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, March 19, 2016

A little bit on the Citizens' Declaration

An alliance of strange bedfellows indeed! 


Photo from Malaysiakini

Who could have imagined Tun Dr Mahathir and Tun Ling Liong Sik coming together with Lim Kit Siang on a common platform? A few political cliches come to mind: 'there are no permanent friends or enemies in politics', 'an enemy of your enemy is your friend', and so on.

It also reminds me of a sketch on British television years ago, in Not the 9 o'clock News. Two politicians were arguing aggressively on stage and then one of them collapsed and died. Immediately, the other politician said something to the effect that he was such a good man and a great politician and that he will be sorely missed.

I like the analogies found in The Ant Daily:

'Previously, I wrote that those who signed the declaration and appeared with Mahathir did so because they saw it as the first, cautious step to remove Najib. I likened what they did to “crossing a river by groping the stones underfoot” (a Chinese proverb).

One reader emailed me to say that when she read it, she recalled this story: A scorpion asked a frog to give it a ride across a river. It promised the frog that it would not sting it. When they got to the other side, the scorpion stung the frog. The frog protested. It reminded the frog of its promise. The scorpion responded: “It’s in my nature.”

I think everyone who signed the citizens’ declaration knows they sat with a scorpion. I think they also know their objective: urgently remove Najib from office.'

- See more at: http://www.theantdaily.com/Main/The-scorpion-the-frog-and-the-Citizens-Declaration#sthash.HikEzOn0.pm7w8m7S.dpuf

Link

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Dr Ong Kian Ming: Possible appointment of Tan Sri Dr. Irwan Serigar as the next Bank Negara Governor raises concerns

Excerpt:

"I read the disturbing news reported by the Wall Street Journal on Saturday that Tan Sri Dr. Irwan Serigar bin Abdullah, the current Chief Secretary of Ministry of Finance, will be named as the new Central Bank Governor of Malaysia after Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz.[1]

I want to raise some concerns regarding Dr Irwan’s role in multi-billion ringgit debts of Pembinaan PFI Sdn Bhd, a 99% Ministry of Finance owned company. Pembinaan PFI first rose to prominence when the 2013 Auditor General’s report showed that it had accumulated liabilities of close to RM28 billion at financial year end 2012, putting it only behind Petronas and Khazanah among government owned entities..."


"Dr. Irwan was appointed to the board of Pembinaan PFI in 2012 when he was the Deputy Secretary in charge of policy in the Ministry of Finance (MoF). After he was promoted to Chief Secretary of the MoF, Dr. Irwan remained as a director of Pembinaan PFI.

The Auditor General’s report prompted a Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) investigation into Pembinaan PFI. The PAC report was released in March 2015, a copy of which can be downloaded from the parliament’s website.[2] The testimony of the witnesses, including Dr. Irwan, clearly showed the spending incurred by Pembinaan PFI is nothing more than a creative way to hide development expenditure from the official budget and in doing so, artificially keep Malaysia’s debt to GDP ratio at below the 55% mark. Pembinaan PFI is not funding expenditure through private finance initiatives (which its name implies) since there is no private money involved in these projects.[3]

Indeed, during the PAC meeting, Dr. Irwan admitted as much when he said the following to the Chairman of the PAC:

“Ini Tuan Pengerusi, your understanding is very clear. That you know this is off-budget. It doesn’t come in to the government so that why you know our debt level and rating and everything we can maintain.”

More:
http://ongkianming.com/2016/03/14/press-statement-possible-appointment-of-tan-sri-dr-irwan-serigar-as-the-next-bank-negara-governor-raises-concerns/

Link

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Malaysiakini: Citizens' declaration spells out demands for removal of Najib

Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, ex-deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin, opposition and NGO figures have inked a declaration for the removal of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and to institute reforms.

Below is the list of demands contained in what is described as the Citizens’ Declaration:

1. We, the undersigned citizens of Malaysia, append below our concerns over the deteriorating political, economic and social conditions in the country.

2. We wish to draw the attention of the people of Malaysia to the damage done to the country under the premiership of Najib Abdul Razak.

3. Under his administration, the country has ascended to become one of the 10 most corrupt countries in the world according to Ernst and Young in their Asia Pacific Fraud Survey Report Series 2013. The 2015 Corruption Perception Index showed Malaysia has dropped four places from 50 to 54.

4. This is because he believes that money can ensure his position as prime minister of Malaysia. He believes that "Cash is King".

5. Allocations to all ministries and public institutions including universities have been reduced because of shortages of funds. Even when allocations are budgeted for, no money was available.

6. In 2009, he decided to set up a sovereign wealth fund to earn income for the government.

7. He created the 1MDB which became indebted with RM42 billion of loans which it is unable to repay. It is no longer a sovereign wealth fund. It is a sovereign debt fund.

8. 1MDB borrowed approximately RM20 billion to acquire three power plant companies for an over-priced (sum of) RM12.1 billion. Despite being awarded new power plant contracts and extensions to the expiring power-producing concessions, the 1MDB power companies were sold for RM9.83 billion, or a loss of RM2.72 billion.

9. 1MDB invested or lent a total of US$1.83 billion to Petrosaudi International (PSI) Limited between 2009 and 2011 under the pretext of bogus projects or non-existent assets. Bank Negara Malaysia had demanded 1MDB return the above money to Malaysia as its approval was given based on misinformation submitted by 1MDB. Of this sum, a total of US$1.4 billion was directly and indirectly siphoned off to Good Star Limited and other companies controlled by Low Taek Jho.

10. To hide the missing funds, 1MDB "disposed" of its investments and loans to PSI for US$2.318 billion, claiming to have made a profit of US$488 million. However, no money was returned to Malaysia. Instead, 1MDB claimed it invested the funds in Cayman Islands that was subsequently found to be an unlicensed investment manager. KPMG was sacked as 1MDB's auditors for refusing to confirm the value of the investment in the mysterious Cayman fund.

11. 1MDB claimed that the Cayman Islands investment has been fully redeemed. (A sum of) US$1.22 billion was reportedly redeemed on Nov 5 2014 but was substantially utilised on the very same day to compensate Aabar Investments PJS for the termination of options granted to Aabar to acquire 49 of 1MDB's power companies. This is a lie because the parent of Aabar, International Petroleum Investment Corporation (IPIC), did not mention receipt of any such payments in its audited accounts published on the London Stock Exchange. Instead, the accounts stated that 1MDB owes IPIC the sum of US$481 million for the termination.

12. 1MDB also took another loan of US$975 million from a Duetsche Bank-led consortium in September 2014, for the very same purpose of compensating Aabar for the terminated options. The Wall Street Journal has exposed the fact that this money may have been paid to a different British Virgin Islands entity with a similar name, "Aabar Investment PJS Limited", whose beneficial owner is completely unrelated to IPIC. The simple scam has fooled even the 1MDB auditors, Deloitte Malaysia, into believing that the payments were indeed received by IPIC's Aabar.

13. 1MDB announced that it made a second and final RM1.1 billion redemption of the Cayman Islands investment in January 2015. Initially the PM told Parliament that the sum was held in cash in BSI Bank, Singapore. However, two months later in May 2015, he informed Parliament that it was not in cash but "assets". Subsequently, it was explained that these assets were "units" which meant that they were never redeemed in the first place. This proved that 1MDB and the PM have been consistently lying to the Malaysian public. It also means that the money invested in Petrosaudi, which was reinvested in Cayman Islands, is still missing and unaccounted for.

14. A former Umno vice-head of the Batu Kawan division made a police report on the loss of large sums of money by 1MDB. No investigations were carried out by the police. Instead, he was interrogated by police, detained and charged under anti-terror law (Sosma) for sabotage of the Malaysian economy. His lawyer was also arrested and charged under the same law. This has the effect of frightening people from making police reports on the 1MDB.

15. The Wall Street Journal reported that Najib had US$681 million in his private account at Ambank.

16. Najib denied this at first but later admitted he had the huge amount of money in his account. He claimed that it was a gift from an Arab; then that it was a donation to help him win GE13 in Malaysia; then that it was given because of his dedication to the fight against Islamic terrorists. He then claimed to have received the money from a Saudi prince, then from the King of Saudi Arabia who had passed away.

17. Later a Saudi minister stated there was no record of such a gift by the Saudis. He suggested it was probably a Saudi investment. The amount was small.

18. Najib expressed his intention to sue the Wall Street Journal. But he did not. Instead, he asked his lawyers to ask the Wall Street Journal why it published the report.

19. To this day the WSJ continues to report more and more details about the US$681 million he has in his private account. He has not sued WSJ, which he can do in the country the WSJ is published.

20. Concerned over the huge sum of money in Najib's private account, a task force was set up in Malaysia to investigate the origin of the money. Four government institutions became members of the task force. They are the police, the attorney-general, Bank Negara and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

21. Before the task force was able to finish its work, the attorney-general was removed by Najib claiming that he was sick and could not continue to work. Basically Najib had misrepresented to the king to get the attorney-general to be replaced. The Public Accounts Committee was basically paralysed by Najib removing its chairman and members to prevent its investigations of the 1MDB. A new chairman, friendly to Najib, was appointed and he promptly declared that Najib had done nothing wrong.

22. He then appointed a new attorney-general. Shortly thereafter the new attorney-general dismissed a recommendation by Bank Negara for action to be taken, claiming that nothing in the report showed Najib had done any wrong.

23. Bank Negara appealed but this was brushed aside.

24. The new attorney-general also dismissed another report by the MACC. The contents of the report are not revealed and threats are made against revealing its contents.

25. The new attorney-general has, without valid explanations, dismissed the recommendations of the two institutions that possess the powers and expertise in their areas.

26. That dismissal prevented the matter from being determined by a court of law after all the evidence was evaluated. By doing that, the attorney-general has acted as prosecutor and judge. Due process and the rule of law has been denied.

27. The sacked deputy prime minister later revealed that the former attorney-general has shown him proof of Najib's wrongdoings relating to the scandals. At the same time, various foreign government agencies, namely from Switzerland, the United States, Hong Kong and Britain have initiated investigations on the 1MDB.

28. The press in Malaysia is heavily censored so that Malaysians have to rely on the foreign press. Yet when Malaysians discuss or write about the foreign press reports, the government (inspector-general of police) invited people to make police reports so that the police can carry out questioning and investigations against the person concerned.

29. This is in contrast to the failure of the police to investigate the police report formally made against Najib, Jho Low and the reports to the attorney-general by Bank Negara and MACC. The attorney-general even threatens to amend the law to provide for jail for life with 10 strokes of the rotan against anyone "leaking" government papers. This means that crimes committed in the administration can be hidden from the public.

30. The attorney-general claims that a part of the RM2.6 billion (about RM2.3 billion) has been returned to the donor or donors. Apart from this statement, no proof has been provided.

31. The people are suffering.

32. Najib's GST and increases in toll rates have increased the cost of living, forcing some businesses to close down and also causing foreign-owned industries to stop operations and relocate to other countries, creating unemployment.

33. Despite protests by the people, Najib joined the US-sponsored Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) which erodes our freedom to make policies and laws suitable for our country.

34. Today Malaysia's image is badly tarnished. Apart from being classified as one of the 10 most corrupt countries, Malaysia is now regarded as undemocratic. There is denial of freedom of speech and freedom of the press and people live in fear of arrest and detentions. Security laws are enacted to allow the prime minister (and not the king) to declare security areas where anyone could be arrested and detained without trial and tried under procedures that violate normal and fair criminal justice standards.

35. On the other hand, where errors are made in applying these laws by government officers, or where there is a blatant abuse of that power, the people are unable to hold them accountable. Whistleblowers are harassed and punished instead of being protected. Other repressive laws are used to stifle free speech and the legitimate comment about wrongdoings. The fundamental rights enshrined under the federal constitution have become meaningless.

36. For all these reasons, we, the undersigned citizens of Malaysia agree and support:

a) The removal of Najib as PM of Malaysia through non-violent and legally permissible means.

b) The removal of all those who have acted in concert with him.

c) A repeal of all recent laws and agreements that violate the fundamental rights guaranteed by the federal constitution and undermine policy choices.

d) A restoration of the integrity of the institutions that have been undermined, such as the police, the MACC, Bank Negara and the PAC.

37. We call upon all Malaysians, irrespective of race, religion, political affiliation, creed or parties, young and old to join us in saving Malaysia from the government headed by Najib, to pave the way for much-needed democratic and institutional reforms, and to restore the important principle of the separation of powers among the executive, legislature and judiciary which will ensure the independence, credibility, professionalism and integrity of our national institutions.
Link

Saturday, March 05, 2016

BBC News: Malaysia PM Najib urged to resign by broad alliance

Excerpt:

Prominent members from Malaysia's ruling and opposition parties have joined forces to call for Prime Minister Najib Razak to step down.

Mr Najib has been plagued by corruption allegations, although he denies them and has been officially cleared.

In a joint statement, 58 politicians and activists urged Mr Najib to quit, saying the country would get "worse and worse" under him.

However, Mr Najib's spokesman accused the group of "political opportunism".

The move against Mr Najib was led by influential former PM Mahathir Mohamad, who quit the ruling United Malays National Organisation (Umno) on Monday.

Malaysia's 'mysterious millions' - case solved?
1MDB: The case riveting Malaysia

Mr Mahathir called upon all Malaysians to join "in saving Malaysia from the government headed by Najib Razak".

"We must rid ourselves of Najib. If he's allowed to go on, the damage will be worse and worse," he said.

More:
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-35724079
Link

Cheng Boon Ong: Move beyond economics, let's focus on the social

Before I post the excerpt, in my humble opinion, it is surprising how materials and other costs of production can be considered unavoidable, but not labour cost. There was no sincere effort to enable increase in wages over the years. There was no regard for uplifting the living standards of fellow human beings in entrepreneurs' quest to optimise profits. Similarly, country leaders are just as eager to ensure lower overall costs of production in order to attract foreign investments.

Excerpt:

"Before the liberalization of air services in Southeast Asia, my family made do with road trips to neighboring Singapore and southern Thailand. As much as air transport is a requisite in this region of sprawling archipelagos and mountainous mainland, it used to be limited and unaffordable. In 2008, I celebrated the advent of low-cost carriers: my first regional flight, from Kuala Lumpur to Hanoi. 

Last December, the 632-million strong Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) launched its own ASEAN Community. Tariffs and non-tariff barriers between the 10 member countries have been gradually reduced with the aim of forming the seventh largest economy in the world. Investors and “Aseanites” (ASEAN nationals) have been promised freer flow of goods, services, investment capital, and skilled labor.

The questionable economic integration aside, intra-ASEAN migrants (those moving between ASEAN countries) have increased four-fold to 6.5 million between 1990 and 2013. According to a study by the Asian Development Bank and the International Labor Organization in 2014, almost 70 percent of the region’s migrants originate from another ASEAN country. 

With sustained demographic and economic differences between countries, regional labor migration will continue to rise.

There are several disconnects between ASEAN’s aspirations and its present reality. 

Only skilled labor migration is promoted through ASEAN’s mutual recognition frameworks of qualifications and skills. Currently targeted at eight professions, they are negligible as a proportion of ASEAN’s total employment. 

Most of regional labor migration will continue to comprise the low- and medium-skilled. A significant number of them undocumented.

More often than not, migrants do not receive similar treatment for health care and social security. As a migrant destination country, Singapore has over the years reduced or removed completely (depending on residency status) medical subsidies for non-nationals, making health care particularly expensive for 39 percent of its 5.54 million population. 

Another example, migrant workers in Malaysia cannot be insured under the national Social Security Organization’s work injury and invalidity schemes. 

Because of this, the country is under scrutiny for potentially violating international labor standards on equal treatment for migrant workers.

The possibility of working abroad also raises a question on how — or rather, where — one should save for retirement. One option would be to participate in the host country’s pension or provident fund scheme. In a social insurance setting, a worker typically needs to contribute a minimum number of years (for example, 15 years in Thailand) before he or she qualifies to receive a monthly pension upon retirement."