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

Saturday, January 04, 2020

And our next Minister of Education is ....

updated 06Jan: 

Maszlee asked to quit for going against Cabinet
That's what the news portal TMI claims, according h e r e to rival news portal Malaysiakini, which qualified that it was "unable to independently verify the authenticity of the article". 
Well, in this country we'll have to take it as true until someone officially denies it. Ball is in the PM's court.

Original article

Puchong, 04Jan2020: The most fascinating thing so far about Maszlee Malik is the fact that the very next day after he said he'd resigned, more than 300,000 people rushed to sign an online petition to bring him back as Education Minister. Fickle-minded Malaysians? Nah, I don't think so. More likely, these online signatures belong to Maszlee's haters and detractors, ie 1. Umno or/and 2. DAP who were out to mess with Maszlee's mind and make this Government looks worse than it already is. The 300k couldn't have been Maszlee's supporters because it is widely believed that he hasn't got more than a classroom of fans ever since his black shoes policy (a major school shoes maker claimed to have lost RM30 million instantly as a result of Maszlee's love for black shoes). In any case, any such petition amounts to nothing because the Prime Minister has accepted Maszlee's resignation. Of course, there's always a chance of a U-tun but, sincerely, I doubt it. 

As I see it, Dr Mahathir has plenty of choice for a Maszlee replacement, even if he limits that choice to his own party, Pribumi. 

I have a few names myself:

1. Akramsyah Muammar Ubaidah Sanusi, 46

The son of the late Sanusi Junid is, like his father, a clever chap but has been an unlikely underdog all his political career, and one who's never afraid to take on the bigwigs although he's not enjoyed a winning streak that many thought he deserved (he's contested against Khairy Jamaluddin, fought Syed Hamid Albar and stood against giants for the Jerai seat only to lose by the narrowest of margins in the last general election). Akram is now MARA Corporation chairman. He graduated from the prestigious Imperial College London and was a chemical engineer for about 16 years. 

Akram with the then MoE

The founding member of Bersatu is known to be loyal to the leader but also - more importantly - to his principles and will suffer no fools who might stand in the way. An example, perhaps, of this quality is found in this Nov 2019 article by the Malay Mail:  MoU with Lynas without your consent? You attended Board meet on decision, MARA Corp chairman tells Council

2. Danni Rais, 33

Danni the day he joined Bersatu

I'm not sure if this picture with this MOE (Minister of Everything) will do him any favours but Danni, really, is a young man with great ideas and the heart to push these ideas into tangible results. He had always been a bit of an "outsider" when he was in Umno, despite the fact that his dad Rais Yatim was a party strongman for decades. So Danni turned to NGO work, even back then, focusing on youth development and held a 9-to-5 job like the average Joe.

In an interview with in 2016, the Aberystwyth University graduate was asked on the country's education system. 

“You have to go deep into the system to see how children at a young age interact with their peers and the impact it has as they develop. We (must) realise the magnitude of the task ahead, it's not as simple as simply asking Malaysians to be united." - Danni Rais, Power to the people


3. Tariq Ismail Mustafa, 41

Dashing cucu of "the best PM Malaysia never had"

The grandson of former Deputy Prime Minister Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman did not have the full support of the Clan when he decided to join Dr Mahathir's party in 2016. But he went ahead and joined Bersatu because Umno, he said, was no longer progressing. A close personal pal (from political foe Umno) said Tariq has "so many ideas" he thought Bersatu could implement. You can get an idea or two about what makes him tick googling Aura Merdeka.  

Tariq would have been an MP today if he had contested in GE14. He was supposed to but was dropped at the last minute. Many thought Dr M would field him at Tg Piai when the seat fell vacant last year but once again, Tariq was overlooked. 

Maybe he shouldn't have said "Reformasi is dead".

"About PKR and Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah), they do not iget it. When we spoke to the people about it, we found that 'reformasi' is dead and spaced out, but when it came to Bersatu, it is viewed as another voice for Malay people within the coalition. There wasn't one anyways." - Tariq Ismail Mustafa (Former DPM's grandson to join Pribumi)

There are many other potential candidates, of course. A seasoned journalist told me last night he would very much like to see the Tun appoint someone from outside his own party as the new MOE (Minsiter of Education).  The vet had Shahredzan Johan in mind.

See, the PM's so spoilt for choice ...

Read also:
Sarawak CM wants next MOE to be strong on science, maths, English
Nurul Izzah top pick for MOE, says Insight poll

Friday, January 03, 2020

But if you think Menara Ilham is losing it ...

When Daim speaks, the axe WILL fall 

Puchong, 03 Jan 2020: But just because Syed Mokhtar AlBukhari now lords over a media empire that was once part and parcel of Daim Zainuddin's realm (read Shake-up at Malaysia's oldest newspaper group: Daim vs Syed Mokhtar AlBukhary?) does not make the old fox helpless.  
Far from it. The fate that befell Maszlee, the now former Education Minister, is a grim reminder, just in case you think Daim of the Menara Ilham is losing it ...

Tun Daim made the statement above on Dec 31 (read full story here). Maszlee resigned, the first in Dr Mahathir's Malaysia Baharu's cabinet to do so, two days later. 
Power tak power!

Thursday, January 02, 2020

Shake-up at Malaysia's oldest newspaper group

Syed Mokhtar vs Daim?
Jan 2/2020, KL: That's the first thing that came to mind when we heard of the departures of Rashid Yusof and Khaidir Majid from Jalan Riong. Rashid will be replaced by Lokman Mansor as group editor of New Straits Times while Saadon will replace Qydir at BH (Berita Harian) as the group editor. The news came just weeks after the NSTP, or Balai Berita to us, had announced the retrenchment of over 500 staff, including a two-time Kajai award winner.  
Media Prima, which owns NSTP, is owned by Syed Mokhtar Albukhari, owner of a lot of other enterprises in this country, including DRB which owns the former national car Proton, Pos Malaysia, some telcos, power plants, a seaport and an airport. 
Before Syed Mokhtar, the newspapers, directors and some editors at Jalan Riong (and Jalan Liku, where TV3 used to be before there was Media Prima) were properties of Daim Zainuddin, the two-times Finance Minister and owner of a lot of enterprises in this country and abroad. 
Both Syed Mokhtar and Daim are powerful men, needless to say, Both are close to Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the Prime Minister, and used to be not so fond of each other. Once, at the mention of Syed Mokhtar's name, Tun Daim remarked, "Ah, the man who could do no wrong." Daim and Mahathir were not enjoying the best of ties at the time. 
Fairly or otherwise, Rashid is seen as a Daim's man. He used to work as the man's press secretary. Qydir, in turn, fairly or otherwise, is seen as close to Rashid. Easily over half a century of journalism between the two of them,  mainly in politics and financial reporting. Qydir was my colleague at Business Times in the 90s and Rashid and I were both London correspondents for NST, but a few years apart. 
Their departure means it's back to square one for the ailing newspaper group. It also means Syed Mokhtar (or Johari Ghani, whom many say is the man acting on behalf of Syed Mokhtar) now has a clear path to do whatever it takes to consolidate the new media empire, which include Utusan Malaysia and The Malaysian Reserve.

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

2020 thoughts of a blogger in a still-developing country called Malaysia

Can we make it happen by 2030? 
Jan 1, 2020: When Dr Mahathir Mohamad launched his Vision 2020 in 1991, none of my kids were born yet. Heck, I wasn't even married. This morning, first day of 2020, one of the kids asked me: 
"Abah, adakah tercapai Wawasan 2020?" 
Me, man of few words, told my kiddo: "Terciput."
[She was asking me if our nation had achieved the targets set for it to be a developed nation by 2020. My answer was, no].
We are still a developing country, ladies and gentlemen.  In some departments, especially the ones involving our politicians and leaders, I'm not sure we're developing at all.
Dr M, in 1991 (he was sweet 65 then), had outlined 9 challenges for the nation in order to be a developed nation by 2020: Source: Wikipedia 
  • Challenge 1: Establishing a united Malaysian nation made up of one Bangsa Malaysia (Malaysian Race).
  • Challenge 2: Creating a psychologically liberated, secure and developed Malaysian society.
  • Challenge 3: Fostering and developing a mature democratic society.
  • Challenge 4: Establishing a fully moral and ethical society.
  • Challenge 5: Establishing a matured liberal and tolerant society.
  • Challenge 6: Establishing a scientific and progressive society.
  • Challenge 7: Establishing a fully caring society.
  • Challenge 8: Ensuring an economically just society, in which there is a fair and equitable distribution of the wealth of the nation.
  • Challenge 9: Establishing a prosperous society with an economy that is fully competitive, dynamic, robust and resilient.

I don't think we can even claim to have passed Challenge 1, let alone all nine. But that's my opinion and you're welcome to disagree.  
Dr M, in his New Year/s message yesterday, said he's now confident we can achieve the developed nation status by 2030. But the people must be united, he said. Read:  Stay untied for nation to continue developing, urges Dr M in New Year message. 
But is a decade long enough for Malaysians to overome those nine challenges? I would imagine that the odds are stacked heavily against us. If the people who today lead the nation continue to bicker over who among them will be the next Prime Minister and if they allow themselves to be obsessed with witch-hunting and blaming the previous government (funny, when you consider that many of them, including Dr M, were in previous administrations before), then our progress will be really slow because no work will get done (which was what happened in the last 18 months, basically).
Between Vellfire and vernacular schools, the third national car and that flying car, Jawi and Dong Zong, the doctors' critical allowance and minimum wages, Zakir Naik and Syed Saddiq, Ughyur and the KL Summit, and unfulfilled promises of their general election manifesto, and not forgetting this sodomy vs that sodomy, this government spends too much time solving problems that were created by itself, wittingly or unwittingly I won't waste my breath expanding on this topic (please read my recent posting One PM, Two Oppositions, which I re-imagined from 3 issues pulling down the nation). 
Suffice to say that it's not the people who must be united for this country to continue developing (and hopefully achieve the developed nation status by 2030) but the Government - ie our leaders from the PM and so-called PM-in-waiting to the ministers and deputy minister and their political appointees and officers - who must start working with one another so that everyone and everything else can start moving. 
Happy New Year and Good Luck to us.