How should we judge a government?
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Malaysia-Today - Balkis accounts not audited for eight years (excerpts):
Tuesday, 31 March 2009 09:30
By Neville Spykerman (The Malaysian Insider)
Like peeling the layers of an onion, the Special Select Committee for Competency, Accountability and Transparency (Selcat) is slowly unravelling the extent of the Wives of Selangor Elected Representatives Welfare Organization's (Balkis) maladministration.
The public inquiry into the charity, which received millions of ringgit from state subsidiaries, today learnt that Balkis had not submitted audited accounts to the Registrar of Societies (ROS) since 2001.
State ROS deputy registrar Yunos Jamil, who continued his testimony today, described the discrepancy as an "oversight."
He told the committee no action was taken against the charity and no action would be taken now because Balkis has been dissolved.
Yunos added the ROS received documents submitted by Balkis in "good faith" and any resolution passed by members were accepted without question.
He also refused to hand over a copy of the notice by Balkis notifying members of an Emergency General Meeting (EGM) on March 11, 2008 which was called to dissolve the charity.
Yunos said he had been advised by the legal advisor of the Home Ministry not to provide the document to Selcat.
However, Teng said under the Section 10 of the Societies Act, member of the public can inspect documents submitted to the ROS for lawful purposes.
Yunos has been given till Wednesday to produce the notice or summonses would be sent to the Registrar of Societies and the legal advisor of the Home Ministry to appear before Selcat.
theSun Tilting under the bulk of Balkis (excerpts):
TODAY, this newspaper stands vindicated. The events of the past week at the Selangor State Secretariat have yet again showed that the Sun lives up to its motto – Telling It As It Is. When Terence Fernandez and I exposed the excesses of the Association of Wives of Elected Representatives in Selangor (Balkis) last year, everyone jumped on the bandwagon. Certain sections of the media were used to discredit us and even threats of legal action were made. Two police officers turned up in the office to find out our sources of information. Our independence and integrity were questioned. Since our reports were accompanied with documents, there were also suggestions that we had breached the law but these documents were not classified. Demands that these documents be made available were made but we soldiered on.
The Balkis story started on April 25 last year when we reported: Three days after their husbands lost power to rule Selangor, the wives got into the act – plotting to dissolve a welfare body and remove almost RM10 million from its bank accounts. According to documents sighted by theSun, Datin Seri Zaharah Kechik, the wife of former mentri besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo had on March 11 convened an extraordinary general meeting of the committee to dissolve Balkis and close its bank accounts. The following day, the accounts were closed, with the money transferred to another account and then to Bakti – the federal Organisation of Wives of Ministers which Balkis is affiliated to.
Three days later, we exposed yet other wrongdoings: While their husbands went on "lawatan sambil belajar", the wives were not to be outdone. Shopping trips, overseas junkets and lavish functions have been the hallmark of activities of Balkis. Nothing wrong with the junkets, except that their excesses were paid for by the state government and private donors, who contributed money thinking that it was going to good causes. In the eight years that Khir Toyo has been mentri besar, Zaharah, who headed Balkis has led delegations on trips to Europe, Hongkong and Australia.
According to the Balkis constitution, it can only be dissolved by two-thirds of the members at a special meeting convened at the request of at least one-fifth of "ordinary members".
The constitution is clear on such special meetings and it states it must be held within 30 days of receiving notice of such a requisition. It goes on to say that the notice and agenda of the meeting must be sent out by the secretary to members giving them 14 days’ notice. Let’s work backwards. If the meeting was held on March 11, the notice must have been given on Feb 25 – at the latest. But her husband, then the mentri besar, was going around campaigning on the lines of "Zero Opposition" in Selangor"! Did Zaharah get a written requisition from one fifth of the members on Feb 11 – when Parliament was not even dissolved? Unless of course, some wives knew that their husbands won’t be occupying the seats of power!
(Briefly, the Registrar of Societies of Selangor, did not carry out their duties professionally (see below, in Malay). On the one hand, there was no response to the Selangor State government’s queries and requests for discussion, made six months ago. On the other, in terms of speed for dissolution of a society as explained by Nades, it must have been a world record! I would consider Edward Ling’s post title a misnomer, if with reference to the super speed dissolution! )
Edward Ling: Inefficient ROS
KENYATAAN MEDIA28 MAC 2009KENYATAAN PENGARAH PENDAFTAR PERTUBUHAN SELANGOR MENGECEWAKAN
SHAH ALAM: Kerajaan Negeri hari ini merasa kecewa dengan kegagalan Jabatan Pendaftar Pertubuhan Negeri Selangor (ROS Selangor) untuk memberi respon kepada surat-surat daripada kerajaan Negeri tentang dalam status Badan Kebajikan Isteri-isteri Wakil Rakyat Selangor atau Balkis.
Malah permintaan Kerajaan Negeri untuk satu perbincangan bersama ROS Selangor mengenai status BALKIS juga tidak dihiraukan. Sikap professionalisma dan kecekapan ROS Selangor menjadi tanya kerana pertanyaan dan permintaan ini dibuat lebih enam bulan yang lalu.
Semalam, rakyat dikejutkan dengan kenyataan Pengarah ROS Selangor, Encik Mohd Yunus Jamil ketika disoal oleh panel Jawatankuasa Pilihan Khas Mengenai Keupayaan,Kebertanggungjawaban dan Ketelusan (SELCAT) Selangor, bahawa Balkis kononnya telah dibubarkan dengan sah. Pegawai kanan berkenaan jelas menyatakan bahawa ROS Selangor telah meluluskan pembubaran Balkis tanpa mengikut peraturan dan Undang-undang Pertubuhan.
Sikap ini dilihat sebagai tidak bertanggungjawab sebagai penjawat awam yang memandang remeh tentang sesebuah pertubuhan yang ketika ini masih dalam siasatan. Sehubungan itu, Kerajaan Negeri akan membuat aduan rasmi kepada Ketua Pengarah Perkhidmatan Awam Malaysia, Tan Sri Ismail Adam kerana adalah jelas sikap Pengarah ROS Selangor ini jelas tidak mengikut etika perkhidmatan awam.
Sikap ini juga mencerminkan kelemahan dan ketidakupayaan pegawai kerajaan dalammenjalankan tugas dengan amanah, telus dan bertanggungjawab. Sikap sebegini juga akan menjatuhkan status pegawai kerajaan.
Kerajaan Negeri juga berpendapat pegawai sebegini tidak patut bertugas di Selangor yang amat mementingkan efisiensi (efficiency) dan sistem pentadbiran yang telus dan bertanggujawab.
NIK NAZMI NIK AHMAD
SETIAUSAHA POLITIK KEPADA MENTERI BESAR SELANGOR
Monday, March 30, 2009
From Zorro-unmasked (edited):
This clever use of the Rubik's cube by the creator of the graphics, put it succinctly, the effects of the race-based political parties like Umno, MCA and MIC, on the people, over more than 50 years.
How can we ever get rid of racism, if we continue to harp on race when dealing with everything from education, employment and business? It is like looking at the pie chart showing the composition of the races, and asking for national unity.
The Rubik's cube (above, at the beginning), reflected more like what students felt before, in the fifties and sixties. Since then, politicians had made it worse.
If the intention is to separate the races, then please, do not call for national unity (illogical to me) and wonder why racial polarization is getting from bad to worse. At least, Pakatan Rakyat has given us some hope for improvement.
Just added the following pics (from Zorro-unmasked):
Nizar seems unstoppable
I was so insecure that at one stage, I even worry about not knowing how to offer or light a cigarette for people in a stylish manner as part of being businesslike and sophisticated! But it was the drum solo part in the comic which made my day!
Some of the most ridiculous complaints made by British holidaymakers to their travel agent, taken from recent research by Thomas Cook and ABTA (the Association of British Travel Agents).
"The beach was too sandy." (Too real for comfort. Can’t blame them. Some prefer to swim in hotel pool and get a tan to show envious friends when they return.)
A guest at a Novotel in Australia complained his soup was too thick and strong. He was inadvertently slurping the gravy at the time. (Too shy to ask which might show his ignorance of local food. But this is Australia...unless you were in one of the many exotic restaurants run by 'foreigners')
"Topless sunbathing on the beach should be banned. The holiday was ruined as my husband spent all day looking at other women." (Obviously from an insecure wife. Give him a break and a chance to compare.)
"We bought 'Ray-Ban' sunglasses for five euros (£3.50) from a street trader, only to find out they were fake." (Cheap labour does not go to the extent of being able to make genuine stuff at a fraction of the recommended price.)
"No one told us there would be fish in the sea. The children were startled." (Which planet are you from?)
"It took us nine hours to fly home from Jamaica to England it only took the Americans three hours to get home." (…and you did not find out why?)
"My fiancé and I booked a twin-bedded room but we were placed in a double-bedded room. We now hold you responsible for the fact that I find myself pregnant. This would not have happened if you had put us in the room that we booked."
(Hear, hear, for those who are trying hard to get pregnant. Maybe you should try a double bed instead.)
"I compared the size of our one-bedroom apartment to our friends' three-bedroom apartment and ours was significantly smaller." (Presumably, at the same price? Do you know 1+1+1 = 3?)
"The brochure stated: 'No hairdressers at the accommodation'. We're trainee hairdressers - will we be OK staying
here?" (Hairdressers used to be head-hunters, I suppose, and that’s why they are not allowed, trainees included.)
"There are too many Spanish people. The receptionist speaks Spanish. The food is Spanish. Too many foreigners." (Been in UK too long? Never been abroad, I suppose.)
"We had to queue outside with no air conditioning." (Poor thing. Have you ever thought of not having what they are waiting for, instead?)
"We found the sand was not like the sand in the brochure. Your brochure shows the sand as yellow but it was white." (I suppose, suing for misrepresentation came to your mind, didn’t it?)
"I was bitten by a mosquito - no-one said they could bite." (In the tropics, those tiny insects could kill too.)
"I think it should be explained in the brochure that the local store does not sell proper biscuits like custard creams or ginger nuts." (With that kind of details expected, your brochure would come in the form of telephone directories!)
"It's lazy of the local shopkeepers to close in the afternoons. I often needed to buy things during 'siesta' time - this should be banned." (You complained despite knowing the meaning of ‘siesta’? Still expecting everything to be the same when abroad?)
"On my holiday to Goa in India, I was disgusted to find that almost every restaurant served curry. I don't like spicy food at all." (Find a familiar place, preferably near you, and you are unlikely to get strange foods all over the place.)
"We booked an excursion to a water park but no-one told us we had to bring our swimming costumes and towels." (It did not occur to you to ask before you go?)
Sunday, March 29, 2009
I am typing from Anna's cosy room in Budapest. I left home around 9ish in the morning and six hours later, I was in Anna's flat in the middle of Budapest. The weather is surprisingly sunny and we are expecting it to hit 20 degrees tomorrow.
Jabi should join us from London around 5pm. Before that, we are planning on a lazy brunch and I will probably do an hour of econometrics revision for my exam on Tuesday (I thought that I was done with exams already - sigh!) before enjoying the afternoon in the city.
Anna is planning to cook Hungarian ghoulash for us - I wonder how it will turn out. 0_o ...we've just had thick green lentil Főzelék stew with sausage in a bistro. I am giving Hungarian food the thumbs up! :)
It's altogether nice and relaxed to see Anna again. It doesn't feel like we've not met for more than a year. She is now a researcher with a Hungarian social research institute doing what she likes, i.e. working with data. :)
We are missing Mariya who is also doing research for an international NGO for migration in Sofia. She was visiting Anna several weeks ago when her field research in the Central European states brought her to Budapest.
It will probably take another year before we can have another reunion. It's these moments when we notice how time passes by so quickly!
I will have to postpone my weekend call to the week. Have a nice weekend! Anna sends her regards. :)
If I am not mistaken, I have posted a picture of Anna and myself, with the caption, 'Agent Perut Kosong and Agent Poket Kosong'!
Since the introduction of this special service to enable Perakians to visit KL, more and more people are taking advantage of the convenient and cheap way to travel to KL, even if it was for just the experience.
Last Friday morning, my wife sent me to the Batu Gajah station to go on the 9.15am train. Tickets for the economy fare at Rm10 were sold out (it seems one has to book a few days in advance to get it) and only the Superior Class tickets were available at Rm17.
I enquired about taxi service for arrivals in BG and the KTM man said it costs Rm8 for a trip from the station to the main Jalan Tuallang! Later I had a discussion with a small group of fellow travellers and a Sikh gentleman confirmed that the fare from the station to Changkat (where the government buildings are) costs Rm15!
Just to put it in perspective, the old station in Jalan Pusing was within walking distance for many people, including myself. Now even for anyone living along the main Jalan Tuallang, it means a 2 km taxi ride for Rm8 (compare Rm10 Economy train fare from BG to KL!) or a walk through the kampung, a no-no, especially in the dark. In fact, tonight, the lack of street lighting and sign-posting, caused us to lose our way by car! Before the completion of the flyover to the station, I have lost my way going to the railway station through the kampung a few times, even in broad daylight!
The decision on the location for the new train station was a political one, and never went through the process of seeking the opinions of the local people. In other words, whether it was convenient to the people must have been last on their list of priorities. It might look good to have the station near the railway workshop (a move from Sentul, KL) and other related railway institutions like college, for instance, I still think residents’ convenience should have been paramount. Even Sentul workshop was a few kilometres from the old KL railway station, so the proximity argument seems lame. The sikh gentleman disagreed with my suggestion that the present new station structure could have been built at the old station location. He said the Rukun Tetangga building and Shell station would have to go and so on, but all these arguments seem moot now anyway. But it was a sad indication of politicians not listening when it mattered.
There were only a handful of people in my coach, which included 2 waiters! A wide screen LCD television provided some Tourism Ministry and other advertisements, as well as a feature film for the trip.
Upon arrival at KL Sentral, it was confusing to any first time visitor, or at least it was to me. My brother advised me to take a bus from Brickfields to Taman OUG, off Jalan Kelang Lama. It was confusing and by following a sign to Jalan Tun Sambanthan, I ended up walking past coaches meant for KLIA and Genting and seem to be the only one taking that route!
Looking out for Rapid bus U73, I got on one within a few minutes. Having paid Rm2, I got a ticket given by the driver from a few tickets, which he was holding. Having settled down to a seat, I looked at the details and sure enough, what Moaz Yusuf Ahmad said was true – the ticket was issued at 11.19am and the correct time was almost one hour later at 12.14pm! How RapidKL bus drivers pilfer
Earlier Saturday late afternoon, I was at KL Sentral to buy a ticket for home. It was past 4pm and I saw a KTM information office closed for break from 4.00 to 5.00pm. I wandered around for a while and asked at the information desk. It was after I asked again about tickets for Ipoh that I was told the ticket counter is at the next level up on the right. There should have been a sign at the KTM info office informing about the ticket counters upstairs.
Having bought the ticket, I tried looking at the ticket for platform number and there was none. One has to go from one place to another before one could get the idea that one side is for arrivals and the other for departures. Again, there should have been signs, ‘KTM Intercity Arrivals’ and ‘KTM Intercity Departures’, which could be seen from the escalator.
There is only one clock outside a book and stationery shop, next to Dunkin’ Donuts. For such a modern railway complex, there should have at least one in a more central position than that!
It was during my walkabout (because of being too early) that I discover the hawker centre. Again, there was no sign indicating this, for the benefit of those coming up on the escalator.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
But this post is about how the media can stereo-type different races:
A man is taking a walk in Central park in New York . Suddenly he seesa little girl being attacked by a pit bull dog.
He runs over and starts fighting with the dog. He succeeds in killing the dog and saving the girl's life.
A policeman who was watching the scene walks over and says: 'You are a hero, tomorrow you can read it in all the newspapers:'Brave New Yorker saves the life of little girl'.
The man says: 'But I am not a New Yorker!
'Oh then it will say in newspapers in the morning:'Brave American saves life of little girl' the policeman answers.
'But I am not an American!' - says the man.
'Oh, what are you then?'
The man says: 'I am a Pakistani!'
The next day the newspapers say: 'Extremist kills innocent American dog!!'
First, Pak Lah commented when overseas, that the opposition likes to mind what is happening to Umno. Well, if Umno President invariably becomes Prime Minister, we certainly would like to know what is going on, wouldn't you?
Previously, Umno General Assembly was televised live in almost all stations until the speeches riled the public to the extent of loss of vital votes and seats in the last general elections. While watching NTV7 last night, programmes were interrupted to give 'breaking news' of results of Umno Puteri, Wanita Umno and Umno Youth elections. So, these are important to us then?
Hishamuddin hit out at Anwar, calling him a traitor to the Malay race. Hello? Why is race so important in politics and government? I remember when Najib once said something about non-Malays or non-Bumiputeras will not be left out, my wife's immediate reaction was why must there be reference of race? Why can't a national leader just say we will implement this and that properly or fairly (which seems so difficult here) and avoid any mention of race? She added that, 'How can we avoid being a racist in Malaysia, with all these references to race?' We would very much like to avoid being racial but the leaders kept harping on it, and if it affects us, do we still keep quiet about it? Because it is illegal under the Sedition Act, depending entirely on their interpretation?
Just like illegal assembly, if we were to follow strictly to the letter, our breakfast group which could involve 8 to 10 persons, could have us arrested. Ceramah by the BN leaders, like Najib in Taiping to announce their candidate for Bukit Gantang, was with full police cooperation and days after, Anwar's was treated with FRUs and other strong police presence to prevent the thousands who wanted to hear him. If the permit was deliberately denied, either the opposition would have to forget about having any political gatherings or have a so-called illegal one - all up to BN's own design and interpretation.
Out of the three contenders for Umno Youth top post, simply because of lack of choices, many members of the public wished Mukhriz would get it, despite his reference to racial preference on a number of matters (part of the game, it seems). Now Khairy can be cockier than ever, claiming that he made it on his own. It is similar to what Kalimullah once claimed, that Nasimuddin could jolly well survive (in business, I mean), even without Approved Permits and what Tony Fernandes said, 'What did I get for being a crony?'. I wish some people can be more humble.
By Daily Mail Reporter
26th February 2009
'It is not nice to look back on Facebook and report something that is personal. It should not be allowed.'
'Miss Swan made comments about her job and the company on Facebook and then invited other staff members to read her comments.
He added he was unable to comment on whether Miss Swann had been involved in the decision-making process.
The following story appears to be a joke on what happened in a large multinational company:
A fire alarm rang at 4 PM in a large office when almost all employees were in office (approx 5000).
As usual the entire office was evacuated within 3 mins & all employees gathered outside the office in the designated area waiting for further announcement.
The Security Officer in charge made the following announcement:
"Dear employees - with sincere regret I have been asked to announce that for many of you it will be your last evacuation drill. Due to the recession the company is laying off almost 50% of its employees.
So when this announcement finishes, I ask all of you to move back into the building and if your swipe card does not work then it means you have been laid off in which case you will not be allowed inside and all your belongings will be couriered to you by tomorrow.
The Company has used this innovative approach as we didn't want to fill up the email box with lay-off mails and good bye mails in thousands & also to avoid any fight inside the office and the consequent security issue for all staff.
Hope you have had a rewarding career with us and all the best ahead.
Please move back in & try your luck."
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
My immediate reaction was, ‘of course, now that BN is weaker, they are thinking of ways to maintain their status quo and control’.
What came to my mind was that years ago, then opposition Gerakan, soon after its Penang state victory, joined BN to be part of the federal government. Following that, Sabah was destabilised before PBS was willing to join the ruling coalition. History has shown that any party joining BN would end up being stifled, controlled, bullied and rendered beyond recognition, until they eventually lost their voters’ support.
I view MCA and MIC’s days within BN as numbered – either they have to leave voluntarily or stay on and be wiped out in the next general elections. I am surprised at PPP’s continued stay within, despite being humiliated by their anchor party.
At a recent forum in Subang Jaya, Ms. Tricia Yeoh pointed out the last part in DPM’s recent speech on the Rm60 billion stimulus package, something to the effect, ‘let’s put aside our differences and cooperate…’ She seemed to find it incredulous because events have shown that the federal government had been sidelining opposition-held states time and again. Personally, I could think of Tourism ministry, Transport ministry, Education ministry and all those development funds being controlled by federal people instead of the ruling state governments. Then, there was the secret meeting among government agencies (including the so-called independent Election Commission) to find ways to topple Selangor state government! Can we still trust BN to form a unity government?
The following letter in Malaysiakini seems idealistic, knowing our actual political situation, but there is no harm in thinking out of the box, even if it is just for interest sake.
Unity gov't will restore confidence in public agencies
Timmy Say Mar 24, 09 4:22pm
In Parliament, all MPs are not being addressed by their own name. Instead, they are all addressed as their constituency’s name. I believe there are reasons for that:
1. A constituency doesn't change its name, but its MP always changes over the years.
2. It is To remind the MPs that they are representing their constituency and not their coalition or party.
Sadly, after getting our votes to be a MP in Parliament, most MPs forget that they are representing the people of the constituency as their voice in Parliament. Once in Parliament, they never remember themselves as a wakil rakyat but more as a wakil party as RPK rightly put it in one of his recent articles.
If there are at least 112 MPs who really act behalf of the rakyat instead of their party or coalition in Parliament to voice out the rakyat's wish to support a new prime minister and to break the tradition of accepting blindly the incoming Umno president as the PM, then I believe a unity government will be born automatically.
This will result in the Parliament splitting into two sides - MPs who represent the rakyat through the ruling coalition and the MPs who still think they represent their party as in the opposition coalition.
In terms of viewing it from political parties, this unity government, of course, will be a mixture of those from all the different political parties, Umno, MCA, MIC, PAS, DAP, PKR, SAPP, PPP (and so on). This unity government will be beyond what the spin doctors of the mainstream media are trying to push - a unity government created between PAS and Umno.
Currently, the leaders of our country are doing everything possible to remain in the corridors of power. Everything has been compromised since - the police, the MACC, the judiciary and even the constitution; all to show that they are indeed in power and will remain so by hook or by crook.
The worst thing of all is that public perception towards these supposedly independent institutions such as the MACC, judiciary, police, the civil service and the Election Commission has shifted so dramatically that it is now at the level of ‘none of them can be trusted anymore’.
With these five important institutions suffering from a bad public perception and being unable to function properly, the country automatically can be classified as ‘very ill’. In short, we can just say that our country has stopped working.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. - Plato.
We must become the change we want to see in the world. - Mahatma Gandhi
The People’s Parliament :The return of the reluctant politician
Who is the reluctant politician?
In a post in November, 2007, I suggested that such a person “has what it takes, who doesn’t want to get into Parliament, but gets in out of love for his country and his people, does the best he can, and can’t wait to have someone take his place”.
I met and spoke to one last Saturday in Sarawak.
I am, of course referring to PKR’s candidate for the forthcoming Batang Ai by-election, Jawah Gerang.
Doesn’t want to get into Parliament, but is now willing to stand in this by-election out of love for his country and his people?
Jawah told me that after 22 years of active politics, and after being dropped from the list of nominations in the last general elections, he felt that he had had enough, more so after being sidelined by the BN leadership in Sarawak for no reason other than speaking up for the marginalised Ibans.
“Was that not why I was elected? To look out and speak up for my constituents? In BN, you get punished if you try and do what’s right, if what you try to do runs against the interest of the leadership”, Jawah said.
‘To err is human, to forgive is divine’ was what we learned in school. But there were many instances of custodians of public funds who made ‘big mistakes’ leaving no doubt there were abuses of power and likely criminal breaches of trust. Buying unusually large stakes in certain public companies is something beyond what they were supposed to do.
In other instances, where contracts were signed in favour of concessionaires instead of the public, something is definitely wrong with our state of governance.
What we need are people who have ‘integrity, integrity and integrity’ when it comes to managers of public entities . As trustees of public funds, their first principle should be 'public interest comes first', not like what happened in the last Selangor state government, where the state development companies looked after the wives of state representatives instead, and ordering a Rm1.5million company car for the chairman, who happened to be the Chief Minister!
Monday, March 23, 2009
Federal government vs State government: the former offers a better deal to the private concessionaire using public funds. It has the power to effect the deal if the public did not make a fuss about it. Any which way one looks at it, it is at the expense of the public at large, taxpayers especially where the funds are coming from; also detrimental to the public in Selangor in terms of loss of free water and higher rates. Yet, the federal leaders are determined to carry out the deal. Whose side are they on, being the country's leaders?
It was not the first time, and not going to be the last, because they are emboldened by the continuing mandate given at each general election. Nathaniel Tan's take said it all:
Here’s how I would distill the decidedly murky waters surrounding the Selangor water scandal.
If I were the Selangor government, I would hammer these points and these points alone (or maybe even whittle it down even more). The facts are gleamed from a (slightly over wordy) brochure produced by the Selangor State Government.
To recap, the Selangor government is seeking to reacquire previously privatised water concessionaire companies. The Federal Government is offering to do the same, but at a much, much higher price, and under a different set of circumstances.
The long and short of it, if you believe us, is that BN is looking to spend hundreds of millions more of our money in a plan that will only further enrich cronies at the expense of the rakyat. Here’s how:
1 . Under the federal plan:
- there will be a 31% INCREASE in water tariffs, as opposed to a 25% decrease in tariffs under the Selangor plan.
- the Federal Government (ie, us) will take on RM 6.4 billion of debt, currently owed by the water concessionaires.
- there will no longer be 20 cubic meters of free water every month.
2. Here’s what privatised water concessionaire companies like Syabas have been up to:
- Syabas CEO Rozali Ismail’s salary is a whooping RM 5.1 million a year (RM 425,000 a month).
- Pipe purchases worth RM 600 million were made from an Indonesian company, also owned by Rozali Ismail.
- No open tenders for RM 600 million worth of contracts (over 72% of the total awarded).
- RM 51.2 million spent on renovations of the Syabas head office (JKAS, the water regulatory body for Selangor approved expenditures of only RM 23.2 million)
- Between 2005 - 2007, Syabas exceeded its contract value limit by RM 200 million.
The brochure contains much, much more information and numbers, but I think the above says enough.
Clearly, some enormously fat cat cronies are getting paid off like there was no tomorrow - all this at the expense of a rakyat that is suffering and having their backs broken by an economic crisis of epic proportions.
Again, I really think Selangor and Pakatan should focus on this information, put it in a common package, and reiterate it again, again and again via every single medium (including say, billboards) at its disposal.
I’ve likened it before to a number of submarine commission scandals happening right under our noses, only this time, we still have the chance to stop it, if only we work hard enough.
Spread the word!!
Sunday, March 22, 2009
In fact, most people believe his English should be good, being a product of the good old English medium of instruction, and especially because he has just mentioned in The Sunday Star, that he had a First Class Honours Degree in History from the University of Malaya! Not sure whether the medium of instruction for his degree course was in English, but I used to have breakfast with one of his former teachers from Sabak Bernam who can attest that students in those days have better English than now.
We believe he was less than truthful (to be polite) when he told the Australian authorities that he did not understand the sign in English. So, the people here are harping on the fact that he lied to get away from the offence. It was a case of ‘if you said you did not understand English in Australia, how could you claim you are good in English now?’ Which is which? Either he lied then or he is in fact, not good in English. It would have been opportunistic for him to claim that he is good in English, now that he is going for a higher position in Umno, and by virtue of that, the possibility of being Deputy Prime Minister.
How could we accept someone who is lacking in integrity for such a high position in government?
As usual, I prefer to go without making prior booking for a seat, not so much I did not expect a bigger than capacity attendance, as I do not want to pressure myself. If I made it there on time, then well and good. If not, nobody is going to miss me anyway.
These days, to make me go to KL, I need at least two matters to attend to, to consider it worthwhile. For this trip, it was the forum at Multi-purpose Hall in Subang Jaya; to deliver a picture to a friend’s new office; to have Nee’s old notebook checked by a friend, after it crashed; and to deliver half a dozen bottles of soy sauce made in Sg. Siput, specially ordered by a brother.
At my IT friend’s place, I used his detailed book of maps to figure out how to get to Jalan SS15/4, Subang Jaya. What was shown on the location as instructed by the notice was not good enough for someone from out of town. As I was toying with the idea of going there by train, I tried to relate it to the location of KTM station in Jalan SS16/1, Subang Jaya. With the detailed maps, I had to continue from one page to another, eg. Pg 394 to 395 and back to 365, just to see the continuation of certain roads.
My first decision was by the route I am familiar with ie. from Federal Highway, turn into Jln Kewajipan, Jln Kemajuan Subang, Jln Jengka, then turn into Jalan SS15/4 where the hall would have been at the right. Then, on second thought, I looked for an alternative route which appeared shorter: instead of joining Jln Jengka, I could turn left into SS15/2A, left again into SS15/3B, and finally turn right into SS15/4, and the hall should be on the left.
After dinner, my friend said it is easier to go from Kuchai Lama via NPE to join Federal Highway, before the turn-off into Jalan Kewajipan. This appealed to me, I thought. But after dinner, at about 8pm, it was already dark. I followed her car. The problem with my eyesight now is that I am half-blind at night. What used to be familiar during the day is now strange at night, almost totally different. Even before the toll, she called me to warn that I should keep to the right after the toll because she has smartcard while I have only stupid cash. Despite the instruction, I went on the flyover instead, all because of the overhead sign stating Jalan Jengka! But I’m sure most people would agree, the road signs here are meant to mislead a first time user. I mean, after the first sign, there is no second sign to re-assure you that you are on the right track! So I was lost after that, seeing myself in USJ instead! I just used my hunches and tried my luck. Fortunately, there are signs showing Jalan SS13, 14, etc. from which I could relate to. I did not know I was on Jalan Jengka (until later) when I saw a sign showing Subang Jaya should be in the opposite direction! I did a U-turn and tried again. Fortunately, (again, my complaint is that signs showing us to turn left could be misleading, and often I turned either too early or too late) I turned into a road showing Public Bank and then a road which was mentioned in my location map ie. Jalan SS15/8A.
I decided that it is better to ask for directions and walk to the place. I asked a lady in a car, waiting for someone. As expected, she looked at me with suspicion, then wound down an inch of the car window and listened to my query. She suggested that I take the car but I told her I would walk instead. It was a fairly short walk before I could see the hawker centre which is across the road from the Multi-purpose Hall.
I only missed the introduction as I saw Tony Pua going on to the stage. I looked around, trying to see some familiar faces. I saw Nik Nazmi and went over to shake his hand before I sat a couple of seats from him. I recognized Hannah Yeoh and her husband. She turned back to smile at a number of her friends. I was glad she recognized me from the last convention, I think.
Initially, the speakers slated were Tony Pua, Tian Chua, Nik Nazmi and Tricia Yeoh. But William Leong appeared to have taken Tian Chua’s place.
Briefly, from the speeches, I am glad that we have a group of highly intelligent and capable leaders who are out to make a difference. Some might be young but what they lack in terms of experience, they more than make up with their passion and interest in taking up the challenge in their current positions. When the going gets tough, the tough gets going! Anyone not up to the mark would be replaced by a pool of suitably qualified people.
I would like to have met all the speakers, if not for the fact that the forum ended half an hour later than expected, ie. 11.00pm! - the time I was supposed to be at my friend’s house in Titiwangsa! I asked someone on the way out of the hall and he gave me the directions to go back to the Federal Highway and I was half an hour late. Another ex-classmate (since kindergarten days, who is now a Canadian citizen) was also putting up in his place. He was really surprised to see me, exclaiming, “Why didn’t you tell me you are waiting for this fella?!”
Saturday, March 21, 2009
The good news is, we have enough money to pay for our new building program. The bad news is, it's still out there in your pockets."
The minister was preoccupied with thoughts of how he was going to ask the congregation to come up with more money than they were expecting for repairs to the church building. Therefore, he was annoyed to find that the regular organist was sick and a substitute had been brought in at the last minute. The substitute wanted to know what to play.
"Here's a copy of the service," he said impatiently. "But, you'll have to think of something to play after I make the announcement about the finances."
During the service, the minister paused and said, "Brothers and Sisters, we are in great difficulty; the roof repairs cost twice as much as we expected and we need $4,000 more. Any of you who can pledge $100 or more, please stand up."
At that moment, the substitute organist played "The Star Spangled Banner."
And that is how the substitute became the regular organist
One took a window seat and the other sat next to him in the middleseat... Just before takeoff, a U.S. Marine sat down in the aisle seat.
After takeoff, the Marine kicked his shoes off, wiggled his toes and was settling in when the Arab in the window seat said, 'I need to get up and get a coke.'
'Don't get up,' said the Marine, 'I'm in the aisle seat, 'I'll get it for you.'
As soon as he left, one of the Arabs picked up the Marines shoe and spat in it.
When the Marine returned with the coke, the other Arab said, 'That looksgood, I'd really like one, too.'
Again, the Marine obligingly went to fetch it. While he was gone the other Arab picked up the Marines other shoe and spat in it.
When the Marine returned, they all sat back and enjoyed the flight. As the plane was landing, the Marine slipped his feet into his shoes and knew immediately what had happened. He leaned over and asked his Arab neighbours,
'Why does it have to be this way?'
'How long must this go on?
This fighting between our nations?
. . . This spitting in shoes and pissing in cokes?'
Thursday, March 19, 2009
When we do not have a choice of who should be PM, and with the limited choice available to Umno, the fall of Ali Rustam makes not much of a difference to us.
Well, like the saying goes, ‘If you can’t beat them, join them!” which reminds me of this joke:
Whenever I'm disappointed with my spot in life, I stop and think about little Jamie Scott.
Jamie was trying out for a part in the school play. His mother told me that he'd set his heart on being in it, though she feared he would not be chosen.
On the day the parts were awarded, I went with her to collect him after school.
Jamie rushed up to her, eyes shining with pride and excitement. 'Guess what, Mom,' he shouted, and then said those words that will remain a lesson to me...'I've been chosen to clap and cheer.'
For Ali Rustam’s cockiness in the past, Kayveas in particular, should be having the last laugh by now. Raja Petra’s article is worth reminding us of other Umno leaders’ arrogance too.
A racist bites the dust, at last (Excerpts):
Remember what happened during the PPP Convention in Melaka back in October 2007? I am sure some of you probably can’t and many of your may have never even read the article posted in this same column back then. Never mind, for those who may have missed it or have forgotten about it, in commemoration of Ali Rustam’s banning from contesting the Umno party elections, I am republishing this piece.
THE CORRIDORS OF POWER
Raja Petra Kamarudin
Ali Rustam: Even God can’t sink Umno
The Corridors of Power, 19 October 2007
On 15 October 2007, the Chief Minister of Melaka, Mohd Ali Rustam, officiated the People’s Progressive Party’s state convention and he sang the same old tune, Umno is unsinkable and even God Himself can’t sink the party. Okay, maybe I am exaggerating a bit what he said. But this was basically what he told the assembly of PPP leaders and members in a very long-winded manner -- one and a half hours to be exact.
Ali Rustam, the self-proclaimed ‘Senior Vice President’ of Umno -- actually there is no such post but he likes to address himself as such -- stood on stage in front of the entire hall filled with PPP leaders and members, and with fingers pointed said that PPP can leave Barisan Nasional. Leave today, or even tomorrow, said Ali Rustam, just don’t wait for the next election before leaving.The PPP President and Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk M. Kayveas, fidgeted in his seat, as did the entire hall. Ali Rustam was going berserk. He was reminiscent of Adolf Hitler jumping up and down, ranting and raving like a dog foaming at the mouth that had gone mad with rabies. Nobody reacted. Nobody could react. They were all too shocked to react and just sat there for the next one and a half hours as Ali Rustam told PPP and the entire non-Malay population of Malaysia that they are insignificant and Umno does not need them.
Ali Rustam should not tempt God or fate or whatever it is that he believes in. Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is fond of relating the story of the mistake he made in 1969 when he told the Chinese he does not need their votes. 3,000 Chinese swung to PAS, said Mahathir. And Yusuf Rawa won that seat while the Grand Old Man of Malaysian politics was sent into temporary retirement. Even the great and very confident Mahathir will caution you about telling the non-Malay voters that you don’t need them. And surely Mahathir is a bigger man than Ali Rustam.
Umno does not need any of the component members of Barisan Nasional, Ali Rustam went on. Umno has four million members and it can win the elections without the help of the rest of the component members of Barisan Nasional. Umno has been strong for 50 years and it will continue ruling this country for the next 50 years as well, Ali Rustam assured the assembly of PPP leaders and members.PPP had better not ask for any seat in Melaka, Ali Rustam warned the assembly. If Perak wants to allow PPP a seat then that is up to the Perak Menteri Besar. That is his own decision and the party does not support him on this matter. After all, the Perak Menteri is a kaki bodek, said Ali Rustam to the shocked audience who could not believe they were hearing all this.
The punch line that Ali Rustam wanted to deliver to the assembly of PPP leaders and members is that the party is not going to be given any seat in Melaka. And to demonstrate that he meant business, he asked PPP to leave Barisan Nasional. Leave now! What are you waiting for? Leave now! You want a seat is it? No seat for you! Who says Umno needs the component members, especially PPP? PPP means nothing to us! Leave now!
A little boy, about 10-years-old, was standing before a shoe store on the roadway, barefooted, peering through the window, and shivering with cold.
A lady approached the young boy and said, 'My, but you're in such deep thought staring in that window!'
'I was asking God to give me a pair of shoes,' was the boy's reply.
The lady took him by the hand, went into the store, and asked the clerk to get half a dozen pairs of socks for the boy. She then asked if he could give her a basin of water and a towel. He quickly brought them to her.
She took the little fellow to the back part of the store and, removing her gloves, knelt down, washed his little feet, and dried them with the towel..
By this time, the clerk had returned with the socks. Placing a pair upon the boy's feet, she purchased him a pair of shoes.
She tied up the remaining pairs of socks and gave them to him.. She patted him on the head and said, 'No doubt, you will be more comfortable now.'
As she turned to go, the astonished kid caught her by the hand, and looking up into her face, with tears in his eyes, asked her, 'Are you God's wife?'
Meanwhile, at another place on Earth:
A Sunday School teacher began her lesson with a question, "Boys and girls, what do we know about God?"
A hand shot up in the air. "He is an artist!" said the kindergarten boy.
"Really? How do you know?" the teacher asked.
"You know - Our Father, who does art in Heaven... "
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Interviewer: Tell me more about yourself and why do you think we should employ you.
Applicant: “I have good communication skills.”
Interviewer: (So he spends lots of time chatting with colleagues and on the phone.)
Applicant: “I consider myself an average employee.”
Interviewer: (Such modesty! I think this guy is not too bright)
Applicant: “I would say I am active socially”
Interviewer: (So he goes out often and drinks a lot with his buddies)
Applicant: “My family is just as active socially”
Interviewer: (Not a homebody for sure, and spouse drinks, too)
Applicant: “I have always been an independent worker”
Interviewer: (In other words, nobody knows what he does)
Applicant: “I pay meticulous attention to detail”
(Oh no, not one with OCB, a nit picker!)
Applicant: “I believe I have exceptionally good judgment”
(Well, you have been lucky so far, haven’t you?)
Applicant: “Friends say I have a keen sense of humour”
(So you know a lot of corny jokes and forward them to your friends, on company time)
“I am career minded”
(Wouldn’t mind apple-polishing and likely to be a back stabber then)
“The one thing you can be sure of, I am very loyal”
(Or is it because you can't get a job anywhere else?)
Actually, the above made-up interview was in draft form for a couple of days. It is such a coincidence when I read today’s Star on Najib’s criteria for his second in command:
“The Government must cultivate the trust and confidence of the people. One way to get the people to trust us is by being transparent and to tell the truth. And I am committed to doing that,” he said.
Earlier in his speech, Najib stressed that it was important for a “chief executive officer” of an organisation to pick the right man to help him steer the organisation.
He explained that the common factors a boss looked at when choosing a man for a key position were ability, acceptability, integrity and loyalty.
“For me, integrity should be put first among the factors followed by ability. But sometimes in practice, it is more prone to put loyalty first.
“That is so because we might feel compatible with a person who is loyal to us. Nevertheless, if that person is loyal but without integrity and no ability, he can bring the downfall of the boss,” he said.
Give me credibility first before I can take his word on those criteria. Otherwise, just like the cynical interviewer, my response would be as follows:
Ability (able to carry out his dirty work?)
Acceptability (acceptable to him first, then Umno leadership, but never the people)
Integrity (his own version, not Transparency International or the universally acceptable one)
Loyalty (blind one at that, at all times, at all costs)
If the political leaders are still insecure about their opponents, then they are not fit to be our leaders. Please open up, or best still, abolish the Universities and Univerity Colleges Act altogether.
YB Nik Nazmi laments:
'For me, being treated like that was not unfamiliar as a Pakatan Rakyat leader. But I regret that students are exposed to such unprofessional antics that do not reflect UM as a respectable institution in Malaysia. Why should students be harassed in such a way to conduct their activities? What sort of values are we teaching our students?'
For his full post, 'An Unfortunate Incident During a UM Students Program'
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
"I am now writing this during lunch break at the Selangor State Legislative Assembly. At 2:30pm today, if you follow the live online streaming, you will be able to witness the emergency motion put forward by Kampung Tunku, Lau Weng San.
The most unbelievable part is this - guess who sits in this committee? Hold your breath, here's the list:
Members : Majlis Keselamatan Negara, Jabatan Belia dan Sukan, Jabatan Penerangan Malaysia, Jabatan Hal Ehwal Khas, Jabatan Kemajuan Masyarakat, Jabatan Perpaduan Negara dan Integrasi Nasional and SURUHANJAYA PILIHAN RAYA!!
they, that they can fool us?
Someone's nice compilation of five different situations (with nice animations which I do not know how to transfer here) where children's logic could catch us when we speak without thinking:
A little girl was talking to her teacher about whales.
The teacher said it was physically impossible for a whale to swallow a human because even though it was a very large mammal its throat was very small.
The little girl stated that Jonah was swallowed by a whale.
Irritated, the teacher reiterated that a whale could not swallow a human; it was physically impossible.
The little girl said, "When I get to heaven I will ask Jonah".
The teacher asked, "What if Jonah went to hell?"
The little girl replied, "Then you ask him".
A Kindergarten teacher was observing her classroom of children while they were drawing. She would occasionally walk around to see each child's work.
As she got to one little girl who was working diligently, she asked what the drawing was.
The girl replied, "I'm drawing God."
The teacher paused and said, "But no one knows what God looks like."
Without missing a beat, or looking up from her drawing, the girl replied, "They will in a minute."
One day a little girl was sitting and watching her mother do the dishes at the kitchen sink. She suddenly noticed that her mother had several strands of white hair sticking out in contrast on her brunette head.
She looked at her mother and inquisitively asked, "Why are some of your hairs white, Mom?"
Her mother replied, "Well, every time that you do something wrong and make me cry or unhappy, one of my hairs turns white."
The little girl thought about this revelation for a while and then said, "Momma, how come ALL of grandma's hairs are white?"
The children had all been photographed, and the teacher was trying to persuade them each to buy a copy of the group picture.
"Just think how nice it will be to look at it when you are all grown up and say, 'There's Jennifer, she's a lawyer,' or 'That's Michael, He's a doctor.'
A small voice at the back of the room rang out, "And there's the teacher, she's dead."
The children were lined up in the cafeteria of a Catholic elementary school for lunch. At the head of the table was a large pile of apples. The nun made a note, and posted on the apple tray:
"Take only ONE ... God is watching."
Moving further along the lunch line, at the other end of the table was a large pile of chocolate chip cookies.
A child had written a note, "Take all you want. God is watching the apples."
The following was news of someone who really appreciated children...probably he did not have any:
Mystery man gives couple blank cheque
An Iowa couple are £50,000 better off after a complete stranger gave them a blank cheque in a cafe.
He told them: "Write any amount you like - I'm good for it."
The couple took him at his word to the tune of $100,000, about £50,600, reports the Daily Mirror.
But they could not believe their luck when the cheque cleared.
The couple met their elderly benefactor in Dr Salami's Cafe in Pella, Iowa. He first asked if they had any kids. They told him they had a two-year-old.
Then he gave his conditions: They were to use the cash to buy a house, never reveal his identity - nor their own full names. And they have to name their next child after him.
Alissa and Barry thought it was probably a joke but decided to play along by filling in the amount for $100,000.
Barry said: "We decided to give it a whirl next day, never thinking he was serious - but he was!"
The mystery man also left the waitress a $100 tip.
Monday, March 16, 2009
True! Besides, in Malaysia, we have Royalty, Race, and Religion, which are so sensitive that it is advisable to steer clear of. But then again, when we criticise Umno, it being a Malay party, certain Malays will feel we are criticising them as well, so how? Now that, they are back to championing the Rulers, are they immune to attacks too?
Malaysia’s most famous son-in-law did mention he did not want to take action against bloggers because they are out to gain publicity. Quite true, otherwise, how to get free publicity? So, in a way, unknown bloggers stand to gain by knowing that he will not take action, and if he does, we gain publicity which otherwise we would not have!
Similarly, reporter Ms. Tan Hoon Cheng, would not have become well known, if not for her arrest (for her own safety, of all reasons!) under the Internal Security Act.
By the way, YB Gobind Singh Deo has been suspended from Parliament for 1 year! Why did I get the feeling that it was a simple ‘tit for tat’ in response to Perak Speaker’s suspension of 7 State Assemblymen for 18 months, whose decision is awaiting court hearing? It has created so much suspense! You can bet, Gobind will increase his majority at the next elections, just like what happened to YB Fong Po Kuan, after her 6-month suspension.
Nazri is a friend of Pakatan in that his actions, time and again, invariably push fence sitters to support the opposition. It is not so much that Pakatan is strong but BN is getting more and more unpopular. Sometimes, the opposition needs really unpopular leaders like him, to gain support. Throw in perceived biasness in the judiciary, police and election commission and we have it made.
I believe even the strongest party cannot rule a country forever. Just like the Chinese belief that a family’s wealth cannot last 3 generations, power corrupts and many years of corruption and autocratic rule would have offended more and more people until such time when more people are against the party than those who support it.
Over the years, the Alliance and then Barisan Nasional had offended countless number of people through its own unfairness. Even recently, we can count the increasing number of lecturers and other professionals going opposition. Then you have those who died in police custody like the recent Kugan’s case; and all those who faced unfair competitions in education, employment and business. On top of that, BN faced competition from within, like for example, when someone is selected for a position or as a candidate, his rivals are likely to sabotage because they are in politics because of positions and wealth.
Go on then, flex your muscles and help us win support from the people in the next elections.
Back to the blogging subject, someone criticized Zorro unmasked (of all persons) and got a real FOOK OFF! zorro-unmasked: Start a blog and teach me then http://zorro-zorro-unmasked.blogspot.com/
First they damaged the marble plaque. Then they poured a black substance to cover the inscriptions. Still not satisfied, probably could not sleep, someone gave the order to remove it altogether. How petty could one get?
Democratic spirit should be in us, not in the plaque, which was just a symbol. What good is it to remove it? Eyesore? Obstruction to traffic? Is this Zambry's way to win the public over?
I find it strange that Najib announced BN's candidate for Bukit Gantang when he was in Taiping! I wonder if the billboard with his pictures (together with Azalina and Pak Lah)at the overhead bridge next to Bukit Gantang service area) splashed with red paint and taken off, has been replaced. Whoever selected as candidate, is going to be a sacrificial lamb because Najib has announced that there won't be any last minute development projects during campaigning. If BN could not win with millions spent in Permatang Pauh and Kuala Terengganu, is it going to win without? Probably given up even before trying. If Nizar is contesting under Pakatan, his opponent might even lose his deposit!
I always believe and hope that our country will be lead by such ideal leaders. I also believe that such people are driven by their passion for the good of the country rather than for positions or personal gains.
We have to believe there are such people, which is why I am most disappointed with a friend who is always cynical about politicians and would generalise that all politicians are in it for their personal objectives. He is also one who would not put his name on any cause in case it might jeopardise his pension or create unnecessary problems with the authorities.
To be fair to the few good politicians who are in it for freedom, justice, equality and so on, I would not expect them to be shouldering the responsibilities for too long, unless they wish to. I believe there are those who would do it even without personal gains, yet they are accused of being unwilling to give up their positions.
On the other hand, if public life is becoming too much in terms of encroachment on personal life, then it is time to call it a day and let others have a go at it.
Well, if the system is fair, then the best person should win in any given contest, though this is far from satisfactory in practice. If you think a certain leader is too autocratic, then try and oust him. If not, just quit and let others bear with such leaders. Ultimately, the voters should be the ones to decide on who should lead us.
Even for the post of town or city councillor, when we actually read the requirements of a good one, as spelt out by Dr. Goh Ban Lee some time ago, and briefly in Edward Lee’s blogsite, Role of a State Legislator, not many people are really up to it!
So it is a wonder how certain politicians who quitted from the Pakatan Rakyat in Perak as Deputy Speaker and State Exco Members, could claim that they were being ignored or sidelined which was the main reason why they hopped over to Barisan Nasional, even though claiming to be independents. Were they too big for their positions as Exco members after just less than a year? If they were truly independents, Perak State Assembly did not have a simple majority coalition. If that is not being conceited and deceitful, I do not know what is.
My selection of certain parts of Dr. M. Bakri Musa’s book review…readers are advised to read his whole review to get a proper perspective of Saifuddin’s book.
M. Bakri Musa - Calling for a new breed of politicians
Saifuddin does not explore why politics has degenerated in our country, or why our current politicians do not share their earlier compatriots’ deep sense of duty and service to the community. My own theory is this. Unlike earlier leaders who were inspired by the struggle for merdeka; today’s politicians lack such transcendental ideals; hence they are easily corrupted by material gains.
Further unlike the past, today’s best and brightest today have other much more rewarding avenues for their talent. If they have not already succumbed to the seduction of the First World, there is the lucrative private sector at home.
Attracting talent is a major challenge. Generous compensation is not entirely the answer. America does not pay its leaders on the same scale as the private sector, yet there is no shortage of capable and willing candidates. Paying them poorly however, would definitely attract only the corrupt and the less-than-talented, a destructive combination.
While we should strive for competent, dedicated and incorruptible leaders, we should nevertheless be realistic and deal with the cards we have. To prioritize, I would put competence first. The public would readily overlook if not forgive an otherwise competent leader’s other inadequacies. Witness America’s continuing admiration for Jack Kennedy despite his unsavory personal morality. Malaysians tolerated the corruption of the Mahathir era because his was a competent administration, and the level of sleaze was at least manageable.
It is for this reason that I am not enamored with Saifuddin’s idea of electing town councilors. In theory that would be the essence of grassroots participatory democracy, in practice however, it would merely bring the current political gridlock down to the local level. Witness the ongoing paralysis in Perak and elsewhere where the party in power is different from the one nationally. Now imagine the local, state and federal governments all under different political parties! To reemphasize, I would put competence ahead of everything else, including ideology. Town dwellers just want their potholes filled and drains unclogged!
I have a simpler and more accurate concept that is readily understood by the masses. We would empower them if we grant them their personal merdeka to make their own decisions. Repealing the Universities and Colleges Act for example, would grant our students their personal merdeka.
As with a nation, we must properly prepare our citizens for their merdeka lest they corrupt that precious gift as a license for anarchy. Meaning, we must make the relevant information readily available to them and they must be capable of thinking critically. Thus we must have freedom of the press and a decent education system.
In many ways the issue of press freedom is now mute. The Internet has democratized access to information and no government, not even the most repressive, has a monopoly on information nowadays. The deficiencies of our education system however is not so readily overcome or bypassed. It remains the biggest obstacle to effectively empowering our citizens.
Saifuddin is silent on the Internal Security Act (and other intrusive laws) and affirmative action. These issues are dear to all Malaysians and must be faced directly. Leaders with higher aspirations cannot pussyfoot around these defining matters. The ISA and other oppressive laws are the antithesis of empowering our people.
Another wrinkle is that with few notable exceptions, civil society in Malaysia is race based. Thus the government has to mediate the conflicting demands of GAPENA, the Malay writers association, and Suqui, the champions of Chinese education.
As a politician Saifuddin faces the twin challenges of first changing UMNO along the lines suggested in his book, and second of ensuring that he is not changed in the process. Both are formidable undertakings. His writing this volume is an excellent beginning.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Two nights ago, they smashed the edges of the Democracy Tree plaque. Kinta Kid now informs me that the plaque has been vandalised again.
This time they poured road tar on the inscription on the plaque, so that it can’t be read.
What a bunch of losers! This shows their utter contempt for any symbol of democracy.
IPOH: Vandals hit the plaque under Perak’s Democracy Tree for the second time early Saturday morning by splashing a black liquid over the broken black marble slab that marked the historic State Assembly sitting under its boughs on Mar 3.
The next day, Mrs.Sharma receives a telephone call from AEC (Ahmedabad Electric Company) because the electricity bill has not been paid.
"GOD!!!!!!...... ... this is too much........ .."
"I know that ....... let me talk to my husband about this tonight...... he will speak to your company tomorrow"
That night, she tells her husband about the visit, and he, mad as a bull, rushes to AEC office the next day morning.
What business is that of yours?" the husband shouts.
"Well, in that case, sir, we'd have no option but to cut yours off."
"And what would my wife do then?" the husband asks.
Now, there is a motion to suspend YB Gobind Singh Deo for one whole year! Another example of hardline policies of late, and we have to brace ourselves for more to come.
Malaysia Today: Consistency Of Purpose, Duty And Responsibility
Since the Perak affair began, many of us have questioned the wisdom of the Sultan of Perak’s decision against dissolving the state assembly. I am, like many of you, not trained in law but I am reasonably educated with a modicum of common sense.
By TUNKU ABDUL AZIZ/ MySinchew
My loyalty, however, is to my own raja, the Sultan of Kedah, and that loyalty, however, is not unqualified. He has to earn it by acting in the best interests of his subjects. That to me is every ruler’s sole raison d’etre. The French have another word, noblesse oblige, which is translated as those who enjoy the advantage of wealth and power have an obligation to protect those who do not have these advantages.
In this enlightened age, the only appeal to a person’s respect and loyalty that is likely to mean anything at all must be based on reason. It is no longer appropriate to invoke “lese majesty” as a form of legal sanction to secure the loyalty and affection of the people. There has recently been a great deal of talk about social contract or compact in the context of the special rights of the Malays. I am not aware that any such contract exists, but I know that there is in universal terms an unwritten social compact between the government and the governed, and between the ruler and the ruled. In effect, what this stipulates is that it is the duty of the government or the ruler to ensure that the will of the people must be allowed full rein under the constitution to exercise their rights. In return, the people agree among themselves to conduct their affairs in ways that benefit the community as a whole. In a nutshell, we cannot have a prosperous and harmonious society by acting outside the constitutional parameters, and this injunction applies to both the ruler and the ruled.
On another matter, I was surprised by Rosmah's claim that her husband is destined to be PM. Why not wait for another few days? Being a pessimist myself, I would never claim something until it is confirmed as fact, akin to 'not counting chickens until they are hatched', as I am superstitious to believe there are other 'forces' which might be invoked to go against it. What comes to mind was this write-up in a local paper about a HK lady living in a 8-storey house and few days later, her house was burgled!