Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Presidential Visit to Malaysia

A three-day visit by the US President to Malaysia is indeed a great honour though it's only a leg in a tour of the Asian Pacific countries. President Obama has certainly captured the hearts of the young and old in Malaysia through his meet-the-people sessions where he spoke and answered questions in a most informal and open manner. No prepared speech and no assistance from his advisors or assistants. His clarion call and advice to the youths of Malaysia (and those of other Asian countries present) was loud an clear."Respect others who are not like you" and "work together" to fulfil your ambition. "Together" (with the U.S of A) you can make this a better world.a big welcome for the President

In many instances during his speeches, Obama revealed the belief that the non-Muslims in Malaysia had been sidelined or not given equal treatment in line with the principles of democracy which the US is advocating. Since most of the Muslim are the Malays, by the non-Muslim he must be referring to the non-Malays. He stated emphatically that no nation will prosper unless everyone is treated equal irrespective of race, religion or political leaning. That's a great statement coming from a great nation that had been fighting for equal opportunity until today with serious racial discrimination marring its history. The fact that an African-American is now the President of the US can certainly pass as proof that racial discrimination is no more. But the Chicanos and the Latinos in the US beside other immigrants who are trying to earn a living in the country, must certainly have a different story to tell.meeting the crowd

If only Obama had asked the question: who owns most of the grand multi-storey buildings, shophouses and opulent homes in Malaysia especially in the urban centers, he would've realised that the Muslims are not the privileged, wealthy majority in Malaysia. The non-Muslims had been and are still far ahead of the Muslims in economic and material progress underscoring the rational for the New Economic Policy which aimed at a redistribution of the new growth in the economy. Note that what has been acquired in the past WILL NOT be affected. In spite of the privileges given to the Muslims (i.e. Bumiputras) by the NEP which have been mostly rescinded, they have not been able to catch up with the non-Muslims corporate magnates and tycoons or even the rich towkays. Who are the rich and wealthy Muslims in Malaysia today? Apart from a few successful businessmen and entrepreneurs, they are those in the corridors of political power. The average Muslim is still a middle income wage earner.who owns KL?
Yes there are still some birthrights accorded to the Muslims - the Malays- as protected by the Federal Constitution.But the non-Muslims have never been discriminated against or sidelined to the extent that they have been deprived of equal opportunities to do business and earn a living in this country. As far as the business sector is concerned the fact is that they have monopolised most of the opportunities making it quite impossible for the Muslims or Malays to start a business unless assisted by the government. Even then, the number of failures due to lack of experience, know-how and capital is alarming. Obama should check how many of the shophouses along the major streets of Kuala Lumpur belong to the Muslims. He can count them on his fingers.

Nonetheless, we Malaysians are most grateful for the visit. It's the first step towards understanding the real Malaysia, not that which has been portrayed by the West and the US with the Muslims dominating the minority groups. If economic freedom is borne by the fact that most of the billionaires and millionaires in Malays are non-Muslim, religious freedom is visible by the number of churches, temples, and other places of worship with images of the Lords that are revered, which can be found in this country. As far as social justice is concerned the law applies to everyone alike irrespective of race colour or creed.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Looks like a very bad year for Malaysia.

There are just too many unfortunate and depressing events in Malaysia this year and we're only a quarter way through. I don't feel like recounting them after the disappearance of flight MH370 with 239 people on board, but the passing away of Karpal Singh , the prominent and well-respected member of Parliament and Chairman of DAP, on April 17, is indeed a sad addition to the list of calamities that had befallen this country. May he rest in peace.
Rest in Peace
It is the job of political leaders in the Opposition to criticise, challenge and point out the weaknesses of any policy or stand made by government on any issue facing the nation. Such criticisms are necessary to highlight any weaknesses which ordinary folks like us, who are at the receiving end of all government actions, could not foresee or anticipate. Nor could we have any direct argument or debate with the government, even if we do see the weaknesses. Our protests and antagonism would most probably end at the coffee shops or roadside eateries. Unless, of course, you've some special excess to the corridor of power.

The Opposition political leaders worth their salt must articulate the voice of the silent minority, even if they had to appear like the villains in a film. We might see them as ferocious and hotheaded, intimidating and belligerent. But, they can really be very nice people in ordinary life. Such is what I hear of the late Hon. Karpal Singh, the Bukit Gelugor MP. The Opposition certainly lost a great 'midfield striker' with his passing away while the country lost an authoritative political figure and lawyer.The Tok Guru and the Firebrand

With the de facto Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim facing a five-year jail sentence for sodomy, the Selangor Chief Minister Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim facing a stiff criticism and challenge by the Deputy President of PKR Azmin Ali, and Datuk Nik Aziz the ex-Chief Minister of Kelantan out of active politics, the voice of the Opposition in Parliament will certainly be rather weak. Of course the other DAP, PAS and PKR , violating the speed limit wherever the strongmen are still there, but Anwar, Karpal Singh and Nik Aziz had always been the centre of attention. We can only hope that Government will not take the opportunity to ride rough-shot through Parliament now that the voice of the trio has weakened or is not there any more.
The de facto leader and the Tiger of Jelutung
While the socio-economic scene in Malaysia continues to show prosperity and stability, a number of public complaints and misgivings now seem to take the wind out of the Barisan National's sail. The water rationing problem continues despite heavy downpours which shows that the capacity to process water as soon as it comes from the sky or the rivers has not kept up with the pace of technological development in the country. The traffic jams are increasing the rate of Malaysians becoming short-tempered or plain crazy, violating the speed limit where the road is good and clear to catch un on time despite the heavy fine for overspending. The Health Ministry seems to be unable to stop the increase in dengue cases which is fast approaching epidemic proportion, while armed insurgence and kidnapping in Sabah, violent killings with firearms, armed robberies and dissatisfaction with the rising cost of living,housing and medical care continue to become the common subject of discussion at formal and non-formal meetings or gatherings of Malaysians.

The big question is: while doing everything to become a developed nation as envisaged by the Prime Minister, are we not dealing effectively with the supply and controlling the cost of the basic necessities of life which in the past years had been better? What is a developed nation if the basic necessities of life like the supply of running water and reasonably cheap foodstuff are not readily available for the public? Some Malaysians are beginning to feel that the quality of life (which includes bathing at least once or twice a day and having a good breakfast of 'nasi lemak', 'roti canai' and 'teh tarik' at the food-stall for less than three ringgit in the 70s, 80s and 90s) was far better than what it is now.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Don't Know What or Who To Believe...

It's about a month now since MH370 was lost in flight. No wreckage or dead bodies or even some of the belongings of the unfortunate passengers had been found. Tons of information flooded the media, both national and international, but no solid info about the doomed plane or its passengers.

More and more people believe that the plane did not crash but was hijacked and kept somewhere. By whom and for what reason, God alone knows although conjectures are replete. The value of human lives seemed to be completely discounted in spreading the conjectures.

Back to the living, their problems and miseries, Malaysia is still okay. The worst of the dry spell seems over and rain has returned.However water rationing is still on, two days with water and two days without. Homes and families can perhaps tolerate the problem, though people living in highrise condos and flats will have a lot of difficulties carrying water upstairs. Splash the water around and the lift could jam up due to electrical short-circuit. The worst impact is of course on business people like hoteliers, restauranteurs, coffee-shop operators etc. Without water they can hardly do any business. Their loss due tonthe intermitten water supply could be tremendous. They should be compensated by the water company responsible.celebrating the rain

Of course the company will blame the weather. Who can stop a dry spell from hitting a country? That's a fair question. But why does water rationing go on after a few days of heavy rain? It must be due to the incapacity to step up the water treatment process. That's a problem of management planning isn't it? Let's hope that the new agreement between yhe Selangor State government and the Federal Government on water supply management can end the current indignation and misery.

The MH370 issue had of course put many national problens facing the country in the background, even if temporarily. The rise in cost of living and cost of consumer goods had been a growing concern which the BRIM handout cannot stem out. RM4.2 billion issued to 7 million people under BRIM 3 means that each recepient received about RM600 pn average. But many received less according to their eligibility. Did tne amount spent include the cost of administration? I wonder. Much of the subsidies deducted by government from its expenditure seems to have gone to the BRIM payment which some ex-national leaders described as wasteful. With the money spent by government on searching for the lost MH370 with 239 people on board, accommodating, comforting and compensating the families of the unfortunate passangers Malaysia and MAS are certainly going to end up with a huge bill.guarding the coastal area

And now, trouble is brewing up in the east coast of Sabah again. The kidnapping has started again and more money will be needed to pay the ransom. Will the government resort to selling more bonds and the shares of goverment related companies to generate the funds required to meet its increasing liabilities? I wonder. The mass media is now so saturated with official and unofficial information that we don't know what or who to believe anymore.