Sunday, April 05, 2020

The beautiful Malaysians

Covid-19: Malaysian corporate citizens are coming forward to help 

Puchong, 5 April: There will always be one or two ugly Malaysians, even now as our nation - and the whole wide world - grapple with this deadly pandemic. But you'd agree with me, Dear Readers, that there are a hell of a lot more beautiful Malaysians who have stood up to be counted since the outbreak. The people at Air Asia are not the first and won't be the last to do so but it's worth noting that they're doing it despite the airline facing the worst turbulence in its history. Apart from its donation drive for vulnerable communities, the low-fare airline has launched SOS - or Save Our Shops - to help the small merchants. 

Advertising revenues, like oil prices, have slumped to ridiculous levels but The Edge still managed to bring together donations worth more than RM21 million to equip our tireless front liners. Tycoon Lee Kim Yew chartered a whole plane to fly in 1.5 million pieces of surgical masks and personal protective equipment (PPEs) for our medical teams dealing directly with Covid-19 cases.

Naza for Tabung Covid-19
Car sales and the property market will continue to fare poorly for the whole year because of the Covid-19 but Naza still came forward to help boost a national donation drive. 

And even before the Government unveiled its RM250 billion stimulus package, Axiata and its subsidiary Celcom had launched a RM150 million cash fund to help micro-SMEs

These are just some of the wonderful deeds of our fellow Malaysians that I can cite, off hand. There are many, many more. Most don't even want to be known. 

A prominent businessman asked me one day how my fellow journalists were keeping with the Movement Control Order (MCO). Y'know, the reporters, photographers, editors, sub-editors, production crew, and the other front-liners who have to go to work because somebody has to gather the news about the pandemic. At the end of the conversation, he offered some money for the Journalist Welfare Fund under the National Press Club of Malaysia to help out journalists and our members in whichever way we can during the MCO period. I said it was very kind of him, and this was what he said:
"Bro, it's at time like this that we really need to stand and be counted. Not for publicity or applause but because those of us who can, must. This is when we must."
The NPC has been reaching out to journalists in need during this period. It's not much but we hope it can still make a difference. At the very least, we're letting the journalists know that there are those who are thinking of them during this difficult period.

Read also:

Thursday, April 02, 2020

Reluctant Muhyiddin replaces Dr Mahathir at Khazanah

Updated #17: Muhyiddin is my PM by Annie
The winner takes it all

The loser standing small
Beside the victory
That's her destiny
- Abba

Puchong Day#16: For a reluctant* prime minister, Muhyiddin Yassin sure understands the scope and power of the incumbent. In the short time since his "backdoor" appointment as Malaysia's 8th Prime Minister, he has shown that he has the speed and the will. He was quick to place the whole nation under a Movement Control Order to stem the spread of Covid-19 and surefooted about who needed the government's help most during this terrible period with his RM250 billion stimulus package. But if those were more or less expected of an incumbent government, the quietly brutal way in which Abang Din brings down the sword on his political enemies surprises many, and delights not a few.

Yesterday, on April Fool's Day, he quietly replaced Dr Mahathir Mohamad as Khazanah chairman, bringing along with him Azlan Hashim, who had to leave after Pakatan Harapan's  victory in the general election in May 2018. 

Mohammed Azlan's appointment marks his return to Khazanah after nearly two years. In July 2018, Mohammed Azlan, former Khazanah managing director Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar and seven other directors had tendered their resignations after reaching a unanimous decision that Mahathir's Pakatan Harapan coalition government, which won the May 9 2018 general election, should determine the fund's new leadership structure.
The others were Tan Sri Raja Arshad Raja Uda, Tan Sri Andrew Sheng Len Tao, Datuk Seri Nazir Razak, Datuk Dr Nirmala Menon and Yeo Kar Peng.
Mahathir had previously lamented that Khazanah, the strategic investment fund of the Malaysian Government, which he set up in 1994 when he was prime minister for the first time, had deviated from its original intention of holding shares for bumiputras.
He claimed that instead, Khazanah had become a convenient vehicle for the previous government to reward politicians and non-professionals with positions and lucrative compensation packages.

The change of guards at Khazanah followed a series of changes and overhauls (ie sackings) at key institutions under various ministries, including the country's largest statutory body MARA and the Yayasan Kebajikan Negara. Read Mara chairman, council members sacked and Syed Azmi temporarily recalled after sacking. Yesterday, Noor Farida Ariffin, the chairman of the Human Resources Development Fund, confirmed the marching orders, Her contract was supposed to run until Jan 2021. Read G25's Noor Farida, CEO and Board members removed from HRDF with immediate effect. 

Noor Farida had been brought in Jan 2019 to "clean up" the HRDF. 

Last month, I posted Will we see PH-stule 'execution' of GLC leaders? Well, it does look like it's going to happen. As the song goes:
The game is on again

A lover or a friend
A big thing or a small
The winner takes it all

p.s I must put on record that under Noor Farida's watch, two prominent journalists were charged for allegedly misleading the HRDF. Both cases were linked to an overseas training program involving the National Press Club of Malaysia and conducted under the auspices of the HRDF before Noor Farida was appointed. The case against Veera Pandiyan was  struck out by the magistrate while in the case against journalist and author M. Krishnamoorthy, the HRDF had offered to withdraw its lawsuit.

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

When a joke may land you in jail

Rina Harun's ministry says sorry over 'Doraemon' joke 


LONDON (THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION) - From Thailand to India, countries have told people not to make April Fools' Day pranks related to coronavirus, with some threatening jail time as they seek to prevent the spread of rumours which could put lives at risk.
Tech giant Google, which is famous for its annual spoofs, has cancelled the tradition because of the pandemic which has killed about 40,000 people worldwide.
Thailand said on Tuesday (March 31) that April Fool's Day jokes about the virus could be punished under a law carrying a sentence of up to five years in prison.
"It's against the law to fake having Covid-19 this April Fools' Day," the government said on Twitter.
Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen took to Facebook to tell people not to prank about the virus, adding that anyone spreading rumours or false information could face up to three years in jail and/or a fine of up to NT$3 million (S$141,500).
In India, Maharashtra state's cyber security unit said it would take legal action against anyone spreading fake news on April Fools' Day.
"The state govt won't allow anyone to spread rumours/panic on #Corona," Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh tweeted, adding that he had instructed the authorities to "act swiftly & strongly (against) such miscreants".
Under the heading "Corona is no joke", Germany's health ministry also urged the public not to make up stories related to the virus.
With people relying on the Internet and media for vital information about coronavirus, there are fears that jokes could fan the spread of misinformation.
From drinking cow urine to sleeping by chopped onions, myths about how people can catch and cure Covid-19 are already widely circulating.
The World Health Organisation has described it as an"infodemic", which could increase the spread of the virus among vulnerable people.
Google said it had suspended its annual April Fools'tradition "out of respect for all those fighting the Covid-19 pandemic".
"Our highest goal right now is to be helpful to people, so let's save the jokes for next April, which will undoubtedly be a whole lot brighter than this one," it said in an internal e-mail to staff.
In previous years Google has advertised fictitious jobs at a new research centre on the moon, turned Google Maps into a game of Where's Waldo - also known as Where's Wally - and claimed its search technology uses trained pigeons to rank pages.
Taylor Herring, a British PR agency whose clients include TV channels and international brands, advised all companies to ditch the jokes this year.
"Tip for any brands planning an April Fool's Day stunt.
Just. Don't," it said on social media.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Monday, March 16, 2020

In facing Covid-19, the difference between us and them Jews

Here's how the politicians in Israel face up to Covid-19 ...

The whole story h e r e
March 15: President Reuven Rivlin hosted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White chair Benny Gantz for an “urgent” three-way summit Sunday evening in an effort to encourage the two men to form an emergency unity government amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The hour-long meeting, held at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, began with Netanyahu and Gantz each elbow-bumping Rivlin in accordance with instructions to avoid handshaking to stop the spread of the virus.
Signifying his intention to being negotiations immediately, Rivlin also invited the heads of the Likud and Blue and White negotiating teams to be present in the meeting,

Following the meeting, Netanyahu and Gantz released a joint statement saying that they had both “thanked the president of the state for inviting them to the joint meeting” and that “the two agreed that negotiating teams would meet soon.”
In a separate statement, Rivlin’s office said, “The president emphasized that [Gantz and Netanyahu] should continue and intensify direct contacts between them and between the Likud and Blue and White negotiating teams, and welcomed both sides’ willingness to do so. At the end of the meeting, the two sides agreed that the negotiating teams of the two parties will continue the discussions.”
Earlier Sunday, Netanyahu went public with a pair of alternative offers for a unity government with Gantz, urging the de facto opposition chairman to choose either to serve under him in a six-month emergency government or replace him after two years as part of a four-year rotational coalition.
Rivlin, after September’s election, proposed a unity government between the two, with Netanyahu serving as prime minister for some six months before being replaced by Gantz. While both had a stab at forming a government, neither succeeded, leading to the elections in March, the third in under a year.
Rivlin’s proposal this time is based on the previous offer, but gives Netanyahu a full year as prime minister before handing the baton to Gantz, the Kan public broadcaster reported.
Immediately before the Sunday evening meeting, Rivlin announced that he will task Gantz with forming a government after the Blue and White leader received the endorsement of a majority of Knesset members.
His announcement came shortly after Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman joined the Joint List and Labor-Gesher-Meretz parties in endorsing Gantz for prime minister. With the nod given by Liberman during consultations with Rivlin, Gantz picked up 61 of 120 recommendations, compared to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 58 endorsements.
Netanyahu’s Likud won 36 Knesset seats in the March election compared to Blue and White’s 33, but the Likud leader’s right-wing bloc again failed to muster a parliamentary majority.
Once a close ally of Netanyahu’s Likud, the right-wing Yisrael Beytenu has refused to join a coalition led by Netanyahu, after the previous two rounds of elections. Liberman in April 2019 backed Netanyahu for premier; he refrained from endorsing either candidate after the September vote.
Liberman’s backing for Gantz marked an unlikely alliance between the hawkish ex-defense minister, who has long condemned Arab lawmakers as “terrorist sympathizers,” and the predominantly Arab Joint List, with both aiming to unseat Netanyahu.
As of last week, Gantz’s only realistic path to a coalition appeared to be a center-left minority government backed on the outside by the Joint List, a controversial prospect that before the election the centrist leader vowed he would not pursue. Vocal opposition by rightist members of Blue and White, MKs Zvi Hauser and Yoaz Hendel, along with Labor-Gesher-Meretz’s Orly Levy-Abekasis, who vowed to vote against a minority government, appeared to reduce the likelihood of that scenario.
Opening the consultations, which were being held with limited representation from each party and no press due to limitations on gatherings of over 10 people, Rivlin said that efforts to deal with the outbreak must not come “at the expense of Israeli democracy.”
“We are committed, more than ever, in light of the urgent need for a government, to hold essential democratic processes, even in a time of crisis,” Rivlin declared.
“These are not normal consultations; we need to work to form a government as soon as possible,” he warned.
The number of Israelis diagnosed with COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, rose to 200 on Sunday morning. The Health Ministry said two of the sick remained in serious condition, with 11 in moderate condition and the rest suffering light symptoms only.

Read also: Netanyahu's corruption trial postponed over Covid-19 restrictions, March 15

.... and here is how our politicians choose to do it:

Former PM's son challenges PM for party post that may make him PM

PETALING JAYA: The Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) elections is set to be a mouth-watering affair with Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir challenging Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin for the party president’s post. 
Another relative unknown in the party, Cheras division deputy chief Mohd Faiz Azlee Sham, will also contest the position, it was confirmed yesterday. 
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, meanwhile, will remain as the party’s chairman at the post was uncontested. 
Bersatu elections committee chairman Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar said this in a press conference after nomination closed at 3pm today. 
However, he said the party polls, which was supposed to be held on April 18 at the division level, has been postponed until at least June 30, after the Registrar of Societies ordered all party meetings and conventions to be suspended in light of the Covid-19 outbreak. 

Faced with a formidable enemy, the Jews unite, even for a brief moment, so all resources can be used to defeat that national threat. Our politicians and leaders are not Jews but maybe some of them should try to behave like the Jews once in a while. Especially now. Then maybe, in the face of Covid-19, they will start thinking of us instead of their own little egos and endless greed  for power.

Steady, Tuan Ibrahim and Saifuddin Abdullah!

Bangsar, 16 March: Hats off to these two ministers from this so-called "backdoor" government for swiftly coming to the defence of a local news portal journalist who was being heckled by Netizens over a report she did on Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man.  
"I disagree with any personal attacks towards a reporter. Mistakes, misinterpreted information that strayed from the actual context are common," Tuan Ibrahim, the new Environment Minister, said in Stop the attack against journalist. 
"Any threat or attack against a reporter on duty is totally unacceptable," Saifuddin, the new Multimedia and Communications Minister, said in Attack against journalist unacceptable.  
When Pakatan Harapan was the government for a brief spell, Saifuddin was the Foreign Minister while Tuan Ibrahim was in the Opposition. 
Personally, I see the swift and strong response of the two YBs as an early good sign for the future of Malaysian journalists who have been facing tough times during the last couple of years under the previous government as a result of various new hurdles, including newspaper (and news portal) closures, an unprecedented lawsuit (read Reporter faces criminal charges for FB postings), and online censorship.
Saifuddin has been consistent where his position on media freedom is concerned and this should augur well for the on-going initiative by journalists in this country to establish a Malaysian Media Council.

Selangor Sultan: Backdoor govt label inaccurate 

Thursday, March 12, 2020

From fear-mongering to pandemic

Bangsar, 12 March: The last time I stepped out of a courthouse with moderation advocate Jahaberdeen Yunoos, he was my counsel in a high-profiled defamation case brought against me (and one Jeff Ooi) in 2006 by a news conglomerate and four of its top execs, an affair that would bog (dog?) my career as a journalist and blogger for 5 years (and helped make Jeff Ooi a two-term Member of Parliament). Jahaberdeen was the last in a string of lawyers who offered to defend me pro-bono.  
Seeing him again yesterday at the Magistrate court in Jalan Duta, acting as counsel to journalist Wan Noorhayati Wan Alias, 41, gave me a strong does of confidence. It's hard not to feel alright when Jahaberdeen is on your side. 

Outside the court house yesterday
I sincerely hope the new Attorney-General would agree to drop the charges brought against 'Ibu Yati' just a little over a month ago by the previous AG. We all know the Covid-19 better today: the World Health Organisation (WHO) has just declared it a pandemic, Indonesia reported its first death from the virus, and Germany feared that 60-70 per cent of its population will be infected, Tom Hanks is in hospital after testing positive, and our own health authorities have also come out to encourage people to call of public events and gatherings, including religious ones. Even foes agree when it comes to this virus: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has stopped shaking hands with the people and Anwar Ibrahim has adopted a "no-hugging" policy ...

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Dennis Ignatius' idea of a Ketuanan Melayu Cabinet

TTDI, 11 March: In his angry latest article A Ketuanan Melayu Cabinet, Dennis Ignatius declares that for non-Malays, PM Muhyiddin Yassin's Cabinet is "the most regressive Cabinet we've ever had". 
Out of 70 ministers and deputy ministers, there are only two non-bumiputra ministers and five deputy ministers, the lowest representation in terms of percentage we’ve ever seen. 
A very disturbing statement, especially coming from a man who had spent 36 years living and working abroad as a Malaysian diplomat. For someone who crucifies Muhyiddin for his Malay-first remarks, Dennis Ignatius doesn't seem or sound like a Malaysian-first Malaysian, either. 

I counted 70 Malaysian ministers and deputy ministers in the new Cabinet. 

Who is Dennis Ignatius, again? [Taken from Arise Ambassadors]
Dennis’ passion is to help raise up ambassadors for the Kingdom who are passionate about God, committed to serving Him with excellence, and determined to honour God with a life lived well. 
Drawing on his vast experience as a career ambassador, consultant, human rights advocate, author, newspaper columnist, itinerant preacher, and motivational speaker who has travelled extensively, he brings a unique perspective to the challenges of staying passionate for God, finding purpose, and living the faith we believe. 
Dennis Ignatius was a Malaysian diplomat for 36 years serving in London, Beijing and Washington, D.C., before being appointed ambassador to Chile and subsequently to Argentina. While in Latin America, he served concurrently as ambassador to Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Paraguay and Uruguay. From 2001 to 2008, he served as High Commissioner (Ambassador) to Canada before retiring from the foreign service.
Following a dramatic encounter with Jesus in 1986 in Washington, D.C., Dennis has been active in sharing his faith, preaching and ministering internationally. He has appeared on Christian television and speaks at conferences and seminars. 
He is the author of Fire Begets Fire, a book about the passionate pursuit of God. His email devotional, Fuel For The Fire, has an international circulation. 
Dennis has also been engaging Christians in politics, business and diplomacy with a view to helping them define their purpose and strengthen their role in public life. Christians in the public square who understand their purpose and are committed to their calling have a tremendous capacity to influence culture and disciple nations. 
He is a fellow of the Ezra Institute for Contemporary Christianity, a Toronto-based evangelical Christian organization committed to the training and equipping of Christians in the areas of Christian apologetics, missiology and the cultural mandate. 
Dennis is also deeply concerned about human rights and justice and seeks to voice the concerns of disenfranchised and persecuted groups. He is Diplomatic Advisor to First Step Forum, a Helsinki-based group of Christian professionals, business leaders, and politicians committed to helping persecuted minorities of all faiths by building bridges and promoting dialogue with national governments. As well, he is an international affairs columnist & commentator. 
Dennis and his wife, Cherry, divide their time between Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Ottawa, Canada.

Sunday, March 08, 2020

Will we see PH-style 'execution' of GLC leaders?

Puchong, 8 March: One the first things that the ill-fated Pakatan Harapan government did in the short-lived Malaysia Baharu era was to unceremoniously sack government-linked companies (GLCs) chief executives as they were deemed to be allied to the BN government that had just lost to PH in the May 2018 general elections. 
Wahid, driving for charity
Marching orders for the likes of Abdul Wahid Omar and Shazalli Ramly and other gems who had been handpicked and groomed for years and years to lead and grow the GLCs. 
Less than a handful from the BN-era GLC corporate leaders survived. 
The PH government had then proceeded to put their own people to head the GLCs. Gelojoh. We heard of  tussles between the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister's Office over some of the appointments involving  very strategic GLCs. In some cases, the new management and the government seemed to have colluded to accuse the old of mismanagement and abuse. Curiously, as in the case of Tabung Haji, none was ever charged, leading to suspicions of high-level hanky-panky involving some elements high up in the PH government. 

Agree with Tok Mat. If there were mismanagement and abuses, the Government should take those responsible to court, even if that person is the former Minister of Finance Lim Guan Eng. The Umno deputy president said it wasn't about revenge but ".. this concerns national integrity and we must defend it." (Read "... 15 national assets sold to foreigners during PH's reign. ") 
But back to the GLC leaders who came in after May 2018. The likes of Zety Akhtar Aziz, Jalil Abdul Rasheed, Shireen Ann Zaharah and many more ... should they expect the same fate that had befallen their predecessors like Abdul Wahid Omar and Shazallii Ramly? 
Should they offer to resign like Tommy Thomas and Latheefa Koya did or should they wait for the marching orders? 
Whatever it is, I hope the new government would not do to the post-May 2018 GLC leaders what PH had done. If the Prime Minister wishes to replace all of the GLC CEOs, that is his prerogative to do so, but do it with due respect. What they did to AWO, Shazallii and the other GLC leaders after May 2018 - and how they did it -  was insulting, vengeful., jahat.
I'm sure you remember, the PH witch hunt did not stop with the GLC leaders. The PH government had frozen bank accounts of certain corporate leaders who were seen as close to the previous government and raided their offices. 
One prominent businessman was paraded, for all and sundry to see, in and out of the courthouse like a criminal over deals allegedly made for the government when he was head of a tourism board. 
Did you hear of that individual being charged with any crime or mismanagement afterwards? NO. 
Why not? You tell me.

Thursday, March 05, 2020

Why Ku Nan's assets don't turn me on

TTDI, 5 March: If you were expecting Latheefa Koya to quit like the other political appointee, you are going to be disappointed at least for now. The MACC chief is not just staying put but she has lunged ahead and opened an investigation into Ku Nan's multi-million ringgit assets, an issue that has been seized by her poor former colleagues in the Pakatan Harapan still seething from having just lost the government after only 20 months of tumultous rule.

MACC probes Ku Nan's astronomical wealth

Latheefa was made MACC chief in June last year by the then PM-7 Dr Mahathir. The appointment was seen as controversial as it flouted PH's own principles. 
As I see it, the MACC had very little choice but to start the probe into Ku Nan's wealth. But if you expect fireworks, I think you're in for a major disappointment.
Because even before he joined the government (then led by Dr Mahathir the PM-4), Ku Nan was already a filthy rich guy. During the 90s, he was known as the business partner of Vincent Tan, a wealthy Malaysian and a friend of Mahathir's. The two - Ku Nan and Vincent Tan - had even gotten a KDN to start The Sun to challenge the media moguls or NSTP and The Star. The first time I met Ku Nan was in Langkawi in 1991, the year of the inaugural LIMA. I was covering it for Business Times and Ku Nan was on  the island to supervise the completion of his beachfront resort. It was a period when Malaysian tycoons were not just building chalets and hotels from Langkawi to South Africa, they were placing orders for private jets and yachts like our children order stuff these days via Grab or from Amazon.
Along with Ku Nan, high fliers of the Nineties included Amin Shah ioOmar Shah, Shahrani Abdullah, Tajudin Ramli, Ting Pek Khiing, Ananda Krishnan, Vincent Tan, Wan Azmi Wan Hamzah, Francis YTL, John Soh Chee Wen and many more. Ku Nan wasn't the richest but he was already there before he became a politician (unlike many who became rich AFTER they entered politics). 
Still  ... nowhere near Syed Mokhtar and friends.

p.s It would be interesting to find out how Ku Nan's assets had fallen in value (from RM900 m to just a little over RM700 m) after he'd joined politics. I thought politics would have increased his worth by leaps and bounds!
So, looking forward to Cik Lat's findings. I sincerely hope she doesn't quit halfway ...

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Going by this Tommy principle, shouldn't other political appointees resign as well?

Bangsar, 4 March: Kajol joined us for coffee at our regular earlier today, just as Tommy Thomas was explaining to FMT in another part of town why he had resigned as the Attorney-General at the height of last week's "coup". 

Kajol, a lawyer by training, wouldn't have any of Tommy Thomas' "bs".

"It's an abdication of responsibilites, that's what it is. Tommy Thomas was appointed by the office of the Prime Minister, not by the individual (Dr Mahathir). 

"The responsible thing to do, therefore, was wait till a new Prime Minister was appointed. Only after that should Tommy Thomas have offered to resign or left it to the new office of the Prime Minister to ask him to stay or go," she argued.

Mmmm. our Kajol is not just a looker she's got brains, too.

p.s. But if you go by the former Attorney-Genera's principled decision to quit because the PM who appointed him had quit, then shouldn't it be incumbent as well upon the other political appointees, such as Latheefa Koya, the Inspector-General of Police, the Bank Negara governor, the various heads of GLCs (including Zeti of PNB and Rosli Man of Telekom Malaysia) to resign?

p.p.s Kajol told me, by the way, that Tommy Thomas wasn't appointed by the PM, anyway. The Prime Minister only proposed, it was the Yang diPertuan Agong who appointed him. 

"Big" cases were dropped in 2018

TTDI, 4March2020: Marina Mahathir was supposed to address a closed-door gathering of women entrepreneurs  sometime this weekend in a plush hotel in the city. The organisers had marketed the exclusive conference months ago as a golden opportunity for these entrepreneurs to mingle-and-giggle with the daughter of the prime minister. But after last week's "coup" in Putrajaya, the organisers have called it off. I'm not sure if that decision has got anything to do with Marina's rantings against the man who "betrayed" her father and is now the 8th Prime Minister of Malaysia. But they were enough to make me cringe.

Why cringe, you ask? Because less than two years ago, the Government did drop some big cases involving politicians who were part of the Pakatan Harapan coalition (still) led by Dr M. 

I don't remember Marina making any noise about any of it, do you?

In Lim Guan Eng's corruption case that was dropped by the AGC in September 2018, which took not just the ordinary people but also the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission by complete surprise, a retired senior Judge had warned Dr M that allowing it to happen would be of bad faith. Justice should be seen as being done, the former Judge had said. 

But  it was allowed to happen. And more big cases were dropped subsequently.  
They (MACC) have a right to be shocked. If they want to be shocked, they can be shocked. I am also shocked.” - Dr Mahathir also "shocked" at court's decision to acquit Guan Eng 03Sept2018

Me, I'll be shocked if Abang Din doesn't learn from that and doesn't listen to the people (including Marina-lah) and goes ahead to drop the so-called "big" cases. Or include any of the politicians involved in those cases to his Cabinet (Guan Eng was made Finance Minister even though the corruption case against him was ongoing).

Please read
The rule of law is dead in Malaysia, says Ismail Sabri  after AG withdrew appeal against Rafizi's acquittal - Mkini, 10 Dec 2019

Saturday, February 29, 2020

The best (or worst) prime minister Malaysia never had

An Urgent Note To 
Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim 
Dato Seri, 
Some things are not to be.
Throughout your political life, it was envisaged that you will become the Prime Minister of Malaysia. 
When you were the Deputy Prime Minister, you were just a step away from becoming the Prime Minister but it was thwarted by Tun Dr Mahathir. Once again, Tun Dr Mahathir despite the assurance and promises made to you and the nation, has failed to hand over the position of Prime Minister to you. 
For you it surely must be heart-breaking, when each time you come close to achieving your dream, Tun Dr Mahathir stands in your way and prevent you from being the Prime Minister. 
Dato Seri,
Today, you should finally face up to the fact, that fate does not allow you to become a Prime Minister. It is time to accept the fact, painful as it is, that you will not become the Prime Minister. Thus, to fight fate and still pursue that dream is realistically futile. 
Dato Seri,
Believe me, by announcing that you yield in the greater interest of the nation and withdraw from national politics, will show to all you being a greater man. You will etch in the hearts of all Malaysians of a man who put nation before self. You will leave behind an honourable legacy and be respected for giving up your dream and your willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice. 
Dato Seri,
Today as the nation lies in turmoil and there is total impasse may be it is time for you to make that announcement.  
Believe me there is more to politics. It just that, Prime Minister, you were never to be. 
Norman Fernandez 
The article above is reproduced with permission.

Puchong, Leap Day 2020: Some people asked why I wasn't writing anything about the on-going political circus. Well, to be honest, I didn't quite know what to make out of the rubbish that the politicians have been churning this past week. Nothing - from Dr Mahathir Mohamad's resignation as PM-7 to his appointment as interim PM and his desire to be PM-8 today - made sense. I kept on seeing a spoilt child refusing to return the toy car he borrowed, so the child decided to throw tantrums and threatened to throw the toy away instead of giving it back to the rightful owner. But then was Anwar Ibrahim ever the rightful owner of the 8th PM's seat to begin with? Lawyer Norman Fernandez, the former DAP deputy chairman of Johor, thinks for the sake of the nation perhaps it is time Anwar abandon his dream to become the PM and walk away from national politics.

To become the best - or the worst - PM we've never had.

But Anwar is only half the problem, if you ask me. Both he and Dr Mahathir should walk, hand in hand, into the sunset. Even that won't be enough to save Malaysia right away but at least we'll stand a better chance.

P.S By the way, it is not true lah that I did not write anything at all about the circus. I did post some stuff mostly one-liners, on social media. For example, this tweet I published with glee upon hearing the news that The Old Man had resigned:

And so I rest my case.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

The Star's scoop (and why Malaysia should review its ties with Airbus)

Bangsar, 19 Feb: So, was it an offset program after all? The Star's article (see below  or  type here for link) avoids any reference to the word but if you have been following the Airbus corruption scandal, especially Dr Mahathir Mohamad's initial response to it when asked by the media (Dr M: Offset is not a bribe if it's for specific purpose) on Air Asia being implicated, you will be wondering if the whole thing wasn't an offset after all. But even if it wasn't, let's admit one thing: it was a brilliant strategy. It sure helped turn Air Asia into a global brand although there are enough Tony Fernandes-haters out there to disagree. Me, I remember salivating over the picture of a could-be Caterham motorcycle back then Tony and his partner Kamaruddin Meranun attempted to shock the world with their own F1 team ...

In any case, it's good to know that AirAsia is fighting the Airbus accusation(s). I imagine it will be its toughest battle yet: three authorities - the Malaysian Anti Curruption Commission, the soon-to-be-dissolved Mavcom and the Securities Commission (and one of them clearly holds grudges against Fernandes, Din and Co) - are investigating the case and a small but determined army of Twitter warriors are out to bury Tony Fernandes once and for all. I hate to say that the truth will prevail because it's so cliche but ... the truth will prevail. We'll just have to wait a bit. 
But in the meantime, I strongly feel the Government should suspend all contacts and contracts with Airbus. The aerospace giant is neither a hero nor courageous; by its own admission, it has been a great corruptor. Back home, it has "paid" for its sins. But if it's guilty of bribing anyone here in Malaysia, we should make Airbus pay dearly. 

The Star's scoop:

PETALING JAYA: The directors of the AirAsia Group gave their nod in 2010 to efforts by Tan Sri Tony Fernandes (pic) to build the AirAsia brand through sponsorships, said sources.
The board of AirAsiaX had approved amounts of up to US$250mil sought for a sponsorship strategy via a Formula One racing team.
The sponsorship was a way to lift the AirAsia brand and allow it to be a globally recognisable brand, said a source.
Fernandes and his business partner Datuk Kamarudin Meranun have been under the spotlight for allegations of corruption involving monies paid for the sponsorship of the Caterham Formula 1 racing team after it was reported that Airbus will pay a record-breaking settlement of €3.6bil in penalties after admitting to bribery across its international business.
The UK SFO allegations concern a US$50mil sponsorship between Caterham Formula 1 racing team, which was founded by Fernandes, and Airbus’s former parent, EADS, between the years of 2013 and 2015.
The AirAsia Group has rejected allegations of wrongdoing involving sponsorship of a sports team linked to the two AirAsia and AirAsia X executives.
Part of the documents released after the settlement between Airbus and SFO of the UK include a trail of emails that show the interactions between Airbus and the key decision makers of AirAsia and AirAsia X.
Based on the document findings that have now become public records, the source claims there are mismatches between the timelines of some of the emails released and the charges levied against Airbus by the SFO.
The source said the content of the emails released before October 2013 were not part of the charge against Airbus. Prior to October 2013, AirAsia secured sponsorships totaling US$66mil from Airbus that was not related to the charge brought by the SFO as the sponsorship amounts of an additional US$50mil in the charge sheet were from October 2013 to January 2015.
“Thus, how can emails for sponsorships that had already happened from 2010 to 2011 be used as evidence for sponsorships in 2013 to 2015?” asked the source.
As Airbus has said that the payments to the sports team were intended to secure or reward improper favor by them in respect of that business, the next question to ask is whether Fernandes acted improperly and did he overbuy planes for AirAsia just to secure the sponsorship?
Back in June 2011, AirAsia and Airbus announced a US$18.2bil (RM54.8 billion) deal for 200 planes at the Paris Air show, shattering the then aviation record for the largest ever airline order.
At that time, analysts had seen the acquisition of the 200 aircraft as a necessity, as the last order AirAsia placed was in November 2007.
Even with that order, Frost & Sullivan Aerospace & Defence senior consultant Kunal Sinha (at that time) said the order would only give AirAsia a fleet of 250 aircraft at the end of 2020. AirAsia continued to lease planes after putting in the huge order.
Another question that would be asked surrounds the pricing for the planes secured by AirAsia and AirAsia X from Airbus. An independent audit commissioned by the board would examine those transactions to ascertain if they were fair or overpriced.
“Perhaps Airbus should allow Fernandes to disclose the price of the planes he acquired for the AirAsia group, and compare it to the price Airbus sold its aircraft to other airlines at that time, ” said the source. The suggestion is that AirAsia paid below the average price other airlines had paid when ordering their planes from Airbus.
The SFO too has has a chequered track record as there have been a number of high profile cases that it has lost in the courts.
The SFO’s charges against former Tesco executives, accused of being masterminds behind a major accounting scandal, were thrown out in December after a judge deemed the case too “weak” to face a jury.
The SFO also saw its case against Barclays bank, over a Qatar fundraising, dismissed by the court in 2018. The SFO later lost a high court appeal to reinstate those charges.
Until 2017, former UK prime minister Theresa May had tried to abolish the SFO. She intended to have the SFO absorbed by the larger National Crime Agency.

Read also:
Shooting down Air Asia, the Malaysian whacking culture - Life of Annie
An act of courage - Salleh Buang for NST

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

DAP a liability?

Damansara, 22 Jan 20: After Pakatan Harapan's 5 successive by-election defeats, suddenly the DAP is to blame. Or at least that's the impression you get after finishing this excellent (though, to some people, not quite typical) Johan Jaafar piece Why DAP is a liability to PH
"Johan wrote that? You sure? He sounds almost like most of us."
"Yeah, it's the Tan Sri. Genuine."
"Well, the DAP should have hired him instead of his son. He's got great suggestions on how DAP can NOT be a liability."
"Still can. Two heads better than one, they say."
In short, you like it or not, Malaysia's latest Tokoh Wartawan Negara, got it right this time: "DAP should do a lot of soul searching from now."

Personally, I'm not so sure about his singling out Gobind Deol Singh, the Communications and Multimedia Minister. The other chap - the former Penang Chief Minister who got his corruption charges dropped in 2018 - he named in his article, yes. but Gobind?

Gobind Singh Deo is trying hard to prove his worth, but sadly he is caught in his own ignorance. Believing that PH government is not controlling the media is naïve. Just look at what happened to the group taking over the licenses of the Utusan group of newspapers and the taking over of Media Prima Bhd by a party close to Parti Bersatu. Is he oblivious to that?
Gobind should spend more time working on abolishing many laws that are stifling press freedom and freedom of speech. It was part of the PH manifesto after all to abolish or repeal such laws. Even his good intention to set up a Media Council is being questioned. Why should it be initiated by the government and not the industry? Why the need for a Media Council now in the world of Internet and social media onslaught?

Johan was earlier quoted as describing Gobind's efforts to help set up the Media Council as "futile".

p.s. My thoughts on the Media Council, as one of the members of the protem commitee set up to oversee its establishment, in my next posting.

Friday, January 10, 2020

(That's) Why a politician can't lead the MACC

CBTL BSC, 10 Jan 2020: All manner of big, brave guns with this government, from A. Kadir Jasin to Haniff Kathri, have shelled Latheefa Koya, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief, over her "shocking, sordid and very disturbing" public "hearing" of the Najib Razak tapes. Rais Yatim, a former Information Minister and now Bersatu's supreme council member, thinks the expose could be "prejudicial". "Of what purpose is this? We are not told," Rais says. Kadir, the comms advisor to the PM, believes the expose may cause MACC its credibility. Kathir, often described as the PM's lawyer, doesn't hold back, either.  Ms Koya, he says, has subverted the rule of law by revealing the contents of the nine recordings. 
None, however, has gone to the extent of calling for Ms Koya's resignation. Lawyer Jahaberdeen Yunoos just did:

But you know and I know, only one man can decide if Ms Koya stays or goes. The same man who put her there in the first place, despite a promise by the Pakatan Harapan government never to appoint politicians to government-linked agencies and companies if it was voted in.

Read also:
MACC's Watergate scandal by A Voice
An error of judgement? by Salleh Buang, NST

Monday, January 06, 2020

Don't threaten me lah, OK?

TTDI, 6 Jan: Just a short Thank You note to the Minister for Communications and Multimedia for coming out in support of journalists. It's a dying profession but our professionalism ain't dead. Like you said, YB, the duty of journalists is to report the facts so that the information reaches the people. We're not here to please all. 
I hope Gobind's colleagues remember that before they threaten journalists with not doing the job of their own comms people in highlighting the good things they have done as ministers, deputy ministers of MPs and Aduns. Hopefully, they will also remember the Minister's advice before they issue us with their next letter of demand, threatening us with legal action each time we tread on their toes. 

Read also
TV3 journalist lodges police report over murder threats - Jan 3
Do not threaten journalists, says Gobind - Jan 3

5G's "single entity": Who will own it, ultimately?

And is it another word for monopoly?
KL, 06 Jan 2020: Late in the evening, 31 Dec 2019, as most people were preparing to go out and celebrate the New Year, our guys at the MCMC were working overtime to rush out a press release on the Final report on the allocation of spectrum bands for Mobile Broadband Service in Malaysia. But not everybody appreciated the hard work. "Sneaky,' a journalist told me, "for MCMC to issue such a crucial statement on New Year's eve when everybody was in holiday and party mood." Well, some journalists are more suspicious and cynical than others ...

But a single sentence in the release does stick out like a sore thumb:

The 700 MHz and 3.5 GHz bands are being considered for allocation to a single entity comprising a consortium formed by multiple licensees, instead of individual licensees.

Is "single entity" another name for monopoly?  

The talk I'm hearing is that the proposal had come from monopoly service provider Telekom Malaysia and Altel, the outfit that belongs to tycoon Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary. 

The other industry players were (still are) dead against it. 

On Jan 3, after everyone had come back from the holidays, the Star reported Mixed views on 5G plan. That's a nice way of saying the industry players are NOT in agreement with the MCMC. In fact, last year these players had submitted an "industry proposal" to the MCMC chairman opposing the creation of a single entity. There was a consensus on the matter.

Well, to be fair to the MCMC, it did say the bands" are being considered for allocation to a single entity...", which means there's still room for a change of heart. Or is there? Industry players have been peeved that despite the earlier said consensus, TM had been going around for months giving broad hints about who will lead the country's 5G rollout [read here and here]

The MCMC chairman is scheduled today to have one-on-one meetings with the CEOs of the industry players - Maxis, Celcom, U-Mobile, Digi, TM (webe) and YTL (Yes4G) - on the single entity and allocation of spectrum bands. It will be a long day.

read also
Is TM trying to acquire Altel from Puncak Semangat? - Malaysian Wireless, 22 Nov 2019
MCMC's final report on spectrum puts an end to uncertainties in telco sector - Borneo Post, 4 Jan 2020
MCMC chairman visits TM's 5G standalone network in Langkawi - Digital News Asia, 24 Dec 2019
The rise and rise of Syed Mokhtar Albukhary - KiniBiz, 2013