Thursday, November 29, 2007

Apakah Ini Budaya Kita?

”Berdemonstrasi bukan budaya kita!”
Itulah kata yang empunya cerita
Tapi mereka ini semua sudah lupa
Ketika menentang Malayan Union atau Kesatuan Malaya
Dato’ Onn bersama rakyat telah membuat demonstrasi raksasa

Kata mereka ”ini dan itu” bukan budaya kita
Adakah politik wang budaya kita?
Adakah mengambil dan memberi rasuah budaya kita?
Adakah membantai tahanan sampai separuh mati budaya kita?


Adakah berdemonstrasi menentang kuasa luar sahaja budaya kita?
Adakah memberi permit berhimpun kepada anak menantu sahaja budaya kita?
Adakah mengamal double-standard budaya kita?

Adakah menyembor air berkimia dan pemedih mata budaya kita?
Adakah melucutkan kuasa raja budaya kita?
Adakah merasuah pengundi budaya kita?
Adakah membawa pengundi hantu budaya kita?
Adakah menggunakan media awam bagi kemenangan pilihanraya budaya kita?

Adakah menghadiah penyapu budaya kita?
Adakah menggertak rakyat dengan keganasan budaya kita?
Adakah menakutkan rakyat dengan huru hara budaya kita?
Adakah memaki hamun sesama Islam budaya kita?

Adakah melucut kebebasan mahkamah budaya kita?
Adakah menahan rakyat tanpa bicara budaya kita?
Adakah membunuh musuh politik budaya kita?
Adakah menyekat pergerakan rakyat budaya kita?

Adakah membuat jenaka lucah di parlimen budaya kita?
Adakah menghina wanita dalam parlimen budaya kita?
Adakah menghina orang kurang upaya budaya kita?
Adakah menaikkan anak menantu budaya kita?
Adakah menutup sebelah mata budaya kita?
Adakah menangkap bilis, melepaskan jerung budaya kita?

Adakah menyekat pertandingan sihat budaya kita?
Adakah merahsiakan tarikh pilihanraya budaya kita?
Adakah mengekang kebebasan SPR budaya kita?
Adakah ”gerrymandering” kawasan pilihanraya budaya kita?

Adakah menumbuk wartawan budaya kita?
Adakah menghalang pandangan alternatif budaya kita?
Bukankah menggalakkan bahas di sekolah budaya kita?
Tetapi mengapa membahas secara sihat di parlimen bukan budaya kita?

Mat Al-Jajawi

Friday, August 31, 2007

Malaysia a circular state

Malaysia a circular state (Reproduced from Malaysiakini.co)
Mat Al-Jajawi
Aug 30, 07 2:30pm

Malaysia is a circular state, not a secular or theocratic state. Why? I’ll try to elucidate my rationale for calling Malaysia a circular state.

Society is made of various social and ethnic groups. For example, the top strata in society are the royalty, judges, the cabinet ministers, members of parliament, and the politicians - don’t they all move around in their own circles? Judges are not supposed to be mixing or seen in public, the royalty is a group unto its own and seldom do we see them in the crowds. They have their own circles.

The cabinet ministers, no matter how ‘stupid’ (oops! dengan izin) they are, have their own circles; and mingle freely among themselves. The common folk of every ethnic group go about their everyday life in their own circles - the Malays with the Malays, Chinese with the Chinese, Indian with the Indians, Kadazan with the Kadazans and the list goes on.

In terms of administration of the country, there appears to be a lack of leadership and many people have suggested that the country in on auto-pilot. No one seems to be in charge. Government servants administer by circulars - one circular after another.

To control traffic flow, Malaysia is fond of having traffic circles, or what local folks here call ‘roundabouts’. Far from regulating traffic flow, these favorite creation of our civil engineers cause more traffic jams at peak hours. At traffic lights that seem to function quite well, we place policemen to regulate traffic flow.

These traffic cops aggravate, instead of ameliorate, the traffic woes of our cities, particularly in Kuala Lumpur. At traffic lights that don’t work, there are no policemen to regulate traffic follow. One guy complained that one traffic light that lies along his route to work hasn’t been working for at least four years. Perhaps our politicians were waiting for a by-election there before they notice the fault.

Malaysia is a nice country, but its course is speedily turning out to be very bumpy. Everywhere we go, we have to encounter speed bumps. It shows that Malaysian drivers are incapable of using their God-given common sense to slow down their cars when passing through residential zones.

We have to be slowed down by speed bumps, which tend to replace our discretion. Those of us who have lived overseas will surely remember how scarce traffic bumps in our neighborhoods were. What we saw were speed limit signs warning us to slow down our vehicles. And we could do it. Why not here?

One more evidence I’d like to adduce (favourite lingo of the legal fraternity) to convince all and sundry that we are a circular state is the ‘run around’ we often hear from citizens when they go to a government office. The first person they meet at the office does not have the immediate answer to help. We are told to see another person - if not another department - who can help us. The second person turns out to be equally ignorant of how to assist us, and so tells us to see a third person, who then tells us to see the first person.

Well, compared to many lesser endowed nations we can consider ourselves lucky to be in Malaysia. We have fewer natural disasters - only man-made ones. Our road accident rate is one of the highest in the world. The number killed on our highways is not very different from that of those dying in war-torn Iraq. Every day we hear of accidents involving express buses. Who has been sleeping, besides the bus drivers of course?

Here, we again see the circular nature of our state. Our officials will be pointing fingers in a circular fashion. Imagine it. The JPJ points fingers at the Commercial Vehicles Licencing Board, who perhaps points fingers at the Police DiRaja Malaysia (or Polis Raja Di Malaysia), who in turn point fingers at the deputy minister of internal security, and the process goes on and on. But makes sure it comes back to the first party.

So Malaysia is neither an Islamic state nor a secular state. It’s a circular state.

Malaysia a circular state

Malaysia a circular state (Reproduced from Malaysiakini.co)
Mat Al-Jajawi
Aug 30, 07 2:30pm

Malaysia is a circular state, not a secular or theocratic state. Why? I’ll try to elucidate my rationale for calling Malaysia a circular state.

Society is made of various social and ethnic groups. For example, the top strata in society are the royalty, judges, the cabinet ministers, members of parliament, and the politicians - don’t they all move around in their own circles? Judges are not supposed to be mixing or seen in public, the royalty is a group unto its own and seldom do we see them in the crowds. They have their own circles.

The cabinet ministers, no matter how ‘stupid’ (oops! dengan izin) they are, have their own circles; and mingle freely among themselves. The common folk of every ethnic group go about their everyday life in their own circles - the Malays with the Malays, Chinese with the Chinese, Indian with the Indians, Kadazan with the Kadazans and the list goes on.

In terms of administration of the country, there appears to be a lack of leadership and many people have suggested that the country in on auto-pilot. No one seems to be in charge. Government servants administer by circulars - one circular after another.

To control traffic flow, Malaysia is fond of having traffic circles, or what local folks here call ‘roundabouts’. Far from regulating traffic flow, these favorite creation of our civil engineers cause more traffic jams at peak hours. At traffic lights that seem to function quite well, we place policemen to regulate traffic flow.

These traffic cops aggravate, instead of ameliorate, the traffic woes of our cities, particularly in Kuala Lumpur. At traffic lights that don’t work, there are no policemen to regulate traffic follow. One guy complained that one traffic light that lies along his route to work hasn’t been working for at least four years. Perhaps our politicians were waiting for a by-election there before they notice the fault.

Malaysia is a nice country, but its course is speedily turning out to be very bumpy. Everywhere we go, we have to encounter speed bumps. It shows that Malaysian drivers are incapable of using their God-given common sense to slow down their cars when passing through residential zones.

We have to be slowed down by speed bumps, which tend to replace our discretion. Those of us who have lived overseas will surely remember how scarce traffic bumps in our neighborhoods were. What we saw were speed limit signs warning us to slow down our vehicles. And we could do it. Why not here?

One more evidence I’d like to adduce (favourite lingo of the legal fraternity) to convince all and sundry that we are a circular state is the ‘run around’ we often hear from citizens when they go to a government office. The first person they meet at the office does not have the immediate answer to help. We are told to see another person - if not another department - who can help us. The second person turns out to be equally ignorant of how to assist us, and so tells us to see a third person, who then tells us to see the first person.

Well, compared to many lesser endowed nations we can consider ourselves lucky to be in Malaysia. We have fewer natural disasters - only man-made ones. Our road accident rate is one of the highest in the world. The number killed on our highways is not very different from that of those dying in war-torn Iraq. Every day we hear of accidents involving express buses. Who has been sleeping, besides the bus drivers of course?

Here, we again see the circular nature of our state. Our officials will be pointing fingers in a circular fashion. Imagine it. The JPJ points fingers at the Commercial Vehicles Licencing Board, who perhaps points fingers at the Police DiRaja Malaysia (or Polis Raja Di Malaysia), who in turn point fingers at the deputy minister of internal security, and the process goes on and on. But makes sure it comes back to the first party.

So Malaysia is neither an Islamic state nor a secular state. It’s a circular state.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Yes the General Election is around the corner!

When a person gets bored, he either fantacize a joke or he sleeps. I like to try the former, with no malice towards anyone:
------------
The PM is chairing a top BN meeting to discuss preparation for the 12th General Election. The scene is at the PM’s department.

PM: So how’s the preparation for the GE? I’ll go around the table and please report your position. I start with MCA Chief Ong Ka Tim.

Ong: Semua ‘A-OK’, YAB. Taukeh-taukeh sudah janji 2 juta ringgit untuk Ang Pow kepada ‘voters’. Genting, 1/2 juta, Ananda 1/2 juta, Kuok 1/2 juta, GLC’s 1/2 juta.

PM: Thank you Kah Tim. Now let’s ask Semi Value. OK Semi, what have you got?

S.Value: Suma pun ada OK juga, YAB. Saya sudah minta suma Toll kompeni jangan naik itu toll selama anam bulan. Tiga bulan sebelum GE dan 3 bulan selepas. Kita beku suma kadar toll. Sikit pun tarak naik juga. Jika naik, kalu, semua agreement kita kensel itu jam juga. JKR kata suma steam roll sudah bersiap sedia tunggu nak turap suma jalan yang berlubang. Tunggu arahan saya saja.

PM: Bagus, bagus. Ya, thank you Sami. Now, back to UMNO. Kita mula dengan Khairy mewakili Pemuda UMNO.

KJ: Semua siap sedia Daddy. Setiap pemuda penggempur kita akan beri sebilah keris. Hishamuddin akan ajar silat gayung kepada setiap penggempur. Mereka akan mengamuk sebaik sahaja Daddy bagi arahan.

PM: Terima kasih Menantu beta, .... oops, maaf, menantu ku. OK sekarang bagaimana pula rancangan nak rampas Kelantan? Ini saya kena tanya Tok Pa.

Tok Pa: Semua dah beres, YAB. Kain pelikat sudah ditempah dari Madras, dan Jakarta. Mesin jahit ‘Singer’ sudah tiba di pelabuhan Kelang. Gula juga akan dihantar oleh Robert Kuok. Wang saku sudah dimasuk ke dalam envelop Maybank. Saya serah kepada Tan Sri Muhamad pula untuk menyambung...

Md Taib: Semua jentera siap sedia...minyak pelincir semua cukup...ai, tertidur pula orang tua ni...

PM: Zzzzzz........

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Hendak jadi popular, hinakan Perkhidmatan Awam?

Berdasarkan satu tulisan dalam Utusan Malaysia:

http://putraon9.wordpress.com/2007/05/25/penghinaan-kepada-melayu/
ADALAH sesuatu yang tidak memeranjatkan apabila DAP sekali lagi membawa isu yang menyentuh tentang kepentingan dan sensitiviti Melayu di Malaysia.

Melalui laman web Malaysiakini bertarikh 23 Mei, Penasihat Ekonomi kepada Setiausaha Agung DAP, Tony Pua membuat kenyataan bahawa penjawat awam hanya terdiri daripada orang Melayu yang mengalami masalah pengangguran.


Saya amat bersetuju dengan permintaan Naib Ketua Pergerakan Pemuda UMNO, Khairy Jamaluddin bahawa kenyataan Tony Pua yang disiarkan di Malaysiakini semalam bersifat menghina dan sangat angkuh terhadap lebih sejuta kakitangan awam di negara kita yang tercinta ini.

Kenyataan Tony Pua yang disiarkan di Malaysiakini berhubung dakwaan bahawa perkhidmatan awam hanyalah ‘tapak pembuangan bagi penganggur berijazah golongan Melayu’ – sememangnya satu pernyataan yang bersifat sangat sensitif dari segi politik.

Bukan sekadar pernyataannya yang bersifat sensitif, bahkan satu penghinaan kepada semua kakitangan awam di Malaysia, terutamanya kepada golongan bumiputera.

Tidakkah beliau tahu bahawa sekarang ini, peluang kemasukan ke dalam dunia pekerjaan sektor awam sudah semakin sengit dan banyak persaingannya? Sesi temu duga, ujian dan sebagainya semakin payah dan susah.

Malahan yang telah lulus ujian bertulis kerajaan di kalangan bumiputera sangat ramai tetapi masih belum mendapat panggilan temu duga dengan sektor awam tersebut.

Sememangnya, kenyataan Tony Pua itu langsung tidak berasas dan perlu ditolak sama sekali. Ini kerana buat pengetahuan beliau, ramai kakitangan awam sanggup melepaskan tawaran kerja dengan gaji dan manfaat yang lumayan di sektor swasta disebabkan mahu berkhidmat dan berbakti kepada negara.

Apatah lagi sekiranya ditawarkan gaji yang cukup lumayan di sektor swasta tetapi seringkali dianaktirikan oleh diskriminasi kaum di sektor swasta itu sendiri.

Cuba kita lihat sahaja di dalam persekitaran pekerjaan sektor swasta. Seringkali dipaparkan, iklan-iklan pekerjaan hanya meminta calon-calon yang mempunyai keupayaan untuk bertutur dalam bahasa Mandarin.

Apakah niat dan maksudnya ini? Bagaimana dengan peluang calon-calon yang tidak pernah berpeluang untuk mempelajari bahasa tersebut, terutamanya daripada kaum-kaum bumiputera lain di Malaysia?

Pembaca fikirkanlah, walaupun surat ini telah disiarkan pun, mereka masih terus dengan syarat mereka itu. Ini kerana, kerajaan kita sangat berlemah lembut dalam menangani isu tersebut.

Acap kali ditegur berkenaan perkara ini termasuk oleh Timbalan Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. Tetapi perkara tersebut terus berleluasa dek kerana kebiadapan syarikat-syarikat yang meletakkan syarat tersebut sebagai salah satu syarat wajib mereka, yang jelas tidak menjaga hati dan sentimen kaum-kaum lain di Malaysia.

Tetapi, mengapakah perkara yang sedemikian tidak diambil peduli pula oleh Tony Pua?

Seperti mana yang telah diperkatakan oleh Khairy, sememangnya amat nyata sekali, Tony Pua hanya memperkecilkan kebolehan, jasa serta sumbangan kakitangan kerajaan kepada negara.

Tony Pua secara tidak langsung telah melemahkan semangat kakitangan kerajaan yang sebenarnya telah memilih jalan yang mulia untuk berkhidmat kepada kerajaan dan negara.

Bahkan sangat jelas di sini bahawa, kata-kata Tony Pua itu juga telah menjejaskan imej perkhidmatan awam pada masa kerajaan bertungkus-lumus untuk memperkenalkan pelbagai langkah bagi meningkatkan lagi mutu sistem penyampaian perkhidmatan tersebut.

Lantaran itu, saya sangat menyokong supaya Tony Pua meminta maaf secara terbuka kepada semua kakitangan kerajaan disebabkan kenyataan beliau dalam laman web tersebut.

Sedangkan dua orang ahli Parlimen kerajaan boleh meminta maaf secara terbuka, apatah lagi orang yang bukan berstatus ahli Parlimen dari parti pembangkang ini, yang jelas sangat menyinggung hati semua kakitangan awam di Malaysia.

– AMIR SHAHRIZAT MOHD. AZIZAN, Seremban.

maka inilah komen saya
=======================

Saya juga merasa terhina dengan tuduhan Tony Pua ahli DAP ini--sebagai seorang Melayu yang pernah berkhidmat dengan sebuah badan berkanun (Kerajaan). Walaupun saya ada menulis dalam blog saya perkara-perkara yang boleh dianggap kritis (terhadap pemerintah) sebagai pembayar cukai dan rakyat, namun apabila bangsa (dan rakan sekerja) saya dihina begini oleh seorang ahli politik DAP, saya tidak boleh hanya berdiam.

Isu yang dibawa oleh Tony Pua ini adalah satu isu perkauman yang amat tebal. Dia memperlihatkan kebenciannya kepada orang Melayu yang bekerja di sektor awam. Seolah-olah semua Melayu di sektor itu "sudah tidak laku" di mana-mana sektor lain.

Tanpa sebarang kajian yang saintifik Tony Pua membuat kesimpulannya berdasarkan semata-mata kepada persepsi dan stereotaipnya terhadap bangsa Melayu. Dia sememangnya patut meminta maaf kepada Perkhidmatan Awam negara ini kerana menghina perkhidmatan itu yang tanpanya, jentera kerajaan akan tergendala.

Walaupun terdapat kelemahan di sana sini (seperti perkhidmatan awam di mana sahaja - termasuk USA, UK, dan PRC dll.) namun jasa perkhidmatan awam kepada semua rakyat - baik Melayu, Cina atau India - tidak dapat dinapikan oleh sesiapa. Ini Tony Pua kena tahu dan faham sebagai penasihat DAP. Jika pun hendak popular, janganlah menyentuh perkara-perkara yang boleh mencetuskan satu lagi 13 Mei. Belajarlah dari sejarah negara ini yang kamu menjadi warga negaranya.

MBA@64

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Angpows are not cheap, maa!

I refer to your news report (May 23, 2007) entitled ‘PM denies pay rise linked to election.’ My question is: Why would the PM want to admit that it is linked to the general election? No rational political leader would admit to such a na├»ve intention. The fact that the election must be held before March 21, 2009, and that signs are showing that it could be held much earlier, makes the denial seem so fragile that it can be likened to the act of the robber who buried his loot and put up a sign that says ‘There is no money buried here.’

Whether the pay rise is linked or not to the upcoming general election is not important. The PM can go on denying it until the cows come home. However, its timing tends to suggest that the BN government is enticing the government servants with goodies sufficient to induce them to give their votes to the BN in the general elections. Who have not heard of ‘election year goodies’ which are almost always given out by elected incumbent governments in an election year? It happens not only here, but all over the world. Besides pay increase for government servants, other goodies may include tax cuts or higher personal and dependant relief for tax payers. So, why are voters’ memories so short-lived? Or are they so gullible? Can’t they see that it is a way to obtain support in the election?

Of course, we should all hail this announcement by the government as it will definitely help many people, especially those in the lower strata of society, to face the rising inflationary pressures brought about by the hiked fuel and toll prices. The Cabinet has had their pay rise much earlier to the tune of 10%. Many trade unions cried foul over the move, which they saw as unjustifiable and indefensible. At that time it was not opportune enough for government servants to be given salary increases because the 12th General Election was still too far away. It is better to let them “suffer” the price hike a little bit, so that they will appreciate the delayed pay rise better! Now, even the pensioners will not be left out. It is reported that a rise of 7 1/2 percent is being planned for this group.

While Malaysians welcome the latest move by the government, they should also be aware that things are not that good in the country. We have been having too many ‘scandals’ which involve government assets such as leaking roofs in parliament building (notoriously known as the ‘bocor’ episode), bursting pipes in newly completed court complex in Jalan Duta (NST, May 24, 2007), etc. The poor workmanship in these works tends to suggest that there is some hanky-panky in the award of contracts in the public sector. It also suggests that corruption may be at the core of these dealings. Of course it is difficult to prove conclusively the occurrence of bribery or ‘close one eye’ accords. The cons are very pros at their jobs that they are able to cover their tracts, like wearing gloves to hide their finger prints, not leaving footprints, and the like.

Corruption is a difficult foe to fight, let alone eradicate. It is especially so when the winning political party in the land is perceived to have a high tolerance for this scourge. Otherwise, how did the term ‘money politics’ crop up? It is practiced in party elections as attested by the sacking of a few UMNO people by the party. Many corruption cases just fizzled away without further action. Then in by-elections (perceived as ‘buy elections’ among cynics) and in general elections people report that they are being paid to vote for the ruling party. I am told that General Elections are not held until UMNO has RM500 million to spare as ‘angpows’. Yes, elections are expensive affairs every where. They are linked to the rising cost of living! Angpows are not cheap anymore.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Government or Parliament Should Pay?

In today’s (May 20, 2007) The Star and Berita Minggu, the headlines on the front pages are: ‘Big job ahead’ and ‘Najib persoal JKR’ (Najib questions PWD), respectively. The issue is the ‘roof leak’ in Parliament—which keeps simmering unabated, contrary to the wishes of Minister Shahrizat, who wanted the ‘bocor’ issue be totally plugged.

I find it strange that Najib should tick off JKR (Public Works Department, PWD) since it is a government department directly under a cabinet colleague, S. Samy Vellu, Minister of Works. This guy has been central figure of many controversies involving highway toll hikes, highway cracks, and leaking roofs in the Parliament building. By ticking off JKR, Najib is indirectly telling off Samy Vellu to get cracking with his job. By extension, since Samy is in the Cabinet of Abdullah Badawi (Pak Lah) at the pleasure of Pak Lah, Najib is indirectly insinuating something at his boss.

I pity the Director General of JKR, Dr Keizrul Abdullah (no relation to Pak Lah) who has to suffer in silence, being a civil servant. In the past, JKR has been the butt of jokes, being dubbed as ‘Jabatan Keling Ramai’ (department with many Indians) during pre-Merdeka days, and a few years after Merdeka. Then, when the racial mix of the Department changed, it became known as ‘Jangan Kerja Rajin’ (“Don’t work too hard”, an attitude said to be solely in the Malay domain, I am sad to say).

Now, however, JKR has turned the tables around, and tag itself as “Jasa Kepada Rakyat”. You see this tagline at many government projects, side by side with the BN tagline “Satu Lagi Projek Kerajaan Barisan Nasional.” Obviously, you do not see this sign at the Matrade Building, or the MMR2 highway which had the most colossal number of cracks. For example, 31 of 33 pillars supporting the Kepong Flyover were reported to be faulty as they had obvious cracks. At some pillars and tiers, there were more than 7000 cracks detected. Of course, no one wants to claim something as faulty as the MRR2; fortunately there was no fatality involved.

There must collective responsibility of the Cabinet in matters that involve the public interest. It is not right for a minister to point fingers and blame a subordinate department for the forlorn conditions of government assets, like buildings and highways. They should not be passing the buck. Each minister must say the “buck stops here!” There is no need to drum up publicity for oneself at the expense of another cabinet colleague. All ministers are responsible in the end for the sad state of affairs of a country, for they are the ones running the country.

The fact that RM90 million was used to renovate the parliament building and that did not include the roof speaks volumes about the lack of checks by the authority on the proposal made by parliament. Why was it overlooked? Aren’t there people who are qualified enough to go through the proposal for repairs to know that the time was also ripe to maintain the roof? Why create another fiasco, another ammunition for the ‘opposition’ to lambast at the government? All these are giving a negative image of the government being led by Pak Lah.

Najib says that it has not been decided whether the ‘government’ or ‘parliament’ should pay for the extensive roof repairs, the cost of which was not revealed. My, my! What kind of distinction is this? To me, whether the money comes from the ‘government’ (meaning the Executive branch?) or ‘parliament’, the taxpayers are the ones to bear the brunt of the cost.

So, what is the point of wondering who will pay? Just say the tax-payers will have to pay. Period. Parliament is part of the governance of Malaysia, comprising the Agung, Executive Branch, Backbencers and Opposition members.

Yes, the opposition members are part of the government too, since they are part of parliament. Once this concept is understood, there might be more respect for non-BN members of parliament—including the female members of opposition MP’s. We should prevent another ‘bocor’ fiasco in parliament and save the nation the embarassment brought about by the borderless world.

- MBA@64

Orangutan in the august house

The forum on environmental protection was just about to start. Panel participants are from Uganda, USA, India and Malaysia. The panelists are Nkrokodal Kusewa, Samuel Hutch, R. Ramachandran, and Lim Kit Siang. The chairman, Mr Karam Singh Walia of Malaysia, called each one in turn to talk about his country’s record on conservation of wild life.

“Why, in Uganda we have a great track record of wild life conservation. Every crocodile is tagged and every lion is also tagged. We track their movements and ensure that they are not threatened by poachers,” said Mr Kusewa from Uganda. “We know exactly the number of live lions and crocs in Uganda,” continued Kusewa.

“Thank you, Mr Kusewa. Now let’s hear from the USA,” said the chairman.

“In the USA, we care too much about the bison on our prairies. We also monitor their movements and breeding habits. Recently three new calves were born, and we are proud that the bison is gonna roam our plains again,” says Mr Hutch of the USA.

Not to be outdone, Mr Ramachandran listed three things about his conservation of the Indian tiger, when he said: “We in India love our tiger. So, we are now watching three major aspects:
• Elimination of all kinds of human activity in the core zones and minimization of activity in the buffer zone.
• Assessing the damage done to the eco-system by human activity and efforts to recover it to its original form.
• Monitoring the changes taking place and studying the reasons for the same.”

When Mr Lim Kit Siang’s turn came, the Malaysian rep said: “We in Malaysia are concerned about the fate of the orangutan. So concerned that we even have a few of them allocated seats in our legislature, the august house!”

At that point in time, someone from the floor blurted out: “RRRRRRRRay-cist!!”

“Oh, Mr Chairman, let me introduce to you, Mr Nazri Aziz!” said Lim Kit Siang.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Cows & Politics Explained

Cows & Politics Explained

A CHRISTIAN DEMOCRAT: You have two cows. You keep one and give one to your neighbor.

A SOCIALIST: You have two cows. The government takes one and gives it to your neighbor.

AN AMERICAN REPUBLICAN: You have two cows. Your neighbor has none. So what?

AN AMERICAN DEMOCRAT: You have two cows. Your neighbor has none. You feel guilty for being successful. You vote people into office who tax your cows, forcing you to sell one to raise money to pay the tax. The people you voted for then take the tax money and buy a cow and give it to your neighbor. You feel righteous.

A COMMUNIST: You have two cows. The government seizes both and provides you with milk.

A FASCIST: You have two cows. The government seizes both and sells you the milk. You join the underground and start a campaign of sabotage.

DEMOCRACY, AMERICAN STYLE: You have two cows. The government taxes you to the point you have to sell both to support a man in a foreign country who has only one cow, which was a gift from your government.

DEMOCRACY, MALAYSIAN STYLE: You have no cows, but the government has two. The Cabinet has a meeting as what to do with the cows. After a lengthy debate, it was agreed that the two cows be given to your poor neighbors on a pawah system. Before the meeting ended, Pak Lah reminded Muhyiddin the Agro-Industry Minister to make sure that the cows have their rumps (buttocks) branded with ‘UNDILAH BN’ and ‘SATU LAGI PROJEK BN’.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Favoritism in Promotion, says ZAM

Today (18 May 2007) I read in The Star Newspaper of a complaint by the Malaysian Minister of Information (Zainuddin Maidin, a.k.a. ZAM to Malaysians) that his Ministry practiced favoritism in staff promotion. I thought this was a bit weird because the complainant is Minister of his ministry, hence the top boss of the organization.

If there was favoritism in his ministry, he should be the one to be blamed for this ‘not-uncommon’ practice in government offices. Why should the civil servants be blamed for the fault? We all know that even the top civil servant in the ministry i.e. the Secretary General, is answerable to the minister. The minister should have dealt with the problem by calling up his Secretary-General during those weekly meetings and made known of his abhorrence of favoritism.

By announcing to the press that his ministry practices favoritism, he was giving the impression that the Secretary General of the Information Ministry is not answerable to the Minister of Information (ZAM himself). This I find most peculiar, because my knowledge of Malaysian administration tells me that the top boss any ministry is a minister. He, and no other, directs the top civil servant of his organization.

Favoritism is not unique to ZAM’s ministry. It is quite prevalent throughout the government’s administration—even in the private sector. A person who has been overlooked in a promotion exercise will invariably use ‘favoritism’ as one cause of his/her misfortune. It is easy to point fingers at this factor but it is very difficult to prove it conclusively.

Promotions are almost always based on subjective evaluations of performance by several levels of superiors. For example, an employee is first rated by his immediate superior on several dimensions, then by the next level of supervisor, who acts as a moderator. Sometimes peer evaluation is also used. Then based on these evaluations, the employee is awarded points on various aspects of his performance—such as his tangible work output and its quality, his relations with other colleagues, his attitude towards his organization, his potential for bigger tasks, etc.

In the news item that I picked up today, ZAM's Sec-Gen Datuk Siti Balkish Shariff is reported to have ‘vetoed’ (my own word) some of the ‘excellence’ awards recommended by the supervisors to selected staff members. This she did because she thought the staff was being awarded not based on proper merit, but based on ‘dirty’ favoritism. While this practice is to be abhorred, the Minister should clean up his organization first, before going public about it. The Malays call this as “membuka pekung di dada” – or washing dirty linen in public.

Monday, May 14, 2007

May Day for August House

In this country, politics divides people into two broad camps: the governing national front (BN) and those in the opposition parties. BN members in the Malaysian Parliament view opposition party members of parliament (DAP, PAS, PKR etc) with disdain and utter contempt. The former have very little respect for the latter. However good the latter’s ideas are, since they come from the ‘opposition’, they have no merit whatsoever. This shows the immaturity of our politicians in political affairs, despite receiving their education from developed countries.

Even the PM and DPM belong to this category when it comes to dealing with ideas emanating from the opposition. There has never been a case where good ideas of opposition are taken up and adopted as government policy. The BN guys are just too proud and arrogant to admit and give credit to good suggestions, propositions, and recommendations originating from the opposition.

Thus it did not come as a shock to me at all that MP Ms Fong Po Kuan’s (MP for Batu Gajah) move to refer the two recalcitrant MP’s (Mohd Said Yusof of Jasin, and Bung Mokhtar Radin of Kinabatangan) to the privileges committee was rejected by the Speaker of the House, Ramli Ngah Talib. The speaker’s excuse was completely unacceptable and merely goes to show the low mindset of the BN politicians in this country. Minister Nazri Aziz’s defence of the speaker’s action was expected—equally ‘haprak’. Talk of majority rule.

The BN women politicians, except for Ng Yen Yen from the MCA, were equally pathetic to say the least since the insults thrown by the two notorious rabble rousers (Jasin MP and Kinabatangan MP) affected all women on the face of this earth, not just the Batu Gajah MP.

How could they have tolerated this demeaning insult without batting an eyelid? Were they afraid that their rice bowl would be pulled away from under their chins had they voiced their disgust at the two goons for their filthy remarks? Just because the person being insulted directly was an opposition woman MP, does it mean it was ‘business as usual since it does not concern me after all’? How wretched!

Should we continue to call our Parliament the ‘august house’? Should we continue to address our representatives ‘Yang Berhormat’ when we know too well they have lost their ‘kehormatan’ by the droves. Some of these YB’s are not fit to sit in the so-called ‘august’ house because they behave more like ‘samseng jalanan’ than respectable representatives of the people. These samseng jalanan would sit around (lepak) by the roadside with their friends and would tease at girls passing by. They would bluster off wolf whistles to make their act even more aggravating and intimidating.

I would like to register my utter disgust at what happened in our Parliament on May 10 although I was on a plane from Jeddah to Kuala Lumpur that day. The news was picked up by Associated Press and published in the International Herald Tribune (http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/05/11/asia/AS-GEN-Malaysia-Sexist-Remark.php).

Now the whole world knows about Malaysia’s standard of debate in Parliament. One more reason why tourists should come to Malaysia this year!

It was a black day for Malaysian Parliament; it was most un-Islamic, for Islam is against such use of filthy joke in the course of promulgating a law for the people. I do not know whether “Islam Hadhari” being propagated by the Prime Minister can condone this act of the two BN MPs. By the look of things, from the deafening silence of the PM and his Deputy, it appears that Pak Lah’s “Islam Hadhari” can put up with grimy remarks from his two colleagues in the ‘noble’ house. The people being insulted by the two are actually themselves, the BN and Parliament.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

No hope for Opposition?

The hope for opposition parties to make a significant dent in the Malaysian Parliament is becoming a dream too difficult to achieve as long as the BN government and the BN party are the same. No matter how much we whine and lament about abuse of power, bribery in the electoral process, etc. the BN will be returned to rule Malaysia, election after election.

As long as the BN owns the mass media – print as well as electronic – the people will not take a second look at opposition parties to represent them. Granted, a few seats will go to DAP and PAS, but these will not alter the political landscape significantly. The BN will continue to romp home with larger than 2/3 majority.

So, why don’t the opposition parties start owning newspapers and TV stations? Are you out of your mind? TV and newspapers require licenses issued by the government. And who owns the government? Do you think they are going to give out those licenses? They are not so stupid. It will be suicidal to issue a lethal weapon to your enemies.

Even if the government were to issue licenses to print newspapers and broadcast TV programs to non-BN political parties (when pigs start to fly), the question is: will they have the capital and investors willing to take the risk? It is a jungle out there!

Monday, April 30, 2007

A Blatant Lie!

It was reported in government media (e.g. TV 1 ) that Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim made a 'slip of the tongue' wherein he asked Ijok voters to support Barisan Nasional (Undilah Barisan Nasional). The newscaster then concluded that, deep in his heart, TS Khalid Ibrahim still supports Barisan Nasional.

I would like to say the following:

Please don't believe what the BN Government dished out on State-run TV channels. A friend of mine who attended TS Khalid's speech that night told me that Khalid's speech was taken out of context; it was edited so that what viewers saw and heard was what was aired, i.e. Khalid 'telling' people to vote for BN. It is fairly easy to doctor a speech, by cutting the preceding words and those following "Undilah BN".

Anyway, I am not impressed by the margin obtained by the BN considering the PKR was actually contesting against the BN Government and its machinery. How can a small political party win an election against a government?

Even before the by-election, it could be predicted that the Government will do everything possible to win this contest. No political party stands a chance against the BN Government in a mixed constituency like Ijok.

All the BN big guns were there. Even the PM himself! He's not known to go down to the field in by-elections. But this time he did.

Najib Razak and Samy Value were in Ijok every day. Why did BN party supporters who were not voters come to Ijok on election day? The campaign was over and those who had no business should not come to Ijok. They created a suspicious situation.

With millions of RM's pledged, miles or roads resurfaced, hundreds of potholes covered, and hundreds of faulty lamps repaired, how can BN lose?

PKR's loss does not mean Anwar is written off. Remember, 4000 plus voters still supported PKR compared to 5800 voters supporting BN. That's a very respectable percentage. If Khalid lost his deposit then I would say Anwar has lost the people's support. So, Anwar should not give up. Please continue the struggle, even though it is an uphill task. Why?

Because the BN Government will forever control the TV channels (public or private) and all main stream papers in this country. Opposition parties do not have even one TV channel or a newspaper. The BN Government will never grant a publishing license to an opposition party. It would be suicidal to allow your opponent to possess a lethal weapon like a newspaper or TV channel.

Did anybody watch TV yesterday? It was reporting and analyzing the Ijok election results. Any critical viewer watching the program would think that the channel was a Barisan Nasional channel instead of a public channel supported by the tax-payers. Today I saw a slogan in the LHDN (IRB) office that says "I am proud to be a tax-payer". I would like to add this: "But I am disgusted with what the government does with my tax money!"

(Taken from Raja's Petra Kamaluddin Blog "Malaysia Today".)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Hishamuddin Assures Ijok Voters

Today’s Utusan Malaysia (April 26, 2007) carried a report of Hishamuddin Hussein, UMNO Youth Chief, assuring Ijok voters of their safety on election day, April 28, 2007. He said they need not fear disturbances from supporters of the opposition parties (PKR, PAS, and DAP).

He did not say whether the disturbances could come from the BN, which is also a possibility!

Hishamuddin said that opposition parties are always ‘acting outside the limits’ (bertindak di luar batasan), creating apprehension among voters, as had happened on nomination day. He was implying that opposition supporters were the ones who started the ruckus on April 19, 2007, even though many eye witnesses saw BN youth as the culprits. Police reports have been made about the commotion, but we may not know of the results of police investigations, if there was one.

BN is one of the parties contesting in the by-election. Why is Hishamuddin acting as if he is the police, assuring the voters of their safety? Shouldn't the police be the ones issuing the statement?

Poor PKR! Their supporters are always blamed for everything that goes wrong at elections and nominations. The BN youths and supporters are always portrayed as law-abiding citizens, although many eye witnesses report how their Oxford trained deputy leader was also responsible for the rising of tension on nomination day.

It is a sad day for Malaysia to have a rising star in UMNO behaving in a way that does not reflect his Oxford educational background. I would have thought that Oxford, being a premier higher education institution in the U.K., would have prepared the Deputy UMNO Youth with the basics of upholding democratic principles and fair play in a civilized society. What a let down!

Zainuddin Mengarah BBC

Dalam Utusan Malaysia hari ini (26 April 2007) saya terbaca satu berita di muka hadapan bertajuk ”Zainuddin bantah BBC tonjol pemimpin ditolak rakyat”. Saya petik bahagian pertama berita itu di bawah:

KUALA LUMPUR 25 April – Menteri Penerangan, Datuk Seri Zainuddin Maidin membantah tindakan British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) memberi tempat kepada pemimpin parti pembangkang yang telah ditolak oleh rakyat Malaysia untuk menyuarakan pandangan mengenai politik dan keadaan semasa di negara ini dalam rancangan televisyen kendaliannya.
Katanya, tindakan BBC itu tidak membantu dalam meningkatkan hubungan antara Britain dan Malaysia, serta tidak menghormati keputusan demokratik rakyat Malaysia yang menolak perjuangan parti pembangkang.
“Adalah wajar kalau diberikan kepada pihak pembangkang yang memang sudah ada tempat dalam politik di Malaysia, tetapi kenapa beri fokus kepada orang yang telah ditolak oleh kerajaan? Apakah tujuan BBC berbuat demikian?” katanya kepada pemberita di Angkasapuri ketika ditanya mengenai hasil lawatan empat harinya ke London dan Paris baru-baru ini.
Bantahan itu telah disampaikan sendiri oleh Zainuddin kepada Rita Hyne, Ketua Editor Bahagian Asia, BBC World, ketika beliau melawat BBC sewaktu mengadakan lawatan kerja di London.


Saya berasa malu bagi pihak rakyat Malaysia kerana seorang Menteri Kerajaan Pusat tidak merasa malu meminta sebuah badan penyiaran bebas bertaraf dunia seperti BBC untuk “tidak memberi tempat kepada pemimpin parti pembangkang yang telah ditolak oleh rakyat ... untuk menyuarakan pandangan mengenai politik dan keadaan semasa di negara ini dalam rancangan televisyen kendaliannya.”

Apakah Zainuddin Maidin sebagai seorang bekas wartawan tidak memahami peranan BBC dalam dunia penyiaran, sebagai badan bebas yang tidak ada kena mengena dengan Kerajaan British, yang kini dipimpin oleh Tony Blair? Sehingga ada kalanya, BBC juga boleh mengkritik Blair, misalnya dalam penglibatan Blair dalam Perang Iraq, yang dipimpin oleh George W Bush, Presiden AS.

Adakah Zainudin berfikir bahawa BBC itu seperti Kementerian Penyiaran yang diketuai oleh beliau sendiri? Iaitu sebuah kementerian yang tugasnya tidak lain daripada menjadi alat propaganda semata-mata? Memanglah menjadi tugas Zainuddin memastikan tidak ada sesuatu kritikan dibuat terhadap kerajaan yang dia menjadi anggota kabinetnya. Tetapi bidangkuasa Zainudin adalah semata-mata terhad kepada media cetak dan elektronik arus perdana di Malaysia sahaja, di mana beliau boleh menganggap dirinya ’raja’ pengawal media arus perdana.

Beliau tidak berkuasa ke atas media alternatif dan juga Internet.
Beliau telah meminta BBC agar jangan lagi memberi ’pentas’ kepada sesiapa ahli politik yang tidak sebulu dengan ahli politik BN yang beliau menjadi anggotanya, lebih-lebih lagi yang ”ditolak oleh rakyat.”

Apakah maksud ”yang ditolak oleh rakyat”? Jika ia bererti ”tidak ada pengikut” langsung, maka tidak ada pemimpin yang ditolak oleh rakyat. Kalaupun pemimpin itu tidak menang dalam pilihan raya, itu bukan alasan bagi Zainudin meminta BBC tidak memberi peluang kepada pemimpin tersebut. Apakah, dalam skima Zainuddin, pandangan minoriti tidak ada tempat langsung di Malaysia ini, yang sedang menuju ke era Wawasan 2020?

Memang diakui, pemimpin parti ”pembangkang” di Malaysia tidak ada tempat dalam media arus perdana. Media tersebut sentiasa memutarbelitakan kenyataan mereka supaya mereka kelihatan seperti ”crook” dalam cerita ”koboi dan Indian”. Hanya media luar negara, yang bertaraf dunia, seperti CNN, BBC dan Aljazeera sahaja yang memberi peluang kepada parti pembangkang.

Adakah Zainuddin merasa cemburu dan tergugugat dengan peluang yang diberikan oleh media antarabangsa kepada pemimpin golongan minoriti untuk menyuarakan pendapat mereka tentang cara pemerintahan di Malaysia?

Nampaknya, Zainuddin ini menentang globalisasi. Mungkinkah dia terpengaruhi dengan konsep ’glokaslisasi’ yang sedang dipopularkan oleh DPM Najib Razak?

Penulis bukan anggota mana-mana parti pembangkang, tetapi sekadar mempertahankan kebebasan media dalam menyatakan kebenaran dan memberi ”equal time” kepada golongan minoriti. Mereka ini juga rakyat yang membayar cukai dan tidak wajar ditindas.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Memancing Undi di Ijok 2007

Apakah tujuan sesebuah parti bertanding dalam pilihan raya? Untuk kalah atau untuk menang? Walaupun ada calon tertentu, seperti calon bebas, mungkin bertanding untuk sekadar hendak ”kacau daun” atau hendak memecahkan undi, namun semua parti politik bertanding untuk menang. Sama ada mereka yakin boleh menang atau tidak, itu persoalan lain. Jikapun mereka rasa tidak boleh menang, mereka akan terus melakukan kempen untuk menarik pengundi mengundi parti mereka.

Berkempen bertujuan menarik pengundi untuk mengundi parti kita, baik parti yang memerintah mahupun parti ”lain”. Saya cuba nak elakkan perkataan ”pembangkang” kerana, setahu saya, dalam amalan demokrasi berparlimen, istilah ’pembangkang’ digunakan dalam sidang parlimen sahaja, di mana ahli-ahli di susun mengikut parti—sama ada parti yang memerintah atau parti ’pembangkang’.

Pada ketika ini satu pilihanraya kecil akan diadakan di kawasan Ijok di negeri Selangor, berikutan kematian ahli Dewan Undangan Negeri,
Datuk K. Sivalingam. Parti BN dan PKR sedang ”bergelut” untuk ’merebut’ hati dan minda pengundi Ijok. Perkataan ”memancing undi” digunakan oleh parti ”luar” yang melawan parti penutur. Jika penuturnya orang BN, maka apa sahaja usaha parti lawan akan ditafsirkan usaha ”memancing undi”. Begitu juga sebaliknya.

”Memancing” membawa konotasi yang buruk, jika dikaitkan dengan pilihan raya. Dalam pertuturan seharian, memancing sejenis pekerjaan yang dilakukan oleh nelayan. Bukan-nelayan yang suka memancing menganggapnya sebagai satu hobi atau riadah. Tidak ada konotasi buruk terhadapnya.

Jika tujuan berpolitik ialah untuk memenangi pilihan raya, maka ”memancing undi” memanglah kerja politikus. Hari ini saya terbaca dalam akhbar tuduhan BN kepada PKR bahawa PKR memancing undi di Ijok. Apakah umpan yang digunakan? Sebenarnya PKR bukan sebuah parti yang banyak membawa umpan jika dibandingkan dengan BN. Jika PKR yang tuduh BN memancing undi, ada jugalah kredibilitinya.

BN membawa banyak ”umpan” ke Ijok. Umpan terbesar ialah “janji” pembangunan yang bernilai RM36 juta. Wang siapa? Wang kerajaan (rakyat), bukan wang parti BN. DPM, Najib Razak bertanya, jika Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim menang, adakah Khalid akan membelanjakan wang peribadinya untuk membangunkan Ijok? Saya rasa cakap begini agak kebudak-budakan bagi seorang DPM.

Adakah jika BN menang, calon BN akan menggunakan wang elaun ADUNnya untuk membangunkan Ijok? Saya sendiri pun berasa bodoh menanyakan soalan ini. Mana ada wakil rakyat yang menggunakan wang saku untuk pembangunan kawasannya? Kalau hendak derma untuk kenduri itu mungkin ada; ataupun untuk membayar yuran sekolah seorang dua murid miskin di kawasan sendiri. Tapi untuk membuat jalan dan longkang, saya tak percaya Samy Vellu pun pernah pakai duit sendiri.

Nampaknya di Malaysia ini, jika Ijok dimenangi oleh PKR, segala pembangunan akan dibekukan oleh Kerajaan BN di Ijok. Jalan yang baru diturap itupun agaknya, kalau boleh, mahu dikorek semula supaya ‘padan muka’ pengundi yang tidak “memakan umpan” tadi.

Ternyatalah di Malaysia, pembangunan hanya dilakukan di kawasan yang dimenangi BN sahaja. Kawasan parti pembangkan akan dibiarkan. Betulkah begitu? Tidak betul seratus peratus.

Ijok telah dimenangi oleh BN sejak dari dahulu lagi. Mendiang Datuk Sivalingam khabarnya pernah menjadi ADUN Ijok selama empat penggal! Dia mula menang di Seri Cahaya dalam tahun 1990. Mengapakah kerajaan tidak membangunkan Ijok sebelum pilihan raya kecil ini? Mengapa tunggu wakil rakyat mati baru mahu membawa pembangunan.

Jawapannya mungkin berkait rapat dengan kegigihan ADUNnya melobi kerajaan (negeri dan Pusat). Mungkin Sivalingam tidak begitu berpengaruh di DUN Selangor. Tetapi, bukankah YB itu ahli EXCO Kerajaan Negeri? Mengapa dia tidak berjaya menarik pembangunan ke Ijok selama lebih 10 tahun dia menjadi ADUN Ijok, sejak 1995?

Nampaknya, jika seseorang ADUN gagal membawa pembangunan ke kawasan DUNnya, dia patut letak jawatan segera. Kemudian akan diadakan pilihan raya kecil di kawasan itu. Kerajaan BN terpaksa menjanjikan pembangunan di kawasan itu serta merta untuk ”memancing undi.” Maka dengan perletakan jawatan oleh ADUN itu, berjasalah dia kepada pengundi-pengundi kawasannya.

Tetapi ini memerlukan pengorbanan yang besar—yang tidak ada ADUN sanggup melakukannya. Sebabnya, dia tidak akan dicalonkan lagi dalam pilihan raya kecil itu! Hilanglah kerjaya politiknya. Setiap politikus bertujuan menjadi politikus seumur hidup, atau sampai ke suatu tarikh ia disingkirkan oleh ketuanya, yang mana satu datang dahulu!

OK, adakah pembangunan dinapikan di semua kawasan ’pembangkang’? Jika kawasan itu dikuasai oleh DAP, biasanya kawasan itu kawasan bandar. Contohnya Seputeh yang diwakilii oleh Teresa Kok. Sebab Seputeh adalah kawasan bandar, pembangunan tetap diteruskan. Jalan raya sentiasa diperbaiki, lampu jalan sentiasa bernyala, rumput berpotong, dll. Pendek kata, penduduk Seputeh tidak rugi apa-apa jika diwakili oleh ’pembangkang’. Jadi, mereka terus mengundi DAP. Kawasan bandar susah diabaikan kerana banyak orang-orang 'penting' tinggal di bandar.

Tetapi jika kawasan itu luar bandar, pengundi memang mengundang ’nahas’ jika mengundi pembangkang. (Jangan guna Kelantan, sebab negeri itu terkecuali). Mahu tidak mahu, mesti undi BN jika mahu pembangunan. Contoh terbaik ialah Kubang Pasu. Kawasan ini diwakili oleh Dr Mahathir untuk sekitar 30 tahun; beliau adalah Ketua UMNO Bahagian itu sepanjang tempoh itu.

Banyakkah pembangunan di Kubang Pasu? Memang ada pembangunan di sana, seperti penubuhan UUM, Politeknik, Zon Perdagangan Bebas Bukit Kayu Hitam, Lebuh Raya PLUS, dll. Namun begitu, masih terdapat kampung-kampung yang belum mendapat api dan air. Sebab utama agak saya ialah penduduknya menyokong PAS. Tetapi ini satu ’generalization’ yang mungkin tidak benar; kerana ada juga kampong UMNO yang belum kelihatan begitu membangun. Keseluruhan Kubang Pasu nampak masih ’rural’ (kedesaan).

Jadi, sebagai penganalisis isu-isu sosial-politik, saya terkesan berlaku "diskriminasi ideologi" di Malaysia. Kawasan yang menyokong ’pembangkang’ akan dipinggirkan dari pembangunan, manakala kawasan ’parti kerajaan’ akan mendapat pembangunan – atau janji-janji ke arah itu. Kebanyakan rakyat bukan-Melayu menuduh kerajaan mengamal diskriminasi kaum. Tetapi di sebalik itu, mereka terus menyokong BN, kecuali di kawasan bandar (seperti Seputeh, Bukit Gelugur, Ipoh Timur, Bagan, Tanjung, dll). Jadi, yang menuduh itu hanya golongan minoriti sahaja. Barangkali, cuma bloggers?

Friday, April 20, 2007

There is more to development than roads and drains, which are most welcome when it rains

The smear campaign has just started! It is the fight for Ijok State Seat in Selangor. The two candidates vying for the seat are not the ones firing the salvos. These are coming from their supporters. BN and the PKR are the two parties in the ring. The do-or-die fight has been dubbed a ‘proxy fight’ between Anwar Ibrahim (former DPM) and Najib Razak (current DPM).

Khir Toyo, the Selangor Menteri Besar (Chief Minister), in true Malay spirit, has declared that fellow-Malay-Muslim, PKR candidate is ‘a jobless lightweight’ compared with the BN candidate, Cikgu Parthiban. He also reminded his audience that Khalid Ibrahim became a successful corporate figure due to assistance from the Barisan government. Khalid was appointed CEO of government-linked company, the Guthrie Group, prior to his retirement. Before that he was CEO of PNB, that agency to assist Malays to acquire shares via unit trusts.

The Malays have a special word for this ‘reminder’, namely, mengungkit from the word ungkit, which does not have an exact equivalent in English. The closest I can think of in English is to remind another person that ‘you are what you are because of my good deed—and don’t you forget that!’

The Selangor MB went on further to say that the PKR candidate did not give back anything to the people of Ijok, such as donations to suraus, mosques, temples, or even Khalid’s own school. Was the MB implying that the MIC candidate did all these?

Yes, political campaigns in Malaysia, especially during by-elections can get very personal and ugly. Every juicy bit of detail about an opponent will be used to bring him or her down. The more you can dig up, the better is for you. People seem to forget a Quranic injunction that prohibits malicious accusations of others.

I will not go as far as to accuse another person, fellow co-religionist, of not doing enough charity, for charity is often best done privately, with as little publicity as possible. In my understanding of Islam, the rewards from Allah are much greater if charity or sadaqah, is given anonymously.

If not given anonymously, then it should not be unduly publicized, because it leads to ‘riak’ (showing-off). This character (sifat) is considered bad (mazmumah). ‘Charity should be given by the right hand without the knowledge of the left-hand’. The purpose of the act is to earn Allah’s pleasure and not to seek publicity and praises.

The practice of displaying oversized, mock cheques at charity events, I believe, is not in accordance with Islamic teaching. I may be wrong here and stand to be corrected by people who are more knowledgeable than me.

The people of Ijok should be happy now that development is being poured into the district by the BN state government. They have to thank the opposition for their good fortune. If there was no contest for the seat, I don’t think they will be promised RM36 million worth of development. Ijok voters, please thank Dr Khir Toyo also for this.

The people of Machap, Melaka, can testify to this observation. Today we read in cyberspace that some good, grateful citizens of Machap have taken up advertising space in a Chinese newspaper to thank the defeated DAP candidate ‘for bringing in development’ to Machap. What an irony, but it’s kind of true! Batu Talam experienced the same thing: development suddenly became a buzzword in that ‘sleepy hollow’ too.

Why does it have to be this way? Why can’t development be spread out more evenly and sincerely all over the country? Why wait for a by-election to bring development? I thought BN is synonymous with development. Now it appears that development is synonymous with by-elections. Why do we have to ‘bribe’ people to vote for us? No wonder it is damn difficult to combat corruption: its definition is too blurred.

The ‘development card’ is over-used in elections, when most of the ‘development’ occurs in large cities like ‘Cooler Lumpour’ (my ‘pet name’ for KL; Cooler Lumpour is cooler when it pours), Ipoh, Penang, JB etc. Development is almost always associated with physical infrastructure only—like roads, highways, airports etc. How about throwing in some human development—like education about the democratic process, press freedom, freedom of information, space for diversity of opinions, civic consciousness etc? There is more to development than roads and drains, which are most welcome when it rains.

Vision 2057 Now?

We have not even reached 2010, let alone 2020, and yet the Prime Minister Pak Lah is already looking at 50 years ahead. Bravo Pak Lah! You are such a visionary. It is good to be a visionary. Dr Mahathir, our 4th PM was a visionary when he was PM. After all, didn’t he craft Vision 2020 in 1991? That was 30 years ahead of the target date. Pak Lah, as if to outdo Dr Mahathir, has now come up with ‘Vision 2057.’

For the next 50 years, the PM will be planning for his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren! I say that’s quite an ambition Mr. Prime Minister. I have never come across this kind of long-range planning in development economics textbooks during my university days. So, is Pak Lah thinking of establishing a Badawi dynasty?

I salute Pak Lah for his fortitude in proposing this 50-year plan. Of course we should be looking at 50 years from now and imagine what it will be like. Most of us won’t be around then—especially those above 50 now. Even some people below 50 will not be around as they would have died on our highways! Other killers include cancer, heart ailments, etc.

Yes, what will Malaysia be like 50 years from now? What will be Malaysia’s population then? Using compound interest formula, and assuming a constant population growth rate of 2.5% per annum, our population will be about 92.4 million then. Wow! That would be 3.4 times the present population of 26.9 million (March 2007 estimate by Wikepedia). Tun Mahathir would be the happiest man then because his vision of 70 million people would have been overshot by 22.4 million. The Tun would be 132 years old then!

Will we have the natural resources to support this kind of population? Do we still have forests in Malaysia in 2057? That depends on our children and grandchildren who will inherit the earth. Will they conserve our natural resources the way we plan for them? This brings the question of whether it is realistic to make a 50-year plan for the future generation. Who knows what they need when most of us are no longer around? Do we know better than them?

In economic planning, economists seldom go beyond 25 years. Why? It is simply because the “present value” (PV) of a ringgit gets to be so miniscule beyond twenty-five years. Therefore projects are appraised only for a period of no more than 30 years. Beyond that, it does not make much difference to the PV.

More importantly, it is far-fetched to plan for Vision 2057 when we are struggling with Vision 2020. Do we have the pre-conditions to achieve vision 2020? I am not just referring to the physical conditions, but more importantly the human aspects as well. Are we a good model of a democratic country that values differences of opinions, that has religious tolerance, integrity and uphold fair-play in the distribution of justice and wealth?

Should we plan for 2057 when we are still struggling with the fight against corruption within our society? It is doubtful whether we can achieve Vision 2020 at the rate we are progressing in this battle against this scourge of the nation.

How about the dadah (illicit drug) menace? How about the Mat Rempit phenomenon? Are we making good progress in these two areas of social ills to be able to achieve Vision 2020? How can we solve the problem by making them jump at the North Pole?

Selangor is supposed to be a developed state two years ago (2005). Then, how come we suddenly find that Ijok is still backward? So much so, RM36 million has been promised to develop Ijok during this by-election (to be held on April 28).

Dream by all means. But be realistic and let your feet be firmly planted to the ground. We don’t live forever, so let the future generation have a role to shape their future.


Ijok Oh Ijok! Kenapa kau sibuk?

The Ijok by-election fight is on! The two political parties contesting for the vacant seat are the BN and PKR (KeADILan). Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim, MBA (PKR) and Cikgu [Teacher] K. Parthiban, M.Ed. (BN) are contesting for the Ijok seat on April 28, 2007.

‘Dia.mau.kerusi’ is alive in Malaysia!

The most highlighted news today in the local press was the rowdy behavior of supporters of both parties at the nomination centre yesterday. Both sides accused each other of starting the commotion.

Reading how national leaders of both contending parties point fingers at each other remind me of two children having a fight, and each child trying to tell his parent that the other child started it. For example, the Menteri Besar of Selangor said: “I was there and saw the first bottle being thrown. I am sure it came from the Keadilan side” (as quoted by the Sun newspaper today).

The DPM, Najib Razak, who led the BN team at the nomination, said: “the Keadilan supporters seemed aggressive today. I hope that they respect the law...and do not increase tension and conflict.” On the other side, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail claimed that it was UMNO Youth members who threw the bottle [first].

Hishamuddin Hussein, the UMNO Youth chieftain, said that they (UMNO) always faced this problem when they were up against PKR, and that they didn’t have this problem with other parties. Maybe it’s because of the presence of UMNO Youth Gerak Gempur in Ijok that sparked the commotion. Or didn’t Hisham bring his keris along?

Children, children...please!

By-elections actually reveal leaders’ true colors. We can expect all kinds of dirty linens to be washed in public in the next few days leading up to the Election Day. MIC chieftain, Samy Vellu, had promised to ‘expose’ Tan Sri Khalid’s dark side to the Indian voters in ijok. Apparently, some Indian Malaysians in Ijok are not happy with the PKR candidate’s (a former Guthrie Group CEO) alleged past role in giving an unfair deal to Guthrie’s estate workers, who were mostly Indian Malaysians. Many people believe that Samy Vellu will use this issue to the hilt in a bid to win the seat.

PKR has nothing bad to say about the BN candidate, since he is almost a ‘virgin’ (oops! I mean a bachelor, at 38). The Cikgu is still a novice. But that will not stop PKR from exploiting other issues connected to BN leaders. Predictably, topping the list would be the DPM Najib Razak’s alleged involvement in the Altantuya case, which is now with the courts, and his alleged involvement in the purchase of a Russian ship, for a commission is said to be paid to certain parties. But Najib Razak says he will not use his privileged information to discredit Anwar Ibrahim, PKR advisor, because Mr Anwar has a wife and daughters. Good for you Najib! That’s the way to go. Let’s hope PKR, too, on its part, will be above board. Winning is not every thing, and how you win is also important. We are trying to teach good values to our children, are we not?

I suppose this is the most interesting by-election since Lunas, in which the BN lost to PKR in a most “bloody” (figuratively, la!) fight of the millennium. Who will win the Ijok contest? Let the voters decide. But both sides should fight it out in a gentlemanly way. Please don’t use dirty tactics and bribery to win. There are many forms of bribery, some appear to be legal, but they are immoral. Doesn’t morality mean anything anymore in this country of ours? So, please do not make promises you cannot fulfill. No party should be allowed to use government property to campaign – just stick to your party resources to win. BN, please fight like a gentleman.

What do I, as an observer, see during by-elections? To tell you frankly, I think we are a late developer to democracy. After 50 years, we have not matured yet when it comes to politics and contests for seats. Every contest must appear like a do-or-die undertaking. Like two dogs fighting for a piece of bone.

Why? Why can’t we be like developed countries? Most of our leaders were trained in these advanced countries. Why don’t they bring some of their overseas experience to our politics? Like not hitting your opponents ‘below the belt’ and keeping out personal attacks. Keep to the issues that concern the rakyat, like high costs of living, corruption, shoddy workmanship of government contractors, etc. But of course, it takes two to tango, or two hands to clap.

The BN, being the incumbent, sees the Ijok seat as their birth right, and must win it back by hook or crook. But it can afford to lose Ijok without losing power in the State assembly. However, losing Ijok spells a bad omen for the party, as Ijok is an indicator for performance in the general election (GE). Results in Ijok will be used by both sides of the political divide to make projections or extrapolations for the GE. Well, let us pray that no untoward incidents will happen during the campaign period. It will be like we hope if both sides observe the law and keep their cool.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

NO NEED TO FOLLOW THE BN WAY...


This is the season for by-elections. In a space of less than six months we are seeing three by-elections—Batu Talam (Pahang state), Machap (Melaka) and now Ijok (Selangor). All three are brought about by the untimely demise of the state assemblymen of these respective state constituencies. Now all eyes are focused on Ijok, in Berjuntai Bestari (formerly as Batang Berjuntai—never mind the reason behind the name change!)

As usual in any by-election, stiff lobbying will take place within all political parties vying for the vacant seat. The BN, being the incumbent holder of the seat and the state government, was the first to announce its candidate, in this case, K. Parthiban, 38, an MIC member and a teacher. The opposition comes from Parti Keadilan Rakyat, whose candidate is Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim, 61, a corporate figure who is also their Treasurer.

The Menteri Besar of Selangor has already promised to pump in RM36 million to develop Ijok—a huge sum considering the small size of the constituency. For ordinary people, whose primary need is for good infrastructure, the RM36 million promised would be the best thing that can happen to their ‘sleepy hollow’ like Ijok.

The opposition is crying foul over the promise, because it perceives this to be a corrupt practice in elections (buying votes in a ‘buy’-election?) The fact is that, this sort of behavior has been going on for over half a century in Malaysia—since the country’s independence in 1957. With such a promise, there can be no doubt that BN will be returned handsomely in this by-election.
Who says there has to be a level playing field in any contest? This world subscribes to the notion that “might is right.” Whoever is in power will use it to perpetuate his or her power. The age of chivalry is gone. After all, even the PM is selected by the outgoing PM, and not by his party members.

In today’ NST, the DPM Najib Razak criticized PKR’s decision to field Khalid Ibrahim, a Malay, in a constituency with the largest Indian electorate in the country. He says that the PKR should follow the BN way by fielding another Indian PKR member to fight against the MIC candidate.

Najib Razak seemed to fail to understand that the purpose of a political party in a by-election (or any election for that matter) is to win. Any party will do whatever it takes to win an election. The BN has the luxury of fielding an Indian candidate because it is already in power. Even if it loses Ijok, it will remain the state government. The PKR does not have this luxury. It has to strategize in order to make the greatest impact on the electorate. It does not have to follow the BN way in selecting its candidate.

The PKR wants to repeat its success in Lunas (Kedah) by-election. The PKR needs to win the Ijok election because it will be a good barometer for the coming general election. It cannot afford to gamble in the choice of candidate just to prove it is a multiracial party. Perhaps in the general election it can adopt a more liberal attitude in the allocation of seats to satisfy all its members, but not in a by-election. Since Ijok is a Malay majority district, Khalid Ibrahim is a candidate sent by heaven! He is a local-born, a successful Malay corporate figure and Malays can easily identify him as the man responsible for the success of Amanah Saham Bumiputra. The people of ijok should give this man a chance to serve in the Selangor State assembly. It is time we have some dissent in the assembly which is now filled with all “yes-man”. After all, isn’t this what Najib wanted when he suggested that the education system should be revamped to eliminate rote learning. If we want to encourage healthy discussion by tolerating dissent, then it is time to put Khalid Ibrahim in the Selangor State assembly. The state will only benefit from his presence.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

We don't need new curriculum....but

Today we read in the mainstream media (NST, STAR, etc) that the Malaysian DPM, Najib Razak, has suggested that the education curriculum be revamped. He said that rote learning must be replaced so that Malaysians of the future can be more creative and be able to think for themselves--or something to that effect. Prof Khoo Khay Kim of University Malaya and Tengku Shamsul Bahrain President of Nilai College were quoted as quickly supporting the idea.

To me there is nothing wrong with the present curriculum in our schools. There is no urgency to effect drastic changes to the curriculum. After all, the curriculum is the body of knowledge that we want to impart to the younger generation. We cannot escape from giving our children a set of knowledge--i.e. content of the curriculum.

The problem with our education system is that we do not know how to cultivate the minds of our children--to think independently and to participate in classroom discussions. Our teachers generally do not encourage questions from their pupils, for fear they cannot provide the answers. If this happens, these teachers think that they would lose face.

A teacher could always tell her (or his) pupils this: “Now, Ali, that is a very interesting question. Does anybody know the answer?” In all likelihood, someone in the class may have the answer. If not, and if the teacher is also not able to give the answer, she could say: “I do not have the answer right now, but I know how to search for it. Can you give me until tomorrow to give you the answer?” This is one way to avoid embarrassment, or get out of a difficult situation. It’s not that difficult, is it?

This sort of culture (not questioning your superiors) permeates in the Malaysian society. We see it in politics. Followers are not supposed to question the leader's decision.

For example, backbenchers (YB’s) are not allowed to ask ‘sensitive’ questions to the ministers. These YB’s are, supposedly, the representatives of the rakyat--yet they cannot raise issues that concern the rakyat.

UMNO has even “banned” contest for the top posts, because a contest means questioning the wisdom of the incumbent leader, who should be given free passage to lead, until he gets burnt out!

Therefore, it is widely perceived that 'wakil rakyats' are actually 'wakil pemimpin parti' (party leaders' reps). Take the case of Ijok by-election, and look at the way Works Minister Samy Vellu (cum MIC chieftain) selected HIS representative to contest in this by-election. His 'arrogance' has led to the resignation of the Kuala Selangor MIC chief P. Thirumoorthy--or was Thirumoorthy given the sack by Samy Vellu? I think it is the latter! The BN way of selecting the wakil rakyat is not "bottom-up" but mostly “top-down”. This same culture is slowly being adopted by non-BN parties. A mixture of bottom-up and top-down would have been more acceptable.

So, coming back to Najib's idea (actually he is not the first guy to suggest this, and I don't think he should be given the credit for mooting it), I believe that the present curriculum (Knowledge content) is alright. What is needed is that the teaching method should be revamped.

It is not that teachers have not been exposed to the most modern teaching methods in their training. The problem lies with the teachers trying to minimize work and to do what is the easiest. Some don’t even teach, but sit at their desks and tell their pupils to “use their time profitably”. It happened 40 years ago and it happens even today.

We should now be looking at how teachers should conduct their classes in a more congenial way so as to promote thinking. This is the new challenge—not to simply change the curriculum content. That would be too superficial and not hitting the nail on the head. Revamp the philosophy and practice of teaching itself.

Change the format of the delivery of the subjects taught. Have smaller classes and institute round-table discussions in the classroom. Make teachers more effective facilitators, and let the children learn through their own discoveries.

Have more group projects and make sure that the groups are mixed ethnically. Make them write reports and let them present their findings. Allow others to question the findings and let the presenters know that they have to be accountable for those findings. Detect plagiarism early so that this disease does not become contagious in society.