Archive for May, 2012

A country going rotten

— Othman Wahab
The Malaysian Insider
May 31, 2012

MAY 31 — Today is the day. If there was any doubt that Malaysia is ruled by the corrupt and assisted by the corrupt and that only regime change can save this country, today was the day where all the doubts were put to rest.

Today we saw the MACC give Shahrizat Jalil the all-clear, saying that she did not influence the RM250 million loan award to National Feedlot Corporation. But were her “expenses” paid by the NFC; did she benefit from the umrah packages bought by her family members aka directors of NFC.?

This probe was always going to be a whitewash because no Umno/BN bigshot is ever going to be convicted of anything, be it corruption or living beyond their means.

We knew that MACC was going to clear Shahrizat Jalil, and paint her as some aggrieved party. Poor thing. That they did it speedily while still investigating Taib Mahmud and Musa Aman should not surprise anyone.

The NFC case is a symbol of everything gone wrong with Umno and this country and the party elders believe that going to the polls with too many question marks over Shahrizat was untenable. Read the rest of this entry »


MACC’s cow sense

— The Malaysian Insider
May 31, 2012

MAY 31 — Here’s a question for the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC). Who accused Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil of being involved in the process of awarding the RM250 million government soft loan to the National Feedlot Centre (NFC) operated by her family?

Short answer, no one. Long answer, not one person ever did.

So, clearing the Wanita Umno chief of any involvement in the scandal is not even news because she wasn’t accused of that. And if MACC and Shahrizat are crowing about this, they have as much cow sense as the cattle in the Gemas farm.

Let’s be clear why Shahrizat’s name has been dragged into this and the government had to drop her from the Cabinet by not extending her tenure as senator.

Her family is accused of abusing public funds meant for a cattle-rearing project for their own shopping spree of luxury properties in Malaysia and abroad. They had admitted as much, saying the funds were being put to some use while waiting for the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industries to do its part of the deal.

Of course, it begs the question whether public funds meant for one project can be used in other ways while waiting for something else to happen. The short answer, no. The long answer, of course not. Read the rest of this entry »


Dissecting the ETP Annual Report (Part 1) — Grade A+ for obfuscation!

— Ong Kian Ming and Teh Chi-Chang
The Malaysian Insider
May 31, 2012

MAY 31 — Top marks for befuddling even highly-qualified Malaysians. PEMANDU released its annual report last month to an expected chorus of praise. An economist at a leading financial institution gushed that the ETP deserves an “A” for transformation. Our analysis however, finds that pretentious words and slick presentations, protestations of diligence and toil and selective representation of data obscure the true picture.

Real GNI grew only 4.7 per cent last year. This is well below the 6 per cent per year growth rate called upon for the duration of the ETP. Nominal GNI growth, which includes inflation, was 12.3 per cent. But inflation does nothing for our real quality of life, and it is only because inflation was higher than expected that the nominal GNI growth rate hit double-digits.

PEMANDU’s GNI “target” is questionable. PEMANDU claims it has outperformed as GNI last year exceeded its RM797 billion target. Strangely enough, this “target” was declared only after the actual data was already out. Furthermore, the target was exceptionally low. As far back as October 2010, the Ministry of Finance was already projecting RM811 billion GNI. It is easy to exceed targets when they are low, and only declared after the fact. No real value is added, though.

Scoring is easy when you can shift the goalposts. The subterfuge by PEMANDU includes attempting to steal credit for 2010 economic growth, conflating GDP with GNI and using exchange rate movements to amplify performance. And these are just on the subject of headline economic performance. We shall uncover more ruses as we delve into the execution details. Stay tuned! Read the rest of this entry »


Di dalam bermusuh sesama sendiri

— Aspan Alias
The Malaysian Insider
May 31, 2012

31 MEI — Umno bukan sahaja bermasalah untuk menentang parti-parti pembangkang, parti itu juga sedang berhadapan dengan masalah dalamannya. Masalah dalaman Umno bukannya kecil. Ia melibatkan pergerakan dalam yang dilakukan oleh sekumpulan pemimpin Umno yang veteran dan yang muda untuk menyusun kembali hiraki kepimpinan parti itu.

Dalam situasi menghadapi pilihan raya umum, Umno juga sedang membuat persediaan untuk mengadakan perhimpunan agong parti dan perhimpunan kali ini melibatkan pemilihan kepimpinan di setiap peringkat. Gerakan-gerakan yang dilakukan oleh pemimpin-pemimpin tertinggi parti dalam isu pemilihan kali ini amat besar ertinya dalam menentukan masa depan setengah pemimpin tertinggi parti dan pemimpin muda yang tidak sabar untuk menongkah arus dengan cita-cita besar menjadi Pemegang tampok kuasa suatu hari nanti.

Sejak akhir-akhir ini perkembangan dalam Umno telah menampakkan bibit-bibit perpecahan kerana ada usaha untuk mengenepikan Muhyiddin agar kekosongan itu dapat diisi oleh pemimpin muda yang inginkan menjadi pelapis kepada Najib yang mereka jangka akan terpaksa mengakui yang beliau telah gagal dalam segala “avenue” untuk terus memegang tampuk pentadbiran negara dan akan meletakkan jawatan sebagai Perdana Menteri. Read the rest of this entry »


Is Malaysia under rule of law or law of jungle where Radio Free Sarawak presenter Peter John Jaban can disappear for 6 hours after arrival in Miri without anyone in authority claiming knowledge or responsibility?

Is Malaysia under the rule of law or the law of jungle where Radio Free Sarawak presenter Peter John Jaban can disappear for six hours after arrival in Miri this morning without anyone in authority claiming knowledge or responsibility?

I have just spoken to Jaban’s lawyer, Alan Ling, the DAP Piasau State Assemblyman in Miri, and he confirmed that he is completely in the dark as what to has happened to Jaban some six hours after he met him at the Miri Airport on his arrival from Kota Kinabalu.

Alan had just spoken to the Miri police less than an hour ago and he was again told that the Miri police had no instruction or was not in anyway involved in Jaban’s arrest or disappearance.

Jaban had arrived in Miri from Kota Kinabalu in an Air Asia flight at about 10.45 am and as the Miri police had assured Alan that there was no instruction for Jaban’s arrest, Jaban had left the airport for Miri town with the Miri PKR chairman Dr. Michael Teo.

On their way to town, three men in a Proton car stopped Teo and Jaban, and Jaban was taken away.

Six hours have passed and nobody knows what has happened to Jaban or he is, safe or otherwise – and whether the three men who took Jaban away were from the police specially dispatched to Miri to apprehend Jaban, and if so, why the Miri police have been kept completely in the dark. Read the rest of this entry »


PEMANDU hiding ETP failure, say critics

By Shannon Teoh
The Malaysian Insider
May 31, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR, May 31 — Putrajaya’s efficiency unit is “shifting the goalposts” to hide its failure to transform the economy since launching its ambitious Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) in October 2010, says the Research for Social Advancement (REFSA) think-tank.

The opposition-linked think-tank, which has published a series of critiques on the ETP that aims to double per capita income by 2020, said in a focus paper released today that the Performance Management and Delivery Unit’s (PEMANDU) gross national income (GNI) targets were lower than those set by the government.

REFSA noted that after the Finance Ministry (MoF) released the national income figure of RM830 billion for 2011, PEMANDU claimed the RM797 billion target had been exceeded. The unit under the Prime Minister’s Office is tasked with executing various transformation plans,

“Where did this RM797 billion target come from? It was not stated in the ETP Roadmap launched in Oct 2010. The MoF had already projected RM811 billion GNI for 2011, before the ETP Roadmap was launched.

“PEMANDU’s so-called ‘target’ is underwhelming. Taken at face value, PEMANDU is dragging down the Malaysian economy instead of transforming it. How else would you explain PEMANDU’s target for GNI being smaller than the forecast made by the MoF?,” REFSA said. Read the rest of this entry »


Proton is the price we pay for brainless patriotism

Koon Yew Yin

The founding of Proton National Bhd in 1983 was a big expensive mistake to begin with. Billions of ringgit from taxpayers have been lost in the process.

The haemorrhage could not be stanched until only recently when Khazanah Nasional Berhad sold off its 43 percent stake in Proton to DRB-Hicom a few months ago. Malaysians have been wondering – is this finally an end to the unhappy saga of the government’s foray into the production of a so-called ‘national car’ or will the burden on taxpayers and car owners be continued in other new ways?

A revisit of this white elephant project is necessary to generate a larger public discourse especially amongst taxpayers who should be more concerned as to where all the tax money they’ve been paying has gone to.

One simplistic assumption which appears to have been made by the initiator of the national car project Dr Mahathir Mohamad is that an industry that is growing yearly should be profitable. It is not. In fact, industry data shows that the total profits of all the car companies over the last decades amount to only a modest return, and that only for the fittest in the industry. Read the rest of this entry »


Let 2012 Hari Kaamatan and Hari Gawai usher the greatest empowerment of Kadazandusun and Dayak communities in 13th General Election in shaping the destiny of Malaysia in next 50 years

Wishing Hari Kaamatan and Hari Gawai to all Kadazandusun and Dayak communities in Sabah and Sarawak.

Hari Kaamatan and Hari Gawai this year is taking place at a momentous period in the nation’s history, with the country geared to hold its 13th General Election which will decide whether Malaysia is ready to take her place as one of the normal democracies in the world where power transition at the national level is determined through the ballot box and accepted as part and parcel of the parliamentary democratic process.

For quite some time, the conventional wisdom is that the 13th General Election will fall in June this year, but now all the political calculations have to be reworked after the unprecedented support of a quarter of a million Malaysians for Bersih 3.0 in the streets of Kuala Lumpur and by tens of thousands of Malaysians in over 80 cities across the globe.

This spontaneous outpouring of support for the Bersih campaign for a clean election had caught the Najib administration by surprise as the intelligence it received before April 28 was that Bersih 3.0 had “little traction” with the people and could not muster more than the crowd of Bersih 2.0, which brought out some 50,000 people.
Read the rest of this entry »


Sun setting on Penang’s factories?

By Zairil Khir Johari | May 30, 2012
The Malaysian Insider

MAY 30 — With the general election closing in, the Penang Barisan Nasional (BN) leadership is certainly not short on promises.

Having recently assumed the hot seat, newly-minted state BN chairman Teng Chang Yeow has been eagerly peddling the coalition’s “alternative blueprint” for Penang, an election manifesto that includes a plan to restore free port status to the island while turning it into an international tourism hub, along with plans for an international financial centre, innovation park and aquaculture hub in mainland Seberang Perai.

And then, as if to prove that his fancy labelling actually carries some philosophical substance, he goes to great lengths to explain his vision of a post-industrial future for Penang, where he promises to transform the services sector into an engine of growth as a replacement to the manufacturing industry.
Read the rest of this entry »


Bersih to snub Hanif-led probe panel

By Clara Chooi
The Malaysian Insider
May 30, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR, May 30 — Bersih has joined the Bar Council in refusing to participate in the “Hanif panel” investigating police violence in the April 28 rally for electoral reforms, saying the probe would be “seriously flawed” under Tun Hanif Omar’s chairmanship.

Bersih co-chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan repeated the council’s view that Hanif’s involvement in the panel, following the latter’s criticism of Bersih 3.0 protesters as communist sympathisers, would affect the impartiality of the investigation.

“Our stand has not changed. It is not personal, we have nothing personal against Tun Hanif but we think it is seriously flawed as he is chairing it (the panel).

“Justice must be seen to be done and he has already made a pronouncement about Bersih in a negative light, so we think he should not even be there (in the panel), let alone to chair it,” she told The Malaysian Insider yesterday. Read the rest of this entry »


Najib’s sweeping reforms: Winds of change or hot air?

— Justina Chen
The Malaysian Insider
May 29, 2012

MAY 29 — Since Malaysia Day last September, the administration of Prime Minister Najib Razak has undertaken a whirlwind of legislative and policy reforms, making Mr Najib arguably the most reformist Malaysian prime minister ever.

Political pundits remark that the rushed reforms which were undertaken without consultation with key stakeholders are a sign that a general election is imminent, perhaps to be held in less than two months.

Over the course of the last six months there have been a record number of legislative reforms including: repeal of the infamous Internal Security Act; amendments to the University and University Colleges Act and the Printing Presses and Publications Act; announcement of a minimum wage policy as well as the passing of the Security Offences Bill and Peaceful Assembly Act.

Despite the current air of optimism, the sincerity of the government to effectively implement lasting reform has repeatedly been called into question. Government critics cite the lack of consultation and the short time frame within which legislative reform has taken place as evidence that the reforms are merely political ploys designed solely to gain traction with voters. Read the rest of this entry »


Cabinet tomorrow should cut the Gordian Knot and end the rigmarole of two Bersih inquiries – dissolve Hanif panel and give full support to Suhakam inquiry

The Cabinet tomorrow should cut the Gordian Knot and end the rigmarole of two Bersih inquiries – by dissolving the Hanif Omar “independent advisory panel” and giving full support to the Suhakam inquiry.

Yesterday, former Inspector-General of Police Tun Hanif Omar announced the ten terms of reference of the “independent advisory board” into Bersih 3.0 violence.

Notably absent from the “independent advisory board” terms of reference is whether it is to establish Bersih 3.0 rally was an attempted coup d’etat by the Opposition to topple the government, that there were pro-communist individuals at Bersih 3.0 from demonstrations in the 1970s and whether there was use of provocateurs and children ala-“tactics of the communists” in the Bersih 3.0 rally or whether the panel is to take these three allegations as “accepted and proven truths” as Hanif himself had publicly endorsed them.

Hanif had defended his appointment, saying that his track record has proven that he acts with integrity.

It is precisely because Hanif should cherish his reputation of integrity that he should recuse himself as head of the Bersih 3.0 panel, as there is no way he could come out of it with his integrity unscathed after he had publicly made known his anti-Bersih 3.0 views. Read the rest of this entry »


Stop-work orders prove Pakatan strict on developers, says Penang CM

By Clara Chooi
The Malaysian Insider
May 29, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR, May 29 — Lim Guan Eng revealed today that the Penang Municipal Council (MPPP) had issued 259 stop-work orders on housing developments since 2008, claiming this proves that Pakatan Rakyat (PR) is stricter with developers than Barisan Nasional (BN).

The Penang chief minister pointed out that the number of orders issued by the council was a whopping seven times more than the 38 issued by the previous BN state administration from 2004 to 2007.

The Seberang Perai Municipal Council (MPSP) had issued 11 stop-work orders under PR’s rule from March 2008 until May 2012, whereas not one was issued under BN from 2003 to 2008.

“Facts have disproved BN’s claims that the Penang PR state government is the darling of developers at the expense of the public, especially those who need public housing,” Lim said.

“If given a choice, some developers would prefer the BN government which rarely issued stop-work orders, especially in MPSP where not a single stop-work order was issued.

“The huge increase in the number of stop-work orders issued proves that the PR Penang state government is more stringent in upholding the rule of law, demanding strict compliance with technical requirements and more unforgiving than BN,” he added.

However, Lim stressed that despite PR’s stringent rule, the administration remains business-friendly, provided that all investors and businessmen comply by the rules. Read the rest of this entry »


Call on Cabinet to initiate an All-Party Conference to nip in the bud the political culture of aggression, thuggery and violence which will mar the holding of free, fair and clean general election

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak is at it again – making sweet-sounding highfalutin speeches at international forums but doing the very opposite in the country.

Addressing the 26th Asia Pacific roundtable last night, Najib called on Asian countries to reject the use of force and violence in resolving conflicts.

What struck Malaysians is not his call on Asian countries to reject the use of force and violence in resolving conflicts, but his conspicuous silence and his government’s failure in the past month to stand up and be counted to condemn and dissociate themselves from a new political culture of aggression, thuggery and violence disrupting Pakatan Rakyat functions and activities.

As a result, Malaysians are reminded of his other sweet-sounding highfalutin speeches at international forums calling for a Global Movement of Moderates to unite against extremists, but inside the country, his three-year premiership has seen the unprecedented manifestation of extremism not only officially sanctioned but carried out with impunity and immunity when laws of the land are violated. Read the rest of this entry »

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Black day for Internet users

The Malaysian Insider
May 29, 2012

MAY 29 — The Evidence (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 2012 will come into operation in a few days on June 1. The impact of this hastily and stealthily rushed legislation could be devastating.

De facto law minister Nazri Abdul Aziz denies that amendments to the Evidence Act were a means for the government to curb online dissent by making Internet anonymity more difficult to maintain or ignorance to be used as an excuse.

Instead Nazri claims that the law was tightened because “we don’t want [anonymous or pseudonymous] people to slander or threaten others,” according to a report in the Sunday Star.

However opposition leaders such as DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng are unconvinced. Read the rest of this entry »


Mahathir jangan dijadikan contoh dan ikutan

— Aspan Alias
The Malaysian Insider
May 28, 2012

28 MEI — Betulkah pandangan Dr Mahathir jika PR kalah dalam pilihanraya nanti negara akan huru-hara? Satu lagi yang menjadi persoalan ialah kata-kata Mahathir yang jika Umno kalah dan ditewaskan Melayu akan hilang kuasa politiknya? Kenapa Mahathir alih-alih terlalu sayang kepada Umno pula? Kenapa Mahathir alih-alih dan tidak semena-mena terlalu sayang kepada orang Melayu yang selama ini beliau pandang rendah? Persoalan-persoalan yang saya ajukan ini jangan di salah fahamkan.

Saya bertanya perkara ini, kerana orang Melayu telah hilang identiti asalnya oleh kerana Mahathir. Apabila Mahathir kembali bercakap pasal masa depan orang Melayu dan tentang ketakutannya kepada huru hara negara ini, ia amat bertentangan dengan apa yang beliau lakukan selama ini, terutamanya semasa menjadi Perdana Menteri selama 22 tahun dahulu. Segala yang beliau lakukan semasa sedang seronok berkuasa dahululah yang menjadi penyebab berlakunya apa yang berlaku pada hari ini.

Saya mempunyai keyakinan tinggi yang Mahathir sedang begitu panik dengan pergerakan perubahan yang sedang berlaku dalam minda rakyat termasuk minda orang Melayu. Yang pastinya Mahathir tidak mahu seboleh-bolehnya melihat Umno ciptaan beliau kecundang dihadapan mata beliau semasa beliau masih hidup ini. Kalau di nilai dari sudut mana pun, mahu tidak mahu Mahathir merupakan orang yang “accountable” terhadap kekeruhan politik negara kini.

Kecelaruan politik negara tidak akan menjadi begini buruk dalam sekelip mata dan tidak adil jika Mahathir dan konco-konconya meletakkan semua kesalahan kepada kelemahan Abdullah Ahmad Badawi sahaja. Malahan naiknya Abdullah Ahmad Badawi itu adalah kerana kesalahan Mahathir sendiri kerana Mahathir sememangnya mahukan Abdullah menjadi PM kerana beliau menyangkakan Abdullah boleh beliau pengaruhi dalam pentadbirannya. Read the rest of this entry »


Totally bizarre – Hanif’s insistence to head the “independent advisory panel” into Bersih 3.0 violence

It is totally bizarre – former Inspector-General of Police Tun Hanif Omar’s insistence to head the “independent advisory panel” into Bersih 3.0 violence when he should have recused himself and even advised the other panel members to withdraw or better still, the Cabinet should have scrapped the panel altogether and given full support to the Suhakam public inquiry into the human rights violations at the Bersih 3.0 rally on April 28.

The very fact that the Hanif panel had cancelled a earlier planned press conference after its first meeting today and decided instead to merely release a media statement is eloquent proof that Hanif and the panel members are fully aware that they do not enjoy public confidence that they will be able to act fairly, independently and impartially in the inquiry into the Bersih 3.0 violence, regardless of whether the victims were police personnel, media representatives or peaceful protestors.

For the past month, the government had launched a high-level campaign to vilify and demonise Bersih 3.0 and Pakatan Rakyat and the Hanif panel is regarded as an key part of this “demonization” campaign.

Hanif himself played an important role in the demonization campaign from the very beginning when he gave blind and unthinking support to the wild allegation by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak that Bersih 3.0 rally was an attempted coup d’etat by the Opposition to topple the government.

Adding insult to injury, Hanif even said he identified pro-communist individuals at Bersih 3.0 from demonstrations in the 1970s and spoke to the media on the use of provocateurs and children in the Bersih 3.0 rally as “tactics of the communists”.

How can Hanif live down these highly prejudicial views on Bersih 3.0 unless he is going to retract and repudiate them? Read the rest of this entry »


Umno needs to rediscover its soul

— C.L. Tang
The Malaysian Insider
May 28, 2012

MAY 28 — Malaysia, or Malaya at that point in time, was fortunate that the pioneer leaders of Umno were a group of exemplary visionaries. It has the fortitude and humility to be inclusive and fair, mindful of the great urgency for all Malaysians of all races to be united as they embark on building a newly independent nation.

Not unlike the founding fathers of America who laid a strong foundation for the former British colony to thrive, Malaysia might have gone the way of other failed states had these Umno visionaries not forged a strong partnership among all its constituents, regardless of race and religion.

Indeed, it is no small miracle that we have advanced so much since independence. For a small nation made up of such diverse colours and ethnicity, we were the envy of many former colonies and new nation states that failed to replicate our stable, harmonious growth.

However, this golden age of Umno, and along with Malaysia, began to ebb and deteriorate along with the quality of its leaders.

The gentlemanly conduct, open mindset and non-confrontational nature, which was the soul of early Umno, is now replaced by a hawkish, non-compromising stance of Umno Baru “leaders”. Read the rest of this entry »


Najib’s government still in weak position, says Dr M

By Shannon Teoh
The Malaysian Insider
May 28, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR, May 28 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has warned Datuk Seri Najib Razak that the latter is still leading a weak government, repeating his call for federal polls to be held off until after the fasting month which ends in August.

The influential former prime minister told Bloomberg in an interview published today that the prime minister should delay plans for a general election that must be held within a year.

“Being weak, he has to respond to the criticisms. But when you are faced with this problem anything you do is not enough,” the long-serving former Barisan Nasional (BN) chief said, adding that Najib inherited a weakened coalition, which won Election 2008 by the narrowest margin since independence.

Najib took over from Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in April 2009, ostensibly to reduce the record loss of 82 federal seats and five state governments with some observers saying that only a return to BN’s customary two-thirds majority can guarantee Najib’s hold on power. Read the rest of this entry »


Removing Quotas in International Schools A Positive Development

by M. Bakri Musa

In striking contrast to the horrendously expensive and unbelievably stupid idea of sending our teacher-trainees to Kirby, the Ministry of Education’s other decision to remove quotas on local enrollment in international schools is very much welcomed and definitely positive. The Minister confidently assured us that because of the small number of students involved, the move will not impact our national schools. I respectfully disagree; his confidence is misplaced and analysis flawed. On the contrary, this measure will have a tremendous impact on our national schools and ultimately the nation, for good or bad depending on how it is managed.

Consider the liberalization of higher education instituted in 1996. The rationale was to increase access and save foreign exchange by keeping at home those who would have gone abroad. It achieved both, the most successful of government initiatives. And it did not cost a sen except for the pay of government lawyers who drafted the enabling legislation.

The policy’s impact however, went far beyond. It permanently and profoundly altered the academic landscape of our public universities. Their current emphasis on the use of English for example, is the consequence of the impact of these private universities. Local employers (other than governmental agencies of course) made it clear that they prefer these graduates over those from public universities because of their demonstrably superior skills in English.

There were initial attempts at imputing ugly racial motives to this preferential treatment of private university graduates as most of them were non-Malays. That worked, but only temporarily. Ultimately the horrible truth was exposed. That realization was the impetus to the current greater use of English in public universities, with their erstwhile nationalistic Vice-Chancellors now fully embracing the move. They had to; the pathetic sight of their unemployed graduates was a constant and painful reminder. Read the rest of this entry »