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.)

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Gopal Sri Ram: A-G's discretion under Article 145 (3)

Excerpt:
In the case of Long bin Samat decided in 1974, the Federal Court held that the attorney-general (A-G) had wide discretion to select the provision of the law under which to prosecute a person.
The pronouncement in this case has been read to affirm a wide discretion in the A-G whether to prosecute at all.
But if you look carefully at the judgment of Lord President Suffian in the case, it is clear that the Federal Court was only speaking of the A-G's wide discretion to choose the section of the law under which a person is to be prosecuted.
But in the case of Johnson Tan (1977), Suffian accepted that the discretion is not as wide as thought to be.
This is what he said: "In deciding that the A-G is not constrained by Article 8 when deciding whether or not to prosecute and if so on what charge, whether a lesser or a greater one, it must not be thought that he may act dishonestly.
"The public of whose interest he is the guardian has a right to expect him to act honestly, without fear of powerful national and local figures or of the consequences to him personally or politically, and without favouring his relatives and friends and supporters, his principal concern being to maintain the rule of law so that there will be no anarchy and to maintain standards in public life and the private sector; and if he did not do his duty honestly and properly the public would be able to show their disapproval not however in the courts but elsewhere and in the last resort by voting against the party of which he is a member."
This shows that an A-G must act honestly and that there is a legitimate interest in every member of the public that he will act honestly.
Another way of saying the same thing is that the A-G must act in good faith and must not be swayed by irrelevant considerations.
- See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/sideviews/article/a-g-s-discretion-under-article-145-3-gopal-sri-ram#sthash.3ZYCC4uY.dpuf
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Monday, January 25, 2016

Dr Kua Kia Soong: Dispelling misconceptions about the TPPA

Excerpt:

Allow me to dispel some misconceptions raised by some supporters of the TPPA who seem genuinely concerned about wanting Malaysia to submit to a higher “rule of law” trade regime yet appear naïve in making those assumptions.

Is the rejection of the TPPA a retreat into isolationism?

These supporters of the TPPA argue that a rejection of the TPPA is a retreat into isolationism. Some even use the examples of North Korea and Iran to scare Malaysians into accepting the Agreement. This is disingenuous indeed. For a start, North Korea and Iran have been forced into isolation because of sanctions applied by the world community. On the other hand, Malaysia, which is modelled along liberal democratic lines, has one of the most open globally interconnected economies in the world, without being in the TPPA. At the other end of the spectrum is China, which is run by the Chinese Communist Party and is doing pretty well thank you in its trade with countries in every continent even though it is being strenuously isolated from the TPPA by the US.

Will investors stop investing in Malaysia if we do not ratify the TPPA?

That depends on what we have to offer. If tenders cannot be won on merit, if corruption and commissions are the order of the day, if the rule of law is suspect, which investor would want to put their money here? But does the TPPA ensure such bad governance conditions will not prevail anymore? Think again!

Now, assume that we do not join the TPPA. Do you think Lynas will stop dumping their toxic rare earth in Kuantan? Will other Multinational Companies stop coming to invest in Malaysia if the Malaysian government continues with its union-bashing and low wage policies? Only the absolutely naïve would think so. It was the MNCs that demanded these policies in the first place when the first Free Trade Zones were established in Malaysia in the seventies.

Will the TPPA entrench the rule of law in Malaysia?

Some supporters of the TPPA are of the opinion that the binding stipulations in the Agreement will have a positive impact by strengthening the rule of law in Malaysia. The evidence shows otherwise. Now, even before we have signed the TPPA, the US has already lowered its standards on human rights for Malaysia. First, it upgraded the ranking for Malaysia’s record on human trafficking despite the shocking discovery of mass graves near the Thai border. Then it agreed to the Malaysian government’s request for racial discriminatory exemptions for Bumiputera interests in the TPPA.

The only “rule of law” that the TPPA is concerned about is securing the interests of multinational corporations whenever they face challenges to their profits. Thus the ISDS (Investor-State Dispute Settlement) mechanism is not so much the “rule of law” as the extrajudicial process written into the TPPA whereby governments can be dragged before supra-national tribunals by corporate lawyers if they think national laws violate their TPP rights or limit the MNCs’ expected profits.

Do you think the US is concerned about the “rule of law” in Malaysia beyond the ISDS? President Obama’s diplomatic replies to this question to placate the Najib government during his last visit is instructive. Is the US concerned about the rule of law in Saudi Arabia, their strongest ally in the Middle East?

More:
http://www.suaram.net/?p=7792
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Friday, January 22, 2016

I'm crazy, not stupid

This joke is worth repeating, and if it could help someone in a similar situation, it is worth it...

One truck driver was doing his usual delivery to Mental Hospital. He discovered a flat tyre when he was about to go home. He jacked up the truck and took the flat tyre down. When he was about to fix the spare tyre, he accidentally dropped all the bolts into the drain. As he can't fish the bolts out, he started to panic.

One patient happened to walk past and asked the driver what happened.

The driver thought to himself, since there's nothing much he can do, he told the patient the whole incident.

The patient laughed at him and said "Can't even fix such a simple problem... no wonder you are destined to be a truck driver..."

"Here's what you can do, take one bolt each from the other 3 tyres and fix them onto this tyre. Then drive to the nearest workshop and replace the missing ones, easy as that."

The driver was very impressed and asked:"You're s o smart but why are you here at the Mental Hospital?"

Patient replied: "Hello, I stay here because I'm CRAZY not STUPID!"
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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

What's up with WhatsApp? It's free!

My friend commented when forwarding to me the news:

'This is good news for all our WhatsApp users.   It's not so much as to the cheap subscription, it's about HOW to go about paying the subscription - using what ?  Credit card, PayPal, or some cumbersome form of payments?   Not all WhatsApp users have these.   Now that its definitely free, that worry is no longer there.'

From Androidcentral.com:

'WhatsApp has announced that it will axe its $1 annual subscription fee starting today. The Facebook-owned messaging service is nearing a billion users, and will start exploring alternate business models.

WhatsApp failed to monetize in emerging markets due to low debit and credit card penetration, which led to the service being offered for free. Today's announcement reflects a change of strategy that will see the platform acting as a facilitator between businesses and customers:

Naturally, people might wonder how we plan to keep WhatsApp running without subscription fees and if today's announcement means we're introducing third-party ads. The answer is no. Starting this year, we will test tools that allow you to use WhatsApp to communicate with businesses and organizations that you want to hear from. That could mean communicating with your bank about whether a recent transaction was fraudulent, or with an airline about a delayed flight.

We all get these messages elsewhere today – through text messages and phone calls – so we want to test new tools to make this easier to do on WhatsApp, while still giving you an experience without third-party ads and spam.

Facebook has already undertaken a similar strategy with Messenger, giving users the ability to chat with businesses. The feature will come in handy in countries like India, where WhatsApp is slowly becoming the de-facto method of communication.'

More: http://www.androidcentral.com/whatsapp-gets-rid-annual-subscription-fee
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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Kagan Goh: Recollections of David Bowie’s Serious Moonlight Tour to Singapore

In 1983, my father, Goh Poh Seng: doctor, poet, novelist, playwright, nightclub owner, businessman and entrepreneur was the sponsor and promoter of David Bowie’s Serious Moonlight Tour in Singapore. My father, widely acknowledged in hindsight as a pioneer of the Arts in Singapore and a man ahead of his time, almost went bankrupt financing the first big rock & roll concert in Singapore. I spent that summer holiday in 1983 with my best friends acting as tour guides showing Bowie’s bandmates the sights and sounds of Singapore. Initially, my father contemplated bringing Duran Duran but decided on the rock musical legend David Bowie instead. This was my first bona fide encounter with a real live rock star, a living legend who many considered to be the greatest rock musician of all time.

My father and I were waiting in excitement for Bowie to arrive at the Singapore international airport. When he cleared customs, my high school friend, Bernice Heng, got the honor and privilege of presenting him with a bouquet of flowers. Bowie was tall, towering over everyone. He was dressed in a baby blue three-piece suit and was smoking a cigarette. He bent down to kiss this short and rather shy and overwhelmed teenage girl on the cheek. The photographers from the press and newspapers were banned from printing the photograph in the newspaper taken of Bowie kissing my teenage friend because he was smoking a cigarette, something which was frowned upon and discouraged by the government campaign urging Singaporeans to quit smoking.

My father invited Bowie and his musicians to our home to listen to a live performance by classical Chinese musicians. Bowie’s band came but the man himself declined, saying that he did not “fraternize with concert promoters.” My father sent David Bowie a message through his personal assistant, telling him to tell Mister Bowie that “he is only a rock star. I, however, am a poet.” Bowie came to meet my father in person hat in hand to apologize for his rudeness. My father told Bowie that two of his songs had been banned from radio play. “This rock & roll business is more than just drugs, sex and rock and roll and making money, it is about freedom of speech. Perhaps people in the West take this freedom for granted. But I know poets and writers in Asia who have been imprisoned for their writing. Here, freedom of speech is something people are willing to fight for, even die for.” Fired up by my father’s words, Bowie kicked off his concert with the two banned songs, galvanized by his band attacking the stage like a squad of guerilla soldiers on the rampage.

More:
http://www.gohkagan.com/

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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

We try to reciprocate but sometimes, unable to

Do you know the reason for noting down the amount of each angpow at a wedding dinner or each 'pak kum' (donation) at a funeral wake?

This record is mainly to remember how much a relative or friend had given before, so that an appropriate or same amount is given at a similar good or sad event. But sometimes, records went missing and details were forgotten, over the years. Sometimes, fortunes changed, and someone who can easily reciprocate before may not be able to do so now. Or the second generations are not in touch and do not value the relationship of the earlier. So it is not always possible to reciprocate despite the best of intentions.

It seems silly to think that the custom of giving has been reduced to strictly monetary transactions. Some feel obliged because of their deemed status, to give a certain sum to save face.

Very often, a rich relative invites and gives lunch or dinner treats to poorer ones, and often did not expect to be reciprocated if the difference in wealth is obvious.

I am all for those philanthropists who do not expect anything in return, just with a hope that the beneficiaries will remember to help others in future.

At funeral wakes, the practice of 'donations' came about in the old days because the bereaved family needed financial support to take care of the funeral arrangements, which included buying a burial plot and erecting a decent tombstone later. Paying last respect had been accorded a very important 'must do' for any relative or friend. But over the years, with children or other relatives living overseas, the rule has been much relaxed. High travelling costs and time (it might take more than a day including transit waits) are important factors to this change. Furthermore, 'soong choong' (Cantonese for being present at the time of death, esp by children and other close relatives), cannot be taken for granted if most children are living overseas.

In the old days, a patriarch or matriarch was said to have had a 'good life' if his or her funeral was well attended, especially in the presence of many children, grandchildren, great granchildren and so on. The more the 'merrier' because when one reached the age of 100, instead of black for mourning, red will be worn to signify celebration of longevity!

Having own house to have funeral wake used to be very important. But these days, because of security and convenience, funeral wakes of very wealthy people are likely to be in a modern funeral parlour with all the necessary facilities.

Where there are successful sons or daughters who are into (delusion of) grandeur, great efforts are made to have expensive cars (with police outriders) to lead the procession. But often, the deceased might be one for such efforts, but during his or her funeral, it depends on his children whether to have a grand sendoff or just a simple one. In life, there are things which cannot be planned and I am reminded of my mother's advice that whether anyone can claim to have had a good life, it is up to others to comment. Not until the last breath, one cannot be sure how one's life will end.

Back to reciprocity. Over a number of years, relationships or friendships change; some die earlier than others; financial conditions change; and so on. It is almost impossible to ensure everything can be reciprocated.

Even relatives, because of different interests and status in life, do not necessarily keep in touch with each other. So it can be quite meaningless to expect anyone who never keep in touch for many years, to make it a point to pay his or her last respect. Where was he when the person was alive and kicking?

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Joseph Francis in The Ant Daily: Federal Constitution states who is Malay, and who isn’t

Excerpt:

Mahathir listed himself down as Indian Muslim when he applied to the University of Malaya in Singapore to do medicine. The proverbial cat was out of the bag when the late Lee Kuan Yew reportedly gave the late Sultan of Johor a copy of Mahathir’s application form to enter the university in Singapore.

In any case, this is not so important except to illustrate the fact that Malay was not a term universally accepted by among those people who the British insisted on calling Malays for administrative reasons.

The term Malay has been defined under Article 160 of the Federal Constitution:

“Malay” means a person who professes the religion of Islam, habitually speaks the Malay language, conforms to Malay custom and – (a) was before Merdeka Day born in the Federation or in Singapore or born of parents one of whom was born in the Federation or in Singapore, or is on that day domiciled in the Federation or in Singapore; or (b) is the issue of such a person. 

Obviously, this means that not every Tom, Dick and Harry, although Muslim and speaking Malay, can be regarded as Malay. 

Birth and place of birth and descent determines who is Malay and who isn’t. Unless it can be proven that Mahathir, 90, was in fact not born in Malaya or Singapore before Merdeka and/or does not meet the other criteria stated in the Federal Constitution, it can’t be said that he’s not a “real Malay”.

- See more at: http://www.theantdaily.com/Main/Federal-Constitution-states-who-is-Malay-and-who-isn-t#sthash.rMzFRy6m.dpuf
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Thursday, January 07, 2016

At least on paper, it looks like Lim Kang Hoo will control Bandar Malaysia Sdn Bhd

But we cannot help, like always, think that he could be fronting one or more VVIPs, especially for such a huge and high profile strategic development project.

Despite confusing public statements (deliberate or otherwise), our local Chinese tycoon (with his 60%), controls Iskandar Waterfront Holdings Sdn Bhd (IWH); which in turn (with its 60%), controls CREC & IWH Consortium; and this Consortium controls 60% of Bandar Malaysia Sdn Bhd.

'In order to appease the ignorant public, 1MDB and their army of paid sycophants had the cheek to say that the majority shares in Bandar Malaysia will still be owned by the Government. This is again, misleading.

Lets look at the ownership of Bandar Malaysia now:

40% – 1MDB
60% – CREC & IWH Consortium

Majority of Bandar Malaysia is now in the hands of private sector.

Breakdown of CREC & IWH Consortium:

40% – CREC
60% – IWH

Majority of the Consortium is owned by IWH, a private + Johor state venture.

Breakdown of IWH, the controlling company in the Consortium:

60% – owned by Lim Kang Ho via Credence Resources
40% – owned by Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor Sdn Bhd

Therefore, in reality, Lim Kang Ho owns the controlling stake in Bandar Malaysia Sdn Bhd. And since he is the private sector and controls the majority shares in IWH, what will stop him from selling more shares to foreigners? Obviously 1MDB and Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor Sdn Bhd are insignificant shareholders in this deal.

Lim Kang Ho through his Credence Resources can easily team up with CRG and swallow the whole BMSB.

This is why the public have asked 1MDB to disclose its Sale and Purchase agreement because it is a matter of public interest but 1MDB quickly dismissed it as an attempt to ‘undemine’ the sale. Such siege mentality had not been witnessed since Troy was ransacked by the Greeks.

What is the guarantee that the whole Sungai Besi land won’t fall into the hands of foreigners? The risks are there but to 1MDB and its top advisor, since the land they are selling is only belonged to the public but not their own, it is okay to sell it off, just so that they could pay off their debts.'

'P.S.: As predicted, a nameless sycophant threw in his only defence against this article – that Malaysian Government holds the majority stake in Bandar Malaysia.

To summarise this is their argument:

1. CREC 40% of 60% is 24%
2.. LKH 60% of 60% of 60% is 21.6%
3. KPRJ 40% of 60% of 60% is 14.4%
4. 1MDB 40%

Therefore, Malaysian government still own 54.4% (40% + 14.4%) of Bandar Malaysia. This is just like how 1MDB tries to hoodwink the public. But just as the article above shown, this is not the case.

It doesn’t work that way in corporate world.

As explained in this article, Lim Kang Ho controls the Board of IWH through his majority shareholding thus effectively controls the Consortium because IWH has 60% of ownership. Since he controls the Consortium, he controls the Board of BMSB. Doesn’t matter who owns how much percentage. Amateurs will look at the percentages as if they mean something. In reality the one that controls the BOD at each level of the company holds the power. How can 1MDB with only 40% ownership exert control over BMSB? And how can Johor state with only 40% stake in IWH exert control over IWH? In addition, it has much less say in CREC-IWH! In conclusion, the formulation that Malaysian government owns 54.4% of Bandar Malaysia is just an illusion.'

More:
https://jebatmustdie.wordpress.com/

Now I see a link between this and HRH Sultan of Johor's suggestion to give Najib a chance.

Further statements from 1MDB seem to suggest the announcement on Dec 31 was premature (just to meet Najib's deadline), and if no S&P Agreement signed, it was nothing more than a MoU or Letter of Intent!
Link

Monday, January 04, 2016

GST to be abolished if Pakatan came to power?

When GST was first proposed, Pakatan Rakyat was strongly against it. But because BN had the numbers, the Bill was passed into law easily. Then came the initial hiccups in implementation which caused great miseries to those businesses affected as well as higher than expected general price increases across the board. But over a period of time, people get used to having the tax system in place while grudging over the higher prices of goods and services which basically affected their standards of living. Some people reduce their spending, like going out less to eat; choosing cheaper food items; and so on.

The whole process from proposal to implementation had caused major changes to affected businesses (those which have annual turnovers of at least Rm500,000), which necessitated initial costs of equipment, software and training, and continual costs of maintaining the approved accounting systems.

How would such business people feel if suddenly, with a change in government, they are told that all that become unnecessary? I am sure they will be fuming mad over the U-turn, regardless of which party causes it.

In terms of government expenditures, I am sure it costed millions from proposal to implementation. Isn't that going to be wasted if the system is abolished? Don't forget, GST replaced the less comprehensive Sales and Service Tax. We need government revenues to administer the country. Oil revenues have been diminishing (oil reserves also depleting), especially with the now much lower oil prices.

We could make GST less of burden by reducing its rate, and adding more exempt as well as zero-rated items. We must admit that with better accounting systems, there will be lesser opportunities of income tax evasion too.

I hope Pakatan Harapan will reconsider whether to abolish GST outright, in its manifesto for the next General Election.
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Friday, January 01, 2016

Zaid Ibrahim: My heart goes to you, Indira

M. Indira Gandhi’s case never fails to make me feel angry and very sad.

It’s heart-wrenching to know that a mother has been denied custody of her child simply because her ex-husband, Muhammad Riduan Abdullah (né K. Pathmanathan), converted their daughter, then aged two years, to Islam.


An emotional Indira Gandhi is seen at the Court of Appeal earlier today after a three-judge panel ruled that the civil courts have no jurisdiction over the matter of her children's conversion. ― Picture by Saw Siow Feng

Source: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/appellate-court-reinstates-unilateral-conversion-of-hindu-mums-kids-defers

The unilateral conversion of the minor, made soon after the parents’ divorce, has been held to be valid by the court: in a majority decision, Court of Appeal Judges Balia Yusof Wahi and Badariah Sahamid denied Indira the right to be with her daughter, to live and care for her — to hug her as other mothers would do — forever.

It has been almost nine years since Indira separated from Riduan, and I expect that the Court of Appeal decision will be upheld by the Federal Court. I ask myself: what kind of kind of country have we become to produce such harsh laws and heartless judges? If Indira had been a Muslim mother, and the former husband did the unilateral conversion of the daughter to say Christianity , would the decision still be the same?

Of course not. Indira did not get justice because she is not a Muslim.

I have made reference to Indira’s case in the books I have written, and I will not dwell on the law any further. I just feel sick, thinking how the legal system cannot grant relief to a mother who has been deprived of her daughter for so many years.

What kind of judges have we produced? Do they not feel the need to be human and compassionate? Have they become comfortably numb, ensconced in the multimillion-ringgit Palace of Justice? Don’t tell me the law, and please don’t tell me they had no choice.

The word “parent” used in the Constitution could easily be interpreted to mean the plural (“parents”), and such a construction is commonly used in other jurisdictions. If plural can serve the interests of justice, why not do it?

I remember very well, in my short stint as Minister, that when I asked the Attorney-General’s Chambers if we could make a Constitutional amendment to ensure that the conversion of minors occurred only with the agreement of both parents —  and to make it very clear to judges like Balia Yusof and Badariah — I was told that a Cabinet Committee had already been formed under the chairmanship of Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who was Deputy Prime Minister at the time.

This was in 2008. Najib was probably too busy to worry about changing the singular to the plural when bigger things like 1MDB had to be implemented.

I wonder if these judges have children of their own. I don’t know if Balia Yusof or Badariah are parents. If they are, how can they not feel the pain felt by Indira. How would these judges feel if their spouses, on divorce, converted to another religion and at the same time converted their young children without them knowing? What would they do? Would they say that singular means singular and nothing more can be done?

The Court of Appeal judges now want Indira to go to the Shariah Court for relief. It’s a proposition that’s ridiculous and without legal basis. I urge her not to waste her time. The civil courts have made it very clear, in this case and in that of Lina Joy’s, that they will not touch on the conversion of a Muslim, regardless of what the issues are.

They will come up with some excuses that will ultimately pass the problem to the Shariah Court. But the Shariah Court (being a religious court) will not even listen to Indira’s plea, and they have a legal right to do that. Why should they do the work of the civil courts?

Indira, I don’t know you but I share your pain. My mother, who passed away last year, always reminded me that, as parents, we must never be separated from our children.

Nothing is crueller to children than to deprive them of the love of their mothers. My parents divorced when I was young mainly because they were poor and had to work in different places, but they did their best to make sure we got to see them whenever possible.

My case was different from Indira’s, as neither of my parents would dream of separating us using religion. Even if they did, our courts and our judges in those days would never have allowed it. Back then, judges dispensed justice with their hearts, but not now.

I would like to appeal to all Malaysians who care about this case to start raising funds ; not to cover the legal costs of the appeal to the Federal Court, which will be futile, but to make a film about the tragedy suffered by Indira.

The world must know the story of how a nation lost its soul and how justice became so alien to our elites, who now care for nothing but themselves.

Let the arguments put forth by Indira and the decisions of the judges be documented and aired for the world to see. If Indira’s lawyers agree with this initiative, start the fund rolling. I am sure we can raise enough for a good film about love and wickedness. Let it be shown in New York and London.
Indira must fight her battle beyond the shores, and we must help her.
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