Thursday, January 31, 2008

Badawi's State Of Euphoria

Hantu Laut
30 January 2008
It’s whistling past the graveyard to think that Malaysia is going to escape a US downturn unscathed

malay-badawiPrime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is probably wrong if he is as confident as he says he is that that Malaysia is positioned to avert any negative fallout from a threatened US recession by virtue of trade with the rest of Asean, which on its surface outweighs that of the US.

Following the Davos conference in Switzerland, the prime minister pointed out that 86 percent of Malaysia's GDP is domestically generated and added: "This has become one of our economic strengths (as we are no longer acutely dependent on external trade), and these strengths have come from the policies that we have drawn up and implemented, which are far-sighted.”

The speech and figures, probably prepared for him by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, are hardly realistic. While the Malaysian economy has been robust over recent years, his boast that the country is immune from a US recession is incorrect. There are direct and indirect elements that can make a US recession contagious, not only to Malaysia and other countries in Asia.

Using data from Malaysia’s state-owned External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE), the US is still Malaysia’s biggest trading partner, with total trade of MR170.80 billion in fiscal year 2006. In 2006 Malaysia exported RM589 billion to all markets. Almost 77 percent came from manufactured products, 62 percent of that from electronic items.

The small domestic market would not be able to consume excesses from a contracting export market. The major manufactured products for export, especially electronic and electrical products, are not suitable for domestic use. What are Malaysians going to do with a few billion dollars worth of unsold semiconductors, computer chips and other high-technology products?

In the same year, export trade with Asean countries was RM154 billion. It is safe to assume that more than 60 percent of exports to Asean countries went to Singapore. Malaysia’s trade with Singapore was MR146.9 billion, making it the second largest trading partner after the U.S. With the exception of Thailand, trade with other Asean countries was insignificant. Lumping Singapore together with other Asean countries to show market diversification is self-deceiving and unjustified. Being the second largest trading partner and for the sake of clarity, Singapore should be classified individually.

There also seems to be a great discrepancy between MATRADE figures and those given by an independent body, which quoted, and the CIA World Factbook as its sources. The data shows Singapore's total trade with Malaysia in 2006 was US$77 billion. Taking an exchange rate at a constant US$1.00 - RM3.40, trade with Singapore was a whopping RM262 billion, not the RM146.9 billion MATRADE uses, making it the biggest trading partner, bigger than the US.

Was the huge difference a result of under- and over-invoicing? It's difficult to say which figures were correct. This can only be established if the external trade corporation were to openly dispute the figures from the other sources.

The majority of exports to Singapore are re-exported, with a big portion going to the US. In 2006, Singapore re-exported S$204 billion out of total exports of S$432 billion. Singapore exports have weakened over the past few months, signalling slower growth in 2008.

Abdullah Badawi's assurance that trade with other Asean countries outweighs that with the US thus doesn't hold water. The biggest single entity in the Asean region is still Singapore, as has always been the case. It will continue to be Malaysia's biggest trade partner for a long time to come. A recession in the U.S would bring reduced volumes of purchases and falling prices which will subsequently affect Singapore's imports from Malaysia.

Another motivating factor for Malaysian exporters to use Singapore is the practice of under-invoicing, in which certain amounts of export proceeds are retained in Singapore. (Many Malaysian exporters use this facility to keep some funds outside the country. Similar practices have been carried out by log exporters from Sabah and Sarawak, using Hong Kong as their base. With millions stashed overseas, some Malaysian companies from Sarawak have become the biggest loggers in the world, partly financed by the Malaysian Inland Revenue Department, in the form of tax evasion.)

As a financial center, Singapore provides a wide range of financial products and services. An established importer/exporter in Singapore need not deposit any form of security or cash to the bank to open letters of credit if he has an acceptable L/C from his overseas buyer. The bank will usually back out another L/C to the supplier based on the original L/C. Lots of business is transacted this way with exporters in Malaysia and Indonesia.

Singapore will thus continue to play a major role in Malaysia's export trade due to two factors. Its efficient ports, higher frequency of ships visiting and its status as a financial center make it cheaper and faster to transact business and ship cargoes to practically any destination. Singapore’s status as an entrepot, with Malaysia as its industrial and resource hinterland, distorts the trade figures that give Asean its trade pre-eminence over the consuming west. Not recognizing that, and not acting on it, spells trouble for Malaysia and its economy.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Hantu Laut

"Correct,correct,correct" and now it's "Looks like me, sounds like me".

Can you get anyone with worse antics than this slithering sycophant,a Mr Tag Along and a denizen of the legal fraternity with a magic wand that can influence the appointment of judges.He was so powerful he can actually tell the ex-Prime Minister who to appoint to the bench.

In the controversial video tape he described the ex-PM as "Being the old man, he is 76 years old, he gets whispers everywhere, and then you don’t whisper, he get taken away by the other side. But, now the PM is very alert he because every time he gets letters from Tan Sri Dzaiddin, he calls Tengku Adnan, he says discuss with Vincent, come and discuss".

Who is Vincent? Was he a special rapporteur officially appointed by the government to advise the ex-PM on appointment of judges?

If what he said about the ex-PM was true, than it is most disgraceful and a shocking news to the nation.Judges are appointed to dispense justice to all and sundry and not to be subservient to anyone in particular.Judges have no masters,they are masters of their own .They are expected to adhere to the rules of justice and listen to their conscience, not to anyone else including the Prime Minister.

Was Vincent Tan a close confidant of the ex-PM? It looked obviously so, if we go by what that bragging power brokering creep revealed in the video.For the ex-PM to tell Tengku Adnan to discuss state matters of the highest importance with a man who has nothing to do with matters of government, one can only assume such relationship did exist, unless, that slimy bragging creep was name-dropping just to impress his audience.

It was no coincidence that in 1993, Lingam was Vincent Tan's lawyer in a law suit against M.G.G.Pillai, a journalist who has since died.Tan brought a defamation suit against him and was awarded a substantial amount, unprecedented in the legal history of defamation suits in this country.It was also no coincidence that the damages awarded by the Federal Court was presided over by a team of judges headed by Eusoffe Chin.

In the latest episode, the 'Correct,Correct,Correct' and 'Looks like me,Sounds like me' has manifested into 'I cannot recollect'.

He told the commission."Without looking at the video, I cannot recollect the occasion. After looking at the video, I do not recollect. It has happened so long ago. Looking at the video, there is bottles of wine, whiskey or brandy and 7-Up. I would have had one too many drinks. That was a drinking session, a celebration, a party. I must have had one too many (and) it is more than six years ago. I cannot remember".

"It looks like me. You can ask the question 100 times, I will still give you the same answer".He must have assumed every members of the commission are idiots, to be able to take this kind of crap coming from him, a man void of any dignity and shame.

This legal clown has turned the commission into a circus and tried to fool everyone with intoxicated lapse of memory as his excuse not to remember whom he spoke to on the phone.

This fool and his folly will eventually put a noose around his own neck.A shameless and stinking piece of crap,undignified and fits for the sewer.

Is this the kind of man some of our judges and leaders kept company with?


Now he admits being a bullshitter and a braggart.He is king in his own house and can talk whatever rubbish he wishes.Below are some of his oratorical skills.

1.“I can choose whatever topic I like. I can even pretend to talk to President Bush if I like,”

2.“That (conversation) was in my house. That was in the privacy of my room. My house is my castle. I am the king there. I can talk whatever rubbish in my house as long as I don’t get drunk outside and misbehave,”

3.“Even if I did say it and I am sorry to use this word but I was bullshitting and bragging,”

4.“No, no, no, my learned commissioner, you didn’t get me right. I said it looks like me, it sounds like me. I didn’t said it’s not me. I don’t want to say it’s 100 percent me because the authenticity of the clip has to be established,”

5.“The tickets are separate tickets with separate number. They were just stapled together and anybody can staple them [...] I don’t know who did it, I have not seen it, you have to call the maker who did it,”

6.“I changed my prepaid numbers very often when I lost my mobile phone. I also change my house phone number very often because there are many prank calls to me and my maid at late hours,”

Read Sophie's World anecdotal story on this.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Will The Hen Crows Louder Than The Cock And Makes It To The White House

Hantu Laut

Will Hilary Clinton makes it to the White House come this November.After the New Hampshire primary, her star seems to shine brighter than a while ago when she lost badly to Obama in Iowa.

"To my mother, who gave me a love of life
To Hilary, who gave me a life of love
To Chelsea, who gave joy and meaning to it all
And to the memory of my grandfather, who taught
me to look up to people others looked down on,
because we're not so different after all"

Those were the dedication in the preamble of Bill Clinton's autobiography, My Life. A vivid description of his life's journey from childhood to his tenure as the 42nd President of the United States.A wonderful and tremendously anecdotal memoirs from one of the most popular US Presidents. The only thing lacking in this book is the absence of a list of contents, which makes timeline search almost impossible and making it difficult to make reference to some of the text in the book.The publisher probably omitted it for a reason.

My interest is not in Bill Clinton but more in his highly ambitious wife, Hilary. A graduate of Yale Law School and majored in political science, she spent eight years as First Lady and was elected a senator in her final years at the White House as wife of the President.

Hilary has her sight focused on the highest office from her early days as wife of the President.Many other women would have created ructions and ruckus over sexual indiscretions and perfidy of the husbands. Not Hilary, she has no intention of making a cause celebre of her marital problem and to attract public sympathy for her, she took it in her stride and publicly displayed her elegant and dignified calmness.Unlike Sarkosy's wife who left him and didn't give two hoots when he became President of French, she stood by her man, ignored Bill's wolfish adventure and indiscretions and fastidiously proceeded with her grand plan to reach for the coveted office. She made known her intention soon after she was re-elected as senator.

Over the past few years America's political scene, which is very much male-dominated, is slowly changing. Women are now included in highly sensitive position in the administration.The appointment of a black woman, Condoleezza Rice as State Secretary is another new element in the changing political landscape of the United States. Would a woman or a black person have a chance to get to the highest office ? I would say, even as near as a decade ago, the answers to that were not likely in the affirmative. The composite picture has changed now, making the journey to the Oval office less hazardous for blacks and women.

In 2007 in a national poll, Hilary was consistently placed as the front-runner for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. She is now on her way to fulfill her dreams.

With her latest win over Barack Obama in the New Hampshire primary, will she makes it to the White House?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Another Tragedy In The Making

Hantu Laut

Help Find Sharlinie (Nini)
Help Find Sharlinie (Nini)
Nini, aged 5, missing since Jan 10, 2008. If you know her whereabouts call RakanCop at 03-21159999

Sister: Nini was taken by a woman.

In my previous post 'Malaysian Police - A Crying Shame' , I mentioned the possibly of the murder of Nurin and subsequent rape and murder of Preeshena Varshiny as the work of serial rapist and killer.

With the abduction of Sharlinie Mohd Nashar, another terrible tragedy is in the offing.What I find ridiculous and quite unacceptable was a report in the Star newspaper stating how the older sister of Sharlinie, after much persuasion by the press, revealed that Sharlinie was taken by a woman and bundled into a black car.

Are the reporters trying to do police work? Why would an eight- year old girl needs to be persuaded to tell the truth, unless the reporter concerned fed her with the information in the hope of getting positive response from her. This is a potential murder case and the only reliable witness is a child, where extreme care should be taken not to juggle and confuse her mind. A child of that age would have a clear mind of what she saw and wouldn't need any coaxing to tell the truth.

Reporters should stick to their job of reporting news, not interrogating victims or witnesses.This is police work and should be left to them to deal with.

Unfortunately, our police is not brilliantly famous for its crime busting feats.Over the years many innocent underage girls had been raped and murdered. Only few of the cases had been solved and brought to justice.

Below are few cases of rape and murder of underage girls in this country:

· Preeshena Varshiny (9)
· Nurin Jazlin (8)
· Nurul Huda Gani (10)
· Norshuhada Burak (6)
· Ang May Hong (9)
· Harirawati Saridi (9)
· Siti Nadirah Budah (5)
· Nor Syakila Ramli Abdullah Choo (5)
· Nor Shawni Dahlan (7)

What happen to the old adage 'Don't talk to strangers'. Don't parents teach their child at a very young age not to talk to strangers and not to accept candies or gifts from them. After so many tragedies concerning young girls being raped and murdered, it makes one wonder how some irresponsible parents still allow their child to go out unaccompanied.Unfortunately, the statistics revealed another sad side of this preventable tragedy, most of the victims were very young Malay girls.

Are we less responsible for the welfare and safety of our children or was it the old kampong mentality that we live in a safe environment like our forefathers did, therefore, making us complacent and less alert about the safety of our children?

With the rising crime rate and many unsolved murder cases, Kuala Lumpur would soon be joining the crime capital of the world.

If New York city and Hong Kong can fight crime and make the city streets safe for the city dwellers, it's utterly disgraceful that our police, instead of lowering the crime index, has unashamedly let it takes its own course.

I think the Prime Minister should seriously consider sending a message to the police, 'SHAPE UP OR SHIP OUT'.

Monday, January 7, 2008


Hantu Laut

The Malaysian government is probably the biggest control freak in this region. From ban on peaceful demonstration to importation of cars and to price control on what it termed as controlled items, rice, sugar, flour, cooking oil and many more that fall into the category of essential items, the government has imposed restriction either in the form of quota, price control or monopoly.It defies economic logic and the law of supply and demand.

Market can only be at economic equilibrium when supply can meet demand and prices are favourable for both sellers and buyers.When demand outstripped supply an ugly situation called dearth of supply or shortage occurs.

In view of the shortage of cooking oil, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister, DatukShafie Apdal announced that starting from next week each customer will only be able to purchase a maximum of 5 kg of oil at any one time. He blames smuggling to neighbouring countries as the cause of the shortage. Was that a fact or just another attempt to hoodwink the people from the real problem. How come there is a sudden surge in smuggling activities of cooking oil? To which country are the oil smuggled to ?

From talking to a few retailers, I was told the shortage was due to government refusal to allow oil producers to increase prices, resulting in them cutting down on production to cut losses as the cost of raw palm oil they purchase to process into edible oil has gone up. Is it fair to force private manufacturers to subsidise instead of the government taking the responsibility.If government is not prepared to subsidise than it should be left to market forces to find its own price level. The story from the retailers seem more plausible than the one given by the minister.

It's absurd and impractical to impose a limit on purchase per costumer when you don't have the mechanism to police and control the effectiveness of the ruling.Can you stop a consumer from going to 10 shops in a day to buy the minimum 5 kg he is allowed to purchase? It's simple logic that the exercise is abhorrent and downright impractical but yet the minister made the announcement in spite of knowing the futility of such an ill-conceived idea.

A number of popular and better grade cooking oil have disappeared from the shelves of supermarkets and grocery shops.The situation is going to get worse before it gets better.

So, brace yourself for another price hike, not only for fuel oil but also edible oil and a whole spectrum of your daily necessities.

The government claimed a growth rate of 6% in 2007. With prices of crude snowballing and the consequential price escalation in all sectors of the economy, the year 2008 maybe a gathering gloom.

Also read:
Malaysia Will Not Face Economic Hardhsip - Kuan Yew

Friday, January 4, 2008


Hantu Laut

Although I have already formed an opinion on the road the Health Minister, Dr Chua Soi Lek should take, I didn't jump on the bandwagon earlier, as I expected the Malaysian blogosphere would be buzzing with lurid tales of his sex scandal and unsolicited opinions on whether he should have stayed in office, resigned or be fired by the prime minister. As usual, the prime minister needed priming before he could make a statement on this scandal, the result of clandestine entrapment by Chua's enemies in the fold.Some elements in MCA (Malaysian Chinese Association) seemed to have special skills in this kind of investigative work, much better than our pathetic police force, where many murders go unsolved.

In spite of his indiscretion, his family including his demure wife stood by him.One very interesting letter from a person named Jeffery posted in Malaysiakini was of the opinion that Chua's sex life is none of our business. He surmised that getting caught inflagrante is a case between him and his wife and family and society have no business to condemn him as long as he has not defaulted in his competence in his ministerial capacity.In most civil society, a public figure is looked upon as a model of moral decency, both in private and public life.

Does a person holding public office become public property ? To a certain degree, yes.If your are married and you have an illicit affair or sexual escapade than your integrity become questionable.Cheating, in whatever form, is not good credential to have while holding public office. If your are not married, it's no body's business, as in the case of Nicholas Sarkozy, the French President.If you are private citizen, your private life is no body's business and if you happen to be married, your indiscretion, is between you, your spouse and your family.

The bold step taken by Chua to come clean and confessed to his infraction has taken a treacherous course, a complete obliteration of his political career. His honesty and his hope of supplication, which he contemplates, would bring him relief from the burden of guilt and some form of forgiveness from the people, has taken the wrong turn, it has, instead, brought him more public ridicule, contempt and demise of his public office. He overestimated the benevolence
of his peers in the party and the ever listening ears of the PM.The opposition leader, Lim Kit Siang theorised that Chua could have been a victim of double betrayal.Was he lured to make the public apology to finally seal the lid on his coffin ? Whoever the mastermind was, he had made a darned good job of dealing a death blow to Chua's political career.

In relinquishing all his party and cabinet posts, he said he didn't expect the overwhelming negative response from the people and for some Malaysians to behave "holier than thou". However, he was proud that he owned up without any hesitation.Overwhelming negative response supplied by Astro and China Press? How accurate was the assessment is anybody's guess.I wonder how and on what basis the opinion poll was conducted?

As far as my memory can take me I can't recalled of any other Malaysian politician that had the guts to own up for his or her misdemeanour. Many have gone unpunished for much bigger crime.We don't seem to have a standard in dealing with errant politicians holding public office, it's kind of different strokes for different folks, the less influential and less needed, would be sacrificed.The case of a Chief Minister having sexual liaison with an underage girl was one case that didn't shook the government or prompted it to investigate, instead it sent a member of the opposition to jail for bringing the case into public domain.The then Prime Minister refused to delve any further into the case, which could have ended in statutory rape, if it was proven true.If I remember well, it was the girl that was taken to court, and sent for rehabilitation.

What Chua did was wrong from moral point of view, but it didn't bring any physical harm or injustice to the general population as much as corruption and abuse of power would have.The only person emotionally hurt would be his wife. She has, for being a devoted husband and good provider, forgiven him.

My premise on this case would not be a pleonasm of disagreement with the sentences agreed upon by his comrades in MCA and the Prime Minister.I think the man was given too many lashes, more than he deserves. The penalty was bigger than the crime.He should just have to resign his ministerial position and be allowed to keep his party position and the elected seat.

Now that Chua's political career is over, would the prime minister leave no stone unturned to get the culprits who illegally made and distributed the video?

It is obvious that in this country 'honesty is not the best policy'.Hypocrisy can save you but honesty will definitely kill you.