Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The six million ringgit man

Dany Baha: Malaysian auto industry's Lee Majors
... and RM60 million missing in action. Who is the RM6 million man of Lotus and what has he got to do with big lenders such as CIMB and Maybank, stopping Lotus from drawing down the 70-odd million pounds left from the £270 million loan to Lotus? 

Perhaps the Proton management would like to tell us why Lotus CEO Dany Bahar's contract has been extended up to 2014? Yes, twenty fourteen!

Proton should also tell us if it's true that some RM60 million is stuck in Thailand. And what is Malaysian money doing in Siam, anyway?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Dr M's letters Anwar wouldn't want you to read

"... [Ehud Barak's] letter to Mahathir contained “praise for the Malaysian people and for the Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad over his courage in the international arena.”
“Mahathir wrote in response that he hoped that the Israeli leadership would have the courage to take the corresponding steps in order to achieve peace with the Palestinians.”
“The content of the letters was general, and there was nothing there that could embarrass Mahathir.”

Read the story in The Mole, h e r e. The Government is in the process of declassifying the letters and will publish them in full soon. That would be fun but I doubt it would be so for Anwar Ibrahim.

Rais, Mat Maslan .. Care to Explain?

Updated, lunchtime 27 Feb
... You wish!
Much ado, indeed. I asked around and it seems that B L O G and bloggers - anti or pro-Opposition - were not mentioned at all during the Cabinet briefing. The focus was on social media and how ministries can improve their handling of the social media. Rais Yatim did sack his press secretary the very next day but none of the other ministers did so the sacking was not likely to have been due to the Cabinet briefing. But then again, you'll never know with that dude ...

So anti-Opposition bloggers, carry on your good work. And anti-Government bloggers, hit them harder! It's back to status quo. We are all still relevant here. Hehe.

Original posting 

Much ado about new media. Journo-blogger Bujai has heard something disturbing said to have taken place on Feb 22 at the last Cabinet meeting. It seems that between Rais Yatim and Ahmad Maslan - one Najib Razak's Information Minister and the other his party's Imformation chief - an idea crystallized based on an internal study that the new/alternative/social media, especially the pro-BN ones, aren't going to have any significant impact for Najib Razak's Barisan Nasional in next General Election. 

That was what the then PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had been told before PRU12, before the so-called tsunami, before BN lost five states and the two-thirds in Parliament.

Read Bujai's My friendly message to the PM Office.I hope he has heard wrong. Otherwise, I'd like to know what Rais, Ahmad Maslan and the others named in his latest posting have to say ...

Sunday, February 26, 2012

From KLCC to Lynas

Corny Chua rindu kat rakyat ...
Tapi rakyat tak semestinya rindu ..

Lynas is good news for the people that has turned bad, a simple PR (public relations) failure on the part of BN that has allowed PR (Pakatan Rakyat) to score some much-needed points. The proposed rare earth project in Gebeng near Pekan, the hometown of the Prime Minister, is fast establishing itself as one of the hottest election issues come the 13th General Election. What was conceived as a billion-dollar site to spur development in the state of Pahang has now become a potentially very bloody political battleground. It has given Anwar Ibrahim's PR, which has been facing serious credibility issues including his own faux on the security of Israel, a chance to regain lost ground. 

As in the case with the National Feedlot Corporation, Lynas has become a problem to Najib Razak because the relevant irrelevant ministers had underestimated the issue and waited too long to act. The Information Minister, for example, was too busy lodging police reports and dragging bloggers in court. The statements made by the Menteri Besar of Pahang have not helped, either. Ads after boring paid ads in the papers that I doubt even the bored aides of these ministers enjoyed reading.

The real anti-Lynas crowd - the environmentalists - has long been elbowed to a corner in yet another event that has been totally hijacked by Anwar Ibrahim. Still, the crowd he could bring in was relatively small because not everyone in Pakatan buys the honesty of the party's cause. Despite the presence of political superstars - to quote activist Juana Jaafar - like Anwar Ibrahim himself and Lim Kit Siang, co-starring Khalid Ibrahim and former Health Minister Chua Jui Meng (winner of the corniest political tweet of the event), many from PR are shying away. I mean, even PR's own nuclear expert, the MP of Hulu Langat Dr Che Rosli Che Mat, has said that the Lynas plant is safe! 

Despite his own nuclear expert's conclusion, Anwar said today he will close Lynas if he conquers Putrajaya. Well, we all know what happened to his 16/9 2008 promise, among many other promises he's made. 

Najib, on the other hand, can't afford to make empty promises or try to be a populist. He has to assure the voters in Gebeng, and Malaysians in general, that the Lynas project is perfectly safe, just as the PAS nuclear expert says. The Prime Minister has to start pounding the Gebeng pavements to do that. He can no longer leave it to the nincompoops to do a decent job. 

In the meantime, I leave you with my earlier question on Twitter today: Have our Opposition changed, really?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Not in her name, Anwar

So, Anwar Ibrahim has refused to retract his statement defending the "security of Israel". Damned if he does. And, woe, with ex-boss Dr Mahathir Mohamad on his case [Protecting Israel with Palestine blood], damned if he doesn't. 

Damned if I don't finish this book I shall not hate by a Gazan physician, an advocate of peace, who lost three of his daughters in a raid by the Jews. Somewhere in the book, Dr Izzeldin Abuelaish mentioned Nomika Zion, a journalist and peace fighter who also lives in Gaza. The passage below is taken from a posting by Nomika in Huffington Post a little while ago, in response to an Israeli Minister's assertion on the war that was deemed necessary in the interest of the security of Israel.
[I have taken the liberty to turn her words into a poem].

Not in my name 

Not in my name and not for me did you go into this war
The bloodbath in Gaza is not in my name nor for my security
Houses destroyed
schools blown up
thousands of new refugees 
they are not in my name or for my security. 

In Gaza, there is no time for funerals; 
the dead are put in refrigerators two by two in the mortuary for lack of room
The bodies of policemen and children are laid out
and the eager journalists jump between the tactics of pro -Israel advocacy and 
"the pictures that speak for themselves"

Tell me, what is there to explain? 
What is there to explain?

- Taken from War Diary from Sderot by Nomika Zion in Huffington Post

Friday, February 24, 2012

Evil scheme, Rafizi?

Evil: So this dude thinks settlers should be just settlers forever...
PKR's chief strategist Rafizi Ramli has described the proposed listing of Felda as "an evil scheme". Scary. Since when did an IPO become an evil scheme to cheat the rakyat? Yes, it's scary when young politicians like Rafizi start to label things "evil". 

What really is evil in the scheme of things involving Felda and its 113,000 setllers? I'll tell you what, Rafizi: Evil is the scheming going on to stop the IPO and to deny the settlers' children and their children to have a shot at a better life, for them to be able to get out of the little plots that the government opened up years ago so that they could pursue bigger and better opportunities.

Evil is the scheming minds of politicians - young ones like Rafizi and old ones like Tengku Razaleigh - who want settlers to remain as settlers forever, and who expect the settlers' children and grandchildren to continue to become settlers.

Yes, that's evil. 

What the IPO offers settlers is not just the windfall in terms of ringgit and sen. It allows these settlers to move up in life and become part of the future growth of Felda in Malaysia and the rest of the world. It allows the settlers to keep what they already have and, in addition, open up vistas for the settlers' future generations to become more than just settlers.

A few years ago, an think-tank conducted a study on more than 20,000 settlers in the state of Sabah. One of the questions they asked the settlers is whether they would like their children to become settlers after them. None of them said they wanted their children to become settlers.

Zero, dude. Zilch!

These settlers in Sabah, almost all of them Bumiputeras, wanted their children to become accountants, pilots, doctors, and businessmen so that they can have better lives.

Now, what's evil about transforming the Felda settlers, almost all of whom are Malays, into more than just settlers so that they can have the better lives, Rafizi?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Felda: In Najib we Trust

Just came in from Big Dog: IPO to go on, new model proposed.

Original posting
Felda Settlers Trust. It didn't come as such a shock that Felda had to defer its EGM this afternoon, an all-important meeting for the 113,000 settlers to decide on what the Cooperative would do about the Government's proposed listing of Felda. Why not shocking? Because the Board of the Cooperative could have acted on an injunction filed by a few members of the cooperative [EIGHT of them, to be exact, please read Wayang Pengurusan KPF ... ] who may not owe their loyalty to the settlers. The Board could have acted to get the courts to lift the injunction and the courts would have, in my opinion, obliged to such a request as an EGM is a legit avenue for the settlers to discuss their future.

The 113,000 settlers minus the 8 are disappointed, needless to say. But that's the way things are in Felda. For those of you not familiar with Felda, the Cooperative is made up NOT just of the settlers. There are 220,000 Felda cooperative members, including the management of Felda, general workers, and children of the original settlers. The listing of Felda will benefit ALL of them but the exercise is aimed particularly for the 113,000 settlers.

The Government may have no choice but to consider the options at hand. Najib Razak is determined to push for the IPO because it's the only way to go if the government wants to take the settlers to the next level and involve them in the future expansion of Felda, locally and internationally. 

Since the Cooperative seems intent to block the listing of Felda, it is possible now that an ASN-like entity be set up by the government for the 113,000 settlers and that this trust will be the new vehicle for the IPO, which is still scheduled for May this year. 

Bru's 17 million and Azman Mokhtar's crony

Dear Readers and Commenters, 
This blog, which came to life in May 2006, reached the 17th million unique visitor mark yesterday. I don't know how many blogs in the country have passed this way but I reckon there aren't too many. Che Det's blog surpassed this mark quite a while ago even though it was born a good two years later, but I'm not Mahathir Mohamad. I would not have gotten this far in cyberspace without the support and encouragement, the lawsuits and police reports, and those phone calls that would come my way when I let a few days go by without a single posting. 
Thank you all, God bless you.

Shadowee Transport Minister. If YB Wee Choo Keong had remained in Pakatan Rakyat and PR had been able to establish a Shadow Cabinet, the MP for Wangsa Maju would have been a natural choice for shadow Minister of Transport. Alas, Pakatan could not produce even a pale Shadow of a Cabinet and, fortunately, at least for some in the transport sector and for the politicians in BN, YB Wee is no longer with Pakatan Rakyat. Still, MAS and Air Asia cannot afford to shut him out any longer. Read his latest posting on AJ & Rashdan: What "COST-CUTTINGS"? - Part 1. The keyword is "Part 1", which means the YB is not letting go. Notice how many times he called Rashdan, "Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar's crony"? And if those guys up there have forgotten, let me remind them that it was YB Wee who actually gave life to the VK Lingam saga (that became a big election issue last GE) by producing the lawyer's brother and pitting him against lawyer. It was not Anwar Ibrahim's handiwork, it was YB Wee's. I suggest those guys up there E N G A G E the YB constructively (and quickly, preferably before the Part 4 of his current series of postings). 

Already, more than half of the questions he is going to ask in next Parliament (which would probably be the last before the 13th General Election) are on MAS and Air Asia. Read Parliamentary Questions for March Session 2012.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

"I believe"

Anas Zubedy, the dude who dared describe Haris Ibrahim's ABU as "unthinking" and "potentially destructive", has sent out a plea to fellow Malaysians to join him in a more sober but powerful way of electing their representative during the next general election. Where Haris is all for Pakatan Rakyat and any political party as long as it's not Umno, Anas refuses to be tied down by partisan politics. His initiative is about electing the best MPs and Aduns regardless of party. When we get the best, he writes, it does not matter which party they are from.

Anas promotes changing Malaysians and Malaysian politics for the better - "with love, care and mindfulness, not with anger and hatred". His way, therefore, will not go down well with many of you. As for me, I believe Anas will prevail.

Do you believe?

Anas Zubedy's I Believe

Sunday, February 19, 2012

RM500 million sandcastles in Penang

And while the Menteri Besar of Terengganu is busy trying to (or not to) build the most expensive palace in Malaysia, his counterpart in Penang, the Chief Minsiter Lim Guan Eng, is building sandcastles around the island. Blogger SatD follows up on his Bayan Mutiara expose after uncovering discrepancies in Guan Eng's statements regarding a multi-million ringgit project on housing for the affordable. 

SatD's The AliBabeng of Penang: Lividend of Land Conversion contains some serious allegations - and hints of evidence to support those allegations. At the rate he's exposing Guan Eng and his proofiness, Abu Kassim and his graft-busters from MACC should be paying the Penang CM Lim a visit very soon.  Doesn't matter if it's before or after the visit to MB Ahmad Said's office in Kuala Terengganu to check on that billion-ringgit state palace.

Go here to leave comments, or if you think the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission should leave Guan Eng and Ahmad Said alone.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Istana Sebilliong Ringgit

Last I wrote about the new palace for Terengganu, work was on-going and the cost had escalated to more than half a billion ringgit. Current status, same sources told, work on the istana is still on-going and the cost is fast approaching RM1 billion. Something is really wrong here. When construction of the palace was approved, the previous Menteri Besar had put a cap on the cost (the Agong's palace in Putrajaya had just been completed at less than RM100 million then), Current MB Ahmad Said was aware of this.

In 2008, Ahmad Said was made MB courtesy of the Palace. Many had expected Najib Razak to "correct" this mistake by the previous PM but he, instead, allowed the status quo to run its course. Perhaps that was a fair thing to do but come PRU13, Ahmad Said must not expect the palace to be able to back him again. And if he's not careful, there may not be a state government for him to aspire to run after PRU13!

Ahmad Said must be able to deliver as well as his predecessor Idris Jusoh did in the 2008 general elections. But at the rate things are going, this will be a tall order. It certainly isn't looking like a walk in the park for BN/UMNO in this East Coast state. Idris is deeply frustrated by the way things have turned out and has said he would not contest in the next general election. Some observers thought Idris was paving the way for the old guards to give way to new blood in BN-UMNO, but his supporters say Idris is disillusioned.

Najib has a lot of work to do from now until the GE to make sure Terengganu does not fall to his political rivals. The PM can start by demanding his MB to explain why the new Istana is trying to cost nearly as much as the new Istana Negara! One thing will lead to another ... and another.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Putting money in the people's hands

Good or Bad? Many people complain about the move by Najib's government to give RM500 to the people under BR1M. Even politicians from the Prime Minister's own party thought it wasn't such a good move. But the people certainly aren't complaining. RM500 may not buy much for some Malaysians, but the ordinary people it is not a paltry some. For that matter, any sum you put in the people's hands is not small. Lim Guan Eng gave RM200 to parents of newborn babies in Penang and some people think the amount is ridiculously small [Read RM200 tak cukup, Guan Eng ..]. But the government in Singapore has been giving out cash  to the working class for many years: for newborns, for education, for hard work, etc. Sometimes the amount is a few hundred dollars and sometimes it's a few thousand dollars The Singaporeans appreciate it, every time.

I'm all for cash in hand or in the bank for the people. But what is wrong is the way some politiicans or their balacis angle it. They think they are doing the people a bloody great favor. BR1M or Beng's RM200 should be seen as proof that the government appreciates the people, and that the people deserve it. If someone tells me the government is trying to bribe the people, well, by all means please do it more often. It sure beats a government that bribes itself at the expesne of the people.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

IMF on Malaysia

It's good to read that the International Monetary Fund, whose chief and ex-chief count as Anwar Ibrabim's closest allies, or so some have claimed with some mischief, thinks well of what PM Najib Razak is doing with his country's economy. Not that we Malaysians are hard-up for their thumbs-up, especially since we were the ones who gave them the finger during the 1998 crisis. Still, we must be magnanimous and praise the IMF for a job well done this time.

It's not perfect, but the Malaysian economy seems to be on the right side of growth. Read the IMF's report H E R E.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Malaysia's US$10 million blogger, allegedly

13th GE psy(ber)-war begins. John Bertelsen of Asia Sentinel got in touch with me earlier this week  after hearing that I'd been given US$10 m by Umno to spearhead the party's blog offensive come the 13th General Election. I laughed it off as crap. He did, too, but his sources were convinced of my "ill-gotten" gains because I'm driving a BMW and I've gotten a Harley Davidson. Hehe. I told him I had the BMW two years ago, soon after I rejoined The Malay Mail as its boss. My Softail Heritage is a well- used but still beautiful Harley, built in 1997 and has been in the workshop since October or Nov.

Click to read Malaysia's Anti-Opposition Bloggers 

I'm sure Umno has a strategy to engage Pakatan Rakyat's army of bloggers, news portals, and cybertroopers during the general election, and with that strategy comes a substantial budget. I am not privy to that strategy and certainly not to any budget that has been set aside by the party. However, if it's RM10 m (as my friend the PKR YB Nik Nazmi had alleged), I don't think that's enough to do the job and I think Nik knows that very well. His own state Selangor alone has set aside more than that amount (RM15 million every year, if I'm not mistaken), just for its internet TV and a small publication in the state. How much is PR spending on its entire cyberspace and social media war room, including the networks based overseas that it's been sponsoring? Quite a bit, I'm sure. In this regards, Bertelsen's US10 m sounds more plausible but the amount is still way too little!

After March 2008, at a blog seminar in Universiti Malaya, I predicted the rise of the BN bloggers to meet the enemies at the next GE. During the 12th GE, Umno and its coalition partners had been overwhelmed by Pakatan's absolute dominance of the new/social media. As we know, it was not that PR was more savvy. It was because BN was totally anti-social media. The advisers to the Prime Minister then totally failed to appreciate the power and influence of blogs, portals, FB and twitter on voters, especially the young ones.

So, yes, expect both BN and PR to invest a lot of money to equip their cyber soldiers for the coming war (I for one do not believe that PR will be spending less than BN!). Expect a few blogs and portals to jump sides or be "bought" over. It'd do good to remember that Raja Petra Kamaruddin, one of the most influential cyber players since the last GE, was NOT on Anwar Ibrahim or Pakatan Rakyat's side until just a few months before the March 2008. Don't forget also, many pro-Umno bloggers who were campaigning against the Abdullah regime at the time with RPK are not back with the BN (even though they are always so critical of the BN government).

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Muhammad S.A.W

Maulidur Rasul [Birthday of Prophet Muhammad]

A mosque in Muar, Johor

JUST a little over three decades ago today, I was a student in Muar taking part in the annual procession to mark the birthday of the great Prophet. A most peaceful public gathering.

I will be passing by this riverside town again later today, to meet up with a couple of Johorean bloggers at Tanjung by the Sungai Muar, in our pursuit of the Ghost of Johor and other matters pertaining to the betterment of the state. If I'm lucky, I might catch this year's Maulud Nabi procession there .. 

100 Most Important People in History (and their religious affiliation)

Saturday, February 04, 2012

KJ and Rafizi

Watch the debate in London between two young Malaysians of the Vision 2020 generation", on ISA, 1Malaysia/unity, reforms, and problems with their parties. Heartening to listen to both paying tribute to Dr Mahathir Mohamad. 

This was before Dr M told Bloomberg h e r e that Anwar Ibrahim would turn the country "upside-down" if he wins in the next general election.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

The Bayan Mutiara mystery and affordable homes that cost RM220k

Pic A: Dr Mahathir dons Esquire's cover for February

Pic B: "Tear here" and turn the page, and someone familar's red lips, jaw and nostrils get a brainy top

Pic C: Ah, it's Guan Eng on the second or flip cover of the same magazine 

Blogger SatD, by now well-known for his superb research faculties, has urgent queries for Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng following his announcement of a mega project that he hopes "will put to rest accusations that the state government does not care for the welfare of the Penangites".

How did the same RM30 million project announced by the previous state government suddenly costing RM800 million?

In his recent state budget, Guan Eng spoke about a plan to build affordable homes costing RM72,000 to RM220,000. There was no mention of a budget for affordable homes costing RM42,500 to RM72,000? Where is the money coming from and was this an afterthought?

Please read why SatD thinks Guan Eng is not telling us the whole story, h e r e. Please go there to leave comments as well.

Before I move on ...

Feb 1, 2011: After the settlement that ended our 5-year court battle yesterday, the plaintiffs in Rocky's Bru vs Kalimullah + 3 issued a press statement through Kalimullah Masheerul Hassan, one of the plaintiffs. 

This press statement, which was quoted extensively by The Star in its report Rocky rues allegation, was not part of the settlement the parties mutually agreed upon in front of the High Court Judge in Kuala Lumpur yesterday morning, but I'm not belabouring this point. 

However, for the sake of accuracy, I must clarify that the settlement mutually reached yesterday between the plaintiffs and I, the defendant, has no relations with, and should not be seen as part of, the "apologies" that Kalimullah said he had received through court settlements in the last 12 months.

The Star also reported, quoting Kalimullah: “We accept the apology by Ahirudin and his expression of regret at the damage, distress and embarrassment he has caused not only to us but also our families and friends.” According to our settlement, however, my apology was "for the considerable distress, embarrassment and inconvenience caused to the Plaintiffs". It did not cover "families and friends".

There are other inaccuracies in The Star's report but, really, if you all don't mind, I'd like to move on now.

Please refer to Enclosure 44, which I published in full yesterday on my blog as part of the settlement.