Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Is The Road To Hell Paved With Good Intentions ?

Hantu Laut

The famous Hamlet's soliloquy "To be or not to be". Will the prophecy of so many people about Najib's administration come true. Anwar Ibrahim has prophesies the same here.Would it be a case of "The road to hell is paved with good intentions" and whatever good he does would still not be good enough? Is he a victim of wrong public perception ?

Najib will be the most controversial figure to ascent the highest office.He became prime minister by default rather than popular choice and came with a heavy load.

His late father Tun Abdul Razak took over the nation when it was in turmoil and emergency law was passed to stop further violence and bloodshed.Razak headed the National Operations Council.The May 13 tragedy culminated in the Tungku handing over power to Razak in 1970.Parliament and political parties were suspended, press censorship imposed, all political activities banned and use of the ISA to detain troublemakers. Within less than two years Razak managed to bring back peace to the country and Parliament was reconvened in 1971 with the formation of a new coalition government, the Barisan National (BN) comprising all political parties, except the DAP. PAS joined but was expelled in 1977.

In hindsight, without emergency rule and use of the ISA the situation could have been been worse and dragged on much longer.

There is similarity in Najib's and his father's ascension to the premiership, albeit in a different environment. His was a peaceful and planned transition, while his father's came at very difficult times and leadership was thrust on him as the Tungku was seen as a weak leader and his policies not benefiting the Malays. To certain extent Najib replacing Abdullah was of the same nature, Abdullah was also perceived to be weak.

In the early 70s the Malays economic and living standard were still low. Almost 75% of Malays living below the poverty line and excluded from the modern economy.The May 13 tragedy was the result of this disparity and the near loss of political power. The Tungku, for lack of experience, had only wanted political power for the Malays and the civil service to be manned mainly by Malays.He overlooked the economic power. Money can buy material comfort, favours, sex and lately as we all found out can also buy politicians.Therefore, money and lots of it can do miracles, almost anything.Without money life can be miserable and society can be cruel to those who doesn't have it. This is the root of UMNO's problem, money ! money ! money ! every one in UMNO wants a lot of money and they don't care, in the eyes of society, how they obtain it, ill-gotten or otherwise, as long as it's easy, fast and big. They have forgotten what they are there for, they have forgotten what sacrifices previous leaders had made to bring this nation to what it is today.They have forgotten the basic principal of decent human behaviour and lavished themselves with the trappings of power. They have not an ounce of guilt or shame that the money they have are not acquired through hard work or entrepreneurship but through an easy ride on the gravy train.

You hear of horror stories of wives of politicians buying Hermes handbag worth RM90,000.00 and holidays paid by Chinese towkays.You hear of politicians making million of dollars without any business to their names. This is what Najib needs to stop if he wants UMNO to regain its past glory. If things are done within reason nobody will complain, it is the excesses that have driven the people away.

When the late Tun Razak introduced the NEP in 1971 to help narrow the economic gap between the Malays and other races mainly the Chinese it was a sincere and benevolent act to remove the economic imbalance and bring the Malays to higher economic level. Never in his wildest dream he invented the NEP to enrich only the Malays in UMNO. It was mean for all Malays.

Najib must do a serious examination of where UMNO has gone wrong, not only the Chinese and Indians are running away but educated urban Malays are equally disillusioned and have shown their discontentment at the last general elections by voting the oppositions.

Now that Pak Lah will be out of the picture will Najib revert to his father's original idea of what the NEP should be about and put a stop to the gravy train, or at least minimise it, or would he follows in Mahathir's
footstep and bring back authoritarian rule and continue with the status quo?

Is the road to hell paved with good intentions?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Is NCR Land A Big Scam ?

Hantu Laut

I am not an expert in Sarawak land matters and what I expressed here are mostly confined to my Sabah experience. However, Sabah and Sarawak seemed to share similar problem when it comes to Native Customary Rights(NCR) land.

Land have always been a sensitive issue in rural areas when big tract of land are given out for agricultural development or logging activities.There would be protests, objections and confrontations with the indigenous people who claim that those land belong to their ancestors and rightfully belong to them.

Unlike in some parts of Sarawak, in Sabah the native villagers do not totally live off the forests. Most live along rivers and tributaries and eke out their daily lives from subsistence farming by shifting cultivation. Here, they are appropriately called Orang Sungei and are scattered along the rivers in pockets of small villages.

In Sarawak the Penans are probably the true people of the forest.Most are hunter-gatherers and used the forest as their source of food, medicine and clothing.Although, they take everything from the forest they pose no strain on the forest because of their minimalist attitude, not taking more than enough.

As a logger working in the Sugut/Paitan area in Sabah in the 70s and 80s I have a fair share of problematic villagers who claimed customary rights mostly as an excuse to squeeze money out of you to pay for wild fruit trees they claimed to have been planted by their forefathers and non-existence graves of their forefathers they claimed to have been mowed down by our tractors.Dealing with this kind of situation needs a lot of diplomacy, patience and understanding.To brush aside their claims would be inviting more troubles.We always get away with paying a few hundred ringgit making them happy and our work uninterrupted.

The best solution to the problem is to wise up and not be arrogant. Most of these poor villagers are reasonable and do not come as often.Paying few thousands ringgit a year to keep the peace is worth it. Those were 20 to 30 years ago when land and forests were still aplenty.Today, things have changed and land are becoming scarce and expensive and politics playing a big role in turning it into a sensitive and troubling issue.

The kampong folks are not as innocent as many would have thought them to be.Many have been given lands but sold it for quick money even before the titles for the land have been issued by the government.Under the Berjaya government thousand of acres of land were given to so-called landless villagers and all those lands are now owned by big plantation companies.Every where you go the story is the same, even land applied for homestead are sold immediately upon getting approval.

All the hue and cry about NCR land falling into the wrong hands are mostly politically motivated, at least in Sabah it is.Most issues are raised by politicians with vested interest.When they can't get what they wanted from the government instigating the people would put pressure on the government to consider their requests.This tactics are use by both oppositions and elected representatives of ruling parties.

In Sabah, the giving away of huge tract of land to Peninsula-based plantation companies were mostly done under the PBS government and this is the same people who are trying to stir up villagers about NCR lands that they have given away more than any other state government.PKR Vice-President Jefferey Kitingan was a big player in this scheme when his brother was Chief Minister of Sabah and he Director of Sabah Foundation.

Some politicians have short memory. They conveniently forgot what they did yesterday.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

New Mahathirism: A Pre-judgement ?

Hantu Laut

It's the end of the Badawi's era and the beginning of a new Mahathir's era.

Malaysians are watching closely the road that Najib will be taking to redeem himself.How he is going to extricate himself from a whole slew of allegations which he claims to be unfounded and manufactured by the oppositions.They are malicious and baseless lies spread by the oppositions to smear his good name he claimed.

There is a general perception that Najib will be turning back the clock to the Mahathir's era, the use of strong arm tactics to intimidate the oppositions, muffle the media and crack down on the alternative media where the smear campaigns and oppositions to him ruling the nation resounding loudly.

Najib is asking Malaysians to judge him by his actions and said he has not taken office yet but people were already pre-judging him.

Malaysians are basically skeptical because of his non-reaction to the allegations other than denying it. Malaysians wanted him to clear his name by using the justice system which he seems not to be in favour of thus making the people even more suspicious.Tengku Razaleigh has asked him to exhaust the legal system to clear his name.Razaleigh has, in the past, used the legal system to clear his name when news report implicated him in the BMF scandal.

Mahathir has strongly indicated his return to UMNO and the entire nation is glued to a political watch of whether Mahathir will have undue influence in his administration. In another word would Najib be under his thumb? Will he takes Mahathir as the wise old man and a fatherly figure that he should render his respect and obedience ? Mahathir has openly thrown his support for Muhyiddin who had been instrumental in pressuring Pak Lah to step down. Would Mahathir make full use of Muhyiddin to pressure Najib to compliance ?

Malaysians will get an early indication of whether Mahatirism has snuggle back into the administration when Najib chooses his cabinet ministers.The one person that Mahathir wanted no business with is the young and restless Khairy Jamaluddin. He has openly attacked Khairy and wanted him out of the Youth race and later openly told
Najib not to appoint him to the cabinet.By tradition the youth chief is usually given a cabinet post.

Will Najib appoint Khairy to the cabinet and faces the wrath of Mahathir or appease him and not appoint Khairy and faces the wrath of the party youth division ?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Cabotage Within A Cabotage: Sabah Ports' Moronic Idea

Hantu Laut

Most developed nations have cabotage law to protect transport of goods and passengers within the country.

'Cabotage' basically means the transport of goods or passengers between two points in the same country.It is a form of protectionism.It was originally started in shipping but later widen to cover aviation and to all other form of inland transport.The US has strict cabotage policy and consider it as not only protection for domestic transportation but as a form of national security and public safety.

Malaysia has its own cabotage policy to protect local shipping. Most goods from overseas are first shipped to Port Klang and later shipped on local carriers to other ports in the country. If domestic shipping is efficient and readily available than this is fine, the costs of transportation could be lowered but it could pose huge problems if the local shipping is erratic and inefficient, costs would go up making goods more expensive and less competitive.

Consumers in Sabah and Sarawak have to pay higher price for consumers goods due to the policy and even worse, manufacturers in the two states who export their products overseas have to incur higher costs in paying additional freight/transhipment charges for transhipment of the goods through Port Klang which is not a very efficient port by any measure.

There should be flexibility in this policy as far as Sabah and Sarawak are concerned.Strict adherence to cabotage would make Sabah and Sarawak unattractive to investors. There should be total relaxation on bulk shipments. That is to allow direct calls by both foreign and Malaysian registered vessels for bulk cargo going out or coming to the ports in Sabah and Sarawak. The two states are separated from the Peninsula by over a thousand miles of open sea and a malleable cabotage policy should be the case.

Take for instance if there was a big shipment of heavy equipment from Kobe in Japan to Kota Kinabalu it makes economic sense if the sailing is direct to Kota Kinabalu instead of going to Port Klang first because the freight charges would be much cheaper than to send it to Port Klang and than re-ship to Kota Kinabalu.

As they say "from the frying pan into the fire". It bothered me to read the most ridiculous proposal by Sabah Ports to make Kota Kinabalu Sepangar Port as the only terminal port for all ships coming to Sabah including all ships from Port Klang.Goods destined for other ports in Sabah shall be transported by barges and scows from the Sepangar Port.

I wonder whether the people in Sabah Ports are fit to be there in the first place. Void of better ideas on how to make money this bunch of morons have decided to start their own cabotage policy.They are trying to create a
cabotage within a cabotage and bring more miseries to the economy and the people of Sabah.

The business community and the people of Sabah are already burdened by the high costs of goods by the inefficiency of domestic shipping protected under the national cabotage policy and they are trying to add salt to the wound and aggravate the already unpleasant situation. Needless to say this kind of vacuous policy would drive away both domestic and foreign investors.No businessman in his right mind will invest in a state where poor infrastructure, high costs of production and high cost of shipping existed.

It is also ridiculous on the part of Sabah Ports to implement such ridiculous policy after spending huge amount of money to upgrade the Sandakan port and those in Lahad Datu and Tawau.

This kind of policy makes no economic sense to Sabah other than to serve the incompetence of the 'goyang kaki'( laziness) management of Sabah Ports. The proposal virtually makes one 'smell a rat' in Sabah Ports and its parent company Suria Capital. The next step is to monopolise the transport sector by giving it to one or few people.

Malaysia as a nation already have in existence a national cabotage policy which covers the whole nation. Sabah should not be allowed to implement its own cabotage policy just to fulfil the whim and fancies of the management of Sabah Ports. The state government should not agree to this meretricious proposal even though Sabah Ports belong to the state.It's would be killing the elephant to save the ant.

I would be surprised if Chief Minister Musa Aman who himself was a businessman will allow this kind of policy to be implemented and one that will damage the state economy and stifle new investments.

Maybe, he should also consider appraising the management of Sabah Ports whether they are competent to run port business without government protection.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Autocracy Or Atonement ?

Hantu Laut

So! Najib got his dream team after all, if not all, at least most of it.With the exception of the Youth and Wanita wings nearly all his men are in place at the top echelon of the party.

The casualties among ministers and menteri besar would see some changes in the cabinet line-up.At least there would be a new Home Minister, new Foreign Minister and new Minister of Tourism. Another vacancy that may be in the offing is the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumers Affairs presently under Shahrir Abdul Samad.He lost his bid for a seat on the Supreme Council.

Najib has plenty of room to make major changes to the cabinet and those ministers who failed to secure victory have made life easier for Najib to overhaul the cabinet and infuse new blood into the lacklustre cabinet

From the new crop of leaders, many are uninspiring, unimpressive and known quantities. Maybe, Najib should start looking for professional ministers and engage them on contract basis especially for crucial ministries like the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Trade and Industry.These two ministries are the crucial conveyors in spurring economic growth to overcome the economic and financial crisis.

Sabah got a big shot in the arm when Shafie Apdal won one of the vice-presidents and Chief Minister Musa Aman got one of the highest number of votes in the Supreme Council.The head of Puteri was also won by Sabahan Rosnah Abdul Rashid Sharlin. Sabah also secured 2 more seats in the Supreme Council, Lajim Ukin and the controversial bocor MP Bung Moktar Radin.

Well, you can't put a good guy down and Malaysia must have court jesters not only in Parliament but also in every political party supreme councils, otherwise, Malaysian politics would be such a pallid and boring affairs.

It must be the saddest day for Ali Rustam.Looking at the votes obtained by 'Double-Barrelled Muhammad' he could have put up a good fight against Muhyiddin.

It will not be easy ride for Najib with Muhyiddin as No.2 because if he can't perform satisfactorily instability in the party will not leave him in peace and Muhyiddin is not a man who is going to sit around and let the party slide further down into the abyss, likewise, don't expect Mahathir to be sitting quietly in the corner.

All eyes are on Najib now, how he chooses his cabinet, how he tackles the economic crisis and most crucial of all how he deals with the oppositions. Many in UMNO believe a return to autocracy would fortify UMNO. This simplistic and outmoded political philosophy if simply put...... is a political suicide.

A return to Mahathirism is not the answer, atonement would be more likely what Malaysians are looking forward to.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Return From The Dead

Hantu Laut

Just as I expected Najib will not get his dream team and the UMNO rank and file have shown they are not going to be cowed into electing candidates favoured by the top leadership.

The wind of change is brewing in UMNO and it is not coming from the top, it's coming from the bottom.They are also sending a clear message to former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad to stop interfering in the party affairs. The results of the Youth and Women wings will have a bearing on the election of the deputy president and vice-presidents.

In November 2008 I wrote.......
In my earlier article "Hell Hath No Fury Like A Woman Scorned" I said I place my bet on Shahrizat winning the race against Rafidah.I still do and the ground swell is moving in favour of Shahrizat.

I believe majority of members of Wanita UMNO had already decided who they want as their leader.

Read the full text here.

My congratulations to Khairy Jamaluddin.Most have signed his death warrant. Only few can sense that the rank and file are fed up with being forced to choose leaders they have no liking for and will be sending the message across to the top. Of course, some will say he won by money politics.

Khairy should be given an important ministerial position to bring out the potentials in him.I am sure he will out perform many of the dead woods in the cabinet.A major overhaul of the cabinet should be Najib's priority.More young blood should be brought in.

I am sure many of my readers will not be happy with this suggestion but than I am a different kettle of fish, I don't have herd instinct, right or wrong, I make my own analysis and judgement. So far so good.

From what transpired the last few days, from Najib and Hishamuddin's speeches there were no specifics for changes other than asking the rank and file to give full support to the leadership and asking them to elect good and honest leaders. Najib wants leaders who are able and are themselves enablers, who dare to change and are receptive to change, and who dare to criticise and are willing to accept criticism.

This sounds like looking for a needle in a haystack. Where the head leads, the tail will follow and fish rots from the head first.If Najib can lead by example and rule honestly and fairly he should not worry who his men are.With the power in his hand he can weed out the corrupt and incapable ones. If the party want to survive the next elections it must show colour-blindness, the issue of race and religion should not be a constant reminder of who is the master.These words are better left unspoken.

Rabble rousing Hishamuddin, as usual, were in the mood for bashing and blaming others for the trouble in UMNO. This time it's not the Chinese or Indians, it's a fellow Malay whom he accused of being a traitor to the Malays.Anwar Ibrahim is a traitor to the Malays. Cliches that we have heard many times before and the Malays are not buying anymore.

There were more histrionics than a sincere desire for change. Hishmauddin is still as sardonic as before and have not learned how to be a punctilious leader.He certainly not an enabler that Najib was talking about.

The PM-in-waiting may be in for a bigger shock ?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Can The Most Hated Man In This County Win Today ?

Hantu Laut

A politician friend once told me that Khairy Jamaluddin is the most hated man in Malaysia.How he arrived at this conclusion I have no clue.Going by news report and numerous blog postings he may be right.

It is well known in the political circle, fact or fiction, depending whose tongue is wagging, of his arrogance and a penchant for using his father-in-law's name to open doors to anything and everything.Seriously, such condemnation must have come from fellow party members who were not happy and envious with his meteoric rise and his ambition to be the youngest prime minister of this nation.

Is it wrong to have such ambition? John F.Kennedy became President of the US at age 44 and was on his way to becoming a great president but fate took a wrong turn, his term was cut short by his assassination. He served less than 3 years. Today, Kennedy rank highly in public opinion rating of former presidents.

Why are people worried if Khiary become prime minister at age 40.Shouldn't life be allowed to take its own course instead of trying to block the path. Those who live in fear and envy must not forget if he is born for greatness nothing can stop him from being so, no matter what obstacles placed in his way, he will be there, only time may be a factor.If he is not than no matter how many times he says he wanted to be the prime minister, it wouldn't happen.

Khairy Jamaluddin, the bad boy of UMNO politics is not run of the mill politician. He is intelligent, deft and ambitious but born a wrong son with the wrong father.A friend jokingly told me the other day when we were talking politics that Khairy should have been Mahathir's son not Mukhriz.Is that why Mahathir wants him out because he sees himself in the young man?

Mahathir himself has gone through the same process. He differed in style and couldn't see eye to eye with the late Tungku.He was young, intelligent, arrogance, ambitious and aggressive. He was sacked from UMNO because of his stance that the Malays were sidelined and economically neglected by the government and wrote his dilemma in his book 'The Malay Dilemma' which was banned by Tungku Abdul Rahman's government of that time.

Fate has it that Mahathir went on to be one of the prime ministers of this nation and one that had served the longest and the most controversial.Mahathir should learn from his own experience that fate and destiny are God's designs.

Mukriz is a good nice young man but he is not cut from the same cloth as his father.He hasn't the deftness, shrewdness and intelligence of the old man. He is not cut out to be a powerful politician.Like Hishammuddin he is just a beneficiary of his father's name.

On the other hand, the most hated man in the country Khairy Jamaluddin is a different kettle of fish.Coming from a non-political family, born outside the country in Kuwait, educated in Oxford with politically related degrees he is arrogant,shrewd, aggressive and overly ambitious.He is also controversial and have been accused by Mahathir of having undue influence over government policies.He denied the allegations.He is also married to the daughter of the most unpopular prime minister for which he was accused to be part of the problem facing Pak Lah.

The voting for the Youth head is on today and the race is on to see who will take the chequered flag. If I were UMNO delegate,unfortunately, I am not, I would vote for Khairy Jamaludin.

For yonks we have see the same political dynasties in the top leadership of the party. If UMNO seriously wanted change than it must balance its leadership and must have a potpourri of leaders coming from different background not just from the same political dynasties.

Read the most prolific writer, Sakmongkol46 take on this here.

Will It Be Chop And Change ?

Hantu Laut

I wasn't wrong when I said there were subtle signs that the new PM is going to turn the clock back, to the good old days when evils stayed in the Pandora's box and Murphy was not allowed to go to war. The days of Abdullah's openess and freedom of expression may be over.Now it's not subtle anymore, it obvious we are in for a change.

First, suspend the opposition party publications without giving valid reasons, than ban internet based media from covering the party assembly because they are the most dangerous and never reported the truth and next ban all bloggers and makes it a crime to criticise the government or any of its leader.

So now we know what kind of change he was talking about.

Mahathir spent 22 years transforming this nation from a tropical backwater into one of the fastest growing economy in this region. He built first class infrastructures and brought peace and prosperity to the nation.Though, dictatorial at times, harsh, abrasive, uncompromising and to some people seemingly cruel he has brought about the most accelerated economic development and turned Malaysia into one of the top trading nations of the world.
This is a man you either love or hate. A man much misunderstood said one of his sons.

At his ripe old age and after two heart by-pass operations he still has the energy that put some much younger man to shame.In his vision of a better Malaysia he may have trampled on some basic human rights notably freedom of speech but his autocracy has worked well in keeping racial tension under wrap.Another element that helped him in maintaining peace and harmony was the prevailing prosperity.When a nation is prosperous it would naturally be peaceful and he has successfully achieved both.

What Mahathir did may have worked well during his time and as much as he was feared he was also highly respected by majority of Malaysians.

Mahathir entered the scene as PM with a clean slate, didn't carry any excess baggage, other than being called a Malay ultra which proved to be wrong label.Though, he had used that labeling to get to a higher level he became prime minister for all Malaysians.Using the race card every now and then is not to incite the Malays to go against the other races but more to ask the Malays to rise to new height and challenges.The other races mistook this gesture as inciting racial tension. I believe that was not his intention.

Mahathir is in the same mould as Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore...both are benevolent dictators, which I would rather have than a free nation with the people going hungry.

It's different strokes for different folks.Can Najib emulates his style and succeed in restoring the dignity, respect and integrity to a government that has lost its credibility?

Malaysians want delivery not rhetoric.Let's hope he delivers.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Promises, promises!

Hantu Laut

If there is one man who can do so much for this country it would have been him but he squandered his opportunity.

Abdullah Ahmad Badawi could have used his 2004 landslide victory to bring about the reforms he promised the people and he would be in that chair for a long ride. With such massive win he should have taken the opportunity to strengthen his position, push forth his reform policies and clamp down on the rebels in his party who opposed reforms.

He won massively because of his 'Mr Clean' image and the people disillusionment with Mahathir's autocratic ways. He could have changed all that and restore normalcy to the administration, but he couldn't and wouldn't. He became hostage to the demands of the warlords in his party who see any change in the status quo would mean less bounty on the gravy train.

Will Najib suffer the same fate ?

When Najib Tun Razak ascend to the highest office come this April, Malaysians may have no choice but to accept him as prime minister of the nation. No amount of grumbling, rumbling, rantings and raving will change things.It's fait accompli, we may have to live with it till the next general elections.

It's irony that Zaid Ibrahim, who is a lawyer and head of the biggest law firm in the country called on the Agong not to swear in Najib as prime minister.Unless there is another candidate who claimed to have support of the majority lawmakers in Parliament, the king would have no choice but to swear in Najib. Being a lawyer I would have thought Zaid should know that or was it Zaid's grandstanding ? I wonder who Zaid have in mind who could take over from Pak Lah.Maybe, he should suggest some names to the Agong.

Maybe, it's time Malaysians stop the negativism and give Najib a chance to prove himself. The democratic system here, no matter how much we hate the government, we can only change it either through the ballot box in a general elections or by vote of no confidence by majority of lawmakers in parliament. Any other action could be considered a rebellion. Unless there is a change to the law, going to the streets en masse is against the law. Many Malaysians see it as against their constitutional rights but until such time when we can put enough lawmakers in Parliament to abrogate such laws we have no choice but to live with it.

There are subtle signs that we may be going back to the Mahathir's era where the use of draconian laws would be heighten to clamp down on dissents and those deemed to be creating racial tension. Although, I agree such law should be used on extreme cases of jeopardising national security, such law should not be used indiscriminately to muffle critics of government and its policies.

Would Najib resorts to such measures?

If I were him, I wouldn't. The country has changed, the people have changed, there are more political awareness now than before. Change is imminent and if change don't come soon there will be change in the next polls.

What Najib should do now is to listen to the people's heart and listen well. Bring the changes. All the people ask for is less corruption, less abuses of power and make use of the people's money for the people's benefits. These are very simple and uncomplicated wishes that he could readily deliver if he wants to.

As I have always said in my previous posts the first thing he must do when he took office is to overhaul,...NOT RESHUFFLE..., the present cabinet. There are too many dead woods in the present cabinet, they have exhausted their usefulness and should be retired. A new crop of young,untainted,intelligent and hardworking people should be brought in to help him.

The people are watching and waiting anxiously

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Najib's Dream Team In Jeopardy ?

Hantu Laut

Najib may not get his dream team if highly strung Mahathir doesn't stop his endless barrage of attacks against other candidates he perceived not suitable to contest the party elections due to their shady dealings. People are now saying he is only making it as an excuse to protect his son. Although, I agree with him that the disciplinary board have bungled their chance to show their seriousness to clean up the insalubrious image of the party, his constant harping on the issue could end up being counter-productive.

Rumours on the ground say his son Mukriz is trailing behind the other two candidates, Khir Toyo and Khairy Jamaluddin and that the contest is now between these two. This must be bad news that this master of sarcasm may not like to hear. The banning of Ali has shown fissures in the rank and file.

Most Malaysians and political pundits gave Muhyiddin the edge but those inside the party are not overly optimistic. The frustration and disappointment may translates into protest votes.

Mahathir is a man who is known to detest any challenge or competition when he was in top leadership of the party. After the near fatality when he contested for the party president against Razaleigh in 1987 he eventually introduced a formula that makes it difficult for anyone to challenge his leadership. Candidates can only contest the top posts if they get the minimum prescribed nominations from the party divisions. When he had the fall-out with Abdullah he wanted the restriction removed to allow anyone to challenge Abdullah if he decides to contest again.However, his hard-nosed and endless attacks and manoeuvring had managed to unseat Abdullah.

Is Mahathir being unreasonable and demanding too much and in the process worsen the situation? Indeed, most people see it that way.Demanding the removal of Khairy is superfluously unreasonable at this juncture. Things would be different if his son is not contesting, people would consider it as his genuine and sincere effort to save the party.

Will Sarawak Catch The Flu And Get The Fever ?

Hantu Laut

The battle for Batang Ai has started and guns are blazing from both sides of the war zone.Who would become the casualty will only be known after 7 April 2009.

Will Sarawak eventually go the way Sabah did, surrender its political power to Peninsula-based party or should it maintains the status-quo and keep its autonomy intact.

Sabah's autonomy has been completely eroded which begun during Berjaya days under Harris Salleh and completely sealed when UMNO took over the administration of the state. Internal bickering among selfish politicians was the cause that robbed Sabah of its autonomy.

If one go through Sarawak political blogs one would be amazed that almost all were against Chief Minister Taib Mahmud and are working hard to make sure the message get across, the BN candidate must not be allowed to win.

The more than 30 years of abuses and corruption by those in power may have led to the quest for change. The natives main complaint were the loss of NCR (Native Customary Right) lands to loggers and other developments deemed not benefical to them.

The Sarawak's blogosphere is buzzing with activities and campaigns similar to pre-March 8 General Elections when West Malaysian bloggers came out with guns blazing to decimate the BN that helped the oppositions gain significant ground and capture of 5 state governments.

The article below is from the most vociferous blogger 'Sarawak Headhunter'

Sarawakians, Here's Where Some Of The Money Stolen From You Went

Rockcliffe 'palace' Ottawa's No. 2 home

The handsome new home of Ottawa developer Sean Murray and his wife, Jamilah Taib, has shot to No. 2 among Ottawa's most expensive private residences, as measured by the Municipal Property Assessment Corp. (MPAC).

The couple's house at 688 Manor Ave. in Rockcliffe Park, completed late last year, is worth $9,609,000, assessors have decided. That puts it second only to that of neighbours Marlen and Michael Cowpland. The Cowplands' modern mansion at 234 Perley Crt. has an updated assessment value of $12,535,000.

The Cowpland residence has been controversial because of its ultra-modern look, which some traditionalists have grumbled is out of place in Rockcliffe Park, where many of Ottawa's most expensive homes are located.

The new home of Mr. Murray and Ms. Taib has a more traditional look, which blends in with older, and much smaller, houses nearby. Its construction has been the talk of Rockcliffe for months.

Well-heeled neighbours were impressed when the couple showed off their new home at a recent house-warming and Christmas party. Read more......

More blogs below:


Will Sarawak catch the flu and get the West Malaysian fever?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Mean Old Man

Hantu Laut

Former Prime Minister Mahathir is known for his abrasive and combative ways.He is not one who is hamstrung with shooting from the hip. A man who never minces his word and called a spade a spade no matter how much it hurts the other person at the receiving end.

The past few weeks have seen him admonishing and belittling the other two contenders for the deputy president of UMNO, Ali Rustam and Muhammad Taib. He said he would have kicked them out in the early stage if it was him at the helm of the party and also commented on their poor command of English.

His strongest criticism is reserved for those whom he disliked intensely and that would be Pak Lah whom he blamed for all that had gone wrong in
UMNO, that would see Pak Lah exiting as prime minister by end of this month.

Mahathir, although no more a member of the party is still highly respected by some quarters in UMNO. This is the man you either love or hate.Opposition politicians hate him intensely and wouldn't give him any credit for his achievements. They only remember his bad sides and people like Karpal Singh, Lim Kit Siang and Anwar Ibrahim who had gone to prison during his time see him as the devil incarnate, cruel and unforgiving.

On 27 October 1987 he ordered the police to arrest 106 opposition leaders and social activists for causing racial tension.It was the second biggest ISA swoop since the May 13 riots. The racial tension was brought about by massive protest by Chinese leaders including those from MCA and Gerakan who uttered racially provocative speeches when they found out that the government had posted about 100 school assistants and principals to Chinese vernacular schools who were not Mandarin educated.

Some in UMNO is dreaming of the good old days when the party was all powerful, dissent unheard of and the oppositions in disarray, wish how they would like to bring him back if they could. After the openess allowed under Pah Lah's administration his autocratic style wouldn't work anymore. People are more aware of their democratic rights and wouldn't be easily intimidated by repressive methods.The ballot box is now the most powerful weapon.

The time machine could not take them back to that era and if change doesn't come soon the party losing its grip on power in the next general election is as sure as the sun rises.There is serious crisis of confidence and erosion of credibility in the present leadership.

He is no niggard with words and bluntness when it comes to slamming his opponents on issues he dislikes or doesn't agree with.He has slammed not only local politicians but also world leaders.Former US President George Bust and former Britain Prime Minister Tony Blair had been the bitter pills for him to swallow on the Iraq War and Palestinian conflicts and called both of them war criminals and demanded that they be tried for crimes against humanity.

I couldn't agree more with him on this issue.If the World Court can issue warrant of arrest for Bashir of Sudan why can't they do the same for these two men who had killed just as many if not more innocent civilians.Does the method of how you kill makes a difference? Murder is the taking of human life intentionally, whether you drop a bomb from the air, use a gun or a machete it is still murder.

As much as he is misunderstood he has also been most profound in some of his unorthodox ways of doing things
which the West vehemently criticised before. Now, they have shamelessly copied him. He should have copyrighted his methods.

The mean old man still knows best

Misquoted ?

Hantu Laut

How can Pak Lah repeatedly make this kind of mistake? The latest one is most embarrassing as it involved a foreign country.Is it because he is such a simple person he always misunderstood others or he is misunderstood ?

He said the Sultan of Brunei has agreed to drop the Limbang claim here.

Brunei refuted his statement here.

Was he misquoted ?

There was no retraction from him instead he said this.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Will The Chickens Come Home To Roost ?

Hantu Laut

The race to be deputy president of UMNO and which by tradition also carry the position of deputy prime minister has taken centre stage and once again embroiled and embattled the party.The political saga continued and the dire economy relegated to the back seat.

Embittered supporters of Ali Rustam who has been barred from contesting the deputy president post have threatened reprisal.How far this threat will go is difficult to tell.

Prime Minister-in-waiting Najib Tun Razak is worried and has deployed his men to try appease the rank and file and restore calm in the party. If Ali's supporters took their threat home than
UMNO may have the 'chickens coming home to roost' and more than what they have bargained for, a deputy president from the land of the yahoos.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has promised to meet Ali Rustam on the matter and Ali has indicated that he is appealing against the ruling made by the disciplinary board which most party members think was unfair and had made the party a laughing stock. The judgement and sentences passed had become the butt of jokes among Malaysians, a kind of 'different strokes for different folks', or same poison but given different antidote, one die and the other survive.

"Najib is destined to rule" says the wife."Let's not do anything unethical to stop it. It is his turn,".

"If God says it is his turn, it is his turn," says Rosmah.Is she in a hurry to be 'First Lady'? Maybe, she is right there must be divine intervention and in spite of his unpopularity and excess baggage it must be divine ruling that he be made to lead this nation.

With age on his side, God willing, Najib will be there for a long time if.........he didn't screw it up and let the man every young Malaysian love to have as prime minister takes over.

If Najib is going to be there for yonks why are the disciplinary board and the leadership in UMNO so worried about Ali Rustam competing for the deputy president post? Wouldn't it be better to have a three-cornered fight rather than a one-to-one head on collision? Do they think UMNO can hold the fort until 2013 and thereafter?

Mahathir had change of deputies four times before he handed over the premiership to Abdullah Badawi. Will Najib keep the same deputy all the time, or, like Mahathir, change him when the affection wears out and yet make the same mistake, as Mahathir by his own admission says he chose the wrong successor. Even if Muhyiddin won this round would he be re-elected again next round or would he become prime minister before the term end?

In politics anything can happen, just as nobody expect Ali Rustam to be the front runner in the race for the deputy president. Don't forget it was Muhyiddin who initiated the exit of Pak Lah. He is the 'Braveheart' in UMNO and probably more acceptable to the masses.

The preoccupation with politics have made the government less occupied with finding solutions to the economic crisis that beset the nation.Announcing the stimulus is one thing but if nothing goes on the ground it would be just pure academic exercise. As I have said, time and again, we have lost precious time and the catch up game may be longer and more costly.

The US started their rescue package about eight month ago and they have yet to see results. I wouldn't be surprised if our economy enter negative territory of at least -0.5 to -1.5 percent for the the year 2009 and total export shrunk by 30-40 percent by mid-year.

This is a democracy in peril and a nation that has lost its rudder and is on a perilous journey into troubled waters if the politicking doesn't stop soon.

Related articles:
Father’s Racial Policy May Be Najib’s Undoing at Malaysian Helm

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Is Muhiyyudin Yassin Safe And Sure ?

Hantu Laut

Will supporters of Ali Rustam shift their weight to Mohammad Taib to show their anger and displeasure at the Disciplinary Board and the top leadership for their inconsistency and double-standard ? A good question and the answer may come in the next few days.

Muhiyyudin's may not be all that safe and sure of bagging the deputy president post if the unhappy delegates decide to teach the top leadership a lesson.There are rumblings throughout the party. Chairman of the Disciplinary Board Tengku Rithauddin has came out with a poor and unconvincing explanation.
Some are calling for the Board to be disbanded.

This is no more an UMNO under Mahathir's charge. It is now more liberated and members have no more fear of the top leadership as they did when Mahathir was in charge. Than there is the choice of an alternative party that they can join unlike before when the oppositions were weak and couldn't make an impact. Today, the oppositions have gained prominence.

Should that occasion arises what would the disciplinary board do, disqualify Mohammad Taib too or send warnings to delegates not to vote for him ?

They might have overlooked this factor when they decide to only dispose off Ali Rustam and kept Mohammad Taib because he is a distant third in the race and not seen as a threat.

Anwar's Lamentation: Hantus And Bomohs

Hantu Laut

They came in all shapes and sizes and from the brilliant to the weirdos. Are politicians born or made ? Look like a bit of both.

Anwar Ibrahim claimed that UMNO, in desperation, has resorted to sorcery and abused government machinery to improve it public image to bring down the Pakatan Rakyat
government with one chop of the axe.

Why is he complaining ? As much as it is his job to bring UMNO and the BN down, it is also Najib and UMNO job to bring him and the PR down.As veteran politician Anwar should know that. At least, UMNO didn't brag about it like he did when he lied through his teeth that he would grab the Federal government by 16 Sept 2008 that kept the whole nation in suspense.

It is not illegal to bring a government down by democratic process, it only become an offence if it was done by force or armed struggle.

I like the sorcery part.I am not sure whether this is illegal as there was no mention of it in the Federal Constitution.

Maybe, Anwar should elaborate more on this subject like how many bomohs is UMNO using to cast spell on the people and turn them into zombies to vote for UMNO in the next general election.

Reported in Malaysian Insider:

The Opposition Leader also cited a report in Sin Chew Daily, a Chinese-language newspaper which today front-paged a report saying a police bomb squad had found a piece of wood wrapped in white cloth and two sheets of paper with Jawi writing, suspected to be items of sorcery under the desk of the Umno president in the party headquarters here a few days ago.

Anwar said the steps set a dangerous trend and indicated the level of desperation within the party to boost its image, adding Umno should not assume Malaysians are stupid.

“Only an Umno insider will have access to the meeting room. This is the kind of culture, ‘budayarosak’ they have in the party,” he told reporters later.

Full text here.

Wonder what that small bundle of white cloth doing under the PM's table and what the writing says ?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

An Ill Wind That Blows Nobody Any Good

Hantu Laut - (An UMNO watcher)

Obviously, Najib will be landed with a weaker and a more divided party and a possible revolt. The selective prosecution will have far-reaching implications on the party's chance of salvaging its tarnished image. In fact, the decision of the UMNO Disciplinary Board is seen to be even worse than the corruptions and money politics that they are trying to stamp-out. It's a shameless bid to protect one man who feared he may lose the contest against his opponent.

With only one big fish in the net it can't be seen as a purge or a clean-up drive against corruptions and money politics. The Supreme Council may have to step in to save possible revolt and discontent that can throw the party in disarray and it losing its chances of winning any of the three by-elections.

The top leadership should not underestimate the power of the rank and file. It happened in March 2008. Anger and frustration will prevail among those who are not happy with the partial decision of the Board.

UMNO must make it clear whether the party principles are based on democracy or fascism.Democracy and its principles are based on what the majority want and decide not what a handful of unhappy warlords wanted.It's a contest of popularity and the most popular would naturally win. You don't need binoculars to see what they are doing has anything to do with cleaning up corruptions and money politics.

Some of the reasons given for not preferring Ali Rustam apparently were his poor command of English and lack of experience.Since when and under which theory that says intelligence can only be expressed in the English language. Certainly, knowing the language is an asset as it is the lingua franca of the world and the most common and most convenient form of communication. It's certainly not a yardstick for measuring a person's intelligence quotient.

Many world leaders spoke in their mother tongue when they deliver speeches at international conferences with interpreters translating into English or other major language. The irony is most of them can speak English but prefer to speak in their mother-tongue.Malaysian leaders can do the same if they wish to and nobody will call them stupid.

This kind of shallow thinking is even more dangerous to the party than money politics.Quoting inexperience and lack of good English as being unsuitable candidate for deputy president and deputy prime minister is convoluted argument. He is not applying for a job. He is running for political office and no where in the world you need prerequisite to be a politician or to run for political office. In a democracy the people decide whom they want.Academic qualifications are useful assets but not compulsory.

There are many highly qualified people who are lousy politicians. Robert Mugabe is probably the most highly qualified politician on the face of this earth.He has seven degrees including a Master of Laws and has nicely screwed up his country. Zimbabwe, once the pride of Africa and was the 'bread basket' of the continent is now among the poorest nation of the world.Its farms lay in ruins, its economy shattered and Mugabe doesn't care.

The Board decision only to disallow Ali from contesting the elections but did not suspend him like they did to those in the lower rank is telling of the kind of people who sit on the Board. What kind of discipline do you wish to instill in the members when members of the Board themselves have no discipline, self-contradictory and incompetent in making sound judgement.

More puzzling is the case of Khairy Jamaluddin who was charged under the same offence but was let off with just a warning. Even more puzzling was the case of Khir Toyo, rumoured to be the one using the most money but was found not guilty by the Board. Maybe, Chairman Rithauddin could enlighten Malaysians how the Board arrived at a decision for two people that have committed the same offence but were given different judgement, one was punished and the other let off.

Doesn't matter whether it is Ali Rustam, Mohammad Taib or any other candidate, the decision of the Disciplinary Board is highly questionable.Frankly speaking, the Disciplinary Board should be replaced with new members that can do their work impartially and without malice.

When are the leaders in UMNO going to behave like gentlemen and allow fair competition in the party.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Is UMNO Killing Itself ?

Hantu Laut - (An UMNO watcher)

This could be 'the straw that broke the camel's back'. Rumours abound that some top contenders for the top posts in UMNO may be disqualified and barred from contesting the party elections for involvement in money politics. Names mentioned are Ali Rustam who is running for deputy president and said to be leading in the race.Others are Khairy Jamaluddin, Khir Toyo, Mohammad Rahmat, Azalina Othman and Norza Zakaria. Khir Toyo was also said to be the leader for the Youth race.

Has Mahathir played a big part in influencing the disciplinary committee to act accordingly. If the story is true than the return to Mahathirism is now becoming more obvious and the demise of UMNO may be faster than what many have expected. The days of unfair play, intimidation and coercion are over and 8 March 2008 was a wake up call.A call for change but UMNO remains unfazed.

Did Najib succumbs to Mahathir's persistant demand that those involved in money politics should not be allowed to contest the party elections ? If all are true and those names mentioned will be suspended from the party than without any doubt UMNO is moving back into that territory and it is clear which candidates are being protected.

To remove these candidates from contesting just about a week away from the party elections is definitely not in the interest of the future PM and a sure recipe for disaster.Most people see it as unfair actions and a move to protect certain candidates and allow them to win uncontested. The party will come out even weaker than before as disgruntled members will be working against the party and some elected representatives may even cross over to the oppositions to show their displeasure at the undemocratic means to boot them out. These people have been nominated to stand for elections in accordance with party rules.How they get there should not be a contention at this point of time.It only goes to show that the top leadership are afraid of competition and live in a time warp of primeval feudal system using money politics as an excuse to pave the way for an easy win.It's about time the leadership teach the Malays in UMNO how not to fear competition.

It would be wrong to take such hasty and harsh decision to punish those that you feel are guilty based on assumptions, allegations, suspicion, hearsay and without concrete evidence.

Not that I believe those names mentioned are completely innocent but in the dirty world of politics witnesses can be bought and sold and without substantive proof one must be given the benefit of the doubt.

If the rumours are true than Najib is going to inherit a much weaker party. I can already see
a big grin on Anwar Ibrahim's face.

The 8 March Elections should be a lesson to be learned but UMNO seems unaffected and continued with their old-fashioned ways of doing things. It will pay a high price for this folly just to save one or two favoured candidates.

Time has changed and those who refused to change will be changed.

UMNO should take heed.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Braying Donkeys

Hantu Laut

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng sees red over NST (New Straits Times) reporting and considering barring NST from covering his press conferences and functions.He accuses NST of slander and false reporting.

This is the man and his whole outfit called Pakatan who accuses the BN of abuses of the fundamental rights of citizens of this country and the lack of press freedom. Champions of freedom of expression! My foot! When are going to stop fooling the people ?

See ! Guan Eng, now that you are in position of power you are behaving exactly like the BN. You are showing your true colour, no different from the BN, your intolerance and ready to abuse your power to show your displeasure. I am sure you should know what to do if the NST publishes slander and false reporting. It's simple, take them to court.

Unfortunately, like the kettle that you accuses of being black, there are also black sheep in your government.Two of your men are allegedly involved in covering illegal activities of some quarry operators and this was reported by a PKR man, Amizudin Ahmat, an executive council member of PKR Youth.The report appeared in the Star here. Maybe, you should also consider banning the Star for false reporting.

I wonder what this braying bunch of Pakatan holier than thou donkeys would do if they get the central government ?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Mahathir Knows Best

Hantu Laut

Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad warned Najib not to have corrupt leaders in his cabinet. He said Najib will be signing his own death warrant and will lose the next general elections if corrupt leaders become members of the cabinet. I wonder which UMNO leaders Dr.M consider clean and acceptable to the people ?

Although, I believe Dr M himself is not corrupted, whether he was aware or not, there were many unsavoury characters in his cabinet as well and most of them are still in the present cabinet.

Unless, UMNO cleans up its act the probability of losing power in the next general elections is pretty high. Sabah and Sarawak may not be the safety nets anymore. The three by-elections coming up soon will decide whether Najib has what it takes to be the prime minister.If he wins just two of the three by-elections than his credit rating would move into positive territory.Losing all or winning just one would have disastrous consequence on the tenure of his premiership. This is not just a test for him but a duel between him and Anwar Ibrahim

To show that he is serious in wanting change the first thing he must to do is to undertake a major overhaul of his cabinet. He should bring in younger, capable and untainted faces. If he bowed to the wishes of the warlords in the party than he would face the same tragic circumstances that Pak Lah faced when he gave in to the growls of the warlords.

Like Obama he comes in as leader of a nation during difficult times.If he can't turn around the economic crisis within the next 12 months than he may cause disquiet within his party and possible revolt and shift of allegiance.

Najib will have a daunting and difficult task whether to clean up corruptions and do away with political patronage and faces uprising from his party royalists or allow the status quo to continue and faces possible extinction at the next polls.He may be placed in a situation of sitting between the devil and the deep blue sea.Without his strong conviction and resolve changes may not come.

Most members of UMNO see the party as a money machine and the higher they go the bigger is the windfall.This concept is deeply entrenched in the minds of the members as can be seen by the use of money in their quest for positions in party elections.They are prepared to spend first and knew they can recoup the amount many times more when they are in position of influence.

For 22 years Mahathir was probably the only brain that was working in UMNO.

Will Najib return to Mahathirism? Dr M knows best.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A Plane Repossessor ?

Hantu Laut

We don't have them in Malaysia yet because we are not affluent enough to afford planes.

In Malaysia we only have the dreaded car repossessor. Losing a plane is probably not as bad as losing a car especially in this country where public transportation is a bloody disgrace. Here, losing your car is like losing your legs. Depending where you live having no car can mean total immobility and great inconvenience. Our capital city Kuala Lumpur has one of the worst public transport system and the worst taxi drivers in the world and drivers of such bad attributes you can't imagine how they were allowed to be in such profession in the first place.

With the downturn and for those that have lost their jobs life will be tough and the car repossessors
would be as busy if not busier than the plane repossessor in the following story:

Foreclosing on a Plane, Then Flying It Away

Ken Hill’s last business trip took him through eight states in January and netted him 12 planes. His current one is a 30- to 45-day trip for 27 more planes, his biggest ever.

Skip to next paragraph
Ed Zurga for The New York Times

Ken Hill photographing a Piper Meridian he seized in January in Overland Park, Kan. Mr. Hill, 66, has repossessed hundreds of planes since his first in 1969.

Mr. Hill is an airplane repo man, one of the best and busiest in the business. With the economy sinking and the general aviation industry suffering, Mr. Hill is working flat out as he makes his way from one airport to another, carrying just a few basic tools — a propeller lock, a portable radio, hand-held GPS device and a fanny pack stuffed with hundreds of keys. “I’m busy, always on the move, up early in the morning, late to bed at night,” Mr. Hill said in a telephone interview from his hotel in Knoxville, Tenn., between repossessions in January. “My wife never asks me where I’m going. She just says, ‘Call me when you’re there, and tell me where you are.’ ” Read more...

The PKR Witch Hunters

Hantu Laut

Selangor state government and its Chief Minister Khalid Ibrahim is going all out to dig up the dirt on former Menteri Besar Khir Toyo here and here and here and here.

The witch hunting has been going on since the day Khalid stepped into office as MB of Selangor.One of the highlights of the witch hunt was his overseas travel expenses amounting to RM350,000 over a period of 7 years.I wonder whether it is worth the time and money to waste human resources on such petty matters.The amount doesn't seem a lot.Than there were accusation of his wife being given a Range Rover from a state subsidiary.

As menteri besar I am sure Khir is entitled to certain benefits including the use of his official car by his spouse.As chairman of the company and if he is entitled to the Range Rover than there is no reason his spouse can't use the vehicle.

Maybe, Khalid should engage an independent external auditor to audit all the books of the state government for the past 50 years.

It's about time Khalid gets down to do serious work for the state instead of looking for past mistakes and misdeeds of the former government.He should hand over to the MACC whatever evidence he has to prove wrongdoings of former MB Khir Toyo instead of flippantly making and publicising allegations of wrongdoings that has no rhyme nor reason.

(My internet was down for 2 days.Just got it back today)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Saving Malaysia: Najib's Recipe

Hantu Laut

It's RM30 billion, just what I figured it should be. Finally, they agree there is going to be a bad recession in the country.Full text of Najib's recipe here.

Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak announced a two-year stimulus package of RM60 billion in a mixed basket of the good, the bad and the ugly.There was no mention of where the money coming from or how the government wish to raise the funds.

I must say overall the package is well thought out and should be able to stimulate the economy but obviously much depend on how it is managed and more importantly the global economy is working in tandem with our effort.Nothing much the government can do if the world economy stays in the doldrums.

Those in government and government linked economists wish to believe that Malaysia is different from countries like Singapore and Hong Kong. In some ways that may be true but in many ways they are the same......they are export-dependent economies, making them at the mercy of the world markets.

A prolonged recession would have dire effect on the people's livelihood.Many low and middle income Malaysians do not have savings to tide them over bad times. Severe and prolonged recession would raise tension against the government and ethnic tension, fan by those desirous of pitting the people against the government, would certainly increase.Although, the government have taken the right step to take care of the economic engines first and shows greater attention to its survival, it must not forget the interest and welfare of the individual. There is nothing worst than having no money to sustain your daily existence.That's why I proposed in my earlier post to allow those who have lost their jobs to draw half of their basic salary from their savings in the EPF for a maximum of 6 months.This would give them the basic necessities to survive before they can secure another job.

The double deduction to be given to companies that employ workers retrenched by other companies can lead to abuse. Unscrupulous employers can sack their existing employees and replace with new ones to take advantage of the double deductions.Unless, the government fine-tune the terms and conditions it will have negative effect.

Too much emphasis was given on the financing of business but very little in cutting the costs of doing business.That's why I proposed incentives,rebate and reduction of taxes and duties in my earlier post.In a period of contraction of the economy the costs of doing business must come down either by market forces, by intervention or both.

Loan guarantees and easy access to the capital market would be most welcome by the business community as long as they are not designed to bail out cronies and friends making it difficult for those not well-connected to have access to the facility.

In time of uncertainty, risky and low-yield investments the issuance of government-backed saving bonds is a welcome sign.Although, it will not increase liquidity in the system it is better than the current interest rate of fixed deposit with banks.There will be major shift to these saving bonds and a mad rush to buy it for those who have spare cash.

Equitable distribution of projects and suspension of the NEP during this period of economic uncertainty should be seriously considered if the BN wish to salvage its sunken popularity.

The drop in export is going to be pretty serious.It's going into a tailspin during the 1st half of this year.The 1st quarter result would be out by next month and I wouldn't be surprised to see a decline of 25-30%.
A negative growth for 2009 is not a figment of the imagination. Malaysians should be prepared for more bad news.The stimulus will need at least 3-4 months to kick start and by then we would only have about 6 months left for the year and probably half the job undone.

As usual Anwar Ibrahim is uninspired.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

'The Best Job In The World' : Vote For Jackie

Hantu Laut

They called it "The Best Job In The World" and 34,000 applied for the job throughout the globe.They have shortlisted down to 50 hopefuls.

It's great to know that a good friend's daughter, a charming and intelligent girl has been chosen as one of the 50 out of 34,000 that applied.

Jacqueline Miao or better known as Jackie to many of her friends is one of the 50 that would possibly get the job as a 'caretaker' at the Hamilton Island on the Great Barrier Reef in a tourism promotion run organised by the Queensland State Government.Jackie is the only Malaysian selected from the initial 34,000 hopefuls.Jackie studied at Hawaii Pacific University and at Brooklyn College, New York, but dropped out to start a web consultancy business to service the travel and hospitality industry.

As a Malaysian, Sabahan and a friend of the family I am very proud of Jackie to have reached this far and would urge all Malaysians and Sabahans in particular to vote for Jackie to help her achieve her dream and make Malaysia proud that we can produce equally intelligent,talented and world class professional like her.

Jackie personal website here.

Do Malaysia a favour and this intelligent, charming and affable lass, vote for Jackie.

You can vote for Jackie at 'The Best Job In The World' here

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Will Najib Have The Right Formula ?

Hantu Laut

The Finance Minister and Prime Minister-in-waiting Najib Tun Razak is to announce the 2nd stimulus package later to day.In my earlier posting under "Economic Malaise:Will The Government 'Broke The Buck' " I mentioned that anything less than RM30 billion would be insufficient to inject new lease of life into the economy. The stimulus has come a little late but not too late to rescue the economy provided the government dispense the package only in critical sectors of the economy, not projects manufactured to put money in selected pockets.

If the government have not sat on its laurel and took positive actions to put in place a contingency plan on the first sign of a downturn and at about the same time when I wrote my article "
Badawi's State Of Euphoria" which appeared in Asia Sentinel in January 2008, it wouldn't be so topsy-turvy today.

The stimulus need not be in cash injection alone but can come in the form of cash, incentives,tax rebate and tax reduction.

Malaysia is the third most export-dependent country in this region after Singapore and Hong Kong. Special attention should be given to this sector to maintain high level of export receipts by providing various incentives and assistance.Special incentives should be given to Malaysian products using high level of local materials and added incentive if this value added products are exported overseas.

Manufactured products and services are the biggest contributors to the GDP, naturally these should be the areas the government should provide the highest priority

Some of the things, among many others, the government need to do immediately for the rest of 2009.

1. Provide incentives in the form corporate tax reduction for all manufacturing companies and bigger tax reduction for companies that export at least 50% of their products overseas.

2.Give bigger tax reduction for companies in selected sectors such as plantations and construction that employ 70% or more Malaysian labour.

3.Remove all export cess or duties on primary products exported overseas.

4.Suspend EPF contributions from all employers and give option to employees to contribute or not.

5.Require banks to suspend loan repayment for principal amount only for companies affected by the downturn and for Bank Negara to impose at least 6 months, as rule of thumb, before such account goes under NPL (non-performing loan).

6.Provide export credit scheme for selected countries and cheaper pre-shipment financing for exporters.

7.Allow those who lost their jobs to draw half of their last drawn salary from their EPF savings for a maximum of 6 months.

8.Remove personal income tax for the year 2009 for those who earned less than RM36,000 per annum.

9.Stop recruitment of all foreign workers and repatriate those that have been retrenched.Require companies to give names and particulars of all foreign workers retrenched to the Immigration Department to ensure they have left the country.

10.Consider re-pegging of the ringgit to RM3.80 to US$1.00 to arrest the volatility and maintain stability of the currency.

Under the current economic conditions the ringgit will not be stable and the government do not have the money to continuously prop it up. With the global recession there wouldn't be many FDI (foreign direct investment) coming to Malaysia or repatriation of capital and profits, therefore, a pegged currency will do little harm to the nation's reputation.

The government must face the grim outlook of the possibility that the nation will face a serious negative growth this year, which we have not seen for many decades and it must not be foolhardy to think otherwise.

What kind of stimulus package Najib will deliver later today will decide whether he has what it takes to lead this country until the next general elections or a revolt within his own party to throw him out before his time is up, just like what they did to Abdullah Badawi.

Will Najib have the right formula to rescue the nation from economic disaster ?

Let's wait and see what's in the package.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Long And Winding Road

Hantu Laut

Malaysia, on the other hand has been sending out euphonious messages to its citizens not to worry about the impending economics gloom.The leaders say they have everything under control without spelling out the measures taken or to be taken in the event of a precipitous decline in the economy.The first-half of 2009 would be crucial for Malaysia if the export market continue to shrink and prices of its primary products and manufactured goods declined drastically.

I anticipate export receipts to decline at least by 20 to 30 % in the 1st-quarter of 2009 as demands for electronic products,palm oil,wood-based products and crude oil declined due to poor demand in the importing countries.Falling prices would further contribute to lowering of the GDP.

That's what I wrote in December 2008 in this article.

January exports drop 17pc to RM38b

KUALA LUMPUR, March 6 — The country recorded RM8.83 billion in trade surplus in January, making it the 135th consecutive month of trade surplus since November 1997, but total volume declined by 29.7 per cent from a year ago.

Total trade value for the month was RM67.77 billion.

Exports in January 2009 were valued at RM38.3 billion, a drop of 27.8 per cent from January 2008, the Statistics Department said in a statement today. Full story here.

Total imports fell by 32 per cent to RM29.47 billion from a year ago.

"Month-on-month, exports fell by 16.9 per cent from December 2008, while imports were lower by 14.7 per cent. The performance in January was in tandem with countries that have announced their January trade figures," it said. Full story here.

Even if the government implements the stimulus package there would be little chance of any recovery this year.Recovery is not only dependent on the stimulus package by the government. Malaysia being an exporting nation depends much of its economic well being on the global economy, particularly the Western economies.If the global economy continues to be in the doldrums than it would a long ride before we see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The public and private sector foreign debts would become more expensive to service if the ringgit continue to depreciate against other major currencies. The ringgit may breach the RM4.00 to the US$ during the 2nd half of this year if the economy doesn't pick up.

Holders of private foreign debts in foreign currencies should consider retiring their foreign debts or part of their foreign debts by borrowing ringgit from the domestic market and pay off their foreign debts. The myopic management of Tenaga have incurred foreign exchange loss of RM1.2 billion on their US$ and Yen debts.Obviously, they are confident the ringgit would appreciate against these currencies or at least stay at comfortable level.

They were wrong.

Friday, March 6, 2009

A Lying Minister: Sabahans Left In The Lurch

Hantu Laut

Nothing could be more shameless than what's happening to the health care in Sabah.The health care system is as sick as a dog and not because of lack of money but because some scumbags are trying to make money out of this malady at the expense of the health of the people of Sabah.

The apathy of the Federal government and the Ministry of Health toward this critical issue is most distasteful and a shame to the Federal leaders who still have not learned their lessons from the 8 March 2008 Elections.Making all kind of promises during elections time and conveniently forget to carry out those promises when they have won.Irionically, they have forgotten, if not for Sabah and Sarawak it would have been Anwar Ibrahim sitting in Puterajaya today, not
Badawi or Najib. There are just too much and endless politiking to prioritise their own interests and leave the people at the mercy of the elements.Do they deserve our support in future elections? I leave it to Sabahans to decide when the time comes.A good deed deserves another and they have done nothing of that sort.As the Malays would say "Tak kenang budi" or "hutang emas boleh dibayar, hutang budi dibawah mati".

When the tower block of the QEH (Queen Elizabeth Hospital) was declared structurally unsafe a year ago the state capital lost hundreds of hospital beds, displaced the operating theatre, ICU, surgical department and other crucial sections of the hospital, throwing the health and medical care into utter chaos for those living in and around Kota Kinabalu.Patients have to be sent as far as Sandakan and Tawau because of inadequate beds causing logistic and nonsensical problems for patients,relatives,families and doctors.The bills for all this stupidity is staggering.

Adding insult to injury was the Deputy Minister of Health Abdul Latif Ahmad who came to Sabah and insulted the people of Sabah by saying no budget was made for the new hospital at Kinarut. This is the kind of minister this country has, think Sabahans are stupid and do not know what's going on behind the scene.

How could this liar say they have no budget to build a new hospital when it's common knowledge here that the Ministry of Health is negotiating to buy the SMC (Sabah Medical Centre), a private hospital for a whopping RM460 million. This hospital was built and completed about three years ago for less than RM200 million and with finishes that leaves much to be desired. One have to visit the hospital to see how bad the quality of the building is.

I have first hand knowledge of this hospital because my mother was admitted to this hospital for almost one month the first time and about 2 weeks the second time. It costs me a bomb. The private rooms are the standard of 2 star hotel but charging 5 star price.

This is not the first time this private company is in the business of selling hospitals to the Federal government.The old SMC at Likas was also sold to the Federal government at a pumped up price a few years ago.

Although it's a federal matters the chief minister should have a say in any project involving the state and people of Sabah. The present Chief Minister Musa Aman should not sit on his laurel but must insist on a new hospital to be built on the land provided by the state government.

In fact, as a temporary measure, the government can employ a quick-built system if there are sufficient land space provided by the state.This pre-fabricated structure and panels can be made locally or brought in from China where it is probably cheaper to make.The other alternative is to buy a building and convert it into a hospital. These are the faster and cheaper alternatives.

The most puzzling question is why the Federal government do not utilise about 30 acres of land which came with the old SMC which logically should be the first choice for new extension to accommodate the various departments that have been displaced by the closure of the QEH tower block.In fact, with proper design even the land around the present QEH is sufficient to build new hospital.All the low-rise buildings such as the TB ward, the nurses quarters,the stupid car-park, etc should be removed and to put up multi-storey buildings.

A hospital need not be a one-stop centre where every department is housed under one roof. It would be an ideal situation but not necessary.They can be in different cluster and in different locations.

Paying RM460 million can certainly build a bigger and more magnificent hospital than buying the grossly overpriced SMC and isn't it strange they have the money to buy SMC but have no money to build a new hospital.

Maybe, the MACC should do some investigative work on this case.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Tweedle-dum And Tweedle-dee

Hantu Laut

PKR's Fauzi Muda says he is prepared to reveal all evidence regarding his allegation of being offered RM50 million by Najib for him to organise defections of Perak's Pakatan assemblymen.Maybe, he should and let the public decide whether he is what he says he is.....of unquestionable integrity.

Only they seem to have the affinity to attract such offers , none of DAP or PAS elected members have been approached, or at least they have not said so.

Would you believe that PKR elected representatives are of the highest calibre and impeccable integrity that even RM50 million wouldn't buy their souls, if not their sins. It certainly have bought the sins of the two scumbags that left the party to be independents and supported the BN. Many of them have lamented the turpitude of the BN government and the icing on the cake of their unconquerable and unquestionable integrity.

Sometimes, facial expression and body language are instant give-aways. Some lie to try fortify their lack of self-esteem and some to seek self-glorification while some are just pathological liars.

I will not rule out the fact that there may be some offers made by the BN to entice those scumbags to shift royalty to their side but I also believe there are just too many embellishments to the story to make the scumbags look good and Najib looks bad. What different would Najib be to Anwar, who glorified and gave standing ovation to the jumping of the UMNO's scumbag to PKR, that, unfortunately, was a flash in the pan. Anwar's bid to takeover the government through unscrupulous means of crossovers of BN lawmakers were no lesser evil.The only difference is, he didn't succeed. If he had, and should Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi called for dissolution of Parliament and the king agreed, I bet my bottom dollar Anwar, Pakatan and its supporters would be screaming for blood and would accuse the Agong and show the same disrespect as they did to the Sultan of Perak.

There are more scumbags,villains and liars in PKR than in the other Pakatan's coalition partners.

The Tweedel-dum and Tweedle-dee, two of a kind, who look the same and say the same things.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Economic Malaise: Will The Government 'Broke The Buck' ?

Hantu Laut

Reported in The Strait Times

MARCH 4 – The Malaysian ringgit could breach the psychological 3.80 to the greenback mark in the not too distant future, nudged by a deepening global recession and resultant flight to quality, plus a widening budget deficit.

Previously, few would have entertained the notion of the local unit tumbling back to 3.80 – the level at which it was fixed in 1998 during the Asian financial crisis before the peg was dismantled in 2005 – but it appears a distinct possibility now.

On the back of weakening exports and a growing budget shortfall, the ringgit climbed to within a 3.62/63 band a month ago.

Yesterday, it opened at 3.727/731 from Monday's close of 3.726/730. Full story here...

Read the one below:

Reduced corporate profits or losses would mean less income taxes going into government coffers, which among other things, would affect the government budget.New sources of funding would have to be found to finance the budget.Unless there is sudden upswing to the current gloomy global conditions the general economy will face serious contraction in the next few months which would affect the value of the ringgit.The ringgit may be traded at 3.80 to 4.00 range by 1st Quarter 2009 if no viable solution is found to stimulate growth. Read the full story here...

Read this one:

KUALA LUMPUR: The property market in Kuala Lumpur could depreciate as much as 10% to 15% going forward, while the prices of high-end condominiums in the Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) area may fall up to 30% in the next two to three months, said property consultant Rahim & Co. Full story here...

Now read this one:

Presently, there is notable forced sale and marginal decline in the prices of medium and lower scale properties in cities like Kuala Lumpur and Johor Baru.If the economic crisis deepen the next few months and continues into the middle of 2009 the prices of properties for all sectors would take a tumble.Upscale properties would fall between 20 t0 40% mainly in big urban areas.Full story here...

The Straits Times was right only few had the notion how bad things can get when the domino hits us. I was one of the crazy prophets of doom that have had all my forecasts and predictions hitting bulls eye.

Is the government still living in a state of denial?

They are going to announce the second stimulus package on 10 March 2009.Will have to wait and see what kind of package they have in store to rescue the economy.

Anything less than RM30 billion (inclusive the RM7 billion) may not do a good job. The problem is the government do not have the money and would not get enough money from its normal sources of revenue to finance its main budget, let alone finance the stimulus package.Its budget deficit is expected to grow to unhealthy level if the stimulus package could not revive the economy by the 2nd half of 2009. The longer the delay to implement the stimulus package the longer the sickness would stay.The country may be looking at unpleasant negative growth.

Unpleasant, as it may be, the government needs to borrow to finance the budget and the stimulus package. It has a number of options that it can take for its deficit financing.

1.Issuance of Treasury Bonds for domestic and international markets.....unlikely. Response from the international financial community may not be strong enough, which can downgrade the credit rating of the nation.

2.Foreign borrowing in foreign currency..... unlikely.Can become very expensive in the long run.

3.Liquidation of government assets..... not efficient in a downturn and possible diminution in value of assets.

4.Borrow from pension funds and government-controlled trust funds......very likely.The most efficient, cheapest, easiest and quickest way to raise the funds. Most likely candidates would be EPF and savings in ASN and ASB.

When the government announces the stimulus package it would be imperative and responsible on the part of the Prime Minister to tell Malaysians where the money is coming from.

Should the government decides to use money from EPF, the Board of EPF should not agree to a term loan between EPF and the government but demand for the issuance of medium term bonds with reasonable rate of interest.A term loan can be renegotiated and the terms and conditions can be varied from time to time by the lender (EPF) which is controlled by the government but government bonds must be paid in full upon maturity.

EPF funds were already badly managed giving poor return for many years and investments in low-yield government bonds or low interest loans are going to worsen the earnings of the fund.