Monday, July 31, 2006

Govt To Secure 'World Recognition' For Matriculation Colleges!!

The government is working on securing recognition from renowned universities of the world for matriculation colleges in the country, Deputy Education Minister Datuk Noh Omar said. He said such recognition would enable students with matriculation qualification to continue with their studies in institutions of higher learning abroad as well.

"We have had discussions with several foreign universities, including in the United Kingdom," he told reporters after launching the Matriculation Co-Curriculum Carnival here last night. He said the government would also hire foreign lecturers to teach in matriculation colleges as part of the ministry's effort to obtain the recognition.

He also said that the government was building three more matriculation colleges under the Ninth Malaysia Plan, in Selangor, Kelantan and Terengganu which did not have such institutions.

**** Firstly try to work on getting the matriculation course 'recognised' within the country. Remember, a chap with STPM qualification can still command respect and expect a reasonable job, while the matriculation holder will find that outside of easy entry to a public uni, his qualification is almost worthless when it comes to applying for a post in the private sector. This is the harsh reality and no amount of pretending otherwise is going to make a difference.

The matriculation course is an exclusive one, not founded upon academics but on the basest of human instincts - racial differentiation. To expect such a discredited course to be accorded any form of recognition from the renowned universities of the world is to insult these seats of higher learning.

There are probably very few instances, if any, of race-discriminating courses such as the matriculation course in existence anywhere in the civilized world. It is anathema to those who pride in being humane, ethical, and reasonable. Therefore be prepared to be disappointed that not one of these top-grade universities is going to accord recognition. Perhaps you should set your sights on some Uni in Addis Ababa, Khartoum or Ouagadougou.

3.2 Mln Umno Members Can Benefit From Free Insurance Scheme

About 3.2 million Umno members can benefit from an insurance scheme offered free by MAA Assurance Berhad from this year.

MAA Special Scheme Senior Manager Nina Abdullah said over 100,000 members from six divisions have been confirmed eligible under the scheme.

The next-of-kin of about 20 Umno members have benefited from the scheme following their deaths, she told reporters at the presentation of cheques totalling RM8,000 to the next-of-kin of four Umno members who had died.

The cheques were handed by Higher Education Minister and Jeli Umno chief Datuk Mustapa Mohamed.

Nina said more than 13,000 members in Jeli Umno division were eligible for the scheme.

To be eligible, Umno members are required to pay party annual membership fee every year.

The benefits include RM30,000 for permanent disability, RM20,000 for accident deaths and RM75 per day for 30 days hospital admission.

**** Can an actuary (if we can find one) let us know how such a 'free scheme' works. Someone has to be making a profit somewhere! Could it be in the form of operating expenses /processing fees? Or does part of the annual membership fees somehow 'find its way' into the scheme as premium. If that be so what kind of small fortune can be reasonably expected to be made with 3.2 million clients? Who could possibly be the beneficiaries of this 'free scheme? Just curious.

Don't Wallow In Self-pity, PM Tells Malays.

In echoes of Dr Mahathir's regular admonishment to his intended but not necessarily appreciative audience, the Prime Minister told the Malays to refrain from wallowing in self-pity any more and take advantage of the opportunities to progress.

Attitudes such as indulging in self-pity, subjecting oneself to grief and isolating oneself from development would only cause the Malays to be left out of development, he said.

"We have to migrate from a less favourable situation to a more favourable one, from a depressive state of mind to one that sees the opportunities that abound," he said at the presentation of offer letters for lease of affordable apartments in Pulau Duyong, Kuala Terengganu.

How much difference this advice is going to make, is debatable. When things appear to be given on a silver platter to some 'favoured' Malays, it is hard for the 'not-so-fortunate' ones not to feel depressed. Whether this is a feeling of hopelessness, wallowing in self-pity or merely dengki, is anybody's guess. When birds of a feather can't flock together, with some flying high in style while the rest look upwards in unconcealed envy at the chosen few, the reactions that can be reasonably expected are either a renewed determination to give your best to succeed or disintegrate in anger, jealousy, despondency or sorrow.

I think the PM grasps this, and therefore his heartfelt and genuine advice and counsel on the matter.

Malaysia's Goebbels Speaketh.

The Government must control the Internet and websites to curb the spread of rumours and news that can harm racial unity in the country, Information Minister Datuk Zainuddin Maidin said. He said he agreed with Deputy Internal Security Minister Datuk Fu Ah Kiow that stern warning must be issued and action taken against rumour-mongers for causing problems to the extent of disturbing public order.

The control was not to muzzle press freedom(???) but to stop the spread of news based on rumours, and articles and features with racial undertones, he said.

"In one aspect, the control of media content will boost the credibility of a website as the people will know the news published is accurate and no longer based on rumours."

Zainuddin said so long as the mainstream media was not involved in publishing rumours and articles that were seditious in nature, the people would not be influenced or take seriously what was posted on the Internet.

He slammed the media for often publishing crime stories as important news with sensational reports merely to sell the newspapers or to boost viewers' rating for a particular television programme. "If we do so, we are indirectly portraying a picture that our country is not safe, with a high crime rate and this will bring adverse effects to our economy and tarnish the image of our country.

"At one time, news on murders and recovery of bodies were rarely published with gruesome pictures, but nowadays some newspapers are boldly printing such photographs without realising it is against journalism ethics," he said.

What does this intolerant man want the media to publish? If he had his way the only news you'll get will be a daily rehashed version of BN manifestos. He should know that the days of nazi propaganda are OVER

If with the little power he enjoys today he can be so openly abrasive and demanding, imagine if Zam were to become the Prime Minister! God bless us all. The government is strongly urged not give in to the silly and outdated demands of a man who is not only out of touch with the times but perhaps with reality as well.

I know this good Psychiatrist......

Good Advice From MCA President.

'Work hard and be filial', that is the advice. Inspired by a book that draws on 3,000 years of wisdom and character-building, MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting called on the young people of today to be hardworking and respect the elderly.

“Children nowadays are too pampered and do not understand the difficulties of life or the importance of being hardworking,” said Ong. “When they wake up in the morning, they do not need to keep their beds. “They don’t even need to worry about whether their shoes are clean enough for school, as all these things are taken care of.”

“They are very dependent on their maids and whenever their parents ask them to do something, they will call out for their maids to do the task for them,” he said, when launching the book, Di Zi Gui. The book, on the principles of character-building and living, contains a collection of teachings spanning 3,000 years and tells its readers to be dutiful to their parents as well as respectful and loving to their siblings.

Ong, who is Housing and Local Government Minister, urged parents to learn and follow the values promoted in the book together with their children. He said the principles were in line with the MCA’s nine-point plan. The book was not just for children, he said, adding that parents should read and understand it to be able to act according to the guidelines and to become good role models for their children.

Wanita MCA chief Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen said the movement would place the books at beauty and hair salons nationwide. On whether the book is relevant in the 21st Century, she said: “Even though it is from the past, it contains meaningful moral values with words that are easy to understand.” (The Star)

It is nice to know that despite the hectic pace of political life, there are down-to-earth matters of importance that leaders like Ong find time to share with the common man. The aforementioned book, Di Zi Gui is a good example of age-old wisdom that has stood the test of time and transcends race, religion, community, rank or political affiliation. In disturbed times like the present, with so much social upheaval,the good inherent in this book should be imparted to all.

Aussies Feel Threatened By Islam - Poll

The following Bernama report is published here without comment.

About 40 per cent of Australians believe Islam is a threat to the Australian way of life, a poll here has found.

And most people believe Islam treats women as inferior and encourages violence, the 'Sunday Herald Sun' says.

But a Muslim leader says most Australians are ignorant about Islam as a religion.

A McNair Gallup Poll of 502 people, commissioned by the Sunday Herald Sun, has found:

* One in three people are more fearful of Muslims since Sept 11, 2001, when al-Qaeda terrorists destroyed the New York World Trade Centre;

* Seventy-one per cent believe women in Islam are treated as inferior;

* Fifty-six per cent believe Muslims are unfairly discriminated against;

* Two-thirds believe Muslims should be allowed to wear religious dress in schools and workplaces; and

* About 25 per cent of people say they understand Islam well.

Australia's Treasurer Peter Costello said Australians had the right to practise their religions and cultural traditions - within the country's law.

"We're a country that believes in freedom of religion and you've got a right to practise your religion in this country, whatever it is - Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim - as long as you respect the rights of others to do the same," he said.


Sunday, July 30, 2006

What's In A Name? Plenty!

The National Registration Department has 'outlawed' the use of certain names for newborns. The idea is to save the babies from possible embarrassment when they grow up.

This is in fact a very good idea as previously, some parents with God knows what they had in mind, gave their kids the most ridiculous of names.

Among the no-no names for Malays are Zaniah (female adulterer) and Woti (sexual intercourse). Zani is a male adulterer.

While it is crass to name your son, Ah Kow (dog), the department has also Ah Gong (unsound mind), Chai Too (pig), Kai Chai(chick) and Sum Seng (gangster) on its "undesirable list".

Besides Karruppan (black fellow), other Indian names which are quite "colourful" are in the undesirable list, like Sivappi and Vellayan (both meaning fair), and Amma-kannu (mother’s eye).

To be fair the list was not compiled by the department but given to them by various authorities. Among them were the Buddhist Missionary Society of Malaysia, the Malaysian Hindu Sangam and the Universiti Malaya Tamil Language Association.

Apparently the "undesirable" names were popular with the Chinese community decades ago as some believed they could ward off evil spirits and bad luck.

Many adult Indians had approached the Malaysian Hindu Sangam for recommendation letters to have their names changed.They were unhappy with the names given by their parents, so they approached the body for help.

In the case of Muslim babies, the parents will be referred to the Islamic Affairs Department if the name does not sound right. Again, the department can only advise them, but if they are insistent even after knowing they are unsuitable, they may be allowed to use them.

Besides names of dictators like Adolf Hitler and Stalin, these adults had grown up being teased in school for being named after natural disasters, vehicles, household items and countries.

Parents are not allowed to name their babies after animals, insects, fruits, vegetables or colours. It looks like we will not be having babies named after Amber Chia.

Naming your baby Hitam or Putih is not allowed. Similarly, you can’t call him Zero Zero Seven, 001 or K7. You will be surprised to know we have Malaysians named after Japanese car makes. Sorry, there will be no Honda Tan, or Suzuki Lim.

Malaysians are also not allowed to register initials with the names of their new born. Examples are M.S. Krishnan, T.M.S. Mohamed Ghany and T.M. George.

Sorry, if you are not royalty, you cannot name your offspring with royal-sounding titles like Raja, Tengku or Tunku. These titles are only allowed for members of the royal family. You will also have to prove your lineage if you want your child to carry the prefix Ungku, Engku, Ku, Syed or Syarifah to your name.

Names with officials titles such as Tun, Tan Sri or Dato’ Wira Jaya, Haji, Nabi, Rasul, Guru, Ustaz and Hakim are also out. (NST)

On a personal note I've been told that one of my uncles had wanted to name a newborn cousin of mine as Apollo 11!! On being overruled by the family he had tried his luck again and attempted to name him Joe Frazier! When rejected twice he gave up and entrusted the name selection to my aunt. The cousin is ever grateful to his mom for giving him a 'normal' name.

RTM Will Continue Airing Israeli Atrocities

Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) will continue broadcasting reports of Israeli atrocities in Lebanon and Palestine, Deputy Information Minister Datuk Ahmad Zahid said Saturday.

If the Malaysian Defence Forces were to be involved in peacekeeping duties in Lebanon, RTM would embed its personnel(??) so that Malaysians got a clear picture of the human suffering in Lebanon as a result of the Israeli action, he said.

"The government has no other motives in broadcasting the reports but to explain to the people the importance of unity to prevent outside elements from threatening the peace and sovereignty of our country," he said.

**** RTM covering the Lebanon situation is one thing, but to get carried away and talk about embedding RTM staff there is entirely laughable. Of course I suppose when such an event is so remote, one can talk and talk without the accompanying walk!

No right thinking leader is going to send in our military there to get slaughtered. So our local pahlawans at RTM can claim anything they want. In the unlikely event our troops are sent there, I can bet my last one sen coin that not one RTM personnel will volunteer to be embedded. If it is a conference on 'live coverage of the Israeli incursion' or any such similar gathering, say at Geneva or Monaco, our RTM folks would be falling over each other to go. But, "kami ada keluarga juga brudder" would be their refrain when regretfully declining to be embedded in Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan or any such hellhole.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Khairy Jamaluddin's Umno Youth vs Pro-Israeli Companies.

Fresh from a run-in with the Malaysian police and the U.S. Secret Service, an energised Khairy Jamaluddin swiftly took steps to impose an 'indirect consumer boycott' on pro-Israeli companies. He is doing this by spearheading the Umno Youth which he said will release a list of brands and international companies with operations in Malaysia that are known to be supporting the Israeli regime financially. He said that the move was to inform the public of the brands and companies so that they could either boycott or remain as their clients.

Ever the realist, KJ said that the movement did not want to launch a boycott campaign as it had been ineffective in the past. "I will suggest that we distribute a list of the companies which are clear Israeli supporters according to their profits so that we are aware of who are helping Israel," he said.

He said the people should be informed of these companies so that they could use their right as consumers whether they wanted to continue using their products. He said if there was truth to the claim, the people must be told so they could make their own assessment whether they wanted to continue supporting the company which has a chain of shops in the country.

Khairy also said Umno Youth would continue with its protest against the Israeli atrocities by holding demonstrations throughout the country. He said it was important for Malaysians to continue voicing their protest against Israeli aggression on Palestine and Lebanon.

Khairy and Perak Umno Youth chief Zainol Fadzi Paharudin later led some 500 of the movement's members to hold a demonstration near the seminar venue to condemn Israel.

So apparently Khairy has decided to hitch his near political future with the Israel issue. At least now he will surely get a bit more positive press instead of the daily dose of 'KJ hate-mail' he's probably used to. That he is firmly in control of the Umno Youth movement now, is no more in doubt.

Post Script: The whereabouts of Umno Youth Chief Hishamuddin and his comments and opinion on the demonstration at KLCC as well as the latest developments in the movement are not known.

Mahathir Says Incident In Kelantan Scary

Here is a first person description by the victim, Dr Mahathir about the 'pepper spray attack' at Kota Baharu.

Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad Saturday described the incident in which he was hit by pepper spray in Kelantan Friday as very scary. It was frightening because he had difficulty breathing, could not speak and his throat felt painful while his eyes, nose and lips were smarting, he told reporters after visiting several development projects in Langkawi.

He said that according to the schedule arranged for his arrival at the airport in Kota Baharu, he would speak from the sunroof of a Pajero vehicle to thank those who received him and then change to another vehicle.

"As I was entering the Pajero, a sturdy man pulled me roughly and with force to stop me from entering the Pajero but I went in anyway. Then, when I stood up to speak, the spray hit me. "I thought initially it was police tear gas but this was colourless unlike tear gas," he said.

Fu Ah Kiow, The Political Pendulum Clarifies.

Deputy Internal Security Minister Datuk Fu Ah Kiow, that oscillating and vacillating deputy minister, who after strong reactions to his 'tough talk' on internet control, quickly backtracked with the usual I've "been misquoted" crap.

The government has no plans at the moment to amend the Printing Presses and Publications Act to include the electronic and the internet media, he sheepishly clarified.

He said the government was only studying whether the 20-year old act needed to be amended with the new developments in the media world.

There had been complaints from the (print) media that the present act was 'not fair' since it only covered the print media, he said.

"So, after listening to the complaint, I said we would study the matter, never did I say that we would amend the act. (What a turnaround!)

He said some media had misreported his statement during the ministry's Mass Media Conference 2006 in Putrajaya recently by reporting that the ministry was going to amend the act to cover the electronic media and the internet.

"That's not true. I have to clarify that for the electronic media, it is still under the purview of the Multimedia Commission. I never said we would amend the Printing Presses and Publications Act (to cover electronic and internet media). It's (under) a different ministry," he said.

Fu explained that the reason the ministry would study the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 was to ascertain whether the act was still relevant for today's needs as there was a gap between the various types of media that existed today.

"This is particularly so for the print media which has been subjected to various regulations, while the electronic and internet media are able to 'get away with things' that the print media could not.

"We study the relevance of the act and it is just a normal study. It is an ongoing study of the ministry," he said.

Asked on the complaints from the internet media relating to the matter, Fu said : "What is there to complain about? Never did I say we are going to amend this law to control the internet media"

"Nobody has said that we are going to enact a law to control the internet media. I only said we are going to study the existing Printing Presses and Publications Act, " he said.

Let this serve as a lesson for other Fu Ah Kiow wannabes; think before you speak. First of all decide whether it is in your power to make such important announcements. Otherwise you'll be in the same type of embarrassing situation and of course severe 'loss of face' lah! Don't you agree Ah Kiow?

Dr Mahathir: I Am Not Making A Comeback.

In his most precise clarification to date, former PM Dr Mahathir has said in no uncertain terms that he is not making a comeback. He dismissed allegations by certain quarters that his open criticism of the government was driven by his ambition to return as prime minister.

"I don't want to come back as prime minister. I have had enough, 22 years as prime minister is longer than anybody else," he said. Actually it does not take a genius to know exactly what he means, and that his statement is on balance, the truth. If at all the problem is that our government is intolerant of criticism, even it be from one as high-ranking as Dr Mahathir. Ironically it was the former PM himself who almost single-handedly institutionalised government intolerance during his rule. He is now reaping what he so avidly sowed.

Asked whether his open criticism of the government could jeopardise Umno's unity, Dr Mahathir said the question did not arise as the matter (criticising the government) was not unusual for the party. He said he was not concerned over the matter as ultimately, Umno members would give their support to those who fought for Umno, the Malays and Islam.

He said he was not concerned whether or not his contributions were appreciated as what was important was Umno, the Malays and the nation were not destroyed. Dr Mahathir said he had worked hard for the country and had the duty to explain to the people on "what is good and bad" for Malaysia.

So as you can see the man has taken it upon himself to 'explain to the people', implying perhaps that it is his duty to 'expose those who are the cause of his unhappiness'. I for one, don't see him backing down any time soon without serious concessions by the government. If at all, the unfortunate 'pepper spray incident' at Kelantan would have definitely increased his almost legendary resolve a notch higher.

Be prepared for more 'high drama' in the very near future.

Flying the national flag. For whose benefit?

Will someone let me know if there is any other country in this whole wide world which demands its citizens fly the national flag on any occasion including 'National' Day.

Why is it that politicians keep harping on the issue every now and then? Do they get a kick out of seeing flying flags or do they honestly think that by hoisting it the people are expressing their patriotism and loyalty? More importantly do they think they have a legal right to enforce or coerce a person to do so? (Coerce: to force to act or think in a certain way by use of pressure, threats, or intimidation; compel. - Wikipedia.)

Read here Rais Yatim's view

And see here The Malaysian Blog's opinion

Protest Against US. I Agree With KJ's Sentiments But Not His Methods.

Yeaterday Khairy Jamaludin and a group of protesters tried to force their way into the KLCC to hand over a memorandum to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. They were, however, prevented from doing so by members of the Federal Reserve Unit (FRU). But Khairy was later allowed into the centre where he presented the memorandum to a US representative.

Firstly I must say that I totally agree with Khairy regarding the atrocities in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. Such violence must be condemned strongly by all who claim to be civilized and value human life. As Khairy rightly said, “this is not a religious issue or Islam against the West or against Christianity. This is a humanitarian issue where many people are dying. What we are seeing today is nothing less than genocide. It is nothing less than murder by the Israeli forces of innocent people.”

So far so good. But the problem comes when Umno Youth and their other 'comrades' in the BN still use outdated and even downright dangerous ways to show their anger. Trying to break through police barriers and cordons may seem respectful to these 'youths' but to the rest of us it is just another example of boorish behaviour unbecoming of future national leaders.

Probably the cops recognising him as the son-in-law of the PM allowed him some leeway or otherwise there would have been no chance of him being permitted to enter the building. Remember the person inside there was the Secretary of State of the US, the most powerful woman in the world and probably the second most powerful leader in America. Even the slightest hint of any danger to her and the US Secret Service would have brought down anyone they thought was the source of that danger. They couldn't care less if he were the PM's menantu.

What Khairy could have done was to have 'officially' applied to the government to arrange a meeting with Secretary Rice for a few minutes and then handed over the note. I'm sure his request would have been accomodated if it was possible protocol-wise. But that would have been so much less dramatic than braving the elements and the cops. You see, the picture of a rain-soaked Khairy surrounded by his supporters facing a phalanx of FRU personnel is worth more than a thousand word letter handed to Rice personally without the pretence of a struggle.

Gov't And Opposition Leaders Condemn Attack On Dr Mahathir - Cultured Display Of Solidarity.

In a rare show of solidarity, government and opposition leaders condemned the pepper spray attack on former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in Kelantan Friday. Ruling Umno leaders described the attack as "rude" while opposition leaders said it was "a despicable act".

It was actually quite revealing, the sentiments expressed by the varied sections of the political spectrum. At the moment Mahathir has a running battle with the government and it would have been natural for those on the opposing side to have rejoiced at his predicament. But that didn't happen. Almost to a man they stood up and condemned this dastardly act. They reacted as gentlemen often do. (Note: Here I use the masculine gender for brevity.)

The opposition too were not found wanting in their reaction. Opposition leader Lim Kit Siang, perhaps described it best when he said that the incident was despicable and it reflected "a culture which is completely unacceptable and must not be allowed to take root in Malaysia."

"However strongly one disagrees with another, and undoubtedly Dr Mahathir is the object of powerful sentiments of both animosity and support, there can be no excuse for such a physical attack," he said. He urged the police to quickly investigate the incident and book the culprits.

"It's not so much because he was the former Prime Minister but because like any other Malaysian, he should have freedom of movement, speech and expression without the fear of loutish and gangsterish elements taking the law into their own hands," he said.

Kudos to the government and the opposition. The majority of citizens too I'm sure share the sentiments expressed above. Unfortunately there have been comments, including in this blog, from either young, immature persons or those who have suffered or closely identify with someone who has 'suffered' under Mahathir's rule. They view the incident as nothing to shout about and dismiss Dr Mahathir as a crazy old man ranting incoherently. Nothing can be further from the truth.

Dr M is a brilliant strategist and let not your dislike for him blind you to that reality. He is a man with a plan and as with most brilliant people, it is not easy for the ordinary person to either decipher or comprehend it. At eighty his mental faculties are probably sharper than most of us. I don't claim to hold a torch for him and nor am I a supporter, but when a man of that proven ability and a national figure to boot, is senselessly attacked it is incumbent upon everyone to voice at least their regret. Part of our 'Malaysian' culture is respect for the elderly. Let us not forget that, now or ever.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Dr M Attack - Well Done Pak Lah For Immediate Action.

Expressing regret over the tear gas incident which befell Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in Kota Baharu Friday, the prime minister ordered the police to conduct an immediate investigation and to take stern action against those responsible for the act.

"I regret and am very angry such an incident has happened," Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who is also Internal Security Minister told Bernama, noting that he was informed by the police on the incident. "I have directed the Deputy Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan for the police to take immediate action to probe the incident and to take stern action against those who have committed the act," he said.

The former prime minister who arrived in Kota Baharu this morning for a one-day visit to Kelantan, was forced to cancel his speech to an awaiting crowd at the Sultan Ismail Petra Airport when an unknown person sprayed tear gas into his face. Dr Mahathir was seen coughing as he stood in a sun-roof four wheel-drive to begin his speech using a loudhailer at about 11 am. More than 1,000 people had gathered at the airport to wait for the arrival of the former premier.

Abdullah said those responsible for the incident should be severely punished. He said the matter should be immediately resolved to avoid negative implications and misconception among the public. The prime minister also feared that certain quarters would take advantage of the incident by disseminating rumours, especially through the Internet.

"As such, the police must be fast in tackling the issue by taking immediate and stern action," said Abdullah.

**** The PM is of course right, that taking advantage of the incident, unscrupulous people may cast aspersions on him personally and the government in general. I'm very glad that he came out so strongly against the attack and it would be good if he could use this opportunity to go see Mahathir, inquire about his health and see if he is amenable to sorting out matters if it is at all possible.

Attack On A Former PM -Where Are We Heading?

This is the 'breaking news' from Malaysia Today: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad arrived at Pengkalan Chepa airport at 11am today and was attacked by an unknown person. It is believed Tun was attacked with mace. He was rushed off to safety and we have been told he has recovered and will go on with his address at 3.30pm.

Have we descended so low in our dirty politicking that we have not provided sufficient security to not only a former PM but a world statesman? How could this have happened? It is imperative that in a true democracy, the type that we claim and we preach, that a former head of government is afforded all necessary comforts and security befitting his status. There are no two ways about it.

This is a disgraceful act and that shame will smear the government as well. Pak Lah had better come out with a strong statement fast, and match that with appropriate action. We are not the Congo or some unlawful desolate outpost at the far end of the world. If we are to be considered as part of the civilised comity of nations then we should consistently act that way.

Here is Bernama's report just in: Tun Mahathir's Speech At Airport Cancelled

Are We Going To Mess Up International Schools?

There was quite a bit of rejoicing among parents, concerned about the direction our government schools were heading in, when the announcement that international schools will be more easily accessible to Malaysians. However as matters unfold I foresee that things won't be all that great and many stumbling blocks have to be negotiated before this 'dream' for some is realised.

The 40% quota mentioned earlier still remains but there appears to be now a 'quota within a quota'! The Education Ministry has announced a list of eight criteria or guidelines that will expand the pool of potential Malaysian students at international schools. The guidelines dictate that part of the 40 per cent quota will be reserved for children of government officers working overseas. Now that is a very large number. I wonder how many places will be left remaining for ordinary mortals after the usual VVIP and VIP requests/demands are met? Do you think that any menteri or even state assemblyman whether he be a Malay language champion or not will miss this opportunity to send their kids to mat salleh schools?

To make things next to impossible to get in, your child's applications to the schools will be forwarded to the Private Education Department which will decide on whether to accept or reject it. So be prepared to receive dukacita letters soon.

Following are some of the cumbersome criteria that parents should fulfil:

* parents who can bring in foreign direct investment (FDI) or contribute towards the nation’s economy.

• they should have worked overseas for at least two years;

• be categorised as Malaysian professionals overseas and who would like to return to Malaysia using government incentives;

• those with children who are medically certified as having problems that require special attention, such as dyslexia or attention deficit disorders;

• those with a number of children studying in international schools;

• those whose children were born overseas and did not possess Malaysian citizenship; and,

• those with definite proof that they have been instructed to work overseas in the near future.

So if you are a simple ordinary parent who had hoped to give the best for your child and at the same time escape the dump our own schools have become, my sympathies.

As for you parents who are lucky enough to qualify please don't smile yet, because the education ministry has already set into motion certain 'requirements' which may yet throw a spanner in the works. Among these are that specific subjects must be taught to local students in line with local curriculum regulations. These include Bahasa Melayu and Islamic/Moral studies, along with local studies for primary students and History for secondary students. The subjects will be taught in Bahasa Melayu by local teachers, with teachers for Islamic studies needing the approval of the State Education Director.

Well, if worse comes to worst you can always do what the orang kaya here have been doing for quite a while - send your kids to Singapore.

**** Here is an earlier related post: Cabinet Decision On International Schools - Good Intentions vs Reality.

Another Confusing Court Decision.

The disadvantage of not being a lawyer is, when we come across cases like this, we are more or less dumbfounded. When the headline reads 'Fined RM15,000 for swindling RM80,000' the immediate reaction is "this can't be fair".

In the first place it gives the impression that in Malaysia crime actually does pay. Frankly lots and lots of people won't mind swindling, say 80 million ringgit, and paying RM15 million fine. That is a cool 65 million to blow up for several lifetimes. Secondly it shows that the law is an ass and the dispensers of justice are either tied down by rigid sentencing policies or could not be too concerned about the implications.

Perhaps someone knowledgeable in the intricacies of matters legal could enlighten us. In the meanwhile, read about Mr. Gan Ah Hwa's disappointment with our judicial system.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

No Directive To Ban Coverage For Tun Mahathir. Is This Believable?

The Information Ministry has never issued any directive, written or verbal, preventing Radio Television Malaysia (RTM) and the Malaysian National News Agency (Bernama) from giving coverage to former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Deputy Information Minister Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the important principle in news reporting depended on journalism ethics and credibility of the news. "There is no directive for the two agencies not to give coverage (to Dr Mahathir)," he told reporters.

He said the Malaysian media had their own objectives in discharging their social responsibilities towards creating solidarity among Malaysians, regardless of their religious, ethnic and political background.

**** What does Zahid mean by 'news reporting depended on journalism ethics and credibility'? Does the government really give the mainstream media enough leeway to practice journalism ethics and since when did credibility matter to the authorities?

So strong is the public's (well-founded) distrust of the government when it comes to accurate press reporting and claims of openness in the dissemination of information, that not a single person would believe there has been no 'signal' from the authorities to black out Dr M's activities and accusations. With a known authoritarian occupying the information minister's chair that much is sure.

Of course many also say that Mahathir is merely getting his just desserts for having suppressed the media when he was in power. Be that as it may, it does not give this administration the moral right to censor him now and then claim that no such directive has been given. Are RTM and Bernama blind and deaf not to see or hear the type of headlines that Dr M is making internationally and on the internet? The whole world is reporting him except us. Is this the sign of a free, responsible media or a bound, gagged and/or muzzled one?

Now Even small fry musa aman Disobeys Pak Lah.

Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat who is reputed to be one of the few honest politicians in Sabah, said that the state government is prepared to brief Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on the clubhouse project in Pulau Sipadan. Apparently he is covering for 'naughty boy', Sabah CM Musa Aman, who openly disobeyed the PM on the clubhouse project.

"We'll explain to him the construction of the RM4.5 million clubhouse, toilets and sewage facilities planned on the island," he told reporters when asked to comment on Abdullah's unhappiness with the state government for going ahead with the clubhouse project despite his objection. "Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman is in Kuala Lumpur and I am going to communicate with him to find out what happened," said Chong.

Asked whether there was any possibility for the project to be scrapped, Chong said: "We don't know. We may have to brief the Prime Minister". The project was suspended temporarily after a barge transporting construction materials to the island caused damage to about 372.94 sq metre of coral reefs on May 14.

The Star newspaper front-paged a report today, quoting Abdullah as saying: "I was very angry with Musa. I told him not to build it. I said so many corals are dying and he promised he would look into the project." According to the report, Abdullah openly expressed his disappointment and frustration with Musa.

This type of mischief would not have happened during Dr Mahathir's time. It is about time that the PM put his foot down and make an example of this small fry who is dictated more by greed and quick money than by any altruistic motive.

**** UPDATE: Our all-forgiving PM Accepts Musa's Explanation On Sipadan. Topic closed.

Better Teachers In English - Follow Singapore's Example.

As much as I view Singapore with suspicion on a number of issues, I still can't hide my admiration for the matter-of-fact way in which they deal with important things. The question of proficiency in English is something that equally affects both us and Singapore. The only difference is in the way that they handle the problem and the pathetic approaches we have attempted. Read on.....

Singapore is embarking on its annual Speak Good English Movement, and the Education Ministry has also announced new initiatives to raise English language proficiency among students and teachers. It is looking at reviewing the way English is taught in schools and will be putting more resources in teacher training and development. One pilot programme in primary schools aims to encourage children to enjoy reading, and as part of this initiative, the Ministry is bringing back retired English teachers to mentor their colleagues as a way to improve standards.

Currently there are only some 10 retired teachers mentoring around 30 teachers each, and the Ministry hopes to increase this number as more schools adopt SEED-EL or Strategies for Effective and Engaged Development in English.

They hope to increase this by about 30 schools every year, and eventually have the programme be nationwide. The retired teachers have to have taught in primary schools and they must go through a selection process and training to qualify as a mentor.

Now I know why Singapore runs rings around us in so many issues that matter.

No Hike In Sugar Price, Says Abdullah.

Looks like it is the season for Pak Lah to say "no"! Yesterday he gave a firm no to the IFC and many frowned. Today however is a happier "no" when he said that the Government will not raise sugar prices at the moment as the move will lead to prices of other goods to increase.

The Government must be careful when taking any action with regard to sugar price increase as many other items also used sugar, the prime minister told a press conference. Goods smuggling, including sugar and fuel, by irresponsible traders and entrepreneurs was an "anti-people and anti-consumers criminal act."

"Traders and entrepreneurs only want profit, they do not consider the people's interests, they don't care," he said. He urged the people to provide information to the government so that enforcement action could be taken against such people.

Abdullah said smart consumers would ensure traders did not sell goods at exorbitant prices to their whims. He said goods sold at high prices would receive less demand from consumers. Abdullah gave an assurance the government would ensure the prices of goods and services in this country would remain cheap even after Malaysia became a developed country by 2020.

"The Government will continue monitoring the inflation situation in the country so as not to burden the people," he said, adding that prices of clothing and goods, transportation cost, communication services fee, housing price, education and medical treatment must be within the people's affordability.

He, however, said the people must be wise not to over-spend besides being sensitive to the current prices of goods.

Declining Motor Vehicles Sales. Reflecting The National Mood?

With so much of bad and worse news this year it really isn't a big surprise that vehicle sales dipped steeply. Where is the mood to buy a new car when everything related to it has skyrocketed? For the average person the fuel hike itself has put a damper on purchasing a new car. Add to that all the other tariff hikes and the indirect increases as a result of these hikes and the environment for declining sales was inevitable.

The total industry volume of motor vehicles sales in Malaysia for the first six months of this year declined five percent to 248,407 units compared with 261,111 units in the same period last year. The decline was the first recorded since 1998, said Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) president, Datuk Aishah Ahmad at a press conference to release the motor traders and manufacturers performance for the first half year 2006. She said the drop was due to weak used car prices coupled with the higher interest rates and oil prices.

Aishah said the association has revised the forecast of vehicles sales for the full year to 520,000 units from 565,000 units. For the first six months 2006, she said passenger car sales also dropped to 184,725 units compared with 199,554 units previously. The national car recorded sales of 144,060 units in the first half of 2006, she said.

Proton car sales for January-June 2006 stood at 60,246 units compared with 75,983 units in the same period last year while Perodua car sales increased to 78,396 units from 61,152 units previously. "This is the first time that the sales of Perodua is higher than Proton," she said.

A 'Half-Brain' Idea From A BN Nitwit.

Sometimes I wonder if in the mornings, Pak Lah on hearing of the antics and sheer stupidity of some of his BN 'leaders', shakes his head in disbelief and disappointment. He probably would, if he had heard of the 'part-flyover' logic of this part-brain BN nincompoop.

THE half-completed Semabok flyover is open to motorists, but anyone who uses it travels at their own risk, said state Works and Public Amenities Committee chairman Datuk Hamdin Abdollah.

Hamdin said he has convinced the contractor to open part of the flyover to the public, having promised in the previous legislative session that it would be completed by June 30.

"We opened the flyover because we want to honour our promise. It’s only half completed, (but) we feel that we are honouring at least part of our promise," he said.

"Neither the Government nor the contractor will be responsible if anything befalls the motorists."

The flyover is part of the Semabok- Muar highway project, which is scheduled to be completed by Dec 31.

Gan Tian Loo (BN-Duyong) had asked if the decision to open the flyover would be reviewed.

"It is dark and the road surface on the flyover is bumpy. Why not review the decision to open it, which could endanger motorists?" asked Gan.

Betty Chew (DAP-Kota Laksamana) asked if the contractor would be blacklisted for the delay.

Hamdin said there was no reason to blacklist the contractor because the highway’s contractual completion date was Dec 31.

**** What an idiot! Imagine proudly announcing that he's honouring at least part of the promise by allowing half the flyover to open despite the known dangers. On top of that he makes a disclaimer that neither the government nor the contractor will be responsible if anything untoward happens! This is the heights of unaccountability and irresponsibilty. What is the CM doing in the meanwhile? Waiting for a few innocent and unsuspecting people to die before taking action?

Will the ACA go through this case and see to whom the contractor of this project is linked to? If they do I'm sure they'll come across a few interesting 'discoveries'.

Guidelines For Distributive Trade - Economic Apartheid.

I don't know if this is of any consolation to those directly affected. In fact I'm not sure if you can even give it any credence as it is probably some form of preliminary damage control before the 'big bang'. According to Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Mohd Shafie Apdal, the guidelines for companies in distributive trades, whose objectives, among others, is to control businesses where at least 15 per cent of the equity is owned by foreigners, are still only at the preliminary stage.

Tuesday, a local newspaper published a report where the MCA Youth Economic Bureau expressed dissatisfaction on the guidelines, which required Bumiputeras to have 30 per cent equity in the overall equity structure in the companies while the composition of directors and workers should reflect the country's multi-racial society.

The guidelines had created a controversy and uneasiness among manufacturers who felt that they would affect retail trading, especially that of young entrepreneurs.

"Bumiputera equity has to be safeguarded. Whoever is not satisfied should clearly say what they are not happy about," said Shafie.

It is all very nice for Shafie to say, "if you're not satisfied then tell us what you are unhappy about". If we say that what is terribly unfair is the unreasonable demand that we continue to give some of these undeserving bumis a free breakfast, lunch and dinner, and while we toil and sweat to succeed, this lazy lot wants to hang on to our coattails and expect a share of our profits for doing absolutely nothing, then you will term us as anti-national and claim that the we are guilty of sedition! If you in the government had a heart, a conscience and a little brains, then you'll know exactly what the unhappiness is all about.

After all this you even have the gumption to demand that we raise the flag to show our gratitude!!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Demand For Residential Property In M'sia To Remain Soft

Standard & Poor's Equity Research, the leading provider of independent equity research, believes that rising inflation and interest rates will continue to have a dampening effect on the demand and prices of residential properties in Malaysia in the short term, but expects a recovery over the medium to long term.

Its Equity Research Associate Director, Tam Ching Wah said the Malaysian residential property market is still in a consolidation phase with sales remaining subdued. "However, in the medium to long term, demand and prices of residential properties should recover, with income per capita growing at a robust rate of 6 percent to 7 percent per annum and a young growing population," he said.

The implementation of the Ninth Malaysia Plan by late 2006 or early 2007 onwards should have a favourable spillover effect on the property market. The number of transactions of residential units declined by 6.9 percent year-on-year in 2005 while sales of new units in the primary residential property market fell at a proportionately higher 42 percent.

The number of transactions of residential units continued to decline year-on-year in the first quarter of this year in most states, except Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Perak and Sabah. "We expect the number of property transactions and property prices to remain subdued for at least one to two more quarters," said Tam.

Although rising interest rates may have dampened sentiment, S&P Equity Research is not overly concerned with the affordability of residential properties as the affordability ratio is at one of its lowest points in the past three decades. Of concern is the oversupply situation, with take-up rates for newly launched housing schemes on the decline since 2002, possibly due to the strong supply of residential units in the past five years, he said.

The number of completed housing units between 2001 and 2005 exceeded the government's target housing requirements in the Eighth Malaysia Plan by 37 percent compared with the Fifth Malaysia Plan period when it only achieved 43 percent of its target housing requirements.

Nevertheless, Tam noted that some of the small and mid-cap property companies in Malaysia offer good value as the current share price levels of these companies have generally reflected the poor sentiment in the residential property market. He said to create value in terms of profitability in the current oversupply situation, developers need to have a good reputation, efficient cost management, low gearing, and the ability to create innovative products for target niche market segments.

They should also own strategically located land bank at low holding cost or have the ability to source such land bank at competitive prices, he said. "Companies we like have either some or all of the advantages that enable them to create value in the current competitive environment."

He said developers with new innovative products in good locations are still enjoying good demand and commanding relatively higher prices regardless of whether they are in the fast growing Klang Valley or in Johor, which has the highest property overhang. A number of these developers are involved in building both traditional mass housing projects and niche projects, he added.

Bangladeshi Workers Allowed For The Sake Of Bilateral Relations

The government's decision to reconsider the freeze on Bangladeshi workers is for the sake of Malaysia-Bangladesh bilateral relations. Furthermore there were sectors that depended on the Bangladesh workforce.

"The government also took into consideration Malaysia's economic contribution to the people of that country, so that's why we considered the decision," Home Affairs Ministry parliamentary secretary said at the Dewan Negara sitting, here today. Workers from Bangladesh once represented a big portion of cheap labour in Malaysia but in 1996 the government froze their intake following issues relating to discipline and social consequences.

**** According to Bangladesh's The New Nation, more than social problems led to the earlier ban. It said: The Malaysian authorities imposed the ban as many Bangladeshi young workers used to get married with Malaysian girls to have legal status and earn more. But at the end these Bangladeshis left their Malaysian wives causing serious social problem.

Another factor that perhaps delayed the recruitment was that Bangladesh put up Salahuddin Qader Chowdhury MP as candidate for the post of OIC secretary general. Malaysia, which also fielded its own candidate for the post, wanted that it would be easier for Malaysia to win the post if Bangladesh stayed away from the race. So did an entire worker community suffer because of one diplomatic decision affecting a 'brother' Muslim nation involving OIC politics? Perhaps. And at the end of it did we win the OIC post?

Why then the decision to have them back here again? Why the sudden surge of concern in our 'bilateral relations' now, when we so easily cast them aside the last time? Another round of elections coming up somewhere that Bangladesh will be instrumental in helping out? Or have we had enough with the Indons, Nepalis, Vietnamese and others?

Slogans Are Feel-Good Giimmicks That Don't Work.

There is marked drop in the number of police officers and other ranks investigated by the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) last year than in two previous years, the Dewan Negara was told Wednesday. Internal Security Deputy Minister Datuk Mohd Johari Baharum said 56 police officers and other rank policemen were investigated for corrupt practices last year compared to 78 in 2004 and 85 in 2003.

The I hate Corruption slogan introduced by the police last year had contributed to the decline in corruption, he said when replying to Senator Fatanah Ahmad who wanted to know to what extent the slogan had been effective in distancing policemen from corruption. Mohd Johari said posters and vehicle stickers had been sent to all police stations to increase public awareness that it was an offence to give bribes.

Replying to a supplementary question from Senator Datuk Musa Sheikh Fadzir who wanted to know whether the slogan had tarnished the image of the police force, he said the police force happily accepted the slogan.

**** I'm beginning to have a lot of respect for this Senator Datuk Musa Sheikh Fadzir who seems to be asking all the right questions, unlike some of the other YBs who merely either warm their seats or maximum, thump the tables on cue. The most apt question is "has the sloganeering tarnished the police force?" For example if we have a sign that says 'don't spread rumours' it implies that there are many rumourmongers amidst us. Similarly the real impact of the slogan is more towards the negative despite whatever the government spokesman says.

To deduce that there is a decline in corruption partly due to the adopting of an ineffectual slogan is laughable. Even to assert that there has been a 'marked drop in the number of police officers and other ranks investigated by the Anti-Corruption Agency' is simplistic at best and worse, it may lead to a false sense of semuanya ok. In my opinion corruption in the force is going on as usual, and the slogan has not even prevented one ringgit of duit kopi from changing hands.

Also the statement that 'posters and vehicle stickers had been sent to all police stations to increase public awareness that it was an offence to give bribes' is another farce. The public from day one knows that it is an offence to bribe, but does the policeman know that, or does he care? The standard reply by bribetaking cops is, "if the politicians and pegawai2 do it why can't we"?

No amount of slogans or any other passive method is going to be effective. The only language that they will always understand is relentless, merciless investigation and prosecution. But does the government have the stomach for that?

Our Blow Hot And Cold PM Freezes On IFC Issue.

Yup. The PM has reiterated his earlier statement that there should be no more discussion on the status of Islam. He has stated his reasons, and given the present situation, I personally feel that all sides should take a breather and slow things down for a while.

Although there are Muslims involved in the IFC it is slowly turning into an 'us versus them' situation and that is not going to do anyone any good. There is no use flogging something which is dying or perhaps is already dead. This is the time to weigh the pros and cons of continuing on the current path and to decide if it would be wiser to back down and take up the cause another day. Paramount should be the continued stability of the nation.

When there is not even a semblance of understanding from the government on the matter, to prolong the stalemate is not a very clever move. But life is dynamic, there will be change as time passes and education opens up closed minds. If we are lucky we may in the not too distant future even get a truly progressive and receptive leadership which places democratic and egalitarian principles above narrow, short-term popularity. Until such time, 'blow hot and cold' will be the order of the day. But hey, look at the bright side; it could have been worse. We could have been in Somalia.

Read the full report below......

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi Tuesday told all parties to stop any discussion that questioned the status of Islam as the country's official religion as provided in the Federal Constitution. He said discussion of the issue, if not kept in check, would create a tense situation among the country's multi-racial and multi-religious people.

"The issue of religion is very sensitive, more sensitive than the issue of race, so the press should be responsible and not blow it up. "They should not report news that could cause anger or tension, and result in something undesirable," he told a news conference after chairing a meeting of the Umno Supreme Council here. He advised all parties, especially the media, to be careful in this matter.

Abdullah, who is the Umno president, reiterated his call to stop immediately all discussions on establishing the proposed Inter-Faith Council (IFC). He said the Cabinet had put off a decision on the establishment of IFC and there was, therefore, no need to discuss it. This was because any discussion would create undesirable happenings since every party would want to give its views, he said.

"The Umno Supreme Council's stand is that it would be better not to have the IFC at all although we understand the feelings of the followers of other religions in the country but the situation has reached a stage that worries all of us," he said.

He urged all parties not to carry out activities relating to the IFC so that no one would do anything about it. The government, he said, was observing closely the present developments and would make a decision on the IFC.

So you have been cautioned. When the government cannot differentiate between cabinet decisions and that taken by the Umno supreme council, it speaks volumes of the commitment of the administration to democratic practices. Like the Soviet Union of yore, the party politburo decides and the masses had better obey, or else.....

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Well Done Senator Datuk Musa Sheikh Fadzir.

Now this is what I term a real call for transparency and if the government is serious about its claims of openness, this is the time to truly walk the talk. It was rather surprising that the Senate was the place where the request came from. What am I talking about? Read on....

A senator Tuesday asked the government to publish the names of contractors awarded tenders for the 880 first roll-out of projects under the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP) to show it is truly transparent. Senator Datuk Musa Sheikh Fadzir said this step would prevent criticisms and allegations against the government over the award of projects.

He said that if the government could publish the list of tenders in the press and internet, the same could be done for the results of the tender exercise. "We want to know who get the projects," he said.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi recently announced the roll-out of 880 projects costing RM15 billion.

Now that the demand/request by the good Senator is out in the open, how receptive do you think the government will be? If it complies and gives all the details, firstly it will shore up the government's credibility and secondly it will set a precedent for the future and no administration from now on can attempt to hide under the cloak of rahsia. We'll know soon enough won't we?

EON Offers VSS To Employees

It had to happen sooner or later. Edaran Otomobil Nasional Bhd (EON) Tuesday announced a voluntary separation scheme (VSS) to its employees company wide in a move to rationalise operations for greater efficiency and effectiveness in the highly competitive auto market place.

In a statement, EON said the VSS offer opens from Tuesday and will close by 5.00 pm Aug 11. The complete exercise will conclude by Sept 1.

And what does the VSS offer? Employees opting for the VSS will receive a package of 1.5 times their last drawn salary X years of service subject to a maximum of 24 years, or last drawn salary X remaining months to retirement subject to a maximum of 36 months, which ever is lower.

In addition, employees opting for the VSS will receive two months salary in lieu of notice, medical assistance of RM1,000 per employee and salary in lieu of balance annual leave subject to a maximum of 60 days.

For the benefit of employees seeking the VSS, the statement said outplacement training and workshops, and employment placement assistance, are offered to ensure a smooth transition.

Well, given the present circumstances and all things considered it is quite a reasonable offer. I wonder what percentage of the target group will take it up. Any VSS has its attendant risks. There's no running away from that reality. Usually the smarter and motivated ones make the best of a bad situation and end up in a much better position than before. This is not the time to wallow in self-pity or dream of what could have been. "When the going gets tough, the tough get going" comes to mind.

Sales Of Liquor In Muslim Majority Areas Forbidden

The local councils in Sarawak had never issued licences for liquor sales at retail outlets in areas where 80 percent of the residents are Muslims.

State Environment and Public Health Deputy Minister Dr Abang Abdul Rauf Abang Zen said the local councils have the authority to act on those who violated the conditions of their licences like selling the liquor in forbidden areas.

"If there were complaints on such activities, then legal action could be taken on the licence holder involved, including confiscating the liquor, issue compound notice and fine but not on those who consume the liquor," he said.

Abdul Karim said drinking cheap liquor and gum sniffing is now rampant in squatter areas and in the interiors.

While the above is bad news for alcoholics, I suppose if we take the bigger picture and view it from a health and socio-economic perspective, it makes a lot of sense. In these issues I've always believed - 'to each his own'. If you want to drink recklessly and ruin your health who can stop you? On the other hand if you want to drink socially and responsibly no one should curtail that right too.

Can This Ever Happen In Malaysia?

Thailand's three election commissioners were Tuesday sentenced to four years jail for violating election law, a decision that likely to prolong the country's political crisis and puts the Oct 15 general election in doubt.

In a stunning decision, the Criminal Court found Election Commission (EC) chairman Vasana Puemlarp and two of its members Prinya Nakchadtree and Virachai Naewboonnien guilty of mishandling the April 2 election and a subsequent election. The three were released temporarily pending a bail hearing. The commissioners had come under heavy pressure to resign following the April 2 election which was boycotted by major opposition parties and later declared invalid by the Constitution Court.

The suit was filed against the trio by Democrat party deputy secretary-general Thavorn Sennium on April 18. Last week, the Government announced that Thailand will hold its second general election in six months after King Bhumibol Adulyadej signed a royal decree on the Oct 15 election. In his suit, Thavorn alleged the three had violated the Criminal Code and MPs and Senators Election Act.

The Democrat had alleged that the EC went on with the April 23 repeat election without a royal decree. Under the Thai election law, a new election must be called if candidates could not muster the required a minimum of 20 per cent of total votes to be declared winner.

In its decision, the Criminal Court ruled that Thavorn had no authority to file the criminal charges but the commissioners were found guilty of violating the MPs and Senators Election Act.

The Court also stripped their right to vote for 10 years.

Mainstream Media Need Not Ape Websites, Bloggers - PM

Mainstream media in the country need not compete with websites and "bloggers" on the Internet to publish speculative and sensational materials and news, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said Tuesday. Instead, they should bear the heavy responsibility of conveying information to the people with the realisation on the need not to report on anything that could invite reactions or create unhealthy situation, the prime minister said.

"People will still refer to what is reported by the mainstream newspapers. Therefore, it is important for newspapers to be mindful of their role, don't be swayed to publish sensational news posted by this website and that," he told reporters. Abdullah was elaborating on the contents of his speech which dwelled at length on the role and media management in the context of meeting its social obligations in the country.

Stressing that the mainstream media wielded influence and the people's attention, he said: "No need to compete (with websites). Want to compete for what...don't write untrue news, speculative reports based on false information."

**** Of course the PM has a point, especially on the 'sensational' aspect. Some of the ridiculous news reports and speculation coming from the internet too has contributed to the realisation that perhaps it is better to rely on the mainstream media for 'authentic' information. The mainstream media as far as the average Malaysian is concerned has lacked credibility for a long time especially under Mahathir when only pro-government news was published. Now things seem much better and if the PM has urged mainstream newspapers to be 'less' sensational it can only mean that there is more freedom and leeway for them to publish.

The reverse however is happening at internet sites. Where at one time Malaysians, who hungry for some 'real' news, looked to the internet for reliable information not reported locally, are increasingly becoming jaded at the sometimes rubbish being spewed out irresponsibly in the name of freedom. There is only so much of racial, political and religious vitriol that reasonable persons can take before they say "enough is enough."

The time is not too far off, if it is not here already, when any news originating from the net will have the same credibility as that accorded to the mainstream media during the Mahathir heydays.

Actor And TV Personality Hani Mohsin Dies Of A Heart Attack

Actor Hani Mohsin Hanafi, 43, collaped and died at the low-cost carrier terminal in Sepang at 9.30am while waiting to board a flight to Alor Setar on Tuesday.

Mohsin was traveling with his nine-year-old daughter Hani Karmila -- from his previous marriage to Datin Seri Tiara Jacquelina -- when he complained of chest pains before collapsing.

Hani Karmila immediately called her mother, who rushed to the airport with husband Datuk Seri Effendi Norwawi.

Mohsin's remains have been brought to hospital for an autopsy.

Mohsin was the host of popular TV game show Roda Impian before his death.


More here: Hani Mohsin's Craving For Aunt's Cooking Unfulfilled

No green light yet for hillslope project, says MPAJ. Don't Ever Believe Them.

RESIDENTS of Taman Hijau Apartment in Ampang can heave a sigh of relief. Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ) has clarified that it has not approved the housing development on a hillslope behind their apartment.

Its president, Datuk Ahmad Shafii Saidin, said the project, by Panorama Skyline Sdn Bhd, has yet to get the nod from the council.

"We still have to get approval from the Environment Sensitivity Committee, and discuss 'additional requirements'(?) to get the go ahead. That is yet to be done, and we will do so in one or two months.

"Nothing is happening yet and residents don’t have to worry," he told The Malay Mail.

The developer, he said, had submitted their application to build 194 bungalows, 210 office and shop lots in a 10-storey building, in addition to two basement car parks, on a 24-hectare plot of land, in accordance with the rules and guidelines stipulated by MPAJ.

If the committee, headed by Selangor State Secretary, Datuk Ramlan Othman, finds the development to be dangerous or unsuitable, it will be scrapped.

Asked why MPAJ was late in providing the information sought by the residents, Ahmad Shafii said the council did not see the need to do so as nothing was approved yet.

Residents can raise the matter with the Board of Appeal should the committee approve the project.

Ahmad Shafii was responding to The Malay Mail report on July 19, which highlighted the plight of Taman Hijau Apartment dwellers who oppose the project.

A resident, former diplomat Datuk Mustapha Mahmood, claimed that residents were kept in the dark over the project.

**** Please, please, please people. Never ever believe the words of MPAJ. They will lie through their teeth and when you least expect it they'll spring a real surprise on you that everything has been approved, the contractor followed procedures and nothing can be done to stop it. Money has already changed hands by now and you can bet your last ringgit that the bloody MPAJ is all for this project and is stealthily lobbying hard for approval. There is after all honour among crooks.

It is amazing that with so many influential residents there, the daylight robbers of the MPAJ still manage to do their wheeling and dealing and get away with it. As I've always maintained in my posts on MPAJ and other similar white collar criminal types, there is usually a powerful politician behind the scene actively supporting and egging them on. Catch this big crook and half your problems are over. If I had my way most of these crooked politicians would have already been behind bars serving time for corruption and other related crimes. Alas, who am I but a mere citizen.......

Practical Umno Youth Chief Invites Guests To His Wedding By SMS, Email

Riding on the wave of a new trend, an Umno division youth leader who is getting married next month is sending out invitations to his wedding by SMS and emails.

Sik Umno Division Youth chief Mohd Tajudin Abdullah, 41, who is tying the knot with the division Puteri deputy chief, Norashimah Md Nowar, 25, on Aug 12 at Rimba Takwa are inviting 3,000 guests by SMS and 3,000 more by email.

However, the traditional way was not discarded with 14,000 more guests who would be receiving their invitation cards, he told Bernama Monday. Sik Umno Youth Division members are assisting Tajudin to send out the SMS and emails.

"I hope those who receive the invitations by SMS and emails as well as verbally do not feel at a disadvantage," he said adding that his courtship with Norashimah bloomed while they were engaged in party work.

**** Firstly my congratulations to the couple. I think it's a great idea to dispense with invitation cards which take up quite a chunk of wedding expenses. While the elders of the family and other important persons should receive cards, all the others I'm sure, would not mind being invited 'electronically'. The only drawback with SMS invitations is, if some prankster should send out a couple of thousand invitation messages to those who are not on the list.

I hope this trend catches on, but not the other earlier and now aborted SMS by divorce. That I hope never sees the light of day again. I still can't figure out how the syariah court magistrate allowed that type of divorce in the first place. At that time, I felt that the silly magistrate should have been reprimanded and transferred and the order should have been sent to him by SMS.

Monday, July 24, 2006

London Sports Centre. My, My Aren't We Being Stubborn?

The cost of building the sports centre for Malaysian athletes outside London will be reasonable provided that the project takes off the ground, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said Monday. "We will allow an amount that is considered reasonable. Don't worry. The Cabinet Committee on Sports will decide. We will take into account the people's views," he said.

Najib, who chairs the committee, said that it had only approved the concept of the sports facility while other details such as financial allocation were yet to be decided or approved. "The amount has not been approved by the cabinet committee yet. We are still looking into the details.

Asked whether the proposed amount was RM490 million as had been widely reported by the media, Najib said: "The matter is still subject to the cabinet committee approval and our discussion with the Ministry of Finance." The Youth and Sports Ministry reportedly said that it would continue pursuing the building of the sports centre despite strong objections from many parties, with Minister Datuk Azalina Othman saying that it was needed to mould Malaysian sportsmen to become high achievers.

Alluding to reports that British authorities would not allow additional buildings to be built at the TARRC as it had been gazetted as a heritage site, Najib said that the stand of the local council there would be ascertained. Explaining about the facility, he said it would allow Malaysian athletes to be put into a more competitive environment. Secondly, it will serve as a transit centre before they participate in international sporting events, especially in terms of preparing themselves at the facility.

To a question, he said there was no guarantee that the athletes who went for training there would deliver for the country. "But we have to try and improve the standard of sports in Malaysia, that is the whole idea. And if they want to compete at the highest level, they'll have to be exposed at that level on a regular basis. "You can't expose them once in a while. They have to be immersed in a very competitive culture," Najib said.

**** So basically whatever the PM says, thinks or feels on this issue is not their concern. Nor does the opinion of the Brits matter. It is slowly turning into a prestige issue on whether Najib, Azalina and company get their way or the people do. This has got all the ingredients of a time-bomb which is going to explode on some faces one day.

Malaysia Aims To Be Regional Pilot Training Hub

Strong international demand for trained and skilful pilots has prompted Malaysia to promote its flying academies as a regional pilot training hub, said Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy.

He said the country was convinced that it could emerge as the main regional training hub as it had several advantages including lower training costs, closer proximity, and similar cultural and social elements.

It costs RM180,000 to train a pilot in Malaysia against RM250,000 in Australia. Malaysia is close to West Asia and China, and its social and cultural elements are not much different from those in the region.

He said there were three flying academies in the country, one each in Kota Baharu, Kelantan, Malacca and Langkawi, Kedah, and a helicopter flying school in Ipoh.

Chan said after the Sept 11 2001 tragedy, the world aviation sector experienced several changes and one of the impact was various major airlines had shifted to developing nations like Malaysia to train their pilots. This was due to the difficulties to secure a spot for pilot training in the Western countries due to tight security procedures. "In line with this, the existing flying academies in the country must grab this opportunity to attract students from outside to train here," he said.

**** Being a regional hub is well and good, as long as we don't go down in history as the country which exported the most number of pilots with a propensity to fly into tall buildings. The fact that western nations have tightened regulations is due to the real danger of arabs and other misguided people who try to enrol and learn sufficient piloting to do another 911. This is a very real hazard in opening up places to foreigners. In fact our authorities should also keep a close watch for any local jihad types who would most likely try to emulate the 'success' of their illustrious dead 'brethren'.

Better to be aware and cautious now than after our reputation goes down the chute along with some western skyscrapers.

Does Raising The National Flag Indicate Patriotism?

Without fail, around this time every year, the authorities urge the public to raise the national flag. It seems as if in their minds that somehow the very act of doing this shows your 'loyalty', 'patriotism' and 'love' for the country! How simplistic and naive.

This year is no exception to this annual exhortation. Prior to his retirement from active politics it was former information minister Datuk Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir who used to be at the forefront of this `Jalur Gemilang' Flag Raising Campaign. The initiative this year has been taken over by Deputy Information Minister Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi who said that all strata of society must be proactive in building up sentiment in conjunction with the 50th National Day celebrations next year. He also hoped that the Jalur Gemilang flag raising campaign would not be as dull as last year where many people failed to raise the Malaysian flag in conjunction with the National Day celebrations.

He hoped the local authorities would be more active in monitoring the raising of the Jalur Gemilang on buildings owned by the private sector.

Frankly I fail to see the link between patriotism and raising the flag. Apart from being a rather public display and claim of loyalty and love for the nation, however patently false that claim may be, it serves no purpose other than to make a few people feel good. I wish the authorities will leave it to the decision and good sense of the public whether they wish to indulge in this symbolic yet public expression of 'patriotism'. To force the issue is to propagate a falsehood.

By raising the flag none of us are going to feel any better and the dissatisfaction that we have will in no way be lessened. That requires something more substantial, like reforms that are just and fair, and not some simple gimmick like this. Forcing people to raise the flag will only aggravate the resentment.

UDA - The New Malay Golden Goose?

UDA Holdings Bhd (UDA) that is being revived to boost the Malay economic pie in urban areas is to undergo changes to emerge as a more effective organisation. Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the changes that possibly include some legal amendments had been agreed in principal. "We have made some decisions but the details are still being worked out and will be announced later," he said.

UDA is being revived through the initiative of Gabem, (Gagasan Badan Ekonomi Melayu Malaysia) established in June last year.

The details on UDA's revival would be made known by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi soon. Najib also said another decision made was to develop Kampung Baru with a proposed development model. "I see that the model can be improved and can help overcome the Kampung Baru squatter problem providing that the land owners agreed to it.

Also present at today's function was Gabem Chairman Tan Sri Rahim Tamby Chik and its advisor Datuk Seri Mohamad Khir Toyo who is also the Selangor Menteri Besar.

Meanwhile, on Gabem's suggestion in helping the unemployed graduates who were mostly Malays, Najib said among the immediate steps to be taken by the government is to fill up immediately the 30,000 vacancies in civil service.

He said Gabem's proposal to extend its network to the state level was welcomed as it could gather views from the states and implement its programmes there as well. However, he said is was not time yet for Gabem to venture into the districts.

**** It is worrying when I see that the ones behind this Gabem are Rahim Tamby Chik and Khir Toyo, two of the not so exactly very honest people in Malaysia. I wouldn't say that they are totally dishonest but still......

Actually I've expressed my misgivings about UDA in one of my earlier posts. Please refer to it: Buying Over Of UDA Holdings Bhd - Is It A Wise Move Khazanah Nasional Bhd?

Bank Negara Should Stop These Thieving Banks.

Malaysian Institute of Economic Research executive director, Dr Mohamed Ariff speaks the truth when he says, "the banks are enjoying much higher margins. It is ironic that the people who live on past savings are subsidising banks. I would have thought there is a need for some kind of adjustments in the deposit rates rather than the lending rates."

There should be more adjustments in deposit rates instead of interest rates as banks have enjoyed much larger margins. Any increase in interest rates would dampen consumer expenditure and worsen the slowdown the economy was going through now. He also said that Bank Negara Malaysia has raised interest rates three times. But the banks have adjusted lending rates more than they have adjusted the deposit rates.

What a bunch of greedy bastards these banks are, all of us know. All their sweet sounding advertisements are just a cover for their unlimited avarice. They won't think twice before ripping-off even destitutes, if it increases their profit margin. That they have selectively adjusted rates so as to deprive the average person, many of them elderly, unemployed and pensioners while at the same time raking in millions and millions at the expense of this poor lot is ample proof of their heartless tactics. In this case lending rates have been adjusted by 51 basis points while deposit rates have only been adjusted by 14 basis points!!

This is sheer exploitation pure and simple. It is about time that Bank Negara kept a closer watch on these vultures and ensure that the average wage earner and the poorer of our people do not fall victim to these manipulative thieves in suits.

National Unity and Integration Department - Sleeping On The Job.

Probably 99% of Malaysians have not even heard of the very existence of the national unity and integration department. Ironically, as its name suggests, it is the one entrusted to 'integrate' and 'unite' the people and therefore should have been very familiar to the public!

After an extended period of hibernation during which Kampung Medan came, killed and went, this yawning entity has just woken up to the fact that things aren't quite rosy on the racial front. Thus it has announced the setting up of a computerised early-warning system on racial conflict.

The DG of this moribund department made the announcement when he gave details of the government's five-year unity plan - the country's first - aimed at creating multiracial activities in schools and institutions of higher learning. The RM100 million (S$430,000) programme recommends, among other initiatives, that schools seat pupils from different races next to each other and encourage multiracial interaction in activities.

The overriding objectives of the 2006-2010 National Unity and Integration Action Plan are stemming racial segregation and building stronger ties.

"What the devil have you been doing all these years except collect your monthly pay?", is the question I would like to pose to these officials of the department. Suddenly they wake up from their slumber and feel that by making some cosmetic changes here and there things will be hunky-dory.

The problem is no one really bothered about this department for a long while now, and the officers spent their time conducting some ineffective, boring ceramah or delivering taklimat. Do the jokers in this place first of all know what it takes to achieve racial harmony? Do they realise that it is successive government policies which have led to much of the problems relating to race-relations? If the government is the biggest culprit then how do they propose to go about realising their matlamat?

It would be interesting to see how integrated or segregated the department itself is before they embark on their newfound zeal to 'unite' the people. The sad reality in Malaysia is that no amount of talking, pledging, claiming or pretending that things are fantastic is going to make any difference to the public. The deep-rooted prejudices of every race and their suspicions of everyone, especially of the government makes things extremely difficult to overcome.

Deep inside, every single Malaysian knows that unfair government policies will not change even in a century from now, and as long as these unjust practices exist, true racial unity, harmony and integration will always remain a pipe dream. The best we can hope for is to avoid open interracial strife. That is where the National Unity and Integration Department comes into the picture. If it can stay awake long enough.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Research Centre Wants Say In Planning Of Sports Training Centre.

The Tun Abdul Razak Research Centre (TARRC) in Brickendonbury wants some say in the planning of the proposed High-Performance Sports Training Centre there to ensure that both the facilities can co-exist without any problem.

TARRC vice-chairman and chief executive officer Salleh Subari said it was important that the centre be consulted at the planning stage so that the development of the sports training facility would not interrupt the activities of the research centre.

"Research and development (R&D) activities at TARRC must continue because it is important to the industry in Malaysia," he told Malaysian journalists who visited the facility in Brickendonbury, Hertfort, north of London.

Research at the TARRC is geared towards downstream industries mainly in engineering designs and advanced material.

It is seated on a 40-acre piece of land bought by the Malaysian government for R&D activities under the Malaysian Rubber Board.

The proposal to build a sports complex at the TARRC had created controversy when various quarters questioned the motive of the government to spend a massive sum of money on the project.

The TARRC is the UK-based laboratory of the world's largest single R&D establishment dedicated to rubber.

It was formerly the British Rubber Research Centre, established in 1938.

The Malaysian Rubber Board has two R&D facilities namely the TARRC in UK and the Rubber Research Institute (RRI) in Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Salleh anticipated that the development of the sports training centre there would take some time as it would involve various levels of approvals by the local government.

Considering the fact that the TARRC is part of the green belt area and some of its buildings have been listed as heritage buildings, there are also many restrictions in the construction of buildings in certain areas there such as certain buildings cannot be taller than the tallest tree, he said

The main office of the TARRC is now housed in a 300-year-old mansion.

Salleh said as far as the TARRC is concerned, it was leaving it to the government to decide whether the sports training centre should be built there because the area still had much vacant land.

He said the TARRC was the venue for the annual celebration of the Malaysian Independence Day for Malaysians staying in UK.


Azalina - Our Do-Or-Die Sports Minister.

I must admit albeit grudgingly that I greatly admire Azalina's tenacity and bullheadedness. Her sense of priority and respect for public opinion may be perversely warped, but that do-or-die attitude will stand her in good stead when she exits from the Cabinet. Despite the known views of the Brits and their penchant for preservation and having just received a bloody nose on the issue of the so-called London Sports Centre, this obstinate minister having set her sights on the centre will now take it upon her mighty shoulders to somehow share the buildings of the Rubber Research Centre outside London! First share, and then the royal boot for the research centre? One centre out and another centre comes in. Fair and square!

Is it feminine grit or a bad habit from earlier days of not taking no for an answer? I can't understand this love for London and the sports centre. What exactly is her game? What does she stand to gain by blindly rushing in rage after having been given the short shrift once? The Brits don't want you or your building in their territory. Is that so difficult to comprehend? Or is it a case of hell hath no fury as a woman.....? Please read the report of our sports minister's unyielding stance.

The Youth and Sports Ministry will continue pursuing the building of the controversial sports centre outside London, despite strong objections from many quarters, including the opposition parties. Its minister Datuk Azalina Othman Said said the matter had to be pursued as it was needed to mould Malaysian sportsmen to become high achievers.

She slammed detractors of the project, saying their criticisms were baseless especially with regard to the cost of the project. "I don't see why this project has become an issue because the cost, which was raised by opposition leader Lim Kit Siang, has yet to be finalised," she told reporters here.

Media reports that the centre will cost RM490 million triggered an outcry from many quarters, including opposition parties who claimed that the money could be put to better use in Malaysia.
Azalina, however, said the Finance Ministry had the last say on the matter as it is a government project.

The proposed centre is to be located at the Tun Abdul Razak Rubber Research Centre (TARRC) in Brikendonbury in Hertfordshire, some 24km from the approved site of the 2012 London Olympic Games village. However, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi last Wednesday had said that the British authorities would not allow additional buildings to be built at the TARRC because it has been gazetted as a heritage site.

In view of this, Azalina said the National Sports Council (NSC) would meet the Malaysian Rubber Board next week to discuss the possibility of sharing the TARRC facility. The outcome of the meeting would be presented to the Cabinet Committee on Sports when it held its next meeting in September for further consideration, Azalina added.

**** What is wrong with this woman? Can someone enlighten me please!!!

What Game Is Dr Mahathir Playing?

From third world dictator likened to Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe to 'neo-freedom fighter', Dr. Mahathir indeed has come a long way!

If five years ago someone had predicted that Mahathir would be the voice for free speech and he would be criticising the mainstream media for selective coverage, chances are the person would have been adviced to have his head examined by a psychiatrist at Kamunting.

How valid is his remonstration against the Pak Lah government? In fact his diatribe against, and implied 'interference' in, the current administration can form a good case study for a student of political science. How far should an incumbent go in publicly castigating his annointed successor? Is Pak Lah in any way duty bound to carry on with Mahathir's projects and by extension his 'legacy'?

One argument that often surfaces from Mahathir's detractors is that, he of all people should not condemn this government because of the 'atrocities' of his regime. They say that he had almost institutionalised corruption and cronyism, muzzled the press and frightened and cowed the people into deafening silence. They further imply that expressly because of his mismanagement of public funds and extravagant spending, among others on so-called 'mega' projects, that the present government is saddled with so many problems. If the prices and tariffs of some items had to be raised, then Mahathir has a lot of blame to shoulder for that. The sacking of Anwar and the creation of Keadilan was thus a consequent rallying point for mass dissatisfaction against this 'gross abuse' of power by him and his comrades in arms. Therefore he had long ago forfeited any right to find fault with this or any future government.

Is Mahathir's condemnation and fault-finding merely the rantings of a disappointed ex-leader or is it just the opening gambit in a long-drawn chess game? If not what other game is Mahathir playing?

Then comes the inevitable and nagging question. Where does Najib fit into all this? Is he the innocent bystander overwhelmed by the turn of events or is he an active participant for one side or the other or both? There is an interesting article in Malaysiakini which implies that Najib may be gathering his forces, by Kim Quek (Note: Wait for a few seconds after clicking, for the article to appear.)
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