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

Never argue with an idiot, otherwise people won't know which one of you is the idiot.
Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright - until you hear them speak.

Why we should be against censorship in a court of law: Publicity is the very soul of justice … it keeps the judge himself, while trying, under trial. - Jeremy Bentham

"Our government is like a baby's alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no
responsibility at the other. " - Ronald Reagan

Government fed by the people

Government fed by the people

Career options

Career options
I suggest government... because nobody has ever been caught.

Corruption so prevalent it affects English language?

Corruption so prevalent it affects English language?

When there's too much dirt...

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

Prevent bullying now!

Prevent bullying now!
If you're not going to speak up, how is the world supposed to know you exist? “Orang boleh pandai setinggi langit, tapi selama ia tidak menulis, ia akan hilang di dalam masyarakat dan dari sejarah.” - Ananta Prameodya Toer (Your intellect may soar to the sky but if you do not write, you will be lost from society and to history.)

Monday, April 28, 2014

A bit on political correctness

Politicians try their best to speak with political correctness in front of the people they are addressing, while diplomats are trained in protocols and to be diplomatic.

What are normally said by them are generally what can be expected or predictable. But now and again, we come across exceptions to the rule, which make life more interesting. Like what Al Gore said, as then Vice President of USA, at a dinner in Kuala Lumpur, in the presence of then PM, Dr. Mahathir.

Political opponents on the other hand can be vicious (no holds barred) against each other, when making statements or even false allegations. But when an opponent died, immediately, his greatest political enemy is likely to say something like, 'He was a great man, greatly respected by all... we are going to miss him.' This reminds me of a sketch in Not the 9 o'clock News years ago, where two political opponets were arguing 'tooth and nail' on stage, and suddenly, one of them collapsed and died. You can guess what the opponent said immediately, appearing sorrowful!

Generally, between Britain and USA, the former tends to be more polite while the latter more direct when making statements.

Below is a list prepared by someone (tongue in cheek) which gives us an idea of what is said officially by the British, what they mean, as well as what foreigners might think they understand:



So far, President Obama's statements while on an official visit to Malaysia, have been direct, leaving no doubt what he means. But to most Malaysians used to our political leaders, though we welcome Obama's criticisms of Malaysian leadership, we are afraid, our PM and his cabinet members are likely to think otherwise. Very likely, they will put up a brave front while the President calls a spade a spade, and continue with the status quo and thinking, 'You can keep your democratic principles, we have our own version and we are very happy with it.'

Some headlines in Malaysiakini speak for themselves as to what President Obama meant:

'Najib a reformer with much to do'
http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/261198
'Obama: Discrimination a hurdle for M'sia's success'
http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/261192
'Obama: It doesn't mean we don't care about Anwar'
http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/261184
'Obama urges 'full transparency' over MH 370'.
http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/261174

Update: Example of what Obama said and what he meant, according to Raub MP, YB Ariff Sabri:

'President Obama says Dato Najib has the instincts for unity and moderation. That’s a most diplomatic way of saying- hey man I think you suck. It only serves to confirm that Najib is not a rational leader who believes that the way forward is moderation and unity.'
Source: http://sakmongkol.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-obama-visit.html
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Friday, April 25, 2014

A bit on paying last respects

We are often faced with this situation: when someone related to us or we had known, passes on. We sometimes feel obliged, rather than have a natural compassion, to pay our last respects. But sometimes, I would feel it odd because the deceased did not get my attention when alive, only after he or she passed on.

Last Saturday in PJ, I was surprised when someone said she thought I would be in Penang to attend Karpal Singh's funeral. Who am I, to be expected at former DAP chairman's funeral? Of course, I knew him but he did not know me, just like many fans of well known politicians. Basically, I dislike large crowds, whatever the occasion, and usually, the decision would depend on whether I have to (relative or close friend), rather than whether I want to (admittedly not sociable these days). Had I personally been indebted to him because of his past help, then I would naturally make a trip to pay my last respect to him.

As an ordinary member of DAP, whether I was seen at the funeral was not important at all especially when there was a large crowd; unlike DAP leaders like Tony Pua, who cut short his talks in Australia; Jeff Ooi, who rushed back from Korea; and many DAP leaders from other states, some who even rushed to the hospital in Kampar as soon as they heard the news; and so on.

Someone had even posted in Facebook about a certain senior DAP leader who rather watched a movie with a lady friend than attend the wake or funeral in Penang. Goes to show how important it is to be politically correct as a politician, and that there are people watching your every move.

Among the thousands of people who attended the state funeral procession in Penang, they could be classified broadly as follows:

Genuinely touched by Karpal's kindness as a great defence lawyer over 40 years of his legal career, who chose certain cases because of the cause of each case (often pro bono) eg. accused were without proper legal representation, especially those due to be hanged;

Those who enjoy mingling with large crowds for whatever occasions and hope to appear on tv or newspapers;

Political opponents who were not interested but compelled to attend to show they were beyond petty politics and had to be seen to be politically correct (notable ex-opponents were Dr Ling Leong Sik and Samy Vellu, ex-Presidents of MCA and MIC respectfully);

DAP, PKR and PAS leaders and members who genuinely admire Karpal Singh;

DAP, PKR and PAS leaders (especially upcoming ones) and their ambitious members who were not interested but felt the need to attend to show their faces so as to be noticed; and so on.

There were those who did not attend for various reasons:

Political opponents who had taken strong actions against Karpal and who would not be comfortable among those who were distressed by his tragic and untimely death;

Ex-colleagues within DAP or Pakatan Rakyat who had burned bridges with party leaders and might feel uncomfortable in their presence;

Fans of Karpal who were passive by nature, who admired him from a distance, and who felt a sudden loss over his death; and so on.

But one thing we can be sure of is that the large crowd seen at each place: at Kampar hospital; at home during wake; funeral rites and state funeral procession; and memorial services across the country; were more of people who attended spontaneously because of admiration for his unwavering principles in upholding justice, equality and human rights over his long legal and political career, rather than those I have just described. The show of support was overwhelming an outpouring of respect, admiration and gratitude by the general public for a great man, and obviously not stage-managed.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Nades: The challenge of integrity

'HAVING been long enough on the circuit, the task of identifying the categories of people attending seminars, talks and workshops is an easy task. They can be loosely classified into four main categories:

» Seriously came to genuinely gather knowledge and experience;

» Not interested but compelled to attend by employer;

» To make up the numbers; and

» To be conscious and seen to be there.

The people in the last category usually occupy the aisle seats hoping to make eye-contact with the keynote speaker especially the prime minister, deputy prime minister or minister, hoping that his presence is noticed. To reinforce his attendance, he would be among the first to speak during question time or dialogue.

But also in this category fall the cronies, the crooks and beneficiaries of the system. Such public meetings are the place where they can be seen to "legitimise" their role as the "orang kaya" who have made it big by working hard.

Sitting in a vantage point as speakers, we can often see some wriggling in their seats and often taking a "toilet break" or "phone call break" and leaving the room when subjects affecting them come up for discussion.'

Rest of article in The Sun:
Link

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Tragic end to our greatest defender of justice


                                            (Pic from YB Nga Kor Ming's FB page)


News from Malaysiakini:
http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/260226

Update:

Courtesy of The Rocket

Asked why he stays in Malaysia in the face of so much adversity, Karpal’s answer is simple.
“They want to make it as difficult as they can for us here so we’ll go away. But we will not go - that would be giving them what they want, and that would be wrong.
“We have to stay and fight.”

Karpal Singh's last official statement (courtesy of Lee Kee Hiong and Antares via Facebook)...

MEDIA STATEMENT

The appointment of Muhammad Shafee Abdullah to act for the Registrar of Societies (ROS) in the civil application filed by the DAP against the ROS, clearly, reflects the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail, has abdicated his functions, particularly so in the wake of the recent appointment of Muhammad Shafee Abdullah to act in the criminal appeal involving Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim recently in the Court of Appeal.

These appointments do not speak well of the Attorney-General’s Chambers. Is the Attorney-General Chambers so devoid of personnel of caliber to attend to prosecutions and civil proceedings in courts? Must the tax-payer, in addition to be responsible for the salaries and other benefits for those employed in the Attorney-General’s Chambers, also make provision for payment to Muhammad Shafee Abdullah for his services as an advocate and solicitor to the Attorney-General’s Chambers. What is the need for the duplication of these monetary benefits at the expense of the tax-payer?

No doubt, section 24(3) of the Government Proceedings Act, 1956 [attached] provides for the retaining of an advocate and solicitor by the Attorney-General to represent a Federal Officer in civil proceedings in court. However, that provision should only be invoked in exceptional cases where the expertise required in court is not available in the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

The civil proceedings against the ROS do not require any special expertise. Therefore, the appointment of Muhammad Shafee Abdullah at the expense of the tax-payer is unwarranted and an unnecessary burden on the tax-payer and his appointment should, accordingly, be revoked. The earlier it is done, the better for the tax-payer and the national interest.

In the meanwhile, I call upon the Attorney-General to publicly explain why Muhammad Shafee Abdullah was appointed and the state the remuneration agreed to be paid to him.

Dated 10th April, 2014
KARPAL SINGH
Member of Parliament
Bukit Gelugor

Ode on the death of Karpal Singh, MP...
by CLIVE S KESSLER, Emeritus Professor, Sociology & Anthropology, School of Social Sciences, The University of New South Wales, Australia...
http://www.malaysiakini.com/letters/260275


Link

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Peeved by CIMB Auto Finance in Ipoh

Was asked to collect registration card by my son with an authority letter (sent by email after  letter with signature had been scanned). My IC was inccrrect as well as incomplete but this turned out not to be a problem, but the signature! I must admit, I wasn't too happy with the faint signature, but despite this, I was told his signature was too different from that shown in the HP agreement!

I told them I am the father of the borrower, and my IC shows the same address, but that weren't good enough. According to their procedure (as required by auditors), the signature must be similar and that the two were too different. The alternative was to ask my son to fax another letter properly signed direct to them.

The standard operating procedures can be very different between banks. I wish to compare my personal experience dealing with HP accounts of Hong Leong Bank and CIMB.

After having paid my 7th instalment (of my 5-year loan), HLB asked me if I wish to take home the car registration card! In the case of CIMB, my son had just paid 47th instalment of same period loan, and yet I had to face the hassle mentioned above! Why the former bank could trust me with just 7 prompt payments but the latter could not despite having paid almost 4 years out of 5?

HLB sent me yearly statements of instalments paid, but I have just confirmed with CIMB that they do not send out yearly statements. In other words, 'no news means good news' until you receive a warning letter of unpaid instalments. I have just used Maybank's Giro Interbank Transfer (for the first time) and I had to ask CIMB Auto Finance whether the payment had gone through. With earlier payments by cheque, I had to rely on the acknowledgements and assume everything was ok.

By the way, Maybank Batu Gajah has created problems for some of their customers concerning HP instalment payments. Customers are advised to use the ATM machines wherever possible to avoid joining the long queues waiting to be served at the counter. A foodstall operator had this problem of not using the cash deposit machine because it accepts only certain denominations of Ringgit. By using the machine, she has to pay a sum over and above the instalment amount. She has no cheque account and does not use internet banking.
Link

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

GST Bill passed in Parliament


Highlights from Dr DZulkefly Ahmed's article: GST - Who's the liar, BN or PR?

"...it is a foregone conclusion that the Barisan Nasional government will pass this Bill regardless. A simple majority is all what it takes to replace the existing Sales and Services Tax (SST), to this new consumption tax i.e. the Goods and Services Tax or the GST."

"When the BN government brags and bandied around, in almost all their advertisements, that because they are gracious and care for the rakyat, they now have replaced two taxes i.e. Sales and Service Tax with 1 (one) tax i.e. the Goods and Services Tax.

Besides, they also claimed that, blissfully ignorant perhaps or downright compulsive liars, while the SST is 16% (Sales-10% and Services-6%), Alas and Behold!..it is only 6% for GST now!

A deeper reflection on this pathetic lie, wouldn’t allow one to be easily fooled and hoodwinked. If truly the rakyat-cum-people-cum-tax-payers are to be better off with 1 GST than 2 SST and 6% GST than 16% SST, i.e. paying less tax hence generating less income for the government’s coffers, would the government ever entertain to replace the existing tax system? Lying through their teeth!"

"... It is just that in the GST’s negative list system, all ‘Goods and Services’ not in the ‘Exempted and Zero-Rated’ categories, are taxable in GST. While in the older system of SST, all ‘Sales and Services’ are not taxable except what has been listed as taxable."

"...Exactly how long and what items are to be taxed would only be made known when the Gazette is released by the Minister!"

The following graphic from Savemoney.my helps us to understand how GST works:




Link

Saturday, April 05, 2014

When the timing of an article sucks

"AirAsia has apologised over an article published in the April edition of its in-flight travel magazine which suggested its “skilful pilots would never lose a plane”, saying it never intended to refer to missing flight MH370."

"The article angered netizens soon after a photo of it from the airline's in-flight magazine Travel 3Sixty, made its rounds on twitter.

The photo showed the last passage in the article which reads: "Training and Preparation – Pilot training in AirAsia is continuous and very thorough. Rest assured that your captain is well prepared to ensure your plane will never get lost. Have a safe flight.”

As a monthly contributor, he said, Lim prepared all of his articles months in advance before the magazine goes to print. The magazine’s April edition was printed well before the plane went missing.

"Unintentionally and regrettably, the current issue carries an article that discusses about GPS and Radar, which was printed a month before its issue date.

"This is a truly difficult time for the nation and words cannot describe how I personally feel of this incident. It truly saddens me that this article was released at such an inopportune moment," he said. – April 5, 2014.

Source:
http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/airasia-apologises-for-article-deemed-insensitive-in-light-of-mh370

This came soon after Hishammuddin's faux pas in his tweet which referred to MH370 incident as 'blessing in disguise'. It had to be deleted soon after when he realised his grave mistake.

Not sure if this old MAS advertisement was genuine... if so, it was most eerily, though unintentionally, prophetic...


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Friday, April 04, 2014

After the initial euphoria, BR1M might bring adverse effects on BN instead

We have been through 2 BR1M payouts, and now in the process of 3rd BR1M distribution. Both earlier BR1Ms were obviously sweeteners to voters so that they would vote for ruling BN. The criteria for eligibility were not properly followed, with many people receiving them even though not strictly eligible. I believe it was intentional, as a form of legalised bribing of voters.

Perhaps the financial position of our Finance Ministry is rather tight these days, or maybe, having won the last GE, BN can afford to be stricter when scrutinizing those already registered with the ministry. From feedback received, some pensioners are complaining that they are ineligible this year even though they were 'eligible' before.

One pensioner noticed from his bank statement that he had received the full amount less deduction for insurance. Previously, he was twice rejected because of having bought a new car which exceeded Rm100,000, and twice he was successful in his appeals. Upon comparing combined pensions, his was rightly below Rm3,000.

Another pensioner noticed that his bank account had been credited with Rm450, even though he got the full amount before.  He admitted that their combined pension amount is between Rm3,000 and Rm4,000.

Another pensioner checked with the LHDN and was told that the combined pensions of both husband and wife exceed Rm4,000, which was why he did not receive any BR1M payout.

Yet another pensioner has more or less given up hope, now that he knows the finance ministry had double-checked with the Pensions Department in the above-mentioned cases.

The question at the top of their minds seem to be: will the government ask for the return of BR1Ms received, if proven they were actually ineligible before? Whose fault would it be if the government had been deliberately sloppy before because of BN's intention to 'bribe' voters for votes? I can imagine the outcry and backlash if such cases were to be pursued relentlessly, even though legally correct.
Link

Azmi Sharom: Disturbing legal implications

"First, let us look at the Sedition Act. The trouble with this law, a remnant of British colonialism, is two-fold. First, its basic premise is that criticism of authority should be controlled. This in itself is already an affront to democracy.

Second is its open-ended nature. Just what exactly amounts to sedition, for example. However, up until the Karpal Singh case, I thought there was one defence in the Sedition Act that was pretty strong.

Something is not seditious if you are pointing out that the object of your criticism has done something wrong, especially in the context of their constitutional limitations. This appears so clear to me that it seemed unlikely any court could find a way around it.

Alas, that is exactly what seems to have happened to Karpal. He basically said that the decision made by the Sultan of Perak of choosing a new Mentri Besar for the state in 2009 could be questioned in court.

I can’t for the life of me see what is seditious about that. Is the Sultan limited by the Constitution and the law in the discharge of his powers? Yes, of course he is. And if there is a dispute as to whether he acted lawfully or not, could he not be questioned? Again, of course he should, for we live in a constitutional and not an absolute monarchy.

And lastly, if there is to be a questioning of the acts of a member of the royalty, is there a lawful manner with which this can be done? Again the answer is yes, because we have the Special Court which was designed specifically for the royals and inserted into our Constitution by the Government."

Rest of his article in The Star:
http://www.thestar.com.my/Opinion/Columnists/Brave-New-World/Profile/Articles/2014/04/02/Disturbing-legal-implications/
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Wednesday, April 02, 2014

It is generally accepted that women are always right


A friend got into hot soup because without thinking, he put his wife's letter into a post box... without stamps... and it was meant to be posted by Poslaju! He had to put up with two days of nagging and could not sleep for two nights while waiting for Monday to try and retrieve the letter.

When I met him at 8.00 am, he said he was there since 7.30 am, though official opening time is 8.30 am. The postmaster happened to be early refused to listen to him trying to speak through the slit of the glass doors. But when we met him as soon as PO opened, he was very helpful indeed. My friend was told to come again at 3 pm, to catch the man who comes to collect mail daily. Meanwhile, he was advised to buy a special Poslaju envelope and to fill in the details of sender and addressee so that he could resend the letter without delay as soon as the letter is retrieved, and that he can expect the letter to be received the next day.

When everything was sorted out, the next day my friend could joke that he was willing to pay Rm100 just to retrieve the letter! This is just to show how badly he was affected by what seems to be a small matter and also who is the boss in the 'Home Ministry'! I joked that having delegated the errand of posting the letter, any mistake (without stamps or not sending by Poslaju) will be his, regardless of whether clear instruction had been given.

This reminds me of a Pickles cartoon strip:

Earl: Well, that was a mistake, wasn't it?!
Opal: I don't make mistakes. I create challenges for problem solving, and opportunities for service.

and the saying 'God made man before woman so as to give him time to think of an answer for her first question.'

Also the joke, 'My wife and I had words, but I didn't get to use mine.'


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