Thursday, May 31, 2007

"No Discrimination In Education System," Says Najib. Do You Agree?

There is this incredible claim in today's NST where Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak says without any pang of conscience that "the education system is designed to offer equal opportunities for all!!" He said the fairness of the system could be seen from the thousands of graduates from poor families. What he failed to add was that he was referring to poor Bumi families and definitely not the poverty-stricken non-Malay sods of whom there are aplenty, doing clerical and menial jobs including driving lorries and buses because they were denied a place in varsities as a result of the government's grossly unfair policies. Read about Najib's fairy tale here and see if you can agree with his contention.
The education system is designed to offer equal opportunities for all, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said yesterday. He said the fairness of the system could be seen from the thousands of graduates from poor families. "Our education system is a fair one as you can see from the social background of those who were given the chance to further their studies in the universities," he said after launching a foster family programme for undergraduates here yesterday.

He said those who had benefited from the opportunities should return the favour by lending the government a hand by increasing awareness on the importance of education to the poor and underprivileged. He said the foster parent programme, involving 800 undergraduates from 18 public universities, was a good example of how those who had been successful could help in encouraging others to emulate them. The undergraduates participating in the programme would stay with their foster families in Pekan for six days. The undergraduates and their foster parents would attend talks on how education serves as a motivational and career development tool.

Najib said the programme would also benefit the younger children of the foster families as they would have a chance to interact with their 'foster siblings'.
The presence of undergraduates in these families would motivate the youngsters to study harder and strive towards attaining a higher level of education.

The programme was organised in conjunction with the Pekan Fest carnival with the help of the Higher Education Ministry.
Najib also handed over a contribution of RM1.1 million by the Pintar Foundation to Universiti Tun Abdul Razak to help sponsor the university’s deserving students.
***** So are there any takers for this story spun from part fact and part fiction? Unless there is a total change in the way the government administers lopsided and racist education policies, Najib or anyone else from the top leadership cannot dupe the public with feel good stories designed to garner votes in the next general elections. Be prepared for more semuanya ok tales in the future.
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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Lina Joy's Case: Federal Court Dismisses Appeal

Malaysia's highest court on Wednesday threw out a bid by a woman seeking to have her conversion to Christianity from Islam officially recognised.

A three-judge panel of the Federal Court rejected an appeal by Lina Joy in a case that went to the heart of a debate here on whether civil courts should take precedence over tribunals based on Islamic syariah law.

Joy's appeal centred on whether she should be required to go before a syariah court to have her renunciation – seen as one of the gravest sins in Islam – recognised before authorities delete the word "Islam" from her identity card.

Chief Judge Ahmad Fairuz said the National Registration Department, which is in charge of issuing identity cards, had the right to demand that a syariah court certify Joy's conversion.

"On the question that the National Registration Department has the right to demand a certification from the Islamic court that confirms the appellant's renunciation of Islam, my answer is that NRD has the right," the judge said.

"The appeal has been rejected." (Channel Newsasia)
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Report from IHT: Malaysia rejects Muslim convert's bid to be recognized as Christian

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Restaurant Owner Sues RELA

From the International Herald Tribune comes this report on the continuing exploits of these officially sanctioned, nefarious, bribe-taking vigilantes.
A restaurant operator has sued Malaysia's volunteer security force for alleged abuse of power, a lawyer said Tuesday of the latest in a series of criticisms of the corps.

Chen Yau Choy claims that members of the force, known by the Malay-language acronym RELA, demanded bribes in exchange for the release of suspected Indonesian illegal immigrants who were taken into custody after being found working at Chen's suburban Kuala Lumpur food court.

Chen's lawyer Haresh Mahadevan said the migrants, detained in February 2006, had valid travel and working permits.

The lawyer said Chen claims that RELA personnel also wrongfully detained him in police lockup for 11 hours.

He said Chen is seeking unspecified damages from RELA and the government for "wrongful detention and the loss of reputation."

The suit was only filed last week because Chen's lawyers have been gathering documents to back their case.

RELA Director General Zaidon Asmuni did not immediately answer calls to his mobile phone seeking comment.

The law allows RELA to make arrests or enter and search any premises without a warrant.

Earlier this month, the New York-based group Human Rights Watch urged Malaysia's government to disband the corps, following local activists' repeated claims that its members use unnecessary force against suspected illegal immigrants.

Government authorities and RELA officials have rejected the criticism, saying the force is needed to catch illegal immigrants, and the actions of a few errant members should not taint the entire corps.

Malaysia, which relies heavily on foreign laborers for menial work, regularly deports illegal immigrants, who are widely blamed for crime and social problems.
***** Do you think that after so many adverse reports the government would do something about this despicable lot who have very successfully dragged our reputation through the mud? No way! They are vested interests and vote banks for the ruling party and RELA allows these misfits to enjoy power which otherwise would never come their way. Dictatorships and illegitimate regimes have goon squads, 'people's armies' and citizen troops. We have RELA! Malaysia Boleh!!
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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Altantuya Case: Judge Blocks Access To Prosecution Witnesses' Statements Before Trial

The three accused facing charges relating to the murder of Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu failed in their attempt in the High Court here today to gain access to the prosecution witnesses' statements before the commencement of the trial on Monday.

Justice Mohamed Zaki Yassin rejected their application on the ground that there was no provision in the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) and Evidence Act that gives an accused person the right to inspect the statements recorded from witnesses by the police under Section 112 of the CPC.

He said he was bound by a Federal Court decision in the case of Husdi v PP (1979) MLJ 80 (Husdi No 1) that witnesses statements were absolute privileged documents and the defence did not have the right of access to the statements.

However, it was a win-win situation as the judge also held that the defence had the privilege, as held in the same case, to obtain the witnesses' statements only after the witnesses had testified in the trial, for the purpose of impeaching the witnesses.

The trial will proceed on Monday although counsel Kamarul Hisham Kamaruddin, representing Kpl Sirul Azhar Umar, will challenge today's decision in the Court of Appeal. He did not ask the court to stay the proceedings pending the disposal of his appeal.

Kpl Sirul Azhar, 35, had filed a formal application seeking a court order to compel the prosecution to provide them with the 112 witnesses statements and his application was supported by Chief Insp Azilah Hadri, 30, and political analyst Abdul Razak Abdullah Baginda, 46.

Azilah's newly-appointed lawyer, Hazman Ahmad, who replaced counsel Zulkefli Noordin, informed the court that they were supporting Sirul Azhar's application.

Azilah and Sirul Azhar were charged with murdering Altantuya, 28, in Lot 12843 and Lot 16735, Mukim Bukit Raja, Selangor, between 10pm on Oct 19 and 1am on Oct 20 last year. Abdul Razak is charged with abetting the policemen from the Special Force Unit to commit the murder at Bangunan Getah Asli in Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, between 9.54am and 11.05am on Oct 18 last year.

All three face the death penalty if convicted.

Altantuya's remains, blown to bits with explosives, were found in a forest area in Puncak Alam, Shah Alam, on Nov 7 last year.

In his oral judgment, Mohamed Zaki said the court should not apply the common law of England and Wales which allowed accused persons to inspect police statements as there was already a provision in Malaysia governing that issue and no lacuna in Malaysia with regard to supply of document.

Therefore, the judge said, he found it unnecessary to make any reference to the England and Brunei cases referred to by counsel Kamarul Hisham who had urged the court to adopt the common law of England and Wales on the disclosure of statements to the accused.

"I can find no provision which can give the right to the accused to inspect the witnesses' statements. It doesn't matter that there are witnesses who are not potential to testify for or against the accused. The prosecution has no duty to supply the witnesses statements to the defence. I am of the view that it is undesirable for the prosecution to provide witnesses' statements to the defence as there is a real danger of tampering of witnesses," he said.

Kamarul Hisham told reporters that he would invoke their right to ask the court to examine the 112 witnesses statements and if there was contradiction (with their oral evidence in court) he would apply for the statements to be supplied to the defence to impeach the witnesses.

In his application, Sirul Azhar had asked the prosecution to provide him with the autopsy report, chemist reports, dental report, radiologist examination report and laboratory report and was supplied with the documents except for the 112 witneses statements which the prosecution refused to disclose to the defence.

All the accused were not present in court. (Bernama)
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Cabinet To Be Asked To Approve Disputed Project And Effectively Legitimize Corruption

Greed is once again surfacing in the Bukit Damansara area and actively aiding and abetting it are the relevant officials and politicians, the pimps in power, over decisions which would affect the environment as well as the health, safety and convenience of thousands of residents there.

As a result of the reasonable objections of the Bukit Damansara House Owners Association, these greed merchants have decided cleverly to pass the buck to the Cabinet for a decision. The rationale for this is two-fold. First is to avoid clashing with influential residents of the area who could kick up a storm and the whole issue may blow up on the faces of this corrupt lot. Therefore to avoid embarrassing disclosures and retreat as well as unpleasant litigation, the avaricious greedsters have sent the matter to the Cabinet for a 'verdict'.

The second is to give this 'development' project, underlined by bribery and corruption, a veneer of legitimacy which a Cabinet decision will confer, apart from keeping influential residents at bay. The officials and politicians involved in this charade would have effectively covered their graft-ridden backsides and the rotten deal will be deemed as 'essential' and for the 'benefit' of the rakyat. These Malay pegawai2 and pemimpin2 would have done their job and the Chinese towkays will proceed to credit the 'relevant' bank accounts with part of the spoils. A truly win-win situation and generally Semuanya OK! The full report in today's NST follows, for you to read and feel angered and disgusted.
The planned condominium and commercial complex in Bukit Damansara, which is opposed by residents, will be brought up at the next cabinet meeting.

Federal Territories Minister Datuk Zulhasnan Rafique said a report by Kuala Lumpur City Hall on the matter following a dialogue between the parties concerned would be tabled as notes to the cabinet.

"On May 20, City Hall, the project developer and consultant held a dialogue with the residents. We view this as good co-operation as residents were involved," he said after opening the Peninsula Residence Hotel in Bukit Damansara.

Led by the Bukit Damansara House Owners Association president Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahman, the residents had expressed their unhappiness with the development in front of the Millennium Tower in Damansara Town Centre.

Abdul Aziz had said that the projects, including high-rise apartments which had been approved by City Hall, would only worsen traffic congestion in the area. Zulhasnan said City Hall has asked for another impact study on the traffic flow.
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Monday, May 28, 2007

Contact Lens Users Beware

In an update from The Star comes this important news for those who use contact lenses.
Contact lens wearers who use 'Advanced Medical Optics' (AMO) Complete MoisturePlus solution should stop using it immediately.

AMO said it was voluntarily recalling the product from the market, although it emphasised that there was no evidence that the move was related to a product contamination issue.

"This does not impact any of AMO's other contact lens care products, including our family of hydrogen peroxide disinfecting solutions," the company said in a press release.

The recall was made based on information from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about eye infections from Acanthamoeba, a naturally occurring water-borne organism, which can contribute to serious corneal infections.

The CDC had interviewed 46 patients who had developed Acanthamoeba keratitis since January 2005 and 39 of these patients were soft contact lens wearers and 21 reported using Complete MoisturePlus products.

Acanthamoeba keratitis can produce corneal ulceration and cause severe loss of vision and even blindness. Persistent redness and pain in the eye are among the signs and symptoms.

The CDC also estimated a risk of at least seven times greater for those who used the solution against those who did not.

“Any consumer who is concerned about an eye condition should contact their eye care practitioner in the first instance,” the company said.

For more information, the public can call the consumer information hotline at 03-7710 6311 from Monday through Friday (9am to 6pm) or log on to http://www.amo-eyecare-sea.com/
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No Malaysian Injured In Haadyai Bomb Explosions

No Malaysian was injured in Sunday night's bomb attacks in Thailand's business and entertainment city of Haadyai that injured 13 people.

Police said all the injured were Thais, one of them a pregnant woman, and that the youngest victim was an eight-year-old boy.

Malaysia's consul in Songkhla, Sarifuddin Abdullah, when contacted by telephone today from Alor Star, confirmed that no Malaysian was among the injured.

The bombs had been placed in rubbish bins or motorcycles at Siang Tueng Foundation, Nai Nang Restaurant, in front of the Big C Department Store and JB Hotel.

It was the third attack in Haadyai since January 2004 when separatists relaunched their claim for independence for the three nearby provinces of Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani.

The full Bernama report HERE.

Details on the explosions HERE.

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Excellent Work Which Should Be Praised And Emulated

At a time when there are so many complaints of shoddy work and wastage of funds by employing middlemen and sub-contractors, especially in government projects, the following Bernama report is indeed heartwarming and encouraging.
The residents of Taman Selasih Phase 2 here found that they saved RM600,000 by building a surau in their housing estate at half the cost without contracting out the job.

This was achieved through the effort of Kamarul Halim Muhammad, an architect resident of the housing estate who designed the house of worship and supervised its construction, and did not take a profit in the process.

He spent about 11 months on the project, which was completed several days ago and a thanksgiving event was held Sunday. The Darul Muhajirin surau replaces the old surau built in 1984.

"Without offering a contract, the project was completed at a cost of about RM600,000. If the job had been contracted out, it would have cost at least RM1.2 million," Halim told Bernama.

Chairman of the Surau Construction Committee Lt-Kol (Rtd) Mohd Hafifi Kassim said the project was started in June last year soon after the committee obtained some funds from the residents and the public.

"We found that after work started on the surau, the donations from philanthropists and private companies began pouring in and more than RM600,000 was received," he said.

Halim said that though the building fund was small in the beginning, the construction went on unimpeded as donations continued to come from the people.

During the last Ramadhan month alone, donations of more than RM100,000 were collected for the surau, regarded by the residents as the most beautiful in Selangor in the category of suraus that cost less than RM1 million.

Chairman of the Muslim Welfare Organisation in the housing estate, Abdul Rahman Jaafar, said the resident had also made contributions in the form of building materials.

The imam of the surau, Bakri Abdul Rahman, described the successful construction of the surau as proof of the unity among the residents and other Muslims.

***** To those involved in this project as well as the generous benefactors and donors we wish to say Syabas! This is how things should be done and it is hoped that the construction of this surau would serve as an excellent example for others to learn and emulate. For a start our government should learn from these folks at Taman Selasih on how to economize and spend wisely, without kickbacks, commissions and sub-contracting to cronies.

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Exam In Malaysia For All Overseas Medical Graduates. A Devious Ploy?

A Bernama report today states that all medical graduates who studied overseas may have to sit for a local examination before they are allowed to practise in Malaysia.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said the ministry planned to introduce the examination and was discussing the matter with the Malaysian Medical Council.

"Presently, we recognise 344 universities in the medical field. We cannot continue to recognise many more because we have to assess them from time to time and in terms of our capacity, we are unable to go beyond 344 universities," he told reporters here today.

Earlier, he opened the Federation of Alumni Associations of Taiwan Universities' general meeting.

Dr Chua said that although the country was facing a shortage of doctors, the government still had to emphasise and defend the quality of doctors so that the people have confidence in them. "If one day, even Malaysians are not confident with their own doctors, it will disappoint us. So, we should not focus on quantity... standard is more important," he said.

He said that off late, the decline in the quality of medical practitioners among the young was visibly clear. Among the causes were the attitude and commitment of medical students who took up the course not because of interest or have deep knowledge on the field but because they believed had to become a doctor after obtaining excellent results in the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia or Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia examination, he said.

"We have implemented a programme where we expose them to a hospital for only five days and we saw that after five days, 10 per cent gave up the course," he said.

Dr Chua also said that so far, the government had recognised eight Taiwan universities and 250 of the graduates had registered to become doctors.

***** The country has been extremely well served by overseas medical graduates all these years. Many of those who hold foreign qualifications are the ones who have mostly been by-passed due to a very unfair quota system which gives preference to race rather than merit. They had no choice but to leave home at a young age and study in unfamiliar surroundings to realize their ambition. They more than others know the meaning of adversity and the need to work extra hard in order to succeed and survive in a patently unjust climate prevailing here at 'home'. Now after all that effort and sacrifice on the part of the new graduate and his family, the government elects to impose yet another hurdle, one which is suspicious and of doubtful motive.

If the CLP exams introduced to sift overseas trained lawyers is anything to go by, then we can expect these medical graduates to fall like ninepins. Medicine is such a vast field that any nasty examiner or one with an agenda can ask questions which even the best can't answer. It would not be entirely wrong to say that even medical students can formulate questions which could stump their very examiners! Moreover there will definitely be serious reservations about who sets the questions and who conducts the clinical examinations. In a country like ours where race and racism are of paramount significance, it would be naive to expect total fairness from the authorities. One Chinese swallow (of a Health Minister) does not make a summer (of fair and just exams.) His writ runs only at the top levels of the ministry and not at the implementation level of examinations.

It is ironical that Chua Soi Lek should say that "we should not focus on quantity, standard is more important!" It's not a national secret that our local standards have plunged disastrously over the past several decades and one main reason apart from the lax entry standards for Bumis is the fixation with numbers. More Malay doctors equals progress and something for the government to crow about at Umno general assemblies. If anyone has thrown quality out through the window and fiercely embraced quantity, it is the local medical education establishment. Even some foreign experts who have been commissioned to assess our faculties and have given unfavourable reports and adverse findings have been muzzled and sent packing on the first flight out of the country.

It is best to consider this issue very carefully before embarking on a trail of vengeance and slaughter. As long as there is uncertainty and distrust of the government in the actions, decisions and rationale for such an exam, no real good can come from it. If there is doubt on their quality, you can be sure that there is much more misgivings about many local graduates too. How often do you find an overseas graduate refusing to touch patients, use pens in lieu of their hands and not conversant in English? In the eyes of the public this will be seen as yet another racist attempt by the authorities to prevent non-Malays from overcoming their handicap locally. The perception will be that not only are they prevented by unjust rules and regulations from attaining academic qualifications of their liking here, but even on graduating from elsewhere, the government will still go the extra mile to somehow disqualify them from practicing, thereby creating a monopoly for the people of their choice.

Are these young people destined to be bus and lorry drivers despite their qualifications? The government must think so.

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Height of Hypocrisy: Govt Wants Varsities To Raise Intake Of Medical Students Without Affecting The Quality!

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Report: Malaysia May Seek India's Help To Train Pilots To Fly Russian Fighter Jets

Malaysia might send pilots to India for training on how to fly sophisticated Russian-made fighter jets that Malaysia has purchased, a news report said Friday.

The Royal Malaysian Air Force wants to train 72 officers as pilots and weapons system personnel to handle 18 Sukhoi-30MKM jets that are being handed over to Malaysia in stages, Col. Syed Salim Syed Abu Bakar told Malaysian reporters in the Siberian city of Irkutsk.

Most of them will be trained in Malaysia, but some might be sent to India, which has agreed in principle to provide training for Malaysian officers on the use of multi-role combat aircraft, Syed Salim was quoted as saying by Bernama news agency.

India's air force also uses Sukhoi jets, but Malaysia's purchases are different because they have been integrated with systems from other countries, including South African laser and missile warning systems and British cryptography systems, Syed Salim added.

Air force officials familiar with the issue in Malaysia could not immediately be contacted.

Syed Salim's comments came after Malaysian air force officials received the two Sukhoi planes Thursday from jet manufacturer Irkut. Both jets will be delivered to Malaysia next month, while the remaining 16 will be sent in stages over the next year.

Malaysia ordered the planes in 2003 in a US$900 million deal that officials have said will make Malaysia one of Asia's largest operators of the high-tech jet after India and Vietnam. (International Herald Tribune)
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Low-Calorie Foods Spur Healthy Weight Loss

While most diets focus on foods you shouldn't eat, those that emphasise adding low-calorie foods, like fruits and vegetables, can promote healthy weight loss, new research shows.

Some weight-loss plans shun carbohydrates while others ban fat, but in the new study, researchers found that overweight adults who were instructed to focus on lower-calorie foods lost more weight than their peers who were simply told to cut their overall calories.

The key, according to the study authors, is that foods such as fruits and vegetables have low "energy density". Because they have a high water content, they are heavy by weight but low in calories; while such foods do not add many calories to the diet, they are still filling.

Of the 658 men and women in the current study, those who made the greatest reductions in the energy or calorie density of their diets lost an average of 5.8kg over six months. That compared with 2.2kg in the group that made the smallest reduction in energy density.

Jenny H Ledikwe, of Pennsylvania State University, and her colleagues report the findings in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The study included generally healthy men and women with borderline-high blood pressure who were randomly assigned to one of three groups, to look at the effect on blood pressure.

In one group, participants had a single counselling session where they received diet and lifestyle advice intended to lower their blood pressure. Those in the other two groups attended 18 group meetings and counselling sessions where they set goals for lifestyle changes and weight loss.

The difference was that one group was told to follow the "DASH" diet, which emphasised getting nine to 12 daily servings of fruits and vegetables, and two to three servings of low-fat dairy products. The other group was told to reduce their calorie intake, but was not given goals for fruit, vegetable and dairy intake.

Overall, Ledikwe's team found, the DASH group cut down the most on calorie density, even though they actually started eating more food by weight - a consequence of getting more fruits and vegetables. Those who cut their calorie density the most also shed the most kilogrammes.

Diets that emphasise low-calorie foods may be easier to stick to than diets that focus on foods to avoid, the investigators point out, as well as more healthful. In this study, people who cut the calorie density of their diets generally increased their intake of fibre, vitamins and minerals.

"Whereas a decrease in body weight is a primary goal of a weight-loss diet," Ledikwe and her colleagues write, "consideration of nutritional quality is equally important." (Independent Online)
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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Khairy Jamaluddin's Latest Wira Melayu Sandiwara

Please read of the piddling and pathetic thespianic attempt by the nation's first son-in-law as he tries to suck up to the civil service by trying to defend the undefendable and shamelessly denying a fact of Malaysian life. Taken from TheStar:

Umno Youth wants DAP and its economic adviser Tony Pua to apologise to Malaysians for his remarks that the civil service has been “a dumping ground for the politically sensitive constituency of unemployed Malay graduates.”

Its deputy Khairy Jamaluddin said Pua’s comments, implying that civil servants were the employees of last choice and unable to seek gainful employment elsewhere, were totally unacceptable and without basis.

“There are many civil servants who choose to forgo lucrative careers in the private sector and serve the Government instead because of their desire to give back to society and to the country,” he said.

He said Pua’s comments made a mockery of the dedication, commitment and sacrifices made by these civil servants who chose to put the needs of the nation above themselves.

Khairy was commenting on Pua’s remarks, which were published in an Internet website on Tuesday, that the civil service was getting bloated. Pua, in his comments over the salary rise for government servants, said the civil service had been expanding rapidly since the 1990s and the growth had accelerated under the current Prime Minister’s leadership.

He also blamed the Government for failing to trim the civil service on the policy of making it “a dumping ground for the politically sensitive constituency of unemployed Malay graduates.”

“Pua’s negative comments about the civil service can cause considerable damage to the morale and image of the public sector,” said Khairy.

***** What Khairy is trying to do is what incompetent and unpopular politicians have attempted in the past with mixed success -- stirring shit where it does not exist. Compensating for his lack of genuine acumen and skill, he latched upon this topic of no consequence and is trying to turn it into a mountain of controversy which he presumes would give him good copy in the press and a fillip to his own electoral ambitions.

There is absolutely nothing wrong or misleading in what Tony Pua said. He merely stated a fact which everyone including Khairy already very well know. The much bigger than desired civil service had its first boost of over staffing during Dr Mahathir's early years as PM when he issued the self-serving "Isi Penuh" orders to bolster his already strong position among public servants. Since then there has been no looking back and at every turn where there was a need to accommodate unemployable and unemployed Malay mahasiswa and mahasiswi, the civil service was the dumping ground and as a consequence the Government slowly bloated out of control.

The above account is the reality of the situation and if Khairy wants to deny it, make use of it for his own benefit or hopes to capitalize on it to take a cheap shot at the opposition, let him go ahead. But really, he'll only end up making an ass of himself which he has remarkably succeeded in doing on several occasions in the past. After all you simply cannot expect to keep an obstinate and determined donkey down for long.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

China Likely To Back Down On Bloggers Registration. Zainuddin Maidin Depressed?

This must be horrifying news for Lord Zam. Even the 'evil empire' has seen the light and backed down. Now where does that leave tiny little Zam on the world map of wannabe internet policemen?

Bernama this morning reported the good news (to sane people) while crackpot dictators in the making like Zam must have lost their appetite. That happy bit of news follows.

Following opposition from the industry and netizens, China is likely to discard long-harboured plans requiring the country's 20 million bloggers to register themselves, state media said.

A draft published by the Internet Society of China (ISC) encouraged bloggers to register their names with service providers instead of making it compulsory, China Daily reported.

Government departments have been promoting a real-name system for years, arguing it will force Internet users to watch their words and actions, and refrain from slander, pornography and dissemination of other harmful information, the newspaper said. But the proposal drew protests from Internet users and the industry, it added.

According to the ISC draft, those who voluntarily register themselves may still use pseudonyms and service providers must ensure the confidentiality of bloggers.

The draft was prepared by a group of blog providers and industry experts set up last October to discuss the development and regulations of the industry. China has 144 million Internet users as of March this year.

The China Internet Survey Report 2007 released in January showed the number of bloggers in the country had grown to 20.8 million with 3.15 million active writers.

***** Perhaps after reading of the Chinese decision, Zam would at least for a time lay off bloggers and concentrate on some qualitative improvement in RTM's programmes. (The only one currently praising RTM is Zam himself!) Maybe the time has come for Pak Lah to give a warning to him in the same vein as he did for Samy Vellu, to talk less and work more.

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Police Officer Should Not Helm Anti-Corruption Body, Says Former Judge

Malaysia should emulate the example of several countries which do not appoint a police officer to helm their anti-corruption body, a former High Court judge said today.

Datuk Syed Ahmad Idid said the person appointed to head the anti-corruption body in countries such as Singapore, South Korea and Australia were not from among police officers.

"This is what has happened in Singapore and other places. They avoid (appointing police officers to head the anti-corruption body). I am not in a position to say what the government should do," he told reporters after delivering a public lecture on "Addressing Corruption in Malaysia" at Universiti Malaya, here. Syed Ahmad was commenting on the past practice of the government of appointing a police officer as the director-general of the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA).

"They (Singapore, South Korea and Australia) learnt from the Hong Kong experience where anti-corruption enforcement was handled by an anti-corruption branch under the jurisdiction of the police," he said.

Syed Ahmad related an event in Hong Kong that led to the creation of the Independent Commission Against Corruption in 1975. Peter Fiztroy Godber, who was a senior officer at Wanchai police station, was caught in a bribery scandal after his retirement in 1973. Before his retirement due date in 1973, Godber had amassed about US$600,000 in his overseas bank accounts. When the police anti-corruption branch investigated his mysterious wealth and ordered him to explain his source of income, Godber arranged for his wife to leave the colony and then used his police airport pass to bypass Immigration and Passport checks and flew off to London.

Syed Ahmad also said that the anti-corruption agency in New South Wales, Australia, does not extend the term of contract of the agency chief after five years of service.

On the ACA in Malaysia, Syed Ahmad said the agency required more trained officers to investigate cases of corruption, adding that the officers should be equipped with state-of-the-art surveillance equipment. He advised ACA officers to always safeguard the identity of informants.

Recalling an incident when he was a Customs officer in Kedah at one time, he said an informant of a smuggling activity was killed after his identity was revealed by the Customs Department by way of an official letter.

In his lecture, Syed Ahmad explained the definition of corruption, the instances of corruption, the causes of corruption and how to check corruption. The lecture, which was open to the public, was organised by the Universiti Malaya International Institute of Public Policy and Management. (Bernama)

***** I fully agree with the learned ex-judge. There is no point in having an agency for the prevention of corruption if the top brass of the agency itself is of doubtful character. Moreover in countries like Singapore, there definitely is political will to eliminate corruption, but here the suspicion is that the aim of government is to have a namesake ACA for the record; convenient window-dressing used for nabbing the small fry while those who are the most corrupt and are closely linked to the ruling party leadership get away scot-free. Things won't change overnight, that's for sure. As long as corruption rules at the top level of the BN pemimpin2, all that we shall continue witnessing is more and more sandiwara.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

There Goes Zam Again, Vilifying Bloggers Like A Man Possessed

Information Minister Datuk Seri Zainuddin Maidin is increasingly beginning to sound like a man who seems as if he's not all there. While launching the Malaysian Press Institute's (MPI) new logo he very reasonably reminded bloggers of their responsibilities in maintaining harmony among Malaysia's multiracial society.

But then he upped the ante by saying that bloggers, being the so-called "citizen journalists", must not abuse the freedom given by the government and must be responsible in their writings and actions so as not to jeopardise the unity among the people. "We do not consider them (bloggers) as a threat but we do not want to return to the era where we depend on rumours (for news)." He as usual went off on a tangent, referring to his pet subject, the 'inviolable' social contract and his views on it which in his tiny mind should also probably be the national view, including those of all the leaders of every political party and every citizen irrespective of whether they subscribe to it or not.

***** Kindly take note of the several glaring untruths that Zam has spoken in those few sentences. As all of you know, the government has not given any 'freedom' to bloggers as such. Malaysians, like everyone the world over have been empowered, without government approval or blessings, by the creation of blogs to give their thoughts and opinion a public voice. In fact the reverse of what Zam says, would be nearer the truth, because if given half-a-chance people like him would very rapidly dismantle blogs and every other device which enables ordinary citizens to reach a large readership. This man would be fully satisfied and at peace with himself, if your only avenue of 'news' is from Utusan Malaysia, NST, RTM and Jabatan Penerangan propaganda. Banning the vernacular press and the rest of the 'decadent' English media and a total abolition of any platform even remotely resembling blogs would be the dream of dreams of this die-hard, reactionary old relic.

You can read the full Bernama report HERE
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Stop Bribery Culture Before It Destroys Us

Headlines in the International Herald Tribune:- Report: Malaysia investigates if forestry officers took bribes to allow illegal logging.

The details:- Malaysia's Forestry Department was investigating whether its officers helped timber companies illegally cut down trees in eastern Pahang state, a newspaper reported Monday.

The department under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment is looking into 16 cases to determine whether officers took bribes to alter documents and logging maps so more forest could be cut down, the New Straits Times said.

Minister Azmi Khalid was quoted by the daily as admitting there were cases of forestry department officers receiving bribes in Malaysia, but the number was "very low." Neither the minister nor deputy minister could immediately be reached Monday. Other ministry officials contacted by The Associated Press declined to confirm the report.

Despite a 2005 government directive to states to limit the number of new logging concessions, Malaysia's primary forests are still being logged excessively, and officers assigned to protect the forests have often been accused of turning a blind eye to timber companies' illegal activities.

Deputy Minister S. Sothinathan was quoted by the Times as saying the investigation had started, and the ministry would submit a paper to the Cabinet soon. He did not say, however, whether the department was also investigating cases outside Pahang, the report said.

Last December, Forestry Department Director General Azhar Muda reportedly said that companies involved in illegal logging would be taken to court, and officers would be fired. "It is unforgivable for our officers to collaborate with illegal loggers. They will not be given a second chance," he said in the bulletin Timber Malaysia, according to the New Straits Times report.

Azhar and other forestry officials could not immediately be reached Monday. In Pahang, all forestry officials were out of the office.

***** This is merely the tip of the proverbial iceberg. The bribe culture among staff of government departments is all-pervasive and extremely difficult to eradicate without political will. Now that public servants have been given generous pay hikes they should rein in the urge to take the easy path to wealth and succumb to the temptations of graft. Either that or spend time in prison, with no other option. The authorities have to make an example of some public servants including senior officers if the message is to get across strong and unmistakably clear. Of course the big question mark is whether the authorities have the political will to enforce even these basic rules. This is the price which we have to pay for maintaining a bloated civil service which apart from doing its legal duties also doubles up as a vote bank for the ruling party.
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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Whacky Dictator Zam Goes Ballistic Over Press Freedom.

There he goes again foaming at the mouth, snarling and growling incoherently, ready to pounce on and tear you to shreds. No, not a rabid canine. I'm referring to our honourable Information Minister Datuk Seri Zainuddin Maidin who according to Bernama has ticked off certain media organisations for 'abusing the transparency' of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi by rekindling racial political issues.

He said the move could harm the 'social contract' that has been well received by the Malays, Chinese and Indians. (Notice how he assumes firstly that the so-called social contract agreed upon at Independence is similar to the currently hijacked bastardized version, which includes the eternal implementation of the aptly named and internationally notorious Never Ending Policy. Secondly he arrogantly presupposes that it is universally accepted and acclaimed by all Malaysians! Has this man taken leave of his senses?)

As if to underline and emphasize his inability to come to terms with a rapidly changing and more inter-connected and well informed world, he pathetically admitted that "to me, press freedom cannot go beyond the time-tested social contract!" Zainuddin said matters agreed to in the social contract should not be questioned by the media as the move would create adverse effects.

He expressed disappointment over attempts by certain media to highlight incidents such as the May 13 racial riots, Maybank's move to impose 50 per cent stake ownership by Bumiputeras in legal firms and the Parliament leaking roof issue.

Abusing the transparency allowed by the prime minister as the head of government could ruin the pillar of strength of Malaysians who have been living in peace and harmony, he said.

On the publication of a book on May 13 by former Petaling Jaya MP Dr Kua Kia Soong, Zainuddin said the book would only serve to arouse anxiety among multiracial Malaysians. He said although the Government had not banned the book authored by the former Internal Security Act (ISA) detainee, certain media have reported that the book has been banned and has been sold off.

He advised the people not to be carried away by the negative views of certain individuals about the government through postings in their blog sites. "They try to incite the people's ill-feelings (through their blogs)," he said.

Earlier, in his speech, Zainuddin said the New Economic Policy (NEP) introduced about 30 years had succeeded in nation-building. "The NEP has helped mould a strong Malaysian race by way of fostering racial unity which must be maintained at all costs," he added.

*****
That claim by Zam is poppycock and he is merely attempting to perpetuate a myth. As far as I can see, the NEP has estranged the Bumis and non-Bumis almost irreparably. I wonder how racial unity can be meaningfully 'fostered' by officially depriving entire races without the slightest concern for the miserably poor in these groups who have been so very unfairly categorized as the 'haves' and made to suffer extreme poverty and torment all these decades? It is precisely the uncomfortable questions and unpalatable observations like those posted here which Zam wishes to conceal and totally suppress if possible.

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

RELA Achieves International Notoriety Now!

A Malaysian blooper reported in the International Herald Tribune.

Malaysia's volunteer security corps defended Friday detaining an Indian film director after mistaking him for an illegal immigrant, but the tourism minister apologized for the incident.


Zaidon Asmuni, the director general of the volunteer force known by its Malay acronym RELA, said the man was detained during a routine check for illegal immigrants in Kuala Lumpur's Chinatown area Monday night because he was not carrying his passport.

RELA released Sanjiv Mishra, in Malaysia to shoot a documentary on leading Asian hotels for German television, after several hours when his colleagues brought his passport, Zaidon said.

On Thursday, Tourism Minister Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor apologized for the incident, saying the wrongful detention had shocked him, a local daily reported Friday. "I am very sorry for what has happened," Adnan was quoted by the New Straits Times as saying. "They came here to shoot a documentary ... but it turned out to be a nightmare for them." He said such incidents should be prevented. Ministry officials could not immediately be reached to confirm his comments.

Indian Deputy High Commissioner N.K. Saxena said the High Commission received a complaint about the incident Monday night and referred the matter to the Foreign Ministry to investigate.

Zaidon denied any wrongdoing by his force, saying foreigners must carry valid identification at all times. "We normally do the checking like that," he said. "We don't arrest foreigners who carry a valid travel document. What for? We have our detention centers full." He said the volunteers took Mishra to a RELA office to avoid a commotion on the busy downtown street where he was stopped.

The New Straits Times reported the two RELA members who stopped him were not in uniform and carried no identification cards. Zaidon said he could not confirm this, but added volunteers sometimes wear plainclothes though they always carry cards identifying them as RELA members.

Wrongful detentions by RELA have occasionally occurred in the past, mostly involving Indians and Pakistanis. Zaidon said two Americans were stopped last year but the incident was resolved without any formal complaints.

Zaidon said RELA has detained some 16,700 illegal immigrants since January, calling it a "very good job." But he admitted there were a few "black sheep" in the force of a half-million personnel.

Activists estimate that Malaysia has at least 150,000 refugees and asylum seekers. There are 1.8 million legal foreign workers in Malaysia, Zaidon said. The New York-based Human Rights Watch recently accused RELA of becoming a vigilante force against migrant workers.

***** On the one hand our government especially the tourism department is going all out to invite foreigners to visit the country, while merrily singing, "Malaysia Truly Asia" albeit without really meaning it. On the other these misfits that form Rela are giving not only themselves but our nation a bad name as well. Apologies don't really make things better and once these unnecessary incidents are reported in the home country of the victims, over time we can expect less tourists and visitors from there. To be sure India is one helluva huge tourist market which Malaysia would be foolish to ignore or lose.

Earlier related post:
Rela - Malaysia's Answer To The Gestapo.
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Another Visit Malaysia Year special!: Indian software professional detained in Malaysia for not carrying passport

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Why No Police Protection For Domestic Trade Enforcement Officers?

The following report from TheStar today:

Five state Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs enforcement unit officers found themselves surrounded by a group of parang-wielding men during a raid in Relau here.

Unit chief M. Gunaselan said the group also made off with the 3,000 illegal VCDs, DVDs and CDs worth about RM20,000 that were seized from a stall on Thursday.

He said the officers spotted a trader, in his 20s, running away from his stall in Relau when they raided the place at 8pm. “Shortly later, the trader returned with five men armed with parang and surrounded the officers. They verbally abused them and threatened to slash them,” he said yesterday.

Gunaselan said the group then took back the seized items, adding that the officers decided to “let things be” so as not to aggravate the tense situation.

He said a report was lodged at the Sungai Nibong police station, adding that his officers had encountered a similar situation recently.

“On Wednesday, another team was also threatened by a group of men in Macalister Road. They were not armed but they acted in a very violent manner.

“Such threats will not deter us in our effort to wipe out piracy. It will inspire us instead to work even harder,” he added.

A police spokesman said both cases had been classified as criminal intimidation and obstructing a public servant from conducting his duties.

***** Obviously the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs enforcement unit have not heard of the saying "better safe than sorry." Why try to be heroes especially when you damned well know that you are dealing with criminals who will be ready to do anything including murder to protect their 'business'? I just can't understand why police protection is not afforded to these officers who are performing an important service in eradicating a perpetual menace.

Nonsensical statements like that made by Gunaselan, ("such threats will not deter us in our effort to wipe out piracy. It will inspire us instead to work even harder") is mere bluster and an open invitation for a tragic disaster in the near future. The police must protect these men and women even if they foolishly think that it is not necessary.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Sarawak Ministers Involved In Organised Crime To Face Music, Says Sarawak CM! What About Political Looting?

Action will be taken against any Sarawak state minister found to be involved in organised crime including secret societies, said Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud. He said it was a serious matter if state ministers were implicated in criminal activities and if there was evidence against any of them, it should be reported to the police.

"Nobody in my government will be spared if they are found to be involved in criminal activities," Taib who is also state Security Council chairman told the Sarawak Legislative Assembly here Friday.


That this warning was given by someone who is now considered a neo-litigious miscreant is indeed as ironical as it is paradoxical. Let us for a moment forget about organised crime and concentrate on state-sponsored corruption and misdeeds originating from the state cabinet, including theoretically the Chief Minister. Which police station or officer is going to accept a report on such cases?

If this be the case for political corruption what more of the more dangerous organised crime sector where there is the evil nexus between the politician, businessman, police and criminal?
One would have expected the CM who is privy to intimate and detailed information on things happening in his state to be the one to initiate investigations and take appropriate action against his cabinet colleagues. However Taib seems to be playing it safe by pretending he knows nothing and simply making an empty and meaningless threat of 'action' just for the record. Fat chance of the average man on the street pointing an accusing finger at any minister or crime boss without the risk of having that finger chopped off.

So what is the purpose of all that hoo-haa then? To appear before the world as a fighter of crime? To build up a reputation as one who abhors corruption, prior to his case in the Kuching and KL courts where he is suing for defamation against several print and internet media who detailed reports of massive corruption by him? Only God, Taib and his henchmen, oops, close friends would know.


Read the full Bernama report here:
Sarawak Ministers Involved In Organised Crime To Face Music
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Dompok Vs Nazri = Integrity Vs Sandiwara

The recent turn of events regarding the Parliamentary Select Committee on Integrity has brought into stark relief the dichotomy between what is preached and practiced by the Federal Government.

On one side we have the select committee chairman Tan Sri Bernard Dompok who believes that it is within the scope of the committee to request clarification from government officials on matters brought up by the public to the committee at forums. On the other there is the ever-ready-for-a-squabble Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz who passionately believes that sandiwara is the main focus of such parliamentary committees when he said its scope of duties was only to get feedback from the people for the Government to formulate unity programmes! And to give his views a bit of validity he added conspiratorially that Dompok was seen as being influenced by the committee’s deputy chairman and opposition leader Lim Kit Siang. And this was causing uneasiness among other members of the committee. Lim however said that Dompok’s resignation was a red light warning that the Prime Minister’s national integrity and anti-corruption campaign had run aground after 42 months.


The most telling statements on the issue came from Transparency International Malaysia president Tan Sri (Dr) Ramon V. Navaratnam who said that the PM's vision to improve the delivery system and overall efficiency would be extremely difficult if the attitude towards Dompok was deemed permissible. "The integrity, accountability and transparency of our government will be opened to wide speculation, doubt and unfavourable comments, both domestically and internationally, if this matter is not treated with seriousness and utmost priority as it has led to a dead-end to the problems of illegal immigrants and foreigners.
"Public opinion at home and abroad will be adversely affected if prompt action is not taken to improve the integrity, accountability and transparency of the country's administration," he said. The refusal by the National Registration Department to appear before the committee, Ramon added, indicated an unbecoming attitude of a government agency. It is also disrespectful to Parliament and reflects the standard and quality of administration of this country.

Those are indeed damning words coming from a former top civil servant who knows the actual machinations of government administration. This is not the first time that the NRD has behaved as if it is a government unto itself and accountable to no one. In August 2006, the NRD failed to turn up at a roundtable discussion by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) which focused on how illegal immigrants end up with Malaysian citizenship, and Sabah's abnormal population growth.
Last June, in an exclusive interview with Malaysiakini, former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said that neither he nor Umno had anything to do with Project IC or Project M (Mahathir) - the name given for the issuance of identity cards to foreigners in Sabah to pad up the electoral rolls. (Source: TheSun, TheStar, NST)

***** The one question which must be posed to and answered by Nazri and those who subscribe to his views is, who primarily benefits from hiding the facts, preventing responsible officials from investigating valid complaints and giving the courage to government agencies to go against the will of Parliament? A truthful answer to that will serve to differentiate between the proponents of substance and the promoters of self-serving sandiwara.
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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Hermaphroditic Babies - A Poser

Food for thought from the International Herald Tribune:
Malaysian parents should register the sex of babies born with both male and female sexual organs as "unclear," a news report said Wednesday.

Abdullah Mohamad Zin, a minister for religious affairs, was quoted by national news agency Bernama as saying parents should take time to observe whether their hermaphroditic child has stronger male or female tendencies.

"Don't register the child as a male because if the baby grows up with female tendencies, it will be difficult to change the gender," Abdullah was quoted as saying during a debate Tuesday in Parliament.

Abdullah said he was informed by the health ministry that such babies could be cured through hormone injections and counseling.

No details were given on the number of hermaphroditic babies born in the country. The medical condition, in which people are born with both ovarian and testicular tissue, is rare worldwide.

Abdullah and other ministry officials could not be reached for comment.
***** Frankly I've never given any thought to such a situation. Imagine the distress of the parents of these children, with so much uncertainty.
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