A concerned Malaysian writes about current affairs in Malaysia. If you like this site, please tell your relatives and friends. WE have the POWER TO CHANGE MALAYSIA. If you want to read earlier posts, please remove the "2" from this URL

Sunday, December 31, 2006

A Wish for Malaysians for 2007

I am writing this from my wife's flat in Singapore and Surprise Surprise the network speed is many times faster than that in JB.

Guess we must be linked to a slower part of the Internet?

Today is the last day of 2006 and as the year ends it is interesting to note the passing of 2 world leaders recently:

Former US President Gerald Ford is being honoured with a state funeral while ex-Iraqi President Sadam Hussein was hanged for crimes against humanity.

As Malaysians usher in 2007 amid the calamity of floods, let us all examine critically how to make Malaysia a better place for all its citizens regardless of race or religion.

The floods may be a grim reminder that perhaps natural disasters are going to be part of our routine with changing weather patterns and we should ensure that the authorities do their jobs with a higher competency level.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

TNB - Your Plan is Not Good Enough

Following the widespread floods in Johor it was reported that TNB will require months to restore power to affected areas.

This appears to be a very long recovery project as one would expect that repairing a damaged substation should not take longer than a week if the job is well coordinated and proper replacement parts are sourced speedily and not wait for the local manufacturer to schedule replacements in their own sweet time.

For a start the Customs could remove all duties for such electrical items provided they meet Malaysian standards.

I just heard on the radio that Taiwan engineers estimate that repairs to the Internet undersea network will take a few weeks.

Now if we compare the scope of works of repairing a cable that is miles under the sea and a TNB substation, it becomes quite apparent that TNB should be able to deliver a faster resolution to getting back the electricity to the tens of thousands of consumers.

Some people say the floods would not have occurred if local authorities had taken adequate steps to prevent illegal logging, river silting or clogged drainage but since the floods have become a reality, we need a more definitive response from TNB to restore supply.

Here is a weather report from 2004 and shows how easy it is for Johor to be hit by severe floods in future years. All we need is a wind shift and a low pressure area over Johor to create floods.

For the longer term TNB should consider siting the substation on a platform at least 3 meters above the general surroundings. The estimated cost for such an extra feature would be about RM40,000 per substation.

The lower portion of the building could be used to store rescue boats or other spares in watertight packing. It could be rented out to other government agencies.

Maybe in 2007 we could see the heavy rains visiting Malaysia again.

Photo: thanks to NST

Saving For a Rainy Day

They used to teach this proverb in school many years ago.

Today as we witness the prolonged wet weather that has disrupted tens of thousands of lives and damage that will run into millions of ringgit, that proverb is true for it explains the need to save for unknown mishaps and other bad things that happen to us in the course of our lives.

The authorities have promised aid but let us remember that the government coffers have recently been opened or should I say emptied to help thousands of Class F contractors who have been deprived of projects in the economic slowdown as major projects have been cut back.

Our economy has been kept artificially high in previous years with the so-called “pump priming” that unfortunately does not sustain growth if the projects are not viable but simply a wanton wastage of public funds.

It also creates a pool of hungry contractors who may get a plum job or two, upgrade their lifestyle and then find themselves in a quagmire of debt and subsequent bankruptcy. Just observe your neighbours who seem to have struck the 4-D lottery. They renovate their homes, buy an upscale car and seem to have a bonanza of wealth. Within a few years it may all be gone.

I support the authorities’ plan to cut the budget deficit as we cannot afford to be like the USA that has operated on deficit budgets for many years supported by inflows of foreign funds as the US dollar has been a sort of global reserve currency. That seems to be changing slowly as more countries adopt the Euro as an alternative.

For the ordinary man in the street, worrying about the US dollar means little if you are barely making ends meet but you need to have a savings plan for a rainy day as in the current flood situation many jobs will also be lost for a few months and some insurance policies do not cover floods that is deemed “an act of God”.

I suggest everyone should have a emergency savings plan based on some criteria like the following:

Monthly pay ........ Save per month
RM500 and below ........RM10
RM500 to RM1000 ........RM30
RM1000 to RM2000 ........RM50
Above RM2000 ........5%
Above RM3000 ........10%

The actual amount saved is not that critical but developing the habit of not spending all the money you earn in a month is vital if you are not going to end up the victim of loan sharks.

In the old days we used to have security guards who used to sleep on their stringed beds in the building usually a bank. Most of these were Indians who had families back in India and they lived rather frugally. I have heard stories that many of them retired and went home to large parcels of land they saved for. Of course some of them also operated as money lenders.

It is also good to teach your children the value of money as they will learn important lessons that will last a lifetime.

Photo: thanks to malaysiakini

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

What Do You Think of the Authorities' Response to the Floods?

Lives have been lost and the damage could run into millions of ringgit.

It seems that the plans for the flood have been like Hurricane Katrina where the USA had used up too much monies on the war in Iraq. So what are the excuses we are being offered?

The latest MalaysiaWatch poll is to let the authorities know what you feel about the plans(?) that were implemented after the floods struck.

We need people who are accountable to the citizens in government and the civil service.
The poll colour is selected to reflect the murky flood waters.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Driving Safely Through Flood Waters

We have had people drowning days ago after trying to drive through flooded sections of roads in Johor and so please read this if you must drive through a flooded section.

The most important point to remember is if the water level is above your exhaust outlet for normal cars you will most likely flood the engine and stall. Then you could become a flood victim.

When you approach a flooded section observe the cars that have passed safely through. If the other car is smaller than your own car you will probably be able to get through.

Do not follow another car into the flood water for if it stalls you will have to slow down and stop - not a very good idea as you will then need to keep your revs up to prevent water being sucked into the exhaust.

Be patient and wait for the car ahead to clear the section before you start.
Keep an even speed and do not accelerate or drive too fast that it creates waves. Try not to be in the flooded section if a large vehicle like a lorry or bus is moving in the opposite direction as the waves may swamp your car.

Once you clear the flooded section, drive slowly for about one kilometer and use your brakes a few times to dry them out or you will not be able to stop when you need them.

Even if you are familiar with the route and a setion is flooded, do not attempt to cross unless you check the above items.

Once you have entered the section, reversing back is extremely difficult.
Be safe always and better late than never.

photo: thanks to http://www.mercy.org.my/images/kedah_flood_relief_2005_003website.jpg

Friday, December 22, 2006

Home for the Holidays

My two children are back from the UK while a third daughter will be having a white Christmas in Canada - she will be back in January.

My wife's clan will be gathering in Singapore and it is going to be a few days of eating and jawing. Catching up with relatives' stories and seeing how big the younger ones have grown.

There is a tinge of worry though as my second grand-daughter Zoe has been diagnosed with a hole in her tiny heart and I ask you for some prayers and good thoughts for her so she may have a successful operation when she is older.

As we celebrate Christmas the coming of Jesus to save mankind, let us also spare some thought on how mankind should also do more to mitigate flood problems with proper maintenance of drainage systems and curbing excessive development.

I may be away from blogging for a few days and I would like to wish all my readers "Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! "

graphics:thanks to http://www.lonestar.simshost.com/images/vicky/XmasTree2.gif

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Major Flooding in Johor Baru

The rain has been falling for more than 24 hours and I expect Wednesday's papers to carry articles on major flooding in JB.

I have never experienced such prolonged drenching rain here since we moved from KL in 1987.

I live in the town area about 50m from the Tebrau Highway and that road has been jammed up to the Batu Bakar junction. It seems that there is a major area affected near the Pandan area. A squatter area that is quite low-lying near the Ponderosa Club area would also be flooded.

Every few minutes I can hear sirens of ambulances or other rescue vehicles. It is as if a major calamity has occurred.

A friend who lives in Taman Daya is worried about getting home from the town area as it seems even the Pasir Gudang Highway is flooded in places. Traffic in Permas Jaya is also reported to be trapped in areas.

Even now the rain is still pouring and I am not sure what the next hours will bring.
My house is located next to a drain reserve but so far the water level appears very safe as the house is located about 6 meters above the stream level and the capacity of the reserve is large and wide.

But the rain has been incessant and I am sure thousands of homes will be affected this flood season.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Malaysian Highway Robbery

Someone should do a study on the toll system in the Klang Valley for I suspect that the residents here must be undergoing great stress with the recent hike in tolls.

I am guessing that people here must be the most tolled residents in the world and this is the direct result of Machiavellian planning.

It all began with the quest to produce the made-in Malaysia car, the project that is now the subject of bail-out and foreign takeover. Never mind that the window motors barely last a few months or that this “baby” needs protection after more than 25 years of “weaning” via import duties on foreign cars.

Since we have the national car, we need to produce steel and that gave birth to Perwaja another project that sucked up billions of reserves and produced unsatisfactory results.

After Perwaja was approved we needed more electricity and that required loads of electricity generation. So Bakun was created even though the cost of transporting the energy would be prohibitive. Never mind that as some people got to clear thousands of hectares of virgin forest. What’s the big deal about a few animal and plant life becoming extinct? And we get to force the Orang Asli to embrace civilisation or they will forever thwart our efforts to attain developed nation status.

So far so good. Everyone starts to believe that the car is a basic necessity to enjoy the good life. Never mind if people start cramming six or eight persons into a Kancil and decide to buy a home away from the city. So travelling 10 or 20 km to one’s workplace became common practice.

With more cars on the roads it only becomes a matter of time before city roads are congested as no steps were taken to improve public transport until the late 90 with the KL mass transit systems.

Now if we look at the way the 3 operators were selected and the manner the 3 systems were implemented it would provide a good idea of how the EPU operates. First of all it is not a seamless system as you needed to buy separate tickets and proper interchanges were few and far between. You normally need to exit a station, walk perhaps 600m and then enter the station of the next system.

The stage is now set for the tolls all over for the Klang residents as they are a captive population.

I guess the usual toll operator promotes his deal to the authorities with the following modus operandi:

• There is no open tender for any project.

• Traffic studies are supplied by the government with guaranteed minimum figures or compensation.

• The contract to build operate and transfer is awarded.

This is the reason why Klang motorists now have to bear so much with so many tolls.

The first stage of “no open tender” creates the high cost upfront as some promoters are in it for quick money with little effort.

The second stage of government traffic projections can be abused via dubious means. The traffic can be uplifted so that future earnings are pegged at a higher level and the project costs can be elevated to get more loans. You figure out who are the likely beneficiaries.

Once the project is completed it is only a question of time before the project proves unviable but no sweat as the government is always ready to bail you out.

Time for another round to discuss your next project?

Graphics: thanks to http://www.melanierawn.com/books/images/Highwaymen.jpg

Friday, December 15, 2006

Tolls Tolls All the Way

I wrote the original sometime in the 80s when the Slim River toll had not been removed long past the due date.

Here is a newer version.
Sing to the tune of "Home on the Range"

1.Oh place not a toll
Wherever my wheels roam
Where the pot-holes and cave-ins are found
Where never is built on stabilised ground
And the jams will get you nowhere.

Tolls tolls all the way
All through the night and day
Why must we keep paying for the roads
They keep laying
With the taxes we pay all year

2.Oh give me a road
That’s been built for the load
With the taxes we pay all year
Where the road is so clear
Of traffic cops so dear
Be sure our future’s to be tolled

3.Where is Samy Vellu
With his statements so true
You must pay and pay some more
We must support their cronies
Give them all your monies
We know we can squeeze you dry

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Mum's the Word for Government Toll Charges

We seem to be operating in some kind of Orwellian fantasy world when the government has to brief news editors on how to "soften" the bad news of imminent toll increases of between 10 to 50%.

Are the authorities hoping that the taxpayers are stupid and wil not realise that tolls have indeed gone up when they experience more money being sucked out from their wallets on a daily basis?

The authorities need to come clean and let the public know what is in those gilt-lined toll agreements that are top secret like the water supply agreement in Selangor that allowed the favoured company to increase rates by 15%.

It should start with the agreement for the North-South Highway as that is the mother of all crony contracts which is still a mill-stone round the neck of Malaysians and was the harbinger of all subsequent crony deals.

Maybe they will never allow such deals to be made public - not in a million years as long as the BN remains in power. They must all be forever clouded like the water supplied from the tap in Selangor.

Maybe there is some secret chemical in that drinking water that causes people to become delusional - some people can proclaim the state to have attained fully developed status and the population can accept that the present government can act in their best interest.

So bring on the toll increases. The way the public has been squeezed with price increases this year is a major reality check that all is NOT well with the economic management of the nation.

Photo: Murky dealings indeed!

Monday, December 11, 2006

“Damage Done to BN” Claim 39% of the Voters for MALAYSIAWATCH POLL 19

There were 123 voters for the poll and the results are shown below:

48 voters or 39% felt “The damage has been done. I will not support any BN party anymore”

47 voters or 38% chose “The extremist speakers should be charged in court”

17 voters or 14% chose “I will help the opposition party in my area”

Only 10 voters or 8% felt “I think the top leaders should have been more assertive to reprimand the extreme speakers”

Only 1 voter or 1% believed “I think the top leaders managed to calm things down”

Zero response for “The Assembly should not be telecast live”

Sunday, December 10, 2006

We Need an Alternative BN Government to Rescue Malaysia

Our PM has lamented that race relations in Malaysia is somewhat “brittle” and “may break”.

That is hardly surprising when we have the annual rounds of race bashing talks in all the racist parties that make up the BN government. Sad to say these parties have been in power since Merdeka and these parties are UMNO, MCA and the MIC.

Every year without fail Malaysians are subject to varying degrees of aggressive posturing that seems to be getting worse especially with the display of a lethal weapon like the keris and calls to bathe in blood.

Of course some may argue that the keris is hardly a weapon of mass destruction and no one mentioned human blood so one speaker may have been referring to a probable outbreak of bird flu with tens of thousands of chickens having to be culled.

Yet there is much disquiet in the country when parties based on race try to score points with their more extreme members.

There will always be some racists in each group and the sad part is that these dangerous elements always hijack the good intentions of the saner more moderate people.

So what is this piece all about?
Given that the BN has basically ruled Malaysia since independence many voters are reluctant to overthrow them at the polls and yet it seems that the opposition is gaining strength based on many scandals that have still not been resolved.

The latest one seems to be the “top secret” agreement for water supply in Selangor. I just wonder how any government with an ounce of integrity can simply brush off requests from consumer bodies for details of the agreement that has now increased water bills by 15%.

So what is the solution?

I am suggesting to the political parties in the BN that they should consider contesting the next elections as perhaps 40% BN NP(new party) and 60% without change.

This way the more moderate politicians can opt to stand as a BN NP candidate and this will allow voters to decide if they want such a change in our political direction.

It is akin to the proposed merger of the plantation giants ala Synergy Merge and the reasons are even more compelling.

For one it will move us from the brink of self-destruction and chaos that the racist policies will ultimately bring.

Secondly it will allow a more moderate political entity to emerge from the main racist parties.

Thirdly it will allow Malaysia to develop with fairer policies free from racist bias.

Perhaps this is one agenda that the BN Youth may consider evaluating.
It will take perhaps 12 months for a detailed study of how the BN NP(new party) will position itself for elections.

Some people will claim that no way the BN will lose in any elections. I believe the Congress Party in India and the Kuomintang in Taiwan also felt that way until it happened.

This BN NP will also give all Malaysians to give a good feedback on how they feel about race based politics.

In the elections there can be the following scheme:

• BN NP contests 30% of seats

• Other BN components contest 40% of seats

• The balance of 30% will be contested by both BN NP and BN Components

Whoever wins in the last section will provide a good indication of how Malaysians want their politicians to progress.

For example if BN NP wins more than 65% of the seats also contested by other BN Components it will show that Malaysians really want non-racist politics.

With this scheme it will be possible for BN to retain power if all three sections obtain reasonable support from the electorate.

Having the BN NP will allow moderate politicians to make a stand for non-racist policies and remove the major obstacle to peace and harmony.

Maybe I should not be suggesting to the BN on how to get out of their self-inflicted predicament but as a concerned Malaysian who wants to see Malaysia become a more progressive nation, I hope this idea will be food for thought.

If we take this BN concept further, it may be possible to reduce all the horse trading that occurs in the succession of leader scenario.

We all know that not the best qualified persons are holding positions of succession and there is great rivalry within the individual components.

Instead of concentrating so much jealousies within component BN parties, it may be better to have the two major camps go their separate ways into two BN New Parties and these will then vie for control at the General Elections.

I am sure many Malaysians are waiting for a two or three party system in Malaysia.

For one thing it will surely reduce the time the PM and his entourage spends in the 20 odd BN parties’ assemblies.

What do you think of my proposals?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Let’s Not Mix Up IPCMC and Bar Elections Issues

These are two different kettles of fish and we should not try to confuse the issues.

The Royal Inquiry on the Police was set up by the government to find out what is wrong with the police after several serious incidents occurred and the Commission came up with the IPCMC that addressed various issues that would help the police to become a “world class” security organisation.

Sadly we have already had a change of the IGP and the IPCMC is now past its second birthday if it had been allowed to exist six months after the Report was tabled.

Now we have the problem of fake ballots in the Bar Council elections.
The Bar Council has been quite vocal recently on various human rights issues like the IPCMC and can be considered “a thorn” in the flesh of the authorities.

Now if you like conspiracy theories of which there are many surrounding the death of the Mongolian woman and highly trained police who get rid of evidence, it is not difficult to speculate that those fake ballots could have been planted by persons unknown to disrupt the Bar Council activities.

It seems the proper remedy would be for the Bar Council to get non-lawyers like an accounting firm to handle the ballots that are in dispute.

So far about 50 fake ballots have been found and the Bar Council should be given the authority to sort out this matter.

If fake ballots make up less than 20% of the total votes they should simply be recorded as such and the results should stand.

Can you imagine if this principle of fake ballots is applied to the general elections we will never be able to have election results accepted.

Let’s not mix up the two kettles of fish. One stinks more than the other.

Graphics: Thanks to http://www.mckinnonsc.vic.edu.au/la/it/ipmnotes/video/kettle-of-fish.jpg

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Changing Mindset is More Critical than Reinventing Policies

Sometimes we really get confusing messages from our top leaders.

Civil servants really should not be asked to reinvent policies but they can be required to suggest better ways to implement policies.

Policies should come from the top down unless our top leaders do not do any serious thinking anymore.

Can you just imagine the havoc if civil servants are allowed to keep reinventing policies at their own whim and fancy? Each month will have a different flavour similar to the one enacted by the Negri Sembilan Education Department that effectively created education apartheid in the school but fortunately saner minds prevailed at the Education Ministry.

Still on the education front there must have been a sea change in policies that has created the situation in Malaysia where thousands of new graduates cannot write even a simple paragraph in English.

We cannot blame civil servants for that but their political masters. Official letters from the government used to end with something like “Your obedient servant” but nowadays the tone is more like “Or else!”

Care to share your experience with our civil servants?

Photo: thanks to http://www.zftr.com/uploaded_images/Thinking%20monkey-771567.jpg

Monday, December 04, 2006

Another RM300,000 Down the Drain

So the authorities spent RM300k on a study to see how London could be used as a sports center for Malaysian athletes.

That seems to be a lot of bucks on an idea that most Malaysians find unreasonable and lacking proper justification. There was earlier talk that a multimillion ringgit sports complex was in the offing but the actual cost has not been confirmed following the public uproar.

The Minister for Sports should be asked to provide details of how this RM300,000 was incurred.

It would be interesting to get the following information:

Air-fares to London

Hotels in London

Entertainment claims

Sundry expenses

Consultancy hours

Is that a reasonable request for information?

Friday, December 01, 2006

An Easy Problem for the Education Ministry?

The government did a good thing by abolishing examination fees for this helps poorer Malaysians who may otherwise drop out of school earlier.

I remember during my school days my family had to apply for school fees exemption and that concession helped all my four brothers stay in school for as long as they wanted.

The problem of students wanting to take extra papers can be viewed from a few angles:

It seems that getting an A is too easy nowadays and maybe the standard should be raised so that not more than 10 to 15% of students achieve this result.

If seven subjects are the requirements for any exam, the students should be asked to pay exam fees for any extra paper as resources are needed to cater for these students. Perhaps RM25 per extra subject would be a reasonable amount.

The MOE can also designate ECAs as being more valuable for scholarships than the extra papers and if we tighten standards on granting “As” it should be possible to select outstanding pupils based on 5 subjects.

We should not encourage schools to cater for exotic subjects so that some mugger can score 15As and become a celebrity but we should encourage our students to spend more time in sports and other healthy activities so that inter-racial harmony can be enhanced.

Instead of having to build extra classrooms for the extra subjects the money would be better spent on renting sports fields and other games facilities. Those who want to take subjects not taught in schools will have to take private lessons.

I was thinking….maybe our Education Minister can make his point more succinctly at a meeting of education officials and parents by displaying that infamous symbol of his?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

We Should Treat New Doctors with Basic Decency

Becoming a doctor is a tough career path – the course is long and arduous and rather expensive and after graduation comes the dreaded housemanship where the new doctor is required to work long hours that can only result in exhaustion.

Being on call with no proper rest period for up to 34 hours can only result in flawed judgement calls and possibly cause deaths in hospitals.

Older doctors may claim that they all went through the regime and survived but does that mean that the system cannot be improved?

We have laws on public transport drivers where there must be a relief driver on long distance trips and maximum overtime for drivers as it is considered dangerous to the public when the driver operates a vehicle in a state of exhaustion but can we not also look at our young doctors miserable working conditions?

I suggest an exhausted doctor can cause more deaths than a driver as the authorities may not be willing to disclose deaths caused by a flawed system.

Looking at the long hours worked, let us make some estimate of the potential victims that may lose their lives.

Assume a doctor operates in the exhaustion stage once every 2 days, that will give us 365 days divided by 2 or 182 times in a year.

Suppose he makes a fatal judgement call 10% of the time in those 182 exhaustion periods, that would give us 18 deaths per doctor per annum.

If we have 1000 new doctors each year, that will result in 18000 deaths per annum caused by a flawed system.

No doubt having in work to the point of exhaustion can provide a steep learning curve but the public should be asked if they want to be the test material.

photo: Daughter's convocation 2006 Dalhousie medical graduates.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Give Us More Time? I Don’t Think So

I think Malaysians are fed up with the PM’s continuing request for more time. After 3 years at the helm with a so-called overwhelming victory at the polls he appears to be unable to get out of the “give me more time” rut.

Time is a precious commodity we cannot squander for it is priceless. Malaysia cannot afford to dither with ineffective leaders who want to achieve grand goals but cannot share their plans and invigorate their followers with their passion.
(And I don’t mean passion of the bedroom kind)

I believe the nation spent about nine months deliberating on the Royal Commission on the police and even today after about 18 months after the report was published; we still are waiting for the IPCMC to be set up. If the periods are not exact it is a long time ago.

So give me more time? I don’t think so.

We have just witnessed the UMNO Assembly where speakers were allowed to deliver speeches that would have been quite appropriate 30 years ago at an apartheid rally in South Africa or the Ku Klux Klan in the deep south.

After 49 years of nationhood give us more time to inculcate the proper racial values? I don’t think so.

Already other countries in Asean are fast developing and I estimate even Indonesia has become a more progressive nation during the past decade than Malaysia has in the past 50 years.
Give us more time to restore local elections? I don’t think so.

The NEP was for a fixed schedule and now some people want to perpetuate this crony capitalism tool to enjoy the benefits of easy money in the equity pipeline. Give us more time to enjoy the leakages? I don’t think so.

We now have this great economic thingamajig called the 9MP that is a step towards achieving Vision2020.

Has anyone seen how all this is going to be achieved?
The saying “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” applies to our vision of a progressive nation.

In order to achieve great goals there must be definite signposts to mark progress so that we can make alterations in the direction or even discard practices that are not helping towards that goal.

Just take education for starters.
Do we have targets like:

25% of all Malaysians in national schools by 2010

50% of all Malaysians in national schools by 2015

75% of all Malaysians in national schools by 2020

This should be applied to all ministries and then it will make any request for time to be justified. I hope the PM will not come out with a request for a second term if the present “give us more time” mantra continues with no discernible results.

Monday, November 27, 2006

What Do You Think is a Viable Plan to Deny BN its Two-thirds Majority?

That was the question posed for MALAYSIAWATCH POLL 18 and 73 votes were received.

The breakdown is as follows:

92% or 69 readers felt that some form of cooperation was important for the opposition parties to do better.

This was in the form of

Opposition Parties Ensuring No 3-corner contests 48% or 36 respondents

DAP cooperating with PKR only 28% or 21 readers

DAP cooperating with PKR and PAS 16% or 12 readers

Some think BN will still win with a big majority
No Way. BN is going to win a massive landslide 8% or 6 readers

No one selected the following options.
DAP cooperating with PAS only
PKR cooperating with PAS only

What Do You Think of the Recent UMNO General Assembly?

That is your question for MALAYSIAWATCH POLL 19.

Does UMNO behave like the Ku Klax Klan or the mainstream party that can fulfil all the goals to make Malaysia a developed nation?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Milton Friedman and the NEP

What has the great economist got to do with the NEP?

Nothing really but if Friedman had studied how we implemented the NEP he would probably be turning in his grave. But perhaps not as he be having a smug smile at how the Malaysian authorities have proved his theories correct.

Friedman’s basic philosophy was that government is bad and inefficient in most business ventures.

His documentary “Free to Choose” was an interesting film on how government involvement in business is wasteful and should be strictly avoided unless there were compelling reasons for government to be involved such as foreign affairs or defence matters.

So after more than 35 years of NEP policies we are still short of the 30% equity target that was set to be some defining yardstick. Now we have the great debate on whether the target has been achieved with conflicting reports from the EPU, ASLI and MU.

The debate is really irrelevant as the more pertinent question should be,
“Why has the 30% target not been achieved when the government has been in control all these years and why no corrective actions have been taken?”

Milton Friedman could provide the answer via the following example:

Suppose the government granted a favourite crony say a million shares in some IPO and that boosted the Bumi equity by 0.5% and within a month the shares rose by RM3 and that crony decided he wanted cash instead of paper he could sell the shares, make RM3 million and buy a BMW 5 Series to impress his next wife.

The government will then say they are just implementing the NEP policy and the Bumi will say he is just exercising his basic rights.

The end result is that someone gets a RM3 million windfall and the 30% equity target is back to square one. All this has been going on for many years and some people have become accustomed to such generous gifts and these can be in the form of thousands of APs that generate millions of ringgit but do nothing to raise the 30% stake.

It is time for the government to discard this NEP target that will never be realised as the leakage is simply too uncontrolled and those receiving the gifts are not really developing long term capabilities.

Our PM mentioned that no Malaysian will be left behind. What better way than to ensure that all our young citizens be provided with appropriate training and skills so that they can be employed in the many jobs that are available.

We have already wasted so much time and talents on a flawed NEP policy and leaders should be brave enough to change direction before our country ends up at the bottom of the waterfall amidst global competition.

Those who control the country are also in a quandary as it appears the policies have enabled them to remain in power and some believe that without the crony policies those in power will lose the next elections.

Already the signs are ominous and I can hear the roar of the falls.

photo: Niagara Falls, Canadian side

Friday, November 24, 2006

Not All Mergers are Made in Heaven

In the spirit of Malaysia Boleh there is now a plan to merge three large plantation GLCs i.e. Golden Hope, Sime Darby and Guthrie into a mega company.

These three companies are steeped in history and played a major role in the development of Malaysia. I worked in one of them for about 11 years; seven of which were in an associate company in Batu Caves.

Even today plantation crops make an important contribution to the economy.

It seems that PNB is forcing all the companies together as it is the major shareholder and it would be interesting to see how the minority stockowners will be treated or will they simply be brushed aside with all kinds of exemptions provided by the SC?

Before you break out the champagne bottle, such a mega company may be less profitable than 3 separate companies as there will be no more competition among the senior managers and perhaps the end result will be yields moving towards the lower end of the 3 groups.

There will also be loss of perhaps 25% of senior Malaysian managers posts and these people will find it tough to adjust to life outside the plantations.

It would be interesting to see all the relevant documents to justify this plan and what is going to be offered to minority shareholders.

I imagine that the merged company will be a convenient way to provide cheap shares to some special crony under the NEP equity giveaway.

One thing is sure. The bank handling this exercise will make a nice bundle.

graphics: http://www.ma-strasbourg.justice.fr/images/balance.gif

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Another Grand-daughter!

My eldest daughter Jean gave birth to her second daughter Zoe on Monday 18th November.
Both parents and baby are doing well.

It so happens that my computer was in the repair shop since Friday and so no updates.

However I received an email from a Muslim lawyer who is involved with human rights. I have not met him but I believe he is a true Malaysian who is willing to stand up for the human rights of all Malaysians.

Please visit his site called “The Truth of the Matter” and you can also pass it on to other Malaysians. No protests, no demos – just do something basic that may help to preserve our freedom as a secular nation.

After watching all the extremist speeches at the UMNO Assembly don't you think you NEED to take some action as a responsible citizen NOW?

If you have not registered as a voter, please resolve to do so within the next week. It will take no more than 15 minutes of your time.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Beware the Straits Pirates! They Have Come Ashore.

In recent years the Straits of Malacca was known for its frequent pirate attacks on the thousands of ships that use it every year.

However with the cooperation of the littoral states and even foreign nations like Australia, the pirates have been kept at bay and attacks have decreased.

However Malaysians have to be more careful these days as there are many pirates living in our midst.

They prey on the weak and some victims have even died after being attacked.
Snatch thieves appear to be lying low in most town areas as the police have clamped down on their activities.

Hold on. The moment the situation gets under control another problem crops up.
What’s this they are demanding at the UMNO General Assembly?

I hear the chant .
“NEP forever and beyond 30%”

Some people now claim that the NEP is part of the social contract.
Others even proclaim that “UMNO is willing to bathe in blood”.

If UMNO leaders allow their members to utter such threatening remarks against rivals, is UMNO becoming the largest pirate group in Malaysia?

The NEP was never part of the social contract to achieve independence for Malaya. It was a specific program that was to last for a fixed number of years so that the government could execute policies to bring the perceived weaker members of societies to a higher level.

However many of the policies were “piratised” so that some cronies now travel on a different level than us in their private jets and helicopters.

Of course many tens thousands were left behind and are still struggling to survive.
My question is,
“If after 35 years of affirmative action policies by the same government and they admit that the 30% target has not been achieved, should not the government be held responsible and accountable for the massive failure that has been paid for by the blood, sweat and tears of the millions of marginalized Malaysians?”

As for that person wanting to bathe in blood, some one should lodge a police report for such remarks that can promote racial conflicts.

Or are the antics of UMNO members during their assembly beyond the scope of the police? Freedom of expression is good but one would have expected a more civilized approach than making definite threats.

But then again what can you expect from UMNO members when their leaders use the same racist approach?

graphics: courtesy of http://www.umanitoba.ca/cm/vol5/no3/pirates.jpg

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Time to Say Goodbye

I've added one of my favourite songs by Sarah Brightman.

Isn't it time to say goodbye to all the racist posturing we are seeing everyday now on national TV?

Say Goodbye to money politics, religious bullying and let all Malaysians live in peace and harmony.

If the government can just provide good security and a just system for all Malaysians we will all go further and faster in our development as a Bangsa Malaysia where a person is valued not by the colour of his skin or the brand of his religion but by his earnest efforts to fulfill his dreams.

God help us all.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Look into the Mirror First

It is that time of the year again when we hear silly politicians expounding the same message we have all heard for the past 50 odd years.

Strangely enough the record appears to have good stuck in the groove of “race supremacy”, “religious fervour” and “keep us in power and we will safeguard your interests”.

I am of course referring to the UMNO Annual General Assembly where most ministers stop work to attend the long meetings. I wonder if they apply for annual leave or is the rallying and rousing function part of their official duties?

Never mind that the EPU equity results have been put into another black box and come out with a different sets of results that will garner more support for the ruling party as that would surely translate into more crony contracts.

This was taken in an extract from a speech by the DPM.
“Whatever is required for Malay development, we will push for it so that it will be immediately implemented, immediately constructed. What is important is that this great trust that we hold is never manipulated, never leaked and never abandoned.”

The first sentence sounds like a preparation for Maggi mee with the idea that changing mind-sets can be done like instant noodles – just open a packet and you immediately can have your satisfaction.

The second sentence is like Maggi mee that has been cooked for 50 years. It is tasteless and unpalatable and no one will buy it anymore as the government has lost all credibility with the following recent events:

• Failure to implement the IPCMC
• Soft pedaling on corruption issues in local councils
• EPU Flip/flops.
• Law Minister’s stand that UMNO corruption is outside ACA’s scope.

There is one thing strange about change. Everyone always wants someone else to change.
If UMNO wants the Malays to change their mindset they should first look into the mirror. Better still if they have a serious private discussion with the other BN parties.

Graphics: courtesy of http://welcometotheplanet.blogs.com/welcometotheplanet/mirror.jpg

Monday, November 13, 2006

Time to Introduce Safety Speak….

Reading some of the comments made by people in high places we should make it compulsory for all senior officials to attend a special course on Safety Speak.

What is Safety Speak?
It is a special course tailored for incompetent leaders when they have to meet the press. Too often they make some stupid remarks and then later claim they were misquoted or quoted out of context.

Over the past few weeks, the newspapers had various reports where senior people made remarks that could have been avoided they had they attended a basic course in Safety Speak.


• The MB of Johor wanted the Malays to be the “pivotal” race in Malaysia and also started a campaign to get rid of meritocracy as it hampered progress.

• The Municipal President of Penang city explains that all the city officials would not be able to resist looking up a reporter’s skirt as she was dressed “sexily”.

What would the basic course in Safety Speak contain?
Seeing that incompetents are largely in charge of town councils a one-hour course should be enough to that they can memorise the following safe sentences.

“That incident was unfortunate and unforeseen. Let me check the full details and get back to you.”

One month later.

“We have now concluded our investigations. The person responsible has (been transferred)/(resigned) and we will ensure this does not happen again.”

Two months later after a repeat of similar incident.

“We apologise to the public for this incident. The person responsible has (been transferred)/(resigned) and we will take more stringent measures to ensure this does not happen again”.

And so it goes on.
The story will never end until we are given back our rights to elect local city officials.

Can you think of any sentence that could be included in the basic course for Safety Speak?

photo:courtesy of http://www.southport.gb.com/clowns2002/Clowns_21Sept2002_0014_small.jpg

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Most Popular Choice...

This was selected in response to the question
"What Do You Think of Nazri’s Remark that He Drafted the ACA Laws to Exclude Political Parties for Corrupt Practices?"

The Results for MALAYSIAWATCH POLL 17:

31 readers or 45% picked "This is What Happens When We Put Monkeys in Charge of Bananas"

27 or 39% felt that "I Think Nazri Should Be Sacked for Drafting Such a Useless Act"

8 or 12% wanted "The Law on ACA Must Be Amended to Include Money Politics"

2 or 3% chose "The Bar Association Should Dissociate Itself from Such a Lawyer"

1 or 1% believed "Our MPs Must Have Been Sleeping When the Bill Was Passed"

No one picked "I Agree With the Minister’s Views 100%"

A total of 69 readers took the poll.

What is Your Advice for the Opposition Parties?

Many people feel we will have a General Election in 2007.

The question in MALAYSIAWATCH POLL 18 is

"What Do You Think is a Viable Plan to Deny BN its Two-thirds Majority?"

Friday, November 10, 2006

Have You Heard of the Enrichment of Privileged Undertakers?

EPU could be the brand name of another magical snake oil that can cure all ailments.

This could be marketed in two formulae:

• Standard EPU18.9% at RM30 per 100ml bottle or

• Premium EPU36.8% at RM45 per 150ml bottle.

Consumer: What’s that? The unit ml price is exactly the same. We pay 50% more and get 50% more product.

Marketing company (MC): But that’s our marketing strategy. Most people will not bother to question us and will just buy whichever product they prefer. In both cases we still sell our products.

Consumer: What exactly does EPU stand for?

MC: Not exactly sure. Let me get back to you.

One month later.

MC: We are pleased to inform our clients that EPU stands for Enrichment of Privileged Undertakers.

Consumer body investigator (CB): That is a strange name. How did the word “undertaker” get included?

MC: We cannot reveal all our company secrets but many people believed our products so much they decided to use it for every ailment despite our warning.

CB: What is that?

MC: We warned people that is product has a lifespan of 25 years but some people want to use it much longer and now we are making a formula that will last 50 years.

CB: Were there any fatalities?

MC: No one has actually died from any EPU ingestion but according to the latest WHO report, many Malaysians are addicted to our EPU products.

CB: What does WHO stand for? Is it the World Health Organisation?

MC: No, that’s not right. It is the Wealthy Humans Oligarchy.

CB: We did a survey on the population and 98.9% of the survey thought WHO stood for the prestigious world body.

MC: That’s what we know too.

CB: Don’t you think EPU shares will plunge if we publish all our findings?

MC: Most people are gullible and still believe us after all these years. But be warned that if you reveal too much about our methods we know how to fix the problem.

CB: What do you mean?

MC: Well we had someone disappear when she came from a remote country and started to pry into how we were able to fool so many people all these years.
That is why we are known as EPU. We are privileged to send you to the undertaker if you become a threat to our operations.

CB: Holy cow – no shit!

MC: I have to end our interview. These two gentlemen will escort you out.

CB: What are you doing? Put that away!!. NO, NO. ARRGHH!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Slavery without the Chains

This is a modern day non-fiction.

Suppose you had a field to plant and you toiled hard and long to produce a good harvest and the government taxes you a portion like 15% of the harvest to provide essential services like roads, water and electricity.

Suddenly there is a plague and part of the land in the country is blighted and cannot be used for 25 years - the time it will take to rejuvenate the soil.

The government asks your assistance and you agree to help by providing extra 30% of your harvest above the usual rate of 15% for the next 25 years.

Instead of using the 30% extracted to improve the condition of the blighted lands, the government uses the resources to build huge monuments, meaningless structures and other useless projects.

Some people became lazy and even forget their basic survival skills like fishing and hunting as the government has lulled them into a sense of complacency with the easy money.

On the 24th year, the government reveals that the 30% extra tax has not achieved the desired results and they want to extend the program by another 20 years.

Meanwhile as the people who have been busy enjoying themselves have been procreating on an unprecedented scale. People from afar were also attracted by the generous handouts and their numbers increased.

Some members in the government now propose that a more suitable target would be 60% extra taxes on the productive farmer.

If you are that productive farmer, what would you do?


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Death in High Places

The Squatgate episode showed how prisoners could be subject to police abuse but the latest incident where a foreign woman was allegedly shot and blown to bits to prevent her from blackmailing an important person shows how vital it is for all our MPs to demand that the Attorney-General get off his back-side and submit his proposals for the IPCMC NOW.

If the police officers who are supposed to protect us and uphold the law can be induced to commit murder we should all be afraid of the police as some of them can really do evil.

If indeed the poor woman was trying to extract money for her baby it is an even more dastardly act for the police officers to help the man get rid of the problem.

This is the first big test for the IPG to prove that he is really serious about improving the police force.

I have noted police on the beat and it does give a better sense of security until this explosive murder.

A few days ago, I passed by two FRU men at a bus-stop. When I returned about 20 minutes later they were still there. Looks as though walking is a no-no for the two guys.

On a similar note it looks as if our prison wardens are all going to get obesity problems.

Photo: the Star

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

99% of Voters Are Not Happy with the EPU’s Study

The Poll Question for MALAYSIAWATCH POLL 16 was “How Do You Feel About the ASLI Debacle?”
There were 123 voters as follows:

59 voters or 48% chose “I Do Not Trust the Government’s Analysis”

28 voters or 23% felt “The Government Should Disclose Fully their Research Methodologies”

19 voters or 15% picked “The Government Acts Like a Big Bully”

10 voters or 8% wanted “Will the EPU Sell Me Shares at Par Value?”

6 voters or 5% chose “The EPU and ASLI Should Have Trashed Out Their Differences”

1 voter or 1% picked “I Trust the Government’s Findings 100%”

In general it seems that most people do not have much faith in the EPU Report.

Sure You Don’t Have Foreign Blood?

There is some loose talk about Bangsa Malaysia and foreigners tainting the Malaysian bloodlines.

As a Eurasian with a few drops of Scottish blood, I feel a little qualified to write about the subject.

If one makes even a cursory look at the history of Malaya, one cannot help notice that the country has experienced an influx of migrants from many places. Some moved on but many remained and established roots here.

The main groups were from Java, Sumatra, India, China, English, Dutch and Portuguese in the past as Malaya lies at the crossroads of vital trade routes and were colonized by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the English.

I remember the State Education Head of Perak in the sixties, a Mr Campbell. He was a first generation Eurasian, the offspring of an Englishman and a Malay woman and he was also a Roman Catholic. I guess in those days people were freer to choose their religion.

Today the pace of mixed marriages is even more pronounced with thousands of our children studying overseas.

There is really nothing wrong with foreigners and many have contributed much to make Malaysia a more vibrant place with a colorful culture that is the envy of many. Our gastronomical delights also provide a feast for the taste-buds.

There is a fear that Bangsa Melayu may become diluted with the concept of Bangsa Malaysia. This misguided thinking should be examined on a scientific basis and not political rhetoric.

Consider the following:

A Malay marries an English woman and has a son who is brought up as a Muslim but hardly practises his faith.

The son marries an English girl and also produces a son who is also a Muslim but does not practice the religion.

This last generation is classified a Malay in Malaysia and able to enjoy all the NEP benefits even though racially he is 75% English.

Most probably he will be able to take advantage of the NEP policies more effectively than some Bumis in the remote areas of Sabah and Sarawak.

Will all the pure Malays in Malaysia please stand up to be counted?

Photo: http://www.oakhursttearoom.com/assets/images/Weddings.jpg

Monday, November 06, 2006

Goodbye Meritocracy Hello Mediocrity

Perhaps the hullabaloo in the Klang Council has wakened some sleeping leaders that if the whole country adopts the concept of “no meritocracy”, there will be more chances of half-past six leaders rising to national levels.

Thus the start for the “no meritocracy” policy is at the university level as that will immediately solve the annual hand wringing exercise as to why our prestigious universities are 200 places below the universities of Singapore. It will definitely fall out of the world’s top 5000 universities and we will all be in a class of our own.

There will be no contests and ranking and we will all sleep peaceably until the golden era of Vision2020. Why should Malaysia be bothered with such trite rankings as after all it could be a “Jewish conspiracy?”

We will pass new laws so that at birth, citizens will be designated as doctors, lawyers and engineers once they reach the age of 21 years and after completing their National Service training.

Of course more people will want to join the civil service as the extra perks in the Registration Department could be substantial as parents will want to avoid the classification of “Cleaner” for their son or daughter.

Don’t you think life will simply be more exciting if we just got rid of the meritocracy burden? Why students in universities will have more free time to indulge in life’s pleasures of watching blue movies and experimenting with casual sex. Yeah we need to provide free condoms to them to avoid unnecessary pregnancies.

And when these kids start operating their clinics or practices, the clients will need to become savvier. When your new doctor prescribes some treatment like a lobotomy you will need to double check the treatment or you could end up spewing nonsensical comments.

Here’s a simple guideline to evaluate this proposal.

When you visit your doctor, do you check to see from where the doctor got his or her degree and do you also consider when the doctor graduated?

If you are a university student, don’t you feel threatened by such a comment to end meritocracy?

Friday, November 03, 2006

Let’s Start at the Very Beginning….

You all know the Doremi song from the Sound of Music and it seems the Gerakan leader is beginning to see the light on how Malaysia can find a way out of the boondocks.

Recently there has really been a plethora of problems with government matters such as the following:

• The public spat between the PM and TDM over how the country is governed

• The EPU/ASLI share equity debate that is still unresolved

• Ministers refusing to settle outstanding traffic fines for years

• The Klang Municipality fiasco

• IPCMC still pending after 18 months

• The manner AP privileges are abused with cloned certificates

It all shows a lack of integrity of many people in government that is compounded by a lack of credibility and most problems are countered with a “don’t play with fire” answer by some political leaders.

That always seems to be the fall-back position even after 49 years of independence.

The statement that Gerakan elected reps will no longer be appointed as council members is a step in the right direction as it will reduce conflict of interest problems though that does not seem to raise issues with some politicians as it is all considered “within the family”.

However it is unfortunate that Gerakan did not start at the very basic tenet of a democratic society. The majority of fair-minded Malaysians would have saluted them if they had supported the return of local elections.

That would be a definite building block of a vibrant democratic society and local councilmen who perform well can be recruited by the various parties to contest as state assemblymen and on to higher office at national level.

Even Gerakan admits that local councils are a good place to test party members before a higher office so why not let taxpayers elect local officials?

PS. It’s my 59th birthday today so I decided to do this extra article.

photo: Sunset over the Blue Ridge Mountains, Virginia, USA. Tomorrow the sun will rise on a new chapter for Malaysia.

No Need to Go to Kelantan for Wayang Kulit

Question: When is an Appointment Not an Appointment?

Answer: When You Have Not Signed and Returned the Offer Letter.

Anyone who has had a job offer knows that just receiving a letter offering you a job knows that the letter is only valid when you have signed and returned that letter within a certain date.

Now we have the case of two Klang councilors who supposedly resigned as they breached the very rules they were sworn to uphold in the Klang Municipality Council.

Building plans may be considered a minor function but the trust in public officials has been long compromised as city halls seem to operate on a family affair basis.

Now according to our esteemed Law Minister corruption cannot occur within a family and the politicians, one big happy family, also fall in that incorruptible category.

So why do we have such a grand show about people resigning when they were not sworn in?

It seems to be a case of public appeasement and also trying to fool the general population.
If they resign from an office they did not hold, they lose nothing but the common folks think they have been punished enough and will not clamor for a more meaningful punishment like having to resign as an elected assemblyman.

Welcome to Selangor, the new wayang kulit centre of Malaysia.
Or as some prefer it’s all “smoke and mirrors” my friend “smoke and mirrors.”

I hope the people in Klang will know how to dispense justice come the next general elections especially since the ruling party behaves as if it is above and beyond the law.

Don't you feel as if you've been taken for a ride?


Thursday, November 02, 2006

What Do You Think of Nazri’s Remark that He Drafted the ACA Laws to Exclude Political Parties for Corrupt Practices?

This is your question to ponder on the latest statement by the Law Minister.

Please let us know your views.

We Approved an Anti-Corruption Act Without Meaning..

This seems to be an excuse for the ACA not to take action against money politics and corruption within political parties on the weak excuse that it does not concern the public.

Either the Minister is a bad lawyer or has no morals as he tabled the Anti-Corruption Act in Parliament or everyone decided that corruption is so widespread in political parties that they needed an exclusion clause.

If the ACA cannot probe political parties as “It does not affect the public in the sense that it does not involve public projects or public funds” then I suggest members of the public must not be allowed to join political parties and these should be restricted to only members of a family and relatives as according to the minister, corruption cannot be committed within a family.

It looks as if we have a bad anti-corruption law that has excluded probably 70% of all corruption cases and allowed the monster of corruption to breed without any effective control.

The actions of political parties can impinge more on society than any other body as they can form the government and the ACA must be empowered to take action.

photo: courtesy of the Star.All honest men of integrity?

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Don't Keep the Travelling Public Dangling

What are the Preliminary Findings on the LRT?

It is good that the public will be informed of the problems affecting the LRT system as thousands use the transport system as need to be reassured of their safety and security.

All that talk about bringing in foreign experts is really unnecessary unless our local engineers cannot determine what the main problems with the system are.

Any inquiry should have a panel of technical experts and also a member from NIOSH who had to make the earlier appeal to make the findings public.

I think the Factories & Machineries Acts is quite inadequate to cover problems related to equipment and systems that can cause the deaths of hundreds and should be revised. We should also look into the public liability coverage that such companies provide.

Back to the LRT system it appears to be a failure caused by the following or a combination:

• The company has been reducing costs and vital equipment like sensors and warning systems have not been replaced according to recommended hours of operation.

• The company had changed components of the system with non-original spares to cut costs.

• The rail track in the end sections had been stolen the night before.

• The driver had ignored signals to slow down as he was running behind schedule.

• The driver had fallen asleep after leaving the last station and pressed the accelerator instead of braking. (This was the cause of a high speed crash in Europe shown in a documentary on Discovery Channel)

• The driver had been working in excess of allowed working hours as the company is understaffed.

• The control system had been modified and put into action without proper verification.

I am not a railway engineer but I think these items should cover 90% of what could have gone wrong. I hope people do not just cite “technical reasons” as most accidents are really caused by man.

Photo: courtesy of the Star

Sunday, October 29, 2006

98% Voters Feel the NEP has Failed

Results of MALAYSIAWATCH POLL15 on the question:

“What is the Main Cause of the Failure of NEP after 35 years?”

A total of 93 readers took part in the poll with the following answers

The majority of 62 voters or 67% picked “Top Leaders Abused the Policies”

The second group of 20 voters or 22% chose “Too Many Leakages and Loopholes in System”

The next group of 4 voters or 4% picked “Mana Ada System?”

The next group of 3 voters or 3% picked “There is a Lack of Check and Balance”

A small number of 2 voters or 2% picked “Failure of MPs and the Justice System”

No one picked “Some Citizens Don’t Know How to Use the System”

On the other side, 2 voters or 2% selected “I Love the NEP – Give Me More!”

So do you think we should continue with such a flawed policy?

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Leadership Transitions

The ongoing very public spat between the PM and TDM is not good for Malaysia and we need to study carefully where we have gone wrong in the method of selection of our national leaders.

After 3 years some of us are disappointed that some important changes have not been achieved notably the implementation of the IPCMC and the 18 important corruption cases that most ordinary citizens keep talking about.

A multi-racial multi-cultural nation like Malaysia is not easy to govern and the fragile fabric of racial harmony is difficult to repair once it is damaged.

We simply cannot have a Prime Minister who is beholden to his predecessor and I believe our PM has steered a careful course between not offending TDM and looking to the greater good for Malaysians.

At times he has appeared too cautious and this can be mistaken for timidity or indecisiveness.
Seeking consensus is important for national cohesiveness but after a period of discussion the top leader must make up his own mind.

Our previous PM has mentioned that AAB was not his first choice so it seems that he was chosen PM in spite of TDM’s own preference. This means that our PM was selected by the majority of the power brokers.

We do not know who these people are and therein could lie the problem of Malaysia’s power transitions. For example in Indonesia, the President is elected by the voters and he is beholden to no one except to the electorate.

I don’t think we will adopt the Indonesian model but at least all Malaysians should be advised who gets to pick the Prime Minister. At present it would be good if the PM is selected by the BN Supreme Council and not just UMNO.

Coming back to the current dispute and how it should be settled. I don’t see any need for a settlement. Taking the English soccer team as an example, Sven Goran Erickson resigned after the World Cup and he has not spoken one word on how the England team is performing.

That is how it should be. Nowhere in the world do we get ex-CEO’s commenting on how the previous company is doing. Once you are done with it, it is done with you.

It is time to move on surely. Malaysia is a nation of laws and man must abide by those laws.


Monday, October 23, 2006

Better Enforcement Needed Not Constant "Upgrading"

According to this report,

"The government needs to spend RM1 billion to repair road accident "black spots", but the government can't afford to do the job straight away.

The Star newspaper quoted Works Minister Samy Vellu as saying that the government has so far spent RM130 million repairing 230 high-risk stretches of state roads."

We cannot keep on changing the road design to make it safer whenever there is a fatal accident unless the design was not up to standard in the first place.

No matter how good the design, a bad motorist will get involved in an accident.

What we need is better warnings and stricter enforcement.
For example in New Zealand at sharp bends, there is a warning sign stating the maximum speed to negotiate the bend. If you exceed that speed you will find it difficult to control your vehicle in that bend unless you are a race car driver.

PS. I'm now in Manila and I feel the drivers here are better than Malaysian drivers.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Enjoy Your Holidays!

Dear Readers
If you are celebrating any of the festivals I would like to wish you

Happy Deepavali or
Selamat Hari Raya

If you are driving please be extra careful and realise that many on the roads may not be as experienced as you.

I'm taking a short break until 25th October and not sure if there is access to the Net. But there are many articles written in 2005 you can refer to if you are new here.

Let us all work together to make Malaysia a better place for all its citizens.


Moving Targets Make Little Sense

Since there is now a healthy debate on the success or lack thereof of the NEP even after more than 35 years with the same government it makes little sense with just presenting the balance sheet item like “30% equity target has not been achieved as at 31st December 2005”.

In any financial reporting system there is the profit and loss account for the period and also the all important cash flow which can tell if a company is healthy or not.

Since the government is preparing to disclose the EPU methodology of how the share equity is calculated, we should also be asking more details like the following to discover why after so many long years the moving target remains so elusive.

(please click on diagram to enlarge)
I am sure the government has the computing capability to account for all the goodies they have given out under the NEP.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Prompt Refunds Would Also Be Nice...

It is good to see the IRB developing systems to enable taxpayers to check their accounts online and also make payments via credit cards.

Perhaps one other area they should seriously look at is a prompt refund whenever payments are due back to the taxpayer.

Now the only thing a taxpayer gets is a statement recording how much is due back to the taxpayer with the proviso like:

“The following has not been taken into account after the date for which the statement period covers:

• Penalty for late payment

• Cancellation of penalty

• Taxation for the period

• Other taxes that have not been calculated “

We all know when the IRB makes a demand for payment they give you 30 days or there is a 10% penalty.

So I suggest to the IRB they should improve their system so that when a refund statement is made, all taxpayers will welcome the cheque that should accompany the letter.

Unless the IRB modifies their system so that so credit balances earn some interest like the lowest rate paid by banks for one month fixed deposits.


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Never the Twain Shall Meet

If we study carefully the basis of the dispute between the government and ASLI’s methods of calculating, just a simple understanding will show how the target of 30% will be hard to achieve in the next 100 years.

I am not a researcher but would like to make the following observations based on the basis of what is reasonable and fair:

The NEP had a definite shelf life but that was extended by a government that steamrolled its policies instead of looking at the various weakness in the policies.

The number of companies in the government’s study is not really a fair measure and in fact can put a serious curb on people who want to do business – the so called private investors. These people take a lot of risk and create many jobs for all Malaysians. I think this method of calculating the 30% equity is unfair and in fact most businesses lose money and have to wind up.

So we simply take the par value of shares that is the hard earned capital obtained from blood sweat and tears and want to extract a 30% share it is a form of unfair taxation as even our ex-PM mentioned that the Chinese pay more than 80% of taxes.

Those companies that do extremely well and want to expand further usually undertake a public issue of shares that require the mandatory 30% “pass over” and we know that even Ministers have got involved in such “get rich quick” schemes by using proxies.

Some public listed companies even used their good offices to enrich third parties by playing “pass the property” gambit. This is such a simple way to enrich anyone in the loop as finally bodies like the EPF can be used to finance marked-up deals.

By not taking the market value, we are ignoring the growth and power of the giants in business. It also ignores the run down in value of companies that may have required much paid up capital but now almost worthless as the small company usually does not survive two generations.

Of course some people of all races have really benefited from NEP policies but these are far and few in between and usually have political connections.

As far as GLCs are concerned, if they are owned by the government then we should expect a fairer distribution of the directors’ posts to better reflect the nation’s composition. Taxpayers should be able to require a better performance from such companies since they usually control important sectors of the economy.

My basic belief is that government should only form the climate for business to flourish and not get so directly involved. Just see how a simple document like the AP can be so easily abused.

Let us bury the NEP as it has outlived its purpose and agreed expiry date.
So the question all Malaysians should ask is “Why did the NEP fail even after 35 years?”

graphics: malaysiakini

Sunday, October 15, 2006

98% Readers Want an Inquiry for the Judiciary Happenings of 1988

Do You Support an Inquiry of the 1988 Judiciary Happenings?
This was the question posed to readers in MALAYSIAWATCH POLL 14.
Here are the views of 48 readers.

98% of the readers supported the inquiry for the following reasons:

29 readers or 60% answered “YES I Want Justice Served on Those Who Abused the Judiciary”

10 readers or 21% chose “YES It Will Give Malaysians and MPs the Chance to Prevent Similar Injustices”

8 readers or 17% felt “YES It Will Help Restore the Good Name of Those Who Were Unjustly Dismissed”

1 reader or 2% believed “NO Nothing Good Can Come Out of an Official Inquiry”

There you have it.

This week’s poll is what do you think of the ASLI Debacle? Take the poll and give feedback to the government.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Who Moved My Caviar?

That seems to be the reaction of the ruling elite towards the ASLI Report that showed how the 30% equity share had already been achieved.

Instead of using their intelligence to ponder how to overcome the new challenges of aiding all the poor and unconnected citizens of whom there are millions, they chose to demonise the author of the research paper.

It seems to be a classic example described in the book, “Who Moved My Cheese?” of how we must always be prepared for change.

One of the interesting items of contention by the EPU is the use of par value for shares instead of the market rate.

This is a very simplistic way to calculate share value.

Is this how Khazanah and other bodies sell the shares to selected parties?

For example if a GLC wanted to sell shares in TNB do they use RM1 par value as the selling price?
The buyer could buy at RM1 and within a year sell at RM9 and then get on the queue for the next hand-out.

The other question that can be answered is, “Was the par value used for the whole period of the NEP or is this a new accounting feature?”

Photo: http://www.911caviar.com/miva/graphics/00000001/caviar-snail.jpg

Don’t Hurt My Feelings or That Would Be Sedition?

That seems to be the mantra nowadays when people are questioning the basic assumptions made by the EPU after the furore caused by the ASLI report that the 30% equity target had already been achieved.

Whenever national leaders cannot or do not want to explain anything they simply resort to this veiled threat
to anyone who dares to ask the basic questions like “How, What, When and Why.”

If this nation is to become great, all the studies made by the EPU or any public organization must be put to rigorous public scrutiny.

It seems that some people believe that the public can still be cowed with thinly veiled threats.

This is a more acceptable response and perhaps our MPs should wake up from their 49 years of slumber and save this nation from getting flushed down the drain.

It is timely that the reports on cloned APs are making news as this shows how the NEP has generated all kinds of nefarious activities. Even having 500APs a year or the equivalent of RM12.5m easy money is not sufficient for people who are greedy.

I would even suggest that the excesses of the NEP can cause corruption. Honest civil servants and police can see and feel the conspicuous consumption of the connected cronies who seem to have unlimited wealth.

Maybe it is difficult for the government or the EPU to explain the why and how the income gap has widened dramatically as the affirmative policies have been in place for more than 35 years.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Malaysian X-Files – The Case of the Cloned APs

So now we have another case of cloned APs involving another prominent VIP.
It seems as if cars are some invisible goods that cannot be counted and easily traced and some people have been able to abuse the system by cloning APs and bringing in more cars than were allowed thereby putting the local car industry in jeopardy.

Maybe it was a good thing as it provided a shock to local manufacturers to buck up as the price of the AP can cost RM20000 and even then the imported cars were giving the locals a good run for the money.

In the process some people controlling the system also ran with the money and it was reported that the process of getting the AP cloned was about RM15000 each.

Now if the Customs and Police are serious about tracing the masterminds they should question the source vigorously and clean up their backyards.

Today’s back-tracking does not repair the damage and people cannot make casual remarks in front of reporters. Besides the first off-hand comments probably reflect best a person’s state of mind rather than later after some calculated reflection.

For a start the ACA could be directed to check out all the Customs officers handling APs and determine if anyone is living beyond their means and declared assets.

It was also reported that a Minister had purchased a car with a cloned AP. If we follow the law to the letter, that car should be confiscated as evidence.

Naaaw – I don’t think that is going to happen in Bolehland. Hell will freeze over first.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Basic Flaws in the NEP

This is one example how the NEP has failed.
Greed is always present in all humans only the degree varies.

Therefore any government policy that encourages greed must be subject to thorough checks and proper balances imposed.

There is now an uproar over the ASLI study that showed the 30% equity target has been achieved but since our leaders themselves are not certain how the numbers have been conjured the research body has been forced to retract its findings. How sad for the future of Malaysia when prominent figures can threaten others for “playing with fire.”

Such is the state of racial affairs in Malaysia when ministers can speak only in terms of race more in tune with the Klu Klax Klan.

This story illustrates just one incidence of how our legislators have been induced to approve anything that is proposed by the government. I wonder what sweet deals other senators have been provided.

From the story, the company was given “more than 500 APs a year”.

If we take the value of an AP as RM25000 each it means the company enjoyed a gross profit of

RM25000 X 500 = RM12,500,000

Now if this concession had been given to some poor village cooperative society perhaps 100 adults could have had the chance to escape the poverty trap.

Don’t senators get paid an allowance that allows them to live above the poverty line?

photo: My daughter caught this striking Ferrari in London

Why Has the NEP Failed Even After 35 Years?

That is your question for MALAYSIAWATCH POLL 15 since so much has been stirred up in the past few weeks.

It is an important question to ponder as it seems the ruling party wants all the policies to continue until 2020 when we will transform dramatically like the ugly pupa into a beautiful butterfly.

Someone mentioned once that insanity is the condition where you expect different results by repeating the same mistakes.

35 years is a long sentence for many. I just wonder why some people can consider discussing the NEP as a sensitive subject. Who will be the person most aggrieved - the person who suffered the brunt of marginalisation or the person who removed all the cream?

This will be a good subject to engage all the top scholars and industrialists of the nation. Who knows? Some good research papers on the NEP may help improve our universities' rankings.

Monday, October 09, 2006

That Apology from LKY

Based on the MALAYSIAWATCH POLL 13 that drew a response of 112 votes, the following is the breakdown of readers’ opinions. Thanks for the feedback.

“LKY Has Spoken the Truth” was picked by 86 readers or 77%

“NEP Policies Help Mainly Cronies” was picked by 11 readers or 10%

“The Government Should Help ALL the POOR” was chosen by 10 readers or 9%

“Some NEP Policies Should Be Corrected” was chosen by 2 readers or 2%

Some readers still believe that

“We Have Complete Trust in our Government” and this was picked by 3 readers or 3%

It seems that the qualified apology from LKY will be considered a correct and appropriate measure for most of my readers.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Weaning a Nation of Addicts

Weaning is one of the most fundamental processes that is necessary for kids to develop properly into adults and anyone who has raised children knows that it can also be a period of trial and tribulation.

Without weaning the growing child will find it difficult to obtain all the nutrients necessary for proper growth. Have you ever seen a 30-year old adult still sucking at a milk bottle?

In nature animals are quite ruthless when a mother eagle will force their young off a cliff in order to get it to fly. If it does not fly it will never fly – period.

Looking at the various issues affecting Malaysia it seems that we did not implement a proper program of weaning the handicapped off government handouts and now we have grown-ups who still demand special benefits that were agreed for 30 years by the various races after the infamous May 13 incidents.

That the objectives of the NEP have not been achieved should hardly surprise anyone as all the policies have practices have not really been subject to a rigorous and righteous review and the ruling elites have simply bulldozed through whatever measures they deem suitable for their own self-preservation.

I am sure that ALL Malaysians can agree that eradicating poverty is indeed a noble intention though some of us will believe that this task can never be completed as poverty is somewhat like a disease. You can eradicate most of it but there will always be new cases turning up in other forms.

More so as globalization take hold many individuals will find themselves displaced such as older workers and those who did not update their skills with lifelong learning.

Malaysia’s economy cannot become more competitive and attractive to investors if the present policies continue as we already see the talents of thousand of Malaysians leaving the country. Ironically many of them received government scholarships and have now decided that they do not want to return to a country where who you know counts more than what you know.

The main question of 30% equity by whatever yardstick is fraught with many loopholes for abuse to occur.
For example if tomorrow we can transfer 30% of all our nation’s assets to whomsoever is deemed worthy recipients and within a year some of the recipients decided that they wanted to enjoy their wealth with an “eat, drink and be merry” philosophy are we then obliged to top up their wealth so that they can enjoy another round of carousing?

This is the fatal flaw that has beset our national planners or perhaps they have discovered that they are enjoying a really good thing with a cowered (some say coward) electorate.

There is no where else in the world where adults have still not been weaned and unfortunately after 30 years many still clamour for their hand-outs.

This year a Nobel prize was awarded in medicine for studies to turn genes on and off to control disease. Maybe we can ask them if they can study the Malaysian genes. After 30 years the gene to excel and be independent of the government may have become dormant or even extinct in some Malaysians.

Given that poverty is NEVER going to be 100% eliminated we should simply scrap the NEP completely.

I would replace the NEP with a Poverty Alleviation Program or PAP based only on the following criteria.

• All those considered the poor based on income and assets level only with no RACE agenda.

• Low and Medium cost housing discount given once in a lifetime to such individuals

• Each poor family is to be given one scholarship for the oldest qualifying child to a local university and then asked to serve in government for say 3 years.

The government will adopt MERITROCACY practices and achieve a higher level of performance and results in all ministries with a blanket crackdown on corruption.

With the surplus generated in all areas, the government will be able to allocate 10 to 15% of its budget for the PAP program.

With a determined thrust to alleviate poverty no one will be able to claim that they have suffered marginalization and Malaysia will be well on the way to achieve VISION 2020.

The first simple step that the government can take immediately to wean its citizens is to eliminate the 10 to 15% discount for housing.

This discount should only be given to the first time house buyer and if the house costs below RM200000. Otherwise it is a case whereby many poorer house buyers are being made to subsidise the few privileged and wealthy.

This is a case of parasitizing and over a long period all the blood will be drained from the hard-working citizens of all races to feed this addiction. Leeches have been found to be useful for medicinal treatment but human leeches should be eliminated as soon as possible and not allowed to multiply.

We now need the new NEP for Nationwide Eradication of Parasites. What say you?

Photo: http://www.canadianpond.ca/sangsue-surgery.jpg ( Leeches Can be Useful unlike Human Parasites)