Saturday, June 18, 2011

Does Bersih serve a point?

“All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men [and women] to do nothing.” - Edmund Burke

Basically we are tired of a unfair election system. We are sick of the fact that the Electoral Commission can draw electoral lines at whim, and we are tired that we are not really sure that our vote counts as it should. Why is it that a DAP Member of Parliament has a constituency of 50,000 people when a BN Member of Parliament has a constituency can only have 10,000 people. This is most obvious in the case of Seputeh, where Teresa Kok received 47,230 votes from 58,207 votes cast versus the case of Putrajaya, where Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor received a majoriry of 2,492 votes out of 5,500 votes. The disparity between seats are staggering.

The sheer disproportion of the drawing of constituencies has to be put in doubt in what has been dubbed as 'gerrymandering'. The most recent example was reported by Malaysiakini in their May 26, 2011 article claiming that 1,210 voters from the Sabak state constituency have been transferred to Sungai Panjang. The most telling statistic is that something is not right with everything at home comes from the most recent 2008 General Election, where Barisan Nasional garnered a simple majority of 50.27% of the popular vote, but held 140 seats or 63.1% in Parliament, as compared to the opposition who garnered 46.75% of the popular vote, but only translates to 82 seats or 36.9% in Parliament. Although it seems like a fair democracy, it is clear that some votes count more than others.

Now, we have Najib, Muyhiddin Yasin, Hishammudin Hussein, Khairy and Ibrahim Ali all jumping into the mix, on one side saying that it is a matter of national security that the march should be stopped and the other side who said that they would march as well. In the mainstream media, the hype continues and it heightens day by day culminating in the arrest of 30 Parti Sosialis Malayia activists accused to be communists, and a youth in Gombak Baru, Kuala Lumpur being arrested for wearing a Berish T-shirt.

So does Bersih really serve a point? The government doesn't like it, the police don't like it nor do the cabbies. It is disruptive to public order and it will bring Kuala Lumpur to a standstill. The likelihood of a clash is high, whether it is between Perkasa and Bersih, or the police and Bersih, or between the police, Bersih, Perkasa and UMNO Youth all at the same time. Although most of the crowd will remain calm, it is always a couple of individuals who spoil it all for everyone.

Despite all of this, the government continues to practice double standards. If Perkasa can continue their message of hate, for Utusan Malaysia to continue defaming Datuk Ambiga, but for poets and opposition members pulled up for 'sedition', Bersih 2.0 has to go on. What this would do is expose the BN coalition for what it really is, and the whole world will be watching with intense interest. All democracies require a free and fair system. Similarly, the right to assemble is another of our rights enshrined in our own constitution. If we can't do something as simple as uphold our constitution, we become prisoners in our own country.

For those who want to march, bring along a bottle of water, goggles and a hand towel. For those in KL who don't want to join the rally, stay at home. If you do go out, expect severe delays. But wherever we are on July 9, let us be united in spirit for a united, peaceful, democratic nation.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Why MCA?

Hilarious, and so true at times. MCA has really taken all of us for a ride.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

1Malaysia an empty slogan

Obviously the Prime Minister sings one tune, and spends millions of ringgit on it's promotion and propagation, and yet, it comes to nothing as the events of this week has transpired.

For those not in the know, Subang Jaya Assemblywoman Hannah Yeoh along with her husband, Ramachandran Muniandy has just celebrated the birth of their daughter. With parents of mix-parentage, they attempted to register the child's race as "Anak Malaysia". However, the National Registration Department flat out refused to entertain such a 'preposterous' notion that the parents couldn't tick a box next to Malay, Chinese or Indian. Even the option of 'other' was not possible, and after a massive amount of arguing, they had to relent and register their child as Chinese.

One would have thought after all this racial marginalisation since independence, we would finally have a Prime Minister who understands that although we are a multi-racial, multi-cultural society, the reality is that Malaysians have evolved into once race and no longer need to call themselves Malay, Chinese, Indian, Iban, Kadazan, Bugis and the like.

We thought that 1Malaysia which Najib had developed was supposed to place all Malaysians in the same steed. The DAP were a little worried that he stole the idea from the DAP, and he was going to adopt the idea to apply to BN. Fortunately or unfortunately, this couldn't be further from the truth.

Over the past 3 years, Malaysia has become more divided along racial lines, the old gripes resurfacing and politicians deliberately using racial sentiment for political gain while causing division. In 21st century Malaysia, this is simply unacceptable.

The NRD in their flat our refusal to accept "Anak Malaysia" seems contradictory to the PM's message, but we shouldn't be so surprised. In fact, the PM has no interest to unite the country, but to divide it in order to remain in power. 1Malaysia basically means that we should all unite during polling day to vote for BN and sink back and watch them rape and pillage the country under the New Economic Model.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng sums up the whole "Anak Malaysia" case in this quote:

"Forcing Hannah and Ramachandran to choose either "Indian or Chinese is repugnant when they just want their child to be known as Malaysian."

"They have striven to let Malaysians see that we should never allow BN to corrupt young minds with obsolete and dangerous racist ideology that one's child is never good enough and must be forever dependant on the tongkat or that they will never be rewarded for their good performances no matter how deserving they are just because they come from a certain race."

Deputy Prime Minister Muyhiddin Yasin in March 2010 when asked by Karpal Singh whether he was a Malay or Malaysian first to which he replied:

"I am Malay first, but being Malay doesn't mean I am not Malaysian," he said. "How can I say I'm Malaysian first and Malay second? All the Malays will shun me... and it's not proper,".

This shows us that some things never change.

Barisan Nasional have accused Pakatan Rakyat to be divisive by playing racial politics and that they are incapable of governing properly. That's rich. UMNO, MCA and MIC which form the core of Barisan Nasional are the most racist parties in the country, by having 'race' based membership. BN wants Malays to be Malay first, and like wise for the Chinese and Indians. Keeping the divisions keeps the people in line, which is exactly what they want.

Lim Guan Eng once again sums it up:

"Clearly BN is so racist that being a Malay first, Chinese first or Indian first is more important than being a Malaysian first.

"By deliberately forcing us into ethnic boxes BN is not celebrating diversity nor creating a common Malaysian identity, but opportunistically playing divide and rule politics."

I wish Shay Adora Ram all the best, and I pray that she can grow up in a country not governed by bigots.

Salam 1Malaysia.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Why Malaysians Leave and What will bring them back

There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting the best for your child. Sending them to the best schools, private tuition, sending them for music lessons, taking them for sport coaching and then sending them to overseas universities. The kids grow up to become upstanding members of society, but not in our country. In the US, UK or Australia. When asked about coming back, it is shrugged off as a nonsensical suggestion.

Just a few days ago, the MCA shot a question back to the DAP, "What has the DAP done to attract back foreign talent?". That is a good question. As I mentioned before, Talent Corp headed by Dato' Seri Idris Jala is supposed to attract our talented Malaysians abroad to come back home. They are supposed to do so by cutting their income tax by 1% and giving them a discount on their first two cars. I do not know if entering the government makes you more stupid, but surely these are completely nonsensical and trivial issues which Malaysians abroad would pay no attention to.

So why don't they want to come back? My father helped to shed some light on this issue. Coming back on a flight from England, he met many Malaysians who are returning home to visit their families. They are young, budding professionals slogging it out hard in the UK.

In reality their lives are not as rosy as people make it out to be. Yes they earn £5000 a month, which translated to Malaysian Ringgit is RM25,000 which is a lot of money, but rental is high, groceries are expensive, and the general cost of living is high as well, not to mention tax.

They walk to work, take public transport everywhere, they don't own a car, they work hard and stay at home on the weekends because it's too expensive to go out. How are they happy with this reality? They confess to my father that actually Malaysia is a great country and they would like to come back, if not for the government.

This was a rather sweeping statement so my Dad asked for more clarification. They put down several points:

1. The system isn't fair. They feel that they could work hard in Malaysia, but they would never be treated because race is more important than ability, whether it is in a bumi or non-bumi company.

2. The potential to grow is not there. Companies which are favoured by the government are molly-coddled which prevents healthy competition from taking place. This stifles the ability of any company to enter the market without an endorsement from the government.

3. Lack of international confidence. Foreign companies do not see Malaysia as a competitive market place, and they are not confident to invest because of the limited opportunities presented by a biased system.

4. Judicial incompetence. Our judiciary do whatever the ruling party tells them to do. There is no confidence that the Opposition won't do the same to manipulate the system as BN has done if they go into the government. Reform has to happen and happen quickly.

5. Widespread corruption. For many, people accept corruption as a part of their lives. For those collecting bribes, it is a part of their income in which to reject it would deprive themselves and their families of the lifestyles they want to enjoy. For the large scale corruption, it is because of favourable government contracts to certain companies and individuals, and political legacies which have benefited from the system to the tune of millions of dollars.

6. Mentality. In general, people in Malaysia do not seem to be so progressive minded and show a reluctance to modernise. A society should be progressive in order for the country to progress.

7. Lack of infrastructure. Despite all the mega-projects which is going on, the government seems more interested to build highways rather than workable, functional, affordable public transport systems. Access in Kuala Lumpur equates to a good hour and a half stuck in a traffic jam. The monorail is good, but it really is for tourists. We need to have a proper integrated public transport system.

8. Rising crime rates. Nothing puts off Malaysians coming home more than stories that crime is on the rise. We can walk around London, Melbourne and New York feeling safe, but the moment we are back in KL, it is all about security guards, possessions under lock-and-key, gated communities and the like. It is atrocious that we feel so unsafe walking around our own country!

9. Racism. In a modern society, racism has not part in it. In England, it doesn't matter if you are black, white, asian, middle eastern, Indian or Pakistani. If you were born in England, you are English. The same with America and the same with Australia. In Malaysia, we use race prefixes ie. I'm Chinese Malaysian. That technically doesn't make any sense as the proper term would be "Chinese descent". It is the political parties like UMNO, MIC and MCA which have done nothing but elevate the racial argument even further. It's not about who is Malay, Chinese or Indian but the fact we are all Malaysian. Unfortunately, we are lacking this identity because of racial politics. Because of this division, so many are willing to give up their citizenship of Malaysia to become part of a country that will treat them with respect as individuals, not because of the colour of their skin.

10. Oppression. There is no freedom to fight for what you think is right because it is in violation of national security. National security is defined as according to what the Barisan Nasional government wants, which ultimately translates to whatever is best for the party. We cannot trust their ability to manipulate elections, redraw constituencies requiring opposition MPs to have 70,000 votes to win while the BN MP only needs 5,000. Criticizing your government should be your right and duty of being a citizen, but instead we are told to sit down and shut up like little kids.

These are just a couple of points, but the list probably could go on. The BN government has to realise that dangling carrots in front of the Malaysians abroad will not bring them home. So just to answer the MCA, the DAP is doing a lot more than the MCA has ever done for this country. If the MCA want to take the myopic point of view that scholarships would garner loyalty, that would just lead to their own demise.

The DAP and our Pakatan Rakyat partners wants a Competent, Accountable and Transparent government, an overhaul of the judicial system, stamping out graft and corruption and a cleaner and safer Malaysia. The DAP is setting an example in Penang, and the results are there for all to see. Once the system has changed, we wouldn't have to worry about Malaysians abroad coming home. They would come back anyway.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Does BN Want to Lose?

It's a serious question. Although I fully agree that the nation in order to progress has to be weaned off subsidies, whacking the general public which is dealing with inflation and increases left-right and centre with an electricity tariff increase is just cruel, and with a coming election, downright stupid.

Peter Chin comes out and says that the government has no power to force IPPs to reveal their contracts. Don't make me and the public laugh. Are we talking about the same government? The government that can arrest and lock up opposition politicians at will, one which the Prime Minister is vicariously in control of our natural gas and oil reserves? One which billions can be disseminated to cronies and their associates? One which controls the media to a 'T' to ensure that they don't publish anything negative about the BN government, but openly endorses racism, and division? The same government who advocates People First, Performance Now? If it is indeed the same government, then I must be completely blind.

As for the general public, what is the impact of all of these issues?

Let's make a list of what is more expensive:

1. 7.12% increase in electricity tariff.
2. 8.3% increase for manufacturers who will pass it to the consumer.
3. Food prices in Malaysia has increased at a 200% rate against world food prices.
4. Between September 2010 and April 2011, vegetables have increased between 40 to 60% in price.
5. The price of onions have gone up by 400%
6. Sugar is up by 10.2%
7. A household with an income of RM1,500 would find that their costs have gone up by 40% just from their grocery bill.

On the flip side, the average salary in this country has risen by 2.6% over the past 10 years from 2000 to 2010, or a paltry 0.26% a year! This is almost akin to a Japanese savings account, where you get out less than you put in.

Yes, by all means reduce subsidies, but you need to ensure that we can be a competitive economy in order to do so! What is the point of trying to sugar coat everything when this is a classic case of mis-management of the highest order. To use a business analogy, it is like saying, the directors screw up and the workers have to pay for it and get penalised consistently. To add to the point, the workers are also the shareholders, and at the AGM, we are compelled to re-elect them to the board of directors because of all the past success of our company. Doesn't make much sense. Of course, just before the AGM, the directors payout a token bonus, buy us lunch and say that the future would be better under them. Come on people, we weren't born yesterday.

At this point in time, BN has just given PR a lot more ammunition come the next General Election. They hope the electorate have a short memory, but PR shall just come back and recap everything they have screwed up on. If BN wants to silence PR, it's a tall order to lock up all the politicians during the election under the Internal Security Act. Obviously, questioning the government's policies and decisions are a threat to national security. If we are to operate as a true democracy, it is the right and duty of the people and the opposition to remind the government as to what their responsibility is.

Does Barisan Nasional want to lose the next election? I doubt so. However, it's a massive uphill climb for this government. Can they make Peter Chin a scapegoat and sideline the Sarawak United Peoples Party? Perhaps, considering the SUPP were caught out at the latest elections. The opposition has a really easy job. There is no need to dig up dirt when they so willingly present it to you on a silver platter.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

If Anwar had re-joined Umno in 2004

A beautifully written whimsical account of the what-if's.

Written by Iskandar Dzulkarnain, Malaysia Chronicle

Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim recently revealed that "feelers" were sent out to him in 2004 to rejoin UMNO, from which he was sacked in 1998, and if he had agreed his life would be much less mired in controversy than now.

"I'm seen to be a threat. What else? Say I retire tomorrow; do you think they would proceed with all this? Say I retired in 2004 after my release (from prison), that was the only time feelers were sent to me, whether I could re-join Umno. Do you think we would have this now? " - Malaysiakini

What if Anwar had given up on his ideals, ran away from his problems and re-joined UMNO, which was then led by Abdullah Badawi? What would the scenario be like for the Malaysia today?

Looking back to his ABIM days, it barely took Anwar 11 years to attain the post of Deputy Prime Minister after joining UMNO. If he did re-join UMNO in 2004, it would have taken him lesser time still to be the current DPM.

What would have become of Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin? What are the chances that Najib Razak would be the Prime Minister today?

Of course, former premeir Mahathir Mohamad would have cursed at such a possibility, and his son Mukhriz might not have been made deputy minister. But UMNO Youth Chief Khairy Jamaluddin would be snugly holding onto to a ministerial portfolio now and playing an important part in Malaysian politics.

Sabah and Sarawak would still remain as safe deposits too and DAP wouldn’t have made any significant advances in its struggle.

Altantuya would still be alive and 1 Malaysia a strange word

Anwar would have weaved his magic wand, and UMNO would have been under his thumb. If Anwar had joined UMNO back in 2004, would he have become Chief Minister of Penang, while working his way up the ladder again? Would he have been Foreign Minister in place of Anifah Aman?

Azzizah, his wife would be a housewife again instead of a warring Opposition chief. Lembah Pantai would have continued being an UMNO stronghold. PKR would have dissolved. Tian Chua would probably have been in the DAP, and not fighting for his MP status today. Zaid Ibrahim would still be a Minister in the BN cabinet.

Altantuya Shaariibuu would still be alive, and her kid would have been a 4-year old toddler. Razak Baginda would have been RM500 million poorer. PI Bala would still be a Private Investigator. RPK wouldn’t be having such a good time in UK.

With Anwar’s forte in economics and finance, Malaysia would have gone on to be a powerhouse in Asia. Also Malaysians would be more united. Anwar would have seen to it, that everyone irrespective of race and religion, would have a piece of the economic pie. And much of the illicit outflow of RM888 billion of national wealth could have been averted.

Nobody would know of APCO and 1Malaysia would have been a strange word.

Also, with Anwar back in UMNO, Musa Hassan would have retired much earlier along with Gani Patail. Syed Hamid Albar would still have lost the UMNO veep race and Hishamuddin would probably still be in his current post as Home Minister.

Malaysia would be a much better place to live, and the people enjoying a better quality of life. There would be no Sodomy 2 mistrial. Saiful would have been a pilot today instead of being infamous for the wrong reasons.

Shazryl and Mahathir would still be marvelling at their crooked bridge instead of scheming sex plots. Mahathir would have been a well respected past leader, retiring in peace like Lee Kuan Yew without having to continue his struggle.

Corruption too would have been somewhat curtailed, as Anwar known for his graft-free ways, would not stand by and allow daylight robbery to continue unabated.

No Perkasa or Pembela

There would be no race and racial conflicts affecting the peace and harmony of this nation. All the controversies would not have come about, as UMNO would not perceive the Opposition as a credible threat.

Perkasa would not have existed, and Ibrahim Ali would still be with PAS working his magic to oppose UMNO. Pembela would be out of a job and not have an excuse to demonstrate as UMNO and BN would be in total control of the nation.

Without any threat to their existence, it would be business as usual for BN. MCA, Gerakan and MIC would still have a strong representation in Parliament. Chua Soi Lek wouldn’t have been MCA president even though he would still be caught with his pants down. Koh Tsu Koon and Samy Vellu would still have faded into oblivion.

UMNO wouldn’t have to woo PAS. UMNO would have left PAS alone instead of continuing to condemn them as Radical Talibans. Ummi wouldn’t call Nik Aziz a skull capped communist or try to slander Anwar. UMNO wouldn’t have to continue affirming their loyalty to the Malays in this country or to beg for their support.

DAP and PAS would not have united, and would be squabbling with each other over an Islamic State, while Perkasa and Pembela would watch with genuine interest. Perak, Selangor and Penang would still be under BN. Nizar Jamaluddin would have been a nobody.

Neither would there be a 'most-hated woman in Malaysia' in Jelapang and Lim Guan Eng would not have become Chief Minister. Khir Toyo would keep his job and be busy with the extensive renovations to his Bali palace.

No one will know that humans can turn into frogs

A better choice?

But it is because Anwar stood by his decision to remain in the Opposition, and loyal to PKR which had stood by him during his dark years, that Malaysia’s fate took on another parallel in the time warp.

Each day that passes, BN’s desperation can be seen more clearly as Anwar and Pakatan continue to score direct hits at enemy targets. Seemingly invincible to the time bombs set by BN exploding around him, Anwar continues to taunt his former colleagues mercilessly.

Like a veteran General, expert in the art of warfare, Anwar is inflicting deep wounds in the armour of BN. Never before as now, UMNO is at risk of disintegration unable to fend off the invisible arrows armed to the heart with Tomahawk missile microchips.

If Anwar had made that fateful decision to re-join UMNO, his actions would have touched the lives of so many in this country, and he would have also rewritten the history of this nation.

But then again for us, Malaysians, we would have missed the chance to taste the sweetness of a true democracy, which is now within our grasp as promised to us by Anwar and his Pakatan Rakyat team.

And probably Malaysia Chronicle wouldn’t have existed. And I would have taken up the offer as press secretary to one of the UMNO’s strongmen. But no regrets, I am thankful that Anwar chose wisely. After evaluating the pros and cons, I still prefer the Anwar of PKR than that of UMNO.

- Malaysia Chronicle

Waking up to 'Super June' nightmare

A Sobering Article by YB Saudara Charles Santiago

MP SPEAKS Here is a ragbag of grievances of the man on the street in Malaysia - on the non-thought out reduction of subsidies, hike in the price of gas and power tariffs, plus spiralling costs of food and essential items.

Despite the BN federal government's garbled statements to justify the subsidy slashes, the vexed question remains - why is the public forced to carry the financial burden when Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's government carries on with failed privatisation policies and continues to bail out cronies such as the Independent Power Producers (IPPs) and Selangor water-bond holders, among others?

Power producers headed by tycoons like Ananda Krishnan, Syed Mokhtar Albukhary and Francis Yeoh will continue to get a subsidy of RM19 billion.

Let's look at what the rakyat will receive from the government - a hike in electricity tariffs which will go up by 7.12 percent from today, forcing Malaysians to brace for higher inflation.

The price of natural gas will rise by RM3 per million metric BTU every six months until it reaches the market level.

From today, the government will also remove the super-subsidy on diesel for nine categories of commercial vehicles.

In addition, the Association of Malaysian Hauliers will raise its haulage tariff guidelines by 20 percent.

The waiver on charges for domestic users of electricity who record less than RM20per month will cease in December. There are 900,000 users in this category.

The government says the subsidy cuts and tariff hikes are crucial to trim its burgeoning subsidy bill and plug the budget deficit.

So why hasn't the government withdrawn the RM19 billion subsidy to the IPPs and cronies?

Good question.

Umno leaders and Najib want to sugar-coat the move, even though it is clearly the government's way of passing on the burden of decades-long economic mismanagement to the people.

In an immediate response to the removal of the super-subsidy for diesel, Pan-Malaysia Lorry Owners Association immediate past president Er Sui See said operators will almost certainly pass the additional fuel costs to consumers and manufacturers, as profit margins will be badly affected.

Tenaga Nasional Bhd shares the subsidies with the IPPs. Some 5.49 million households will be hit when suppliers, shopkeepers and food manufacturers 'absorb the increase' in electricity tariffs by passing these to the public.

Frightening price scenario

Malaysians will have to further tighten their belts as the prices of food, goods and services will go through the roof.

Food prices in the country have increased at more than twice the rate of global food prices in the first four months of the year.

A study by the Federation of Malaysian Consumer Associations notes that food prices of the eight most-bought vegetables has increased between 40-60 percent between last September and April this year.

The working class in Malaysia has been burdened with stagnant wages for the last 10 years, with wages going up by just 2.6 percent between 2000 and 2010. But the cost of living is going up with increase in price of essential items like sugar, flour and cooking oil.

The price of onions has quadrupled from 32 sen per kilo while the price of dried chillies has doubled from RM1.80 per kilo.

Other food items which show a significant increase are sugar at 10.2 percent more; vegetables at 8.1 percent; and rice and seafood at 1.6 percent. The prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages have gone up 2.4 percent compared to 2009.

All this has put a huge burden on household grocery bill, as a significant 40 percent of households earn less than RM1,500 a month.

And Malaysians would be forced to pay an extra 30 percent on each food item compared to 2005, by the end of this year.

Thousands will be pushed into poverty and stress will be exerted on the most vulnerable communities, who spend more than half of their income on food.

Since taking over the government, Najib has been parroting his 'People First' slogan. But clearly his loyalty lies with the ruling elite and cronies who would continue to make and enjoy huge profits at the expense of further impoverishment of the majority of the population.

In this model of development it is obvious that the rich and cronies are constantly protected by the Umno-led government.

But Malaysians would have gone to sleep on the last day of May, only to wake up to a nightmare on June 1.