Archive for August, 2007

50th Merdeka anniversary – “Feel good” euphoria absent; instead a stifling “feel worse” sentiment among Malaysians

50th Merdeka Anniversary Message

Unlike previous years, on the occasion of the 50th Merdeka anniversary, I am issuing a message on the day itself instead of the usual practice of on its eve.

Just one or even two months ago, no one would have predicted or expected that Malaysians would be troubled by many national issues of import come August 31 when the nation celebrates its Merdeka golden jubilee — whether about the Merdeka “social contract” on the fundamental cornerstone of Malaysian nation-building; racial and religious polarization; the independence and integrity of national institutions like the Cabinet, Parliament, Judiciary, Police, Anti-Corruption Agency, Election Commission, the public service; plunge in educational standards and international competitiveness; decline in quality of life with unchecked rise in crime; increasing intolerance towards dissent, press and internet freedom; or a host of other major concerns..

With the 50th Merdeka anniversary, the “feel good” euphoria in Malaysia should be even more effusive than in 2004 which gave Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi the unprecedented landslide general election victory, sweeping over 90 per cent of the parliamentary seats, a feat which had eluded all the four previous Prime Ministers.

In actual fact, the “feel good” euphoria is singularly absent in the country on the occasion of the 50th Merdeka anniversary. Instead of the “feel good” euphoria, there is the “feel worse” sentiment among the people which is even more prevalent and acute than at any time during previous Mahathir administration. Read the rest of this entry »


Makna Merdeka 50

Makna Merdeka 50

Merdeka negara! Merdeka bercita!

Bebas negara! Bebas bersuara!

Merdeka bukan hadiah penjajah

Kebebasan insan hasrat Allah.

Alam ku luas, borkat Illahi

Rezki ku Tuhan yang mengsukati.

Laut, gunung, sempadan tanpa ku segani

Gelombang dunia berani ku layari!

Kampong halaman bukan nya sauh

Ingin ku menghilir merantau jauh.

Di mana bumi ku pijak, di sana langit ku junjong

Selagi hati berhajat, cita ku jangan di kandong.

Hidup, bebas, bahagia, hasrat Allah

Pantang celaka lah jika di ubah.

Raja dan menteri mesti mempatuhi

Jangan kau mungkir perentah Illahi.

Rakyat negeri bukan nya kuli

Untok di kerah ka sana sini.

Zaman purba tak akan kembali

Mungkin menteri yang di buang negri!

Renungkan nasib si Idi Amin

Yang Shah Pahlavi pun tak terjamin.

Pemimpim negri mesti menginggati

Rakyat — bukan raja — yang di daulati.

Tidak ku sangka songsang

Anak dagang di negri orang.

Orang kita/orang sana, tidak bermakna.

Takkan Melayu hilang di dunia

Bukan kah itu gesa Laksmana?

Urat ku mendalam di bumi asing

Loghat ku pun ikut sama mengiring

Sambal belacan dah berasa lain

Teras ku tetap Melayu tulin! Read the rest of this entry »


RM4.6 bil PKFZ bailout scandal – nobody accountable for two weeks when Kong Choy on medical leave?

When Malaysians heard or read the news about the RM4.1 billion investment from the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) countries for the Iskandar Development Region (IDR) in Johore, their first thought would be that Malaysians themselves have this amount of money to spare if they do not have to be squandered in a bailout of the RM4.6 billion Port Klang Free Zone (PFZ) scandal.

Up to now, there has been no proper and full accountability as to how the PKFZ, touted as a feasible and self-financing project which would not require a single ringgit of public funds, has ended up as a RM4.6 billion burden of the taxpayers.

This is why the report today that the Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy has gone on medical leave for health reasons attracted more than its usual share of attention.

His press secretary said Chan has to go abroad for a medical check-up and consultation.

I wish Chan speedy recovery, although two questions jostle for answer:

Firstly, is Chan another example of the present crop of Cabinet Ministers who have no confidence in Malaysian specialists and medical expertise that one after another has to go overseas for medical treatment and consultation. This question is particularly poignant when the Health Minister is another MCA leader, Datuk Dr. Chua Soi Lek.

Secondly, does this mean that for a fortnight, no one from the Transport Ministry need to be responsible to give full accountability for the RM4.6 billion Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) bailout scandal.

Knowing that he had to go on medical leave for two weeks, Chan was being most irresponsible in failing to give a full and proper accounting of the RM4.6 billion PKFZ bailout scandal in his written answer to my question in Parliament on Tuesday.

In his answer, apart from making a bald claim that there was no fraud, irregularity or malpractice, Chan failed to address the specific issues which I had highlighted in my urgent motion on the PKFZ bailout scandal on Monday but which was rejected by the Speaker, Tan Sri Ramli Ngah as not complying withy the three prequisite requirements of being urgent, definite public importance. Read the rest of this entry »


CJM debacle – one up for Conference of Rulers and one down for Pak Lah

The appointment of Datuk Alauddin Mohd Sheriff as the Chief Judge of Malaya is one up for the Conference of Rulers and one down for Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi — as the debacle is a major setback to the prestige and authority of the Prime Minister as a result of the seven-month constitutional impasse and crisis.

The objection of the Conference of Rulers to the earlier nominee for the Chief Judge of Malaya resulting in the seven-month constitutional deadlock has proved to be fully justified and the Prime Minister most imprudent and ill-advised to give blind support to the proposal submitted by the Chief Justice, Tun Ahmad Fairuz Abdul Halim.

The question crying out for answer is why the Prime Minister placed himself in such an embarrassing and indefensible position and for such a protracted length of time.

Isn’t there a proper mechanism to vet candidates whether for judicial appointments or promotions?

The Chief Justice must bear great responsibility for the constitutional debacle but from the constitutional standpoint, the Prime Minister cannot shirk final responsibility as the buck must stop at his desk.

Fairuz now says that he is waiting for an explanation from a Federal Court judge on his failure to write the grounds of judgments in more than 35 civil and criminal cases. Read the rest of this entry »


Farce of patriotism by handful of BN MPs – black chapter for Parliament and blot for 50th Merdeka anniversary

A handful of irresponsible Barisan Nasional MPs had disgraced Parliament and demeaned the 50th Merdeka anniversary by staging a farce of patriotism in Parliament yesterday just to score cheap political points to catch Opposition MPs off-guard.

Yesterday’s Parliamentary sitting started at 10 am with the Speaker, Tan Sri Ramli Ngah making a statement on the 50th Merdeka anniversary before the start of the question session, which was quite unusual as the Speaker represents all MPs, both government and opposition, and should only make pronouncements unrelated to the duties of his office after consultation and mandate of both sides of the House.

Opposition MPs were completely unaware that the Speaker was going to make any such announcement on behalf of Parliament, and that was why I was not in the House at the time. Not only the majority of Opposition MPs were not in the House, this applies to the majority of BN MPs — resulting in the Speaker making an important announcement to an empty House!

What was clearly out of order was that the Chairman of the Barisan Backbenchers Club Datuk Raja Ahmad Zainudin Raja Omar (BN — Larut) followed up with a speech which he read from a prepared text (proof of prior knowledge and pre-planning) ending up with his call to MPs to emulate Bapa Malaysia Tunku Abdul Rahman 50 years ago with seven shouts of Merdeka in Parliament.

The farce ended with the BN MP for Kinabatangan Datuk Bung Moktar Radin deriding the Opposition benches and asking offensively whether the two Opposition parties did not celebrate Merdeka. Read the rest of this entry »


Non-bumis no more?

by Azly Rahman

Sometime ago in a column I wrote the following:

We are in the 21st century. About three years from now, we will arrive at the year 2010. The non-Malays and non-bumiputeras have come a long way into being accepted as full-fledged Malaysians, by virtue of the ethics, rights and responsibilities of citizenship. They ought to be given equal opportunity in the name of social justice, racial tolerance and the alleviation of poverty.

Bright and hard-working Malaysians regardless of racial origin who now call themselves Malaysians must be given all the opportunities that have been given to Malays since 40 years back.

Islam and other religions require this form of social justice to be applied to the lives of human beings. Islam does not discriminate one on the basis of race, ethnicity, color, creed nor national origin. It is race-based politics, borne out of the elusiveness of nationalism, that creates post-industrial tribalistic leaders; leaders that will design post-industrial tribalistic policies. It is the philosophy of greed, facilitated by free enterprise runamuck that will evolvingly force leaders of each race to threaten each other over the control of the economic pie. This is the ideology of independence we have cultivated.

I want to elaborate the point further: Read the rest of this entry »


MCA policy statement on “social contract” blacked out by MCA newspaper The Star

This is most extraordinary and unthinkable — MCA newspaper The Star “blacking out” the MCA policy statement on the “social contract”!

The Chinese newspapers gave front-page headline treatment to the policy statement issued yesterday by the MCA Presidential Council following the shock declaration of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi that Malaysia was an Islamic state and not a secular state.

Strangely enough, the policy statement was reported by the Sun but it is also conspicuously omitted in the New Straits Times and the Malay newspapers.

Releasing the MCA Presidential Council statement, MCA President Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting said the Federal Constitution should be the reference to resolve controversies or confusion over the social contract.

The statement said that what had been agreed by the forefathers 50 years ago, especially the principles and the spirit in governing the country, must be preserved.
These principles and spirit were enshrined in the Constitution.
Two questions are in order:

Firstly, why the two-faced treatment of the MCA Presidential Council policy statement on the “social contract” by the MCA — having it published prominently in the Chinese media but blacked out in its own English-language newspaper, the Star and the New Straits Times as well as the Malay newspapers.

Secondly, why had the MCA Presidential Council betrayed the fundamental principles espoused by the early generation of the MCA founder-leaders like Tun Tan Cheng Lock and Tun Tan Siew Sin who had declared unequivocally both inside and outside Parliament 50 years ago that this nation was conceived as a secular state with Islam as the official religion and not an Islamic state. Read the rest of this entry »


FC judge with 35 outstanding judgments from High Ct – why PM only aware after more than a month it was reported publicly?

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said yesterday that the Chief Justice must answer the allegation that a Federal Court judge had failed to write grounds of judgment in 35 cases since his High Court tenure, covering both civil and criminal cases.

DAP National chairman and MP for Bukit Gelugor, Karpal Singh, has named Federal Court judge Datuk Hashim Yusuf in Parliament on Monday as the judge concerned.

The Prime Minister said it was disappointing to discover that there may be judges who had not performed their functions and duties adequately in the pursuit of justice.

The Prime Minister is right — the Chief Justice Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim cannot continue to keep his silence after he had flatly denied that there was any Federal Court judge who had not written as many as 30 grounds of judgment and challenged for proof to be provided.

As such proof have been provided and the Federal Court judge concerned named, Fairuz should publicly apologise for misleading the Malaysian public and explain whether he is heading a competent, responsible, accountable and professional judiciary.

Will Fairuz take out the Federal Court judge concerned from all current Federal Court cases until he had written up all the grounds of judgments of 35 outstanding civil and criminal cases? Read the rest of this entry »


Malaysia and the Dilemma of Assimilation (part II)

By Farish A. Noor

And so it would appear that Malaysia is, after all, an Islamic state.

This was the conclusion that many Malaysians have had to accept after the recent pronouncement on the part of the Prime Minister that the country has apparently been run and governed on Islamic lines all along; a startling revelation to say the least for most of us who were unaware of the fact that the arrests under the ISA, the crackdowns during Operation Lalang, Operation Kenari, the numerous declarations of Emergency, et al. were all done under the auspices of Muslim governance. And are we right to conclude that the innumerable corruption scandals, the weakening of the judiciary, the instances of blatant double-standards in the enforcement of the law, et al. were likewise exemplary moments of Islamic governance in action?

The Prime Minister’s recent announcement must surely have come as a blow to those of us who have been calling for a return to the secular democratic foundations of the Malaysian Federation. But now it seems as if even the history of this country has been appropriated by the government, and written and re-written at whim to suit the agendas and interests of the powers that be. After half a century of existence and five decades of nation-building programmes that have taken us nowhere fast, the goalposts have been moved once again. How can there be any significant, meaningful long-term development in the country when the very rules of the political game change again and again? And if the very foundational terms of political engagement in the country are being changed all the time, we need to ask why and for whose sake? Read the rest of this entry »


Unfit To Lead

M. Bakri Musa

After nearly four years as Prime Minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has clearly demonstrated that he is not fit to lead the nation. He does not have what it takes to hold the nation’s top post; he must be relieved of his office.

The man is too incompetent to be even aware of his own incompetence. His trademark answer to every serious query is a plaintive, “I dunno!” There is not even a hint of embarrassment on his part, or the desire and curiosity to find out. Truly revealing!

Consider this latest blunder: As Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Abdullah is blissfully unaware of the RM5 billion blunder now unfolding at the Port Klang Free Zone project. If he is not aware (much less on top) of that impending financial implosion, chances are he is unable to comprehend the wider and more treacherous economic ramifications. Abdullah is instead riled up over some sophomoric rap rendition of the national anthem. Small mind, trivial preoccupation!

His election promises of 2004 turned out to be nothing more than the typical politician’s empty words, a cruel hoax perpetrated upon trusting citizens. For all his talk about greater transparency and combating corruption, it is nothing more than, to put it in the vernacular, “cock talk!” Under his “leadership,” all these are now much worse. His overly displayed public piety and religiosity are obviously for show only, as he is not fearful of Allah for having not kept his promises to the people.

He is consumed with the expensive trappings of his office, with luxury corporate jets ready to fly him and his family all over the globe. It is amazing how fast this kampong imam from Kepala Batas, a backwater of modern Penang, is acquiring the extravagant taste of the jet set, all at public expense of course.

Those closest to him personally and politically are serving their selfish interests in indulging his fantasy, or more correctly, daydream. The old man can hardly keep himself awake!

Unfortunately, it is the nation that is bearing the terrible consequences. The longer he stays, the heavier will be the burden, and costlier the price. We are now close to the point where the damages wrecked by this man would be irreversible. We cannot risk such a fate; the time for action is now!

This is a sobering thought, a definite damper on the current joyous mood in celebrating our 50th anniversary of Merdeka. Fortunately, despite Malaysia’s short history, the nation is sufficiently rooted in democratic principles and practices that it could effect leadership change without resorting to unconstitutional means. Read the rest of this entry »


Higher Education Strategic Plan Beyond 2020 – what for if no “political will” for meritocracy and colour-blind policies

The bubble of the “Strategic Plan for Higher Education: Laying the Foundation Beyond 2020” launched by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi yesterday was punctured by the irresponsible denial syndrome of the Higher Education Minister, Datuk Mustapha Mohamad in Parliament the very same day.

Abdullah announced a three-prong strategy to turn Malaysia into a world education hub, viz:

  • Apex University: where only the best brains — academic staff and students — will be admitted;
  • Autonomy: public universities to be self-governing in funding and research & development;
  • Audit Panels: Standard of all universities to be assessed by independent committee comprising only experts.

The Malaysian Government has honed to a fine art the preparation of grandiloquent plans (which is why every Minister wants to have a Masterplan of his own rejecting that drawn up by his predecessor and which is what happened in the short history of the Higher Education Ministry) although there is no political will to implement them — best example being the National Integrity Plan which has seen the country plagued with more rampant and uncontrolled corruption since its launch by the Prime Minister three years ago. Read the rest of this entry »


Good Intentions Perhaps, But What Were They Thinking?

By Farish A. Noor

There are blunders and there are blunders. There are blunders that are done
out of ignorance and are, upon hindsight, pardonable. But there are also
blunders that tell us more about the blunderers themselves and are at best
laughable and at worse deplorable.

The recent fiasco to come out of the deserts of Iraq falls in the latter
category and tells us a lot about the thinking going on among the real
powers-that-be in Iraq today; namely the Americans. When American soldiers
dropped footballs to Iraqi children from their attack helicopters, few of
them realised what the repercussions might be. Little did they realise that
not every Iraqi — football crazy some of them might be — would be all that
happy to receive free footballs with the flags of the world on them, when
one of those flags happen to be that of Saudi Arabia with the Kalimah, or
Muslim declaration of faith, on it.

Needless to say, some of the less tolerant Iraqi clerics were not about to
take the matter lightly as they pointed out that the footballs would have
been kicked around, and at some point or another an Iraqi child was more
than likely to kick the Saudi flag and thus the Kalimah as well. Tempers
flared, the footballs were confiscated by irate Muslims and the Americans
have once again had to flee the scene with egg on their face. Read the rest of this entry »


“Malaysia an Islamic State” – Now Pak Lah says it, in a threatening manner

My first question for the first day of the budget Parliamentary meeting which started yesterday asked the Prime Minister whether on the occasion of 50th Merdeka anniversary, the Cabinet will reaffirm the Merdeka social contract and Malaysia Agreement that Malaysia is a secular state with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic state.

The question was placed No. No. 24 out of 28 questions – no chance whatsoever to get answered during the 90-minute question session which saw only the first 10 questions answered.

It was a very simple and straightforward question which would have found favour and support from the first three Prime Ministers, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak and Tun Hussein who were publicly committed to the Merdeka social contract and Malaysia Agreement that Malaysia is a secular state with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic State.

In his written answer, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has broken ranks with the first three Prime Ministers on this fundamental issue and has now come out into the public to give support to his deputy, Datuk Seri Najib Razak declare that Malaysia was an Islamic state – and in an unusually threatening manner which seemed to presage repressive times ahead.

This is the Q & A on Abdullah’s reply: Read the rest of this entry »


Malaysia’s axis mysteriously shifting

By Ioannis Gatsiounis

Asia Times Online

KUALA LUMPUR – When Abdullah Badawi became Malaysia’s prime minister in 2003, many thought the mild-mannered leader would take a more moderate approach to international relations than his prickly predecessor Mahathir Mohamad, who often locked diplomatic horns with the United States and other Western countries.

But a string of scandals and crimes with international dimensions, some even linked to Abdullah’s family members, have put his government’s relations with Washington on an uncomfortable footing.

US authorities last month arrested and charged Pakistani national Jilani Humayun for his alleged role in shipping contraband military goods to Malaysia, from where they were re-exported to Iran. He was also charged with conspiracy to commit money-laundering and mail fraud. The sensitive dual-use hardware, which was funneled through an as yet unnamed Malaysian company, included parts for F-5 and F-14 fighter jets and Chinook helicopters.

In April the US imposed sanctions on 14 companies, individuals and government agencies it accused of dealing in advanced weapon technology with Iran or Syria. Two of the companies listed were Malaysian, the Challenger Corp and Target Airfreight.

Moreover, a federal jury in New York last year convicted Singaporean businessman Ernest Koh Chong Tek of smuggling dual-use US military parts to Malaysia for transshipment to Iran’s military – a violation of the 1995 embargo the US placed on all exports and re-exports of commodities to Iran without approval by the US Office of Foreign Asset Control. He was also charged with laundering millions of dollars through his Singapore bank accounts in the smuggling scheme. Read the rest of this entry »


Can civil servants utilise government facilities for personal profit?

by Milton Combe

As leader of the opposition and a lawyer I would like to bring to your attention and query some incredible policy changes implemented overnight by the current Health Minister who appears to have a penchant for running roughshod of this country’s laws.

The Health Minister recently made a decision in allowing its specialists at the Putrajaya and Selayang hospitals to charge patients private sector fees. The primary reason of this policy appears to be to enable such specialists to remain in government service instead of opting for private practice for financial reasons. No doubt efforts must be made to ensure the continual presence of senior specialists in government service to enable tax payers the benefit of proper treatment in especially these trying times of declining medical standards. But is this modus operandi legal? These changes appear to have the support of the MCA’s Star columnist V.K. Chin who is notorious for his writings of skewed wisdom on many topics just so it pleases his political masters although they may defy logic. But we cannot blame V.K. Chin as his very existence depends on advocating such articles which unfortunate readers of the Star have to sometimes endure.

1. Unlike private hospitals which are built and managed through private financial initiatives, public hospitals are built with public funds sourced via income tax, etc. Is it lawful for government doctors who are civil servants to charge or profit using such facilities without undergoing a corporatisation exercise like TNB, Telekom, Klang Port Authority etc that is usually endorsed by our courts and advertised accordingly in the newspapers after of course the whole exercise is agreed upon in parliament and an Act passed? This is a dangerous legal precedent. If by all means policy makers feel that this is the way our specialists or skilled staff need to be rewarded then indeed this is what needs to be done. Which will then bring into question how is it the other GLCs took the right legal steps to privatization but the Health Minister, who is known for his lack of tolerance for “illegal” clinics but instead promotes traditional medicine in our hospitals, has suddenly decided it is OK if his ministry does not follow the rules?

2. Secondly, the report states that government policy is – general hospitals and clinics are meant for the lower income group and it was difficult to verify the financial status of everyone seeking treatment. The implication is that, those with financial means should seek private treatment. Now this is indeed news. Government hospitals are put up using tax payer’s money. It does not matter if the tax payer drives into GHKL with a Rolls Royce but he may indeed be paying far higher taxes then the average person. He should, like every other tax payer, be entitled to proper treatment and not be told that he needs to pay additional private specialist fees or shooed away to seek treatment at a private facility. Has the Treasury, Auditor General and Attorney General Chambers been advised of these arrangements? Read the rest of this entry »


2nd urgent motion – Dropping of Zakaria’s 37 charges and new crisis of confidence in justice system

I have submitted to the Speaker of Parliament, Tan Sri Ramli Ngah a second urgent motion for debate in Parliament on Wednesday – the extraordinary dropping of the 37 charges against the Selangor State Assemblyman for Port Klang Datuk Zakaria Md Deros and five of his business partners under the Companies Act 1965.

The nub of the argument is that the dropping of Zakaria’s 37 charges have illuminated the new crisis of confidence in the system of justice in the country.

This is the latest setback in the past two months before the 50th Merdeka anniversary celebrations on 31st August 2007 shattering public confidence in the independence, integrity and professionalism of national institutions causing more and more Malaysians to ask what has gone wrong with nation-building.

The failure to give satisfactory explanation for the withdrawal of the 37 charges against Zakaria has reinforced public perception that there are politically-powerful people in the country who enjoy immunities and privileges to the extent that they are a law unto themselves and not subject to the ordinary laws of the land binding on all Malaysians.

This is a great blow to public and investor confidence in the just rule of law, especially efficient upholding of law and order and the fair administration of justice, which had reached increasingly critical level because of a series of incidents including: Read the rest of this entry »


RM4.6 billion PKFZ scandal – Liong Sik telling the truth or a pack of lies?

I am very disappointed that my motion for an urgent debate of the RM4.6 billion Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal and a government bailout has been denied, casting not only a dark shadow on the 50th Merdeka Anniversary celebrations on Friday by raising grave questions about good governance, an accountable and honest Cabinet and an effective “First-World Parliament”.

It would appear that no Barisan Nasional MP is prepared to take a principled stand demanding full parliamentary accountability of the RM4.6 billion PKFZ scandal and that there should be no government bail-out unless there is prior Parliamentary sanction, especially as the government had earlier been giving an assurance that the PKFZ was feasible and self-financing which would not require a single ringgit of government funding.

Although the rejection by the Speaker, Tan Sri Ramli Ngah of my urgent motion on the PKFZ is a setback in the campaign to hold the government to the National Integrity Plan launched by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, I will continue to demand full and proper accountability for the RM4.6 billion PKFZ scandal in the current budget meeting of Parliament.

Yesterday, former MCA President and Transport Minister, Tun Dr. Ling Liong Sik broke his silence on the RM4.6 billion Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal which was initiated when he helmed the Transport Ministry but what he said raised the question whether Ling was telling the truth or just a pack of lies.

How can Ling hide his head under the sand and claim that the PKFZ plan to “emulate Dubai’s Jebel Ali Free Zone was a good strategic idea” when it has become a national calamity, which is the candidate for a RM4.6 billion bail-out — the biggest financial scandal for the start of any Prime Minister in the nation’s 50-year history?

Ling said yesterday that the intention of PKFZ was to copy Jebel Ali Free Zone, which had 4,500 factories supplying to the whole of the Gulf, by combining port trade with Jebel Ali and bring at least half the factories to PKFZ to supply to Asean.

After spawning the monster of a RM4.6 billion mega-financial scandal, what has PKFZ to show in terms of achieving the target of attracting 2,250 factories from Jebel Ali Free Zone to Port Klang? Has it achieved 10, five or even one per cent of this target so far? Read the rest of this entry »


Tun Razak would have recoiled in horror at RM4.6 billion Port Klang Free Zone scandal and bailout

A marathon 50-hour forum was told yesterday why Malaysia’s second prime minister, the late Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, had called off a plan to build a swimming pool at his official residence.

Razak had felt that the estimated RM60,000 to be spent on the construction of the swimming pool could be better used in building three rural health clinics.

This episode from the past was related by Datuk Mohd Annuar Zaini, chairman of the Malaysian National News Agency, Bernama, at the Merdeka Forum “Sembang-Sembang Kopi `O’ Nasi Lemak” organised by the Culture, Arts and Heritage Ministry and the Federation of National Writers Associations of Malaysia (Gapena) in kuala Lumpur.

There can be no doubt that Razak who cancelled a plan to build the RM60,000 swimming pool at his official residence, would have recoiled in horror at the RM4.6 billion Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal and any government bailout when the money could be better used for the poor of all races.

The second Prime Minister would have been utterly shocked at the mentality of the present batch of Cabinet Ministers in general and the Transport Minister in particular who clearly had no notion whatsoever about responsibility, accountability, transparency, integrity and good governance as there had been no proper explanation whether to the Malaysian public or to Parliament as to how such a RM4.6 billion PKFZ scandal could have been allowed to happen when the government had been assured right from the beginning that the PKFZ was a feasible and self-financing project which would not require a single ringgit of public funding.

I have no doubt that if the RM4.6 billion PKFZ scandal had happened during Razak’s premiership, the then Transport Minister would have no choice but to tender his resignation, especially when it was the Transport Minister’s unlawful “letters of support” which had been used as government guarantees to induce investors to subscribe to the RM4.6 billion bonds for the PKFZ project.

A quarter of a century ago, the premiership of the fourth Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, was marred by the then biggest financial scandal, the RM2.5 billion Bumiputra Malaysia Finance (BMF) scandal which Mahathir admitted was “a heinous crime without criminals”.

Are Malaysians to celebrate the 50th Merdeka anniversary in an increasingly somber mood with an even bigger “heinous crime without criminals” than the RM2.5 billion BMF scandal 25 years ago – the RM4.6 billion PKFZ scandal?

It was reported by foreign agencies on Friday that at a meeting between the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and the Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy late last Thursday, the Prime Minister gave the green-light for a RM4.6 billion soft-loan to bailout the PKFZ. Read the rest of this entry »


50 Years of Merdeka: Past and Future — A Reflection

The nation achieved independence in 1957 at the same time as Ghana, when both countries were almost on par economically. Both countries are celebrating their golden jubilee of national independence this year, but Ghana is a failure in economic development, with its per capita income only about one-tenth that of Malaysia.

Should Malaysia feel proud that we are now ten times better off than Ghana, as had been suggested by a Barisan Nasional MP in Parliament?

This depends on whether we want to compare with the best or with the worst. There is no point in talking about” excellence, glory and distinction” if we are only proud to be compared with failed states and not prepared to compete with our equals or betters.

Malaysia was No. 2 in Asia after Japan in terms of prosperity and income when it achieved independence in 1957, despite having a per capita income of only US$200 per year. However, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore have caught up with us and gone ahead.

Although Malaysia’s per capita GNP had started to trail behind Hong Kong and Singapore in the first decade after independence, we were still ahead of South Korea and Taiwan. Malaysia’s per capita GNP in 1967 stood at US$290 as compared to Taiwan’s US$250 and South Korea’s US$160.

In 1967, Singapore’s per capita GNP was US$600 while Hong Kong US$620.

In the past four decades, South Korea’s per capita income multiplied about a hundred-fold, Taiwan by some 60-fold, Singapore by 45-fold, Hong Kong by some 40-fold with Malaysia lagging with an increase of only some 17 fold.

The brain drain of over a million talented, creative and enterprising Malaysians in the past four decades as a result of the New Economic Policy must bear primary responsibility for Malaysia trailing so behind Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea.

Let us not indulge in any finger-pointing exercise but let us own up to our mistakes and have the courage to correct them in the best interests of the nation and future generations. Read the rest of this entry »


27 charges against Zakaria dropped – another grave blow to public confidence less than a week to 50th Merdeka celebrations

As if there were not enough setbacks in the past two months to shatter public confidence in the independence, integrity and professionalism of institutions of state causing more and more Malaysians to ask the real meaning of the 50th Merdeka anniversary celebrations, another grave blow was delivered to such public confidence yesterday.

I am referring to the extraordinary dropping of the 37 charges against the so-called “Sultan of Klang” Datuk Zakaria Md Deros and five of his business partners pertaining to contravening the Companies Act 1965 — less than a week before the 50th Merdeka anniversary celebrations.

It would appear that the so-called “Sultan of Klang” enjoys immunities and privileges to the extent that he is a law unto himself and is not subject to the ordinary laws of the land binding of all Malaysians and even members of the true royalty.

Zakaria would have very exultant reasons to celebrate the 50th Merdeka anniversary on Friday, but he has left more and more Malaysians wonder what has happened to the country after half-a-century of independent nationhood that there is a lengthening catalogue of things very wrong with good governance, justice and nation-building in Malaysia.

Were the authorities serious in charging Zakaria with 37 offences under the Companies Act 1965 in the first instance, and if so, how could these charges be so summarily and flippantly withdrawn?

If the original 37 charges against Zakaria were just a sandiwara never meant to be taken or to be pursued seriously, then the reputation of the impartiality, independence, professionalism and integrity of the state institutions responsible for upholding law and order have been seriously tarnished, and suitable punitive action should be taken against the offenders.

If the original 37 charges against Zakaria had been preferred with a full sense of seriousness, then why were they dropped so summarily and frivolously? Was there interference with the process of law and the administration of justice, and if so, Parliament and the Malaysian people are entitled to a full explanation. Read the rest of this entry »