Archive for May 29th, 2007

Collective resignation of Ministers to give Abdullah free hand to end farce of “half-past six” Cabinet

Yesterday’s New Straits Times journalist Fauzlah Ismail wrote a report on the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s visit to Japan last week which should be compulsory reading and critical discussion by all Cabinet Ministers for their weekly meeting tomorrow to lift them out of their “half-past six” malaise.

Entitled “Broaden horizons during trips abroad, says Abdullah”, Fauzlah started with the observation: “Trips abroad, be it official or working visits, are not just about the fixed itinerary. It is about observing the culture of the countries visited and finding those that can be emulated back home.”

Fauzlah said that Abdullah used his fourth visit to Japan since taking office in 2003 to observe what the Japanese do best and what examples he could bring home for Malaysians to emulate.

Clearly what struck the Prime Minister most was the culture of maintenance in Japan, causing him to ask newsmen covering his five-day visit last week:

“Did you check their toilets? Did you notice how clean the city is?”

He was impressed with the Japanese culture of maintenance, especially of public buildings and places.

Fauzlah wrote:

“Indeed, the toilets, especially at the Narita International Airport where millions of local and foreign passengers go through, and the city were impeccably clean.”

Another part of Japanese culture which struck Abdullah was queuing. Fauzlah quoted the Prime Minister: “Do you see people or cars jumping queue? The queue may be long but they still wait their turn.”

There was a third thing about the Japanese which impressed Abdullah – when the Prime Minister was reminded of the Malaysian habit of passing the buck to others.

“This has to stop. The departments and agencies concerned must take responsibility. Whoever is responsible must know what he is responsible for and take action without being told to do so.” Read the rest of this entry »


Will Cabinet adopt “RM22,500 fines for selling Milo at RM1.80” rule to fight corruption?

The Cabinet tomorrow should decide whether it is prepared to endorse and adopt the “RM22,500 fines for selling Milo at RM1.80” rule as the yardstick to punish the corrupt among the high and mighty to restore integrity and good governance in public life in Malaysia.

This follows the very high-handed action of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry enforcement officers penalizing a mamak restaurant in Kuala Terengganu, Restoran Nasi Kandar Tanjung, issuing compound fines of RM22,500 for charging RM1.80 for a glass of iced Milo.

The Ministry enforcement officers also seized food and drinks worth about RM750 and they also tore down the shop’s signboard.

Terengganu Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh was full of praise for the high-handed enforcement action, which had been criticized as overzealous and unwarranted, saying that it was high time such severe action be a lesson to all food outlet operators who flouted the law.

Are the RM22,500 fines for charging RM1.80 for a glass of iced Milo defensible? Absolutely not, as they are not only high-handed, overzealous, unwarranted but gross abuses of power.

I fully endorse actions by enforcement officers against food operators or traders for indiscriminate price increases, but one power abuse cannot justify another even more heinous power abuse.

I am all for the deterrent principle, as contained in the Chinese saying “to kill a fowl to frighten the moneys”, to curb exorbitant profiteering but this cannot justify gross abuses of power which undermines public confidence in good governance in the country. Read the rest of this entry »


Michael Backman – most wasteful projects in Malaysia

Exclusive Interview with Michael Backman

1. What was the initial thought that prompted you to write about your “Boleh or Bodoh column”? What was and has been your intention in writing the article?

Malaysia has good people, good resources and a legal system that ought to function. It depresses me that Malaysia hasn’t been more successful than it has and that it is still fighting the old fights of the 1960s.

Malaysia ‘s Chinese have accepted the NEP and its successor policies. They define themselves as Malaysians first and foremost and are among the proudest Malaysians. They have learned Malay. Essentially, they have done everything that has been required of them and yet still there is this endless preoccupation with race in Malaysia.

Meanwhile the rest of the world is just so unbelievably dynamic now. Malaysia is looking more and more like a sleepy backwater relative to what’s going on elsewhere in the world.

Many Malaysians don’t seem to understand this. Many like to travel overseas – but when they do, too many look but they don’t see. They don’t see how things in Malaysia could be improved. They don’t want to learn from anywhere else. They think Malaysia is a special case. They should be bringing back new ideas to Malaysia. Instead they just want to bring back duty free.

2. Have you ever considered the impact the column might have upon your relationship with Malaysian government and its people? We understand Rafidah Aziz, Malaysia’s Minister for Trade and Industry, criticised your column by saying you probably know nothing about Malaysia. Has there been any (positive or negative) impact/response from publishing the column? Read the rest of this entry »