Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Probe the security company, not just the guard

Bangsar, 17 May: Good to hear that the Kuala Lumpur CID will now investigate a skirmish involving a security guard and journalists from The Vibes. Whether or not there was a criminal element in the incident should be decided after a thorough investigation has been carried out. It is only fair to both parties. Read The Vibes journalist's assault reclassified, investigated under Penal Code: CID Chief.

The investigation into the case, I hope, will focus on the security company that hires the guard involved in the "assault/harassment" of the journalist. if you'd seen the clip on the incident, the said security guard was behaving extremely emotional. That is not how you expect a security guard to behave under tense circumstances. Begs the question if he was properly trained by the security company that hired him. 

Security guards, like the police, are armed. While in PDRM we trust, the same can't be said private security firms who might cut corners for profits. 

Read also Wong Chun Wai's Fashion Police Foibles

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Forget Tesla, give us our 5G now!

KL, 12 May: By now, it's fair to assume that nobody knows exactly when - or if ever - our proposed 5G network will be completed. It could take two or 22 years. If the government is not careful, it will not take off ever! Read Telcos stall on deal with DNB.

I'm not being dramatic. Consider the facts: we made Langkawi the testbed for out 5G rollout at the end of 2019, before Covid-19 took over our lives. Since then, very little progress has been made. The government set up Digital Nasional Bhd to oversee the roll-out. Good. But opposition from a handful of telco companies, who wanted control of DNB or an alternative to DNB, stalls everything. To appease the telcos, the government bent backwards and even offered them a combined 70 per cent ownership of DNB, which effectively give them the control they had asked for. 

But as of today, they are still not pleased. Only TM and Yes have subscribed to DNB's single wholesale network but the two won't be enough.

Did the government allow those telcos to hold the entire nation to ransom? It does look that way, although the telcos would have you believe that they are justified for still being unhappy. Well, I can tell the telcos and PM Ismail Sabri this, too: We - the people - are pissed off. We have put up with so much rubbish for too long and these people continue to take us for granted. We want cheap and efficient 5G, and we want it now!

The government has nobody to blame but itself if this whole saga continues and we, the nation, gets left behind as a result. Ismail Sabri should take inspiration from history. Imagine if governments of yesteryear gave in to opposition to all those developmental projects it had planned, from the North-South Expressway and a new international airport in Sepang to building an administrative capital in Putrajaya and the bridge for Penang. Malaysia would still be backward now if that had been the case.  

Other countries are already talking about 6G and even 7G but we're getting all excited about the prospects of Tesla investing in Malaysia

Sunday, May 01, 2022

The longest Ramadan

RAMADAN is coming to an end, the month of May is here (Happy Workers' Day!) and I've done exactly three postings this year, probably the lowest output by this blog since 2006! Many of you, Dear Readers, were wondering if I was OK. Thank you for always enquiring about my well being and the state of this blog. Rest assured, I wasn't resting on my laurels. On the contrary, I've been busy working hard - on dreams and other stuff. Said stuff includes work, ie The Mole (which enters its 11th year soon), The Vibes and Getaran (where I'm advising), and the National Press Club (as President). Last Friday, Zainul (Petra News CEO), Terence (Vibes and Getaran's editorial head honcho) and I recorded our first socio-political podcast which we're calling The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (probably available on Spotify this coming Monday (check us out h e r e). 

Just before the start of the Holy month, I climbed Mount Kinabalu after months of training and has since been back on my bicycle for short night rides around Kuala Lumpur. Am planning to scale the Mulu Pinnacles in Sarawak in June, peer into the Gunung Rinjani volcano in Java after that, and rent a motorbike to ride around Italy with friends before winter. I've resumed running and although I've struck out marathon from my to-do list, we've registered for a trail run in Janda Baik. Anapurna base camp by January 2023? 

At times I feel like I'm rushed to tick the boxes on my bucket list. Age is catching up and friends around you are dying one by one. But I hope it's just another round of mid-life crisis. How long does mid-life last, anyway?

A question I often hear lately is, "Will the general elections be held this year?" 
My response has always been, "No, it won't happen this year". 

Haha. Of course I don't have the answer to that question. Prime Minister Ismail Sabri may call for the general elections anytime before May next year but whether he does it soon or later won't make much difference to me or to the average Malaysian if things remain status quo. This is not to say that Ma'il can' t make a difference. He can if has the will to. For a start, do a Cabinet reshuffle now. Get rid of ministers who haven't been performing and those who scandals await them. He is in a position to bring back GST and undo the damages that the witch-hunting PH government did between May 2018, when they won the GE14, and the Sheraton Move, when their in-fighting let the BN back into the nation's driving seat. Abolish the mandatory death penalty, adopt a minimum wage policy, launch an all-out war against corruption starting with the top (politicians), the relevant authorities (the AG's Chamber, the MACC, the police, judiciary), clean up and strengthen the Bumi insitutions, and give back whatever is owing to Sabah and Sarawak. Not too much to ask, right?

This blog I started in 2006 has seen the GEs of 2008, 2013 and 2018 and I can't say we look forward to the next one. Fatigue has set in quite a while ago. We saw the fall of Barisan Nasional after a 60-year rule only to witness its foes squander a chance to take this country to the next level. The momentum for change, I dare say, is gone. At least where my generation is concerned.

If there's anything to hope for in the 15th general election, it's the difference that the 18-year olds, voting for the first time, will be making. Or want to make.

If these young ones are no better than us, it will be SSDD all over again: Same Shit, Different Day. The ringgit's sick, the economy languishing, employment sucks and our future remains uncertain. Don't blame Covid19. Even without the pandemic, we were already sliding down a slippery slope. We have ourselves to blame. We allowed the same people (politicians) whom we had accused of screwing us up to do the same things for this nation hoping that they will give us different - and better - results. 

The same with this blog. Here I am resolved (again) to return to blogging regularly, to do my bit in exposing the bad and the ugly in our society with the hope that I could contribute to improving our collective lot. So, yes, in a way I am about to go back doing the same thing and hoping for different results. But I shall have faith and not give up.

Selamat Hari Raya, Maaf Zahir Batin. 

Thursday, March 17, 2022

The real reason(s) why Hasni Mohammad lost his Johor MB post to Onn Hafiz

Bangsar, Thu 17 March: Re Onn Hafiz Ghazi, the new Menteri Besar of Johor, I wish people would stop talking about how young he is. Because 43 is NOT young. Najib Razak was 23 in 1976 when he was made deputy minister and became the Menteri Besar of Pahang at 29. Shahrir Samad, who made such a big fuss about the manner Onn Hafiz was brought in to replace incumbent MB Hasni Mohammad, was just 30 in 1980 when he was made Deputy Finance Minister and was a good decade younger than Onn Hafiz today when he became FT Minister in 1983. Onn Hafiz, born 2 March 1979, had just turned 43 and that, brothers and sisters, is not young. Sure, he’s a baby compared with 96-year old Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad but why is the Tun still around and threatening to be still relevant come the next general election? Anwar Ibrahim is 74 and that’s old but when he became the Deputy PM in 1993 he was only 46. More perspectives: Sanna Marin, the PM of Finland, is 37; Jacinda Adern, the Kiwi PM, is 41; and Justin Trudeau was Onn Hafiz’s age in 2015 when he became PM of Canada. 

So the new MB of Johor is not young, OK? If you ask me, I’d say he’s about the right age to lead the State. But is he the right person to lead Johor? Time will tell. If he is going to kow-tow to every whim and fancy of the palace, then he isn’t the right dude to lead but he would probably last longer than Hasni  Mohamad, who was MB for just a little over two years (Feb 2020 to March 2022). 

Umno president Zahid Hamidi said he will address the issue of the appointmet of Onn Hafiz as Johor MB at the party’s general assembly tomorrow. That will be a great exercise in futility. In other words, the explanation may be relevant if you are a party member with interest (and the majority of Umno memberi are without interest or benefit, for that matter). Tomorrow, I bet you my last ringgit, Zahid will tell the assembly to support the Johor Sultan and the Ruler’s choice of an MB. Not just because Zahid and Sultan Yem are good, old friends but because Zahid knows better than to try and usurp the authority of the Istana in this matter. 

Read Know Your Place and learn what Zahid and the Umno leaders already know.

What I’d like to know is what Hasni Mohammad, the former MB, did not do for the palace or for the State that warrranted him to be replaced despite his party’s huge victory at the Johor state elections. If that was really the reason for his short stint, as some would want you to believe.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Why a Premier for Sarawak won't save the forests, empower the natives or stop the thieves

Feb 17: The Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim played it well, welcoming the move to change Sarawak's chief minister as "an overdue recognition of equal standing with peninsula". You don't hear it from anyone else  they are either too afraid to comment on anything that has to do with MA63, or too dense to. And that is how Anwar Ibrahim, the 3-time ISA detainee, proves to be still relevant in local politics today. 

But before the politicians in Malaysia's Borneo states of Sabah and Sarawak get carried away, do read the Opposition leader's support in its entirety. 

Anwar says he's hoping that the amendment to the title will also mark the beginning of the return of the rights and interests of the people of Borneo under MA63 to them.“Beyond this title change we must respect and honour the agreement and promises that are part of MA63. Otherwise we continue to make only cosmetic changes, which for the people of Sarawak and Sabah is unacceptable.” 

Yes, the change in name from CM to Premier or Assistant Minister to Deputy Minister will be mere cosmetics if it's not followed up with changes that will require the leaders in Sarawak and Sabah to start doing some soul-searching, followed by great sacrifices. 

As far as politics is concerned, the players from those two states don't need their so-called cousins from West Malaysia to teach them. They have had their fair share of baggage, corrupt leaders, chief ministers who didn't need fancier titles to steal from the people and the states' rich resources. They still do. Sarawakians need more than those fancy titles the politicians are seeking to change their lot and that of their children's.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Tun’s OK

13 Jan: Really good to know that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is ok and resting at home. 

The shock many Malaysians felt over the sudden death of Serbegeth Singh, at the age of 61, is such that we really are in need of some good news, any good news, that concerns our mortality. The passing of a dear old brother in journalism, Abdul Wahab Mohamad Ali, hit some of us hard. He was, like Serbie, only 61. I knew Wahab during our reporting days back in the 80s and 90s. He was with national news agency Bernama and I was reporting for Business Times. Mahathir was a much younger prime minister but older than Shebby  and Wahab were when they died. 

Such is life, you don’t know when death will come to end yours. The good die young, the best live forever. 

Get well soon, Tun. Recuperate in peace. 

Saturday, December 11, 2021

EPF can also avoid making stupid decisions and mistakes

Do political big guns still clinch govt contracts for companies?
 Subahan may have just done that for his

KL, Dec 11: While we’re on the subject of dealing with stupidity, (Refer 5G: How the Govt can avoid making stupid decisions and stupid mistakes), we may want to add to our watchlist the RM1 billion deal to build affordable homes in Selangor which involves the Employees Provident Fund (EPF). 

Why? Because EPF is you and me and every Malaysian who has been working like a dog to get the economy going and it is our business to make sure we don’t end up with the short end of the stick. Read EPF may not get the best from Kwasa Land affordable housing deal. 

The report said there are industry insiders who suspect that the bidding process for the mega project was not more than a window dressing. Meaning to say that the winner - Gagasan Nadi Cergas - may have already been decided even before the tender was called.

“The way it was done, if at all, suggests that the other bidders stood no chance,” said a person familiar with the process, who insisted that Kwasa may have not abided by the tender process required of subsidiaries of public institutions.

These are suggestions that the EPF out to address. The onus is on the Fund to reassure investors that the tender or selection process was transparent and above board. Guarantee that our investment in this project - EPF’s first foray into building affordable homes - will bring us maximum possible returns. We sorely  need it, especially after what we have gone through during the pandemic. (Remember, 32 per cent of EPF contributors have less than RM5k in their accounts, says Tengku Zafrul). 

As I see it, the trust issue resulted in the fact that little known Gagasan Nadi Cergas has Subahan Kamal, a big gun in Selangor (and national) political scene, on its team. It’s not a crime to put politicians on a company board, of course, but it is not encouraged. Ask the Securities Commission why: Don’t appoint politicians to company boards, says Security Commission.

The EPF and its subsidiary Kwasa Land are sitting on properties that are potentially valued at billions of ringgit, money that could make us the long-suffering EPF contributors smile in our dreams, at least. They need to conduct business professionally. Keep the politicians at bay.

Thursday, December 09, 2021

5G: How the Govt can avoid making stupid decisions and stupid mistakes

Ask us (the long-suffering consumers) what we want

Bangsar, Dec 9: It’s always good to review a decision, especially one involving something as colossal as the country’s 5G rollout, to make absolutely sure that we are doing the right thing. The investment involved is huge and the impact of 5G on all of us will be phenomenal. We can’t afford stupid mistakes. 

In this context, Communications & Multimedia Minister Annuar Musa’s latest remarks in Parliament (There is merit in reconsidering model for 5G rollout: Annuar) should be taken positively. 

My only concern is that he is making the statement at a time when everything seems to be in place and we Malaysians have gotten all excited to rock and roll with the rest of the world with 5G (Telekom Malaysia, for example, has just signed up for the national 5G trials!). 

I’m especially concerned that Annuar said the review decision came “after receiving feedback from telcos and industry players”. The first thing that came to my mind is this: If it took them so long to provide their feedback to the government, imagine how long it will take them to bring this 5G thingy to our homes, schools, factories, and lives? 

On the same note, I’d like to say this to YB Annuar. If a review is what we want, then don’t listen to just the telcos and industry players (who are they, by the way?). Don’t just listen to the people at the Digital National Berhad, even though the Government was the one that mandated them to implement all 5G projects with the telcos and industry players. And if you are not listening to your experts and professional regulators who make up the MCMC, then don’t listen to your civil servants who surely don’t know any better. 

And don’t just listen to the Opposition.

Listen more, instead, to the long-suffering telco consumers. Heck, listen ONLY to them if you want to listen at all. Get our feedback. Find out what we want and why we have been so unhappy all these years with our connection, reception, and whatever internet shit we’ve been paying for.

If Annuar and his colleagues in the Cabinet really have to do this, do it right. Protect the consumers and not the tycoons and cronies. Guarantee that when we get 5G, we don’t get conned again by some corporations that are concerned only with profit margins and bonuses for themselves and fat dividends for their shareholders. Only by listening to the people and prioritising their interest will the Government avoid making stupid decisions and stupid mistakes.

P.S. And here’s the thing: At the same time Annuar is talking about the review, Singapore is said to be keen in doing their own review of its 5G rollout approach. I was told that they actually think that our single whole network approach should be the way to go. Don’t take my word for it, ask them.

Thursday, December 02, 2021

HRDF is now a Corporation

KL, 2 Dec: 
M. Saravanan 
HRDF 28 years. 
Jamil Salleh, Chairman of HRD coordinating body for a new single-window portal
Industrial Revolution 4


Friday, November 05, 2021

MACC gave Tommy Thomas 681 names to be charged in the 1MDB case but only FOUR went to court. Why?

Updated 1234pm Nov 05 // Read also EdisiSiasat and Latifah Koyak: Moneypulasi

WHEN TOMMY THOMAS was the Attorney-General, new and smelling likes roses, and the Pakatan Harapan government led by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was in power (and witch-hunting was hot in progress), the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) offered 861 681 names of individuals and entities to be charged for alleged corruption, alleged money laundering and alleged other crimes related to dethroned PM Najib Razak’s 1MDB. Tommy Thomas decided, and it would have absolutely nothing to do with selective prosecution or political pressure, if you ask him, to charge only FOUR. No action was taken against 857 677 others that had been identified and investigated by our anti-graft body. The MACC chief then was Latifah Koya, a shrilled  voice of civil conscience until landing herself that powerful job, thanks to Dr Mahathir (and her souring ties with her own party president Anwar Ibrahim). Anyone remember her making a fuss about Tommy Thomas’ call? I don’t. 

So if it wasn’t politics or a desire to kick Najib while he was down, why did the AG Tommy Thomas decide NOT to charge all 861 681 individuals and entities on MACC’s list?

In his article in The Vibes today, lawyer Rajan Navaratnam offered possible reasons for what many have already concluded as selective prosecution on the part of the Attorney-General’s Chamber.


IN the past, there have been cases where the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) – on the recommendation of several law enforcement agencies – had withdrawn charges that were preferred against several individuals such as Datuk Noor Ehsanuddin Mohd Harun Narrashid, Riza Shahriz Abdul Aziz, and Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan, involving alleged crimes of corruption and money laundering.

The AGC in exercising its discretion was criticised by several quarters – although in some cases, the court had only granted a discharge not amounting to an acquittal, which means the prosecution has the power to reinstate the said charges at a future date. 


Read lawyer Rajan Navaratnam’s thought-provoking (A timely consideration for deferred prosecution agreements).

Sunday, October 24, 2021

FIVE people will end up as billionaire cronies from our 5G sellout, the rest of us will pay, pay, pay

THEY SAY Anwar Ibrahim does not have that ‘killer instinct’. I think it’s true, sometimes. The Opposition leader was one of the first to raise questions about the RM11 billion 5G conundrum back in July but there was hardly any follow through. 

Not too late, though. During the Budget 2022 debate in Parliament, Anwar can still lead a campaign to voice out against this opaque, highly-suspicious and potentially disastrous scheme. We need to press PM Ismail Sabri to go back to the drawing board and review the nation’s 5G rollout.

Our 5G story so far: 

Instead of assigning 5G spectrum to multiple private mobile network operators (such as Celcom and Maxis), Malaysia’s previous government led by Muhyiddin Yassin decided to go with a SWN (single wholesale network) approach. According to GSMA Intelligence, only three networks in this whole wide world have been rolled out, with other markets beset by slow progress and delayed or cancelled launches. Kenya, Russia and South Africa abandoned SWN projects, while those that are live today have all experienced difficulties. (Read GSMA raises concerns over Malaysia’s 5G rollout).The rest of the world, in the meantime, decided it would be smarter to auction their 5G to their existing telcos. The Thais, for example, whom we think are not as smart as us, raised US$3.2 billion  from their auction exercises recently. The Canadian spectrum auction raised a whopping US$8.9 billion.  Singapore and the US are also expected to earn billions of dollars from selling their 5G spectrums via open tenders, not SWN.

The Muhyiddin Yassin administration saw 5G as a legitimate means to build a war chest (for the next general election). That’s the talk, anyway, and of course they will says it’s crap but then again, the facts are: the people pushing hard for the idea sat/sit on high-level economic advisory committees; the SPV created to oversee the SWN is Digital Nasional Berhad, which comes directly under the Minister of Finance, who was appointed by Muhyiddin (or, some says, by the King himself); Digital Nasional Berhad’s plan is to spend RM11 billion to get 5G to Cyberjaya, Putrajaya and KL by Christmas this year (and nationwide by 2024), whereas, f we were to auction the 5G spectrum to the existing players (Celcom, Maxis, etc), the Government could be earning (instead of spending) RM12 billion! 

If more talk (or more crap?) were to be believed, this 5G scheme will benefit FIVE people, who will end up with hundreds of millions in their bank accounts to last at least 5 generations. All five are already shameless cronies: a former banker who became a media baron; his good pal who used to lord over the 4th floor operations of a former prime minister; a royal pain; a former banker who came into the government via the back door and harbours /hopes to run in the next general election; and a former Prime Minister.

They must be stopped.

P.S. Former Cabinet Minister Mohd Shafie Afdal was also one of the early ones to raise the red flag on Muhyiddin-Tengku Zafrul’s 5G grand scheme. Instead of spending RM11 billion, Shafie said the Government could easily EARN RM12 billion from the 5G spectrum. Perhaps Anwar and Shafie should set aside their differences for once and work together and stop this 5G spectre. 

Tengku Zafrul, the MOF, tables the 2022 Budget this Friday.

Probe the security company, not just the guard

Bangsar, 17 May: Good to hear that the Kuala Lumpur CID will now investigate a skirmish involving a security guard and journalists from The ...