Archive for April, 2008

Tamil Makkalosai suspended for a week – beginning of crackdown post-March 8?

Popular Tamil daily, Tamil Makkalosai, has been suspended for a week by none other than the Home Minister, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar himself for giving too much coverage of Pakatan Rakyat news.

With immediate effect, Tamil Makkalosai will not appear in the streets until next week, awaiting the fate of its appeal to the Home Minister.

Is this the first sign of repression and crackdown on human rights and the little space opening up in the printed media after the March 8 “political tsunami”?

It is clear that the decision to stop the publication of Tamil Makkalosai, which is still awaiting for its KDN this year, has got the “green-light” from the Cabinet meeting this morning.

Why did the Ministers, particularly from Umno and other Barisan Nasional component parties, particularly from the MIC, who have promised to end their subsidiary and subservient role in Cabinet , agreed to such a repressive measure as to immediately close down Tamil Makkalosai?


Send Uthayakumar to IJN – Abdullah should heed the plea of his mother

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi should heed the plea of Hindraf leader P. Uthayakumar’s mother, K. Kalaivaniy, 64, to allow her son to be admitted to the National Heart Institute to deal with his deteriorating health.

Alternatively, Uthayakumar should be admitted to any private hospital of her choice as she is willing to bear the cost of the medical treatment and not burden the authorities with the medical bills.

It is not good enough for the Home Minister, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar to dismiss widespread concerns about Uthayakumar’s health claiming that there is no truth in claims that Internal Security Act (ISA) detainees at the Kamunting detention centre were being deprived of proper medical attention.

His assurance that ISA detainees will never be denied nor deprived of their right to receive proper medical treatment, is neither satisfactory nor acceptable as it is given from his air-conditioned office and has no relationship with what is actually happening in the detention centres to the detainees.

As a ISA detainee twice, I can speak with some authority that medical treatment for ISA detainees especially in sensitive cases like that of Uthayakumar, who is a diabetic with many grave complications, were often unsatisfactory. Read the rest of this entry »


DAP welcomes signs of imminent judicial reforms

DAP welcomes developments indicating that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is finally prepared to carry out long-overdue reforms to take the first step to restore national and international confidence in the independence, impartiality, integrity and quality of the judiciary.

I have been calling for judicial reforms both in and outside Parliament in the past two decades when the country reeled from one judiciary crisis to another since the “Mother of Judicial Crisis” in 1988 with the arbitrary sacking of Tun Salleh Abas as Lord President and two Supreme Court Judges, the late Tan Sri Wan Suleiman Pawanteh and Datuk George Seah as Supreme Court judges, and the victimization of independent-minded judges.

Abdullah should not take half-hearted measures but must initiate far-reaching judicial reforms to restore the Malaysian judiciary to its world-class pedestal which it had enjoyed since Independence in 1957 until two decades ago. Read the rest of this entry »


Questions about the charging of ex-sessions judge for falsifying document

Last Friday, former sessions court judge Zunaidah Mohd Idris was produced in the Raub sessions court where she had sat as presiding judge from 2004 to 2005 and charged with falsifying a document written by magistrate Nurul Mardhiah Redza in relation to a drug case in the magistrate’s court.

Zunaidah, 48, pleaded not guilty to committing the offence in her chambers on Sept. 14, 2005.

If convicted, Zunaidah can be sentenced to seven years’ jail and fined. She was released on RM2,000 bail and the hearing fixed for July 8.

Without getting into the merits of the charge, the prosecution handling of the case has raised questions.

Firstly, deputy public prosecutor Mohamad Hanafiah Zakaria told the court the prosecution would be conducted by prosecution division head of the Attorney-General’s Chambers Datuk Mohd Yusof Zainal Abiden.

This has raised eyebrows and question why the head of the Attorney-General’s Chambers is conducting the prosecution of this comparatively minor case when neither he nor the Attorney-General is conducting the prosecution in the high-profile Mongolian Altantunya Shariibuu murder trial with its far reaching political and good governance implications. Read the rest of this entry »


Fate of 200 doctors from unscheduled universities

by Unrecognised doctors

The Star, published an article, “Flunked doctors have a chance”, dated April 10, 2008. We were very saddened to know, that the Health Minister and the Director General of Health, have failed to understand the plight of our situation. This issue should not be treated as a platform for showing ones power or a battle of egos, or a money making scam.

Many of us have graduated from the year 1992. We all have families to support, and not having a steady income, to come up with the finances yet again for this purpose is not only near impossible but even unreasonable. Even if we are helped by the government giving us loans, for those of us who have passed and received our medical degrees over 15 years ago, to go for a compulsory course of 3 years, then sit for the final exam, only to become a houseman seems unfair and impractical. After this process, one has to slave for 2 years as a houseman, and 3 years as a medical officer, and then is eligible for permanent registration. Many of us will be near retirement age, and this proposal seems unrealistic. We seem to be getting the shorter end of the stick, and come to you for support. Read the rest of this entry »


Reflections on Malaysia’s Economic Progress and Wealth Distribution: Some Key Questions to Policy Makers (3)

By Dr Teck-Yong Eng

5. What measures have the government put in place to explore and exploit Malaysia’s strategic and cultural position of two major growing economies in Asia, India and China?

Malaysia’s foreign economic policy with regards to India and China remains relatively under tapped from a strategic viewpoint. Despite our geographical proximity, advantage of language and cultural similarity, and established networks with commonwealth countries (serve as potential economic and business conduits), there is no evidence of systematic economic initiatives in helping Malaysian businesses to see the bigger picture of economic rewards and how Malaysia could leverage its economic position. Read the rest of this entry »


Reflections on Malaysia’s Economic Progress and Wealth Distribution: Some Key Questions to Policy Makers (2)

By Dr Teck-Yong Eng

2. Have ordinary citizens benefited from the period of economic boom or growth from the mid to late 1990s? If not, what went wrong and what lessons can be drawn to prevent such recurrence?

Unfortunately, only a minority of people reaped the rewards of the long gone boom period in the Asia region. Again, most would argue that this is due to deeply entrenched corruption, nepotism and cronyism in awarding projects, siphoning state resources, and misusing funds and abusing of power. I would refrain from the topic of corruption and clean governance to focus on economic and wealth distribution. Read the rest of this entry »


Reflections on Malaysia’s Economic Progress and Wealth Distribution: Some Key Questions to Policy Makers (1)

By Dr Teck-Yong Eng

The People have delivered their verdict on the recent Malaysia’s 12th general election and it is time for all bickering about political rhetoric to take a back seat. In the midst of chaotic restructuring and constant backstabbing of politicians, the opposition could lose focus on turning the election manifestos into reality and serving the people.

Economic wellbeing and progress of the nation is one of the main reasons for the people’s dissatisfaction with the ruling government (BN), which transpired to a historic election defeat.

In a crude sense, our economic malaise especially economic and wealth distribution is not the sole responsibility of the current PM but has been simmering under the various positive headlines with politically motivated agenda of the previous premier. Read the rest of this entry »

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Pakatan Rakyat MPs will support judicial and other belated institutional reforms

(Speech at the DAP Public Ceramah/Consultation with DAP MPs/State Excos in Sri Kembangan at the Seri Kembangan Dewan Serbaguna on Sunday, April 13, 2008)

During the 2008 general election campaign, the “kingmaker” of the Abdullah administration, the Prime Minister’s son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin vowed to destroy the Opposition. In the end, he nearly destroyed Umno and Barisan Nasional.

Umno Information chief and newly-resurrected Minister for Rural and Regional Development, Muhd Muhammad Taib, has admitted that the arrogance of some Umno leaders was to be blamed for the Barisan Nasional’s poor performance in the March polls.

In fact, it it not “some” but most Umno leaders who were arrogant while some, like Khairy, were “very” and insufferably arrogant!

The pressure is on in Umno for Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to assume full responsibility for the March 8 “political tsunami” and to step down as Prime Minister.

The biggest question today is how long Abdullah can survive as Prime Minister, whether until after the Umno polls in December or whether he will have to step down even earlier, with former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad leading the campaign to demand that his successor should vacate Sri Perdana immediately.

The future of Abdullah as Umno President and Prime Minister of Malaysia will have to be decided by the internal politics of Umno, but Malaysians are entitled to know whether there is the political will to honour the post-election statements by Abdullah and other Barisan Nasional leaders that they have finally heard the voices of the people and would belatedly implement the pledges of reform made in the 2004 general election – that the new 12th Parliament would open at the end of the month with a full parliamentary agenda of wide-ranging reforms! Read the rest of this entry »


Targeting The Biggest Ass

by Bakri Musa

Johore UMNO leaders had apparently told Prime Minister Abdullah that he must have a succession plan that is “structured, smooth and speedy.” This three “S” strategy missed targeting the biggest ass of all, Abdullah himself. The initiative had more to do with saving Abdullah’s “face” than with solving the grave problems confronting the party.

If UMNO members and leaders were serious, they would focus on getting this harsh and unadulterated message straight to Abdullah: He is unfit to lead the party and country. He has clearly demonstrated this through his deeds (or lack of them) and words. The man is a habitual liar; he cannot separate fact from fiction and distinguish reality from fantasy.

Abdullah’s idea of taking responsibility for his party’s electoral debacle is merely to utter that statement. He has no inkling of what it means to accept responsibility.

Abdullah’s pleading that he is needed to “revive” the party is laughable and self serving. If he could not pilot his ship of state competently when it was calm, there is no hope that he would be any more capable when it is now stormy, and threatening to get even more so every day. Abdullah is the problem, and a very huge one at that. Consequently his moving out would be a big part of the solution. It would not solve everything of course, but it would remove a major impediment.

His “leadership” has been nothing more than endless sloganeering (Work with me, not for me!”), like the leader caricatured in Shahnon Ahmad’s short story, “Ungkapan” (Sloganeering).

Having grown accustomed to the perks and trappings of his office, Abdullah will not leave voluntarily, much less gracefully. He has to be literally dragged out. Subtleties and hints will not work on this man. He is too dumb to read the signals. He is also insulated, surrounded by courtiers ever willing to spin bad news. Read the rest of this entry »


Bangalore heart trip – self-inflicted malady of Malaysian healthcare

by GS

When Chua Soi Lek first came to office, he apparently called for a meeting of all senior officers and when asked about the priority of problems at the Ministry of Health, he reportedly was inundated with numerous comments about the dastardly troubles private hospitals had created and how they and their devious doctors were leeching the poor Malaysian public and something had to be done urgently. The gullible Chua, ever willing to show-off the political strongman that he conjured himself to be, wasted no time in implementing the shelved PHFSA and together with his DG, utilizing the BN’s brute but now mercifully clipped majority in parliament, brushing off all objections against the Act just so he can show who’s boss. Needless to say despite all of Chua’s and Merican’s big talk and assurances, the first victim who got thrown into jail was a registered doctor, a stark reminder of the previous government’s callous and appalling methods of governance.

New Health Ministers are almost always a shoo in for our health ministry officials who have become rather slick in cornering incoming, inexperienced and invariably unknowledgeable Ministers into making silly decisions. All Ministers are political animals and make distorted decisions essentially because the minister is fed only half the story or the story he generally likes to hear. And so it is with the new health minister Liow Tiong Lai.

While Tanzanian president, Jakaya Kikwete, was going on an all out war against witchdoctors (read bomohs, sinsehs, etc) who were gorging out eyes of albinos and the Brazilians were calling in the army and possibly Cuban doctors to help battle the mortal incidence of dengue in that country, back in Malaysia, the hapless Liow had thrust upon him a meaningless business turf battle between pharmacists and doctors as his first task. The Brazilians must have wondered about the priority of the Malaysian health minister and cannot be faulted if they thought that Malaysians had indeed licked the dengue scourge and were actually moving on to bigger stuff.

Far from it. The dengue fever outbreak in Brazil had infected 55,000 people, and killed 67 Brazilians so far this year with half of those killed by the mosquito-borne illness being under 13-years-old. But Malaysia’s “Disease Control Director”, Hasan Abdul Rahman reported a proportionately higher mortality ratio of 9,889 people diagnosed, with 26 of them dead for the first three months from January to March alone of this year. Maybe we may have something to learn from the Brazilians or more likely our stats are out of sync.

But these problems will pale into comparison as the new and inexperienced health minister has made a second momentous decision. That of shipping unfortunate children with congenital heart disease to Devi Shetty’s “world famous” heart center 2000 miles away in Bangalore, the Narayana Hrudayalaya. Even Chua, known to be a brusque decision maker refused to take this decision. But the new health minister had no qualms sending these children off….or was he pushed into make this decision.

When the NST published their under-researched cum marketing piece for the IJN on the lack of heart surgeons and the need for critical care for paediatric cardiac surgical patients in a center spread on 2/4/08, they didn’t quite delve into the factors as to why this country has not caught up with the rest of the world or at least India, despite the government spending millions to curb the rising incidence of heart disease. Paradoxically, after 50 years of Merdeka, we are in fact sending off patients overseas for treatment just like the Mauritius, Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Bangladesh to the Narayana Hrudayalaya Institute of Medical Sciences (NHIMS) Do we not have the expertise? Elementary. It is just poor management of our resources. Read the rest of this entry »


Islamic state – MCA/Gerakan should stop hypocrisy and double standards

(Speech 2 at the first Public Ceramah/Consultation with DAP MPs, Excos, State Assemblymen at Chin Woo Hall, Ipoh on Saturday, 12th April 2008)

In the past few days, MCA and Gerakan leaders have suddenly found their voice and become quite articulate, as if to prove to Malaysians that after the March 8 “political tsunamii” they have learnt their lesson and are breaking away from their past culture of silence and subservience in the Barisan Nasional.

But this is not really the case, as they continue as captive as before March 8 to Umno political hegemony.

MCA and Gerakan leaders, including the MCA President, Datuk Ong Ka Ting, seems to be competing among themselves to lash out at the DAP for misleading the Chinese in Malaysia in the last general election over PAS’ Islamic state agenda.

MCA and Gerakan leaders should stop applying double standards on the Islamic State issue. When on Sept. 29, 2001, the then Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad declared that Malaysia was an Islamic state, unilaterally, arbitrarily and unconstitutionally abrogating the cardinal nation-building principle in the Constitution and Merdeka “social contract” that Malaysia is a multi-religious and secular state with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic State, there was not only no objection from MCA and Gerakan leaders – they gave immediate public support.

Similarly last year, when the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak trampled on the Malaysian Constitution and the 1957 “social contract” and declared Malaysia as an Islamic state, there was not a whimper of opposition or protest from Ong Ka Ting and the other MCA, Gerakan and Barisan Nasional Cabinet Ministers and leaders.

It is the height of irresponsibility and hypocrisy for MCA and Gerakan leaders to demand that the DAP must come out openly about our stand on Malaysia as an Islamic state, when it is the MCA and Gerakan which should stop its hypocritical, opportunistic and unprincipled stand on the Islamic state.

DAP’s stand of Malaysia as a secular state and opposition to Malaysia becoming an Islamic state, violating the secular basis and commitment of the 1957 Merdeka Constitution and “social contract”, is so crystal clear and unmistakable that only the most ignorant or unprincipled can question it. Read the rest of this entry »


Hishammuddin’s insensitive, irresponsible and provocative “Malay keris” antics – public apology awaited

(Speech at the first Public Ceramah/Consultation with DAP MPs, Excos, State Assembly representatives at Chin Woo Hall, Ipoh on Saturday, 12th April 2008)

After the March 8 political tsunami, MCA and Gerakan leaders blamed Umno for their electoral debacle, in particular the insensitivity shown by Umno leaders like the Umno Youth leader and Education Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein for his provocative and irresponsible “Malay keris” antics at Umno Youth general assemblies.

However, MCA and Gerakan leaders have not admitted their own weaknesses and failures in not speaking up loud and clear in Cabinet, Parliament and the government to protest against such insensitivity and demanding that Hishammudin publicly apologise for his “Malay keris” antics and that there should be no recurrence of such insensitivity in a plural society by a national leader who holds the important and sensitive post of Education Minister.

It is heartening that after the March 8 “political tsunami”, MCA and Gerakan leaders have realized the damage, not only to the Barisan Nasional but to five decades of nation-building, caused by Hishammuddin’s “Malay keris” antics, but it is not enough to realize one’s mistake if one is not prepared to take the necessary remedial measures.

Hishammuddin should publicly apologise for his “Malay keris” antics and MCA, Gerakan and other Barisan Nasional leaders should demand in unison for such an apology and assurance of no repetition in Cabinet and Parliament. Read the rest of this entry »


Unrecognised doctors


by Frustrated doctor

The Star article titled ‘Hope Yet For Med Grads’ (10th April 2008) claims to give the option to unrecognised doctors of transferring credits to local establishments to pursue their goal of becoming doctors . If this article is true , this is a misleading thing the new health minister is undertaking .

Firstly , the option to transfer credits has been there since 1998 when students in Indonesia were allowed to pay 60,000rm to an agent to transfer to Malaysian recognised Indonesian government universities . Many decided not to pursue this option as they didn’t have the money ; and the studies they were doing in other universities which were claimed to be unrecognised in Malaysia were actually on par with the recognised government universities there .

This whole credit transfer came about when 3 JPA sponsored students from Padang came back after only 4 years of theory claiming that they had finished their studies and were posted to do their housemanship . Not having any clinical experience , their peers and dept heads found them lacking and refused to accept them when it was found out that they didn’t do their 2 years of clinicals to be considered doctors in Indonesia . Thus , JPA and MMC tried asking the U in Padang to take them back but the U refused saying that they had ‘mencemarkan nama baik universitas’ . Thus , JPA had to pay hefty amounts to the govt U in Bandung who decided to allow them to continue their studies there . Using this case of credit transfer , an agent worked out with various other recognised Indonesia government universities to accept students . Even local Indonesian students were irritated with this as this smacked of double standards as the same option was denied even to them .

It is a known fact that wherever JPA is able to put students , the U is given recognition in a short time . Malay students were gathered and all placed in an Islamic private medical U to finish their studies . However , due to the large number of non-bumi students there , this U was not given recognition and the Malay students were placed in the govt U in Bandung . However , since they hadn’t finished their 4 years of theory , the Bandung U gave some problems . Then they were placed a 3rd time in the govt U in Medan . This U was not strict with the rules as hefty sums were paid to the rector’s office to close a blind eye . Each transfer involved a sum of about 60K . Three transfers and the JPA would have paid nearly 200K for each chap . This is how much the govt doesn’t mind paying for bumi students from all the Petronas money they have received . Read the rest of this entry »


Public inquiry into RM70 million HPTC folly – object lesson to all Ministers and MPs on do’s and don’ts of good governance

Finally, the proposed High Performance Training Centre (HPTC) in Brickendonbury outside London, originally slated to cost RM490 million but later scaled down and projected to cost RM70 million, has been laid to rest.

The reasons given by the new Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Ismail Sabri Yaakob scrapping the HPTC project is exactly what critics and opponents of the project had said both in and out of Parliament – that it is an extravagant and unnecessary expenditure which had nothing to do with raising the standards of Malaysian sports!

A special tribute must be given to crusading journalists like R. Nadeswaran of The Sun who had persevered in their high-quality investigative journalism under the most difficult of circumstances to expose the series of lies, half-truths and misinformation which proponents of the project had been spinning in the country in support of the folly.

Although Ismail said he was checking on the amount incurred on consultants, travel and other expenses in pursuing the project, giving an undertaking that they will be made public, it is most extraordinary that the new Sports Minister has difficulty in getting the latest update of the total expenditures incurred in the project.

There is no reason why Ismail could not have got these figures as he had been appointed Sports Minister for more than four weeks, with three intervening Cabinet meetings. Furthermore, there is only a change of a Minister and no change of government with consequential disappearance of files, as happened in some of the states where the Barisan Nasional had lost state power in the March 8 politicial tsunami. Read the rest of this entry »


RM4.6 billion PKFZ scandal – third Transport Minister to be marred and tarred?

Many must be surprised by the combative and ferocious response of the new Transport Minister, Datuk Ong Tee Keat following my statement welcoming his undertaking to give a full report on the RM4.6 billion Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) bailout scandal.

Ong’s reaction was totally unprovoked and unjustifiable as my statement had welcomed his pledge of government accountability and transparency on the RM4.6 billion PKFZ scandal, pointing out five cardinal questions of the PKFZ scandal which are crying out for answer.

I hope Ong’s uncharacteristic response was not because he had been told to “shut up” whether at Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting or elsewhere after his bold announcements on Monday and Tuesday that he would reveal the whole truth about the RM4.6 billion PKFZ scandal, which was reported by the media, such as the following newspaper headlines viz:

“Ong to tell all on the PKFZ – ‘I wish to reveal to the people the true situation’” (Star 8.4.08)


“Won’t consider whether former leaders would be investigated – Ong Tee Keat: Revealing the truth is about the issue and not personalities” (Sin Chew 9.4.08) Read the rest of this entry »


Judicial renaissance – start with retirement of judges who deliver “cut-n-paste” judgments or those written by others

Let the annual conference of judges this year, held after the March 8 “political tsunami”, be really different from the annual conferences of judges in the past two decades – when the judiciary except for a very brief period was smothered by a cloud of denial that it had increasingly lost national and international confidence in its independence, integrity and competence with one judicial crisis after another.

The most infamous Judges’ Conference was the one held in Kuching in March 1996 where the then Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohtar Abdullah shocked Malaysians with the revelation of a 33-page poison-pen letter which made 112 allegations of corruption, abuses of power and misconduct against 12 judges, together with his directive to the police to launch investigations to “ferret out” and “bring to justice” the “conspirators” and “brutish beasts” so as to strike “at the venomous elements who are out to discredit the judiciary and subvert justice in our beloved country”. Read the rest of this entry »


RM4.6 billion PKFZ scandal – 5 questions Ong Tee Keat must now answer

I welcome the undertaking by the Transport Minister, Datuk Ong Tee Keat to give a full report on the RM4.6 billion Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) bailout scandal, as during the last parliamentary meeting, his predecessor Datuk Chan Kong Choy was “on the run” to evade accountability and responsibility on the many questions raised on the issue.

There are at least five questions about the RM4.6 billion PKFZ scandal which cry out for answer, and which have now become the responsibility of the new Transport Minister, viz: Read the rest of this entry »


Abdullah found belated political will or just “reform sloganeering” against Mahathir?

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said in Kota Kinabalu yesterday that the reforms promised by Barisan Nasional in its election manifesto will be aggressively pursued.

He said it should be noted that the reforms in the judiciary and police began when he was appointed prime minister and there had been no let up since.

Abdullah said he would not run away from his responsibility of continuing with the reforms despite BN not securing a two-thirds majority in the recent general election and that the effort to fight corruption would also be continued.

He said: “I have implemented many things since I became prime minister but I recognize that people are still not happy.”

Malaysians react with mixed feelings to Abdullah’s promise that there will be no let-up on reforms.

The question Malaysians are asking is whether the Prime Minister will go full steam in reforms to make up for the lost four years or he is just “reform sloganeering” in his open war with his nemesis, Tun Dr. Mahathir. Read the rest of this entry »


Abdullah fires back at his nemeses

Pak Lah has finally retaliated – firing back at his chief and unexpected nemesis, his predecessor Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad on all fours.

In his broadsides, the Prime Minister and Umno President Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi also did not spare his other nemeses – Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

However, one snippet of news about yesterday’s “open war” by Abdullah deserves greater attention.

Abdullah announced that Datuk Seri Najib Razak is the natural successor to the Umno presidency, saying: “ I assure you there are no problems between us, and he is the one who will be succeeding me.”

What should pique interest is not the omission by Abdullah as to when such handing over of power will take place, but Najib’s uncharacteristic silence in declining any comment on Abdullah’s assurance when approached by the media after the closed-door briefing for Umno grassroots leaders yesterday.

Does this connote another shifting of power equation in Umno?