Thursday, December 15, 2011

Pakatan Rakyat Needs To Buck Up

Although I am a DAP member and a huge supporter of Pakatan Rakyat, I must declare that I am a little disappointed as to how they have been conducting themselves of late. When it comes to seat allocations during the General Elections is it obvious that many people want their say, and the expression "washing dirty linen in public" could be very aptly used.

After an atrocious showing by Umno at their General Assembly which basically comprised of fear-mongering  the loss of Malay power, disrespect to the royal institution by the opposition and DAP bashing, I would have thought that Pakatan Rakyat, especially the DAP would capitalise on this hatred. However what has transpired since from the opposition parties have been extremely disappointing.

It is already very clear that the BN government is corrupt and racist. Umno are unapologetic in their slanderous onslaught which is dripping with racial venom and blatant lies. The MCA continues to flog the hudud horse, pitting PAS against the DAP and Gerakan offering nuggets of sense in support of electoral reform. The party missing from this equation happens to be the MIC, who have done the most intelligent thing by keeping silent.

The same cannot be said of the opposition parties. The DAP have failed to capitalise on Umno's divisiveness but have instead descended into a war of words over the "Godfather" issue. Johor DAP have also aired their grievances publicly about the state leadership, and there truly seems to be a lack of leadership.

PKR are too busy hounding Shahrizat Abdul Jalil and her family, and PAS are now keeping mum on Selangor State Exco Hasan Ali on one hand but on the other hand says they would close the Genting casino if they take over as the state government of Pahang. Who is the one showing leadership at the moment?

Having just attended a Strategic Advisor training, I realised that the most successful companies have inspirational leaders with a clear vision and mission. It is the belief their own vision and mission which would perpetuated through the company to the employees. Companies such as Google, Apple and Facebook have built up their own unique identities amongst their staff, and in turn, their staff become walking advertisements for their organisations.

So what is Pakatan Rakyat's vision and mission? Lim Guan Eng has been very proficient at purporting the DAP vision of a Competent, Accountable and Transparent (CAT) government. To a large extent, he has been successful at implementing this principle in Penang, and the state has the distinction of bringing in the most amount of foreign investment out of any state.

The same cannot truly be said of the other PR states especially Kedah. Although Selangor has done better under PR under the leadership of Khalid Ibrahim as compared to the Khir Toyo administration, corruption is still rampant within the state. Kedah has been subject to unnecessary controversy by trying to clamp down on 'vice' businesses during Ramadhan which would be considered to be an infringement of non-Muslim rights.

It is clear that the current BN government would continue spending ourselves into further debt and worsen the capital outflow which has already amounted to RM896 billion over the past 10 years. The corruption, croynism, and blatant plundering of the nation's coffers as well as Petronas profits would increase rather than being stemmed, and another mandate at the next general elections would simply encourage them further.

But is PR truly the answer? Could we in good conscience vote for them? The most recent surveys show that 88%-90% of newly registered ethnically Chinese youth would vote for the opposition but only 23%-26% of Malay Youth would vote for PR.

Why is there such a massive discrepancy? One could argue that the Chinese media is fairer to the opposition, and the complete capitulation of the MCA would result in a huge shift towards PR, especially the DAP. However, the Malay Youth would ultimately be influenced by the mainstream media, and Umno has made a pretty good case of protecting Malay rights.

Have PKR and PAS failed to be sufficiently Malay in this respect? Truthfully, the reality that PKR and PAS are both majority Malay parties are irrelevant. Umno have been very successful at branding their party as the "Defender of Malay Rights". This is perpetuated from the top leadership all the way to the bottom, and unlike the MCA, Umno still holds a large amount of sway with the rural folk.

Right now what PKR, PAS and the DAP have to do is plan a united front and the same message must be proclaimed from every member of each component party. There is no doubt that PR is able to govern. They have been able to do so in four states with varying degrees of success. This is the time to step up, so please do not give the Rakyat an excuse to stay at home come polling day.

The next general election is looming and perhaps this is a good time for PR leaders to reflect on their values and plan a combined mounted offensive come the New Year. It is no use waving the Buku Jingga in our faces or pointing to the superior FDI figures any longer. We need strong, confident leaders who would be united in one voice and with one vision for the nation.

There is a simple reason why Najib's "1Malaysia" failed whereas the Umno "Ketuanan Melayu" succeeds. When it is written in the hearts and minds of their members, they make others believe. This is the season for miracles.

Pakatan Rakyat, make us believe.

Published in:

Free Malaysia Today ('Tis the season for miracles)

Malaysia Chronicle (To guarantee victory, Pakatan too needs to buck up)

Friday, December 2, 2011

KR1M: The cold hard facts

I truly appreciate Dato' Ameer Ali Mydin writing to Free Malaysia Today and giving his side of story after my column "Kedai Rakyat: Pulling a fast one". Once again, it truly is an honour that my articles have drawn the attention of Ministries and now Mydin, and I hope it would continue to do so as the rakyat deserves to know the facts. 

Let me first clarify that I do not write on behalf of the DAP and my views do not necessary reflect that of the DAP. What interests me more is the truth, or whether or not arguments and explanations put forth on certain issues can be substantiated. In this day and age, public scrutiny is always a good thing in order to ensure that the rakyat's money is spent fairly and wisely. 

Therefore, I was only able to base my facts on a combination of what is public knowledge and press releases on the Kedai Rakyat 1Malaysia website. I am glad that KR1M has decided to give us the facts directly so that we are able to do a more indepth analysis of the whole issue. 

Refurbishment Costs

Firstly, I would like to apologise to Mydin for my remark that renovations of the KR1M stores could be renovated for RM70,000. What this assumption did not take into consideration were cost such as the chillers and freezers, in addition to the CCTV and POS system costs. 

Taking Mydin's advice to 'do my homework', I went around to interview several contractors and they revealed several interesting points during our discussions. At the cost of RM250,000 to RM750,000 for a space of 1,500 square feet to 5,000 square feet, the cost of doing the renovation would be between RM150 to RM167 per square foot.

At first glance, these quotes are very good for these contractors and they would want to do the project. However to avoid misunderstanding, would Mydin be so kind to provide the Bill of Quantities (B.Q) so that contractors can send in their quotes? This would be to the benefit of Mydin and the rakyat to save cost, wouldn't you agree? 

Store openings

I clearly explained how I derived the number of stores to be 31 in my article. I took it that 6 outlets were opened with 25 more to open next year, therefore we would come to a total of 31 outlets. Perhaps I could humbly request that KR1M keeps their website up to date to avoid misunderstanding. 

After the clarification, we now understand that the subsidy of RM40 million is for 85 outlets to be opened across the country by 2012. This includes the seven stores already opened and 25 more to be opened this year. We shall watch this space to see whether it really happens. 

However, I have a feeling the money has already been paid out in full. Can Mydin clarify this point? With so many other scandals going on, we do not want Mydin's reputation to be tarnished if they remain silent on the matter. I am happy to give them the benefit of the doubt.

KR1M Product Quality

Unfortunately, when it comes to defending the quality of KR1M products, perhaps Mydin could have done a little more checking before being so enthusiastic to defend his products. I can accept that the generic KR1M products to be equivalent in quality to their branded counterparts, but please forgive me and the public of being sceptical in light of the new evidence. 

Ameer Ali Mydin wrote in his letter, I quote "It baffles me as to whoever gave you the idea that generic products are of lower quality. Please read up the meaning of generic products before you make such assumptions and in this case, allegations." He went on to target Tony Pua by saying "To date we have only unfounded, unsubstantiated allegations by Tony Pua. If he can so kindly provide his test reports to the ministry, I'm sure they would take appropriate action."

I think that the report from the Ministry of Health on Friday would be absolutely devastating as the "allegations" have proven to be true. Dato' Hassan Abdul Rahman agreed that the KR1M items tested by Tony Pua, Dr Dzukefly Ahmad and Nurul Izzah failed the standards set by the government, except for the creamer which is pending further investigation. 

Items specifically include the following findings as tweeted by Tony Pua:

1. MoH concedes that ice-cream product was wrongly labeled and has instructed re-labelling as "frozen confection
2. MoH accepted that "frozen confection" is still being sold as ice-cream after being given proof of receipt & price label
3. MoH admitted that own test on Krimer Pekat Manis showed 1Msia product exceeded maximum 76% sugar content
4.  MoH agreed that evaporated krimer is wrongly sold as "evaporated MILK" and will take necessary action
5. MoH admitted that when 155g sardine tins were tested, 3 out of 5 did not meet 55% net fish weight requirement
6. MoH agreed the Kari Ayam tin was inadequately labeled and failed to comply with Clause 147 or 151 of Food Regulations '85
7. MoH noted the conflict in Growing Up Milk ingredient label - "susu pepejal rendah lemak" or "instant whole milk powder"
8. MoH agrees that both "follow up milk" and "growing up milk" serves kids aged 1-3 but says covered under different law
9. MoH agrees that GrowingUpMilk serves 3888IU of vitamin A per day exceeding limit for 1800IU children under 3
10. MoH informed that they've "advised" supplier of 1Msia Growing Up Milk to cut excessive Vitamin A & top up other nutrients


With regards to the remarks made about foreign hypermarkets and also other operators running KR1M stores, that is a government matter, so I will not rebut any of the points made as Mydin knows their industry best.

However, I would like to say that Malaysians should embrace foreign competition as it would ensure the Rakyat receives the best prices and services, as well as creates jobs and stimulates the economy. As for the KR1M concept, it may be a CSR initiative but as 1Malaysia is a brand in itself, there would be no need to spend on advertising for it.

It is true that many journalists and politicians make empty allegations against the federal government, Members of Parliament and even government linked companies. However, it is becoming apparent that there is a tangible silence when allegations are revealed to be true, or there is a substantial amount of finger pointing to divert attention from the core issues.

I have absolutely nothing against Mydin or their companies. They have been upstanding, well respected businesses in the industry and serve their customers with integrity and professionalism. However, we want to ensure that this is maintained and criticism is supposed to help improve the services provided. Is this not why so many companies have feedback forms?

My compulsion to write again on this topic is because I do not think that it is fair to accuse me of making allegations when there is evidence to confirm them. When I am wrong tell me that I’m wrong. However do not tell me I am wrong, when it is proven to be true.

Ameer Ali Mydin closed off his letter by remarking "It appears that making false, unsubstantiated allegations is the easy part for Douglas Tan. The difficult part is for him to justify the allegations, unfortunately the damage to the IKS Suppliers and KR1M is already done." 

Well, it appears that I have. Checkmate.

Exclusive to Free Malaysia Today (

Also on:

Malaysia Today (