Archive for October 15th, 2007

Zam the “Minister for Truth” ala-Orwell’s 1984 in Abdullah administration?

It is five days since last Wednesday’s extraordinary briefing to the country’s top editors by the Information Minister, Datuk Seri Zainuddin Maidin that the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s pledge to “hear the truth” does not apply to the media as it was restricted to Barisan Nasional leaders and government officials — and three days since the public revelation of such a “directive” by Malaysiakini in an exclusive report on Friday.

As there had been no clarification or correction by the Prime Minister to such a briefing by Zainuddin, who specifically told the editors that he was acting under Abdullah’s instructions to convey to the media that the Prime Minister’s repeated pledges to “listen to the truth” did not mean that the media have the green light to “practice unrestrained reporting”, I feel compelled to pose in Parliament when it reconvenes next week the following question:

Does Abdullah want Zainuddin to be his “Minister for Truth” ala-Orwell’s 1984, exemplar of “doublespeak and doublethink” in his administration?

George Orwell’s novel 1984 painted a totalitarian country paralleling Stalinist Russia and Hitlerian Nazi Germany, where there is incessant brainwashing and re-education in a society saturated by doublethink and doublespeak.

There is a Ministry of Peace which concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and Ministry of Plenty with starvation.

Is Malaysia on the occasion of Abdullah’s fourth anniversary as Prime Minister heading in the direction of the “doublethink and doublespeak” of Orwell’s 1984, starting with the directive to the editors that the Prime Minister’s pledge to “hear the truth” does not apply to the press or the public at large? Read the rest of this entry »


Practical Policies, Not Party Politics

by M. Bakri Musa

[In a recent private e-mail to me, a reader chastised me for being “NATO” (No Action, Talk Only). He intimated that if I really loved Malaysia, I should come home and contest the elections. As many readers share his sentiment of me, I post my reply to him. His original letter, in the usual rojak style of Malay liberally interspersed with English, follows.]

Dear Johan:

Thank you for taking your valuable time in sharing your thoughts with me.

My retort to your “NATO” (No Action, Talk Only) accusation is simply this: Been there, done that! However, such a tart response would not do justice to a diligent reader like you who has, by your own admission, bought all my books!

As for my returning home, I served Malaysia on my own accord (no scholarship or other contractual bonds) for nearly three years way back when. It was at a time when my presence (at least initially) doubled the number of Malay surgeons in the country! Although I was proud of my achievements during my brief tenure there, I soon discovered that I would have fewer headaches if I were to stop banging my head against the bureaucratic wall. So I left.

I have returned many times since. On each trip, instead of bringing trinkets for my nieces and nephews, I brought boxes of books to donate to my village school library. On one occasion, the principal proudly displayed to me the mound of books that I had donated over the years. She proudly drew my attention to the fact it was significantly bigger than a similar gift from the World Bank! Read the rest of this entry »


Proton-Volkswagen deal – “a buyer’s market”

Wednesday, October 10, 2007; Posted: 02:06 AM

FRANKFURT (Germany), Oct 10, 2007 (AsiaPulse via COMTEX) — Germany’s print and broadcast media, not to mention the specialised trade media, have been churning out reports over the past few days about an impending deal between Wolfsburg-based giant carmaker Volkswagen (VW) and Malaysia’s national car company Proton (KLSE:5304).

Germany’s leading dailies such as the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Die Welt and the Handelsblatt have been speculating that VW may finally be on its way to forming an alliance with Proton, by either acquiring a 20 per cent stake in Proton or forming a joint venture company which would include Proton assets.

Later, VW might increase its stake in Proton to 50 per cent. An indication to this effect was given by VW head Martin Winterkorn himself in a recent interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, when he said that VW would “move in that direction”.

VW’s acquisition of Proton will strengthen the German carmaker’s position in Southeast Asia.

But VW, according to Winterkorn, would like to see the risks minimised and is also interested in Proton’s extensive network of dealers and agents.

But he also emphasised in the interview that VW was “nowhere even near a due diligence”. He would first see what concessions Malaysia had to offer.

However, German industry pundits said that VW could afford the luxury of waiting longer while the Malaysian side could not.

Indeed, VW will insist that the Malaysian government provides a “soft landing” cushion to compensate it against any losses at Proton for, at least, three years. Read the rest of this entry »