Sunday, December 27, 2009

Jet engines that 'flew' away

Over the past few days, I attended several Xmas parties and quickly became an aviation expert - everybody talked about the missing F-5E jet engines.
The joke, of course, was that "Malaysia Boleh" (Malaysia can do it), the national slogan, was amended to "Malaysia Apa Pun Boleh" (literally, Malaysia anything also can do).
In two of the parties, there were some foreigners around and I was not sure whether to feel proud or ashamed of what had happened - two Northrop F5 jet engines went missing from an RMAF base.
I - or any other Malaysian - could either feel proud because Malaysians could pull off a heist that can be as good as any Hollywood script or feel ashamed because Malaysia is now in danger of becoming a banana republic. Previously such heists could only be done in some African or South American nation.
Looks like Malaysians have come of age and joined the ranks of Africans and South Americans.
The hot topic of discussion was two General Electric J85 engines with afterburners that were reported missing after an audit was carried out.

Has anyone seen this anywhere?

Everyone talked about how jet engines could somehow be dismantled and smuggled out of an airbase, which is supposed to be a high-security area, and taken to some port and shipped out. There were lots of conspiracy theories - high-ranking air force officers had to be involved. How else can two jet engines be smuggled out of an air base without someone with authority giving the green light?
The Customs Department had to be involved - how else can jet engines (which are military equipment) be cleared for export?
Someone suggested that the culprits could have declared them as turbines from Tenaga Nasional to be sent overseas for servicing. Everybody laughed.
The J85 engines were shipped to another country before being transshiped to Argentina.
According to wikipedia, the J85 engine weighs from 300 to 500 pounds (140 to 230kg) depending on model. Its length is 45.4 – 51.1 inches (depending on accessory equipment installed) and its diameter is 17.7 inches.
So the engine is not that big or heavy - four strong men and a forklift can do the job of removing it and lifting it onto a lorry. A nice crate about the size of one containing a six-foot tall Christmas tree would suffice to export it in.
Perhaps it was declared to the Customs as a hitech Christmas tree?
How the amazingly unbelievable theft was carried out is one issue.
The cops are now apparently re-investigating the case.
What is more vital is the political cost - the jet engines were stolen in 2007 when Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was still the Defence Minister.
Obviously the Pakatan Rakyat politicians would exploit this issue to the maximum especially when there is talk now that the next general election could be held in 2011 which is just two years and a couple of days from now.
Najib would have to ensure there is no cover up otherwise the Opposition leaders would have a gala time whacking him and the people would crack even more jet engine jokes.
The fact that reports of the theft surfaced two years after the incident has only led to more mumblings of a cover up among the people.
Malaysians already do not trust the government very much - this jet engine scandal will make the situation even worse especially if the investigations are not transparent or are shoddy and if only a couple of corporals and lance-corporals are arrested.
Najib has to deal with this scandal with great care.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Clearer vision

Enough of politics - the people cannot stomach it anymore. Any more of it and the people may just end up in hospital with stomach flu - I'm sure you know what I mean.
Today, I shall blog about cataracts. It is often said that in this world there are only two things that are certain - taxes and death. However, for some people, cataracts are a certainty too. Unfortunately, I am one of those persons.
I have just had my right eye operated on. I remember my father undergoing a cataract removal operation some 20 to 30 years ago and back then it was a major event and he was hospitalised for a few days. He ended up wearing spectacles with extremely thick lenses.
These days a cataract operation is pretty straightforward and is considered an outpatient procedure. You go in the morning and you're discharged after lunch time.
I was the third in line for the op and after swallowing three Panadols and two Valiums, I was wheeled to the operation room. Beside me was an old Malay lady who told me she already had one eye operated on and had waited for the Hari Raya Haji festival to be over before getting the other eye done.
I asked her how the 'new' eye was and she replied: "Terang, macam muda lagi." (Clear, just like when I was young.) Then she said with a chuckle, "Semua sudah palsu, gigi pun palsu." (Everything is false, even my teeth are false.) Then she was wheeled into the operation theatre itself.
Minutes later it was my turn. I had opted for local anaesthetic to be administered and the injection into the skin below the eye was not as painful as I thought it would be.
I remember my face was covered with some plastic sheet and only my right eye was exposed. I could hear the doctor talking with the operation assistants and a radio was tuned to a local station. I could feel the doctor making an incision and putting presumably some tube into my eye and then inserting something into it. I didn't feel much pain and presumably I dozed off (the Valium worked too well) and presumably I snored because the doctor remarked later that I must have fallen asleep.
Perhaps 45 minutes later, I was wheeled out. After eating two bowls of porridge and waiting for the paperwork to be done, I was discharged with a cotton patch on my right eye and a plastic protective cup over it.
The next day, the bandage was removed and I could see pretty clearly with my right eye. I had opted for the multi-focal implant and I could read the SMSes on my phone, the text on the computer screen and signboards in the distance.
Technology is wonderful. Science has progressed so much since my father's time. But these advancements have been made in the West, especially in the United States, the UK and Western Europe. In these countries, English is the lingua franca of science and technology - they have advanced tremendously and have invented cutting-edge technolgies.
Meanwhile, in Malaysia we are still debating whether to teach Science and Maths in Malay or English. Frankly the advanced nations don't care as long as Malaysians remain a market for their advanced products.
Coming back to technological advancements, the multi-focal implants work well, but - there's always a but - there are limitations.
I can see flare when I look at bright lights like street lamps and car headlights, I can see a yellowish colour cast - white is not exactly white as I have always known it - and I cannot see shadow details. In dim light, a lot of details are lost. It is quite easy for me to list out all these shortcomings because my left eye is perfectly natural (but with a bit of cataract affecting it and it will be operated on a few days from now), so I just have to look at something and cover one eye alternately to note the differences.
It looks like more advancements need to be made - hopefully by a Malaysian scientist who has gone beyond this insular and regressive Malay-English issue.
But it goes to show that even the best that Man can invent falls short of the glory of God. 
Even with Computer-Aided Designs and the fastest chips and all the knowledge that has been amassed by human civilisations, Man can never exceed or even replicate divine creation.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Where is the unity plan?

So the "slash and burn" drama continues...
The president who is now reunited with the reinstated deputy has combined forces and "slashed and burnt" the vice-president who was supposedly promoted to deputy and his backers.
These backers include the youth and wanita leaders who cried during a press conference, but tears will not repair the damage done to the party.
It was quite revealing that while the president said all these sackings amounted to just reshuffling towards the greater ends of unity, the deputy Prime Minister uttered: "Where is the unity plan?"
In other words, in the eyes of the leaders of the Chinese party, they are indeed working towards unity, but in the eyes of the people at large, they see a party that is getting more and more disunited.
Political leaders must remember that they can make admirable moves by manoeuvring to stay in power, sleeping with the enemy if necessary, but the people they represent - the Chinese community - are frankly tired of all that politicking.
Photos of the president and deputy president, who once upon a time were strangling each other and now are holding hands with fake smiles, are splashed all over the newspapers, but do the readers care?
Seriously, the people are treating the whole political mess as a joke.
Just the other day, I attended a birthday party and I mentioned to a friend that it is always better to have friends than enemies.
My friend quipped: "Yes, but these days enemies can also become your friends." Everybody laughed because they knew immediately what he was referring to.
The political leaders have become the laughing stock of the masses.
They should stop looking awkward shaking hands and maintaining forced smiles and look at the very serious issue of how to win back the hearts of the cynical and much-amused Chinese community.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Winning the battle, losing the war

The president may have won the battle, but many people think he has lost the war.
He may have checkmated his now-demoted vice-president by limiting his options by getting the reinstated deputy to be head of the Greater Unity Plan task force and including all his enemies in it, but he seems to have forgotten about the greatest war - to regain the confidence of the Chinese community.
For the demoted deputy, he has the choice of either taking part in the task force which will make it appear that he is all for it or he can boycott it which will allow the president to accuse him of derailing the plan.
At the same time, the demoted deputy is also leading the group of 16 to call for an EGM to decide whether to hold new party polls.
Advertisements have already been placed in Chinese newspapers - there seems to be no turning back for the demoted deputy. It is all or nothing for him.
But back to the Chinese community. Many Chinese, especially the English-educated ones, are not bothered at all - in fact they are laughing at the fumbles and tumbles of the Chinese politicians - simply because they have already been converted to the Pakatan Rakyat cause.
As for the Chinese-educated Chinese, they are being bombarded with reports from the Chinese press that the president is the worst ever in the history of the party. Will their opinions differ from that of the Chinese press?
The Chinese media are quite influential at moulding the opinions and mindset of the Chinese-speaking community and surely a large portion of them agree with what is written by analysts in the Chinese newspapers.
Thus the president has won the battle by ensuring that he keeps his position of power by sleeping with his old enemy and killing his new enemies (who were former comrades), but the feeling is that he has lost the war - the support of the Chinese at large.
It looks like an uphill task for Barisan Nasional to win the Chinese votes in the next general election.
Pakatan Rakyat will simply exploit the infighting and champion the "Teoh Beng Hock cause" to convince even old Chinese aunties and uncles to vote for, of all parties, PAS.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Getting curiouser and curiouser

The plot thickens. It is getting very exciting. Nobody expected all this to happen - the story has changed so unpredictably that the impossible has become possible.
Today, the Registrar of Societies said the former deputy should be reinstated as deputy.
Therefore the new deputy has to be demoted to vice-president.
But the new deputy does not recognise all these manoeuvres and is likely to take his battle to the courts.
So as far as he is concerned he is still the deputy which means there is one party and two deputy presidents - in the view of a faction of the party.
Four central committee members who were appointed by the president, but who betrayed him by siding with the now-demoted deputy, were sacked by the president.
Three people were appointed CC members, including the son of the formerly-sacked and now-reinstated deputy. Looks like it is a family affair, from the perspective of another faction of the party.
The CC meeting rejected the push for an EGM which was proposed by the disgruntled group of 16 CC members led by the now-demoted deputy.
It looks like the reinstated deputy accepted the offer made by the president and it is very likely that elevating his son to the CC was part of the deal.
Is this the end of the story? Frankly, I don't think so. Strange things have happened and stranger things may happen soon...

Monday, November 2, 2009

Resurrection of the dead duck

Apparently, the former deputy president is holding all the aces.
He is now in the great position of having the swing votes to negotiate with either the president or the new deputy and his "gang of betrayers".
The president knows he cannot control the party without the support of the former deputy, but the former deputy knows he can control the party with the new deputy.
So he can back either in exchange for goodies in the form of seats of power in the States and in the headquarters for his band of loyalists.
The former deputy president will obviously back whoever gives him the better deal.
It looks like he will have the last laugh because his story is that of, in the words of a respected analyst, "a dead duck that became a lame duck that became a live duck".
So indeed there is life after (political) death.
Sixteen central committee members including the new deputy president are in favour of fresh party elections, but they do not have the numbers to force new party elections to be held - that would require the backing of two-thirds of the central committee.
The new deputy and the other "betrayers" desperately need the backing of the former deputy.
Tomorrow, the party's central committee will meet and we will find out which side has offered the better deal.
There are three possible outcomes - two-thirds or the entire central committee resign to force new party polls; the 16 rebels will ask for an EGM to decide whether to call for fresh polls; or the president will table his so-called Greater Unity Plan to be endorsed by his and the former deputy president's supporters.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Going for broke

Today we will find out if the Youth wing of the Chinese party will take the lead and show the way to get rid of the president.
We shall see if the rebellious youths will support its leader who has marched along with 15 other central committee members to call for an EGM to decide whether to hold fresh elections.
If the youths are all behind the move for fresh elections, then the Wanita wing are likely to march with them.
Thus the president will fight a battle with his new deputy, one vice-president, the Youth and Wanita heads and lots of angry youths and women.
Strangely, two other vice-presidents have slyly stayed at the sidelines - they are probably watching the situation to see which way the wind blows.
The former deputy is also keeping rather quiet. What his next move will be is not known, but the Home Affairs Minister has already said the ex-deputy could appeal to him whether or not to be reinstated as the deputy which suggests that the authorities could indeed reinstate the former deputy to his post which will result in the new deputy, who was "promoted" during the last central committee meeting, being demoted.
That could explain why the new deputy has moved quickly to declare a new front of war despite the so-called greater unity plan. He is going for broke because if the president and reinstated deputy still control the party, he and his band of "traitors" will be"beheaded".
Whichever way the wind blows, heads will roll anyway - wars are always bloody.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

May the (3rd) force be with you

The peace pact has been breached much sooner than most people had expected.
Today, the so-called "third force" in the Chinese party emerged from the shadows - well, they had to because everybody including the president and former deputy knew who they were anyway - and held a press conference to say that nobody knew what the so-called greater unity plan entailed.
The new deputy president said he was only informed by the president that there was a unity plan, but no details were given to him or the central committee.
Previously the party was split into two - the president's faction versus the former deputy's gang of loyalists.
Now, a segment of the president's faction including the new deputy, the youth and wanita heads has stepped out into the spotlight to reveal that there is now a third faction in the party.
The aim of the third faction, said to be masterminded by another former deputy president and a few ex-presidents, is to get rid of the president and the former deputy (ok, I know it's getting confusing) so that the present deputy can take over the seat of power.
The third force is not without their supporters, but just how strong they are nobody knows for sure.
The president has claimed that he and the former deputy control just under 50 per cent of the central delegates with a small swing group numbering about 50-60.
If they think that the third force comprises only 50-60 delegates, they are likely to be wrong.
The third force is stronger than that and they seem to have the Chinese community at large behind them since everyone is tired about the so-called possibilities and impossibilities in politics.
The Chinese community are sick and tired of all this infighting - they want their problems to be solved.
Already, many Chinese voters have sided with PKR, DAP and - rather shockingly - even with PAS.
A Chinese party split three ways will not be able to represent them or even get their votes.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Everlasting peace?

There is peace in MCA, at least that is the image that the leaders want to project.
Observers have interpreted the shocking peace move as a brilliant strategy by the president to outfox, outwit and outplay his rivals in the form of the new deputy president and his bunch of fans who used to support the president.
While the deputy president, who was elevated to that position during the last central committee meeting, will remain as deputy, it is not known whether his "promotion" will be permanent.
Apparently several central committee members had met not very secretly before the vital meeting when they demanded that the president should resign.
During that not-so-secret meeting, one youthful male leader and a female leader had been very vociferous in their criticism of the president and had been very demanding. Their supporters also had their say about what they thought of the president.
Unbeknownst to them, someone had slyly made a call to the president and left his handphone on all the time during the meeting. Thus the president "attended" the meeting and knew who were stabbing him in his back - they were mostly "friends" who revealed their true colours when the chips were down.
Thus the president expressed his sadness at being betrayed by his "friends" and he prevented them from accomplishing what they had wanted to do by refusing to step down and instead calling for another EGM to vote on whether or not to hold fresh party elections.
His enemies had apparently planned to promote a vice-president to the deputy presidency and if he had resigned, the new deputy would have moved up to become the "acting" president.
Thus observers said the president quickly held negotiations with the former deputy - apparently with much nudging from the Barisan Nasional chairman - to stymie the ascent of the new deputy.
Peace reigns in the party - for now.
Many observers are keeping taps on the situation and have adopted a wait-and-see stance.
There are many more obstacles to be overcome - what will happen to the new deputy? What will happen to the former deputy who feels that since he has been reinstated as a member he has been automatically reinstated as deputy too?
What will happen to the youthful male leader and the outspoken female leader who have used up all their aces? They have apparently gone overseas, possibly to ponder on what they should do next.
Can the events of the past few weeks be simply erased from the collective memory of the central delegates, the Chinese voters and all other Malaysians?
Can everybody pretend that nothing happened at all and return to square one?
Will all that name-calling, back-stabbing and political assassination result in everyone forgiving each other and bearing no grudges?
We shall see how long this peace will last.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A big mess

It is getting very messy. The president is now fighting two deputy presidents - one was a vice-president who was elevated to the deputy presidency by the party's central committee while the other was the deputy who was sacked, then suspended and then reinstated as a member and is now seeking clarification from the Registrar of Societies on whether he is still the deputy president.
The majority of the central committee members seem to have revolted against the president who is still insisting on calling for another EGM to press for fresh party polls.
The president is also playing the role of the betrayed leader and has pointed accusing fingers at his former comrades, especially the vice-president who is now the deputy, for stabbing him in the back.
The legal bureau chief was also sacked even as websites and now mainstream newspapers started reporting allegations about the new deputy president's wife getting an expensive vehicle as a birthday present from a company that has won contracts from the new deputy president's ministry.
Not only is it getting messy, it is getting dirty too.
More dirt is expected to be dug up and thrown around.
The president seems to be digging in for a war of attrition which may prolong his reign, but the damage will be great. He also seems to be resorting to the scorched earth strategy and is aiming to slash and burn any foe or ex-comrade who stands in his way.
While the party is burning, the Chinese community are watching the bonfire somewhat nonchalantly - they have seen it all before.
The party has a history of embarking on long and taxing leadership battles which sap the energy and resources of the combatants and the attention span of the people.
After being bandaged and black-eyed, the Chinese politicians will invariably end up listening to the advice (or threats) of Malay politicians and declare a truce.
After a period of peace during which the politicians will work towards reconciliation and rejuvenation, they will start fighting again.
Such is the lot of the Malaysian Chinese community and its leaders. Now we know where script writers of successful Chinese TV serials get their inspiration from.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Clinging on to power

And the drama continues...
Today was supposed to be the end of the great Chinese saga; instead it is the start of a new episode.
The party has become even more segmented. The president had apparently unveiled a daring plan involving newspaper advertisements and demonstrations by groups of supporters to cling on to power and has succeeded for the time being.
He did not resign even though he lost the vote of no-confidence by a small margin. Constitutionally it would need two-thirds of the delegates to vote him out - therefore he is constitutionally correct to cling on to power.
He had called for fresh party elections but the central committee did not agree with him because it was felt that the party needed stabilisation. It is also likely that the central committee did not want fresh elections as it could result in many of the members losing.
New polls would enable the president and the former deputy to fight for the top post again albeit in a democratic way.
Ironically, the former deputy president is backing the president on this move. He knows that it would be the only way left to salvage his political career.
However, to make matters even more confusing, the central committee has elevated a vice-president to fill the deputy presidency.
So now the former deputy is officially shut out - that's why he wants fresh elections.
And in a final strike, the president has called for another EGM for the delegates to decide whether it is feasible to hold fresh party elections.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Last stand

On Thursday we will know who the leader of the party that represents the Chinese community will be.
Already observers are saying that there are three possible conclusions - the president (who does not enjoy the confidence of the delegates) decides to go back on his promise to quit and hangs on to power by arguing that he can only be removed by two-thirds of the delegates; one of the two male vice-presidents will take over; or fresh elections will be called.
The former deputy president is pushing for fresh elections simply because he has the chance to stand for presidency and try one more time to grab the top seat of power.
The two vice-presidents are pushing for either one of them helming the party.
What the president wants will only be known on Thursday. But so many people have told him to go that surely he must have gotten the hint.
However, the president is not known to be a person who would just give up without a fight.
We will have to wait and see what his last stand will be...
Calls for him to stay and the sudden emergence of a website praising him as a great leader and all that suggests that he just might decide to hang on to power for a little longer.
Let's hope that it will be a mature decision because Barisan Nasional simply cannot afford to have a major component party imploding especially when another major component party, the MIC, is being led to oblivion by a stubborn leader.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Return of the ex-MB

As expected, former Mentri Besar of Negri Sembilan Tan Sri Mohamed Isa Samad was elected the Bagan Pinang assemblyman yesterday.

His victory was more or less a foregone conclusion as he was extremely popular in the constituency and also the state. In fact there were some banners that stated that the Umno boys in the area would boycott the by-election if Mohamed Isa had not been picked as the candidate. Such was his popularity that the leaders of Umno had little choice but accede to the demands of the grassroots despite his colourful past.

Though much has been said about his "crime" that caused his downfall, not much has been reported in the run-up to the by-election about the circumstances leading to his removal as Mentri Besar. It is an open secret that Mohamed Isa was a victim of machinations involving a certain impatient young man who had wanted to use Negri Sembilan as his power-base from which he could launch his career in politics and aim for the high posts of power.

That impatient young man, with the green light of his father-in-law, backed Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan to take over as Mentri Besar. As fate would have it, things have changed drastically - the impatient young man has been forced to become more patient as he operates without any position of power, the patriarch of his extended family has been swept out of office and the ex-Mentri Besar is now back in favour.

Therefore, we can expect fireworks in Negri Sembilan soon. Supporters of the ex-MB are likely to call for his reinstatement as MB and the present MB is expected to dismiss the move...

Everyone knows this will take place as reporters have already asked Mohd Isa Samad if he was eyeing an important role in the state government.

He reportedly said: “I have never thought about it.”

Perhaps he hasn't, but his supporters surely must have.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The end is near: Part 2

The end is so near, yet so far.

The EGM is over, but it looks like we will have to wait till Thursday to watch the final chapter of the great Chinese saga.

Today was a really eventful day as one dramatic moment followed another. First the Press were not allowed to attend the EGM, then they were told of a recount which meant the difference was only 1 per cent.

Finally in the afternoon it was formally announced that the party president had lost the vote of no confidence by 14 votes while at the same time the deputy president was not reinstated. That was the kind of result that the so-called "third force" in the party had wanted.

Later, the secretary-general announced that the Central Committee will meet on Thursday to discuss the outcome of the EGM.

Suddenly there is talk there would be some legal tangle as the party's constitution says a president can only be kicked out by two-thirds of the delegates and not by a simple majority.

But the president had told the whole world that he would leave if he lost by a simple majority. We will have to wait till Thursday to find out if the president will keep his word.

There is also talk that the president, who now no longer enjoys the confidence of the majority of the delegates, may pull the presidential council down with him as he had already announced that the decision to sack the deputy was a collective decision.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The end is near

The party's EGM is coming soon, but all seems strangely quiet in every front.
But beneath the outward calm, big battles are being fought with lots of phone calls, SMSes, late-night chats, gifts in the form of moon cakes with other "things" stashed in the box, and plenty of promises made.
There is also talk of a third force in the party whose aim is to get rid of the president and his suspended deputy, appoint one of the vice-presidents as acting president and continue with the job of running the party and winning back Chinese support.
Observers say there are three possible conclusions to this saga - the president goes and the deputy takes over, the president stays and the deputy goes or both of them go.
If the third scenario unfolds, only two vice-presidents are in the running to take over and both are guys. It has nothing to do with gender discrimination - it's just that nobody is sure who the female vice-president is loyal to.
One of the vice-presidents is said to be favoured by Umno while the Youth leader is also said to be in the good books of the Malay leadership.
Supporters of the president are still maintaining that they have a 55% chance of winning.
Well, in a few days' time we will all know whether they are right...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Signs of the times

Umno is sending out a lot of signals, but Uncle Sam-y just does not get it.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak will attend the launch of the Malaysian Makkal Sakti Party on Oct 10 while at the 17th IPF annual general meeting in Kuala Lumpur on Sept 27, Barisan Nasional executive secretary Datuk Abu Khamis, representing secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, opened the one-day event.
What Uncle Sam-y has done is to use his Youth Wing chief T. Mohan to say that the Malaysian Indian Congress would not allow another Indian party to be admitted into Barisan Nasional.
Umno - and almost everyone else - knows that fighting the next battle (the general elections) against a so-far quite resilient Pakatan Rakyat would be tough and it would be even worse if its Barisan "friend" MIC enters the fray in its present condition led by stubborn ol' Samy Vellu.
So Umno is courting other Indian parties which may in time be more influential than MIC. Umno is also making use of these other Indian parties to apply pressure on MIC to reform and re-energise.
Samy should take heed of the signals and signs of the times.
There is an urgent need for new faces, new blood, new views and new leaders to lure the new voters.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Final act: The president outwits his rival?

It seems as if the party president has outwitted his ousted deputy - at least for the time being.
On Saturday night, it was announced that the party's central committee has decided to amend the decision made by the presidential council and suspended the deputy president for four years instead of giving him the sack.
What this means is that the previously-sacked deputy now is no longer the deputy but remains a party member.
That preemptive strike has also resulted in the party's EGM being converted into an academic exercise of sorts because the resolution to reinstate the deputy no longer applies.
The move has taken the wind out of the sails of the deputy's campaign to get back to the party and the president now has the upper hand.
To strengthen his hand even more, the president has said even a simple majority for the resolution for a vote of no confidence against him would mean he has to resign - along with the presidential council because the decision to sack the deputy was a collective one.
In other words, the president has pointedly told his presidential council - which include the Ministers and deputy Ministers - that they will go if he goes. They have effectively been ordered to sink or swim with him.
That means the members of the presidential council will have to ensure that all the delegates under their control will have to back the president - ensuring him of victory.
That appears to be the game plan.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sorry, Mahathir

MIC president Datuk Seri Samy Vellu has been forced to eat humble pie - he has said he will personally meet with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to apologise for a remark by an MIC delegate to hang a garland of slippers on a portrait of the former PM.
Certain personalities in Malaysia are sacrosanct - Samy Vellu has been in politics long enough to know that.
Even the previous Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi found it hard to criticise Mahathir without having to deal with the repercussions.
Mahathir had been in power for so long that an entire generation of Malaysians grew up during his reign. These younger Malaysians have known no other Prime Minister (okay, Abdullah ruled for a couple of years and now Datuk Seri Najib is in control), but what I mean is that no other personality has left such a deep mark on them. Abdullah's tenure was sadly quite forgettable and Najib has just started things rolling.
Mahathir is that kind of historical figure who achieved greatness. Now that must be something way beyond the reach of Samy Vellu...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Slip-per of the tongue

MIC president Datuk Seri Samy Vellu has gone too far by allowing a delegate to say that a garland of slippers should be hung on a portrait of former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad during the party's AGM last weekend.
Even though Samy shushed him up the damage has been done.
Now hordes of Malays - and lots of Malaysians - are hammering him and MIC for such an insult. And rightfully so.
To calm things down, he has suspended the delegate but that does not seem to be enough. The people want him and the delegate to apologise.
Samy should have known better than to allow a former PM who is still much revered by Malaysians, despite his faults, to be insulted in such an unbecoming manner.
Perhaps he did not know beforehand what the delegate would say, but shouldn't he have briefed the delegates on the do's and don'ts. After all, aren't they all the president's men?

Monday, September 14, 2009

King Samy

For the moment MIC president Datuk Seri Samy Vellu seems to be riding high - all the king's men have made it and the kingmaker, who happens to be king as well, is basking in all the glory.
His men have criticised former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for slamming Samy Vellu for clinging on to power for too long and even took a dig at the Barisan Nasional government.
Is Samy so cocksure of himself and his support among MIC and the Indian community that he thinks he can take on former and present leaders and get away with it?
One thing is for sure - his support within MIC is strong. After all, the king's men are in power.
But what about support from the Indian community?
Samy Vellu should realise that his party was almost wiped out in the March 8, 2008 general elections and since then he has done little to win back support from the community he claims to represent - he has spent more time and energy fighting his private wars in his party and plotting to put his men in positions of power.
In fact, all the moves to win back support from the people, including the Indians, have been initiated by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. Can anyone name anything concrete that was done for the Indians by Samy Vellu since the last general elections?
Samy Vellu must realise that no king in history has remained in power forever and he must realise that by overstaying his welcome, he may adversely affect not only Barisan Nasional, but his own party as well. It is better for him to bow out (gracefully?) now and let his chosen ones patch up the damage before the next general elections than for him to bow out later and lead his party to oblivion.
What will happen if MIC is totally wiped out in the next general elections? At the rate things are going, such a scenario is very possible.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Heading for a stalemate?

This afternoon the presidential council of the party decided that only one EGM would be held.
At the same time, supporters of the sacked deputy president submitted 921 signed requisition forms calling for an EGM and put to rest rumours, obviously spread by the other camp, that they did not have the support of one-third (800) of the total of 2,402 central delegates to call for one.
The sacked deputy president meanwhile claimed that he has more than 1,200 delegates behind him.
When the EGM will be held is not known, but one of the resolutions submitted by the sacked deputy president's camp is to call for a vote of no confidence against the president.
What would be really interesting is when neither the president nor the sacked deputy can get the backing of two-thirds of the delegates attending the EGM.
A stalemate will result in even more confusion and a longer battle of attrition. Observers say a stalemate is a highly possible result.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Charge them!

Finally, the government has decided to charge the demonstrators who stepped on and kicked a cow's head during the Aug 28 protest by residents (and non-residents) of Section 23 in Shah Alam who were against the proposed relocation of a Hindu temple to the neighbourhood.
They will be charged with sedition and illegal assembly.
Finally there is some good news for the Indian community who have been hurt and humiliated by irresponsible radicals. In fact, those of other faiths had also followed the events closely as they too could be hurt and humiliated by some other incident some other time in some other place.
People are asking questions - why are such shocking things allowed to occur? Why do the police stand around and do nothing when chauvinists and racists kick a religious symbol around but protestors who do nothing more than hold lit candles and walk from one place to another in a peaceful rally are arrested?
It will obviously be perceived as blatantly unfair and racially biased when the cow-head group comprises mostly Malays and the candle-light vigil protestors are mostly Indians.
How can there ever be a 1Malaysia when different races are treated differently not only by government policies but by the police too?
We will have to wait and see if the courts will be colour-blind and deal with the cow-head protestors fairly...

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Rise of the racists

Online news portal Malaysiakini has been ordered by the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to delete two videos, including one of the cow-head protest in Shah Alam, from its website.

Monitoring and enforcement division senior acting director Abdul Halim Ahmad said in a letter dated Sept 3 that "these videos contain offensive contents with the intent to annoy any person, especially Indians. This is an offence under Section 211/233 of the Communication and Multimedia Act 1998."

In my opinion, this is a case of closing the door after the horse has bolted. It is damage control, but the damage has already been done and repairing the torn ties between the Indians and Malays seems a daunting task.

Furthermore, damage control is futile anyway because the controversial and shocking footage of the Malay-Muslim residents (and apparently some non-residents) of Section 23 of Shah Alam stamping and spitting on the head of a cow to protest against the proposed relocation of a Hindu temple in their neighbourhood has already been posted on YouTube and nobody knows how many people have already downloaded it and/or e-mailed it to their friends. There are lots of copies of the disgustng video in cyberspace.

It is impossible for MCMC to track down every copy and get the video deleted from the Internet. The enforcement guys should acknowledge that it is mission impossible - I'm not talking about the movies - and it would be a sheer waste of time and effort trying to censor the Internet.

What not only the MCMC enforcement officials but all Malaysians should ask is why such a shocking incident occurred in the first place.

What happened to the admirable Malaysian attitude of tolerance? What happened to the unwritten rules of courtesy, understanding, respect for each other's beliefs and knowing the limits that Malaysians had abided by in the peaceful past?

The leaders have been talking about unity in diversity and how great a melting pot of races and cultures Malaysia is, but the people - at least a radical section of them - have been out of sync with political rhetoric.

The folks in the Tourism Ministry have been telling foreigners to visit Malaysia for its rich cultural diversity and see how peaceful and harmonious the multi-racial people are, but the reality is that there are great lacerations in the social fabric - the doors have swung open and the racists have bolted out and are wreaking havoc on the community of innocents.

And the authorities always react after the horses have bolted - after the cow head has been kicked around, in the case of the Shah Alam incident. BTW, the police just stood by and watched while the cow's head was trampled on, but they did apologise for their inaction.

It is time to reflect on where we as a nation are heading to. We have a choice - either we work hard to become a united Malaysian society living, as the tourism brochures and politicians say, in peace and harmony or we tear ourselves apart by creating more racial/religious tension by being increasingly racist and chauvinistic and do really insensitive things like stamping on a cow's head

Monday, August 31, 2009

Act three, scene one: President calls for EGM

In a pre-emptive strike the party president has just called for an EGM while supporters of the sacked deputy president are still finalising the resolutions of their motion to be tabled in the EGM that they are planning to hold.
The party president's EGM will have a motion to support the presidential council's decision to sack the deputy president and possibly a motion to support his leadership. In effect, the president's EGM would be a vote of confidence for him.
He seems to be banking on the fact that he needs two thirds of the delegates attending the EGM to support him rather than 1,602 which is two thirds of the 2,402 central delegates nationwide.
If he does not get two-thirds of the attendees' votes, effectively it would be a show of no confidence but would not amount to a vote of no confidence.
Thus if the deputy president's supporters decide to boycott the EGM, it would be a walkover for the president.
What'll happen then? I am not sure, but it will be helluva messy...

Friday, August 28, 2009

Today's chapter: Unseen hands

This episode will be about a former president of the party acting as the unseen hand behind the great Chinese drama unfolding before our very eyes now.
The sacked deputy president can apparently depend on support from his home state of Johore and the state of the former president - Perak.
Unseen hands are said to be guiding the moves by party members and delegates to call for an EGM which is likely to take place next month.
According to the Chinese press, there is speculation that the way out of this mess is for both the present party president and the sacked deputy to "withdraw" from the political scene and allow a senior party statesman to step in to lead the party and repair it in time for the next general election. Word is that the party sifu will be from the Prime Minister's home state - Pahang.
How the dominant Malay party will react to this is not known, but it is pretty obvious that they would rather have a stable MCA than a split one in 2012/13 when the next general election has to be called.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Act two, scene two

Today, the campaign to call for an EGM began when a group of party loyalists who want to "save the party" met and formally announced their intention to get 800 central delegates to back their move.
Will they succeed? Apparently they will.
If that is the case, then the EGM may be held as early as next month.
But will the (sacked) deputy president's supporters be able to convince more than 1,600 delegates to back their motion of no confidence against the party president and also reverse the decision of the presidential council? At this moment, the word is they will not be able to do so.
What will happen then?
The split in the party may be so great and the repercussions so grave that the entire political scene in Malaysia may change - and ironically Pakatan Rakyat will have nothing to do with it and they need not do anything at all except to grab a good seat and watch while the ruling coalition destroys itself.
This wild party will get wilder...

Act two, scene one: The deputy president is sacked

As expected, the second chapter of the great Chinese drama has just been filmed.
Hours ago, the presidential council of the leading Chinese political party decided to follow the recommendation of the disciplinary board and sacked the randy deputy president who had tainted the party's image by "acting" in a sex DVD.
Now, the real party begins....but it's going to be a helluva wild party that threatens to split the leading Chinese political party so badly that it may be hard to stick it back together again.
Watching at the sidelines with great interest and looking rather worried is the leading Malay party whose leaders have been trying so hard to win back support with a series of populist moves. After all the hard work and energy spent, this had to happen and this sacking will have such great repercussions that it even threatens to split the ruling coalition.
It's gonna be a wild party...
The next episode will see supporters of the deputy president calling for the president to be suspended. In fact it has already happened - on Wednesday, several leaders in Perak had called for the president to be suspended.
Then there will be calls for an EGM. The word is there will be enough delegates calling for an EGM to ensure it will take place, but whether the sacked deputy has enough supporters to get a vote of no confidence against the president passed is another story.
We will have to be patient and tune in to watch the next episode as the great Chinese drama takes the Malaysian political landscape by storm.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Hopping out

Today the Lunas state assemblyman Mohd Radzhi Salleh hopped out of Parti Keadilan Rakyat to become an independent member of the Kedah legislative assembly.
Suddenly there is talk of other PKR leaders either jumping ship or becoming independent.
On Friday, Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim was ordered by the High Court to pay RM66.67mil to Bank Islam Malaysia for a loan he took to purchase Guthrie shares when he was the company’s CEO in 2001.
Is there some kind of link between these two events? Both involve Pakatan leaders; both would adversely affect Pakatan in one way or another.
Is the Barisan Nasional federal government using everything at its disposal to topple the Pakatan-led state governments?
Perak has already fallen; Kedah is next. And then Selangor?
People may say it is unfair for Barisan to muscle its way in, but frankly what is fair or unfair in politics? After all, politics is all about strategies, machinations and skulduggeries. Who dares wins.
Pakatan leaders should better have their own contingency plans otherwise they may end up as a footnote in Malaysian history.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

All is not Vel yet

Vel, Vel, looks like the Prime Minister has been rather busy of late going for walkabouts, shaking hands and exercising with students.
His latest attempt at showing that he is serious about connecting with the people took place on Sunday when he visited Batu Caves, that hilly bastion of Hinduism. He became the third Prime Minister after his father and Tun Hussein Onn to visit the grandest Hindu shrine in Malaysia.
Not only did he do a little walkabout, but he went there armed with goodies for the Indians.
The problem is this - such encounters of the personal kind work only for a while. The feel-good factor among the Indians will dissipate as soon as the next Indian criminal suspect dies in police custody.
The Indian community has complained for too long that they have been marginalised. It does not help that their leaders had been busy fighting their private political wars and have little time to truly represent them.
And at Batu Caves, noticeably absent was MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, who was in Perak to attend the state's MIC Convention.
While the reason may be valid, observers have read his absence in a negative way with one news portal even suggesting that Najib was distancing himself from Samy.
Najib must realise that winning over the hearts of the people would require sincerity and delivery of his promises. A walkabout here, a handout there and announcements everywhere will not ensure a landslide Barisan Nasional victory in the next general election.
All is not Vel yet.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Sane decision, finally

Finally there is someone in power who is in tune with the realities of the cyber world.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who has his own 1Malaysia blog to reach out to young Net-savvy Malaysians, said yesterday that the Government will not censor the Internet.
Such a move would be ineffective and could cause dissatisfaction among the people, he explained.
Najib realises that information travels freely in the developing world of information and communication technology.
“If we put a form of control, the people cannot accept it,” he said.
Thankfully Najib realises that the Internet is the final frontier of democracy and freedom and Governments should not waste their time and money trying to control the uncontrollable.
It is far better for Governments to improve their performance in terms of transparency, accountability and efficiency than to block off their online critics.
And as for the filtering of porn sites to protect the morals of Malaysian kids, there is no need to waste money on some software and make some supplier richer when such filters can be downloaded for free.
Perhaps the decision-makers need to be taught how to download freeware.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Net censorship?

Information, Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim confirmed today that the Government will install an Internet filtering system purportedly to cut access to porn sites.
He was reported to have said that the system is to reduce “Malaysian children’s exposure to online pornography.”
“We will attempt to put in this filtering system because the safety of our children from pornography cannot be compromised,” he told a press conference.
This will make Malaysia the second country in recent times after China to attempt to control access to the Internet.
China's controversial Green Dam project which would have resulted in every PC being installed with Net filtering software has been postponed.
In Malaysia, it appears it is all systems go.The question is this - why is it necessary for the Government to instal porn filtration software costing nobody knows how much when parental filter softwares are already available for free from the Internet?
When I upgraded my Net service to Streamyx recently, my main concern was that my kids would view porn instead of doing their homework.
I asked around and was told to google for parental filters. I did just that and downloaded one of the more popular ones. Filtration of porn sites can be done by any parent for free.
Which raises another question - perhaps the Government wants to filter other sites? Politically-sensitive ones? Anti-Government ones? Blogs that leak information about the corruption of Barisan politicians? What about which is leaking allegations about DAP politicians? Will this be filtered out too?
The point is this - the Internet is where freedom reigns. Governments have found it difficult to control the Net - look at the experiences of authoritarian nations like China and Myanmar.
The Net has enabled citizens, especially those in strictly-regulated societies, to express themselves freely. Liberal discourses in the Net have enabled societies to mature politically and in some instances, Governments have resorted to using the Net to fight back against online detractors and win over the Net-savvy young generation.
What is the purpose of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's 1Malaysia blog? Now his wife has also launched her blog. A carelessly-programmed filter may just block these sites (oops, somebody's head will roll :) ).
Governments must realise that censorship - or filtration - is not the way to go in the connected world of today. The authorities tried to jam Raja Petra's Malaysia Today site; he simply launched a mirror site, and who's laughing now?
A few days ago, I posted an article on the anti-ISA rally and said it could be read as a tactic by de facto Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to divert attention from the problems Pakatan Raykat is facing. A friend e-mailed a reply with an article she had copied and pasted from a newspaper website in which the writer argued that Malaysians marched against the ISA because they believed in the cause and it was their democratic right to do so.
Such differences in opinion are common among bloggers and commentators - the diversity of views is healthy because it leads to a better understanding of the problems we face in Malaysia and perhaps people from opposing schools of thought can find ways to solve them.
Any political scientist will tell you that in the long run, censorship will lead to a Dark Age while freedom of expression will always lead to a new wave of brilliant, fresh ideas. Malaysian leaders must emerge from the Dark Age that they are still stuck in.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Act One, Scene Two

Scene Two of the saga of the Barisan Nasional component party continues with the deputy president aka the man in the sex DVD appearing before the party's disciplinary committee today despite the fact that the complainant had withdrawn his complaint.
It is likely that the no-nonsense disciplinary committee will find him guilty of some charge like violating the party's code of conduct or behaving in a manner unbecoming of a deputy president or something like that and punish him.
His punishment will come in the form of either a dismissal or a suspension.
Chances are the leaders of the party will not take the risk of going all the way and sack him. Therefore the deputy president will most likely be suspended for a year or two.
That action will spark off Act One Scene Three or Act Two Scene One or whatever...
What will happen next? Will supporters of the deputy president make a move for an EGM? Will there be a motion of no confidence against the party president?
Stay tuned.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Pakatan diversion

Another rally, another stand-off, another protest, another day in today's Malaysia.
Somehow it has become formulaic - the protestors gather at the National Mosque or Central Market or Sogo and try to make their way to Dataran Merdeka or the Istana Negara.
As usual the Pakatan bigwigs will be there, the Pas and DAP leaders will walk around and hold press conferences and, last but not least, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim will turn up riding pillion on a motorbike to steal the thunder and denounce the enforcement officers for violence and excessive force.
The riot police will fire the tear gas canisters and a truck with water cannon will roll in shooting at the fleeing protestors like some kind of giant water pistol. The protestors will run off, wash off the chemical-laced water with tap water and regroup. Such running battles will continue till the protestors get tired and make their way home or to the nearest teh-tarik stall.
The government is trying to spin the story against the Pakatan -inspired protestors saying that the rioting has caused massive inconvenience to plenty of innocent Klang valley residents, it has resulted in millions of ringgit in lost income for thousands of shopkeepers (and Sogo) in the area, it is bad for the tourism industry, and it has caused the people to turn against such methods. Mainstream propaganda newspapers will spin this story for days.
We have seen it all before.
Frankly it seems as if street protests have become part of Malaysian life and I am reminded of the students of South Korea who hold protests regularly. In South Korea, taking part in a protest is considered part of growing up, a rite of passage, a loss of innocence.
It appears as if taking part in protests in Malaysia is evolving into the South Korean model.
A German investor asked me some time back why the authorities are so worked up over street protests.
He said in Germany and other West European countries, such protests are common. The people gather, vent their frustrations, clash with the riot police and they go home.
"It's a way for the people to let off steam. It is actually a safety valve," he said.
Whether the government reacts or reforms is another matter.
Last Saturday's anti-ISA protest - made more theatrical by a pro-ISA faction obviously backed by the powers that be - can be read as an attempt by Anwar and gang to divert attention from their internal problems and show Malaysians that they are still a force to be reckoned with.
Pakatan should learn that holding one too many street protests - just like having too many forced by-elections - can be counter productive and Malaysians may become immune to such rallies and treat them as a circus.
As a matter of fact, many people decided to stay home and watch TV while others simply avoided the blocked-off parts of town on Saturday and shopped at 1Utama instead of Sogo.
When mamak teh-tarik stalls and Ramli burger/hot dog stands start setting up shop at the usual venues whenever there is a street protest, then Pakatan is in trouble.
In fact they are already in trouble. It is better for them to sort out their internal differences and brush up their performance than to take to the streets again and again.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Another test

Looks like there will be another test to find out if Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's populist moves will win over some more votes to Barisan Nasional.
This morning, the PAS state assemblyman for Permatang Pasir in Penang, Datuk Mohd Hamdan Abdul Rahman, died at the National Heart Institute in Kuala Lumpur.
In the 2008 polls, Mohd Hamdan beat Umno's Ahmad Sahar Shuib by a majority of 5,433 votes.
In the recent by-election in Manek Urai in Kelantan, which was supposed to be a PAS stronghold, Barisan lost only by a very slim majority which showed that Najib's populist measures have worked to a certain extent.
Of course, the cunning move by Umno to split PAS by utilising the "Malay and Muslim unity" strategy paid dividends too. PAS leaders may not realise it, but they seem to be falling into a trap set by Umno because a weakened PAS benefits Umno.
Just when Mohd Hamdan's death was made known, Najib's government announced the launch of Permodalan Nasional Berhad's (PNB) Amanah Saham 1 Malaysia (AS1M) which goes on sale from Aug 5.
Malaysians aged 18 and above will be able to subscribe to the fund with a minimum investment of RM100.
For 30 days, bumiputeras can pick up 50% of the units while the Chinese can pick up 30%, Indians 15% and others 5%.
After the offer period is over, the remaining units will be offered to all.
On top of that 50,000 first-year students of local universities will receive 100 units each.
This is yet another populist move by Najib designed to win over the non-Malays who had deserted Barisan in the March 2008 general elections.
The results of the Permatang Pasir by-election will reveal for sure whether Pakatan Rakyat has lost some of its support to Najib's populist government.
If Barisan makes some inroads into Penang, it will be a slap in the faces of Pakatan's leaders because it is the home state of Pakatan's defacto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and DAP's secretary-general Lim Guan Eng is the Chief Minister.
Not only that but Permatang Pasir is one of the three state seats in the Permatang Pauh Parliamentary constituency where Anwar reigns as king.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Stop complaining!

Just a few days before the deputy president of a certain Barisan Nasional component party is supposed to appear before a disciplinary council to answer a complaint about him starring in a sex DVD, the complainant has withdrawn his complaint.
The complainant, a division chairman in Johor, had lodged his complaint on May 28 last year, but no action had been taken so far and according to reports, he said the political scenario had changed and there was no need to pursue the matter.
Whether the deputy president will still have to appear before the party's disciplinary council on Aug 4 is not known.
But now that there is no more complaint, is there still a case for him to answer?
And why did the complainant withdraw his complaint? The division chief told reporters that there was no pressure on him and it was his own decision to withdraw the complaint.
One finds that kind of political statement hard to believe.
Word is the big guns of the dominant party in Barisan are not too pleased with the goings-on in the component party especially when the ruling coalition is trying so very hard to win back the voters. Stay tuned...

Monday, July 27, 2009

Oh no, not again!

Ladies and gentlemen, in this corner we have the party president and in the other corner we have his deputy who has been ostracised.
His deputy is also famed for having the guts to admit that he was the person in a sex DVD that has the habit of popping up in strangers' postboxes every now and then.
It is sad that every now and then battles take place. When elephants fight, the ants get trampled on.
The first shots have been fired. Who gets hurt is anybody's guess. Who the winner will be is also anybody's guess, but as usual the incumbent has the advantage.
Ladies and gentlemen, get ready for fireworks as the battle for the presidency of a certain component party in Barisan Nasional has just officially begun.
Word is the supporters of the deputy will call for an EGM during which a vote of no confidence will be called for. Can he succeed?
Meanwhile, the president is trying to get the deputy disciplined and probably sacked. Can he succeed?
Just like one of those Hong Kong series, this will last many, many chapters. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Death fall

Najib's Government has just agreed to set up an inquest to find out what led to the death of Teoh Beng Hock, the political secretary to Sri Kembangan assemblyman Ean Yong Hian Wah.
A Royal Commission of Inquiry will also be set up look into the interrogation methods used by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) as well as whether any human rights had been violated. The police investigation report will also be made public.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak made the right decision because nobody would have believed the police or the MACC investigation reports.
Nobody will believe the authorities because of the circumstances leading to Teoh's death.
Everybody I asked has told me that there are only two possibilities - either Teoh committed suicide or someone killed him.
It has been announced that Teoh went to Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam where he was questioned by the Selangor MACC on the 14th floor. CCTV footage showed him entering the building last Wednesday and obviously he did not leave.
MACC officers said he was allowed to leave at 3.45am last Thursday morning. He was reportedly seen sleeping on a sofa at 6am by MACC officers. At 1.30pm, his body was found on a 5th floor ledge.
A post mortem revealed that he died around 8am to 9am.
What happened from 6am till 8am? Nobody knows.
How did a piece of the latch of a window on the 14th floor (where the MACC office is) break off and land near his body?
If Teoh had jumped to his death, how did he manage to climb up the window which has a chest-high opening?
If Teoh had been discharged from questioning - as a witness - why were his backpack, handphone and wallet still in the possession of the MACC?
Why would Teoh want to commit suicide when he was supposed to marry his fiancee who was pregnant with his child?
There are too many unanswered questions and the sceptical public would be even more sceptical of the answers that the police or MACC would come up with.
An inquiry by independent panellists would be the best solution as it would have some semblance of respectability.
Teoh's death is tragic in many ways.
Of course, Teoh's death itself - and the circumstances that led to his death - is shocking and tragic.
Another shocking tragedy is how quickly it became a Malay vs Chinese issue and even more shocking and tragic is how the Malay newspapers played up the issue and made it racial to the extent of accusing people of insulting Malay institutions like the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
Since when has a Government department become a Malay institution? It is also tragic that the commentary was written by a relatively well-respected senior editor, and I am sure many of his non-Malay colleagues are puzzled by his stance.
The death of a person, regardless of race, in controversial circumstances has nothing to do with racial issues. The search for the truth has nothing to do with racial issues. The struggle for justice has nothing to do with racial issues.
It is tragic that Malaysia, which will turn 52 next month, is still divided by race and it is tragic that intelligent journalists are fanning emotions with illogical and ridiculous comments.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Can Malays master English?

I have always been of the opinion that the Malays suffer from some kind of mental block and inferiority complex.

This was something that former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad tried hard to correct but he failed. In the final days of his reign, Mahathir said his greatest failure was that he could not change the mindset of the Malays.

Yesterday, I was at a private hospital in Subang Jaya and met one of the best heart surgeons in Malaysia because my wife will be going for surgery to remove another tumour, likely to be benign, from her chest area. (For my wife's musings, surf to or click at the link below)

He was a Malay and a gentleman. He seemed to me very Old World, very learned, very courteous and spoke excellent English. Obviously he was trained overseas. He had a laptop and a PDA on his table - obviously he was connected to the Internet generation - and I noticed Chinese paintings on the wall of the consultation room.

I couldn't help thinking to myself that his parents or grandparents must have been farmers or fishermen. Yet he could rise from such a humble background to become one of the best heart specialists in town. His command of English was superb and he must have learnt his science - and maths - in English. If he can do it, why can't other Malays?

A Malay colleague told me that she felt the government had made the wrong decision on the issue of teaching of Science and Maths in English. She said, "Come on, all the knowledge is coming from the West. Just google anything on science and see how many Malay websites you get." How many research papers are written by Malay (or Indonesian) scientists? "Our children will suffer."

She is another example of a Malay who has mastered English - after all she is writing for an English newspaper. I don't think she's from a rich family who could afford to send her for training overseas or private schooling.

In my office, we have another senior Malay reporter who is now editing and rewriting articles and correcting the English of Chinese reporters.

That shows that Malays can be just as good in English as anyone of any other race. That's why I still maintain it is a mindset issue.

I was told that when the government announced that the teaching of science and maths would revert to Bahasa Malaysia and vernacular languages in 2012, lots of Malay students in schools, especially in rural areas, actually cheered and celebrated.

Sadly, there are many, many more Malays who need to change their mindset and overcome the hurdles in their thinking.

More crime news

Soon after friends read my post on how snatch thieves almost got away with my gold chain and jade crucifix, one of them e-mailed me that her friend had been robbed at a petrol station too.
She also said that she saw YouTube footage that showed a woman checking her engine with the bonnet open at a petrol station. The mistake she made was she had her handbag slung around her shoulder.
A petrol attendant was standing beside her but that did not deter the snatch thieves.
In a flash, a motorcyclist zoomed past her and the pillion rider snatched her handbag. The poor victim was flung several meters away and what injuries she suffered nobody knows.
And the petrol attendant? He was too stunned to do anything.
Some months ago, my neighbour's daughter returned from work at about 8pm. She opened the automatic gate with her remote control, drove into the porch and before she could even press the close button, a motorcyclist zoomed in, smashed the front passenger window with a hammer, grabbed her handbag which was on the seat and zoomed off.
It is believed that the snatch thief must have spotted the handbag on the front passenger seat when she stopped at a traffic light and he simply followed her home to commit the crime.
A colleague who had her handbag snatched outside her house told me she does not take her handbag or purse with her whenever she fills up at the petrol station.
"I just take along a little bit of money and one credit card. I keep my purse in the glove compartment most of the time," she said.
After the incident, my wife admonished me for being too careless. She pointed out that I have the nasty habit of counting money while walking towards the car after withdrawing the cash from an ATM.
She also pointed out that I tend to leave the car keys in the car when I alight to pick up something from a shop or stall or whatever.
At least I have done something right - I have trained my kids to lock the car doors whenever I alight to get something. The problem is the kids prefer to listen to Fly FM than to walk with me to buy laksa or chap fan (mixed rice).

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Almost a snatch-theft victim

Barely half an hour ago two Chinese-looking men on a motorcycle tried to snatch my gold chain in broad daylight while I was filling up my car with petrol at the Shell station in Sea Park, Petaling Jaya.
There I was standing behind my car with my youngest son, seven, in the front passenger seat while the petrol was gushing into the tank. I noticed two men on a bike entering the station and moving past me quite slowly.
I thought they were looking for an empty pump to fill up. Then the motorcyclists made a U-turn, rode past me again at arm's length and just when I turned to look elsewhere, I saw a flurry of movement and I saw the pillion rider suddenly reaching out to grab something. I felt my gold chain snapping and I managed to catch it while it was falling.
The snatch thieves rode off as the pillion rider showed me his fist.
Everything took place so suddenly that I was unable to see the registration number plate (which is probably fake anyway) and the men wore crash helmets. I remembered them being burly and Chinese-looking.
Everything happened so quickly that the woman at the pump opposite me did not even know snatch thieves were at work just metres away from her. The man at another pump about five metres away did not even see anything.
Only a pump attendant, a nice Malay chap, saw the event and he walked up to me and asked what happened. He said he only saw the pillion rider suddenly reaching out to grab something. I showed him the snapped chain and jade crucifix that would have been the ill-gotten gains of the snatch thieves.

The snatch thieves did not get away with these.

He asked me if I had suffered any injury and I showed him my neck. He said he saw no wound, but when I reached home, I felt some pain and I think I suffered a slight scratch which I quickly treated with some antiseptic cream.
The snatch thief managed to escape with some of my skin.
But such things happen and life goes on....After filling up, I simply drove off. There was no point lodging a police report as it would just be another statistic.
My son was blissfully unaware of what had happened. Then again he is too young to understand such things - why men can do bad things, why we live in a fallen world, and why so many of use refuse to change our evil ways even when there is available for all a road to salvation.
Recently, a classmate e-mailed me YouTube clips of snatch thieves at work. In one of those footages, you can see a maid opening the gate for her employer who drove in and stopped at the porch. Before the man could alight and the maid could close the gate, several motorcyclists stopped and armed with parangs (machete) sprinted to the house, rammed into the gate flinging the poor maid several meters away and confronted the man who was still in his car.
After taking handphones and wallets from the man and whoever was in the house, they ran out, hopped onto motorcycles and zoomed off.
Everything took place in an instant. I doubt if any of the neighbours saw the incident which was captured by the CCTV in the house. I doubt if the victims would even recall how the robbers looked like or how many of them were involved.
In the other footage, you can see a car pulling up in front of a double-storey link house and some passengers alighting. Two men on a bike pass by slowly and they stop. the pillion rider gets off and runs towards the women who had alighted from the car, grabs a handbag and runs back to the bike, hops on it and they zoom off. The snatch thief takes all of maybe five seconds.
You can see that the victims are too stunned to do anything.
Sadly these are desperate times and there are lots of desperate people out there.

Points to remember: The next time you see two men on a bike hovering near you, be careful. Robberies can happen anywhere - outside your home or even at petrol stations at 11.20 in a bright, sunny morning. And don't wear a gold chain and a T-shirt because the round-neck exposes the chain. A collared shirt would make it more difficult for the snatch thieves to grab your chain.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Kowtowing to the Malay masses

The issue about teaching of Science and Maths in English is essentially about the Malay masses in the kampungs and the Chinese-speaking Chinese - rural and urban - clashing with the urban English-speaking elite of all races.
Though much has been written about how for the first time the Chinese had supported the Malays to call for the teaching of these two subjects in Malay and vernacular tongues, the reality is that the Malay masses were more influential in convincing the Government to make a flip-flop decision to revert to the old way of doing things. That champions of Malay culture and language from Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka led the calls made the Malay politicians sit up and take notice. The Government would have brushed off Chinese protests.
It is true that rural students of all races had not been doing well in these two subjects when English was used. It is also true that the divide between the rural students and urban ones had increased.
The reality is that even if Malay and vernacular languages are used, the divide between urban and rural students will still increase because the urban elite can afford to send their kids for tuition, extra English classes or to private schools.
The reality is also that Malaysian children - of all races from rural and urban areas - will suffer in the long term when Malay and vernacular languages are used to teach these subjects. Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is right as far as this issue is concerned.
This is because advancements in technology and science will still take place in the West - especially the United States and to some extent, the United Kingdom and Europe. The lingua franca of these quantum leaps in knowledge will be English.
That is why students in China, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and other nations want to master English.
Let's get real - who will translate the latest technological terms and computer jargon into Malay? Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka? When these custodians of Malay language and culture encounter an English word or term with no Malay equivalent, which happens almost all the time where science and technology are concerned, they will simply spell them the Malay way or just absorb the entire English word or acronym into Bahasa Malaysia. For example, what are the Malay words for "Internet", "cyber", ""blog", "HTML" or "URL"? And these are just the simple terms.
I wonder how the great linguists at Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka would translate this sentence that I copied from some chemistry website - "The synthesis of polyhydroxylated indolizidines and pyrrolizidines belonging to the class of iminosugars, endowed with a vast and assorted biological activity, can be achieved in a straightforward manner by a general strategy consisting of a highly stereoselective 1,3-dipolar cycloaddition of polyhydroxylated pyrroline-N-oxides followed by simple transformations of the isoxazolidine adducts."
It would appear that the Government is caught in a bind - on one hand the top leaders (who are English educated, I believe) realise the importance of mastering the English language, which explains their repeated assurances that English would still be taught; on the other hand they have to appease the Malay masses.
There is a political reason - Umno has lost much of its appeal to the Malays as the results of the March 8 general election last year show so clearly. Thus they cannot afford to lose even more support by snubbing the champions of Malay culture and language.
On July 9, the government announced that science and mathematics will be taught in Bahasa Malaysia and vernacular languages, in stages, from 2012.
Take note of the year - not many people have noticed that the year 2012 is around when the next general elections would be called as the mandate of the current government ends in March 2013. Obviously the political strategists realised that starting the new policy in 2012 would deprive Pakatan Rakyat and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (if he's not in prison by then) the chance to attack Barisan Nasional on the language issue.
After all Anwar had already attacked Barisan on this issue in June when he urged for the return of Bahasa Melayu’s status as the supreme language, which included using it as the medium to teach Maths and Science in national schools and strengthening its usage in Chinese and Tamil schools.“This issue has become a controversy for far too long. We consider this policy a betrayal towards Bahasa Melayu as our official language,” he told a press conference.
As always, it will be our children who will have to suffer for such policies that are decided based on political reasons rather than practical ones.