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