Monday, December 17, 2018

The hypocrisy over the indiscriminate smoking ban etc

Note: The Prophet and the angels is a sign for us to take a breather from political commentaries. Perhaps for the rest of the year, which will be good for our well-being. We won't be lacking issues to explore: journalism, health, sports, business, books, movies, cycling ... 

Courtesy The Star

I'm an ex-smoker, so I shouldn't care about the smoking ban at eateries (including open air ones) come the New Year, right? The Health Ministry says it will "help make Malaysia tobacco-free", so that's a good thing, kan? 
Nope. On the contrary, I think it's a damn stupid ruling the Ministry is trying to justify with the darndest "make Malaysia tobacco-free" excuse. If you want to make Malaysia tobacco-free, the thing to do is stop the sale of tobacco altogether. Wage war against cigarettes, like we have been waging the war on drugs. Ciminalize smoking and hang the tobacco smugglers. 
But the government is not doing that. Why? Because the government makes money from cigarettes.  A lot of money. Every year it collects over RM1 billion in cigarette taxes and now that "the government has no money" (or so says the minister Khalid Samad; [refer to the clip in my previous posting h e r e] we can expect it to up the taxes so that it can earn even more. 
Well, if it means more government revenue, I say go ahead and collect more taxes. But, please, let's not be hypocrites by like banning smoking at Q Bistro and telling people like me who go there frequently and co-exist with smokers who sit peacefully in their designated smoking area that it will help make this country tobacco-free. Because that's not what you want.

And what good does a smokeless environment do? Just look at the ban on smoking in Parliament. Have that made our politicians cleverer or their debates healthier? If anything, it's the contrary. Again, the antics of Khalid Samad comes to mind. And have you not been paying attention to what the likes of  Mazlee Malik and Mujahid Yusuf have been spewing lately?
Not forgetting Yeo Bee Yin, who have refused repeated requests from Lynas workers to visit them at their workplace and choosing instead to write them a most-condescending open letter to employees in this country, telling them that she had it equally tough if not tougher growing up on a farm and that she sympathised with the workers if they lose their jobs because of her crusade for a larger good. 

Ah, but I digress ...

Back to the ban. It won't hurt business, says Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye. "I don't see why their business will be affected, as customers go to the restaurant to eat, not to smoke," he said. The eateries are claiming otherwise: the ban will discourage smoking patrons from coming and that will affect their business.

My greatest problem with the ruling is that it makes me feel that we are becoming such a regimented nation all of a sudden. Macam Singapore, pulak. Why can't we leave it to the eateries to decide. Their decision will be dictated by patrons and not by government or politicians. As a regular patron of eateries that have smoking and designated non-smoking sections, I have always found the arrangement a happy one for both. Why fix something that ain't broke?

Plus, the Ministry should focus on bigger and more urgent healthcare issues.

Read also

Sunday, December 16, 2018

The Prophet and angels in Malaysian politics

Khalid Samad has done it again. Not that he cares, I suspect. And if you're wondering how this joker could so recklessly liken his government's failures to the Prophet's own, don't look far. Just the other day his Boss said that even angels make mistakes.
Apt pupil or leadership by example?
On the other side of the political divide, someone responded on Facebook to news of the sad passing of Zainuddin Maidin, a strong supporter of Dr Mahathir Mohamad's, with an "Alhamdulillah". Totally unacceptable.
 So rotten.

Read also:
Asyraf Wajdi says Khalid Samad is too much
Avoid U-turns or risk pushing investors away, MIA tells Government

Friday, December 14, 2018

The road to a "truly Malaysian car"

Pic from Paul Tan's
If anyone had any doubts about the ties that bind Proton and its maker, the 121218 launch of the much-anticipated X70 cleared the air. Clearly, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad holds Proton very close to his heart. This is his big baby, after all. And much as he was not overly pleased about Proton's marriage to China's Geely in 2017, he could hardly conceal his excitement with their firstborn: the X70. The pictures of Tun Dr Mahathir and his wife with the Proton SUV, against a nostalgic backdrop, tells a thousand words. And while Dr M's wish that the marriage would give birth to a "truly Malaysian car" may never come true, we can expect this Malaysian car manufacturer to start making truly great cars.

A discerning millennial'a take on the X70:

Read also Handsome old man and the X70 by Annie (who is certainly not a millennial)

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Tying to stay colour blind ...

Pictures sometimes lie. But these Lynas workers who are fighting to keep their jobs look like Malays, all of them. And those who want to close down Lynas (and make those Malays jobless) have always been predominantly Chinese.  
Am I wrong to see a clash of colours here?  
But Annie, I notice, is experiencing the same symptoms. Her latest posting Why YBY and gang want to close down Lynas contains words like "overwhelming Chinese majority", "the support of the Chinese community" and "DAP". 
I'm hoping it's just the light, playing tricks on our eyes ..

p.s. The Star has a clip on the rallying Lynas workers at Parliament today. While DAP's anti-Lynas rallies have always been picnic-like, the workers look grim. One was even crying. Watch laaah.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Tabung Haji vs Tabung Haji (or is it PWC vs EY?)

Updated, Melayu vs Melayu: Apa punya manusia, Tabung Haji pun mereka noda oleh A. Kadir Jasin vs Isu Tabung Haji: Apa yang perlu kita tahu oleh Cucu Tok Selampit

Inexperience + Arrogance = ? This government's problem is not so much that too many of its ministers are green but that they can be arrogant like hell. The Malay has a most apt description for it: bodoh sombong. Minister in the Prime Minister's Department for Islamic Affairs, Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa (pic), would be the quintessential BS if you were to ask his growing army of detractors. His latest statements on the Tabung Haji affair could seal that reputation for him. Read h e r e where the minister said that from 2014 to 2017, TH was paying dividends to its depositors "illegally". 

The facts of the matter, however, are:

1. TH cannot - dulu, kini dan selamanya - pay any dividend without the approval of the Auditor-General. And Ambrin Buang, in this Feb 2016 article, clearly deemed it "legal" for dividends to be paid to the 9 million depositors. Bank Negara was also satisfied with TH's ability to pay, according to the same article:

 2. Other than the AG, external auditors have always been in the picture. PWC was appointed after Pakatan Harapan won the general election in May (Mujahid did mention this) but before that it was Earnst & Young. It was learned that from 2015 to 2017, the auditors reported asset surplus over liabilities for TH: some RM1.4 billion in 2015, over RM701 million in 2016, and well over RM350 million in 2017.

Now, could Mujahid have been selective or even ignorant when representing PWC's findings? It won't be the first or most radical with this government: Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng pushed Malaysia's debts to over a trillion ringgit almost overnight despite the rosier reality (Moody's maintains Malaysia debt burden at 50.8 per cent of GDP). 

But why? Politics, of course!

If one is not convinced that TH is being used as a pawn for the (new) political masters, then try swallowing Mujahid's assurance (at the same press conference where he had just revealed the RM4 billion "hole" in TH) that the depositors will get their dividends this year (2018):

“Now that the restructuring plan is here, if we can fulfil two conditions and if there is profit, then definitely we will get (dividends). 

"But that will be announced before the end of the year, we have not close our (sic) accounts for the year yet.” - Mujahid: Tabung Haji paid dividends illegal since 2014 as debts exceeded assets

Writing on his Facebook yesterday, Azmi Arshad, accountant and social media journalist, is clearly disturbed:

"He was trying to give the impression that TH was never in the financial position to pay hibah. But…. MAGICALLY…. Tabung Haji will be able to pay dividend in 2018. Why? How? You’ll have to ask Mujahid how he will suddenly pluck RM4 billion cash out of nowhere, especially when the stock market has plunged under the present government – it closed today at a nearly 2-year low." - Mujahid's TH Horror Story - Another PHollywood Production

How, indeed?

p.s. I totally agree with former deputy minister in charge of Islamic affairs Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki, who said this government may spook depositors with its alarmist statements on TH. Read Stop issuing alarmist statements and sue TH bossesNeither green nor arrogant, this Umno Youth leader. Not in this instant, anyway.