Thursday, November 30, 2006

Group Editor Designate

Plagiarist goes on leave. Tomorrow, Dec 1, could be a turning point for the long-suffering NST. Brendan P, the former Straits Times Singapore operative, will start his month-long leave before his resignation (amid the plagiarism row) takes effect at the end of December.

Seasoned journalist Syed Nadzri Syed Harun will be the group editor designate from tomorrow and come January 1, he'll be the Group Editor.

Datuk Nicol David?

Blogger Shanghaistephen thinks the PM shouldn't just pat her on the back. I agree. And I think they should throw in a Ferrari and a plot of prime land for the lass. She deserves it.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Bandit's back!

Hostile merger or what? Bandit, the poster who helped popularise this blog with his bombardments during the early days, and then disappeared from the screen for months now, has sent a scorcher about the "mother of all mergers". He might have been there in the same room with the PNB chairman when he was first told about the merger!
"Whether he was stunned or not, Ahmad Sarji listened attentively to Abdullah as he laid out the impending coalescence that is now dancing with the subtlety of hissing pit viper.
Ahmad Sarji played the situation with an admirably straight poker-face, never unmasking his emotion nor sentiment, even if he disapproved of the merger.
Among the senior management of the three companies, he had made it known that if he had his way, he would not have allowed this merger on the faith that the trifecta companies can be major global players in their own right."
[click comment to read the rest of Bandit's take; click here and here to know where he's coming from]

By the way, I was told that CIMB would be making around RM100 million from the deal. We'll wait for Nazir Razak to work out the numbers and tell us.

SJ leaves Bernama

Syed Jamil Jaafar, the General Manager of Bernama, will clock out for the final time tomorrow after having served the national news agency for 37 years. SJ joined Bernama in December 1969 as an 18-year old reporter, went on to become its editor-in-chief in 1995, and was made the GM in 2000.
Azman Ujang, another seasoned journalist and Bernama's current editor-in-chief, will be the Acting GM until the agency appoints a new GM.
SJ's contract was not due to end until next year and his "early" retirement may spark speculation that there may be plans to merge Bernama with RTM, the other government media agency, or something to that effect.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Elegant silence across the Causeway

Najib's call for reciprocity. Looks like we'll have to wait another day for Singapore to respond to our DPM's call that it play fair and open up its door so that Khazanah Nasional can buy its companies as freely as Temasek is buying into Malaysian companies.
Both The Straits Times and its sister, Singapore Business Times, carried Najib Razak's statement extensively. The piece by seasoned commentator S. Jayasankaran, here, is interesting:

Even so, Mr Najib inserted a cautionary note in his otherwise conciliatory speech. Elaborating on the growing cross-border deals between the two countries, he said the acquisitions of Malaysian interests especially by Singapore state-controlled entities 'have far outweighed' the acquisitions of Singapore companies by Malaysians.
He said the deals include the purchase of Singapore stockbroker GK Goh by CIMB Bank of Malaysia as opposed to Temasek Holdings' acquisition of a significant interest in Malaysia's Alliance Bank.
"I am hopeful that there will be a greater degree of reciprocity from Singaporean authorities in facilitating more Malaysian acquisitions of assets in Singapore," Mr Najib said.

Will Singapore open its door wider to Malaysia? I am tempted to believe that even Mr Najib does not think so; hence, the "cautionary note in his otherwise conciliatory speech".

Monday, November 27, 2006

Again, who's killing our corporate giants?

NSTP-Utusan Melayu? Another mega merger, another one bites the dust. This time between the country's oldest newspaper group rivals. Singapore Straits Times has the story, according to a Google alert:
KUALA LUMPUR - THE New Straits Times and Utusan Melayu, two of Malaysia's oldest media groups, will be merged in a corporate union that will establish the country's largest media grouping.
Update, 7.45pm: Meanwhile, on that other proposed merger by Synergy Drive to create the world's largest oil palm company, Nazir Razak promised that everything about the RM31 billion deal will be transparent. [Read the Bernama's piece here from this morning's press conference].

And from Malaysiakini: Umno to rule the media

Sunday, November 26, 2006

If A Picture Paints A Thousands Words ..

... then this posting here is 7,000-word long.
Seven pics that prove that, despite the keris and the fire, the recent Umno general assembly wasn't really that hot, after all.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Criticize Us, Najib tells Newspapers

"Leaders are only humans and if there is nobody to criticise us, then we may be carried away by our positions.In a democratic system, our fate lies in the hands of the people, as such it is best to be corrected early rather than be rejected by the people later." - the Deputy Prime Minister
But can the watchdogs still bark? Rather liberal of the DPM to ask the mainstream media to criticize the government. It's what the media are made for but will the editors rise to the challenge? Do they have what it takes to criticize and criticize constructively?
Click here for Mohd Najib Abdul Razak's invitation to treat.

Not Us - PNB

Who's killing Malaysia's Corporate Giants? PNB, of course, is the prime suspect behind Synergy Drive Sdn Bhd and the proposed super-merger of Sime Darby, Kumpulan Guthrie and Golden Hope. In his Comment in StarBiz today, Errol Oh writes:
"Although just about everyone has heard the rumours of the merger, observers believe that the management of the three listed groups were taken by surprise when PNB finally made its move through Synergy Drive Sdn Bhd. This perhaps reflects PNB's resolve to make the deal happen."
But is that so? PNB chief executive officer and president Hamad Kama Piah Che Othman spoke up late yesterday said "the merger would be encouraged as long as it created value and gave benefits to the shareholders. He also said "PNB has also not seen the proposal, the three companies only informed PNB about the suspension". When asked if the move was initiated by PNB, he said: "It is not a question of who initiated it. We have to see the ultimate result. Otherwise how PNB is going to support all this."
Finally, he added:
"Synergy Drive is not our company but the thing is we always believe that whatever they do they should take consideration of PNB's expectation."
Read the full article here. Hamad Kama Piah does not sound to me like he's on the ball. Someone else made that move through Synergy Drive Sdn Bhd, Oh Errol.

UM and Newspaper to tackle the P word

Anti-Plagiarism Guide. Brendan P's resignation amid a plagiarism row earlier this month has done a great deal to raise awareness on the P word. Universiti Malaya, for example, is working on an anti-plagiarism guide for university students and lecturers. A draft will be ready in three months and, among other things, will recommend computer software that can be used to detect plagiarism. According to the Prof in charge:
"Tertiary institutions have to implement strong measures to prevent plagiarism, as modern technology has been made easier for students to pass off others’ works as their own."
Modern technology has also made it easier for journalists to pass off others' works as their own and get off scot free. In Brendan P's case, he still writes for the newspaper after the NSTP's chief executive here
ruled that Brendan P's article was "original" and threatened to sue the BBC if it didn't retract its report.

[read The Star's article here on the UM's anti-plagiarism guide. the same article says StarEducation on Sunday will carry a full report on plagiarism]

Friday, November 24, 2006

Corrupt Nation?

Another perception. This time from MStar On-Line, the Bahasa Malaysia-language web paper by the Star. The poll returns an overwhelming "no" to the question, Do you feel there is less corruption in Malaysia now?

Against the backdrop of the PM pooh-poohing Transparency International's latest corruption index, this poll could be viewed as politically incorrect. But then, the guys running MStar probably did not expect 90 per cent of the respondents (as at the time of this posting) to say "Tidak"!

Read my previous take on corruption here.

This Cat's Many Lives

Three more years. When Dr M made Nor Mohamed Yakcop the Special Economic Adviser to the PM on 10 May 2000, it was Kalimullah Hassan who met me at the PWTC, where the Umno general assembly was in progress, to arrange for me to talk to his "good friend". I wrote the front page story for Business Times, which I was editing then, based on that phone conversation.
"There will be a lot to do ... many critical areas concerning Bumiputera economic participation, especially in view of globalisation," (Nor Mohamed) told Business Times.
Soon after, Kalimullah was made chairman of a major bank. Kalimullah and Nor Mohamed, who used to be known as Top Cat for his prowess in currency trading (before George Soros turned his world upside down during the pound sterling crisis), would meet weekly for breakfast, together with a couple of other journalists who later went on to become senior editors with their newspapers. [note: I was never part of this breakfast club]. Years later, we spoke once more on the phone. This time he called to express a general displeasure about some stories we were publishing that touched the involvement of a member of Dollah Badawi's family in some Malaysia Airlines contract.
For business journos in the Eighties, Nor Mohamed's name was synonymous with the bilateral payments arrangement, an ingenious scheme used by Dr M to boost trade among countries in the South. But the BPA, and all these other credentials contained in the Bernama story here, are standard issue for the Junior Finance Minister's current CV.
A couple of details are missing from that CV. There is no mention of the RM9 billion losses suffered by Bank Negara in the forex market after Soros wagered against the pound and won. Nor Mohamed was largely blamed for these losses and left the central bank after the scandal came to light. Kalimullah's friend was also a player in Anwar Ibrahim's inner financial circle and his involvement, especially with financial house Abrar, has also been left out of the CV.

First three years. How did he fare? Nowhere near brilliant, according to the analysts and economists I spoke to. Since helping Azman Mokhtar with the financial re-engineering of MAS, which earned "Amokh" a place as head of Khazanah Nasional, the national airline has only flown deeper into the dark, turbulent skies. Proton is in a disarray. The stock market has remained sluggish. The economy is not vibrant. He's been accused of cultivating cronies, led by none other than Kalimullah. The average person is nervous about the capability of his "boys" in handling the merger of Sime-Guthrie-GHope, especially since their performance at the GLCs has been far from encouraging. Lately pro-Singapore, as seen in the case of Parkway and Pantai Hospital.

Second term as Second Finance Minister? His senator-ship has been extended for another three years and chances are Dollah Badawi will keep him in Finance. Top Cat may live up to his expectations; we'll have to wait and see.
Personally, I think it'd be good if he confronts his past at this point of time in order to move ahead. The RM9 billion story and the Abrar tales should be told and included in his CVs. It'll augur well for transparency and good governance.

Additional staff. Read Leslie Lopez's commentary today in Singapore Straits Times here.

Assistant General Manager?

Who's who in Malaysia's corporate future:-]

Synergy Drive Sdn Bhd?
Synergy Drive was registered on Nov. 7, according to a filing at the Companies Commission of Malaysia, which named Rossaya Mohd Nashir and Wan Razly Abdullah Wan Ali as directors. Rossaya is an assistant general manager at CIMB Investment Bank and Wan Razly is a director of investment banking at CIMB, according to the person manning the bank's switchboard.
[Read the Bloomberg piece here]

Maya Maju Sdn Bhd?
There is another company, Maya Maju (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, registered with the RoC (Co Reg No: 254750-T). Here, there are 2 shareholders and 5 directors. The 5 Director are: Datuk Haji Man Bin Mat (rings your ear?), Md Nizam B. Md Sharif (rings your ear?), Rasidah Bt. Salleh, Lim Hooi Mooi (secretary), and Tan Enk Purn (secretary). The shareholders are: Maryna Keh Abdullah @ Miss Keh Kim Lan (RM1,450,000 shares) and Man B. Mat (RM3,550,000 shares).
[CTSB has the info here]

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Pahit Manis

Journo-blogger. The name Ahmad A. Talib rings a bell still. Seasoned journalist, former group editor of NST, author of the weekly Pahit Manis column in a former English-language broadsheet, ex-chairman of the Malaysian Press Institute, and still current champion of underdogs in general and orphans in particular.
He's turned to blogging as of today and here's why.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Who's killing the Malaysian corporate giants?

Synergy Drive Sdn Bhd?
You've probably never heard of the company. But you will and you will hear a great deal about it in the days, weeks and months to come. You will first hear of Synergy Drive Sdn Bhd at about the same time you hear the news tomorrow that trading of Sime Darby, Kumpulan Guthrie, and Golden Hope on the KL Bursa has been suspended.
By Monday, when the people at CIMB call for the press conference to announce the mega merger of the three giants, you'll know the names of the people behind Synergy Drive Sdn Bhd. You would have heard some of those names before and you will wonder who, really, are behind those names. You'll wonder if there's going to be transparency.
You will wonder who will benefit from the "death" of these three Malaysian corporate giants.
But one thing you'll know for sure, it won't be you.

Bernama reports:
"Govt supports PNB's merger of Sime Darby, K. Guthrie & Go0lden Hope"
"At least two years before merged entities gain from economies of scale"

Starbucks in Gitmo?

The anti-Guantanamo campaign is alive everywhere else, it seems. According to this British blogger here, the one in Birmingham was protesting a Starbucks outlet at the camp where hundreds of Muslim men, including two Malaysians, are being held for suspected terrorist activities.

List? What list? I love the latte at Starbucks (though I prefer the one at Austin Chase); Starbucks always reminds me of the Schindler's list that the Son-in-Law promised to issue, when Lebanon was news and bravado new. Gitmo also reminds me about priorities, how the Father-in-Law had no time to raise the issue of the two Malaysians during a meeting with Bush "given their intense discussions on efforts to achieve peace and understanding in the world".

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Mukhriz's Regret

Moral of the story: Don't criticize him.
If you really think that you can really criticize the PM, think again. Mukhriz Mahathir was just thinking aloud and that was enough to land him in the soup! He has said he regretted it and that he didn't mean to hurt Dollah Badawi's sensitive heart ,but he did not actually apologize and he did not withdraw his statement so he may not be off the hook yet. Remember, Mukhriz is no Lee Kuan Yew.
[Bernama has the report here; the Scribe puts things in perspective here].

Not Khairy's Maya?

Maya Maju Sdn Bhd. With such a name for a company, a RM400 million pay day, and a project awarded without anyone remembering that about a tender being called, one must make allowances for the mind to go berserk on overdrive with all sorts of speculation. The market had been abuzz with talk that Maya Karin, the actress who recently denied any romantic links to the PM's son-in-law, was behind the project to build a new national palace. Some said that a top official from Khazanah Nasional, the government's investment arm, is advising this little-known company.

Lim Kit Siang was furious and today demanded that the Government comes clean about the palace project. Expect a written answer at the Dewan Rakyat soon. Promahathir blogger has got that story here, Maverick SM had questions earlier here.

Only in The Star

Dr M is the first Malaysian to receive the Mother Teresa Memorial International Award for Social Justice. It was given in recognition of the former PM's efforts in pushing through national unity in a multiracial and multireligious country. Mukhriz was in Mumbai on Sunday to receive the award on behalf of Dr M, who is recuperating from a mild heart attack.

Sadly, you don't read about it in the papers or watch it on local TV. Thank you, The Star.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Big Brother Is Watching You

Journalists, be afraid. Authors of political books, be afraid. Producers of politically-charged DVDs, be afraid. SMS senders, be afraid. (Certain) Editors, be very afraid.
"There is a Chinese newspaper which raises issues that can create alarm among the people." - Mohd Johari Baharum, Deputy Internal Security Minister.
And we were told that the media are freer now. Click here for Big Brother Jo's take on your freedom.

Singapore journalists better?

Return of the Singapore trainer. The NST is bringing back Ravi Veloo, plagiarist Brendan P's affidavit comrade from Singapore, to conduct another training session for the tabloid's subs later this month. But before that Brendan P will bring in a Debbie to teach the Malaysian journalists a thing or two about oral journalism and remind them that Singapore has its pretty side, too.

Not on the curriculum. Plagiarism as a subject in journalist, of course, will be taboo. Not after Brendan P has resigned amid the plagiarism row. And not since the NSTP is suing the BBC for its report.

Plagiarism and Singapore.
In any case, a survey by the National University of Singapore, Brendan P's alma mater, found that students who have studied in Singapore for more than five years have lower awareness of plagiarism!
No wonder they could not tell! [Click here for the findings of the survey].

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Khir Johari

1923-2006. One of the last real Malaysian gentlemen passed on a while ago. I'm honoured to have known Pak Khir, as he was fondly called, and fortunate to be there when he gave The Society, the newsletter of the Royal Commonwealth Society, what was probably his last interview. The piece on this rare breed of a man - minister, p0litician, diplomat, businessman - was published in its Merdeka Issue:
"He was an enduring personality in politics and government. To a lot of journalists in those days, Tan Sri was quite a character. And an endearing one. It was no wonder that they remember him with fondness."
Update from Bernama: A national heroes' burial for Pak Khir. TV Smith remembers Pak Khir and Jeff Ooi sings for the man.

Thank God for Saudi Arabia

2nd last. If not for the Saudis, we would have been the worst CO2 emitter in the world, according to the latest Climate Change Performance Index! [See index here]. And thank God we have Azmi Khalid who, at least, did not blame our poor ratings on perception! Based on the Star's report here, Azmi blamed it on state legislation and members of the public. As to why we fared worse than Indonesia, it's because "we are more industrialized". Should we be concerned? Well, the minister is not:

“We are doing our best. We have also signed 20 international treaties and are committed to reducing carbon dioxide.”

The Muslim Yachtsman

I'm a Muslim, mate. Finally, Azhar Mansor, the sailing hero of millions of Malaysians, has come out in the open to declare that he is STILL a Muslim. Depending on the outcome of police investigation, he may sue the sender of the SMS who claimed earlier this month that Azhar the Christian Convert was going to help baptize hundreds of Malay-Muslims at an Ipoh church.

But while he considers that suit, Azhar should start suing publications worldwide which had "made" him a Christian that he is not. This one here, for example, was published way back in June and is still widely quoted and circulated. Because they were not immediately denied, such stories gained credence. And if not challenged now, such stories will become a gospel truth.

[click here to read the Bernama's "I Am A Muslim, says Azhar"; here for a most recent BBC piece on "Life as a secret Christian Convert"].

Saturday, November 18, 2006


Mukhriz Mahathir. This soft-spoken man, the youngest son of the previous PM, has always lived in the political shadow of his father. That shadow is still as long as ever but Mukhriz is finally emerging out of it and, at the just-concluded Umno general assembly, proves to be a personality to be reckoned with. Just saying he was "a little disappointed" here with Dollah Badawi's address on Wednesday was enough, it seems, to rattle an entire army of keris-waving Umno leaders who now want his head to roll! Umno Youth leader Hishammuddin Hussein was terrified and said he would have to reconsider Mukhriz's position in the Umno Youth executive council line-up if he made any more offending remarks. Such fear!

What did the PM say? Well, he said he was happy to be criticized ...
Abdullah said that he would get very worried if people just showered praises. "But everybody (at the assembly) has spoken very frankly on what they feel about certain things. And I think that's healthy, that's good."
but he ain't happy at all to all when it's Mukhriz who's criticizing him ...
"Well, he has said something which I thought was not right at all," was Abdullah's response when asked about the matter, adding that it was up to Umno Youth to tackle the issue.
[Mind you, the PM's flip-flop about being criticized came from the same article here! Also, check out Cuit-Sikit's take on why the PM was wrong to say that Mukhriz had broken the party law by criticizing him here and Lily's review of the year's scariest movie here].

["Mukhriz is Irrational, Refuses to Accept Reality - Ahmad Zahid ".. click here to read the story]

Friday, November 17, 2006


Letter to Rocky's Bru:
Hi Bro Rocky,

Re: NST, today, page 7 by Wan Hamidi Hamid
I am saddened by this article in NST today which quoted a speech by Perlis delegate Hashim Suboh venting his anger at non-Malays. He asked our Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein:
"Datuk Hisham has unsheathed his keris, waved his keris, kissed his keris. We want to ask Datuk Hisham, when is he going to use it?”.
I am shocked by his statement on being insensitive. Being a law-abiding citizen and truly loved to live in this beautiful country, Malaysia and after living more than half-a-century, I don’t expect it to come from a delegate. I have friends a lot of Malay friends and we get along so well. I don't think we need this type of comments.
I rest my case, Malaysia.

updated: 11pm Dollah delighted with debates. [click here to read how happy the PM is with all these].


Wanita Umno leader wants PM to tell off Cabinet Minister's wife for sexy attire.
"We, as women, feel very embarrassed. We teach our children to dress decently, to wear the scarf, but the action of one minister's wife puts us to shame." - Rahimah Idris, Wanita Umno leader, who said the sexy Datin was not even decently dressed at her former husband's burial recently.
The Umno Women's delegate must think that Dollah Badawi has nothing better to do. Or she thinks the Cabinet Minister in question is unable to "control" his sexy wife and needs his boss to act on her. And one wonders why this issue was not brought up with Bakti, the body representing the Cabinet minsiters' wives, instead. In any case, it would be hard to be more openly bitchier than this. Congratulations, Wanita Umno!

Tiara Jacquelina, the accomplished actress wife of Mohd Effendi Norwawi, the Minister in the PM's Department, will be wondering if Rahimah's attack was aimed at her. Or if someone is trying to ruin her husband's career. [Click here for the Bernama story on the "too sexy" Datin].

Thursday, November 16, 2006


Shivers down their spines. According to the International Herald Tribune's front page article here, quoting Dollah Badawi, race and religious tensions have reached "worrying" level.
Malaysia's prime minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, said Wednesday that frayed relations between the country's religious and racial groups had reached a "worrying" level and warned that the government would not hesitate to crack down to preserve peace between them. "Freedom has its limits," Abdullah said in a nationally televised speech to his party that serves as an annual state of the union address for the country. "I would like to warn those who abuse this freedom that I will not for a moment hesitate to use the law against them." Abdullah's threats were a marked shift in tone for a prime minister who previously portrayed himself as more conciliatory and compassionate than his predecessor, Mahathir bin Mohamad.
However, according to Bernama here, quoting the same Dollah Badawi, race and religious tensions have not reached worrying level.
Racial and religious tensions in Malaysia have not reached worrying level, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said Thursday.
"Not worrying level as far as I am concerned but it is time to remind the people and to lay down the ground rule and that is exactly I have said (yesterday)," he said.
According to the Bernama article, in his keynote address when opening the 57th assembly Wednesday, what the PM actually said was:
"But of late, we see increased polemics on issues related to race and religion. And it has reached a level where it is now worrying."
Don't you get it? Jakarta-based blogger Unspun seems to get it and sounds pretty worried.

Update 17 Nov 3pm: Delegates at the Umno general assembly agreed this morning that IHT should carry a correction on its front page article. They probably were not informed that The Al-Jazeera also has a similar story, "Racial Tensions on Rise in Malaysia".
[Here for the Bernama story on delegates demanding a correction by IHT; here for Al-Jazeera's]


Blogger A. Kadir Jasin by A. Kadir Jasin
The Khairy Chronicles by Raja Petra Kamarudin

These books would have sold like water in a desert if they had been allowed anywhere near the on-going Umno General Assembly at the PWTC. But these no-holds-barred sketches of Malaysia's political landscape under Dollah Badawi's premiership have been barred from reaching the Umno delegates.

The closest to the PWTC that RPK's book got was the National Press Club at Jalan Tangsi. You may, if you are lucky, still find a few copies left. AKJ will have to rely on his magazine vendors to distribute the books for him.

Here's to greater freedom!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


p.s. Had late lunch at a "halal" Chinese noodles restaurant in Telawi, met two ex-journos, one of them now a free-lance PR consultant, who said she was "so shocked" to hear the PM use the word "kafir" not once, not twice but thrice in his address to the Umno delegates.

"Extremely insensitive," she said. Not nice coming from someone who claims to be nice. Not what a non-Muslim (as against kafir) like her had expected from the Prime Minister.

Kafir is an Arabic word that means non-Muslim. In the Malaysian context, however, the word conjures such negative, unpleasant and even offensive connotations that it is hardly ever used as a substitute for "bukan Islam", which is Malay for "non Muslim".


He's warned us again! Yesterday, the NST reported on its front page Dollah Badawi's warning for his detractors NOT to push him. "It's harder to be nice," he declared. A while ago, in his 90-minute presidential address to the Umno general assembly, the PM and Umno president issued the same warning: don't test his patience. His government will not blink in acting against those who dare exceed the realm of reason.

I don't know if he was issuing that warning to Dr Mahathir, Bush, Kit Siang, his own son-in-law, me, you, Lee Kuan Yew, the world, the Devil or the half-past-six advisers from the 4th floor and NSTP. What I know is this kind of talk, from a bully or a statesman, always leaves a bad smell. Oh, yes, what a pong!

Other highlights from the address:

FDI - Yes it's slow but that, Dollah said, is because we're not as opened to mergers and acquisitions. But the PM vowed that national interest will always come first. Malaysia will not go the Pak Kadok way, menang sorak kampung tergadai. He will not sell off the country.
[note: no mention of Pantai Hospital, Parkway Holdings or the Singapore-Johor Economic Region, though]

The Economy - Yes it's slower. But that's because he wanted to reduce the deficit. Dollah said he has succeeded - deficit was 5.3 per cent of GDP when he took over; it is now 3.5 per cent. Now we are in better position to spend!

Stock market - Yes it's a little drab but we'll just have to be patient. The PM said he can, if he wants, get the Cabinet to agree and list Petronas and Felda on the Bursa. That will add billions of ringgit in market cap and make Bursa KL the biggest stock exchange in Asia. But, he said, that is not the economic transformation he has in mind for the nation. "It's not like cooking instant mee," he said.

Corruption - Is the fight against corruption waning? No, it's not. There seems to be more corruption but that, Dollah said, is because the media are freer in reporting about corruption cases. No arrest? That does not mean he is slowing down in his fight against corruption. At the same time, the PM said the people should come forward and provide proof of corruption and not just make wild accusations.

Bumiputera equity - To say that the Bumis have achieved more than 30 per cent equity is to accuse the government of lying. "This government does not lie".

Islam Hadhari - Islam Hadhari

Misc - Let's pray for Dr M's health, the PM said. And a Tun Ghafar Fund will be set up.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


A little before 6pm, the doctors at IJN allowed Dr M to go home. An aide said the former PM would like to thank Malaysians in general and people on this blog in particular for their prayers. Dr M was admitted last Thursday for a mild heart attack.


"Don't use position to Lobby for Business". Read the DPM's advice to Umno Puteri leaders here yesterday. It is such a timely advice. Don't be fooled by the girly-pink colours of the young women's wing called Puteri, which literally means Princess. From when Azalina Othman Said fought to start it, it was bogged by talk that there would be those who might be tempted to use it to promote their own chances for lofty contracts instead of lofty ideals. For Najib Abdul Razak to caution them against abusing their positions, he must have heard something he didn't quite like.

Still, in my opinion, the same advice would have been better served to the Pemuda. Its deputy chief, Khairy Jamaluddin aka the Son-in-Law, was seen as using his position - both as deputy chief and as SIL - to get his hands on those ECM-Libra shares! If the head, which is supposed to do all the thinking, can't resist the temptation of the ringgit, the rest of the body can't be expected to be cleverer.

And come to think about it, shouldn't this advice be given to Umno as a whole. The party is today perceived as nothing much more than a platform for the Malay who wishes to lobby for business, small and big. Hence, the word Umnoputera. The leader of the Women's wing has still to satisfactorily explain why so many APs were given to her former Miti officers. The President of Umno has been accused by his predecessor for abusing his position to give his only son huge government contracts worth billions of ringgit. The President of Umno has also gone on record to insinuate that the predecessor had also abused his position to give his children contracts worth even more than the ones he awarded his only son!

If the advice is not going to be served to the Pemuda, Wanita and Umno proper, let's not hope that the princesses of the party won't look for their own princely kickbacks, too. It would only be fair.

Monday, November 13, 2006


Editors of smut rag take the rap. The writing was on the wall. Former magistrate M. Zul and expat Simon Burgess have quit the Malay/Weekend Mail. Their departure was announced by Syed Faisal Albar late yesterday through a memo pinned on the notice boards of Balai Berita. The future of The Weekend Mail, launched hardly five months ago and suspended by the Internal Security Ministry last week after the "smut" issue, remains unclear but for the remaining editors that isn't their biggest worry. Their primary concern is to save the 110-year Malay Mail, the country's oldest English-language daily, from further decline. To foolishly carry on the "new" Malay Mail's spirit is to head for certain and sad end. To go back to what the Malay Mail used to be would require some of the directors will have to eat humble pie.

M. Zul and Simon Burgess probably never knew half the story of how and why they had been there in the first place, plucked from obscurity to spearhead what just two years ago was the fastest-selling English-language rag in the country. Not that they would have cared then (and now it's none of their business anymore). They must be told now, however, that they are scapegoats. The real culprit for all this mess at the Mail is Kalimullah Hassan, Editorial Adviser and Deputy Chairman of the NSTP. This man is still around, playing dumb while others take the fall, and taking home a real fat salary for doing nothing but harm to the NSTP from the first day he arrived as its GEIC in 2004.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


Not a one-term Prime Minister. From I-don't-know to I'm-in-control, the spin doctors in Dollah Badawi's office have come up with another gem here for the Prime Minister: "I'm here to stay".

The interview with Utusan Malaysia, published today, was obviously timed to coincide with the start of the week-long Umno General Assembly today. Click here to read Zaini Hassan's interview with the Umno President. If you're wondering how long Dollah Badawi wants to rule this country, you are not alone.

But we can all stop wondering about one thing: Dollah Badawi wants to stay and is not shy at all about admitting it. Expect Umno Youth, whose de facto leader is Dollah Badawi's own son-in-law, to support the President's wish.

update 11.30am, 13 nov. In the meantime, Bloomberg has issued a C+ for Dollah Badawi's first three years in office and even ventured to say that he might lose support if he fails to convince this week's assembly that he will deliver on his earlier promises. Read the not-so-rosy article here.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


Dr M told not to read the papers. I think the doctors at the IJN should have been a bit more specific. Our newspapers are generally still not harmful to the health. Columnists who FABRICATE and columnists who PLAGIARIZE are the threat to our society's well-being. [read the story here]

Some0ne asked me which is worse, a journalist who lies in his writing or one who plagiarizes? Both are bad. The worst is when such people refuse to apologise and go unpunished, and even allowed to stay on in journalism and taint the profession by the day.

Friday, November 10, 2006


We are only perceived to be more corrupt, that's all. Dollah Badawi has questioned Transparency International's latest corruption index and said here that "we do not need other people to tell us of the situation in our own country".
"We can assume that since the index is based on perception, it therefore differs from reality." - Abdullah Badawi (NST, "PM: Speed up graft trials")
The 2006 index, released early this week, saw Malaysia slipped five big rungs to 44th position. Just World president Dr Chandra Muzaffar has blamed Dollah, who vowed to combat corruption three years ago, for refusing to compel politicians and their families, including his own son whose companies seem to be doing extremely well since he became the PM, to declare their assets.

The PM blamed the poorer index on the slowness of the courts in trying corruption cases and, believe it or not, the "freer" Press. According to the same NST report, Dollah said "it was possible that others perceived corruption had not decreased due to the greater openness in the media which has been actively reporting corruption cases".

Dollah did not seem to have a problem with the country's better position on the UNDP's human development index, though. Click here for the story; here for the index.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Got word that the former PM suffered a "mild" heart attack last night and has been warded for observation. Do pray for his recovery.

A happy update at 9pm, 10/11/2006: Dr M has been discharged from the Coronary Care Unit. He is now under observation in a "normal" ward.


Those "invited" to Dr M's house for another Hari Raya open house last night were delighted to see Zainudin Maidin, the Information Minister, there. At one point, the former prime minister and Zam were seated at the same table.

Widely considered a Mahathir man, Zam raised eyebrows recently when he joined most of his Cabinet colleagues in condemning Dr M for criticizing Dollah Badawi.


Will anyone miss the Weekend Mail?
Before the smut, the Weekend Mail was printing just about 70,000 copies. Given the Mail's traditionally high return rate of unsold copies, we can safely estimate that some 50,000 people paid RM2 each every weekend to read the rag: 25,00o on Saturday and another 25,000 on Sunday. Not too many. The (murdered) Sunday Mail, which was edited by Aishah Ali until April 23 this year, was doing 50,000 copies on a bad day and the (old) Malay Mail was cruising at over 40,000 copies easily before there was Kalimullah Hassan.
Syed Faisal Albar will miss the Weekend Mail. Those 50K copies mean RM100k in circulation revenue. If the suspension lasts till the end of the year, that would mean more than RM1 million down the drain.
And with The Malay Mail (Mon-Fri) struggling to stay above 20,000 copies a day and with little advertisement coming in, a prolonged suspension of the Weekend Mail could ruin the NSTP chief executive officer's already badly-tainted KPI.
Consolation will come in the form of not having to pay Simon Burgess and M. Zul the fat salaries that they draw should the company decide to roast both raw editors. Syed Faisal could bring back the Sunday Mail. He should also demand a refund for the US$1 million they paid the consultants for this troubled "re-invention" of the Mail.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


1950-2006. Fredo called me two days ago. We spoke about his health; he couldn't wait to get better so that he could start his sales pitch again with our new mag. We spoke about friends; he had many. And we spoke about the newspaper we left. I had the pleasure of working with this well-known and well-liked advertising man when I was the editor of Business Times and then The Malay/Sunday Mail. He taught me how to throw darts; he was a Rhino Darter. He loved his food and he loved life. A wonderful man. I shall miss him.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


The Internal Security Ministry signed the papers yesterday. From this week, there will be no Weekend Mail. The weekly has been suspended indefinitely over last week's "smut" issue.

Syed Faisal Albar's troubles are far from over. The Cabinet meeting today is expected to discuss the rot at NSTP, the smut and the resignation of the disgraced NST group editor last week amid a plagiarism scandal.

But I tell this to the NSTP chief executive officer and to you: don't hold your breath for Editorial Adviser Kalimullah Hassan or GEIC Hishamuddin Aun to ever have the decency to accept responsibility for the mess.
Expect them to sacrifice others, such as:

1/M. Zul, the ex-magistrate Syed Faisal had handpicked earlier this year to be the Malay/Weekend Mail editor and chief operating officer. He has been suspended pending a domestic inquiry into last weekend's mess.
2/Simon Burgess, the expat who was given the cushy deal by Syed Faisal to work only three days a week (Wednesday, Thursday and Friday) to produce the Weekend Mail. He's paid a bomb. He may sue NST if he's given the sack.

An error or a lie? In the meantime, I would like the NST and the MM to clarify their reports that said the Malay/Weekend Mail had been operating independently of the NSTP since January 1 this year. Because that is not possible: 1/I was still the Executive Editor of the Malay/Sunday Mail until February. 2/The ill-fated Weekend Mail wasn't even born until June. Something that did not exist could not have been operating independently.


Dirty threesome suspends Editor. Former magistrate M. Zul was a contributing editor with a small men's magazine when they took him earlier this year and threw him to the deepest end of Malaysian journalism.

Late yesterday, the loathsome threesome of NSTP chief executive officer Syed Faizal Albar, Group Editor-in-Chief Hishamuddin Aun, and Editorial Adviser Kalimullah Hassan decided that M. Zul should drown alone. Absolving themselves of any blame, the three ordered M. Zul to be suspended from his job pending the outcome of an inquiry into the "smut" issue of Weekend Mail, which is edited by a foreigner.

The suspension came just hours after the PM, who put Kali at the NSTP in 2004 to mess things up, commented from from Islamabad on the "smut" issue. [Click here to read the PM's response].

Plagiarise again, Plagiarist. In the meantime, no disciplinary action has been taken against Brendan P, The Plagiarist. There will not be a domestic inquiry, either. On the contrary, Syed Faizal and gang published yesterday Brendan's weekly column, now wholly dedicated, it seems, to taking potshots at Dr M . By now, of course, Brendan P shoots blanks.

Who'd believe what a plagiarist writes?


Blame Abdullah, too! Malaysia fell five ranks to 44th on a Transparency International 2006 corruption transparency index announced in Berlin yesterday. Ramon Navaratnam, the Malaysian Society for Tansparency and Integrity president said here he was surprised and disappointed with the rot and blamed the slow implementation of new policies for the drop. [Malaysia ranked joint 39th in 2004 and 39th last year].
Just World president Dr Chandra Muzaffar, however, said the PM, who vowed to combat corruption three years ago, must share the blame for the more negative perception. He told The Star here that to quell rumours of nepotism politicians and their families should declare their assets but the PM recently said there was no need to. "That was disappointing. They should be able to demonstrate that they are above board."
In July, Matthias Chang, Dr Mahathir's former political secretary, was sued for RM50 million for, among other things, challenging the PM's son-in-law and his mentor Kalimullah Hassan to declare their assets in order to prove that they did not profit themselves from Abdullah's position.

Monday, November 06, 2006


"Smut" Syed Faizal Albar did not apologise for Brendan P's plagiarism because it would be seen as an admission of guilt, an embarrassing defeat for Kalimullah Hassan. The CEO of NSTP is made to say "WE ARE SORRY" in bold on the front page of the (New) Malay Mail today because it will be an admission of guilt on his part (and nobody else's, not the Editorial Adviser Kalimullah Hassan nor the Group Editor-in-Chief Hishamuddin Aun).

But Smut Syed has been around long enough and should, therefore, know that saying sorry does not absolve him of liability and responsibility.

The on-going inquiry into this "offensive and distasteful" chapter will find "editors" like "Mojo" M. Zul and "Sick" Simon Burgess guilty of carelessness, which is as serious a sin as plagiarism, or outright disregard for the acceptable notion of decency. But like I said in my last posting, Smut Syed is the one really in charge here. If they have to go down for this, he must go down with them.

SO, WHO IS THIS "SICK" SIMON BURGESS? When Smut Syed did the bidding for Kalimullah to squeeze me out of the Malay/Sunday Mail, the official line he gave me was they wanted to turn The Paper That Cares into a rag like FHM and they could see that an editor like me would not fit in. Truth is they had already spoken to Mojo M Zul from the FHM soon after my fallout with Kalimullah and the Mail did that expose on Pantai.
Sick Simon came into the picture much later and I was aware of him only a couple of months ago. In this country, we have "Mat Salleh" expats making good money and a name for themselves as editors of various lifestyle magazines.

But a "Mat Salleh" as editor of an Umno-owned paper? Singapore operatives running an Umno paper? We are learning.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


Editor wannabe Syed Feisal Albar, who came to the defence of his plagiarist NST group editor late last week, will have a chance to look Najib Abd Razak in the eye and tell him why the Umno-owned Malay/Weekend Mail has turned to porn to sell papers.

At the KL Umno Convention today, the DPM lambasted the Kalimullah-led NSTP for allowing the Mail to degenerate to a porn trash. "Memalukan (shameful)", he said. This week's issue dedicated 57 of its 66 pages to sex. Front page blurbs scream "Fetish Files", "Celebrity Sex", "Hooters!", "Pole Dancing Tips", "Kinky Cakes".

The delegates took Najib's displeasure as a cue to scrutinize the state of the (new) Malay Mail and its weekend edition. Shahrizat Jalil, the Minister of Women, Family and Community Development, spoke out angrily against the newspaper editors for what they have done to one of the country's oldest English-language newspapers.

Although he is the CEO of NSTP, Syed Feisal has put himself directly in charge of the tabloid that was once known as The Paper That Cares. Under his charge, the Malay Mail changed from a paper that fought for the underdog to a kinky rag. Readership and sales numbers have fallen drastically in the past months and the desperation to check the slide may explain why the Weekend Mail has dropped all pretense of being a newspaper.

The Weekend Mail, by the way, is edited by an expatriate.


Singapore-Johor Economic Region. Pasquale saw it coming from way back then. The SJER, he wrote here:
"... is not our "mega" project it will be Singapore's, it is now official that this project will become an official de facto extension of Singapore."
This morning, GoBlog, another poster, said he alarmed to learn how much the SJER seems to be tailored to Singapore. Why should the SJER use Changi and Keppel instead of Port of Tanjung Pelepas and Senai Airport? If Brendan P could piece together one last "original" piece tomorrow, he would undoubtedly hail this venture. [Click here and here to read why this is Singapore's Johor Economic Region].

Syed Hamid puts Johor Sultan in "right context". This Johorean minister is certainly not a "yes" man when it comes to his own Sultan. Here, he saw it fit to interpret what the Sultan meant when he called for the dismantling of the Causeway yesterday.
The Singaporeans must have checked with him. Syed Hamid's counterpart in Singapore said here that what the Sultan said did not represent the Malaysian Government's position.

What is the Malaysian Government's position on the Sultan's call for the Causeway to be replaced by a bridge?

Saturday, November 04, 2006


If you have not heard of Dolahgate, click here and read Raja Petra Kamaruddin's account on how an entire Umno supreme council had conspired against its former president Dr M during its Sept 28 meeting.

"Rahim Thambi Chik and Aziz Shamsuddin shifted uncomfortably in their seats. They knew what Rais said was right. How could the Secretary have been so stupid as to minute something like this? In the first place, the Supreme Council should not have even discussed the matter or, worse, made the decision to sabotage Mahathir’s chances of winning. But to minute it.....sheesh!"

There's a poll at the end of the article. I was the 808th voter.


Bring on the bridge! Live on RTM this morning, the Sultan of Johor has ordered the Prime Minister to dismantle the Causeway. The Sultan says he does not want the Causeway, which was built by colonial masters who had cheated his forefathers.

I don't have the Sultan's exact quotes but Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was there when the Sultan said this at the unveiling of the PM's own idea/vision/plan for the SJER.

The last time the Sultan reportedly spoke out on politics, it was widely reported by the media.

update 9.30pm: Bernama filed the report here on what the Sultan said (minus the fact he was not happy about the use of his name for the project) at 5.16pm.


Climate of fear at Balai Berita. At a Deepavali Open House last night, the conversation revolved around Brendan P's plagiarism, why the NSTP condones it, the attempt to intimidate the BBC, the gag order on our colleagues from the NSTP. Just then a young journalist from the NST walked up. "Hi, I'm xxx from, er, Bernama (giggles). Er, no, actually I'm from Singapore Straits Times (lol)."

There are some 1,000 journalists at Balai Berita, professionals who wield an instrument said to be mightier than the sword but whose mouths have been stuffed by yesterday's unprecedented gag order.
... no employees of the company are allowed to engage in or provide comments to the public, Press (international or local), television stations or any other media organisations except for the Chairman of the Board, Chief Executive Officer and the Group Editor in Chief."
After the shock discovery that their group editor had plagiarized the work of a American journalist and has quit amid that scandal, the journalists at Balai Berita wanted answers. They wanted Brendan P to face them and give them his excuses. They wanted to ask the CEO why Brendan should not be sacked and why his resignation takes effect on Dec 31. They wanted to talk about plagiarism, the BIG sin. They wanted the GEIC to tell them if they, too, can use their positions as journalists to secure a small business contract for their spouses.

No one saw the gag order coming. "When Tun (Dr Mahathir) said Pak Lah is turning this country into a police state, our editors rubbished him," a young editor from the NST said. "Our papers rubbished him. Heck, some of us rubbished him! But now, what gives? We are journalists and we are not allowed to talk about these things? They are going to sack me if I talk about plagiarism with Tok Najib (the Deputy Prime Minister) and with my drinking buddies?"
"The company views this seriously and will not hesitate to take action should this be compromised."
I have read about gag orders on journalists and the media by governments in Iran, Poland and several other countries widely considered as "police states".

for an update on BBC's response to NST's intimidation, click here.

Friday, November 03, 2006


In short, gag order. People at the NSTP have been alerting me of a GAG order on Brendan P's plagiarism scandal and anything related to the issue, including his resignation and the issue regarding the BBC news report. Notices have been pasted all over the office to warn the staff that the company will take action against anyone who speak about the issue to other media organisations, which may or may not include blogs.


"Our position is very clear; it is not (plagiarism). The other (Mitch Albom's) piece did not revolve around the Prime Minister of Malaysia or former Prime Minister. Our content was original." - Syed Faisal Albar, CEO of NSTP, on Brendan P's plagiarism scandal.
In major editorial crises like this one, you'd expect Kalimullah Hassan as the NSTP Editorial Adviser or Hishamuddin Aun as the Group Editor-in-Chief to stand up for the profession. Instead, they have left it to Syed Faisal to come out with a most pathetic defence.

Syed Faisal's defence of Brendan P was also left very late in this NST on-line article about a threat by the NSTP to sue the BBC if it does not retract the news story its correspondent in KL had sent out yesterday on the plagiarism issue and Brendan P's resignation.

The CEO said Brendan P's resignation had been announced at a regional correspondent meeting on 18 August this year. Some of these correspondents will no doubt contest this claim. I remember Kalimullah announcing Brendan P's resignation on two earlier occasions; one of them was right after he had made the announcement about the appointment of the Singapore-trained Brendan P as the new Group Editor of the NSTP!

Meanwhile, the world is reading about NST and Malaysia, here and here.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Long chat with The Plagiarist. Hishamuddin Aun and Syed Faisal Albar had a long chat with disgraced NST group editor Brendan Pereira at the Balai Berita yesterday.

This morning, what they discussed appeared in the news here: "New Group Editor for NST".

Will this be a turning point for NST? Dream on. For as long as the other Singapore-trained operative Kalimullah Hassan who planted Brendan at the NST, who is responsible for the NST's current state and who is the author of the June 11 lies, remains as the Editorial Adviser and Deputy Chairman of the NSTP, and continues to rule men like Hisham and Syed Faisal, the decline continues.