To rescue the economy, put national interests before self-interest

Rash Behari Battacharjee
The Malaysian Insider
17 January 2015

It is as plain as daylight that Budget 2015 must be revised in the wake of plunging world oil prices, given that some 30% of government revenue comes from petroleum. In addition, it has been noted, the unprecedented ferocity of the year-end floods which will require a multi-billion ringgit reconstruction effort means that development expenditure must be reallocated to rehabilitate damaged infrastructure and restore normalcy to the victims’ lives and the economies of the affected regions.

Last week, Prime Minister and Finance Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak indicated, not a day too soon, that an announcement about a possible restructuring of the budget to address these challenges would be made this week.

Analysts have noted that a confluence of external and internal factors in recent months – including the oil price shock, capital outflow, flood devastation and 1MDB’s performance, besides corrosive political developments – have heightened concerns about the prospects for the Malaysian economy, both in the immediate future and the longer term. Read the rest of this entry »

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It’s time we decide the country we want

Syerleena Abdul Rashid
The Malaysian Insider
16 January 2015

Malaysians used to be more tolerant than we are today. Once upon a time in a not-so-distant past, we used to visit each other’s open houses freely without worry. The idea of what was halal or haram was mutually understood and we didn’t have holier-than-thou organisations to tell us that we couldn’t mingle with fellow Malaysians who professed different religions because they were a threat to our own faiths. We ate and drank together while some of us even played mahjong until dawn.

But now, our society has swayed from tolerance and respect to antithetical values that condemn logic and defend non-negotiable conservatism. Traditionalists may twist the articulations of conscience to justify their causes but their narratives are often arbitrary and sometimes quite laughable. Consider the controversies that surround our society: for instance, the recent furore over a K-Pop act, school principals not allowing non-Malay students to wear the baju kurung, arguments over “domesticated genes” and so on. The voices of the absurd and the one dimensional are becoming louder with each passing day, only because they have been sanctioned to spread intolerance by the powers that be. Read the rest of this entry »

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Razak’s NEP was for all races, says ex-civil servant who helped draft it

by Elizabeth Zachariah
The Malaysian Insider
17 January 2015

The man who helped Malaysia’s second prime minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein craft the New Economic Policy (NEP) to eradicate poverty and end identification of occupation with race laments that it has now become distorted by race and religion.

Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam, who was the deputy head of the Economic Division in the Treasury under Razak’s administration, said the NEP was “a wonderful, noble policy”.

“He (Razak) was serious about eradication of poverty regardless of race. Every poor chap, regardless of his ethnicity, was given help.

“Not today, I am afraid. Along the way, it got distorted as race and religion got in the way,” Ramon told The Malaysian Insider in an interview to conclude a series commemorating Razak’s 39th death anniversary. Read the rest of this entry »

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India fails to exploit oil price slump

By M K Bhadrakumar
Asia Times
January 8, 2015

As an energy-deficient country whose import bill for oil in the last financial year stood at $150 billion, the sharp fall in oil prices is a moment to celebrate. There are two ways to celebrate. One could be to open the champagne bottle and enjoy the good things in life. Then, there is a second way – the Chinese way – which is to seize the happy hour to plan for the future.

The Indian government is sipping champagne. The budget deficit significantly narrows and that is good news for the upcoming annual budget. A Morgan Stanley report in September calculated that a mere 10 percent drop in oil price could bring down the current account deficit by 0.6 percent of India’s GDP – no small matter.

However, how is the government taking advantage of the unexpected windfall? Plainly put, the benefit has not been passed on to the consumer. Whereas in the US, the average gasoline prices have reached their lowest level in the past four-year period, there is no such luck for the Indian consumer. Worse still, the government’s price fixation method is so opaque that a suspicion forms that private oil companies are being enabled to make huge profits. Read the rest of this entry »

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Remembering the Tun

Dyana Sofya
The Malay Mail Online
January 16, 2015 10:46 AM

JANUARY 16 — In commemoration of our country’s second prime minister Allahyarham Tun Razak’s 39th death anniversary, Roketkini.com organised a forum featuring DAP Parliamentary Leader Lim Kit Siang, editor of The Malaysian Insider Jahabar Sadiq, MP for Lembah Pantai Nurul Izzah Anwar and the late Tun’s former political secretary, Tan Sri Abdullah Ahmad.

It was certainly an eclectic mix of speakers, and this notion wasn’t lost on Dollah Kok Lanas, as Tan Sri is better known, when he trumpeted that he was “the only Umno man in the room.”

He proved to be a memorable speaker as he recounted his close working relationship with the Tun. With trademark sarcasm, he also pointed that “ironically, Umno does not remember Tun Razak while it is DAP that remembers him.”

I tweeted that gem of a quote and immediately received backlash from supporters of the ruling party, some of whom tried to defend Umno by saying that a tahlil had been organised, and that it was more appropriate to hold prayers than to discuss Tun Razak’s ideas in a forum.

Certainly, it is commendable to have a tahlil to mark his death anniversary, but I believe that we can only do justice to the Tun’s legacy by discussing and sharing thoughts on his policies, ideas and contributions, many of which are more relevant than ever in our present time. Read the rest of this entry »

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Maslan should apologise for the false claim on Jan 5 that the Federal Government had spent RM800 million to help flood victims when only RM41 million had been spent up to now!

Deputy Finance Minister, Datuk Ahmad Maslan said on January 5 that the government had spent RM800 million through the National Security Council to help victims in states affected by floods for the provision of food supply, logistics and cleaning houses of victims.

This created an uproar of protests all round.

At a media conference in Kota Bahru the next day, I expressed shock and outrage at Maslan’s RM800 million claim, stating that I had visited Kota Bahru three times, been in Kuala Krai twice, even in the Ground Zero zones of Manek Urai, Kg Manjur and Kg Karangan, as well as been in Gua Musang, but I definitely did not feel or sense that RM500 million to RM600 million had been spent in Kelantan in relief efforts for the flood victims.

(As Kelantan was the worst flood-stricken state in the floods catastrophe, if Maslan was right that RM800 million had been spent on the flood victims, the bulk of the expenditure, say RM500 million – RM600 million, should have been spent in the state).

I demanded Maslan reveal how much had been spent in Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang and Perak and a full and detailed audit of this RM800 million claim as I just did not believe that RM800 million had been spent on the flood victims, an impression shared by all NGOs and good-hearted Malaysians who had gone to the aid of the flood victims on their own efforts unrelated to government relief efforts. Read the rest of this entry »

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National Security Council (NSC) is looking for excuses to justify its weaknesses, lapses and failures by making the hyperbolic and ludicrous claim that Kelantan floods was like Japan’s 2011 tsunami

The National Security Council (NSC) is looking for excuses to justify its weaknesses, lapses and failures by making the hyperbolic and ridiculous claim that the Kelantan floods was like Japan’s 2011 tsunami.

On March 11, 2011, a 9.0 earthquake struck Japan off Tohoku, generating a 10-metre high tsunami that swept away everything in its path and caused a nuclear disaster with the meltdown of Fukushima and other nuclear power plants.

It was the most powerful earthquake ever recorded to have hit Japan and the fourth most powerful earthquake in the world since modern record-keeping began in 1900.

The earthquake triggered powerful tsunami waves that reached heights of up to 40.5 metres (133ft) and travelled up to 10 km (6 miles) inland.

The Japanese National Police Agency confirmed that the triple catastrophes caused 15,889 deaths, 6,152 injured and 2,601 people missing across twenty prefectures, as well as over 127,290 buildings totally collapsed, with a further 272,788 buildings “half-collapsed” and another 747,989 buildings partially damaged.

The main tremoir split highways, flattened buildings and ignited fires all over the northeastern Pacific coast. The ensuing tsunami wiped out entire villages.

As many as 4.4 million households in northeastern Japan were left without electricity and 1.5 million without water.
Hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated when the tsunami caused nuclear accidents primarily at the three nuclear reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant complex.

The World Bank estimated economic cost of the triple disasters in Japan in March 2011 as US$235 billion, making it the costliest natural disaster in world history. Read the rest of this entry »

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Zahid must not take Malaysia as a nation of fools even if he can achieve a Cabinet of fools with Ministers obediently accepting his outrageous take about his infamous letter to the FBI

I do not believe that the Home Minister, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi suffers from comprehension problems that he could not understand that his letter was not merely intended to clarify that Paul Phua, the alleged gambling kingpin standing trial for illegal gambling in Las Vegas, Nevada was not a member of the 14K triad “in Malaysia”.

I do not believe that Zahid is so unsophisticated as to believe that when his infamous letter to the FBI referred to Phua as having helped the Malaysian government in “projects affecting our national security”, that “we continue to call upon him to assist us from time to time as such, we are eager for him to return to Malaysia” and that Phua’s release would impact on furthering “good international relations between our two countries, especially in the exchange of information”, these statements would be regarded by FBI as superfluous, empty and meaningless verbiage and not meant to influence FBI handling of Phua’s case.

Zahid is being very brazen and blatant in demanding that everybody act as gullible fools to accept his version that his infamous letter to the FBI was merely intended to clarify that Phua was not a member of the 14K triad “in Malaysia” and nothing more.

Zahid claimed yesterday that the Cabinet at its meeting on Wednesday was “satisfied with his explanation on the matter”.

I do not believe that our Cabinet Ministers suffer from comprehension problems either or they will not have risen to their present pinnacle of political power in government.

For reasons best known to themselves, they prefer to appear to be gullible fools but this is no compliment on their political purpose and integrity that they could be cowed into obediently accepting Zahid’s outrageous explanation of his infamous letter to the FBI, knowing in their heart of hearts that Zahid was not speaking the truth. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sacked airman says dismissal proves honesty doesn’t pay in Malaysia

by Yiswaree Palansamy
Malay Mail Online
January 15, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 15 — Former airman Zaidi Ahmad said his discharge from the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) for blowing the whistle on the weaknesses of the indelible ink used in Election 2013 demonstrates that honesty comes with a price here.

On Monday, the Military Court found Zaidi guilty of misconduct for publicly complaining about the inefficacy of the indelible ink used in the 2013 general election, and ordered his dismissal as a major in the RMAF.

“The honest ones are often the ‘criminals’, while liars who betray are the ones who are adulated and given various recognitions,” he told Malay Mail Online in an email interview.

Despite his misgivings over the court martial, Zaid said he accepts the decision with “an open heart”. Read the rest of this entry »

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I did what I had to for my country, says airman sacked over indelible ink claim

by Yiswaree Palansamy
The Malay Mail Online
January 15, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 15 — Despite being discharged from the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) for questioning the integrity of the indelible ink used in Election 2013, former airman Zaidi Ahmad says he has no regrets over his actions.

On Monday, a military court found Zaidi guilty of misconduct for publicly complaining about the inefficacy of the indelible ink used in the general election, bringing an abrupt end to his 26-year career as an air force pilot with the rank of Major.

He was also found guilty for publishing an article without the consent of the Defence Ministry, and revealing the contents of official documents on the indelible ink without authorisation from the Malaysian Armed Forces Council, and was subsequently discharged from duty.

To the authorities, Ahmad may be viewed as a disloyal soldier who was insubordinate, but to the general public, the father of four has been hailed as a true Malaysian hero.

“I did what I had to do for my country and I will continue doing it,” Zaidi told Malay Mail Online in an email interview.

“As a responsible citizen, I must always strive to help the nation and its people to fight for justice and truth, combat lies, misappropriation and corruption,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »

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Wolf in sheep’s clothing

Mariam Mokhtar| January 9, 2015
Free Malaysia Today

The greatest threat to the Malays comes from bigots like Abdul Hamid Mohamad, Umno Baru and extremist Muslim NGOs.

COMMENT

Former Chief Justice Abdul Hamid Mohamad has dishonoured his profession. He is a disappointing role model to Malaysians and a disgrace to his Muslim brethren. Whilst many Malaysians are trying to rebuild their lives after the devastating floods, it appears that Hamid is keen to sow seeds of hatred and create racial disharmony. There must be a reason for Hamid’s racial attack. His reappearance comes just as the nation is questioning the lack of preparedness of the government and the attitude of the ministers in dealing with the flood crisis in Kelantan.

It is perplexing that Hamid’s inflammatory remarks on race and religion continue to escape censure by the authorities. His comments have come at a time when the rakyat is demanding answers to many problems besetting the government.

Is Abdul Hamid colluding with the government to distract the Malaysian public from issues like 1MDB, the Kassim Ahmad trial and the appeal against the acquittal of the two men implicated in Altantuya’s murder? Or is he acting to divert attention away from the negative publicity generated by the flooding?

According to news reports on January 3, Hamid wrote a letter to Utusan Malaysia to voice his support for a PAS-Umno unity government. The greater strength would enable Malays to stem the rise of Chinese political power, he reportedly said. He said Malay loyalties were divided between PAS and Umno Baru, thus giving the Chinese ample opportunity to exploit the political situation.

He said that after the tsunami in Aceh, the provincial government worked together with the central government in Jakarta to rebuild the county. He strongly hinted that Kelantan should emulate Aceh to form the unity government of PAS and Umno-Baru. He said, “Isn’t there a lesson to be learnt from Aceh? Hasn’t the disaster taught them to repent and start prioritising something bigger like religion and race instead of party interests?” Read the rest of this entry »

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Razak’s NEP both a success and a failure, says ex-aide Abdullah Ahmad

BY V. ANBALAGAN, ASSISTANT NEWS EDITOR
Published: 15 January 2015 6:59 AM
The Malaysian Insider

A close confidante of Malaysia’s second prime minister, Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, has rated the country’s controversial affirmative action-based economic policy created by his boss as both a “great success and great failure”, 45 years after it was first implemented.

Tan Sri Abdullah Ahmad, who was Razak’s political secretary, said the New Economic Policy (NEP) had done well to lift the Malays out of poverty and increase the number of Malay professionals in all sectors.

But it has failed in its other objective of eradicating poverty regardless of race, Abdullah, better known as Dollah Kok Lanas, told The Malaysian Insider in an interview as part of a series to commemorate the 39th death anniversary of Razak who died on January 14, 1976.

Abdullah also noted what economists have been telling Putrajaya in recent times, that wealth inequality is no longer between races, but within each race, and in the case of the Malays, concentrated within an elite class.

“Some might argue that the enlarged national economy is indeed being shared across the three main races of the Malaysian society, but (this is) among the 1% or less. I have sympathy with this view.
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Why BN does not want more Parliament seats

By Ong Kian Ming | 11:10AM Jan 13, 2015
Malaysiakini

MP SPEAKS The fact that no new no Parliament seat was added in Sarawak by the Election Commission is a very good indication that the yet-to-be revealed peninsular Malaysia and Sabah delimitation plans will also not include parliamentary seat increases.

With 31 out of 222 seats, Sarawak currently has 14 percent of the total Parliament seats. This figure would be diluted further if parliamentary seats are added in peninsular Malaysia and Sabah but not in Sarawak.

Any Sarawak chief minister would not have agreed to the new Sarawak delimitation plan if there was no assurance from the BN at the national level that no parliament seat will be added in either peninsular Malaysia or Sabah. This way, the current distribution of parliamentary seats and power at the federal can be maintained.

The delay in revealing the new delimitation plans for peninsular Malaysia and Sabah also indicates that a decision has been made to present plans without any increase in Parliament seats.
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Malaysia’s international reputation has been sullied enough by Zahid’s infamous letter to FBI and Najib must step in to clean up the mess or he would be no different from “Nero playing the fiddle while Rome burns”

On 5th January 2015, I said “The strange case of the Home Minister, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi writing a letter to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) vouching for the integrity of an alleged gambling kingpin has become ‘curiouser and curiouser’”.

I do not think anyone would have expected that ten days later, this strange case of Zahid’s letter to the FBI and the Zahid-Phua-Shafee-Khalid quadrilateral tangle would become “curiouser, curiouser and even more curiouser”!

There was first the attempted clarification by Zahid claiming that his infamous letter to the FBI vouching for the character of the alleged gambling kingpin Paul Phua Wei Seng – asserting that Phua was a national asset for having helped the Malaysian government on “projects affecting our national security” and pleading for Phua’s release as “we continue to call upon him to assist us from time to time and as such, we are eager for him to return to Malaysia” – was merely to confirm that the “14K triad” did not exist in the country.

As I said at the time, Zahid would have failed his comprehension test in school if he really believed what he said about his infamous letter to the FBI.

Furthermore, all who believed Zahid’s infamous letter to the FBI was merely to confirm that the “14K triad” did not exist in the country would have also failed their comprehension tests in school as well.

In fact, Zahid has raised more questions than answers. Read the rest of this entry »

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Razak’s young Turk talks about his mentor

by Md Izwan
The Malaysian Insider
14 January 2015

To commemorate the 39th death anniversary of Malaysia’s second prime minister and “Father of Development” Tun Abdul Razak, The Malaysian Insider is running a series of interviews with his colleagues and close associates who, with Razak, steered Malaysia through the early days of rebuilding following the race riots of May 13, 1969.

Earlier today, we heard from four of Razak’s sons on his legacy and their personal memories of their father.

In this article, former deputy prime minister Tun Musa Hitam speaks about Razak’s leadership style and of his experience working with the man who brought him back to Umno after his expulsion. Musa had been expelled from Umno after the race riots over a fall-out with the then prime minister and Umno president, Tunku Abdul Rahman.

Readmitted to the party by Razak, Musa went on to rise in Umno and also held the post of Minister of Primary Industries in Razak’s cabinet.

Despite the political tension surrounding Tunku’s departure and Razak’s ascension as prime minister, Musa remembers his mentor for his gentleness, patience and consultative approach, coupled with his firmness to see a decision through once it was made. These were values, Musa says, that Razak knew were needed to manage a multireligious and multiracial country like Malaysia.

TMI: What kind of person was Tun Razak to you? As a leader, a friend or a colleague?

Musa: Tun Razak was a national leader in the true sense of the word. He had vision and perception. He understood the priorities of our country on attaining independence. The long term interest of the nation, to him, was a united Malaysian nation based on the principle of unity within diversity. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysians should remember the first three Prime Ministers, Tunku, Razak and Hussein as under them, there was no question whatsoever that Malaysia is a liberal, democratic, multi-racial, secular state with Islam as the religion of Federation

Banker Datuk Seri Nazir Razak, the youngest son of our second Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak, has said that his father would be shocked 39 years after his death – 57 years after Merdeka and 51 years after Malaysia – that race and religion divide Malaysians even more today than during his time.

It is against this sombre backdrop of nation-building after five decades that we are gathered here to remember Tun Razak and his legacy to the country.

Last year, Malaysia was bedevilled by a host of disasters and misfortunes like Read the rest of this entry »

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I am not Charlie

By RK Anand | 8:42AM Jan 14, 2015
Malaysiakini

COMMENT In 72 hours, more than a dozen lives were taken and Paris was shrouded in fear.

The catalyst being a satirical weekly that prided itself in the flagellation of all that is considered sacred, not only to Muslims but others as well.

To be honest, I had been unaware of Charlie Hebdo’s existence until two masked gunmen stormed its office and killed its staff during an editorial meeting.

Curious, I browsed the Internet for the caricatures that had spurred the bloodbath. What I discovered left me mortified.

The cartoons were distasteful and disrespectful. I believe that even Voltaire, who is often dragged into the discussion on free speech, would disapprove of them too.

Freedom of expression cannot and should not be used as a premise to defend such publications.

While resorting to protect the sanctity of a faith with bullets instead of debates must be condemned, Charlie Hebdo cannot be placed on a pedestal either.

Liberties must be safeguarded but there must exist a sense of responsibility.
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In 2015 delimitation, is Najib going for ‘nuclear’?

By Ong Kian Ming | 10:23AM Jan 12, 2015
Malaysiakini

MP SPEAKS The map for the proposed new seats in Sarawak was publicly displayed on Monday, Jan 5, 2015. The timing of this display – before the display of the Sabah and peninsular Malaysia maps – and the proposed changes – 11 proposed new state seats without a single new parliament seat – was unprecedented.

The Sarawak delimitation exercise also points to a more worrying possibility – that Najib will exercise a ‘nuclear’ option for the upcoming peninsular Malaysia and Sabah delimitation exercise.

What exactly is this nuclear option? That no parliament seats would be added in either peninsular Malaysia or Sabah, that state seats would be added only in the states where the BN enjoys a two-thirds majority in the state legislature and boundaries would be redrawn in BN’s favour in states with no additional parliament and state seats.
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What does ‘moderate’ mean?

By Hafidz Baharom
Free Malaysia Today
January 14, 2015

COMMENT

The writer disagrees with those who say that extremism is not a major Malaysian problem.

I would like to respond to the letter dated January 12 published in The Star entitled “Ethnic divide, not extremism is the problem” signed by 33 high-profile learned Malays from all walks of life . They argued that ethnic divide and not extremism is the major problem facing Malaysia.

I do not deny a growing ethnic divide. I take Shah Alam as an example. The citizenry of Shah Alam has always been majority Malay, yet in my time at primary and secondary school, we still had a large group of non-Malay friends in the classroom. Such is not the case these days.

However, this was not the issue highlighted by the open letter of the 25 retired civil servants to the Prime Minister. Instead, the letter focused on the internal struggle within the Malay community and, in particular, on those using religion as a mere tool to garner support.

In my definition, the fight against extremism is the struggle against those who insist on using the Malay community and Islam to call to behaviour that either is violent, instils fear, or is just plain ridiculous.

In other words, anything beyond moderate is “zalim” or extreme. Read the rest of this entry »

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Cabinet should revisit the question why an emergency was not declared for the worst floods catastrophe in living memory, affecting millions of people, evacuated a quarter of a million people, cost 23 lives and caused losses running into billions of ringgit and give assurance an emergency would be declared for future disasters

Malaysians must be very disappointed that despite calls from many quarters, the Barisan Nasional Government had failed to declare a state of emergency, limited in place and time, over the worst floods catastrophe in living memory, affecting millions of people, evacuated a quarter of a million people, cost 23 lives and caused losses running into billions of ringgit.

It even created flood history in Malaysia in knocking out the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak who subsequently claimed that he was also a flood victim – “confining him to bed for days” due to the infection with E. Coli bacteria while visiting flood-affected states.

Actually, Najib was a flood-victim twice over, as he was forced to cut short his vacation in Hawaii earlier, returning to Malaysia on a commercial flight, creating a mystery as to the whereabouts of the government official jet which had flown Najib Hawaii in the first place.

The Cabinet should revisit the question why an emergency was not declared for the worst floods catastrophe in living memory, and the Prime Minister should give an assurance that in future disasters of such magnitude, the Federal Government would not fail in its duty to declare a state of emergency to mobilise the entire national resources, particularly the 150,000-strong armed forces, to render the quickest help and relief to the disaster victims. Read the rest of this entry »

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