Thursday, April 15, 2021

Government got money or not?

Ramadan 4, 1442: When the Prime Minister of a country says the Government does not have much money left, that's serious. Everyone should be panicky. It means the Government no longer has the funds to manage the country properly, let alone pay its debts. In other words, we're reaching rock bottom. Will there be enough money to pay civil servants' salaries? 

 Well, that was what PM Muhyiddin Yasin said yesterday, believe it or not. 

KUALA LUMPUR – Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said Putrajaya’s coffers are depleting after the government allocated more than RM600 billion for Budget 2021 and other stimulus packages to help Malaysians weather the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said the government had spent large amounts of money last year and this year due to the virus, adding the stimulus packages for the national budget totalled RM340 billion, while RM322 billion was set aside for the national budget.

“I went to school, but I am not good at calculation... how much it adds up... it's more than RM600 billion – that’s a big sum of money,” Muhyiddin said during a Vaisakhi celebration event with the Sikh community in Petaling Jaya.

“What I am trying to say here is that we don’t have much money left.” 

Fortunately, there was no panic reaction to Muhyiddin's remarks. There was no bank run, no riot or looting, nobody died, the stock exchange was nonchalant. In short, nobody was panicky. But how come? 

"Nobody believed him, probably," said one corporate leader friend.

Aiyoo, really?

Well, maybe. One think tank has come to argue that what Muhyiddin said was NOT TRUE. 

PETALING JAYA: A public policy think tank has described as “unsubstantiated and misleading” the statement by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin that the government is running out of money after spending RM340 billion on economic stimulus measures and RM322 billion on the 2021 budget.

Research for Social Advancement said the statement has misinterpreted the term “government spending” and overstated the fiscal burden on the state coffers.

Researcher Jaideep Singh said the RM40 billion in withdrawals from the Employees Provident Fund was not a fiscal stimulus as it had come from the contributors’ own savings.

“For other macro-financial measures, support typically comes from Bank Negara, which does not rely on government money and therefore does not directly affect the country’s fiscal deficit,” he said in a statement.

Jaideep said the finance ministry itself had admitted that only about RM72.6 billion, or 21.4%, of the total RM340 billion figure took the form of direct government expenditure through fiscal injections.

“This figure covers health spending, cash transfers, the Wage Subsidy Programme and infrastructure spending, which are all borne out of the government’s budget,” he said.

He said the actual amount of government spending to date was likely to be even lower than the RM72.6 billion previously announced by the finance ministry, since not all fiscal injections were immediate.

“There is a time lag between the announcement of fiscal policy measures and the eventual disbursement of funds,” he said.

The remaining RM267.4 billion, he said, covered a range of strategic, operational and monetary policy measures, including loan moratorium extensions, tax exemptions, loan guarantees and financing schemes.

“Some of these, such as tax relief, do not have a direct accounting value apart from the opportunity cost of tax money foregone, which is likely to be negligible for affected sectors anyway.”

He also argued that higher spending due to the stimulus measures was not unprecedented, citing the 2009 budget, which had a fiscal deficit of 6.7% amid the financial crisis.

Jaideep said now was not the time for alarmist claims, adding that the country can already expect an increase in government revenue beyond the 2021 budget’s forecast, with recent hikes in oil prices.

He said the most recent Pemerkasa package had also suggested that the government still had fiscal space to introduce substantial new injections.

“Ultimately, the way out of the pandemic-induced contraction is to implement more directed, strategic expansionary fiscal policy measures to promote consumption and crowd-in private sector investment, not to make unsubstantiated claims about the government’s fiscal situation,” he said.


Thursday, April 08, 2021

The Malay Male finds his calling at a halal pub

Amir's Half-Easy

Followers of local blogs earlier this century may remember The Malay Male (not to be confused with The Malay Mail), a blog about the dark side of a young journalist from Pahang blinded by the city lights. Well, the journalist and author of that blog, Amir Hafizi, is now 41 and has just joined us at Bru Publication, the publisher of, as head of its newest division - BOOKS! There's only one reason why Amir is there: to help fellow journalists get published. Yes, believe it or not, very few of us journos can claim to be authors of books even though we may have written thousands of articles in newspapers and magazines. The late Ahmad A. Talib, for example, had written columns for the New Straits Times for decades before he passed last year. But not a hard cover or a paperback in his name and that's our loss. 

Amir has lined up at least three big titles for 2021 and while Malaysia waits he has decided to start a column in The Mole called Amir's Half-Easy. Missing is the trademark colorful language of The Malay Male but nearly two decades on, it's still the same, old Amir.

Excerpts from Amir's Half-Easy - What's in a name 

Half-Easy is a play on how my name – Hafizi – is pronounced. That fulfils the ‘writer obsessed with himself’ trope. It also sounds like how one wants his or her eggs, but that would be half-boiled or overeasy.

Talking about eggs, I like the fact that it sounds like the opposite to ‘hardboiled’ as in ‘hardboiled crime thriller’ because I discovered that I’m not noir and more grey or beige in my views of the world.

Also, it is quite sexy, suggesting that I’m only half-easy. A fully easy person is of course a slut and I am no slut, not for a lack of trying. The long list of women I was interested in but who later married better men is a testament to my failures as a slut.

Half-easy also means that some parts of me are hard – which is what is required for certain… tasks.

 Want to read stuff from The Malay Male?

Still want? Go here. 

Thursday, April 01, 2021

Annuar, KJ, Reezal: Traitors or rebels? (The ones likely to challenge Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, with a vengeance, at the next Umno elections)

Bangsar, 1 April: Booed and 'parasited' at the last Umno general assembly didn't kill Annuar Musa. And what doesn't kill him makes the seasoned politician stronger. 

"I will continue to serve the people, especially in Wilayah Persekutuan. And discharge my duties as Minister of FT to the best of my ability," he told friends after leaving the PWTC, the Umno headquarters where he and several other Umno leaders labelled as Bersatu-lickers had been given hell by delegates to the party's general assembly last weekend.

"And less politics, more work," he added. 

The last line, no doubt, is meant as an indirect swipe at  those in Umno, not least the party's president (criticizing the party president directly/openly can be costly, as Annuar's own press officer Tun Faisal Ismail Aziz found out last week), who have put the party on a warpath with its two Malay partners in the ruling Perikatan Nasional coalition - PAS and the hated Bersatu led by PM Muhyiddin Yasin.

At the assembly, Umno announced it was going to severe ties with Bersatu come the next general election, whenever that is (GE15 must be held by 2023). It was also decided that Umno leaders who hold Cabinet positions in the current government will eventually resign from their posts and leave the Government. Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who's facing multiple corruption charges in court, said the party would also go after "traitors" within the party. A clear warning to those who'd rather serve Bersatu or the government than the party.

Annuar, 65 next month, is one of nine Umno leaders who serve as Cabinet Minister in the PN government. He is also the most senior and in recent months has become probably the biggest critic of Zahid. 

The other thorn on Zahid's bud is Khairy Jamaluddin, 45, the Science, Technology and Innovation Minister and MP for Rembau. Observers are expecting more fireworks on the way after his post-assembly call to the Umno Supreme Council to "do the right thing" and ensure that party elections, due later this year, are not delayed.

KJ had given Zahid a run for his money at the last Umno elections in 2018. At the same elections, Annuar Musa, ironically, contested as Zahid's running mate but lost to former Negri Sembilan Menteri Besar Mohamad Hasan for the deputy presidency. At last weekend's general assembly, Zahid and Tok Mat, normally not chummy with each other,  were seen as a cohesive pact together with Umno's former president Najib Razak. Party insiders said that was the plan. They took pains to make sure the trio were seen to be on the same side in the face of the so-called parasites and traitors. 

Another Umno minister in Bersatu's Cabinet, Reezal Merican Naina Merican, has also spoken up. In If we quit, Umno's image will be tarnished, the 48-year old Youth and Sports Minister said Umno ministers in the PN government are doing their best to help the people and country. "There's no end to our duties and responsibilities. If we desert our responsibilities now, it will tarnish Umno's name," he said.

The Umno general assembly did not require Annuar, KJ, Reezal or any of the other Umno ministers in Muhyiddin's Cabinet to resign as Ministers immediately. But all know they are hanging by a thread which is held by Ahmad Zahid. The party president also decides where they contest in GE15, if they get to contest at all.

The only way to change that is to dislodge the president in the next party elections. As I see it, there will not be a shortage of willing candidates. But most probably, it will be either KJ again or Zahid's ex running mate Annuar Musa. 

Read also: The biggest losers if Umno leaves PN  Rocky's Bru, 18 Oct 2020; No DAP, No Anwar, No Bersatu, Mahupun No Umno, Sukan milik semua - Getaran, 1 April 2021; PAS, Pribumi to stay together - The Mole, 1 April 2021

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Umno-PKR, why not? As long as it’s not the devil

Updated: An advisor to the Umno president hints at an Umno-PKR collaboration happening AFTER, not before, GE15. Read What I expect from Zahid's speech

Original post

KL, 27 March: Annuar Musa sure knows how to put his own party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi in a spot. And the seasoned Kelantanese politician does it with amazing regularity these days. Latest, he matter-of-factly urged his boss to use the Umno general assembly, which starts today, to explain the Umno-PKR cooperation, a subject that has raised lots of questions about the president as well as former president and ex-PM Najib Razak's intentions.

"There have been speculations, questions and contradicting news repots (on the cooperation). Some say that the president discussed with PKR; some say there was a letter with signature supporting [PKR president} Anwar Ibrahim. Anwar was also reported as saying that there were discussions, but not cooperation. PKR sec-gen Saifudin Nasution Ismail said they were just normal meetings." - Annuar Musa, speaking to reporters after an event graced by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin today.

People tend to think that Annuar Musa is doing this because he has little to lose, especially after he had lost his secretary-general post in Barisan Nasional in January for his regular taunts aimed at the president. But I believe Annuar is simply asking Zahid to come clean: if Umno is to work with Anwar Ibrahim's PKR, the party must be allowed to decide; it cannot be left to individuals within Umno, not even Zahid or former president and PM Najib Razak, 

And I think he's right. If the General Assembly decides tomorrow to formally end Umno's ties with PM Muhyiddin Yasin's ruling Bersatu, it will need a winning path from now until the general election, which must happen by 2023, or die. 

Zahid's people fear that coming clean on the PKR matter could cost him the presidency at Umno elections in August (and the more suspicious ones suspect that Annuar Musa is eying for Zahid's seat because he has nothing to lose). But if Zahid and the immensely popular Najib both think that PKR and Anwar Ibrahim are the way to go, they really should just explain why. If Mahathir Mohamad's worst enemies could be persuaded to accept the Tun as PM for the second time in 2018, how hard would it be to cajole Umno into working with Anwar Ibrahim? 

No permanent friends or foes in politics, remember? In Ku Li's words, Umno may work with anyone ...  anyone but the Devil

READ also Umno PAU-wow: Future in Perikatan for GE15  tops agenda by The Vibes Mat Hassan sees Umno winning at least 70 seats on its ow, without PAS by The Mole PAU2020: Masa untuk Umno  bukti kemampuan diri by Getaran

Thursday, March 18, 2021

What's really bugging RUM - Peja, the Transport Minister, or the prospect of KTMB going to China?

: Prasarana, the government-owned public transportation company, sacks its president and CEO.  When politicians run corporations, things can go wrong very quickly ... 

Original posting:

There seems to be a lot going on at KTM Berhad in spite of the pandemic. The story that has been making its rounds lately is that the workers' union in the government-linked rail company is up in arms as KTMB awaits new chairman (March 14). 

[The new chairman, Peja]  will also have to contend with RUM, a union known for being aggressive but short of militant. The union is vehemently opposed to the new CEO appointed by (Transport) Minister Dato Dr Wee Ka Siong, against Destini-KTMB JV to do MRO, and up in arms with MoT's preference for China's CRRC
Those who know the history of RUM would readily cite the big strike of 1962 - The days when Malaya's railwaymen went off the rails. But that's history. Trade unions of today are nowhere near as militant and RUM is no different. But we also rarely hear of a trade union that's against almost everything that the management is trying to do. And that is what's exactly happening at KTMB now.

Talk that the recently ousted Perak Menteri Besar Ahmad Faizal Azumu, 51, affectionately known as Peja, who is also the deputy president of the ruling Muhyiddin-led party, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, will be appointed chairman of KTMB isn't helping with matters.  

RUM president

If RUM president Abdul Razak Mohd Hassan hasn't made an appointment to meet with Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong to trash out the issues at hand, I suggest he makes one. 

But if it's true that the union has lost faith in the Minister over the recent appointment of KTMB's chief executive officer, or it fears a China takeover, and maybe like most of us is NOT in favour of a politician like Peja helming KTMB, Razak should ask to meet the Prime Minister himself.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

RM10k fine for breaking SOP: Law Minister's admission too little, too late

KL, 16 March: Takiyuddin Hassan's admission that the RM10,000 compound  "wouldn't be appropriate for minor violations such as not wearing a face mask" [read Gtovt to spell out offences for RM10,000 compound] is so welcomed. Like rain on a hot day. Alas, the Law Minister's statement can do nothing to wash away the mud and the dirt and the sumpah-seranah that the people have been slinging at Muhyiddin Yassin's Government for coming up with the ridiculous compound in the first place. It  was an ordinance passed unilaterally by lawmakers like Takiyuddin himself as Parliament has been suspended because of the state of Darurat that the King, on the advice of the Prime Minister, had proclaimed in January. 

If anything, the admission confirms the fact that this Government doesn't really know what it's doing most of the times. 

That it is, indeed, uncaring and out of touch.

Same thing with the preposterous RM100,000 fine for so-called fake news on Covid-19. What were they thinking, eh, YB Takiyuddin?

Read also: Confusion over ways to appeal RM10k fine. Everyone's confused, even the health state authorities that are said to be the ones you see if you're appealing :) DAP, PKR to anyone issued RM10k compound ,,, One thing this Government is good at: making the Opposition look good :) 

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Foundation for jobless journalists: How about you (also) help us end the long, long wait for a Malaysian Media Council before that?

I am 100 per cent with the Malaysian Press Institute in lauding Communications and Multimedia Deputy Minister Zahidi Zainul Abidin's suggestion on a new foundation to help media industry practitioners who have lost their jobs. It's okay if the initiative came a little late in the game. Better late than never, as the cliché goes. 

But we the media are so aware of the late and the never. Oh yes we are. Take for example the proposal to set up the Malaysian Media Council, or Press Council when it was mooted. Zahidi's ministry has been sitting on this for at least 40 years now!  Many of the original champions of the MMC (or Press Council when it was first mooted) have retired or died. When Gobind Singh was made Comms and Multimedia Minister under PH rule, the Cabinet agreed to the setting up of the MMC and the ministry helped journalists to come together and rework the MMC idea to suit the dawn of a new era. A protem committee was set up, of which I was a small part, and a comprehensive final report submitted after months of deliberation. Then came another change of government. Gobind's successor Saifuddin Abdullah, we believe, has gone through the report. He couldn't have been too busy. In fact, I believe Saifuddin would have tabled the MMC bill in Parliament if not for the Darurat that was declared last January that prohibited Parliament to be in session until August.

So, yes, I support Zahidi's idea to set up a foundation for journalists who lost their jobs during the Covid-19. You'll never know when the next pandemic will hit us.

Tuesday, March 09, 2021

Why hasn't a single Malaysian journalist been vaccinated? And other questions that popped up during the Pop Meals press conference this morning

updated: Three journos among frontliners to get jabs

10 March: Readers pointed out to me after this posting yesterday that the Sarawak government included journalists in their first phase of vaccination. 13 veteran journalists were picked, according to reports. Hats off to Abang Jo

Original posting:

It's nice when someone acknowledges your existence. Better still, if whatever it is you're doing is recognized, praised, remembered. Pop Meals, a popular local fast-food name, made us at the National Press Club of Malaysia feel very appreciated today: they have offered to donate RM5k from their proceeds to our Journalists Welfare Fund to help reporters and photographers in need during the pandemic. We have to do a bit of work to get that money, though, so if you'd like to help, click HERE  (pls come back later).

At the press conference in Cyberjaya, I thanked Cik Nurul Jamaludin, the Comms boss for Pop Meals, for having us journalists/NPC/JWF in mind. It helped because Mr KH Lim, Pop Meal's PR agency, was a long-time journalist himself. In the last one year, hundreds of journalists have lost jobs as newspaper companies and news sites buckled under the economic slowdown. The thing about us at the NPC is that we are so shy about asking for help.  "Journalists would be so loud when we champion a cause but when it comes to our own predicament, we tend to suffer quietly," I said. Which is why we cherish friends like Pop Meals. They paused to ask if we needed help.

Last year, the Petra Group (before it launched The Vibes in September and then their Bahasa Melayu news site Getaran) approached the NPC and offered to help journalists during the pandemic. Hong Leong Bank also came forth to donate much-needed funds. Since 2006, the Journalists Welfare Fund has helped some 150 journalists, including a Bernama journo who was killed on duty in Somalia. 

We at the NPC don't make it a habit to ask the Government for handouts but, I told the press conference, it would be nice if YB Khairy Jamaluddin, our de facto vaccine minister, would recognize the role of journalists as frontliners in the war against Covid-19 and make us part of the priority group for vaccination.  

As of March 8, according to the Health DG, over 166k have received jabs for Covid-19, says DG)  I don't know of any journalist among those 166,363 people.

Monday, March 08, 2021

Vaccine race: 400 questions (and counting) on why Russia's 92% Sputnik V is still not in Malaysia

MALAYSIA signed a deal with Russia for the Sputnik V in January. The agreement, witnessed by our Health Minister Adham Baba, was a "first step in establishing full-fledged bilateral cooperation which does not just include shipments of the Russian vaccine but also creates Malaysia's own scientific and research base to produce 9it in the country". 

Sounds great, right?  Except, nothing has come out of it. Representatives of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) have been heard complaining that they have been given the run around. We've heard jokes about Russian spies interrogating and torturing their enemies but in the case of trying to supplying the vaccines to Malaysia, it is the Russians who are the subject of interrogation (and, presumably, torture). 

KJ: It's all about "efficacy and safety"

De facto minister for vaccination Khairy Jamaluddin's tongue-in-cheek, when he mentioned the NPRA's asking "300 questions at one go" in a statement recently, is not lost as the industry has been talking about those nerds upping the ante ever since with over 400 questions - and counting!

The question is, how many questions - and how much longer - do you need to determine the efficacy and safety of a vaccine? Refer BBC's report on Sputnik V's 92% efficacy in Feb.

While Malaysia makes it utterly difficult for the Russians to supply them their vaccines, some countries will have to wait longer than expected for their Sputnik V as Moscow struggles to meet orders from over 50 countries from Latin America, Europe and West Asia. 

Monday, March 01, 2021

Meet the three biggest Darurat offenders

In January, when the Agong finally granted PM Muhyiddin Yasin his wish for Emergency rule, purportedly to help contain the rising Covid-19 cases, there were those among us who were skeptical and those who chose to believe what they were told: that this was a "political Darurat". To allow Muhyiddin to focus on saving our lives, he needed the political Darurat so that his position as PM is secured and not threatened by political threats. Talks of no-confidence vote in Parliament must not be allowed. 

And so, in the name of God, Parliament would not sit until a time set by the King. (read the PM's full speech on 12 Jan, the day after Darurat took effect, here). 

Some excerpts:

24. Of late, there have been parties urging for elections to be held. I never have the intention to not have the elections. The main thing that prevented me from advising His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to dissolve Parliament to enable the General Election to be held is the COVID-19 pandemic.

25. The decision not to hold elections amidst the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic is in line with one of the five principles of Maqasid Syariah which is to take care of life or hifz al-nafs. In this context, it is my duty as the Head of Government to take care of the lives of the people by protecting you all from COVID-19 infections. This is the most important task as enshrined and propagated in Islam.

26. Therefore, I want to give my firm commitment here that the General Election will be held as soon as the Independent Special Committee acknowledges that the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided or fully recovered and elections are safe to be held. At that time, it is up to the people to choose which government is capable and would be given the mandate to govern this country and take care of the welfare of the people. Trust me, this is my commitment and pledge which I will fulfill, God willing.

27. For me, in a situation where the country and people are facing great harm, it is very important that all politicians set aside their political differences and stand in solidarity with the people. When it comes to time for politicking, then do so, with responsibility.

It's been nearly two months. The Darurat is still in effect, with no sign of it being lifted (except for the King's rather queer statement the other day that Parliament can sit despite Emergency.) 

Since the Emergency took effect on Jan 11, there has been no talk of a no-confidence vote and no claim by Anwar Ibrahim or anyone else of having majority in Parliament. The Opposition even decided to take part in the bi-partisan committee to advise the King on the Darurat.

The ones who have shown no regards for the political Darurat are the three Berhormats in the photograph above. 

Muhyiddin and  his the new political asses he had just acquired not only defied the principles of the political Darurat, they did it with no qualms whatsoever. After all, there are those who will believe whatever the PM and his new political assets tell them ....

... like when the PM says the defections would certainly help in the fight against Covid-19 :) Read here; excerpts: 

Muhyiddin, in a post on his official Facebook account, said the SDs were handed over to him by Julau MP Larry Sng Wei Shien and Tebrau MP Steven Choong Shiau Yoon.

"The SDs were signed and handed over to me after the retreat of the Cabinet members in conjunction with the one-year anniversary of the PN administration in Putrajaya," he said.

Muhyiddin expressed his gratitude as the support would certainly strengthen the PN government in its efforts and plans to manage the Covid-19 pandemic and the country's economic recovery. 

Or when Larry Sng tells you that he quits PKR to support Muhyiddin because of  the country's political instability

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Vaccine rollout Feb 26 (kempen pilihanraya menyusul?)

The vaccines are here - Getaran pic

Why Muhyiddin is first vaccine taker - KJ

A piece of good news we've all been waiting for. Well. most of us, anyway; some Malaysians don't believe in the vaccine. Tahniah buat YB KJ dan sahabat-sahabat lain di dalam Kabinet yang bertungkuslumus mencari vaksin melawan Covid-19 buat kita semua. Hats off to the Prime Minister for agreeing to be a guinea pig; now nobody can make so much fuss about shorter quarantine periods for Cabinet ministers. For the record, if they ask me to be the first Malaysian journalist to get the vaccine, I'd be happy to. But other than in Sarawak (Sarawak journalists to be vaccinated under 1st phase of Covid-19 immunisation), Malaysian journalists are not part of the frontliners who will be vaccinated on Feb 26. The Muhyiddin Administration isn't really crazy about us the media. We're not sure why.

What we're sure about is this: starting Feb 26, Muhyiddin's election campaign begins in earnest. Starting that day, the numbers for Covid-19 cases will continue to fall drastically and then they will get the Agong to rescind the Emergency Order that has, among other things, suspended Parliament until August (subject to recommendations by a special committee). 

You've probably seen pictures circulated online about a political party's preparations for the next GE. I won't fall off my chair if the PM calls for general elections just after the Holy Ramadan in May.


p.s. Some political observers interpret changes in the media as a hint of an upcoming poll. We've heard that ownerships of Free Malaysia Today and TMI (The Malaysian Insight) are changing hands. Invariably, the new owners will be linked to some politicians, somehow, and soon one will notice changes in editorial leanings and affiliations. For those of us who know, we've known for a while that a lot of news portals haven't been doing well even before the pandemic and are fighting to stay alive. FMT and TMI, therefore, are the lucky ones, if you ask me. If there had been no buyers for these portals, they will close shop. They close shop, scores of journalists will lose jobs and join hundreds who have been retrenched since the first MCO. We can't have that.

Tuesday, February 02, 2021

The sorry story of Mahathir's last Attorney-General

Praise has turned into blowback for TT

Former Attorney-General Tommy Thomas sure knows how to sell himself. The extensive media coverage previewing his book My Story: Justice in the Wilderness has quickly made it a bestseller. Juicy stuff sell, this is Malaysia. As the former Law Minister Zaid Ibrahim tweeted: "Although my tenure as Minister was short, I too had some juicy stuff to tell. But I thought my oath of office would prevent me from disclosing them. I should have consulted Tommy and make some money". 

But money can't buy Tommy Thomas respect. Initial praise for his book has quickly turned into brickbat. The former AG's attempt to tell on others has exposed himself - and his friends - wide open, instead. 

"In his book, written with the help of several politicians including DAP's Liew Ching Tong and Syahredzan Johan, as well as former Bersih chairman Ambiga Sreenevasan and businessman Kalimullah Hassan of ECM Libra Group, Thomas admitted to having eyed the top legal post since 2013, during an election year which the opposition did not win." - We won't stoop to your level, lawyer tells Thomas off over "secret ambition" to become AG 

Lawyers and ex-lawyers are yelling insults at him.  "We are not dishonorable like he is .. this is the man who has admitted to having the desire in his small mind of becoming the AG (since 2013)," said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's lawyer Haniff Kathri Abdula. 

Another outspoken, hot-shot lawyer, has this to say about TT:

The revelations in Tommy Thomas' book of his discussions with and advices given to the Prime Minister, the YDPA and the Majlis Raja-Raja and other government officials are highly improper. Under Act 145 of the Federal Constitution, he is the principal adviser to the government. He is reposed with confidentiality. He has breached that confidentiality by exposing publicly in a book which is self-serving, for commercial and pecuniary benefit. How low can that be?

These are matters made known to him by virtue of his position in such high office. It may be entertaining. Of course, it will be. But at what price, of the dignity of the position he holds and more importantly - what does it say about him as a lawyer and the damage done to our nation whereas there are pending cases which may be prejudiced by his indiscretion?

More importantly, TT has breached his oath of office on secrecy. He has breached Section 8 and can be arrested under the Official Secrets Act.

He has also committed an offence under Section 203A Penal Code as the information disclosed in the book was obtained by TT in the performance of his duties or in the exercise of his functions as AG under the law.

What is most glaring is his own admission that he had coveted the post of AG since GE13 and had struck a bargain with the DAP/PH leaders to be made AG when come to power. That brings into question his decision to discontinue the prosecution in the LTTE cases and the corruption cases against Lim Guan Eng.

Ah, yes, that name. Reminding myself how Mahathir Mohamad, the Prime Minister then, was shocked that the MACC was shocked over Guan Eng's acquittal ... Rule of law, konon. 

I haven't read TT's book but I guess the reason why he needed to write it was to clear his name and rebuild his reputation, so disparaged they were by the events of the brief rule of Pakatan Harapan under Dr Mahathir. So far, judging by the reviews and the response from readers, especially his peers, Tommy Thomas has failed again. Perhaps more miserably than before.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Taman Rimba Kiara: Why Annuar Musa should be happy with the Court of Appeal's ruling

Original piece 27 Jan:
In June 2016, a petite news portal called The Mole reported a plan by a major developer to build, among other things, eight  blocks of luxury condominiums on Taman Rimba Kiara, a project so massive it would increase the neighborhood's population density by 10 times and all but annihilate one of the last remaining green lungs in Taman Tun Dr Ismail (a claim the developer and the collaborating authorities have vehemently denied). It was thought aloud at one time that the condos would render it necessary for a six-lane highway to be built right in the middle of TTDI but that plan was later shelved, mysteriously, just before the 2018 general elections ...

This blog picked up The Mole's story the following day:

Taman Tun Dr Ismail, 21 June: Watch out, developer of this proposed project in TTDI. The residents have put up with quite a few high rise properties that have clogged their space in recent years but they are not about to let their precious park go down without a stiff fight. Watch out, too, City Hall. How can you even consider such a development that will adversely affect Rimba Kiara?  And where's the local MP?
"Why can't we preserve some green lung for the next generation?" a resident demanded. 

Five years on, The Mole, petite as ever, happily published this good news earlier yesterday: TTDI residents hail court decision on Taman Rimba Kiara

What it means is that the Court of Appeal has declared null and void the controversial project that was to be undertaken jointly by Malton Bhd's subdiary Memang Perkasa Sdn Bhd and Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan, a foundation chaired by the Federal Territories Minister. 

FT Minister Annuar Musa: Relieved?

He won't - can't - say it but I have a feeling that, deep in his heart, the FT Minister Annuar Musa is quite relieved with how the whole issue has ended. It's not his baby;  he wasn't the Minister in charge back in 2016.


Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Blogger tells Palace to defend King against blogger

In "The King to Step Down?", blogger steadyaku47, a Malaysian residing in Melbourne, mocks the King over the proclamation of the Darurat. 


In these last few weeks one question and one question only, has been on the mind of all right-thinking Malaysians. What made the King decide that an Emergency is required? He did not have time to confer with his brother rulers before he made that decision. He did not have time to be properly briefed by the health authorities on the need for the Emergency. He did not go to the people to seek their consensus on what he was going to do. Did the king carefully consider his options and understood the consequences of his actions? Or was the King induced by generous offers of the material kind by TSMY to make him agree to the proclamation of the Emergency?

Life of Annie of Kuantan, capital of the King's home state, has come to His Majesty's defense (even though I know for a fact that personally Annie is against the Emergency). Annie's Defend the Agong, please calls on the Agong's media team to start defending the King against steadyaku47, while chiding the OZ-based blogger for being brave only because he's based abroad. 

2015 pic courtesy of Life of Annie:
"I always see Sultan Abdullah as especially caring for his rakyat"

SteadyAku47 did another posting here attacking the King yesterday, which Annie describes as "even worse than the first one"

And, while the King's handlers consider their options, the blogger added another one today entitled Cash is king, or do you have to be a King to get cashThe Malaysian in Melbourne signed off with "Daulat Tuanku? I think not! Enough said". But I have a strong feeling steadyaku47 hasn't had enough; far from it.

It will be a pity, indeed, if the King's media handlers don't handle these postings properly. We all remember how our last Agong was brought down by the proverbial pen. Of course, back then A. Kadir Jasin's pen was powerful because of what he was: the advisor to the then Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Steadyaku47, on the other hand, is just a blogger acting alone. Or is he?

Saturday, January 23, 2021

No the Darurat: 114 MPs write to the King

How will the King respond?

OPPOSITION Leader Anwar Ibrahim said 114-115 Members of Parliament have sent letters to the King appealing him to end the Emergency Order.  Read it HERE

What does that mean? 

It means 114-115 MPs are clearly against PM Muhyiddin Yasin. For wrongly advising the King on the state of the pandemic in the country,  resulting in the proclamation of the so-called political “Darurat”. 

We need to understand and remember that those letters are NOT against the King. 

As Shafie Afdal the PM-wannabe and Warisan chief said in a long-winded way in No plans to challenge Emergency declaration in court, appeal letter sent to King :

“Our letter is only an appeal, we are not pressuring. We agree with the Agong's decision, we are just giving our views on the legal issues pertaining to the laws ... But we feel there is no need for an Emergency at this time."

The letters to the King sent by the 114-115 MPs, which may or may not include the eight Warisan MPs, do not mean that Anwar Ibrahim, the Opposition leader, has the majority support of Parliament, either. 

They only mean that PM Muhyiddin NO longer has that support of the majority in Parliament. When A Prime Minister no longer commands the support of the majority of MPs, he must offer to step down. The King will have no choice but to agree to his resignation even if he wishes that Muhyiddin could stay on. 

Because of the Darurat that he had wanted so much since October last year, Muhyiddin can’t now call for a general election. There’s only one other option left: leave it to the Agong’s discretion - the same budi-bicara that made Muhyiddin PM last March - to decide who should be the next PM. 

p.s. In the meantime, despite the Darurat, we broke another record for Covid-19 infections today. 4,275 new cases. 

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Will the PM throw in the towel tomorrow (please)?

The government may fall this week. No, it should fall this week. 

The Prime Minister is under siege from its ever-sulking partners Umno and with his support having dwindled to 110 MPs (and dropping), Muhyiddin Yasin can no longer claim he has the support of the majority. In which case, yes, he must get an audience with the King and declare so. Call for a general election or leave it to the King, but resign he must. Read Remember your oath to defend the Constitution? Time to seek audience with Agong, PKR MP tells Muhyddin after losing majority support..

But the people won't want to go back to the polls, that I am sure of. The voters had given their mandate in 2018 and that mandate doesn't officially expire until 2023. We've seen what happened after those Sabahan politicians forced their people to go out and vote for them again last September to settle their dispute. We have had to live with the second and third waves of the coronavirus infections primarily because of that decision. We don't want to go down that road again. 

So if Muhyiddin does the right - and demoractic - thing and resign, in the King we trust. We'll have to.

But like my friend YB Hwa Beng just said on his Twitter, the PM won't resign lah. They won't let him. Instead, tomorrow he will go on and make that special and urgent announcement on Covid-19 that we were told about last Friday as if what he says, when he chooses to say it, will make things better. Abang Din may or may not lock us down, but he will try to do his utmost so that he and them will stay in power. That's one thing they've done very, very well.

KUALA LUMPUR – Pressure continues to mount on Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on the eve of his major announcement on a rumoured lockdown, with Umno leader Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed calling for an alternative prime minister to be identified immediately. 

Saying that the movement control order (MCO) expected to be announced tomorrow is to curb the "Umno virus" and not the novel coronavirus,  Nur Jazlan said Muhyiddin's resignation is inevitable. 

This follows Muhyiddin’s loss of a parliamentary majority, which the Pulai Umno division chief said necessitates his resignation. 

The son of the late Umno stalwart Tan Sri Mohamed Rahmat, Nur Jazlan said, only if a new prime minister cannot be found must a fresh election be called, something that Umno has been pushing for as its relationship with Bersatu reaches its tipping point. 

His statement comes after Umno’s Machang MP Datuk Ahmad Jazlan Yaakob withdrew his support for the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government yesterday, effectively causing Muhyiddin to be on the brink of losing his majority. 

“Isn’t it in the constitution, the very basis of our parliamentary democracy, that the prime minister must enjoy the support of the majority of MPs? As evident now, he doesn’t, so he has to resign. 

“The next step would be to look for an alternative (prime minister). If this can’t be achieved, because no one individual commands majority support, then we have to go for an election,” he told The Vibes today. 

Thursday, January 07, 2021

Hell hath no fury like Annuar Musa scorned

TTDI, Jan 7: After his removal from BN as its powerful secretary-general, Annuar Musa has been spewing all kinds of verbal toxins at his own party and, especially, at Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi. Which is kind of sad because the Ketereh MP has jsut exposed himself as just another political ingrate in the long list of ingrates. 

Even an Umno outsider knows it was Zahid who brought Annuar back from the political cold to test his mettle against Tok Mat Hassan for the Umno deputy president post during the party's elections in 2018. As it turned out, Annuar was nowhere near Tok Mat's level but, still, Zahid gave him a post after his defeat, made him politically relevant again, and later even consented to his becoming a Cabinet minister in the present Muhyiddin administration.

Annuar Musa's journey from the cold to becoming the 'spokesman' for Muhyiddin's Bersatu (instead of his own party and president) was rather unexpected, at first. But in his own words. Annuar has always fancied himself "a Mahathir man" and said it proudly to all and sundry even after the former Umno president and Prime Minister had burnt the bridges. As FT Minister, I rank him higher than his predecessor Khalid Samad but that's not a benchmark anyone should be too proud of. 

I tweeted a couple of days ago that I was not surprised they had removed Annuar. One day about a month ago, the hugely popular Tok Mat had come into Zahid's room at PWTC, the party's headquarters, and blurted out, unfortunately in front of two senior journalists and a big blogger known to both men:

 "You should have sacked him already."

This was after Annuar had made yet another disparaging statement about Umno, as if he wasn't part of the party at all! But Zahid didn't sack him then. They continued to give Annuar enough rope for him to hang himself.

Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Reset Malaysia: Anything but Mahathir, Muhyiddin

Langkawi, Jan 5:  Even before the passing of Big Dog, there were already so few of us left from the pre-2008 blogging era (Malaysia’s 12th general election was held in May of that year), when blogs were hot and socio-political bloggers like Big Dog, Jeff Ooi, Sheikh Kickdefalla, and Elizabeth Wong were “liars” just because the Abdullah Administration didn’t understand what blogging was.

In 2021, this number will diminish further. But, like they say, the tough will get going. And two of the toughest (in my book at least) have started the year quite strongly.

In his latest posting Tiga juta menganggur: Tiga juta menganggur: Pemimpin politic tiada agenda memulih negara, hanya menjaga kepentingan mereka , Syed Akbar Ali, who was part of  an economic recovery council when Dr M was PM and the national anti-graft commission under the Najib Razak administration, lashes out at Anwar Ibrahim for not offering solutions to overcome problems facing the people. Some 3 million people are going to be jobless in 2021 and all the politicians care about are themselves, he says. Najib and Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi are not spared.

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yasin does not seem to be on OutSyed The Box’s radar but he’s definitely on blogger Salahuddin Hisham aka A Voice. In his FB posting Convince public by purging the “dinosaurs” and their ways, A Voice says the nation needs a ‘reset’ and end the reign of political dinosaurs and their ways (in reference to the likes of Tajuddin Abdul Rahman and Zeti Akhtar Aziz, apparently). 

“We need a brand new leadership, one that doesn’t involve Mahathir or Muhyiddin,” the blogger adds.   Azmin Ali’s people, don’t get too excited, though, please.

Read also

Do people still read blogs (Is blogging finally dead in 2021?)

Friday, January 01, 2021

Pimps and whores in our entertainment industry

Country’s top ‘creative’ triggers a New Year campaign to end decades of raw deal against his trade

Langkawi, Jan 1 2021: Award-winning movie producer Afdlin Shauki made no mention of YB Saifuddin Abdullah anywhere in his bruising maiden article for The Vibes entitled Low Pay and Zero Creative Freedom? That’s (Malaysian) Entertainment. But he might as well have.named the Minister of Communications and Multimedia. For the people Afdlin refers to as “creatives” come under Saifuddin’s watch. In other words, Saifuddin is directly responsible for “(we are) the whores in an industry where the pimps make all the money and treat us like crap”. 

The pimps here do not refer to Saifuddin, though. Rather, they are the television stations and investors so used to their pound of flesh. At least I think so. But politicians like Saifuddin are equally responsible because they hardly do anything to improve the system and stop the prostitution/slavery of the creatives. Afdlin wrote that these politicians would use the creatives for political and government events and then forsake them.

“... I believe things were set in motion to keep us needy and poor from the get-go. This is done by denying the creatives a fair share of the work they are doing at all levels. The people who benefit are the (television) stations and investors. The spoils of war are never shared. The rates TV stations pay have not changed much since the days of P. Ramlee.”

These are serious, harsh words from a man known for making audiences laugh but based on the peer support Afdlin is getting, I’d say Saifuddin (and the pimps) better do something quick.

Saniboey Mohd Ismail, journalist and content creator: I can feel Afdlin’s frustrations. To those broadcasters and tv stations, the ideas the creatives come up with don’t mean a thing. They (ideas) have zero value (to these stations) and when these ideas do get produced into content (which is valuable), the people who created those ideas get paid once and that’s it — they’re told to take a walk. This is what I call slavery. This is how the government or the people managing this country see art and threin lies our weakness as a society. When we (the creatives) ask for some sort of royalties or sharing of IP, the tv stations tell us that since they are funding the project, they will have full rights over the IPs. The fact  that the ideas that give birth to valuable content originated from the creatives does not seem to matter. Which is  absolutely unfair. But where to people like Afdlin go to complain, to be heard? This whole system has to change. Associations that govern the industry must stop acting like politicians. Their job is to stand up for the industry and help deal with these problems. This is not about (your) power, this is about (your) survival.

The government, on its part, should start engaging (the creatives) Commission studies on how the creatives can actually contribute towards building a better society. Ringgit and sen are equally as important as integrity and what the content creation industry needs now is respect, integrity and justice.

Jehan Miskin, actor and creative director: Afdlin has the courage to speak the cold hard truth about the entertainment industry. The seeds of the industry’s problems were sown decades ago when the government effectively allowed the TV stations to monopolise the industry.

RTM is state-run, TV3 monopolises free-to-air and Astro is the sole player in paid TV. This has led to a tremendous exploitation of the creative industry, with TV stations dictating terms, hardly paying a living wage, owning all IPs outright and many other violations that can only happen in a monopoly. 

This situation leads to the industry losing many skilled and talented film makers every year. After all, would you stay in an industry where you are and can hardly earn a living, especially if you are ambitious and crave success? 

I myself have found my company producing more commercials over the years, simply because it is healthier to compete in a free market, rather than one monopolised by the TV stations.

Would we not prefer to produce quality TV shows for audiences? Of course any film maker worth his salt would, but not if we can hardly pay our team a living wage, and create quality we would need to make a loss and after months of hard work, we end up with zero rights to this piece of work we created. 

This is truly a sad state of affaires, as the stories told by the industry are crucial to building up national identity as well as sharing our stories with the world. As long as there is no political will to improve this situation, the entertainment industry will continue to be exploitedvand lose its best talents, to the detriment of the country.

Hans Isaac, former Finas chairman/actor: We have shared many conversations and battles to make changes. Nothing has changed with the old 244 Finas Act to protect us. No Socso, no EPF, no copyright protection, salaries are the same budget, associations are all self benefitting and led by the same old guards. Trust me cos I personally gave it a shot as chairman of Finas (only 14 months) before being terminated due to the backdoor government. In nine actually working months we managed to deliver a report card of 26 improvements as Chairman. But the top 2 was to increase the RTM tv budget by 15-20 per cent across the board and to get the Selangor state to give lower cinema tax rebate from 25 per cent to 15 per cent in their 2021 Selangor Budget. Having said this our report card was not recognised by the new Finas line-up and in short they did not want to show that we made an impact. This is all due to politics. I’ve always said creative and politics don’t mix well. We do need the government support to push the legal and financial backing. Funds and guidelines can be given by the government but the structure and implentation must be designed as a commercial and viable identity for the long run. There are over 100 associations governing the industry. We need a restructuring. Many of these associations will have to be abolished.

Salleh Said Keruak, former Minister of Comms and Multimedia: The government needs to be open minded about the issues being raised. (When I was the minister) I did organise brainstorming with the creatives. More discussions should be held to tackle the various issues in step by step. Look at it positively

p.s. This blogger could not get Saifuddin to respond to his WhatsApp messages. A couple of top tv execs contacted have chosen to wait and see ...