Friday, July 31, 2009

Cry My Beloved Contry, Cry!

Those who have read Tun Mahathir's 'How to Muzzle Your Critics' (both for the common citizens and the politicians), would certainly feel saddened. I can almost see a big heart, figuratively bursting with frustrations. It's not so much for the mistakes made - whatever they are Malaysia today is certainly far, far better than it was before Independence -but for the unfettered criticisms that are being directed at past policies which, many accused, had caused the current problems.

The NEP, the ISA, the Bahasa issue and even the Federal Constitution are now being held as the cause of today's problems. It is as if we've forgotten that all these had created what we are today - a progressive nation ready for take-off to become a developed country. The various policies, inspite of their shortcomings, have contributed to our progress and prosperity while the Federal Constitution had so far held the nation with its multiracial population together.

Of course we have problems, economic, political. social and constitutional, as a result of rapid development making some aspects of the old policies, regulations and people's attitude inappropriate or dysfunctional to the current need. Which nations do not face such problems? They represent the challenges that will propel us to greater heights of development and progress. But must we question all the policies, the understanding and the compromises of the past to allow us to make a dash into the unknown future? What we have is based on the past. Are you prepared to forgo that in order to seek a new future? The Malays have an old saying: Don't throw away a walking stick after crossing a turbulent river. You might need it again.

So do look into the benefits and advantages of the old policies, rules and regulations, before we clamor for a change by directing vicious criticisms at them and urging that they be thrown overboard.More importantly, let's not be ungrateful to those who have given us the rights, freedom and wellbeing we enjoy today, in seeking further fulfillment in life from our nation and society.

But certain attitudes held by the law-enforcement people must certainly change. Why make a peaceful gathering illegal or prohibit it, when the Police is capable of taking action if trouble breaks out between the participants themselves without external interference? Why are the complainants of a certain unfair dealings taken to task while the party alledged to be the cause of the problem walks around with a smile? Why use brutal force when people are cooperating willingly ( as in the case of
demonstrators being hauled away to the Police van)? Why hold people under detention for several years when they can be be released with a stern warning that any involvement in undesirebale activities after the release will require them to be taken in again? Why allow people in power but under investigation to continue dealing with people without restraint and those found guilty of 'politik wang' to continue holding powerful postions?

The government should begin to look at things the way common people do, not the way the Police or the politicians do? Only then can the slogan 'Rakyat di dahulukan, pencapaian diutamakan' boleh terlaksana.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Rhetorical But Difinitive.

The National Key Result Areas ( NKRA) fanfare sounds very impressive but isn't it saying the obvious? Who should be resposible for improving the education system in the country if not the Minister of Education: who should see that crime is reduced and public security improved if not the Minister of Home Affairs: who should ensure that corruption is stamped out if not a Minister in the PM's Dept.: who should ensure that poverty and social neglect be overcome if not the Minister for Social wellbeing etc.etc.
That doesn't reduce the responsibility of the othe Ministers nor absolve them from the joint-responsibility of Cabinet.

It's just like saying that each Minister must now focus on the obvious responsibilities within his or her portfolio and ensure that all highlighted or newly defined goals are achieved. Simply put: Do your work and no excuses.

What we all await for is the Key Performace Index (KPI) against which the achievement of the newly defined goals (or priortities) are to be measured. November seems a long way off. At least some idea of what the criteria will be must be made known and discussed as we go along for noe can be really final. Evaluation of goal achievement is always a subjective matter since the degree of achievement can always be pitched against level of satisfaction achieved. Which is better? 90% achievement at 40% level of satisfaction or 40% achievement at 90% level of satisfaction? 100% achievement at 100% level of satisfaction is, of course, the ideal which can seldom be achieved.

So, untill we have the gauge by which achievement and satisfaction level can be measured, how well a Minister or a Public Official performs in the achievement of certain goals, remains arguable. Impressive reports can hide lack-lustre performance just as high-visibility actions hide little progress. Let's hope that the production of the KPI will not become a goal that is given more attention than the results that it's supposed to measure.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Politician VS Stateman

Years ago when studying political science, Prof. Tannenbaum discussed the difference between a politician and a stateman. A politician is one trying to gain, maintain or promote his influence, power and position in a political party. A stateman has already established his position, is beyond ordinary politicking and power grabbing, and influences people through his wisdom, not through the party organs anymore.

How many of our senior and retired politicians can be categorized as statemen? It's unfortunate that we have lost some of our revered former leaders but we still have two ex-primier and several ex-ministers. They are in the best position to become statemen with the political and leadership experience they had behind them. How many can be categorically classified as a senior statemen now? If not all or not many who had occupied very high positions in the governance of the country before can be classified as such, why so?

I'm concerned with the kind of leadership or statemanship that Malaysia develops in its over 50 years of Independence.Is it of a calibre that can make us feel comfortable and proud or are we heading for a lacuna for such leadership that will lead to instability and disharmony? Are those eligible to be called statemen still politicking or advising and giving moral guidance to the current leaders to lead the nation to greatness and strength? What kind of an example are they setting for the future leaders?

This is just a thought. I've no answers. We can only search our conscience to come up with some answers that can be thrown around instead of being drowned by the political problems of the day.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


The most prevalent and urgent cry from the public that we hear today as directed towards the government is for transparency in it actions and truth in its explanation of controversial issues. There are unpopular decisions made without much explanation as to why they were necessary, actions taken which look suspicious and unfair, investigations both by Royal Commissions, Cabinet Committees and Special Task Forces which took so much time, their reports not published and widely distributed. and their recommendations not immediately implemented or rejected with valid reasons. The public is not given a full opportunity to discuss the reports and question the authors or raise questions on issues not satisfactorily dealt with.

Delays in taking action and giving an explanation are always construed as an indication of something fishy going on or an attempt to hide something ( especially by the opposition). Unsatisfactory explanation generates more controversy than satisfies one's curiosity. A wrong decision made quickly is easier to correct than one not made at all or takes so long to make, hoping that a problem will solve itself.

These things being known by all, why don't the government address its effort at minimizing the delays and delivering what is expected and being demanded. Explain all actions and decisions that would certainly be unpopular before implementing them
making sure that effective dates are not mentioned if some people can take undue advantage of the disclosure. ( Even the best kept secret will still leak if there's money to be gained). When an emergency action is needed to protect the nation and people (not someone's interest), take action quickly by all means but explain it, for God's sake. And when the danger is over, withdraw the prohibition or offending regulation. Any bereft parties should be given a full opportunity to be heard by a special committee or 'justice of peace' ( I wonder what the JPs do in this country!) and their plight be brought to the attention of the government.

Most important of all, all reports of special investigations and inquiries should be made available to the public, maybe in two versions: one for the general public and another for those who had taken an oath of secrecy in the government. ( Again, the secrets won't remain secret for long!). There should be a public hearing of the reports where questions may be raised and arguments listened to and the recommendations discussed. Where the commendations received unanimous approval, they should be carried out without further delay. Where certain claims are dubious or debatable, further investigations should be carried out and discussed in public again.

The vital action which spells transparency and justice is that: those who are singled out by the reports as having a hand in the
'crime' or misdeed, must be taken to task while those who are innocent must be exculpated. The faster this is done the more faith and trust will be accorded to the government. The process of law takes time to ensure justice. When even this process is being questioned, there should be a supporting system to bring people to justice more expeditiously. Royal Commissions and
Special Parliamentary Committees ( with representatives from the government and the opposition) are the usual substitutes for
police investigations prior to legal proceedings. If the legal process is suspected of being influenced by the government in power, then the Royal Commissions and Parliamentary Committees should be given more power to hold public hearings where
representatives of the people and the voice of the public are given more weight.

This post is only presenting the obvious which some of the delays in government action today seem to ignore. Why delay the formation of a Royal Commission to investigate a volatile issue when the need is obvious since a government agency involved? Why hold back the report of commission of inquiry, or take no obvious actions on the recommendations made without any explanation for any rejection? Why let the police investigate issues involving itself and not an independent body
whose members include independent experts recognized by the public? Why investigate some people faster than others giving rise to 'selective prosecution'? Why be silent on certain things people are talking or complaining about? Give immediate answers, for heaven's sake, even if they are not final since an investigation is going on. Answer the questions that the public wants to know, not immediately start defending the bureaucracy.

That should be enough for a starter.

Bumiputra's ASM Reserves Not Taken.

It was mentioned on the Radio and TV but not played up in the Press that some 1. 6bil ringgit worth of shares reserved for the Bumis under ASM had not been taken up. Hence it's going to be opened to the free market and anyone can buy up to a maximum or 20,000 shares.In spite of the lack of capacity to absorb all the shares offered to the Bumis, PNB is contemplating on issuing new shares, certainly to attract more savings and investment from the Bumis.

If the Bumis cannot absorb even existing opportunities, how can they respond positively to new ones? Will such move increase Bumiputra equity share which has remained stagnant at 19 or 20% in the last 19 years while the non-Bumi share has shot up to
more than 50%? If PNB was responsible for improving Bumi equity all these while, has it really accomplished what it was set out to do, accepted that it might have accomplished other goals magnificently well?

Equinas has now seemingly taken over the role to improve the equity issue. What assurance is made that the new shares issued will be taken up by the Bumi with their limited resources, unless the shares are bought and held in their interest by resource-rich Bumi companies like MARA, Felda, Felcra etc? Without such assurance the chance for Bumi equity to increase will become just a pious hope.And such a hope, I'm afraid, will not facilitate the achievement of national unity and stability.

PS. "1.6b ASM units sold out in a day" (NST July 23, p.9). The units not taken up by Bumis were sold in a day in the open market.
What a success and what a proud proclamation of success! But is it in line with the main objective of PNB? Or is that objective just to make as much profit as possible irrespective of who is getting richer and what happens to the equity factor in the nation? Raise and sell more shares in the open market PNB, and the stagnant 19 % Bumis' share of the market may yet sink to 0. The Bumis will sell out for a quick profit anytime.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Quest for a Partner Dilemma.

I never thought that seeking for the right life-partner would become the greatest problem of the 21st century. More daunting than getting a university degree, a good job, or a promotion, and more rife with erroneous assumptions, false romantic notions, conservatisms, disilluisonments and frustrations, especially for the smart and beautiful single girls.

I touched on this subject casually in a previous posting. Today the NST (July15, L&T p.2) comes out with the question: So how do you find your special someone? Meera Murugesu writes about the findings of a Survey on dating trends in Malaysia, Singapore and Hongkong and interviewed Violet Lim, the founder of the Dating Agency wihich conducted the survey. All single girls and men should read the article to gauge what's wrong with their own assumptions and hope, and face today's reality.

Let me not try to simplify a complicated matter. How people meet, get acquainted, fall in love and tie the matrimonial knot is a fascinating subject full of surprises, impossibilities and mysteries. The process itself is most exciting, fufilling and edifyng and no two experiece is the same no matter how many times you go through it. So, why not enjoy it as many times as you can? Coz, two or three failed attempts and you can become an 'andatu' or a 'bujang terlajak'.

No prescription to avoid pitfalls can ever be drawn up even by the love experts, who in many cases failed in their own marriage.

My simple advice is: when you meet a person who stirs you inside (never just outside for the good looking girl or guy has many admirers already), imagine yourself living with this person, sharing your bed and waking up in the morning to see his/ her face, spending long hours on a desert with him/her. Would you welcome it? Would the other person welcome it too? If you do, and he/she does too, go for it. Other things can be worked out together. Start thinking how this or that would change you and your life ( remember the other person has to sacrifice his/her freedom too), and the quest will go on without end.

The greatest trouble is when the other party shows a lack of enthusiasm or eagerness. Here comes the need to sacrifice your
time, pride and priorities to appreciate his/her's. Test your patience and cool. If after showing him/her how much you cared,
danced to his/her tune for a resonable period, and do whatever is possible to excite his/her enthusiam you still get no positive response, then it's better to break away clean and start a new hunt.

Don't waste your life blowing on dying embers, even though they were burning hot at one time.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Manik Urai

Like it or not the decisions made by government on the liberization of the economy and equity conditions for foreign investment, together with the use of Bahasa again in the teaching of Science and Mathematics in 2012, will influence the voting atmosphere in Manik Urai. Generally, the former is viewed with trepidation by the Bumis while the later is received with a sense of relief - giving the young Malaysians a common lingual base for building up a national consciousness again.

With regard to the liberalization move, it must be remembered that a lopsided growth for the Malaysian economy will only invite sharper contrast between the rich and the poor and, therefore, generate more tension. On the language issue, while the significance of English for seeking knowledge is indisputable. the pride in its command often diminishes the pride of being a Malaysian national with our own national language. To this is added the traditional employers' belief that an employee who can speak English can work better than one who can't.

Let's face it.No matter how English or American you sound when speaking in their language, you're not one of them. Who are you then, if you're not a Malaysian? Would a foreigner respect you more for your excellent English or for being a proud Malaysian citizen? The Malays used to be derided by other Malays for trying to speak like an Englishman after visiting London for only a few days. Many of us still pinched our nose when a Malaysian speaks English with a simulated English or American accent while the grammar is rotten.

" Apa khabar, Encik?"
" You know, I just return from London and feel the weather too hot over here."
We might laugh at such a scene but when a Minister or a VIP gives an address in English with a simulated accent to a Malaysian audience we never feel insulted at all.

On his 100 days in office the PM also announced 11 gifts to the citizens of Malaysia. Road users, the cabdrivers, the smalltime businessmen and the public in general will be most happy over the gifts. Hopefully that includes the voters in Manik Urai although the gifts were never intended to be a by-election incentive, just like the coming of the durian season to the area. Puteri members are also all over the place to help out parents in distress.

How wonderful if we can have by-elections all the time. All the impossible things requested for development suddenly become possible and urgent.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Serious Discussion with a Tiny Tot

The adults have so many conflicting views about life and the world today. For a change I decided to talk to a tiny tot on what she ( could be a 'he' coz before a year old you can't tell the difference) would like to be when she grows up. She stared at me as if I was stark crazy and that I've terribly embarrassed her. (See pic).
" What do you think is the most money-making job in the world today, Love?"
She kicked her legs out vigorously with a determined look. " Playing football, become a football star?" She laughed as if in agreement.

"Okay, what is the next job that can give you a lot of money and fame?" She stretched out her hands and began to wiggle and twirl. "Dancing, singing, become a movie star?" She laughed again most energetically. It was easy to understand that she agreed wholeheartedly.

"Okay, okay..Don't you like to be a politician?"
She suddenly cried and turned to her mum with a deafening shriek.

Oh well. A tiny tot can't lie.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Bloggers Great Day.....

Well, well, well....... many of the semi-retired,veteran journalists who turned bloggers after being "nudged out"are back on the establishment, filling in elevated positions. That includes Brother's Bru, Nuraina Samad, Ahmad Talib etc. Congratulations are in order.

I hope this is the harbinger of a new era in mainstream reporting - not prolonging the eulogicosycophantic tradition of the past when reporting on public issues, but really analytical and objective. Hopefully, the flavour of bloggish jounalism would carry over into the papers in terms of issues brought up and the pov presented. Tun Dr Mahathir seemed to have promoted that style of jounalism to become the national blogger with the greatest following, now approaching 20 million visitors.

BTW, Pak Kadir Jasin seems to have resorted to poetry to communicate some of his more subtle feelings and emotions against blind liberalization and meritocracy. "Buat Baik Perpada-pada" has of course been followed by a very eloquent defence of the DEB. The architechs of the DEB, which includes the PM's dad, must now feel very uncomfortable about the policy which had saved this nation from a blood bath following May 13.

The papers certainly have a great role in keeping things transparent. Why can't we have a page in the papers devoted to what the opposition say, so that they can focus on 'the murky waters
under the bridge'. There will be so many pages through which government spokesmen can clear up the issues. This would be better than sweeping things under the carpet. Nobody can comment on things that do not appear in the papers. They'd be called rumours.

So, to the reestablished bloggers: Can we be more open this time around? Let's bring the content of the newspapers closer to that of the blogs - the responsible ones of course. Your reinstatement in the establishement should be celebrated on a day that can be called the Bloggers Day.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Delicate Balance 3 - Equity Stagnation

It has been reported and admitted by the PM that Bumiputra equity ownership had remained stagnent at 19.4% since nineteen years ago (1990). Why so? Because Bumis have been selling their shares. Of the RM54 billion accorded to the Bumis only RM2 billion remained in their hands.

So the new approach is to liberalize the economy: allow foreign capital to come in with no restraining conditions to ensure a fair equity ownership. so that the economy will grow faster and there will be more wealth to share by everyone. This assumes a redistributive mecahnism par excellent, to overcome the failure of existing institutions made responsible, principally the PNB with its subsidiaries such as ASN. ASB, ASM etc.

Liberalization so far took away the 30% equity requirement for Bumis in 27 trade sectors includinghealth, transport, social, education, computer etc. As for water and energy supply, the 49% limit for foreign participation has been increased to 70%. While the FIC's power to control foreign ownership has been curbed ( stripped?), EQUINAS has been created to (theoreticall) take over and oversee the redistributive function of equity sharing.

What secret weapon EQUINAS will use to ensure what FIC and PNB failed to do ( increase the share ownership the local and foreign scis to 30%) is yet to be seen. If it fails while all the old safeguards introduced by the architects of DEB had been removed, we will be heading for faster economic growth where the rich and powerful (within and outside the country) will control the wealth of the nation.

Sure, capable and promising Bumiputra companies will be assisted by Government to become the acquisition arms of Bumi equity. Will they ensure a fair distribution of wealth to the poorer Bumis? Even the 100 Bumi millionaires which Dr Mahathir said would help the poorer Bumis participate more actively in the economic activities of the country failed to deliver. Can a hundred or more Bumiputra companies, going all out to make their own fortune do what the 100 millionaires ( we don't know how many actually emerged) failed to do?

The bolts and screws installed by the DEB architects to ensure Bumi participation would, of course, no longer be there, once removed. So the liberalization policy must work or bust. Stagnation can become a contraction and an illusion, while the rich become wealthier.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Illusive Love for the Smart and Beautiful.

This is a sequel to my post on the dilemma of the smart and beautiful girl in finding a life partner.
The findings herein are based not only on observing my daughter and her friends but also through discussions with some senior bachelor girls and analyzing the characters of of some novels.

I've seen many articles giving hints on how to catch a husband. Written by girls - or rather ladies.
As a man some of the hints given made me laugh. They fail to understand that the man can be smart too!

What I'm laying down is from the man's pov. Plain, sincere and with no holds barred.

Let me begin by quoting a macho friend who said some years ago when he was chasing a very beautiful and smart girl in the University: Only a diamond can cut a diamond! He did succeed in marrying the girl but finally broke up. Why? They were too smart for each other,and none would like to play dumb.

Men do appreciate smart and beautiful girls but a man cannot tolerate being outsmarted too many times. Nor when a girl uses her brains all the time allowing him no opportunity to fool around with her. A smart heroine character from a novel had to pretend enjoying the lousy and humdrum courtship and love-making style of her man to drag him to the alter of matrimony. Only after the marriage did she coax him to try some more exotic approaches.

A cardinal rule for not putting a man off is: never look down or ridicule him on his clumsiness or even stupidity, both in everyday interactions, during the act of falling in love and the more so when fooling around. That's when you've to play dumb ( as if lost or enthralled in his charm) and enjoy the act. You may go wild but don't frighten him especially when he himself is nervous and uncomfortable. Make him feel good and in full command.

Do you allow him to go all the way before taking the oath of marriage? I'll only answer that on urgent request for in many cases, giving such permission too early leaves him no mystery to be explored only after marriage and may raise many questions. Outright rejection, on the other hand, may terminate the fun of fooling around prematurely, and probably the entire relationship.

Enough on that for now. Only one more thing. After you've hooked him, don't go galavanting around with other men unless together with him. Show that you don't enjoy anything as much as when together with him. Good luck.