Archive for October 31st, 2008

Chor Chee Heung – another deputy minister who did not know what he was answering in Parliament?

Yesterday, Parliament was presented with the spectacle of a Deputy Minister winding up on behalf of his Ministry in the 2009 Budget debate when he was totally out of his depths – Deputy Defence Minister Datuk Abu Seman Yusop on the current controversy over the billion-ringgit 12 Cougar EC725 Eurocopters.

As a result, both the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak had to subsequently make supplementary statements outside the House to salvage the damage caused by Abu Seman in his “atrocious” parliamentary performance.

Immediately after lunch break yesterday, I had stood up in Parliament to ask Abu Seman the reason for three different sets of figures for the Eurocopter deal, firstly, RM1.604 billion he mentioned in the House; secondly, the RM1.1 billion cited by the Defence Ministry Secretary-General Datuk Abu Bakar Abdullah as reported in the media on 17th October 2008; and thirdly, the RM1.67 billion given by the Prime Minister-cum-Defence Minister on Tuesday, October 29, 2008.

When I had first pointed out the difference in the deputy minister’s figures with the Defence Ministry secretary-general, Abu Seman was clearly caught by surprise and I had to ask him whether he read newspapers last Saturday which reported Abu Bakar’s statement.

On the three sets of different figures, Abu Seman tried to wriggle out of the question by claiming that foreign exchange fluctuations factored in the differences in figure. Read the rest of this entry »


PAC Chairman Azmi – out to whitewash Eurocopter deal or get to bottom of new defence scandal

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Chairman Datuk Azmi Khalid has confirmed my worst fears about his suitability as head of the parliamentary watchdog committee as he had undermined his own credibility by claiming that the technical aspects of the billion-ringgit Cougar EC725 Eurocopters were “above board” and “professionally carried out” when the two-hour parliamentary debate on the subject yesterday proved completely otherwise.

The Deputy Defence Minister Datuk Abu Seman Yusop admitted in Parliament yesterday that the Eurocopter deal was sealed without conducting physical evaluation on the helicopters – no test flights were done nor were there any factory visits.

Outraged, I rose up in the House to flay the government for trifling with the lives and safety of RMAF personnel who would have to use the helicopters, by failing to comply with its own tender requirements for the helicopters to replace the Nuris, which clearly stipulated that the short-listed aircraft bidders would have to undergo stringent documentary as well as physical evaluation.

In response to my query, Abu Seman said three of the seven bidders for the international open tender for the utility helicopters capable of search and rescue and capable of being upgraded to combat search and rescue aircraft had been short-listed but he refused to name the three aircrafts concerned.

This is clearly a gross defect amounting to criminal negligence in the technical aspects of the Eurocopter selection, getting Malaysia into the Guinness Book of Records and making us the laughing stock of the world as a country which procures expensive and sophisticated aircrafts without any test flight or physical evaluation – despite this being clearly stipulated as one vital criteria in the tender process! Read the rest of this entry »


Race And Islam

By Farish A. Noor

It is odd, to say the least, that after more than fourteen centuries there remain some people who claim to be Muslims but who still have not internalised the universal values of Islam. Odder still that there remain those who on the one hand can embrace Islam’s universal claim of brotherhood (and sisterhood), but still cannot get around to understanding the simple idea that Islam and racism do not mix.

Evidence of such discrepancies can be found pretty much everywhere these days: It has, sadly, become the normative cultural norm in so many Muslim societies today that those who are fair are better off and given the privileges that they feel is the natural right of all light-skinned people. It is also interesting to note that Muslims tend to rejoice whenever a white American or European converts to Islam, but seem less enthusiastic in their recognition of the fact that thousands of Africans and Asians are converting to Islam every year.

Furthermore when it comes to governance and politics, it remains painfully clear that some Muslims still place blood and race above competency and merit till today; and that despite their profession of faith they remain embedded in the stagnant mode of racialised thinking that operates on the basis that some races are better than others.

One such case has popped up recently in multi-culti Malaysia, where a row was sparked off by the nomination of a Chinese woman – Low Siew Moi – as the head of a state institution linked to the economic management and development of the state of Selangor, the PKNS. Despite the fact that Low Siew Moi was selected by the Chief Minister of the state, Tan Sri Khalid, on the basis of merit; some quarters chose to publicly disagree with her appointment on the grounds that the Malay-Muslims of the state would object to the appointment. But objection on what grounds? On the basis that she is a Chinese woman? Read the rest of this entry »