Archive for December 21st, 2014

The hardest word

– Mariam Mokhtar
Rakyat Times
21 December 2014

The day Malaysia makes history will be the day our leaders apologise for their shortcomings, say ‘sorry’ for the failures of their staff, and express regret for the abuses of power by their children. Malaysians have much to learn from South Korea, and our leaders should learn the lesson from the ‘Nut Rage’ scandal.

Cho Hyun-ah, daughter of the chairman of Korean Air, apologised for losing her temper with a First-Class air steward at New York’s John F. Kennedy (JFK) airport on Dec 5. Cho, who was a senior vice-president and head of cabin service for Korean Air, had been served nuts in a bag and not on a plate. The plane had been waiting to take off when she ordered the captain to return and drop off the offending cabin crew member.

The contrast in her behaviour, a few days later, could not have been more stark. Cho was brought back down to earth with a bump. Her arrogance, that of someone with the power to overrule the pilot, was gone. In a faint, trembling voice, Cho issued her grovelling public an apology. Dressed in black from head to toe, with her hair shielding her face from the cameras and onlookers, she avoided eye contact and bowed her head in shame.

Hours earlier, her father Cho Yang-ho, also the chairman of Korean Air, had apologised and bowed before journalists at the airline’s head office. He expressed regret for his daughter’s actions and said, “It’s my fault. As chairman and father, I ask for the public’s generous forgiveness.”

News agencies like Reuters and Associated Press had reported that the South Koreans had been outraged by the behaviour of the children and grandchildren of the founders of big business empires. Cho was dubbed a “princess” for shaming the nation. Read the rest of this entry »


A Christmas message to my nation

— Charles Ganaprakasam
The Malay Mail Online
December 21, 2014

DECEMBER 21 — On this stunning, life-giving harmonious day, I would like to convey my Christmas wishes to my fellow brothers and sisters who are rejoicing this holy day as a birth of Jesus on earth to redeem us from our sin which we committed by God given free will.

We should not celebrate Christmas without knowing the proper mode of celebrating it. Some celebrate this pure delightful day solely with their friends and family gathering with gleaming smiles and once it’s done, then Christmas is over and they are glad of it.

The most wonderful and meaningful way of celebrating Christmas is through serving the deprived people with pure heart and remembering them as one of our brothers and sisters. We should serve them notwithstanding by where they belong racially, culturally and religiously.

Whether the underprivileged person is in someone’s own neighbourhood or in a distant area, we must not neglect our duty to serve them. Man’s responsibility to help his fellow beings is the central essence of teaching by Jesus Christ.

The notion of serving others not only mentioned in Christianity by Jesus, but also in the teaching of Buddhism and Islam. In Islam it’s compulsory for every Muslim to pay a certain amount of money from their earning as “zakat” for the poor people. Additionally, the Hindu religion traditionally believes that act of serving the needy is for repentance for their sin in this or their previous lifetime to discharge them from cycle of death and rebirth. Read the rest of this entry »


Tunisia caught between fear and stability

Noureddine Jebnoun
19 Dec 2014

Tunisia might be making progress with elections, but internal political polarisation is reaching dangerous heights.

The Tunisian transition is perceived as exceptional in the light of the instability in the rest of the region: return of authoritarianism, spread of sectarian and ethnic violence, chaos and civil war. L Carl Brown recently praised the “Tunisian exception” for providing a “less hectic and less bloody revolutionary transition” in the Arab world.

But a closer look at Tunisian politics shows that the perceived exceptionalism of political developments in the country is somewhat overstated and necessitates a more nuanced analysis.

Political fatigue

Three years after Bouazizi’s immolation set off the Arab uprisings, Tunisia is living in the rhythm of elections. Most recently, parliamentary elections where held on October 26, followed by the first round of presidential elections. On December 21, Tunisia will have its presidential runoff between Beji Caid Essebsi of Nidaa Tounes (Call of Tunisia) and the incumbent interim President Moncef Marzouki. The outcome of these elections will provide the country with its first democratically elected permanent institutions.

But as much as the world is praising these elections, Tunisians do not seem as enthusiastic. While the number of registered voters surpassed 5 million out of more than 8.2 million Tunisians of voting age, barely 3.3 million turned up at the voting stations for the first round of the presidential elections. This indicates a low voter turnout particularly among youth, the most disenfranchised social group whose mobilisation was decisive in the fall of Ben Ali’s dictatorship. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Conventional Wisdom On Oil Is Always Wrong

By Ben Casselman
Five Thirty-Eight
Dec 18, 2014

In 2008, I moved to Dallas to cover the oil industry for The Wall Street Journal. Like any reporter on a new beat, I spent months talking to as many experts as I could. They didn’t agree on much. Would oil prices — then over $100 a barrel for the first time — keep rising? Would post-Saddam Iraq ever return to the ranks of the world’s great oil producers? Would China overtake the U.S. as the world’s top consumer? A dozen experts gave me a dozen different answers.

But there was one thing pretty much everyone agreed on: U.S. oil production was in permanent, terminal decline. U.S. oil fields pumped 5 million barrels of crude a day in 2008, half as much as in 1970 and the lowest rate since the 1940s. Experts disagreed about how far and how fast production would decline, but pretty much no mainstream forecaster expected a change in direction.

That consensus turns out to have been totally, hilariously wrong. U.S. oil production has increased by more than 50 percent since 2008 and is now near a three-decade high. The U.S. is on track to surpass Saudi Arabia as the world’s top producer of crude oil; add in ethanol and other liquid fuels, and the already on top. Read the rest of this entry »

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China Revises Its GDP Calculations

By Mark Magnier
Wall Street Journal
Dec 19, 2014

New Calculation Adds About 3.4% More to 2013 Data

BEIJING — With the stroke of a pen, China announced Friday that world’s second largest economy was 3.4% larger last year than previously thought — chiefly due to a more accurate counting of services and their impact on economic output.

China’s 2014 gross domestic product will be calculated using the new methodology when the full-year results are released next month.

The new calculation added 1.92 trillion yuan ($308.3 billion)—or about the equivalent of the economy of a Colorado or a Singapore—to the size of China’s economy in 2013, bringing it to a total of 58.80 trillion yuan.

While at one level the statistical change is fairly arcane, it should give investors and policy makers a more accurate picture of the economy as Beijing tries to pivot from investment-led growth in industry and infrastructure toward services and consumption.

“I think they’re genuinely trying to improve the quality of the numbers,” said Michael Pettis, professor at Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management. “When you have bad numbers, it’s hard to make policy, and this is especially important in China, where the single most important player is the government.”

Analysts said the recalculation likely moves forward the date approximately a decade from now when China’s economy is projected to surpass the U.S.’s as the world’s largest. The U.S. surpassed the U.K. as the world’s largest economy in 1872. China has been expected to surpass the U.S. as the world’s largest economy around 2024 or 2025. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia is the only country with a RCI which has a produced a report (RCIIIS Report) so replete with conflicts, contradictions, non-findings, omissions, including over 6,000 missing pages, that another high-level committee has to be set up to read it and to try to understand it

Is there a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) or its equivalent in the world which had spent 20 months to hold public hearings, calling 211 witnesses whose evidence covered more than 5,000 pages, public memoranda, “177 exhibits including charts, pictures, statistics, letters, official directives, commentaries and articles” which must have exceeded over 1,000 pages, but producing a 368-page report so replete with conflicts, contradictions, non-findings, omissions (including over 6,000 missing pages) that another high-level committee has to be set up to read it and try to understand it, as well as wondering what to do with it?

If there is such a RCI or its equivalent in another country, I will like to know about it.

Malaysia is probably the only country in the world with the dubious honour of having such a RCI – the Royal Commission of Inquiry on Illegal Immigrants in Sabah (RCIIIS).

It is a marvel that the Cabinet sat on the RCIIIS Report for some six months and did not know what to do about it – as UMNO/Barisan Nasional just want the status quo to continue undisturbed. Read the rest of this entry »

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Challenge to Mahathir to a public debate on “Whether after 57 years of UMNO government and six UMNO Prime Ministers, Malays have lost political power and become beggars in their own land”

Yesterday, former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir repeated ad nauseam his politics of fear, hate and lies that Malays have lost political power and have become beggars in their own land.

Does Mahathir really believe such garbage, that after 57 years of UMNO Government and six UMNO Prime Ministers – with him ruling for 22 years or 39% of these 57 years as the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia – that the Malays have lost political power and become beggars in their own land?

If so, then this is the most powerful reason why the Malays and even Malaysians must throw UMNO out of Putrajaya in the 14GE, for there can be no greater indictment of the failures of 57 years of UMNO rule under six UMNO Prime Ministers (including his 22 years as PM) than the fate Mahathir insists the Malays have been reduced to – stripped of political power to become beggars in their own land!
But does this fearsome scenario tally with reality?

Malaysia had not only been ruled by the UMNO Government under six UMNO Prime Ministers for 57 years, the DPMs, the heavy-weight Cabinet Ministers like Finance, Home and Education; the Attorney-General; heads of the civil service, judiciary, the police, the armed forces and the army, navy and air force; secretaries-general of all important and the overwhelming majority of ministries; heads of key government departments and statutory bodies, the Vice Chancellors of all public universities – they are all helmed by Malays.

The UMNO mouthpiece, Utusan Malaysia, recently quoted the Public Service Department (JPA) director of organizational development Datuk Norzam Mohd Nor as saying that a whopping 60 per cent of chief executives helming government statutory bodies appear to have little knowledge about their agencies.

Is this fault to be laid at the doors of the Chinese in Malaysia? Read the rest of this entry »