Wednesday, December 31, 2008

If you did not read a single book in 2008... this is the one to try!

By James Chin

DEC 30 — Part of my profession requires me to review books on Malaysia by other academics. I'm supposed to point out the flaws in their arguments. We Malaysians tend to be polite and don't say too much.

In general I like to read, so book reviewing is always a pleasure if the book is good. I was sent such a book recently by a friend in Singapore. It was sent to me some time ago but because I was busy, I did not start reading it until the Christmas and New Year break.

After reading the book "No Hard Feelings: A Reporter's Memoir" by Ismail Kassim, I have to rate it as a "must read" for 2008. Ismail was a Singapore Straits Times reporter in Malaysia for more than a decade before opting for retirement in the 1990s. He finally got round to writing his memoir in 2007 and the book came out in mid-2008.

I rate the book a "must read" not so much because his life is interesting but the chapter he wrote on Malaysia is truly the best description of present-day Malaysian politics to be published in 2008. If you have RM50 to spend (you know, just miss one coffee session in Starbucks), I urge you to buy this book.

The things he said about Malaysian politics are nothing new; it's the way he puts it together. I will not bore you any longer. The following are what I deem to be the most important passages from the book:

"To survive in Umno, you have to swim with the sharks and run with the tigers or you will be eaten up.” (p. 118)

"To those just starting on their rounds, let me add a word of caution when dealing with Malay politicians. Do not ever believe wholesale in their sweet words especially during the small talk after the interview. Some of them say it out of habit to make reporters feel at home. They do not usually mean what they say.” (p. 121)

"After almost ending up like the Red Indians in America, the Malays were still relatively generous in the run-up to independence in August 1957 to share the country with the non-Malays.

“To ask them to make further concession is impossible. The Malays will never give up their political dominance peacefully, and I have no doubt that a significant minority would rather see the country go up in flames, or even slide back to the Stone Age rather than to give up their power.

“I think the minorities especially the Chinese must come to terms with it. The fact is — judging from the present situation — the Malays as a community will not be able to compete in equal terms with the non-Malays in the near future. They will be overwhelmed in a free for all market.

“Of course as individuals, there are many Malays, in the past as well as at present, who could stand up against the best from anywhere in the world. Some Chinese have come to terms with this situation. You ask for what is possible.

“I remember years ago talking to CC Liew, then editor of the Malaysian Sin Chew Jit Poh, a quiet man with a long-term perspective. From several frank discussions that I had with him, he conceded that for the sake of the country's political stability, Malaysian Chinese would have to accept discriminatory treatment.

“I paraphrased his argument: We have no choice but to be patriotic and wait until the Malays feel that they are ready to give up their advantages.

“Of course, this is not fair, not ethical, and not consistent with the teachings of Islam. As a minority myself, I have always sympathised with the non-Malays especially the working class, who deserve a better deal.

“Positive discrimination in favour of Malays up to a point is understandable. Depriving bright and poor Chinese or Indians of places and scholarships in universities in favour of mediocre and relatively well-off Malays, however, goes against the rules of human decency.

"It does not take much for the government to ameliorate the situation on the ground and to make greater efforts at eradicating poverty irrespective of face. It only needs a little political will. Helping promising non-Malay students will also benefit the country and other Malays. It is not a zero-sum game.” (p. 132-133)

"After observing Umno politics, I can appreciate the difficulties of a party leader. It is like American politics; you need patrons and money to operate.

“A branch or divisional leader needs a slush fund to dip into if he is to survive. He has to attend funerals, weddings and all kinds of religious functions, but he cannot go empty-handed. He has to give an ang pow (financial contribution) commensurate with his status whether he goes or not. Contesting party posts needs money too.

“There is also a fundamental flaw in the Malaysian political system. Almost all the political parties are organised along racial lines and even the multi-racial ones are largely dependent on the support of a single community.

“The result is frequent racial posturing by ambitious politicians, eager to buttress their credentials as the champions of their respective ethnic groups.” (p. 144-145)

"In the March 2008 general election, Pas even stole a march on its rival. While it dropped the Islamic state from its electoral platform, Umno leaders like Najib kept asserting that Malaysia was a de-facto Islamic state, needlessly alienating the non-Muslims.

“The rivalry between them has only resulted in the enlargement of the country's Islamic establishment at federal and state levels, whose shadows have extended over aspects of life that are considered in other countries as being in the private domain.

“They now have the right to police public morals and enforce how Muslims should practice their faith. In fact, for years, many Malaysians have regarded Pusat Islam, which oversees the religious bureaucracy, as the Malaysian version of Vatican City.

“In the last year of my reporting life, I came across a piece of proposed legislation to empower the religious authorities to detain Muslims thinking of leaving Islam in special rehabilitation centres. I could not believe what I read, and images of religious persecutions flooded my mind.

“My fears became fact in 2007 when the authorities forcibly separated a Muslim woman from her Hindu husband and 18-month old baby, and detained her for six months. After her release, she complained of harsh treatment.

“Should we blame religious officers for over-zealousness, when they use force to make Muslims remain within the faith, or raid nightclubs, or break into homes to arrest unmarried Muslim couples suspected of khalwat? Should the blame fall on Umno leaders who have empowered them?” (p. 146)

"While on a visit to KL in early 2008, I read about a former religious teacher, a graduate of Al-Azhar, who received two years' jail for apostasy by the Terengganu Syariah Court. The sad fact is that more than a decade ago, she had served time for the same offence. Can you punish a person twice for the same offence?

“Sometimes, I think that some Malaysian Muslims seem to be obsessed with personal salvation.

“Religious programmes dominate the airwaves of government radio and television. Newspapers too carry all kinds of religious-oriented features and reports on the activities of the religious officials. Everywhere you turn, you see Islam writ large.

“What is the result of this enhanced religiosity? I have asked myself more than once. At the end of the day, when the drums stop beating, when the music fades, when the dust settles and all is quiet: Are Malaysian Muslims a more moral and upright community than say their neighbours down south or up north?” (p. 148)

"As a community, the Malaysian Malays are still in transition, moving from traditional, feudal mores to a modern, industrial one.

“As such, it is highly fractured, made up of many different groups with vastly different outlooks on life — the liberal urbane type, the feudal underling, the nationalistic kampung boy, the strict Muslim, the ignorant Muslim, and many composite figures. On the surface, they may look alike; inside, they are different.

“The problem is that Malay society is normally tolerant of indiscipline. They tend to forgive more easily because the priority is to preserve group harmony. As a result, efficiency suffers and cover-ups become part of life.

“Even in Singapore where Malays work together as a group, this approach to life is never far from the surface. There is a tendency to become over-familiar like in a big extended family, to call each other abang, adik and kakak. (big brother, little brother and elder and younger sister).

“Such practices have their positive elements provided all in the group are self-starters. Otherwise, such familiarity will initially breed complacency, then indiscipline, and finally results in mediocrity.” (p. 153)

"In 1998, Lee came out with the first part of his memoirs. With strong reactions from both Singapore and Malaysia, I too could not help joining in the fray by contributing a comment to the ST.

“My point, which did not emerge clearly, because I was still in the habit of pulling my punches, was that the two communities that had benefited the most from the separation were the Singaporean Chinese and the Malaysian Malays.

“The former got Singapore on a silver platter without even having to ask. The latter regained their pre-eminence in the pre-merger Malaya and, in addition, got resource-rich Sabah and Sarawak free.

“They should forever be grateful to the Tunku. No doubt, he was a playboy and had a weakness for whisky and horses, but like a good gambler, he had an instinctive respect for the odds:

“He knew that with Singapore in, there was no way the Malaysian Malays could continue their domination for long. Chop off the island and overnight, you resolve the problem in your favour. The odds turned overwhelmingly and permanently in the favour of the Malaysian Malays in a Malaysia minus Singapore.

“Therefore, instead of quarrelling at regular intervals and putting their respective minorities in a spot they should be grateful and try to work together as much as feasible.

“In this way, the Malaysian Chinese and Indian, and Singaporean Malay minorities will have the peace to work out a mutually beneficial accommodation with their respective majority communities.” (p. 188-189)

"When I was an undergraduate, Singapore and Malaysia were almost on par on many fronts. The exchange rate between the dollar and the ringgit was roughly the same, as were the journalistic standards, and so were the quality of students from the schools and universities.

”In just over three decades, Singapore has become a first-class nation, economically affluent, with strong institutions and a highly skilled, educated and resilient society.

“Except for registering strong economic growth in the years before the Asian currency crisis, Malaysia, on the other hand, has slid downwards on almost every other front. Both NST and Universiti Malaya have become shadows of their former selves.

“The judiciary is in a disreputable state, corruption has become much more rampant, and religious and political cleavages between the ethnic groups have deepened.

“Maybe it is not fair to compare the two countries, as Singapore is a tiny red dot, which presumably makes governing it a little easier. When compared to the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, and other Islamic or Arab countries, it has perhaps not done too badly over the last few decades.

“There is a fair consensus on what is wrong with Malaysia. One is the creeping Islamisation of the country that has aroused fears among the non-Muslim minorities and even among some Muslims.

“The other is the affirmative policy called the NEP that has been devised to help the Malays catch up with the other communities. While it has helped to expand the Malay middle class, it has also — because of deviations and abuses at all levels — bred corruption and mediocrity.

“In the words of its critics, including many Malays, both have led to the undoing of Malaysia in general and the Bumiputera community in particular.

“If members from the ruling elite from Umno take advantage of the NEP to feather their own nests, how could they in good conscience act against the civil servants for forming syndicates and making money on the sidelines or stop influential Malays from demanding lucrative contracts, scholarships and places in universities for their children and promotions based only on racial consideration?

“If you are not above board in your dealings, chances are you will close an eye to misdeeds by others.” (p. 225-226)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas.......

You'd better watch out
You'd better not cry
You'd better keep cash
I'm telling you why:
Recession is coming to town.
It's hitting you once,
It's hitting you twice
It doesn't care if you've been careful and wise
Recession is coming to town
It's worthless if you've got shares
It's worthless if you've got bonds
It's safe when you've got cash in hand
So keep cash for goodness sake,
HEY You'd better watch out
You'd better not cry
You'd better keep cash
I'm telling you why:
Recession is coming to town!
Finance products are confusing
Finance products are so vague
The banks make you bear the cost of risk
So keep out for goodness sake,
OH You'd better watch out
You'd better not cry
You'd better keep cash
I'm telling you why:
Recession is coming to town.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wow!!!!!!!!!!!! Komtar is back !!!!!!!!!!!!.......

We must salute Penang government 's effort to revive Komtar to a vibrant and landmark place that Penang folks proud with.... We have had enough white elephant especially in Klang valley created by the previous prime minister..............
For present Penang government, they should make good use of Komtar.......
Forget about Bayan Baru......

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

15 Dec 2008: Property: Challenging outlook for higher-end market

Beware KL Property Buyer........

By Sharon Kam and Venus Hew

We may well see a price dip in the secondary market for high-rise residential properties in the Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) area soon due to the global financial meltdown. In 3Q2008, the prices of condominiums and serviced apartments in the KLCC area rose marginally, but the outlook for this segment in 4Q2008 and early next year seems poor, says Allan Soo, managing director of Regroup Associates when presenting The Edge/ Regroup Klang Valley Housing Property Monitor for 3Q2008. "The global financial meltdown has affected foreign buyers who form a significant part of this property market," says Soo.

In 3Q2008, local investors who acquired units from developers earlier managed to off-load their units at higher prices albeit not without difficulty as there were fewer buyers. "The third quarter still saw some foreigners, mainly from the Middle East, buying high-end condominiums with cash," says Soo. The market for high-end highrise homes in Mont'Kiara was relatively active and prices there were steady. "Most of the purchases were for newer developments and buyers were mainly locals, comprising many who lived there or already owned some units there," he says. Rents in Mont'Kiara were also steady probably due to the fact that another international school was going to open in the area, hence creating more demand for apartments in the area, Soo adds. While the outlook seems challenging for the higher-end market, lower range properties targeted at the local market seem to be faring better. In 3Q2008, units priced at RM200,000 to RM300,000 were still transacting well, says Soo. "Prices generally held out, mainly because owners were naturally unwilling to sell below the original price."

In Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI), there were also no significant changes in prices and rents, especially for newer condominiums which continued to attract demand from both buyers and tenants. Soo cites The Residence and Plaza condominiums there which had asking prices of above RM800,000 for higher floor units with views of the KLCC while rents for such units were RM4,000 to RM5,000 per month. However, the tenancy market was slow, particularly for higher-end properties. "Lower mid-range condominiums were still letting fairly well at rents of RM2,000 per month for units of 1,400 sq ft."

Landed properties Soo believes that prices of landed property may not see much of a "discount" next year as "prices have generally not gone through the roof". While sales for landed properties were slow, leasing activity was stable in areas such as Bandar Sri Damansara, USJ and Puchong. In Puchong Jaya and Pusat Bandar Puchong, rents for 2-storey terraced houses firmed up by between 2% and 7%. In Bangsar, rents remained unchanged whilst TTDI is experiencing a fall of up to 10% from RM1,800 to RM1,600 for its 2-storey terraced homes. Prices for terraced houses in popular locations like Bandar Utama, Bandar Sri Damansara, USJ and Puchong were holding up at levels reached in 2Q2008 as demand for houses in these areas was mainly from buyers who purchased for their own use.

"One developer reported good sales at launches for its latest series, noting that most of the sales were to younger families whose needs for new housing had no direct relation to the current economic factors," says Soo. TTDI, however, recorded a drop in value for its 2-storey terraced houses to below RM700,000, a threshold surpassed last quarter. The new value is about RM680,000, thus registering a 6% drop. "However, there were no signs of panic selling as most were in no hurry to sell and reaffirmed their confidence in the TTDI suburbs," adds Soo. Transactions here, as in elsewhere, were slow. For the rest of the market, prices of 2-storey terraced houses generally remained stable, in areas such as Bangsar, Bandar Utama and Puchong.

Houses in Puchong especially continued to maintain their prices at between RM280,000 and RM300,000. But prices in Bandar Sri Damansara in SD7 slipped slightly by 3.6% from RM415,000 to RM400,000 whilst SD10 units managed to maintain prices at between RM362,000 and RM385,000 compared with RM370,000 recorded in 2Q2008. "The market here is mainly driven by owner-occupier demand," says Soo. In USJ, however, prices in USJ 6 stayed flat, whilst USJ 4 recorded the highest prices at RM333,000 in July but softened to RM300,000 in August for units with a land area of 22ft x 75ft. Prices of single-storey terraced houses in Bandar Sri Damansara rose 4.2% to RM250,000 from RM240,000 in the previous quarter. On the other hand, similar houses in Bandar Kinrara Puchong reduced 5.3% at RM180,000 in 3Q2008 compared with RM190,000 in 2Q2008. Prices of this type of houses in Puchong were generally unchanged in the range of RM180,000 to RM210,000. Elsewhere in TTDI, Bangsar and Puchong Perdana, prices held steady.

The market is bracing for gloomier days ahead as the financial meltdown and impending global recession impact on Malaysia's property market. The fallout rate for transactions is gathering pace. "Most real estate agents and even developers reported a drop in the number of transactions. In late 3Q2008, the market became gloomier and the chief cause for concern was an impending global financial crisis. This led to a significant pull-out rate on deals," Soo says. In the news last month were Dutaland's announcement on the termination of its proposed joint venture with Stonehage Westcity Property Fund Ltd and Merril Lynch (Asia Pacific) to develop part of its Kenny Heights development. The developer said the proposed joint ventures have lapsed and due to the current uncertainties in the global market, all parties consented to end the joint ventures. More recently, IOI Corp Bhd called off its proposed RM586.7 million acquisition of Menara Citibank, citing the worsening global financial crisis for the decision. A sum of RM73.4 million paid earlier was forfeited. "Some developers were already selling off their residential development land from as early as 2Q2008, while there were some defaults on land deals in 3Q2008," says Soo.

Despite the pressure on prices, owners held out and as a result there was no significant drop in transaction prices in 3Q2008. But they may not hold for much longer. "We believe the prices in Malaysia are still low in comparison to those in the region and that we have not built ourselves to a crash. However, buyer confidence is weak and this will ultimately affect sales," says Soo, adding that potential purchasers are holding back on their investment decision for houses. Soo also expects the recent landslide in Bukit Antarabangsa to have a ngative impact on property values located on hill slopes, especially in areas where there are "perceived" signs of danger.

What !!!!!!! Lizard in the Bread?


Thursday, December 11, 2008

In conferring award, a message from the Sultan

Sultan Selangor has send the signal loud and clear again to all the cavemans.....

If you still don't know who are the cavemans, please read the achieve news below....

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 11 — Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah, the Sultan of Selangor, has made an implicit endorsement of the recent appointment of Low Siew Moi as acting general manager of the state economic development corporation (PKNS), by awarding her a Datukship.

Low, whose appointment on Nov 1 sparked controversy following protests from politicians and other groups who argued a Malay should have been given the post, was one of just 20 people awarded Datukships on the occasion of the Sultan's birthday today.

By awarding her the Datukship, the controversy is likely to be put to rest as few groups would like to be seen to be challenging the appointment of someone who has just been awarded a state title.

Low, a 35-year veteran in PKNS, was awarded the Datuk Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah (DSIS) (Second Class) award.

She had been appointed to the post of acting general manager on a one-year contract by Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, who said a suitable Bumiputera replacement would be selected eventually to be her understudy.

It is understood that Low's appointment is part of efforts by the Pakatan Rakyat state government to revamp operations at the state agency, which is facing huge losses.

But Low's appointment as acting PKNS general manager drew objections from various quarters, including six PKNS unions, which claimed that it did not fulfil the aspirations of the establishment of PKNS which was to upgrade the socio-economic status of Bumiputeras.

Khalid remained adamant that Low would be the PKNS acting general manager until November 2009.

He argued the appointment of one non-Malay would not erode the rights of the Malays.

The controversy came as the volume of debate grew over race relations issues.

It also came amid the backdrop of unhappiness among some Malay nationalist groups who felt non-Malay communities were beginning to challenge and question Malay rights.

But the Selangor Sultan and some of the other Malay Rulers have made concerted efforts recently to step in and diffuse any racial rows.

In recent interviews, the Sultan has assured both the Malays and non-Malays that their rights were protected.

He has also refused to take the bait of appearing to supporting any group or political party. The Sultan has expressed unhappiness with politicians for exploiting race.

Achieve news......................................................................

PKNS staff object to Chinese acting GM
Oct 28, 08 6:31pm
Six staff bodies of the Selangor Development Corporation (PKNS) have objected to the appointment of a senior official as acting general manager on grounds that she is Chinese.
Low Siew Moi was set to retire as PKNS’ deputy corporate affairs and accounting manager this month.However, Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim (right) recently appointed her as acting GM to replace outgoing general manager Harun Salim.
Low, a trained accountant, has served PKNS for 35 years with her last post being deputy GM for corporate development.
In their joint memorandum dated Oct 25 to Khalid, the staff associations said: “PKNS was established for Malays and to fulfill the Malay agenda. Because of this, the organisation needs to be led by a Malay.”
The document was signed by the respective heads of associations of senior officers, executive officers and workers; the sports and recreation club; Islamic association, and staff welfare body.
“The associations, unions and welfare bodies do not deny the capabilities of Low Siew Moi (left) in the management of finance,” they said.
“However, leading PKNS would need certain leadership criteria, among them, rapport with all staff and associations and ability to communicate with different levels of personnel.”
The memorandum stated that, as PKNS conducts activities that are spiritual in nature, its leader must understand and practice Islamic values.
“In other words, the one who will become the general manager will be the ‘imam’ for all the staff,” the signatories said.
Khalid defends decision
Urging Khalid to retract Low’s appointment, they said they would only extend full support if current deputy general manager in charge of administration and development - Md Nasir Md Arshad - is promoted to general manager.Utusan Malaysia, meanwhile, reported that Khalid had defended his decision and described Low as “the most appropriate candidate” on the basis of her dedication and experience in corporate and financial affairs and asset management.
“We agreed to extend Siew Moi’s retirement for one year and to appoint her as acting general manager for the time being,” he was quoted as saying.
“We are of the opinion that she is very helpful in restructuring the operations and activities of PKNS in order to be the best organisation in this region.”
PKNS is a state agency established in 1964 to help develop Selangor.

Bill Clinton... you’re talking to the deaf

James Chin, You are really good man....

By James Chin

DEC 11 — Two of the world's biggest icons were in town last week; Bill Clinton and Shah Rukh Khan. One came to pick up US$200,000 (or RM700,000) for 40 minutes of talking and the other made a day trip to Malacca to collect a Datukship. We Malaysians are such a generous lot, always giving stuff to foreigners. (Is that the reason why there are more than 2 million undocumented foreigners in this country?)

Anway, before I proceed, let me declare my interest. I was given one of the rare tickets to attend Clinton's talk. Bill is one of the best speakers around, and the message he gave was a worthy one. Essentially he was saying that we live in an interdependent world and that all of us are humans. He gave the example that the difference between all the ethnic groups around the world is less than 0.5 per cent of our DNA. In other words we are divided by ethnic categories which are essentially man-made.

I'm sure many of us know that racism and ethnic identity is constructed and not something natural. Yet today Malaysia is more divided by ethnicity (and religion) than at anytime in our nation's short history. Every politician is trying to tell us that "ethnic solidarity" is the only political game in town. It's always an "us versus them" attitude.

Clinton was reminding us that we have a choice to make — we can either work together and become prosperous or fight between ourselves over the >0.5 per cent DNA difference between us.

It was interesting to note that Clinton's message, which is so obvious to all the members of the audience, did not sink in. All the mainstream press did not report what he said other than the minor points about making money from green technology. His message that we are all similar was either not written up or given a short paragraph.

It's a real shame that reporters and their editors are so dead set on the race mindset that they cannot bring themselves to print something else.

Which brings me to my point.

Bill was paid more than RM700K to talk for less than one hour. An average worker in Malaysia makes RM26,000 annually. Simple calculations will tell you that it will take Ali Average 27 years to earn what the former US president got in less than one hour.

Put in another way, I would have been happier if Clinton had announced that he was donating the US$200,000 to some charity homes in Malaysia. He does not even need the money — in fact, the fee he charged, the US$200,000, is much less than what he normally gets for such speaking engagements. He commands up to US$1 million or more for a speech.

If Clinton wanted to make a real difference to Malaysia, I would have urged him to give the same speech to members of Umno or the BN supreme council, and Parliament. These are the people who need to hear the message about inclusiveness and not divisiveness. These are the people who decide the worldview of Malaysians. These are the people who continue to divide the nation. The Ali Average on the street is doing no such thing.

Does Shah Rukh Khan deserve a Datukship? The answer is obvious. Yes, why not? We have given out Datukships to people who are obviously less than the King of Bollywood. Mind you, the Datukship we gave him is an honorary one because he is not a Malaysian citizen. So don't hold your breath waiting for him to use the "Datuk" in the movie posters or when he signs for a bill.

Happy Birthday and Daulat Tuanku......

The people’s sultan


Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah continues to keep the rakyat close to his heart by taking up issues without fear or favour. In conjunction with his 63rd birthday, the people of Selangor wish Tuanku many more blessed years ahead.

THIS year, there will only be one garden tea party in conjunction with Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah’s birthday on Dec 11.

There will also not be any state dinner to celebrate the occasion. The decision came from the Istana and the state government was informed about it.

“At a time when Tuanku realises his subjects are tightening their belts, the decision speaks of Tuanku’s choice not to waste funds,” said Selangor Speaker Teng Chang Khim.

In past birthday celebrations, the garden tea party at the Istana Alam Shah in Klang were usually held twice on separate occasions.

Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah (far right) presenting aid to Siamese twins Ahmad and Muhammad Rusli (in the wheelchair), who were separated in 2002. Also present is their father Ruslo Abdul Rahim (in pink).

One was for invited guests and civil government officers, the other for members of the public. As for the state dinner, it was a grand and formal affair where the state executive council members, elected representatives and other invited guests dined with Tuanku at the palace.

Tuanku, added Teng, had also trimmed the programmes for the auspicious day down to three necessary events.

In the morning, Tuanku, as in past tradition, would pay a visit to the royal mausoleum, followed by the investiture ceremony and last, the tea party.

Tuanku’s acute empathy with his subjects has been demonstrated many times over, so much so that the Royal House of Selangor has become a much-respected institution representing fair play and justice to all races.

When the Tuanku speaks, the rakyat feels as if a load has been taken off their hearts because the royal words just seem to aptly articulate what needed to be said.

Post March 8, Tuanku told Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim to govern the state well and make sure the public service went on smoothly.

When opening the 12th state legislative assembly in May, Sultan Sharafuddin also made it clear public funds must be properly accounted for.

Tuanku giving duit raya to an orphan.

“Efforts to improve efficacy of the state will be meaningless if wastage or inappropriate spending goes on,” he said.

Indeed, Tuanku had, a few days after the assembly, ordered the Klang Royal Garden landscape consultant to do away with two arches, a minaret, watch tower, souvenir kiosk and decorative lights – effectively cutting RM7.5mil which Tuanku described as a waste of public funds.

Tuanku objected to the additions which pushed the 6.3ha public garden project to RM11mil.

“Tuanku is held in high esteem because Tuanku’s actions have been consistent all these years in reflecting concern for the rakyat.

“And Tuanku speaks in words easily understood by all with a lot of common sense – not expounding concerns by using theories or legalistic terms,” said Teng.

In his meetings with civil senior officers and politicians, Tuanku always wanted to be updated about current state development and issues.

“Tuanku had also asked me to monitor the traffic jam situation in Klang.

“Tuanku knows the situation is very frustrating for folks. In fact, he instructed the Orang Besar Daerah to chair special meetings to monitor the situation,” said Teng.

A central part of Klang is trapped in a disorderly traffic situation for the past few weeks resulting from traffic rerouting and ongoing construction works on a roundabout and a flyover along the Persiaran Sultan Ibrahim.

At the state assembly, Teng said a palace representative attends the sittings every day because Tuanku wanted to be updated about issues raised.

Even Tuanku’s brother, the Tengku Bendahara, would attend the assembly often, as the Tuanku would also like to know how the state assemblymen conduct themselves.

To keep the royal integrity, Tuanku had, over the years, limited the numbers of Datukship to be awarded on deserving individuals.

This year, with a new state government barely eight months old, Tuanku even froze the rewarding of Datukship upon politicians in conjunction with his birthday on Dec 11 – service came first, said Tuanku.

Although caring to his royal family members, Tuanku would not tolerate any misbehaviour and was known to constantly remind them to keep their conduct well, not abuse their status and provide service to the rakyat.

The Sultan, said Selangor Justices of Peace (JP) Council exco member Datuk Michael Chong, made it clear to the 400-odd JPs their titles came with the commitment to serve the rakyat.

Chong said Tuanku would occasionally meet council chairman Datuk Seri Mahamad Fathil Mahmood to be briefed about the work the JPs had done.

“I have the privilege to meet Tuanku personally on a few occasions. Tuanku knows very well what is happening in the state.

“As a person, Tuanku is warm, engaging and a gentleman.

“I remember once going to shake Tuanku’s hand as he was sitting, and he made the effort to stand.

“I quickly took Tuanku’s hand and insisted he remained seated. A man’s action speaks volume of the person he is,” said Chong.

Tuanku, he added, was extremely strict in insisting no state title holders abuse their awards for personal gain.

The Sultan also abhorred extremists who caused destruction to the state, once stating that he would not hesitate to ask the authorities take stern action against them.

As for race relations, Tuanku said the rights of the Malays were well protected and no one could take the rights away without consent from the Conference of Rulers.

To the non-Malays, Tuanku added they should not feel apprehensive because their rights were guaranteed under the Federal and state Constitutions.

Tuanku had constantly made it known that even though the people were of different races, customs and culture – they were all his beloved subjects and he was their Sultan.

The Royal House of Selangor – above politics, above race; but it is Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah’s conscious choice not to be above the rakyat.

Daulat Tuanku!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Oh My God!!!!! Another Caveman Strikes again....

This caveman none other than Khir Toyo , the ex Selangor Menteri Besar.
Ai yo yo Mr.KHIR, please understand that Tan Sri Kahlid and Pakatan Rakyat only comes into Selangor administration's picture for 9 months. How can he approve all the risky hill side projects in 9 months?
Khir Toyo, think before you open your big mouth.......The more you speak the more we want to vomit....
Bukit Antarabangsa Tragedy Aftermath: So, who takes the rap?

KUALA LUMPUR: The blame game has begun. While victims are trying to come to terms with the tragedy, and while those trapped are wondering how they would get basic needs like food, the former and current menteri besar of Selangor are trading blows.

It began when former menteri besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo lashed out at the present administration, accusing it of not being on top of the problem.

"During my time, the state Public Works Department, with the assistance of the Public Works Institute of Malaysia (Ikram), the Geology Department and the Drainage and Irrigation Department, provided reports every three months on hillslope conditions in Hulu Kelang," Dr Khir said.

"This started after the last landslide in the area, which happened in Kampung Pasir in May, 2006."

Dr Khir said the currenthousing area where the landslide happened was not approved during his tenure but more than 15 years ago.
He said during his tenure, the state had established a special committee headed by the state secretary to oversee all hillslope developments.

"There was no problem then. I don't know what happened after the new administration came in," Dr Khir said.

"The state government should be more strict. During our time, the state government collected RM6 million in fines from developers who did not build proper retention ponds. We even stopped some projects."

In an immediate response, Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim came out with guns blazing, denying allegations that the state administration had failed to monitor or be strict with developments on hillslopes.

Khalid said there were more than 90 ongoing hillside projects in the state and that it had ordered the developers to submit monthly reports on the progress of their work, adding that all these projects were approved by the previous administration.

"The state cannot rescind the development orders given to these developers as there are legal implications involved."

He said the state government would blacklist developers and companies that failed to adhere to its directives and was even prepared to face the legal consequences of stopping the projects.

Khalid said the Pakatan Rakyat government had placed a blanket ban on development in Class Three and Four slopes, and that this was among the first decisions taken by the new administration.

These two categories refer to slopes with steep inclines of more than 20 degrees.

Following consultation with various agencies and parties, Khalid had on Sunday order-ed all developments on steep hillsides in Selangor to be suspended with immediate effect.

State executive councillor in charge of local authorities Ronnie Liu said he wanted the previous state administration to explain how it approved a total of 114 Class 3 and 4 hillslope projects that were deemed a risk to occupants of properties there.

"Looks like they have not learnt from the 1993 Highland Towers tragedy. I can't imagine how they could approve projects which could endanger the lives of its residents."

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Mr.IGP, what say you?

Kit Siang accuses IGP of lobbying for private companies

By Shannon Teoh

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 4 – The Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan was accused of lobbying on behalf of two private companies hoping to secure more than RM24 billion worth of projects from the government.

DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang, who had just a day earlier challenged Musa’s contention that Malaysia’s crime rate was lower than Japan’s, read out excerpts from two letters the IGP allegedly wrote to the finance minister and the home minister on behalf of two companies known as Asiacopter and Web Power Sdn Bhd.

The first letter produced by Lim was addressed to Second Finance Minister, Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop, and dated Feb 12, 2007, in which Musa supported an Asiacopter proposal for the rental of 34 helicopters over 30 years in a deal worth RM20 billion.

In a separate letter, Lim said Musa had written to Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi, who then held the home ministry portfolio as well, regarding a RM4.2 billion proposal to acquire an integrated digital wireless system known as the “E-Police Force Solution,” from Web Power Sdn Bhd.

"I have no problems with the police wanting to purchase a system that will help them in investigating crime, but how can the IGP ask the Prime Minister for a "Letter of Exclusive Intent" to be issued to Web Power Sdn Bhd and not via the Secretary General of the Home Ministry?" the Ipoh Timur MP asked.

"The proper procedure in any such purchase is that the IGP must write a letter to the Secretary General of the ministry, who then writes to the Finance Ministry and only after approval, does the home ministry call for tenders.

"But now, the IGP has 'bypassed' this by going straight to the Prime Minister," he said.

He also read out from the letter to Nor Mohamed, in which Musa wrote "I fully support this proposal."

The DAP parliamentary leader made the allegations when he stood to table a motion to dock RM10 from the IGP’s salary, a symbolic gesture usually used in Parliament to express a vote of no confidence against ministers.

The motion was defeated by 48 votes to 30.

Deputy Home Minister Datuk Chor Chee Heung was left defending the IGP. Chor said there was no question of any doubts about Musa’s integrity.

There was no reason why Musa could not recommend the two projects if he saw fit, said Chor, adding that the IGP had not "forced or pressured" for the projects to be approved.

Both projects have not yet taken off and it is unclear if they have been approved.

Lim then challenged Chor to allow the matter be investigated by the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

"We have no problems with bringing it to the PAC. All parties will give their cooperation," Chor replied.

Oil falls to 3-year low below US$46 .........

SINGAPORE, Dec 4 - Oil prices sank to fresh 3-year lows today in Asia as more bleak news from the world's largest economy signalled that crude could tumble below US$40 (RM144.00) by the end of the year.

Light, sweet crude for January delivery was down US$1.19 cents to US$45.60 a barrel - the lowest since closing at US$45.42 on Feb. 10, 2005 - in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange by midafternoon in Singapore. The contract fell 17 cents overnight to settle at US$46.79.

"You could see prices testing US$40 by the end of the year because the economic data is really ugly at the moment," said Christoffer Moltke-Leth, head of sales trading at Saxo Capital Markets in Singapore. "Demand destruction is still very much the concern."

Oil prices have tumbled about 69 percent since peaking at US$147.27 in July.

Investors were dismayed at more poor economic news from the U.S. The Institute for Supply Management said yesterday its services sector index fell to 37.3 in November from 44.4 in October. The reading was significantly lower than the 42 the market expected.

The Labour Department reported that productivity rose at an annual rate of 1.3 percent in the July-September quarter, down from a 3.6 percent growth rate in the second quarter.

Investors took little solace from a report showing US crude inventories fell last week. For the week ended Nov. 28, crude inventories fell by 400,000 barrels, the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration said.

Analysts had expected a boost of 2 million barrels, according to a survey by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.

"People are really looking at economic figures right now and how bad a shape the world is in," Moltke-Leth said.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has signaled it plans to lower output quotas at a Dec. 17 meeting, adding to a production cut of 1.5 million barrels a day in October.

Analysts are sceptical that an output reduction by OPEC can reverse the fall in the prices.

"I don't think it will have a major impact in the near term," Moltke-Leth said. "However, low prices will increasingly lead drilling and exploration projects to be postponed or canceled, so supply will become a concern in the medium term."

In other Nymex trading, gasoline futures fell 3.15 cents to US$1.01 a gallon. Heating oil dropped 2.45 cents to US$1.56 a gallon while natural gas for January delivery was steady at 6.35 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In London, January Brent crude fell US$1.39 to US$44.05 on the ICE Futures exchange. - AP

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tan Sri Musa Hassan.....Pls do not twist the fact with your so-called figure

We almost pengsan when Tan Sri Musa Hassan presented us with the figures showing that Malaysia is safer than Australia,Hong Kong and Japan.....

Pleaselah....only caveman will only agree with your figure...It shows that this guy never go to the ground.....

I still salute Sultan Selangor for his wise man said......
“I am sure the police are doing their best but perceptions are important. If the public do not feel safe on the street or even at home, no amount of reassurance would be good enough,” he said.

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 2 — Tan Sri Musa Hassan and the top brass in the Royal Malaysian Police force are in a quandary: every time they trot out statistics suggesting that the crime situation here is under control, they end up being put through the grinder.
This was also the case yesterday when the Inspector-General of Police briefed Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and a collection of ministers, senior civil servants and corporate figures. He told the gathering that it was only a perception that the public safety situation here had spun out of control.
Figures showed that Malaysia was a relatively safe country with 772 crimes for every 100,000 residents in the country. This ratio compares favourably with Hong Kong where there are 1,166 cases for every 100,000 residents; Japan 1,569 cases and Australia 4,470 cases.
Taken as a whole, the statistics showed that only Singapore with 704 cases per 100,000 residents had a safer environment, said Musa.
For the next two hours, the country’s top cop had to face a barrage of questions from members of the Economic Council, sources told The Malaysian Insider.
Many of them shared anecdotes of family, friends and tourists being victims of crime. They argued that perception about crime is a function of public sentiment about their well-being at home and work.
Several Council members noted that Malaysians will have scant regard for reports that show that the crime situation was better here than in Hong Kong or Japan. What mattered was whether Malaysians felt that they could go out at any time of the day without the fear of being accosted, waylaid or robbed.
It is understood that Musa stood his ground and explained all the crime prevention initiatives that the police had introduced. He also maintained that the crime situation was pretty much under control.
Still, the consensus around the room seemed to be that though police had increased their presence in urban areas and housing estates and improved intelligence gathering, crime was still a big concern for Malaysians.
Council members were concerned that the crime situation could deteriorate during the economic slowdown.
And today, DAP’s Lim Kit Siang challenged the notion that perception rather than the crime index was the problem. He noted that in 2005 the Royal Commission on the Police Force said that the crime index of 156,455 cases for 2004 “seriously dented Malaysia’s reputation as a safe country” and recommended a reduction of the crime index by 20 per cent over the next 12 months.
He noted that the crime index remained high and yet the police were content to say that the problem was public perception. (For the first 10 months of the year, the number of crime cases was 177,141.)
The Sultan of Selangor also had something to say about crime and perception in an interview with The Star.
The Ruler said that he had been informed by Selangor police that they had been successful in bringing down the crime rate in several districts in the State.
“I am sure the police are doing their best but perceptions are important. If the public do not feel safe on the street or even at home, no amount of reassurance would be good enough,” he said.

Monday, December 1, 2008

When the Caveman strikes again.....

In Malaysia, there is one "caveman" movement who always "eat full and nothing to do"......

Who are they? read below......this is their second move afther the multi-lingual sign board incidents.....

Malaysian, dun you fed up with them?

Malay group wants Soi Lek to pay RM2 million for citizenships granted during Merdeka

By Adib Zalkapli

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 1 - A Malay rights group is demanding MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek pay RM2 million in compensation for allegedly questioning the special position of the Malays.

Mohd Apis Johar from the Young Malay Graduates Movement (GGMM) said he was disturbed by remarks made by Dr Chua late last month, in which he said he accepted Malay leadership but not Malay supremacy.

"Before Merdeka, with a stroke of a pen, two million non-Malays were granted citizenship," the group's lawyer Khairul Azam Aziz told reporters.

He added that the money would be donated to any organisation interested in the advancement of the Malay community.

In its notice of demand addressed to Dr Chua, the lawyer who acted on behalf of Mohd Apis, also urged the former Labis MP to retract his statement an issue a public apology.

"The statement of apology must be approved by us on behalf of our client before it is uploaded to your blog," said Khairul Azam in the notice.

He added that they would proceed with legal action if Dr Chua fails to comply with his demands.

GGMM also wants everyone to stop questioning Malay supremacy.

Its spokesperson Nik Rizman Sapian said the group is not linked to any political party but merely interested in defending Malay rights.

"For those who question Malay rights as stated in the constitution, we will not hesitate to take action," said Nik Rizman.

Earlier, the small group, who were outnumbered by members of the media, marched from the Ampang Park LRT station to Wisma MCA to hand over the notice.

The notice was received by MCA official Yap Chin Chin, who said that she would forward it to the party's leadership.

Dr Chua's remarks on Malay supremacy has drawn criticism from Malay leaders including Umno Youth chief Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein who reportedly said that it would be better for BN component parties to join the opposition if they continue harping on the issue.

MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat has distanced himself from his deputy by saying the remark is not the party's stand.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Datuk Zaid Ibrahim..... You are the man with balls....

It is interesting to see Datuk Zaid Ibarhim attended PKR annual congress and DAP 's dinner at a same time while he is still currently an Umno member

He is one of the few UMNO leaders (we can count by hand) that really holds on to his principle......

Just wait and see whether UMNO will take any action on him....

Dr Munawar Anees (second, left), Datuk Zaid Ibrahim (centre), Sabah Progressive Party president Yong Teck Lee (second, right) and other guests listening intently to a speech by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim at the PKR annual national congress today. — Pic by Choo Choy May

The appearance today of former de facto law minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim and Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) president Yong Teck Lee will certainly fuel speculation about their political futures.
Zaid resigned from the Cabinet of Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi in September in protest against the arrest of a number of people under the Internal Security Act (ISA).
Yong's SAPP left the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition at the height of rumours over the possibility that government lawmakers were planning to defect en masse to the opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR).
Said Zaid today: "I am still an Umno member. The opposition are not enemies. They just have different views."
He said his presence to hear Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's address to more than 2,000 party faithful "shows that I am interested in politics."
The former minister said he did not expect to be sacked for appearing at the PKR congress.
The presence of the two men will be seen as a boost to PKR and the PR coalition who are trying to revive the flagging momentum of their push to topple the BN government.(Malaysian Insider)

火箭重量级人马上台掀高潮 再益亮相万人宴

二零零八年十一月二十九日 凌晨十二时三十七分









此外,在主台的两侧备有询问处,同时兼卖火箭娃娃、海报、《火箭报》及行动党党要撰写的书籍等,包括郭素沁撰写的《琴声剑影2》、黄泉安撰写的《I-Witness》、林吉祥撰写的《The Cries of Sabah》、黄伟益撰写的《反思国阵执政槟州35年,解构民政神话》等。





再益现身万人宴 “跳党”疑云明朗化?















曹观友:民联及行动党承诺 为民带来更好发展



郭素沁:处理火箭党务 不用中央及州拨款




Friday, November 28, 2008

Say No to the Malaysian Asshole MP- Tajudin Rahman

Shame on you.....Tajudin Rahman (famous for the 6 million dollar act and the typical arrogant UMNO MP ), Malaysia Asshole MP of the year should be kicked out from parliament.....

Worst still, the speakers never have balls and only know how to act tough to the opposition ......

From today onwards we should say no to UMNO MP unless Fxxxxx Tajudin retracts the words... his gang of Dato Badruddin Amirrudin and Mohd Said Yusoff were sent out of Parliament and definitely Tajudin's days are numbered........................

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 28 – He is untouchable. He can use swear words with impunity. He can spray sexist comments in the chamber and use sexual innuendo when he sees fit.
Judging by proceedings in Parliament since the March 8 general election, Datuk Tajudin Rahman, the Barisan Nasional MP for Pasir Salak can pretty much do as he pleases.
He is also living proof that some of the lessons of Election 2008 are being ignored and tossed aside by elected representatives. A walking advertisement that, despite being decimated in five states and having its customary two-thirds majority in Parliament taken away, arrogance and pride still courses through the veins of ruling coalition members.
More troubling perhaps for the average Malaysian is that Tajudin Rahman’s boorish behaviour is a reflection of the reality here – that the winds of change ushered in by the events of March 8 have begun to wane and that Malaysia is settling down once again to a state where apathy and fatigue reign.
Where the public feigns outrage at excesses of politicians and the government, then do a collective shrug of their shoulders and put it down to the way of life here.
Politicians from both sides of the divide know the drill. And that is why the likes of Tajudin Rahman and before him, Datuk Badruddin Amiruddin, Bung Mokhtar Radin and Mohd Said Yusof have shamed the House with outrageous remarks with the conviction that they will be untouched by any sanction or rebuke.
Still, it appears that Tajudin is in a class of his own. In this same Parliament session, he has called his nemesis, the DAP MP for Ipoh Barat a “bloody bastard”, introducing colourful language which the House has not heard before.
Granted that M. Kulasegaran has the ability to get under anyone’s skin with his comments, but "bloody bastard" in Parliament?
Tajudin was asked to withdraw his comments and went on his merry way. Yesterday, he scored a hattrick. The skirmish happened when the House was debating a motion by DAP’s Teo Nie Ching to cut the Education Minister’s salary by RM10 for failing to meet his promises on vernacular schools.
Within minutes of the motion, a shouting match ensued between MPs from BN and Pakatan Rakyat.
During the uproar, Tajudin called Kulasegaran keling’’. Several minutes later, he labelled PKR’s Azmin Ali as a “biol” (dumb).
Azmin said: "This is too much. If it is only once or twice it is forgiveable, but every time he opens his mouth, he has no respect for anyone."
After being directed by Deputy Speaker Ronald Kiandee, Tajudin reluctantly withdrew his remarks.
But he outdid himself later when he attempted to interject while Pas’ Mujahid Rawa was debating on Teo’s motion.
This was the exchange.
Tajudin: Oh, tak masuk lagi?
Kiandee: Dia tak bagi, Yang Berhormat. Tak bagi.
Tajudin: Dia tak masuk lagi? Dah lama tak masuk-masuk. Main tepi saja.
Mujahid: Yang Berhormat Pasir Salak sabarlah.
Tajudin: Bila nak keluar lagi air dia ?
DAP’s Fong Po Kuan evoked Parliament’s Standing Orders against Tajudin for using offensive remarks. In all likelihood, Tajudin will be given a rap on his knuckles by the Speaker. He may be asked to apologise, something he has done a number of times since Parliament was convened.
Will he face any action from Umno or BN leaders? Unlikely. The prevailing view among Umno politicians is that BN needs some “fighters’ in the chamber to keep the resurgent Opposition in check.
Will the BN Whip Datuk Seri Najib Razak haul Tajudin up and read him the riot act? Unlikely. His supporters argue that there is only one way to deal with the likes of Azmin, Kulasegaran and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and the loss of two-thirds majority. And that is not by yielding any ground or being cowed by the Opposition.
Will Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi do anything? Unlikely. He is already in retirement mode and only has time for several pieces of reforms which he has to push through before March 2009.
So looks like we will be stuck with the untouchable Tajudin Rahman and his antics for some time.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Populism at all cost

UMNO oh UMNO when can you wake up?

NOV 26 - Normally, when in a hole you stop digging. But not in Malaysia.

The Umno-led Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition government continues to ignore economic and political reality despite its recent worst-ever electoral defeat.

Its present state of affairs is due to keen campaigning in factionalised party elections scheduled for March 2009.

And since the electoral popularity of Umno is at a historical nadir, party politicians are using the levers of government in a grubby populist grab for votes.

Not only does this populism show up Umno as a party in decline, it also carries long-term negative repercussions for the whole economy.

Umno remains unsettled despite Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's agreement to relinquish top party and government posts to his deputy, Finance Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in March 2009.

Except Najib, all other party warlords face long, drawn-out contests for Supreme Council positions. The campaign has already turned into a vicious little war that takes no prisoners.

Unlike before, Umno today has no culture of democratic contests premised on rational socio-economic and other policy arguments.

This culture was destroyed by former PM Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad during his 22-year presidency. Thus, Umno currently is a self-serving vehicle of grubby feudal-minded politicians persuaded largely by 'money politics'.

The on-going election campaign has already seen numerous allegations of vote-buying being aired in the press.

Dr. Mahathir recently lamented in his blog that if Umno is unable to eradicate 'money politics', it risks losing the next general election.

However, Dr. Mahathir is not a mere partisan observer. He too is campaigning for his own factional loyalists who are pitted against those aligned to outgoing PM Abdullah Badawi.

Consequently, both sides are now resorting to populist measures via the levers of government power to pump-prime their electoral chances, albeit in the name of pump-priming the economy in 2009 to offset the global downturn.

Except that, with the 2009 budget, Malaysia will see its 12th year of continuous budget deficits. And despite previous promises about balancing the budget, things somehow seem to have gotten out of control with total government debt rising inexorably.

What is disturbing is the insufficient information about how this Umno-led government is going to spend the 2009 budget. Foreign Minister Najib did not disclose much when he wound-up the parliamentary budget debate earlier this month.

Indeed, too many unknowns exist since the original budget figures assumed high global commodity prices (including petroleum exports) on the basis of a strong ringgit.

Since then, commodity prices have crashed, the ringgit has slumped against the dollar and FDI outflows have increased. This has up-ended the original budget estimates.

But the budget has not been revised. Instead, Mr. Najib added a further RM7 billion economic stimulus package to the already huge budget.

The 2009 deficit like in 2008 thus remains stuck at a jittery 4.8 percent of GDP.

But is this overall deficit figure even credible when the government won't come clean with realistic budget figures to parliament?

There seems to be a lot of fudging going on with the government preferring to remain obscure over financial and economic figures for reasons best known only to them.

Yet, despite being vague, Najib promised to disburse the entire 2009 economic stimulus package by March.

Does this not ring a loud bell in the light of all the vicious factional campaigning in Umno?

As well, domestic prices of petrol and diesel have come down significantly since two months ago. The government promptly announced - to everyone's surprise - that at current prices, the government is not subsidising fuel costs anymore.

Also announced was the adoption of a 'managed floating mechanism to fix petrol and diesel prices'.

This gives the impression that the government is financially prudent.

Unfortunately, no other details were divulged leaving all in the dark about what really is going to happen. Many also want fuel prices even lower, not least some Umno politicians on the die-hard campaign trail. But how helpful is this?

Yet, nobody knows how all this supposed fuel subsidy savings are going to be deployed within the budget. Will it now be used to target key value-added areas of the economy like upgrading the quality of healthcare, improving education and up-scaling industrial expertise to enhance economic competitiveness?

Or will it go straight into pork-barrel projects to assist the electoral chances of certain Umno loyalists or will it help bailout certain 'loyal' Umno cronies hit by the economic downturn?

Unfortunately, there is presently no policy debate within Umno about strategies to ensure the long-term health of the economy.

Instead, the dominant talk within Umno is the going price of a delegate's vote during the elections, currently estimated at RM20,000.

Consequently, this Umno-led government is suffering a severe confidence deficit. The government's inability (or unwillingness) to divulge accurate information about its finances and the economy is really a reflection of the dismal state of Umno politics.

After all, being vague allows for better political patronage, no?

Somewhere down the road, the economy is going to pay for all these political shenanigans. Reforms are needed. But will Umno face up to reality?

Najib only agrees partial reforms are needed. He acknowledged his hands will be full once he takes over.

But given his own political baggage and a 'change-resistant' Umno bent on preserving its ethnic supremacist ideology, is he being realistic? - IDEAGLOBAL


Dr.M says Mastering English will not erode the imporatnce of Bahasa Melayu.....

But the stupid Umno and Utusan fellows keep saying by having multi-lingua sign boards will erode the importance of Bahasa Melayu....What is this logic?

Umno and Utusan.....Renungkanlah....

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 25 (Bernama) -- The fear among some quarters in the country that learning and using English would erode the importance of Bahasa Malaysia is unfounded, said former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Dr Mahathir said he was criticised by nationalists for wanting the government to continue teaching Science and Mathematics in English, but English was the only language where Malaysians could gain much knowledge in these two subjects.

"Before I stepped down as prime minister, I introduced this system because I felt it was necessary for us to gain knowledge. If we are going to translate all the works of Science and Mathematics into Bahasa Malaysia, then it would take a long time and we would lose out.

"But lately there has been a debate about this and that we need to revert to the old system of using Bahasa Malaysia to teach and learn Science and Maths.

"The Education Ministry is going to decide on this very soon. There are pros and cons to this and I do worry about it. Our people should know how to read, write and speak the national language but at the same time to gain knowledge, they should learn and use English."



He said this in his keynote address at the English and Asia 2008 First International Conference on Language and Linguistics, organised by the International Islamic University Malaysia, here, today.

He said the amount of new knowledge was coming out "fast and furious" and Malaysians needed to grasp the knowledge, which were mostly in English.

"I hope I can stop the government from going back to using Bahasa Malaysia to teach Maths and Science but I am no more in power. We have to accept whatever the decision although it may not be that good for the country."

He said the reason that Malaysia lacked teachers to teach the two subjects in English should not be an excuse because teachers could be substituted by computer software, "which is better than teachers sometimes".


Monday, November 24, 2008


By Julie GohPENANG, Malaysia, Nov 24 (Reuters)

Malaysia's manufacturing state of Penang believes it can introduce controversial economic reforms and wininvestment despite a global economic slowdown and the challenge of being anopposition-run state.The opposition alliance's triumph in Penang, the third largest statein terms of economic output in Malaysia, was one of the biggest shocks inMarch's historic elections that brought the opposition to power in five ofthe country's 13 states.How well it can now govern those states could determine whether thealliance can sustain an unprecedented challenge to the Barisan Nasionalgovernment, which has ruled this southeast Asian country of 27 million peoplefor 51 years.

"Yes, the economic slowdown has affected Penang. I'm not going to runaway from admitting it," Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng told Reuters inan interview last week."That's why, we are adopting an expansionary budget next year, onethat is pro-growth, pro-jobs and pro-poor," he said.

Despite the prospect of Malaysia's economic growth slowing to just 1.5percent in 2009, according to leading local investment bank RHB, from anexpected 5.4 percent this year, Penang has seen a rise in foreign investment.The state has received $1.69 billion worth of investment in the firstseven months of 2008 against $1.30 billion for the whole of last year, Limsaid.U.S. firm National Instruments said this month it would spend $80million to set up a plant, while Honeywell said it would shift someoperations to the island.


The island, lying strategically at the head of the Malacca Strait anda free port until 1969, built up one the largest electronics manufacturingbases in Asia from the 1970s offering good infrastructure and a bilingualworkforce."Investors feel that because there is a new government, and they feelthat because this new leadership is in tune to their concerns, this is one ofthe added advantages that they want to invest in Penang," the 48-year-old Limsaid.Even so, he is looking to the federal government to provide 500million ringgit ($138.1 million) to retrain workers who lose their jobs inthe current downturn.Heading such a powerful state is a big change for Lim.He was detained under a harsh security law from 1987-1989 along withhis father, Lim Kit Siang, who leads the Democratic Action Party, part offormer deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim's opposition alliance.

The younger Lim is one of the most vocal and powerful critics of thegovernment and has been accused of stoking racial tensions over a range ofissues, from dual language road signs to demands that a system of affirmativeaction for ethnic Malays be ended.Any mention of race in this country where nearly 60 percent of thepopulation is ethnic Malay and where there are large ethnic Chinese andethnic Indian minorities is met with a forceful response by theMalay-dominated government.Lim, an ethnic Chinese, says the 37-year old programme designed tolift Malays out of poverty has enriched only those with political connectionsand has also entrenched corruption.Malaysia's ranking in Transparency International's corruptionperception index has fallen to 43rd from 37th since 2003.The government insists it is doing all it can to stamp out what itcoyly labels "money politics" but Lim and the opposition say no real actionhas been taken.

Since winning power, Lim has initiated a system of governance he calls CAT -- competency, accountability and transparency -- a move he said hasendeared him to foreign investors and now he plans to replace closed tenderswith open tenders."It has been challenging in the sense that there are so many things todismantle, all the past excesses," he said.

So far, Penang voters appear to be willing to give Lim the benefit ofthe doubt."We voted the opposition into power. We should give them some time toimplement changes," said Ong Swee Aik, who sells shoes in the 65-storeyKomtar building, which also houses the state government office. :If they do agood job, we will vote for them again in the next election."