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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Racism taking place in Malaysia

Missing tycoon's wife arrives with 'damning' evidence

By Stephanie Sta Maria - Free Malaysia Today,

KUALA LUMPUR: The wife of missing Indian businessman A Muthuraja arrived in Malaysia this morning to facilitate police investigations. But she has brought along evidence that could land the police in trouble.

S Usharani, 24, has a recording of a telephone conversation between her and a man claiming to be a Malaysian police officer.

According to PKR MP S Manikavasagam, the 'police officer' had called Usharani in Chennai and demanded RM1 million for her husband's release.

Muthuraja, a cinema financier, was said to have links with the main suspects in the murder of cosmetics millionaires Sosilawati Lawiya and three others. He went missing in January this year after meeting the two lawyer brothers.

Manikavasagam told FMT that when he accompanied Usharani to the Kuala Langat district police headquarters, the police had asked for the recording but he refused to give it to them.

“I still don't trust them. So I want to release the recording to the media first before giving it to the police,” he said, adding that he would do so at a press conference tomorrow.

As for the telephone conversation, Manikavasagam said it was in Tamil and the “police officer” had identified himself as “ASP Suresh”.

Asked if this suggested that the main suspects, who are well-heeled lawyers, could have police connections, he replied: “Of course, they were probably working hand in glove.”

“Even the suspect's law firm (in Banting) is situated directly opposite the district police headquarters,” he added.

Wife visits the 'killing fields'
Manikavasagam said the police told Usharani that they believe her husband was murdered and the case was being investigated under Section 302.

Usharani was then taken to Ladang Gadong where the murders took place and also to the river in which unidentified human bones had been discovered.

Despite this, Manikavasagam said Usharani refused to believe that her husband could be dead.

"Usharani was calm when speaking to the police but broke down at the murder site. She is very shaken but has promised the police full cooperation in the quest to find her husband," he added.

The police, meanwhile, have requested that one of Muthuraja's family members come to Malaysia to provide DNA evidence in order to speed up investigations.

Asked why Usharani had sought his help, Manikavasagam explained that a mutual acquaintance in India had made the introductions.

"Many people in India know me through my work," he clarified. "This person happens to be one of them and gave her my number. She called me asking for help and I agreed."

Manikavasagam also praised the police for their good work so far and stressed that this was about justice for all the victims and not just Muthuraja.

Usharani, who is staying with a relative, would be here for a week to aid investigations.

Murugiah raids Bernama over raid report

By RK Anand - Free Malaysia Today
KUALA LUMPUR: MIC's newest recruit T Murugiah shook with rage after learning about a report by the national news agency which linked him to police investigations into the gruesome murder of millionaires Sosilawati Lawiya and three others.
To make matters worse, a source said, the report was featured as the top item in Bernama TV's Tamil news.
On Monday, the deputy minister marched straight to the Bernama headquarters here and demanded an explanation.
The source said Murugiah was locked in a heated discussion with the editors and even accused certain people in the national news agency of working against his interest.
“It was an hour-long meeting which was full of fireworks and flaring tempers. Murugiah was very upset with the report and he slammed the editors for it,” he added.
FMT also learnt that the deputy minister, who overseas the Public Complainants Bureau, had filed a complaint against Bernama with the bureau, to which the news agency had replied.
According to the source, it was a Bernama reporter who had asked Inspector-General of Police Ismail Omar about the rumours that Murugiah's office and house were to be raided.

“The police chief replied something along the lines that investigations were ongoing and Bernama reported the matter and named Murugiah. But this was later retracted,” he said.

Subsequently, Murugiah also denied that his house and family clinic were raided and claimed that the IGP had told him over the telephone that he did not make such a comment.
When contacted, a Bernama official confirmed the meeting but declined to elaborate. Murugiah could not be reached for comment.
Police report over SMS
Previously, Murugiah had filed a police report over SMSes being circulated linking him to the main suspect in the quadruple murder case.
The SMS read: "Peguam yang kena charge dalam kes Sosilawati bercadang sertai MIC kata Murugiah yang merupakan kawan baik beliau. Peguam ini juga adalah salah seorang penasihat Timbalan Menteri tersebut dalam kes ROS. Murugiah adalah rakan kongsi peguam dalam perniagaan di mana Murugiah dapat 3 juta dalam satu deal."
(The lawyer in the Sosilawati case plans to join MIC, said Murugiah, who is a good friend of his. This lawyer is also an advisor of the deputy minister in his case with the ROS (Registrar of Societies). Murugiah is a partner of the lawyer in a business where Murugiah received three million in one deal.)
Describing the SMS as libellous and aimed at undermining his political position, Murugiah denied that the lawyer had handled his case with the ROS.
Murugiah, when calling on Sosilawati's family following her murder, had said that he had met the lawyer suspect at the presentation of Aidilfitri donations in Banting on Sept 8 and the lawyer had expressed interest to join MIC.
MIC concerned with Utusan
In a related development, a MIC source expressed concern over Utusan Malaysia's news angle regarding one of the lawyers, DP Viyandran, representing the main suspect.
Vijayandran was the former secretary-general of MIC and Dewan Rakyat deputy speaker, who was embroiled in a sex scandal more than two decades ago which ended his political career.
“Utusan has published his photo on the front-page, and we are concerned that the daily may be attempting to draw a link or cast aspersions on MIC with regards to this case,” he said.
Cosmetics tycoon Sosilawati and the three others were brutally murdered, their remains burnt, and their ashes dumped in a river that flows near a farm owned by the main suspect in Banting.
The police believe that the main suspect and his brother, who is also a lawyer, could be linked to a spate of murders.

Penan rapes: Complaint to UN rapporteur

(Malaysiakini) A regional human rights organisation has expressed concern about the 'significant delay' in response by Malaysia to sexual violence against Penan women and girls by workers attached to a private logging company in Sarawak.

Pooja Patel, the Forum-Asia representative in Geneva, acknowledged that Malaysia had set up a national task force.

However, the NGO remains deeply concerned that “no concrete measures have been taken so far to act upon its findings and recommendations or bring perpetrators to justice”.

Patel said thatNONE Forum-Asia, together with local indigenous support groups in Malaysia, have since documented new cases of sexual abuse.

“We have also conducted research on the wider structural causes to the issue of persistent sexual violence and exploitation faced by Penan women and girls,” she said during a dialogue yesterday with James Anaya, the UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples.

“These include denial of their land rights and basic citizenship rights as well as defunct mechanisms for redress and remedies.”

A copy of Patel's statement was made available to Malaysiakini.

She said Forum-Asia, based in Bangkok and representing more than 40 human rights organisations, has requested the special rapporteur to remain vigilant on human rights violations against the Penan.

Anaya was asked to follow up with Malaysia on the alleged incidents of sexual violence, and to develop comprehensive programmes that serve the needs of Penan women and girls.

It is learnt that he had communicated with the Malaysian government in November 2008, but has not received a response .

In July, the Peazlannan Support Group, a coalition of 36 NGOs, had released a detailed report, describing the ordeal of the Penan women and their communities.

The logging company Samling Global, which has consistently denied the allegations, immediately reminded employees in a circular that it does not tolerate criminal acts or inappropriate behaviour, and that offenders will be reported to the authorities.
Explanation of delay

In a related development, the Malaysian delegate's office in Geneva has issued a statement explaining the delay in responding to Ananya two years ago.
Read on behalf of the government by Johan Ariff Abdul Razak, it attributed the delay to official action in progress at the time.

A high-level task force chaired by the women, family and community development minister had only just been established at the time, and was undertaking its own investigation on the issue of alleged sexual violence against Penan women, said the statement.

The task forNONEce report, initially kept under wraps by the cabinet, was finally made public in September last year after coming under pressure from PKR Women's chief Zuraida Kamaruddin.

“It was only appropriate that the findings of the task-force be included in its response to the special rapporteur's communication,” said the statement.

“For its part, the government remains committed to ensuring that the Penan continue to reap the same benefits as other communities from the nation's continued progress and development.

“In this connection, it is unfortunate that certain quarters, both domestically and internationally, have sought to politicise the situation of the Penan, which is not necessarily the most constructive approach.”

penan loggingAccording to government data, 97 percent of the Penan community have adopted a settled lifestyle, with the remaining 3 percent - numbering several hundreds - have retained their traditional nomadic way of life.

It is this latter group which is at greater risk of potential human rights violations, including sexual abuse, said the government.

It claimed that, like other indigenous communities in Malaysia, the full range of human rights of the Penan are constitutionally protected.

Scientists: Serengeti on road to ruin

Conservationists say a proposed new road through the Serengeti National Park will disrupt migratory patterns of wildebeests. 


London, England (CNN) -- Plans to build a highway through Tanzania's Serengeti National Park will destroy one of the world's last great wildlife sanctuaries, a group of conservation experts has warned.

Writing in the journal Nature, 27 scientists have called for a re-think on a proposed 50 kilometer (31 mile) road which they say will cause "environmental disaster."

Under plans approved by the Tanzanian government earlier this year, the trade route would bisect a northern part of the park, forming part of the 170 kilometer-long Arusha-Musoma highway slated to run from the Tanzanian coast to Lake Victoria, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Construction is expected to begin in 2012.

In "Road will ruin Serengeti," lead author Andrew Dobson, professor at the department of ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton University, says laying a track across the park would disrupt the annual migratory patterns of tens of thousands of zebras and gazelles, and 1.3 million wildebeest.

Using computer simulations the scientists estimate that if the wildebeests' access to the Mara river in Kenya is blocked their numbers "will fall to less than 300,000."

"This would lead to more grass fires, which would further diminish the quality of grazing by volatizing minerals, and the ecosystem could flip into being a source of atmospheric CO2," the scientists said.

In addition to simulations, the scientists also cite the experience of other park ecosystems where large mammal migration has been hindered by roads and fences.

In Canada's Banff National Park in Canada, "habitat fragmentation" has led to the "collapse of at least six of the last 24 terrestrial migratory species left in the world."

In Africa, the ecosystems of Etosha National Park in Namibia and Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in Botswana have collapsed to "a less diverse and less productive state," the scientists said.

Scientists say a different route running south of the Serengeti should be considered to preserve the 1.2 million hectare UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This alternative route could utilize an existing network of gravel roads and would only be 50 kilometers longer than the proposed northern route, the scientists said.

While they acknowledge that Tanzania needs improved infrastructure to facilitate economic development, they argue that the road would damage wildlife tourism -- "a cornerstone" of the country's economy which was worth an estimated $824 million in 2005.

The Nature article adds weight to the growing pressure on the Tanzanian government to reconsider its position regarding the road.

Last month, the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Zoological Society of London voiced their concerns and campaigns against the highway are gaining support on social networking sites Facebook ("Stop the Serengeti Highway") and Twitter ("SaveSerengeti").

Earlier this year, Tanzania's President Jakaya Kikwete tried to placate opponents of the project by announcing that the section of new road running through the Serengeti would not be tarmacked.

"I am also a conservation ally and I assure you I'm not going to allow something that will ruin the ecosystem to be built," President Kikwete said in an address to the nation in July.

MIC go away – you cannot do anything for the Indians in the country – you can only perform wayangs and kiss Muhyiddin’s hands.

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Quoted from Report from www.freemalaysiatoday.som
“KULIM: The Special Implementation Task Force (SITF) set up by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to resolve problems faced by the Indian community at strategic locations throughout the country is moving into high gear with its next stop in Kedah followed by Selangor and Pulau Pinang.
Following the success of its first meet-the-people programme in Ijok, Selangor last Aug 15, the SITF would hold its second programme on Sept 25 at Taman Selasih in Kulim between 10am and 4.30pm, said Human Resources Minister Dr S Subramaniam, who is also the SITF chairman.”
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Kamalanathan kissing the hand of Muhyiddin Yassin just before the Hulu Selangor Elections.
Comments on both the reports above
MIC is the slavedog of UMNO. Do any of you have any doubts about that anymore?
In Hulu Selangor the 53.9% of the voters are Malays. UMNO throws this seat at MIC. MIC wanted it for the number two, but only Kamalanathan managed to catch it. These positions are the bones that these conniving and self serving leaders vie for. That is Mandorism in full action. Kamalanathan kisses his boss’s hands and then goes out and does what?
He pulls in the Indian votes in Hulu Selangor and along with the UMNO votes, wins the seat for UMNO. Yes, that’s what he does, wins the seat for UMNO. Not for the Indians whose votes he deceived and obtained.
If he had won the seat truly to represent the Indians he would speak up for the Indians on the many issue afflicting the community daily. But has he spoken up on any Indian issue since. Any single issue of significance? April to September – 5 months.
Then in preparing for next round – Datuk S. Subramaniam the senior Mandore creates more wayangs. This is the substance of ‘The Special Implementation Task Force (SITF) set up by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to resolve problems faced by the Indian community “ in the first report above. Now he does the Senior Mandore’s thing of trying to get in the Indian votes across the country for UMNO. Yes , for UMNO. UMNO.UMNO……Wayangs like the one in Ijok, now in Kulim, next in Sepang, and then in Prai is what all this is about.
It is not as he puts it, to solve the problem faced by the Indian community – that is just plain rubbish. Let me quote from Malaysiakini today from the article ‘Indian youths engineered into gangsterism’
Umno’s social engineering has denied Indian youths the right to education, jobs, business mobility, loans and contract opportunities that has resulted in many of them turning to gangsterism and violent crime.
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This has resulted in the emergence of a new Indian criminal underclass at levels disproportionate to the Indian community’s 8 percent of the nation’s population. Detaining such youths without trial under the Emergency Ordinance (EO) will not do; Indian gangsterism must be tackled at its roots.
Utusan Malaysia had also reported that 300 Indian youths were detained under the EO within four months in the Selangor alone.
Most of the 523 Tamil schools are not fully aided and unable to function at optimum level and this contributes to the problem.
Scholarships from the government and GLCs for Indians are also limited. Indian youths were also denied skills training such as that provided by Giat Mara Colleges for bumiputeras.
The Indian community is also denied land ownership schemes such as what the Felda settlers receive.
The community has been denied business opportunities, licences, permits and APs to do business and participate in contracts and projects, and denied government and bank loans to assist in business. Indian youths are even denied licences to operate scrap metal shops, car washes, food, flower and fruit stalls and denied even garbage collection, security guard and car park contracts.

What is MIC doing any of these issues. What list we have in the report is only a small one. Yes, what MIC does is blame the movies, the lack of parental care, and lack of guidance by Indian NGOs and the Indian community at large as the root cause of this problem. What effectively they are saying is that they are powerless to do anything about any of these things – these lying, conniving Mandores.
Then bloody hell, MIC, stop all the wayang about “The Special Implementation Task Force (SITF) set up by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to resolve problems faced by the Indian community “ and just go away, simply go away. No one needs you. Stop cheating the poor Indians. We have had enough of you . Please just stop all this nonsense and just fade away.
Naragan

Sosilawati murder: All is not too well in Malaysian police force.

Senator Dr. S. Ramakrishnan

Local people long harbored suspicion in what’s happening in Ladang gadong farm except the police. The people dare not speak about it because the ‘DATUK BROTHERS’ have powerful connections. That looks Malaysia. In Malaysia powerful connections can open doors to important people. Its common to find a ‘Datuk’ involved in fraudulent and criminal cases.

The palace authorities must have a vigilant look out for people who carry royal titles and enter into criminal acts. Their misdoings can bring disrespect for the palace institutions. This ‘Datuk Lawyer’ is suspected to be the cause for about 17 killings. How did he escape the long arms of law so far with so many murders and moving around comfortably with VIPs.

Something is seriously wrong with the Malaysian society and its authorities. Police reports on missing persons are brushed aside as non actionable by police themselves. Yet the police higher ups do not know what’s happening on the ground. Only after the intriguing findings from this murder case the IGP issues statement that police reports must be attended and action must be taken. If more than one report made against one person the police alarm should trigger immediate actions. Where is the KPI/NKRA on police reports made? There seem to be no accountability and responsibility on the part of police department. Yet the police get praises for the hard work on this murder investigation during Hari Raya breaks. Had the police took action on all the previous police reports the murder of Datuk sosilawati and three others could have been avoided. It is the Police under watch in this murder case for all the past inaction and non investigations of reports people made.

To the police personnel it may be just one of another report but to the person making the report it may be a matter of live and death to him or her. Belittling the police reports made by grieving parties is denying the prevention and detection of crime and the maintenance of public order. This attitude and work culture of police personnel could be the contributing factor for the high incidence of snatch thieves, pick pockets and gruesome murders thought the country. A number of lawyers murdered with no further action taken. Where is the people first performance now action. Enough of empty slogans hanging all over police stations.

Police department always gets priority in their wants and needs from the government yet the performance of police department in Malaysia is far from desired. It’s time for police authorities to wake up and start investigations on police reports that are gathering dust in various police stations. They owe an explanation to the general public on the past inactions to Malaysians who have made police reports. They need more professionals who are race and religion blind with positive and proactive mindset. Instead of going after political activist, police must target criminals and frauds that seem to be well connected.

Kit Siang claims ETP just pie in the sky

Lim accused Pemandu of making unrealistic assumptions the basis of the ETP. — file pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 22 — DAP’s Lim Kit Siang claimed today that the Najib administration’s Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) was rich in rhetoric, business-school clichés and lofty speeches, along with unrealistic assumptions about the country’s economic growth prospects.

He also compared the government’s ambitious programme to that of a command economy and the collapse of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s.

Malaysia unveiled yesterday high-aiming plans to boost its economy by mobilising more than a trillion ringgit of private investment, although questions remained over whether the money would materialise.

The plans ranged from a new mass transit system to relieve congestion in Kuala Lumpur, to building a huge oil storage facility next to Singapore to form a regional oil products trading hub.

A casino project in Sabah is also being considered.

The Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) said it had identified investments worth RM1.38 trillion over 10 years, of which 60 per cent would come from the private sector, 32 per cent from government-linked companies and eight per cent from government.

The investment aims to double per capita income and push Malaysia into the ranks of “developed” nations by 2020, rebalancing Asia’s third most export-driven economy towards domestic demand and the service sector.

Lim, however, was unimpressed with Pemandu’s presentation, saying that ETP was based on “unrealistic targets” and failed to address existing government policies which have resulted in the country being caught in a middle-income trap.

“Like the previous pronouncements of 1 Malaysia People First Performance Now, the Government Transformation Programme, [and] the 10th Malaysia Plan, the ETP is rich in rhetoric.

“The sloganeering and spin that is common to all of these exercises provides a clear indication that the government led by (Datuk Seri) Najib (Razak) is wholly at sea in tackling the enormous challenges that the country faces.

“A common feature of the series of announcements is that they contain unrealistic assumptions about economic growth prospects; they use clichés that are taken from business school texts that have been spun in order to create a false impression of a rethinking of policies,” said Lim in a statement today.

The DAP parliamentary leader took a dig at Jala’s ETP presentation yesterday, saying that the entire event was filled with “lofty speeches” and colourful presentations that were more confusing than enlightening.

“The concepts embodied in the ETP are beyond the comprehension of the public at large. Each event at which these so-called policies are unveiled lays bare the inability of and impotence of the government to boldly deal with the core and fundamental policy distortions that are responsible for the country becoming trapped in the middle-income group,” said Lim.

He said that any hope of reforms by the Najib administration under the New Economic Model (NEM) has been sunk by Malay rights group Perkasa through their attacks on any form of policy reforming the New Economic Policy (NEP).

Lim also scoffed at Jala’s economic projections, dismissing the government’s RM1.38 trillion investment target as mere assumptions rather than actual forecasts.

“These assumptions — these it must be stressed are assumptions rather than forecasts — are wholly unrealistic in view of the historic growth rates attained over the past decade and a half and the current flows of FDI (foreign direct investments) which are negative in view of capital flight.

“The underlying assumption appears to be that the private sector will make a remarkable shift without the government doing its part. This assumption lacks all credibility as such a turnaround cannot be anticipated so long as the government remains entrapped by the policy framework espoused by Perkasa and others of its ilk,” said Lim.

The Ipoh Timur MP lamented on how no framework or explanation had been presented thus far to illustrate how the Najib administration plans on attaining the said RM1.38 trillion for investment over the next 10 years.

“A grave omission in the ETP is the singular lack of an articulation of changes in the policy regime to arrest corruption, increase competitiveness and transparency in procurements, introduce meaningful safety net programmes, rationalise labour market policies including the adoption of a minimum wage policy and the abolition of anti-competitive measures, for example APs (Approved Permits).

“To resort to what is obviously a system of central planning — with unrealistic targets, dubious statistics to show ‘performance’, picking ‘winners’, maintaining constraints to growth via quotas and a system of approvals together with subsidies to corporate entities (both GLCs and selected private corporate tycoons) — is totally in contradiction to the announced intent to let the private sector act freely,” added Lim, who likened the direction of the Malaysia’s economic programme to the features which brought about the collapse of the Soviet economy in the late 1980s.

Lim also said that a system of central planning needed to be done away with in order for the country to move forward.

“It is also salient to note that the remarkable success of China and its modernisation programme which can be attributed to the dismantling of central planning is being largely ignored. The real danger is that the country is going nowhere until there is a determined effort to implement real reforms,” said Lim.

Cabbie gets death for killing three-year-old girl

SHAH ALAM: The High Court here today sentenced to death taxi driver Mohd Fazli Azri Jamil after finding him guilty of murdering a three-year-old girl, Syafiah Humaira Sahari, in February. Justice Mohtarudin Baki handed down the sentence after concluding that the defence had failed to raise a reasonable doubt in the prosecution''s case.

Mohd Fazli Azri, 28, had been charged with murdering Syafiah Humaira, who was the daughter of his girlfriend, at a football field in Jalan Utama, Kawasan Rumah Batu 30, Ulu Yam Lama, Batang Kali, at 6.30pm on Feb 25.

Thirty-three prosecution witnesses and three defence witnesses testified at the trial which began on June 7.

- Bernama

Penang Gerakan peace mission abandoned

By FMT Staff
KUALA LUMPUR: The Gerakan top leadership has reversed its decision to send a "negotiation team" to Penang, which was supposed to have ironed out the party's state leadership tussle.
Party insiders revealed that the decision to call off the "peace mission" was made on Monday night, barely 36- hours before the negotiation team was scheduled to meet warring faction leaders in Penang, today.

"Due to certain reasons, the leadership has decided to call off the mission. If they go to Penang in an effort to solve the problem, they would be perceived as pressuring those who wanted a state extraordinary general meeting (EGM) to call off the idea and be accused of curtailing democracy," an insider told FMT.

Moreover, sources revealed that those wanting the EGM, calling themselves "voices of the grassroots", were adamant in carrying out their plan and table a motion of no confidence against elected Gerakan state chief Dr Teng Hock Nam.

Gerakan's top leadership had set up a four-member negotiation team headed by vice-president Mah Siew Keong to meet the warring factions in Penang today to try find an amicable solution before notice of the requested EGM was issued next Monday.

The other members in the team were vice-president A Kohilan Pillay, Youth chief Lim Si Pin and Gerakan central committee member Gooi Hoe Hin.

EGM to proceed as planned

With the peace mission abandoned, it looks like Penang Gerakan would hold its EGM as scheduled on Oct 10 at the party headquarters at Maccalister Road.

Party sources said some national leaders were against the idea of sending the negotiation team as this would not go down well with those in the state who had wanted the EGM.

"The Penang EGM is just the beginning. We expect more to follow suit as there are members in other states who also want state EGMs. The delegates and members are sending a message that they are displeased with the top national leadership," said a source.

He explained that any motion of no confidence against Teng would be equivalent to a similar motion being passed against Gerakan president Dr Koh Tsu Koon's leadership as the two leaders are known to be close and had formed a pact.

Selangor and Perak to follow Penang's lead?

There are murmurs that some delegates in Selangor and Perak may also request a similar EGM to table a motion of no confidence against their respective state chairmen, who are known to be Koh's diehards.

However, todate no delegate or a group of delegates have come out to say this in the two states.

Kohilan is the Selangor Gerakan head while Perak is helmed by party deputy president Chang Ko Youn.

Umno vs Perkasa: A matter of interpretation

By Zainal Epi - Free Malaysia Today

KUALA LUMPUR: One is a long established political party which has become an institution for the Malays and the other is a newly-formed non-governmental organisation (NGO), also for the Malays.
The first one is manoeuvring cautiously so as not to lose its influence while the other is “rolling on like a tank”, mowing down whoever is in its path.

The first is Umno and the second Perkasa. Although different in outlook, both cannot deny that they share a similar objective – championing the cause of the Malays, that is, protecting their rights and privileges.

Both organisations are now “locking horns” in the race to win over the Malays as they eye the next general election.

For Umno, retaining its influence among the Malays is vital for its survival as other BN component parties are “virtually defunct” and can no longer to woo the other races.

Perkasa’s existence has in one way or another loosened Umno’s grip on the Malays and this is not good for the party.

Umno members are also members or supporters of Perkasa and they are vocal in defending Malay rights and privileges.

New challenge

Umno, formed before Independence with the sole objective of gaining Independence and championing and protecting the rights of the Malays, is now facing a new challenge.

Perkasa, formed in 2009 following the dismal performance of the Barisan Nasional (BN) in the 2008 general election, is fast gaining popularity among the Malays who consider it as an ideal platform to voice their rights amidst renewed calls for a “free enterprise” business environment in the country.

The reason for Perkasa's rising acceptance is simple: members of Perkasa claimed that Umno has lost its “sense of direction” as the Malay-based party is getting more moderate in its approaches.

This claim, depending on which side one is looking at, is debatable. As far as Umno is concerned, it is still the “Malay champion” but it takes a different approach to reflect the reality of the multi-racial background of the country.

A recent “verbal onslaught” by Umno and BN secretary-general, Tengku Adnan Mansor, against Perkasa had further strained the relationship between Umno -- seeking or rather trying to sustain the trust and confidence of the Malays -- and Perkasa -- now considered the biggest Malay NGO -- out to woo the disgruntled Malays to its banner.

Adding credibility to Perkasa is the direct support from former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who is still respected and highly regarded as a statesman by the Malays and non-Malays alike.

Mahathir had commented that Umno could not do it alone in the coming general election as it needed to work together with NGOs or other Malay-based political parties.

Mahathir, though out of mainstream politics, is still very much in touch with the feelings and pulse of the Malay through his writings in his blog. Indeed, his statements at any functions have always being watched, deciphered, and interpreted with great interest by observers.

'Threat' to Umno
Many Umno and Perkasa members opined that Mahathir wanted Umno to co-operate with Perkasa, which already boasts 200,000 members. And some 80% of them are Umno members and leaders.

Led by its firebrand Pasir Mas MP Ibrahim Ali, Perkasa is now seen as a “threat” to Umno as well as component parties of BN for its stand on Malay rights and privileges.

Ibrahim said he did not care what others thought of Perkasa so long as the organisation did not stray from its objectives, which were to champion and struggle for the Malays, Islam and country.

“Until today, Perkasa has not wavered from its objectives and if Umno leaders and BN component parties think Perkasa is racial, prove it.

“Check how many police reports have been lodged against Perkasa for being racist?” he asked.

But Umno’s constitution also spelled out the same objectives as Perkasa.

Thus, to the Malays, Umno or Perkasa is a matter of interpretation: it all depends on which side one is on.

The verbal attacks by Tengku Adnan and Minister in Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Aziz had, in one way or another, some effect on Perkasa’s popularity.

An Umno member from Teluk Intan Ahmad Jadawi Ghazali said Umno has to decide its direction.

“The party cannot be pursuing its objectives while trying to satisfy other races.

“As a BN backbone, yes... the party leaders who are national leaders must be fair to all citizens but at the same time, the party must not lose sight of its objectives, which are to champion the Malay cause.

“Right now the leadership is pursuing other things rather than strengthening the party from within, which is very important for the coming general election,” he said.

Padang Besar Umno division chief Zahidi Zainal Abidin said Umno must know its direction and where it stands before making enemies of Perkasa.

“There is no point making enemies of organisations that support Umno and BN.

“Know which direction the party is heading first and then move in that direction.

“Right now the party seems to be heading neither here nor there,” he said.

Thus, from the looks of it, Umno may not do itself any good by distancing itself from Perkasa as the majority of Perkasa members are also from Umno. And these members are influential in their own ways.

15 questions on the ETP

By Nurul Izzah Anwar

COMMENT The government has recently announced the launching of the Economy Transformation Program or ETP which is part of the New Economic Model (NEM).
As a background, the government’s National Transformation Agenda is based on meeting the Vision 2020 of being an industrialised nation driven by four national transformation pillars of the 1Malaysia inclusiveness concept, Government Transformation Plan (GTP-with 6 National Key Result Areas (NKRAs)), Economic Transformation Plan (ETP- with the New Economic Model goals of High Income, Inclusiveness and Sustainability by having 8 Strategic Reform Initiatives (SRIs) and 11 National Key Economic Areas (NKEAs)) and the 10th Malaysian Plan.

I congratulate the government for introducing a comprehensive economic development plan that aims to position Malaysia as a High-Income economy by 2020.

However, I wish to ask a few questions from a lay person’s understanding of the economy to seek clarification on the eventual implementation of the plan and to obtain answers to the many challenges and contradictions facing us today.

Although some of the questions might be obvious, but the answers would lead to a better public understanding of the assumptions used for the projections.

All the data was derived from publicly available information with some interpretation done as best as possible for clarity.

I invite comments by all Malaysians to my enquiries in the spirit of ‘constructive engagement’ with the purpose of moving forward for a Better Malaysia.

Gross National Income  (GNI) Projections
Overall, the country’s GNI is projected to grow to at least RM1.7 trillion (US$523 billion) from RM660 billion (US$188 billion) in 2009 (using RM3.25 to US$1 exchange rate) for a 178% growth over 10 years (2010-2020).

Question 1: What is the impact to the GNI projections if the Ringgit weakens to RM3.50 and above per US$1?

Question 2: Will floating the Ringgit help in meeting the exchange rate needed to achieve the GNI targets?

6% Annual Growth Rate Target
This would require a 6% annual growth rate for 10 years (2010-2020).

However, from 2000 until 2010, Malaysia's average annual GDP Growth was 4.72 percent.

Question 3: How are we going to maintain a 6% annual growth rate for the next 10 years with the predicted global economy remaining weak as compared to the preceding 10 year annual average of 4.72% when the global economy was relatively strong (except for the 2008 financial meltdown)?

ETP’s GNI Growth Contribution Target
The ETP projects will provide RM1.258 trillion (US$387 billion) or 74% of the country’s gross national income (GNI) of RM 1.7 trillion (US$523 billion) by 2020. The remaining 26% is expected to come from non-ETP project sectors.

The RM 1.7 trillion GNI growth contributions in 2020 are as follows:

31% from the 133 Entry Point Projects (EPPs), RM527 billion
10% from EPPs multiplier effects, RM 170 billion
33% from the 60 Business Opportunities (BOs), RM561 billion
26% of incremental growth from other non-ETP projects, RM442 billion

The ETP projects are part of the 11 National Key Economic Areas or NKEAs. The four largest NKEAs (oil, gas and energy, financial services, palm oil and wholesale and retail) are projected to generate 60% of the 78% ETP based projects incremental GNI growth from the 11 NKEA sectors.

Question 4: What impact on GNI targets if commodity prices (oil, gas, energy, palm oil) that are the two main NKEAs become lower during the 10 year ETP period?

GNI per capita Target
Gross National Income (GNI) per capita will reach above RM48,000 by 2020 from RM23,700 in 2009, for an increase of 102% over ten years.

For context, the income distribution schedule indicates that there are 5.8 million households in 2007. Of that, 8.6% have an monthly income below RM1,000, 29.4% had between RM1,000 and RM2,000, while 19.8% earned between RM2,001 and RM3,000; 12.9% of the households earned between RM3,001 and RM4,000 and 8.6% between RM4,001 and RM5,000.

Finally, around 15.8% of the households have an income of between RM5,001 and RM10,000 and 4.9% have an income of RM10,000 and above.

Furthermore, increased GNI per capita should take into account the real cost of living situation faced by ordinary Malaysians.

In the 1970s a car may cost only RM7,000 but today it is at least RM45,000. A comfortable house in the 1970s may cost RM50,000 compared to today’s RM350,000. A basic meal in the 1970s may cost RM1 but it is RM5 now. And the starting salary in the 1970s would be RM1,200 compared to RM2,000 today.

And it can be assumed that even with the doubling or tripling of average salaries by 2020, the cost of the above items may have also doubled or even tripled likewise due to inflation.

Question 5: What is the Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) projected by 2020?

Question 6: What is the income inequality GINI index projected by 2020?

Question 7: What is the Poverty Line Income (PLI) projected by 2020?

ETP Workforce Requirement
ETP will create 3.3 million new ‘middle class’ jobs, of which half will require diploma or vocational qualifications.

The projected data based on available information would produce an annual average first degree graduates of 90,000 and vocational school graduates 60,000 for a total of 150,000; which in 10 years would produce slightly less than half the 3.3 million qualified workforce needed under ETP.

However, we can find that the quality of our workforce is based on the following characteristics:

30% of Malaysians obtained higher education qualifications (2005), compared to Singapore’s 46%, Thailand’s 41% and South Korea’s 89%.

80% of Malaysia’s workforce only received secondary level (SPM) education (2007).

Malaysia has 25% high skilled workers and 75% low skilled workers (2007), compared to Singapore’s 49%, Taiwan’s 33% and South Korea’s 35% highly skilled workers percentages.

Workforce productivity for Malaysian labour is an average of 2.9% (1998-2007), compared to China’s 9.2%, India’s 4.4%, Thailand 3.1% and Indonesia’s 3.0% labour productivity for the same period.

The low quality of our workforce is compounded by:

Inefficient education services delivery
In 2007, the percentage of Malaysia education expenditure as % of GDP was 4.5%.
Compared to Philippine’s 2.6%, Singapore’s 2.8%,  Hong Kong’s 3.3% and South Korea’s 4.2% our student’s outcome for the workforce has been low.

Rising tertiary education costs and lower education quality trends
Malaysia has 20 public universities and 627 institutes of higher learning. Under the 10th Malaysia Plan, selected public universities will be corporatized and combined with private institutions of higher learning, the fee-paying structure will see fees increase from an average of RM10,000 to RM50,000 per student and it is projected that 90% of tertiary education students will enrol not in public but private institutions.

This makes accessibility and affordability for quality education (only 4% of private institutions compared to 33% of public institution’s academic staff has a Phd) a challenge in producing an educated workforce.

Furthermore, with 70% public institutions enrolment are bumiputeras while 95% of private institutions enrolment are non-bumiputeras, unless more proactive measures such as more scholarships and not PTPTN loans and drastic investments along with improvements in primary and secondary education are taken, the racial disparity trend will create its own set of challenges.

Low world university ranking
Malaysia’s oldest and premier university, Universiti Malaya (UM) has dropped from the top 200 of the prestigious 2010 QS World University Rankings, slipping to 207 this year compared to 180 in 2009.
This would indicate that more has to be done to improve the overall quality of Malaysia’s tertiary education capacity to meet ETP workforce requirements.

Question 8: How do we determine that the high quality of qualified workforce needed is available for the ETPs?

Question 9: Are we going to welcome qualified immigrants to join our workforce?

ETP’s Innovation Key Success Factor
Innovation is one of the most critical factors to move up the economic value-chain and escape the ‘middle income trap’.

However, Malaysia currently has a low research and development (R&D) capacity based on the following statistics:

2006 World Bank data indicates that Malaysia’s R&D expenditure as a % of GDP was 0.6%. Compared to South Korea’s 3.2%, Singapore’s 2.3%, Australia’s 2.2% and China’s 1.4%, Malaysia has a lot more to do to prioritise its spending.

And based on the number of R&D researchers per million population, Malaysia had 372 researchers per million population. Compared to South Korea’s 4,187, Singapore’s 5,736, Australia’s 4,231 and China’s 927 per million population, again Malaysia has to prioritise its human capital development.

Question10: How do we increase our innovation capacity while facing tremendous challenges in our education system and economic resources misallocations added with economic leakages?

ETP Investment Targets
The Economic Transformation Program (ETP) requires investments worth RM1.376 trillion (US$444 billion) over 10 years (2010-2020) for the following projects:

133 Entry Point Projects (EPPs)
60 Business Opportunities (BOs)

The total investments sources are:

60 percent private sector or RM825.6 billion
32 percent government-linked companies or RM440.32 billion
8 percent government or RM96 billion

However, the current reality makes these targets challenging based on the following facts:

In the past 10 years, private companies invested just RM535 billion and Malaysia's private investment rate of around 10% of gross domestic product (GDP) is among the lowest in Asia.

The World Foreign Investment Report (WIR) 2010 showed that FDI in Malaysia plunged 81 per cent last year, trailing behind countries like the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore. The Philippines attracted US$1.95 billion (RM6.24 billion) in FDI compared to Malaysia’s US$1.38 billion, while Singapore received the most — more than US$16 billion.

National debt has reached 53 percent of GDP which is an unsustainable level, and according to Idris Jala the government debt stands at RM362 billion and rising and may reach RM1.158 trillion by 2019 with the possibility that Malaysia may go bankrupt like Greece.

Question11: How do we increase our investment attractiveness while facing stiff competition from neighbouring countries?

Question12: Are the GLCs and government sector investment contributions totalling 40% of the investment amount to be obtained by more taxes, borrowings or asking Petronas to do ‘national funding service’ again?

ETP Real Beneficiaries
Who are the real beneficiaries of the ETP and NEM?

Based on our past ‘national expenditure pricing’ experience, could we assume that the following breakdown of the total investment amount of RM1.376 trillion (RM 1,376,000,000,000,000) will be as follows?

Legal Fees: (2%)  RM27.52 billion
Consultancy Fees (8%) RM110.08billion
Facilitation Fees (10%) RM137.6 billion
Overpricing Costs (30%) RM 412.8 billion

Question 13: Does this mean that the total fees and costs payable of RM688 billion or 50% of the investment total is to be considered as a normal economic leakage, leaving the remaining 50% to actually be invested in the ETP projects?

Question 14: Who will become the real beneficiaries that will receive the ‘tax-free’ fees and cost portion of the investment amount?

ETP Viablity Burden Borne by the Rakyat
If the RM1.376 trillion ETP investment amount requires a ROI of 10%, then annually after 2011, the ETPs need profits after tax of RM137 billion and based on a 20% profit margin, means the entire EPP and BO entities must generate RM685 billion in annual gross revenues.

Question 15: Does this mean in 2020, the 30 million Malaysians must spend at least 80% (with the balance 20% being spending by foreigners as tourist or as importers)-which would be RM22,933 per capita that is 47% of the RM48,750 high-income GNI per capita target- to meet the ETP’s gross revenue needs of RM685 billion annually just to remain viable?

In conclusion
It would appear from this enquiry that the rewards for the ETP will benefit the few while the risk and true cost as always will be shared by the rakyat.

As I said earlier, that the government’s comprehensive economic development plan is commendable but if the government is sincere in making it a reality to benefit all Malaysians, then immediately, a fifth pillar to the National Transformation Agenda must be added which is a Political Reformation Plan (PRP) which would also be the ‘Political Contract’ that complements the ‘Social Contract’ of our country.

The Political Reformation Plan or ‘Political Contract’ would include repealing all anti-democratic laws, respecting separation of powers, reforming national elections and restoring local government elections, returning the judiciary’s and other state institution’s independence, fighting corruption, ensuring a free media and by abiding to the true meaning of our constitution, then and only then, will the economic transformation plan become a resounding success for a better Malaysia.

Isn’t that so?



Nurul Izzah Anwar is PKR's MP for Lembah Pantai

Ravi nafi tarik diri bertanding jawatan ketua Telok Kemang

Oleh Fazy Sahir - Free Malaysia Today

PETALING JAYA: Ahli Dewan Undangan Negeri Port Dickson M Ravi menafikan bahawa beliau menarik diri untuk bertanding jawatan ketua cabang Telok Kemang memandangkan bakal berdepan persaingan 'satu lawan satu' daripada ahli parlimen kawasan itu, Kamarul Bahrin Abas.
Menurut Ravi, tiada keinginan untuk beliau menarik diri memandangkan akar umbi mahu dirinya bertanding jawatan itu.

Malah Ravi menolak spekulasi bahawa beliau cuba menjatuhkan Kamarul dengan terus bertanding bagi jawatan tersebut.

Sebaliknya kata Ravi, ia sebagai bantuan kepada Kamarul yang kini memegang jawatan penting pusat mahupun negeri.

"Saya tidak akan tarik diri...lawan tetap lawan. Saya sudah menjadi pemangku bagi cabang itu sejak dua tahun lalu. Saya mengabadikan diri untuk membuat kerja-kerja parti, malah akar umbi mahu saya bertanding jawatan itu.

"Malah saya mahu bertanding jawatan itu bukan mahu jatuhkan beliau, tetapi bagi membantu Kamarul yang kini memegang jawatan penting dalam negeri dan pusat..ini sebagai bantuan dan memberi kebaikan kepada mereka," katanya yang dihubungi FMT hari ini.

Selain menjadi ahli parlimen Telok Kemang, Kamarul turut memegang jawatan sebagai Pengerusi Majlis Pimpinan Negeri (MPN) dan bertindak sebagai Ahli Majlis Pimpinan Pusat (MPP).

Ravi turut menyatakan keyakinan bahawa kemenangan bakal berpihak kepadanya.

"Sehingga kini tiada sebarang masalah atau pencanggahan berlaku antara saya dan beliau, namun saya yakin akan menang," katanya yang juga pemangku ketua cabang Telok Kemang sejak 2008.

Kamarul akan kalah?

Sementara itu, sumber berkata pertandingan jawatan ketua cabang itu memberi ruang berliku buat Kamarul memandangkan Ravi dilihat calon berpotensi untuk menang.
Malah majoriti cabang di Negeri Sembilan memilih Ravi berbanding Kamarul.

"Melalui tinjauan cabang-cabang negeri Kamarul sukar untuk menang. Nampak ramai yang menolak beliau. Ravi sebaliknya, dia dapat sokongan ahli cabang dan akar umbi," kata sumber terbabit.
Katanya, disebabkan keperibadian Kamarul memberi persepsi negatif daripada ahli cabang yang melihat Ravi sebagai calon yang sesuai.
"Keperibadian Kamarul dilihat lebih keras dan ini tidak disenangi ahli," katanya.
Kira-kira 2,500 orang ahli PKR Telok Kemang bakal menunaikan tanggungjawab mengundi bagi cabang itu pada 26 September ini.

Daripada jumlah, ahli Melayu 900, India 1,200 dan Cina 350 orang dari 15 ranting (cawangan).

Sexist and Islamophobic tweets by MCA cybertrooper

(Harakah Daily) KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 21: As if being constantly attacked by UMNO, Perkasa and their mouthpiece Utusan Malaysia was not enough, DAP's Serdang member of parliament has to also put up with sexual harrassments and racially-toned jibes.
The gutsy Teo Nie Ching shot to instant fame following her presence inside a surau in Kajang, which triggered immediate condemnations from UMNO leaders, Perkasa and Utusan, who argued that non-Muslims were prohibited from the Muslim prayer hall.
Islamic organisations including PAS, however, came to Teo's aid, saying there was nothing wrong in Islam for a non-Muslim to enter a surau or a mosque, and even the country's National Fatwa Council allowed non-Muslims to be present inside the mosque.
More recently however, Teo (right) had to put up with Twitter posts from individuals linked to MCA.
These posts not only smack of sexual harrassment, but also spiced with Islamophobic messages, echoing the views of MCA president Chua Soi Lek who has constantly spoken out against PAS and Islam in the same breath.
The following are some of the Twitter posts by a user calling himself MCAJB (http://www.twitter.com/mcajb). Besides Teo, PAS was also not spared from the constant jibes.
While not much is known of this individual, based on his own admission, he had said that he was being paid RM300 monthly to be a cybertrooper.
“Date me, for i wont ask u to wear a tudung, or rape u without it ;)”
“don't u understand what is 'metaphorically speaking'? Or do u actually believe I wld date u? Ask Nik Aziz lah”
“Miss Teo, r u really desperate 4 dates? Just tell me YES or NO is suffice.”
 
TeoNieChing  n for d matter, which PAS leader said those who didn't cover their aurat shld b raped? Sexist? ! Pls ans. @weekasiongmp”
It is not clear whether MCAJB, as its name suggests, has anything to do with MCA Johor Baharu.
That is perhaps best left to be answered by MCA's former state assemblyman in Teruntum, Pahang, Ti Lian Ker, who tweeted the following:
@MCAJB is an honest, transparent and straight man!There r many such good Mca man who r there to serve! Like u @tonypua @drchuaSL @choonhann.”

Plans to propel education into international limelight

By The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Education in Malaysia will be branded and propelled into international limelight by 2020 to attract 200,000 foreign students here.

According to the Education National Key Area lab findings, Malaysia is currently ranked 11th globally because of its 60,000 foreign student population.

“We hope to improve the ranking to sixth spot and increase our foreign student enrolment to 200,000 by 2020.

“We must establish a clear Malaysian brand of good quality education,” lab participants told those who attended the Economic Transformation Programme Open Day here yesterday. The participants were a mix of government officials, corporate individuals and education experts.

The Education NKEA is expected to create an additional 536,000 jobs and increase its Gross National Income from RM34bil to RM61bil by 2020.

Meanwhile, the Communications, Content and Infrastructure NKEA aims to ensure broadband Internet access is available for all at a reasonable speed.

Its goals by 2020 include connecting 6,000 schools and getting 50% of services online, including having six million users and an additional 860,000 wireless broadband users.

This sector is expected to contribute RM58bil to the GNI by 2020 compared to RM36bil last year.

The Day I Weep for Malaysia

It is not the criminals who live in fear of being chased; rather it is us the ordinary people who feel insecure all the time because of their presence and because of the apathy of those who are supposed to protect us.

A concerned Malaysian

I woke up in the gloomy morning of September 16, seeing the Prime Minister’s face on the TV screen, describing the importance of celebrating 1Malaysia and its unique diverse cultures. It also happened that my family just returned from Seremban and Johor Bharu after a 4-day Raya holiday.

Actually, none of us were in the mood to celebrate Malaysia Day or whatever you call it, or even to be so excited about Raya. The reason was obvious: our house was broken into, and robbed in broad daylight by two men with a ‘parang’ a day before Raya. Who, with a sane mind, would be in a mood to celebrate anything after such a traumatizing experience?

Crime rates in this country have increased alarmingly for the past decade. Some say it is because of the ever worsening economic conditions and sky-rocketing unemployment (despite the arrogant refusal of the government-controlled media to admit it), and the ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor. These issues are debatable, but one thing is for sure - the police force is first to be blamed when crimes are out of control. A country’s internal security largely depends on the efficiency of its police institution. If the policemen are busy with bribes and spend so much time in protecting political interests, the victims are none other than we, the people.

Forget about the gruesome robberies and murders you read in the daily newspaper. Those stories may seem irrelevant to you. What is happening in my very own neighborhood is enough to portray how dangerous and unsafe Malaysia has become, and to what extent the police have failed in maintaining basic security.

My house was robbed a day before Raya and that happened at 2.30pm. The next-door neighbor experienced attempted robberies 2 times. An Indian woman living right in front of my house was once hit by a ‘parang’ (also in broad daylight) after refusing to give money to a robber. Another neighbor in the next block was murdered after fighting a robber. And all these events happened only within a few months’ time!

This shows just how vulnerable we the Malaysians are in our sovereign land. Criminals seem to have gotten the green light to do whatever they want. They rob and murder without fear because they get away easily and are rarely caught or punished. And the reverse has happened. It is not the criminals who live in fear of being chased; rather it is us the ordinary people who feel insecure all the time because of their presence and because of the apathy of those who are supposed to protect us.

What added to my frustration on that unforgettable day was how the policemen reacted. Right after the robbers left, we called the police and despite the very short distance, it took them a long time to come. Upon arrival, the policemen shocked me by giving me the impression that they were not interested in what I was saying.

I described everything in detail, and none of them (there were three of them) looked serious or interested. Nor did they even write anything down. I even gave them part of the motorbike plate number which my brother managed to remember, but they just nodded nonchalantly. Feeling confused, I told them to write it down and only then one of the policemen asked if I had a piece of paper!

I do not know what experience other people have with the police force, but on that very day I realized the pitiable condition of the police force and how much reform and training they need!
To those who read this story, I would like to warn you: be very careful and take all precautions day and night. You might be the next victim, as unfortunate events often happen when you least expect it. And when they do, you may not be able to rely much on the police.

I used to weep for the Palestinians when reading news on the Zionists’ aggression. And I used to weep for Iraq and Afghanistan seeing how innocent women and children are being killed by the Western troops. But today I realize that given the unsafe and fearful conditions in which we Malaysians are living, the difference is only in degree. That is why today I weep for Malaysia.

A concerned Malaysian

Living the promise of togetherness

In the not-so-recent past, at Rumah Anak Bangsa Malaysia (RABM), a group of women experienced the promise of togetherness in ways the Siti Inshahs, Ridhuan Tees and Ibrahim Alis of this country would never understand.
The announcement that had gone out to them was simple – come for tea, bring something, dress down, let go of bashfulness, giggle, laugh, talk about men, share yourself with others, know your sisters, know yourself.
For the rest of the story, click on the photo

How real is the Economic Transformation Programme?

By Lim Kit Siang,

The Economic Transformation Programme (ETP), the latest pronouncement by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Idris Jala, follows upon a number of other pronouncements that have become the hallmark of Dato Seri Najib’s administration.

Like the previous pronouncements of 1Malaysia People First Performance Now, the Government Transformation Programme, the 10th Malaysia Five Year Plan, the ETP is rich in rhetoric.

The sloganeering and spin that is common to all of these exercises provides a clear indication that the Government led by Najib is wholly at sea in tackling the enormous challenges that the country faces.

These challenges have accumulated over the wasted three decades characterized by mismanagement, corruption and abuse of power that has benefited a small coterie.

A common feature of the series of announcements is that they contain unrealistic assumptions about economic growth prospects; they use clichés that are taken from business school texts that have been spun in order to create a false impression of a rethinking of policies.

The various announcements of “policies” and “strategies” are littered with a slew of abbreviations such as KPIs, NKRAs, MKRAs, NKEAs, EPPs and BIZ Ops are freely bandied about.

Of late the Government has developed a passion for peppering every announcement with an alphabetic jumble.

It would appear that the Government has substituted sound policies with what appear to be tools from the corporate world.

These may be appropriate tools in the business world. The Government is not a corporate entity; it is accountable to the public and cannot be driven by notions of “profit”.

The concepts embodied in the ETP are beyond the comprehension of the public at large. We are subjected to lofty speeches peppered with colorful Power Point presentations loaded graphics that confuse rather than enlighten.

Each event at which these so-called policies are unveiled lays bare the inability of and impotence of the Government to boldly deal with the core and fundamental policy distortions that are responsible for the country becoming trapped in the middle income group.

The glimmer of hope offered earlier this year that the Government would embark on a path of reforms under the rubric of the New Economic Model has been rapidly extinguished by the ferocious attacks launched by PERKASA and its patron against any policy reforms that attempt to remove the distortions brought about by failed policies linked to the NEP.

The ETP acknowledges and reaffirms that the private sector will need to play a central and decisive role in enabling Malaysia to achieve a doubling of per capita incomes by 2020 through sustained economic growth of 6 percent per annum.

To attain these targets, private firms, according to Idris Jala, will invest US$ 266 billion (60 percent), GLCs US $144 billion (32 percent) and the public sector US$ 34 billion (8 percent), making a total investment of US$ 444 billion.

These assumptions – these it must be stressed are assumptions rather than forecasts – are wholly unrealistic in view of the historic growth rates attained over the past decade and a half and the current flows of FDI which are NEGATIVE in view of capital flight.

The underlying assumption appears to be that the private sector will make a remarkable shift without the Government doing its part. This assumption lacks all credibility as such a turnaround cannot be anticipated so long as the Government remains entrapped by the policy framework espoused by PERKASA and others of its ilk.

The ETP has set a target of US$ 444 billion for investment over the next decade. No overall macroeconomic framework has been presented, a practice common to previous Perspective Plans. There is hardly an indication of how this amount of investment will come about.

The reality is that FDI has declined in recent years with no sign of a revival; at the same time domestic savings are not being fully invested with capital flight becoming sizable.

There are few indications that FDI will revive and take off without a radical change in the investment climate e.g. implementation of reforms of the type talked of in the context of the NEM.

It is becoming abundantly clear that the NEM is going nowhere. A weak and divided Government is now being held hostage by PERKASA and the die-hearts in UMNO.

Domestic investors are fighting shy and if anything voting with their feet by engaging in the capital flight. Idris will have to do better if he is to be believed – more details of specific projects will be needed before he is taken seriously.

Be it as it may, there are other curious and contradictory features of the ETP. On the one hand the formulation is built upon the notion that the private sector will be unleashed; and yet the ETP is a top-down creation.

PEMANDU is seemingly picking “winners” and it would imply that Malaysia is about to embark upon a new form of central planning to get to highly untenable targets.

The approach contradicts the very notion that the private sector will be freed to make investment decisions without interference from the Government.

A grave omission in the ETP is the singular lack of an articulation of changes in the policy regime to arrest corruption, increase competitiveness and transparency in procurements, introduce meaningful safety net programs, rationalize labor market policies including the adoption of a minimum wage policy and the abolition of anti-competitive measures e.g. APs.

The failure to deal with the issue of tax reform within the context of the ETP is yet another indication of the lack of an integrated and wel-designed programme of reforms that are imperative if the private sector is to be permitted to function effectively.

It is hard to believe that the Government anticipates that the private sector can be induced to perform as if by Royal Command.

The mind-boggling and totally unrealistic pie in the sky nature of the ETP and the linked announcements may well become Malaysia’s version of Mao’s GREAT LEAP FORWARD fiasco that was built on unrealistic targets and dubious performance indicators. Micro management and planning of the kind— to planning for Bird Nests and Bird spit production as part of the effort to double incomes! – cannot be taken seriously.

To resort to what is obviously a system of central planning — with unrealistic targets, dubious statistics to show “performance”, picking “winners”, maintaining constraints to growth via quotas and a system of approvals together with subsidies to corporate entities (both GLCs and selected private corporate tycoons) — is totally in contradiction to the announced intent to let the private sector act freely.

Indeed, the system the country appears to be slipping into has many of the features that brought about the collapse of the Soviet economy in the late 1980s. It is also salient to note that the remarkable success of China and its modernization program which can be attributed to the dismantling of central planning is being largely ignored.

The real danger is that the country is going nowhere until there is a determined effort to implement real reforms.

Each day it becomes clearer that Najib does not have the strength to get out of the quicksand he is caught in.

He cannot go on much longer singing the APCO written songs. These are no longer being reported in the Utusan, an organ that in the scheme of things is supposed to sing songs desired by Najib. Now that it is openly becoming a mouthpiece for Mahathir and PERKASA, the end may not be far away.

Khairy says min wage “a moral obligation”

By Anil Netto,

Along with Nazri’s straight talking to Utusan comes another pleasant surprise: Khairy Jamaluddin has called on the government to implement a minimum wage.

Khairy Jamaluddin
Image via Wikipedia
In an opinion piece in The Edge (20 September), the Umno Youth leader said a minimum wage has become a moral obligation that the government must fulfil immediately.
Khairy rightly pointed out that a third of the workers in the country earn less than RM700 a month – which is below the poverty line. And the average annual increase in wages was only 2.6 per cent over the last decade – below the global average of 3.2 per cent.
He pointed out the starting pay in some industrial estates in Selangor is as low as RM450; in Kedah and Johor, workers in some large firms may earn only RM380 while applicants with technical certs could start with just RM540. At this rate, how are we going to become a high-income nation as envisaged under the New Economic Model, he wondered.
Khairy even said the RM900 proposed by the MTUC may not be enough especially if the worker is the sole breadwinner in a family with multiple children and living in an urban area.  “If we want to continue to be a sweatshop, by all means resist a minimum wage. But if we strive for higher value in our economy and higher incomes for workers, we need to be bold enough to institute structural changes and attract the right kind of investments.”
He said the minimum wage was one of the recommendations of the recent BN Youth Lab report submitted to the PM on issues that mattered to young people. “For hundreds and thousands of workers in Malaysia, the market and its attendant dogma have failed them.”
Yes, it’s about time we introduced a minimum wage. Even the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) has come around to accepting the idea of a minimum wage, but they want it set as RM700, as reported in The Star. Huh? Below the poverty line? Typical.
Actually, as Khairy and others have pointed out, even RM900 is too low. In fact, the RM900 figure is actually a dozen years out of date. The figure RM900 was mentioned when the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) proposed a minimum wage to Mahathir during a meeting in the late 1990s. To the unionists’ surprise, Mahathir even suggested that RM900 was not enough and suggested RM1,200. Veteran unionist K George, writing for Aliran Monthly, explains:
The RM900 figure
The sum of RM 900 as minimum wage was proposed in August 1998 when Mahathir met the MTUC leaders at the meeting called for by him.  At that meeting, Mahathir surprisingly maintained that RM900 was not enough for an average family of five persons to survive for a month.  Instead, he proposed that the minimum wage should be RM1,200. His excuse for not implementing his proposal of RM1,200 immediately was the financial crisis at that time in Malaysia.  But when the economy started to improve gradually, Mahathir left the scene in October 2003 without resolving the minimum wage issue.
In the meantime, a few months after the August 1998 meeting with Mahathir, the then president of the MTUC, Zainal Rampak was offered a  senatorship…
I asked the MTUC as to why they stuck to RM900 and did not take up the suggestion of Mahathir which was RM1,200.  The answer was straightforward and convincing: “It is the first claim submitted to the government after Abdullah became the Prime Minister.”
Unscrupulous employers not happy
I understand from reliable sources that the majority of employers do not want a Minimum Wage Act enacted not because the proposed RM900 is too high a wage.  Then, what could be the reason?
Well, all private sector employees are entitled under the law to EPF contributions from their employers at the rate of 12 per cent of their basic salary  while the employees themselves contribute another  11 per cent of their basic salary. Both contributions must be sent to the Employment Provident Fund office monthly. This is a form of retirement benefit fund to enable workers to retire with reasonable savings to carry on with their life with peace of mind.  For example if your basic salary is RM1,000 a month, the employer must contribute 12 per cent, which is RM 120, and the workers should contribute 11 per cent, which is RM110, from their salary, making a total of RM 230 savings a month (plus interest)….
… Some unscrupulous employers will cheat the workers by preparing a pay slip stating that the basic salary is RM300 for example and the remaining amount of RM700 will be listed as allowances for overtime, transport and for working on weekends and public holidays etc. Thus the EPF contribution by the employer is based on RM300 rather than on the actual pay of RM1,000.  As a result, the employers’ contribution is drastically reduced to RM36 instead of RM120 and the workers contribution is reduced to RM33 instead of RM110.  In other words, the workers lose out RM84 per month in the savings account for their old age.  Of course, the employees concerned could report this matter but they would not because they would be afraid of losing their jobs as a consequence of their action. If there was a minimum basic wage, the employer cannot play with the figures but will be forced to  calculate not only the EPF contribution but also any payment for overtime and for working on weekends and public holidays based on actual salary.
Finally, a minimum wage law is usually applicable nationwide, not based on industries or on the cost of living in certain states or regions.  Such problems could be taken care of by introducing special allowances and/or other facilities on a temporary basis.

Careful analysis of Teoh Beng Hock’s note

You guys really have to read this.

Ahmadinejad lost in translation

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has addressed the General Assembly on the second day of the UN's millennium development goals summit. But it is not what he said on Tuesday that has made the news but what happened during the simultaneous translation of his speech, which has caused controversy.

Right from the start, his speech was overshadowed by technical problems, as the president was heard saying: "there's no translation." And these problems continued to cause confusion two minutes into his speech. All this was followed by an ominous announcement: "The interpreters would like to state that they are reading from a written text translated into English." With that, the translation stopped altogether.

Despite all the technical issues, Ahmadinejad managed to communicate his message that there is a need for an overhaul of what he called "undemocratic and unjust" global decision-making bodies.

The much anticipated speech has now left many wondering what actually went wrong as the Iranian president's speech ended the same way as it had started, without any translation.

Ahmadinejad, who arrived in New York on Saturday, told the Associated Press news agency that "the future belongs to Iran," and challenged the US to accept that his country has a major role in world affairs.

US officials have made it clear that there are no plans for Barack Obama, the US president, to have any contact with the Iranian leader in New York this week.

Tight security

The New York Post, a right-wing tabloid, criticised US government spending on security preparations surrounding the Iranian leader's visit.

"Ahmadinejad has access to a private elevator on his floor, a source said, and everything he touches is supplied by his aides. His rooms' windowpanes were swapped for bullet-proof glass," the paper reported.

On the topic of Iran's nuclear programme, which Iran insists is for power generation rather than bomb-making, Obama plans to reiterate that the "door is still open" for international engagement, a US security official said on Monday.

Al Jazeera's Zeina Awad said on Tuesday that international diplomats are closely watching Ahmadinejad's actions in New York, because "any developments could have long term repercussions" for a nuclear deal.

While Ahmadinejad stole the spotlight, world leaders discussed the best ways to reduce global poverty.

Poverty reduction plans

Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, opened the annual summit on Monday with a plea to presidents, prime ministers and kings to use their power to meet UN goals to help the world's poorest by 2015.

Ten years after world leaders set the most ambitious goals ever to tackle global poverty, meeting the deadline will be difficult, if not impossible in some cases, the UN says.

On Monday, Nicolas Sarkozy, France's president, made an impassioned plea to developed countries to join his country in raising its contribution to meet the millennium goals. France, he said, would increase its contribution by 20 per cent over the next three years

Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland who was the UN human rights commissioner when the millennium goals were set in 2000, told Al Jazeera that there were two key reasons for why the UN has fallen short of its goals.

The first, she said, was the lack of a "rounded" approach to human rights, taking into account women's reproductive and legal rights and issues. The other is that the policies are not linked to employment, and do not address the jobless rates in the Middle East and North Africa.

She also conceded that there was an issue of accountability.

"The Millennium Development Goals did not have a sufficient benchmarking and accountability, including more accountability of the rich countries," Robinson said.

Ten African countries, including Ethiopia, Egypt, and post-conflict Angola, have halved their absolute poverty levels, Benin ranked in the top 10 in education improvements, and Angola and Niger significantly reduced child deaths.

On the minus side, Amnesty International said efforts in many countries fail to address the widespread discrimination women face in accessing food, water, sanitation and housing - especially in slums. It accused Kenya of ignoring the needs of women living in slums and Nigeria of evicting slum dwellers and driving them deeper into poverty.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

Sosilawati case: Lawyer suspects disbarred last year

'Indian youths engineered into gangsterism'

(Malaysiakini) The Human Rights Party Malaysia (HRP) claims that Umno's social engineering has denied Indian youths the right to education, jobs, business mobility, loans and contract opportunities that has resulted in many of them turning to gangsterism and violent crime.

NONEProtem secretary general P Uthayakumar (right) alleged this has resulted in the emergence of a new Indian criminal underclass at levels disproportionate to the Indian community's 8 percent of the nation's population.

He says detaining such youths without trial under the Emergency Ordinance (EO) will not do; Indian gangsterism must be tackled at its roots.

He also hit out at the MIC who instead of addressing the root causes, blamed Tamil movies, lack of parental care, and lack of guidance by Indian NGOs and the Indian community.

Uthayakumar said this in an open letter to Premier Najib Abdul Razak and Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein dated Monday, copied to Malaysiakini today.

He was responding to an Utusan Malaysia report yesterday that called on the police to curtail increasing Indian gangsterism in light of the Sosilawati murder case.

Utusan Malaysia had also reported that 300 Indian youths were detained under the EO within four months in the Selangor alone.

'Overlooking root causes'

“We are against all forms of crime and violence, and are for appropriate action and punishment,” said the former ISA detainee.

jerit tamil school parliament protest 290307 ill“However, the government has to implement policies to solve the root causes of gangsterism and violent crimes by giving opportunities to higher education and business mobility, education scholarships, jobs, loans and contracts opportunities,” he said.

He said no Indian youth would want to become a gangster, if he was not denied educational opportunities.

That 523 Tamil schools are not fully aided and unable to function at optimum level contributes to the problem.

Scholarships from the government and GLCs for Indians are also limited, he said.
gemencheh tamil school 230107 schoolHe said Indian youths were also denied skills training such as that provided by Giat Mara Colleges for bumiputeras.
He lamented that the Indian community is also denied land ownership schemes such as what the Felda settlers receive, as well as equal higher education opportunities in public universities.


Denied business opportunities

Uthayakumar also claimed that the community has been denied business opportunities, licences, permits and APs to do business and participate in contracts and projects, and denied government and bank loans to assist in business.

hindraf batu cave 261107 demand dialogueHe quoted the Kuala Lumpur police chief from 10 years ago, Syed Abdul Rahman Syed Abd Kadir, who was reported to have said that having decent jobs and business opportunities would keep Indians out of gangs.

The reality however, said Uthayakumar, is that Indian youths are even denied licences to operate scrap metal shops, car washes, food, flower and fruit stalls and denied even garbage collection, security guard and car park contracts.

He said Indians were denied a host of other basic opportunities such as to run petrol stations, Ayamas outlets, Proton outlets and service centres, KFC and McDonald's outlets, low rental highway rest stop shops and local council stalls, and so on.