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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Another UMNO Racist Remark

Link for future reference - http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/8/30/nation/20080830200907&sec=nation

Article and my comments below:

Saturday August 30, 2008 MYT 8:18:56 PM

PM to instruct Bkt Bendera chief not to repeat remark


KEPALA BATAS: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi will personally see to it that Bukit Bendera Umno chief Datuk Ahmad Ismail does not repeat his remarks about the Chinese community.

I’ll tell him not to do it again. You know during campaigning all sorts of things can come up. I don’t think he meant it. I’ll make sure to tell him not to say it again,” he said Saturday after chairing the Bertam Umno division meeting here.

Ahmad had allegedly called the Chinese "squatters" and said that "as the Chinese were only immigrants it was impossible to achieve equal rights amongst races" during a ceramah in Permatang Pauh on Aug 25.

He had allegedly made the remark in the presence of Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

Ahmad’s remarks have caused a furore among the Barisan Nasional component parties after it was printed in several Chinese newspapers.

Penang Gerakan Youth committee member Dr Thor Teong Gee lambasted Ahmad and alleged that Umno was still using racial ideology to achieve its personal political agenda.

Bukit Mertajam MCA division chairman Lau Chiek Tuan said disciplinary action should be taken against Ahmad.

“An apology is not enough to the Chinese community. We want Umno to take disciplinary action against him. We want him to leave Barisan and Umno because he has broken the racial harmony (of the parties),” said Lau, adding that the division had also lodged a police report against Ahmad.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s political secretary Ng Wei Aik has also called on Ahmad to immediately retract his statement and apologise to the community.

Ahmad could not be reached for comment.

In George Town, Tanjung Gerakan Youth division chief H’ng Khoon Leng lodged a police report at the district police headquarters in Patani Road over Ahmad’s alleged remarks.

Speaking to reporters after that, H’ng reminded people of all races to learn and be aware about the contribution of other races to the nation so that they won’t look down on others.

PKR adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said Umno leaders should stop using racial sentiments to seek support from the people.

“They (Umno leaders) do not seem to understand history very well.

“They are not being respectful and sensitive toward the feelings of the non-Malays,” he told reporters Saturday at a thanksgiving luncheon in Kampung Permatang Pasir, Permatang Pauh.



1. To me, Ahmad Ismail is either a racist or a liar, and clearly does not deserve to be called Datuk. Calling him a Datuk merely insults all the other Datuks.

2. His public remarks as a community leader (Chinese = squatters; Chinese = immigrants; Chinese = less than equal rights) are completely unacceptable to me, and I'm sure to every right thinking Malaysian.

3. I wonder if Ahmad Ismail ever mixes with Malaysians Chinese at all. If he does, why doesn't he tell them to their face that they are squatters, immigrants and deserve less than equal rights? Why didn't he tell them in their face, but behind their backs, told the entire world that Chinese = squatters, Chinese = immigrants, Chinese = less than equal rights?

Isn't this behaviour clearly one of a liar and a morally defective character?

4. If 3. isn't applicable i.e. if he doesn't mix with Chinese at all, what does that tell you about racial unity when a community leader and a Datuk like Ahmad Ismail doesn't lead by example? Is Ahmad Ismail a suitable person to be a community / UMNO leader?

5. To me, Ahmad Ismail - by his public display - is clearly unsuitable to be both a Datuk, as well as a community / UMNO leader. I demand UMNO sack him immediately, to show the world that UMNO is dead serious about National Unity. Similarly, if Pakatan Rakyat MP were to say the same thing, I would also demand no less!

6. UMNO and PM Abdullah's choice is actually very simple. Which is more important - National Unity (which include respecting every race in Malaysia), or condoning Publicly Uttered Racist Remarks? If you sincerely believe that the former is clearly more important, discipline and sack the guy. Period. There should be no 2nd thoughts.

Conversely, UMNO's lack of action clearly shows that the former is simply not a priority nor a consideration. Rhetorics by PM Abdullah is cheap, and means nothing. Action speaks louder than words.

7. What is the point of spending Billions of $ in Budget 2009 to promote racial unity, when, we tolerate public remarks like Ahmad Ismail? Which does greater damage to racial unity - Ahmad Ismail remarks, or not spending Billions? His insensitive and public racist remarks has the potential to undo a lot of good things in this country, or whatever good that is left.

8. Deputy PM Najib was present when the racist remarks were made! Why didn't Najib publicly state that this is completely unacceptable? Doesn't he realize that his silence is equivalent to acceptance? Is this someone Malaysians want as the next Prime Minister? If he continues to remain silent, I certainly don't.

9. PM's response and statements are extremely dissappointing for several reasons.

9.1. First, PM Abdullah - as a PM for all Malaysians - must make it very clear with no uncertain terms - that community leaders must never incite racism in a public setting. There should never be a valid reason to incite racism in a public setting. We must never tolerate this as a nation.

9.2. Second, DPM Najib has erred and needs to be corrected by the PM.

So, if I were the PM and want to talk to someone, I would talk to DPM Najib first than Ahmad Ismail.

I will make it clear to DPM Najib that Ahmad Ismail's behaviour is completely unacceptable. I will also make it clear to Najib that his silence then is also unacceptable.

I will not accept any excuses from Najib.

And I will then instruct Najib to correct his mistake by delegating this to him personally to handle the disciplinary action on Ahmad Ismail.

In other words, as a First World leader, PM Abdullah must make sure that his deputies are at least as capable as he is. And he cannot do everything himself.

Obviously, there is no point for PM Abdullah to correct Ismail Ahmad, when his very own DPM still thinks it is publicly acceptable.

9.3. Third, I am dissappointed that PM Abdullah made at least 2 excuses on Ahmad Ismail. First excuse = "You know during campaigning all sorts of things can come up". Excuse me? This is a public speech by Ahmad Ismail. He incited on his own initiative these racist remarks publicly. PM Abdullah even dare to give an excuse?

Second excuse = "I don’t think he meant it. ". What? You haven't even spoken to the guy, and you already made excuses on his behalf? Or are you saying you spoke to him earlier, he told you that he didn't meant it, and you didn't chide him then? PM Abdullah, are you are First World Leader, or a Third World Leader?

PM Abdullah - if you are a true First World leader, you should NEVER make excuses when one of your guys has incited racism publicly.

Your 2 excuses tells me loudly that you are NOT SERIOUS about national unity.

Your 2 excuses tells me loudly that you do not intend to take stearn disciplinary action against Ahmad Ismail.

Your 2 excuses tells me loudly that you actually condone his behaviour, and sends a loud message that it is acceptable for other UMNO community leaders to repeat such behaviour!

Your 2 excuses are simply UNACCEPTABLE to me!

If you continue to make these excuses, then, I demand that you step down immediately Mr PM, as you are clearly UNFIT to lead this nation! The longer you stay on, the more likely Malaysia will never achieve its Vision to be a First World developed country by 2020.

10. It is commendable that Gerakan Youth has filed a police report. But PM Abdullah doesn't seem genuine to take disciplinary action. Instead, he prefer to make excuses. So, Mr Gerakan Acting President Koh Tsu Koon - as the leader of Gerakan party, what are you going to do about it? Lie down like a low lying dog again?

11. I notice Bukit Mertajam MCA called for disciplinary action. But PM Abdullah again doesn't seem genuine. So Mr MCA President - as leader of MCA party, my question to you is the same one as I asked in 9. above. What are you going to do about it? Lie down like a low lying dog again?

12. And where is all the other BN component parties like MIC? Mr MIC President - no comments from you because it's Chinese and not Indians? Remember - when you don't speak when injustice is being done to other races, one day, don't be surprised when others don't speak up when injustice is done to your own race.

13. Imagine this were to happen in a First World country like the USA where a Republican party leader were were to say the same kind of things that Ahmad Ismail did - e.g. Blacks = squatters, Blacks = immigrants, Blacks = less than equal rights. Do you seriously think that the US President and leader of the Republican Party George Bush could get away doing to same thing as what our PM Abdullah is planning to do?

If George Bush doesn't immediately sack the guy, you can be sure the Republican Party will sack him! In fact, it is obvious the entire America will reject Bush AND the Republican Party if he doesn't immediately take stearn disciplinary action on the errant guy and his 2nd in charge! No question about it.

14. With this type of third class mindset deeply prevailing in BN parties, do you think Malaysia will be able to fulfill its Vision to be a First World nation by 2020, which is only less than 12 years away?

Apex University - UM or USM?

Googled around, but haven't seen an announcement yet.

Background here for future reference - http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/8/29/nation/22195944&sec=nation. Also covered in Education in Malaysia blog here - http://educationmalaysia.blogspot.com/.

Extract below:

Friday August 29, 2008

UM and USM lead the way


PETALING JAYA: Both Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) and Universiti Malaya (UM) are frontrunners to receive apex university status.

Many believe that by virtue of its history and status UM would be the natural choice but USM may spring a surprise.

In last year’s Times Higher Education-QS World University Rankings, UM was the highest ranked at 246, followed by USM at 307, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) at 309 and Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) at 364.

UM was the only public higher education institution to obtain a five-star rating in the Rating System for Malaysian Higher Education Institutions 2007.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is expected to announce the name of the university selected under the accelerated programme for excellence (apex) when he delivers Budget 2009 at the Dewan Rakyat today.

A selection committee headed by former Universiti Malaysia Sarawak vice-chancellor Prof Emeritus Datuk Dr Mohamad Zawawi Ismail short-listed four universities – UM, USM, UKM and UPM.


He had said the country would select one or two apex universities, which would be granted more autonomy and resources to create an environment that would attract the best students and faculty.

Two comments:

1. Where is UiTM on the short list? *grin*

2. Whilst the concept of having one or two Apex Universities is extremely welcomed, my greatest fear is that politics have a way of screwing the implementation up. Like Tony, I prefer to see two (2) universities selected, to provide competition.

The goal must be unanimous and must be very clear to all. Is it to break into the Top 100 Universities in the world? It can be fine-tuned. But make no mistake - the global competition is intense. In the THES, UM is only ranked 246 currently.

The Apex University must be completely independent of politics.

Meritocracy must be the primary culture in the university. The VC and the entire management team positions must be staffed by the best and given complete backing and autonomy to do what they think is best to achieve the primary goal. The students must be screened for the best. You have plenty of other universities to pick up the rest. The Apex University concept must never be compromised for any reason whatsoever.

Reverse the brain drain. If necessary, head hunt for the best in the world and bring them into Malaysia. They will not be cheap, but they'll be worth it a million times over in the long run. There may also be a few potentially world-class lecturers hidden somewhere due to politics. Identify them, promote them, and allow them the freedom and the space to do what's necessary.

I believe we have the raw material to make it possible. Ironically, it requires strong political will in order to not interfere politically. The only question is will our political leaders share this goal? Or will they be merely paying lip service, as they have done for decades?

From $3.6 Billion last year to $10.2 Billion this year

Apparently, this is the amount of "development allocation" for the Prime Minister’s Department, which has increased tremendously from RM3.6 billion last year to RM10.22 billion this year.

Source: http://dinmerican.wordpress.com/2008/08/30/badawis-2009-budget/ - see Liew Chin Tong (DAP-Bukit Bendera), DAP strategist comments.

RM 6.6 Billion (RM 6,600,000,000) increase over 12 months!


WTF is the purpose of this RM 10.22 Billion development expenditure?

Exactly how will this benefit Rakyat?

"Development allocation for Prime Minister's Department" is not exactly identical to things like roadworks, transportation, etc. isn't it?

Note this is separate from Operating Expenditure, which wasn't included in the above.

To quote Liew Chin Tong (DAP-Bukit Bendera), DAP strategist:

"... from RM3.6 billion last year to RM10.22 billion this year. This is a fund to buy over the MPs and to do politically linked works."


Let's ass-u-me half of the RM10.2 Billion is spent to buy over MPs. BN has 140 MPs.

50% x 10.2 Billion = RM 5.1 Billion.

This is less than the RM 6.6 Billion Increase, but let's be conservative anyway.

This means the Average amount per MP = 5.1 Billion / 140 = $36,000,000 each.

$36 Million!!!

Even the clean Singapore Prime Minister's annual salary falls far short than this figure.

According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Hsien_Loong) Singapore PM's Annual Salary is S$3.9 million. When converted to RM, this should be around RM 10,000,000.

And yet, the average of the 140 Malaysian MP could potentially be receiving 3.6 times more than Singapore PM's Salary!

Please tell me I am wrong!

Please tell me that I am mistaken!

Shouldn't the newspapers be investigating deeply whether this claim by DAP is true or not?

Shouldn't the newspapers be exposing the truth in this 2009 Budget?

Compared to the $20 free electricity, is there even a comparison to what Rakyat is getting vs what these MPs could potentially be getting?

What is happening to this country?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

2009 Budget: A Personal Commentary

As usual, the mass media (e.g. The Star) covered yesterday's announced Budget extensively this morning.

As usual, the commentaries are biased in favour of the government (e.g. see "Reactions from the business community" here - http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/8/30/budget2009/20080830073857&sec=budget2009).

As usual, criticisms are either muted, obscurely reported or simply don't get enough media space.

As usual, this is just so very, very wrong.


For most people, they are only interested in the Budget because of the "goodies".

"Is there anything for me?" ... Just a small amount?" ... "Nothing? If nothing, most will just not give a hoot about the Budget.

If so, that's a shame.


Because the Budget is funded by taxpayers and distributed profits from nation's assets.

Basically, they spend your money. And if it's a persistently large Deficit, your children's money because they don't have the money today, but they intend to spend next year's monies.

So, you should care very much how your own money (or your children's money) is being spent.


And because there are 27 million Malaysians, it is a lot of money.

In fact, the government is the biggest spender in Malaysia than anybody else in the country.

This year's total expenditure of RM $207.7 Billion (= Operating $154.2 Billion + Development $53.7 Billion) easily makes Malaysia Inc larger than anybody else in Malaysia by a long mile.

For rough comparison, here are a sample of some of Bursa's largest companies operating expenses reported in their latest Annual Reports. Comparison of Operating Expenses is not an exact science for various technical reasons. Still, the order of magnitude should give you a rough idea on how big the Government is from an Operating Expenditure viewpoint.

Sime 2007 Operating Expense =$19.8 Billion
Tenaga 2007 Operating Expense (Exclude Energy Cost) = $6.2 Billion
Maybank 2007 Overheads = $3.8 Billion
YTL Corp 2007 Expenses (Sales+Admin+Other+Finance) = $1.8 Billion
Public Bank 2007 Expenses = $1.7 Billion
IOI Corp 2007 Expenses (Marketing+Admin+Other) = $1.0 Billion

If you mentally add these numbers up, you can see that it falls far short of the Government's figure of $154 Billion or $208 Billion.

Also, it is possible that the Government Expenditure could be even larger than the combined operating expenditure of the Top 100 or Top 1000 listed company in Bursa, bearing in mind that Bursa only has 1,200+ companies listed ...

Is it merely a coincidence that listed companies have substantially lower operating expense figures?

What could be possible reasons why listed company figures smaller and public sector expenditure so large?

Can nothing be done to improve the situation in the public sector?


Since the Government is obviously the Biggest Spender in the country, shouldn't the Rakyat demand that the monies be well spent?

My most immediate question is why can't the Prime Minister/Finance Minister/Government reduce this number substantially, and yet deliver greater value to Rakyat at the same time?

In the Original 2008 Budget, the Operating + Development expenditure = $128.8 Billion + $40 Billion = $168.8 Billion.

In the Original 2009 Budget, the Operating + Development expenditure = $154.2 Billion + $53.7 Billion = $207.7 Billion.

The increase = $207.7 Billion - $168.8 Billion = $38.9 Billion or 23% Increase!

Is this huge increase even necessary at all?

Are there enough transparency?

Will all the monies be well spent?

Shouldn't the government make it a top priority to make the public sector leaner and more efficient first?

How much is being lost annually from corruption and wastages?

How much is being lost annually from inefficiencies and mismanagement?

What is the point in removing the Fuel Subsidy, and then, to give it back to selected people with cars via the $625 rebate and in the process, incurs huge expenses nationwide? What is the point in taking money from the left pocket, to put it into the right pocket, and in the process, dropping a lot of money on the floor, and leave many worse off than before?


I haven't even got to the most annoying part yet ...


The most annoying part to me is the lack of Results (i.e. Deficit = Lousy Result) and the Attitude of the BN government.

I am completely shocked when I discovered that the Deficit is going to be increased!

The government doesn't want to tell you how big it is in $ terms. See the 2nd Finance Minister comments here - http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/8/30/ecoreport2009/22187811&sec=ecoreport2009

Instead, he tries to mask it by expressing it as a % of GDP figure. He doesn't tell you that the GDP figure grows. And he doesn't compare it with prior year Original Budget figure to show you how much it has grown.

But you and I know that the $ Deficit figure has grown proportionately more.

It annoys me that not only is the $ Deficit bigger, but the government is trying to hide this fact and not being completely transparent about it!


The other reason why I'm annoyed with a bigger $ Deficit is because once these $ Expenditure are budgeted and communicated publicly to the various Ministries, they will be spent completely.

Actually, odds are, they will be over-spent!

See last year's Budget where Revised figures far exceeds Original Budget figures with no accountability.

They don't tell you this in the newspapers.

2008 OE Budget (announced last September) - RM128.8 billion
2008 Revised OE Budget - RM151.0 billion
Variation of 17.2% or RM22.2 billion(!)
(Source: http://tonypua.blogspot.com/2008/08/budget-2009.html)

So, do you think this trend will halt this year? Or more likely, this trend will continue this year?

Given the prevailing trend to "over-spend", shouldn't a prudent government plan for greater "safety margin" by planning for a Budget Surplus first?

Or the BN government simply do not understand the meaning of "planning" and "prudence"?


I am exasperated why our Budget Deficit need to grow this year.

As Anwar has mentioned this many, many times - are we not presently a net oil exporter?

Is the BN government still deaf to the fact that eventually, we will become a net oil importer one day?

Isn't it more prudent for the Finance Minister to plan for a Budget Surplus than a higher Deficit?

If he cannot even balance his books during the "best income producing years", what is going to happen to our country and our children's future, when the "bad years" falls?

What is going to happen to our nation's coffers when we become a Net Oil Importer?

Do we really want someone like him to continue as a Finance Minister?


Yes, eventually (if they have not already come out), some well paid economists or pseudo-economists will come out and say that this Budget Deficit is "necessary" because government wants to stimulate economic growth.

Or "The Government’s fiscal options are limited by the largely fuel subsidy-driven budget deficit of 4.8% in 2008."

To both of them, I say "Bunkum!"


Because they conveniently ignore that there are huge corruptions, wastages and money-siphoning in Malaysia today. Have you ever heard an economist who publicly declare that the government should eliminate corruption and wastages to stimulate economic growth?

You see, monies siphoned by the corrupt tend to be deposited overseas, where they don't have the same "multiplier effect". $1 siphoned and deposited into a Swiss Bank Account does not have the same multiplier effect as $1 earned and spent in Malaysia.

(Proof? A certain brother of a certain politician who was previously defeated in the most recent by-election is reported to be currently living in exile and shuttle between London and Dubai. He was previously awarded the mother of all contracts by the BN government to be worth $24 Billion back in 1998 and is now declared bankrupt in Malaysia and stripped of his Datuk title this year. Since he spends his money shuttling between London and Dubai, his wealth from Malaysia has now created a multiplier effect in London and Dubai, and does not appear to have created a multiplier effect in Malaysia.)

All good economist should know this concept very well, but which economist has been publicly quoted in MSM to say this?


Another reason why it is bunkum is because higher economic growth can be achieved by greater efficiencies and better management.

The same limited resources can be better utilized to produce more, if there is a strong mandate by Rakyat backed by a strong political will.

Compared to the private sector, it should be a relatively easier job since the public sector is simply too bloated.

You can already sense the degree of "bloatedness" when I compared the Operating Expense figures for companies listed in Bursa versus the Government above.

It is like comparing the stomach of a hungry rat against that of a bloated elephant.

No contest.

We don't have to beat the bloated elephant government down into a skinny rat.

We can temper this with humane management and humane economics that also places social well-being and welfare for the poor so that the entire nation's wealth can be shared more equally with everyone.

Doesn't this make sense to you?


So, let me be honest with you.

In your opinion, do you think this Budget is reeked with hidden agenda where our Finance Minister knows that he will no longer be Prime Minister by 2010, and so, intend to spend our children's monies and monies that rightly belongs to future generations today?

In your opinion, do you think this Budget is a budget carefully crafted by the Barisan National government who knows that its time is up, and so intend to have the mother of all expenditures in order to "korek" more before they lose power?

Yes, this is what's foremost in my mind.

Isn't this also in your mind?

Friday, August 29, 2008

Syed Hamid tells why Malaysia Today was blocked

As with every right thinking Malaysian, I was initially shocked when I first discovered that the highly popular Malaysia Today website was blocked under the orders of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (SKMM).

However, I was even more shocked by the government response here - http://mt.m2day.org/2008/content/view/11945/84/. Original article in italics red, my thoughts in brackets:

(The Star) - The controversial Malaysia Today news portal was blocked by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (SKMM) because its editor ignored many warning letters, Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said.

[Seng: Ok. This is interesting. Who sent the warning letters? SKMM?

What were the nature of the warning letters?

Warn the editor of what?

How many letters were sent altogether?

What were the dates of these letters?]

“When they publish things that are libellous, slanderous or defamatory, it is natural for the SKMM to act against these websites whenever necessary,” he told a a press conference at Parliament lobby yesterday.

[Seng: This is extremely puzzling.

On what basis did SKMM decide that MT contents were "libellous, slanderous or defamatory"?

Does SKMM have the same power, authority and competency as the legal courts to be able to define, decide and determine what is "libellous, slanderous or defamatory"?

Can SKMM make this decision alone and independently, to the extent of censoring Malaysia Today on the same day as the Permatang Pauh by-election day?

Or was SKMM merely following the orders of its superiors?

But then, shouldn't the SKMM - Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission - be guided by its own mandate and law especially the COMMUNICATIONS AND MULTIMEDIA ACT - http://www.msc.com.my/cyberlaws/act_communications.asp? ]

Syed Hamid said SKMM was only exercising its powers.

[Seng: Again, I am puzzled SKMM can exercise its powers on the same day as PP by-election date.

Why not exercise earlier?

What caused SKMM to suddenly feel that MT articles at approximately 6 PM, 26 August, is suddenly "libellous, slanderous or defamatory?]

“We do not intend to curtail people’s freedom or right to express themselves. Everyone is subjected to the law, even websites and blogs,” he added.

On Wednesday, Malaysia Today editor Raja Petra Kamarudin lashed out against the blocking of the online portal, saying it was a breach of the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) charter.
Under the MSC Malaysia 10-Point Bill of Guarantees, the Government promised to “ensure no Internet censorship”.

It was reported that all 21 Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the country had been ordered by SKMM to block the controversial website.

The notices were sent out on Tuesday in accordance with Section 263 of the Communications and Multimedia Act.

[Seng: Now, Section 263 of the Act is mentioned in this Star Article, but is this the complete truth?

Apparently, a more important Section of the Act is NOT MENTIONED by The Star in this article. Which Section is that?

Section 3 (3):

(3) Nothing in this Act shall be construed as permitting the censorship of the Internet.

So, do you think SKMM has misinterpreted the Act?

You may read the Act in its entirity here - http://www.msc.com.my/cyberlaws/act_communications.asp]

Datuk Joseph Salang Gandum, the Deputy Minister of Energy, Water and Communications, said he was not aware that SKMM had ordered ISPs to block the website.

[Wow! The Minister of Communications can be NOT AWARE of such censorship?

Tai Chi Master? (push shit away before it hits him) ]

“I do not read Malaysia Today. Media practitioners must be sensitive to culture and religion,” he said.

Information Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek declined comment as it was not under his jurisdiction.

[Wow! Information Minister can also claim that this is outside his jurisdiction?

So, whose jurisdiction is it then? No Minister?

Or shall we put the blame squarely on SKMM?

Certainly, Shabery Cheek exhibited good Tai Chi skills as well.]

SKMM chief operating officer Mohamed Sharil Mohamed Tarmizi, who is overseas, declined to elaborate, saying a press conference would be held to explain why such action was taken.

[Seng: Ahh ... away overseas ....

Nice. That should buy time to explain (or concoct up a "suitable" explanation) ...

Also implies that since he is overseas, it is not him who decided ...

After all, if it was him who decided, then, surely, he could have explained the decision to ban isn't it?

But then, who made the decision to censor it, if it's not him?

Nice Tai Chi moves by the SKMM COO.]

It is understood that this is not the first time SKMM has ordered a website to be blocked.
Malaysia Today remains accessible through its mirror website.

Other Comments: I'm not a lawyer, but it seems clear to me that - to paraphrase Syed Hamid - "that some laws must be broken somewhere by SKMM or a Minister who ordered SKMM to do so".


Well, Section 3 (3) seems pretty damning.

And then, there is the most immediate question which is why the timing? Why censor at 6 PM on the same day as the PP by-election, before the result is announced?

Why not censor before?

Also, did SKMM acted independently in censoring this?

Or did SKMM acted under orders from someone else?

Who was the person who ordered it since many Tai Chi masters have pushed these problems to "someone else", without defining who that "someone else" should be ?

Does SKMM have the authority to decide what is "libellous, slanderous or defamatory"?

Does SKMM have the authority to override Section 3 (3)?

What do you think?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A better parliament ahead?

After Anwar's amazing victory at the Permatang Pauh by-election and with his imminent entry into Parliament, hopes are high that we might see a better Parliament ahead.

Azly Rahman has written an excellent and thought-provoking article on this topic here - http://mt.harapanmalaysia.com/2008/content/view/11910/84/. After reading this, I must simply pen my thoughts here for future reference.

My own thoughts are that to answer this question, we need to first start with the question - where we are today? Do we currently have a First World Parliament or a Third World Parliament? What are the characteristics of these Parliaments, and where is our Parliament at the moment?

And how will this change with Anwar's entry?

Will a single person be able to substantially change the present Parliamentary culture?

Or is a greater change needed in this country in order to have a more effective Parliament - the one with the Rakyat's better interest?

First or Third World Parliament?

I will be lazy and just quote points from Azly's article:

Name calling. How often do you hear these terms uttered by our MPs? "bodoh", "berok", "baboon", "binatang" and other less than human designation?

Facts and logical reasoning. How often do you hear first class quality reasoning uttered by our MPs? Do they attempt to answer all the questions put forward by the Opposition? Do they quote relevant or irrelevant facts? Are they able to clearly prioritize issues? Do they logically connect data, facts, reasons and conclusions, or are these merely ass-u-me-d to be true by mere repetitions, name callings, irrelevant arguments, innuendos, character attacks, etc.?

Shouting and Yelling. How often does one hear a pin-drop silence in Parliament in the middle of a discussion? How often does that compares with the cajoling, the cheering, the beating of the drums so to speak? Is Parliament a place where the loudest is the mightiest? Should MPs elect for special surgery to increase their voice power to be more effective in Parliament?

What about factors like:

Well Researched Issues?

Data driven Arguments?

Deliberate and mediate our most urgent and serious issues?

I recalled a long time ago, that our nation's most famous son-in-law once uttered that our Parliament actually engage in high quality debates. Against what standard would he define "high-quality"?

Or to follow the examples set by our MPs, is this just another empty, hallow and unsubstantiated claim by Malaysia's most famous Kera Jantan?

The other thing that I need to ask is after all these name calling, yelling, shouting, conclusions that ignores data, facts, sound and logical reasoning, what is typically the final outcome of all these rhetorics?

For example, the present DNA Bill that is in its 2nd reading now, and after its 3rd reading will become law.

Does the government even listen to the concerns expressed by the Opposition parties?

Does the government even listen to the concerns expressed by the industry groups like the Bar Council and various stakeholders?

Does the government translates their listening and understanding into action by amending and improving upon the DNA Bill, or do they merely pay lip service?

Which is a bigger crime? Crime committed due to ignorance? Or crime committed when one has full knowledge of the implications, but the government choose to proceed with all the weaknesses identified?

Why proceed with all the weaknesses identified?

Are there special motive to do so?

As much as everybody else in Malaysia, I have high hopes that when Anwar enters Parliament, we may see an improvement.

As much as everybody else in Malaysia, I have high hopes that with a louder voice in Parliament, we may see an improvement.

But I am afraid that even with Anwar in Parliament, and even with the largest number of Opposition MPs that we have ever seen in Parliament, the "culture" of our Third World Parliament as set by the government MPs may be too deeply ingrained and may not be capable of changing for the better ...

Some people thinks I am wrong and all it takes is time.

But when it comes to voting whether a particular Bill makes it law or not, can Government MPs vote according to individual and logical reasoning, even when it contradicts the Party's position?

Can MPs vote based on individual conscience?

Or must MPs vote based on the party whip?

Doesn't the government retains its majority in Parliament even with Anwar entering?

Since it still retains the majority and the party whips continues to be applied, what is to stop the government from continuing to pay lip service to the Opposition?

What choice do we have as Malaysian citizens if we want a First World Parliament?

Must we wait until the next election?

Will this guarantee that we will then have a First World Parliament after the next election?

What if those with conscience decides to leap to the Opposition?

If these results in a Better Parliament ahead, is it wrong to do so?

Or must the nation continue to suffer for the next 4 years until the next election?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

State Resources?

Extracted from Malaysia Today for future reference - http://mt.harapanmalaysia.com/2008/content/view/8997/1/

"Oil and gas is a State resource.

Under the terms of the Federation Agreement, oil and gas, which is a state resource, belongs to the states, 100% (just like water, timber, tin, iron, gold, coal, etc.).

However, in 1974, the federal government nationalised oil and gas and then forced all the 13 states to sign an agreement with Petronas -- whereby the newly created national oil company will become the owner of all the oil in gas and the states would just enjoy a 5% ‘commission’.

Later, the states were forced to sign a supplementary agreement stating that the 5% ‘commission’ would be officially and legally called ‘royalty’."

Are these technically true statements?

Are these fair statements?

In the case of oil producing states such as Terengganu, would such arrangements be fair to the State?

If these statements were true, why didn't Terengganu State sue the government for such an unfair arrangement? After all, Petronas most recent profit in the last 12 months was around $65 Billion, Terengganu State should be contributing a huge chunk to that figure, and the difference between 5% and 100% of Terengganu's share should still be a very, very large number?

Does the Terengganu state have a case in court?

What about Sabah?

Isn't there a huge motive for these States to sue Federal Government for what might be argued to be rightfully theirs?

Isn't there a huge motive for able lawyers to quickly offer their services to the Chief Ministers fo these States in view of the size of the potential fees if they win the case?

Or are the cases "unwinnable"? If so, should Sabah MPs cross over in light of these past events as well as Anwar's higher offer?

If Sabah MPs were to cross over, would this be a fair response, notwithstanding the ethics of crossing over?

Many questions, tough answers ...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Is this the same Muhammad Shafee Abdullah from SUHAKAM?

To be honest, I haven't really paid attention to this name until he started calling RPK a "coward", "pariah", "hiding behind his wife's skirt", and the like. The moment he uttered those words, my immediate reaction is "Hey, maybe there is some truth to what RPK said".

And interestingly, as I tried to search for the original articles in MT today, I noticed there is actually a lot of articles written already. Not surprising I suppose given the feud between the two strong personalities. Some links below.

I noticed that in Suhakam's website, one of the Commission Members (Member Number 11) is "11. Dato' Muhammad Shafee Abdullah". http://www.suhakam.org.my/en/about_com_member.asp

My main question is - "Is this the same Muhammad Shafee Abdullah from SUHAKAM?" SUHAKAM is of course the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia

Blogger hawkeyejack has blogged on this earlier. The link is here. I won't repeat what he has written, as he has raised highly relevant questions and made good points. You can read what he's written there. http://hawkeyejack.blogspot.com/2008/08/muhammad-shafee-abdullah-champion-of.html

If they are the same people, makes you wonder what kind of Commission Members we have at Suhakam isn't it? One that would threaten to sue all commentators in RPK's articles regardless of what was written, not to mention one that does not hesitate to call RPK names that are certainly not worth repeating here. Certainly sends shivers to my spine ...

Anyway, links for future references.


http://malaysia-today.net/2008/content/view/10883/84/ - Shafee Abdullah: sodomologist extraordinaire ; Wednesday, 06 August 2008

http://malaysia-today.net/2008/content/view/10977/84/ - Money, power and sex: what motivates man ; Thursday, 07 August 2008

http://malaysia-today.net/2008/content/view/11183/84/ - The real dalang behind the Anwar sodomy allegation ; Monday, 11 August 2008

http://malaysia-today.net/2008/content/view/11393/1/ - You said it, babe! ; Thursday, 14 August 2008

http://malaysia-today.net/2008/content/view/11394/1/ - Shafee to also sue commenters on RPK’s news portal ; Friday, 15 August 2008

http://malaysia-today.net/2008/content/view/11395/1/ - RPK: Six sources on Shafee; Friday, 15 August 2008

http://malaysia-today.net/2008/content/view/11436/84/ - RPK tells Shafee to go to hell; Friday, 15 August 2008

http://malaysia-today.net/2008/content/view/11473/1/ - Raja Petra, Shafee feud spills over to drama in court; Saturday, 16 August 2008

http://malaysia-today.net/2008/content/view/11513/1/ - Shafee to RPK: Face me in court; Sunday, 17 August 2008

http://malaysia-today.net/2008/content/view/11516/1/ - Press release by Shafee Abdullah; Sunday, 17 August 2008

http://malaysia-today.net/2008/content/view/11524/1/ - Shafee tells Raja Petra to sue him; Monday, 18 August 2008

http://malaysia-today.net/2008/content/view/11525/1/ - Shafee makes police report against Raja Petra; Monday, 18 August 2008

http://malaysia-today.net/2008/content/view/11533/1/ - I rest my case, Your Honour; Monday, 18 August 2008

Saturday, August 16, 2008

China and India cancel or renegotiate CPO deals

Interesting, insightful article, for future reference - http://biz.thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/8/16/business/1822275&sec=business

I think this article provides a good one-out-of-many explanations as to why we sometimes see when FCPO, Soyoil or other commodity prices first make a new low, they continue to make even more lower lows if the price drop is rapid. It also explains why it is dangerous to catch a falling knife, because we can never be sure that the low price caught is the bottom. I'm sure you can think of other factors too.


SINGAPORE: Buyers from China and India, the world’s biggest vegetable oil importers, have cancelled or renegotiated around 800,000 tonnes of palm oil deals in the past few weeks as prices slump, dealers said yesterday.

The benchmark Malaysian palm oil futures contract headed for its sharpest fall in 20 years yesterday and has nearly halved since a record peak in March, which they said meant more defaults were inevitable.

Prices have come down so fast, from US$1,200 a tonne to US$800 a tonne in 45 days, defaults are bound to happen,” said one leading buyer in Mumbai, India’s business capital. “The way the situation is, in the coming days there is the possibility of big defaults.”

Dealers said importers had defaulted on at least 300,000 tonnes of palm oil cargo in the past few weeks, while 500,000 tonnes of deals had been washed out, where traders pay lower prices than those initially agreed.

The benchmark crude palm oil October contract fell as much as RM228, or 8.7%, to RM2,392 a tonne yesterday, a level unseen since Aug 30 last year.

Malaysian exporters said Chinese buyers defaulted on 40,000 tonnes of RBD palm olein cargo yesterday.

“There is a default of 30,000 to 40,000 tonnes since morning, but obviously defaults will be much more than that as prices have come down,” said one dealer at a leading export house.

Chinese buyers said domestic soybean oil prices that had fallen more than a third over the past month were prompting defaults and washouts.

“There have been washouts and defaults over past weeks. Domestic prices have been falling too much, if they take the cargo back home, they will lose more than 1,000 yuan per tonne,” said a trader in Beijing.

Chinese buyers have been seeking discounts of RM300 to RM400 on Malaysian palm oil since last month, a Singapore-based trader said.

An Indian newspaper reported on Wednesday that traders had defaulted on vegetable oil purchases of around 150,000–200,000 tonnes because of a drop in prices.

The Hindu Business Line newspaper said Indian importers had lost up to 1.5 billion rupees in the past two to three weeks as a result of collapsing market prices.

Traders cited the example of one 30,000-tonne ship defaulted on in the past few days in India.
The buyer refused to take delivery of one 30,000-tonne palm oil ship when it reached Kandla port,” said a trader, referring to one of India’s busiest ports located on its western coast.

Indonesian traders said exports in the first 10 days of August fell by about 100,000 tonnes compared with July after the fall in prices.

(Seng comment: The interesting thing to me is the impact on coming inventory figures. Since exports falls, will this mean higher inventory figures since CPO production is not easy to turn off in the immediate term? This is the irony of agricultural commodities like CPO, since lower prices do not necessarily cause an immediate reduction in inventory, despite economic theories drumming into our ears that low price stimulates demand and should result in lower inventory ... in the real world, time lag exists between prices, demand, supply and inventory. It also explains why when prices fall, they almost never fall in a straight line, and vice versa.)

“We’re a bit worried about India buyers because we have many deals with them,” said a dealer with a palm oil refiner and plantation firm in Jakarta. — Reuters

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Chatbox Renewed

Chatbox expired

Dear fellow chatters,

Sorry. I had completely forgotten about renewing the cbox and it has expired.

I am in the process of renewing the subscription, and hope to have this up and running soon.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bar Council Forum: Star vs DAP, Mob Rule

According to The Star, DAP Gunasekaren is reportedly to have said that "the demonstrators should be arrested and detained under the Internal Security Act for stoking racial sentiments".

Full link here: http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/8/13/nation/22070227&sec=nation

Today, in Lim Kit Siang's blog, LKS said that "he has checked with Gunasekaren and he has denied that he had made the remark about the ISA detention attributed to him."

Full link here: http://blog.limkitsiang.com/2008/08/13/detain-bar-council-forum-protestors-under-isa-gunasekaren-denies/

So, who is actually telling the truth? The Star? Or DAP via LKS?

LKS also took the opportunity to reiterate the Party's position on the ISA - "DAP stand for the repeal of the nefarious detention-without-trial Internal Security Act is clear. All ISA detainees should be released immediately or be charged in court to avail them of an opportunity to defend themselves in an open trial."


Interestingly, nothing appears to escape the eagle-like eyes of the veteran Opposition party LKS.

He made a very pertinent point about "Mob Rule" in that article:

"We disagree with the demonstrators though we respect their right to protest against the Bar Council forum, which must be done peacefully and civilly.

However, what is unacceptable is the mob rule where demonstrators threatened to storm and a few stormed the Bar Council auditorium and disrupted the forum under the protection of the police!

It is sad that for the past five days, not a single word had been said by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak and the Home Minister, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar to deplore the uncivil and irresponsible conduct of those who had taken the law into their hands to storm (also those who threatened to storm) and disrupted a lawful meeting in a private premise.

Have the lawless become the law in Abdullah’s Malaysia?

When is the Police and the Attorney-General going to uphold the law and act against the lawless?"

UiTM on the news: A Personal Commentary

It seems like all the mass media ever talked about is race, race and race. Unfortunately, these are not F1 races, but the colour of one's skin variety. Recently, we have the Banting teacher who hurled racial abuses to her students. Then, we have the 300+ protestors who barged in the recent Bar Council forum which intended to resolve legal conflicts surrounding conversions to Islam. And now, we have this UiTM news which are sprawled all over in The Star, with at least 5 articles today. What's next?

Anyway, these 5 articles are:

Open up to non-bumis, MB tells UiTM - http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/8/13/nation/22068198&sec=nation

'No need to open up UiTM to other races' - http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/8/13/nation/20080813121352&sec=nation

Ministry to discuss idea to allow non-bumis into UiTM - http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/8/13/nation/22068417&sec=nation

UiTM slams MB’s proposal - http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/8/13/nation/22071647&sec=nation

‘MB can’t open UiTM intake to non-bumis’ - http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/8/13/nation/22070255&sec=nation

In case if you are not aware of the background of UiTM, UiTM do have a professional looking website here - http://www.uitm.edu.my/uitm/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=20&Itemid=138. This is how they promote themselves to the world:

UiTM is Malaysia's premier institution of higher learning that has experienced a phenomenal growth since its inception in 1956. The university has expanded nationwide with 3 satellite campuses, 12 branch campuses, 8 city campuses, 19 affiliated colleges and a smart campus for the future. Its formation is based on a vision of outstanding scholarship and academic excellence that is capable of providing leadership in all fields of internationally recognised professional study. This serves as catalyst for greater strides in the development of the university and the nation.

During these years of growth, UiTM has built on the educational infrastructure placed by its founders to a level comparable to many international universities. Today, it draws strength from the initiatives of these leaders to aspire to be world-class in all its endeavors- to explore the frontiers of knowledge, to master new technologies and harvest the abundant riches of diverse cultures, markets and new industries.


UiTM generates, disseminates and advances knowledge within the ever-changing multicultural and technological context of the world. It offers high quality education and vibrant and inclusive learning environment. Students enjoy a rich growth experience, the most influential as well as the most challenging , intellectually and personally. UiTM's education will prepare students that have now numbered about 100,000 to become tomorrow's leader.

UiTM's curriculum is distinctively interdisciplinary and international. Courses remain relevant, rigorous and responsive to our changing world. Our faculty members constantly redefine what they teach and how they teach it, ensuring that the best traditions of the academy are merged with the most current thinking and scholarship in all disciplines.

Wow! Impressive isn't it? For a while, I thought I was dreaming of a university like Oxford.

always maintained that it is alright - in fact even encouraged - for Malaysians to dream big. There's nothing wrong to dream big if its spurs ambition and right actions. If we don't aim high, we'll never improve ourselves. These are good and worthwhile aims - some of the phrases that I have highlighted in red for example.

So, what is incredibly puzzling to me is the intensely angry almost phobic reactions to Selangor MB Khalid's suggestion here, as reported in The Star:

TAN Sri Khalid Ibrahim had urged the Universiti Teknologi Mara to allocate at least a 10% quota for non-bumiputra undergraduates, Tamil Nesan reported.

The Selangor Mentri Besar said this would help generate interest among the youth to further their studies. Universities, he said, should not only generate good students but be reminded that the youngsters were also there to form links with those of other races.

To be honest, having been overseas for 2 decades, and just returned home the last 4 years, I was surprised at how big UiTM has grown to become well over 100,000 students, and even more surprised that over the last quarter of century, it is still 100% Bumiputera students.

In short, I'm surprised that such racial segregation has not only been retained, but is now made worse over the last quarter of century. Is this 52 years (since 1956) of continuous segregation healthy and beneficial to Malaysians in the long run? How will all these 100,000 students turn out after spending their entire key formative years in university mingling and interacting with only students of the same race?

The University claimed that they "aspire to become world class leaders in all its endeavors". "Explore the frontiers of knowledge". "Master new technologies". And the best part to me is "Harvest the abundant riches of diverse cultures".

Which seriously beg the question - in a university like UiTM currently, how does one "harvest the abundant riches of diverse cultures"? By doing the occasional "field study" once a year? Have UiTM decision makers forgotten that we live in Malaysia, a land of many races? Isn't diversity one of our Nation's greatest strength?

Now, don't get me wrong. Word on the street is that these are excellent marketing materials - except the substance may be lacking far behind. For example, one of the most often quoted university rankings is the Times Higher Education - QS World University Rankings 2007. They ranked international universities with a Top 400 ranking, which you can view it here: http://www.topuniversities.com/worlduniversityrankings/results/2007/overall_rankings/top_400_universities/

It appears that unfortunately for UiTM, they are not in the Top 400 universities in the world in 2007, despite their wonderful claim "to a level comparable to many international universities" in their website. To be fair, they never claimed that they aim to produce graduates to that level. The full sentence was "UiTM has built on the educational infrastructure placed by its founders to a level comparable to many international universities". But doesn't that still beg the question - if you have first world infrastructure, shouldn't you have first world graduates? Why aren't the university still in the Top 400 list?

Anyway, for completeness, the four local universities is inside the Top 400 list are:

#246 = University Malaya
#307 = University Sains Malaysia
#309 = University Kebangsaan Malaysia
#364 = University Putera Malaysia

Of course, one survey doesn't not prove anything conclusively. But at the very least, it would surely raise some questions for reflection and introspection isn't it?

Putting aside racial integration points, and viewing these purely from a global competitiveness perspective - could there be benefits from opening up UiTM to non-Bumiputeras including foreign students? What could these potential benefits be?

For example, can anyone aspire to be the best in the world, if they don't expose themselves to international competition? True, sometimes, even athletes need to be gradually built up, before they can compete in the international arena. But the trouble with continuing to use this reasoning for 52 years, is that once they graduated from UiTM they would then be thrusted into the real world, competing internationally - so, at what point in time should the government stop holding their hands?

Don't we want UiTM to create strong and internationally competitive graduates? Isn't this any university's ultimate goal, to create future country leaders who can compete with the best globally?

What is the fear from opening up the university to include a small proportion of the other students that would add to the diversity and collective strength of the entire university? This is very puzzling to me. Is this because "the university" isn't ready? Surely not, since according to the website ...

UiTM has forged linkages with a number of professional bodies, such as the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), UK, Chartered Institute of Transport (CIT), UK, Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA), UK, Institute of Marketing UK, Institute of Administrative Management, UK, Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), UK, and many others around the world. Some of these ties go back a long way, such as with Ealing Technical College in the 60s and Ohio University in the 80s and they have become a benchmark for UiTM's academic programmes and research. Over the years, UiTM has started collaborating with international universities. To date, UiTM has more than 100 partner universities.

So, if the University itself is not the concern, then, is it the students? What and where exactly is the concern? This is extremely puzzling, and I'm sure it is to all Malaysian stakeholders and all Malaysian taxpayers who funds UiTM.

Notwitstanding my own initial thoughts of the possible pros and cons of following the Selangor MB's proposal, I think it is important that those who are in the position of being able to make that decision should carefully weigh the pros and cons of the MB's proposal. It is important to take into account the collective view of the stakeholders which in my mind, all right thinking Malaysians, not just the view of a select few.

However, this is not the main point of my article. My greatest shock is to read the response of our very own Prime Minister. This is what The Star has reported him to say (http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/8/13/nation/22070255&sec=nation):

SERDANG: Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim has no power to propose that Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) be opened to non-bumiputras, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said.

What exactly does the Prime Minister mean when he says Khalid "has no power to propose"?

This is an extremely unusual phrase. In English, a reasonable person would think that "everybody has a right to propose". The right to propose is the right to express a view.

To say that Khalid does not have any power to propose is very disturbing. If the Selangor MB is not allowed to propose, then, does our PM expects everyone to always remain silent? Is this culture of "never proposing" a healthy one for our nation in the long term? How can Malaysia climb up the ladder of international and global competitiveness, if our culture is to never question or even propose ideas amongst ourselves and to our leaders?

Perhaps The Star has misinterpreted our PM, after all, The Star is known to have mispublished articles.

Or perhaps, The Star has misheard our PM, since I'm sure our PM knows that everyone has the right to propose. Perhaps the PM meant that Khalid has no jurisdiction or no power to "direct" or "order" UiTM to open the quota. But that must be made clear to the public, that that is an entirely different concept to "power to propose". If we believe in empowering our citizens, then, every Malaysian citizen technically have "the power to propose". Of course, the decision makers also have every right to turn down that proposal.

These sort of comical, yet tragic exchanges that occupies our MSM makes me wonder what progress our country has made since Mar 8 elections. It is certainly sad that our leaders do not seem to have good working relationships so far, even though it has been 5 months already.

Hmmnn .... "Power to propose?"

I must say this is the first time I've heard of this concept.

Unfortunately, I have a feeling that if my overseas relatives and friends were to read this article, they might think that Malaysia is a laughing stock in the eyes of the international world.

It seems we still have this Third World Mentality, despite our stated aim to be a First World Nation by 2020.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bar Council Meeting

I would like to share with you 2 important articles by the Bar Council which I believe would shed more light on the entire proceedings that morning. In my opinion, both links below does not appear to be adequately mentioned to the same level of detail by the MSM (The Star) to date:



It is ironic that notwitstanding the rude and intrusive protests which appeared to deny the fundamental liberties of all Malaysians there (and worse - appeared to be indirectly aided by the Police who were not successful in performing their basic duty which is to prevent the protestors from rudely entering and disrupting the meeting), the majority of the attendees were indeed Muslims. There are also several formal Muslims representations in the meeting. Even though I am not a Muslim, from what transpired during that morning, I felt the Muslims in the meeting were more Islamic (if there is such a concept) than the protestors, at least to my limited understanding of Islam being a beautiful religion.

From what I can see from both links above, the objectives of the Bar Council meeting is and was a peaceful and engaging one. There was insightful sharing of information and experiences which I find enlightening, such as ...

"In the first session, which was moderated by Chin Oy Sim, two guest speakers were invited to tell their stories. The first speaker, a Chinese woman who requested to remain anonymous, told the crowd how her father married an Iranian woman and converted to Islam without his wife's knowledge. When the wife found out about the conversion, she applied for a divorce. However, during the course of the divorce proceedings, he passed away. Issue arose as under the Syariah law, the speaker and her family are not recognised as the legitimate family and hence they are not entitled to the father's property."


"The second guest speaker was an Indian woman, who told her harrowing struggle to get her father a Christian burial. In her scenario, her father had converted to Islam without the family's knowledge. However he had decided to convert back to Christianity. When he died of heart attack, the hospital informed the speaker that his father had died a Muslim. To show proof that his father was a Christian, the speaker showed his Mykad which stated that he was a Christian. She was told that the Mykad carried no weight and to treat it as 'sampah' (rubbish). The speaker then continued her struggle to insist that her father be buried as a Christian. In the end, the authority withdrew their order to bury her father as a Muslim. But what was interesting to note in her story is the fact that after all the suffering that she and her family had to go through, nobody offered any apology."

I am sure many would have indeed loved to hear more about the meeting, but unfortunately, the meeting was cut short by the protestors. The above are just a couple of extracts - do click on the links above to read the full report.

And then, the grave dissappointment occured ...

"At about 9.50am, merely 10 minutes before the agreed end time, the leaders of the protest came up to the auditorium to voice their protest on the continued forum.

Things got a bit emotional and they started to shout for the forum to be stopped, uttering racist remarks to some of the audience.

Professor Mehrun Siraj took the microphone and advised everyone to calm down, saying as Muslims, they should not act in such an unruly manner and she was close to tears while saying that.

But that did not deter the impatient leaders who refused to back down and threatened to call up their supporters from downstairs to join them in the auditorium.

Madam President then gave a short speech to close the forum and everyone was advised to disperse peacefully.

The leaders then lingered at the back of the auditorium waiting for all the audience to leave.

One of them even went further and opened the auditorium window and shouted to the protestors downstairs inciting loud cheers from them."

Reading this, I am speechless, because I simply find the behaviour of the protestors appalling and completely unacceptable. I wonder why they did not registered themselves for the meeting? It was an open forum, so, they would have been accepted. Then, wouldn't that have been far more constructive? They should have followed the example of this particular member of the public:

"A member of the public, describing himself as a 'concerned citizen', when interviewed, admitted that he arrived early and registered for the forum with intention to voice out his dissatisfaction in the forum for challenging the right of Islam and Muslims in this country.

Instead, he came down from the forum expressing his satisfaction saying that the forum was a good effort.

That the forum, instead, discussed the predicament faced by the non-Muslim families of the converts.

He concurred with the Bar Council that these unresolved issues need to be ironed out and brought to the open.

He was glad that he made the effort to join the forum and found the true intention of the Bar Council, despite it starting out of curiosity and hostility.

He also expressed his sympathy towards the crowd whom, he said, were clueless and had no idea that they were fighting against something that does not exist."

I am also particularly touched and heartened to note (as reported in the HRC report above), that ...

"... one of the participants of the forum, Dr Mehrun Siraj, former SUHAKAM commissioner, decried the actions of the protestors in disrupting the forum, and was quoted (in The Sun’s report on 11 August 2008) as having said to them:

You represent UMNO, I represent the Muslims. Muslims must act based on the Qu’ran and Sunnah. We must behave well. Muslims must not be rude. I am ashamed of your behaviour. Islam does not condone this."

Even though I do not know Dr Mehrun Siraj personally, nor know much about her, but based on this little that I know so far here, I have no doubts that if she were to run for office, she would have my complete support.

It was truly refreshing to my heart to hear such words of universal truth, wisdom and tolerance from a person whom I would regard as having excellently displayed the true Muslim and Malaysian spirit.

Which led me to wonder ...

Were Najib and Abdullah also "fighting" against something that did not exist? Did the mass media portrayed to all its readers something that did not exist? Why were all of them fighting imaginary ghosts?

The Star reported this from PM Abdullah - http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/8/12/nation/22060919&sec=nation


Abdullah not in favour of ‘sensitive’ forums

PUTRAJAYA: The Home Ministry will decide if there is any basis to act against the Bar Council for holding the Conversion to Islam forum that could threaten the peace and security of the country, said Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. (Seng comment: Note that the PM did NOT object to the Home Ministry's possible ISA action as reported elsewhere ... Why the suspense and intimidation?)

The Prime Minister said the Bar Council had been advised against holding the forum that touched on sensitive matters like religion and race. (Seng comment: On what basis should the Bar Council not hold the forum, based on what you've read so far? What is so wrong with this meeting?)

“I hope such an incident won’t repeat itself. Last Saturday’s forum is proof that issues relating to religion and race are sensitive in the country.

“Thus, it’s important for us to control and restrain ourselves from discussing such matters.

It’s better not to hold such forums in the future,” he told reporters
... (Seng comment: Is the PM properly informed of the Bar Council meeting? On what sound basis and reasoning should such a forum not be held in future? )


And also The Star reported this about Najib, which I had previously blogged here - http://fusioninvestor.blogspot.com/2008/08/open-door-closed-door-back-door-najib.html

Some quotes which I find disturbing coming from Najib ...


"Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said he had expected the extreme reaction to occur as the council ignored advice to call off the forum.

"We had expected this to happen. I’ve already said this before, don’t make it an open forum, do it behind closed doors. There will surely be some form of extreme reaction that will occur (if it was held openly)."

"“We’ve expected the incident to happen because the issue that was to be discussed is sensitive,” he said after launching the Federation of Malay Economic Bodies (Gabem) exhibition and convention at the PWTC here yesterday." (Seng comment: One thing which I didn't notice then, but only now is that Najib repeated this at least 3 times in The Star article that "he/we had expected this to happen". Why 3 times? Did he knew something was going to happen, but allowed it to happen?)

"Najib also said that the basic pillars of the Constitution should be accorded full respect if Malaysians wanted to live peacefully and harmoniously." (Seng comment: Like his boss, was Najib also fighting against something that didn't exist?)


So, what do you think actually happened that morning when the Bar Council organized the forum?

Will we ever go past and beyond the racial and religious divisions that presently exists between us?

Will we ever achieve this without constructive dialogue and meetings of mind like the one which the Bar Council organized, if we blindly followed our PM's decree that "It’s better not to hold such forums in the future", or Najib's insistence that "he had expected the extreme reaction to occur"?

What can each of us do - as concerned Malaysian citizens - to ensure that we do not continue to be be divided by race, religion or any other superficial characteristics?

Why can’t we accept teacher’s apology?

This article is prompted by a view reported in The Star yesterday here - http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/8/11/focus/22052908&sec=focus.


Why can’t we accept teacher’s apology?

THERE is inconsistency in the Malaysian way of responding and reacting to certain misdeeds and mistakes committed.

Presidents, prime ministers, ministers and politicians have often made remarks that intruded on the sensitivities of certain groups of people.

Very often the offended would demand the offender retract the uncalled for remarks and tender his apology.

The unpleasant issue is considered solved upon tendering the apology.

The history teacher of SMK Telok Panglima Garang in Banting is just a human being that similarly erred.

Even after she apologised, we want her to bleed to death.

There is no provision in the law to demand she be expelled from her job, just as there is nothing to compel a president, prime minister or politician to quit or be sacked.

She is not the first person to commit such a mistake, and she will not be the last.

Just forgive her as she has apologized.


Kluang, Johor


I am simply aghast at BATMAN's view. There are so many parts that I personally disagree, although for this article I will just focus on the apology part. The question that was asked is "Why can't we just accept the teacher's apology?"

Let's examine a general example first. Let's imagine that someone has made a mistake that has caused you hurt, harm or some other form of loss. He then says "Sorry". Is this the end of the story?

What if after he says he's sorry, you noticed that he didn't really believed that he was wrong. He just say "sorry" because he thinks that this is what you want to hear. But he still believed that what he did is right. Is this a sincere apology?

And what about your loss? The harm that has been inflicted on you? The hurt? Is this just a simple matter of saying "sorry", and that's the end of it? Who should be responsible to make amends for the loss? The harm? The hurt?

And what if the person after having said he is sorry, then, went back to his behaviour again? Do you think he will change his behaviour if he has not accepted in the first place that what he did was wrong?

To me, I've always felt that an apology - a sincere one - encompass more than just saying "I'm sorry", even though it is a good start.

To me, there are at least 4 elements to a sincere apology. If there is any 1 element missing, it is not a sincere apology, and I normally cannot accept such an apology. To me all 4 elements should be present for me to accept and to forgive in time.

1. Self-acceptance. The offender himself must first accept that he has committed a mistake, an error in judgement or the like. This self-acceptance must be present. If he doesn't accept it, you can know about it very quickly. E.g. you hear excuses. Or explanations that puts the blame on something or someone else. Common sense and your own heart will tell you whether this "self-acceptance" exists or not. If you can't sense it, it doesn't exist. If he doesn't accept that he is responsible for his mistakes, then, the "I'm sorry" that comes after that isn't usually worth much.

2. Apologize. Once the self-acceptance and self-realization is there, then, the next step is to clearly communicate to the victim "I'm sorry". It needs to be done in a timely, sincere and humble manner. The victim must be able to feel your remorse (the sense that you are "sorry"). If it's done person in person, don't avoid eye contact. Don't fidget. Be open and say "I'm sorry". Clearly specify the event, clearly acknowledge where and what you did was wrong, be specific. And instead of doing that, tell them what you should have done instead. It shows you accepted that you were wrong.

3. Take ownership. Be accountable, and be responsible for the mistake. Make amends. If there is a financial loss, offer to pay for that loss if the entire loss is caused by you. If a physical harm has been done, then, offer to pay for the hospitalization and medical bill and anything else that you can reasonably do. In other words, as part of the apology, be prepared to take responsibility for the consequences of your mistake.

4. The Commitment. Commit to learn from this experience, and commit to never repeat the mistake again. We all know "I'm sorry" is easy to say, but is shallow when the same mistake gets repeated. There is no short cut to apologies. You cannot say "I'm sorry" and then keep repeating this behaviour. It is simply not acceptable. The question is how does one demonstrate this behaviour? To me, it is part of 3. And part of 2. And part of 1. They are all interlinked. When you yourself has accepted deep inside you that you've made a mistake, when your apology is sincere, when you've shown that you are genuine to make amends and take what ever responsibility that is necessary, and you know what to do next time, then, it shows that you are committed to not repeat the same mistake again. It shows you have learnt from that experience, you know what must be done in future, and that is a very, very good thing.

In fact, I want to share with you also this link from Wiki - http://www.wikihow.com/Apologize. It has 10 steps on how to apologize. It is more detailed than my 4 Steps, but the contents appear similar.

So, going back to the article above - "Why Can't We Accept the Teacher's Apology".

Well, this article alone doesn't quite explained what happened. We need to understand what exactly was her offence in the first place. MT reported this here - http://us3.malaysia-today.net/2008/content/view/11225/84/


Gunaraj said some teachers in the school were blaming the affected students for lack of a history teacher.


"In the incident last month, the teacher allegedly told students of a certain ethnic group in a Form Four class that she "wanted to test their level of patience" and then began abusing them with derogatory words.

She even wrote the words on the blackboard.

Two students later lodged police reports against her.

Several days earlier, she had allegedly entered a Form Five class and called the students using a derogatory word.

She also accused them of being gangsters and thieves.

She was also alleged to have ordered the boys to do push-ups.

When some of them could not do so, she allegedly stomped on their backs."


So, what do you think?

Do you think that this teacher single apology is acceptable?

Even though I haven't followed the story in detail, there is more than enough information in the italics above that tells me loudly that this is an extremely serious problem in that school.

Firstly, did the teachers in the school accepted that what was done was very wrong? Did they demonstrated remorse? Or are they blaming the students for a lack of history teacher? Do you think there was true self-acceptance by the school?

What about the teacher? Did the teacher concerned accepted that what she did was wrong? Did she demonstrated remorse? Or did she apologize because her superiors told her to do so? Or did she apologized because she just want to keep her job?

What exactly did the teacher do that was wrong? I count at least 5 mistakes, not just 1. I expect the teacher to clearly acknowledge that:
1. It was wrong to hurl derogatory words to the specific individuals involved.
2. It was wrong to write those words on the blackboard.
3. It was wrong to accuse the specific individuals to be gangsters and thieves.
4. It was wrong to punish the boys with push ups.
5. It was wrong to further step on the boys on their back.

Those are just 5 mistakes reported, but it is possible there is more mistakes that went unpublished.

Did the teacher accepted that each of these 5 areas are a mistake? Did someone else has to specify it to her, or did she come to that realization herself?

If you are the guilty party (e.g. if you are a student that was victimized), I think it should be clear whether you can feel the "remorse". A genuine apology can be felt by the victims.

Second, how has the teacher concerned apologized? Was the apology done person-to-person to each individual student that was affected by her abuse and their parent if necessary? She abused specific persons in Form 4 class and specific persons in Form 5 class in public. What should be an appropriate manner to apologize? Would a "blanket apology" alone be sufficient without a one-on-one apology? Would an apology communicated by a "third person" on her behalf sufficient or even genuine? Do you think the parents and the students can ever trust her again, if her apology is not genuine?

Third, what has the teacher done to show that she is taking responsibility and making amends? Besides the individual students and their parents, did the teacher publicly apologize at the school assembly? Did she apologize at the school assembly? Her actions brought disrepute to the school's good name (or whatever good name it has left). Did the teacher voluntarily apologize to the Headmaster? PTA meeting? Or just the Press? Did she genuinely enquired about the health and well being of the students that she previously stepped on? These are grave and serious offences. What about the profession? It is obvious such a case would bring poor reputation to the teaching profession.

Fourth, has the teacher given the commitment to herself and to others, that this behaviour will never be repeated? In the same situation again next time, what could she has done differently? Has she made this personal commitment to her God, if she is a religious person?

You see, it is not easy to apologize for a mistake of this proportion. Just saying "I'm sorry" is personally not good enough for me. And a blanket apology by a third party cheapens the apology very much.

So, you can see why I think that BATMAN opinion - to use politicians as yardstick - is a poor example and in poor taste indeed. I have yet to see a politician apologize properly in public. Dr Chua Soi Lek comes very close, but I'm still unsure whether I still trust him or not. Something like that usually takes a long time to regain trust.

Personally, I expect teachers to teach politicians how to apologize, not the other way around.

In fact, teachers should be teaching their students how to apologize, by setting good examples themselves.

I think the present case would be a good start to show the world how to apologize properly.

Do you think our teachers know how to apologize?