How should we judge a government?

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

"If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing." - Malcolm X

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

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

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

Government fed by the people

Government fed by the people

Career options

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

Corruption so prevalent it affects English language?

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

When there's too much dirt...

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

Prevent bullying now!

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

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Brad Adams, Human Rights Watch (Asia Division): Creating a Culture of Fear

The Criminalization of Peaceful Expression in Malaysia

Highlights of the Report:

'They are creating a culture of fear. If you engage in any talk of public interest, the police may come to your house, you may be arrested, taken to the police station, remanded. Even members of Parliament are treated that way.
—Yap Swee Seng, former executive director of Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram), Kuala Lumpur, April 14, 2015'

'Freedom of expression and assembly in Malaysia are currently under attack, aided by the existence of broad and vaguely worded laws that the government can wield to arrest, investigate, and imprison its critics. The recent increase in use of laws that criminalize peaceful expression is a step backward for a country that had seemed to be making progress on the protection of rights. This report examines how the Malaysian government is using and abusing such laws, and the ways in which the laws themselves fall short of international standards.'

'As long-time activist Hishamuddin Rais told Human Rights Watch:

When the ISA was abolished, there was a sense of freedom. I thought Malaysia was going in the right direction. When Najib promised to abolish the Sedition Act, I thought: “We have arrived. We are on the right path.”

That optimism has now evaporated. Faced with declining popularity and rising public discontent on a range of issues, the prime minister has responded by cracking down on critics and supporting new laws, such as the 2015 Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), that replicate many of the flaws in the laws that were repealed. In November 2014, Najib reneged on his promise to repeal the Sedition Act and announced that the law would instead "be strengthened and made more effective," with "a special clause to protect the sanctity of Islam, while other religions also cannot be insulted." In April 2015, the government pushed through amendments providing for harsher penalties and further restrictions on speech, particularly on social media.'

Overly Restrictive Laws as a Tool for Repression

Since the end of colonial rule in 1957, Malaysia has been ruled by coalitions dominated by the United Malays National Organization (UMNO). The current coalition, Barisan Nasional (BN) (National Front), has ruled since 1974. Throughout its more than 40 years in power, BN has used a wide range of overly broad and vaguely worded laws to harass and silence critics and political opponents. Some of these laws have been in place since Malaysia gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1957, while many others have been more recently adopted or amended.

(Summary of some issues touched on):
Targeting the Political Opposition
Targeting Civil Society
Targeting the Media
Targeting Social Media Users
Restrictions on Freedom of Assembly
Abusive Police Tactics and Selective Prosecution

'Key Recommendations

Malaysia is an active member of the United Nations and, in October 2014, was reelected as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council after a 15 year hiatus. The country has also served three terms on the UN Human Rights Council and has repeatedly reaffirmed its commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Indeed, the official website of the Malaysian attorney-general states that Malaysia, “by virtue of being a member [of the UN], has subscribed to the philosophy, concepts and norms provided by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which sets out the minimum and common standard of human rights for all peoples and all nations.”[1]

The current repression of critical speech makes a mockery of those affirmations. If Malaysia wants to be taken seriously as a rights-respecting member of the United Nations, it must bring its laws and policies into line with international norms and standards, including by implementing the following recommendations: ...'


This report was researched and written between March 2014 and October 2015. It is based primarily on in-depth analysis of Malaysian laws used to restrict freedom of expression and assembly and on the interviews described below. It also draws on court judgments and news reports concerning criminal proceedings in relevant cases, and public statements by the government.

Human Rights Watch went to Kuala Lumpur in August 2014 and April 2015, where we interviewed 38 lawyers, opposition politicians, journalists, activists, members of civil society organizations, and academics, some of them multiple times. Further in-person interviews were conducted in London. Telephone interviews and email correspondences continued until the time of publication. Interviews were conducted in English; no incentives were offered or provided to interviewees.

On August 10, 2015, Human Rights Watch sent a letter to four members of the Malaysian government requesting their input. The letter, a copy of which is contained in Appendix 1, was sent by fax, email, and registered mail to Minister for Home Affairs Zahid Hamidi, Attorney General Haji Mohamed Apandi bin Haji Ali, Inspector General of Police Khalid bin Abu Bakar, and Chairman of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission Dr. Halim Shafie. Unfortunately, none of those contacted responded.

The report is not meant to be a comprehensive list of all laws that criminalize free speech in Malaysia, but discusses the laws that have proven to be most prone to misuse and abuse.'

Rest of the detailed report:

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Thomas Fann: The days after the vote of no-confidence

'Even the most optimistic political observers would admit that to oust Najib via the no-confidence vote or the rejection of the Budget is a long shot. But it must surely be worth a shot, if for nothing else, it is the right thing to do. An attempt to reject Najib would also register for posterity in the Parliament’s record those who, by their support for Najib, are complicit in the ruination of Malaysia.

For a vote of no-confidence to succeed, there has to be a simple majority of those present. Assuming that all Members of Parliament were present, that would mean having 112 votes out of the total of 222 seats. The Opposition, including PAS, has only 88 MPs; that means 24 are needed from the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional to crossover for the vote. Another configuration would be for 47 BN MPs to abstain or absent themselves during the vote or a combination of crossing over and absenteeism.'

- See more at:

It is already wishful to expect a successful no-confidence vote against Najib, to expect institutional reforms as well? Let's hope more people will agree and accept the fact that reforms are necessary for us to progress in a democracy.

BN MPs should be reminded how they vote this time is of paramount importance to the well being of the country. This will be reflected in the next general election.

Monday, October 26, 2015

How people are coping with rising prices

Food and drinks sellers are known to have increased their prices and/or reduced their food portions or diluted or substituted ingredients in their drinks.

I noticed satay sellers have excluded onions, while 'ketupat' is now replaced with 'nasi impit' in plastic bag. Soon the art of making 'ketupat' will be lost. The portion sizes can easily be adjusted down instead of increase in prices, to please customers. Roti canai is already downsized together with increases in price over the years.

In relation to the above picture in Facebook, I put myself in the position of someone who did not have one for some years: 'Roti satu! Wah, so small one ah? Lagi satu roti!'

Recently, there were reports of dubious meats used to pass off as mutton in some mamak shops. This is serious because cheaper beef or buffalo meat is against some religious beliefs like Hinduism and Buddhism.

A health-conscious retired teacher said it is better to have 'teh-C' instead of 'teh' which is already sweetened because it is made with sweetened condensed 'milk'. I corrected her that the so-called 'milk' is actually creamer: sweetened condensed creamer and evaporated creamer instead of the usual milk. Besides being difficult to find, actual milk products are more expensive than those made from palm oil. So how can we expect the coffee shops to use milk like before? It is funny how 'C' was derived: evaporated milk used to be supplied by Carnation! Now it is difficult to find real evaporated milk from Carnation. You are more likely to find them from Ideal or Marigold brands.

The consumers, on the other hand, are resorting to substitution too. Not that they are following Najib's past advice on 'change your lifestyle', but out of necessity. Imagine an average salaried employee trying to budget his or her daily expenses.

Top on the list is likely to be cutting down on eating in restaurants and stick to economy rice in coffee shops. To economise further, expensive items will have to be substituted with cheaper ones. Some households decide to cook at home instead of eating out. Besides, drinks, they can save on petrol and parking too. Even petrol has to be downgraded from Ron97 to Ron95! Instead of driving the kids to school or tuition centres, I have seen the kids cycling instead!

While the ordinary public suffer, some politicians are still living it up, instead of changing their lifestyles as examples to the people. When GST was about to be introduced, over-simplistic examples were used to show minimum impact on prices of goods and services. But now, almost everything, including some medication and insurance, are added on with GST. It has a compounding effect on inflation.

Once, I managed to calculate one hour parking charges at KLIA2 using Touch n Go (unlike at the toll booths, you cannot see your balances before or after parking): Parking Rm4.00 + 40 sen (10% surcharge for using TnG) + .03 sen GST! Many people complained why TnG charges 10% extra for users at the airports, discouraging instead of encouraging them. If not for the difficulty in finding the machine after locating the car, I would not have used TnG at KLIA2.

A friend who is having a company secretarial practice said she decided not to provide accounting services relating to GST, simply because she would rather have peace of mind by just focusing on her core business. It seems some of her fellow practitioners (and most accounting firms) who did, actually lost some clients because they just could not cope with the problems arising from the introduction of GST. Staff had to work long hours and spending time with clients, sorting out GST-related problems. This caused them to neglect their core business work. Some employees left after that. She said it is so difficult getting the right staff and it can be a real problem losing her experienced ones. She would rather not risk it.

As I have mentioned before, a small business would need to incur at least Rm10,000 extra in overheads per year, because of the GST software and follow-up services provided. So to whom does he pass on the extra costs?


P.Ramakrishnan: Mr Speaker, Sir: You are primarily responsible for Kit Siang’s suspension!

Excerpt from his article in Aliran:

'The Speaker, Pandikar Amin Mulia, stated that the MPs, not the Speaker, made the decision to suspend Getang Patah MP Lim Kit Siang from the Dewan Rakyat. His claim is not entirely true. He is trying to extricate himself and convey the impression that he was blameless in this episode. But he had a hand in this unjust suspension.'

'Mr Speaker, Sir, you said, “Please tell Gelang Patah, the next time he comes, he must apologise unconditionally and retract his remarks as he had said that I abused my powers as Speaker. This is an insult of the first degree. If he refuses, a motion will be tabled and he will be suspended if the House passes it.”

Evidence shows that you initiated this suspension, Mr Speaker Sir. It was your insistence that resulted in Kit Siang’s suspension. You wanted a motion to be tabled if there was no apology. And so a motion was tabled to suspend Kit Siang.'

'According to Kit Siang, “What I said when I sought clarification from the MP for Sepang, Mohamed Hanipa bin Maidin, who was speaking on the debate on the appointment of the Chairman of Public Accounts Committee was whether he agreed that the Speaker has no powers under the Standing Orders to stop the Public Accounts Committee, in the absence of a PAC Chairman, from continuing with its 1MDB investigations and which was therefore an abuse of power.”

Mr Speaker Sir, had you accepted Kit Siang’s explanation in good faith as to what he meant by his remarks, the matter would have ended there and then. But no, you wanted that apology that you demanded irrespective of Kit Siang’s clarification, and it seems that you had achieved your declared intention to suspend him.'

'If Kit Siang had been referred to the Rights and Privileges Committee under Section 80(A) of the Standing Orders, Malaysians would have accepted the outcome because Kit Siang would have been given a chance to defend himself. As it were, he was convicted without the benefit of defence which was totally unfair to him.'



Saturday, October 24, 2015

Aliran: P. Ramakrishnan: The Speaker, the Deputy Speaker, the BN MPs – are they fools?

'The Speaker, the Deputy Speaker and the BN MPs took exception to Lim Kit Siang’s remarks which rightly criticised the lack of seriousness shown in the investigation of the 1MDB scandal.

Consequently, Kit Siang was unfairly suspended without the benefit of defending himself – which went against natural justice.

In all fairness, he should have been referred to the Rights and Privileges Committee under Standing Order 80 for it to probe and establish whether Kit Siang had indeed insulted the Speaker and Parliament. ..'

'On 22 October 2015, Parliament was, as it were, baying for blood and it succeeded in its effort. As a result, Parliament has lost a voice that had always spoken with conviction and conscience, without fear or favour, to raise issues that reflect the concerns of the people. Much input into the budget debate has been denied – which is a pity.

The outcome of the motion that suspended Kit Siang from Parliament has been described, as we are made to understand, as the work of fools!

Gerakan Youth chief Tan Keng Liang tweeted: “You fools just gave Lim six months of holiday plus gaji buta.”

Who are these fools that he was referring to? There is no doubt about it – all those who played a role in suspending Kit Siang have been labelled as fools.

And who played this role? It was the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker and the BN MPs – 107 of them. All of them were the ones responsible for Kit Siang’s suspension. All of them have been called fools. What are they going to do about this scandalous reference to them?'

'It wasn’t only Kit Siang but the people at large are also angry that so much effort had been put in ad nauseam to delay and obstruct the investigation into the 1MDB scandal. They are wondering why there is so much hindrance to keep this matter under wraps.

Like the Altantuya case, will the truth ever be known with regard to the 1MDB scandal?'



No, it is not an equation. Just my way of attracting attention to how Malaysia Chronicle got into trouble with Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, which was surprisingly without much publicity. MCC is not Malay Chamber of Commerce, but Chinese for 'Mung Cha Cha' or being blur.

According to editor of Malaysia Chronicle, Wong Choon Mei:

"When my hand-phone alarm woke me at 5am this morning, it was with reluctance and a heavy heart that I opened my eyes. At the back of my mind the whole weekend was my 11am interview or interrogation by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission.

And true enough, it turned out not to be a pleasant experience.

Less than 10 minutes into the meeting at the MCMC headquarters in Cyberjaya, my lawyer Latheefa Koya was ‘booted out’ from the room by none other than the director of the enforcement department, who personally came to ‘collect’ her.

And in doing so, he denied me of my fundamental right to legal representation.

Now, those of you who know Latheefa will know what a brave person she is and how very vocal she can be. But perhaps sensing my nervousness, she helped to restore calm to my troubled thoughts after she had argued for many minutes with the MCMC officials.

Finally, she allowed them to speak with me alone, but of course, only after whispering a barrage of advice into my ear. Sad to say, the words promptly twitched out of my other ear!

Thus, began nearly two-and-half hours of questioning into my background, Malaysia Chronicle and the article I wrote on Thursday entitled Najib warns of ‘crushed bodies’, ‘lost lives’, ‘ethnic cleansing’ if status-quo not kept…."


For now, if you visit MC, you are greeted with this message:

Laman sesawang ini tidak dapat diakses di Malaysia kerana
kandungannya melanggar undang-undang negara.

This website is not available in Malaysia as it violate(s) 
the National law(s).

As usual, internet news portals cannot be completely shut out, and those interested are advised to change the settings in their computers:


1. Go to Control Panel
2. Select & click into Network & Internet
3. Select & click into Network & Sharing Center
4. Select & double click into Local Area Connection
5. Select & click into Properties
6. Select & double click into Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4)
7. Select 'Use the following DNS addresses'
8. At 'Preferred DNS server' type in 8 . 8 . 8 . 8 (i.e type 8 into each of the boxes) (for Yes broadband for example)
or type in 8 8 4 4 (for Maxis broadband for example)
9. Click OK & it will go back to previous menu (as in step 6)
10. Click OK again
11. Finish, you should be able to get into


My advice: Unless you are comfortable in changing settings, please leave it to someone who knows.


Friday, October 23, 2015

Tun Dr Mahathir seems like an angel when compared with Najib

Tun has had his 22 years as PM of Malaysia (1981 - 2003), ruling almost like a dictator. earning a nickname like Mahafiraun. But opposition against his rule seems pale in comparison to that against Najib now. For those who complained about Tun's iron rule, where were they then? Why didn't they do the necessary in opposing him?

We have the unusual situation where the former mentor is trying every trick to get rid of his former protege, without success. Since his retirement, he chose Pak Lah to succeed him. He managed to get him to resign (after BN lost its two-third majority in GE12 in 2008), in favour of Najib in 2009. Najib did well for Umno but lost the popular votes for BN in GE13 in 2013. After successfully replacing Pak Lah with Najib, I think Tun Dr Mahathir did not expect having such problems in trying to dislodge Najib as PM.

In old China, it was well known that a sifu would not teach every of his tricks to his toutai. This was to ensure that in case a pupil went against him, he could use the unknown tricks to beat him in any fight.

However, in modern Malaysia, a so-called best democracy in the world, but otherwise known as a guided democracy, the President of Umno (who is invariably also the Prime Minister of Malaysia), has to ensure that he, and he alone, calls the shots. During his time, Dr Mahathir introduced various measures to ensure that he would remain as PM without any effective challengers. For example, there was a minimum votes before anyone could be nominated as a candidate for presidential election in Umno. More important, as incumbent with all the powers at hand, most challengers will be discouraged one way or the other. Many people believe that he had files on key supporters to ensure their obedience.

We have seen under Dr Mahathir, how Anwar was sacked and later jailed. But there was nothing under corruption which could nail Anwar, and the infamous Sodomy 1 case was used to jail him. For being the most effective opposition leader ever, under Najib too, Anwar had to be jailed using another similar case (Sodomy 2), to put him away from the political scene.

Under Najib, Muhyiddin was similarly sacked as DPM (basically for questioning 1MDB), but still retains his post as Deputy President of Umno until the next party election. Without power, supporters are likely to shy away from him in case they get into trouble too.

Who would have thought that 1MDB, a so-called sovereign wealth fund, could turn out to be such a big problem for Najib? Instead of creating wealth, the company seems to create massive debts, guaranteed by the government. Not being efficient in financial management is one thing, but there were serious allegations of illegal transfers of funds, with some ending up in Najib's accounts! That must be the last straw, but events have proven, that it just could not break the camel's back.

By now Tun has had enough of Najib's antics. He tried every trick: from a hint or gentle reminder, to a direct attack on his character. Yet, Najib pretends as if nothing matters, and continue with his duties as PM. So far, he is alleged to have used or abused his powers to get rid of critics, investigators, and even the Attorney General! The opposition and NGO leaders can rant and rave about the injustice, but so far, nothing could effect Najib's resignation nor enforce his removal.

I suppose the law does not provide adequately for any thick-skinned PM to be removed. Before anyone in Umno or in Parliament can effectively put up a challenge, he will be cowed into submission. Ministers owe their positions to PM's goodwill, so they are unlikely to take the risk. MPs in BN too, are bound by their respective parties' rules to prevent revolt.

Najib is known to have large sums of money deposited into his accounts. There was the infamous Rm2.6 billions which has yet to be satisfactorily explained. With such deep pockets, he is able to influence and ensure that those who support him remain so, and those who are thinking of voting against him, to change their minds. As he has famously boasted: 'Cash is King'.

Najib can still be smug and confident that he will not be removed: by way of a vote of no confidence; by way of voting against his Budget proposals; by way of party elections; or even by the next General Election.

It is a wonder how any PM could withstand so much allegations against him and yet be able to remain in the position. Is it because Umno party leaders are too afraid to make a stand? Is it because BN MPs are also too afraid to go against their ultimate leader? Eventually, it is up to the voters who can decide. But our election system is so skewed in favour of BN (through gerrymandering and open money politics) that it needs a very decisive major shift in voting against BN to be able to topple it. Theoretically (based on all the least number of constituents of 112 constituencies), it has been proven that even with 17% total votes, BN can still achieve a simple majority. But practically, it has been proven in the last GE in 2013, that despite a minority total votes of 47%, BN won comfortably with 133 seats against PR's 89!

So can Najib ever be removed as PM? Time is against Tun Dr Mahathir in his last major quest, being a nanogenarian (90 years old). Maybe that was the main reason Najib can bide his time and not take action of the last resort in arresting Tun. Najib is likely to stay on until the next GE in 2018.

Depending on how one looks at it. One view is that it means he has another few years of sleepless nights to go through life. Blimey, that can be tortuous to most people, but will he feel the same? Not when compared with the frightening prospect of having to share a cell with Anwar.


Monday, October 19, 2015

A bit on our toll concessionaires and expressways

If I were to be asked what was the most significant legacy left by Dr Mahathir, I would say the North-South Expressway. This expressway opened up and helped develop most parts of the west coast of West Malaysia.

Dr Mahathir became PM in 1981 and he was well known for introducing the clocking-in system to government departments, but it was easily abused by having someone to do so in your absence. His famous slogan was 'Besih, Cekap dan Amanah' which was supposed to bring clean, efficient and trustworthy administration, but again, the reality was far from the rhetoric.

The current problems relating to PM Najib have often been attributed to Dr Mahatir's earlier doing. In his eagerness to fast-track development, Dr M chose to introduce privatisation of mega projects (to benefit a select few cronies), but instead turned them more like piratisation. Agreements were generally in favour of concessionaires, like generous terms and even necessary loans guaranteed by government. It was a classic 'Win-Win' formula, but at the expense of the public.

Instead of meritocracy, he pandered to the demands of the majority race and it took its toll on development. Despite all the advantages of natural resources, Malaysia slacked behind Singapore, which has nothing but human resources. Many former Malaysians who are now Singaporeans were involved in its fast development. Bright Malaysian students who were unappreciated at home were enticed with scholarships which led to employment and citizenship.

As to tolled roads, NSE is not the earliest, but is still the mother of all tolled expressway concessions. I can still remember the Rm1 collected in Slim River for umpteen years along the old federal highway. Then there was the 50 sen toll along Jalan Kuching. Both were discontinued because it went past its promised period for collection. Recently, a founder of IJM and Gamuda, lamented that IJM could win road construction contracts on merit in India, but never had a chance to take part in Malaysia. Reason was simple: the main contractor has to be politically connected and chosen without open tender. Companies actually building the roads, like IJM, are only sub-contractors. So we can see why our contracts are always overpriced and we have to pay dearly because of the huge profits added on by rent-seekers.

Though NSE has been very useful to road users travelling to north and south of the peninsula, it came at very high costs and has been a burden to users, and will still be until 2038! Its original toll period was from 1988 to 2018, but had been extended a number of times because PM of the day avoided offending the motorists and chose this option to soften the effect.

Basically, there are 3 options open to the government: increase rate; pay compensation; or extend period. The obviously lop-sided contracts have been described lately by MP for PJ Utara, Tony Pua as 'stupid' because of the inescapable burden on the public. But as we all know, thus far, being stupid is not a crime, which was the main cause of the misuses of public funds highlighted annually by our Auditor-General.

Increase in rate affects the road users directly, which seems most equitable. But the question arises as to why the agreement which provided for this did not take into account the ever increasing number of vehicles which are over and above the estimates used in their calculations.

Payment of compensation in lieu of increase in rate seems more acceptable to the users. But it is unfair to other taxpayers who might not be users of the expressway. I am sure the concessionaire would welcome this as it comes in a lump sum.

The extension of period is the easiest to the decision-maker because in the short run, it is popular in that there is no increase as well as no compensation needs to be paid. But this is very unfair to future generation who will be burden because of our inefficiency.

Often, it was based on a combination of 2 out of the 3 options available.

It is interesting to know and be reminded of the history of the infamous NSE. Then opposition leader, Lim Kit Siang, was most vocal against it, mainly because it was awarded without open tender and because of its secrecy (still under OSA). He even challenged it in court but the final verdict was against him, based on his lack of locus standi.

Dr Mahathir had admitted that he had to use the construction of NSE to help pay for Umno's headquarters known as PWTC. Umno borrowed in Yen and the currency went up some 50% within a short period. Though it is an open secret that UEM's subsidiary PLUS is substantially owned by Umno, it was revealed by Halim Saad in his case against Umno:

In an affidavit submitted in a subsequent court case Halim said he held his Hatibudi shares 'in trust for the ultimate beneficial owner, Umno'

(Page 126 of the book by Barry Wain, Malaysian Maverick: Mahathir Mohamad in Turbulent Times)

A recent case which touched and revised on locus standi seems of no practical use:

'Although the Federal Court’s recent decision on the test for locus standi (legal standing) is a welcome one, what use is it if parties are able to bring an action but in no way see any result?'

More on the case in the Ant Daily:

Thumbs up for locus standi decision but documents must be viewed


Friday, October 16, 2015

Gist of story just before final episode of TVB's Will Power

From L to R: Eugene Sum Yut Kan (Fala Chen), Morris Lee Ming Yeung (Moses Chan), Sheila Luk Sze Ying (Christine Ng), Wilson Yu Ying Wai (Wayne Lai), Ching Ka Ming (Jason Chan), and Nana Lo Siu Lo (Sire Ma)

No, I am not working for TVB nor our local 8TV station. I am also without the benefit of preview or review of parts which I missed or got distracted. For those really keen, they could have accessed it from the internet or from a PVR which can record any tv show for viewing later. Just like playing Sudoku, it is more to exercise my mind and prevent dementia. So here's my description of earlier episodes with some guesswork thrown in.

Briefly, a super rich man, Sung Chuen Fu, left a will with 3 parts: first provides for HK$300,000 per month living allowance each to widow, Fung Yue Fei (Susan Tse) and her two sons, Sung Ka Cheung (Power Chan) and Gilbert Sung Ka Yiu (Vincent Wong); second provides for any business proposal by the sons, so long as approved by a committee of trustees; and third is to remain a secret, to be opened 3 years after death.  

Even though his entire business empire was handled by a law firm headed by ShumYik Wo, the will was prepared by his old lawyer friend, Lo Sam Bo (Elliot Yue), who specialises in Wills and Trusts.
The unusual structure of the will was because of his secret mistress and love child which reasons are being unfolded as the story progresses.

Shum's law firm has his ex-pupil and now partner, Morris Lee Ming Yeung (Moses Chan) who had made a name for himself as an outstanding lawyer.

Shum's daughter, Eugene Sum Yut Kan (Fala Chen), knew the rich man's younger son, Gilbert Sung Ka Yiu in UK, and have been together when they came back to HK, encouraged by Shum because of his firm's long dependence on Sung's business empire, being their biggest client. At one point when Sung's widow, Fung Yue Fei (Susan Tse), fell out with him, she wrote a cheque for HK$100 million as settlement and for prompt and personal professional services rendered over the years, just to give an idea of the size of the legal business involved.

Lo's firm has his ex-pupil, Wilson Yu Ying Wai (Wayne Lai) as partner. He is another well known lawyer. His ex-wife, Sheila Luk Sze Ying (Christine Ng), happens to be the judge involved in all the cases shown. Where there is conflict of interest, like when Wilson took on a case as public prosecutor, they would ensure no private meetings between them.

It was only later that audience would find the reasons why Sung chose to have his will in 3 parts, the last part with specific condition that it can only be opened 3 years after death. The main reason being to maintain the secrecy of his mistress, Ching Shuk Hing (Mary Hon) and their love child. But more important to him, is the fact that Ching Ka Ming (Jason Chan), his secret son is his, unlike Gilbert Sung Ka Yiu (Vincent Wong) who is his wife's illegitimate child. Though Sung has an elder son, Sung Ka Cheung (Power Chan), but being autistic, Ka Ming is his only hope of a descendant able to manage and maintain his vast business empire in future, as well as responsible enough to look after his autistic step-brother.

Soon after the birth of his first son, Ka Cheung, it was discovered that he is autistic. He was most disappointed that even though he is among the richest man in HK, there are certain things he cannot control nor wish for. He felt depressed and found solace in drinking liquor until drunk before he reached home. As if blaming his wife for bearing him an autistic child, he ignored her and refused to have dinner at home. Out of frustration, his wife went out to a bar to drink. While until the influence of alcohol, a ship captain befriended her. She kept saying she doesn't want to go home and he took her somewhere else. The sexual liaison resulted in her getting pregnant. After the birth of the second son, Sung must have suspected whether the child is his. He secretly asked the doctor (Dr Lai) who delivered the baby, to do a DNA test.

We have a situation where the first wife and the younger son were smug with the feeling that the whole estate will be shared among only three of them. Who would have thought that her late husband's secret when known, unintentionally and prematurely, would change everything? Lo had to give up his position as keeper of the 3-part will and as trustee of Sung's estate because of his unprofessional behaviour towards Ka Yiu. He was badly affected by the rape of his daughter by him especially despite his vast experience as lawyer, was unable to help her to bring him to justice.

Earlier Ka Yiu, got to know Lo's daughter, Nana Lo Siu Lo (Sire Ma) who is a models agency manager. While under the influence of drugs, he raped her. Shum took the opportunity to disqualify him in a court hearing (for having assaulted Ka Yiu), as he was most anxious to get hold of the third part of the will and curious to know its details, as well as to administer the vast estate which he felt should have been rightly his, to administer. 

When the details of the third part of the will was known. it caused shock and disbelief to Sung's widow, not so much because of knowing her husband had a mistress (she knew just before she had an affair), but that the mistress's son, Ching Ka Ming, was to be sole executor of the estate! The twist to the story was when Morris thought it was wise to bring up the fact that Ka Ming was a witness during the trial on the validity of the will. Being a beneficiary, even though it was unknown to him, Ka Ming should not have acted as a witness. For knowing the fact and allowing his chambering student to do so, Lo had acted unprofessionally, and for that, he could be disqualified as a lawyer, and even be jailed.

But at the time, Lo did not have a choice. Without Ka Ming's testimony, Sung's will would have been invalidated. He had promised his old friend that he would follow his instructions faithfully to the end. During the trial, Morris was brilliant in bringing up the fact that Sung had a herbal patch (with alcoholic content) to an open wound, which was medically confirmed to have the effect similar to being too drunk to be able to draw up a valid will. When the herbal concoction was shown in court, Ka Ming remembered the strong smell on the day when he just got back from overseas, and got into hospital room 203 intead of his mother's 302. At the time, Sung was startled by his intrusion, and was pleasantly surprised, especially when told his name, and he knew that he was his love child. He asked him to remove the herbal patch. This act helped to disprove Morris's claim that Sung was under alcoholic influence, and the verdict was in favour of validity of the will. 

Instead of being happy with the verdict that the will was invalid, Shum admonished Morris for bringing up the fact that Ka Ming should not have acted as witness. Without a valid will, the estate will be divided according to the law: half to the widow, and the remaining half, to be shared equally among the 3 sons. This would mean, Ka Ming is entitled to 1/6 (1/3 of 1/2) of Sung's estate. To give an idea of the amount, Ka Yiu was most upset that his father's estate will be reduced by tens of billion HK$ because of the bastard son's share!

Sung's widow, knowing her own dark secret, was worried sick that it might be found out. Meanwhile, Sung's mistress was very upset that her son's involvement in the trial of the will (not so much disclosurre and publicity of his existence and entitlement), could cause Lo to be disbarred and even jailed. All along she had been most noble in not wanting anything from Sung since the birth of their son. As a compromise, she accepted a shop as gift which she used as a cafe for business and to earn enough to bring up the child and sent him overseas to study law, without him knowing who is his father. That they managed to keep the secret for the past 28 years and avoid any connection with Sung and what many believe, could have taken advantage to gain much monetary advantage, shows their sincerity. Both mother and son agreed that to avoid Lo getting into professional trouble, they are prepared to give up whatever that is due to Ka Ming under the law relating to intestacy. Sung's widow, when approached by the mistress to consider her proposal for compromise, on the condition that they will not take action against Lo, could not believe her luck. She was more than happy to agree and accept her proposal.

However, without her knowledge, Ka Yiu approached old Shum and wanted him to ask the court for an order for a DNA test on Ka Ming. Shum actually contacted the doctor (Dr Lai) who delivered both Ka Yiu and Ka Ming. There was an apparent miscommunication about the DNA test and result and Shum got the impression that it confirmed Ka Ming instead of Ka Yiu as not Sung's son. Thinking that he has a golden opportunity to hit back at his old rival, Lo, he made a surprise entrance during the court hearing on the compromise proposal. Just before the judge was about to announce her verdict, Shum said he had evidence to show that Lo had been scheming elaborately right from the beginning, even though he knew that Ka Ming is not Sung's son. He said Lo's objective was to turn the court verdict to his client's favour so that the law of intestacy would apply. He insisted that to prove that his theory is right, there should be a DNA test on Ka Ming, so sure was he.

Upon hearing his testimony,  the widow fainted out of anger and fear. She was not privy to her son's instruction to Shum. When she recovered, the moment she saw Shum, she scolded him for not acting according to her instructions. When asked why he did not discuss with her first, Shum said he thought it would have been better as a secret so that even the opposing side would not have the opportunity to be prepared for such a revelation. She told him that from now on, he is not to be involved with their legal matters. For the big blunder and loss of his biggest client, Shum had a mild heart attack.

Fung Yue Fei then turned her anger on her son, Ka Yiu. Ka Yiu could not understand why his mother could be so upset at what he had done. Reluctantly, Yue Fei told him straight to his face, that he was the illegitmate son instead of Ka Ming! Ka Yiu realises that his world falls apart for the fact that he could not inherit his father's vast estate. For someone brought up as a spoilt and spendthrift rich kid, that must have been a great blow. He took to drinks and drugs. Ka Cheung tried to stop him and he ended up being bundled into his car boot. As Ka Ming and Nana were walking back, Ka Yiu drove his car to stop them and insisted that if he is man enough, he should go with him in his car. Ka Yiu took him to their father's tombstone and forced him to admit that he is not Sung's son. They started fighting. A spade was used during the fight, and just as Ka Yiu was about to make a final fatal blow to Ka Ming, he was stopped by Ka Cheung. When Ka Yiu turned on Ka Cheung, it was Yue Fei who used the spade to kill her own illegitimate son, Ka Yiu. 

She had her reasons for doing so, even though it must have been very difficult on her. Well, by killing off her own son, she could prevent the truth about his illegitimate status from being known. She also took the opportunity to blame the murder on Ka Ming. For this part, she appears to have Shum's legal advice on how best to plant incriminating evidence on Ka Ming.

Eugene discovered her father was not at home that night and saw him coming into the house early the next morning. When asked, he was evasive and gave the excuse that he joined a friend to watch the sun rise.

The incriminating evidence were all pointing towards Ka Ming's guilt as the murderer. Wilson was in despair in not having anything to help his case. He even approached his ex-wife who is judge at the trial about how she felt about the case. When asked between legality and truth, which would she choose? She replied that as a housewife, she would choose truth, but as a judge, she has to follow the law, based on evidence put forward in court.

The only link were two strips of coloured paper found in Ka Yiu's car. These were used to make lucky stars for good luck. They were traced to Ka Cheung when Elly Yip Nga-lai (Samantha Ko) brought two jars of lucky stars to Morris and Eugene, who were later joined by Wilson. It was Wilson who noticed the connection. Earlier, Morris and Eugene were already suspicious of Shum's behaviour. When Eugene saw Yue Fei with her father in the office, she took the opportunity to visit Ka Cheung. But before she could find him, Yue Fei already got home and told her he has moved to another place.

Morris and Eugene's suspicion and behaviour upset Shum. Eventually, Morris confronted Shum and told him that he is not prepared to continue working on Sung's case. Morris asked him if winning is so important that he can put aside his conscience. He told him that he values his conscience more than winning a case. He even handed him his resignation letter. Shum admitted that to him, winning is all that matters. As a compromise, Shum accepted his resignation but he has to finish off Sung's case on legality of his will, before leaving the firm.

Eugene shares Morris's views on this. They had been together since she broke up from Ka Yiu. She had a heart to heart talk with her dad and he remained stubborn to his belief and expressed regret that she as a lawyer is not like him and does not agree with him on this.

Since the murder at the graveyard, Ka Cheung was afraid of his mother, having seen her using the spade to hit Ka Yiu. He holed himself in the house and refused to see his mother. Knowing what to expect, he was grilled by Shum the day before trial. He acted out all the likely questions expected from the defendant's lawyer. At the murder trial, Ka Cheung was put on the witness stand. Ka Cheung was a nervous wreck in court when questioned by Wilson. He even peeed in his pants. He was allowed to stand down.

One good thing about TVB's serials is that eventually, good triumped over evil. Despite being fiction, credit is due to the scriptwriter for making it interesting. So don't miss the final episode this evening at 7.00 pm on 8TV.


Saturday, October 10, 2015

A bit more on wills relating to Chinese

It used to be Chinese tradition to leave wealth only to sons and practically nothing to the daughters. Daughters, brought up according to this tradition, would not expect anything at all. Sons and daughters might be brought up with equal opportunities in terms of education and lifetime gifts, but when it comes to the crunch, especially where there is a will, reality sets in. Daughters educated in the West might find the discrimination most unfair and even abhoring.

The patriarch might write his will to bequeath his wealth among his sons only, with comparatively little sums or assets, if any, to his daughters. Without leaving a valid will, the law provides for equal share among sons and daughters, and this could be most disappointing to the sons who might be expecting more share for each of them if daughters were excluded.

Knowing this background to some traditional Chinese thinking, it is understandable why a grandson of the deceased went out of his way to pressure his aunt, the only daughter who was entitled to 2/9 of her father's estate (intestacy), to return her share to children of her two brothers. The bequest by law was like an enforced decision which was deemed not what it was intended by tradition. It could be due to the clamour for the return of her share which led to her husband's instruction that she gave up her share. Among other things which made her unhappy (besides having to listen to her husband without regard to her own wish), was the fact that the second son of her elder brother got the whole of his grandmother's 1/3 share of the original estate! Yet he got the cheek to insist that she transfer her 2/9 share back to the extended families.

By right, where tradition is in conflict with the law, the latter prevails. Tradition is unwritten family rules whereas the law is written and supposed to be clear and unambiguous. There is an even more unusual Chinese tradition (especially to other races) which provides for the eldest grandson to be entitled to a share equal to the sons! In Cantonese: 'cheong chi tik seen', which refers to the importance of the grandson in continuing the family name or lineage. So the best way to look at it is to presume that the testator would ensure all his wishes in relation to his wealth are provided for in his will, no matter how ridiculous it might seem to others. Where it is unusual, it will lead to future litigation against the validity of the will. When the person died before he could leave a valid will, it is only fair that the law takes its course, according to the Distribution Act, 1958 (as amended in 1997). In distribution of an estate, it is a perfect example of a zero-sum game where each participant's gain (or loss) is exactly balanced by the losses (or gains) of the other participants.

Meanwhile, at a small gathering of ex-classmates of MBS Sentul, I asked a lawyer about 8TV's Will Power. He said he is never interested in TV serials because generally what are portrayed do not reflect reality. So do legal matters.

I mentioned about the unusual provisions of the will of a very rich man in Will Power, particularly, the second part which provides for the release of sufficient funds to finance any viable business proposal so long as it met the approval of the Committee of Trustees, and the third part of the will which can only be revealed 3 years after death.

He said in reality, even trustees in banks providing such services would not get involved in such decision-making as considering the viability of a business proposal.

I also pointed out the scene where there were cardboard boxes (filling half an office room) which supposedly contain documents which the lawyers have to sift through to just list out the entire estate of the deceased. It was far fetched to me because despite his immense wealth in over 100 countries, surely most of his wealth are either properties (titles), shares in listed or unlisted companies all over the world (share certificates or in the form of CDS statements like in Malaysia), bank balances (statements). A man of such stature of wealth is likely to have a list for ease of reference and management, and has a trusted team in control. While on the subject of titles, a land subdivided with separate titles for development can have thousands of individual titles. But the point is that ownership is likely at the company level in the form of shares.

A recent episode which revealed the widow writing out a cheque for HK$100 million to the lawyer for services rendered (yet to be billed), over the years as a parting settlement, seems contradicting to the first part of the will which provides for only HK$300,000 per month each for the widow and her two sons, with the spendthrift younger son complaining that he could not survive on such an unrealistic sum. It seems odd that before the distribution of the estate, the widow must have at least a few hundred millions to be able to write out a cheque for such a big sum on the spot. She could have easily supported the spendthrift son with her own money.


Friday, October 09, 2015

On Wills and other documentations : How women lost out in the past... and still do... in marriage certificates

From openDemocracy:

Documenting women’s lives: mothers' names on marriage certificates

LAUREN JOHNSON 5 October 2015

In England and Wales in the twenty-first century we continue to perpetuate a system that writes women out of our collective history, and we are all poorer for it.

Her name was Thomasine Bonaventure. She grew up in Cornwall, then – like so many, before and since – she went to seek her fortune in London. She married three times, each time to a tailor of the city. Every time one of her husbands died she took over his business for a time, and on her third husband’s death she devoted the rest of her life to training up apprentices, educating a handful of disadvantaged children in her home and founding a school back in Cornwall. She was not only tremendously capable, but also a little showy in her good fortune, travelling the streets of London swathed in rich gowns and riding a horse decked out in blue velvet.

We know this much about Thomasine because before she died in 1512 she wrote a will in which her charitable work, her business and educational endeavours, and her husband's are all mentioned. Other documents help to fill the gaps that remain: the wills of those husbands, the royal licence for her education foundation, the records kept by the crafts of which her husbands, their apprentices and even Thomasine herself were members. In short, like all historical figures, our knowledge of Thomasine is a product of the paper trail she left behind.

But this paper trail would have been considerably fainter had Thomasine died a wife rather than a widow. Since a wife was the property of her husband, she was not permitted to write a will without her husband’s permission. As a result, far more men’s wills survive than women’s. It is very likely that Thomasine’s last husband Sir John Percyvale owed his swift rise to preeminence in the Merchant Taylors Guild and the City of London to his marriage, riding his wife’s coat-tails into the tailoring community. Yet if they worked together during John’s life – if they made decisions about their trade as a couple, if they co-tutored their apprentices, if they bought homes and furnishings and hired servants in consultation with one another, or even if Thomasine expressly dominated their decision-making process – we do not know it. Documents have serious limitations, particularly when it comes to charting the lives of women in the past.


Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Why sue Tun Dr Ling and not Tun Dr Mahathir?

It is pretty obvious to most people the reason why. In case anyone who is reading this does not know (there are foreigners reading too), Dr Mahathir served longest as PM of Malaysia - 22 years! No mean feat by any standard. He had been called a dictator by many and it is surprising why he did not continue to serve until now and make it 34 years. This is because before he gave up the post of PM, he was instrumental in deciding on Pak Lah as his successor, and subsequently, on Najib to replace Pak Lah.

But what he did not realise was the difference between Pak Lah and Najib: sensitive and insensitive. Put to pressure for great loss in GE12, Pak Lah resigned without complaining. Najib, on the other hand, till today does not do as told by his mentor and benefector even though he was hinted at, then told directly to his face, and now being called names like 'thief', which incidentally is more or less what Dr Ling had said - that he took people's money and put into his account.

Legal action against Dr Ling was swift after the statement was made. His wife already received a letter from Najib's lawyers which demanded an apology, if not, legal action wll be instituted.

Who is Tun Dr Ling to expect the same 'immunity' like Tun Dr Mahathir from PM Dato Seri Najib Tun Razak?

Dr Ling used to be President of MCA, an erstwhile strong coalition partner in Alliance, then a dispensable one in Barisan Nasional. MCA has been told to leave by certain Umno leaders for voicing out against Najib.

At 90, Dr Mahathir found out too late that the rules he had set in Umno to protect himself as President against opponents, are also protecting the very President he has been trying to dislodge as PM.

Tun Dr Mahathir is still being respected as an elder statesman, and many who were at the receiving end of his criticisms had to take them without any form of retaliation. But for how long? There is always a first time, that he might be arrested and even jailed, for openly telling the people to vote against Najib in Parliament.

It will be interesting if Tun Dr Mahathir, the founding architect of Umno Baru, who holds membership No.0000001, was sacked from the party.

Many would have forgotten Dr Ling had been a saviour when Umno morphed into Umno Baru, and Dr Mahathir has been ever grateful to him. He was BN Chairman for one day to make the legal process possible! It is a no brainer how ROS went out of its way to help, by facilitating the process. Compare and contrast that with its treatment against opposition party DAP in particular, and Pakatan Rakyat in general.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Julia Yeow: 3 Lessons BN should learn from PAP

Before I post the excerpt from the article in The Malaysian Insider, I must say I find the title condescending, if not insulting to Umno-led Barisan Nasional. It is not that we do not know what needs to be done, but no way we are going to take lessons from PAP!


‘Performance legitimacy’

'Despite the incumbency factor, which was working against the PAP, the leadership’s perceived integrity and efficiency won over not only a generation of older loyalists, but also the younger and more critical Singaporeans.

When Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he would step down after the next elections, he took steps to put his retirement into place less than a month after celebrating a strong election victory.

Singaporeans know exactly what to expect when it comes to voting in PAP, and it’s simply a matter of whether or not they agree with their policies.'

Zero-tolerance for corruption and money politics

At a forum last week in Kuala Lumpur, former Singapore high commissioner to Malaysia K. Kesavapany told delegates that one strong factor leading to PAP’s strong performance in the last elections was the party’s culture of zero-tolerance for corruption.

“We’re not saying there is absolutely no corruption, but it happens at the lower levels, the officers,” Kesavapany said.

“At the leadership level, I think it’s safe to say almost every Singaporean – even the opposition – believes that the PAP is corrupt-free.

“We have also abhorred money politics right from the start… it’s simply not in our culture.”

Keeping politics free from race, religion and language

'The final, and most outstanding, legacy and practice of the PAP leadership is the exclusion of race, religion and language from politics.

This culture has been in place since the birth of the nation and has resulted in a genuine sense of shared responsibility and national pride by the vast majority of its population, including the minority ethnic groups.

“There is a need to ensure every citizen feels that he or she is fairly treated and that there is no inherent advantage or disadvantage on account of one’s race, religion or language,” said Tan.

Even with a 70% ethnic Chinese-dominated society, voter discontent in Singapore rarely stems from racial issues and policies, but rather from problems affecting quality of life and economic position – simply put, issues that transcend race and religion.'

- See more at:

Monday, October 05, 2015

Why not cut ties with China?

Let's not talk about China's current economic power and prowess as well as military might. It is obvious that China has grown to become a powerful economic and military giant (instead of just the world's most populated country), capable of helping third world countries, especially those in Africa, in infra-structures and economic development. In terms of wealth, it is also the biggest creditor to even USA!

To the ordinary Chinese in Malaysia, China is just another country whose people happen to be of the same race. Those born in China and became Malaysian citizens are dwindling in numbers because of natural death. Majority of Chinese Malaysians are born here and have no connections with their relatives (if any) in China. So it is illogical to tell them to 'go back to China' when they are not even citizens of China! My late father, born in Malaya in 1909, had never been to China. Despite ease of modern air travel, I had not been to China nor Taiwan, despite having lived in UK for a few years.

The Chinese in Malaysia are quite contented to be able to do their own things, like sending their children to Chinese schools as an option, carry on their own businesses, and get involved in politics if they are so inclined. Just because DAP is now more successful than MCA, Umno in particular seems to view it as a threat to their continued hold on to power. This could be true, but definitely not in the sense that the Chinese will control the country nor that a Chinese will be Prime Minister. The demography just does not support this, and it is Umno, which feels threatened, which is using race, religion and royalty to frighten the Malay populace to continue supporting it. Even if the opposition were to rule, and DAP's candidates won all the allocated seats, it is impossible for it to have majority in Parliament. In the last GE, DAP contested only 51 (out of 222) parliamentary seats and 102 (out of 505) state seats. Compare this with PKR's 99 and 172, and PAS's 73 and 237, respectively.

That we only have a Chinese Chief Minister in Penang and already some Malays are uncomfortable with it (to put it mildly), what is the point of arguing whether the Constitution allows a Chinese to be PM? As it is, almost all heads of government departments, institutions, universities and even city mayors are Malays. Was there any demonstration or protest by the Chinese against such obvious Malay monopoly? I believe many Chinese would not care if Chinese in MCA or Gerakan were given ministerial posts.

Have the Malays been too sensitive to anything remotely suggesting cooperation of China and Chinese Malaysians?

According to a recent report in The Star:

'In an interview on Wednesday, Dr Huang said his visit to Petaling Street (also known as Chinatown) and statements made there had been taken out of context and misinterpreted.

After the walkabout, during which he distributed mooncakes, a reporter asked Dr Huang a hypothetical question: “If there were a massive anti-Chinese riot in Malaysia, would the Chinese government interfere?”

“I told him I could only give a general and standard diplomatic reply without mentioning Malaysia,” said the envoy.

“And I said: ‘The Chinese government has always pursued peaceful co-existence and non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries. But if such a situation occurs, and it affects Chinese interests, Chinese people and Chinese enterprises, undermines good diplomatic ties, China will not sit idle. For the past 66 years, our diplomats have been repeating this statement. It is our universal value.’

“I also said that we oppose extremism, racism and terrorism in any form. We also oppose any disruption to public order.”

Rest of the report:

Many Chinese Malaysians are wondering why our leaders welcome China's investments and tourists, but treat the locals with disdain, with calls for them to 'get out of the country if they did not like the political system' or 'go back to China' and calling us names like 'cina babi' and so on. We have feelings too. There were calls to close down SJKC when non-Chinese in those schools comprise 13% and increasing! Surely it must be the higher standard of education or better prospects with knowledge of Chinese language which attract them.

Why not cut diplomatic ties with China, and prevent them from investing in or visiting Malaysia? What's the point of having a 'China-Malaysia Friendship Garden in Putrajaya' when China's ambassador is not even treated with the right protocol or at least some respect?

To quote Wong Chun Wai in his recent article, Let cool heads prevail:

'Let’s be blunt. We need China but China does not really need us. We are just a small country but we have been lucky because of our historic ties and also the far-sightedness of the late Tun Abdul Razak who forged official ties with China.

More importantly, Malaysia, with its huge Malaysian Chinese community, has been able to cement the economic relations with China because we understand the Chinese language and culture – putting us above other Asean competitors except Singapore.

This is an asset because when we are able to speak Chinese, we win the minds and hearts of the mainlanders.

This is not something to politicise. And we should be thankful that the Chinese schools have been guaranteed a place in our education system.'


Saturday, October 03, 2015

Customs tell businesses: Don't use GST as excuse

I wish to refer to the news report in Malay Mail:

Now that the GST has been in force, we can leave out the pros and cons of having it. But to deny that GST has affected small businesses and even accuse them of using it as an excuse to shut down businesses is rubbing salt to injury.

Just imagine the number of small businesses, especially family-run ones like sundry shops, which were affected by the introduction of GST, and the dilemma they were in: to continue or to shut down, is so real.

To continue would mean a revamp of many years of trading practices, with the introduction of computerized point of sale and accounting. Even with much publicity (though its value in terms of answering questions left much to be desired, simply because of the use of too simplistic examples), government incentives like free seminars, business people are left with the choice of closing down or increase overheads of tens of thousands per year. Computers cost money, so does software that goes with them, plus the extra accounting charges. Of course, it would improve overall management of the business, but to someone who knows next to nothing of such new technology, it causes sleepless nights when pondering over the dilemma, as well as soon after using it.

To some seniors whose children are already into other jobs or professions, GST is like a tipping point to closing down their businesses, with a heavy heart. Who would like to be forced into making such a decision?

GST, as we have experienced since its introduction, has caused an overall increase in prices of goods and services. Never mind the simplistic explanations showing how little the effects of the tax, but everything has gone up. Some unregistered traders and coffee shop stalls have to face angry customers asking for printed bills when their prices were upped because of increases in costs of ingredients, whether they were due to GST or otherwise.

I know of someone who runs a shop trading in electrical goods. He had sleepless nights trying to understand the new software that comes with GST. Having been in the trade for many years, he said that for doing the same business, besides the initial costs of equipment, he now has to pay more than Rm10,000 in extra costs for having the system.

Costs increase across the board, whether because of GST or otherwise. How could the government control prices when the causes are numerous and hard to identify and quantify? Any strict action according to the law will affect only a very small number of unfortunate businesses without really solving the problem. But it would help if the Customs would be more sympathetic than accusing those who closed down their businesses as using GST as an excuse. It was not an excuse but a real problem which forced some to do so.