Monday 26 April 2010

1725 At A High Cost But Who Will Pay The Price?

Just got back from Kuala Kubu Baru a few hours ago. 1725 majority is not a clear endorsement no matter how the victors would want to blow their horn; for all intents and purposes it was a "buy-election".

On the 10th of April, someone invited me to join Haris Ibrahim and his gang of social activists to help campaign in Hulu Selangor. I turned down the invite and this was my reply:

Hi S,

Thanks for the invite to be at Hulu Selangor but I will give this one a skip. Maybe it may be expedient to “conserve energy” for the “Big One” expected around 2013. In my humble opinion I suspect Hulu Selangor has already been decided and the margin this time will be more than 198 one way or the other. But both sides are in a dilemma.

The BN dilemma is well publicized and it fears an implosion because of internal issues. The PR dilemma is that if it does not field Zaid, we might as well all stay home. But if PR decides to field Zaid, I hope a possible defeat would not be deemed a rejection of Zaid, the man. Zaid is needed for bigger things. It’s a chess game actually; playing the Queen too early tends put it at risk but there could be a chance to win at mid-game. Perhaps it is good for the PR soul if it loses again this time. Obviously that would be a boon for the Hulu Selangor residents what with the usual goodies being promised by BN.



Friday 23 April 2010

The Silver Lining In The Silverstate

It has been a wonderful week in my home state, Perak. First, we welcomed a newly minted Dato' from Jelapang and now we see two ADUNs free to serve their constituents again. Well, as they say; "Behind every dark cloud there is a silver lining". The Perakians will ultimately decide.

This is just in from Malaysiakini:

Perak PKR-turned-independent reps acquitted

The Ipoh Sessions Court has today acquitted two former PKR state assemblypersons on corruption charges without their defence being called.

Judge Azhaniz Azman said that the prosecution has failed to prove prima facie case and ordered them to be released immediatedly.

Mohd Osman Mohd Jailu, 58 (Changkat Jering) and Jamaluddin Mohd Radzi, 53 (Behrang) were charged along with three others - former PKR state assemblypersons PKR politician Usaili Alias, 56, former Perak Tengah district councillor Zul Hassan, 46, and contractor Fairul Azrim Ismail, 31.

Thursday 22 April 2010


Everyone knows what a "kiss" is but there are various types of kisses defined mainly by how and where one kisses. The word itself tends to be emotive and conjure up different images; maybe it is because it's done with the lips that lead to that intimate organ called the mouth. Which mouth? I mean the mouth, mouth! That's exactly what I meant by conjuring up different emotive images!

Anyway, these two photos which I found on the Net (digital photo experts probably need to confirm authenticity) have become famous in the Hulu Selangor by-election because of a denial (must read). One candidate has admitted to drinking while the other has denied a kissing.

Below you will find descriptions of a variety of kiss types from a website. If you find some that catch your fancy, feel free to try them :-) but the one variety of kiss missing from the list is the "ass kiss". Maybe because "kissing ass" is merely a metaphor.

Nevertheless, this is probably the reason why Kamalanathan denied so vehemently that he kissed Muhyiddin's hand. Consider this: the bowing and kissing of the hand brings to mind the old adage, "biting the hand that feeds" (from MIC standpoint?) which in this case may be construed as, "kissing the hand that feeds" (from UMNO standpoint?). Culture? Yeah right! Culture my ass! Whose culture!?!

Yup! "Kiss" is such a perculiar word.

Butterfly Kiss - With your faces less than a breath away, open and close your eyelids against your partners. If done correctly, the fluttering sensation will match the one in your heart.

Cheek kiss - A friendly, "I really like you" kiss. Often the preferred kissing method of a first date. With your hands on your partner's shoulders, gently brush your lips across her cheek.

Earlobe Kiss - Gently sip and suck the earlobe. Avoid louder sucking noises as ears are sensitized noise detectors.

Eskimo Kiss - With your faces less than a breath apart, gently rub your noses together.

Eye Kiss - Hold your partner's head with both hands and slowly move their head in the direction you wish your kiss to go... then slowly kiss up towards your partner's eyes and give them a tender kiss on top of their closed eyes.

Eyelid Kiss - While your partner is resting/sleeping with eyes closed, very very gently kiss the spot right below their browbone. A very intimate kiss.

Finger Kiss - While laying together gently suck on their fingers. This can be very seductive and pleasurable.

Foot Kiss - An erotic and romantic gesture. It may tickle, but relax and enjoy it! To give a toe kiss by gently suck the toes and then lightly kissing the foot. It helps to gently massage the base of the foot while performing the kiss.

Forehead Kiss - The "motherly" kiss or "just friends" kiss. The forehead kiss can be a comforting kiss to anyone. Simply brush your lips lightly across the crown of their head.

Freeze Kiss (or Melt Kiss) - Experiment with this fun kiss. Put a small piece of ice in your mouth, then open mouth and kiss your partner, passing them the ice with your tongue. It's an erotic and sensual french kiss with a twist of cold.

French Kiss - The kiss involving the tongue. Some call this the "Soul Kiss" because the life and soul are thought to pass through the mouth's breath in the exchange across tongues. Surprisingly, the French call this "The English Kiss".

Fruity Kiss - Take a small piece of fruit and place between your lips (juicy fruits such as grapes, strawberries, small pieces of pineapple or mango are ideal). Kiss your partner and nibble one half of the piece of fruit while they nibble the other until it breaks in half, allowing the juice to run into your mouths.

Hand Kiss - Gently raise her hand to your lips. Lightly brush your lips across the top of her hand. Historically this kiss was performed with a bow, which showed deference to a lady.

Hickey Kiss - The object is not to draw blood, but to gently leave a mark that will prove your interlude was not a dream. This is often included in erotic foreplay.

Hostage Kiss - Cover your lips with tape and get your love's attention. When they come near, make noises like you're trying to tell them something and motion as if you can't get the tape off. Once they remove the tape from you to hear what you're trying to say tell them: "I've been saving my lips all day just for you!" Then kiss your love passionately!

Hot and Cold Kiss - Lick your partner's lips so that they're warm, and then gently blow on them. The sudden cold blast makes for a sensual explosion, and they will often try it on you next, as well as get very passionate.

Mistletoe Kiss - Surprise your lover by capturing them with a gentle holiday kiss under the mistletoe. This is also a good method for shyer individuals to steal a kiss from a potential lover.

Letter Kiss - Send your lover a kiss in a love letter by writing the letter x several times in a row at the bottom of a letter such as XXXXX.

Lick Kiss - Just before kissing, gently run your tongue along you partners lip whether it be the top or bottom one depending on the position of your lips. Very sensual.

Lip Sucking Kiss - When kissing gently suck on their lower lip. This can be very exciting.

Neck Nibble Kiss - Gently nibble up and down your partners neck. End with a gentle kiss on the lips.

Nip Kiss - This kiss can create a very erotic sensation. While kissing your partner, ever so gently nibble on their lips. You must be very careful not to bite to hard or hurt your partner. When done correctly, this kiss ignites wonderful sensations.

Reverse Lips Kiss - It involves standing above your lover and kissing them from over their head. This way, each kisser can take the hyper-sensitive bottom lip of thier lover in their mouths, and GENTLY draw blood to the surface of the lip by nibbling and sucking. A very sensuous, connecting kiss.

Searching The Cavern - Use the lips and tongue to gently tickle and kiss your lover's navel. Vary speeds and stroke to change sensation. Invigorating and intoxicating.

Shoulder Kiss - Simply come from behind, embrace her, and kiss the top of her shoulder. This is a sensual, loving kiss.

Sip Kiss - Take a small sip of your favorite drink. Leaving a little bit of it on your lips, kiss your partner. It is a unique way to create a sensual feeling and your partner will enjoy it.

Talking Kiss - Whisper sweet nothings into your partner's mouth. If caught in the act, simply say as Chico Marx, "I wasn't kissing her. I was whispering into her mouth."

Teaser Kiss - Starting on the forehead, a sweet short kiss on lips, then move up the arms up to her hand, kiss her hand, then come back up her arm, to her face and then lightly kiss her lips till she wants a passionate kiss.

The Buzzing Kiss - Gently place your lips against your lover's neck , behind their ear. Now, send a shudder through their skin by gently growling and humming, vibrating your lips and cheeks as you do so. Move up and down the neck, over the bones of the face and lips. Stimulating and erotic when done correctly.

The Whipped Cream Kiss - Dip your finger into some cool whip or whipped cream of your choice. Lick it off slowly, then embrace your partner and kiss them deeply letting their tongue slip over yours for a wonderfully sweet kiss. It's very seductive and passionate.

Tiger Kiss - Quietly sneak up behind your partner making sure they do not know what you are going to do. Out of the blue, grab them and gently bite their neck. Make sure to get a few good growls in too. This will surely surprise them.

Trickle Kiss - Take a sip of a favourite drink and trickle it slowly into partner's mouth while kissing.

Tongue Sucking - A variation of the French kiss. During an open-mouth kiss gently suck on your partner's tongue (not too hard because it may hurt). Very sexy :-)

Quickie Kiss - When you're in a rush. Often the nose gets it rather than the lips.

Vacuum Kiss - While kissing open-mouthed, slightly suck in as if you were sucking the air from your partners mouth. This is a playful kiss.

Wake Up Kiss - Before your partner awakes lean over and kiss their cheek and move over giving soft kisses until you reach their lips. Definitely a more than pleasant way to wake up!

Virtual Kiss - For Internet lovers.

Tuesday 20 April 2010

Vice (Versa)

Datuk Zaid Ibrahim is a man after my own least when he was still in UMNO. I mean, now that he is no longer with UMNO his ex-colleagues are saying he used to drink, gamble, and womanize. Zaid must have been a heck of a jantan while in UMNO and indulged in those vices openly for them to know.

Zaid was his own man when in UMNO and stood on his principles against certain issues he felt was detrimental to the Rakyat. He was sacked for that and now he does not drink. Those of us of the drinking class will tell you we tend not to trust a man who does not drink. Can we trust Zaid now? Well, we drinkers are known to frown kindly on fallen comrades who have become teetotallers.

Intense character assasination being the focus of the BN strategy is a good sign for Zaid in the Hulu Selangor by-election and his open admission a good counter-strategy, notwithstanding what some traditionist Muslims will feel. It is clear BN does not have other "against national interest dirt" they can throw at Zaid to justify to  Hulu Selangor voters they must not elect Zaid.

PR does not need a lawyer of Zaid's calibre to tell it about precedence and what is sauce for the goose, is sauce for the gander. Has BN opened up Pandora's Box?

If BN is going to town on candidate morality issues as a yardstick for suitability and can only allude to Zaid's vices (not sins?) then must we not look at the cardinal sins of wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony

Certainly we can recognize  those who personify these traits. Come the next GE, BN may well have to field many fresh-faced candidates because many incumbents will probably not be able to meet the benchmark.

Is this the only way "BN Mampu Berubah"?

Sunday 18 April 2010

PR Consultant? Dei Thamby! Public Relations or Pakatan Rakyat?

It looks like the battle is over on Nomination Day itself. This guy Kamalanathan is supposed to be a PR (Public Relations) consultant but he is certainly not a good football player at the rate he is scoring own-goals; he now sounds more like a Pakatan Rakyat (also PR) consultant.

This PR consultant does not seem to be reading his public very well... perhaps someone should borrow his watch and tell him the time. 

I was given the impression that this Kamalanathan was a candidate for the new era, a fresh face with a fresh perspective and agenda, an individual with courage of conviction and his own mind. It turns out he is just another MICkey mouse.

I think it would be Zaid by a margin of at least 4,000 (just a figure that comes to mind) if Kamalanathan’s handlers do not begin damage control immediately.

Below are some of the things he said on Nomination Day yesterday:

"I may not be an expert but you can make me one, I may not be an outstanding person but you can make me one”.

"Let me have the opportunity to get to know you better. I humbly plead to you not to vote for me because I am Kamalanathan but rather vote for me because I am a BN candidate”.

"I am a 1Malaysia candidate. I am a candidate who is representing the prime minister and I am a candidate who aspire to represent you,"

“Right-wing group Perkasa is not belligerent against non-Malays as its aim is to promote the empowerment of the Malay community”

Obviously Kamalanathan knows he needs the Malay votes because his Indian votes are in doubt. But this PR (public relations) guy should posture as a Man and not a mild, polite and humble guy when Hulu Selangor voters need a Jantan who can handle BN sharks and get Hulu Selangor the rewards that it needs.

At 1.00 pm yesterday I told my son we should take a leisurely drive to Hulu Selangor at 6.00 pm. I felt it would be a good awareness trip for my 19 year old and wanted to attend ceramahs on both sides to get a feel on the ground. After the above statements by Kamalanathan started coming in, I cancelled the trip. Buang masa dan minyak.

Wednesday 14 April 2010

Mr Najib Goes To Washington (Update)

Blogging is sometimes so easy; just cut and paste and the same message you want to convey is done. This is from Lim Kit Siang's blog and it is a perfect continuation of my previous blog post of the same title. Please read:

Call on Najib to appear before Parliament when he returns to face MPs on his visit to United States

I have received the following assessment of a Malaysian in Washington on the visit of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, which raises many important questions.

The following is the assessment:

Assessment of a Malaysian in Washington on Najib’s visit to US

It is difficult indeed to make any serious assessment as there has been hardly anything substantive on the subject in the US media. All we have is what the Malaysian media are reporting. That said let me share some thoughts for what they are worth.

My reading is that much is being made of this visit. First and foremost, the Ambassador aided and abetted by the Malaysian media that is in tow, is painting a picture that is very sparing of the truth. For instance, they have made out that Najib was only one of two Asian leaders that met with Obama – the other being Hu Jintao. The truth was that Manmohan Singh and Gilani, the PMs of India and Pakistan , were there individually for sessions of between an hour and half and two. It would appear the Malaysian spinmeisters have redefined the borders of Asia in a revision of geography with the sub-continent not being part of Asia. Perhaps this is the input provided by the experts of APCO! Then there is the business of lunch with Vice President Biden – if our news media are to be believed, then Najib was the sole guest. The truth is stranger as he was one of a dozen leaders who lunched at the VP’s residence according to the NY Times.

As to the substance of the chat between Obama and Najib, the Readout issued by the White House is a pretty good summary according to those in the know. I have yet to see it reproduced in the Malaysian media. A close reading indicates that Najib virtually gave away the store with nothing substantive in return. For instance, he agreed with the US position as regards the need to contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Remarkable indeed given that our Ambassador in Vienna was one of 5 that voted in favor of the Iranian position just a few months ago. This is a major shift in policy and it disassociates Malaysia from its conventional OIC and NAM position. Then there is the business of the Strategic Goods Act which was rushed through Parliament. This was under considerable pressure from the US after Malaysia stood exposed for trading in embargoed goods with Iran. Najib was also forced into admitting that Malaysia was taking action to curb human trafficking after having been listed in a recent Senate report that heavily criticized Malaysia. In terms of Malaysian aspirations and support for its positions, little was reported. For instance, no mention was made of the desire to revive the failed Free Trade Agreement; nor was there even a token mention of the Palestine issue, a subject close to the heart of the Government. Were these issues raised? Significantly, neither the Embassy in Washington DC and nor the entourage accompanying the PM have yet put out a Malaysian version of the Readout. They have been largely concerned with issuing feel good releases with photos without addressing the substantive outcomes of this multi-million dollar junket.

Beyond what is contained in the White House Readout, I gather that the US side raised a number of issues including the canning of women who deviate from Islamic practices, growing racial polarization, the Anwar trial etc. Thus, the Malaysian side has been put on notice.

An overview — this was probably a good visit from Najib’s personal view as it raised his profile. He is seeking legitimacy as he struggles in the domestic context against a resilient opposition, a badly split coalition and a party that is increasingly turning right, led in that direction by Dr. M. The visit may gain him some personal momentary advantage. However it does not resolve the critical challenges he faces. More fundamentally, the visit demonstrated the lack of leverage he has at his disposal. He appears to have obtained nothing of substance from the US administration; this in turn will signal the US business community which will take note and act negatively in taking investment decisions in the near term.

Let wait to see if this assessment will be contradicted in the days ahead.

In view of many important issues involved, including those of policy and principle, I call on the Prime Minister to appear before Parliament when he returns to face MPs on his visit to United States to give full accounting of the results of his trip.

Tuesday 13 April 2010

Mr Najib Goes To Washington

Go to KL in the day time and you will see hundreds of Middle Eastern nationals thronging the streets and shopping malls. Jalan Bukit Bintang in the late night is transformed into Arab Street with street vendors selling all sorts of ware catered to the taste of Middle Eastern prospects.

The thousands of them can't just be tourists on temporary sojorn in Malaysia can they? A quick survey at the hundreds of condominiums and apartments in KL will confirm that many of them are from Iran and are in Malaysia for the medium to long haul. Thousands are students while many are actually working here. I have met some who say they have run away from Ahmadinejad's Iran yet most are here at the encouragement of their own government and because they find Malaysia conducive and welcomes them with "open arms".

This "open door" policy to Iranians probably caused the kind of confusion amongst our civil servants that one seemingly clueless clown, Mohd Arshad Manzoor Hussain, a 35-year diplomatic veteran got sacked for voting against UN IAEA proposed sanctions on Iran.

Apparently, Malaysia’s IAEA mission had been instructed to vote in line with the position of the Non-Aligned Movement of developing nations, which has historically opposed Western-driven international actions to isolate Iran, a fellow member of NAM. When the vote was held, Arshad was said to be surprised to see NAM members Egypt, Pakistan and South Africa abstain, and India vote “yes”. It seemed Arshad had no time to double-check policy with his capital, and so voted against as originally instructed. He probably should have abstained but emotions may have got the better of him. In any case, this speaks wonders for Malaysia's management of its foreign policy.

Still, the bottom line is, Malaysia has good ties with Iran. As recent as 31st March, Bernama reported:
"Iranian Envoy Looking Forward To A Stronger Relationship

By Faridah Abd Rashid

KUALA LUMPUR, March 31 (Bernama) -- Newly-appointed Iranian ambassador to Malaysia Prof Dr Mohammad Mehdi Zahedi is looking forward to a stronger relationship between Iran and Malaysia, which could lead to both countries being more influential in the Islamic world and globally.

Both being Muslim countries, Iran and Malaysia had always worked hand-in-hand in terms of ideas relating to international issues affecting the Muslim world and global issues at large, said the envoy who received his credentials from the Yang di-Pertuan Agong last week. Read more here...  
Fast forward almost 2 weeks and we find Mr. Najib in Washington. Read the article below from the Bangkok Post today headlined, "US, Malaysia take anti-Iran stance".
Although, the IAEA fiasco already showed Malaysia's official stand why do I still get the feeling that someone's balls is in another person's hands and they are not by any chance being pleasureably fondled? Would we have voluntarily supported the vote to sanction? Bear in mind that Mohd Arshad was a 35-year diplomatic veteran.
Is this what happens when one carries too much baggage to Washington? Today we can sell the Iranians, tomorrow can we be forced to sell our souls? Or do we have a soul left? 
This is in today's Bangkok Post:
US, Malaysia take anti-Iran stance

Published: 13/04/2010 at 03:48 AM
Online news: Breakingnews

WASHINGTON : Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak agreed in talks with US President Barack Obama on Monday that the global community should send a "clear signal" to Iran over its controversial nuclear programme.

The United States is leading an effort to toughen sanctions within weeks on Iran over its nuclear programme, which the United States and allies say is aimed at producing weapons, a charge Tehran denies.

Obama and Najib met ahead of the start of a landmark 47-nation summit in Washington on Monday aimed at depriving terror groups of nuclear weapons, among other objectives.

"The President and the Prime Minister agreed on the importance of Iran strictly abiding by its obligations under the international nuclear non-proliferation regime," a White House statement said.

"The two Leaders also agreed on the need for the international community to send a clear signal to Iran that while it has the right to develop peaceful uses of nuclear energy, Iran should not use this right to develop nuclear weapons capability as stated in UNSC and IAEA resolutions," the statement said.

Iran, which is at loggerheads with the United States over its atomic programme, is not represented at the nuclear summit.

But the US State Department has said that efforts to pressure Iran to give up its nuclear programme will be a "significant" topic during the talks.

Iran has been under mounting global pressure to abandon its nuclear programme, with Western powers fearing it wants to build an atomic bomb. Tehran says the programme is peaceful and only meant to produce energy.

Iran has already been slapped with three sets of United Nations Security Council resolutions, and the spectre of more looms, spearheaded by Washington and some western nations.

Ahead of Najib's arrival in Washington, Malaysia passed a law to curb the trafficking of nuclear weapon components after being linked to illegal supply of sensitive technology to countries including Iran and Libya.

The Strategic Trade Bill, approved by Parliament about week ago, provides for prison terms of at least five years and fines of millions of dollars for those illegally bringing in or exporting material that could be used to make weapons of mass destruction.

The new law follows the government's denial late last year of involvement in the illegal 2008 export of nuclear weapons to Iran although it confirmed the involvement of one of its nationals.

Najib also stated in the talks with Obama that Malaysia was ready to consider "capacity building" in cooperation with Afghanistan through the training of police, military personnel and civilian administrators, the White House said.

Malaysia at present provides training to Afghan teachers and public officials.

Local newspaper The Star sells a different tack. I think we can see why:

Najib and Obama in historic bilateral meeting


WASHINGTON: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and US President Barack Obama met in a historic bilateral meeting here, paving the way for a new era in Malaysian-American ties.

The two leaders looked relaxed as they settled down to their first ever bilateral meeting at 11.30am yesterday (Malaysian time 11.30pm) at the Walter E. Washington Convention Centre where Obama is hosting the inaugural two-day Nuclear Security Summit.

Najib and Obama talked for 40 minutes, longer than their scheduled half-hour meeting, flanked by Acting Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim, who is Information Communi-cation and Culture Minister, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

They spoke about trade between their countries, security in the Asian region and Malaysia’s role in the Islamic world.

Najib and Obama: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak meeting US President Barack Obama at the Walter E. Washington Convention Centre ahead of the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, sending clear signals of a fresh spring in relations between Malaysia and the United States. The two leaders spoke for 40 minutes. Najib and Chinese President Hu Jintao are the only leaders from Asia to meet Obama on the sidelines of the summit. — Reuter

Also in the Prime Minister’s delegation for the meeting were Foreign Ministry secretary-general Tan Sri Rastam Mohd Isa and Malaysian ambassador to the United States Datuk Seri Jamaludin Jarjis.

Najib is among more than 40 world leaders attending the summit but only one of two Asian leaders granted a face-to-face meeting with Obama. The other leader is Chinese President Hu Jintao.

It was a hectic day for the prime minister who began his day with an early morning meeting at the Four Seasons Hotel with US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinburg and chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Howard Berman who paid a courtesy call on him.

The Prime Minister then headed to the convention centre for his meeting with Obama and later was hosted to lunch by US vice-president Joe Biden at the Naval Observatory.

He is slated to hold a bilateral meeting with his New Zealand counterpart John Key at the convention centre in the afternoon before attending a welcoming reception by Obama for all invited heads of government.

In the evening, Najib will attend a Heads of Delegation working dinner chaired by Obama where the discussion topic is “Threat of Nuclear Terrorism”.

At the summit, Najib is expected to stress on Malaysia’s stance that any nuclear programme should be used only for development and peace.

Saturday 10 April 2010

Mahathir, Matthias and Cake?

I read that Mahathir successfully convinced Matthias Chang to end his hunger strike. Well, no one wants to see Matthias cause serious and irreversible damage to his body and I am sure most are glad to know he is eating solids now. I wonder what the old man said to the not so old man? Could it have been:

"Matthias old chap! Stop trying to have your cake and eat it!"

Haris On Najib On PopTeeVee

Popteevee is a must follow especially for the youth of Malaysia. Facebook is ideal to spread this ideavirus called Popteevee so please do your part. This interview of social advocate Haris Ibrahim by Fahmi Fadzil says why:

Wednesday 7 April 2010

Just Do It...Najib

The Preacher Man did. Is Najib doing it? Do what? Just talk and no action. Not even cakap tak serupa bikin or bikin tak serupa cakap. The Preacher Man did nothing. Period. Now Najib is talking but will he walk his talk? Last night, Najib talked the loudest he has ever done since becoming PM. I hope he is talking loud and not big. Whatever it is, if he can only listen to Nike and JUST DO IT! maybe we will support him. This was what he be the judge.

As reported by the Malaysian Insider:

Najib says his head is on chopping block

By Sheridan Mahavera

SINGAPORE, April 6 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak claimed tonight that he has put his political career on the line by committing to purging rent-seeking and patronage politics in Malaysia’s economy.

He said this is because those who benefit from these practices are powerful and politically connected, and he hinted that they could even exert their influence in Umno, the party of which he is president.

Najib, who has made needs-based instead of race-based affirmative action an important plank of his administration, said that his approach has put him in a “dangerous” position.

“We don’t want rent seekers and the politics of patronage in our economy. I committed to that and it is dangerous because they are politically connected.

“But we have to help the Bumiputeras who need help, the Sarawakians, the Sabahans and the Orang Asli. Not just the Malays.

“Affirmative action has to be market-based, merit-based and needs-based because we want a more equitable society,” he told the audience at the Singapore Foreign Correspondents Gala Dinner here tonight.

“Every single Malaysian who is poor and vulnerable must be helped. If you are earning less than RM1,500 a month, you must be helped and it does not matter if you are Chinese, Indian or Malay.”

The prime minister reiterated that affirmative action policies will continue under the New Economic Model, parts of which he announced last month, but they will target the needy from all communities. This is in contrast to the financial aid and preferential treatment given to Malays which was a main feature of the New Economic Policy and which was practised by previous administrations.

Fighting for and instituting Malay-beneficial aid and policies is also the main struggle for Umno and is often used by the party to cement its presence and influence in the country’s most populous community.

Najib was fairly confident that thus far Umno members and leaders understood the need for the government to re-calibrate affirmative action so that it benefited all communities.

Yet he realised that by doing so, he has made his position in Umno more vulnerable as his presidency could be challenged at the next party elections, which are scheduled in 2012.

“Last year, we amended the Umno constitution so that anyone can challenge the party president. There will be no need for quotas. I had put my career on the line when I changed the constitution but as a leader, you need to lead by example.”

Before the amendment last year, an Umno member needed to be nominated by at least 30 per cent of the party’s 200-over divisions nationwide in order to run for president.

“I could have decided not to amend the constitution and be there for a long time, even more than 22 years,” he quipped to laughter from the audience. Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed held the party presidency and was prime minister for 22 years.

Najib was also confident that his administration could “manage” the demands made by Malay supremacist group Perkasa, which has pushed for Malay-specific affirmative action and economic aid to be continued.

He also fielded queries from the audience who pressed him for details on the New Economic Model (NEM) and his administration’s foreign policy.

Reiterating that he was serious about pushing through painful but necessary measures, Najib said fuel subsidies would gradually but surely be eliminated.

This is despite the government’s decision to scrap plans for a tiered fuel subsidy scheme that was supposed to be done in May. It is understood that the plan was cancelled due to its complexity.

“The important thing (with removing subsidies) is that you must show the public where the savings from these subsidies are going. They don’t understand budget deficits but when you say we saved RM10 million and you show where and how you are going to spend it, then they will understand.”

He also said it was realistically unlikely that Malaysia and Singapore would politically re-merge but hoped that the economic ties between both countries would be strengthened.

A reunification after the 1965 separation, he felt, would be “painful” but closer economic integration made sense due to their shared history and proximity. This was being realised in the Iskandar growth corridor in southern Johor, which is supposed to be a hinterland for Singapore industries to expand.

“For example, the most recent development is that the Raffles Institution of Learning has agreed to set up a university with an initial capacity of 5,000 students.”

At the same time, outstanding issues such as the agreement to supply water to the island republic would still have to be ironed out but he was confident that his generation of leaders was committed to finding solutions.

“As for water, I was told that Singapore doesn’t need anymore of our water.”

Tuesday 6 April 2010

It Took A Woman To Admit This...Makes The Word "Jantan" Obviously Over-Rated

As women continue to out-perform the guys academically by miles...we get the Mariam Mokhtars on one hand and the Ibrahim Alis on the other. No you are not alone Mariam. It is just that there are not enough people like you yet. This was in Malaysiakini:

Ketuanan Melayu: Am I alone?

Mariam Mokhtar
Mar 30, 10

When one reads about an organisation led by an insecure, attention seeking leader, who revels in obfuscating remarks to "defend Islam, the special rights of Malays and bumiputeras", it does seem that the lunatics have taken over the asylum.

So, am I alone in thinking that Malays should debunk ketuanan Melayu (Malay supremacy)? When challenging small, hate-filled groups we must be aware of the risks in talking up the threat they pose.

They may hope we would demonstrate or march to the police station and make reports (the police have better things to do) and give the group added gravitas.

Probably the more invectives that are hurled in retaliation, the happier they would be. No, we are not a hysterical lot.

Clamours for ketuanan Melayu are an insult to me and right-minded Malays. Malays today are knowledgable. Extremist views on race and religion are not our vision of Malaysia. We aim for solidarity by encouraging participation from all sections of society for a truly democratic nation.

Confident Malays are not threatened by other races. Nor do they feel inferior or undermined. They are not spiritually bankrupt and do not get confused when non-Muslims use words like Allah.

Too few benefit

The NEP made a few Malay millionaires into billionaires. It excluded the Malay majority and hence failed spectacularly in its objectives. The government must be more creative in helping Malays attain success. Why stick with a recipe for failure?

Last week's histrionics demonstrate that you can take the boy out of the kampong but you cannot take the kampong out of the boy. Fortunately, not all Malays live under their tempurung (coconut shell). We don't need men who profess to be leaders by espousing ketuanan Melayu but in reality are just sabre-rattlers.

Malaysians are aware of their surroundings - abuses of power, select Malays selfishly milking the NEP, endemic corruption, public institutions compromising their neutrality by becoming political stooges, no accountability in government bodies and politicians.

There are many disadvantaged people in Malaysia. Our urban and rural folk lead parallel lives, with little overlap. Our society consists of the 'haves' and the 'have-nots'. Racism, sexism and ageism are rife. It is little wonder there is a rise in cynicism. It is amusing to see the '1Malaysia' concept in a mess because of these.

We are a young nation, and we attained independence through the collective effort of the peoples of Malaya: Ordinary Malayans - rubber tappers, tin coolies, jungle clearers, road builders, railway workers, teachers, policemen, port labourers.

They were Malays, Chinese, Indians, Eurasians, Orang Asli. Some made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of independence. Must we now forget their contributions and treat their children and grandchildren not as true Malaysians, but merely as immigrants? Are we not indebted to them?

My great-grandfather was a rubber-tapper and he encouraged his son (my grandfather) to study and lift them out of poverty. At night, he studied by the light of a kerosene lamp. During the day, he escaped being called out to play by the other boys, by hiding and reading in the middle of a patch of long grass.

The daily journey to secondary school in Ipoh was by train and on foot. He then entered the Malayan Civil Service (MCS), worked his way up and was sent to England for various courses and tests. He grabbed every opportunity and was a success.

He worked in the towns and villages, throughout Malaya, but complained that the Malay youth then were indisciplined, were bad at time-keeping and had an attitude problem. Many suffered from kais pagi, makan pagi (living from hand-to-mouth) and lacked motivation to work. The majority considered the bounties from the fruit trees or rivers sufficient for their daily needs.

This lack of incentive is deeply entrenched and will remain entrenched unless there is a brutal effort to exorcise it from the Malay psyche. We must give Malays a way out of poverty and halt their dependence on the NEP. The challenge is for them to break out of the spiral of underachievement and low expectation.

A crutch, not a panacea

The NEP, or its reincarnation, will not help the Malays or Malaysia. Instead of making Malays more competitive, it will make them more reliant on false hopes. It will make them idle and addicted to being the master, the supreme race, with little effort involved. It is a destructive ideology. It destroys their character and robs them of an identity. It is an admission of weakness. It relieves them of pride and dignity.

The Malays have had large amounts of money spent on them. No amount of money will elevate them unless it is put to good use to improve themselves. The desire to improve must come from within. They must understand that ambition and aspiration entails hard work and perseverance.

Malays have a strong cultural identity and family values but the NEP has helped institutionalise underachievement. So how can we offer security to our children if our adults lack ambition?

Education and a strong stable family life must be foremost in policy changes to make a difference. But politicians have messed up our education system. Government must create opportunities. We need investments, both locally and from abroad, but Malaysia's negative image precludes that.

Those who champion ketuanan Melayu should concentrate on the Malay community and seek answers for the following:- Malays lacking aspiration; Malay girls outperforming boys; Malay men abrogating responsibilities towards their family, spending money on successively younger wives, leaving families severely disadvantaged; high divorce rates in Malay marriages;

Most drug addicts and HIV/AIDS sufferers are Malays; abandoned babies are primarily Malays; incest, rape and sexual crimes are committed mainly by Malays. Why not sort out your priorities, clean up your own house first and stop pointing fingers?

Sadly, few Malays are willing to admit the faults within them but would rather lay the blame on other races. And please stop brandishing the keris about. They are revered items, as any good Malay knows, and should never be used in a cheap publicity gimmick.

Sunday 4 April 2010

The NEM: A Comment By M. Bakri Musa

M. Bakri Musa is one of my favorite commentators on Malaysian socio-politics. Here he gives his views on the 1st NEM report by the Najib government and I think it is very fair comment. All Malaysians must read this before the 2nd NEM report comes out.

Bakri Musa on NEM
April 3, 2010

Bakri Musa on NEM (New Economic Model)
Dr. M. Bakri Musa @ Morgan-Hill, Cal

With threatening clouds overhead, there are no prizes for predicting the flood, only for designing or building the ark. The recently-released New Economic Model (NEM) Report draws our attention (not that we need it!) to the darkening Malaysian skies, and then goes on advising us to build an ark.

That is as far as the report goes. There are no hints on whether the clouds would bring a tropical drenching or just a midday sprinkle. There are also no suggestions on the type of vessel we should build. A barge, yacht or a sampan will all keep us afloat, but beyond that they serve vastly different purposes, not to mention their enormously varying costs. And if the forecast calls for only a light sprinkle, then a simple umbrella would do; no need to expend scant resources on an unneeded ark.

We are told that following “public input,” another report will be released by June, in time for its recommendations to be incorporated into the Tenth Malaysia Plan and the 2011 Budget. This second report, we are further assured, will contain specific policy prescriptions – the ark design, as it were.

The current report is silent on how this “public input” would come about. Before deluding ourselves that we could participate in robust public debates, let me intrude a cautionary note. Acknowledging that there will be opposition, the report urges the government to take “prompt action when resistance is encountered.”

You can be assured that those UMNO-Putras and others glutton on the NEP-spawned patronage system would be spared this “prompt action.” They as well as the Perkasa boys can continue with their shrill voices opposing NEM. For Pakatan folks and others, however, be warned!

Major Conceptual Flaws

On a general level, this report suffers from three glaring conceptual flaws. One, it fails to recognize that the bane of past policies is in their implementation. Two, it ignores the major role culture plays in the successful execution of any economic initiative. And three, there is no attempt at learning from the successes and failures of earlier policies.

This last deficiency is surprising as well as disturbing. If NEM were to supplant NEP, then we should know the strengths and weaknesses of that earlier policy. Or if it was basically sound, then what or who perverted it, and where the failures were in its implementation.

No one argues with the twin objectives of NEP: eradicating poverty and eliminating the identification of race with economic function. Those are laudable goals; the second in particular for a racially diverse society like ours. Indeed, the report pays tribute to NEP for reducing poverty and minimizing inter-communal inequities.

Unfortunately, there the report ends. In an earlier chapter, the report duly lists the numerous problems facing Malaysia to day: widening inequities especially among Bumiputras; talented citizens leaving; the rise of a rent-seeking class; entrenched corruption; and the failure of our institutions.

What happened in between? Unless we know, there is little assurance that the laudable goals of NEM would not be similarly derailed. If we are unwilling to acknowledge and learn from the mistakes of the NEP, then we are bound to repeat them.

Thus there should be some critical analysis of the NEP, at least an elaboration of the positive elements and the highlighting of the negatives. The one chapter that should be in the report would be one titled, “How did we get in the mess we are in today?” I reckon that such a chapter would be filled with narratives on the failures of our institutions. It is this that doomed NEP.

On the role of culture, it is surprising that a committee made up of mostly Malaysians and those familiar with Malaysia would come up with a report that is totally oblivious of this reality. This cultural dimension is crucial not only in economics but also in management and health care. Of all people, Malaysians who are daily immersed in a diverse cultural environment, should be well aware of this.

An initiative that would be embraced by urbanite Chinese in Penang would fall flat among Iban rural dwellers of interior Sarawak. The solo entrepreneur model would probably find a fertile ground in Penang, but not in Kenawit. There, the social system would be more supportive of cooperative-like ventures.

Challenges for the urban poor regardless of race are radically different from those in rural areas; race only compounds those differences. The failure to recognize this dooms many an imaginative plan. When that happens, those policymakers would resort to blaming and stereotyping the poor victims. We have heard that many times.

The colonials brought modern schools to Malaysia with the best of intentions. Non-Malays responded to that gesture and benefited immensely. Malays did not, and suffered the consequences in terms of our economic and social development.

It would be wrong as well as cruel to conclude that Malays did not value modern education, as many (and not just the colonials and non-Malays) were wont to. For when those schools were named Tuanku Muhammad School instead of Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus, Malay parents readily enrolled their children. The content was still essentially the same but only the packaging was different; it was sensitive to the culture of the clients.

American consumers readily respond to their leaders’ exhortations to increase their spending to pull the country out of recession. For the Japanese however, the more their leaders urge them to spend, the more they save, and hoard. Same economic circumstances and the same economic rationale, but the responses and results are diametrically different. Culture explains that.

“Most of economics,” as Landsburg put it in his The Armchair Economist, “can be summarized in four words: ‘People respond to incentives.’ The rest is commentary.” Alas what are viewed as incentives in one culture can be definite disincentives elsewhere. That is the central challenge. Policymakers ignore this at their own peril.

The British, in an attempt to encourage Malays to save, duly increased the interest rates on Postal Savings Accounts. However, instead of increasing their deposits, Malays withdrew theirs! Malays viewed the increase as an inducement to a life of sin. Those sneaky white devils!

Ungku A. Aziz created Tabung Haji and labeled the investment returns as “dividends.” Malays swarmed to that institution, making it the largest in the region. Essentially the same content, but different packaging! The Ungku understood economics well and fully comprehended its central axiom: People respond to incentives.

An extension to this observation is that the incentives you offer would influence your responders. Offer honey, you get bees; rotten meat, maggots. When the committee decries the economic rent-seekers emerging under the NEP, it should carry the analysis further to find out the incentives offered. Rest assured that if NEM were to offer rotten meat as NEP did, NEM will too get its share of maggots.

On the crucial issue of implementation, the report only tangentially addresses the strengthening of our institutions when that should be the major focus. Our institutions are blighted with bloat, incompetence, and corruption; they simply cannot deliver.

Consider the current initiatives to improve the civil service, of which there are too many to count. First there was PEMUDAH, self-described as “a high-powered task force to address bureaucracy in business-government dealings.” It is chaired by no less than the Chief Secretary. Then there was the appointment of Koh Tsu Koon as the minister in charge of “Performance Management.” He had hardly warmed his seat when yet another minister, Idris Jalla, was made in charge of – you guess it – KPIs!

Who is in charge here? Meanwhile the civil service continues its bloat and ineffectiveness, as exemplified by Najib’s own cabinet. And if you have to get your driver’s license, you would still need the services of runners and touts, as well as some duit kopi.

Corruption will not be dented – much less ended – merely with the report blandly declaring “zero tolerance” for it. Make the Anti Corruption Commission independent, answerable only to Parliament or the King, and appoint a seasoned professional to head it. If you cannot find a native, recruit from the FBI or Scotland Yard. That one move would more effectively curb corruption and improve our institutions than all the KPIs, National Integrity Institutes, and NEM’s and others’ declarations of “zero tolerance.” It would also be considerably cheaper.

Accurate Portrait, But No Revelation

This report is refreshingly different from the usual government publications in that it is highly readable and the content well organized. The chapter headings too are clear and simple; they accurately reflect the contents, with such titles as “Where We Are?” Where Do We Want To Be?” and “How Do We Get There?” An index would have been useful, but the well laid-out and sufficiently detailed “Table of Contents” made up for that deficiency.

This report is remarkably free of gross grammatical gaffes and awkward syntax. The committee staff has also done a credible job with the executive summary. The report was made available online almost immediately. These features are rare with our government publications, and thus merit special commendation.

The full report is available only in English, a glaring omission considering that NEM would supplant NEP. As everyone knows, NEP is dear to most Malays, especially those of the Perkasa persuasion. Any tampering of NEP, even if it involves only one letter of its acronym, risks raising the hackles of those folks. Having the full report in Malay would have been a splendid start at trying to influence them, quite apart from being a politically smart gesture. Malay after all is our national language.

As things stand, those proficient only in Malay would have to be satisfied with the Ringkasan eksekutif (Executive summary). My hunch is that they would find the going rough, what with such phrases as “Menginovasi hari ini untuk hari besok yang cemerlang,” (Innovation today for a glorious tomorrow) and, “Inisiatif Pembaharuan Strategik” (Strategic Renewal Initiatives). I would have said it differently, “Cara baru untuk menjamin masa depan yang cemerlang” (A new way to ensure our bright future).

Dark clouds there are – and many – hovering over Malaysia, from the hundreds of thousands of skilled citizens who have migrated, to the anemic growth in our productivity. The report rightly points out the lack of political will to overcome these myriad problems. Kudos to the committee for this forthrightness!

The report paints a gloomy picture for Malaysia if it were to stay the course. Again, few would disagree with that. I wish those luminaries would help us sketch and build the appropriate ark, one that would meet our unique needs and challenges, instead of merely warning us of the impending flood.

The report does not lack for specifics. For example, it aims for an economic growth of at least 6.5 percent annually. Its target too is specific, the bottom 40 percent of Malaysians.

One specific suggestion on improving the government machinery is the proposal to “corporatize” and rename the Malaysian Industrial Development Agency (MIDA) to Malaysian Investment Development Agency. The committee pats itself for the brilliance of substituting “Investment” for “Industrial,” as then the agency could continue keeping its acronym and logo!

If only they recognize that changing even a single letter in a corporate name would entail changing entire letterheads, advertising plates, and web pages. The exercise would consume as much effort as if you had changed the entire name. It would have been more productive if the committee had recommended changes to MIDA’s mode of operations and strategies. After all, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway did not need to change its name in order to diversify very profitably beyond its initial textile roots.

The Report goes out under the signatures of all but one (Dr. Norma Mansor) of NEAC members. Of the ten who signed and thus responsible for the report, three are non-Malaysians while two are Malaysians (or at least born locally) who have spent their formative careers abroad.

Of the remaining five – the ‘natives’ – only one, the chairman Amirsham Aziz, has substantive private sector experience, having spent his time in banking. He had a brief political career as a cabinet minister, but that was through the appointive senate route rather than through elections. In short, the chairman, like the rest of his committee, is short on political acumen as reflected in the lack of a Malay version of the report.

Again referring to the ‘natives,’ all have formal training in economics except for one. The exception is Dzulkifli Razak, Vice-chancellor of Universiti Sains Malaysia; he is a pharmacist by training. Two of the ‘natives’ were former academics but now, government bureaucrats. The resumes of the committee members are impressive, with seven having doctorates, all but one in economics.

I have no quarrel with the committee’s assessment of our current dismal state. I concur with its observations. I just wish that the committee members would have been more forceful in pointing out whether the Najib Administration’s many recent moves were in the spirit of or contrary to the committee’s aspirations. For example, the committee wisely noted the need for devolution of authority to lower levels, yet Najib’s recent response to the request for local elections runs counter to that.

Similarly, the committee decries the failure of our educational institutions. Yet it does not address whether the recent rescinding of the policy of teaching science and mathematics in English would accelerate or reverse this decline.

I hope that in its final report the committee would be more forceful in addressing these contradictions. The committee owes this obligation not only to the Najib Administration but also to all Malaysians. Doing so would also help us design and build a better ark.

Thursday 1 April 2010

Two Sides Of The Same Coin

De-facto law minister (by the way, why must it be that our law ministers are always de-facto?), Nazri Aziz has come out and accused Ibrahim Ali's Perkasa of being opportunists. He based this on Perkasa's objection to the NEM, Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC) as being unconstitutional. Please read this Malaysian Insider article first.

Me thinks both are talking and thinking cock. How to have equal opportunity when some are always more equal than others? Both loose cannons are singing cover versions of the same song and targeting the same Bumiputra audience. Both end up with a winning hand when it comes to Bumi perception.  

It is just like Muhyiddin "I am Malay first and Malaysian second" Yassin playing off Najib "1Malaysia" Tun Razak when it comes to playing to the Malay proletariat.  

My take is that they should both cut the cackles because the only way to have a level playing field in equal opportunity is to have meritocracy driven equal opportunity for ALL Malaysians and affirmative action based on class rather than so-called race. Teach Malaysians to fish and give them equal opportunity at the fish pond. By sheer weight of numbers, our Malay brethren will catch more fish than the rest.

Hidup Bangsa Malaysia!!!

Need More Be Said?

Many years ago, I think it was in the late 80s I met Ibrahim Ali when he came to my office on the 27th floor of Menara Promet to buy a motor policy for his new BMW 7-series. I don't not remember why he came to an insurance broker to buy motor insurance instead of an agent. That is not normal but then again, neither is Ibrahim Ali.

He already had a reputation then as a shit-stirrer and that was slightly more than 20 years ago. I suppose one could say he is a career shit-stirrer and in politics there is always use for people of his ilk-especially in psy-war. Ask his most regular customer, the good doctor himself; the mind-bending specialist Tun Mahathir.

Although he does not speak English very well, I must say he does age watch this Al Jazeera news clip: