Archive for April 6th, 2007

Public U – end obsession with commercial baubles at int. exhibitions

The Higher Education Minister, Datuk Mustapha Mohamad should slash drastically participation of Malaysian public universities at the 35th Geneva International Exhibition on Inventions April 18-22 to end the obsession with commercial baubles which completely distracts from the search for international academic and research excellence.

I had in the past criticized public universities, particularly University of Malaya and Universiti Sains Malaysia, for their distorted sense of priorities in surrendering their prestigious slots in international best-university rankings and finding comfort instead in easy-to-get gold, silver and bronze medals in foreign exchibitions like the Geneva International Exhibition on Inventions, Products and Services.

Although the Barisan Nasional MP for Ayer Hitam, Dr. Wee Ka Siong, spoke up in Parliament last week against the millions forked out by public universities for these commercial medals with little academic merit, this issue had been blogged by Tony Pua, Economic Adviser to DAP Secretary-General, on 25th November 2005, where he wrote:

My concern is that there appears to be a very unhealthy trend to seek trade fairs glory amongst Malaysian universities and academics. Earlier this year, Universiti Malaya (UM) proudly announced it’s “fantastic” achievements at the 33rd International Exhibition of Inventions, New Techniques & Products in Geneva, securing 33 medals comprising of 19 Golds, 11 Silvers and 3 Bronzes.

My question is, are trade fairs the best places to “judge” the quality of a university or an academic’s research, publication or inventions? With all due respect to “trade fairs”, the objectives of such fairs are typically not to judge the quality of one’s works but to actually create a “meeting place” between the “inventors” and the potential buyers or investors.

As the world’s best 100 or 200 universities do not have to participate in the Geneva International Exhibition on Inventions, why are Malaysian public universities splashing millions of ringgit every year for these commercial baubles when the money should be better spent in the pursuit of academic and research quality and excellence? Read the rest of this entry »


Two reasons why Samy Vellu went berserk in Parliament yesterday

A question many MPs, reporters and observers have been asking is why the Works Minister, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu went berserk in Parliament yesterday when there was no cause or provocation whatsoever.

In his answer during question time, Samy Vellu had lamented that his Ministry was only a “tool” of the Economic Planning Unit (EPU), which was the final decision-maker on tolls and concessions but his Ministry was made to be the scapegoat for all toll hikes.

In my supplementary question I had followed up logically on Samy Vellu’s complaint, saying that if the Works Ministry was a mere “tool” of the EPU and not the deciding authority on tolls and concessions, then the Minister in charge of EPU should be in Parliament to answer questions on the subject and not Samy Vellu — and that person would be the Prime Minister who has authority over EPU but who is absent from Parliament most of the time This is fully in accordance with the principles of Ministerial responsibility and parliamentary responsibility.

At this innocent and valid question, Samy Vellu blew his top, screaming that I had gone “150% out of topic”, that I was “playing political games” and being a very irresponsible Opposition, that he had never heard of a country where the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Ministers and Deputy Ministers had to attend Parliament sittings “from morning till night”!

I also have not heard of a country where the PM, DPM, ministers and deputy ministers have to attend Parliament “from morning till night”. This was just a red herring by Samy Vellu as I had never raised it as an issue.

Nobody is asking for a PM, DPM, Ministers and Deputy Ministers who are in Parliament “morning and night”, but we also do not want a PM, DPM, Ministers and Deputy Ministers who abdicate and abscond from their parliamentary responsibilities to answer and accountable to MPs for the policies and failures of their Ministries.

Samy Vellu had panicked somewhat for he had given an answer which had invited a supplementary question which had raised the issue of the poor parliamentary attendance record of the Prime Minister, who is shaping up to be the worst of all five Prime Ministers in attending to his parliamentary duties — becoming not only an absentee Prime Minister but also absentee Finance Minister and absentee Internal Security Minister during parliamentary meetings. Read the rest of this entry »


Another high-profile corruption allegation – Sarawak CM re 1.1 billion yen timber export kickbacks

Another high-profile corruption allegation - Sarawak CM re 1.1 billion yen

I have today sent an urgent letter to the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to personally reply in Parliament on Monday in the winding-up on the Royal Address debate on high-profile corruption allegations in his administration.

I also drew his attention to the Japan Times report last Thursday, which I described as “the latest instance of more and more adverse international reports about corruption in Malaysia, such as the adverse rankings given to the country by the corruption surveys of the Transparency International and the Political and Economic Risks Consultancy (PERC)” which warrant urgent action by Abdullah to salvage his reform agenda and pledge, in particular to make ant-corruption campaign the top priority of his administration.

The Japan Times report of March 29, 2007 referred to 1.1 billion yen (RM32 million) timber export kickbacks involving companies connected to Sarawak Chief Minister, Tan Sri Taib Mahmud and his family.

The Japan Times report is reproduced as follows:

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Wood carriers allegedly hid 1.1 billion yen income
Kyodo News

Nine Japanese shipping companies that transport lumber from Sarawak, Malaysia, allegedly failed to report some 1.1 billion yen of income in total during a period of up to seven years through last March, sources said Wednesday, alleging the money constituted kickbacks to Sarawak officials via a Hong Kong agent.

Such tax irregularities have occurred as the Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau determined the companies’ remuneration payments to Regent Star, a Hong Kong agent, which has a connection with Chief Minister of Sarawak Taib Mahmud and his family, were rebates, not legitimate expenses, the sources said.

Although the Hong Kong agency did very little in the way of substantive work, the shipping companies are believed to have used rebates as a lubricant to facilitate their lumber trade, the sources added. Read the rest of this entry »


The people of Machap must vote for a change

The people of Machap must vote for a change

The People of Machap Must vote for a change
by Richard Teo

The Machap by-election will be an important milestone for the chinese community.It will determine, after 50 years of BN rule whether the chinese community will opt for a change or remain and continue to be marginalised by the present govt.

The choice for the people of Machap is a simple one.After 50 years where do we go from here? The present govt seem to have lost its direction and no longer have the capabilty to lead this multi-culture, multi-race and multi-religious nation where its people of different origin can live in peace and harmony.

Instead of fostering goodwill among its people the govt has implemented divisive racial policies that have polarised the different races. Its affirmative race based policy has benefited only one community and discriminated the rest.

Even its race based affirmative policy has been hijacked to benefit only a few elite UMNO members. After 50 years the Malay rural heartland of kelantan, Trengganu, Pahang, Perlis,Kedah and Johore still remain impoverished.

Corruption has creeped into every level of our daily lives. Corrupt politicians and civil servants are so prevalent that the system is powerless to act on them. Our political masters are reluctant to bring the culprits to justice because they are just as tainted with corruption. Read the rest of this entry »