Archive for November 12th, 2008

Is Telekom Malaysia trying to kill REDtone?

The Second Finance Minister, Datuk Nor Mohd Yakcop gave a most unsatisfactory reply in Parliament yesterday to the mountain of questions by MPs, mostly from Pakatan Rakyat, about the award of the RM11.3 billion High Speed Broadband (HSBB) monopoly to Telekom Malaysia, together with a RM2.4 billion subsidy with taxpayers’ money.

I stood up during thd 2009 Budget debate on the Finance Ministry to ask whether the government is prepared to review its award of the HSBB project to Telekom Malaysia or to allow the building of another HSBB network as there is an offer by another company to do so without a single sen of subsidy in order to promote broadband liberalization and enhance competition.

To this question and those by other MPs on the rationale of awarding the HSBB to Telekom which will encourage Telekom monopoly and discourage broadband liberalisation, Nor Mohd gave an ambivalent reply saying that the government was prepared to review the HSBB project if necessary – which means nothing at all.

Either the government is reviewing the HSBB project awarded to Telekom towards calling for a proper tender to be called or it is not reviewing at all!

The arguments for and against the RM11.3 billion HSBB award to Telekom Malaysia and the government subsidy of RM2.4 billion had been canvassed in Parliament during the winding-up by the Energy, Water and Communications Minister Dato Shaziman bin Abu Mansor in the 2009 Budget policy debate on November 3, 2008. Read the rest of this entry »


Eurocopter answers PAC must give in its report

I thank Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid for committing a grave parliamentary impropriety yesterday in compromising his position as the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Chairman and trying to hit out at me in Parliament for my earlier criticisms of him in mishandling the PAC inquiry into the RM1.6 billion Eurocopter helicopter deal, resulting in our joint appearance before the media at yesterday’s lunch-break.

This has refocused parliamentary and national attention on the RM1.6 billion Cougar EC725 Eurocopter deal and the PAC inquiry, which I had described as the most important and high-profile PAC inquiry in the 51-year history of Malaysian Parliament.

Azmi gave a public undertaking yesterday that the PAC report into the Eurocopter inquiry would be ready to be tabled in two or three days.

I therefore expect the PAC report on its inquiry into the Eurocopter ideal to be tabled in Parliament by next Monday or Azmi should explain why he has broken his solemn undertaking both inside and outside the House. Read the rest of this entry »


Change Doesn’t Have to Take 400 Years to Happen

By Farish A. Noor

The electoral victory of Barack Obama as the new President of the United States of America is long overdue, and many of us are thankful for it. No, its not because the rest of us are racists who hate white men; and no, its not because we are captive to the essentialised idea that black Americans are all victims and are necessarily good and innocent, in toto. Its simply because change is refreshing and we believe that change is good and healthy for the nation and humanity in general.

I recall taking a flight from Frankfurt to Kuala Lumpur once, when the pilot spoke to the passengers before take off. Suddenly there was a collective gasp of surprise when we realised that our pilot was a woman! I was suddenly gripped by an overwhelming sense of relief and curious pride, for somewhere in my settled conscience the idea had been sedimented that all pilots (like all doctors, scientists and Presidents) had to be male. Throughout the flight I had to resist the temptation of bursting into the cockpit to congratulate her, and to tell her how proud I was to be flying in a plane piloted by a woman for a change. (Though of course because I am Muslim I would have been arrested immediately and handcuffed for fear of being a terrorist!)

That’s how change happens. It takes us by surprise and in a second its over and the historical moment has passed. But it requires that one vital element that makes change possible in the first place: human agency. There would not have been a woman pilot on my flight if this woman had not pursued her ambition to become a pilot relentlessly, never giving up on her dream despite the obstacles she may or may not have faced.

I am only raising this point now as I have noticed a rather disturbing, and potentially dangerous, narrative that has and is being spun in the wake of Obama’s victory. This is the narrative that the change that has come to the United States is due to the long historically determined and linear process of evolution; that we are told takes time, time and more time. We are fed the line that “Of course America has finally changed because it took four hundred years for black Americans to rise to where they are today.” Read the rest of this entry »