Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Myanmar: Why it's business and not just politics

It is hard to describe Yangon, especially with the majority of the men still going about their daily routines in longyi (or sarong), a lady remarked, with no malice at all. The sarongs look the same, or almost the same, to the outsider but some sarongs are made of silk and their wearers are chauffeur-driven in Lincolns and Lexus (which shocked some of us who thought Myanmar was the quintessential Socialist country) while the huge majority slog on for a measly few thousand kyats a day that the average citizen earns. This city of six million bustles with energy all day and all night. For us from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Yangon may seem or feel 30 years behind, but this city - and this country - are in a hurry to catch up. And like Ambassador to Malaysia said yesterday ahead of PM Najib Razak's visit, time and "Myanmar wait for no men".

We met groups of Malaysian businessmen who flew in to Yangon en route Naypyitaw four hours away by road, where the red carpet was rolled out for Najib. At a dinner with the sarong-wearing middle-aged businessmen at Park Royal last night, the conversations were on business opportunities instead of politics, even though the by-elections that would involve Aung San Suu Kyi are just days away. The Myanmar Times, the only English-language daily, highlights discrepancies in the election roll and of dead people allegedly remaining as voters (sound familiar?) but ask around and about everyone will tell you Suu Kyi will win in her polls hands down. The local businessmen know that Suu Kyi's victory will be good because it will bring in the foreign money (investments) .... 
(Reuters) - Western countries desperately want Myanmar's by-elections on Sunday to go smoothly - and give opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi a seat in parliament - so they can start to lift sanctions and let their companies invest in the once-isolated state .. [West waits on Myanmar vote to start sanctions scale-back]
They also know that what this really means is that these Western countries can't wait to come back into Myanmar and  partake in the country's rich resources, especially its oil. "Burmese aren't stupid," a local businessman said to me.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Najib's five election issues [... and JJ: "Web of lies"]

Updates: TMI withdraws article, admits misreporting after both JJ and the NSTP demanded an apology H E R E 
But blogger Freddie Kevin remains appalled. In his posting  Malaysian Insider Never Learns he observes ... "... still the recalcitrant Malaysian Insider wants to have a last say with a spin headline,"Jamaluddin Jarjis denies TMI report — Jahabar Sadiq"Denying a report does not have to carry any correction which stops short of an apology if you stand by your report in spite of any denials. What it means is it's was bald faced lying report by the Malaysian Insider that only benefits the opposition, stinks to high heaven and questions the credibility of this news portal, again and again."
Original piece: 
Ah, good to know that the Malaysian Insider has confirmed my posting Malaysia Airlines has arrived (March 20) on how the MAS-Air Asia deal [Read latest: MAS looks to delay AA deal] has become one of Najib Razak's biggest concerns for the 13th general election. According to Five issues holding up likely June polls by Jahabar Sadiq, the PM's biggest headaches are:  
1. Felda
2. Lynas
3. NFC
4. MAS-Air Asia and
5. Civil servants' pay review 
That was what I heard, too. Spot on, Mr Sadiq. 
But two snags with the report: 
1. JJ is not Chairman of the BN Manifesto Committee. There is no such post
2. The said briefing at the New Straits Times in Jalan Riong never happened 
I checked with friends at Balai Berita, yes their bureau chiefs came down from the various states for their "regional meeting" earlier this week and they had a so-called "election briefing", which was basically about how the newspaper planned to approach the PRU13 coverage. 
"It was an all-editors' meeting. Why would a politician be there? The Malaysian Insider should have known better," one senior editor told me. 
Well, now they do.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Lim Guan Eng's election issue

Not a single new low-cost home in Penang since PRU12? Really Guan Eng? All that talk about caring for the poor and [according to the Auditor-General's report] he's not built even one low-cost home for Penangites since becoming CM in March 2008! That must be a record of sorts. No wonder his publicists had to work overtime to promote the RM100 he threw for the old and the RM20 he contributed to some cabbies.

Penang’s RM500 million ‘affordable housing’ scam
March 20, 2012 
FMT LETTER: From Calvin Sankaran, via e-mail 
One can accuse Lim Guan Eng, the Penang’s Chief Minster, of many things but surely a lack of self-promotion can’t be one of these complaints. Ever since taking over the state’s reins, Lim has ceaselessly and tireless hyped up his DAP-led administration as people-centric and super efficient.
As such the revelations by the Auditor General (AG) in his 2010 Report that Lim’s administration failed to build even a single low-cost house since taking over the state government came as a huge shock to many Penangites and Malaysians.
This revelation is highly unflattering and politically devastating when compared to the previous BN government’s record of building 9,600 low cost and 6,000 medium cost houses as well as 4,800 low cost flats between 2004 and 2008. .

Read the rest of the letter to the FMT h e r e. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Malaysia Airlines has arrived!

The MAS-Air Asia deal has officially become a general election issue. 

It means that it has made it into the list of Top Priority issues that MUST be resolved before PM Najib Razak can call for PRU13. 

In other words, the MAS-AA share swap deal is potentially so contentious and scandalous that it may result in a serious drop in the Prime Minister's popularity if not resolved. If not managed in time, it can cost the ruling coalition precious votes in the coming General Election. 

The other issues include the public listing of Felda, the NFC, and Lynas.

Tun Daim Zainuddin says NFC will be more detrimental to Najib than Lynas [Tun Daim: Arrogance cost 2008, NFC more detrimental than Lynas] but Shahrizat Jalil's decision to resign over NFC (her husband has also been charged for CBT) is seen as part of the solution to the NFC problem. Against that backdrop, the growing discontent in Malaysia Airlines over the MAS-AA deal sticks out like a sore thumb.

p.s. Does Pakatan Rakyat have a list of general election issues? 

Rafidah, Salut!

Ku Li, a long time ago
I join Apanama [Rafidah a fine example. Who next?] in taking our hats off to Rafidah Aziz for having the good sense of giving way, voluntarily, to new faces to represent us during the next general election. She's not the first in Umno to heed to Najib Razak's call for the changing of guards; Idris Jusoh, the former Terengganu Menteri Besar, offered not to stand for re-election in December last year. Since then, every old guard in the house has been quiet like a mouse. Until Rafidah ...

Johari, old and tired
Rafidah was easily one of the best - if the not the best - ministers in Mahathir Mohamad's Cabinet. As Minister of International Trade and Industry, she wooed foreign investors with her famous charms and defended our interests with fury and no fear. She is today still active and alert. Her decision has nothing to do with being winnable or not. If Rafidah decides to contest in PRU13, she could still win. Easily. She's winnable. But this is about overstaying, about having the good sense to know that it's time to go and let the new/young blood take over.
Nor Mohamed, reluctant politician
 reluctant to go

Syed Hamid, Outsider 
I wish that  the the likes of Tengku Razaleigh, Nor Mohamad Yakcob, Syed Hamid Albar, Azmi Khalid, Radzi Sheikh Ahmad, Johari Baharom, Tengku Adnan and Mohamad Bin Aziz, to name a few, will take the cue from Rafidah. Today or tomorrow, not next month and don't wait for someone to offer you incentives. I hear Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the former Prime Minister, has said he will not be defending his seat even though he'd win Kepala Batas, with eyes closed! Now that is most inspiring, if true!

Ku Nan, Orang Lama
Mohamad Aziz,  5 (or 8) terms!

Multiple-term Members of Parliament are no longer something that Malaysians hold with awe. It's about giving way when you know that there is nothing you can offer that you've not already offered years and years ago. And that is true not just for Umno or BN politicians. There are many in Pakatan Rakyat who should follow Rafidah's example and give us voting Malaysians a break.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The fight Guan Eng's deputy shouldn't have started

Karpal Singh is neither forgiving nor forgetting. The Malay Mail's front page today says it. 

DAP's shoeshine rookie P. Ramasamy's battle with veteran Karpal Singh was a proxy fight, everybody knows. It was one that the Chief Minister of Penang, Lim Guan Eng, should have stopped before it started. But he didn't, everybody knows that also. In fact, political pundits said it was Guan Eng who set Rama up against the original "Tiger of Jelutong" but I'm not sure if everybody knows that or agrees with the theory.

If Guan Eng had tried to send veteran Karpal Singh to pasture via the Deputy CM, that act has backfired badly. And we can agree that this is going to haunt Kit Siang's son for a long, long time. 

The blogs have been playing up the proxy fight. A very good reference is found on Apanama, blog entry End of Ramasamy in DAP?

p.s Looks like the Malay Mail's "page three girls" are baaack! Except that they aren't really Page 3 girls lah. Check out the Sports Page pic on the left and more inside .. they are news photographs and quite readable, really. But dudes at the (new) Malay Mail, the KDN is not going to agree and some women will not be amused! Trust me, I know ...

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Of cut columns and a Minister who treats the Press like a PR firm

"There are those who treat newspapers as if they were public relations handouts, meant to tell the public how wonderful they are. These handouts do not tell you anything about the downside of the item being promoted. But the public knows a promotional flyer when they see one, and they know that one should always read the fine print."  

Poor Marina Mahathir. Read her latest posting "Cut Again"

If they censor you again, M, I suggest that you and your fellow suffering columnists stop writing for that particular newspaper. Write for publications that will not edit your pieces or demand that you "tone down". When I was the boss of Business Times and later The Malay Mail, I ensured that my columnists had a free hand so long as they didn't defame others (some still did, nonetheless!). 

Columnists must not forget, though, that it is the editor's right to edit or butcher your column as he/she sees fit. That's why he/she is the editor; he/she needs to protect the interest of the newspaper and its stakeholders. Courtesy begs that the columnist is at least informed beforehand, because the article carries the columnist's name. On the other hand, a columnist who insists that his/her column should not be touched at all should consider publishing his/her own newspaper.

p.s. The para about PR handouts at the start of this posting is taken from Marina's severed column. It made me wonder if she had known, when she wrote it, about a senior Cabinet Minister who has gotten his Ministry to pay selected mainstream newspapers to publish articles and pictures of him, his wife and his ministry (not necessarily in that order). This kind of practice will turn the best of newspaper companies into PR agencies.

Friday, March 16, 2012

RPK calls Anwar chicken (!)/A 6-hour dinner with The Dog

updated: RPK observes "changes" under Najib, wants "meaningful engagement" with the PM on civil liberty issues. 

Friends, rivals and mates again: RPK and Big Dog

London: Blogger Big Dog met up with RPK at Tok Din's in Paddington for dinner last night. These two have fought alongside and against each other in cyberspace since 1998. RPK more or less led the online onslaught against Dr Mahathir's government to free Anwar Ibrahim;  Big Dog was one of the pioneer Umno cyber warriors who came forth to do battle with RPK's "army". In 2006, both men joined hands to help take down the former PM and were often seen with Tun Dr Mahathir. Shortly before PRU12, RPK rejoined Anwar Ibrahim and helped Pakatan Rakyat to an unprecedented near-victory, and once again the two men became bitter rivals. Lately, as we all know, RPK has seen the "real" Anwar and the long-time staunch supporter of the Opposition leader is today probably his greatest pain in the butt.

Last night was the first time RPK and Big Dog had met since just after the PRU12 in March 2008.

Read Big Dog's account of their meeting in Anwar don't tolerate any dissent. 

Original posting:
“How is Anwar going to debate Najib when he is too chicken to face me?" - Raja Petra
How is it that Anwar Ibrahim, hailed by many as Malaysia's voice of freedom (or something like that), has forced the organiser of a forum to drop Raja Petra Kamaruddin, a fellow Malaysian, from the panel if they wanted Anwar to be part of that forum?

Our "mole" is in England right now and is expected to have dinner with Raja Petra Kamaruddin today. We hope to get more meat on this soon.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Forcing out the 1 per cent corrupt

We all know that there are bad cops in any police force. Without them, those tv series on NYPD and NOPD and action movies involving hero detectives and rotten cops would not happen. So it's good that our IGP has come out to admit that the PDRM still have officers who are on the take. The only problem with his statement is the 1 per cent he pluck, seemingly from thin air. People have started wondering where the 1 per cent cops are. At the top?

The Bernama article
Other professions have their own share of  bad apples: lawyers, judges, politicians. There are journalists and mercenaries, elite bloggers and belit bloggers, football pros on the take, and even at home you have good husbands and rogue ones.

What's important is us knowing that our police force are getting rid itself of the crooks in blue. It will be a hard and long fight but I have no doubts that the PDRM can do it. The important thing is to do everything - not "something" - do go after the corrupt cops. The IGP can't be vague and all stakeholders from the politicians to the press must be engaged. Most of all, the force needs to work with members of the public at all times.

But are we - members of the public - ready to help them get rid of those crooked and corrupt officers? 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Did we even remember Nurin?

Nurul Nadirah Abdullah, 5

Nurul Nadirah Abdullah or Dirang, like Nurin Jazlin Jazimin, was murdered. Nurin was eight when they found her body. Dirang, for heaven's sake, was only five when her charred remains came back yesterday. If not for DNA, nobody would have known what had happened to her after she did not return to her home on March 1. Perhaps that would have been kinder.

Sometime in August or September 2007, after Nurin disappeared, a small group of us bloggers resolved to take matters into our own hands. We worked with Nurin's uncle and came up with a mechanism based on the hugely successful Amber Alert. We named it the Nurin (Nationalwide Urgent Response Information Network) Alert. We pushed the idea to the Press and then to Shahrizat Jalil but she lost the 2008 election and Ng Yen Yen, who replaced her as the Women, Family and Community Development Minister, had better things to pursue.. When Shahrizat returned to the ministry, we got her to revisit the idea. In Jan last year, she launched the Nur Alert. We pleaded with her to stick with the name Nurin Alert because we needed that name to be kept alive at all times, to be remembered by everyone, and to serve as a reminder to the society that had failed her, no matter how grim.

But because of this consideration and that sensitivity, Nur Alert it became. Still, as Nuraina A. Samad, one of the people behind the Nurin Alert idea, writes h e r e:
"No matter, what's important is that an alert system and mechanism is now in place to save the lives of missing or abducted children."
Several missing children later and after what happened to Dirang, can we really say we have set up an effective alert system? The answer is, we have not. Sure, not even Amber Alert is perfect, but do we - the parents, the police, the media, members of the society - know exactly what each and every one of us are supposed to do when a child goes missing in order that we do the most to save that child's life?

I don't think we do. 

And now we seem to have gone full circle. Shahrizat, buried under tonnes of her own domestic problems, has been forced to quit the government next month. Will the new minister care a hoot more?

Monday, March 12, 2012

When in Sabah, play ball

Sabah Politics 101. Pakatan Rakyat is an exclusive pact of three Peninsular-based political parties so it's not such a surprise that their "Sabah for Sabahans" slogan, which Anwar Ibrabim was hoping would drive the Opposition in Sabah against the incumbent BN state government, is starting to work against Pakatan itself. In fact, the Opposition parties in Sabah seem to be painting the Peninuslar Pakatan as a potential threat to their own progress! Read The Malaysian Insider's Deadlock Likely in Sabah Opposition Seat Talks.

Things are about to fall apart for the Peninsular pact. The Pakatan Rakyat's leaders need to understand that they won't get even a toehold in Sabah unless they put into practice their "Sabah for Sabahans" rhetorics and let the local Opposition parties lead the charge come PRU13. DAP, PAS and PKR can't expect SAPP, STAR, USNO and the many other Opposition parties in the state to play dead just or play minor roles just because they say so.

Sabah is key to Pakatan Rakyat's hope to take Putrajaya. Anwar Ibrahim knows the Sabah bigwigs from the time when he was the all-powerful Deputy Prime Minister from UMNO and he knows that it is he now who must play ball with these people, not the other way round.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The "Nambikei" factor behind Najib's latest approval ratings

So, the PM's approval ratings have soared. Many of us could sense that but it helps when an independent party like the Merdeka Centre is the one saying it. Read PM's Approval Ratings Go up. What I find interesting is the Indian support that Najib Razak seems to have garnered: 80 per cent of the Indian respondents are solidly behind him! Back in the 2008 general elections, the Indian voters almost completely turned against the BN government and voted for Pakatan Rakyat. Four years on and after many broken promises, they seem to be wiser.

Najib's track record where the ordinary Indians are concerned speaks for itself:

o From 2009 to 2011 the Government has spent RM340 million for SJKTs which comprises of RM240,536,325 in development expenditures, RM30,000,000 through the Ministry of Finance and RM69,900,000 through Bantuan Modal via the Ministry of Education.  
o This RM340 million has been spent and executed on a total of 258 projects that includes new buildings, kindergartens, repairing roofs, upgrading canteens, library, toilets, wiring etc. In terms of new school blocks and new classrooms, a total of 75 new blocks with 680 classrooms were built from these allocations. 
o The operational expenditures for SJKTs between 2009 and 2011 amounts to RM1,656,250,014.  
o In the recent 2012 budget, RM100 million was allocated to SJKTs. This special allocation will be spent in a total of 369 schools. 
o Above and beyond this, the Government has also facilitated funding through the Community Chest where 6 schools received a total of RM5 million in 2011. They are SJKT RRI Sungai Buloh, SJKT Kuala Pilah, SJKT Slim River, SJKT Batu Caves, SJKT Telok Datoh and SJKT Methodist, Buntong. 
o In continuing his efforts to develop Tamil schools, PM Najib recently announced on 26 February 2012, that the Government will ensure that 1 new block will be constructed for SJKT Methodist Kapar and 3 new blocks with 24 class rooms for SJKT Simpang Lima. The cost of this is estimated to be approximately RM9 million. 
o In terms of the numbers of Tamil schools, and in addition to increasing the number from 523 to 524 after Paya Besar in Kedah got a new Tamil school, the Cabinet approved 6 new Tamil schools in Perak, Selangor, Johor and Kedah, bringing the total number up to 530.  
o In addition to all of this, the Government has channeled funding to Indian community NGOs to work with SJKTs and parents to improve the capabilities of children attending these schools.

The 2011 UPSR results is clearly an indication that with these improved Tamil school environments, building and infrastructure, and the full commitment of dedicated teachers and parents, the ultimate beneficiaries are the children going to school at SJKTs. Between 2009 and 2011, there has been 47% increase in the number of Tamil school students achieving 7As. 

Now, with solid Indian "Nambikei:" (trust) and 74 per cent Malay support in hand, Najib's concern now are the Chinese voters. In Johor, where the PM's spend the last two days pounding the pavements that will lead him to PRU13, the signs are encouraging. One China man told me: "They say the Chinese are all pro-Opposition. Don't make the mistake of painting Chinese voters with the same brush. We Johor Chinese are different." 

How different, he can't say exactly. But development proejcts in Iskandar, Danga Bay, Rapid, the fast train, joint-development with Singapore, and the latest RM22 billion Mersing push are pulling a lot of support for both state government and Putrajaya. Even the Chinese from mainland China and the Chinese from Singapore are involved in these projects! Needless to say, the economic excitement has also caught the attention of the Pakatan Rakyat people who are going all out to try and gain as much ground in Johor during the next general election.


Thursday, March 08, 2012

276 twitter followers, RTM? Seriously?!

No wonder the ministry went rabid. So now we know why the secretary-general of this particular ministry sent out the cyberdogs after the Prime Minister's special aides who gave the special briefing on social media for the Cabinet on Feb 22. 

Check out the story in The Mole today, aptly headlined Left Behind. 

Dear Mr Prime Minister, if this is the best this Ministry's cyber troopers can do, I think your machinery is far from ready for the General Elections. 

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

After Syed Zainal, Proton to re-badge again?

Since DRB-HICOM’s emergence in Proton, some of VW’s top group directors have visited the Proton plant, as well as reviewed all the existing Proton models. Following the review and a meeting in Hong Kong last month between Soh Wei Ming (VW head for the Pacific) and DRB-HICOM’s chief operating officer, Datuk Lukman Ibrahim, it was decided that the Polo would be the best fit for Proton. - Volkswagen's grand vision for Proton, BT 5-3-2012
DRB's Proton to re-badge Polo, says who? The series of articles in the papers on Proton and VW would have been exciting news, ordinarily. But at a time when DRB-Hicom has just taken over the national car [DRB's bosses are due to take over the Board of Proton this March 21], the news is odd. Worrying, in fact.

Read the articles in this order:

What happens to "no more re-badging", Luqman? The Polo is a great, small car. But if we want the national car to go back to rebadging cars (or if we wanted VW to run the show), we didn't need a bloody corporate takeover to do that. The people at DRB-Hicom had been preaching against rebadging - it was a major point they were making to back their bid for Proton - but here we have news that Luqman, who's tipped to replace Syed Zainal as CEO of Proton, okaying a proposed rebadging. 

If DRB and Luqman do not deny or clarify the news about rebadging the VW immediately, I am taking it that they are going back on their words!

Proton's heartache. In a related development, Syed Zainal is said to be getting his marching orders before the end of the month. You can imagine how unhappy the Proton employees and unions are about this. Many felt that since April is the launch of the new Proton model, described by Dr Mahathir as the best Proton car ever (and not rebadged), Syed Zainal should be allowed at least the honour of holding the ribbons while the Prime Minister cuts them.

DRB's headache. Morale is low at Proton, I guess I don't have to tell anyone that. In any corporate takeover, the CEO, COO and CFO or the party that is being taken over will have to go. Syed Mokhtar's DRB will be putting its own people to head the national car. But DRB has its own problems in terms of personnel as it has lost quite a few very good people in the last few months due to internal politics. Last month, DRB's most seasoned auto man walked out of the group. People in Proton are hoping DRB's internal politics will stay at DRB and not come to Proton. I hope we don't end up with a Proton that's run by VW people! What Syed Mokthtar needs is a head who knows how to rev up the morale of the Proton citizens.

 Should be con'd ..

Monday, March 05, 2012

Victims of Badu

Metro's report below.

I don't wish to write about this particular politician on my blog anymore. Really. The guy may have sent the cops to my home a while ago for something I wrote but that's the downside of what I do. Sometimes I get sued and sometimes I get invited to Bukit Aman. No sweat. I've given this politician enough publicity he doesn't need in return. 

But this thing over a police report lodged against a stupid tweet of a young Malaysian, Umair al-Zubair, upset by Information Minister Rais Yatim's decision to cancel Erykah Badu's concert is really stupid, if you ask me. Maybe the cancellation of the concert won't dent the country's image, but the police report lodged by a politician against a tweet is excessive and extreme, and it will dent something. The minute the police detains the young man, the image of the police takes a beating. And rightly or wrongly, the image of the government will take a beating along with the police's.

This is not the first time a BN politician has lodged a police report against the social media since Najib Razak took over from a cyberspace-unfriendly Prime Minister. Rais  himself has dragged bloggers to the courts to settle matters. Ironically, he is the Minister in charge of the social media and blogs.  

Stupid is as stupid does. 

Bitching about poor penetration at home ...

Someone should give Anwar Ibrahim an award for badmouthing his own country and his own people. Latest, he told the Deccan Herald that the gap between the rich and the poor and corruption were the two main issues in Malaysia but then went on to whine about everything else, including a media that he said was not free.
“There is a sham democracy. The situation in Burma is better than Malaysia because Burmese opposition politician Aung San Suu Ki has better access to media than any of the opposition leaders in Malaysia,” he said adding that though they can resort to alternate media like the internet, blogs etc, the penetration of the same is rather poor.
Now, we remember how "free" the Press was when Anwar was Deputy Prime Minister in the Nineties, don't we? When editors of mainstream media, except for one, were handpicked by him, enriched by him and who pledged loyalty to only  him, not the party nor the profession. Some of us still remember when these editors would be so brave and bold as to publish Anwar Ibrahim's pieces on the front page and the main item for prime time news for days and relegated the Prime Minister's speeches and statements to the inside pages!

Ah, the good old days, eh, DSAI, when you had us journalists under your thumb!

Oh, but I digressed. Read his latest rantings h e r e.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

No need for the jitters, Rais

Someone high up at the Information Ministry is feeling jittery following a special Cabinet briefing of Feb 22. He is pitting the PM's aides against one of his Ministers. He sees an opportunity to bring the might of blogosphere against Najib Razak. 

In Malay, it's called "menangguk di air keruh". In my broken French, it means that someone is trying to screw two people's backs at the same time: yours and mine! They want us to believe that 1. the Special Briefing to Cabinet belittled bloggers, especially pro-Najib bloggers and 2. there is an attempt to "kill" Rais Yatim, the Minister, or at the very least embarrass him!

It is important to separate the facts of the Feb 22 meeting and the fallacies. The facts remain that the special briefing to the Cabinet, which was chaired by the PM, did not concern blogs at all. Not the pro-Umno blogs nor the pro-Pakatan blogs. The allegation that the officers who briefed the Cabinet had belittled the role of blogs and demeaned the bloggers, therefore, is hogwash. The special officers of the PM who did the briefing did not single out bloggers. They did not mention Che Det or Anwar Ibrahim, Papagomo or Parpukari, Big Dog or Big Cat, Bru or Bujai. The morning after I picked up Bujai's first posting on this matter last week, I did my own asking around to establish fact from fiction. I quickly updated my posting with a correction/explanation Much Ado, Indeed. 

Bujai insists that a PM adviser called bloggers "nuisance"

But then, hehe, Bujai also declares that: 
Rais Yatim is perhaps the best minister when it comes to engaging new media personnel. I am not sure how many but they are really helping the ministry and the government in their 'psy-war' against the Opposition.
The Special Briefing was focused on the social media and how the Ministries can improve their approach and strategies. It was an experience-sharing session. The briefing drew heavily on the experiences of the PM himself, whose Facebook is one of the most-followed in the country. 

Another part of the briefing explored the effectiveness of the websites run by the various Ministries. Some statistics were used to show traffic numbers and growth. I think this is the part that brought about the jitters to someone at the Information Ministry, perhaps someone in the KSU's office or even in the Minister's office! As part of the briefing, comparisons were made involving the websites run by the official media under the Ministry (RTM and the various radio stations) and those run by private media organisations such as Media Prima and Astro which boast of traffics in the heady seven-digit and the high six-digit zones. 

Remember, this was to be an information/experience-sharing session. The point of the session was to emphasize the importance of the Internet and the social media, not the other way round. There was no award given to any minister for engaging new media personnel well but the PM's aides did not run down any of the ministries or ministers, either. I am sure if Rais Yatim had disagreed with some of the findings of the briefing, he would have said so at the meeting. The guy is not known for mincing words!

I suspect that someone is doing the "menangguk di air keruh" here. To save his own ass, he has created a diversion and accused the PM adviser of trying to demonize Rais Yatim. And then he tries to pit bloggers who are supportive of the government against Prime Minister Najib Razak, hoping perhaps for a repeat of 2008.

In plain English, you may call it an attempt to sabotage. 

Friday, March 02, 2012

Mahathir's "true thoughts" on Israel

... And why Anwar should have kept Mahathir out of his Jewish predicament. Reeling from the angry response from Muslims to his pro-Israel stance [interview with the Wall Street Journal, Jan 26, 2012], Anwar Ibrahim attempted to paint his former boss, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, as a worse Israeli sympathizer. Big, big mistake. Now it's gone Jewish. Now we know why Dr Mahathir is who he is, a Malaysian leader who did not and still does not bow to any kind of man-made superpower, certainly not to Tel Aviv.

 Read this article in Israeli news

Published 14:28 01.03.12
  • Latest update 14:28 01.03.12

Letters reveal Malaysian premier's true thoughts on Rabin, Netanayhu, and Barak

The letters, made public as Malaysia's ruling party and opposition accuse each other of supporting Israel, reveal that Rabin was respected, Netanyahu was not trusted and Barak was expected to bring about change.

By Barak Ravid
The Malaysian government published on Wednesday a collection of letters sent by former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Bin Mohamad to three Israeli prime ministers during the 1990s.
The letters were published as Malaysia's ruling party and the pposition have recently been accusing each other of supporting diplomatic ties with Israel.
Barak and Netanyahu Tess Scheflan / Jini 2009
Defense Minister Ehud Barak, right, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Photo by: Tess Scheflan / Jini
Mahathir Bin Mohamad, who served as Malaysia's prime minister in the 1990s, is the former head of the ruling party. In preparation for the upcoming elections, the ruling party launched an attack on the leader of the opposition, Anwar Ibrahim, claiming that he supports establishing ties with Israel, at the expense of the Palestinians.
Ibrahim then dispelled the allegations by revealing the letters, and accused the ruling party of hypocrisy.
The three letters that were published on Wednesday were sent in response to letters from Israeli prime ministers Yitzhak Rabin, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Ehud Barak to Mahathir Bin Mohamad. The letters provide a look into diplomatic efforts to promote dialogue between Israel and Malaysia, which have thus far failed to bear fruit.
The first letter was sent to former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in December 1993, about two and a half months after Israel and the Palestinian Authority signed the Oslo Accords.
Mahathir, who sent the letter to the "Israeli Prime Minister's Bureau in Jerusalem," greeted Rabin, expressed support in the Oslo Accords, and even offered to donate money to the new Palestinian Authority.
"Malaysia as a matter of general principle is prepared to develop relations with Israel at the appropriate time," he wrote. "In the meantime, we would like to see tangible progress in the implementation of the peace agreement." At the end of the letter, Mahathir added in handwriting, "I look forward to normal relations with Israel."
A little more than three years later, in March 1997, Mahathir sent a similar letter to then prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Two months prior, Netanyahu sent a letter to Mahathir, updating him on the situation in the region. As opposed to the cordial letter he sent Rabin, this time Mahathir evoked more unpleasant tones in his letter to Netanyahu.
Mahathir called on Netanyahu to allow international mediation between Israel and the Palestinians and used as an example the international arbitration that took place between Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore regarding the maritime border. He also compared the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to efforts to instill coexistence between the native residents of Malaysia and the immigrants.
"The important point I would like to stress is not to take what already belongs to others even though historically they may be yours," he wrote. "Lately, Israel has been pulling down Arab dwellings in order to erect houses for Israelis. The
whole world, including your ally, the United States, condemns this. But Israel has gone ahead."
Mahathir harshly criticized Netanyahu and blamed him for the diplomatic freeze at the time.
"What you are doing now is against the spirit and the letter of the peace process agreed to by your predecessor," he wrote. "How can we trust Israel if a change in the government negates solemnly given undertakings by a Government of Israel... To have peace you have to make sacrifices. The Palestinians no longer demand the elimination of Israel… We are ready to have economic and technological cooperation with Israel but we cannot do so yet because you have not honoured commitments made by a legitimate Government of Israel."
The third letter was sent in June of 1999, several weeks after Ehud Barak's victory in the elections. This time, the letter was sent to the bureau in Tel Aviv. As opposed to the letter to Netanyahu, the missive to Barak was a little more positive, but after the cordial greetings, Mahathir proceeded to convey harsh diplomatic messages.
"We believe that if the peace process is to be salvaged, sincere and effective steps must be taken to honour commitments," he wrote. "it is crucial for Israel to be more accommodating… It is therefore timely that Israel respond positively… The alternative, I am afraid, would be a permanent state of conflict and regional instability extending into the next century… Any country that forcibly takes over land and properties of others, or demolishes dwellings belonging to others in order to set up its own settlements cannot be said to be sincere in wanting peace."
Mahathir concluded his letter to Barak and wrote, "The world looks forward to Israel under your leadership, to push forward the peace process with true determination. It is my sincere hope that the attainment of a comprehensive settlement in the region would allow Malaysia to realistically envisage a positive move towards the establishment of normal relations with Israel."
The Malaysian government explained Wednesday why it had published the letters. "I wish to state that as a matter of policy, Malaysia has consistently over the years publicly supported the struggle of the Palestinian people… for the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state," the Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said in a statement.
"The contents of these letters reflects Malaysia's strong and principled stance against Israel's illegal actions and atrocities that had undermined the peace process."
He said that former prime minister Mahathir Bin Mohamad had never expressed support for Israel or readiness to establish diplomatic relations with it.
"Malaysia's readiness to consider establishing relations with Israel is also contingent upon Israel's implementation of all the requirements as stated in the relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions, including Palestine's submission to become a full member of the UN on the basis of the 4 June 1967 borders, with Al-Quds Al-Sharif (East Jerusalem) as its capital."