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Thursday, May 31, 2007

A Prayer for Lina Joy

I am not a very religious person although I took part in many church activities when I was young as I lived just opposite St Michael’s Church in Ipoh.

My brothers and I used to be called up to serve at funerals and weddings and we even used to ring the three church bells and sing the Latin hymns in the choir, especially for funerals.

So Lina Joy is feeling sad as she did not receive justice she expected from the highest court in Malaysia. The verdict was not unexpected as many Malaysians have the perception that Muslim civil court judges are not able to exercise the judgement of a Solomon and leave their own religious convictions behind; especially in cases with religious complexities.


Grant her the courage to accept the trials and tribulations you have given her
Help her to understand the fears and doubts of those who ridicule her
Forgive those who have judged her, they know not what they do.

Keep the peace and harmony in my country Malaysia
You have made us to be a nation with many races and many creeds
Help our leaders realise that this frail harmony can be easily broken
When religious bigotry is allowed to terrorise the ordinary people

Let Lina be at peace with You because only with You there is salvation
Protect her from all evil and those that wish her ill
May her light shine brightly so that others will follow her.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.


Please share this prayer with your friends as Lina Joy needs all the help we can give her in these troubled times.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Malaysia and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the full text of which appears in the link below.
Following this historic act the Assembly called upon all Member countries to publicize the text of the Declaration and "to cause it to be disseminated, displayed, read and expounded principally in schools and other educational institutions, without distinction based on the political status of countries or territories."

That act is about one year younger than me but it appears that Malaysians are not protected by all the provisions of the UNDHR.

We are being hypocrites when we try and get the Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi free from house arrest when here in Malaysia some citizens are denied the freedom to practise the religion of their choice.

You can read the UDHR here but Article 18 is particularly relevant:

"Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance."

It seems that some Malaysians are still being denied their basic human rights even in our 50th year of nationhood.
Let us hope and pray that God will give us the courage and the wisdom to elect MPs who will amend the laws so that all Malaysians will be able to practise their religions freely and not be subject to religious bigotry.

Water Companies Must Remain Public

Water is an essential resource and if water supply services have been privatised, the authorities must ensure that the government retains control of such companies via the "Golden" share arrangement.

The Johor supply company went public with great fanfare about 6 years ago and since then not even one sen has been paid in dividends and within 3 years of the listing, parties acting in concert including the promoter of the public issue made a general offer for the company.

Except for a brief period after the IPO the share has been below the initial price even though the profits of the company have been within expectations. SAJ is one of the profitable water companies in Malaysia.

I believe the concept of making such companies go public is good but the "Golden" share will ensure that a company providing such a strategic service should not be allowed to be taken private again.

In fact companies such as TNB, TMB and the water companies should have a special clause that they will remain a PLC for at least 50 years after listing.

Photo: Thanks to http://www.cuti.com.my/Sub/Selangor/selangor_sungai_gabai_waterfalls2.jpg

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

What Do You Think of the "Bloated" Civil Service?

That is the question for you to give your feedback in MALAYSIAWATCH POLL 26.
Feel free to add your own Comments if the choices do not include your views.

This poll will end on 15th June 2007 so please vote earlier. Thanks.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Do Enforcement Officers have So Much Power?

Just fancy that!
This shop has been fined RM22,500 for selling Milo at RM1.80 a glass or 20 to 30 sen more than the normal price.

It is good that the Consumer Affairs Ministry is taking a serious view of unscrupulous traders who now see a small fortune to be made from the extra RM8 billion that civil servants have to spend but acting like hooligans seems somewhat inappropriate.

We all know that the civil service is about twice the number that other countries support which means 50% of the workers can be termed "gaji buta" or else the whole service is working at 50% work load.

Those in the private sector have to compete for a scarce resource like labour and it is only natural to want to extract more from those with a reliable income like those on "gaji buta".

Don't get me wrong - if any shop increases the price of drinks too much, I simply stop drinking at that shop. In fact I seldom order drinks nowadays as it is always too sweet even when you tell them to "kurang manis".
One other aspect of their actions should be looked into. According to the report,

"As a deterrent to others, enforcement officers from the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry also seized food and drinks worth about RM750 and tore down the shop’s signboard."

I would want to know the following:
"What happened to the seized goods?"
"Was the signboard illegally constructed?"

We should not condone excessive reactions but only actions that are within the law. If people break laws, those enforcement officers cannot justify any action that is not within their authority.

Any lawyers want to comment?

Friday, May 25, 2007

Civil Servants to Spare?

"Too many Chiefs and not enough Indians" is a saying that meant we have too many people standing around and too few people actually doing some work.

There is another saying, "Too many cooks spoil the broth" which means that there is an optimum number of people needed to perform a series of tasks. If there are too few, workers are heavily loaded and output suffers.
And if you have too many people doing a small job, there is also more inefficiency and output suffers.

This interesting chart show the civil servants ratio to population comparisons and it looks Malaysia is leading for once.

Unfortunately this is not a good thing as it means more of our population is employed by the government and that results in fewer people being engaged in the private sector that generates the wealth of the nation. Of course the tax collectors are always on the government side.

Let's assume that we adopt a policy of benchmarking with Taiwan as that is a fairly advanced country at 2.69%.
If we apply this percentage we should have 713,186 civil servants instead of the 1,142,783 (for 2005)or an excess of 429,597 workers to support.

In other words, for 2005 the civil service was already overstaffed by a whopping 60%!

I am surprised that this recurring expense has not even been debated in Parliament. The recent pay increase for civil servants was overdue and the adjustment for pensioners is good.

I would have changed the rules for pensioners somewhat instead of just the same percentage increases as workers as follows:

Those receiving RM5000 and more per month would only receive an increase between RM80 to RM100.

The latest salary adjustment will cost the government an extra RM8billion each year but if we use the 60% adjustment, the recurrent cost would be only RM4.8billion and the nation could have benefitted from the RM3.2billion saved each year.

Based on your preferences,that extra RM3.2billion each year could have been used as follows:

RM500 million building better schools
RM500 million training skills programs for youths
RM500 million upgrading public transport in major cities
RM500 million improving public health services
RM500 million microcredit projects
RM500 million welfare schemes for the poor and broken families
RM200 million programs to improve communities and inter-racial harmony(not just eating at official open houses)

So maybe the next time you phone a government department and the call is not answered after 4 rings, it could be that there are actually 2 operators and each is waiting for the other to respond.

And perhaps the reason your file takes so long to get approval is that instead of just one officer needing to read your application, they need 2 persons to read and one of them has gone to a seminar up Genting Highlands.

In the past the government has absorbed unemployed graduates but such a measure should only be a temporary one and the person should only be employed on a one-year contract during which time the person has the responsibilty to upgrade his or her skills to suit the job market.
The other solution for the surplus workers in the civil service is to allow older workers to leave earlier and draw the pension.

The world owes no one a living and there are really many jobs available in the plantation and construction industry.

Graphics: Thanks to malaysiakini

Thursday, May 24, 2007


(Please click on diagram to see details)

After almost 2 months, here are the views of 299 voters who took part in the poll that asked the question,

"What Do You Think of the Latest Case of Subashini the woman whose husband converted to Islam and who now wants to convert all their children?"

It is interesting to note that most viewers felt a pragmatic approach was preferable to a religious one and many believed that the judges should treat the matter more judiciously in the civil courts before the matter became more complex.

This is the final review of this poll. Readers are encouraged to take the poll asp so that we can get a new poll about once or twice a month.Thanks for taking part.

Let's Celebrate our 50th Anniversary with Style!

Stop all those depressing headlines like "Court complex hit by calamity again".
We know that this year is going to be a wet one with many leaks so let's celebrate like our friends in Thailand and have a year-long Songkran festival
in Malaysia. After all, ManU won't be coming and this water festival in all government buildings will be open to all, with no fees to pay.
Of course you may get wet but I hope it is only clean water. So as a matter of the utmost urgency we should get the PWD assistant-director to ensure that all sewage piping has been checked properly.

We need to let our civil servants enjoy the new pay increases and also share a little with the long suffering public so everytime the Songkran(leaks) occur, each civil servant will be encouraged to belanja one member of the public to a teh or kopi tarik, OK?

PS. I've been having a running nose the past 2 days so the drip has got into my brains!

Photos: Thanks to http://polosbastards.com/songkran2byrickshaw.jpg and the Star

What's the Maintenance Schedule for the SMART Tunnel?

So has anyone prepared a maintenance manual for our RM1.8billion SMART Tunnel?
But it is brand new and still under warranty many of you will say and the contractor is supposed to rectify defects for another 12 or 18 months.

Well and good but what happens in the meantime when motorists use the tunnel for free? Are they covered by insurance if a slab of concrete falls and kills some motorists during the free period?

Maybe they have even a sign that reads on the toll ticket."The company is not liable for any events that occur in the tunnel". Perhaps the one-month free period is to allow some motorists to have a few accidents in the tunnel to shake loose some questionable sections?

A few of my readers will think I have gone a little bonkers but allow me to share this article published in The Straits Times on 11th May 2007.

"Falling Concrete in CTE Tunnel. Engineers, MP call for thorough check".

A few details gleaned from the article:

CTE tunnels opened in 1991 and have been troubled with leaks since the opening.
Designed to last 120 years.
Chunks of concrete came crashing down on 9th May in a stretch under the Singapore River. Guessing from the photo the "chunk" looks about the size 20cm X 10cm X 15cm. It could kill you if it fell directly on your head. Luckily the slabs did not hit any vehicle.
The total cost of the CTE including tunnels was $300million.
The leaks had to be repaired 3 times since 1991.
The last leak repair was in 2003 and cost $4million.

The main cause of such leaks is the breakdown of the special waterproof membrane that line the tunnel walls.

A sure sign of the waterproofing failure would be the "sweating" of the tunnel walls and eventually you will find drips and the growth of small plants in crevices of the walls.
If the failure is not arrested in time, spalling will occur and this is referred as "Concrete cancer" that sees the corrosion of reinforment metal bars in the concrete. The rusting metal expands and separates from the concrete and the tunnel walls will become uneven. It is then a question of time, perhaps some years before the chunks start falling off like in the CTE.

One particular concern of the SMART Tunnel is the water channel at the bottom section. If the waterproofing quality is not good enough, it will surely cause the entire tunnel to deteriorate faster unless minor defects are repaired quickly. I suggest the authorities should get an independent party to inspect this tunnel say every five years for structural integrity.

Even Singapore with their "kiasus" mentality can experience tunnel flaws so I expect Malaysia with our "tiadapathy" attitude should be more wary of the SMART Tunnel.
Unless you want to drive a HUMVEE?

I will take a look at this tunnel the next time I'm up in KL but not five years later.

Graphics: Thanks to http://www.smarttunnel.com.my/images/project/smart/pic_crosssection.jpg

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

NEP and Dependency - You Must Watch This!

Do you think this guy made use of some NEP program to achieve this ability?

Authority, Responsibility, Accountability and Integrity Lacking in Government

The Parliament leaks fiasco show how some basic qualities are clearly lacking in the admininstration.
Even though the number of civil servants has risen significantly (23.5%)since 2000, we still do not have a good system of Command and Control.

OK the PM has commanded the Works Minister to "just do it" ala Nike. That is easily arranged as all that is needed is some free money.

There is a basic failure of the principles of Authority, Responsibility and Accountability that are so necessary for any good team to work properly.

Looking at all the project blunders, it is all too convenient to simply blame the contractors but we never get to hear the whole story as perhaps contractors are also simply told to just do it and we will find other ways to compensate you for things that are not really your fault.

I am sure that is what happens in the real world when we have many incompetent people handling major projects.

One major obstacle to getting ministers to practise these principles of authority, responsibility and accountability is that most decisions are made as a Cabinet and so no one appears responsible. Over time and many blunders, we develop a Cabinet of the Incompetents.

We should move away from this outdated practice and allow ministers to absorb the blame if they commit major blunders to save the good name of the Cabinet.Leaders of political parties who are incompetent as ministers may have to wait till the next general elections to be reappointed as a minister.

After all a good party leader may not be a good minister and no one is really indispensable.
Just as an example of how a Minister has to resign to take the heat away from the top leader, Rumsfeld resigned as Defense Secretary after the Iraq war scandals to protect the President.

As for integrity, I'm not sure if such a word exists in the Malaysian psyche.

Graphics: Thanks to malaysiakini

A Case of Dangerous Negligence

This is another case of Malaysian "tiadapathy" in which hundreds could have been killed.

If you look more closely at the photo, the beam is from beneath a railway underpass and if a fully loaded passenger train had been travelling at high speed on the tracks above, the jolt from the tanker could have caused the train to derail.

40,000 litres of petrol could be easily ignited by a spark caused from the tank rupturing.Can you imagine the death and destruction if the train had derailed onto the fuel tanker and the resultant carnage?

The company has clearly been negligent in not ensuring that approved routes are followed or new vehicles were not properly checked for route suitabilty.The clearance of such structures are clearly marked and trying to take short cuts can cause danger to the public.

It seems that we are not only lax about maintenance but also following proper operating procedures.

The papers should follow-up this story to see if the police will bring a case against the company like:

Damage of public property
Endangering the public with a dangerous substance
Negligent driving

Photo: Thanks to New Straits Times

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Of Course the Massive Pay Rise has to Do with the Elections

but no one will admit to that.That would be politically incorrect.

The amount being mentioned is quite substantial RM6.8billion increase from next year plus Rm1.2billion increase in COLA costs for a total of RM8billion increase each year.

Now everyone is promising better performance as if a wage increase is going to make a quantum leap in the workers' attitudes so that slackers will stop taking their extended tea breaks and corrupt cops are just going to give up their bad habits.

With the ever increasing costs of civil servants it is time for the government to seriously consider the following:

1.Replace the pension scheme with EPF for all New employees
2.Provide New civil servants with a transferable medical insurance for family
3.Establish a productivity review scheme that publishes staff reductions with greater IT enhancements.

For example in the Passport and JPJ and Income Tax departments, services have improved via the greater use of IT but have staff numbers been streamlined?

While it is good that salaries for the police have been increasedwe are still waiting for the IPCMC to be fully implemented.

I also worry that pay raises have been justified partly based on the performance of the KLSE. Does this mean that if the market collapses, pay can be reduced?

Should Abused Malaysian Women Strike in Bed?

Coming so soon after the "bocor" remarks of those boorish BN MPs, the latest remark by a senior minister really shows the contempt with which these men treat women in general and opposition women MPs in particular.

It is time for women voters to teach these immature men some basic human decency by voting them out in the next elections. In fact women groups could exert some bedroom politics by pointing out to their menfolk that these remarks are really hurtful and totally unacceptable.

That may not change the government but some MPs may be dropped from the slate.
Such experienced so-called leaders should be more skillful when making remarks in a press conference.
“A woman 50 years ago, she looks beautiful, but today she won't look so beautiful,” was attributed to Samy Vellu.

After all women make up about 50% of voters and describing a woman especially with reference to the total neglect of the Parliament building is most inappropriate no matter how much the speaker believes the remark.

It would have been a simple matter to simply change the subject for maintenance to a more neutral topic like the maintenance of a 10-year old car.

The abuse of women sometimes is prolonged when the victims accept the abuse as inevitable and even worse some women even believe they are the cause for the men's behaviour and tolerate such abuse.

With such inept thinking it is no wonder that the ship called Malaysia is sinking.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Parliament Flaws the Most Evident Sign of Lack of Accountability

It is now claimed that our House of Parliament is beset with a plethora of woes from leaking roofs, wiring problems, toilet blocks and even the theft of hooks in the toilets.

It appears that no budget for roof maintenance has been provided for 44 years and one wonders why they could spend RM90m solely on interior renovations as claimed in the Star report.

Like the proverbial "hot potato" everyone appears blur as to how no is considered responsible for the building maintenance.

Also water-proofing on the concrete roofing as shown in the photo should develop minor faults after perhaps 10 years. One wonders how this was also reported when there is talk of accumumulated debris and blockages on the roof.

"Furthermore, until about four months ago when inspection was carried out, the roof was still in good condition. The roof leakage developed in the last three months probably due to heavy rain and physical defects."

Simply incredulous but then people have to find excuses when the shit hits the ceiling!

Even with XXL Cabinet in operation for three years it seems that the authorities do not even know how to ensure that basic maintenance is provided for all buildings.

To me it is a basic failure of good governance when our Parliament building is so badly neglected. We are only good at facades but when serious matters or issues are involved, it is merely given a cursory look.

Perhaps it only shows the utter lack of concern by the government as it basks in the 90% majority and can ignore the will of the rak'yat.

To me it is such a simple administrative procedure that should be provided by the PWD. It should provide an official hand-book of building maintenance that is given to all government agencies that want to do their own maintenance.

It will then be up to the agency concerned to hire competent contractors and provide the annual budget for proper building maintenance.
The annual budget for proper building maintenance could be about 5% of the building value; depending on the building condition.

Now if the Works Minister had spent his time developing such systems instead of campaigning in the two by-elections, all the government departments and other buildings could have obtained the Building Maintenance Manual by now.

Photo: Thanks to New Straits Times

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Another Tragedy that Could Have Been Avoided

It is rather sad that men have to lose their lives while performing official duties.

It is even more tragic when a tragedy like this occurs even when the men are not doing anything hazardous like the pursuit of smugglers or armed terrorists.

To the families of those who died we must share their grief but we should also ensure that this kind of accident does not recur or those men would have died in vain.

An official inquiry should be conducted with the findings made public so that everyone can learn from past mistakes and proper training given so that government officials do not endanger themselves or members of the public.

Photo: Thanks to New Straits Times

We Need to Make Better Use of Women Power!

So the Cabinet decided that the two clowns would discuss their tomfoolery with the Minister of Women,Family and Community Development before making a qualified apology at a press conference.

Looking at the overall composition of the Cabinet with only 3 women ministers out of the 32 member line-up it seems that women are under-represented in our Cabinet.

For some years now women have overtaken men in university enrolments and more female graduates are entering the job markets. It is time we also harness more women power to play a more active role in our nation's progress. Especially since many problems of society are caused by the actions of men who divorce their wives and abandon their families.

We need not copy France where the new President announced his new line-up with a Cabinet with about 50% women. For Malaysia perhaps a good start would be at least 30% women in the Cabinet and perhaps the deputy Speaker of the Parliament should be a woman to keep the MCPs in check.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Thanks for Your Prayers!

My grand-daughter's operation went well and she will be in the ICU for a few days.
Hopefully she will get well soon and make a complete recovery.

The op cost is going to be about S$6000 and this is the subsidised rate if one follows the correct referral procedure - otherwise it is S$12000, all payable via CPF Medisave account.

As an aside there was a very heavy downpour in Singapore yesterday and the glass roof inside the hospital sprung a leak. But only the cleaner was busy mopping up and she was also on the hand-phone, presumably calling the supervisor to report the defect.

Will keep you updated on that problem over the next few days.

PS. I cannot view my blog. If you can read it, can you please make a comment so I know the problem is only at this end? Thanks.

Even the House of Parliament has Become Tainted by Our MPs

Malaysians have long endured the childish antics of our MPs who are prone to making seditious remarks and crude sexist jokes.

Maybe that is the reason the authorities in charge of the RM90 million renovation project did not even bother to waterproof the reinforced concrete roof as "the installation of water proofing equipment was not included in the contract". A sort of spontaneous cooling-off mechanism to calm MPs during their heated debates?

It would be interesting to know more details about the civil engineer who recommended such a design in the first place or is this project another of those "Ali-Baba" construction where the Nth sub-contractor could be an illiterate construction worker who has nailed together some attap huts in Indonesia?

The report also mentions debris clogging the gutter and other rubbish left behind by the contractors. Surely a basic requirement during any handover inspection is the complete removal of all rubbish before the final payment is approved?

I wonder why there is so much emphasis on the replacement of plastic water pipes? The only reason would be if the plastic pipes were not up to the specific pressure rating or if PVC pipes were used instead of UPvc that is able to withstand exposure to sunlight without becoming brittle.

This Parliament House renovation is typical of most things Malaysian - going for nice facades with a rotten foundation.

Even someone who seems to know absolutely nothing about buildings
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said incidences of leakages could not be predicted, adding that even new buildings had defects.

Of course the system maintains that no one is ultimately responsible for such basic failures. Malaysia truly boleh!

Photo: Thanks to New Straits Times

Thursday, May 17, 2007

When You Turn On that Water Tap....

I know many consumers in the Klang Valley have complaints about the water quality and some claim you can get "teh tarik" or "kopi tarik" depending on the time of day.

There is no doubt that our water quality has gone down over the years and it seems that not much is being done to supply top quality water except to encourage people to install water filters in every home.

I recently uploaded a photo of a murky looking pool and invited readers to guess what it was.

Here are two more photos to complete the scene.
This is actually a water supply system for an Orang Asli village somewhere in Johor.
I visited the village of about 30 families about a month ago as part of an outreach program to upgrade the quality of life of Malaysia's original settlers.

The village was located adjacent to a well-known plantation company and within walking distance of some of the staff quarters.
The site was well-maintained, quite like a typical Malay kampong but with dogs and free-range chicken.

The villagers used to collect water in containers from the mountain stream but my church is trying to provide them some basic facilities like a water-supply system that can improve their lives.

The first photo in a previous entry is a mini-dam about one meter high across a mountain stream and pipes at the bottom convey the water to a storage tank of about 500 gallons capacity that is sitting on a level platform cut on the slope.

The water from the tank is then piped directly to each home without any treatment but villagers boil the water before drinking.

I tasted some of the boiled water with some hesitation but it did not have any after effect. Maybe my system is flexible as I do drink NeWater too!
When the tank is empty, the villagers have to collect water as before.

So before we complain about your "teh tarik" water we should spare a thought for these Orang Asli who have definitely been marginalised from our nation's progress.

As for that plantation company, it would be a good exercise in Corporate Social Responsibility if they could just provide some free treated water to this village.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Can You Say a Prayer for My Grand-daughter?

My second grand-daughter will undergo an operation to repair a defective flap in her tiny heart in Singapore later today.

She is six months old. Your prayers for her will be much appreciated so that we can accept whatever the Creator has deemed for her.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Can You Guess What Is This?

Enough of the heavy stuff about May13 and Multi-Billion Ringgit Pipes.

Let's see how many of you can get this right:
Please answer in the comments with your choice of a) b) c) or d)

a)it's a muddy stream

b)it's the holding pond of an effluent system

c)it's part of a water supply system

d)it's none of the above

No prizes for the right answer tomorrow.

Man U and Building Bridges - 2-0 for Botch-ups in a Month

Readers of my blog could have guessed that I'm a fan of Manchester United and I've been a fan since the days of Eric Cantona.

It is good that they will be appearing in Malaysia though I will not be making any special trip for the match in KL.

I think the FAM is making a mistake by defying the AFC's ruling that the ManU match should not be held during the Asian Cup Finals during July 7-29. It is naive to think that a ManU match on 27 July will not affect the other matches.

It is also strange that the FAM can offer the excuse that "they have no authority to stop the English champions from playing here as it is organised by a private promoter working with the Ministry of Tourism."

Unless ManU is playing a match against a team without FAM affliation and without FAM match officials.

After all it is only a football match that EPL teams use for promotion and marketing purposes - more like a demo and for a working holiday rather than the sweat and blood of a title chase.

I thought politics and sports did not mix and this incident shows politics can have a bad effect on sports unless the dates for ACF were not known prior to the ManU date.

The PR guys in the PM's department really need to get their act together as it seems the PM is the person who is insisting that the ManU match is played without any alternative date.

The second incident is the abrupt cancellation of the international inter-faith conference with about two weeks notice.
This I feel has more serious implications about Malaysia's reputation as a country that is supposed to practise religious tolerance.
The information for the cancellation has somehow morphed into a postponement but with no new dates proposed.
The reason given was that the PM wanted to attend the conference very much but something more urgent turned up.

There was no official apology and it is a simple case of really bad manners. If one cannot attend the whole conference, he could just make a speech and attend whatever sessions that are convenient.
After all it is an ongoing series of dialogues and this type of dialogue take years to crystallize ideas.

Obviously I cannot apologise on behalf of our Prime Minister but I feel these two incidents show the ugly face of Malaysia.

I reckon the score to be 2-0

Saturday, May 12, 2007

How Do We Bury the Ghosts of May 13, 1969?

When May 13 occurred I was in the distant safety of the United Kingdom and watched some of the scenes shown on the BBC.

My family members were in Ipoh and they were unaffected except for the inconvenience of the curfews. Many of my classmates were students at MU but I have not had the chance to ask them how things were in those terrible days.

I did hear how some of the Sultans, especially the Sultan of Johor, went around and ordered the citizens not to create trouble and to calm matters.

Conspiracy theories have abounded since then but none were ever published until now when malaysiakini launched its book after research from the archives of the United Kingdom where documents are kept classified for 30 years.

Malaysia always boasts about helping poorer countries in Africa but this is one area where we can ask South Africa to help.
Immediately after that great man Nelson Mandela took power, the Truth and Reconcialition Commission was set up and it provided a major programme to help the country to recover from the ravages of years of apartheid.

Such a similar commission may also be good for Malaysia for if we do not learn from past mistakes, then history will repeat itself.
Some of the perpetrators of crimes may be dead but if you were a 25-year old at the time and you did something evil, you will be about 65-years old and almost due to meet your Creator.

It may be good for you to publicly acknowledge your crime and seek forgiveness from your victims or their families.

The government is the best resource to help bury the ghosts of May 13 if we have leaders courageous enough to confront the truth and rectify any policies that were wrongfully enacted so that Malaysia can once again get on the path of a fair deal for all Malaysians.

The NEP policies that were accepted by all Malaysians for various reasons were not supposed to become Never Ending Policies and today we can observe many examples of how good policies can become major problems where integrity is lacking among the those who implement the policies.

Already we have lost much talents and the much of the competitive edge that will enable the nation to progress in the new millenium.

It is time for all reasonable citizens to ponder how we can finally lay the ghosts of May 13 to rest.

God help us all to do what is right for Malaysia.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Ambitious Pipeline - Why Build 312km when 100km Will Do?

This project on surface appears interesting but I suggest it will be a strategic error with grave consequences if we do not involve Thailand in an ASEAN project.

Thailand may not appear such an attractive place for investment right now but if we study the map of Thailand it seems that this project if done exclusively by Malaysia will become obsolescent just three years after investors decide to build a similar scheme just north of the border.
(click on Thailand map to check distances)

If this is solely a private investment, then taxpayers would not be concerned but if some of the RM24billion will involve taxpayers' monies we need to be concerned.

A JV with Thailand would require a pipeline only about 100km long and that means the investment could be reduced to perhaps 60% of the RM24b or RM14.4b and the cost of pumping the oil would also be reduced to one-third the distance.

If we study the map of Thailand again, a possible route for the Thai-Malaysia JV could start in Perlis and end south of Songkhla, subject to deep-water facilities.

This new route will also preserve much of the pristine forests in the north of Malaysia and with the shorter route it will be easier to safeguard. Plus Kota Bahru will be spared from any major oil spills.

As global warming increases, the passage to the Far East via northern Europe will also be see more ships sailing that way and avoiding the Malacca Straits for a few months and this can happen within the next 10 years.

Introducing more economic activities in south Thailand of the non-tourist type may improve the political situation there and create more economic benefits. Hopefully the Thais will then stay on their side of the border and we will have fewer refugees fleeing the unrest.

Such a joint venture will be a "win-win" solution for everyone.

Graphics: Thanks to http://www.maps-thailand.com/ and malaysiakini

Thursday, May 10, 2007

SMART Tunnel - Not IF But WHEN

I hope this will not come to pass.
But the sorry state of affairs in Putrajaya and other new government buildings shows the sorry state of affairs in government projects.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Negligence + Ignorance = Unnecessary Deaths

It is not surprising that many Malaysians shun factory jobs as many places are fraught with dangers like hazardous work situations.

This story shows how poorly trained and ill-equipped are the rescue services and how negligent some factory owners can be.

The story mentioned the dead workers wearing masks but in an enclosed space with limited oxygen, a mask will not protect you. You need a respirator so that you can breathe good air. That mask may be only good to filter out toxic fumes but will not provide you oxygen if the concentration is too low.

The first worker should have a safety line attached for others to rescue and he should not have been working alone.

The second worker should also have got more help before attempting a rescue.

The 51-year old safety officer also made a mistake by trying to help the 2 men instead of calling for help.

Rushing the victims to the hospital in Johor Bahru from Pasir Gudang in an ambulance would have taken at least 35 minutes and one cannot expect anyone down with asphyxia to survive such a long delay.

One wonders why the factory managers did not ask the ambulance to send the victims for treatment in Pasir Gudang?

It seems that the company has neglected basic safety practices to protect its workers.

Monday, May 07, 2007

50 Years Ago in Malaya or the Good Old Days

As Malaysia celebrates 50 years of nationhood though our friends from Sarawak and Sabah dispute that, I would like to share just 2 stories of real people to show that those were the good old days.

Story 1.
The State Chief Education officer was a Eurasian but it seems he had a Malay mother. He looked like a real "mat salleh" and was married to another Eurasian and both went to the Catholic Church of St. Michael's in Ipoh. Perhaps in those days, having a child with an expatriate officer could have been one sure way of escaping the poverty cycle.

It was also common for unwanted babies to be left at the Ipoh convent as it had an orphanage and took in many babies from single and unmarried girls. Nowadays unwanted babies are sometimes simply abandoned or even worse killed.

Story 2.
A Chinese rubber estate manager had a son with a Malay partner. I am not sure if he was single at the time. But he had a Chinese wife and two children. The children stayed separately when they married and the son had even migrated to Australia.

The wife passed away after a long illness and the old man had to cope all by himself.
Throughout the years he had been supporting his half-Malay son even through higher education and the boy had become an officer in the Armed Forces.

He passed away a few years after his wife died but before he died, his other son used to visit him often and he became a Muslim before he died.

Now if we study all the current incidents of families having to go to courts to claim dead bodies, it seems that people and not legal officials are the best judges to work out these issues of life and death.

Do you have a similar story to share?

Friday, May 04, 2007

A World Class Solution For PUTRAJAYA'S Crumbling Complexes...

Solomon’s Justice or the Destruction of a Family?

So the courts have settled this case whereby a mother has decided that she was mistaken to have married a Hindu man for 21 years and now has to surrender her seven children to her husband as Malaysian laws do not allow her to stay in the marriage.

The solution has been described as “Solomon’s justice” referring to the king in the Bible who was asked to decide which woman was the mother of a baby in dispute.

Since both women claimed the baby, Solomon decreed that the baby be cut in half and each woman given part of the baby.
One woman agreed to this solution but the real mother begged Solomon not to do so and pleaded that the baby should be given to the other woman as she wanted to save her child.

Solomon then knew who the real mother was.

In this Malaysian incident, it seems that only the woman Raimah has some of the wisdom of Solomon.

If we look at this family situation outside of all religious and legal context, it seems the state is destroying a family of 21 years. No doubt the mother is being given visiting rights but a family has been placed in jeopardy and we know that 21 years of marriage is something that many “proper” marriages seldom attain with the high rate of divorce in Malaysia.

With six young children and no mother in attendance, it would be extremely difficult for the man to raise his family properly. Instead of punishing them we should salute this poor rubber tapper family that has somehow managed to survive all the tribulations of a poor background.

I daresay that all is not well in the state of Malaysia. Where is our Solomon?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Dr M says Malays Can Convert to Other Religions if.....

So Malays Can Actually Convert to Other Religions.

It is good that the former Prime Minister has stated in an interview that Malays are actually free to convert if they are willing to lose their “Malay privileges”.

“If he renounces Islam, then he is not a Malay. That’s all,” he said.

That is a rational view.
The sad thing is that these comments were not made when the Constitution was amended to increase the powers of the Syariah Courts and properly debated in the Parliament so that MPs would have had the chance to explain the laws to the electorate.

I hope his influence as the former PM can help improve the lives of those held in rehab camps. Such camps should be only for those who have decided to take a spiritual retreat voluntarily and willing to pay for their own upkeep like say RM20 per day for board and lodging?

It seems that if a person makes a statutory declaration that he or she renounces Islam, that person should not be subject to the compulsory detention camps that can last for months.

There will only be a small minority who will choose to opt out of their religion and so perhaps for them, the race detail in the IC can read as “Malaysian”.

Men of all faiths are sinners and some of us really have to struggle against human weakness of the flesh like gluttony, corruption and power.

Giving the state extra powers to confine people based on religious beliefs is surely to be condemned and gives any religion a bad name.

However any Malay who wants his religious freedom should be advised that it will be a one-way privilege. Even if he becomes a Muslim again, the special privileges will not be granted.

Here is an excellent article on religion in our Constitution from today's Star by Professor SHAD SALEEM FARUQI

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Now 8% Feel that Islam is a Fair Religion to ALL

I wrote this on 20th April 2007 and today with 200 voters, the results have barely changed:

"That is the result of MALAYSIAWATCH POLL 26 that posed the question:

"What Do You Think of the Latest Case of Subashini the woman whose husband converted to Islam and who now wants to convert all their children?"

There were 100 readers who took part. Thanks for participating.

This is the breakdown of choices:

56% (now 57%)chose "It is a black mark on the Judiciary when Muslim judges cannot differentiate their proper role and duties they should perform in a secular state."

14% (now 13%)chose "This could lead to many broken homes if non-Muslim men are allowed to convert to Islam and are then given custody to children who are not allowed freedom of religion but a forced conversion".

13% (now 13%) chose "I don’t expect a non-Muslim woman will get a fair deal in the Syariah courts. Even Muslim women can get treated unfairly".

10% (still 10%)chose "The man should have settled the divorce proceedings in the civil courts before being allowed to convert."

7% (now 8%)chose "Islam is a fair religion to all"

No one chose "I think it is OK for her to make an appeal to the Syariah Appeals Court"

Let us all strive hard to keep Malaysia as a secular state. If some judges cannot use different thinking caps, we should retire them earlier."

Note: There is a 1% rounding error.

Putrajaya - One Possible Solution to Collapses?

Since you are enjoying a holiday I wanted you to enjoy a chuckle!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

IJOK - What Really Took Place on Saturday

Please click the image to see details.