Monday, September 29, 2008
A regional foundation for journalism. The Press Forum of Asia is scheduled to hold a press conference at 10.30 am today (29/9) at Wisma Bernama in Kuala Lumpur to announce an initiative to set up a foundation in the memory of A. Samad Ismail, who passed away early this Ramadan.
update, 6pm: Daim involved? Read the poser in The Edge's Financial Daily here.
First, read this story.
Please note that the PT Bank Internasional Indonesia deal is not the first time Temasek is at the heart of a corporate deal that has cost us a fortune and left Malaysia's corporate boys and authorities red-faced. Why did the MoF agree then to let Maybank pay Temasek so much for their stake in BII?
That, however, is just my own narrow concern. For new Finance Minister Najib Razak, Fullerton's disclosure to the Press and what Maybank and the Bank Negara would do next would bear larger, and perhaps more dreadful, implications.
Maybank's top execs, I was told, held a series of meetings over the weekend to discuss the bank's options. It's likely that the bank would choose to walk out of the deal. The goal post had been moved, and both the Indonesian authorities and Temasek have been playing hardball with the bank.
But while dropping out may be in the best interest of the bank and the country's financial sector at large, the fear is that this would trigger retaliation by Indonesian authorities affecting other Malaysian investments in the republic. Temasek is not going to be happy, either. If Maybank walks out of this deal, it won't be easy to find a buyer, especially given the mess in the US right now.
Najib, the new Minister of Finance, must ensure that a decision is taken in haste and without further ado. Once that's settled, he must move on to the next task and get the relevant authorities -- the MoF ll, the Bank Negara, and the previous CEO of Maybank, among others -- to explain how and why the bid for BII was made (is it true that it was RM2 billion overpriced?) and what went wrong.
Back then, in the case of Pantai Holdings, everybody got off scot-free, here..
This time, with a new MoF, heads must roll ...
Friday, September 26, 2008
Umno elections moved to March from this Dec. In a nutshell, the Umno president wants to see how many nominations he would be getting. He needs at least 58 divisions out of the 191 to nominate him in order to be able to defend his presidency. If he does not get enough numbers, it's settled there and then. If he qualifies but Najib gets more nominations, he's bought himself three additional months to go shopping and buy some frog meat for dinner. For many in Umno, the today's postponement is the ultimate act of futility, but one which has become necessary.
The other PM-in-waiting will have somethign to say about this. He has moved his press conference, originally scheduled for 3.30 this afternoon, to 1.30 tomorrow afternoon at his residence.
p.s. Recommended last words: "This is Your Captain Sleeping".
update Sat, 27/9: MIC wants report on temple demolition to be made public, here.
BN, PR Sama Saja ...? It happened then, it happens now. Ronnie Liu said the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ) officers who tore down a Hindu temple had acted against a state government directive barring the destruction of places of worship. Human Resources Minister Datuk S. Subramaniam said the MIC was extremely disappointed with the Pakatan Rakyat state government and the MPAJ.
Good politicians never blame themselves. Then again, maybe the council officers were the real culprits when BN ruled Selangor, and maybe they are the culprits now. But didn't someone promise there will be municipal elections, or something like that?
Read h e r e.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
According to the Malaysian Insider:
It appears that the DPM has lost control of his own warlords on the ground. He admitted as much in talks with several supreme council members recently.
As such, he is unable or unwilling to risk the backlash from them if he continues to support the transition plan which will see Abdullah contesting the party elections in December and then handing over power to Najib in 2010.
Najib believes that if he supports the transition plan unconditionally, there is a possibility that he and Abdullah will have to face off with Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and other critics of the PM.
He has told his supporters that he is confident that he and Abdullah will be able to emerge victorious but was worried that it will come at a high price.
On the flip side, if he distances himself from Abdullah's transition plan, this is bound to persuade the PM to wage an all out campaign to obtain at least 58 nominations from the divisions and defend his party president's position.
In this scenario, Najib may have to face off with Abdullah, a battle which could be expensive for a politician still recovering from a battering to his image by the Opposition.
So the safest option for Najib was to cobble together a plan which achieved the twin objectives of allowing Abdullah to remain in his position for a few more months without committing to the 2010 transition plan.
He believes that postponing the party elections will keep the peace in the party and allow all the stakeholders to walk away with something.
And yes, it will allow Najib to inherit an intact Umno.
Now, according to Najib's people, the postponement was not Najib's idea but Abdullah's. Najib, they said, is not agreeable to the postponement. Najib, they stressed, have always said it's up to the delegates to decide.
Ladies and Gentleman, it looks like the PM's propaganda machinery has arrived in blogosphere ....
Talk is that Abdullah and Najib have agreed to postpone the Umno elections to March or June next year. If that's true, many Umno leaders at the division and branch levels are going to be riled, especially those who want Pak Lah to quit by this December when the General Assembly and elections are due to take place. We'll know for sure after the Supreme Council holds a Special meeting tomorrow. The last time the Supreme Council met, the leaders asked Pak Lah to quit before year-end and not in mid 2010 as he had said he would. My sources said if tomorrow's meeting agree to postpne the elections, Pak Lah may hand over power to Najib by middle next year.
Tengku Razaleigh has also called for a Special press conference at his residence at 3.30 pm tomorrow.
Euro MPs are preparing to put to vote this week a proposal to regulate or even ban blogs which are dangerous, malicious and which contain hidden agenda. Those MPs would be encouraged, no doubt, by the way their counterparts in Malaysia are responding to Malaysian bloggers. Read story here at Telegraph.
Read also Lock up the bloggers by a blogger in New Zealand.
Anyone for an anti-ISA demo in support of RPK and others at the United Nations? Click here.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Is that why the PM decided to hand over the Finance portfolio to Najib Razak? Perhaps. But Anwar must take some of the credit for the capital flight. All the talk about his democratic coup - about 916 and defectors from BN - has chipped away investors' confidence, too. We all know about the flaws of the Abdullah Administration (why do you think March 8 happened?) but more than half a year after the General Election, has Anwar's Pakatan Rakyat gone far beyond lip service? Read A Lot of Empty "PR" Talk So far by Mana-Mana, 24/9."In 2008 already over RM125 billion has been withdrawn from the country by investors weary of a government that has failed to implement a single reform to ensure judicial independence and that continues to use draconian laws such as the ISA to detain its citizens without due process of law." - Anwar Ibrahim [Opp leader denies talk with PM - Malaysiakini 24/9]
The world economy is already bad as it is, and we can expect more investors to pull out from Malaysia because of their own problems, at home and elsewhere. The worst is yet to come. And here we are!
I am glad that DSAI has decided to drop the deadline games [Anwar drops deadline for government takeover, The Star 24/9] and be more subtle with his coup attempt. I pray the court throws out the sodomy charge against him and let him the peace of mind to focus on being an effective Opposition leader. Malaysia needs one, especially now.
Is the Health Ministry's List of Safe Milk Products really safe?
The question popped into my mind after reading Doctor2008's latest posting on the melamine scandal that has affected over 50,000 babies.
"If you think that only milk and milk products with only Chinese names are contaminated with melamine, the results released by the Center For Food Safety of Hong Kong as reported by China Daily yesterday raised the possibility that the practice may be more widespread."Read more, click h e r e.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Minimum nominations to defend the President's post. Anwar Ibrahim is not the only one possessed by numbers. Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, is counting the nominations he could get for Umno's election in December. Not enough, and his days as PM and Umno President are numbered.
Any Umno member who wishes to contest the presidency must get at least 30 per cent nominations from the divisions. There are 191 divisions and Abdullah needs 58 just to defend his post in the event that there is a contender. Indications are he won't even get near the 58, which was why he was advised by his Supreme Council last Thursday to hand over the presidency to Najib in December. To avoid embarassment, they said.
But blogger Pahit Manis says h e r e that Abdullah, advised by the usual suspects, has now decided to ignore the warning from council members and has decided to meet as many divisional chiefs as possible before divisional meeting starts on Oct 9.
Big Dog thinks it will be to no avail. In his analysis h e r e, the right-wing Umno blogger says Muhyiddin Yasin could be getting about 142 nominations (from the total 191) for him to contest the deputy president's post.
He reckons that all 142 divisions who are for Muhyiddin will nominate either Najib Razak or Tengku Razaleigh, but not Abdullah.
How many nominations will that leave the President?
Two-year detention, sans trial. I was hoping that Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar would do the right thing and not use the Internal Security Act on Raja Petra Kamaruddin. The Malaysia Today editor has already been charged for sedition and criminal defamation. He should have his day in court.
Using the ISA on a blogger confirms that the Government of Malaysia tolerates neither dissent nor media freedom. We used to be able to say that the Malaysian Government did not censor the Internet, and therefore we enjoyed gret media freedom (even though our more traditional Press are not as free). Now we can't go around making that claim.
You can try, but you'll never be able to justify sending a free man to Kamunting. You may hate the man's guts, his agenda or his political masters, but you can't do this.to another human being. Remember the late Pak Samad. King Ghaz called him Kominis and took 5 years of his freedom. It turned out that Pak Samad was a Socialist.
That was 30 years ago. It's the 21st century now, Syed Hamid.
Read Nuraina's ISA Detention - Then and Now.
Syed Hamid to release 12 detainees before Hari Raya? Read here.
Since when has RPK been a security threat?
"Anwar is going to see the Agong tomorrow(?)".
I wasn't very sure if Bala meant it as a question or a statement when we spoke last night. He had been more sure of Anwar Ibrahim's earlier deadline of 16/9, that the Opposition Leader had secured enough number of BN defectors to enable Pakatan Rakyat to form a Government. I told Bala - this was after supper at Chawan in Bangsar yesterday - that I didn't know if Anwar was meeting the Agong or not.
From blogger NgapSayot:"Today is Sept 23, the day of reckoning. Or the day that will pass by and nothing happens. As I write this, we see West Malaysia is in a state of haywire and amazingly all eyes are suddenly on us in the East now. The politicians here are now being looked upon as the KingMakers to decide the fate of the nation. As we muddled through 2008, the state of chaos has resulted a deeper economic hardship to us. While you politicians are fighting each other for political dominance, we the rakyat, are suffering."
Read here what NgapSayot says the people of Sabah and Sarawak want. I'm sure a lot of ordinary Malaysians share his view, and couldn't care less if Anwar had an audience with the Agong.
It's www.rockybru.com.my now. Thank you for the 7 million. Incidentally, I've decided to accept an offer yesterday to migrate from blogspot to a domain of my own. It's a dotmy, too! Other than that, it will be the same brand of blogging and journalism you'll get from the Bru. Talk is rife that several more bloggers may soon be sent for short holidays, like the one that Sheih Kickdefella just came back from.
We need to do is keep the conversation going. I don't know of any other way to respond to attempts to intimidate the bloggers. If we stop blogging and you stop thinking aloud, we lose. Simple as that.
p.s. An anti-ISA forum will be held tonight (23/9) at 8 pm at the KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, Kuala Lumpur. Details h e r e.
To date, 64 individuals, including blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin, are still being detained without trial under the ISA (read here).
Monday, September 22, 2008
A blogging mom and her Princess of the House. Yoke Har and I were colleagues back in the Eighties, the same period when Adlin Zabri (later Anwar Ibrahim's press secretary until his sacking), Leslie Lopez (Singapore Straits Times), Azam Aris and Ho Kay Tat (the top editors of the Edge now) and Zainul Arifin (NST) were business reporters and friends.
Yoke Har lives in New Zealand now. We got reconnected through our blogs recently . She blogs about life - and death - in general [This season of our despair, next season of light].
Her Princess is an 8-year old battling bile duct problems, and with a history of childhood cancer. Amoxycilin, Aciclovir and Heparin - Safe or Not? Do I think you're paranoid, Yoke Har? No, not at all ...
Why is the PM hanging on to it? Abdullah Badawi has handed over the Finance Minister's post to his deputy, but he is not letting Najib head Khazanah, the investment arm of the Government. Why is that so? Why did the Prime Minister create a Khazanah Deputy Chairman post for Najib, instead?
These are just some of the questions the corporate guys are asking following last week's portfolio swap. Suspicious lot, but they do have basis to wonder. The share capital of Khazanah, incorporated in 1993, is owned by the Min of Finance Inc. , after all. And it has stakes in more than 50 companies with assets valued at more than US$20 billion.
These include in Telekom Malaysia Berhad, Tenaga Nasional Berhad, CIMB Group, Proton Holdings Berhad, PLUS Expressways Berhad, Malaysian Airline System Berhad, and Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad, to name a few.
That's an awful lot for a Defence Minister to be concerned about ...
Click here for Khazanah's investment holding structure.
Breaking fast with a genuine contender. Will Tengku Razaleigh have a clear shot at the Umno presidency this December? After last Thursday's stormy supreme council meeting, Najib is perceived to be firmly in the driver's seat of the country's most powerful party. But Ku Li remains a picture of confidence and is not turning back.
Read his thoughts on the Big C (corruption), the ISA and what he would do if he bcomes the PM, here, during a dialogue with bloggers that was gatecrashed by journalists yesterday.
More pics by Jinggo, here.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Blogger Sheih freed, may be charged. I couldn't help but smile when reading Sheih Kickdefella's posting after his release from detention yesterday afternoon. He's found his Al Ghazali in Dang Wangi and recommends the lock-up for "de fella" so that he could find his.
Sheih may be charged tomorrow.
update, 22/9, 1 am: Hishammuddin is a true politician. He said Joceline Tan's report on what happened during Thursday's meeting was "NOT VERY TRUE". In other words, the report was true. Read here.
Original article: In my posting on Umno's Gang of Four here, I mentioned Mat Taib when it should have been Hishammuddin. Thank you for pointing out the mistake. Muhammad Muhammad Taib is certainly not one of the Umno members who spoke out. In fact, Mat Taib has denied there was pressure for Pak Lah to resign, criticized Malaysians for believing too much in blogs, and challenged the notion that the BN is a weakened party.Hey, he's right, y'know! Read what else he's saying here."If the BN is really weak how could the government unveil caring budgets year after year since 2004?, he asked.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Chedet.com, the blog started by Dr Mahathir Mohamad only in May, is the country's top SoPo blog, if you go by the rankings provided by Alexa in its Movers and Shakers' Traffic Graph. A posting in The Wayang Party Club of Singapore includes Malaysia Today in Malaysia's Top 3 but admits that Malaysia Today, is "more a news aggregator than a blog".
So, the winner is ...
Click h e r e for
The TOP 3 SoPo bloggers in Malaysia and Singapore
p.s. Chedet the blogger launched "Blogging to Unblock" last Thurs. Story and pics at Jinggo.
The gory details of last Thursday's meeting. Who shot Pak Lah down at the Umno supreme council meeting last Thursday? According to The Star's Joceline Tan in today's report Pak Lah under pressure to exit, there were four of them: Muhyiddin Yasin, Rafidah Aziz, Shafie Afdal and - surprise, surprise! - Mat Taib.
I was told that Khir Toyo, one of the earliest in Umno to have asked for Pak Lah's resignation after the March 8 general election, was the one who had started the ball rolling during Thursday's supreme council meeting that pressured Abdullah to step down as the political situation is no longer tenable.
Annuar Musa was the lone voice supporting the President, and this was noted by blogger Sakmongkol AK47 in his An honorable discharge nonetheless:The Star is brave to report on the gory details of Thursday's meeting, but don't expect the editors of the other mainstream media to follow suit tomorrow. Perhaps theSun, on Monday.How does Sakmongkol realise that Pak Lah is about to write his own Closing Chapter? ( the title of a book by Lord Denning). When Sakmongkol noticed that his loyal-to-a-fault, the true blue Abdullah loyalist Adnan Yaakob found himself on that day, deficient in trying to defend his boss. When you are no longer defensible by such a person, that means the end is near.
Friday, September 19, 2008
updates, 10 pm: I think the friggin Indons should take care of their own backyard by Seventh Rangers
Original posting:"Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi is no Mahathir Mohamad ... Even promising to step down in 2010 has not quelled discontent within the BN rank.
While we welcome the ushering in of democratic change within our neighboring state, we lack full confidence that the practical alternatives will suffice for Malaysia's needs.
Let us remind our Malaysian cousins that based on Indonesia's own painful experience, a change of allegiance at the elite level is not equivalent to a change in fundamental beliefs toward the primacy of civil society.
Defecting lawmakers from the ruling coalition to the opposition does not make them democracy's soldiers, only political opportunists.
We fear that what we are seeing in Malaysia is neither revolution nor evolution, but is instead a potential transition from one power to another."
Why is Jakarta Post saying these things? You'd expect such an editorial to have been published in the NST or the Sun. Not in an English-language daily of a friendly neighbour. A lot of Malaysians are not going to like reading what the leader has to say, especially about DSAI and his defectors. Many Abdullah Badawi die-hards are going to protest, too, for the leader's depiction of the Prime Minister.
Read the full editorial here.
Indonesian journalists claim that their Press are freer than what it used to be and certainly more so than the Malaysian Press. But considering how touchy we are about them and they about us, I expect some people to view this editorial as more than just about the freedom of expression and more about minding other people's business.
The Bernama's take:-
General September 19, 2008 17:16 PM
Defecting Lawmakers Only Opportunists, Says Jakarta Post
By Mohd Nasir Yusoff
JAKARTA, Sept 19 (Bernama) -- Indonesia's The Jakarta Post English daily, commenting today on the political development in Malaysia, said the (possible) act of lawmakers defecting from the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition to the opposition does not make them democracy's soldiers but political opportunists.
Based on Indonesia's own painful experience, it said, a change of allegiance at the elite level was not equivalent to a change in fundamental beliefs toward the primacy of civil society.
Malaysian Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, advisor of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), has been claiming that he has the backing of a sufficient number of BN defectors to give his Pakatan Rakyat (PR) coalition a simple majority in parliament.
"We fear that what we are seeing in Malaysia is neither revolution nor evolution, but is instead a potential transition from one power to another.
"But Pakatan Rakyat too must show it is more than just a vehicle for Anwar," it said.
The paper said the performance of Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak as minister of finance, a portfolio he assumed on Wednesday, would gauge his acceptability as Malaysia's next leader.
Najib and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi exchanged Cabinet portfolios -- finance and defence -- on Wednesday as part of the plan for transition of power from Abdullah to Najib in June 2010.
The paper noted that "on the other end of the spectrum, the opposition coalition of Pakatan Rakyat under Anwar has been big on headlines but lacking in actual policy proposals".
update Friday afternoon
Kok's out, read here. But 64 still in there.
See the list of ISA detainees here.
Sixty-five. Don't forget, there are 65 of them in there. The name at the very top of the list is Yazid Sufaat, a businessman in his previous life, an alleged Jemaah Islamiah member, arrested in Dec 2001 and detained in Kamunting ever since. Laila's husband Mat Shah Mohd Satray, here, is the fifth-longest detainee. The Hindraf 5 were detained in Dec last year while RPK and Theresa Kok are spending their second week under ISA.
Don't forget. And don't allow the Government to forget.
SIGN THE PETITION, here.
Nobody deserves detention without trial.
p.s. Signature no 1077 is mine
Note: 10,662 people have been arrested under the ISA in the past 44 years, 4,139 were issued with formal detention orders and 2,066 were served with restriction orders governing their activities and where they live.
A lot sooner. They told me it was one of the hottest supreme council meetings that Abdullah Ahmad Badawi ever chaired.
All the top Umno leaders who spoke this afternoon, save for one who hailed from the East Coast, spoke up on the need to save the party, i.e. for the president to give way for a change in leadership, i.e. for Pak Lah to step down and leave Najib with the task of repairing the damage suffered by Umno over the last few years before it's too late.
You are not likely to read a blow-by-blow account in any of the government-controlled media.
At the press conference held after the meeting, Abdullah said whatever decision concerning his position as Umno president and the transition of power will be made by him personally, after he's discussed it with Najib. Read here. But Muhyiddin's statement reported by Bernama is a bit more telling. Excerpts:
General September 18, 2008 21:37 PM
Muhyiddin Explains Stand To Umno's Supreme Council
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 18 (Bernama) -- Umno vice Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has explained his stand on the leadership transition in the party to Umno's Supreme Council (MT), which met here Thursday.
"I took the opportunity to explain remarks I made in Singapore about the plan, which I have consistently maintained since it was first mooted.
"Thankfully, the president (Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi) accepted it and none of my colleagues criticised me over the remarks although some had stated their reservations about it earlier," he told reporters when approached after the meeting.
Muhyiddin, who is also International Trade and Industry Minister, said his call to the Prime Minister to expedite the leadership transition was made in the interest of the party to ensure it was on a sound footing to face the next general election.
On the leadership transition process between Abdullah and Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, Muhyiddin said he left it to them to work it out.
"No specific date, we just gave our views and that of the grassroots who want it to be done as soon as possible. We gave space to the president to discuss it with Najib," he said.
Read also Shahanaz's take, here. Excerpts:
Sooner, not later
Speaking to reporters after the Prime Minister’s press conference, Umno vice-president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and information chief Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib said the issue of transition was discussed at length at the council meeting.
They said the council members did not propose a specific date but want it made as soon as possible.
“Many of us in the council voiced the views and feelings of the grassroots that want the transition to be done as quickly as possible, but we will give him room to discuss this with Najib,” said Muhyiddin.
After the stunt it tried to pull last night ["A spin or an outright lie?"], the NST Online has decided to downplay the closed-door proceedings of the Supreme Council meeting:
KUALA LUMPUR, THURS:
THERE is no need for an emergency session of the Parliament next week, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said in response to PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s call today for a special session of the Parliament to hold a no-confidence vote against the prime minister.
“The Parliament will begin their session after Hari Raya,” he said at a press conference after chairing the UMNO Supreme Council. The Parliament is sitting on Oct 13.
He added that any decision he makes on the transition plan would be discussed with his deputy Datuk Seri Najib Razak and conveyed to the party’s supreme council.
Abdullah, who is also the prime minister, said he need not explain again to the supreme council on the plan.
“I’m aware and keeping my ears to the ground,” he said, referring to the whatever is happening in relations to the plan.
Other blog reports:
Badawi ... asked to leave by Apanama; MT Umno desak PM "flip-flop" Abdullah berundur oleh Big Dog; Pak Lah gets Oct 9 deadline to quit by Ashraf Abdullah
pic courtesy of Agenda Daily
Thursday, September 18, 2008
8.30 pm tonight 18/9, Bukit Aman commercial crime hq. You don't have to light a candle if you don't believe in the gesture, but be there nonetheless to show support for Sheih.
Yes, I Sheih asked some of us to turn the flag upside down. Did all of us do it? Some of us did, some of us didn't. None went out on the streets to burn down buildings and loot the Mydin hypermarkets. So what was so seditious about it? On the contrary, Sheih's "in distress" posting make us all think of the Jalur Gemilang and take it less for granted.
Update, almost 3pm. A journalist sms-ed to say Anwar didn't provide any list of names of BN defectors during the press conference. I suggested a headline for her paper: ANWAR GIVES LISTLESS PRESS CONFERENCE
Anwar Ibrahim is holding a press conference at the PKR hq in Tropicana. Malaysiakini's first take:
Anwar wants emergency Parliament session Sep 18, 08 2:27pm Pakatan Rakyat leader Anwar Ibrahim today said that he has sent a letter to PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to convene an emergency session of the Parliament for an emergency motion to be debated on the premier's government.MCPX
Anwar, in a press conference, said that the opposition coalition wanted to debate on a motion of no confidence against Abdullah.
He wanted the Parliament to be recalled as soon as next Tuesday.
[Full report to follow]
At 3 pm, Prime Minister and new Defence Minister Abdullah Badawi chairs the Umno Supreme Council meeting.
If you're watching prime news tonight, watch for the PM' s and his deputy's body language closely. And DSAI's, too. In these interesting and dangerous times, we don't believe whatever we're told.
Will Abdullah announce an earlier date to call it quits? I doubt. But in case he hasn't read what the Wall Street Journal thinks about him as PM, here's their latest article. The WSJ, like most all other foreign wires and publications, were full of praise of Pak Lah just a few years ago:
Pak Lah's economic reckoning
18 Sept, 2008
WALL STREET JOURNAL ASIA
Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim announced this week that he has enough parliamentary support to unseat the current government, led by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. If he does, Abdullah's lacklustre economic management will be largely to blame.
The prime minister has not introduced any substantive reforms during his nearly five years in office, preferring to rely instead on opening up the government purse. Under the Ninth Malaysia Plan announced in 2005, he expanded public-sector spending to RM200 billion annually from RM160 billion. In his Midterm Plan Review this year, he increased this outlay to RM240 billion. The national debt now stands at RM285 billion, up from RM192 billion in 2004. The official fiscal deficit has risen to 4.8% of GDP this year, from 3.2% last year. Revenue is being spent faster than it is coming in.
It's hard to argue that these outlays have served the broad public interest. Much of the funding has been channelled to elites in the majority Malay community, under the country's pro-Malay affirmation action programme. That has created discontent with many Malay who don't see the full benefits of the programme, and among the minority Chinese and Indians, who are excluded from it altogether.
Abdullah's stewardship has had a real impact on the economy. Capital flight has risen sharply; Malaysian investment abroad now exceeds inward foreign investment. The Kuala Lumpur stock exchange has lost almost one-fifth of its value this year to date. Malaysia's currency, the ringgit, saw its biggest one-month loss last month since the end of the dollar peg in 2005. Although GDP growth has averaged a robust 5% annual growth under Abdullah, that record is now under threat. Inflation reached a record 8.5% this summer. Job creation has reached record lows, as unemployment, particularly among young majority Malays, remains high. Ironically, only the opposition-led state governments are attracting new foreign investment — and without the federal government's help, no less.
Abdullah's 2004 attempts to promote growth and investment — such as through the promotion of the biotechnology and agricultural industries — have failed. He also fumbled discussions with the United States on a free trade agreement, which have now stalled. What Malaysia really needs is education reform and the liberalisation of its labour markets to improve its economic competitiveness.
The political opposition, in the form of Anwar and his Pakatan Rakyat coalition, have seized on these issues. They have promised to root out corruption and to implement a new economic policy to address the concerns of all ethnic communities in Malaysia. Their platform aims to move beyond populist spending to introduce structural reforms in government procurement programmes and in the management of government-linked companies.When Abdullah assumed office in 2004, he inherited an economy in need of structural reform. Malaysians have had to pay for his poor stewardship through higher prices, stagnating wages and growing private sector debt. Soon, Abdullah may have to pay the political price for that record.
This picture of this old Hari Raya card of a dad and his only son, who was only eight then, was taken more than 6 years ago.
That's how long the father has been taken away from the son. By OUR government.
Laila, the ISA detainee wife, who blogs at Merah Hitam, says her husband would be spending his seventh Hari Raya at Kamunting this year.
She has asked you to please send Eid greeting cards to the ISA detainee. Click here for the address.
The two stories reproduced here are essentially the same Bernama news article: the first appeared on Bernama on-line and the second one lifted from there and published by the NST On-Line.
At the hands of NST's spin doctors, the NST On-line had one quote that the original Bernama story DID NOT:-
"Najib also said that he would not accept any nomination for the president’s post as he was commited to the succession plan."
Now, where did that come from, Kali?
p.s. For A Study on Spinning, click here.
click on the images to enlarge
1) the Bernama article
2) The Bernama article in NST Online
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
update: "The policemen were nice enough to play along with us when we had to tell our four children that their father was going to KL for work." - from Nuraina A. Samad, who spoke to Sheih's wife, Bariah, here.
Sheih Kickdefella. Police arrested blogger Syed Azidi Syed Abdul Aziz a.ka. Sheih Kickdefella in Kota Bharu, Kelantan today. He is believed to have been taken to Bukit Aman, KL.
The arrest is said to have been made under the Sedition Act.
No further details are available.
Sheih told me last night he was told the police were looking for him. "Someone who claimed to be a cop came to the office. I missed them by a whisker".
He said he was not going to run from the law. "If they ask me to go to the police station, I will go."
Sheih's blog. h e r e.
updated, 18/9: NST's Ceo joins Pos Malaysia as MD - The Star online
A new POS-ting. Someone at the top is saying Selamat Tinggal to the New Straits Times Press. This young Dato' has been there for only about a decade but he's tired and unlikely to grow if he stays on. Once there was a time when I had great hopes that this guy would take NSTP somewhere, but that didn't happen. The ship has been sinking, as they say, and this is a good time as any for the captain to jump off . No one at Jalan Riong will shed a tear.
Yesterday, she wrote to wish Happy Malaysia Day and to say goodbye.
I wish I could change her mind.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Anwar Ibrahim's 2pm Press Conference at the PKR hq at Tropicana, KL, is under way. We'll know one way or the other in a while. Me, I'm not waiting for DSAI to be PM but to see the last of the current one as Prime Minister.
I'm not there at Tropicana, but details later ...
Tuesday September 16, 2008 MYT 3:02:15 PM
(click HERE for the link to Star Online article)
Anwar claims to have 31 MPs (updated)
PETALING JAYA: Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has claimed that more than 31 Barisan MPs have agreed to cross over to Pakatan Rakyat.
He, however, refused to reveal the names of the 31 MPs.
Anwar told a press conference at the PKR headquarters in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday that he would do so when he meets the Prime Minister.
The Permatang Pauh MP also claimed that the transition to the new Government has been delayed a few days pending the meeting with Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to ensure a smooth and peaceful transition.
He said it was up to Abdullah to agree to the meeting and its date.
In a letter submitted to Abdullah on Monday, Pakatan had made four demands to ensure a smooth transition:
1) That Barisan does not hinder or prevent the MPs from acting in accordance with their conscience and judgement;
2) That the Barisan government should not invoke the Internal Security Act to detain the MPs or any other current Pakatan MPs;
3) That Barisan government does not invoke emergency laws or police powers or suspend the Constitution or dissolve Parliament; and
4) That the Barisan government shall not impose roadblocks or impede MPs from going to Parliament or any institution of government.
Ah, Sept 16, at last!
Today is Malaysia Day.
Will it be Anwar Ibrahim's day?
Well, DSAI told thousands last night he would be meeting Abdullah Ahmad Badawi later (today?) to discuss the change of government. How confident is that?
General September 16, 2008 02:12 AM
Anwar Claims To Have Enough MPs To Form New Government
PETALING JAYA, Sept 15 (Bernama) -- Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) advisor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim Monday night claimed that he had sufficient majority to form a new government.
He also claimed to have sent a letter to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi Monday afternoon on the list of Barisan Nasional members of parliament who would cross over to Pakatan Rakyat.
However, Anwar who spoke before some 12,000 supporters at a 45th Malaysia Day celebration at the Petaling Jaya City Council Stadium in Kelana Jaya here, did not name the MPs involved.
Anwar, who is also the Opposition leader in parliament, said he would later be meeting the prime minister to discuss the change of government.
Happy Malaysia Day!
Monday, September 15, 2008
Event: Malaysia Day
Venue: Kelana Jaya Stadium
Date/Time: 15 Sept/ 7 pm
Status: Legal (i.e. police permit secured)
Main Speakers: Lim Kit Siang, Ustaz Hadi Awang, and Pak Sheih Anwar Ibrahim
The do will start with buka puasa and followed by terawih prayers. All are welcomed. More details, here.
I am sure there will be speakers from Sabah and Sarawak tonight. Malaysia as we know it today was born because the two states decided to join the Federation of Malaya on 16/9/1963 (Singapore joined the same day but quit in 1965).
[updated, 16/9 after midnight: PM tells Zahid to go on 2-week leave, h e r e]
Hero? Zaid Ibrahim sent in his quit letter to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi a while ago, making good his threat to resign if his position in the Cabinet has become no longer tenable following his remarks on the Internal Security Act.
Undoubtedly, the de factor Law Minister will be hailed as an anti-ISA icon, simply because he is from Umno/BN. But Zaid is not alone nor the firsat in the Government to speak out against the detention of RPK, Theresa Kok and journalist Tan Hoon Cheng under the ISA.
Read BN members last out at ISA, but do take note that another MCA vice president, Chua Soi Lek, had made his stand even earlier; in fact, the former Cabinet minister was calling on his party leaders to speak to the PM about the arrests (read here). Samy Vellu, too, for that matter! From Umno, Information Minister Shabery Cheek has also asked the police to explain the arrest of the journalist (but not RPK and DAP's Theresa).
Again, as far as the MCA is concerned, it would seem to me that Ka Ting and Teek Keat were taking the cue from Wong Chun Wai, the Star's top editor, who wrote in his blog here on Sept 12, that the use of the ISA cannot be justified: "This is not just a draconian law but an archaic one. These are reporters and writers, not terrorists or communists. Those that deserve to be punished are racist politicians not scribes. It is unacceptable in a democracy, if we still claim we are one."
Within Umno, Zaid's resignation will be interpreted differently, I suppose, especially with the divisional elections coming after Hari Raya and Zaid's promise to reform the judiciary within six months of being made Senator and de facto Law Minister iby Abdullah after the March general election. For a right-wing Umno perspective, perspective, click h e r e.
My 18 hours under the Internal Security Act
On 12 September, about eight thirty in the evening, I was at my home in Bukit Mertajam, Penang. While enjoying my yew char koay (fried dough stick), I was worried about the show cause letter issued to Sin Chew Daily, and anxious about the days ahead for my newspaper.
Suddenly, a group of plain cloth police officers appeared at my front gate. The person who started to identify the group and the purpose of this visit was a woman officer. She was also the only one in her uniform.
Through the gate, she told me that I have to follow them to the Police station, in response to that I told her that unless they have a warrant of arrest, I will not open the gate. At the same time, I immediately rung up the legal adviser of our company and my direct superior, seeking their advice.Later, the female officer told me that they are arresting me under Internal Security Act, therefore a warrant is not required. On hearing that, I was immediately was prepared for the worst.
Read the full account h e r e.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
story and pics H E R E by Tony Yew
Vigil at BloghouseFrom Nathaniel Tan
Friends,I know it's last minute, but some of us felt very strongly that we need to keep the flame burning. Please help spread the word as far and wide as possible.
Let's gather tonight for a candlelight vigil in solidarity with all still under ISA detention.
9pm, 14th September, 2008
66,Lorong Setiabistari 1,
50490 Kuala Lumpur.
It's open to everyone, and we hope as many people will come to show that with every passing day, we will care ever more for all still detained unjustly.
It's very last minute, sorry, but this means we need your help even more to mobilise support, spread the word, sms'es, etc. Stand up and be counted in Malaysia's hour of need.
Friday, September 12, 2008
update, sahur, 13th sept. A 2.34am sms: Hi evryone,here's a message from our frens in sin chew to wear black clothes and yellow ribbons as a sign of protest against the detention of their colleague tan hoon cheng under the ISA.apologies for the late hour.
Intimidating journalists. I have just spoken to the National Union of Journalist president Norila Daud. She expressed concern with the decision by the Government to detain a Sin Chew reporter under the Internal Security Act, apparently over her story on suspended Umno man Ahmad Ismail's "Chinese were squatters" remarks."This is a gravely serious matter. For the first time in 21 years, a journalist has been detained under the ISA. A reporter has been detained under ISA for doing her job, for reporting. The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, only recently told media practioners to be brave in reporting the truth [read the Star's Uphold the truth, 4/9], and now the Government has taken an action designed to intimidate these media practitioners. Sin Chew has been issued with a show-cause letter by the Government over the Ahmad Ismail report, so why invoke the ISA when before letting the newspaper editors respond to the show-cause? Also, I am very disappointed that the editors have not been hauled up. In any newspaper company, it is the Editor who is accountable.
"The NUJ will monitor the developments very closely."
I told Norila that we need to send a clear message to the Government on this. As Advisor to the National Press Club, I share her views. As a journalist and a blogger, I am very concerned with the manner the ISA is being used against the people by the Government that they elected.
p.s. Apologies for not posting anything after my last article on RPK's arrest under the ISA. I had to attend to some urgent stuff. Since then, YB Theresa Kok has also been picked up.
Thank you Mr Smith, for the Mansuhkan ISA badge.
Malaysians we are!
"So please people, start feeling and being Malaysians. Live as Malaysians, move as Malaysians, dance as Malaysians, wink as Malaysians, fly a kiss as Malaysians, reason as Malaysians, wave as Malaysians, love as Malaysians, be angry as Malaysians, be stunning as Malaysians, be gentle as Malaysians."
Just a sexy article on being Malaysians, h e r e.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
MT unblocked. A journo called to say that the Cabinet has ordered the MCMC to lift its ban on all blogs and websites, including Malaysia Today.
1. I told her that's a smart thing to do because the ban only made the MCMC a laughing stock.
2. The government will now need to renew its pledge that it will not, ever again, censor the Internet. And hope that the world believes it.
3. A show cause letter to the MCMC is necessary to ensure that the people there don't act unilaterally and shame Malaysian again.
4. Finally, I told the journo that the Cabinet should also get the New Straits Times Press to take down the "firewall" it has imposed on my blog.
LET's forget about RACE. Forget BANGSA Malaysia. Let's go back to being Malaysian citizens. RAKYAT Malaysia yang berbilang bangsa dan agama, yang berbeza warna kulit dan kebudayaannya.
Let's live and die by the Malaysian Constitution. Your rights, my rights ... they are all right there, spelt out in the Constitution, guaranteed by our forefathers and foremothers. Buy a copy of the Constitution, it costs only ten bucks. Read it, memorize it.
And read the warning, too ....
General September 10, 2008 22:03 PM
Police Warning Against Racially Sensitive Statements
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 10 (Bernama) -- The police today warned of stern action against people who make racially sensitive statements which can cause tension and undermine public order.
Deputy Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar said many quarters had made racially sensitive statements of late which had been exploited by certain irresponsible people over Internet blogs and the Short Messaging Service (SMS).
"I am issuing a stern warning to all quarters to refrain from making statements on sensitive issues via the various media.
"The police will not hesitate to act against anyone who violates the law," he told reporters here.
Ismail said many quarters took advantage of the situation to disseminate false information.
"We ask the people who happen to hear rumours to contact the police to verify the truth," he said.
Asked about the disparaging remark made by Bukit Bendera Umno Division head Datuk Ahmad Ismail, Ismail said the police investigation into the matter would be completed soon.
"It is not important how many reports have been lodged against him (Ahmad); of more importance is to stop making statements and doing unlawful things," he said.
Ismail said "street politics" and illegal gatherings were prohibited altogether.
"Malaysia is a sovereign nation and everyone must respect the constitution. Every action must be in accordance with the laws of the country. We do not want arbitrary action which defies the law and gives in to emotions. We do not want any incident that may become uncontrollable," he said.
Ismail, nevertheless, gave the assurance that the situation in the country was under control and safe and that the police were prepared for any eventuality.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
update, midnight: “All components parties must be firm. If any of their members make comments which whip up racial sentiment and cause anger among the races, and which could jeopardise ties between Barisan component parties, they must take disciplinary action." - Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
Read The Star's full update Ahmad Ismail's suspension, here.
3-year suspension; Stripped of all party posts. Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has come down hard on Ahmad Ismail for his "Chinese squatters" remarks, for refusing to apologize, for ripping a component party leader's photograph, for being openly racist.
I hope this news is not received with glee by any party or race, and that it will douse the racial fire that's been scorching our hearts.
Update: Who does Ahmad Ismail of Bukit Bendera act for? Who gains from his acts?- an analysis from a blogger from Down Under.
Original Posting: An Editor of a Chinese daily called me up yesterday afternoon to ask me about "the latest on the ground". He sounded anxious. "The Army chief has just called on the Government to take action against those behind racial tension. When was the last time an Army chief interferes? What do you think?" [Read here]
I think the Government should be firm in handling racially-sensitive issues without having to resort to regressive measures [read the All-Blogs' joint press statement with Centre of Policy Initiatives here]. Using the ISA on the so-called racist extremists (as in the case of the Hindraf 5, for example) has proved futile. On the contrary, political parties and civil society movement have hailed Hindraf as heroes and saviors, and hardly penalize them for their extreme views about the Malays.
Ahmad Ismail, who'll know his fate today [read here] is not the first Malay politician to play with this racial fire. Two years ago, Khairy Jamaluddin was dancing in the same fire when he said that BN component parties (read the Chinese-based component parties) would take advantage of a weak Umno.
Remember how incensed the MCA and Gerakan leaders were? Didn't they call KJ a racist? Didn't the son-in-law refuse to apologize?
And remember how the Prime Minister responded then?
General August 27, 2006 15:57 PM
PM Says Khairy Himself Should Clarify His sensitive Statement
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 27 (Bernama) -- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said Umno Youth deputy head Khairy Jamaluddin should himself clarify his statement that is said to have offended the Chinese community.
"The statement has been made. I do not what he had actually said but this is a matter that Khairy himself has to respond to and clarify," he said.
Abdullah, who is Umno president and Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman, said Khairy could explain the actual meaning of his statement, which might differ from what had been reported in the media.
It was reported recently that Khairy, the son-in-law of the prime minister, had said that the Chinese community would take advantage of Umno if the party was split.
BN component parties MCA and Gerakan reacted to the statement and it was a hot topic at yesterday's MCA Youth assembly where the delegates wanted Khairy to make an open apology to the Chinese community.
Speaking to reporters after launching the exhibition of the 2006 Putrajaya National Water Colour Painting Competition at the National Art Gallery here, Abdullah reminded BN leaders to exercise caution when making statements lest they give rise to misunderstanding.
"A cautious approach is most important because in the BN we have parties that represent the various communities and when any sensitive statement is made they will surely react to such a statement," he said.
That was pre-March 8, of course. Like NST group editor Syed Nadzri says, we live in a brave new world now. And Ahmad Ismail is not the PM's son-in-law. And ironically, with a weaker Umno, the BN component parties have been behaving just as KJ had predicted.
A Communist or Not? The Tuesdays With Bapak piece that had the most impact on me is Anak Kominis (13/3/2007). Upon reading it, you'd understand why the author Nuraina A. Samad and her sisters and brothers were grateful that Dr Mahathir, in a tribute to Pak Samad, had set the record straight by saying that Samad was a socialist, not a communist.
However, in a belated condolence letter, here, Lee Kuan Yew strangely wrote that "he knew from the Special Branch evidence that Mr Samad was a communist who had led the Malay section of the Anti—British League."
Ena wrote over 60 TWB instalments since March 2007. Tuesday was the day the family was allowed to visit A. Samad Ismail who was detained under ISA from 1976 to 1981. Pak Samad died last Thursday at the age of 84.
Yesterday, Ena posted a Tuesdays Without Bapak piece, here.
More tributes to Pak Samad:
1. Farewell Zorro Part l and Farewell Zorro Part ll by Aziz Hassan
2. Tribute to A. Samad Ismail, by CIJ and WAMI
3. Journo icon A. Samad Ismail passes away by Nizam Bashir
4. Samad Ismail's favourite fried rice recipes by Malaysiana1
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
And it's NOT going to cost RM36 million. I would like to credit the parties implicated in my posting Curi-Curi Malaysia, the most expensive website in the world for getting in touch with me. On condition of anonymity (for now, at least), they have offered to clarify the points raised in my posting with regards to their proposed Tourism Malaysia TV.
I have decided to reproduce the "clarification" in toto. I know some friends in the mainstream media are following up on the story. They will get more info, including who are behind this not-RM36m proposal.
9 Sept 2008, via e-mail
Dear Rocky's Bru,
The proposal that was approved by the cabinet is NOT a website. It is a webTV channel (Geo-Targeted Interactive TV) that streams on-demand and LIVE videos to a customized CDN (Content Delivery Network) that will be set up strategically in 6 places around the world. The videos will also be streamed over the 3G network for billions of mobile users around the globe.
Malaysia has not really got into the REAL online video industry yet. Don’t be mistaken by comparing the TMtv to the Bernama webTV, or the Edge’s video site or the Singapore strait time’s razor TV. None of these sites those are available in the south east region works well even as near as Dubai let alone the whole world.
If you look at the breakdown below, there will be a “more than 300 professional documentary produced” part. If 1 documentary cost 100k (which is very affordable for a professional documentary) then, 300 documentary cost 30 Million.
As a technical person, the most difficult thing in an online video project is the distribution of content. We have managed to come up with a way to distribute both the LIVE and On-Demand elements to any net connected device possible. The intelligent thing about the TMtv is the fact that the contents are targeted to countries. An Arabian tourist will see a different version of the TMtv contents in his own language than a Japanese tourist without needing to click anything. The videos will also be really fast to load as they are cached from the main origin server to all of the Edge servers around the world.
Please take your time to read these points below. We are creating a customized CDN worldwide so to not rely on the local infrastructure. Most American Online video portals have spent 100s of millions of dollars to build their site. Hulu has got a 100 Million USD round of funding from NBC and other guys so that they can set up a online video site. The TMtv is a lot more than what Hulu is all about . The TMtv is a bargain but the price that we are quoting the other countries for this technology is far more than this.
Email or call us anytime if you need further clarification.
- GSR (Geo server redirection): contents are distributed around the globe with the help of multiple streaming servers placed strategically around the world to provide fast access to the relevant video contents globally. In each location, there will be 1 edge server, 1 mobile devices server, 1 redundant/backup server. This technology is absolutely needed so that the videos could be distributed effectively around the globe.
- LIVE element (24/7 Mirror to the world)
- High Resolution Cameras placed strategically in 6 beautiful locations to serve a video wallpaper of enchanting scenery. This can be watched globally 24/7 LIVE and installed on your computer’s desktop (Widget). Watch the sunset at Langkawi from anywhere around the world. These cameras are monitored centrally with a small delay for screening purposes.
- LIVE Element (15 Major Events)
- Watch events as it happens. Professional camera crew on location that serves event as it happens through multiple cameras that are edited in real time. Watch Merdeka celebrations, fireworks festival, rainforest music festival, etc. All these events will be produced as highlights and can be viewed on-demand after the events are over.
- LIVE Element (Malaysian Lifestyle)
- A small MOBILE production crew that goes around Malaysia to show LIVE non critical events such as turtle hatching, tourists’ interviews and critical events such as ad-hoc address by the Minister to tourists and would be tourists.
- Professional production to produce more than 300 broadcast quality DOCUMENTARY that are produced in multiple languages (travelogue, getting here and there, cultural documentation, heritage documentation, reality series, local news, etc. )
- Geo-Locater: the TMtv knows which state of which country the viewes are from and it can target relevant content to them and direct them to their local travel agent.
- Mobile TV: you could also watch all the TMtv travel contents on your mobile phone. There are 3.5 billion mobile users in the world and TMtv can be streamed over 3G or Wifi.
- Mobile travel guide: interactive software that enables users to carry them around when they are in Malaysia to find tourist spots, maps and other interactive travel information.
- Platform and network independent: TMtv can be watched by any computer on any platform and any browser.
- No firewall/proxy block: firewalls normally block streaming usually in a multinational organization’s LAN network but the TMtv has propriety software installed to get past this roadblock.
- No plugins required: everyone can access the TMtv. If you can watch youtube which gets billions of views per month, you can watch the TMtv
- On-Demand capability: ability to search for relevant travel videos. Watch what you want when you want.
- Viral video
- All the TMtv videos can be embedded onto blogs, social networking sites, etc. Travel agents can use this service to embed videos on Malaysia in their own website by following a simple procedure.
- Videos will be spread virally by embedding and sharing it with friends and families
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