Tuesday, September 29, 2020

What now, after Saturday's election?

Bangsar, 29 Sept 20: Got myself this Toughbook CF-SZ6 on Sunday, the day after the Sabah state elections, which voted out Shafie Afdal's Warisan and, effectively, buried Musa Aman's too long and colourful political career. Read Hajiji sworn in as Sabah CM

The snap election also saw two other former chief ministers losing badly in their comeback attempts - one even losing his deposit! - as voters made it clear that they've had enough of the old guards and useless Sabah-centric rhetoric and welcomed fresh faces and younger voices.

This isn't my first Toughbook and I was only recently a Mac user. When I was that blogger and when blogging was fab, the Panasonic was my weapon of choice. Then one day they smashed the window of my Rexton and pinched my Toughbook :( I changed to a Ferrari (the laptop, not the car) but those goons from Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (some later became my friends) raided my home and confiscated the Ferrari (for the record, they never gave back the Ferrari to me). 

Then I switched to the Apple. Nobody messes with the Apple but I've decided the Mac is not for me. We never did "click", if you know what I mean. So when Terence Fernandez, the managing editor of The Vibes asked me to start a column for his new portal - and the www.thevibes.com is certainly the portal to watch - I told myself I will need something else than the Mac to get through this frosty writer's/blogger's block. Something new but, at the same time, something familiar.

Just like the Sabahan voters, I suppose, I opted for one that I know will work hard for me. And, hopefully, when the going gets tough ...

p.s. Panasonic did not pay me to write this piece. I'm actually hoping that The Vibes will pay for the Toughbook!

Friday, September 25, 2020

Where politicians play dangerous games


BSC, 25/9: Last night Shafie Afdal said sorry to the Sabah people for the inconvenience he'd caused by calling for the "snap" election, which happens tomorrow and involves over a million voters throughout the state.  
The caretaker Chief Minister said he had to dissolve the Dewan Negeri in August to deny parties that wanted to seize power from him.  
Shafie said with Covid-19 (Sabah travellers bring infections to KL, Selangor, Kelantan) there is a possibility that voters might be infected. "But the political turmoil and the power grab have forced me to dissolve the state assembly so the people can decide. We are giving the mandate to the people," he said on FB.  
Such hypocrisy, so common in Malayan politics, has found a toehold in the political landscape of Sabah.  
And it has become even more prevalent in the the past weeks of intense campaigning by candidates vying for the 73 precious seats in the state assembly. 
The anti-Malaya campaign, I've decided, is not just another big hypocrisy but also mighty dangerous. Yes, Sabahans have always felt a little special compared with their fellow Malaysians from the Semenanjung. And if we are to be honest, we in Semenanjung also feel that they are a little more special than us. How do you explain the feeling that you are "not in Malaysia" whenever you are in KK or Kudat or Ranau and Kundansang? 
Their cultures are so different, the air fresher, the people somehow more beautiful. 
But this anti-Malaya political spin is, simply put, dangerous. Even more dangerous than the racial and religious card that the Malayan people of Malay, Chinese, Indian dll origins are often accused of playing. 
It doesn't matter who wins tomorrow, but the Chief Minister of the new government had better take urgent steps to stop this dangerous brand of politics. We Malayans would rather the frogs than politicians who'd put national integration at risk just as long as they can gain, or regain, power.


Monday, September 14, 2020

Covid19 Sabah outbreak: Shouldn't we postpone the 26/9 polls?

updated Malaysia Day:

9,969 cases since Jan 25
"I'm quite worried ..." - PM yesterday

Original take:

Covid-19: New cases still emerging in Sabah, health staff told to be wary

"All frontline workers need to take note of this," said Health Ministry director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah. 
COVID-19 | The number of people infected with Covid-19 in Sabah has continued to grow as a state election campaign is in progress.
According to the Health Ministry, there were 47 new Covid-19 cases detected in the country, of which 31 were found in Sabah alone as of noon today.
While most of the new infections in Sabah were linked to the Benteng LD cluster with 22 cases, there were also cases detected from screenings at health clinics (four), quarantine centres (two) and a police station lock-up (one). One case in Sabah involved a health worker and another involved someone who sought treatment for influenza-like illnesses. - Malaysiakini
Source: Sabahoutbreak.com
Source: Malaysiakini

Puchong, Mon 13/9: Yesterday, 31 more new C-19 cases were reported in Sabah (out of 46 nationwide). The number is likely to be higher today. And in the days to come, too,  as bigger and bigger numbers of people from Malaya, including VIPs and VVIPs, head for Kota Kinabalu for the state's 'snap' election on 26 September. Some will be coming to KK via Sibu in Sarawak where the national-level Hari Malaysia celebrations will take place this Wednesday. 
If this wasn't a state election but a K-pop concert or a sporting even or a regional economic forum, chances are the authorities would have told  the organisers to pack their bags and come back next year if they still like to organise their events. The Ministry of Health has made us postpone or cancel many public gatherings and events since the MCO in March so it's quite easily done (and we didn't complain). 
But this is a state election, it involves powerful people and tons of money and must, therefore, be treated differently, I suppose. 
Or maybe, despite the new C-19 clusters and numbers and whatever Dr Noor Hisham tells us, there is nothing to really to be wary or worried about, really. 
P.S: The group I'm advising is organising a Hari Malaysia program in KK. As organiser, Personally, I hope we won't have to postpone it because of the spike in C-19 cases. But if we have to, we'll have to, you know what I mean?

Thursday, September 03, 2020

Facebook and news: Blackmail of the decade?

Facebook vows to block news stories in Australia rather than pay for them
A new proposed law in Australia would require companies such as Facebook and Google to pay for news organisations' content.  Read the story HERE 
Read also: What happens FB follows through on its threat to remove news in Australia?

SHOULD WE PAY FOR NEWS? As a newsman, I say yes, of course, someone should pay for news. News bring in advertising revenues and therefore those who produce the news - journalists like me and the companies we work for - ought to be paid. It's only fair. BUT (and that's a big but) I don't think the people should be the ones who should pay for news. The people should get their news for free. Corporations that make money from the news and from content produced by newspapers, newsportals, and new organisations should pay for news.

I've been a journalist for over 30 years and I treat what I do as a service to the people. Through this blog of mine, for example, I've been sharing and sometimes breaking news for over a decade, f.o.c. It has been a conscious decision on my part from Day 1 (that would be sometime in May 2006) to not involve even Google ads. I'm  (also because I don't want those "Looking for Malay girls?" kind of advertisements to appear anywhere on this blog). Now, more than ever, we need to ensure that people like you get news that are factual, news brought to you without fear or favour.

Corporations like Facebook have thrived partly because of the news content that they get from us. They should pay for content created by newspapers, newsportals, and other media organisations that produce news. It's only fair to professionals like me. If they don't wish to pay for the news, stop taking the news content from those news organisations and pretend like you're doing us a favour. The likes of Facebook should produce their own news then. Become a news organisation themselves and compete with the rest of us for advertising money on equal footing. At the very least, we will thank them for creating jobs for the journalists. Too many of us have been laid off in these difficult times.


Tuesday, September 01, 2020

Sabah's next Chief Minister

Who will be Sabah’s new CM?: (from top left) Shafie, Jeffrey, Hajiji, Bung Mokhtar, Musa or a new candidate?

IN Questions rife in Sabah elections, Philip Golingai, otai columnist and journalist of the Star, refuses to make predictions, even after having spoken to scores of voters on his 1,300 km sojourn around the North Borneo state to try and feel the mood on the ground ahead of the 26/9 polls. "Right now, it's still iffy ...," he writes in his column. Iffy, indeed. We aren't even sure if there will be elections in the first place (read Federal Court allows Musa Aman to challenge Shafie Afdal's appointment as Sabah CM). 

And if Sabahans do get to go to the polls, the dynamics of this snap elections are like nothing they have seen. "It's a free-for-all," says another seasoned reporter. 

Anifah, Masidi (bottom left), Kar Kiat (bottom right)

Already, we're seeing Anifah Aman, probably the best Foreign Minister this nation has ever had, drawing keen attention during his walkabouts at his ancestral hometown Beaufort. He's had heated exchanges with caretaker CM Shafie, a former Cabinet colleague, over the latest claim over Sabah made by the Philippines, an issue that will win (and lose) a lot of votes. This suited Anifah. Shafie and contingent, on other hand, were seen last week in Anifah's stronghold. Coincidence? Maybe, but some political observers think Shafie, a consummate politician, may have felt the need to see for himself the potential threat from those parts of the State. 

Other than Anifah, who's very clear about his intentions (Anifah offers himself as alternative to Musa, Shafie), there's the extremely likeable and capable Masidi Manjun of Bersatu and there's the comeback (old) kid Cheong Kah Kiat, who was CM from 2001 to 2003. 

And as if Sabahans are not already spoilt for choice, there's talk that another former Sabah CM (1994-96) is on the way back. Salleh Said Keruak would tell friends that his application to become an Umno member has not even been approved, but there are already rumours about him - not Bung Mokhtar - being Umno's CM candidate for the 26/9 elections. Salleh may be fielded in Usukan, known for its beautiful cove, snorkelling and fishing.

All this, mind you, is just the warm-up. Looking forward to reading Philip Golingai's predictions for the Sabah elections ...