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?

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

The passing of a Malaysian icon in London

Puchong, 13 Aug: Ashraf Abdullah wrote on his FB a wonderful piece in memory of Dato Yunus, who passed away peacefully on Hari Raya Haji at the age of 85. The article was picked up by several media outlets in Malaysia, including The Mole. The passing of a Malaysian icon, indeed. Like Ashraf, I got to know Dato Yunus when I was the NST Correspondent in London in 1992-93. Haliza Hashim, the former TV3 journalist who has made the UK her base for over 25 years now, has had the privilege of being closer to the man, and remembers him in her Instagram: "... a distinguished man among the Malaysian and British community in London, a respected educationist, extremely learned, a fantastic storyteller, a great teacher, and a mentor to many of us. Anyone who knew him would agree that he is ever so generous, a real gentleman, dressed well, and incredibly cultured." 
I also remember Dato Yunus and I talking cock - about how a scar on his face - and mine -  would have served us well. Because we looked a little too pretty, he said. A small scar just above an eyebrow would make me look more macho. Maybe even more desirable to the ladies! I can't remember why we were talking about scars that day but that's Dato Yunus, never a dull moment.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

A sad, bordering angry, Raya Haji

Puchong, 11 Aug: A dear friend lost her son to a road rage incident on the North South Expressway yesterday. A mother's worst nightmare. The young man was alone in his little car, perhaps looking forward to seeing his 4-month old baby at home and celebrating today's Aidiladha, when he got into an altercation with another motorist. There were eyewitnesses. Someone recorded the incident on the mobile, and the video has gone viral, creating a wave of anger.  When and how did we become so mad, so suddenly?

Police reveal what happened in deadly road rage incident ...
couple involved remanded for seven days, nonetheless

Unhappily, some of my fellow scribes at Utusan Malaysia could not celebrate Raya. According to the National Union of Journalists, its members at the Malay daily have not been paid salaries for months and have had to resort to Ah Longs (Sherlocks, money lenders) to get by. But we all know Utusan has not been facing well even before last year's general election. Long before, in fact. Umno, the newspaper's main owner then, had to step in all the time to help finance the paper's operations, including paying its journalists' salaries. It was a well know fact, perhaps not to NUJ, that corporations - including the government-linked companies - simply wouldn't advertise in Utusan, even when Umno-BN was the government. We put it down to an inherent bias on the part of advertisers. 

And after the GE14, things just went downhill very quickly for Utusan.

Umno is no longer the "owner" of Utusan but the NUJ insists that the political party still is, via Aziz Sheikh Fadzir, the chairman, as proxy. And because that is how the NUJ sees it, it demands that Umno steps in to help the journalists. The NUJ even suggested that Aziz dispose of his shares and Umno sell off Utusan's assets to pay its members the wages due to them.  But the real issue here is: how can the union help its members and the employees of Utusan, "since Umno seems to be neglecting their needs"?  Setting up a fund to help the journalists tide over the short term won't be enough. What is the union's plan to help save their jobs? 

Media mogul, pic by The Edge
The NUJ leaders should seek a meeting with the other major owner of the newspaper if it is not too keen o Aziz.  Syed Mokhtar AlBukhary is one of the richest Malaysians and a benevolent soul, a philanthropist, and a long-time major shareholder of Utusan (accused of holding the shares for Umno in the past). Syed Mokhtar, who also owns a huge chunk of Media Prima (after GE14) and The Malaysian Reserve (before GE14), among other media (read Syed Mokhtar, new media mogul), wouldn't allow his journalists at Utusan to wither, not under his watch, for sure! Or should we insist that Syed Mokhtar also dispose off his shares?

My friends at Bernama are not represented by the NUJ, which is a shame because the union would have demanded that the Minister of Finance quit over the latest fiasco at the national news agency. Read Guan Eng orders probe into Bernama or Bernama to extend full cooperation for MOF probe or (I won't recommend this for fear you may feel queasy, especially with the last paragraph) read the press statement issued by the Minister himself ... 

Expect a scapegoat at Bernama to be found, blamed and in the spirit of the Hari Raya Korban, sacrificed!

Read feedback on Twitter here

p.s In any case, I hope it's not too late to wish my Dear Readers, Selamat Hari Raya Haji. Maaf Zahir Batin. Alfatheh, Syed Muhammed Danial Syed Syakir.