making sense of loose coffeeshop talk, political analyses and comments
How should we judge a government?
In Malaysia, if you don't watch television or read newspapers, you are uninformed; but if you do, you are misinformed!
"If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing." - Malcolm X
Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience - Mark Twain
Why we should be against censorship in a court of law: Publicity is the very soul of justice … it keeps the judge himself, while trying, under trial. - Jeremy Bentham
"Our government is like a baby's alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no
responsibility at the other. " - Ronald Reagan
Government fed by the people
I suggest government... because nobody has ever been caught.
Corruption so prevalent it affects English language?
Corruption is so prevalent it affects English language?
When there's too much dirt...
We need better tools... to cover up mega corruptions.
Prevent bullying now!
If you're not going to speak up, how is the world supposed to know you exist? “Orang boleh pandai setinggi langit, tapi selama ia tidak menulis, ia akan hilang di dalam masyarakat dan dari sejarah.” - Ananta Prameodya Toer (Your intellect may soar to the sky but if you do not write, you will be lost from society and to history.)
'First, remove politicians from the Ministry of Education.
Education and politics don’t mix. The process of learning, and growing up requires us to recognise, admit and make improvements. You won’t learn if you are big headed, egoistic, and don’t listen.
Have you come across a politician who isn’t like that? I haven’t...'
'Second, our YBs must enrol their children in public schools. From the “wakil rakyat” to our dear prime minister.
Politicians, more than anyone else, will want the best for their children. Making them send their children to public schools provides them with a strong incentive to push for reforms in public education.
Not only that, schools will be also be on their toes vis a vis teaching standards...'
'Third, we need better teachers. According to a World Bank report, 70 per cent of them are not even qualified to take up Bachelor of Education.
Unemployed graduates with no interest in teaching are also trained to teach in this country.
I suggest MOE retain and recruit back well-trained, retired teachers. Since they were responsible for our past successes, it is only logical for us to retain their services. Hire them as consultants if you want. If we can pay the Americans good money under the Fulbright programme, why not pay our experienced teachers the same?
When that happens, I guarantee you will not have problems looking for good teachers...'
'Fourth, let us teach our young in the English language. If not PPSMI, then the government should consider creating English-medium schools in the country.
Critics should be made to understand that as long as Malaysia is regarded as a Third World country (no matter what the consultants want us to believe), as long as our graduates are unemployable, and as long as Malaysia remains behind technologically, Bahasa Malaysia will never be looked up to by the world...'
'Fifth, and last, let us leave religious lessons at home.
Our public schools should be sanctuaries that promote unity, beacons and centers of excellence and not homogenous classrooms that sprout racial, religious and political intolerance.
Students, parents and most importantly government servants should check their race and religion at the school gates. And with that I propose the scrapping of religious classes and moral studies in our schools...'
'Lastly, Malcolm X said, “Education is after all our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.”
I hope the government realises that the rise and fall of our nation lies with them.
While our politicians are dispensable, our future certainly is not.'
It is the time of the year when Malaysiakini invites their subscribers to vote for their Top News and Newsmaker of 2013.
Looking at the list, it is amazing how some news were easily forgotten while others still fresh in my mind. I'm sure your list or my list may not necessarily be the same as Malaysiakini's.
Since we are reminded that the newsmaker may not be the most popular, I can expect the popular votes will go to the most unpopular personality! Similarly, the top news is likely to be that which most riled up the public...
Top News of 2013
Vote by indicating your preference for each of the nominees - one vote being the lowest and 10 the highest. You may give the same number of votes for each nominees. Voting is opened to all paying subscribers and you can only vote once.
Attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail’s alleged involvement in lost of Batu Puteh
Barang Naik (petrol, sugar, electricity, public transport, tolls hikes, etc) and the Goods and Services Tax (GST)
Bumiputera Economic Empowerment (BEE)
Candi demolition in Kedah
Canteen in shower room and cow slaughter in schools
Court acquittals - Altantuya Shariibuu’s convicted killers / Ling Liong Sik / Aminulrashid Amzah
Death of Chin Peng
Deaths in custody - P Karuna Nithi, C Sugumar and others
Education crisis and blueprint
GE13 / Chinese tsunami / Apa Lagi Cina Mau? Malapportionment and Blackout 505 rallies
K-pop sponsorships and Auditor-General’s Report
Listen, listen, listen
Mat Sabu and Shiite crackdown
Pay hike in Selangor and other assemblies
Prevention of Crime Act, Ops Cantas and crime statistics, gangland shootings, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi's shoot first remark
Religious row - Allah court case, dog trainer video, Johor surau demolition, Alvivi
Rosmah Mansor’s private jet and PM’s residence
Sabah RCI on illegal immigrants
Sulu incursion / Lahad Datu
Tanda Putera / New Village / the playing of Negaraku in cinemas
Newsmaker of the Year 2013
Definition: A newsmaker is someone whose actions make news headlines, who effects the course of public discourse and creates an impact in Malaysian politics, for better or worse.
Ahmad Zahid Hamidi
Dr Mahathir Mohamad
Mohamad 'Mat' Sabu
Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor
Shahrizat A Jalil
MCA wants 6% GST rate maintained for at least 5 years
Me: Even MCA expects the rate to be increased only, never to be reduced?
Be 'the next Mandela', (MCA) delegate urges Najib
Me: Unbelievable indeed! There is nothing whatsoever in Najib's aristocratic life which has anything in common with Mandela. Never spent a day in prison; became an MP in his early 20s, and it was smooth sailing all the way to become PM at age 56. With a status-conscious wife, there is no way he is giving up his position unless forced to.
As President of Umno, he is unable to change the party from within; afraid to tell off Perkasa; and so long as Umno remain a race-based party responsible for racial discrimination, it is the opposite of what Mandela fought for.
Let Malays run casinos too, ex-minister (Zaid) suggests
In mooting the idea in his latest blog post, the one-term de facto law minister chided Putrajaya for “making things difficult” for Malay businessmen by only limiting their participation to so-called halal ventures.
“Many years ago I had advocated a fairer gaming policy in the country in the belief that the Malays should be allowed to participate in this lucrative industry. I objected strongly to the gaming monopoly, the likes of which you won’t find anywhere else in the world,” Zaid said.
“It’s a ruse to enrich cronies, nothing more. If Islam were the real reason for disallowing the Malays from taking part, then there should be an outright ban.”
Me: Over the years, Umno compromised itself by benefiting from haram businesses while banning Muslims from such activities. Is it less sinful?
Tycoon Lee makes his presence felt at MCA, suggests using sin taxes to run Chinese schools
'Tan Sri Lee Kim Yew, who is also Parit Sulong MCA division member, said the federal government could channel 20% of its revenue from alcohol and gambling taxes to Chinese schools to cover their operating expenses.'
'According to Education Ministry statistics, there are now 1,291 government Chinese primary schools, out of a total of 7,709, making up the second largest number of primary schools after national primary schools which number 5,949.
There is however no government Chinese secondary schools. All 60 Chinese secondary schools in the country are private and managed by Dong Jiao Zong (United Chinese School Committees Association of Malaysia).
In 2010, there were 603,192 pupils enrolled in Chinese primary schools, compared with 2.18 million in national primary schools.'
Me: The statistics are useful for future reference. Btw, are Chinese synonymous with Sins? We appear to be so, from the way we are implicated, with references as if we have no qualms getting involved in sinful activities.
He had his day when his father-in-law was PM, and he had made his pile too when the going was good. Now that he is a full Minister and on his way to realising his dream of becoming PM, he is certainly trying to make himself worthy of his own position within Umno's raison d'etre.
Maybe he is too young to know what a sextagenarian Chinese had been through since the introduction of NEP in the '70s. It was a time when advertisements for job vacancies invariably include 'Bumiputeras only' or 'Bumiputeras are encouraged to apply' or 'Preference will be given to Bumiputeras'. It was most discouraging to non-Bumis indeed, through no fault of theirs.
There were a fair number of non-Malays in government departments then, but for those heads of department, the pressure was on, to find their Malay successors in the shortest possible time. If you were second or third in line, but a non-Malay, you have reached the glass ceiling. Malay subordinates were groomed to take over as heads of department. Some of those who were sidelined decided to migrate because they knew the time had come for their children to face discrimination in education, employment, career advancement and business opportunities.
What was meant to be a policy for a definitive period, turned out to be a never ending one. Because silence was taken as a sign of acquiescence or even weakness, Umno leaders began to be more and more demanding and arrogant.
It is a fact that Malays are already in control of the military, police, government departments, GLCs and public educational institutions. Even public listed companies have to comply with rules to ensure there are Malay directors and shareholders. It is also an open secret that Chinese businessmen are good at making full use of their Malay directors' connections with Umno leaders who are also Malaysia's political leaders from PM, DPM and senior ministers downwards. Mega government contracts are given to those who have Malay partners or participation.
Over the years, the Chinese are quite happy to live their own lives within certain constraints as set out by our government policies. MCA used to be almost an equal partner in Alliance Party, but relegated to become a necessary nuisance in the eyes of Umno. Chinese are basically divided into two ideologies: join MCA and lead a comfortable life or join an opposition party like DAP and fight for basic rights, especially when BN members are given preferential treatment at every turn. BN leaders are likely to make use of positions and connections in everything they do, right down to having special treatment in clubs and restaurants. They are fond of the term 'Who you know' and enjoy being above others.
Like it or hate it, the Chinese are well known to mind their own business (which gave rise to the unflattering expression: the Chinese house windows are shut) in every country they live in (there are Chinatowns in every big city), mixing among themselves and speaking their own language or dialect.
It is now a common complaint among Malays in Malaysia that the Chinese schools are the main reason why Chinese Malaysians are generally weak at speaking Bahasa Malaysia. They tend to ignore the national language whenever possible, even having to use touts at government departments because they are unable to understand enough to fill the forms. But then again, are you going to insist that every Malaysian must know the national language? If this is made a criterion, then there are over 200 million in Indonesia who are eligible.
When Khairy complained about Chinese employers discriminating against Malay applicants, it ruffled many Chinese feathers. Chinese companies and businesses are mainly family controlled. Some of them became large corporations because of connections; some because of thrift and savings invested in landed properties which have appreciated astronomically; and so on. In fact, some companies faced the dilemma of having to open up their companies if they opted for listing on Bursa Malaysia or continue to remain tightly controlled family companies.
Khairy's statement is being felt as an intrusion into the last private turf of the Chinese. Why must Umno intrude into private businesses when they are already in control of the whole country since 1957? That the majority of Malays are still left behind is proof that Umno had failed them while Umnoputras become super rich. Please do not encourage them to envy the Chinese because of your own failing.
There is a big difference between Chinese employers and government employers: the former is not organised and consist of individual businesses having their own reasons for their employment policies, while the latter is institutionalised discrimination. So which is worse? Are they prepared to have an Equal Opportunities Act so that there is fairness across the board?
Not many people in Malaysia have heard of UNU-MERIT, partly because it is newly associated with Maastricht University, and more so, because of its full name: United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology. It is based in Maastricht, Netherlands.
In 2012, it was ranked No.3; and in 2013, it was ranked No.1, in Innovation Technology & Industrial Dynamics, by RePEc (Research Papers in Economics), a central index of economics research, incl. working papers, articles and software code...
'This year a best hand-kissing competition was held at Putrajaya and among the thousands, four persons were short listed. It was indeed a tough decision for the judges.
A surprise challenge came from Kamalanathan of the MIC who was the early leader.
But the former MB of Kedah Madzhir was a mite better than Kamalanathan .
He was however toppled by Shahidan Kassim the ex MB of Perlis who did the side-way kiss with perfection but unfortunately was disqualified because he left too much saliva on Najib's hand.
And the runaway winner was the MB of Trengganu Ahmad Said with his low bow and sprint kiss -- something never seen exhibited before. Word has it that A.Said has been practicing this sprint kiss on the quiet for almost a year and perfected the art before the competition...'
(From an email forwarded by a friend, author unknown)
'Justin R. Garcia, an evolutionary biologist at the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University and a scientific adviser to Match.com who was not involved in this research, noted that kissing was so closely associated with emotional connection that sex workers often refuse to kiss their customers, insisting that it is “too intimate.” '
An unwanted kiss can mean a 'kiss of death' politically...
On the other hand, a proper kiss on the hand of the right person, can lead to career advancement...
Can't help being reminded of this old Francoise Hardy's song...
Home Ministry issues show-cause letter to The Heat over Najib, Rosmah story
'Weekly news publication “The Heat” has been issued a show-cause letter by the Home Ministry, believed to be over a front-page article on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor’s expenditure.
The Malaysian Insider understands that although the letter did not specify the offending article, it was a report entitled “All eyes on big spending Najib” published in its November 23 to 29 issue.
It is also believed that “The Heat” editor-in-chief David Lee Boon Siew was summoned to the Home Ministry in Putrajaya a week ago and told to tone down its reports.
“The Heat” received the letter a couple of days ago and HCK Media, the publisher, has 14 days to reply.'
When Mandela fought against minority white apartheid in South Africa, many Malaysians wondered about the hypocrisy in Dr Mahathir's support for him. Now, PM Najib is claiming Umno's struggle is similar to Mandela's!
Umno had been, and still is, in control in Malaysia since Independence in 1957. What was Umno's struggle since independence? Against itself? The struggle, if any, is being felt by the people against the new colonial power in Umno, which practises discrimination by race, religion and political affiliation. The minority in Umnoputras are lording over the rest of the population.
Najib asked, 'Where would the Malays be without Umno? The answer by general consensus seems to be 'Better off'!' In fact, many asked instead, 'Where would Umno be without the Malays?'
How Dare Najib Discredit Mandela
By Kee Thuan Chye | Bull Bashing – Sun, Dec 8, 2013
"Umno President Najib Razak diminished the stature of a great man when he said last Saturday at his party’s general assembly that Umno fought for the “same cause” as Nelson Mandela, who had died two days before.
What same cause? Mandela fought against racial discrimination whereas Umno institutionalised racial discrimination a few decades ago and still upholds it.
Mandela never advocated black supremacy, whereas Umno promotes Ketuanan Melayu (Malay supremacy).
After he became president of South Africa, Mandela proposed reconciliation and sought to bring the races in his country together, whereas in Malaysia, Umno divides the races in order to keep itself in power."
"Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, we will be landing shortly. For those of you coming to Malaysia for the first time, kindly be advised that:
1) If you are bringing in dangerous drugs or firearms, you may be prosecuted and if convicted face the penalty of death by hanging. However, please bear in mind that if that were indeed the case, there is also a possibility that you may die of heart failure, asthma, pneumonia or self inflicted injuries pending your execution whilst enjoying our hospitality in detention. In that case, you need not fear hanging.
2) All foreigners will be required to have their fingerprints taken upon arrival at the immigration desk. If the scanning devices are inoperable for any reason, we will take your thumbprints with ink. To help save the environment, tissue paper is not provided to wipe off the ink. However, since our inks are edible and halal you can safely suck your thumb to clear all remnants.
3) Malaysia is well known for its gastronomic delights. As such, if you find yourself in an eatery where seats are full, you may use the shower rooms or toilets to enjoy our culinary delights. We do that in our primary schools too.
5) Your baggage may be opened by our efficient ground staff to check on any prohibited goods being brought in. This is in case our sniffer dogs get wet in the rain and consequently, defile your luggage when
sniffing around. We do not want to have them (the dogs) put down on account of this.
6) Malaysia is a paradise for shopping. Our very own Petaling Street is a must visit for those intent on getting a bagful of the 'genuine imitations' freely on sale. As most of the foreigners in Petaling Sreet are actually the vendors, you will find yourself quite at home.
7) If you are here on a business visa, kindly note the local sensitivities on the giving of gratuities. It is an offence for a gratuity to be demanded but conversely, it is regarded as a heavenly blessing and kosher if given out of your own volition.
8) For Christians visiting Malaysia, please note that you may refer to your God as Allah in your worship if you are landing in Sabah or Sarawak but may not do so if you are landing in W Malaysia. In the event of an emergency and you are landing in the sea, you may use any name that works.
9) If you are a visiting Shia Muslim, please do not engage in any religious discourse as there is a high possibility for exacerbating the level of confusion that already exists.
10) Last but not least, we apologise if you are unable to understand this announcement due to content or pronunciation as we are likewise unable to comprehend the script.
Thank you for flying with us and we wish you a pleasant holiday in Malaysia, and for Malaysians, KALAU TAK SUKA, BALIK SAJA.
"Good morning . . . At present we are not at home, but please leave your message after you hear the beep."
If you are one of our children, dial 1 and then select the option from 1 to 5 in order of "birth arrival" so we know who it is.
If you need us to stay with the children, press 2.
If you want to borrow the car, press 3.
If you want us to wash your clothes and do ironing, press 4.
If you want the grandchildren to sleep here tonight, press 5.
If you want us to pick up the kids at school, press 6.
If you want us to prepare a meal for Sunday or to have it delivered to your home, press 7.
If you want to come to eat here, press 8.
If you need money, press 9.
If you are going to invite us to dinner, or, taking us to the theatre, start talking ..... we are listening !!!!!!!!!!!"
WHAT IS A GRANDPARENT?
(Taken from papers written by a class of 8-year-olds):
Grandparents are a lady and a man who have no little children of their own. They like other people's.
A grandfather is a man, and a grandmother is a lady!
Grandparents don't have to do anything except be there when we come to see them.
They are so old they shouldn't play hard or run. It is good if they drive us to the shops and give us money.
When they take us for walks, they slow down past things like pretty leaves and caterpillars.
They show us and talk to us about the colours of the flowers and also why we shouldn't step on 'cracks.'
They don't say, 'Hurry up.'
Usually grandmothers are fat but not too fat to tie your shoes.
They wear glasses and funny underwear.
They can take their teeth and gums out.
Grandparents don't have to be smart.
They have to answer questions like 'Why isn't God married?' and 'How come dogs chase cats?'
When they read to us, they don't skip. They don't mind if we ask for the same story over again.
Everybody should try to have a grandmother, especially if you don't have television because they are the only grownups who like to spend time with us.
They know we should have a snack time before bed time, and they kiss us even when we've acted bad.
GRANDPA IS THE SMARTEST MAN ON EARTH! HE TEACHES ME GOOD THINGS, BUT I DON'T GET TO SEE HIM ENOUGH TO GET AS SMART AS HIM!
It's funny when they bend over; you hear gas leaks, and they blame their dog.
I'm sure Shane would agree... esp. the one in CAPITAL LETTERS!
Before we decided to buy a leasehold property in Petaling Jaya, we were advised by a relative who is a lawyer, that there is practically no difference between a freehold and a leasehold property in terms of security, because both are subject to compulsory acquisition by the government. But of course, there is a significant difference in value because of the uncertainty related to the latter.
When our son bought the house in Section 14, the remaining period of over 50 years was deemed good enough for his life time. But now that we have a grandson, our son has to think of his son too! For his peace of mind, he is thinking of extending the leasehold period after reading the following article in today's Star...
Longer-term payment needed to settle premium fee
BY EDWARD RAJENDRA
"HOMEOWNERS with a short lease on their properties are urged to take up the Selangor government’s 30% discount offer on the rate of premium for lease extension.
Local Government, Studies and Research Committee chairman Datuk Teng Chang Khim said the discount was for residential properties and must be settled within six months."
"How to calculate:
1/4 x 1/100 x Market Value of land (in sq ft) x Number of years to renew x Land area (in sq ft).
Example: 3,000 sq ft house with 10 years remaining on the lease (valued at RM120 psf), the lease renewal fee is –
0.25 x 0.01 x 120 x 89 x 3,000 = RM80,100.
Amount to pay – RM80,100 - (30% discount) = RM56,070.
But for the relatively poorly paid PM, DPM and other Ministers, the real situation is not what it seems, especially when we take into account the perks attached to their positions. MPs, on the other hand, must be feeling dejected, when their salaries are compared with the recent hikes in Sarawak and Selangor.
From Malaysiakini: Salary hike to stop lawmakers going for extra income:
'The salary hike for elected representatives of Selangor is meant to stop the lawmakers making extra income, Selangor Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim said today
"This income (hike) is suitable for the people's representatives and state executive councillors as they will no longer need to find extra income from outside. This has happened (before)," Khalid told the media at the state assembly complex today.'
'Khalid defended the remuneration increment as "not high" and "reasonable", if compared with wages in the private sector.
He said the state government has taken into consideration objections from the rakyat on this matter.
It therefore chose the salary of the Sarawak assemblyperson as a basis and worked out a 30 percent lesser rate on the new salary for the Selangor assemblypersons.
Though both states have financial reserves, Khalid said, Selangor was bigger than Sarawak in terms of economic performance.'
"Many people are commenting about this matter without first understanding some basic facts.
1. Khalid and his team, like good corporate leaders, first addressed the financial position of the organisation they were heading. With prudent spending, leakage elimination and cost control, they first built up a huge financial SURPLUS.
2. Having done that, they then adjusted the remuneration to a level compatible with the work being done, thereby enabling them to attract the best minds from the private sector (they don't want to hire monkeys and pay peanuts).
3. By thus increasing salaries, they have created a layer of insulation from the lucrative offers and bribes with which UMNO leaders and cronies have been assaulting the state leaders from day 1.
If the BN government had done something along these lines, there would be less outcry over any such salary increases proposed by them. But what they have done so far is to squander resources and funds, deliver poor performance, fail to get rid of shirkers... and still feel they are entitled to salary increases.
Don't forget, the stated salary of a BN appointee is but a small share of the real income they rake in through various unsavoury channels. If they dare to deny this, then why not openly declare their assets?" Link
My wife was attracted to some cheaper prices quoted in Caring's advertisement. Since we had never been to one before, we found the nearest to us is at Aeon Station 18. We are not regular visitors to this shopping complex, so we just parked our car in front and looked for it. It so happened G02 is right at the other end!
What I found to be cheaper (some because of special offers for a limited few days):
Iron tablets for 28 : Rm20 instead of Rm25.90 priced by a competitor;
Dettol 1 liter + 550 ml : Rm16.90 compared with Rm21.90; Hair dye : 2 for under Rm48, compared with usual price of Rm28 each (this item was not on my list, never used it for > 20 years); and so on.
Because we visited Caring before the supermarket opposite it, my wife asked for our stuff to be kept at the counter for collection later. Being absent-minded, I was against the idea but went along.
Despite being careful, when we reached home, I could not find the Dettol. My first thought was that someone had taken it. I did feel something amiss when I took it from the cashier because I remember there was a heavy item. Back home, when I checked the bill, I realised that Dettol was not included. So there was no mistake other than the omission. Did the cashier intentionally exclude my Dettol? Cannot help being reminded of the Malay saying: 'Ajak ajak ayam' which means invitation without sincerity. Years ago, I read about 'loss leaders' in supermarket strategy to attract visitors, because they are likely to buy something else as they browse through the displays. For a fast-moving item like Dettol shower gel, there seemed a reluctance to sell at such an attractive offer price.
However, when I thought about it again, I realised it could also have been an attempt to exclude it so that the total bill was less than Rm150. I recall having seen a notice that for a single bill exceeding Rm150, there is a further discount of Rm8; > Rm300, discount of Rm16. Besides, among discount offers, there are differences between items: some saleable eg. Dettol, some slow-moving eg. hair dye. Was it a coincidence that it was the Dettol and not the hair dye that was excluded? I would have been happier had the hair dye been excluded instead. Perhaps, not surprisingly, what I had been through had also proven the effectiveness of the 'loss leaders' strategy mentioned earlier. The hair dye was an impulse buy influenced by the display, and I actually changed my mind about using it! Link
Mak Khuin Weng, in his letter to Malaysiakini, shows us how to ask the right questions, with MPPJ (now MBPJ) as a good example...
"Learning from others
"...After an ongoing six-month campaign to pressure the then Petaling Jaya Municipal Council (MPPJ) to release the accounts, the council finally allowed the campaign leaders to look at (but not make copies) of the council’s accounts.
In the short two hours ratepayers were allowed access to the accounts, notes were taken with pen and paper. After studying the information, the residents revealed numerous problems with the council’s management.
For example, the MPPJ had invested RM6.8 million in state bonds in 2003. This amount was subsequently written off as a bad investment. Could DBKL have made such similar bad investments and must now make up the shortfall? MPPJ accounts also showed that a whopping RM38.6 million in unpaid assessment bills were accrued from 1999 to 2004. This has been reduced under Pakatan Rakyat rule, mainly because the main culprits for this debt were various Government Linked Corporations (GLCs) and they were all forced to pay up. What is the amount of unpaid assessment bills for DBKL?
Does DBKL have such skeletons in their closet? We will only be able to tell if ratepayers unite and form a coalition to pressure DBKL to release the accounts to the public."
"The Local Government Act allows property owners to be charged these rates, which are derived from a valuation exercise on the rentable value of the property. The rates will be a percentage of this total value to be made payable, up to a maximum rate of 35%."
"This valuation list must be gazetted and the figures will be officially used for any rates chargeable to ratepayers. So, even if property prices were to soar ten years down the road, the valuation would remain constant. Unless, of course, there’s a physical change in the property like extensions, redevelopment or even land use change which would force a revaluation exercise straight away..."
"In the case of MPPJ, when the council announced an increase in assessment for landed properties back in 2006, the increase was done not by doing a new valuation exercise but by increasing the rateable percentage from 8% of the property value to 8.8%.
Rates can be changed yearly subject to requirements of the budget and approval from the state government, or in the case of DBKL, the Federal Territories and Urban Wellness Ministry."
"...A revaluation exercise however can only be done once every five years.
Obviously, even if the payable percentage was not increased, the value based on rental prices of property today would have increased tremendously from the past 20 years when the exercise was first carried out for many property owners.
While the law does allow the public to object, the valuers would have studied market rental rates and also through surveys asking owners what their property’s rentable rates were. So, whether you live in the said property and don’t intend to rent it out; whether you cannot afford to pay the new rates; or whether the council’s services has not improved and therefore does not justify the new rates are all irrelevant points. You have to prove that the rental rates in the area are below the value ascertained by the local council, which may be impossible since there are so many advertisements out there that would allow the valuers to reach a median value to affix to your property.
In fact, the point of the objection hearing is to allow you to present any evidence that the valuers may not have considered that would actually bring down the value of your property, like having your house located next to a cemetery or a sewerage treatment plant. Only then would the government consider a lower rateable value for your property.
Asking the right questions
Even though it might be pointless to protest against the rentable value, the ratepayer can still argue that the percentage of the rateable value be lowered by the local council. There is nothing stopping DBKL from reducing the chargeable rate to 3% or even 1% of the new property valuation to approximate the previous rate you paid.
But what ratepayers lack to argue for a lower percentage is information on the council’s operations and financial situation. As such, the ratepayers must demand that DBKL justify the need for the increase in revenue.
The problem is, none of the local councils produce annual reports – or even if they did, they do not make it publicly available. Nor are the accounts available for scrutiny."
Some of my less IT savvy friends have been lamenting that though they have smart televisions and mobile phones, they are not smart enough to use them.
Now, the real danger is that those smart televisions could be spying on their viewers! This is really scary and no one is safe unless he or she chooses to remain backward in technology.
My friend commented:
"This is scary, REAL SCARY ! Seems everything and anything that uses Smart technology, is used to spy on us consumers. Smartphones, Smart TVs, SmartAss corporates, etc.
Just be wary and careful of what you put in your USB thumbdrive or external harddisk. Like USA's NSA, the whole bloody world is spying on each other, and has gone bonkers!!!
So be smart!!. Stay dumb and use dumbdevices, or just be careful with smartass devices. No one is safe any more!! Big Brother is Watching!!!"
Excerpt from an article:
LG Smart TV spying, owner claims his USB filenames posted on LG servers A new LG Smart TV owner claimed that LG collects info from connected devices, like USBs, and uploads it to LG servers, even when collection of info is turned off; LG claims it's part of the Terms and Conditions. After viewing ads on the LG Smart landing screen, DoctorBeet did some digging and found a "creepy corporate video" for LG Smart Ads, which claims to have an "intelligent platform" that analyzes users' favorite programs, search keywords and online behavior to best serve targeted ads; successful ads on LG Smart TV home page have been "proven by customer eye tracking tests." He found a "Collection of watching info" option in the settings. Collection is on by default, but even after turning collection "off" and running traffic analysis, DoctorBeet discovered, "It turns out that viewing information appears to be being sent regardless of whether this option is set to On or Off."
According to the list, 'Ten Things That Will Disappear In Our Lifetime', which include The Post Office; The Check (or cheque); The Newspaper; The Book; The Land Line Telephone; Music; Television; The "Things" that you own; and Joined handwriting, the last but not least of which is Privacy!
Even former Mayors of KL are asking DBKL to justify their unreasonable increase.
Politically, even MCA expressed their disapproval. It looks as if BN has nothing more to lose, having lost 10 out of 11 parliamentary seats in the last GE. But looking at the recent price increases like petrol and sugar, and the proposed GST for the nation and assessment hike for KL, BN is going to have a hard time to contain the people's anger. The fact that the First Lady continues her high living at people's expense is not going to help.
At a press conference with KL MPs, FT Minister promised to reduce hike by '50 to 70%'. In their haste to increase assessment for 2014, DBKL had already issued notices to property owners, based on arbitrary calculations, different from the past. Perhaps, because of the lapse of 21 years, they have forgotten the proper way! To be fair, DBKL's Valuation Department should carry out a proper assessment rating before issuing notices. Why the hurry when DBKL is believed to be cash rich?
Robbers are becoming more daring. What used to be safe in numbers are no longer so: like when having a home party with guests; having a meal in restaurants or coffee shops; or at wedding dinners where there are usually hundreds of people.
Earlier this year, there was a robbery at a wedding dinner in Ipoh. The hosts lost all their angpows, the bride, all her jewelleries and the guests were relieved of their valuables. Now, when going out, most people remind themselves not to wear anything expensive nor take with them too much cash... just in case there is a robbery.
A few years ago, when a security conscious relation had 2 security guards at his home party, most of us were surprised at what seems an overly cautious measure at the time when such cases were rare or unheard of . But with today's robberies at public places where there are many people around, this seems to be a good one. Yet, with the recent cases of foreigners using fake ICs working as security guards and one of them actually shot dead a bank officer before he escaped with Rm450,000, even security guards cannot be trusted.
When I first read the title, I thought he was referring to Malaysia! It shows how close we are in a similar situation.
"Professor Kotlikoff joins the Financial Sense Newshour for an eye-opening interview about the true state of fiscal affairs in this country. He explains how the government uses accounting tricks to hide the truth and keep everyone in the dark about the US's actual debt-load, which runs $205 trillion versus the $17 trillion you often here in the news.
Kotlikoff also details the ongoing pattern of obfuscation, censorships, and firings of government personnel attempting to disclose budgets of prior Presidents when doing so is deemed politically inconvenient. This is a must-listen interview. Here we present a few key excerpts:
Jim Puplava: Professor, officially we’re in debt over $17 trillion but underneath it there’s a bigger problem. I wonder if you might explain to our listeners what that bigger problem is?
Professor Kotlikoff: The liabilities the government owes are mostly off the books. We have a true debt picture which is about $205 trillion. This is recording all the future obligations the government has, whether they are official obligations or not, such as paying for your social security benefits, mine, or your mother’s Medicare benefits, defense spending, etc. All of these things are really obligations that aren’t recorded on the books as debt, whereas paying off future principal and interest payments on Treasury bills and bonds are recorded. So, anyway, if you take the value of all of those commitments and subtract all the taxes coming to pay those commitments, the difference is what’s called the fiscal gap; and that fiscal gap in the U.S. is now $205 trillion. So, the true debt is $205 trillion; the official debt is only $17 trillion. So, most of the problems we’re facing, most of the debt we have, the vast majority of it is off the books and Congress has done bookkeeping to make sure the public doesn’t see it. So, when we have these big fights over the debt ceiling, it’s really laughable because at the same time we may not be expanding our official debt at a very rapid rate, we are expanding our unofficial debt or off-the-book debt, unrecorded debt, at a very high rate." Link
"What deep thinkers men are. I mowed the lawn today, and after doing so I sat down and had a cold beer. The day was really quite beautiful, and the drink facilitated some deep thinking.
My wife walked by and asked me what I was doing and I said 'nothing'. The reason I said that instead of saying 'just thinking' is because she would have said 'about what'. At that point I would have to explain that men are deep thinkers about various topics which would lead to other questions.
Finally I thought about an age old question: Is giving birth more painful than getting kicked in the nuts? Women always maintain that giving birth is way more painful than a guy getting kicked in the nuts.
Well, after another beer, and some heavy deductive thinking, I have come up with the answer to that question. Getting kicked in the nuts is more painful than having a baby; and here is the reason for my conclusion.
A year or so after giving birth, a woman will often say, "It might be nice to have another child." On the other hand, you never hear a guy say, "You know, I think I would like another kick in the nuts."
I rest my case. Time for another beer. "
Somehow, this logic reminds me of some BN ministers. Perhaps, we have not been thinking of them as deep thinkers!
'It must be comforting to taxpayers to think that our taxes have been used to nurture world-class students who can take part in international competitions with candidates from over 20 countries and win.
However, our expert Dr Chow Yong Neng tells us that academic excellence, particularly research accomplishment, is conventionally evaluated by peers.
This means good research work must stand up to the scrutiny of peers and be published in reputable international journals.
Only research that are ineligible for conventional recognition, not completed or, not up to publication standards are the ones going for “competitions”...'
We have witnessed over the years, how an excellent education system left behind by our colonial masters had been 'thrashed' by BN and created big problems like almost illiterate school leavers and unemployable university graduates. Naturally, I was amazed when I watched on television recently, how our DPM cum Education Minister at an international conference, was so proud of the fact that three countries wanted to learn from us on how to train teachers! Those countries were: Oman, Namibia and Indonesia. I still cannot get over it, what with our flip flopping on whether to use English to teach Maths and Science, and that 70% of our English teachers failed a proficiency examination.
If this is an example of the kind of questions meant for schools, the ulterior motive of BN is too obvious:
Pic courtesy of Facebook and YB Nga Kor Ming
Latest from CPI, 'Making History a pass subject: Why we must not agree to it' by Thasleem Mohamed Ibrahim :
'When the Minister of Education, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, launched the National Education Blueprint, he claimed that it would result in students with world-class knowledge and skills, strong moral values and capable of competing with their peers from other countries.
This has now been revealed to be an empty boast and a lie. Worse, it is a cover up for the greater politicization and stultification of our national education system which Umno, the main component of the BN, is seeking to ensure so that it will continue to rule the country for the next 50 years.
Amongst the first measures to be introduced as part of this self pronounced 'revolutionary' change in our educational system is the requirement that students will need to have a pass in the compulsory subject of History before they can obtain their SPM. The reason advanced by the Minister and his Deputy Minister for this requirement is that they want our students to be loyal.
This seems to be Acting Transport Minister's view when suggesting that Genting should provide transportation to the resort.
"Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein has suggested that the Genting Group takes over public transport up and down the private road leading to the resort following the horrific stage bus crash that killed 37 people on Aug 21..."
No matter which company is responsible for providing transport, accidents could happen, despite having the best condition vehicles, and the most experienced and careful drivers. At best, it could minimise the incidents. Bus operations are still best left in the hands of those with the right experience in managing such business. Even if Genting were to get involved, it has to engage those experienced in bus operations, so what difference will it make?
In The Ant Daily, Francis Paul Siah seems surprised that another bus accident happened so soon after the report on the earlier accident was out.
"Just three days after the official report of the horrific Genting bus crash was made public, another bus accident occurred on the route to Genting Highlands.
In the latest mishap on Nov 11, the 22 passengers were somewhat lucky to escape with only minor injuries after the bus they were travelling in landed on its side in a drain along Jalan Batang Kali towards the hill resort..."
Have you come across people who seem to think everything is what it seems?
Ask them about children's education and they will reply immediately that they will go for private education, plus a good dose of tuition classes to ensure that their children will be able to compete in future. There is an assumption that private education equals excellent education and tuition classes mean one up on those who go without.
Problem with having someone to look after your tiny tots? Employ maids seem to be a definitive solution. Yet, when we think about it, we are entrusting our most precious loved ones to someone who we hardly know!
Similarly, ask them about security at their residence and they will answer confidently that theirs is a gated community or condominiums with security guards. Again, there is an assumption of guards who are well trained, and honest with integrity.
We have read of reports of burglaries in condominiums and casually commented that it could have been insiders' work, with only a hint of possible collusion between guards and burglars. Over a period of time, guards know every resident's daily, weekly or monthly movements. They know when certain units are without occupants.
We have also read of security companies trying to secure jobs in a neighbourhood, and soon after, there were burglaries or even robberies, which seem to suggest intentionally created incidents to encourage residents to employ their guards.
In UK, it is common for residents to inform their local police of the period when they are away on holiday. But in Malaysia, people would be cynical about it.
Nades's article in The Sun, 'Does your guard have a criminal record?' should serve as a warning to those who presume having security guards mean peace of mind:
"Fake MyKads had been used to seek employment in the security services sector by foreigners which reflects the lackadaisical attitude adopted by some security firms. We lesser mortals have no way of knowing if the guards looking after our children had records for sexual offences. Neither does anyone know if those with criminal records are put in charge of protecting large sums of money. The authorities have pinned the blame on security firms pushing the onus on the firms to recruit guards with clean records. While banks and other financial institutions are willing to invest in gadgets to read and verify the MyKad, many security firms seem reluctant to do the same. That gadget is the fastest and surest way to authenticate the MyKad and why the firms have not done so is unexplainable. But there may be a reason. If such checks are carried out, more than 10% of the guards would not have cleared the first hurdle. This is because of the admission of the umbrella body for the security firms which stated that at least 30,000 of the more than 220,000 guards are illegal immigrants, the stark truth hits you in the face. While the home minister goes around threatening to close newspapers because its reporters are stating the truth, little or nothing has been done to purge the system of guards without proper documentation. However, the root of the problem lies with issuance of licences for security firms. Has action been not forthcoming because of the "I scratch your back, you scratch mine" syndrome that has afflicted our society? There are about 750 companies, almost all of whom are owned by retired senior officers from the armed forces, police officers and the Home Ministry. Hence, there is hesitancy in enforcement of the laws. In many residential areas, security guards have been employed to patrol the streets. Is there a possibility that one of them may one day rob you and your family? The answer is yes and probabilities are high. With security firms hiring all and sundry, what makes you think they have not hired someone with a criminal record? With so many guards in so many neighbourhoods, the demand has been overwhelming. Security firms have to provide the manpower because it means an addition to the bottom line. With no compulsion to check or carry out vetting, the man in the guard's uniform could have been a robber or even a murderer! As one who pays for their services, it becomes your responsibility to demand from the company details of the guards in your area and a document stating that they have clean records. Have you done it? Shouldn't you tell the guru besar of the school your children are studying to do the same?"
Rest of article: http://www.thesundaily.my/node/229839 Link
Non-Chinese used to wonder how wonderful it was for Mandarin to be understood and communicated by literate people in China, despite their diverse racial origins and different spoken dialects. Basically, a Chinese text can be understood by say, different Chinese who speak Cantonese, Hakka or Hokien, and read out in those dialects without losing its original meaning.
Recently, there were major changes to the Chinese language: simplified version which reduces the number of complicated strokes in a Chinese character; romanised Pinyin which uses English-styled pronunciations to differentiate different words; and so on. So, instead of having literate Chinese-educated people knowing the text without problems in understanding, those educated in the traditional way may not be able to understand text in the simplified version. Similarly, those educated only in the simplified version may not understand the original Chinese characters. In other words, Mandarin is not like the 'common language' which used to be indispensable before. Therefore, those with knowledge of the old and new, have a definite advantage over either those with knowledge only of the old or those only of the new. This is also an example of the importance of knowing history, be it in religion, music, politics, or others.
From The New York Times: Wikipedia China Becomes Front Line for Views on Language and Culture
by Grace Tsoi:
"HONG KONG — The Chinese-language version of Wikipedia has become more than an online encyclopedia: it is a battlefield for editors from China, Taiwan and Hong Kong in a region charged with political, ideological and cultural differences.
Wikipedia editors, all volunteers, present opposing views on politics, history and traditional Chinese culture — in essence, different versions of China. Compounding the issue are language differences: Mandarin is the official language in mainland China and Taiwan, while the majority in Hong Kong speak Cantonese. But mainland China uses simplified characters, while Taiwan and Hong Kong use traditional script.
That has led to articles on otherwise innocuous topics becoming flash points, and has caused controversial entries to be restricted."
'“Wikipedia does not comply with the Chinese government’s self-censorship policy. Absolutely not,” said Tango Chan, a representative of Wikimedia Hong Kong, a local chapter of the Wikimedia Foundation. Mr. Chan said, however, that some articles on the Chinese Wikipedia cannot be accessed because the “Great Firewall” — the hugely effective censorship tool developed by the Chinese authorities — filtered “sensitive words.”
Stephen Wong, a contributor from Hong Kong who has been active on Chinese Wikipedia since 2009, said users across the region have experienced “some form of cultural shock,” which triggers arguments.
“Users from different areas have received different education, and have been influenced by different political ideologies,” Mr. Wong said. “We discovered that the things we learned as a kid were totally different from each other.”
No matter the language, disputes are part of the nature of Wikipedia, Matthew Roth, the global communications manager of the Wikimedia Foundation, said in an e-mail.
“The common perception is that arguments are frequent on Wikipedia, and indeed there are active discussions and disagreements about content, as would be expected in such an enormous and complex information ecosystem,” Mr. Roth said.'