Thursday, April 27, 2017

Messing with Melaka, again

27 April: YB Shamsul Iskandar may have been shooting blanks ever since his giant-killing feat at the 2013 general election, when he defeated the then Malacca Chief Minister Ali Rustam. But with the 14th GE just around the corner, friends of the PKR Vice President said that the draught is about to end. And if current Malacca Chief Minister Idris Harun is not careful, his scalp could end up on Shamsul's plate!  

Shamsul on attack, attack, attack mode!

CM Idris should have come out and defended his integrity sooner. Pro-Umno blogger A Voice had raised the poser on Tuesday in his posting Obstructing corruption prosecution in Malacca. It's not too late but please, YAB, be more proactive and don't make the same mistake you did last October and try to wash your hands by saying you don't know that person or this person, and that you have nothing to do with the matter ... 

Friday, April 21, 2017

The deal that will force the DOJ to review what little it has on 1MDB

"... the deal could significantly dilute the international legal challenges confronting Prime Minister Najib Razak’s administration over the fallout from the 1MDB saga." - Malaysia, Abu Dhabi to settle dispute over 1MDB debt, Straits Times 

Friday, 21 April: Unless I'm getting it totally wrong, the US Department of Justice would be compelled now to review its position on the 1MDB. Might even have to drop the case altogether ...

The Straits Times' exclusive:

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia and Abu Dhabi have reached a settlement on a dispute involving billions of dollars in debt obligations of scandal-scarred 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) that is at the centre of an international money-laundering probe. 
Senior financial executives familiar with ongoing negotiations told The Straits Times that state-owned investment funds from both countries were expected to sign a settlement agreement as early as Friday (April 21). 
A central piece of the proposed settlement calls for Malaysia to repay Abu Dhabi US$1.2 billion (S$1.7 billion) before the end of this year. The amount represents a loan and accumulated interest charges on a bailout financial package 1MDB received from Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Company, or Ipic, in July 2015. 
The bulk of the payment on the outstanding loan amount will come from the sale of so-called “fund units” from Brazen Sky Ltd, a financial unit owned by 1MDB, to an undisclosed buyer, according to the financial executives. 
The settlement agreement also calls for both parties to enter into negotiations to resolve another dispute involving roughly US$3.5 billion in the form of cash advances and payments from 1MDB to IPIC that are now in dispute. Negotiations will commence early next year and must be concluded before December 2020, during which time both parties will stand down from pursuing any legal action, the executives said.
The cash advances were part of Malaysia’s obligations under a US$3.5 billion bond issue that Abu Dhabi helped Kuala Lumpur raise in 2012. Under the proposed settlement, the Malaysian government will honour all obligations to its international bondholders.  
Bankers and legal executives familiar with the situation believe the deal could significantly dilute the international legal challenges confronting Prime Minister Najib Razak’s administration over the fallout from the 1MDB saga.
Here is why. The disputed monies in the Malaysia-Abu Dhabi row are central to legal suits brought by the US Department of Justice over the alleged misappropriation of funds from 1MDB. The Department of Justice claims that the funds siphoned from 1MDB went to fund purchases of real estate and other assets by associates of PM Najib.  
The settlement agreement between Malaysia and Abu Dhabi would achieve what is known in legal parlance as “no predicate offence”, the financial executives said.   
A predicate offence is a crime that is a component of a more serious crime and it is frequently applied in the US to actions involving the provision of funds for money laundering and the financing of terrorism. 
Proponents of the settlement between Malaysia and Abu Dhabi argue that a successful completion of the deal would weaken the impact of any legal action taken by foreign governments over alleged money laundering at 1MDB because of the lack of evidence. 
Malaysia’s Second Finance Minister Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani and 1MDB’s group executive director, Arul Kandasamy, who are part of the high-powered team leading the negotiations to resolve the dispute, did not respond to requests for comment. 
“The main aim was to avoid a messy arbitration fight and this (deal) is a product of both parties working through back channels to reach a settlement,” one senior executive noted. 
The executive disclosed that that other key players in the negotiations included Datuk Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin, who is a senior advisor to Mr Najib, and senior officials from Abu Dhabi’s Executive Affairs Authority, a special government agency that provides strategic advice to the Gulf state’s rulers. 
First reported by The Straits Times in April last year, the dispute between the two countries centered on fund transfers of roughly US$3.54 billion that 1MDB said it made to units of IPIC as part of its obligations under a May 2012 bond agreement. But IPIC declared that it never received those monies, triggering a row over interest payments on the bond issue which had helped 1MDB raise funds for the acquisition of power-generation assets. 
IPIC declared 1MDB in default later after the Malaysian state investment fund refused to honour an interest instalment of US$50.3 million, a move that exposed the Malaysian government to billions more in claims.  
As the dispute moved into private arbitration, the 1MDB scandal grabbed global attention with the US Justice Department filing lawsuits in Los Angeles seeking to seize dozens of properties and luxury assets that it claimed were purchased with funds amounting to over US$3.5 billion. US officials said the funds were illegally siphoned from the Malaysian state fund. 
The Justice Department probe, which is ongoing, is moving in tandem with investigations in several other jurisdictions, including Singapore, Switzerland, and Hong Kong. 
Mr Najib and 1MDB have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and have pledged to cooperate with any lawful investigations. 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Minister with Special Functions

Damansara Heights, 12 April: Daim Zainuddin was the last person to occupy the Minister with Special Functions so you can understand if Hishammuddin Hussein's appointment to that portfolio is causing great excitement and equally great distress. Daim was a very influential individual and very, very close to then Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, and he was appointed to that position as a matter of survival. I was not surprised when a seasoned political journalist whispered to me this morning that Hisham's appointment had taken Zahid Hamidi's "people" by surprise. In other words, they were feeling confused, even threatened. But the Deputy Prime Minister himself was cool as cucumber and savvy as Ali to help douse any attempt to use the appointment as an excuse to create a rift between himself and the Prime Minister.

Spot on, Zahid says

Some quarters say the appointment has made Hisham the de facto No 3 in government and party, in view that the general election can happen anytime now. In reality, however, Hisham has just been given a lot more responsibilities to shoulder. And by virtue that he is Umno VP, a lot of people see him as the most senior person in Najib's Cabinet after Zahid.
In the history of Ministers with Special Functions, none (except Tun Razak, who was SFM when he was already DPM) had gone on to become DPM or PM. Between Razak and Daim, King Ghaz, Ku Din, Asri Muda and Michael Chen were made SFMs. They were appointed to that special portfolio to carry out special assignments, which differ from time to time depending on the political, economic and social climates. Go and ask Daim, he'd tell you there was no extra political mileage to be gained from this portfolio. If Najib had wanted to strengthen Hisham's position in the run-up to the GE and Umno elections, he would not have made his cousin Minister with Special Functions. DPM2 would have done the trick neatly.

Read also:
Najib redraws his inner circle by Joceline Tan

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

RUU355: And the biggest loser of all is ...

“(Allowing Hadi’s motion) was actually designed as a political scheme to distract Malaysians from the crimes that the prime minister has committed, mainly the fact that the prime minister has stolen billions of ringgit from 1MDB, a wholly owned subsidiary of the government of Malaysia. 
“[…] We will, on the part of DAP, reject the private member’s bill brought forward by Marang, but the bigger agenda, … that we should not lose sight of, is to bring down a kleptocratic administration led by the biggest thief of all in the country, Dato’ Sri Najib Razak.” - Tony Pua, Facebook, April 6 

A screenshot of Pua's April 6 clip

Puchong, 12 April: Anyone watching his April 6 video clip on FB in response to RUU355 could tell that YB Tony Pua, the DAP's publicity chief, was asking for it. 

True enough, PM demands apology, retraction from Tony Pua, FMT April 11]. Tony Pua confirmed receipt of the letter of demand yesterday:

What Pua did not mention in the Facebook posting is the fact that he himself had sent a "love letter" to the Prime Minister in January (read h e r e).  Najib Razak had filed for a defamation suit against Tony Pua earlier in March 2016 and the case is scheduled for hearing in September this year. So by Pua's own logic, it's not unrequited love. The DAP man really loves his Prime Minister, too. 

But his love aside, Tony Pua could well end up the biggest fool in the RUU355 episode as his partners in PKR did this number - PKR supports Hadi's right to table RUU355 (The Star, 11 April) - about the same time Najib's lawyers issued him the letter of demand.

 I'm not sure if Tony Pua saw that coming ...

Friday, April 07, 2017

Gentleman's agreements, like match-fixing, MUST be thrown out of sports bodies

A young man who likes to get things done, fast

Puchong, Fri 7/8/13: Like it or not, Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim as the new president of the Football Association of Malaysia has gotten Malaysians quite excited about the future of the game. Maybe, just maybe, we shall taste glory once again. Like someone said, all the Johor prince needs to do is to translate his "great personality and strong leadership qualities" into action. 
Tunku Ismail's rise in FAM has gotten supporters of Norza Zakaria, the former Umno Supreme Council member, very excited but for a different reason. 
They see the changing of the guards at FAM as a good omen for Norza, who is eyeing to be the next Badminton Association of Malaysia president. 

Norza says there's a gentleman's agreement between him 
and the outgoing president, Rosmah and KJ ...
I am all for change if change is for the better, and I'm all for younger and fresh faces if they can bring about positive energy and image. But with all due respect to Norza and his supporters, Norza is no Tunku Ismail. 
And all that focus on the so-called "gentlemen's agreement", intended to give Norza free and automatic passage to become president, is doing him more harm than good. 
It's certainly not doing BAM's image any favours, either.
To an outsider who loves the game (badminton, not politics, I mean) and sports in general, this so-called gentleman's agreement sounds no different from match fixing! 
It should be strongly discouraged and disallowed. Not just from BAM but from all sports bodies and associations in this country! I totally agree with the views of Elyas Omar, the former BAM president. 
Take a cue from Tunku Ismail: if the Johor prince himself is willing to fight for the presidency of FAM, Norza should stop worrying about how a contest in BAM will cause a split.   
But if he insists that a contest would result in "people taking sides, bickering and ... disunity" in FAM, then the right thing to do, if I may suggest, is to gently step aside and let the other guy through.  

 Read also:

Former BAM chief scoffs at the idea of a "gentleman's agreement" to decide new president

Interview with AlAmin: Let the Council decide 

Interview with Norza: Man with a Vision

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Why MAIS shouldn't lodge another police report

Bangsar, Thurs: Just as I was about to extend my blog holiday due to minor health reasons, the highly-controversial A Voice had to come up with Dear Selangor Mufti ... What is the fatwa on MAIS default? (4/5/17). I could not sit idle even if I wanted to because, by default , this latest instalment on the subject by Another Brick in the Wall blog will affect my well-being.
Some of my readers would be aware that as a result of A Voice's March 6 posting, which I quoted in my While the Agong makes headllines (7/3/17), MAIS has demanded both A Voice and I to apologise publicly (as in newspapers in English and Bahasa) to HRH Sultan Selangor. MAIS has also lodged a police report against both of us (after we failed to meet their deadline for the apology). 
Court proceedings between MAIS and parties that are trying to get back the RM125 million they had lent it to build a hostel, which is now operational and bringing the Council a healthy income, are ongoing or pending so I shall not dwell too much into them. 
But instead of lodging another police report against A Voice (or, for that matter, against me for merely reporting it here), may I suggest MAIS try and reach out to blogosphere in a more professional manner and try to explain its position. I'm sure they can do that without discussing the merits of the case (or do it off the record).
For context, please read the blogger's related postings Istana request no apology, but Court judge MAIS wrong (21/3/17),  MAIS demanded apology (10/3/17) and Selangor royal default? 6/3/17).

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Two years later, nobody has migrated because of GST

Puchong, April 1: Two years ago today, Malaysia joined more than 160 countries with GST. The move was greeted by so much whining, griping and bitching by some quarters that I suggested that they seriously consider migrating to any of the 40 countries that were still GST-free [40 countries you can migrate to if you wish to avoid Malaysia's new tax - 1 April 2015]. 

As far as I know, nobody has done so.

In the meantime, the Government has collected some RM40 billion of GST during the first year alone, which is partly why our economic is doing relatively well, and also why the noise level against the GST has gone down a lot. The rate has remained 6%, one of the lowest in the world (go here for worldwide GST rates: only a handful of countries have lower GST than Malaysia's while most European countries have a GST of over 20%). The number of countries without GST is also shrinking very quickly, with Saudi Arabia and India set to join us. 

In conclusion, expect GST to be largely missing from the Opposition's manifesto for the coming General Election.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Najib's school of diplomacy (Don't mess with Malaysia Part ll)

Alhamdulillah, the nine "hostages" in the KL-Pyongyang diplomacy row over matters related to the killing of Jong Nam, the North Korean leader's half-brother, are safely back in Malaysia a couple of hours ago. The North Koreans detained by us in retaliation would be reluctant to go home, I'm sure, but they are free to go, and so is the body of the body of the murdered half-brother. I couldn't care less about these two, what's important is the Malaysians are back and they are safe. 
I'm not privy to how PM Najib Razak plan to proceed with diplomatic ties and bilateral relations with North Korea but he will no doubt leave the matter in the Foreign Minister Anifah Aman and his team at Wisma Putra, who have taught us a thing or two about the art of international diplomacy. Kudos to them. 
Personally, I would be more cautious when dealing with the North Koreans after this little incident. At the same time, I would be more wary of Malaysians who, at the height of the KL-Pyongyang spat, behaved more North Korean than the North Koreans themselves. - 31 March

30th March 2017.      I am pleased to announce that the nine Malaysians who had been barred from leaving North Korea have now been allowed to return to Malaysia. Alhamdulillah, they took off from Pyongyang today at 7.45pm Malaysian time, and will land in Kuala Lumpur tomorrow around 5am.
2.      I would like to thank those in the Malaysian government involved in the negotiations, led by our Ministry of Foreign Affairs.‎ I had a deep personal concern about this matter, and we worked intensively behind the scenes to achieve this successful outcome. Many challenges were overcome to ensure the return of our fellow Malaysians.  The safety and security of our citizens will always be my first priority.
3.      We will now allow North Koreans to leave Malaysia. In addition, following the completion of the autopsy on the deceased and receipt of a letter from his family requesting the remains be returned to North Korea, the coroner has approved the release of the body.
4.      The government believes strongly in the principles of justice and sovereignty. Our police investigation into this serious crime on Malaysian soil will continue. I have instructed for all possible measures to be taken to bring those responsible for this murder to justice.
5.      As Prime Minister, I am grateful that all Malaysians united to overcome this crisis in the spirit of Negaraku. It shows what can be achieved for the nation if we work together as one.

Joint Statement of DPRK and Malaysia

Pyongyang, March 30 (KCNA) -- Delegations from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and Malaysia issued a joint statement on Thursday. The statement is as follows:

1. Delegations from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and Malaysia recently held a meeting in Kuala Lumpur to resolve issues arising from the death of a DPRK national in Kuala Lumpur on 13 February, 2017.

2. Both countries reaffirmed their desire to resolve the existing issues, based on the fundamental strength of their bilateral relations, which have been cultivated since the diplomatic relations were established in 1973.

3. Both countries agreed on the importance of respecting the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, and full implement the provisions contained therein.

4. As the DPRK has produced all necessary documentations related to the body of the deceased from the family, Malaysia agreed to facilitate the transfer of the body to the family of the deceased in DPRK.

5. Both countries agreed to lift the travel ban imposed on citizens of the other country and guarantee their safety and security within their respective territory. This would allow the nine Malaysians presently in Pyongyang to return to Malaysia and the DPRK citizens in Kuala Lumpur to depart Malaysia.

6. The importance of bilateral relations was reaffirmed. In this connection, both countries agreed to positively discuss the re-introduction of the visa-free system and work towards bringing the relations to a higher level.


Friday, March 24, 2017

A landmark court decision that the WSJ, Sarawak Report and the like wouldn't want to know

I would like to share a message on my whatsapp this morning with my Dear Readers ...

"While a purported "intention to charge" based on sources make headlines, this landmark COURT decision seems to be ignored by WSJ and the likes. Anyway since when is "intention to charge" become a major revealing story?  In any case, isn't it oxymoron? If there is an ongoing investigation, there must be "intention" to charge ... DUH!"

Note: The sender is referring to an earlier report The US is preparing to charge financier Jho Lo on Malaysian 1MDB scandal published by WSJ on March 21

The landmark court decision the WSJ is allegedly ignoring:

(Bloomberg) -- Family members of Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho were allowed to challenge U.S. attempts to confiscate hundreds of millions in real estate and other investments allegedly acquired with money siphoned from a state investment fund. 
A federal judge in Los Angeles this week granted requests by the holding companies that control the assets on behalf of Low to file late claims in eight forfeiture lawsuits. The holding companies asked for permission to file claims after courts in New Zealand and the Cayman Islands allowed them to swap out the Swiss trustees that had refused to fight the U.S. allegations. 
The Low assets at issue include a stake in New York’s Park Lane Hotel, a $107 million interest in EMI Music Publishing, a $35 million Bombardier Jet and a $30 million penthouse at Time Warner Center in New York. The U.S. has asked for default judgments against some of the assets because no valid claims had been filed in time. 
The Justice Department filed more than a dozen cases last year to recover over $1 billion in real estate and other assets the government claims were bought by Low, known as Jho Low, and his accomplices with money stolen from 1Malaysia Development Bhd. The family members, including Low’s brother and father, had previously been denied permission to bring claims because as beneficiaries of the trusts, rather than trustees, they have no legal standing to fight the U.S. allegations. 
U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer rejected what she called the U.S.’s “rough justice" argument that the Low family couldn’t have it “both ways" by shielding their assets in convoluted ownership structures and at the same time being allowed to pursue claims by replacing the trustees who had failed to do their bidding.
‘Inevitable Conclusion’
“While the government’s ‘live by the complex ownership structure, die by the complex ownership structure’ argument has a certain appeal, consideration of the relevant tests leads to the inevitable conclusion that the defaults should be lifted and the claimants should be allowed to file late claims," Fischer said in a ruling Tuesday. 
Low, who is known for partying with Hollywood celebrities Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton, is also friends with Riza Aziz, a stepson of Malaysia’s prime minister and a producer of “The Wolf of Wall Street,” which the U.S. alleges was funded with stolen money. 
Low has said he provided consulting to 1MDB that didn’t break any laws, while the fund and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak have both denied wrongdoing. 
The case is U.S.A. v. Any Rights to Profits, Royalties and Distribution Proceeds Owned by or Owed to JW Nile (BVI) Ltd., 16-cv-05364, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Malaysian Inciter

Kay Tat and Jahabar after a night in prison in 2015

Bangsar, 23 March: Was thrilled to bump  yesterday into Jahabar Saddiq, who has become a pain in some people's necks with his plan to bring back The Malaysian Insider's glory days in the form of a brand new portal called The Malaysian Insight (copyright of TMI belongs to Tong Kooi Ong's The Edge now, hence the change from Insider to Insight). 

We (ex colleagues at NST) poked fun at his "quarrel" with Ho Kay Tat (also an NST alumni), who is Tong's trusted editorial supremo at The Edge. Jahabar downplayed it, insisted he and Kay Tat were not at loggerheads, so we let it be.

I didn't ask him about the Insight's funders, either (always a sensitive issue in this country and something Kay Tat has challenged Jahabar to come clean with in a letter to editor The Edge man sent to the Straits Times after Jahabar was quoted by the Singapore daily blaming Kay Tat's The Edge for Insider's demise; pls read Reveal source of funding, soon-to-be-launched news portal told - The Star, 21 March 2017).

I know - or I think I know - at least one of the parties backing Jahabar's new, exciting venture but the thing I needed to know was not who but when ...

"Bila Insight mau start?"

Unless Jahabar was setting me up for an early April Fool's joke, the Insight should be up and running from April 1. That would be exactly two years after he'd spent a night in jail for an article in the TMI [The Malaysian Insider CEO: I'd like to go back to being a journalist - The Star, 1 April 2015]

All the best to the new TMI. And good luck, Jahabar, here's a chance to go back to being a journalist!

Journalists in Malaysia, meanwhile, are up in arms against the Dewan Rakyat Speaker, pressing him to reconsider the restriction imposed on those covering the parliamentary proceedings. Please read Journalists protest parliamentary restriction - The Mole, 22 March 2013.

I was thrilled to read former Information Minister and ex-Utusan Malaysia editor-in-chief Zainuddin Maidin's comments on the subject. Dignified and thoughtful. I think that's because Zam was speaking (and thinking) as a journalist ...

If they had asked me, I'd call on the journalists to boycott the Parliamentary proceedings until the Speaker lifts the restriction. Takde pasal cari pasal! 

I was not thrilled to read this:

Read the story h e r e

But you know what would be really thrilling? If NSTP and Jahabar's new portal were to join forces and take on the rest (and at the same time help restore Jahabar's faith in the big media companies ...)

"The Edge experience has soured me on working with big media companies that say they share same values but close you down for commercial reasons on the first sight of trouble," Mr Jahabar said. - Comeback bid by Malaysian news site that was shut down - Straits Times, 16 March 2013

Thursday, March 16, 2017

With regards to that apology to HRH Sultan Selangor that the HRH Sultan Selangor did not demand ...

TTDI, 16/3: Last Thursday, the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (MAIS) sent out a Media Statement that accused two bloggers, including yours truly, of writing something that we didn't write. In that statement, reported by all major newspapers and aired on RTM and Youtube, MAIS demanded that the bloggers apologize to the Selangor Sultan in writing, within 24 hours, or it would sue. The Istana, for the record, made no such demands of me. 

I have kept quiet and did not blog about MAIS' wrath because I was half hoping that the Council was bluffing, that they were just dropping the Sultan's name in the hope that it was the best way to  silence me.

But yesterday someone sent me this press release by Bank Muamalat with regards to MAIS and the apology to the Sultan, so I thought that was interesting. Especially the part where it says:

Bank Muamalat has not initiated any legal action against MAIS and/or KUIS in respect of the Payment Guarantee provided by MAIS and KUIS. We will act in the best interest of the Bank to recover the amounts due. Bank Muamalat’s rights against MAIS and KUIS are reserved.

The full press statement

My posting While the Agong makes headlines ...

Read also:
Dua penulis blog dituntut mohon maaf hina Sultan Selangor - Panglima Perang Siber
Mais denies claims Sultan Selangor involved in Redha suit - Malaysiakini
Mais: Sultan not involved in lawsuit - The Star

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Countering fake news

KL, March 14: About time the authorities take the bull(shitters) on social media by its horns. There will be plenty of half-truths and outright lies on blogs, Facebook, Twitter etc for MCMC's to verify, for sure. It won't be a walk in the park. A lot of ordinary Malaysians have made it their business to try and counter fake news, so the launch of the new portal is something they'd welcome with open arms. 

The Bernama news:
CYBERJAYA, March 14 (Bernama) -- The SEBENARNYA.MY portal was launched Tuesday for the public to check on the authenticity of news spread through the social websites.
Launched by Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Said Keruak, the portal developed by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), is among efforts taken by the government to curb the spread of false news and ensure the public receive truthful news.
In his speech at the launch, Salleh said related information would be gathered, analysed, validated and uploaded to the portal for reference by the public regardless of their political background.
He said till now, the MCMC had identified close to 1,000 false news of public interest being spread in the country.
"False news not only confuse but could also threaten security, prosperity and wellbeing of the people and country.
"This does not only happen in Malaysia but also in the United States, Indonesia and the European countries," he said.
According to Salleh, generally netizens in Malaysia allocated about three hours daily for surfing the Internet and the study conducted also found that among the activities was obtaining news and information.
Stressing that the SEBENARNYA.MY portal bore the main message of "Not Sure, Don't Share", Salleh said: "Do not read and accept any news completely without verification."
He said through this portal, the government wanted to educate the public not to totally accept news or information without verifying it first.
"We don't want the public to share news with the excuse that it was received from another group and seeking explanation," he said.
Salleh also stressed that curbing the spread of false news should be a joint effort of the government and people.
The government, he said, had carried out various programmes and campaigns such as "Klik dengan Bijak" (Click Wisely) and "Semak sebelum Sebar" (Check before Disseminating) to efficiently curb the spread of false news.
"However, the ministry and MCMC also view that the awareness programme needs to be accompanied by initiatives to enable the public to check and report on unverified news that they receive," he said.
Salleh also explained that the portal was not geared towards the coming 14th general election or to curtail the freedom of expression of any quarters.
"The SEBENAR.MY portal is not just meant for political news, but all types of information received from the social media, blogs and other sources can be checked, verified and shared.
"This portal is created not because of the general election and is not owned by the government alone. This portal is for the people. The opposition too can use this portal to obtain valid news," he said.
Salleh said the ministry would be promoting the portal nationwide so that the public could access this technology.

Read also: 
Blogs, "moled" and verified - Rocky's Bru 15/9/2011

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

"@#* yours, too!", Umno MP tells Rafizi

BSC, Wed: Cracked me up reading FMT's piece on how seasoned Umno politician YB Shahidan Kasim schooled PKR strategic-something YB Rafizi Ramli in Parliament yesterday. Not Shahidan nor Rafizi is my favourite politician but they consistently make great headlines. Life would be so boring otherwise, really ...

KUALA LUMPUR: Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Shahidan Kassim challenged opposition MPs to cut their salaries, too, if they wanted him to cut his to maintain the size of the civil service.
“Cut my salary, no problem.
“Let’s also cut all opposition MPs’ salaries.
“Speaker, I propose a motion to cut all MPs’ salaries by 50%.
“Do you (the opposition MPs) agree to this?” he said during an altercation with the opposition in the Dewan Rakyat today.
Shahidan was defending the civil service against opposition claims that it was bloated.
Rafizi Ramli (PKR-Pandan) had proposed that Shahidan slash his own salary if he really wanted to maintain the current number of civil servants.
Anthony Loke (DAP-Seremban) told Shahidan his party was not looking to halve the civil service. They were just concerned about its size at the moment, he said.
Wong Chen (PKR-Kelana Jaya) supported this and reminded the Umno minister that the same claim was made by Second Finance Minister Johari Abdul Ghani.
The argument erupted in the middle of Wan Azizah Wan Ismail’s (PKR-Permatang Pauh) debate, but she regained control of the floor after several minutes.
She said it was undeniable that the civil service was bloated although it had provided good service.
But Shahidan, who was still upset over the exchange, continued speaking even after the Dewan Rakyat session for today came to an end.
He took a last shot at the opposition before they left the Dewan, saying: “The opposition is scared of the civil service.”
Johari had said in January that the civil service had one civil servant for every 19.37 people in the country.
A Borneo Post report said the proportion of civil servants to the national population in other countries such as Singapore is 1 to 71.4; Indonesia 1:110; Korea 1:50, China 1:108, Japan 1:28, Russia 1:84 and the United Kingdom 1:118.
“In 2003, the pay of public servants totalled RM22 billion, but it increased to RM74 billion by 2016.
“In 2003, the pension of civil servants was RM5.9 billion, and in 2016 the amount soared to RM19 billion,” Johari was quoted as saying.

Time to speak with one voice

Puchong, 8/3: Some politicians, being politicians, have just started to open their big mouths to give their two sens' worth on the diplomatic row with North Korea. One even questioned why we needed to establish diplomatic ties with the "uncivilised" country in the first place. Pyongyang opened its embassy in KL at the turn of this century and this fella is asking the question only now? Which is why I think PM Najib Razak should enforce a DAP-styled gag order on politicians, including  unrelated Ministers, from spewing crap and other toxic materials that serve no purpose whatsoever in resolving the issue at hand. 
Other than Najib and his deputy, there should be only one other senior Minister authorised to issue any official statement on North Korea. The rest of us should stand solidly behind them. 
Once we have secured the safety of the Malaysians who have been barred from leaving North Korea, these politicians can say anything they like if that would help make themselves feel more relevant.  
Our thoughts and prayers for the 11 Malaysians being held hostage in Pyongyang. 
#unite4malaysia #malaysiafirst #negaraku  Korea halang rakyat Malaysia keluar - Utusan Online

Read also: 
Latest entry,

Border, airport security tightened - The Mole
North Korea and Msia in tit-for-tat travel bans - The Guardian
Najib slams Pyongyang for holding Malaysians hostage - Straits Times Singapore

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

While the Agong makes headlines ...

Puchong, Selangor, 7 March: MALAYSIANS seem to be warming up nicely to their new King, Sultan Muhammad V previously known as Tengku Muhammad Faris Petra. Not only is he young (born 1969), the 15th Yang diPertuan Agong is dashing enough even if he decides not to shed those little extra kilos, is unbelievably single, and has "character". Well, if you can become viral just because you were uncapping a bottle of mineral water by yourself, you ooze "character". What's clear is Sultan Muhammad V defies the stereotyped idea of what a Malaysian Royalty is (or should be) and that's why a lot of Malaysians are starting to adore him.

Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah, the Sultan of Selangor, remains one of my favourite, nonetheless. Because he is people friendly, dignified yet unorthodox and, above all, outspoken for the right reasons. The Selangor king has been known to speak out against politicians, especially those from the ruling state government (now and previously), without being seen as meddling. That, to me, is a righteousness that has helped preserve the sanctity and integrity of the Istana.

I am, therefore, loath to know that the HRH's name may have been used without his consent in a court case that's now awaiting judgement between Majlis Agama Islam Selangor and a consortium of financiers led by Bank Muamalat. 

Please read Selangor Royal Default?, yesterday's posting by A Voice

Exceprts, verbatim:

In 2006, Majlis Agama Islam Selangor (MAIS) awarded a privatisation contract to built, operate and transfer (BOT) 3 blocks of hostels to Redha Resources (Redha). The hostels are to be rented out to students of Kolej Ugama Islam Selangor (KUIS), a higher learning institution established under MAIS. The BOT contract is for 33 years. 

Redha raise financing and they did raised RM125 million from a consortium of Banks with Bank Muaamalat as facilitating agent.
The hostels were constructed, and Redha managed and operated the hostels. KUIS passed the rental collected from students. 
In turn, MAIS gave a payment guarantee to the Banks. They agreed to top-up any shortfall in the event the rooms are not taken up. However, they do not need as it is 100% full. Good investment for MAIS.
This problem had Certificate of Fitness (CF) as point of dispute or excuse of non payment.
To justify not paying, MAIS officials threw the Sultan's name as though there were a royal decree not to pay. A royal decree would have justified cause but thus far, this one had none and is in contravention with fair practises of commerce.

Did someone drop the Sultan's name? I don't know. The blogger A Voice clearly did not know, either, which is why he wrote: 
"One have heard of name throwing of the Prime Minister's wife, but when checked, it turned out to be untrue. Can it be checked when the name thrown is a Sultan?"

The Mole did what it does. It checked with the relevant body and came up with MAIS denies blogger's allegations but gives no details.  

“I cannot pinpoint which part of the blog is untrue but all I can say is that the claims are not entirely true,” said a Mais corporate communications officer who didn’t want to be identified.
Not entirely true? I, for one, am willing to wait to find out how this pans out. For now, the part of the posting that is clearly true is: the banks that lent out money some RM125 million for the construction of a MAIS project are NOT being paid the money owed to it, long after the project has been completed. 

Whether or not somebody did drop the Sultan's name is hard to prove, unless it was actually said in court of in chamber. And in the bigger scheme of things, it is secondary. Because MAIS is a state religious institution and therefore comes under the direct purview of the Sultan, anyway.

p.s. Incidentally, the bank (not Muamalat) called me up yesterday and kindly informed me that I had yet to pay the car's instalment for February. It was a technical glitch, really, but I felt so guilty the whole day. I have been taught that if I owe money (or anything at all), I ought to pay it back as promised. It is a sin, otherwise.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Don't mess with Malaysia

Last, 11.30pm:
The North Koreans left their best for last: 

Latest: According to reliable sources, the expelled Kang Choi is booked on a 6:25 flight out of KLIA. Technically, he would have to board his flight at 5.55pm, which is 5 minutes before the deadline given to him to leave Malaysia.

6/3 FAM: Cabinet will not allow national football team to play North Korea in Pyongyang on Mar 28 for Asian Cup 2019 qualifying match/STAR

Original article 
Bangsar, 6 March: Malaysia's expulsion of North Korean envoy to the country, Mr Kang Choi (pic), is mega, mega news in the West. The Europeans and the Americans didn't expect KL to be so bold. I didn't either, to be honest. Re-reading Foreign Minister Anifah Aman's press statement still sends a chill down my spine. A sovereign nation resorts to such a measure only under extreme conditions. Pyongyang gave PM Najib Razak, his DPM and Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Anifah very little choice but to say, in no uncertain terms, not to mess with us. 
Under Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia expelled the former Yugoslavia ambassador to KL following the genocide against Bosnia-Herzegovina during the early Nineties.  That marked the start of what was to be one of Malaysia's most important international campaigns. Both Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Najib Razak, who would succeed Mahathir,  played key roles in the campaign as Foreign and Defence ministers, respectively.  
I was the New Straits Times correspondent in London when Malaysia was making its  mark on the Balkan war in the 1990s. It felt good to be Malaysian. 
Wisma Putra's decision over the weekend to review ties with Pyongyang is so bold that it brings back "that loving feeling". Some Malaysians bitch and whine about the bad press they said the killing of the North Korean brought Malaysia (trajidi as one seasoned journalist would call it). My view is that it has redefined us as a sovereign nation.
I'm not the only one looking at these three brave leaders in a different light ...

Don't mess with Malaysia

Friday, February 24, 2017

Ampun Tuanku

KL, Friday 24 Feb: There was a time when Dr Mahathir Mohamad was so powerful even the most frightening monarchs in this country feared him and what he might be capable of (doing to them). 
Not anymore. 
The Johor Sultan's latest attack on "a politician from outside Johore ... who forgets easily .. and could be senile" (read Mahathir) is more scathing than the last. I don't blame Sultan Ibrahim for hating Mahathir for what he had done to the royals. Some would say that Mahathir got it coming. But I wonder if that is the most regal approach towards making things right. 
And I worry that, if encouraged, the attacks would get more blatant and might not always be just on Mahathir or "one or two ex-MBs of Johor". 

If our royals start attacking personalities who are not our political enemies or current national leaders and MBs in public, for the right or the wrong reasons, what then? Will we still clap our hands and say, "Ampun Tuanku"? 

Past MBs were arrogant, says Sultan - FMT
Siapa mereka yang dikatakan "dulu dia kata" dan MB angkuh? - A Voice
MB dulu angkuh, ikut telunjuk kerajaan pusat, Sultan kata - FMT

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

An Open Letter from a Gen M: Tun, be fair to yourself ...

KL, Feb 22: After Tokoh Wartawan Negara Zainudin Maidin's overbearing tweet, the piece Tun, be fair to yourself by former NST motoring journalist Hezeri Samsuri, 44, who is almost half Zam's age, is sobering. It makes you think. 
Hezeri, who describes himself as "a product of Dr Mahathir's era", disagrees with almost everything that Dr M writes about the national car in his latest posting Proton. But he does not resort to calling the Old Man names. He gave him due respect. He does not even blame Mahathir for the current state of Proton, even though he thought Mahathir "should have been more proactive in helping Proton during its heydays, like how t government of Korea did when Hyundai'Kia wanted to go ito the US market".  
Hezeri is very clear about one thing: :We can do it. With this new venture for Proton soon, in my fervent view, I honestly believe we can continue to ensure Proton is our pride ...:." 
"The last thing Proton needs now is the company being pulled into another political game."

Read also:
A reassurance to Dr M that Proton will continue to be Malaysia's pride - The Mole
Proton belanja berbilion ringgit beli Lotus, tapi apa Malaysia dapat? - The Malaysian Digest

Monday, February 20, 2017

Why I didn't blog about Zam's tweets on the JB cycling tragedy

KL Feb 20: I bumped into a senior editor from Utusan Malaysia this afternoon and asked him what he thought about his former editor-in-chief's tweet on the 3am accident in Johor Baru that killed eight young ones. 
"We don't understand him anymore, Rocky. He's gone bonkers." 
The editor said he spoke for his colleagues in Utusan Malaysia. 
"It is disgraceful, really," he added.
Zam, who turned politician from journalist towards the end of Dr Mahathir Mohamad's rule, wrote under pressure in later tweets that he hadn't lost his marbles, that he was merely stating the facts, ands that government cybertroopres were desperate. He wasn't even blaming Najib Razak for the tragedy, he insisted. 
But that's not how everybody else read/interpreted Zam's tweets. And the senior editor I bumped into today wasn't the only Utusan Malaysia journalist who was offended by Zam's words and conduct.

A case in hand ...

Then a reporter from the news portal Malaysian Digest called me up for my comments. Damn. I was hoping I didn't have to comment on what Zam had written on his Twitter but  a fellow journalist is a asking me what I thought of Zam's tweets?
Well, to put it simply, and speaking as journalist, I was ashamed. 
This is the recipient of the 2006 Tokoh Wartawan Negara (Eminent Journalist) award that we are talking about, I told the Digest.

p.s.  In 2006, I remember forcing myself to refrain from writing on my blog about the manner the award had been given to Zam back then. Maybe I shouldn't have  ..