Friday, February 23, 2018

The truth about the Corruption Perception Index

"There is no truth. There is only perception." - Gustave Flaubert

The MACC chief (right) with Tunku Abdul Aziz, who helped found TI-M in 1998

Dzulkifli Ahmad, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief, said he was rather shocked by the latest Corruption Perception Index issued yesterday by the Transparency International-Malaysia. The report, in a nutshell, perceives corruption in Malaysia as worse in 2017 (the year in review) than in 2016. Read here.

According to Dzul: 
“If we based it on the reality of what happened in the country and the actions taken by the MACC, then it (our rank) should be better than 2016.” 
But that's the thing that Dzul needs to get used to. The Transparency International-Malaysia's CPI deals with perception. Not reality. And not truth, either. Dr Mahathir Mohamad, when he was Prime Minister,  labeled the TM's index as another example of Western cultural imperialism. He labeled a lot of things as such. It did not mean that Mahathir tolerated or encouraged corruption.

Abu Kassim worked hard to correct perception
Dzul's predecessor Abu Kassim Mohamed, who now sits on the board of IACA, understood where the TI-M and its CPI were coming from. At a meeting with feared and influential Malaysian bloggers shortly after his appointment as at the MACC boss in 2010, Abu Kassim started the meeting by demanding to know who among the bloggers present, if any, had lately received or paid bribes. 

Abu Kassim's charisma was such that one blogger, probably thinking that the MACC chief knew, confessed to having bribed workers from a utility company recently to overlook procedures to get a job done for him. 

Thankfully, only one. 

Abu Kassim quickly made his point. Almost everyone in the room had been critical of the MACC and the fight against corruption. Newspapers, too, reported rampant and blatant corruption. And TI  and Opposition politicians kept talking about poor or worsening perception on corruption in Malaysia. But the reality is, I remember Abu Kassim saying, corruption is not a way of life in Malaysia. "What we have is not a problem with corruption but a problem of perception."

By choice, Abu Kassim spent a lot of his time as MACC chief attending international conferences on corruption because he believed that it was part the key to correcting the negative perception about the country's fight against corruption. I suppose if you look at the CPI during his tenure, you will find that Abu Kassim was quite right.

Therefore, Dzul's "reality of what happened in the country and the actions taken by the MACC" are not enough. In fact, the more actions the MACC takes, the worse the perception might become. As Paul Low, the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department in charge of integrity and governance, says: 
“The high degree of publicity and exposure given by MACC to these cases especially in the last year may have created a more negative perception which could have contributed to the drop in Malaysia’s CPI score and ranking.” - Malaysia's drop in global graft index shocks MACC chief

The irony did not escape Another Brick in the Wall, one of the feared and influential blogger who attended our 2010 closed-door meeting with Abu Kassim (but not the one who confessed to his indiscretion), observes:
"By mentioning NFC in which Rafizi Ramli's recent appeal for prison sentencing was rejected, it proves that TI's perception based corruption index is seriously faulty. The message from TI-Malaysia finding is that perception on corruption worsen when MACC uncover and investigate high profile corruption cases. 
"Datok Paul Low proves the point. TI-Malaysia index implies that the countries better perceived in term of corruption are those that cover-up big corruption cases and anti-graft agency should do nothing." - TMI's latest CPI telling MACC not to investigate corruption

Mejar Huan: Blames Guan Eng for Msia's latest CPI

Political activist Huan Cheng Guan aka Mejar Huan blames the rise in CPI to the alleged corrupt practices of the states under the Opposition, particularly his own home state of Penang, which has been under the rule of Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng for 10 years. 

Excerpts from his latest FB posting: 

Read Mejar Huan Penang's FULL posting

Again, that is largely the writer's perception of things. Except, of course, Mejar Huan's last line about Guan Eng refusing to resign. That's reality. That's the truth. 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

So Guan Eng and the DAP don't need the Malay votes

Guan Eng's tunnel vision: If t h i s is true,
Dr M and Junior can't represent Malay voters lah

Orignial article:
21 Feb
Guan Eng's tunnel vision about multiracial politics 

In MCA leaders avoiding Chinese-majority seats, Lim Guan Eng mocks his political foes from the Malaysian Chinese Association, Umno's major partner in the ruling BN coalition, for needing Malay votes to win the elections. The way I see it and the way most people will see it, the beleaguered Penang Chief Minister mocks himself. He insults the  Malay voters. 
If a Chinese leader contests and wins in a non-Chinese-majority area or an Indian leader in a non-Indian-community constituent, isn't that testimony and validation of multi racial politics? 
Doesn't it show that voters are able to decide NOT on racial background? 

Guan Eng is a complete moron to say that MCA can't represent Chinese voters if it's banking on Malay support. What's wrong with Malay voters, mo? The DAP does not need Malay support, is it? 
But wasn't that what you and your party claimed to have been fighting for? Preaching us for decades about Malaysian Malaysia and all that bs? And now you are whining and bitching ... just because the MCA seems to have achieved it! 
I am a Malay voter so Guan Eng does not need my support or my vote but I would still like to tell him: maybe you can't undo your mistakes with regards to your underground tunnel but you can still go and fix that tunnel vision of yours. 

Read also:
Lim can be investigated over tunnel issue - NST, Feb 17
Tunnel project: Penang govt spawng half truths - FMT Feb 13
Guan Eng hot under the collar over press' knowledge - The Star Feb 14

Monday, February 12, 2018

Could Nur Aina Nabihah have been saved?

"Police had questioned the father in June last year after the victim's biological mother lodged a report after finding swellings on her body.
"Police referred the case to the deputy public prosecutor but no further action was taken." - Man charged with murdering nine-year old daughter, The Star, 12 Feb

Those two paragraphs appeared at the end - yes, at the very end - of the news article. Based on Journalism 101's inverted pyramid, editors usually leave the most insignificant part of a news article last. If the sub editor needs the length of the story reduced to give way to another item (such as an important late news or a last-minute ad), she would just need to chop the story from the bottom. Am glad the editor didn't have to do that in the case of this story. For in those last two paragraphs lies the most tragic part of the story of the senseless murder of little Nur Aina Nabihah.

"Police had questioned the father in June last year after the victim's biological mother lodged a report after finding swellings on her body. 
"Police referred the case to the deputy public prosecutor but no further action was taken." 

What happened? What did the police establish after questioning the father? What was actually referred to the DPP by the police? Why was no further action taken? Will we ever learn from these deaths?

Friday, February 09, 2018

Why GE14 won't be called before May

“The three months probe will start today ... Only after the review is completed will Felda be able to take disciplinary actions." - Shahrir Samad 

Thanks to Shahrir Samad, the Felda chairman, many will now assume  that the general election won't happen until May. 
During a press conference (that started 10.45pm) last night, Shahrir announced the Felda board's decision to establish a special committee on legal review tasked to recommend legal/disciplinary action against Felda officers/directors implicated in a forensic audit investigation into Felda's "lost" Jalan Semarak land issue. Findings by the audit firm have been submitted to the PM but these findings were not shared with the Press last night. Shahrir declined to even reveal the name of the audit firm. 
That aside, the latest committee will require three months to complete its review, Shahrir said.  It's February so three months will take us to May. The Holy Ramadan starts middle May and Hari Raya is mid-June. The Constitution dictates that GE14 must be held by August this year.
PM Najib is not likely to call for a GE if the Felda Jalan Semarak land issue is not fully resolved. Too much at stake there. 

Read Everything you need to know about Malaysia's upcoming election 

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Tabung Haji's hibah: Why it's a gift of love

Generally, Tabung Haji depositors are appreciative of the 2017 hibah announced by Tabung Haji yesterday. But as usual, it is the smallest who makes the biggest noise. If they can hush for just a minute to really analyse the numbers and put things in perspective, instead of listening to just their own voices, these people may actually see that Tabung Haji depositors - the non-Haji depositors as well as those saving up to go to the Haj - have all done quite well for themselves.

Short of conducting a survey, I asked my contacts in the financial sector and also those who are queuing up to perform their Haj through Tabung Haji. what they thought about the latest hibah. All were quite impressed with Tabung Haji's performance, given that 2017 wasn't exactly the best of years for anybody.

One ex-CEO of a giant of a financial institution wrote back: 
"I think it is a reasonable return of 4.5 per cent for non-Haji depositors compared to 3.5 per cent bank deposits. Remember, (these) people can withdraw their money as and when they require. 
"For those saving to go to the Haj, they get 6.25 per cent, which is good given the low returns on cash, money market and fixed income instruments. For example, the yield for 10-year MGS is below 4 per cent." 
On the social media, some depositors expressed disappointment with the returns they are getting from their savings in TH. They felt TH should have done better for their money. Fair enough. But one or two people are accusing TH of cheating its depositors.

This dude on FB may have the "key" to why such people may have been so unreasonably unhappy:

To date, 7 per cent (600,000) of TH depositors have been to the Haj and still maintain their accounts with TH. Out of the remaining 93 per cent of 8.7 million depositors, some 2.7 million have registered to go to the Haj.

Monday, February 05, 2018

War against Fake news: Why we need to win it together

Msia and Spore join nations around the globe
 in the war against FAKE news

Some Opposition politicians have accused the Government  of wanting to use a proposed new law against fake news to silence anti-government elements aka its political enemies. Well, some Opposition politicians are stupid. You don't need me to tell you that but I will tell you that anyway.  Because Communications Minister Saleh Said Keruak is not going to say that because he has to play nice and explain why Malaysia needs such a law:

“The fake news are not only a matter of concern for those from the ruling party but also those from the opposition parties and members of the public. We should determine together that the fake news problem can be resolved.” - Law against fake news not for political interest: Salleh 
Fake news according to the Daily Telegraph 

Fact is, fake news is not just a Malaysian problem. Just last month, the UK government said it was going to set up a new national security unit to tackle fake news. US president Donald Trump says even the great American mainstream media - not just the social media - have been faking it these days. Singapore has launched its war against fake news, h e r e.
Trumping fake news in America

Here in Malaysia, we really know how to fake it. Let's not blame it just on the ruling party's so-called cyber troopers; the Opposition's propaganda machinery has had more experience in this department. In any case, an anti-fake news law should serve neither the ruling party nor the Opposition; it should be meant to protect the Malaysian public against fakehood and half-truths. 

Friday, February 02, 2018

Ex-IGP's son to lodge police report against Mahathir for threats

The Mole columnist* Abdul Rahmat Omar is lodging a police report against the handler of the Facebook account Mahathir The Legend for defamation and threats to cause bodily harm. 

Social media owners in Malaysia rarely involve the police in their war of words but in recent months that "war" has become savage and downright ugly. In his posting attacking Capt Seademon, Rahmat's popular nickname on social media, Mahathir had accused the columnist of having been stripped of his ranks when he was in the military and implied that he had used the influence of his father, who was the Inspector General of Police, to avert a worse fate than just to be stripped of his rank.
Rahmat has challenged Mahathir to furnish proof of his allegations but the latter merely repeated the allegations.

I am not a big fan of police reports and lawsuits against any kind of scribes, but I am even less of a fan when it comes to lies, half-truths and baseless allegations thrown at a fellow scribe, especially by someone who hides behind anonymity. 
I hope Mahathir knows Facebook is not an excuse to defame others and neither is it a protection against lawsuits. But I'm quite sure legal aid is not an issue with him; it never is with the Opposition. Capt Rahmat will soon find out that he will be disadvantaged if he takes Mahathir to court ...

p.s. If Capt Seademon's article on Sendayan h e r e had driven Mahathir crazy, his latest piece on Rais Hussin will undoubtedly earn him the mighty wrath of the Policy and Strategy Bureau head for Tun Mahathir Mohamad's Pribumi party. BecauseAllah knows and the truth hurts ...

Read Ada Faham Rais? 

* Rahmat has been writing  his column in The Mole since last year

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Felda's negotiators and Lurah Bilut 2.0

You can make fun of Shahrir Samad and the "lost" Jalan Semarak land all you want but doubt the Felda chairman's resolve at your own peril. He has said (after getting back the lost land) he wanted a better deal out of a three-year old Development Agreement on the KL Vertical City and without much ado he's set up this Special Committee of negotiators to achieve that better deal. 

I only wish Shahrir had formed this Special Committee earlier, much earlier. We know for a fact that the developer had offered to "return" the "lost" land to him sometime last year, long before Berita Harian's Dec 21 sensational piece. That would have been a good time for Shahrir as the still relatively new Felda chairman  to set up such a committee to discuss, diplomatically, new terms with the developer. 

And I wish Shahrir had included a representative of the Felda Investment Corporation (FIC) in the Special Committee.  As it is, Shahrir's negotiators in the Special Committee are people from the Minister of Finance, Prime Minister's Office, and the Public Private Partnership (Ukas) and the Felda GM.

The FIC, not Felda, signed the Development Agreement with SPSB.

That aside, I wish Shahrir all the best for this Sunday's launch of Felda 2.0 by Prime Minister Najib Razak in Lurah Bilut. 

Read what Felda 2.0 is hoped to accomplish h e r e
and h e r e.

The Lurah Bilut pilot project aims not just to uplift the living standards of the 6,000 settler families "similar to that of cities" but attract new residents from outside urban areas. More importantly, 3rd generation Felda settlers would want to stay in the settlements and help develop them.