Monday, November 11, 2019

Good news for official media staff but more job cuts elsewhere likely

No job cuts ... yet

KL, 111119: No news is good news, as the old saying goes, but news of no job cuts is damn good. For we are bound to read about more layoffs and retrenchments in weeks and months to come not only for us journalists but for others, too, in government as well as the private sector. Things are so bad even the Human Resources Minsiter has finally snapped out of his denial syndrome as he admitted last week that there will. be more layoffs in the private sector this year. 
The media industry used to be quite immune to retrenchments or layoffs. Digital tech has seen to it that this is no longer the case. The closure of several news portals the last couple of years and two old dailies this year has resulted in thousands of what used to be secured employment. More will lose their jobs as revenues for media companies continue to fall. In this context, Gobind's assurance that there will be no job cuts in Bernama and RTM for now is good news, indeed. The Minister was careful not to make promises (note his liberal use of for now and not yet when making this point) but we shall take whatever good news we get, for now. 
What's important is to get the safety nets ready for those who have just lost or are about to lose their jobs. Media Prima, for example, is throwing in "career counselling" for the next batch of employees who will be laid off soon. But more needs to be done. YB Kula told Parliament last week there are some 640,000 jobs for grab, 150,000 of them created during the first nine months of this year alone. Now that's terribly, terribly good news, really.  
If only Kula can share the jobs-to-fill data with members of the public, trade unions and the Malaysian Employers Federation. Companies that are forced to lay off their workers can help those workers seek quick - even immediate - reemployment with Kula's help.

Read also

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Anwar may be next PM, but it won't be in 2020

So many people are so angry because of this Malay Mail headline. They said it is misleading. But that's what the Old man actually said: he will pass the baton to Anwar Ibrahim, as he had promised, except that it won't happen next year.
2021,  perhaps? 
But that's besides the point, really ..

What's more important is this latest statement by the PM provides a sense of stability - and security - to foreign investors. That's why Dr M made this statement in Bangkok, where he is assured of a captive international audience. Those angered by this statement are mostly Pakatan Harapan supporters who want Anwar Ibrahim to take over NOW in order to check what they see as the Old Man's growing intrigues. 
In other words, they don't trust Mahathir. Their own PH chief.
But like I said, foreign investors need this kind of assurances from us. And, honestly speaking, right now we need these investors more than ever. Malaysia is a basket case (don't you know?) because we have too many morons in the government who think they are running the country (and bigger morons who can't wait to run the country). Like it or not, the Tun is the only one keeping it together for Pakatan Harapan.

Monday, October 28, 2019

In Malaysia, there's a new storm coming ..

PMiw8: You want to fight, I will give you war.
H20: Bring it on, I'm ready
PMiw8: Good luck, deputy prime minister.

The above is a recent exchange at the lobby of our Parliament between Anwar Ibrahim, still the 8th Prime Minister in waiting, and Umno loyalist Hishamuddin Hussein. It's a brief verbal war "amid big smiles" that will precede the real thing, according to Joceline Tan in her latest column.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Ah, chedet ... he still blogs!

Anwar Ibrahim: Congress "smokescreen" for corruption, inequality 
"Patriotism can be a refuge for scoundrels. They reserve the issue of race because they fear the tough stance I havre against corruption and abuse of power. My interest is to proceed on that score ... I a Malay and committed Muslim and I want Muslims and Malays to succeed. But I am also a leader for all Malaysias." - Anwar (who did not  an invite to attend the Malay Dignity Congress)
After Dr M defends Malay congress, his own Cabinet minister says wasn't race that made it racist 
“The gathering is not the problem but the content. All races, even clans, have gatherings amongst themselves to discuss their problems and how to improve their position and that of the nation. But when it works to create racial hatred and strife, then it becomes racist." - Khalid Samad

Original posting 251019: 
"I attended the congress on Malay dignity because I am a Malay," Dr Mahathir Mohamad wrote in his latest posting The Malay Dignity Congress.  
The Prime Minister hadn't posted anything since early September, one of his longest hiatus from blogging. I read the posting twice, the second time more slowly, almost in tempo with John Mayer's Slow Dancing in a Burning Room playing over and over in this bistro.  
The Kongres Maruah Melayu was held on Oct 6. The controversies that have raged since the gathering have yet to die down and are threatening to rip apart the already-fragile Pakatan Harapan's coalition; hence, I suppose, the Tun's belated response. 
I attended the Congress, too. In fact, just last night my old friend KP, who was having a pre-Deepvali get-together at the National Press Club in Jalan Tangsi, commented on the headgear I had worn at the Congress (see my Instagram and FB). KP said I looked good win the tengkolok, that he didn't care for "all these race politics and rhetorics". For as long as he could remember, he said, we've lived in peace, the Malays and the Indians. "Just make sure the economy and our children don't suffer lah." 
I attended the congress on Malay dignity because one of the organisers said Dr M would be delivering his amanat terakhir (final address). I blogged about my impressions here and here. Quite clearly, I was quite disappointed with the so-called amanat, as were a lot of other Malays who were expecting the Old Man to address more urgent matters related to their (the Malay's) latest fears and insecurities. 
This latest posting by the "I will be labelled a racist for writing this" PM, I must say, is a lot more convincing than the so-called last amanat he delivered at the Congress.
Read it in full, because you are a Malay-sian. 

Thursday, October 24, 2019

The man who may be Malaysia's next Minister of Finance speaks up on "threshold bailout"

"Developers build too many high-end homes for the well-to-do"

KL, 241010: They sure don't make our national budgets like they used to. When the economy advisor to the Prime Minister starts taking jibes at his own Government's Budget 2020. you can only guess that not all the proposals in the Budget were thoroughly discussed with everybody that matters (if discussed at all!). And when a dirty word like "bail out" is used, you can't help wonder if someone who's part of the team that made the Budget was trying to smuggle some proposals which shouldn't be there. 
Dr Muhammed Abdul Khalid's quarrel with Lim Guan Eng's budget concerns the proposal by the Minister of Finance to lower the threshold for property prices for foreigners from RM1 million to a mere RM600k. Guan Eng's excuse: developers haven't been able to sell.  The idea became very contentious immediately, largely because developers have the bad reputation of making too much out of house buyers. So-called affordable homes have not been affordable for quite a while now due to greed, corruption and poor planning. The PM had, at first, defended the proposal but Housing Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin's disclosure that the "threshold" was Guan Eng's Ministry's idea and had nothing to do with her ministry led to suspicions. 
Because it was Zuraida, most people paid no heed.  But now the PM's Economic Advisor himself has spoken. And a lot of people tend to take the PM's Economic Advisor a lot more seriously. In fact, some people think Dr  Mo would make a better MOF than Guan Eng any day. I don't necessarily subscribe to that thought, of course. 

Read also:
List out those condos for foreigners, Jo Ghani says

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

From estate to Cabinet to this!

Minister did not consult workers' reps, says MTUC

Puchong, 231010: Trade union leaders are calling M. Kula Segaran names that I don't have the wish to repeat on this blog. Suffice to say that if what the Human Resources Minister really wants is to make enemies out of these hardened fighters for workers' rights, some of whom have worked the estates when Kula was still in school, he's got it coming alright.  
The war of words have already begun. In recent days, the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) leaders have openly slammed the first-time Cabinet minister for not consulting them on the amendments to the Industrial Relations Act (Kula arrogant, says MTUC) and, latest, for unilaterally deciding to tap into a national workers' contingency fund to build a colossal facility in - of all places - his own constituency! "Kula has been more than just a big disappointment. He's been very uncooperative ... he acts like a dictator," a veteran trade union leader told me.

I've never dealt with Kula  personally, so I can't say if he's arrogant or just green. He has bad advisors, we were told. But his decision recently to get the HRDF under his ministry to initiate frivolous lawsuits against journalists M. Krishnamoorthy and Veera Pandiyan suggests, to me and many of us in the fraternity, bloody poor judgement on the Minister's part.

Read also:
Court strikes out HRDF suit against journalist
Man sued by HRDF rejects allegations, shows letters on journalist status
In "new" Malaysia, another journalist is sued over a Berlin course

Monday, October 21, 2019

Blaming Mahathir for everything now, including possible trade sanctions

TTDI, 211019: Don't blame Malaysians if they choose to take their Prime Minister's latest remarks [re Mahathir warns of possible trade sanctions on Malaysia amid US-China trade war] with a pinch of salt*. Many have grown so skeptical of the Government. They feel they've been lied to too often these last few months and they are getting really tired of it.  
But sanctions are a serious business and if they are imposed on a country by the US (because China don't make it a practice to sanction others), all of us will be in great trouble. Rather than sanctions, I'd rather we be lied to by the Government because with a lying Government we will at least, over time, be the wiser. There's no getting wiser from sanctions! All countries that have been subject of American sanctions have suffered tremendously. Depending on the severity of sanctions, Malaysia could see a sudden drop in investor flow, capital flight, rising unemployment, runaway inflation, etc. Don't expect tourists to make us their destination (which means our VTAMY 2020 campaign would be screwed). Trade barriers would usually follow sanctions to further cripple the countries that are being sanctioned. South Africa when it was under Apartheid, Iran, Syria, North Korea, Iraq all suffered greatly as a result of some kind of sanctions or other [go h e r e for more examples].  
So if there's any truth in what Dr Mahathir is saying,  the Government must tell us what exactly is the reason for the sanction (because we are a kleptocracy, anti-Semitic, or for discriminating the Chinese and other minorities in the country?) and how it plans to save all of us. 
The people need to know their role. Do they defend the country and leadership or do they back the sanctions? If anyone thinks that's a dumb thing to ask of Malaysians, just look at the response of some of these Malaysians to their country's current predicament, where India is threatening a trade war against Malaysia to retaliate Putrajaya's support for Pakistan over the Kashmir issue. 
One Twitter user describes Tun M's mishandling of India as "anak kecil main api"
Not all Malaysians are backing their Prime Minister - or their own country  - on this issue against India.
On the contrary, there are Malaysians blaming Mahathir for New Delhi's boycott of our palm oil and they are going about it openly on their social media accounts. Sad, but that's the new truth about us.

Read also Dr M: Malaysia could benefit from China-US trade war 

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

From Kg Baru to the jungles: The (so-called) predicament of Malay urban land owners

Kg "Kudis" Baru against KL's skyline

bcc Thurs Oct 8: If I were asked that day (Oct 6) which part of Dr Mahathir Mohamad's address to the Kongress Maruah Melayu was worthy of an amanat, it would be his plea to the Malay landowners NOT to sell their land and properties, especially those in urban areas.  
When the Malays sell their assets in the cities and towns (to non-Malays, developers, the government?), these Malay landowners would then retreat to the suburbs and, with their newfound wealth, buy cheaper land and properties in those suburbs. Then these suburbs become developed and these Malays get offers to sell, and the cycle would repeat. Ultimately, the Prime Minister said, the Malays would end up in the jungles.

Yes, I tweeted that part of his address as I thought it was a damn good advice for the Malays, especially those in Kampung Baru who were under all kinds of pressure from Dr Mahathir's own Administration to sell to their land.  
Turns out I was mistaken ...

So now, if you ask me which part of Mahathir's address to the Kongres Maruah Melayu its worthy of an amanat ....

Monday, October 07, 2019

Amanat terakhir Mahathir

Sumpah Maruah Melayu

"This will be Tun's last address, bro Rocky. Please do come."

Even without such dramatics from the organisers, I would have been interested to attend the Kongres Maruah Melayu that took place yesterday in Shah Alam. The event promised me all sorts of news ingredients that a newsman would be loathe to ignore. Anwar Ibrahim, the PMiw8 (Malaysia's 8th Prime Minister-in-waiting), who is by our Constitutional definition as Malay as PMx2 Mahathir Mohamad, was not going to get an invitation. After some placating by the organisers, the Tun agreed to let them invite Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, the Umno president, and Hadi Awang, the PAS president. It would have been awkward if they were not there. And,  no, no xPM Najib Razak. It would have been doubly awkward for the Old Man.

And I wanted to get myself a tengkolok and I thought surely they will have lots for me choose from at an event like the Malay Dignity Congress.  During the Himpunan Ummah aka Muafakat Nasional organised by Umno and PAS last month, which I could not attend, I had asked friends to look for the ancient Malay headgear for me. I was told them that a bestseller at the PWTC, where the HU was being held was one called the Tanjak Dendam Mahathir Tak Sudah so I asked them to please get me that particular tengkolok. Unfortunately, it was sold out. Mahathir sells, whether or not he is there.

Tanjak and tengkolok at the fair

I'm glad I went to the Kongres Maruah Melayu. I was in good company (even though I was sitting all by myself in one of the "cheaper" seats at the back of the hall) - Siti Nurhaliza and Datuk K, Ustaz Hadi, Rani Kulop, Annuar Musa, KJ, Hishammuddin Hussein, Zainal Kling, Syed Saddiq, Mukhriz Mahathir, Azmin Ali and scores of Malay scholars. 

Siti Nurhaliza rendered the evocative Anak Kecil Main Api, a song about the Malays losing out everything in their own land, as Mahathir walked into the packed hall like a bridegroom.

Nenek moyang kaya raya
Tergadai seluruh harta benda
Akibat sengketa sesama kita ...
Bumi dipijak milik orang 

Zainal Kling got the Kongres the kind of controversy it deserved for with his "Malaysia belongs to the Malays" rhetoric. The resolutions tabled by the student reps and one PAS man (on Religion) were as hardline and hardcore Malay as they come. 

Among the resolutions:

1. Sekolah Wawasan in 6 years, abolish all Chinese and Tamil schools
2. Malay Minister of Finance, Malay AG, Malay Chief Minister, Malay DPM, Malay MB, etc
3. Jawi and Khat in the teaching of BM
4. Petronas and Bank Rakyat scholarships for Malays only

But the climax of the Kongres was also the anti-climax. 

A lot of people went there yesterday to listen to Mahathir to talk about - and against - the growing threat against the Malays, their interests, and their special position. Such a threat has been more prevalent, the Kongres heard,  after the last General Election. Zainal Kling and some of those who tabled the resolutions had made direct references to elements within PH itself, especially the DAP.  The organisers had claimed to me earlier that the PM shared the same sentiment. 

Me, well, for a while I did entertain the idea of Dr Mahathir actually expressing  some form of remorse for bringing this unprecedented post GE14 lament on the Malays, years after he had had 22 years to be the PM and so many opportunities  at leaving a lasting legacy other than the Twin Towers and the tolled highways ...

Mahathir did not mention DAP in his Amanat. Not even once.

Flying cars soon but for now have hopper will travel ...

I can understand why some described Mahathir's Final Address as condescending towards the Malays (read Ucapan Mahathir hina Melayu. )  But then, again, what's new? Mahathir has called the Malays names so many times before. "It's his way of motivating the Malays," said one diehard supporter. But even by the Old Man's recent "motivational" standards, I found it distressing when he insisted that our children should be willing to take up the jobs now filled by imported labourers from Bangladesh and the Philippines. Mahathir derided them for being ashamed of those low-paying jobs. "They are ashamed of jobs that pay RM1100 a month. But they are not ashamed of lining up to accept the RM500 saguhati (handout)!" he said in obvious reference to the aid given by the Government (BR1M when the previous government introduced it and renamed BsH after PH took over).

"You tell him to get his children's children to do those jobs lah," an ex-journalist who is about to lose his job shouted at me on the phone earlier today when I told him what Dr M said.

I sent a WhatsApp message to the organiser. "It's far from vintage Mahathir lah, bro." Well, I suppose all that rubbing with the ultras in his new coalition has affected the Old Man's wit, after all.  But the organisers remain stubbornly optimistic. "We will push the Resolutions of the Kongress to be adopted by the Prime Minister. We will." I guess all that Hidup Melayu cries at the Stadium Malawati yesterday have emboldened some Melayu.

But I've held my breath a little too long ....

p.s. Personally, though, I was not entirely disappointed. I got myself a tengkolok at the fair. It's called, aptly, Tanjak Melayu Menyesal Tak Sudah. 

Monday, September 23, 2019

Kongress Maruah Melayu

Hazy Puchong, Monday: By the looks of things, there will be many more pro-Malay forums and gatherings from now. The Umno-PAS' Himpunan Perpaduan Ummah  was just an appetiser. It has also triggered all kinds of buttons here, there and everywhere in our political industry. Panic button included or not, I don't know and you don't need to worry about that. Just know that Malay and quasi-Malay political leaders who matter, in government or outside, recognises change in sentiments among the majority Malay population of this country. And, therefore, the need to hedge so one does not end up losing. 
The Kongres Maruah Melayu to be held on Oct 6 in Kuala Lumpur will be only the first post-HPU gathering of Malays. This one will be led by several institutions of higher learning, notably UiTM, whose Bumiputera-only policy has come under serious threat after the Pakatan Harapan government took over in May 2018. But it's not an academic exercise, per se. The chairman of the Kongress Maruah Melayu is former Umno man and Najib Razak's Cabinet minister Hamzah Zainudin, one of the first to have switched camps to Mahathir Mohamad's Pribumi Bersatu after BN's defeat in the last general election. 
The Kongress is expected to identify the threats facing the Malays today and propose ways to strengthen the position of the Malays in the various socio-economic sectors. Of course, Hamzah and friends are also concerned with the relationship between the Malays and other races. To promote unity, they think that it is time the Government introduce the OSS - the One School System - and abandon the vernacular schools. This is not going to go down well with some quarters at all but as one of the brains behind the Kongress told me:  "If Singapore could do it, why not us?" 
Well, we know why we haven't been able to walk the talk but, I say, no harm trying. 
I was told Dr Mahathir Mohamad will deliver his amanat at the end of the Kongress, which has encouraged the conclusion that this is an event quietly sponsored by the Prime Minister's own party, Pribumi Bersatu . Wallahualam.

p.s. I am all for any effort to unify the Malays to unite Malaysians, if you know what I mean.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Haze, corruption, and conflicts of interest

Sept 19, Hazy Lunchtime: Great. So, the Cabinet is finally thinking of enacting laws to punish Malaysian firms responsible for forest fires in Indonesia responsible for the awful haze that has made life miserable for Malaysians and put the country on the map for yet another wrong reason (Malaysia di tempat pertama pencemaran udara tertinggi di dunia). 

Still top of the world. Source:

But while those new laws are being drawn up, surely there are provisions which the Government can use against those firms. Our own Primary Industries Minister did make a reference to such a provisions ie cessation of the offending companies' certification status just the other day when defending the 4 Malaysian companies allegedly responsible for the fires in Indonesia:

“Those familiar with the industry will vouch for the fact that an act of open burning such as the current accusations would result in the cessation of their certification status not only in Indonesia but throughout their operations including in Malaysia." - Theresa Kok raises concern on Indonesia's action against 4 Msian firms

Didn't YB Kok brief the Cabinet on this available course of action? If she didn't, why? Was she protecting the Malaysian companies? Or is it because one of these firms was linked to a fellow Cabinet Minister and party member? She needs explain these things to us.

The haze is not new but we need new means and an iron will to tackle it. Conflicts of interest won't do. And, please, the blame game is old - too old lah - and usually bites back, as I'm sure Yeo Bee Yee, our Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister, has discovered after her initial bravado and finger-pointing exchanges with her Indonesian counterpart Siti Nurbaya. 

Enacting tough laws, as the Cabinet has decided, is great but Singapore did it in 2014 and how has that worked for them so far? 

Another point to ponder:

Read also

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Taking the cue from Umno-PAS' unity charter ...

Kalau Melayu tak mampu bersatu
Manakan Malaysia boleh?

It's common sense. How do you forge a united Malaysia if half the population - the 16 million or so Malays - are divided? And divided the Malays are. The Umno-PAS Himpunan Ummah on 13-14 Sept may be seen as a political coup led by the Malay parties in the majority-Malay Opposition - and, make no mistake, it is, too! - BUT for the Malays in general, particularly those who are neither PAS nor Umno members (or members of any political party, for that matter), the gathering is a reassuring development, something they've been waiting for, one that gives them a flicker of real hope. Especially in today's environment, where more and more of these Malays are coming out to say they are feeling more and more disenchanted (and, at times, sympathetic) with the Malay leaders of the current government. 

And before anyone accuses Umno and PAS of "playing the race and religion card" again, let him or her be informed that the Himpunan Ummah had the support of the other races, although in the form of members of political parties aligned with the Barisan Nasional. 

It wasn't an all-Melayu or Malays-only event.

A Chinese at the Malay unity gathering ...

... And more Chinese and Indian and others, too

Among the Malays, there have been reservations, and there still are some suspicions. That's to be expected. PAS and Umno, after all, had been bitter enemies for decades, since the Eighties, when Mahathir became the Prime Minister for the first time. Some Malays I know were worried that Umno might become "more Islamic than PAS" as a result of the PHU. 

But as Nicole Wong, the MCA Youth chief, writes in her FB, "HPU transcends the races ... we believe we can achieve national unity based on common ground without having to compromise anyone's culture".

It wasn't a Melayu-only event
Taking the cue from PAS-Umno's #penyatuanummah aka #muafakatnasional, another group of Malays (outside Umno and PAS) is already planning a so-called Kongres Melayu to "further unite the Malays". Look out for it:  Oct 6 in Kuala Lumpur. 

I am looking forward to this so-called Malay Congress, and to anything that forges Malay - and Malaysian - unity. My hope is that the organisers will be inspired, as a lot of us have been, by the peaceful and disciplined conduct of the Himpunan Ummah organised by Umno and PAS. If there's one thing we can learn from the PHU, it is this: we don't need vehicles to burn in the streets to ignite our passions.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Mavcom is doing just "fine", thank you very much

 Some of the finest jobs in the aviation sector are at Mavcom, some may say ...

Puchong, Sept 11:  Set up to regulate economic and commercial matters relating to civil aviation, Mavcom is doing a fine job. Literally!

Read the full Malaysiakini story here, or subscribe

Of course, Mavcom doesn't just punish and penalise its golden geese. It also has to ensure airlines like Air Asia and AAX collect RM1 in regulatory service charge from every passenger that departs the country's airports (KLIA, KLIA2 and Senai, the only airport not under the MAHB). The RSC is meant solely for Mavcom to finance its day-to-day operations (read the FAQ about Mavcom to know what else it does other than fine and charge RSC). 
How the "fine" money is spent, I'm not sure. But here's the thing: for non-compliance, Mavcom can impose financial penalties "not more than 5 per cent of a corporate firm's annual turnover for the preceding financial year."' MAHB (RM4.85 billion revenues in 2018) can, therefore, count itself lucky for getting away with only RM1.18 million in fine this time. 
Air Asia and AAX were not as lucky. They were each slapped the maximum RM200k for their respective first-time violations. 
Perhaps Tony Fernandes should start praising the Mavcom people sky-high instead of saying it as it is ...

Read also:
Mavcom has failed Malaysia's aviation sector,  says Tony Fernandes
Loke distances himself from AirAsia-Mavcom spat
7 sebab Mavcom gagal majukan sektor penerbangan awam, kata Tony Fernandes

Friday, September 06, 2019

Be a sport, Mr Mayor of KL

TTDI, Friday: The Residents' Association of Taman Tun Dr Ismail has been a pain for DBKL in recent times. It has  taken the City Hall to court over a massive condo project because it was going to eat into their Kiara Rimba park, forced the authorities to scrap a proposed multimillion ringgit six-lane highway across the neighbourhood, prevented the MRT  from building a pedestrian bridge that would connect TTDI with a station outside the residential estate. The RA gave former FT Minister Ku Nan for defending the condo project and is giving current FT Minister Khalid Samad a hard time for defending Ku Nan's actions (DBKL comes directly under the FT Ministry). If the Mayor of Kuala Lumpur does not love the RA because of these antics and because it seems interested only in giving him a harrowing time, perfectly understandable. But don't take it out on the Zumba ladies lah, Datuk Bandar ... 
The Mole, which is based in TTDI, has the story:

Who are DBKL's "Top Management"?
Click H E R E

Read also:

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Now, with lower PSC, maybe everyone can fly again

"That is a fight for another day." - Tony Fernandes, Air Asia co-founder, on the airport departure levy that passengers using KLIA may have to pay.  (AirAsia celebrates Merdeka with lowered PSC)

KL, Sept 2: Some of us were happy to vilify Tony F over Air Asia's stubbornness in not wanting to collect from its outbound passengers the RM73 passenger service charge that it was supposed to. It was supposed to because Mavcom, the country's regulator, said so. The money collected is meant wholly for  Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad, the already-profitable airport operator. Air Asia argued that because it was a low-cost carrier and also because its passengers were using inferior facilities at KLIA2 (compared with the facilities at the main terminal KLIA), they shouldn't be made to pay the same amount passengers or other airlines at KLIA were paying. So Air Asia started collecting only RM50 from its passengers instead of RM73. The jaws of some of us, including bloggers, dropped to the floor, and we exclaimed: "Who the duck does he think he is?!" And so we lambasted him. Tony's new CEO Riad Asmat decided to join the fight for lower PSC for his pax and was quickly taken to court to shut him up (MAHB suit against Air Asia over defamatory statements to be heard this Friday/Sept 6). 


But then you can't shut up the Old Man, can you? Can't sue him, either, for stating the obvious:

".. Obviously, if they (airlines) are charging passengers low fare and the Government charges such passengers the same exit tax with those in high-end flights, it is not fair." - Dr M: Government may review departure levy, Aug 16

Now that it's done, quite obviously some of us owe Tony Fernandes an apology for unfairly judging him when he was championing that cause for fairness. Also, perhaps MAHB may want to drop the lawsuits against AA - what purpose will they serve now, really? And, after the PSC, maybe we will all be more circumspect and start making the right noise about other unreasonable, unfair tax regimes. We can start with that other tax against passengers, the airport departure levy. The one Tony said he may fight another day.

Read also, my two previous articles on the levy:
Now, can everyone still fly? - July 22
Countdown to a potentially ill-fated VMY2020 Part ll, July 23
Related article:
Mavcom: New PSC rates in Jan 2020 will be more equitable - Aug 12

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Lynas: Now to weed out the real parias

Read Mahathir does not want Lynas treated like an outcast


Dirty Dozen, 27 Aug: Clearly, this message by the Prime Minister is meant primarily for his 12 ministers who signed last year the akujanji on Lynas, promising to shut down the RM1.7 billion rare earth plant in Gebeng, Pahang if they win the 14th general election and take over Putrajaya. They included the Deputy Prime Minister and the bungling Finance Minister. 
Recognise this one?
None of the Dirty Dozen turned up at the last illegal protest organised in Kuantan by dubious NGOs that are curiously still against Lynas despite all the scientific findings and export reports on the safety of the plant but Lim Guan Eng has pledged to continue to try and persuade the Prime Minister "to understand the genuine concerns of the environmentalists". Last week, immediately after the illegal protest, Anwar Ibrahim decided to differ from Mahathir on the Lynas issue ( Anwar backs calls to review Lynas' licence renewal) but,  not surprisingly, until yesterday the so-called PM-in-waitng has made no formal proposal on the matter (No proposal on Anwar on Lynas' license renewal, says Gobind). 
In other words, while Dr M is trying to get the investors to come and stop the economy from sliding further, those around him continue to undermine his efforts to score a few political points more. Because, maaf kata, that's all they were, are and will always be good for. 
But of course the Old Man knew that.

Monday, August 26, 2019

After the glitch, even darker days ahead for KLIA unless ...

Taman Tun, Aug 26: I'm happy to hear that things at the KL International Airport are back to normal after the four-day glitch. Honestly, I was sick, sad and tired of the things said about our airport and about MAHB, the people running our airports. The fact is, computer glitches happen to the best of airports. The KLIA even started off in 1998 with a glorious glitch, just like airports in Hong Kong, Thailand, Denver did [read Other airports' rocky start]. 

The important thing is, did we handle the crisis well? Some said yes (.. praise for MAHB handling of glitch); others are not too convinced (When an airport loses its value). Yet some others may agree with Senyum Kambing that the reputation of KLIA is now completely in tatters, destroyed!

I certainly do not share Kambing's view for I still believe that KLIA can still fulfil its potential and promises. But the Malaysia Airports Holding Berhad people need to go back to basic. And that means putting passengers first (again) instead of minding petty squabbles and suing the client because their CEO was too critical for the MAHB's liking!

Even the Prime Minsiter has raised concerns about unfair charges that passengers are being made to pay at the KLIA. Not to mention the potentially-disastrous airport departure levy that will take effect on Sept 1. 

It is the MAHB - not the airlines - that should be championing such causes for passengers. For a start, it can take the cue from Dr Mahathir and bring the levy up with the Ministry of Finance and talk to MAVCOM about the "unfair" Passenger Service Charge (PSC). 

Before the four-day computer glitch, some people were already asking why they needed to pay both the levy and PSC when they fly Malaysia and KLIA. After the glitch, we might want to ask why anyone would want to fly here at all ...

Sunday, August 25, 2019

From deportation to dinner (The rise and fall of Syed Saddiq)

A commenter responds to Syed Saddiq's tweet

Puchong, Sun: Continuing from my last posting Zakir Naik responds to haters, fake news and (maybe) challenges Syed Saddiq to a debate on Aug 18 ... Youth and Sports Minister who said Enough is enough, deport Zakir Naik is still drawing so much flak on socmed for telling the ZN-haters to "Let's move on" - SS says after hosting dinner for Zakir Naik". 
Ambiga S. Sreevanan won't be healed. "You're (were?) one of my favourite ministers and this is dissapointing," she said h e r e.

Another angry commenter
Me, I am Malay and a Malay is known to be forgiving. Sometimes too forgiving. But I shall not add fuel to fire. I will just heed to Syed Saddiq's call and move on to another blog posting ....

Friday, August 16, 2019

Zakir Naik responds to haters, fake news and (maybe) challenges Syed Saddiq to a debate

Zakir Naik Replies To Fake News On What He Allegedly Said

TTDI, Jumaat: Gee, I really should have followed my gut feeling and skirted the Zakir Naik issue. I knew something was not right when I read the news accusing him of making racist/racial remarks against our Malaysian brothers and sisters (and everything in between) of Chinese and Indian origins. It just wasn't like Zakir Naik. It was out of character, not the Zakir Naik I know of through the You Tube clips of the man I've watched. 
But, what to do? A friend - a good Chinese buddy - was chiding me for not writing anything on my blog about the Indian preacher, who was given refuge by the previous government and continues to enjoy the hospitality - and protection - of the government of Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Chinese buddy: Bro, you're not defending good Malaysians like us ke? Zakir Naik ask me to go back to China! 
Me: Wakaka. I'm interested in zakar naik . He's our PM's bff lah, untouchable 
 Chinese buddy: Time to write something in the blog, perhaps? I'm looking forward bro! 

So I must have felt obliged to write something because my Chinese friend was honestly slighted by Zakir Naik's alleged remarks. Read my previous posting h e r e. But even then, the one thing I couldn't do was to vilify the preacher over something that he might or might not have said. I'm glad I didn't because as it turns out, his remarks had been taken grossly out of context by his "haters". 

Zakir Naik: "It's being said that I said the Chinese should go back to their country, One of the headlines even said, 'Outrage in Malaysia as Zakir Naik suggests Chinese expulsion'. If this was really true, why did it take the media 5 days to bring it up? (Because) it's not true. 
"This is what I said, in full context ..." 

Read what Zakir Naik said he really said h e r e.

p.s. You guessed it: that bit about Zakir Naik challenging Syed Saddiq to a debate in my heading is NOT true. But a Mahathir die-hard was so upset with the young politician's hasty defiance of the PM (Enough is enough, deport Zakir Naik, says Minister) that he suggested on social media that SS challenge ZN to a debate since debating seems to be the only thing SS can do. But then again, maybe Syed Saddiq didn't say it in the first place. For it was quite out of character for someone who kisses the ground Mahathir walks on ...

Thursday, August 15, 2019

After Khat "defeat", Zakir Naik is next?

Bangsar, 15 Aug: Annie says the "racist" Dong Zong trumped the Old Man over the Khat issue (Dong Zong wins ... DAP too). A lot of ordinary folks would agree with Annie. 
Generally, people think Dr M is not the man he used to be. He's got the same fire in his guts but he doesn't have the same kind of generals and soldiers he once commanded. At the height of his power, Mahathir would have pushed through the khat issue with one eye shut. Today, Dong Zong beat the Old Man quite easily. The two-time Prime Minister has been coming under fire over not just the khat issue but also the controversial preacher Zakir Naik and Lynas. He used to thrive on crisis but these days you can almost see him buckling under the weight of relatively small but never-ending problems this Administration has left for him to resolve. 


Some ordinary folks are wondering if he wouldn't actually throw the controversial preacher Zakir Naik under the bus after this, especially after his own daughter Marina and blue-eye boy-minister Syed Saddiq have started attacking Zakir. I hope not but I can't help but wonder, too. 
Oh, anyway, when I say "I hope not" it doesn't mean I am a fan of Zakir Naik. I have watched some of his sessions on You Tube and I think he is really good at what he does but I also think there has been too much hype and I really couldn't care less if he stays or if he goes. This country has taken in so many people for centuries - and is still doing so. Therefore, one more pendatang or guest will not make it poorer. On the contrary, we are today richer for it. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

RM6 billion of cigarette revenues up in smoke (and the government does nothing?)

"The reality is that Malaysia is in the grips of corruption and many institutions are failing and this is leading to a huge problem with illegal cigarettes and illegal alcohol." - Cormac O'Rourke, managing director JTI International Malaysia

Bangsar, 14 Aug: We get it, O'Rourke (pic) is angry/frustrated.

His employers, JTI International, Japan's largest tobacco company, has been at the receiving end of syndicates who have made Malaysia the haven for contraband cigarette (see the Malay Mail's report Illegal smokes, vape could cost Treasury RM6 billion annually, says tobacco maker). JTI's profits are falling and O'Rourke may have to forgo his fat bonuses this year. 

But JTI isn't the only victim of these syndicates. The other tobacco players have been hurt, too. The difference is, they don' trash the authorities and officials. They have continued to lobby the government for greater enforcement to fight the syndicates while pursuing for greater awareness among the people about the enormity of the illicit cigarette trade. They even encourage people to switch from cigarettes to alternatives, such as those heat-not-burn cigarettes, while lobbying governments - including our government - to regulate the e-cig business and declare these alternatives as less dangerous than traditional cigarettes.

None have been so callous as to call their host country corrupt!

"Why is the (Malaysian) government not acting?" O'Rourke demanded publicly last week. "In the cigarette industry alone, they are losing RM5 billion annually and yet we haven't seen any sort of proper enforcement action taken."  

I'm not trying to defend our Customs or Immigration people, or the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and the other authorities involved, but I just don't think that statement by O'Rourke is a fair one at all. 

I'm sure corruption helps the growth of the illicit cigarette industry (To curb illicit cigarette trade, fight corruption first - Akhbar Sattar, former president of Transparency International Malaysia). 

But "failing institutions", where does that come from? What have you been smoking, MR O'Rourke?