Friday, April 20, 2007

Children at IJOK

It was evidently a plan by BN to provoke the opposition from across the barricade. Start a fight and blame the opposition. Afterall they have the many government agencies squarely behind them. There is no clear distinction between BN the political party and the government of Malaysia. This is the sad result of 50 years of occupation. It breeds arrogance and many other immoral behaviour.
Their behavior is absolutely childish as can be seen in one photo of the MIC supporter.
Sad isn't it?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Ijok sees sudden development

The people of Ijok was suppose to have an upgraded mosque allocated to them 10 years ago. They had to wait for the death of their assembly man before they can now see this become a reality. On Thursday, 12 April, the Selangor Chief Minister went to Kg Rantau Panjang, Ijok, to officiate a ground-breaking and ‘kiblat - determination’ ceremony of the RM 5 million Ubudiah Mosque at Taman Purnama.

What timing. After waiting 10 years, the Menteri Besar of Selangor finally found some time. He is a busy man indeed to have had such a long appointment list.

O and yes, the roads at Ijok are being re-paved. The dumpsite they long wanted closed was suddenly obliged. Why is it in Malaysia we need our representatives to die, and a by-election called before we receive any attention or see the much needed development?

Lets move beyond race.....

Its difficult to move beyond race after 50 years of living with racial discrimination...
Susan Loone on her blog
said it well:

Why should race of candidate matter?
Wednesday, April 18th, 2007 in

Malaysian blogsville is abuzz with news of the coming Ijok by-election. Though I am too far away to feel Ijok, I am rather annoyed at news reports about the situation. I don’t see why we should keep harping on the fact that Keadilan (Parti Keadilan Rakyat) had chosen a Malaysian Malay and not Malaysian Indian to run for the elections. When can we stop thinking along racial lines? And if newspapers want to be part of nation building, it should also stop reporting along such lines.

It reminded me so much about Lunas in 2000. I was there to cover the elections with journalists Zakiah Koya and Ng Boon Hooi. We were more interested in the blatant corruption that was going on and the evil use of phantom voters to secure votes than to bother that BN had chosen an Indian (Antonysamy) and PKR a Malay (Saifuddin Nasution) to contest in the by-election. The newspapers then, like now, went to town with the news that PKR had neglected the Indians by choosing a Malay candidate.

So a Malay cannot represent Chinese and Indians and a Chinese cannot represent Malays and Indians and an Indian cannot represent Chinese and Malays?
It’s disheartening to note that all we can come up with are arguments why an Indian should be chosen instead of a Malay or even Chinese. As you see, no problem there, coz even the DAP has decided to let it go because it’s not a Chinese hot seat. So, doesn’t it tell much about the DAP’s trend of thinking?
Is this what we want after 50 years of nation building?

To me, the Election Commission has much role to play in this sad state of affairs. Election after elections, the first thing it does, is present figures about the percentages of racial breakdown. Do we really need this? For me, I’d like to know how many live below poverty lines, how many are in need of a hospital or schools or even public transportation. Can we have these figures instead?
Political parties should be really choosing candidates who can negotiate, speak out and understand policy making, instead of those who are only apt at inciting racist sentiments. I hope we don’t immitate these jokers by giving them a spot in our blogs to fan their insidous and hopeless propaganda.

After 50 years of Merdeka, most Malaysians should know how to deal with people of other ethnic groups, cultures and religions. Which is why, I didn’t mind Parti Socialis Malaysia’s argument about the matter.

PSM said it believed that potential elected representatives must be a person who is concerned about the welfare of the working class and urban settlers.
Yes, Khalid Ibrahim, the PKR candidate was a former Guthrie CEO, but he has left his post. Yet he needs to answer, can he really understand the grassroots needs and represent the Ijok people? That is the crux of the matter. That is the answer we should all seek.
Else, what PKR is doing is nothing but giving its new knight a chance for training and publicity to prepare him for the coming general elections.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Interview with Business Week recently

What are the lessons learned from the Asia Financial Crisis?
What went wrong 10 years ago was that our economic fundamentals in the region were very weak. There were huge and rising current account deficits, balance of payment issues, huge foreign debts, low level of foreign reserves.Financial institutions in Asia were weak and not properly regulated. Banks were lending money to cronies of the owners or cronies of those in power, or making all sorts of government-directed policy loans. There was no risk management or assessment whether borrowers had the ability to pay. So the symptoms were all there. The crisis was waiting to happen. It was a question of when, not if.Then the blame game started: It was all because of the speculators, or foreign agents, conspirators, or the Jews. In Malaysia, Dr. Mahathir blamed [billionaire hedge-fund manager] George Soros. Now he embraces Soros, says he wasn't to blame for the crisis. So who was to blame? The government leaders who built the corrupt system or perpetuated it basically were.

What's the situation now?
A lot has changed in Asia since the crisis. In some of the [crisis-hit] countries, the system has been overhauled, new processes have been put in place, regulations have been tightened. But for the most part—and I'm including Malaysia—not much has changed, and it's still business as usual. Have we learnt anything? I don't think so. There's still nepotism, corruption, shady backroom deals with cronies who are amassing wealth.

Are Southeast Asia and Malaysia losing critical foreign investment to China and India?

Singapore is still attracting foreign investments, and it's even smaller than Malaysia. The real reason we aren't attracting foreign investments is the lack of transparency, openness, corporate governance, [as well as the] inefficiencies and rampant corruption. Sure, there are investors who want to go to China and India because of their market size, but there are others who are still setting up in Singapore or Vietnam.Really, whatever investments we're getting in Malaysia are because Southeast Asia is still viewed generally very positively by investors from Europe, North America, and Japan. The key is new investments in new areas that will allow us to move up the value chain. Unfortunately, we aren't getting those. What we need to do is to look at our policies and ask ourselves: What can we do better to make ourselves a better investment destination?

You have called for an end to Malaysia's affirmative-action policies. Isn't that political suicide in a country like yours?

I'm not against helping the poor, the marginalized, or the disadvantaged. But what we need to see is if 37 years later, the policy today is really helping the Malays or bumiputras [indigenous ethinc groups] or has become a license to rob most of the people in the name of affirmative action. Over the years, the policy has become a tool for elite Malays to benefit at the expense of everyone else, including poor and middle-class Malays.The government has created an opaque system behind which it is able to dole out everything to the elite. It's not through competitive bids in a transparent open system. If we still need some affirmative action, it should be through an open, transparent, competitive system.

Where does Malaysia fit in a region dominated by China and India?
There are several issues here, but yes, I believe in this new world where China and India are the rising stars, there will be plenty of niches for us. We need to look at our competitive advantages and build on our expertise, even as we're squeezed out of certain low-end sectors where China, India, and Vietnam clearly have the advantage over us. We're rich in natural resources. We have oil and plantations. We have had big multinationals like Intel (INTC) here for over 30 years.In the late '70s, Malaysia was at par with Taiwan and Korea. Look where are they now. Sure, we have come a long way and the country is better off than it was 30 or 40 years ago, but my point is that we're no longer competing in the same league. It's no use anyone telling me that Malaysia is better off than Somalia or Zimbabwe when were always fighting in a different class.

What's the outlook for the stalled Malaysia-U.S. free-trade agreement?
I'm in favor of free and open trade. The free-trade agreement would have opened doors for our goods and services and brought jobs and benefits for Malaysia. So, yes, I believe we have lost an opportunity.But having said that, there were some issues relating to the services sector, agriculture subsidies, etc., that needed to be looked at and resolved. In any agreement, there's give and take and compromise. I guess if we were serious, the U.S. would have made concessions on some of the issues we were concerned about, just as the U.S. made concessions with South Korea. But really, there's vested interest in Malaysia that didn't want the FTA, and they prevailed. They don't want transparency, open tenders, and so on.

What's next for you?
I'm just going around articulating ideas, meeting people. The government isn't making it easy for me to speak, because we need permits for any kind of political activity and we have been denied permits when I have wanted to speak.I have said I will be candidate in the next election. I think people are listening when I talk about issues like corruption, nepotism, income disparity, freedom, and transparency. These are issues that impact people in their daily lives. It's no longer a development vs. freedom debate. Why can't we have both? Why have just development and no freedom?