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Sakmongkol ak 47

Saturday 31 July 2010

Melayu Malaysia dan Melayu Singapura

Why do we bother about Singapore Malays. They have been taking care of themselves since 45 years( Singapore was asked to leave Malaysia in 1965). What they have achieved is owned by them. how they got where they are today is largely a product of who they are and what they can become. More of what they can become. Because in the final analysis, the determining factor is the achieved norm- what you can do with your abilities.
They may not have a high CPI compared to the Singapore Chinese and Singapore Indians. Their lot is a cause for sympathy because of our ethnic identity, but we can't interfere nor can we judge them. the recent speech given by one of the Malay thought leaders at a Berita Harian do, represents the thinking of Singapore Malays generally. He was saying that Malays in Malaysia have no reason to be judgmental on them. They adapt to the enabling environment in that country.
I tend to agree with his assertions. I have always felt that Singapore Malays have a robust thinking personality. They know they have to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. They have to advance through education and hard work. They depend less on government assistance. They qualify themselves for government assistance by helping themselves first. Hence many mosques were built by government matching the Malays Dollar by Dollar. Some are now built by harnessing the Malay community's own resources.
Having empathy with them, regretting their lot relative to the more affluent Singapore citizens is another matter. This emotional kinship should not be translated into open political agitation. Singapore Malays deserve sympathy and encouragement and not used as a negative role model and a continuing reminder of what Malays in Malaysia can become.
Here in Malaysia, we have often heard about this slogan- Tidak Akan Melayu Hilang di Dunia. What can happen is the other way round- Melayu akan hilang dunia mereka. They will lose their world if they don't adapt to new enabling environment. That the way forward in this world is through educational excellence and hard work. These and the right enabling environment provided by good leadership.
Without these- Melayu akan hilang dunia nya!


Forget the NEP or NEM- learn from LTJ

Forget NEP or NEM- this is the way to be a high income earner.
It began with whispers that the Terengganu Investment Authority( TIA) was formed as a sovereign wealth fund on the advice of a certain Taek Jho, Low. This name was Americanized where we got it backwards. His name is Low Taek Jho. That sounds more familiar.
When the TIA was engulfed in all sort of brouhaha with rival political groups wanting their hands on it, it was decided that the Malaysian government will take over. It was renamed as 1Malaysia Develoment Berhad, 1MDB. It is now controlled by the federal government under the watchful eyes of the PM.
When it was the TIA, it was safe to assume the direct beneficiaries of the TIA are the Terengganu people. After all it is their oil royalty money. But we can't have the state handling the huge amount of money. State government doesn't have the mind to handle that amount. The Terengganu government is not sufficiently qualified to handle the oil royalty.
It could also be that the UMNO led government in Terengganu is not trusted even by the UMNO led federal government. The application of the oil royalties during the time when Idris Jusoh was the MB of Terengganu hasn't been explained fully and appeared to be swept under the carpet. The Najib administration thinks having the oil royalty money in the state government's hand is like entrusting the fox to guard the chicken coop. in addition, this is forward thinking too. What if the state government is a PAS government? It will have control over the fund then.
We also heard the whispers about this Low Taek Jho throwing a party for the PM's wife when she was in New York. This party wasn't the one, where the chubby Low was seen holding a large bottle of Champagne or something in a large bottle with the singer Usher. It was another one where no one has yet got any visual evidence. It seems that he hobnobs with the singing royalties. He was also the one who was rumored to throw another party at a leading hotel in Kuala Lumpur for the PM's wife. Again, no photos to show.
If the stories about him giving parties to the PM's wife are true, that means he enjoys a good business relationship with the PM. Low therefore joins a group of other young business people who are said to have good business relationship with the PM's wife.
It is also safe to assume that Low Taik Jho was the one who suggested the TIA be renamed as the 1MDP thus giving effective control over the fund by the federal government. Low and his associates were and are still probably influencing agents to the board of trustees of the 1MDB. I hear, the board has members from Tabung Haji, EPF and LTAT and probably others. It isn't clear whether Low and his associates are part of this group. What seems to be the case is, Low and his associates appear to exercise great influence over the running of the 1MDB creating much uneasiness on the part of older and wizened trustees of 1MDB  Sometime ago, I have written about some distinguished members of the board of trustees relinquishing their posts because of excessive interference from the Wharton trained Low. I am not going to say their leaving is bad because they may have left for the simple reason their own investment thinking wasn't dynamic enough.
When Low says he has nothing to do with the proposed development of the Sungai Besi air base, he may be speaking the truth, technically. He hasn't got direct involvement but that doesn't rule out indirect involvement.
1MDB is a prominent party in this project. Through 1MDB in which Low has persuasive powers, he can be said to have interests in that project. He may also be the deal maker behind the other parties involved in the Sungai Besi project.
We must remember that he is basically a deal maker- flipping deals here and there. He may have been the one given permission to package the project and sell it to another business group. In that way, 1MDB and others behind the Sungai Besi project do not have to do anything but enjoy receiving money by being owners of the project. It was said that when 1MDB and two other parties got the project, Low was the driving agent to flip a deal to sell the project outright to another party. Finally we hear, the owners and developers of KL's Pavilion were persuaded to develop the project. 1MDB and the others enjoy the benefits of being JV partners.
As in any JV partnership with land or projects, the owners will get a certain percentage in terms of development units and also enjoy some upfront premium. Or if the owners of the project want it, they can convert their share of development units into cash. The deal flipper who makes this deal possible then earns income as commissioned agents. Maybe we have to ask the owners and developers of Pavilion, what's involved.


Friday 30 July 2010

Let’s not get sentimental over Ling Liong Sik

I am not at all sentimental about Ling Liong Sik being charged in court. by sentimental here, I take it to mean, regretting or feeling sad that he is being charged. In my previous article I merely asked how can it be possible that Ling Liong Sik was able to prepare cabinet papers for discussion. Or that his version of the price of land to be purchased was accepted without debate. In open court, cabinet notes and minutes will have to be submitted. Many people will salivate at the prospects.
It is impossible to infer that in previous meetings the subject of any land purchases by PKA and KDSB were not raised. It's not like buying kacang puteh.
I am precisely not being sentimental by raising the issue. Because then, that would make the whole cabinet which presided on that day, culpable. Ling's lawyer must put every cabinet member deciding on that day, on the stand. And when that happens, if some people who are held in iconic esteem by some are placed in the dock, we don't want any outpouring of protests- don't, because you will be accused of being sentimental.
If that is the case, then we expect many would be charged. If I am being sentimental, I will say, come on, let Ling go because he is a former senior minister, because he was MCA's boss and because he is now a TUn. Also because he was actually PM for a few hours. That would be sentimental.
But to raise questions that would probably lead to others being in the same boat like Ling Liong Sik hardly qualifies being sentimental. Sometimes these young cikus need to be educated. You come back from Amerika, you think you are very kleva!
I am willing to say, by allowing a very high profile individual be charged, DS Najib is showing a strong hand in this. He is signaling that he is fully committed to transparency and low tolerance of corrupt practices and abuse of power. people will say that all this is sandiwara. Who cares, because the most important thing, someone is now charged. The public wants this and this will help his credibility. If this is a start, PKR people need not shout here and there asking the government to rope in more people. That will come. What if other Tuns were to be treated in the same manner? Then I hope if there is public outcry, don't say they are being sentimental.
Beyond that, we can expect other high profile people will be charged with a host of cases. Maybe now it's time to restore indictment for the 18 high profile cases which Minister Rais Yatim once said. We need to tell Rais he shouldn't hold back. Pressure the government to charge all the people in the 18 high profile cases. It is now also opportune for newly appointed senator Ezam Mohd Noor to reveal the contents of his Pandora's boxes containing indisputable information on corruption. Bila lagi Yb Ezam?
This is a right step. Charge first and let the accused have their day in court. Who knows we may learn many things if Ling Liong Sik intends to make amends. Provided of course, we are not told before hand by the AG that only ONE person is responsible for the PKFZ thing. Let's not pre-determine the number of accused in this case.


Former MCA president is charged in court.

Tun Ling Liong Sik was charged in court yesterday. It sent shocks to the MCA. MCA must now feel betrayed. After all Ling Liong Sik was one of us- us being one of those important leaders of the BN in those halcyon days.
Indeed, Ling Liong Sik was PM of Malaysia for a few hours when Tun M was party-less for that few hours when old UMNO was deregistered and a new UMNO was being formed. What if Ling Liong Sik did say at that time- go and fly kite. Saya PM sekarang. You orang keluar BN.
So, personally for Ling Liong Sik- he must have felt betrayed the most.
There was one piece of news however that attracted my attention. It is this:-
According to the charge sheet, the Finance Ministry had already valued the land at RM25psf - inclusive of compounded interest - and this fact was withheld from the cabinet by the accused.
I am not sure how a cabinet meeting is conducted. Usually in an EXCO meeting for example, all papers would be prepared by the secretary to that meeting. For a Dewan Undangan Negeri, by the setiausaha MMK –secretary to the EXCO usually a PTD officer. I am thinking, the principle must be the same- files and papers prepared by the cabinet secretary.
That being the case, a copy of the file note containing the valuation price of the land must be in all the files. Unless, the file for the PKFZ topic for that day was prepared by Ling Liong Sik alone and that the only information for decision that fateful day, came from Ling Liong Sik alone. That would be highly unusual.
Unusual because at all material time, the Finance Minister at that time, had in his possession all information about the land to be bought by PKFZ. He would make this information available to all cabinet members at that meeting. Or in preceding meetings.  He would have spotted the blatant discrepancy unless he went along with Liong Sik. Other alerted meeting members would too.
All cabinet members present at that meeting at that time would now have to discover that particular document provided by whoever it was at that time, from his/her own personal files, and produce them in court. So  all you SUSK- prepare to look for the file of that meeting for your minister.
This means everyone at that meeting on the day Ling Liong Sik presented his notes would have to appear before court to testify. Now everyone will stab Ling Liong Sik.
If the only paper informing the value of the land came from Ling Liong Sik, then everyone was deceived. Or everyone agreed in unison with the facts presented by Ling Liong Sik. It would be interesting also to know, whether the Minister of Finance then, who had the real information went along with Ling. Or did he object?
If the entire cabinet agreed with ling despite having the real facts, then the entire cabinet is vicariously liable.
Ling Liong Sik is now feeling, most betrayed. Or- there is no honour among thieving friends.


Thursday 29 July 2010

The Malay and his Religion- final part.

Another sore point for me. When a problem occurs in our society most Malay leaders points out the lack of religious education as the main cause. To me this is too simplistic and sometimes irrelevant. But the Malays in general can accept this line of reasoning, which doesn't requires THINKING. Anything bad that happen in society is blamed on the lack of religious education. We know that society's problems are very complex and cannot be solely attributed to religious factors. But the Malays seem to think that religion is everything, at least a large majority of them.


This appears as the great rationaliser for Malay Muslims. Whenever something calamitous befall them, they will blame the religion of Islam. At other times, religion is used to justify certain course of actions. These actions, made Malays unwittingly, as mere digits in the greater movement by anti Islamists to denigrate this great religion.

Two, by being unconscious accomplices in the Great Bash against Islam, Malays failed to realise that many of the social ills that befall them such as economic backwardness, poverty, social injustices, political conflicts- are the outcome of purely man-made follies. Nothing to do with religion. More with the application of Man and his brains upon life.

The unwanted outcome has been, Islam at the personal level and at the level of those in power, has been used as the instrument for explaining away personal and the State's shortcoming. And because of the overall submissiveness of the adherence of the religion to its tenets, people get away by using Islam as an excuse.

The inclination leads right into the thinking that Islam is to blame for everything and therefore deserve 'our' contempt and hostility. If Muslims don't correct this misconception, then we will lend credence to the false thesis by many western experts on the world of Islam, that there is nothing good about Islam. Yet, the ease by which Muslims resort to attribute anything calamitous befalling them as being the result, of them being not Islamic enough, has the curious effect of making it possible for any one to blame Islam the religion.

Our attitude will only encourage the fashionable thinking that Islam is nothing, but a religion sponsoring tendencies to violence, anger, anti-modernism etc. These views if not corrected, will only serve to entrench anti Islamic thinking.

Uncritical acceptance of such an interpretation of Islam, has made it possible for many to explain the Malay backwardness as attributable to their religion. Islam is often caricatured and dismissed condescendingly. For example, at the international levels, because of Islam being seen that way, it is permitted to abuse objectivity whenever "Islam" is the subject. Accordingly , this kind of thinking led to equally blind readiness to blame Islam for any negatives on Islamic people. Islamic people- says this kind of thinking, autosuggest themselves into poverty, backwardness, anti-modernism, close mindedness etc. In the end, Islam is identified as the sole explanation why the Islamic people are backward.

This almost knee-jerk readiness to blame Islam for every ill the world is facing- it's no longer confined to Muslims, but to the whole international community is both the cause and effect of why people's expectations are low, when it comes to discussions of "Islam".

But more insidious and damaging to Muslims, are the mischievous ideological fictions that experts of Islam used to hoodwink people especially following the aftermath of September 11. The international communities and by that I mean, mostly western democracies have also been able to use Islam as the bogeyman. Hence terrorism is readily accepted as a by product of Islam. Backwardness for example is a byword by which Islam is identified etc. Islam is eponymous with everything bad.

At the international level, what has this kind of thinking result in? probably, the worst result of this method is that it systematically convert whole nations and a whole world to embrace a highly aggressive and bellicose perception and interpretation of Islam. Such thinking has succeeded into turning Muslims into an enemy people, to be regarded collectively with contempt and scorn.

By subscribing to the thinking lamented by the Malay gentleman, has caused people into thinking of "Islam" as something to judge harshly, to dislike, and therefore to be on guard against. As it were, people tend to stuff this religion into a box labelled Dangerous—do not disturb.


Wednesday 28 July 2010

FDI Malaysia: what to believe?


Outflow of investment in 2009 was 25 billion. Compared to inflow of 4.43 billion. We suffered a Nett outflow of FDI of 20 billion. In other words, RM 20 billion ran away from Malaysia. Now Nazir Razak said, the nett outflow could be the result of lumpy Malaysian investments abroad. He therefore sagely referred to the investments made by Maybank and his own CIMB.
We don't have the sophistication of artful reasoning of a suave banker, but a few questions need to be answered:

  1. Suppose these lumpy investments abroad, are re directed into Malaysia, would these investments come under the category of FDI and taken up in the National Accounts as such? Wouldn't it be that if Maybank and CIMB invested in this country, their investments cannot be counted as FDI simply because Maybank and Nazir's CIMB are not foreign entities?

  2. Even if we admit this spurious definition, are the investments by Maybank and CIMB sufficiently big to offset the outflow and give us, in the end, a Nett inflow of FDI?
The figures of FDI are currently disputed. If not true, that would cast a long pall over the credibility of whichever International Body that sanctions the release of the report by the World Investment Report of the UN.
On the other hand, Nazir Razak's readiness and spirited defence of the FDI, suggests that actually he too believed that there were net outflows of FDI in 2010. If that is so, it must be tackled.


A short note on our Civil Service

Before I comment on the email of the Chinese Gentleman from JB, here is a last point I want to raise on the e mail by the Malay gentleman.

And before that, something on the civil service. Although I have said the character of our civil service is such and such, this is an overall characterization. This overall characterization is caused unfortunately by the dominating forceful individuals. Either at the top which gives the civil service a haughty character or at the bottom- the lay-abouts, the corner cutters, the lazybones who give the character of mediocrity.

Perhaps, these are the elements that made up half of the civil service. Having said that, it would be irrational on my part and on the part of others to infer and impute that our civil service is rotten absolutely. In the course of my previous vocation I have met many public service driven individuals in the civil service. They are committed to efficiency, integrity and dedicated service. I salute them. so my general criticism on the civil service doesn't erase the good side of the public service. Those instances cited by some commentators on the exemplary services by civil servants are the ones that must be cultivated so as to form the overall character of our Civil Service. Right now, my contention is, we haven't reach a tipping point whereby they could characterize our civil service.

I am not all anti civil service . my late father was a chief clerk serving several departments in Kuantan. My siblings and I grew up with the salary earned through his job as a civil servant. I have the deepest of respects for those selfless public service driven individuals who worked tirelessly and honestly. It is the rotten ones, who give the civil service a bad name.

This is what we demand of our civil service and it must be demanded through good leadership of the civil service.


Tuesday 27 July 2010

The Leader and his civil service

I am afraid, I am not finished yet on the subject of the Malay mind. You see, the e mail from the 65 year old Malay gentleman is such a fertile ground for discussion and commentaries. After this, I shall expand on an e mail I received from a retired Chinese gentleman from Johor Bharu who has offered some interesting personal observations.
I am disturbed that some people see these serialised articles as opening the doors for Malay bashing. I cannot accept that argument. I think, if these article have done that, they have the unintended effect of allowing us Malays, know what non Malays think of us. We can look at them in a positive manner. I'd rather know what my opponent is thinking rather than not knowing.
Here is another gloss from the Malay gentleman's e mail.
Picking winners.
Sometime in 1994, Lee Kuan Yew spoke about the 'Singapore way' of picking winners. Singapore willed a system whereby invariably the best come forward to serve the country. It seems that it has worked in Singapore. Its economy is the strongest in this part of the world. Its civil service is considered one of the best. It has so many success stories that are attributable to its leadership and efficient administration. The best and brightest lead and manage the country.
In the early years, Lee Kuan Yew was reported to have said, that the fate of Singapore depended on around 250 people. That if these 250 people were to be put on a plane and the plane exploded, that would be the end of Singapore. The difference between success and failure is therefore leadership and management quality of the country.
I won't say, the same system can be transplanted elsewhere en bloc. How do we ensure the leadership of this country and management is entrusted in the hands of good people, determined, possessed of integrity and drive to run this country? Do we leave it to chance hoping that out of 26 million people, some good people will emerge? Or can we devise and put up a system, raising the probabilities that good people will emerge and let it be part of our country's DNA?
A long time ago, external stimuli- fight against colonialism, struggles against oppression, fights for independence enabled the emergence of leaders by natural selection. Yet nowadays, the external stimuli do not exist so as to allow the emergence of natural leaders. The attrition rate is simply too high. So it seems we can't let chance and fortuitous events determine the emergence of leaders. If we can't, then, we have to find a system.
It would seem that having a system is better than leaving everything to chance and hoping. It must be a system, where through a process, and not leaving things to chance and luck of the draw, something good can be induced to come forward. Such a system, if desired needs to be moderated, adjusted it need be.
But what Lee Kuan Yew mentioned about the Singapore system becoming the conventional way of choosing winners in the future, was the point that has somehow proven to be prescient. The wisdom of putting up with a system is now credible thinking.
What's the Singapore way? It's not something proprietary so , we can save our breath and not shout out a xenophobic objection to anything Singapore. I know for some people , mention anything Singapore can stir up demented responses. Let us be rational for a moment. It became Singapor-ised because, political will was applied to the process. The top leadership wanted it that way. So if Malaysia has the political will, it becomes the Malaysian way.
Just last week, our PM was saying something to the effect of wanting the best to surface in the civil service- about creating an ecosystem. So, we can also say, the top leadership wants it. His wish must be followed by a political will, reflected in the principles, polices, and choice of the people leading and managing this country. How? Will it be achieved by just imagining it, or will come about as a result of a deliberate and calculative action?
It must be a process. It must begin, by laying the foundations that ensure, on a higher probability, that good people will emerge. It must be system that incorporate the principle of rewarding those with better intelligence and ability, better. If those with lesser accomplishments are rewarded the same as those with better abilities, the system breaks down. Because then, those with better and superior abilities will not enter the system. That can happen, when we manoeuvre the system to override objective considerations and condone excessive interference.
We tweaked the system the wrong way allowing those with lower abilities to come forward. Instead of excellence which the PM desires, we are saddled with mediocrity. Why? Then we have those cunning characters, those who cut corners, those whose vocation is to be the man Fridays to superiors, rise to the top. We then have a civil service dominated by talent deficient people.
As it is, something must be terribly wrong with the elements of that foundation , if something such as that happening in Penang recently, where a senior government servant can speak ill of an elected head of the government. That such a character if representative of the civil service as a whole exists, then it would mean, really, the civil service can be potentially insubordinate. The elected political leadership cannot operate with an insubordinate civil service or even with a public servant that appear to be insubordinate. The immediate solution is to demand the resignation of such a person.
The distinguished general who headed the American theater of war in Afghanistan was asked to retire because of unflattering remarks the general made of the US Vice President. The general is seen to be insubordinate- but the US president knows he can't operate the government with this kind of character.
The SDO ( state development officer) is probably among the top five civil servants at the state level- behind the SS, SFINO, SDO, etc etc. He oversees the award of federal projects in the state and by virtue of being the representative of the federal government in a state controlled by an opposition party, must have felt at par with the CM. He thinks he can act as a government within a government.
Lim Guan Eng is an elected head of the government of the day. It does not matter whether he is a federal civil servant or sate civil servant- he is bound by the conventional practice of governance. That some civil servant can come out in open defiance to an elected leader reflects the failure of our ecosystem in turning out the best. Instead it has produced some of the haughtiest employee given strength by an officious position.
Several years ago, Nazri Aziz was embroiled in a verbal fracas with a top officer of the BPR( now MACC). Nazri went ballistic and public by saying, we, the politicians are your masters. We don't like the way he said it, but he was right in the sense, political leaders are elected and in that sense are owed obedience and deference.
Would such a behaviour be tolerated if it were an UMNO head of government that was shamed? The civil servant would be transferred within 24 hours. Not so long ago, Khir Toyo presented a senior civil servant( he must also be a MCS officer) with a broom which to the Malay is sial. The civil servant didn't say Khir Toyo was biadab in public. In private, I am sure Khir Toyo was roundly denounced. Not a murmur from the Chief Secretary to the government then. Now we the CS defending the actions of this particular civil servant.
How is this narration related to the issue of a system or a process that sieve through the dirt so that pebbles of gold will remain? Because the quality of the person coming out, depends on the process. Obviously, if this kind of character rises to the top, then something is fundamentally wrong with the ecosystem prevailing over the civil service. Obviously to my mind, something is wrong to have allowed this kind of civil servant to emerge and rise to the top of his profession.
We have 1.2 million civil servants serving 26 million people. Out of every 26 people, one is a civil servant. What's their primary purpose? Their primary function is how to make our lives better by way of the service they give us, the way they treat at the counters, the way they manage the country's assets which we entrust them to do. They are here to improve the lives of people, not to make us feel miserable. The general feeling when one deals with civil servants nowadays, is that it seems we owe them a living- they what they are giving us, is their own property.
Why do we need 1.2 million civil servants in the first place. Make some comparisons. Taiwan, with a population similar to us at 28 million, has only 530,000 government employees. That's about half of what we have. Japan with a 120 million population employs 380,000 civil servants. This means, the average Jap civil servant is brainy and productive. Malaysia has 1.2 million civil servants who provide us with dismal service most of the times, and their offices are dreary and gloomy places of work.
The character of the Malaysian civil service is this. Haughty at the top and mediocre at the lower levels. But no one politician has the guts to say our civil service is rotten. We should now bring back a minister in charge of the civil service, tasked of revamping the service and raising the quality of our civil servants. We should immediately take steps to halve the number of civil servants. It shouldn't be employment for employment sake anymore.


Monday 26 July 2010

Some privacy please


Some development in my private life has unfortunately leaked to the public. It has been sensationalized beyond what it truly is. The embellishment by a particular tabloid is not true. We are working the problem out in the proper manner according to the laws of our religion. We are working things out.

Notwithstanding these things, I hope the reading public should not overlook the issues I raised in my articles. I will continue to do so. I apologize for this unfortunate development but I hope the public will respect my privacy and that of my family who are dealing with this matter in a delicate manner.

Thank you very much.


Saturday 24 July 2010

Same external forces, different outcomes

Just a short interval from the series of articles on Malay mental landscapes.
The depressing piece of news last week, was when the PM acknowledged that we may not get to be a first world country by 2020. We won't because, the world is in recession and we can't grow more than 6%. A few days ago, came report that in 2009, we lost almost all the FDI. Investors are not coming to Malaysia.
Yet we are also informed that apart from China and India, we increased our trade balances. we export more than we import. But how come we suffer decreasing foreign exchange reserves. I thought, it was a practice by MOF sometime ago, to ask BNM to furnish trade balance reconciliations. Within six months of exporting, exporters have to furnish BNM with export earning details. Where did exporters money go or something like that. If you export RM 100 million worth, has the equivalent of that RM 100 million come back?
What happens if only a small portion or all didn't come back? That could only mean, exporters are not bringing back their earned money. They are investing elsewhere.
If they do, what has made Malaysia a discarded home?

  1. We can't get to be a high income country.

  2. We lost FDI.

  3. Exporters are not bringing back money into this country?
Something must b rotten in the state of Denmark, err, Malaysia.
Another country down south, facing the same external economic threats and problems, achieved different results. The Singapore government Wednesday upgraded its 2010 economic growth forecast to a blistering 13 to 15 per cent, outstripping estimates for China.
Robust demand for its manufactured exports, particularly biomedical products, resulted in the sharp upgrade from the earlier estimate of 7.0 to 9.0 percent growth in gross domestic product (GDP).
We have two countries located in the very same locality separated only a century old bridge, performing differently. If both face the same external environment, the difference in performance can only be attributed to internal forces.


Thursday 22 July 2010

The Malays: changing mental landscapes- continuation

What can people like Ibrahim Ali help to advance the Malays? What happen to our government servants? Every decisions, however minor, has to be brought and decided by committees. What's the use of sending them to Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford, etc. Where is the delegation of duties in the government? even buying stationeries has to go to the committee. You can see the quality of Malay university professors talking on TV talk shows. They talk to please their hosts and to protect their positions, rather than truth and facts.

I am looking past the name. The Malay gentleman who wrote the e mail could have really meant, what could the approach and thinking represented by Ibrahim Ali do for the Malays? If that is the real meaning, we are in business- we can debate the issue.
I have written some articles about Ibrahim Ali. Indeed for the sake of objectivity, I have met up with him  together with my blogger friend Aspan Alias. I wasn't interested in judging Ibrahim Ali as a person, but was keen to explore the thinking behind the man. He has his good qualities, his supporters will say. We are not going to take that away from him. The man has his foible and all that, but I have said, UMNO can't ignore those people who are slowly gravitating towards Ibrahim Ali and his movement of reasserting Malay interests. In the interest of objectivity, I have chosen to ignore the ad hominem argument. The kind of thinking and approach that Ibrahim Ali represented are bigger than him.
When such a body exists and for a specific purpose at that, reasserting Malay interests- it could only mean that what have been done thus far, are being eroded or are perceived to have been abandoned. The core of the objections centered on a belief that the government is forsaking all policies regarding Malay interests in favor of new policies planned by the Najib administration. For example, the policies of Malay economic privileges are being replaced by the New Economic Model. The primacy of Malay nationalism is being replaced by the concept of 1Malaysia. The sanctity of Malay rulers paramountcy is being attacked by legal liberalism.
The principal object of derision is of course the adoption of wholesale free market solutions, prompting Ibrahim Ali to declare that the free market is not for Malays.
The supporters of Perkasa are alarmed that the economic policy elements that were supposed to be a help to Malay economic advancement have been rendered useless. so Perkasa held its own Malay Economic Congress to issue notice that the movement fights for continued Malay economic rights and privileges. It was also a signal to UMNO telling the party that UMNO no longer holds a monopoly as the vanguard or spearhead for Malays and Malay interests. The rising approval for what Perkasa stands for and the increasing number of adherents to its cause, the rapidity by which it is assimilated into the Malay psyche reflect also, a worrying de-coupling of absolute and unqualified Malay support to UMNO. Its telling UMNO that it must realise that Malay support is not longer unqualified blind support. That support for UMNO is contingent on whether it continues to safeguard a wide ranging of Malay interests. It was also a stark reminder to UMNO that it cannot move on without addressing Malay issues.
it could also mean that those things which the Malays hold dear to them such as his language, his religion, his political institutions are also being attacked. Hence when I spoke to Ibrahim Ali he was recounting the time when Anwar Ibrahim came over to him and stroked his shoulders and patted his back. Ibrahim told Anwar Ibrahim- I won't condemn you provided you don't touch these things- the New Economic Policy, Dr Mahathir and Malay kings.
The fears and hopes represented by Ibrahim and Perkasa haven't been addressed fully by the Najib government. It's not sufficient to say, you won't abandon the NEP by reminding everyone at the Perkasa Economic Convention you are the son of Tun Abdul Razak without setting out details how you want to achieve the economic goals.
The NEP can't be entirely wrong. It was a realisation, that Malay economic issues can't be left to chance or free play of market forces and that some form of interventionist policies were needed. Personally I accept this argument. Paucity of a commercial and economic past, Malays lacking in skills and capital, acumen, the necessary business culture etc. we can't leave everything to the luck of the draw and hope some will emerge to come up tops. That happens but they happened selectively to selected people.
Somehow the selection process was flawed. Those who cashed out the RM 52 billion certainly fit the bill of those who cop out. The immediate step is to ensure that none of those within the RM 52 billion ever get another chance. Have we done that? Perkasa should have demanded that anyone within that 52billion group needs to be blacklisted permanently.
So, not wanting the Malay economic problem solve itself out, makes intervention by the government since 1970, necessary. This idea of picking winners, selecting an elite to spearhead society isn't new. All countries have them. The US has its West Point and all the ivy league universities and exclusive prep schools. Because they believed from the start, that every society needs a group to act as catalysts- so they try to imbue those who went through the hallowed halls of their institutions, the determination, the integrity to serve god, country or community. The British has their Eton and Harrow. Malaysia had MCKK where well born Malays once were sent there to study to take the reins of government. We now have a variety of residential schools preparing bright students. We haven't taught them how to lead perhaps.
So, selecting those who can spearhead Malay economic success, in a sense is an extension of this thinking- that we needed a select group to act as catalyst and yeast that lead to rising.
But the issue was how was the selection done? We didn't have a system or ecosystem that pushes up the people with quality to serve as the spearhead. We can't deny this- we failed as evidence by those who cashed out RM 52 billion worth of equities. We failed because the selection was arbitrary and depended on one or two people.
DS Najib has to find a system, that's capable of sifting through and pushing up the real players.


Wednesday 21 July 2010

The Malays: changing mental landscapes

Actually, the Malays has nothing to be proud of. We have to understand and accept our weaknesses. We are lacking in so many things. As I see it, the Malays are going backward. The Malay mind has to be revamped and re-programmed. We cannot go forward using the current mind-set.


What can people like Ibrahim Ali help to advance the Malays? What happen to our government servants? Every decisions, however minor, has to be brought and decided by committees. What's the use of sending them to Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford, etc. Where is the delegation of duties in the government? even buying stationeries has to go to the committee. You can see the quality of Malay university professors talking on TV talk shows. They talk to please their hosts and to protect their positions, rather than truth and facts.

I am not sure when the gentleman says we have nothing to be proud of, he means he isn't proud to be a Malay. I hope it isn't that. Perhaps he means to say, we have no economic achievements to be proud of.
His- " we are so lacking in so many things and " as I see it, the Malays are going backward". That reflect his real meaning.
Why is that so? He has partially answered by inferring that the problem lies in the Malay mind which has to be revamped and re-programmed. We cannot be proud of the current mindset.
The mindset.
Our mindset- we think the solution is to put a few gold coins in our pocket. We want as a matter of right, irrespective of the meritorious qualifications we invested in, a 30% this and that. The contractors want 30% of open tenders. Why should we the other Malays agree to that? You get the 30%, that doesn't solve the Malay economic problem. The contractors demand the same thing year in and year out.
That way, we haven't targeted the fundamental point of how to sort out Malay economic problem. You cannot solve by appointing some Malays as directors here and there, chairman here and there, chairmen of GLCs who have the habit of losing money at that. You don't solve by appointing retired civil servants to prominent corporate positions.
I was talking to a very senior UMNO veteran who has walked and still walks with people in the corridors of power about this proclivity of appointing retired civil servants to prominent corporate posts. I mentioned Tan Sri Ahmad Sarji- he is good I said. Good at what? Came the answer. He hasn't done a single day of business using his own money and his only forte is apple polishing. He is- like you said( saying that to me) good at writing P Ramlee songs only. You don't appoint people who have no inkling about how business is run.
Nor can you solve the Malay economic question by reserving 30% of open tenders to Malays. Why do we have to give them contracts if each time, they do nothing but engaged in tricks as mentioned by a commentator who was an ex JKR engineer? Furthermore, that strategy has been proven wrong and will not work. It has already been proven by the disappearing RM 52 billion worth of shares that were cashed out.
You can't solve by doing things half way. Or in the famous words of our once Great Helmsman, half past six measures that sadly, were also some of his doings. You have to move a generation on the learning curve, get educated, be more competitive, like to work hard. You sort out the problem by enhancing earning capacity. That comes through hard work, be more clever than the other chap, be better than the other bloke. Move a generation- that's the strategy. Not move sections of people. That strategy has been proven wrong.
That's why I think the PM has lost an opportunity. He got spooked by Ibrahim Ali. He should have put his foot down and declare we still have affirmative action policies which are going to be played with new rules. The elements of the NEM must be spelled out. It's basically a good idea to place Malays on a different footing. A new environment demanding adjustments from a whole generation.
So the Malay gentleman at the age of 65, has got on to something. That shouting rights here and there get us nowhere. The rights to a 30% share in corporate equity saw RM 52 billion gone up in smoke( I mean in Havana cigar smoke). That's equivalent of giving the recipient of that pink forms or free shares, a gold coin without telling the chap how the gold coin is earned. That's equivalent to giving the chap a fish without telling him the fish is gotten by the fishing rod, by the fishing net, by boats going out to sea. The solution is to increase earning capacity or in the spirit of using fanciful terms such as ecosystem, enhancing capacity. But you don't achieve enhancing capacity by wishing it, you achieve that through being clever, being better, working harder, being more disciplined, motivated, desirous of all round improvements. In the end, we have to answer this question- how does having ' a right' improve our economic performance? We don't achieve all that, insisting it as a right, that this government give us everything we need from cradle to grave. School bags for our children, bicycles for our children etc.


Tuesday 20 July 2010

The changing mental landscape of Malays?-3

DS Najib has been talking non-stop of everything that can bring good to the country. But I didn't see any result, as if he forget everything he said once he finished talking. Our DPM has a brain more like a 17-year olds. And I didn't hear anything worth listening from the UMNO vice-presidents, and what more senior ministers, especially Rais Yatim.  When I think of the country's future I feel hopeless. I don't think UMNO, under the present leadership, can lead the country forward.
This is the most damning indictment on the leadership of our country. It would seem our leadership has lost all perception of credibility.
I am afraid I can't share this gentleman's pessimism. The jury is still out on opposition controlled governments. It's still early to tell. The PKR people in government are all ex UMNO people. They have the same culture and probably the same deplorable habits. They don't have the same emotional constitution like the DAP and PAS people. They are going to be the sick man of PKR.
We will however agree that, despite the possible eventualities that can befall PR led governments, the shortcomings and deficiencies of the present national government , cannot and should not be trivialized nor ignored. So we continue to tell it as it is. It's like the PM once said- the opposition will not win elections, we lose them. Meaning, we must correct our faults. But who is to tell him and the UMNO leadership?
What is our priority? That is the first task of our leader. We have a 1Malaysia which in reality was the muhibbah started by Tun Razak. Coexistence based on mutual respect . Good, we feel nice about it. We Yee Sang together, we Daun Pisang together, we Rendang together. Do we live on ideas alone?
We have the NEM. Don't have a clue what's it's all about and how is the NEM relevant to Malays? More important, how can Malays take advantage of the NEM? We don't have a policy stating its principles. We paid RM 60 million to the few academics who have no inkling of the local environment trying to foist a new economic model on our country. Its free market in a text book. We love ideas. But we love ideas that work more.
We have that senior minister who doesn't explain to the people what NEM is all about. He is busy showing the PM the uniforms for the Merdeka Day celebrations. By the way, the cloth or uniform cost RM 50-100, or does it cost RM 50-100 per metre? How much are we going to spend for the celebrations?
Jawaharlal Nehru was a man of ideas. But the ideas couldn't work on Indian society because of the caste system. Ghandi wanted to create village economics- you sit with your loin cloth or kain pulikat by the spinning wheel while we are moving into the 21st century. If I say, Ibrahim Ali is like Ghandi that would be insult to the great man that Ghandi was- but he wants Malays to sit by the spinning wheel and be oblivious to the world outside.
Ok, the PM is more like Nehru in terms of ideas- but can the ideas be foisted onto the Malay mental landscape?
The number 1 priority is economic development. Ibrahim Ali's issue is with the economics. Yes, we want the NEM but it must be spelt out clearly. At the moment the NEM is all ideas- eventually it comes to the question of what do people really want?
we had the NEP where the government gave out RM 54,000,000,000. Out of that , those who subscribed to Ibrahim Ali's brand of pressure economics, want more of that. Well, we have to realise that out of that RM 54 billion, only RM 2 billion worth of Malay equities remain while the others gave up RM 52 billion worth. Gave up as in cashing out so that they can lead as bourgeois a life as possible.
So why should I support another round of NEP that will probably end up the same? The PM is right to carry out a new model. All it needs is more amplification, more meat and more explanation to the people. We haven't done that.
Again, what do people really want? I remember reading somewhere what the Sage of Singapore said- at the end of the day do we think the people want to write editorials or do they want a house, a car, food on the table and a future for their children? At the end you have to answer, the people want reality, not concepts. We don't want to end up discussing and outshouting each other on what 1Malaysia means. Economically it may mean, some people own the whole of Malaysia.
I support the NEM which taken as a whole poses a new challenge to the mental set up of Malays. We adapt or perish. This part hasn't been amplified. On the other hand, We are told daily of our limitations. Utusan Malaysia raised the spectre that haunts every Malay- that if we lose political power, we perish. The PM wants to prepare Malays a Malaysia on a different economic plane- the media manipulators and mind benders are preparing Malays to look the other way.
We have lost real political power all this while because we couldn't back that up by economic power. Others with economic power exert greater persuasiveness over politics. The 28 year old TJ Lo exerts greater influence over politics because of his economic power. A few years ago, we lamented and condemned a certain 28 year old as being the most powerful. We now have a globe traveling, party hopping 28 year old, we marveled at him and hold him in jaw dropping awe. He is going to develop the RM 500 million Sunga Besi Air Base fellers- or really, he is going to flip the deal or has concluded that damn deal. The place is going to be developed by the owners of Pavilion.
We have this aim of making Malaysia a high income economy that by 2020, our PCI will be USD15k. we have a minister who says we will go bankrupt if we don't cut subsidies or we don't grow by at least 6%. If deficits outgrow the growth rate, we shall be bankrupt. Contradiction in terms right? Just one year our country goes bankrupt but a year later we become a high income country. Which means what? All the good deals and wealth making opportunities go to the top 20% who will actually reap gargantuan incomes that when divided by the population, still yield us a textbook high PCI.
Idris Jala may be good minister but he makes a lousy leader. We can't have a leader who airs his personal fears and reservations in public.
Leaders excite and inspire people.


Monday 19 July 2010

The changing mental landscape of Malays?-2

The government says they are doing all these. What I can see it is all talk and no action. I sometimes cannot comprehends the reasoning and logics given by judges, including those sitting in the highest court. DS Najib has been talking non-stop of everything that can bring good to the country. But I didn't see any result, as if he forget everything he said once he finished talking. Our DPM has a brain more like a 17-year olds. And I didn't hear anything worth listening from the UMNO vice-presidents, and what more senior ministers, especially Rais Yatim.  When I think of the country's future I feel hopeless. I don't think UMNO, under the present leadership, can lead the country forward. I hope your writings will be more forceful and cover wider subjects especially on reinventing the Malay minds.


We now move on to a another portion from the Malay gentleman's note.

I hope I am wrong in treating the Malay gentleman's thinking as being representative of the typical Malay man. I would have thought, the things that matter most in the mind  of the Malay man and all Malaysians is economic development. That's the first function and most important at that of the government.
In what kind of environment is economic development and advances best achieved? This basic question needed to be looked at carefully. Recently, in the monthly or weekly assembly the PM has with civil servants, he spoke of creating an ecosystem where the best talent emerges. I suppose by that he means the culture- set of beliefs, social precepts, principles by which the best among peers will emerge to lead the nation. Such a proposal is laudable.
How do we achieve that in an environment where we know, the talent level among our civil servants is wanting in many aspects? Our bureaucratic lethargy perhaps is slightly better than the infamous Indian bureaucracy. We share the same default position-taking as far as revolutionary and unconventional ideas are concerned. Our default position to new ideas is to say no. No to this project. No to that proposal. But eventually the proposals we first submitted resurface by a new proposer under a new package.
So, I would guess that the default position when our PM is talking about an ecosystem that promotes excellence and a culture that allows emergence of talent is- Go And Fly Kite. We hear recently of widespread stoppage of directives from politicians when powerful KSU's demand written instructions from politicians before they will even commit any work. Because the powerful fraternity of KSUs still remember when one of their own, Dr. Abdul Aziz was done in by Anwar Musa. So it's now retribution time. So I am skeptical when the PM speaks about that ecosystem, as to whether his exhortations went down well.
Let's build that ecosystem in UMNO politics first. Create that culture where the talented can prosper. The fastest way to lose public confidence is to contradict ourselves . if we have this basic stand of wanting to create such an ecosystem, let's set that ecosystem in UMNO politics.
Our system as it is now, is that of a privileged society based on the privilege of property( read wealthy) and rank( read lineage). Desiring the ecosystem which the PM wants, requires the cessation and giving up of a privileged society based on the privilege of property and rank FOR a society where men are rewarded according to their ability and contribution to society.
The universal principle borne out in history is that only when men are encouraged to give their best will society progress. So the ecosystem which the PM mentioned must incorporate the principle of creating a culture that makes it worth for a man to give his best. That can only occur when the principle that a man is justly rewarded in accordance to his ability ,diligence and determination is put in place or willed in place. In an ecosystem where the lazy and the incompetent were rewarded as much as the industrious and the intelligent,, we will end with an ecosystem where the abler will hold back so as not to work harder than their under-performing brethren.
Next, the leadership.


The changing mental landscape of the Malays?

Dear Dato',

I am 65 and have no stable job. I have been following your blog for quite sometimes and I find it informative, direct and dare to point out weaknesses in UMNO, the government and the Malays in general. My favourite newspapers used to be Utusan and the New Straits Times. I have stop reading them. And now I also stop watching TV3 and RTM news. I just cannot stand it anymore.

I am not a member of any political party. As an ordinary citizen, like most other citizens of this country, I want a Malaysia which is progressive, modern and tolerant and most importantly a government which practices fairness, justice, etc. I want to see the government fight corruption whole-heartedly, practice transparency and stop cronysm.


The government says they are doing all these. What I can see it is all talk and no action. I sometimes cannot comprehends the reasoning and logics given by judges, including those sitting in the highest court. DS Najib has been talking non-stop of everything that can bring good to the country. But I didn't see any result, as if he forget everything he said once he finished talking. Our DPM has a brain more like a 17-year olds. And I didn't hear anything worth listening from the UMNO vice-presidents, and what more senior ministers, especially Rais Yatim.  When I think of the country's future I feel hopeless. I don't think UMNO, under the present leadership, can lead the country forward. I hope your writings will be more forceful and cover wider subjects especially on reinventing the Malay minds.


Actually, the Malays has nothing to be proud of. We have to understand and accept our weaknesses. We are lacking in so many things. As I see it, the Malays are going backward. The Malay mind has to be revamped and re-programmed. We cannot go forward using the current mind-set. What can people like Ibrahim Ali help to advance the Malays?


What happen to our government servants? Every decisions, however minor, has to be brought and decided by committees. What's the use of sending them to Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford, etc. Where is the delegation of duties in the government? even buying stationeries has to go to the committee. You can see the quality of Malay university professors talking on TV talk shows. They talk to please their hosts and to protect their positions, rather than truth and facts.


Another sore point for me. When a problem occurs in our society most Malay leaders points out the lack of religious education as the main cause. To me this is too simplistic and sometimes irrelevant. But the Malays in general can accept this line of reasoning, which doesn't requires THINKING. Anything bad that happen in society is blamed on the lack of religious education. We know that society's problems are very complex and cannot be solely attributed to religious factors. But the Malays seem to think that religion is everything, at least a large majority of them.


That was a letter I received over the e mail from a Malay gentleman. I have chosen not to reveal his name. What if this gentleman's personal perceptions represent what the typical Malay now thinks of?
Our government needs to recognise this. The way we govern may no longer be sustainable. We govern with the belief that our population stays in villages, shut out from information waves and excluded from rising awareness. So we think, we secure peoples blind trust when we give free houses to a certain number of applicants. For 100 people who got free houses, there may be 1000 people cursing the government why they didn't get the houses. They blame the penghulu, they blame the ketua kampong, they blame the district office they blame the ADUN for skewed selection process. The sad truth is, they are probably right.
In a few years, most of our population will live in cities. Villages and kampongs change in character, as the old give way to the young. People develop different expectations. Children who are better educated tell parents a different story. That's reverse counsel. Parents aren't equipped to tell children what's good for society. Educated children at various levels tell parents what's good for society-things like right to a decent living because government exists to manage the economy properly. And standards of assessment such as what the above gentleman is saying- good governance, fair, free from cronyism, free from corruption. People no longer want to accept the arguments of 'democracy tax' whereby democratic countries have to tolerate certain levels of inept bureaucracy, certain levels of nepotism and cronyism, certain levels of corruption. Why? Because people are better informed and this agitates and move them into action.
A government that sits stubbornly refusing to adapt to a changing political landscape, is simply pushed to the back seat. If UMNO doesn't adapt to these changes, it loses relevance.
How does the government reach out to the people? I was listening to the talk given by Robert Fisk yesterday. He was talking about Palestine mainly but he also touched about journalism in general. People all over the world, and not just the gentleman above no longer believe and even read mainstream journalists any more. They believed that mainstream journalists no longer report the truth. They just earn a living from the owners of newspapers. So in Malaysia if the mainstream papers are actually owned by the government, eventually the government will not be believed. Bob Fisk was telling, tongue in cheek I hope, that you have to start a new newspaper.


Sunday 18 July 2010

The Rumble that KJ created

The star yesterday( 17th of July) carried a piece written by its star political analyst, Jocelyn Tan on KJ. It was entitled the KJ question rumbles in UMNO. The rumble it seems, originated from an interview some people had with KJ. The spin from that interview had it, that KJ will not defend his KP post the next time around. Miss Tan was quick to suggest that KJ may be better off going for the 25 MKT post in UMNO.
The news that KJ isn't going to defend his post sent shivers of jubilation of orgasmic proportions among some bloggers too. The usual suspects were not ashamed at displaying their glee. I can't fathom the rational and justification of calling one of our own as a 'si kitol' who in Malay History is regarded as the classic turncoat.
UMNO people must learn respect and discipline. If someone has been elected by the system to a position, that must be respected. After that question of selection has been settled, he must be accorded space to perform his task. He must be given application. KJ therefore applies himself as a leader of Pergerakan Pemuda. He fills the space that he defines.
The spin and the coded message in J.Tan's piece? That's exactly what KJ's detractors will be hoping for. Goad KJ into believing its more worthwhile to go for an MKT post. Not a good move. The future belongs to our young people. They need leadership. The more important issue is, they need a leadership that is in sync with the young. KJ is replaceable IFF there is an alternative young or younger talent to provide leadership and direction to Pemuda UMNO.
The truth is, there is none. We have a collection of people with shared ideals with KJ. Not all, but probably half of the Pergerakan Pemuda. The other half can offer their program the next time around and if they win, they apply themselves to the tasks they defined. Be it Malay hegemonism, Malay this and that or even UMNO Puteraism. All thing first to the Puteras and select.
Which direction is Pemuda going? Obviously it has to serve as the sounding board for the country's leadership. Expand, develop and defend the ideas of the UMNO leadership. The UMNO leadership led by its president has one vision- to create a 1Malaysia which will become a high income country by 2020. Whether its achievable is another question. Personal beliefs and apprehension are no excuse not to give support to the idea.
There should be no rumblings in the first place. The leadership of Pemuda is throwing their weight behind the idea of the UMNO president and PM. Seen in this context, KJ is doing the right thing when picking up the cudgels to battle the ideas that people like Ibrahim Ali represents. Recently, Nazri Aziz spoke of the same thing. Meaning what KJ is doing is gaining credence. That in a future as envisioned by the UMNO president and PM, ideas such as that promoted by Ibrahim Ali's Perkasa cannot be countenanced. Those UMNO people joining Perkasa are the ones who needed disciplining.
The ideas insisted by Perkasa which is old school NEP cannot be defended any longer. We have to see the big picture now. The big picture demands a thinking, that sees the Malay people in relation to the world. Because now, the Malays are not affected only by events that occur only here in Malaysia, but they are affected and in turn are giving effect to what happens to the world at large.
So what's happening out there? What's happening out there, is people move forward when they respond to challenges in the appropriate manner. People move forward by being competitive, by offering their talent and hard work, by leveraging on their capabilities. That is what I hope what the PM means when he says affirmative policies stay but based on factual premises.
If Malays operate within Malaysia, where on account of demographics and on account of political superiority, they may be able to throw their weight around. The only way you move forward in that world, is overwhelming those who oppose or disagree with you by forceful means. That's not democratic. That's Stalinist method we are promoting. Pummel your opponents by your mystic-infused krises. Hello brother- people are using Tavor assault rifles, people are using the CornerShot rifles.
But you are playing in that small pool which one day will get overcrowded. So one day, when you have no other race to push around, you end up pushing one another. What kind of future do you have then? You have anarchy.
So, the big picture is the future we are after. How we make ourselves relevant to what is happening around us in this world. Not just in Malaysia.
What about this unsolicited advice that KJ is better off if going for an MKT post? Its suicidal.
For KJ to disown his KP post and go for one of the 25 posts. He won't win. Simply because, the MKT post will be a different ball game. this time around, all the positions in UMNO will be decided by delegates at each divisional division. That's the new way of selecting leaders laid down by the new UMNO constitution. That being the case, each position will be decided by ordinary delegates made up mainly of non Pemuda people. Usually, the number of pemuda delegates from branches to the Bahagians are smaller in number than senior members. Most of these people will not know KJ and he, of course will not be able to go round the almost 200 UMNO divisions in the country to touch base.
The best thing he can do and this is actually what UMNO needs is for KJ to stay the course. He must remain as KP. The most visible face and the most notable name in Pergerakan Pemuda is KJ. I have said this many times. He won the post fair and square, every one of the contestant campaigned using money. We are not going to be hypocritical to imagine for one moment, Khir Toyo and Mukhriz campaigned without using money. Blame the system then. It's our system that nourishes money politics. If the same system has allowed someone whom we find disagreeable to win, too bad. Tails I win, heads you lose.
What was the message that KJ sent out when he said he may not defend his post? What he is actually saying is , if here is a young candidate as capable as him, or can do a better job, he is willing to step aside. Where is that young gun that is as visible and as potentially capable as KJ? Sadly there is none. So, for people to rush in and say that KJ is quitting, are just playing out their wet dreams to have someone whom they fancy to replace KJ. We can't see anyone of consequential material to replace KJ for quite some time.
That's also the reality the UMNO president has to contend with. His ideas need championing. Right now, whether KJ is doing this to earn a place and position in the government isn't that important. What's more important if having your ideas championed. Elevate those who do.


Saturday 17 July 2010

The 43billion Question

Metrostroy and Metrowagonmash. Who is this? This is the contractor that built the Moscow Metro. I was watching the History Channel the other day, and the program showed how the Moscow Metro was constructed. Not only is the system functional it is also aesthetically pleasing.
I suggest if the government wants to open its bid to people who may be interested in building the RM43,000,000,000 or more KL MRT system talk to them. The M&M has got the experience and the technology. Gamuda or MMC know how to do the MRT the conventional way- by teaming up with another foreign partner. Let's cut this middleman stuff and employ M&M directly. Better still, open the tender to international bidders who have the technology and experience to offer us competitive bids.
If contractors come from non English speaking countries, ask them to send somebody who can come and speak English. Just don't ask a Perimekar copy cat who then employs some foreigner( usually the female kind) to act as interpreter. Let's do an honest deal for once.
The problem started when you want to concentrate everything in KL. Now you must do a traffic and people dispersal system. It's ok then- things were already done and we have to live with it. But let's correct the problem by doing the right thing.
I am still struggling to reconcile this: we take away subsidies and save some RM 750,000,000 and that can be used to finance the RM43billion MRT in KL? The pundits seem over overzealous to point out that it was Gamuda who suggested that savings can be made from taking away subsidies and because of pointing that out, Gamuda goes one notch up to deserve the award of the contract? Are these people being paid by Gamuda or what?
There's one catch- Gamuda and MMC are interested only to do the tunneling contract worth RM 14 billion and the hardware side of the MRT. They don't want to operate the line? Who operates the line then?
I think it's better to invite bidders who can offer us the whole package- build the system for us and operate the system for a number of years using local talent.
How can Gamuda be so cocksure of getting this project and has even started to survey and soil test works? It has been telling everyone that it has an 80-85 per cent chance of clinching the job, which could start as soon as early 2011, and had commenced soil investigation and survey works to prepare the groundwork for the project.
Who are the appointed government consultants who have been asked to do the feasibility studies on the proposal by Gamuda? I am hoping it won't be the same consultant who was asked to evaluate who can do the double tracking from Gemas to Johor. The project was originally given to China Railways but then when the government appointed a project consultant to do a feasibility study, the job was given to China Harbours- which is a company specialising in the building of ports. I hear, what the consultant did was google the names of a few contractors and carried out a process of elimination. At the end of the day, China Railways who was approved by the Cabinet to do the double tracking was also eliminated.
Suppose the same tactic is used. Consultants can always Google any number of experienced MRT builders and then carry put a process of elimination taking into account all cock and bull stuff just to have these disqualified. At the end of the day, Gamuda and MMC, will come out smelling like roses.
How do we fund this massive project? Surely not from the paltry savings of RM 750 million savings from subsidy? The other way is to sell government bonds. Who wants to buy bonds from the government if a minister says our government can go bankrupt? We have to get AAA-rating for any papers to be issued.
Just what are the economic benefits will the people get other than gawking at the made-for exam points of saying that for every RM100 million that the government would spend on the MRT, RM25 million in annual economic benefits would be generated for the country in the next 50 years, including increased productivity, lower accident rates and lower carbon emissions.
Can increased productivity be gotten from a cheaper transport system and less carbon emissions achieved elsewhere?


Friday 16 July 2010

Walla on the Malay response to low culture

Here is a very worthy riposte on my article on UMNO and its low culture. It is a piece written by the very cerebral Walla whose identity remains elusive save to the few. He answers I think, the challenge posed to the Malay which invites his appropriate response. How will the Malay meet the challenge? Here is Walla:-

'Muhyidin is addressing the low culture when talking in combative tones. He talks about the basic beliefs and basic things closest to the Malays.'

Therein lies the dilemma of UMNO - are the basic beliefs of the Malays heartland not amenable to change? Are all to think the Malays have been so secluded from the world that they cannot accept new ways of doing old things, new measures of what will make for success, new yardsticks of acceptable governance behaviour, and most important of all, be able to unflinchingly accept enough of reality as it is spelled out so that they will stridently make the necessary effort to improve themselves?

Or does having a monthly thousand ringgit free allowance be considered without further thought to suffice for a carefree life in a country of weakening currency, depleting resources, irrelevant skills and reducing subsidies?

Yet there are other Malays. They are no different from the non-Malays. They can hold court with anyone else of the world. They can exercise new mobility, engage in intelligent discourse based on rationale and reason, and keep their minds open to new possibilities and interpretations even while their eyes stay focused on the direction of their thoughts.

The difference between the first and the second is that the first stay rooted in their dashed hopes and static surroundings while the second accept reality as it is, embrace change as it comes, make the sacrifices as are required, take the risks as they are coined, and sink or swim as everyone else does in a world of tides. Thereby, living more.

It remains to add the dilemma of UMNO can lead to the dilemma of Malaysia - but only if UMNO is the one that continues to lead by the temperature, perceived or real, of low culture. Because it will be the blind leading the blind.

For instance, Muhyiddin can't be blind to the fact there are no extensive science and math references in bahasa after the student finishes school. And since he also knows that a high income economy has to be innovative which in the modern world at least means more know-how of science and maths, how will the students out from school cope better in the next phases of their studies or even when they are on their own working to research new products for use, evaluation or marketing?

A simple solution would be to let the parents decide which medium of instruction should apply for their children's' education, and provide the requisite national support.

By applying a blanket approach and taking the vote box route, he has shown he doesn't lead for national interest but he only leads based on the perceived interest of low-culture ignorance, thereby putting the future of the nation at risk, what more the objectives of the national plans and visions which his administration has painted.

How different will it then be from starting a mega million enterprise and then pulling the first guy from the street to lead it?

There is something else to bear in mind. Inherent in a low-culture setting is its own seed of self-destruction. It doesn't have escalating notions of standards. Standards which develop from one rank to another manifest progress away from triviality, reducing mistakes and waste, increasing productivity and performance, yielding higher returns and more prosperity. They are the signposts to map out new pathways to improving one's own destiny. After all, the world owes one a living but one has to work hard to collect it.

Those who have developed standards will balk when someone says it's alright to blow a few hundred million on a new fishing technique which fails. Because, having standards, they will constantly remember the money wasn't theirs to play pucks with in the first place.

That's how countries can become richer or at least not poorer, so poor that that subsidies have to be removed, even when their governments can meanwhile spend needless millions on frivolities like a twenty five million ornamental rod to remember their leaders who have neglected to nurse low cultures away from illusions.


Wednesday 14 July 2010

UMNO and its low culture


It's better for UMNO to have a siege mentality. If it feels it is hemmed from all corners by enemies, it will be on its toes. Otherwise it's in denial syndrome believing in its own hype. One of the more recent hype that even the UMNO president is guilty of, is believing some states are its fixed deposits. Fixed deposits give constant returns. Business with risks give possible bigger returns. Nowadays, constant returns are just not good anymore. Your nominal value is eroded by inflation.
Johor is regarded as UMNO's FD. It was here that UMNO was officially launched at the Istana Besar in May 1946. Johor has therefore been regarded as a traditional UMNO bastion.
That will soon change by virtue of demographic changes. As a general rule whenever Chinese form 60% of the voting population, UMNO/BN tends to lose. As long as the opposition party under the PR stable secures 80% of the Chinese votes and just 30% of non Chinese votes, they can win. Suppose there are 60 ,000 Chinese voters and 40, 000 Malay voters. With 80% of Chinese votes, the opposition gets 48,000 Chinese votes and just 30% non Chinese votes they get 12,000. In total they will get 60,000 votes and that's 60% of total votes. sufficient to defeat the UMNO/BN juggernaut.
So before we go on treating Johor as an UMNO citadel, just take a look at how many constituencies have 60% Chinese voters. Then tell yourself, whether this state is FD for us?
Many UMNO leaders in Johor aren't as enthusiastic as the UMNO president in seeing Johor as a FD state. Because they see all around, many voting areas are showing the above numbers. The recent appointment of Chua Jui Meng as PKR Johor Chief signifies the confidence of the Opposition parties in making serious inroads into Johor. What if 5 more state seats were to fall into opposition hands and a number of parliamentary seats are taken over by opposition?
The more disturbing undercurrent is many UMNO people are not sure if the UMNO president is doing the right things for UMNO and this country. The over talking of the 1 Malaysia concept, the pandering to Chinese demands- these are 'inflationary' pressures that erode the value of your nominal deposits. The RM 1 you deposited 5 years ago is worth now 60sen? Translation: Even UMNO's support is not a sure bet any longer.
The UMNO people are starting to believe more in MUhyidin. He doesn't alienate the Malay heartland. We have to face it- the UMNO heartland still subscribed to what sociologists called the low culture- the people's basic beliefs and values. Muhyidin is addressing the low culture when talking in combative tones. He talks about the basic beliefs and basic things closest to the Malays. He is more believable then compared to UMNO president who talks about some nebulous ideas. The UMNO president risks alienating the Malay heartland, notwithstanding his rhetoric on FDs and the invincibility of UMNO's struggle.
Muhyidin Is not all liked by Johor UMNO but he appears to be the better horse to bet. Better than the ' ow' ' ow' minister of Home affairs- likeable but not up to the job.


MCA- the rope is more expensive than the ape


The MCA is asking the government to allocate RM 1 billion for Chinese schools. These are the SRJK(C)s. This request was made by the MCa Health Minister. Necessary he says to re-capture Chinese votes for BN.
MCA must have thought, this amount is chicken feed compared to the millions and billions lost through leakages- overpriced purchases, corruption, government businesses gone bust. The other reason MCA ask this amount to buy Chinese votes is because, the MCA knows this is THE way Najib solves his problem.
Pay here and pay there. Allegiance is no longer secured through ideals, force of convictions, ideas, shared goals. Malaysian politics has degenerated into a system where the highest bidders get their objectives., what did Najib do in Hulu Selangor to get the fleeting Chinese votes? by promising to give millions to Chinese schools. The MCA noted this. What did he promise in Sibu- lu tolong gua, gua tolong lu.
That is an image, the PM must shed quickly. It's not the way a government does its business-paying its way and opening itself to political blackmails. UMNO doesn't need this kind of partner in BN any longer. Cut our losses and cast MCA adrift. Let's be pragmatic. MCA can't deliver Chinese votes through beliefs and force of conviction. They can only do by paying their way through. If allegiance is secured only through paying money, BN can go direct to the Chinese. Bypass MCA and appeal direct to the Chinese.
My ketua cawangan can do the same thing MCA wants to do. Pay his way through.
Let's have nothing to do with the MCA anymore . let's see whether they can go alone without having to partner UMNO. Can they get far without Malay support? Perhaps dislodging ourselves from MCA is the only way to knock some senses into MCA. All this while, UMNO is made to believe that we need MCA more than MCA needs UMNO.
The language spoken by MCA is not the language of a Malaysia envisioned by Najib. The Malaysia Najib envisions has the promise of a nation founded on the rule of law, meritocracy, good governance, corruption free, transparency. Don't be cynical- I said has the promise. As long as they are people within UMNO and other political parties subscribing to this ideal, that is all that is required to keep the flame alive.
The next step is to find allies and supporters who share the same ideals. Within UMNO elevate those who share these ideals. Reject all those who work against these ideals., within BN components, reject those who are fair weather friends only.
Cultivate political parties who share similar ideals. I have written in passing about the prospects to cultivate DAP politicians who have more in common to build a Malaysia envisioned by the PM. Perhaps it's time to engage the DAP.
What does DAP fight for? Good governance, transparency, fairness, justice and so on so forth. UMNO isn't allergic to all these provided the right people are in place. These are objectives desired by all in Malaysia. UMNO must show it is committed to these objectives.
Its time UMNO sees the bigger picture. Cultivating DAP and not MCA is part of the bigger picture of placing Malaysia on the right footing. If UMNO is a party in disrepute, it needs the countervailing influences of saner voices not urgings from those who nourish further degeneration like the MCA.
What is the bigger picture? The bigger picture is that of a society which embraces new values- good governance, transparency, containable corruption, rule of law. It's a society empowered by technology- people acquire information and knowledge. They form higher ideals, higher expectations. In such a society, UMNO's fate does not depend on what MCA,MIC or any other component dictate, but what the people now want. Those who align with what the bigger society wants will continue to be relevant.
So for UMNO it is a question of wanting to be relevant indefinitely. So it must factor what the bigger picture wants- not what the MCA or MIC or other component parties want. UMNO must lead not be led and dictated by parties like MCA. If MCA opposes the bigger picture and is impervious to factoring in new realities, reject them.


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