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!

"Our government is like a baby's alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other. " - Ronald Reagan
Was he referring to Malaysia? Seems so apt...

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?

MyCen News

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Careful with your wishes...

A man walks into a restaurant with a full-grown ostrich behind him. The waitress asks them for their orders.

The man says, 'A hamburger, fries and a coke,' and turns to the ostrich, 'What's yours?' 'I'll have the same' says the ostrich.

A short time later the waitress returns with the order. 'That will be $9.40 please,' and the man reaches into his pocket and pulls out the exact change for payment.

The next day, the man and the ostrich come again and the man says, ' A hamburger, fries and a coke. 'The ostrich says, 'I'll have the same.'

Again the man reaches into his pocket and pays with the exact change. This becomes routine until the two enter again.

'The usual?' asks the waitress.

'No, this is Friday night, so I'll have a steak, baked potato and a salad,' says the man. 'Same,' says the ostrich.

Shortly the waitress brings the order and says, 'That will be $32.62.'

Once again the man pulls the exact change out of his pocket and places it on the table.

The waitress can't hold back her curiosity any longer, 'Excuse me sir. How do you manage to always come up with the exact change in your pocket every time?'

'Well,' says the man, 'several years ago I was cleaning the attic and found an old lamp. When I rubbed it, a Genie appeared and offered me two wishes. My first wish was that if I ever had to pay for anything, I would just put my hand in my pocket and the right amount of money would always be there.'

'That's brilliant!' says the waitress. 'Most people would ask for a million dollars or something, but you'll always be as rich as you want for as long as you live!'

'That's right. Whether it's a gallon of milk or a Rolls Royce, the exact money is always there', says the man.

The waitress asks, 'What's with the ostrich?'

The man sighs, pauses and answers, 'My second wish was for a tall chick with a big ass and long legs who agrees with everything I say!'

In an unrelated situation, in Netherlands:

In case you wish for a shapely lady, you might get this 320-lb one!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Yang Berbuta?...atau Yang Berbohong?...

Police used to be bogeyman to kids; now they live up to it…
to be feared even by adults.

Just read this posting in my son’s blogsite:

“One common term I've been hearing quite a bit is the nanny in my house saying to the 3 year old kid that if he doesn't comply to whatever she has just asked him to do, I would be coming in to rattle him. Me? Good old and fatty B? And what army?

Now, it got me thinking, what would the psychological impact be on the kid? No doubt I'm on pretty good terms with him (as I think I am with most), but then would this sayings get ingrained into that small mind that whenever he hears my name, fear strikes him first...

Well, I guess all parents or people bringing kids up don't want to be the bad person, so they always take a third party as an example to scare their kids. I remember as a kid my aunts used to either use the threat of policemen patrolling the area, or the drunken man down the road as example of people who would rattle me if I didn't listen to them.

Whatever it is, I hope Luke Yi won't remember me as the bad drunken man or strict policeman living downstairs... Ah, the bliss in seeing small ones grow up.”

Excerpts from Malik Imtiaz's Disquiet:

For goodness sake, Mr Chor, why does every answer have to be a political one.

The fact is a young man lies in the intensive care unit of a hospital. He was put there by some twenty police officers who beat him up. They say that he was trying to run them over but not a single police officer appears to have been injured. There is also a great deal of doubt as to whether the young man was trying to run over police officers, or anyone for that matter, or was simply trying to leave the scene, perhaps realizing his mistake for having stopped in the first place.

And the fact is that no amount of provocation short of a direct threat on life warranted a reprisal of this form by the police officers.

The fact is, Mr Chor, the Royal Malaysia Police is regrettably virtually synonymous with police brutality. I do not say this of my own accord, I am merely reiterating what it is a Royal Commission of Enquiry had come to conclude. You may recall that the Royal Commission had strongly recommended the establishment of an independent complaints and misconduct commission to address the kind of conduct that was making Malaysians lose faith in the police force. You may recall the proposed independent commission by its acronym, IPCMC, just as you may recall that your government has failed to establish the IPCMC despite promises that the recommendations of the Royal Commission would be given effect.

Incidentally, Mr Chor, you may also wish to remind yourself that one of the reasons that the Commission of Enquiry felt the need for the IPCMC was a seeming unwillingness on the part of the police force to investigate its own conduct. Were it otherwise, why would the Royal Commission have proposed a draft law for the IPCMC which declared, in its preamble:


“An Act to establish the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission whose principle functions are to receive and investigate into complaints about the Royal Malaysia Police, to detect, investigate and prevent police corruption and other serious police misconduct, to set out the powers and functions of such Commission for improving police integrity, reducing misconduct and building public confidence and to ensure that there is vigilant oversight in Malaysia of the Royal Malaysia Police…”

It may also be useful to take note that the Royal Commission concluded in paragraph 2.6.8 of its report (page 53) that there was abuse of power on the part of some police personnel and that if those guilty of abusing their power were not punished, this problem would persist. There appears to have been no action taken, and if there was it was not publicized, in connection with the shootings at Pantai Batu Burok late last year, Bloody Sunday and the other very public instances of apparent police misconduct.


This puts paid to the suggestion on your part, Mr Chor, that the police force is capable of investigating the events at Bandar Mahkota Cheras fairly and professionally.

So well put. Someone even said Mr. Chor sounds like 'wrong' in Cantonese. 'Cheong Chor chau Chor?' or 'while it is wrong, might as well continue the wrong'!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Gross Miscommunication with a Canon

The Smiths were unable to conceive children and decided to use a surrogate father to start their family. On the day the proxy father was to arrive, Mr. Smith kissed his wife goodbye and said, 'Well, I'm off now. The man should be here soon.'

Half an hour later, just by chance, a door-to-door baby photographer happened to ring the doorbell, hoping to make a sale. 'Good morning, Ma'am', he said, 'I've come to...'

'Oh, no need to explain,' Mrs. Smith cut in, embarrassed, 'I've been expecting you.'

'Have you really?' said the photographer. 'Well, that's good. Did you know babies are my specialty?'

'Well that's what my husband and I had hoped. Please come in and have a seat'.

After a moment she asked, blushing, 'Well, where do we start?'

'Leave everything to me. I usually try two in the bathtub, one on the couch, and perhaps a couple on the bed. And sometimes the living room floor is fun. You can really spread out there.'

'Bathtub, living room floor? No wonder it didn't work out for Harry and me!'

'Well, Ma'am, none of us can guarantee a good one every time. But if we try several different positions and I shoot from six or seven angles, I'm sure you'll be pleased with the results.'

'My, that's a lot!', gasped Mrs. Smith.

'Ma'am, in my line of work a man has to take his time. I'd love to be In and out in five minutes, but I'm sure you'd be disappointed with that.'

'Don't I know it,' said Mrs. Smith quietly.

The photographer opened his briefcase and pulled out a portfolio of his baby pictures. 'This was done on the top of a bus,' he said.

'Oh, my God!' Mrs. Smith exclaimed, grasping at her throat.

'And these twins turned out exceptionally well - when you consider their mother was so difficult to work with.'

'She was difficult?' asked Mrs. Smith.

'Yes, I'm afraid so. I finally had to take her to the park to get the job done right. People were crowding around four and five deep to get a good look'

'Four and five deep?' said Mrs. Smith, her eyes wide with amazement.

'Yes', the photographer replied. 'And for more than three hours, too. The mother was constantly squealing and yelling - I could hardly concentrate, and when darkness approached I had to rush my shots. Finally, when the squirrels began nibbling on my equipment, I just had to pack it all in.'

Mrs. Smith leaned forward. 'Do you mean they actually chewed on your, uh...equipment?'

'It's true, Ma'am, yes. Well, if you're ready, I'll set-up my tripod and we can get to work right away.'

'Tripod?'

'Oh yes, Ma'am. I need to use a tripod to rest my Canon on. It's much too big to be held in the hand very long.'

Mrs. Smith fainted

Ezam u-turned!

... or rather returned, to Umno. Surprising? What else is surprising anymore?

I would tend to agree with Wan Azizah's reaction that it was 'strange' or was it 'puzzling' after all that he had suffered for Anwar and reformasi.

The immediate reaction from the layman seems to be 'if you can't beat them, join them'! So what is going to happen to the 600+ pages of corruption report submitted? Neutralised by Pak Lah's offer. How many people get to meet PM for 30 minutes before having his application form accepted? Anyone believe that Pak Lah did not offer any post? Another of his lies?

This is from The Malaysian Insider:

KUALA LUMPUR, May 28 — The New Straits Times called it the RM64,000 question in an article on Monday: will former Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) youth chief Mohamad Ezam Mohd Noor rejoin Umno?

The question was finally answered this afternoon by no less than the prime minister himself. Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who is also president of Umno, welcomed Ezam back to the party today.

In a short press conference at his office in Parliament, the prime minister jokingly asked Ezam if he was joining Umno for life this time when the former PKR leader handed him his party application.

While he declined to speak to the press, Ezam was beaming happily next to the PM throughout the press conference. On whether Ezam was offered any posts in the party, the PM said no and that Ezam had also not asked for any.

And when someone asked how Umno could take Ezam back as he had been highly critical of the party in the past, the PM said, "Mungkin dia insaf (he has repented)."

As for the other questions -- Will Ezam be contesting in the party elections at the end of the year? What can he bring to the party this time round? What is his agenda? – well, only time or the man himself can tell.

Ezam will be holding a press conference tomorrow where we are sure he will do more than just smile.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, meanwhile, has also welcomed Ezam back to the fold.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Our Iron Lady U-turned?

Some 30 years ago, Margaret Thatcher was known, as ‘Iron Lady’ for her strong will as PM of Britain. When asked if she would make a U-turn in some of her policies amid strong protests, she replied, “You turn if you want. The lady is not for turning!”

We have our own ‘Iron lady’ in Rafidah Aziz, known for her dominant role as Minister for International Trade and Industry for many years.

In 2002, when Dr. Mahathir said he wanted to resign, she was one of the most ardent supporters who exclaimed, ‘Why? Why? Why?’ while rushing to him in shock, breaking one of her shoe heels if I remember correctly.

According to The Star:

In an interview with China Press, Rafidah Aziz took a swipe at Tun Dr Mahathir for not setting a good example by quitting Umno.

“It is Umno that let him become Prime Minister for 22 years. If not for Umno, he is nothing.” Rafidah added.

What a difference a PM’s incumbency made!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Hitting mosquitoes with a hammer...

seems to be our style of management.

Have problems? Very easy to handle - just start with a clean slate.

I have just started Mycen news feed and this is the first that appeared - Screenshots:

New voters' list? Fix the illegal immigrants first!

The Election Commission wants a fresh voter roll by getting the 10.9 million Malaysians who are already registered as voters to re-register themselves.
The idea came came from the indelible ink flip-flop, EC chairman Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman. He is the same man who has informed his officers to be prepared for a snap election should the March 8 results be surpassed by political upheavals.
As the registration of voters is relying solely on each qualified citizen's identity card (IC), the ghost of "Project IC" in Sabah must first be exorcised and put to rest.
Currently, Umno manages to hold on to ruling the country because of the support of Sabahan MPs elected under the shrouded cast of "Project IC" hitherto unresoled.
Read Anifah Aman for context on the illegal immigrants in Sabah.


continuing my post:

Our much sought after EC Chairman has a brilliant idea and he suggested that all voters should re-register to make it clean. This is going to involve over 10 million people and he has no better alternative.

According to my simple mind, we should start from the National Registration Department to ensure that only babies born to Malaysians are registered as Malaysians who are entitled to Mykad upon reaching the age of 12 and upon reaching 21, they are automatically registered as voters.

We should be able to verify and confirm who are genuine Malaysians and therefore entitled to vote. Here again, the integrity of NRD is vital to ensure its success.

We have boasted to the whole world our leading edge in the technology of Mykad and many people are unable to understand why this ‘foolproof’ card cannot ensure only genuine Malaysians are entitled to vote. Is it impossible to eradicate duplication or even multiplicity of Mykads?

The law should provide for the last known address according to the Mykad to be the voter’s constituency unless notified in time for the next election.

Anyway, what’s wrong with learning from the British or any other country that has a system of automatic registration of voters?

Is it not easier to concentrate on the abuses highlighted by Bersih and other complaining parties than to re-register everyone? Sabah is a hotspot for illegal immigrants having Mykad and the right to vote, EC should do something there!

This reminds me of the need to have all company directors to attend a course run by some crony companies because some directors proved to be irresponsible.

Then, we need to have all vehicles inspected before any transfer of ownership can be effected because of some fraudulent cases. There is no provision for exceptions like transfer from a parent to son and so on. There were complaints of rough action by Puspakom inspectors eg. in opening the cover above the top of the front doors (to ensure car not welded using half-cuts) which required rectification later on which incurred additional expenses, unless through ‘middlemen’. By right, this inspection should be an option available to those who wanted the extra inspection and not made compulsory.

Then, we have the doctors’ clinics, which require changes, which could easily cost a few thousand to comply with some new rules.

In Perak, Batu Gajah coffee shop proprietors have complained about the insistent on having a kind of filter to prevent sludge from entering the drain. This device is only supplied and maintained by a company in Selangor! One man commented that he actually saw a worker de-sludging the device and threw the contents into the drain! So much for the prevention and it provided a perfect example of defeating its purpose!

Our privatised Post Office had bought expensive equipment and new rules were set to ensure the people use the right envelopes and write or print properly and postages were increased at the same time. Instead of making bumper profits, its financial performance actually dropped!

Out of the few examples, there is one thing in common and there is no prize for guessing it right – creating crony contracts at the expense of the people.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Maternal bonding and a mother's love...

A few weeks ago, I took a picture of a dog at the factory, with a chick on his back!
But because it was taken with my wife’s phone there is the problem of downloading to my computer, as I have yet to use usb stuff (I am behind time and archaic standard to most people).

The story goes that a contractor’s lorry came to the factory and discovered there were 2 chicks left behind from his earlier trip. He left them with the workers. The chicks, because of the lack of mother’s love, needed a substitute, which they found in ‘Kau Kau’, one of about 10 dogs in the factory. The name used happens to be ‘dog’ in Burmese. Over a period of weeks, it was discovered that one chick disappeared and the remaining one becomes attached to Kau Kau, treating her like its mother hen!

The chick will stay close to Kau Kau and given the chance, like when she stands still, it would hop on to her back. Kau Kau protects her from one or two dogs which tried to cause trouble. The unusual relationship has resulted in the loss of freedom for the dog as she is tied during the day to prevent the chick from going astray. It could possibly save its life because the workers agreed with my wife that the chick is not to be slaughtered for food! It has now grown feathers and with increasing size, it would look more odd.

This is so common now, from what we have seen through the internet, examples of natural enemies bonding with each other from young – cat with mouse, dog with cat, and so on and so forth. But now, I understand the reason why.

A friend forwarded to me the following story which showed the amazing selflessness and protective instinct of a mother’s love:

A very touching story.

There were so many touching stories from the Wen Chuan earthquake. As a salut to this mom, I have translated the original into English, so my non-Chinese-speaking friends could read it, and pass it around, too. It's a story that should not stay only within the Chinese community.

Violet

When rescuers found her, she was already dead, crushed by the collapsed house. Through gaps in the rubbles, they could see her posture.

Kneeling on both knees, her entire upper body bent forward, held up by her two hands pressed against the ground, as if performing the ceremonial bow in an ancient ritual. Except, her body had been compressed out of shape and looked somewhat eerie.

With some effort, rescuers carefully removed the debris burying her, found her child lying beneath her, bundled in a little red blanket decorated with yellow flower prints. He was about 3-4 months old.

Shielded by his mother's body , he was totally unharmed, sleeping peacefully as he was brought out. His soundly asleep face warmed the hearts of all rescuers on the scene.

As the rescue team's doctor unbundled the blanket to examine the baby, he discovered a mobile phone tucked into the blanket. He subconsciously looked at the display, found there was a SMS message.

"My Dear Baby, If you were to stay alive, you must remember that I love you."

No stranger to the pain and sorrow brought by death, the doctor nonetheless wept at this moment. The cell phone was passed around, every person who read the message wept.


MCP in Parliament?

No, not the defunct Chin Peng's party... the other one.

It is fortunate that Ibrahim Ali, the political frog, is still an independent, as I think he is an embarrassment to any political party. Perhaps, the only good thing about him is his honest opinions, without consideration for political correctness. Maybe, it is his trademark to get attention as his remarks in Parliament seemed to suggest:

Malaysiakini:
Older men still wanna have fun, says Ibrahim Ali
The Independent MP told Parliament that there would be fewer marital problems and a lower divorce rate if Muslim women were taught to accept polygamy.

Ktemoc:
Ibrahim Ali said 50-year old women no longer fun
Well, Ibrahim declared: “… there would be fewer marital problems and a lower divorce rate if Muslim women were taught to accept polygamy.”

Ibrahim was responding to Fuziah Salleh, an opposition lawmaker, who questioned the qualifications of Syariah Court counsellors. She revealed that whenever there were marital problems, the women were blamed and forced to take the blame.

She stated: "They are not counselled but given 'advice'. And every time, they are told that the woman is to be blamed. If it is a family problem, they must be patient. If they are beaten up, they must also be patient."

He said: "Such problems happen because women cannot accept polygamy. From a preventive point of view, what about doing a big campaign so that women can accept polygamy?"

He elaborated that women don’t realize that the … er … fun stops for husbands when those women become pregnant or when they hit their 50s.

Aiyoh, yang berhor(mat)ny, 50 ta’boleh liao? Haven’t you heard of the saying “Many a fine tune has been played on an old fiddle”, and really, a woman of 50 isn’t old yet.

My comment:

I think it is time to put it another way, can Ibrahim Ali accept the following retort from a wife?:

“His new bride said, 'No, that's fine with me. Just understand that there will be sex here at seven o'clock every night .......... whether you're here or not.'

Thursday, May 22, 2008

KL rampage by DBKL enforcers...





sad but true.
I did not visit Wee Choo Keong’s blogsite for quite some time and his post on May 21 confirmed my earlier suspicion (see my post 'KL and local elections' dated May 7) that DBKL is out to punish the voters. Otherwise, why the sudden efficiency post GE 2008? If it is now official policy that planning permission must be by the book and any structure without approval will be demolished, please do it without fear or favour.

From Wee's blog (including the above pictures):
21 May 2008
DBKL playing politics and its action unreasonable, inhumane!

The photographs above show the inhumane attitude of the officers of Jabatan Perancang and Jabatan Penguatkuasaan of DBKL. DBKL took drastic actions against the hawkers at Taman Desa Setapak. I would like to thank one of the hawkers for sending these photographs to me.
I have seen notices from Jabatan Perancang pertaining to this matter and I knew that this matter had been outstanding for many years. I have seen a letter signed by the previous MP of Wangsa Maju (Datuk Yew Teong Look) asking for extension of time for him to resolve the matter. Unfortunately this matter was not resolved.

Last week (17-05-2008) a hawker called me and told me that he had received a notice from Jabatan Perancang and he and other affected hawkers had been warned by the MCA leaders of Section 2 not to call me until Jabatan Perancang take action on 21-05-08 (today). However, after having read the notice I went to the affected area with the hawkers to have a look. I immediately called Datuk Hj Salleh, the Ketua Pengarah of DBKL, and asked him to postpone the demolition action until the end of this month so that I can meet up and discuss this matter with affected hawkers with the view to find a solution. Datuk Salleh kindly agreed. So I informed two of the affected hawkers accordingly.

Yesterday (20-05-08) I also did call En Abdul Salim, the Timbalan Pengarah of DBKL , and told him about the agreement I have with Datuk Hj Salleh and he told me that he will hold on the demolition actions.

I have been informed by one of the affected hawkers that EN AZLAN (from Jabatan Perancang) had told them that it was due to the people support for me and not the BN/MCA candidate and that the new YB Wee (that is me) have made too many complaints about approval of housing development projects for the Wangsa Maju area. En Azlan also said that YB Wee's complaints have caused a lot of problems for Jabatan Perancang.

I do admit that I have made formal complaints to Datuk Bandar, Ministry of Wilayah Persekutuan and Parliament about housing development projects being indiscriminately approved by Jabatan Perancang without due consideration to the existing infrastructures in Wangsa Maju. In my complaints, I did mention about the many housing projects by Platinum Victory Sdn Bhd. I did ask DBKL to investigate whether these housing development projects by Platinum Victory Sdn Bhd had been approved in accordance with the policy of DBKL and all its bye-laws concerning housing development projects.

I wish to put on record the followings:

i. Datuk Salleh Yusuf, the Ketua Pengarah, should have been sincere and honest in his DEED especially the agreement reached and not say one thing to the MP and do another thing. As the second highest officer (after Datuk Bandar), he should be God fearing and not play game when it affects the welfare of the rakyat. Surely, an extension of about one week for the MP to resolve problems created by DBKL for years was not unreasonable.
ii. All these so-called illegal structures have been there for years - some more than 10, 20 or 30 years . The Datuk Bandar KL should ask himself why this was so. Jabatan Perancang should also know about this. It was due to the rampant corruptions.
iii. The officer in Jabatan Perancang or any other DBKL officer should remain neutral and not play MCA/BN politics. Datuk Bandar Kuala Lumpur must take immediate actions against En Azlan of Jabatan Perancang for playing politics and to also order for an investigation into all the approvals given by Jabatan Perancang for all the housing development projects by Platinum Victory Sdn Bhd.
iv. Datuk Bandar KL should also instill a new value in all DBKL officers that DBKL officers are civil servants to serve all the residents in KL and therefore must not be involved in politics.
v. I have received information that Jabatan Perancang took selective actions against the hawkers of certain race and I hope that this was untrue.

Pak Lah vs Dr. Mahathir...an unusual analogy…

I’ll explain the incompetence, you explain the deception!

Sex in the dark

There was this couple that had been married for 20 years. They have three kids.Every time they made love the husband always insisted on shutting off the light.

Well, after 20 years, the wife felt this was ridiculous. She figured she would break him out of this crazy habit.

So one night, while they were in the middle of a wild, screaming, romantic session, she turned on the lights. She looked down and saw her husband holding a battery-operated leisure device... a vibrator! Soft, wonderful and larger than a real one.

She went completely ballistic. 'You impotent bastard,' she screamed at him, 'how could you be lying to me all of these years? You better explain yourself!'

The husband looks her straight in the eyes and says calmly, 'OK , I'll explain the toy… you explain the kids.'

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

When in China, careful with their Engrish...





A woman was very distraught at the fact that she had not had a date or any sex in quite some time. She was afraid she might have something wrong with her, so she decided to seek the medical expertise of a sex therapist.

Her doctor recommended that she see the well known Chinese sex therapist Dr. Chang.
So she went to see him. Upon entering the examination room Dr. Chang said 'OK take off all your crose.'

The woman did as she was told. 'Now get down and craw reery, reery fass to odderside of room.'

Again the woman did as she was instructed.

Dr. Chang then said 'OK, now craw reery, reery fass back to me.' So she did.

Dr. Chang shook his head slowly and said 'Your probrem vewy bad. You haf Ed Zachary diease. Worse case I ever see. Dat why you not haf sex or dates.'

Worried the woman asked anxiously 'Oh my God Dr.Chang what is Ed Zachary Disease ?'

Dr. Chang sighed deeply and replied 'Ed Zachary Disease is when your face look Ed Zachary like your ass.'

A layman's attempt at understanding Dr. Mahathir

Many years ago, during the expose of Abdullah Ang’s occasional freedom while supposed to be in prison, a gentleman commented that AA is like Dr. M - someone who would enjoy it while he could but would not allow others to do the same. Till today, I still wonder why he said what he said as a comparison. But using that as an example, he could be right in his assessment.

Abdullah Ang managed to visit his factory in Jalan Kasipillay, KL while serving his prison sentence. But once, he was freed, it seemed he was the one who spilled the beans on the lax control in Kajang Prison!

Based on this assumption of someone who is jealous of his successor or was envious even with his then prospective successor (Anwar), I noticed that ‘sorry seems the hardest word’ for him and huge ego ensures that nobody should outshine him or at least, not to undo his grand plans for Malaysia, like the crooked bridge for instance.

Basically, nobody is good enough for him, which explained his dumping of four deputies. Why should he be concerned about the quality of the person if the system, as revised by him supposedly had been good in selection in the first place?

As we all know it, our system of selection for the PM post, ensures decision only by anchor party Umno, and any suggestion of ‘PM for all’ is a huge misrepresentation of fact. Since when did we get to decide who should be PM? It was made even more undemocratic when the successor was appointed by the incumbent PM, and the party decided that there was to be no contest for the post!

Some people commented that when Dr. M decided to leave Umno, he was doing what Onn Jaafar did, whereas Tunku Abdul Rahman, and Hussein Onn did not join Umno Baru. Somehow, I feel that he was responsible for TAR’s gentlemanly resignation while now, he is expecting Pak Lah to do the same, again at his insistence. For someone who had held on to his post for 22 years, by changing rules where necessary, I think he had been and is still being domineering, to put it politely.

I can still remember how Tunku criticised him in his ‘As I see it’ column in The Star, until it was closed down and a subservient propagandist version appeared. There was no love lost between Tunku and Dr. Mahathir, even till he was in his eighties. While the French would describe it as ‘Déjà vu’, the English might say ‘what goes round comes around, and the Chinese would think it is ‘karma’ for what he had done to Tunku, so that he gets to taste the same medicine meted out.

Out of the many letters and articles written about his leaving Umno, I have chosen the following:

From Malaysiakini's letters section:

Endgame of the Mahathir myth
Neil Khor May 20, 08 4:27pm

Things are finally coming full circle. For Umno, two complete circles. Many years ago, Onn Jaafar, Umno's first president, decided to open his party to non-Malays as associate members. But his attempt to turn Umno into a multi-racial party ended his own political career.

Malaysian politicians learned a lot from Onn's political experience. They realised that there was much currency in the primordial attraction of ‘race’. The Alliance and now the BN, continue to play up the race card in the hope of winning votes.

Which brings us to Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the ghost of Malaysia's past that refuses to go away. Mahathir has taken to cyberspace. He warns the Malays that if they do not stand up for their rights, if they do not take risks, then Malaysia will be ruled by other people.

Here is a man who promoted ‘Bangsa Malaysia’, Wawasan 2020, who supposedly designed KLCC and who championed global Islamic architecture in Putrajaya asking the Malays to ‘take risks’ and stand up for themselves.

Well, if this sounds familiar it is not because it is a return to his 1960s rhetoric. In those days, Mahathir believed in Social Darwinism. He probably never read Darwin and if he did, showed little understanding of it. Darwin never said that the species that survived was the ‘strongest’ or the ‘best’. Merely the most adaptable. Which brings us to the underlying contradiction in Mahathir's prescriptive cure for the Malays. How are the Malays going to be adaptable if they are not allowed to change? For if they change, culturally fusing with global popular culture for example, will they still be Malay or Malaysian?

No, if Mahathir's rhetoric today sounds familiar it is because it recalls Onn's last days as a politician. Angry and disappointed that the non-Malays did not rally to his non-sectarian cause, Onn began to mouth pro-Malay slogans, in the hope that he would get some Malay support. He did but only in Kelantan.

Mahathir's ‘warnings’ to the Malays ring hollow. There are more Malay parliamentarians today than ever before. I cannot imagine them turning their backs on the monarchy or Islam if such a bill was proposed.

If it is Ketuanan Melayu that Mahathir is worried about, the only tuan that he should really be championing is the one that is in the constitution. That is the ‘Yang Dipertuan Agong’. It is the only place where the word tuan is used anywhere in the constitution.

Mahathir was also the Malaysian PM that clipped the wings of the monarchy. In that respect, he was right. But people still remember the way he went about it. Organising demonstrations against the monarchs. So, how different is Mahathir from Hindraf, since demonstrations are ‘not part’ of Malaysia's political culture?

Mahathir says that the political situation today allows non-Malays to make demands. What sort of demands are we making? Oh yes, better roads, more transparency in the way local government is being run; more enforcement of the laws regarding the environment; flood control measures; enforcement of traffic laws; a better judiciary etc.

Wait a minute, aren't these ‘demands’ shared by our Malay brothers and sisters? Perhaps non- Malays are asking for vernacular languages be made national languages. No, we are not. Perhaps non-Malays are deliberately not learning Malay to hinder national aspirations.

No, Bahasa Malaysia and even Malay literature study have not recorded a drop in schools. Perhaps we want equality in terms of life expectancy? No, we want everyone's healthcare to be better not just ours.

No, Mahathir sounds like an old record because we have left him far behind. Oh, yes, he can still be dangerous. He can try to orchestrate a rebellion. He can incite racial hatred. He can convince some Malays that they are being threatened with extinction. He has a lot of supporters in Umno. Wait, don't we have laws against such actions. Oh, yes, it is called ‘sedition’.

If Mahathir wants to rile up Malaysians he should declare that all shopping malls will be closed. No more hand phones allowed. Astro will be shut down and petrol prices will be increased by 1,000%. That is much more threatening than Malays losing power. If he can do that, all Malaysians will rise up - not just the Malays. But he cannot do all that.

Here is the man who created a culture of forgetting, hoping that his own paradoxes and contradictions will not be remembered. In this other endeavour, Dr Mahathir was partially successful. There are those who remember his political career, recorded all his contradictions whilst most Malaysians do not read history or value the past. In such a situation, a past leader has little place or influence.

So finally, we come to the endgame of the Mahathir myth.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

If only Raja Petra had listened to me...

well, I did not tell him directly but through my post in this blog on Feb.19, 2008, ‘Can a Loose Cannon be fired to give Anwar a by-election?’, which was mentioned in Malaysiakini in Blogs for a few days then.

He could have been elected either MP or ADUN or even both, and then have the luxury of resigning for Anwar to stand. In order not to fool the people, he could have made known this fact and I am sure the results will be a resounding ‘YES YB’. He could have been an elected representative and resign which suited him and helped Anwar without sacrificing another.

Well it was certainly news to me that DAP had actually offered him to contest in Perak which would have made him Menteri Besar, a post which would have made him lose more hair, if he has any left.

I think he is so individualistic that he cannot work with any group for long because of his inherent dislike for conformity, which made him unique. YM, please take this as a compliment!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Either you have it or you don't...

one can be a qualified professional and be confident and proud of it, or pretend to be one without the required knowledge and skill. Even if one can get away with the pretence with others, your peers will know.

A person can afford to buy the most expensive car in the world but that does not make him the richest man. Heads might turn when you arrive, but the likely question is 'who is he?' followed by 'what does he do?'.

There are many instances in life where mediocrity in a certain situation can be accepted or at least tolerated, and life goes on.

While an incompetent accountant can mess up the company’s accounts and hide a bad situation, which put the owners/shareholders at financial risks, a similar engineer might cause a collapse in a building causing loss of lives. Similarly, a bad doctor could have wrongly diagnosed a person’s illness and prescribed wrong medicine, which could endanger his life.

Examinations, for example, are of many forms but basically, either oral or written.

Oral tests can be in the form of giving a speech or interview by one or more persons. This method is excellent where there is a need for fluent conversation and effective communication, and can be used as a deciding factor after written tests.

In the case of examinations conducted internally, there is a danger of lax control over the confidentiality of questions set for the examinations. There are cases of official policy where questions set in trial examinations are similar, if not exactly the same as the final examinations. If this is the case, then the standard leaves much to be desired.

Just imagine the syllabus of one subject could be based on 10 textbooks and a good student is required to study all the books to be proficient. If questions are given in advance, or hinted, or can be easily spotted by friendly lecturers, then all the students need to do is to memorise the answers by heart and reproduce them during examinations!

In professional examinations, there are differences in requirements, which those in the profession would know the different levels of knowledge based on the qualifications obtained.

Where individual subjects can be accumulated at different sittings instead of all in one, then, comparatively, the former is easier than the latter. Of course, there are exceptions where a really good student who sat for an easier examination could have passed the more difficult one. Then there is the more important factor of exposure at work, which would determine further the proficiency of the person, regardless of his earlier qualifications.

In every case, we should be mindful of over-generalization and there are always exceptions to the rule. It is all important for the student to decide on a course of study that he or she is really keen on and has the ability to complete it. There are so many instances of students being put into a course not of his choice, because of parental or even peer pressure, or even just because of plain market demand, and there is no way to know how he could have fared in another course, at another institution, locally or overseas. End of the day, it is the individual who can prove whether he or she is outstanding in any field, whether local or foreign graduated.

It is therefore worth examining some relevant comments from Tony Pua and Ong Kian Ming as mentioned in beritamalaysia and Malaysiakini:


From Tony Pua's Blog
http://educationmalaysia.blogspot.com/
18 May 2008

Overseas Graduates Paid More?

The following is a press statement from Jobstreet.com with regards to a study conducted which showed that graduates of overseas universities fair better than local grads in salary scale. I must say, the results didn't come as too much of a surprise, although I'd be keen to obtain the methodology and sample data for further analysis.

But before you read on, please bear in mind that these studies provide the "generalised" results i.e., there are always exceptions. You will find plenty of local graduates who are extremely competent and who may be making a lot of money in wages in contrast to some of the overseas graduates. However, as a whole, that may not be the case.

(Just to also point out that while was I an employer, more than 80% of my employees were hired as fresh graduates, of whom, the overwhelming majority of them were local graduates. While it was tough picking out quality graduates, they were certainly there if you look hard enough.)

Kian Ming has also written his views on the often heated subject of
"local vs foreign graduates" here.
+++++++

Foreign versus Local Grads: Take XXX

The 'X'es refer to the many times we posted or discussed this issue on our blog. I wanted to revisit this issue after reading the following comments from Dr. Azmi Sharom at one of the panels in the recently concluded The Star-ACMS conference:

Among the points he brought up was the perception that foreign graduates were better than local graduates.

“Both go through the same schooling system, and there are an equally bad number of lecturers overseas as there are locally,” he said, rebutting some commonly given reasons.

I'll be blogging more on my thoughts on the conference when their full report in the education pullout appears this weekend. But for the time being, let's reflect over the remarks of Dr. Sharom.

Firstly, I agree with the spirit of his comments which is that we shouldn't unfairly judge against a local graduate versus a foreign graduate especially when it comes to important decisions like hirings and promotions. We have to look at people on a case by case basis. I'm sure that Tony has had his fair share of poor quality applicants from both foreign and local universities.

That being said, from a purely statistical point, I would not think that I would be wrong if I said that the OVERALL quality of foreign graduates is better than local graduates. Before you start castigating me, please hear me out first.

There are, by some latest estimates, approximately 300,000 students in our local public universities (I'm excluding those in the local private universities) versus 30,000 students in foreign universities (I'm limiting these to universities in the US, UK, Canada, Australia and NZ and excluding universities in Indonesia, Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. For those of you interested in taking a short detour, go this this MOHE link to find estimates of our students currently studying overseas. You might want to ask why more than 5,000 of our students are currently studying in Egpyt!)

So, even if the quality distribution (however you want to measure it) is exactly the same for local and foreign graduates, the sheer number of local graduates makes it so much more likely that we'll encounter more of them who are of poor quality (poor written and spoken English, poor SPM and university results, poor computer skills etc...). Most of us don't work by proportions in terms of our impressions.

For example, if we were interviewing candidates for a job and we find that 16 out of 20 local grads and 4 out of 5 foreign grads are of poor quality, the sheer number of poor quality local grads will likely overwhelm our impressions.

But I'd probably go a step further. I don't think the distribution of quality is the same between foreign and local grads. I think it is definitely biased in favor of foreign grads. I would say that at least a third of foreign grads are government sponsored in one way or another (JPA, Petronas, Tenaga, Telekom, etc...). The fact that these students were selected for scholarships probably means that they were above average performers during secondary school.

I would also say that perhaps another third of foreign grads are high performers who would have gotten government scholarships but didn't because of various reasons (didn't do that well in BM, studied in Singapore, missed the JPA by a few As, didn't want to be bonded by the government etc...). Many of these high performers are from middle class families who have scrounged and saved so as to enable their kids to go to an overseas university. And many of these parents wouldn't have made these kinds of sacrifices if they thought that their kids were going to 'waste' their money on an overseas education.Furthermore, the middle class and mostly urban bias means that many of these kids who do end up overseas are already sufficiently proficient in English. This, of course, gives them a leg up when they do return home and apply for jobs and go out into the working world. It also further cements the perception that foreign grads are somehow better than local grads.

There's probably another third or so who end up overseas because their parents are rich and not solely for their academic prowess. I'm sure we've seen our fair share of spoilt, rich brats who start their first job driving a BMW or Mercedez to work. I know I have. For these kids, there are always other options such as working for daddy's company instead of slaving away at that 9to5 job. Thus they are not likely to skew the public perception of what the average foreign grad is like compared to an average local grad.

These factors, combined with the fact that the selection mechanism for local universities are much more lax (except for the high demand courses like Medicine, Law and Economics), is it that surprising that the overall perception of foreign grads being better than local grads holds true?

There are of course exceptions to these rules. There are a bunch of great local grads out there, some of whom work for Tony, I'm sure. When I was working at BCG, one of the top performers there was a graduate from USM and another two great associates were from UM and UITM respectively. There are also hopeless foreign grads who goof off at work and regularly go for that 3 o'clock beer and siesta. But perceptions are built on OVERALL impressions and for this, the stats cannot lie.

The curve is definitely skewed in favor of foreign grads. The numbers work in their favor too. There are fewer of them and the selection and signalling mechanisms operate in such a way as to ensure that the overall quality of foreign grads is higher than that of local grads. It is not so much the fact that there are crap lecturers in both foreign and local universities (which is definitely true) but the fact that you have better and a smaller number of quality students going overseas versus the masses who attend the local public universities that goes on to shape public perception.

I don't think this gap perception is likely to decrease especially given the push to increase the intake of local public universities
without a commensurate increase in teaching and related resources.

There's also the issue of further differentiation within foreign and local universities but that is for another post.

posted by Kian Ming at 8/24/2006 01:16:00"

Saturday, May 17, 2008

This could have been Batu Gajah




Personally, I wish the local council could do something like widening the road from town to the two schools, SRK Sultan Yussuf and SRK/SMK St. Bernadette Convent, to enable safe cycling by students.

Well, Cheng made the grade with her defence on her thesis proposal and it is now getting down to finding the right supervisors. So she will be in Maastricht for another two years.

While Malaysia is learning from Holland the technology in agriculture, the developed country has gone past the material stage and pedal power is very much evident because of its eco-friendliness.

Malaysians are ashamed to be seen riding a bicycle (unless it is the expensive one costing over a few thousand ringgit owned by enthusiast with all the right gear), because it seems to reflect the person as a villager (and therefore uncouth?), or a poor person who cannot afford a car.

Over in Europe, and especially in the Benelux countries, riding bicycle is the norm and a necessity. If you travel by train, you can see the hundreds or even a thousand bicycles parked by commuters.

While we cocked up on the double-tracking, we have missed by another few years, the advantages of commuting by train to take off the load from the clogged up expressways.

Our new station in BG has been idle for a number of years. Now that the double-tracking between Rawang and Ipoh has been completed, we have to wait for another two years for the coaches!

Malaysia Boleh!

Friday, May 16, 2008

What a shame!

Brain drain
plane gain
plain strain
racists’ bane
what a shame!





This problem of discrimination and resulting brain drain is a no brainer, yet the powers that be will maintain that we have to carrying on with a system with sensitive initials that got Guan Eng in trouble.

I feel it is our duty to keep this blame game alive until they concede that there is no other way to achieve competitiveness without meritocracy.

While we put obstacles to would-be leaders, technocrats and other specialists, others go out of their way to rope them to serve their nations. We nurture them and they harvest them. Who are the losers? If they still do not get it, they deserve mediocrity period.

From Dr. Hsu Dar Ren:

Racial Politics and Brain Drain

The most important asset of a country is not its natural resources, but rather human resources. This is especially true in a knowledge based economy, which of course will be the trend in future if not already the trend in most of the western countries.

My daughter, who is in her final year medicine in Auckland, told me that a team of SIngapore recruitment officers have just visited Auckland and talked to the Malaysian students there, offering job and training prospect for the final year students once they graduate. My daughter also told me that over the last few years, quite a lot of her Malaysian seniors, after graduating from medical courses in NZ, have gone to Singapore to work as house-officers and subsequently stayed back in Singapore for their postgraduate training.

Similar teams are sent to Australia and UK for recruiting Malaysians there to work in Singapore.

About a year ago, in one of the articles in Reuters, this was reported:

Malaysia is counting on bright, ambitious people like Tan Chye Ling for its future, to lead it away from manufacturing and into the knowledge age.

But the 32-year-old scientist, a post-graduate in molecular biology, is not counting on Malaysia to look after her future.

“I felt very suppressed in Malaysia,” said Tan, who moved to neighbouring Singapore, the region’s pace-setter for biotech investment, after a decade of study and research in Malaysia.

“I have benefited from the better research environment and salary scheme here. Things are much smoother,” she said by phone from the National University of Singapore where she is studying dust mites and allergies.

Tan estimates that 60 percent of the research teams she works with in Singapore are from Malaysia, despite her country’s efforts over several years to develop a biotech industry.

The Malaysian government unveiled plans last March to spend $553.3 million over five years to boost research, attract foreign investment and build new facilities. But its efforts are wasted unless it can retain more talented people like Tan.

“By the time we have the research environment in place, every other country would have taken a slice of the biotech investment pie,” said Iskandar Mizal, head of the state-run Malaysian Biotech Corporation which oversees the government’s strategy.

There is a serious problem facing Malaysia and that is the problem of Brain Drain. Why are Malaysians overseas not coming back to work?

Well, pay may be part of the reasons but is not the main reason. Singapore recruitment team offered Malaysian students there a salary which is a few times they would expect to get in Malaysia….S$40,000 a yr for houseman after tax ( equivalent to RM86000) which is about 5 times the pay of a houseman in Malaysia.

But, as I say, pay is not the main problem. The living expenses Overseas is high. And for a person working overseas, the loneliness and the stress level is also high. So not everyone opts to work overseas because of pay. Many would not mind to work for lesser pay if they can stay near to their loved ones.

Why do people choose to work overseas, away from their loved ones ?

Malaysia has many state-of-the-arts hospitals and research centres, which may even be the envy of many overseas countries. But hardware alone would not attract these experts to come home. In the medical fields, I have so many friends /classmates working overseas, many in world renowned centres. Why do they do that?

Some of my classmates and friends did come back as specialists. After working a few years ( many lasted a few months) , most get disillusioned and went off. There is really not much prospect of career advancement. How many can hope to become a professor, even when they are an acknowledged expert in their field? On the other hands , lesser beings are being promoted to professorship for doing much less.

How many of them can have any say about how things are to be run? How many of them can blend into the local team where the work attitude is vastly different from that overseas?

There is an unwritten rule that even if the person is very good, the head of the team has to be someone from a certain ethnic group who may not even be half as good as him.

In everyday life, some become disillusioned with the corruption, the red tape and tidak apa attitude of the officialdom. For an overseas doctor applying to work home, the application can take up to 6 months to get approved, whereas, SIngapore sends teams overseas to recruit them on the spot, giving them forms to fill and offering them jobs immediately as long as they pass their final examination. See the difference?

It is the sense of being wanted and being appreciated that make these people stay overseas. Back here, they are often made to feel that they are of a lower class; they do not feel wanted and they do not feel appreciated…. That is the main reason.

For those with children , the education system puts them off. Even school children can feel being discriminated, one glaring example is the 2 systems in PreUniversity education.

All these make them pack their bags and off they go again, leaving behind their parents perhaps, siblings, friends they grew up together, favouite food that is often not available overseas. No one likes to be like this; circumstances and a sense of being recognised for their worth make them go away…It is really sad.

Parents spend huge amount of money educating them, but the ones who benefit are the Singaporeans, the Americans,the Australian, the British and so on. As long as race politics is not done away with, this problem of brain drain will continue and Malaysia will always lack behind the advanced countries, no matter how many twin towers and Putrajayas we build.

Recently, from Malaysiakini's letters section:

Let me tell you about 'brain drain'
Kin Kok Low May 9, 08 4:54pm

I was born in 1949 in Penang when the white men were still the colonial masters of Malaya. During that time there were only two types of people - the British who were the imperial masters and Malayans of different ethnic backgrounds who were the 'ruled'. We called the British ‘Sir’ or ‘Tuan’ - in our own country! My dad worked for Sime Darby (owned by the British then). He was 'exploited' by the boss. He retired after 35 years with the company with very little savings.

I grew up in a slum area in Penang (Dato Keramat Road). Next to our slum was a Malay kampung. We little boys knew we (the Chinese and Malays) were different. But not that much different. We played football, flew kites and catched peacock fish together. We had our little boys fight but our parents never come out with a parang or kung fu knives to kill each other. A few days later we again played tops or badminton together.

To cut the story short, I was fortunate to attend my secondary education at the Penang Free School, passed my HSC and given a state scholarship (the chief minister that time was Dr Lim Chong Yew) to study economics at the University of Malaya. My second day at UM was May 13, 1969. Suddenly, we (Malay and Chinese students) found we were very different. We became suspicious of each other. We gathered in ethnic groups. My childhood friend, Adenan was a clerk working for the HSBC bank. But we were still friends. Our naive minds could not understand why the Malays and Chinese could not live together like Adenan and me.

I graduated and did not take up teaching as required by my scholarship. But I paid back the scholarship money to the government. I joined Malayawata and later in 1975 the Chase Manhattan Bank. During this period I saw the impact of the NEP, the separation of Malaysians based on race, religion, colour and political affiliation. It pained me to see all these. I was a fifth-generation of Chinese Malaysian. My roots were in Malaysia. Malaysia was the country I was brought up and thought I had a future in. China was not an option for me. I was poor like my Malay friend in Dato Keramat Road. Why discriminate based on race? Why not discriminate bases on social class? There are rich and poor Malays. Likewise there are rich and poor non-Malays. Why can a rich Malay kid receive support (scholarship, allowed to go to university) while a poor non-Malay kid is not given the opportunity? I was born a Malaysian and Malaysia was my country. There was no other country.

I got married and have two wonderful children. Both my wife and I had very successful careers. By 1989, we could experience the intensity of the separation of the races with the onslaught of the NEP. I still have many Malay and Indian friends. In 1989 we decided - for the sake of our children - that we need to go out to have a look at other countries. China was not in our mind as a place we wanted to emigrate. We came to Australia. We all like it.

The good thing about Australia is that when you first meet the immigration officer he says, ‘Welcome to Australia’. The customs officer did not hustle us. We looked at some of the schools for our children. The teachers welcomed our children even though we had not registered them. We went to the government departments and people lined up. There is no ‘cutting the line’. All are served irrespective of their race and the government officer even smiles!

We returned to Malaysia and applied for Australian permanent residency. In 1992, my wife and I left our two very wonderful jobs and with our teenaged children, emigrated to Australia. The first year was a struggle for me as I could not find job. In 1992, Australia had the recession it needed to have. I subsequently found a job and career. Our kids went to school, to university (both received scholarships) and both are now successful bankers. I am still working at 59. I work for a US company.

For our Australian operations we have a country manager who is a French Australian, a general manager who is Anglo Saxon Australian and a finance manager who is an Indian from South Africa. I am the human resources manager and I am ethnically, Chinese. I have an American and a white Australian reporting to me. We have more than 20 different ethnic groups working in our company. We are very different culturally, religiously and socially. But when we come to work we work for one company in one country.

Why do I want to tell my story? Because this is the same story of many qualified, experienced Malaysians now living in Australia, New Zealand, the US, the UK, Singapore and even China. Malaysia is losing very talented people. Talent which is short supply in the world.

As an economist once said, ‘It is better to have 30% of 1,000 than 90% of 200'.

I wish to comment further that even with two subjects in English, there are attempts to abolish the policy to revert back! While the Europeans start to learn Chinese because of the potential of China's market, we are still unable to accept the fact that English is the way to go for Information Technology. Can our translators cope with the information that is coming on every second of the day?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Different priorities for different people

Some 20 years ago, a part-time drummer-tutor told me he was with MAS orchestra and I was quite surprised that our airline has an in-house orchestra. Presumably, it had since been disbanded when the company faced financial difficulties. Among the extravagance made known, one stood out –millions were paid for some paintings to grace the Chairman’s office!

Common sense tells us that the financial situation of a company or individual starts to deteriorate when the expenses exceed income and if unchecked, the capital will be reduced until it becomes insolvent or bankrupt.

I have seen enough of those with easy money to start with. They went into business because it looks good to be a businessman or company director and even better if the office is posh and provided with a luxury car. All these, before the business is even established and earning good income, if any!

We have seen enough of CEOs in GLCs who would change the company’s logo when they first joined the company, in their egoistic display in stamping their management style. What a waste. If I am not mistaken, Exxon retained Esso trademark because of its well known brand and it would have been too costly to change to reflect its new name then.

Maybank had been on an acquisition trail overseas, ostensibly because of limited scope for expansion locally but actually paying through the nose, which caused its share price to take a beating. It has always been the top bank but lately I noticed Public Bank had taken over, based on market capitalization!

I wish those who are entrusted with public funds or in charge of corporations owned by government institutions would concentrate more on the business than being distracted by political interference or personal interests.

Petronas is in a class of its own, way above all other business entities because of its enormous income from oil. So far, it has been able to look good in maintaining its huge revenue and profits which our government had been relying on to cover up its huge development costs, mistakes and shortfalls in all kinds of ventures like Putra Jaya, Cyberjaya, Proton and so on.

When asked to finance the second bridge for Penang, it was a big NO, especially coming from an opposition government. Time to teach them a lesson, so it seems. It is not surprising that Lim Guan Eng pointed out its extravagance in financing our Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, at great expense, benefiting a majority of foreigners! How bizarre can it be? Just because Dr. Mahathir then was interested in classical music by foreigners?

I cannot help in thinking Francis Yeoh of YTL knew his fondness for opera singers and brought in Luciano Pavarotti to Pangkor Laut. It is one of the arts of persuasion of a good businessman to know what are the likes and dislikes of a man in power. But at least, he is acting for his own companies, and not a GLC and he is so successful at making money.

From The Sun:

MPO'S 'SOUND OF MUSIC' COSTS RM3.5M A MONTH
Tuesday, 13 May 2008
Llew-Ann Phang

KUALA LUMPUR (May 13, 2008): The "sound of music" can sometimes be too excessive as in the case of Petronas’ Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) which costs RM3.5 million a month to sustain.

Lim Guan Eng (DAP-Bagan) pointed this out in his debate on the motion of thanks on the royal address in Parliament today, charging that these funds, spent on the orchestra that is only made up of 5% locals and 95% foreigners, could be utilised better.
"Where the Barisan Nasional (BN) government refuses to allow Petronas to share its profits with the people, this giant fuel company is wiling to pay its foreign musicians a monthly wage of between RM16,000 and RM28,000 a month.

"Each of them have two months paid leave. The conductor is paid RM130,000 a month and his assistant RM50,000. Since its 10 years of establishment, the orchestra has cost Petronas RM500 million," he said.

Lim, who is also Penang Chief Minister, questioned Petronas' willingness "to waste so much money but does not give any benefit to the local musicians", reiterating his call for its profits to be handed out to the people to help them cope with rising prices.

He said since 1997, Petronas had dished out gas subsidies amounting to RM58.2 billion of which RM48.8 billion was given to the energy sector and RM9.4 billion to the non-energy sector.

"Of the subsidies to the energy sector, the Independent Power Producers (IPP) enjoy more than Tenaga Nasional Bhd. As an example, in 2007 subsidies to the energy were RM15.6 billion where TNB only received RM5 billion, RM3.9 billion were given to the private sector and RM6.7 billion was handed to the IPPs," Lim said.

He called for a reduction of subsidies to IPPs, claiming that it was not fair for them to be enjoying high subsidies to be producing their billions in profits.

From our multi-datuk wong chun wai’s blog:

It’s not music to the ears

It's scandalous. DAP MP Lim Guan Eng has claimed that Petronas spent RM3.5mil a month to sustain the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) with the conductor paid RM130,000 a month.

If that's true, that means the conductor is better paid than the Prime Minister and most chief executive officers in town. According to the Penang Chief Minister, his assistant gets RM30,000.

Since its inception 10 years ago, Petronas has forked out RM500mil for the orchestra. This is serious stuff because only 10 per cent of the orchestra members are said to be locals. It is difficult for us to accept the fact that after 10 years, we are still unable to train enough musicians to take these roles. According to Guan Eng, the musicians are getting between RM16,000 and RM28,000 a month. I am not an expert but I think for top class act, these salaries are not that big. But still, we would like to see more Malaysians, not necessarily all Malaysians.

Surely a decade is a long time. Penang born Ooi Chean See is said to have left the MPO because she was unhappy. But that's not all, companies which support the MPO have found out that they cannot even claim tax deductions. Surely, it make sense to have some form of tax incentives to encourage the private sector to back the arts scene. No one will get the full details of the allegations as Petronas does not have to make public its financial status.

Tough to be politically correct

Just checked out the following:
How can I get my blog to appear in Malaysiakini?

“Malaysiakini uses Google's search engine to trawl blogosphere to pick up any posting which mentions the word 'Malaysiakini'.
If your blog posting has the keyword 'Malaysiakini', it is likely to be captured by the search engine and will automatically appear in our 'Mkini in Blogs' section.

However, a number of bloggers have abused this function by inserting the word 'Malaysiakini' even though their posts have nothing to do with Malaysiakini or our reports. Others have cut-and- paste Malaysiakini reports into their blogs. This is lazy blogging.

Due to complaints of this abuse, Malaysiakini reserves the right to remove such blogsites from the 'Mkini in Blogs' section.”

I am sure it is expected and only fair to mention where I have copied certain articles or letters for my own record as well as for my daughter’s update on topics which I found interesting, and which I hope she does.

I am mindful of infringing copyrights, or at the least, guilty of not getting prior consent. But for blogging, as we all know it, timeliness is more important than courtesy or getting all the facts confirmed, especially with a little known blogsite like mine.

I was guilty of ‘lazy blogging’ recently when I just copied Ktemoc’s posting on Grand Saga with my own title. I was actually shocked to find it in Malaysiakini in Blogs when I least intended or expected.

As an opposition supporter, I find it difficult now to even consider contacting some MPs or ADUNs who are known to me, simply because some of the latter groups are even state exco members. Knowing that they are now busier than before, any attempt to contact other than because of a genuine complaint, might be construed as asking for a favour!

Though I have yet to meet Dr. Ramasamy, the new DCM of Penang, my daughter knew him when she was organizing a seminar in University of Essex. Now, if one were to visit his site, one will be greeted with a notice that you do not appear to be invited or something to that effect. Already so elitist, I thought. So I am having second thoughts if she suggests that we visit him in Penang!

Then, there is Nik Nazmi, who is now ADUN and Political Secretary to MB of Selangor. He was like a mentor to Cheng in UKEC, being her predecessor. Though I have met him before, the thought of him being ever so busy would put me off.

Teresa Kok, used to come to Ipoh for forums in support of her northern colleagues, but now?

It seems, everyday, there are over a hundred people waiting to see her (some insisting to see her personally) on problems (real or created), business (she’s Exco now) or maybe a marriage proposal or two!

Thomas Su is now Exco member in Perak. So any contact might suggest asking for favour again.

Ngeh Koo Ham is now TMB of Perak, with more than his fair share of running the state and dealing with possible defections in the fragile coalition.

While I was on duty in SMK Sultan Yussuf on election day, I got to know Sivakumar, ADUN for Tronoh. Now? Speaker for Perak State Assembly – what a lucky fellow! But honestly, apart from the glamour, I do not envy a politician’s life –full of responsibilities, practically no private life and has to be ever so careful with what one says.

Po Kuan is now happily married, so it is unwise to contact unless necessary. But at least, she is down to earth and ever ready with a smile when I chanced upon her in Pusing or Batu Gajah.

Lim Kit Siang, I hope, is still approachable and I would like to meet him by chance when he goes to Tg. Tuallang for seafood meal with his family members. My wife saw them once but I was in KL then. Again for ‘Cheah Pah Siu Eng’ to meet someone ‘Tiam Tiam Bo Eng’ is like striking lottery.

Lately, I found myself wanted for company by those who are having serious illnesses, old bachelors who enjoy talking about old times and so on. An old school senior who is 80 years old now, met me at Amcorp Mall in KL and he insisted that I join him for a drink even though I just had mine with my wife. His father and my father and Dato Wong Seng Chow’s grandfather used to work in Sentul railway workshop. So we had some grandfather stories to talk about.

In BG, some months ago, a local lass had a bad accident and was paralysed. We knew each other as to who I am and who she is without acknowledging each other. Once, Po Kuan asked if I would like to join her in paying her a visit and I declined because I actually do not know her personally. A few days ago, while waiting for another friend, outside a friend’s house, she passed by my car in her wheelchair, pushed by her Indo maid. I gave her a smile and she acknowledged in return, and it gave me a nice feeling.

Perhaps I can be a carer…with the exception of mother-in-law, I have to admit.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Karpal sailing into troubled waters...

A record number of police reports had been lodged against DAP Chairman for seditious statements against our beloved Sultan of Perak and also Sultan of Selangor.

Much have been written and reported, both in mainstream media as well as online news portals. In the former, mainly twisted to their own advantage by Umno leaders including PM, while in the latter, mainly by oppositionists and sympathisers.

My personal choices are as follows:

By a letter writer to Malaysiakini who provided a good historical background:
Karpal and the Malay Sultanate saga
Pragalath May 13, 08 4:09pm

I refer to the Malaysiakini report Protect Karpal's right to views, says Santiago.

The current political drama over Bukit Gelugor MP, Karpal Singh’s statement and police report against the Perak Sultan and the Raja Muda of Kelantan is an interesting one.

Certain parties such as the Perak Umno Youth, the BN Back Benchers Club and the Malay Unity Action Front have lodged police reports and there is speculation that Karpal Singh - who is DAP chairperson -may be charged for treason since he is alleged to have raised the sensitivities of the Malay community by raising the issue of the Malay Sultanate.

Commenting on this matter, Tengku Adnan commented that: ‘He had made a strong comment that the Sultan and royalty were subject to the law just like a normal citizen following the amendments to the Federal Constitution in 1993. The comments were like a warning to the Sultan of Perak and other Malay Rulers that they should not interfere in state administrative matters’.

There are at least ten reports lodged against Karpal Singh as was reported thus far but I would like to view this episode from another perspective since action speaks louder than words. The Malay sultanate is a permanent feature of Malaysia’s past, present and future. So strong is their influence that the second principle of our Rukunegara is ‘Loyalty to the King and Nation’.

In the 1991 publication of Pelindung, Chandra Muzaffar wrote that the British maintained the positions of the Malay sultanates even though they were the ones who actually wielded power in the Federated Malay States via the British Resident system. On the other hand, the Malay sultanate had more power and discretion in the Non-Federated Malay states.

Opposition to Malayan Union in 1948 occurred largely due to the reduced role of the Malay Sultanate under the Malayan Union plan. It was a prelude to the formation of Umno. Umno’s main objective then was to protect the interest of the sultanate. One of Umno’s resolutions stated: ‘Terminating the powers of the Sultanate would spell the demise of the Malay States in the Peninsula’ (Menamatkan kuasa-kuasa Sultan, maka musnahlah sama sekali Negeri-Negeri Melayu di Semenanjung Tanah Melayu).

Chandra also noted a point in the reduction of influence of the Malay sultanate over the rakyat in tandem with Umno’s increasing influence. Fast forward to 1993, a major development took place in terms of the federal constitution. It is in this very year that the Umno-led Barisan Nasional government passed a major constitutional amendment that restricted somewhat the authority of the Malay Sultanates.

The Dewan Rakyat parliamentary bill, in its explanatory statement states that ‘the bill seeks to amend the relevant provisions of the Federal Constitution for the purpose of withdrawing the immunity of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Rulers from any legal proceedings in any court in their personal capacities and to make consequential amendments arising thereform’.

It is fascinating to note that the Umno that was formed to protect the Malay sultanate in 1948 had actually led the BN coalition to successfully amend the constitution to restrict the privileges of Malay sultanate whose roles were already becoming ceremonial in nature.

Shortly before the amendment was tabled in the august house, several issues such as the extravagant lifestyle of the royalty were highlighted in the electronic media, especially by the state owned RTM and TV3 television stations. This were done by the Mahathir administration to convince and justify the need for such an amendment.

These are some of the events that must be taken into consideration now. ‘Malays forget easily’ is a book title popularised by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad during his premiership. In this sense I would like to state that even Malaysians forget easily. Hence the above outline.

Post March 8, didn’t 22 BN state assembly persons almost launch a boycott of the appointment of Ahmad Said as menteri besar of Terengganu by Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin? The boycott did not materialise simply because Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi decided to back off and support the Sultan’s choice instead of his.

A similar scenario also took place in Perlis when Raja Syed Sirajuddin appointed Dr Md Isa Sabu instead of the incumbent Shahidan Kassim. The appointment was made in accordance to Article 39 (2) of the state constitution which states that the Raja can appoint whomever he feels has the trust of the members of the state legislative assembly to be menteri besar. Despite that, there was a gathering of 100 people in Putrajaya in support of Shahidan. Aren’t these acts defying the sultanate?

As events unfold, I cannot decide who is right and wrong but I would like to reiterate the fact that actions speak louder than words. If Karpal’s statements were seditious, wouldn’t the Umno-led BN’s concerted effort in amending the constitution in 1993 be equivalent to treason?

Lastly, I would like to stress the fact that the sultans are not just sultans for the Malays. They are the sultans for every single citizen residing in their respective states. They are the Malaysian sultanate and not simply the Malay sultanate anymore.

In its Vox Populi, a reader commented:
On Protect Karpal's right to views, says Santiago
New Generation Kid: With all due respect to Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, I read with disgust your recent remarks on the Karpal issue. First of all, you contradict yourself because just around one month ago, when you were embroiled in the Terengganu menteri besar selection episode, the whole country heard your comment when you termed the move by the Terengganu Sultan in appointing his choice of a menteri besar as ‘unconstitutional’.

Yet, when Karpal Singh made a similar comment, you are trumpeting that he is wrong and needs to be punished. You do not have any right to comment on the punishment of Karpal as the matter is yet to be brought to court. Haven't you learnt in school before that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty? Don't you have any respect for the due process of the law?

Your actions only further confirm your government's legacy of double-standards which inevitably caused their dismal performance of the BN coalition under your leadership in the recent general election.

Last but not least, in Malik Imtiaz's blog, Disquiet, one of many lawyers' take on the issue:

WEDNESDAY, MAY 14, 2008
Karpal Singh: 'Disaffection' Not An UMNO State Of Mind

Accusations of sedition are being hurled around as if it is going out of fashion.

I think the offence of sedition in itself ridiculous. It is a vestige of colonialism that was aimed at only one thing: silencing of free expression to protect vested interest. I have decried recourse to the Sedition Act and have consistently advised against filing police reports for sedition. It does not matter who says what, be they from the Barisan Nasional, its component parties or those that make up the Pakatan Rakyat; if statements are found to be offensive, there is ample room in the public space to take it up there without having to criminalise expression. God knows, there are more important things for the police to be focusing on.

The case of Mr Karpal Singh illustrates this. Rightly or wrongly, he expressed a view concerning the position taken by His Royal Highness the Sultan of Perak. His view concerned the validity of the legal position taken by the Sultan. If Mr Karpal Singh is right, then the Sultan, respectfully, erred in issuing a show cause to the Menteri Besar of Perak in the way that was done. If Mr Karpal Singh was wrong, then the Sultan was correct.

Where is the sedition in this? I cannot see it. If there are those who disagree with his view, let them state their position and then let all involved agree to disagree.

It is not sedition to voice an opinion. It is only where the opinion is stated in a way that gives rise to a ‘seditious tendency’ within the meaning of the Sedition Act that the opinion could be arguably characterised as being seditious. The Sedition Act sets out six heads of a seditious tendency as follows:
1. to bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against any Ruler or against any Government;
2. to excite the subjects of any Ruler or the inhabitants of any territory governed by any Government to attempt to procure in the territory of the Ruler or governed by the Government, the alteration, otherwise than by lawful means, of any matter as by law established;
3. to bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against the administration of justice in Malaysia or in any State;
4. to raise discontent or disaffection amongst the subjects of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or of the Ruler of any State or amongst the inhabitants of Malaysia or of any State;
5. to promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between different races or classes of the population of Malaysia; or
6. to question any matter, right, status, position, privilege, sovereignty or prerogative established or protected by the provisions of Part III of the Federal Constitution or Article 152, 153 or 181 of the Federal Constitution.
Looking at the facts of the scenario at hand, it would appear that those who accuse Mr Karpal Singh of sedition take refuge in limbs (1) or (4). Mr Karpal Singh has clarified that he did not seek to question the prerogative of the Sultan, such as it was, and contends that in his view the Sultan was not exercising prerogative in the circumstances.

It is significant that at the heart of both limbs (1) and (4) is a requirement of, at the very least, discontent or disaffection. To establish this is no easy task. It is not enough to merely point to the words giving rise to a tendency towards, putting it simply, dissatisfaction. It is necessary to establish that the potential dissatisfaction would be directed at the institution of the Sultan and would be of such a widespread nature that the institution itself would be in danger.

As was observed by the High Court (PP v Param Coomarswamy, 1986):

“"Disaffection" means disloyalty, enemity and hostility against Authority. In the same way, "discontent" means dissatisfaction against Authority. Therefore, "to raise discontent or disaffection" among the people means to create discontent or disaffection among the people against Authority. Consequently, the assertion of a grievance or complaint which tends to create discontent must be directed at Authority for it to be seditious.”

Looking on at the enthusiastic show-boating by certain UMNO quarters, I am hard pressed to conclude that such expressions as we have heard would amount to a dissatisfaction, let alone such a level of dissatisfaction.

Quite aside from that, it is significant that thus far no one, including the Attorney General, has pointed to section 3(2)(a), Sedition Act which plainly provides:

“...an act, speech, words, publication or other things shall not be deemed to be seditious by reason only that it has a tendency to show that any Ruler has been misled or mistaken in any of his measures;”

Is that not what Mr Karpal Singh was attempting to do? An inference to the contrary is something which, try as I might, I cannot draw from the circumstances.

UMNO must realize the glass house it is in. Judged by the criteria forming the basis of its position on the issue of Mr Karpal Singh having committed sedition, much of what was said in and around the appointments of the Menteri Besars of Perlis and Trengganu could similarly be said to be seditious. But then, I wonder whether this even matters. The political expediency of the very public and highly sensationalised accusations appears to outweigh all other considerations.

MIS

Sabah awaiting Pak Lah's blessings?

I cannot help but compare Pak Lah's situation with that of the following joke:

Pope's Blessings

The Pope was finishing his sermon. He ended it with the Latin
phrase, "Tuti Homini" - Blessed be Mankind.

A women's rights group approached the Pope the next day. They
noticed that the pope blessed all Mankind, but not Womankind

The next day, after His sermon, the Pope concluded by saying, "Tuti
Homini, et Tuti Femini" - Blessed be Mankind and Womankind.

The next day, a gay-rights group approached the Pope. They said that
they noticed that he blessed man kind and woman kind, and asked if
he could also bless gay people. The Pope said, "Sure".

The next day, the Pope concluded his sermon with, "Tuti Homini, et
Tuti Femini, et Tuti Fruiti."

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

May 13, 1969

I can still remember vividly, after 39 years!

I was studying ‘A’ levels in Tunku Abdul Rahman College, one of the ‘pioneer students’ or guinea pigs, if you like, which did not have its own premises. We started at the Teachers’ Training College in Jalan Kuantan, KL for a few months before we were told that we had to move to Jalan Cheras – for those in Arts stream, at Jalan Cheras Secondary School, while those in the Science Stream, at the Technical Institute, in the afternoon session.

Just before we started at the new borrowed premises, a group of students from out of town, approached me to look after their flatmates (ladies) at Jalan Pekeliling flats, by providing transport on my way from Jalan Ipoh to Jalan Cheras and back.

Being a ladies’ man, I agreed. After all, it was not out of the way and I was only driving an old Wolseley, if they did not mind. For not charging them, I received birthday presents instead. The four young ladies were from Alor Star, Ipoh, Muar and Kuantan. In fact, at the end of the two-year course, three other boys joined me in visiting each of them in their home towns.

Anyway, on that fateful day, I returned from Jalan Cheras in the late afternoon, as usual, except for a few FRU trucks (and ambulances?)with sirens on, went past in the opposite direction when I dropped off my classmates at Jalan Pekeliling flats. Not knowing what was happening, I went straight to my friend’s house in Jalan Kasipillay! I had my drums kit there and I was more interested in practising with them before I return home.

Later, while I was still out, my dad was getting worried and he told my elder brother to drive him to Jalan Cheras to find out! Those were the days without mobile phones and almost every matter had to be checked out personally. In retrospect, it was such a risky thing to do by going back to Jalan Cheras, having to travel along Jalan Pekeliling which had to pass the junction of Jalan Raja Muda where then Selangor Menteri Besar, Harun Idris used to live! But then again, nobody knew what had happened and as to what extent the trouble was.

My elder brother was very lucky too. He was then supposed to be having bookkeeping lessons at Goon Institute, opposite the Chow Kit market and it so happened, he did not attend that day’s evening class!

I can still recall some of the stories of people known to me. An ex-classmate was chased by a mob somewhere in Jalan Ampang near Jalan Campbell junction. He thought the nearest was his step-brother’s house in Jalan Damai. He managed to drive his car to the front of the house and jumped over the gate (thanks to his gymnastic skill) before another mob nearly got to him. His brother even fired some shots to warn them.

Another ex-classmate actually lived in Jalan Raja Muda, opposite MB’s residence, and next to then Minister of Health, Bahaman’s house. His family was lucky, given the protection by the minister.

Some relations of mine (related to my mother) came in a lorry from Segambut, to stay with us for a few days during the curfew. In fact, there was no trouble there as the Malay village elders like Tuan Haji Said were close to the Chinese, and a good friend of my dad who serviced his cars. Years later, during one of his visits, he invited us to go to his ‘dusun’ or orchard and came back with our Mini Minor pickup almost filled with dukus!

During the curfew period, once or twice a military truck went passed our house and we were afraid that they might open fire on us. My eldest brother, at one stage, was so worked up that he was all prepared to defend us, keeping watch overnight.

I think the then Deputy Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Ismail, was very re-assuring each time he came on television to make announcement on the state of security, improving each day until curfew was lifted.

When we went back to college, the curfew was still on in certain areas and/or during certain hours as some VIPs’ cars had the privilege of having a sticker ‘Emergency’ which allowed them access in certain restricted areas denied to ordinary folks. We were actually envious of one of our classmates who used to travel in a chauffeured Mercedes with one.

Today, on the 39th anniversary of this black incident of our nation’s history, hopefully, we can all put the ghost of it to rest.

One of Malaysiakini’s headlines is Headlines: May 13:

updated 3.10pm All the dailies today reported on the measures taken by the government to put a lid on the price of rice, which has increased substantially over the past few months.MORE
The Sabah pressure
Mother wants son released

So, our major problem seems to be our staple food, rice and its price, which is on the rise and rise. The other problem was political – East vs West Malaysia within Barisan Nasional.

Today, over in Maastricht, Holland, with a time difference of 6 hours behind, my daughter, Cheng, is having her defence. She explained to us that it is like an examination, to see whether her proposal for a thesis is good enough for her to continue her Ph D. We can only wish her good luck.