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

Friday, September 29, 2006

Anyone for London Training?

Instead of training our athletes overseas the money would be better used to organise sports centers in the various states so that aspiring athletes are given more opportunities to develop their skills and the better ones given scholarships to the Sports Schools in Bukit Jalil.

For example it is quite difficult to rent badminton halls in most towns and the rent is too high for students. Some money should be allocated so that students pay less to use sports facilities.

In Johor Bahru the public tennis courts near the beach made way for Danga Bay development and I don’t believe any replacement was made. In one stroke eight beautiful public courts were gone for good.

Our junior soccer players can even be organised into various leagues in Malaysia and the champions playing senior players in local friendlies.

If they are any good I am sure talent scouts from overseas will sign them up.
The present scheme for the London project seems to be on the basis of, “Let’s throw mud on the wall and how much sticks.”

Best to forget about soccer if you look at the skills and physique of the Africans. We should focus on non-contact sports for another 2 generations.
Our children are getting taller but unfortunately most tend to be obese.

Even for badminton we are struggling to maintain some respect as most of our players’ weakest link is the fighting spirit.

Of course visiting such a local center in nearby Ulu Tiram for publicity is not so glamorous.

This London project is one of the most hare-brained schemes devised. It ranks with sending a Bolehnaut into space or doing a drop test for Proton at the North Pole.

photo: http://squashweb.squashpics.nl/albums/dutchopen2005-2/normal_Kampioene%20Nicol%20David%20in%20actie.jpg

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Do You Support an Inquiry of the 1988 Judiciary Happenings?

Since the wound is still festering for many Malaysians this is your question to ponder for MALAYSIAWATCH POLL 14.

So What’s the Big Surprise?

According to this story

“Dang Wangi OCPD Asst Comm Kamal Pasha Jamal said Musa only gave an hour’s notice before turning up.”

The new IGP seems to know how to manage and control his men but I suggest the next time give 30 minutes grace and then perhaps a minimum of 10 minutes warning to be applied to all visits.
One hour is a long time to get things in proper order. A illegally detained prisoner may be transferred elsewhere and cops who have gone AWOL will have time to return from a 50km radius.
If you have a rogue cop he will have enough time to go out, do a snatch theft and return to base for inspection.

This mode of control is only good if one can maintain the element of surprise. One would expect for good operational efficiency a police department should be prepared for such scrutiny with a 10 minute warning.

As a security force the police should be ready all the time. You can be sure any terrorist group is not going to phone and give them even a single minute warning before launching an attack.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Doctors in Peril

That a young doctor lost her life is itself a tragedy.

Now it is even sadder to know that the government does not even provide compensation as she had not been confirmed in her post.

What kind of caring government do we have?
One can accept that a person on probation may not get all the perks of seniors but surely there must be some basic life and accident insurance provided by an employer?

No wonder our young doctors are reluctant to return to serve the nation when they are being treated worse than Indonesian maids who are required to be provided some insurance benefits.

I am sure her success as a doctor would have had a great impact in her family’s future and now that has been ended.

As the hospital (and the government) has not seen fit to safeguard this young doctor perhaps her family will consider the possibility that the ambulance had not been properly maintained or driven and that negligence caused the accident.

Any lawyers care to comment?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Are Malaysians Afflicted with Denial Syndrome or Stockholm Syndrome?

A few months ago there was a feature stating that the mental health of Malaysians is poor with about 10% affected by some mental problem.

Perhaps one reason could be the lack of mental health experts and not many doctors want to become shrinks as most Malaysians only get psychiatric help after they suffer a nervous breakdown.

Society as a whole prefers not to know about “nut cases” and only hope they keep them locked up in Tanjong Rambutan.

As society becomes more fragmented with less family support and the stress of urban life it is not surprising that we have more burnout and mental health problems.

So the vehement outburst of so many against LKY’s comments may be attributed to two possible conditions. We are suffering from “Denial Syndrome” or “Stockholm Syndrome” or a combination of both.

After more than 30 years of NEP sapping the life of the population, many leaders still cannot admit that the policies have been hijacked for the benefit of only a few and many tens of thousands still barely eke out a living.

These people have a strong Denial Sydrome and cannot admit that many grave mistakes have been made and citizens have been deprived of a just and equitable implementation of policies.

The majority of the population suffers from Stockholm Syndrome
as they have been held ransom by oppressive laws for so many years and deprived of even simple democratic practices like local government elections.

Like kidnapped victims, they have gotten used to electoral abuse, gerrymandering and the absence of a government with integrity. Even when they are given the chance to escape by voting in a new government they choose the status quo.

So even when LKY broadcasts that we are being marginalized many prefer to simply ignore the warning.

It is a definite wake-up call. If we choose to ignore it, the next time we will discover that the ship of our nation has gone over the falls.

Monday, September 25, 2006

What Results Would You Like to See in the Next General Elections?

The response for MALAYSIAWATCH POLL 12 was more encouraging with 48 votes the highest so far. Thanks to the voters.

45 voters wanted to see the BN lose badly in the next GE with 60% or 29 votes hoping that PKR or DAP would win to from a few state governments.

10 votes or 21% wanted the BN to lose the 2/3 majority

6 votes or 13% wanted the BN to form a minority government

There was only 1 vote or 2% for each of the following:

BN Retain Current Position

PAS to Form Government in a Few States

Local Elections Reinstated

For this week’s poll, let’s see how sensitive Malaysians are towards comments from Outsiders.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Grass is Lousier on the Other Side of the Causeway

So LKY has managed to ruffle some feathers again; mostly those of BN parties.

Instead of flying off the handle, the word “naughty” being the mildest rebuke, we should accept the comments as the view of an outsider who is giving his considered opinion.

Of course Singapore is not a perfect country or it will be renamed Paradise or Heaven and that would need the Pope’s edict.

So what is wrong with the comments about “marginalization”? If we look at the way government policies have been hijacked to suit the objectives of the ruling party, it seems that the “M” word is too polite and inaccurate.

Just consider three aspects of everyday living and contemplate how the lives of Malaysians have been affected after 30 years of NEP policies.

• Millions of youths have been denied the chance to study in local universities as the parallel stream of admission favours one group of citizens.

• Hundreds of civil servants have been bypassed for promotion as others were fast-tracked and now the remaining non-Bumi holders in the top 3 posts in government departments are either retired or about to do so.

• Hundreds of professional spouses of non-Muslims have been denied or delayed PR status so their very existence in Malaysia is unstable.

After so many years of NEP policies many leaders have become immune to the situation and perhaps it requires someone like LKY to remind us that we have been drifting with the currents of discontent and “tiadapathy”.

Even after having endured the marginalization process by the NEP, Malaysians now have to consider the burden of citizens who now cannot work without crutches. The worst part is that we still have leaders telling people that those crutches are integral to their existence.

Some of you may have not heard the story of the little boy and the butterfly.

The boy was watching the pupa struggling to emerge from its cocoon. It was a great struggle and the boy decided to assist the pupa. He took a pair of scissors and cut the cocoon open.

Then he was surprised to find that the butterfly could not spread its wings and fly away. It just died before his eyes.

The boy was sad and asked his mother what happened.
“My son,” said the mother,” by struggling to break the cocoon, the pupa forces body fluids into the wing membranes so that when it emerges the wings will be able to work properly. Since you cut the cocoon it did not have that chance.”

We don’t have any famous sportswomen but Nicol David who retained her World Title recently.
Suppose she decided she is already the best player and decides to take a three month holiday to party and enjoy life. Do you think she will win the next time she plays?

Any professional will tell you that to maintain top form requires hard work and consistent application.

NEP policies do not do that but encourage nepotism and corruption as even simple projects can be easily manipulated.

So I would replace the “M” word with Discrimination.

photo: Niagara Butterfly Park

Friday, September 22, 2006

Changing the Government – Malaysian Style

We should not encourage a military coup like Thailand but how do we change a government that is showing signs of tiredness and a lack of new ideas to attain developed nation status?

Let us look at some basic problems we are facing:

• Racial politics is still very evident and even national leaders resort to this instead of developing a unified and inclusive approach to nation building.

• National policies have been hijacked by leaders to create an exclusive club where cronies get most of the cream and only leave some crumbs for the rest of the population.

• Affirmative action policies have failed to make any significant changes to most of those living in poverty irrespective of race.

• There is still massive leakage in most projects awarded from incomplete and failed projects, missing projects and substandard works.

• There is significant human capital loss and even Bumis educated overseas at taxpayers’ expense are not returning to serve the nation.

• There is a reluctance to discuss important issues like the sacking of the judges as leaders do not know how to address important issues like corruption and an independent judiciary.

Even though the BN government received the biggest show of support in the last General Elections that was predicated by a promise of reforms in the government but sadly no major changes have occurred and everything is a “work in progress”.

Even the much anticipated IPCMC has been stalled and it seems some MPs have an incestuous relationship with rogue members of the police who oppose the independent commission.

So how do we go about changing the government if we do not like their leaders or their policies?

I predict that the BN government can be defeated within the next three general elections provided they do not resort to electoral fraud and the police and defence forces are loyal to the duly elected government of the day.

It is good to hear the IGP mention that the force should be “colour-blind” so I presume they will remain loyal to the government whenever it changes.

How does one eat an elephant?
The answer: One piece at a time.

The strategy is this:

Voters in a few states like Penang, Kedah and Sabah, Sarawak should vote in an opposition state government like PKR or DAP so that all Malaysians can witness how they implement good policies for the whole population.

Voters will also deny BN their 2/3 majority or even force BN to form a minority government. Hopefully this will encourage them to give up racist politics and evolve more multi-racial parties.

Change will be painful for many but if we do not change Malaysia will soon be overtaken by many other countries as many of our policies are hampering the nation in the global market.

If you read the news during the past few months, many items were related to the problems created by our racial political parties as it is the nature of the beast. One cannot expect a party founded on race not to fight the cause of that race.

How do we change a racist party?
We do have that power to change it as they will not do it themselves. In other words we can put them out of their misery by simply not voting for any race-based party.

During the last GE most Malaysians gave AAB a massive “thumbs-up” for change. Let us give the leaders another massive signal that we reject race-based parties by voting against the major race-based parties.

What is the worst case scenario?
I don’t believe the BN government will lose but they will lose the 2/3 majority and perhaps another one or two state governments.

That should be good to get them to do some serious rethinking to ensure Malaysia progresses on the road to better racial harmony and a shared vision for peace and prosperity.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Empty Nest Syndrome

I guess that is the situation my wife and I are facing.

My son, our youngest child has gone to the UK to study law. In a way he discovered his career interest by accident or perhaps it was by divine planning.

He had to study A levels in JB and decided to take up Mathematics, Accounting and Law at Crescendo College and became so interested in Law that it was used for bedtime reading.

I am glad that he discovered a subject he could be interested in as that is almost half the battle won.

After having 4 children in our house with in-laws and also maids, our house is really empty now. That is devoid of people but all the stuff they leave behind for storage or safe-keeping.

With one daughter in Canada, another in the UK and a third in Singapore I guess we have contributed to the “diaspora” of Malaysian talents.

But my belief is that my children should be qualified to work where their talents will be appreciated and where their careers can develop to benefit both themselves and their employer for a mutually rewarding relationship

The good thing is that we will look forward to their visits once or twice a year.
I guess my family has come full circle now. I studied in the UK and now my son also has that opportunity.

As a preparation for his stay overseas we sent him for an Outward Bound School course in Lumut as he was not selected for the National Service scheme.
As a matter of comparison, some OBS trainees who had attended also NS claimed that OBS is a much tougher course.

I am sure he will have an experience that will last a lifetime.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Have Malaysians Given Up on Our PM?

The response to MALAYSIAWATCH POLL 11 was disappointing as there were only 11 votes with the majority deciding that failure outnumbered achievement by 8 to 3.

The breakdown is as follows:

5 decided that Racial Politics Still Strong in BN Parties
2 felt that he Failed to Implement IPCMC
1 felt that No Progress Observed on Major Corruption Cases

2 chose Allowing Greater Freedom of Expression
1 picked Not Interfering with Judiciary

I wonder if there would have been more voters if I had included
NEXT! as a choice?

The new poll is what would you like to see after the Next General Elections?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

It Takes a Village to Raise a Child

This is a sorry case of a misguided child that society has failed.

Instead of being busy in school to prepare for a meaningful life, she has been wrongly advised by her elders to commit a crime.

Having to take care of a baby is really a heavy responsibility for even married couples. One cannot imagine the struggles this child had to face being a single mother who had to live with her poor mother who was also struggling.

The positive outcome of this story is that the baby is safe and now in the care of the father’s family. I hope the Attorney-General’s department is prepared to temper justice with some mercy and not prefer charges against this poor girl.

Maybe the police can give a severe reprimand to the girl, her boyfriend and whoever else was in the plot to “kidnap” the baby. This would help everyone and also show the caring side of the police and help gain better cooperation of the public in the struggle against crime.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Can We Stop the Good Cop, Bad Cop Routine?

Oops they did it again. Maybe our journalists can be excused as they did not to ask probing questions or maybe sensationalism helps to sell more copies.

Today the IGP say he was misquoted and what he meant was that there were some items in the Royal Commission’s report that were not fair to the police.

It was also mentioned that the police have also submitted their own proposals to make the IPCMC workable.

Since the AG’s office seems to be taking forever to get to grips with the conflicting requirements it would be worthwhile for the police or the minister to disclose to the public what were in their proposals.

I am sure the public will be able to contribute to the discussion and after one week’s airing in Lim Kit Siang’s blog a good solution will be found.

After all the public has paid good money to read the commission’s report and they should be entitled to know what else can be done to enhance the effectiveness of the IPCMC.

Both the public and the majority of the police officers know that to create a world class police force we need to raise standards and the IPCMC is one way of doing that.

Just an example: A few weeks ago there was a report that the police would not entertain SMS in Chinese and my reaction then was “Surely that’s not such a big problem?”
With IT and smarter mobile phones, translation should be convenient.
Today it is good to read that the language barrier has been solved.

SYABAS to the police for this improvement!

photo: malaysiakini. Not everyone gets invited to collect a police permit for a demo.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Why are We Such Hypocrites?

It all depends on whose rights we are talking about.

We can roundly condemn the USA for jailing Malaysian terror suspects nd yet we also have people detained here for many years under the infamous ISA without any judicial process.

All it takes is an order signed by the Interior Minister and then you can disappear into the Malaysian equivalent of the Gulag Archipelago.

Nowadays the minister’s decision cannot be challenged in the courts and thus we have created our own Malaysian demi-gods.

Looking at the manner in which the UK authorities treated the bomb suspects we can learn that good policing and forensics experts can provide evidence to charge criminals in a court of law within a specific number of days.

The UK had their experience during the Northern Ireland civil war that saw many incidents of terrorism, bombing and slaying and there was even a case where terror suspects were jailed for many years though they were innocent. However justice prevailed and eventually they were exonerated.

Many people are asking for a review of the sacking of the top Malaysian judges and even though “what’s done cannot be undone” we can restore the good name of the judges who gave their all defending the nation.

If we bother to study history we can learn much about the evil that men do.

Photo: http://smh.com.au/ffximage/2005/11/27/malaysiaabuse_wideweb__470x277,0.jpg

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Let’s Give the New IGP Three Months

We have a new IGP and he seems to know what he has to do to get crime reduced under his watch.

Looking at some measures he has taken, he appears to be a good successor to the former IGP so maybe he deserves a fair chance to get our police force back in the public’s good books.

Of course we still have the IPCMC to implement and looking at the various steps taken to improve the force, it appears that the authorities are following those recommendations that they like and not a holistic view of the whole process of the control of law and order.

Regarding the question of police reports, I would like to make the following observations:

We have had the experience of a burglary in Johor Bahru and Singapore over the past 15 years.

Johor Baru.
About 15 years ago, when we returned home after a short holiday in Penang we found that our house had been broken into. There was no sign of the intruder who had entered through the roof on the second floor and left through a side window also on the second floor.

We lodged a police report and the police arrived after about an hour even though our house is about five km from the Police HQ in JB.

The forensics team checked the house for prints and also took away a drawer from a cupboard that had stored some cash. The burglar apparently was quite happy with his find as nothing else was disturbed. The police took just 30 minutes to check out the scene.

Until today we have not heard anything from the JB police and I guess the IO has probably retired or maybe promoted to some rank like ASP. I suppose that drawer is collecting dust or termites in the Unsolved Crimes section.

Maybe it is left there to let superiors know that “Hey, we have so much work to do, you know?”

Singapore.This happened in the past 2 months.
The HDB flat had a positive giveaway. Newspapers had been left uncollected during weekends when my wife returns to JB.
The burglar removed the bracket holding the padlock of the grille and simply pried open the wooden door as there is some slack there that enable a professional to force open the door without having to pick the lock.

Once inside, the burglar took his time to ransack the flat. He left the air-con running when my wife discovered the burglary after mid-night. My wife and son entered the flat and found the bedroom doors locked.

Fearing that the burglar was still inside, she quickly ran downstairs to call the police. They arrived within 8 minutes in 2 cars and prepared for any eventuality like an armed burglar trying to escape. The room was empty.

I arrived from JB an hour later and the police were still there checking the scene for prints and other evidence.

The other part of their operation I like is that one officer was actually writing out the police report while interviewing my wife. No need to go to the police station.

They could not find any prints but gave my wife a Report Reference and asked her for receipts of jewelry items.

The next day the police phoned and asked for some missing info like a watch serial number. They did advise that it seemed to be a professional job and with no positive clues, the case would be difficult. They deemed it unlikely to be the work of foreign workers working on a nearby project.

For the JB case the house next door was undergoing renovations and it would have been easy for the workers there to observe us packing our luggage etc.

Some simple steps to avoid house break-ins:

 Get a friend to stay in or look after the house like collect mail.

 Cancel newspapers if you have nobody living in and hope the newspaper guy does not have criminal connections

 Program your lights, TV, radio etc to operate automatically to fool outsiders that someone is in.

 Install a burglar alarm.

 Make friends with your neighbours so that they can keep an eye open for you.

If you do the above, it is not advisable to inform anyone else as the fewer who know of your absence, the more secure your home.

I wish the new IGP success in his important role and I feel he should have been given an extension of another year service at least to fulfill that task.

photo: malaysiakini

Monday, September 11, 2006

Taking Care of our Overseas Students

It is good that rates for our students overseas have been revised as studying overseas is a major problem if the living allowance is insufficient.

What is missing from this article is the number of government scholars in the various categories.

It is quite surprising that we can afford to send thousands of students for pre-university students overseas when we have many colleges in Malaysia that can provide good courses.

Speaking from personal experience, my son completed 3 subjects at A level standard in one year at a Crescendo College and 2 of those subjects were brand new i.e. Law and Accounting.

So what is the rationale for sending such students overseas if many cannot even cut it in local schools?

My daughter who studied in IMU mentioned that there were students in the school who had to return after failing direct entry to an overseas university and had to restart all over.

It appears that the selection process seems to have failed. Many of the students were probably not qualified for scholarships but were awarded on some unspecified criteria.

Perhaps the minister can reveal the number of students in each category and also why so many have to be sent for pre-U studies overseas?

For RM3000 per month, that would support 3 local students. This is a waste of public funds when so many bright students have to forgo higher education.

Photo: My son and daughter near the 12 apostles, Victoria

Let the People Decide?

I find this position strange as it infers that the people must live with any bad and unjust decision of a minister who is endowed with dictatorial powers as his decision is final and cannot be challenged in a court of law.

We all know that ministers are human and do make honest mistakes plus some dishonest ones as well.

Not many of their decisions have been challenged and only a few citizens will take the matter to court so what really is the minister scared of?

Making the people wait five years is too long to kick out the minister and even then it may not be possible as the minister may not stand for election in the place where the aggrieved persons are living. What other recourse do people have? Street demonstrations?

The status quo was more just as the minister would have to think carefully before implementing any policy changes.

We agree that thinking may involve some painful exercise of their underworked brains but if anyone wants to be a minister we should demand that they do some serious thinking first.

This lazy method of no challenge has seen a plethora of bad decisions, U-turns and hasty implementation all of which affect everyone’s lives.

All ministers must accept that whatever they decide is not carved in stone and the majority of the population know that sometimes ministers are prone to making bad decisions.

YES. Let the people decide. Why not have a referendum listing all the amendments to the constitution and asking the voters’ choices? Malaysia will be a happier country if its citizens are given a bigger role rather than the once every 5 years routine.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

How Safe is Jumping?

This incident is unfortunate and a probe should be conducted and the results made known so that the public can be reassured that our defense force is not subject to unnecessary risks.

Parachute jumping is a risky activity and a free fall routine entails more risk, as divers will reach a high velocity before they open their parachutes.

Based on this report,it appears that the trainer jumped after the first parachutist. The first parachutist managed to open his chute but the trainer who jumped later did not deploy his chute.

One can only speculate on the course of events, as I do not think we have the capability to do a CSI type of forensics to determine the exact course of events.

The following questions can be asked:

 Did the trainer have a medical history that could have caused a stroke or blackout?

 Was a medical condition the reason for the trainer’s planned retirement?

 Was the parachute gear in proper working order? What is the failure or reject rate of parachute packing?

It seems that the trainer falling at great speed collided with the first parachutist and both rendered incapable of operating their reserve chutes. The first parachutist could also have panicked when his parachute was disturbed by the collision.

Let us hope the authorities will be forthcoming with more definitive answers.

Friday, September 08, 2006

What a Brilliant Idea NOT!

The goons at MARA have devised a clever scheme
to avoid hauling all their loan defaulters to court.

Just pay RM20 monthly and take forever to pay off your study loans that can cost thousands.
It is somewhat similar to the discounts announced recently by the traffic police that have been rescinded by the Cabinet.

I think the following should be done by MARA instead:

 Hire about 1000 of those unemployed graduates to track down the defaulters for a one-year contract. Pay them RM400 monthly allowance plus a finder’s fee of 10% of loan recovered.

 Get a bank to take over the loans at a discount like 10 to 15%. The bank will then get the loan defaulters to schedule payments.

 Ask MPs to change the laws so those loans given by the government can be deducted from the EPF account.

This RM20 monthly deduction shows the people in MARA have no idea how to proceed with loan recovery except publish names in the papers. And that too costs quite a lot. I suspect the advertising costs have been more than the loans recovered.

We can understand that some loan recipients may have trouble finding jobs but they should be made to start repaying their loans from the second month onwards.

The study loan repayment should be their first priority, ahead of car, house loans and family needs.

Any monthly payment scheme should be based on some definite scale as follows:

 Loan repayment term maximum 8 years from start of first job

 Repayment to be 10% of basic pay or RM100 monthly whichever is more.

 Each year the monthly quantum will be raised by RM25 as per clause 2.

 Court action will be taken if default 2 months concurrent or more than 3 times in each year.

photo: http://www.freephoto1.com/photo/photo-money-5.jpg

MALAYSIAWATCH POLL 10 Results (31 August 31, 2006)

What Do You Think Would Be the Most Important Factor to Achieve BANGSA MALAYSIA?

The response was better with 27 respondents.

10 chose The Replacement of Race-based Parties with Multi-Racial Parties
6 chose The Demise of the BN Coalition
5 chose All Children Studying in the Same System until Graduation
3 chose The Removal for Compulsory Conversion to Marry Muslims
1 chose Allowing Children of Mixed Marriages to Decide on Religion at 18 years

2 picked We Have Already Achieved That
No one selected Allowing Apostasy for Muslims Without Undue Harassment

In the UK, Tony Blair has announced that he would resign sometime during the next 12 months. Over there democracy is thriving and even top leaders leave if they no longer enjoy the confidence of MPs and the electorate.

This week's poll give you the chance to share your views on our own PM's Performance.
The question is:

What Do You Consider the PM’s Greatest Achievement/Failure to Date?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

A Fine Deterrence?

Looking at the embarrassing overturning of the traffic police decision to reduce compound fines, it appears that some people are not aware of the authority given them.

Before a final decision is made to reduce fines, the government should examine why the fines were raised so steeply two years ago.

I believe it was made to get motorists to follow traffic laws more consistently and the number of accidents was very high.

If we examine present accident statistics the rate is still very bad.
Now we have a situation where thousands of motorists including Cabinet ministers simply to pay up even if the fines have been reduced as the privilege accorded to the ministers.

Perhaps this is the reason the police decided on their own to reduce the fines. If ministers can get discounts why not extend that benefit to all motorists who number in the thousands?

The basic cause of high road safety negligence is that laws are not strictly enforced on a continuous basis but more on a “as and when convenient basis”. So we have the usual high profile kick-off for the road safety campaign to suit the minister’s timetable 3 or 4 times a year.

After that the situation reverts to the normal anarchy on the roads and the following is envisaged:

 Many motorists break many laws
 The police catch a few
 Some decide to settle via unofficial means
 The police are not able to trace the offending motorists.

Until the next cycle of road safety.

One thing I’m sure about. Why did the police not just issue warrants for the recalcitrant ministers?
That would have sent the best message to the other motorists that they mean business.

I suggest the following to help reduce our accident rates:

 As excessive fines mean little if there is no enforcement right up to issuing warrants of arrest, reverting to the old rates will encourage more motorists to pay up. An analysis of pay-up rates for the old and new fines will show the direction we should be heading.

 The police must process unpaid summons faster like within a 2-month lapse after the summons remains unpaid.

 If the police cannot locate errant drivers they should be allowed to use “bounty hunters” to obtain the whereabouts of the wanted drivers. Use the Internet and have the name and IC number of the wanted drivers. Anyone except a police officer who provides the first correct location to enable them to arrest the errant driver will be paid RM20 or 10% of the compound fee which ever is lower.

Looking at our worsening traffic situation, it is like the last frontier akin to the Wild, Wild West except that instead of gunslingers we have motorists who use their lethal killing machines.

There is only limited personal freedom in Malaysia and few working adults engage in regular sports. Thus for many all our frustrations and stress are released by driving like a deranged monster. There is definitely a lot of aggression on our roads.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Could Steve Irwin Have Been Saved?

I’m not sure what is taught during first aid lessons these days but I still remember this during my days as a Scout during the 60s.

One does not remove a wound like a knife sticking in your body but keep the wound safe from further injury and get to the hospital. I think the reason is that the knife does no further damage but if removed uncontrolled bleeding can occur. So if you are not in a hospital for emergency treatment, you will bleed to death before you get there.

Being stung by a stingray is very painful but seldom fatal but a wound in the heart is very dangerous, as there is no way anyone can stop the bleeding without an emergency operation. The pain must have been really severe and the natural reaction is to remove the sting.

If you look at the diagram of the sting, it is jagged and designed to go only one way. Pulling it out will only make the wound worse.

I think I had an encounter with a stingray sometime in 1967. I was on the whaler (a rowboat with a sail) expedition during an Outward Bound Course and we were getting the boat ashore somewhere off Pangkor Island.

Suddenly I felt a sharp pain on my right ankle and I noticed something shadowy move in the murky water. I could not recognise the object and thought I had been bitten by a sea snake.
I quickly climbed aboard again. I examined the wound for puncture wounds like the teeth of a sea snake but found none. The wound was like someone had cut me with a razor just on the bony part of the ankle.

I was told to rest but the pain was quite bad. Even worse was the thought that so far away from civilisation and with no mobile phone and a slow boat, I believed I would be dead before we could reach any hospital.

The instructor told me later that I was really pale after the incident. I recovered to take part in the 3-mile walk a few days later but then the wound turned a little swollen and they sent me to Lumut Hospital for treatment.

After so many years I still have a small scar to remind me of the day I thought my time had come.

Respecting Nature

All of us are shocked that someone as experienced as Steve Irwin could have been killed by a stingray but his untimely death only proves two things:

 We must respect nature and all God’s other creatures and
 We know neither the time nor the place when our time on earth will be up.

So we should treasure the time we have with our loved ones and those we meet on a regular basis. There is goodness in every person and often we do not take the trouble and the time to understand our fellow human beings.

The only consolation about Steve’s death is that he probably died happy doing the thing he was really passionate about. Not many of us enjoy that privilege as we struggle with our daily routine.

Photo: this monitor lizard used to swim in our outdoor bathtub/fish pond but does not visit anymore.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Flushing our Funds?

Many Malaysians have poor toilet habits as most do not take the trouble to clean up their mess in public places although I think we are improving.

The more fundamental cause is that those who supervise toilet cleaners are mainly sleeping on the job and the property manager is just content to collect the entry fee and let you take your chances.

Now someone has this bright idea that if we spend RM500k on a self-cleaning toilet that will solve all our problems.

YES, That will work for a week or a month if our maintenance record is anything to go by.
Unless that RM500k includes two years maintenance contract to make sure everything works and for the cleaning chemicals and toilet paper.

Otherwise why should anyone pay that much for an APT which can be purchased for RM282k ex-New Zealand?
(click on “newpaper headline” at bottom of page)

How much would shipping and setting up cost?
Want to guess at some numbers?

I would guess another RM18k to include installation to bring that figure to RM300k assuming no import duties but need to pay sales tax.
The supplier needs to support his family so allow a margin of RM20k for each unit and the total cost should be RM310k tops.

Such facilities may be nice when it works properly but depending on automatic devices when humans are involved can prove disastrous as there have been incidents when people were ignorant of the cleansing cycle and got cleaned with the facility.

Also the skills required to keep the facility in good working order are much higher than those for the basic toilet where only rudimentary training in hygiene is necessary.

This seems to be a case of throwing good money after bad. Why not ask the manager in charge of the cleaning team find out how the better managed shopping centers organise their work schedules?

graphics: http://myspace-243.vo.llnwd.net/00294/34/22/294122243_m.gif

Monday, September 04, 2006

BEWARE! Malaysians on the Road

Maybe I should be happy as my 19-year old son passed his driving test the first time recently.

This time there was no request for any inducements to pass unlike 3 years ago when my daughter took her driving test. Then there was a scheme whereby non-Bumis were asked to pay more to “guarantee” a pass. Bumis paid less as the operators also applied some NEP principles.

Perhaps the anti-corruption drive is having some effect or maybe the increased fees have some provision to increase the chance of passing unless you do something completely stupid.

But this incentive is hardly the means to enforce safer driving habits. What is the status report on the recalcitrant ministers? All given a 100% discount?

But back to the scenario on new drivers. If your son or daughter has just passed the driving test you need to supervise their driving for at least a month or a minimum of 10 sessions before you allow him to drive unsupervised.

Some parents believe that just letting them learn on their own is best but please do not do that if you value your child’s life.

If you have just passed your driving test try to get an experienced driver to give you feedback on your driving. Having passed a driving test in Malaysia does not mean you can drive safely.

People do not realise how dangerous a car is. It can kill you and your friends.

Photo: http://www.nitrospeed.net/shows/40 (warning: may upset viewers)

The Simple Way to Avoid Conflicts of Interest

It is a fine balance that must be achieved when the family of leaders secure government contracts.

A son or daughter cannot be banned from obtaining such contracts as they too need to earn an honest living.

A national leader too is responsible for making sure that he is familiar with his speech material and should not place his entire trust in speech writers who may have their own agenda.

To me the easiest way to avoid such conflicts of interest is to make sure that most government projects are done via public tenders and those approving the contract are not related to who receive them.

Tender committees must also provide justification for the project approval and sometimes they need to give the reasons why the project was not awarded to the lowest contractor.

In order for the PM to be above such goings-on, tenders should be approved at minister’s level so that if there is any hanky-panky that minister has to answer and may even have to tender a resignation or hauled to court.

A few projects concerning national security will be approved with open tender but to keep everyone honest this information should be available to the public after 20 years.

We really cannot carry on business as usual with the annual horror stories from the Auditor-General if we are really serious about Vision 2020.

photo: View of window, London. Your view is different if you are looking from the outside or the inside.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions*

This is the second time that thousands of small investors have been deprived of the chance to invest in ASW2020 shares as the fund manager PNB did not provide safeguards to ensure that more Malaysians are given the opportunity to own such shares.

PNB has failed a provide a good mechanism whereby the small investor is given priority.

Before any such shares are issued in the future, I suggest that PNB issue a breakdown of who are the owners of such shares as follows:

1 to 100 shares owned by 100000
101 to 1000 shares owned by 65000
1000 to 10000 shares
10001 to 50000 shares
500001 to 1000000 shares
above 1000000 shares owned by 20

The government can then conduct an exercise so that at least 80% of such shares are owned by 60% of the population with the smaller investors being given greater priority.
For example it is better to give 5 investors 20,000 shares than 2 investors 50,000 shares.

Based on the above survey, the government should instruct PNB to repurchase the “overlimit” from the larger investors and resell to the smaller holdings.

For future such issues, the following is proposed:

About 3 months before the sale of such shares, the public is asked to open an ASW account if they want to subscribe and if they have not reached the maximum limit of perhaps RM200k.

One month before the sales date, the public will be asked to pay into the ASW account at various agent banks the shares they want such as RM100 or up to the maximum say RM5000.

This pay-in period to subscribe will last two weeks and after that I suggest there will be an exercise similar to a public issue whereby the public is allowed to bid for lots 10,000 and above.

If there is over subscription, the shares will be done on allocation basis.
Example if you apply for 10,000 shares, you may be given 6,000shares.

After one or two such issues, the fund manager should be able to adjust the pay-in amount so that the public issue exercise becomes minimal.

PNB has been in the investment field for decades. Surely they can devise a better means to implement government policies?

photo: Pinnacles, WA


Saturday, September 02, 2006

Hope You Had Something Good from Budget 2007

Some people have expressed unhappiness with the budget as many have complained of wastage in government spending such as the RM48m for the uniforms for Customs.

To me the budget seems to be going in the right direction as the government is finally following the practice of reducing the annual deficit.

It is akin to the nation going on a fiscal diet and there is no quick fix as if the cutback is too large the economy will nose-dive.

Let us consider some of the features worth mentioning:

 The scholarships for ALL students regardless of race who score 10A1s for university is very good but I think the income level should be raised to RM2000pm.

 There is mention of other scholarships but the details were not clear. The other class of scholarships should be Merit Scholarships and these should be given to only the top 3 to 5% of students regardless of financial background or race.

 Removal of exam fees will also reduce the burden for parents and could reduce the number of dropouts a little as parents will not consider exams a waste of time if their children are borderline academic cases.

The following measure would help the urban poor who have somehow been neglected with the major thrust into agriculture.

To encourage developers to build homes for the urban poor, there should be a mechanism whereby those who qualify via a means test will qualify to buy a low-cost house and the person can only own one such house at a time.
At present developers have to give various discounts to all Bumi buyers with no restrictions on how many houses they already own.

This policy only serves to help the rich get richer by taxing other citizens who have to contribute more to developers’ margins. It is akin to a reverse “Robin Hood” policy. Take from the poor and give to the rich.

The Budget seems to be the highlight of the Parliamentary session for the year but I feel MPs would be better prepared to debate the Budget if the Auditor-General’s Report is tabled about 3 months before Budget Day.

This report will provide a very good snapshot of how the nation has progressed and indeed the Budget itself will clarify and provide solutions for various problems encountered with the previous budget.

Photo: Roses in Victoria, Australia. Budget is like a garden of roses. Looks good, smells nice but you also have to deal with the hidden thorns and the manure on the ground.