protest showed the Government's failure in distributing wealth equally. Trying to highlight the seriousness of this issue, he was strongly condemned by his BN colleagues.

Zaid Ibrahim, UMNO's conscience, has been dropped from this election. This former Kota Bharu MP was one of the first UMNO politicians to publicly demand the establishment of a royal commission of inquiry into the Linggam tape. This same man has been very public and vocal about the rotting state of the judiciary and rule of law. Zaid also led a campaign to reelect Shahrir Samad, fellow UMNO conscience, as the backbencher's club chairperson after the one eyed MP incident. He didn't succeed.
These BN politicians are fighting for the people, and they are being defeated by their own party. If they can't criticise the government, they can't stand up for you.

Meanwhile the spineless:

Shahrizat Jalil, Women, Family and Community Minister of UMNO (Lembah Pantai), on the passing of the Islamic Family Law (Federal Territories) (Amendment) Bill 2005 which undermines the status of Muslim women and the family institution said this first: The uproar over this issue is symptomatic of the real problems affecting Muslim women in the country. Let this be a lesson to all concerned to not trivialise issues involving the rights of women. (Dec 23, 2005)

She then went on to say that her ministry had earlier objected to almost all the clauses of the Bill, which discriminated against women (Dec 25, 2005).

She later went on to vote to support the bill.

And some quotes by BN and non-BN politicians. Self explanatory:

UMNO has now become completely paralyzed. Dr. Mahathir.

... it's an opposition motion and we usually reject their motions.Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, The Star 5 May 2006

Our principle is that BNBBC will not support the opposition. BNBBC Deputy Chairman Datuk Raja Ahmad Zainuddin Raja Omar, Bernama 5 May 2006

Based on our policy and practice, the BN elected representatives cannot support a motion tabled by the Opposition... under whatever circumstances, they should not have supported a motion from the Opposition. Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak, who is also BN Chief Whip, The Sun

He [Sothinathan] is a member of the front bench and should not have taken a stand like what he did, criticising his own Government... [this] is certainly a breach of party discipline.Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi , The Star 23 June 2005

What happened is unprecedented but he is at fault. That is why action has to be taken against him Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, The Star 23 June 2005
He broke ranks. You cannot have your cake and eat it too.Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, The Star 23 June 2005

The action against Tan Cheng Liang (Jawi) and Lim Boo Chang (Datuk Keramat) was good enough to serve as a reminder to the rest of the backbenchers. BN secretary-general, Tan Sri Mohamed Rahmat, MGG Pillai 6 January 2003

We are of the view that the final decision on this issue should be made by Barisan. But as far as Umno is concerned, we want them sacked. Former Prime Minister and former UMNO/BN Chairperson, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, SNNI 29 November 2002

MPs are more free now, compared to 10 years ago, to voice their opinions and views.Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, New Straits Times 14 January 2005

[On an objection by a leading backbencher] He may disagree, but at the end of the day it is the Whip's decision.Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, New Straits Times 14 January 2005

I am a loyal party member and will obey. [if the government bill didn't go through] it would have meant trouble for me.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, The Star 25 December 2005

They are free to debate and speak their mind, but when it comes to a vote they have to follow. Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, BBC News 22 December 2005

WE are not doves that can be tamed. We did not intentionally support the Opposition. Our intention was to protect the integrity of Parliament.Datuk Bung Moktar Radin, NST 5 October 2005

Each said that despite her conscience, "I am a loyal party member and will obey."Suhaini Aznam, The Star 25 December 2005

I was merely trying to help the Barisan retain voters' confidence by bringing up the issue at the state assembly. And I certainly did not go against the Barisan. I love Barisan and was merely trying to help it retain its voters' confidence. Tan Cheng Liang, Jawi ADUN, FAC News 27 November 2002 akan bertindak sebagai platform untuk Ahli Parlimen berkongsi pendapat mereka tentang isu-isu semasa bersama rakyat dan membolehkan rakyat memberikan pendapat dan komen-komen bernas yang akan membantu meningkatkan lagi mutu perkhidmatan yang diberikan oleh Ahli Parlimen terhadap rakyat yang mereka wakili. 5 April 2005

I urge MPs, particularly from Barisan Nasional, to support the amendments to the two water bills in the interests of the people and country. The Barisan Nasional leadership should remove the whip and allow BN MPs to speak and vote according to their conscience. Opposition Leader, Lim Kit Siang 30 April 2006

Saya ada pelbagai cara untuk mendapatkan maklum balas yang telah disampaikan kepada saya. Itulah cara saya daripada dulu pun. Kalau saya nak buat sesuatu dengan orang yang hendak membuat kerjasama dengan saya, saya akan beritahu, kalau ada pandangan, kalau ada apa-apa yang mereka hendak ingatkan, kut saya terlupa sedangkan kita manusia ini lupa pun ada. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, 9 February 2004

Bekerjalah bersama saya, dan bukan untuk saya. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, 9 February 2004

I will deal with them, even if they're powerful. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, 23 March 2004

For 15 years, I had joined the wrong party and I thought in year 2000 when I joined MCA, I could then serve the party and Barisan Nasional (BN). Lim Boo Chang, Datuk Keramat ADUN, 16 December 2002

No Boo Chang. You are still in the wrong party.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

In support of Prof. Dr. P. Ramasamy

At the request of Selvin, I reproduce this letter, courtesy of Raja Petra (in other words, no permission sought):



From students of Professor Dr P Ramasamy, who have benefited tremendously from your guidance and encouragement. For not only championing our rights, but also sacrificially contributing to our cause, we your students render to you our whole hearted encouragement and support.

We ask you the People of Penang to give your full support to Professor Dr P Ramasamy.

Professor Dr P Ramasamy is very experienced, competent and capable, he represents the better of two worlds, a well sought after Political Scientist and an affiliate of an International Think Tank.

Renowned for his work not only on locally but also internationally he has been dubbed as a "street politician" who has done extensive work hand in hand with hawkers, petty traders and small entrepreneurs, in addition to providing consultancy to large multinational corporations.

He is actively involved in providing solutions and free advice for the poor and the marginalised. He represents the voice of the common man. He understands well the issues concerning the poor, as he himself is a product of the grass roots, being the son of an Estate Worker.

He rose from this humble beginning to the ranks of a Professor at UKM and has conducted extensive research in Industrial Relations, Socially and Economically disadvantaged sectors of the economy and has worked with students at tertiary level.

In addition he has published articles in international journals and is a convention speaker on Globalisation and human relations. He is very well known and has been known to negotiate on international peace initiatives. He is much sought after for his intervention in Labour Arbitration and Negotiation.

Prof Ramasamy is known to stand up for the rights of students at universities, and has championed their rights irrespective of race, colour or creed. He has time and again proven his mettle, especially when he took up the cause of medical students. Remember this is the man who sacrificed with his job, when he spoke up for the medical students of Crimea State University.

Professor P. Ramasamy was Appointed to the DAP Central Executive Committee (CEC) as International DAP Secretary in 2005 and DAP is a signatory of the "Peoples Declaration"

People of Penang, now is your only chance, bring in change and it is in your hands, with the stoke of a pen, bring in this man who will champion your cause, fight for your rights even at the risk of his freedom. Here is a representative who will make a stand for you, he stood up for us, now you give him a chance to stand up for you.

Most importantly he is a man of integrity and honesty, he is known to speak out fearlessly, for certainty it would augur well to have such representation in Parliament.

So its "Over to You People of Penang". Don't miss this opportunity. Vote for Change, it is a vote towards a Better Malaysia.

Professor Dr P Ramasamy – you have a formidable opponent, in Dr Koh Tsu Koon but we are confident that you will come out a winner.

We your Students wish you the very best .

We pray for your Success and Victory.


From your students from public and private institutes of higher learning.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Grammy award for Cilipadi?

I was shocked and disappointed when I read Malaysiakini's ‘Po Kuan’s quit decision an elaborate ploy’.

If it were true, then I would nominate Po Kuan as the greatest actress in Malaysia, Lim Kit Siang as greatest director and Thomas Su and others, as best supporting actors.

I am surprised some people cannot empathise how she would have found her life as an MP very taxing and she is losing her private space and time, especially now that she is married to someone working in Johore. It is even worse being an opposition MP as there is always the lack of funds, yet she has to oblige whenever there are occasions she is being invited, as what Chong Eng had explained.

While some BN politicians are well provided by the party and they have avenues to make money through businesses connected with the government, opposition politicians are at their wits’ end to make ends meet. I could see how she suffered financially when she was suspended for 6 months without pay.

At the rate the opposition MPs and ADUNs travelled around to support each other’s ceramah, I used to wonder whether they are in fact working for petrol companies or PLUS.

The BN’s party machinery gets support from crony beneficiaries, from Ministers and so on who are well provided by the government by virtue of their positions; and even as caretaker government, no expense is spared to take advantage of the national media and other facilities.

To me, the fact that she did not even consider who should be her supporter on Nomination day shows that she was truly rushed back into action after her initial, and what she personally would have thought to be her final, decision not to re-contest. I can vouch for the fact that she contacted me on Saturday afternoon (Feb 23), asking me if I could be with her on Nomination day (Feb 24).

Khairy, Khairy, Quite Contrary; What lah, Kalimullah?

I am amazed how some people could criticize others when they were in a worse situation than those they criticized.

Recently, Khairy was reported to have complained that the ACA was slow in investigating alleged corruption in the Kelantan state administration.

Hello? Are you new here or from outer space? We have a huge backlog of corruption reports involving VVIPs who naturally belong to the BN camp, which have yet to see the light of day!

Then, he criticized Nik Aziz as a Chief Minister who did not know what was going on and had to rely on Husam Musa. So Husam Musa decided on many matters without having to consult Nik Aziz! Oh dear! Sounds familiar indeed. Change the scenario to Malaysia as a country and the position becomes Prime Minister and whom did the PM rely on? Substitute ‘Husam’ with ‘Khairy’ and we have a bigger ‘de facto’ personality.

Kalimullah’s ‘Live your dreams before it’s too late’ quoted from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s speech ‘I have a dream’:

“I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.”

“I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.”

Coming from a beneficial crony of Umno, a racist political party, practising racism and racial discrimination, what was his intention in quoting from such a beautiful speech? To show his scholastic ability or to show that Umno or Malaysia should have a similar dream?

50 years after independence, our sons of Ketuanan and our sons of immigrants are still unable to sit down together at a table of brotherhood; and Malaysia has yet to be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

So, what exactly are you trying to imply?

Kosong lived up to his name...

when he couldn’t fulfil a promise. Perjanjian Kosong or Empty Promise.

We know of ‘A friend in need is a friend indeed’ then A friend Missing in Action is a friend INDEED! (sarcastic tone)

I have offered Po Kuan (in both of our blogsites) to volunteer as an election agent. I never expected her to ask me to be by her side on nomination day!

On Saturday afternoon, I was with my wife on our way to PJ, with a carload of foodstuff (like Hakka khau yoke and Yim Kai), cold box with fish, kitchen utensil and even some plastic stools, for a home-cooked meal for some relatives the night before Beng’s flight back to UK. Just before reaching Jalan Dato Abu Bakar (Section 16), I suddenly realised that I have forgotten to bring along the house keys! Frantically, my wife called her nephew, who stays in the house, and asked if he was in. He said he was only 10 minutes away. Then she called Beng and he happened to be at Jaya 1, a brand new re-development which I have yet to set foot. So without even stopping, we managed to find the place and he was right there waiting to hand over his set of keys.

I was still in a state of uneasiness for having forgotten something so important (btw, any of such forgetfulness, I have to bear full responsibility) when I received a call while driving past the playground behind the Section 14 market. I took the call without looking at the name of caller. It was Po Kuan asking me for some help. She asked me to accompany her on Nomination Day (next day) and I have just arrived in PJ! I felt terrible for being in the wrong place when she actually needed my help.

I felt honoured that she thought of me for the purpose of filing her nomination papers yet I had to say sorry as we were supposed to drive Beng to KLIA the next morning to check in hours before his flight at 10.45am.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

From an authority on Elections...

People are the boss

Wanted: an imaginative opposition
By Wong Chin Huat[Updated at 11:15pm, 20 Feb 2008 with correction]

You think that enough is enough. After all the leakages, all the tapes, all the royal commissions, all the demonstrations, all the arrests, something must change. You feel that every patriotic person must vote for the opposition. You tell yourself that this is the first election of Malaysia’s next 50 years, and it must not be the same.

Politics must not be business as usual. You register yourself as a voter. You forward political messages to all the contacts in your phone. You surf political blogs. You attend political rallies. You even sign up to be a polling agent for the opposition or civil society candidate in your constituency.

You hope that the opposition will deny the Barisan Nasional (BN) a two-third majority. You secretly pray that they will even topple the BN in a few states if not also at the federal level.

You are anxiously looking forward to March 8, much like your first date many years ago.

The Morning After

Now, here’s the catch.

The morning after may turn out to be a disaster. Let’s imagine this nightmare of yours.
In the wee hours of March 9, you shed tears of disappointment before the television.

The opposition does not only fail to topple any BN governments at the federal or state level, it has even failed to deny the BN two-thirds of the seats in Parliament and the state assemblies. As if that is not bad enough, PAS loses Kelantan even though it wins 51.8% of the popular votes.

Abdullah appears happily on all the television screens, with his beloved Jeanne, thanking the voters. He says, “The performance shows that the BN government and policies are well trusted by the people. We will carry out the unfinished business forcefully. We will do more of what we have not been doing enough.”

You know all these are possible under our distorted electoral system with all the possible frauds.
After all the passion, you may find that politics is really just business as usual.

What do you do? Queue up for PR applications at foreign embassies? Return to your apolitical mode – “politics is not me”? Acquire the Stockholm Syndrome – “actually, the BN is not that bad…”?

Plan B and roadmap

No, it does not need to be so. Politics can be exciting and change can happen even if the opposition fails to deny the BN a two-third majority, even if all the 13 states are ruled by the BN.

All we need from the opposition is a Plan B and a roadmap to real political changes.
Their manifestos are Plan A: what they will do if they win the federal government. Unless you are a super optimist, you know very well this is basically a cheque that you cannot cash.

Plan B is what the opposition parties will do when they win insufficient seats to form the government. In other words, what your lawmakers can do as opposition parliamentarians?

Plan B is not about “negative goals” – preventing the BN from corruption, power abuse and incompetence. It is about “positive goals” – what they can do other than criticising the government and tabling motions to cut the minister’s salary by RM10.

Plan B is also not only about destinations. It is a roadmap. It is about milestones and timeline – who will do what at what point of time – giving us a full picture of how things can be better than they are today.

A Plan B roadmap is about changes that you can imagine.

An imaginative opposition

What can the opposition parties do without federal power?
Plenty. What is short in supply for the opposition is not power, but imagination.
Politics is the art of possibility but you must be able to visualise your dream before it comes true.
Here are a few things the opposition lawmakers can do.

Task 1: Private members’ bills

The most important measure is the private members’ bills.
Many voters see the primary function of lawmakers (to be precise, those from the BN) as the distributor of government money for all and sundry and development projects. The job of lawmakers is actually to make laws, which BN members are not doing and the opposition members can outdo.

At present, almost all laws are made by the Attorney-General’s (AG) Chambers under the instructions of the ministries and the cabinet, often with little consultation with the stakeholders. This results in bad laws as well as a shortage of good laws.
The opposition lawmakers can subvert this by using the private members’ bills. These are bills tabled by the opposition or government frontbenchers in their individual capacity, in contrast to the government bills prepared by the AG’s Chambers.
They can initiate consultation with civil society groups to come up with draft bills on issues that need urgent redresses: access to public information, water supply, gender equality, planning for new schools, local elections, etc.

By tabling private members’ bills on these issues, they capture the public’s imagination on what the changes are and force the BN lawmakers to take a stand. Can you imagine BN parliamentarians voting against a Sexual Harassment Bill?
In short, private members’ bills help to advance the agenda of legal reforms on many issues.

Task 2: Shadow cabinet

The next thing the opposition can do is to appoint their shadow cabinets. Just like the ruling coalition, the opposition parties must have their shadow frontbenchers.

With portfolios specifically assigned, opposition lawmakers will sharpen their saws on the respective fields. It helps the party to formulate its policy stands related to the portfolio and eventually prepare the opposition lawmakers for ministerial responsibilities.

In other countries, shadow ministerial positions are sought after because once the opposition is swept into power, the shadow frontbenchers will be the real ministers.

In brief, the shadow cabinet structures the mind of the opposition parliamentarians as well as the voters to imagine an alternative government.

In both the 1990 and 1999 elections, the opposition parties won a total of 53 and 45 seats respectively but shadow cabinets were never successfully formed, either within individual parties or across the opposition camp.
When even 45 53 parliamentarians could not result in a government-in-waiting, is it any wonder many voters believe that the opposition has no long-term vision to run the country?

Task 3: State-level reforms

We need an imaginative opposition not only at the federal level, but more so at the state level.
Firstly, it is easier for the opposition to win a state government and implement change. PAS has ruled Kelantan for18 years consecutively. The probability of the opposition taking power in states like Terengganu, Kedah, Penang, Selangor or Sabah is not zero.

Secondly, changes at the state level can force similar reforms at the federal level. Public opinion will be swayed when the public can see the benefit from experimental reforms in certain states. Five working days a week was quickly copied by the BN nationwide after its introduction by PAS in Kelantan.

First on the list are local elections. Article 113(4) of the Federal Constitution stipulates that either federal or state laws may authorise the Election Commission to conduct local elections. If PAS has introduced this in Terengganu after 1999, it will not be completely wiped out at the local level after its defeat in 2004. In fact, local elections in Kelantan and Terengganu would clearly force the BN to do it nationwide. Next time, if you want to complain about the lack of local elections, remember it is PAS, which promised local elections in 1999 and 2004, that should be blamed for failing to deliver.

State governments can also introduce important institutional changes like the Freedom of Information Enactment and public financing for election campaigns, where state government and elections are concerned.
Why is the opposition not imaginative?Em… Interesting. You wonder why the opposition parties do not take up these ideas – they all seem feasible and practical.

Why are they not imaginative? I don’t know the real answers. You have got to ask them.

But I know well what their response would be: “These are great ideas. But the people are not interested-lah. Laws are too technical for ordinary voters. They don’t know what private members’ bills are. They care only if we do constituency service. They don’t get excited over issues like transparency or democracy….”

Yes, they would blame you, the voter, because you are supposedly ignorant and uninterested in imaginative politics.
They say people deserve their government. People deserve their opposition too. It’s an unimaginative opposition that partially makes authoritarianism so successful.

Politics as usual after March 8? Your choice.

Wong Chin Huat is a journalism lecturer at a private university. He is completing his PhD in the University of Essex on the electoral system and party politics in West Malaysia. He is also chairman of the Writers Alliance for Media Independence and resource person for the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections.
Posted: February 20th, 2008 under My Take.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Homegrown Cilipadi can wait...

Just before lunch in Menglembu, I received a call from the coffee-shop proprietor in Batu Gajah, asking if it is true that Po Kuan is going to contest again. I told him, 'speculation and rumours are everywhere and sometimes, we don’t really know until nomination day on February 24'. I promised to check from reliable sources but honestly, I don’t want to be caught in this speculation and it is not nice for me even to ask about it. I forgot about the matter and went about some errands after sending my son to his friend’s in Chateau Garden.

By the time I reached home it was past 2 pm and I went about some housework before I switched on the computer and log on to Malaysiakini. Imagine my surprise (a very pleasant one indeed) to see the headline, ‘Po Kuan to defend Batu Gajah’!

Whatever made her change her mind, it was tremendously good news to DAP and especially her sifu, Lim Kit Siang. She mentioned before she will always be grateful to Kit for having given her the chance in 1999. Imagine a lawyer with a couple of years experience and then pushed into the deep end of standing for a parliamentary seat!

At the time, the MP was MCA’s Yeong Chee Wah and for a novice to take on an incumbent, many people did not expect a credible performance, let alone a win.

It was due to her hard work and ever obliging nature, which won her supporters from even MCA members. A good example is the coffee-shop owner in Pusing who willingly gave his consent each time she applied for a police permit for a ceramah because she sorted out his passport problem.

The latest I heard was a temple in Bemban where the office bearers become all DAP supporters (or was it the other way round?). She really earned the goodwill of the local people and the overwhelming support and expressions of disappointment earlier are proof that she can definitely reclaim her seat in Parliament this March 8.

If I am not mistaken, at a press conference shown on TV, Tajol Rosli was cautious in his comments on Po Kuan’s refusal to stand for re-election as he thought she might change her mind at the last minute.

Po Kuan, I am glad you changed your mind. My offer to act as polling agent still stands! Best of luck again!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A homegrown Cilipadi for Batu Gajah?

Not now, but maybe later...when she completes her Ph.D!

Her current resume:

I came across Malaysiakini's article headlined, 'The rising sons, daughter and son-in-law' which was obviously about the children of well known politicians' children and I thought, what about children of non-politicians?

When my daughter, aged 12 then, found our autographed copy of Dr. Tan Chee Khoon’s 'Without Fear or Favour', she finished the book the same night. The next morning, she told us naively that she wants to be the first Madam Opposition! Well, after a year at HELP on the LSE programme, she decided to switch to Politics and International Relations at University of Essex in UK where she was top student in the Department of Government consecutively and got a First Class Honours and a prize for the best dissertation.

In Malaysia, her father was trying to lay the groundwork by getting involved with local politics, moving around with BG’s MP, Ms. Fong Po Kuan. He was thinking, it would be helpful if she could work as her assistant and if proven and given a chance, she could repeat her performance. With the benefit of hindsight, the timing could have been right if only she had listened to him! But she is more ambitious academically than he thought!

It may be too presumptuous of me to think that had she been Po Kuan’s assistant, she would be selected to contest. But judging from the public statements of DAP leaders (especially the fear of backlash if an unsuitable candidate is selected) and the sentiments of the public, a local girl, educated in Batu Gajah, if proven her worth and if endorsed by Po Kuan seems just the right ingredients to do a repeat of her debut! A lot of ‘ifs’ but I do not doubt her capability, only Po Kuan’s fantastic rapport with the constituents in particular and the public in general, which is unique, and which no one can just say, ‘I want to be like her’.

Though Cheng is now overseas, her mind is very much involved with the local political situation as her recent email (excerpt) suggests:

“I am proud to tell Pa that I first found out about the dissolution of our parliament from kosongcafe (note: pleasant surprise to know that Jeff Ooi will be standing for elections!). =.) … I wonder if it is partly the effect of the all-inspiring US primary elections (I am one Obama-supporter) but I have not been so excited over Malaysian elections.”

To me, the timing would have been right (not necessary to be able to stand for election because of her young age) but to work with her seniors like Wong Chin Huat and Yap Swee Seng; her predecessor in UKEC, Nik Nazmi and his idol, Anwar; her friend, Prof. P. Ramasamy and her political idol, Mr. Opposition, Lim Kit Siang; in this special General Election for good governance! Another 4 or 5 years’ time, the scenario and the people involved would be totally different.

Seriously speaking, I wouldn’t want my daughter to be unhappy and stressed out like Po Kuan, in spite of or because of the great publicity which can both be a boon or bane, and definitely not something one can control. On national television and the talk of the nation, and like the front page in The Star carrying a big picture of her – who wouldn’t wish to have that kind of publicity for free? But the “I’ve had enough!” seems a deliberate ‘added on’ rather than her actual quote. We all know that free publicity for the opposition means bad news blown up. Furthermore, since when has our DPM commended about opposition leaders?

I am actually reluctant to post this but then these are my thoughts of the moment and I cannot wait till some other time. Just hope she doesn't mind.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Can a Loose Canon be fired to give Anwar a by-election?

I was imagining how certain people like the glamour but not the nitty gritty servicing part or the dirty politics part of being a politician. If anyone asks me, I would say the easier part (not necessarily winning) is campaigning as EC normally allow a relatively short period from nomination to election. So, what is 2-3 hours sleep for 13 days? The more difficult part, which separates a politician with a genuine desire to serve the electorate from one who likes only the glamour, is the service expected when one is elected as State Assemblyman or Member of Parliament.

Then I thought about Anwar’s intention to circumvent the intent of Pak Lah to deny him a chance 'to prove himself irrelevant' (my description) in this General Election, by having an elected Keadilan MP to make way for him to stand in a by-election and bingo! Who better than Raja Petra?

Raja Petra said he is not a member of any political party and cannot stand dirty politics, but he can stand as an independent. With his iconic popularity as the most influential blogger, he stands a good chance to win. With his dislike to be a politician, he can resign shortly and pave the way for a by-election. This way, we can test his popularity and at the same time serves the purpose of overcoming the deliberate obstacle put in Anwar’s way.

So, Yang Mulia, being Director of Free Anwar Campaign before, now that he is out, why not help put him back in (I mean, in Parliament)?

Others that come to mind: - Steven Gan of Malaysiakini is too serious for this maverick idea of mine, perhaps Zorro (Bernard Khoo) or Niamah (Patrick Teoh)?

Monday, February 18, 2008

My humble suggestion to DAP leaders and Po Kuan

This morning, I just got to know Chong personally over breakfast and the main topic was Fong’s sudden shocking decision to give up and that her decision was final. His family runs the coffee shop opposite our usual one where the ceramah was held on Friday night.

After lunch, I walked past a coffee shop in Batu Gajah and the young proprietor called out to me to stay a while. His wife made a cup of tea and refused to accept payment. I told him I don’t have any more information than what everyone gets to read in the papers and yet he was eager to know what comments I have on what was happening. I can honestly say that I did not contact her at all, knowing her state of mind and the pressure from people all round. It is quite amazing how people can speculate and postulate over an MP’s political decision and I do not underestimate the information about the possible effects and backlash which can be expected from it. Without being too patronizing, based on feedback on the ground level, this is what I have:

that there are a disproportionately small number of actual DAP members in Batu Gajah (I would put this to the fear factor where most businessmen and government servants would not risk joining an opposition party) compared with the overwhelming support Po Kuan received in the last election, which caught many by surprise, including myself, as in the classroom where I was, it was only 50-50;

Assuming Po Kuan could not get along with Perak state DAP chairman, Ngeh and secretary, Ngo, as widely published in the papers, either of them should not take the place of Po Kuan in Batu Gajah, as there is a possibility of backlash from supporters who would act based on real or imaginary enmity between them;

The best person to take her place would be Thomas Su as they have worked well together, and she had openly recommended him, a fact which her supporters would take note in the coming election;

But I remember the quotes: ‘politics is the art of the impossible’ and 'there are no permanent friends or enemies in politics'. While there is a very slim chance of changing Po Kuan’s mind, I would venture to suggest what I have posted earlier: that she be given a state seat to contest in Batu Gajah as well as a sweetener or compromise to make her change her mind, especially now that she is married, she has to consider her husband's views as well.

Like everybody else here in Batu Gajah, we will be terribly disappointed to lose her as an MP, as well as to give such a bonus to Barisan Nasional.

I hope Malaysiakini can pick this up for more exposure to my blog on this matter. Thanks.

The iconic but reluctant politician... finally quits?

These days, Sunday is often a working day for my wife because of oil palm harvesting. With the high price for fresh fruit bunch, her job is to ensure there is no theft or pilferage after the fruits are cut from the trees and that they reach the collection centre. It is quite strange to see school children on a Sunday in Kedah side of Selama.

After harvesting, at about 5 pm we went to the harvester’s house where SP had her shower and change of clothes to attend a dinner cum karaoke competition, which her company had made a contribution. I took the opportunity to check mail at the house, as I had intended to do it at an internet café. After a quick run through, I visited Malaysiakini and got a shock when I read the headline, ‘Fong quits Batu Gajah’ and I told my wife about it.

It was during dinner that I got call from Chong who asked about Po Kuan’s decision to quit Batu Gajah. Told him I will chat over breakfast tomorrow. In the meantime, I sms-ed Thomas and he replied that she had already mentioned in her announcement.

By the time I reached home, it was about 12 midnight and I checked Po Kuan’s blogsite to find out more. From the comments, I had missed the TV3 news and I realised she seemed to have decided not to contest at all! How disappointing to opposition supporters but must have been music to BN.

While watching the singers, my mind was actually thinking about Po Kuan’s decision and wondering about the reasons. She wanted to quit just before the 2004 GE too. There is always the public statement and like what Chong and others wanted to know, the real reasons!

While on the way to Selama, I actually told my wife that Po Kuan should consider standing for a state seat as well, with the consent and moral support from her husband. The reason being she has already established herself in BG and she could easily win and cope with a state constituency as well, with a supportive husband at her side. Well, that was my viewpoint from a distance, not privy to what has been happening in her private life and in Perak DAP.

To me, there is this irony of me supporting DAP in Batu Gajah when my registration was hijacked to Gopeng for GE 1999 and 2004, yet now that I have put it right to be able to vote in BG, she has decided not to contest!

Looks like we have to get used to not having ‘Batu Gajah’ personified in YB Fong Po Kuan in Parliament. I am sure the Speaker and his Deputy and the rest of the ‘to be elected’, who had been MPs before, will miss her too.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Will Cilipadi be squeezed out of Batu Gajah?

Just checked Malaysiakini’s headline, ‘Fong to be squeezed out of Batu Gajah?’ and the time published was 4.04pm. I was wondering if she has read it when she was at DAP’s Pusing ceramah. I read it before I left for Pusing, and I meant to ask her about it. Though the permit for the ceramah was for 7.00pm, I was too early and the boss of the coffee-shop offered me Chinese tea at our usual table.

When I told him about what I read in Malaysiakini, he was surprised and commented that based on his information, it would be a big mistake if Po Kuan were to stand somewhere else as the branch level leaders would be upset as they work because of her.

Anyway, Po Kuan came at around 8.00pm, dressed smartly as a lawyer in white blouse and black skirt. By then, the coffee shop was full of people and a bigger crowd stood outside and across the roads. I was in my usual T-shirt and shorts and yet to have a shower, and suddenly, I felt shy to even walk out to wish her, Gong Xi Fa Cai, let alone ask her about the speculation, which I actually forgot.

Anyway, Po Kuan’s assistant, Ms. Kong took the microphone and introduced a lady speaker. This was followed by Siva Kumar who spoke well in Bahasa Malaysia, and Tamil, for the benefit of some Indians in the audience. Then, Chong Chee Khing, Thomas Su’s assistant took over.

It was BN-bashing in general, and Umno in particular; being the real power responsible for all the major policies which I would add, including the appointment of who shall be Chief Minister of Penang or even who shall be President of MCA or MIC!

The hot topic was how our PM lied about not dissolving Parliament yet, but did it the next day! How could we trust him again, especially with his poor track record in keeping his promises since he took over in 2003 and which gave him a record 90% majority in 2004 General Elections?

Po Kuan touched on security problems, which is the responsibility of the Ministry of Internal Security under, none other than our PM!

I couldn’t believe this coincidence: as I am typing this, some movement in the garden caught my eye and I looked out through our dark-glassed windows. I actually saw a dark figure. To be sure, I put on my glasses and I saw a small sized Indian chap looking back at me between two shrubs inside out garden! I was so shocked that I actually shouted out and he quickly jumped over our low brick fence! Surprisingly, our two dogs did not bark at all! The time was 8.20am! One car was actually parked outside our gate which is unusual as it at the least indicates someone is in. The gall of him! Actually, I think I recognised him as the teenage addict who used to beg from passers-by in town.

I have to stop here. My thoughts about the ceramah just went poof! What is important now is how to improve our security at home?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Power behind the throne

If I were Khairy, I would take it easy as he is already acknowledged as the de facto Prime Minister.

Earlier, I read about an incumbent MP or ADUN, waiting anxiously for him at the Umno Headquarters - all because he wanted to know if he will be selected as candidate for the coming General Elections.

The Straits Times reported:

"FOR the past month, Mr Khairy Jamaluddin's cellphone has been swamped with calls and messages from politicians pushing a similar request: 'Put in a good word for me with the boss.'

Over the next 10 days, the deputy youth chief of the United Malays National Organisation (Umno), and who is also Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi's son-in-law, expects those appeals to become bolder.

'Many believe that a word to the PM will do the trick, but the process is very complex,' said Mr Khairy, who is widely expected to be fielded as a candidate in the central state of Negeri Sembilan.

With nomination for candidates set for Feb 24, the already intense lobbying to represent the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) in the coming election has jumped several notches.

So has the horse-trading for seats among component parties of BN.

At stake will be 222 parliamentary seats and 505 seats in 12 state assemblies."

The rise of Khairy under Pak Lah must have been one of the main reasons which aggravated Dr. Mahathir's heart. He must have regretted not letting any of his children to get involved in politics earlier. Next to Pak Lah, he seems a gentleman in this respect.

Another gentleman is going to bite the dust, seems a pity, according to the following news:

New Straits Times reported:

KOTA BARU: Member of Parliament for Kota Baru and lawyer Datuk Zaid Ibrahim has been dropped from the Kelantan Barisan Nasional line-up.

Zaid, who won in his first attempt in 2004, confirmed that he had been informed of the decision by state BN and Umno chairman Datuk Seri Annuar Musa on Jan 21.

Zaid, 56, said he was not bitter over the move and would continue to support the BN."I do not know the reason I was dropped but personally, I feel I have been a good MP.

I have done my best."I am quite easy. I will serve if they want me to, if not, I will find other things to do," he said at his residence at Pasir Hor here.

Zaid said he would not lobby to be put back on the list or meet the prime minister."I didn't lobby (for the seat the last time) and I will not do it now."I accept the decision."

While those in BN fight over prized candidacies, our mainstream newspapers were highlighting comments from disgruntled DAP workers over parachuting candidates in Penang. I would tend to agree with Michael Ng's comment in the second part of his letter to Malaysiakini:

Temiang rep holding BN to ransom

"I would also like to refer to the Malaysiakini report Penang - fireworks guaranteed.
With news about opposition party DAP bringing in outsiders to Penang to contest in the coming general elections, it seems that some members of our mainstream press are already playing their roles as hatchet men for the government."

"What’s so wrong about bringing in outsiders to contest in a general election if the chosen candidates are of high-calibre? These kinds of situations do not come at the expense of local leaders.

Anyone who wishes to put himself, or herself, up for election must understand and appreciate his or her own capabilities and limitations. Being a good grassroots leader does not guarantee effectiveness or success in Parliament or in the state assembly.

Localised issues may be easy for grassroots leaders to solve, but when it comes to performance in Parliament or the state assembly, that's another level. I cannot imagine them crossing swords with the prime minister or seasoned ministers and MPs on issues affecting the country, economy and the world at large.

In my opinion, the so-called ‘parachuted candidates’ that the DAP proposes fielding in the upcoming general elections are highly qualified.

What is important for the constituents is to have able and capable candidates who look after their interests, speak up for them without fear or favour and can get the job done. It doesn't matter if they are from the government or from the opposition.

Local representatives for my constituency are so incompetent but get elected each time because of the party that they represent. The time has come for the people to vote first for the individual (in some cases) and second for the party.

To local leaders who feel sidelined by their parties’ introduction of new candidates, please look in the mirror and ask yourself ‘Why did the party not nominate me to stand in the coming general election?’ I am sure the reasons are plenty."

While we should consider good party workers to stand for election, we should consider the larger interest of the party. I am sure BN is envious of people like Liew Chin Tong, Jeff Ooi and Dr. P. Ramasamy, who are men of calibre in their respective fields, joining DAP which promises nothing more than a chance to take on the ruling party.

One morning, a senior citizen whom I know as DAP’s Bemban branch leader, dropped by to sell some DVDs of a debate in Mandarin between some MCA and DAP youth leaders. He said he has been with DAP since 17 (if I heard correctly) and he appears to be still as dedicated to the party cause. When I mentioned this fact to my friend who was with me, he said, ‘such people has no prospects’. I told him that there are some who are looking for opportunities to advance their political careers while there are others who are just good party workers with no political ambitions.

If everybody wants to be a leader, who wants to be led? Personally, I am of the type who is willing to lead only if after scraping the bottom of the barrel, there is no one better than me!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

When in Penang, Hokien is useful to know

Jeff Ooi, one of DAP's star debutants has already began to use it in his Screenshots:

FEBRUARY 13, 2008
Secret recipe
"Now that the Parliament is dissolved and general election is on, folks in Penang are prescribing a strict menu that I have to adhere to.
No sushi. No eggs. Have more coconut stuff.
To Penang Hokkien, sushi (su si) means 'to lose completely'; eggs (jia nui) mean 'zero'.
Have more coconut, 'pao yia' , means 'guaranteed to win'."

I was in a Penang coffee shop on Wednesday when I overheard an Indonesian helper wishing a customer, ‘Kong Xi Huat Chai’ which was a mixed version of Gong Xi Fa Cai (ie. in Mandarin and Hokien). I couldn’t help laughing as I explained to my son it actually sounds like ‘grandfather dies, followed by prosperity'.

These days, boys studying in SK or national schools think in Malay and sometimes, forget their own mother tongue. A boy was told to buy salt and when he approached the shop-keeper, forgot the word ‘yim’ in Cantonese and asked ‘lei yau harm mou?’ which loosely translates to ‘do you have salty?’ which in Cantonese can also mean ‘do you feel sexy or have sexy thoughts?’ The woman was shocked at the question asked and the boy volunteered a Malay word ‘garam’ which means ‘salt’ and was well understood.

This morning, I saw a van with the name of the entrepreneur, Ng Kum Fatt and I thought how it sounds like ‘afraid to prosper’! He parked his van and sat with the coffeeshop proprietor at the next table. How could I tell him how I felt about his name?

Parliament dissolution: surprised though very much expected...

more shocked than surprised because our PM actually lied at press conference, again. Didn’t think it was funny – he is actually losing credibility.

At 12.46pm: I received sms from friend: 'confirmed Parliament just dissolved after 12pm. No wonder mkt dropped suddenly after 12pm.' I was actually in an oil palm estate in Selama, Kedah. As soon as I got back in the evening, just before 9pm, I logged on to find out more from the internet:

A headline in Malaysiakini:
Anwar says early election ‘shameful’
'It is unprecedented that you would call elections after three and half years with a more than two-thirds majority, says the de facto PKR leader.'

Malaysia Today: Your source of independent news
'This site is down for maintenance.Please check back again soon.'
… another attack?

Lim Kit Siang:
Time to walk the talk

'The time has come for us to walk the talk. The time is now because we are marching into battle with little resources. We need your financial assistance to help force changes to a system that continues to repulse and insult us after 50 years of independence.'

'I had intended to put up the appeal for support for DAP Election Fund together with support for a Fund for the Foundation for Justice, Freedom and Equality to promote the betterment of Malaysian society, including public litigation, publications, educational programmes as well as outreach to marginalised Malaysians, but the latter project will now have to wait until after the 12th general election.
Let us unite with single-minded objective - to turn the 12th general election into the electoral battle of the century to initiate meaningful change in Malaysia, first time in the nation’s 50-year history. For this we need your generous support for the DAP Election Fund.'

Zorro unmasked:
Mother of all flip-flops?
"The Cabinet meeting will go on, go on and go on. You are the smart aleck, you all enjoy circulating the rumours," he said with a smile.

The PM said this when asked if this ( cabinet meeting) was the last. At a little over 12.40pm Shanghai Steve sent me an sms that read:"Parliament dissolved as of now."

What brought about this FLIP-FLOP? Royal intervention? Bomoh? Peer pressure? Samy's Insistence? Khairy's Wish?

Patrick Teoh’s Niamah:
And so here we go again!
'Abdullah Badawi (I really don't want to call him Pak Lah anymore) has announced the dissolution of Parliament and the elections must be held within 60 days of that action. And once again Malaysians are given the chance to have their say in the way they want their country to be run and by whom. Call me a cynic or whatever other name you want la but I am not really holding my breath for any earth shattering results that will make life in Bolehland any different from the way it's been the last 3 decades. Why you ask? Maybe you've been living in Lalaland or somewhere as far away but if you need to ask that question you really need to stay where you are. In Denial. Why? Just take a look around. Take a look at what's been happening the last few weeks leading up to this announcement of the dissolution of Parliament.'

'We Malaysians, or at least the way the ruling YB's treat us, seem to be like a bunch of spoilt, bratty children. We whine and cry and stamp our feet. Then like bad parents the YB's throw us a few candies and we stop whining and become good, obedient children for a while. Meaning we keep our mouths shut and out of the parent's way as they go about doing whatever they want. We don't care what. Got sweet already enough la.'

'So elections are coming. So the YB's travel the country distributing their candy pacifiers and come election day they will get their two thirds majority and then they will screw things around for another 5 years and then we start whining again and then they throw us some candy and then...'

Before the announcement, I was about to write about what Patrick Teoh said, so instead of repeating something similar, I restrict myself to the following comments:

Khairy was reported to have said “DAP doesn’t have the right appeal”. Well, if you take away PM’s powers from Pak Lah, has he got the right appeal? If you take away Pak Lah as PM, has Khairy got the right appeal? If only there is a level playing field in our elections, many people would like to know how Khairy would fare in the elections.

Knowing Khairy had a hand in deciding the date of the General Elections, if Anwar is irrelevant, why deny him the chance to prove it?

Monday, February 11, 2008

I'll be damned...

if I have badmouthed the Election Commission without justification.

“There are no phantom voters” screamed the headline on the front page of The New Sunday Times, quoting Election Commission secretary, Kamaruzaman. On the same page:

Q: How do you deal with a complaint that 70 people are claiming to live at one address?

A: One thousand people can live there, Everybody has an address, but not everybody has a house number. In some areas where the local authority does not provide services, they don’t give you a house number. At my kampung in Pengkalan Petah, Kelantan, we use only one shop, Kedai Deraman, everybody uses that shop as their address. There are more than 30 houses in that kampung. So, when people write to you, they put your name, and the kampung name. That’s the address.

Now I know the modus operandi! My address in Batu Gajah happens to be based on a Lot number followed by a kampong name. I registered using the address and ‘someone’, probably an Assistant Registration Officer, did something sinister and put me under the following address for 1999 and 2004 General Elections:

Lokaliti: 071/43/06/011 – KAMPONG PASIR BARU SG TRAP
Daerah Mengundi: 071/43/06 – SRI JAYA
Parlimen: 071 – GOPENG
Negeri: PERAK

In other words, by using a kampung name, numerous voters' names can be assigned there, without authority, and without raising suspicion.

On page 9, he was quoted as saying, “It’s a lot of fun working for the EC because we get a lot of pahala kering (free merit points particularly when people badmouth you without justification). You are free to say anything about the EC and me. As long as we don’t do anything wrong, I’ll collect the arrears in the Hereafter.”

I wish to take him on, on this challenge of his, but I would advise our good Dato not to assume such heavy responsibility on behalf of the EC and especially the BN government, as many dubious ways could have been done without his knowledge. Is it worth it?

Why can’t the government be more receptive to Bersih’s views if everything was clean as claimed?

Again, since we have short memory, from Malaysiakini:

Bersih to EC: Here’s the proof!
March 29th, 2007
Andrew Ong

While Election Commission chairperson Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman claims that his detractors have ‘no proof’ of the commission’s faults, election reform movement Bersih said he had ignored the obvious. Bersih, comprising 26 NGOs and five opposition political parties, today listed several recent glaring election irregularities:

· Releasing electoral rolls to candidates three days before polling
· Releasing electoral rolls to candidates that are starkly different from the ones held by EC officials at polling centres
· Not publishing electoral rolls for public scrutiny prior to the general elections Missing ballot papers in the Kuala Terengganu and Lumut parliamentary seats
· Existence of non-citizens in the electoral roll during the 2001 Likas by-election

Judicial review

Furthermore, Bersih pointed out that several allegations pertaining to the 2004 general elections brought up in a judicial review case initiated by Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), also remains unanswered. Among the issues raised in the case were:

· Use of several versions of electoral rolls by the EC
· Allowing pondok panas (campaign booths at polling centres) at the last minute in contravention of the law
· The extension of voting time in Selangor up to 7pm
· The practice of writing the voter’s serial number on the counterfoil of the ballot paper
· Whether candidates could still run for elections if convicted but had an appeal pending (The application for judicial review was struck out after the attorney-general, representing the EC, argued that all challenges pertaining to elections had to be made in form of an election petition according to Article 118 of the Federal Constitution)

Insincere challenge

On March 21, Abdul Rashid claimed that his critics did not furnish proof that the EC was not transparent in its actions and challenged them to take him and the commission to court.

At a press conference in Kuala Lumpur this morning, Bersih committee member and PKR vice-president Sivarasa Rasiah said the challenge was not sincere as Abdul Rashid was well aware that the public could not take the EC to court.

Sivarasa said the government with the consent of the EC had on June 2002, amended the Election Act 1954 making the electoral roll “final and binding” - effectively removing all legal avenues to challenge the credibility of the roll.

“When he was in part responsible for immunising the electoral roll from any challenge in an election petition, why is Abdul Rashid asking his critics to take him to court?” asked Sivarasa, a practising lawyer.

Quoting the judgement in the Likas by-election petition in 2001, Sivarasa said the Election Court then had found the electoral roll to be tainted but the EC-initiated legal amendments in 2002 no longer allowed proper public scrutiny of the roll.

Friday, February 08, 2008

State of mind when making decisions

How does one know what state of mind one is in whenever one makes a decision?

Tengku Adnan said Lingam must have been ‘drunk or mad’ when he mentioned his name in the famous video. Lingam said his brother, Thirunama, is mad and he had been trying so hard to prove that he was so.

So in what state of mind was Dr. Mahathir when he handed over his baton to Pak Lah? Whatever state he was in, he regretted like mad, with statements like ‘he wasn’t my first choice’ and more recently, ‘he was supposed to serve for only one term’, hinting at an earlier ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ which Pak Lah was quick to deny.

But one thing we can be sure of, and that is, Malaysians are not known to resign even in the face of severe criticisms. ‘Power’ is the key to this ‘hanging on to’ syndrome and is the end that justifies the means in many cases to achieve it. So, if your lucky star dictates that you are right for the PM post at a given time, you grab it without hesitation and you will hang on to it like what the Chinese would say, ‘tah sei tu ng chau’.

In Malaysia, we are unlike in Japan, where we often come across Minister or Prime Minister resigning to take responsibility for certain failures, which according to Malaysian Boleh standards were relatively minor. I still cannot get over Abe’s admission that the real reason for his resignation was his medical condition of severe diarrhoea (sounds like but not Operation Sikap to Cantonese), which made him unfit to carry out his official duties.

Whether there was a gentlemen’s agreement or not, sensitive people would not hang on if the person responsible for your position openly said that you should serve only one term. Blame it on the system of anointment where it is the incumbent, and not the people, who can decide on who shall be the successor.

Actual situational jokes

On our way back from Sitiawan, a bridal car passed by and I commented, “Another fool rushes in”.

As we were coming back, after a visit to a bird’s nest dealer, our prospective British buyer said there are swifts in Britain but they don’t have this kind of stuff, and I told him, “Even the swifts in Britain are polite – they don’t spit!” My wife actually told a swift-keeper how lucky he is, “each time a swift spits out, it is $money to you”.

A few years ago, a Chinese lady police officer joked about when she was in charge of a rape case. The alleged Chinese rapist, who could not understand Bahasa Malaysia, was bewildered when the victim was told to ‘tolong sifatkan…’ He asked the police officer, “Why was the reference to ‘sifat’ as he did not do anything to her backside?”

The other night, I was watching TV news and I cringed when the Malay lady reader mentioned the name, ‘Thirunama’. I was told Lingam in Tamil means something similar to Bhutto in Malay!

Already T-shirts with ‘Lingam was speaking to me’ selling like hot cakes. Others: ‘Looks and sounds like me, BUT… so does Brad Pitt LAH!’ ‘BUMPED into HIM> in Changi (He’s just tagging along)’ ‘Correct Correct Correct’
New T-shirts should have ‘the person who looks and sounds like Lingam spoke to Me’.

One of the coffee shops we frequent for breakfast is called ‘Foo Kee’ and each time I mention that name when I tell a friend where I am (over the phone), at least one or two persons will turn to look at me.

For those who understand Hakka dialect:

A middle-aged widow who is a rubber tapper has been going out with a married man. Friends and relatives warned her that he might be after her money. Her reply: “Ngai yew lui pin ki ngak? Chi pet mau chu yew ki tiau ng kian hoi!”

Before this, as an example of her foul language: “su yun san hei how toh moon, oh took ngiau kum meh chi pet marn hoi moon.”

Perhaps I will leave it to Hakkas to translate the last two jokes.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Gong Xi Fa Cai

Once, I overheard an older Chinese man commenting about the surname ‘Ng’ which sounds ‘negative’ and one has to be careful when choosing names. For example, ‘Fatt Choi’ (prosperous) preceded by “Ng’ becomes ‘not prosperous’!

With this in mind, I have to be careful as my blog’s name is Kosong (acronym of my first name and surname). Would people feel offended if Kosong Café wishes ‘Gong Xi Fa Cai’? Does it sound like an empty greeting?

But I can think of many examples, which are meaningful with the word ‘kosong’, like when in my regular phone shop, one of the girls will ask a customer who wishes to re-load his phone, “Kosong apa?” as in 012, 013, 014, 016 or 017.

Then, there are those ‘Jawatan Kosong’ (Job vacancies) advertisements on shop windows, and ‘Tapak kosong’ (vacant site), which sounds like belonging to me!

Anyway, I wish all my relatives, friends and visitors who are celebrating the Chinese New Year, ‘Gong Xi Fa Cai’.

My thanks to BH for his interesting greeting which I managed to open but still unable to reply using my usual email (due to settings and my poor knowledge of IT). Believe me, I am working with a lot of constraints and which require lots of patience. Bear with me till Cheng upgrades her notebook and I use hers, provided it is still working then! Welcome to the new meaning of ‘hand-me-down’!

Monday, February 04, 2008


What about this? A samseng?

He looks like one and acts like one, but is he one?

No, he is BN's Menteri Besar (Chief Minister) of Pahang.