Monday, August 16, 2010

Something amiss about Bakun Dam

The Bakun Dam it is reported will cost a total of RM7.3 Billion Ringgit. Out of that RM7.3 Billion, the opposition MP for Permatang Pauh has revealed that RM5.75 Billion of that has come from the rakyat’s retirement fund, namely EPF. It was also reported in the STAR that for each month of delay in the “damning” project, the cost is RM10 million in interest.

Since almost 75% of this project is funded by the Rakyat’s future income, we have a right to know just how this Bakun Dam Project is going to benefit the majority of Malaysians? It is time that the truth be told and that the government no longer pull wool over the people’s eyes.

Here are some facts which I have discovered:
1) The Bakun Dam will generate 2400MW of electricity (clean energy) as compared to Tunku Jaafar Power Station in Port Dickson which generates 1500 MW
2) The power produced from Bakun Dam will not be able to be “cabled” to the Peninsular as earlier proposed due to the lost in energy from resistance. It is highly inefficient and the idea has been dropped.
3) Another Dam in Sarawak is now being proposed in Murum, Sarawak which will generate a further 944MW
4) The total from this 2 dams will generate 3344MW of capacity.
5) Sarawak during peak time uses a total of 900MW of electricity.
6) SESCO currently produces 1,300MW of electricity

Sometime ago there was talk of producing an energy intensive aluminium industry. This project which belongs to an Australian company was to set up shop in Sarawak. Sarawak and Malaysia has no source of bauxite which are the rocks containing Aluminium. The process of obtaining Aluminium from Bauxite is very energy intensive. So Malaysia now can justify the building of Bakun. Explain to the people then the waste that comes out of this process. What is the people of Sarawak going to do with the tonnes and tonnes of red sludge which comes out of this Aluminium plant?

So just why are these dams being built in Sarawak? Where have all the timber gone from the clearing of these rainforest? Where is all this excess capacity of power going to? The rakyat has the right to know. Is Sarawak once again taken for a ride and apart from destroying the wildlife and eco system of Sarawak how will it benefit the longhouses and natives of Sarawak?

The government must come clean and I am not talking about the energy but accountability and transparency.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Malaysia's FDI of 1.4B trails behind Philipines, Thailand and Indonesia for the first time

Register to vote before this 'Titanic' sinks
Malaysiakini Yee Siew Meng
Aug 4, 10

Fifteen years ago, I used to make regular business trips to Manila, a country in its afterglow. The economy was small, the nation was suffering from political instability and years of plunder from the Marcos era. The nation depended on its women population who worked as domestic help overseas.

The 1997 financial crises which rocked Asean countries brought the country further into turmoil and poverty. Yet in the 70s I recall going there as a child and remembering being impressed by the modern city and its affluence.

Fifteen years ago, Malaysia was booming under the expansionary vision of Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Tallest buildings, longest flag pole and many other ego projects that put the country on the world map. During those expansionary years, civil society was slowly decaying from the inside. We were too affluent and too busy making money to realise that our freedom and laws were being changed in Parliament at lightning speed.

All these amendments to our constitution in that 20 years, which incidentally is more than the US in her 230 plus years of history was passed through a BN majority government. All these amendments would prove to be problems and major issues post-Mahathir era.

During those times, I had said that we were ten years away from the Philippines. As the Philippines enjoyed the boom years of the 70s and 80s, rampant corruption and decay of the judiciary system and any semblance of the rule of law began to disappear. This is what happened in Malaysia in the last 20 years. The fact that the Philippines has even surpassed us in FDI is a sign that we are in trouble. Confidence abroad has eroded for obvious reasons.

The failure to reform the political and economic terrain of Malaysia, the constant instability of race and religious issues, the lack of judiciary will to prosecute and solve major cases which involve murder and white collar crimes all lead to a drop in confidence abroad. Detractors say the Pakatan Rakyat wins in March 2008 is to blame. How then can we explain the fact that foreign investment in Selangor has not dipped but set to increase by year end?

The future is not bright. The inflationary rate is not a true reflection of the increase in price of goods and services as the basket of goods include government-controlled or subsidised items. The prices of goods and services may tailspin as the true inflation rate increases and the Malaysian ringgit begin to lose value. If there is no new injection of funds and no local investment, then the economy will shrink. Like the Philippines in the late 90s we, too, have a huge resource of educated human resources but because of the small economy, this human resource did not have jobs internally.

It may not be so farfetched that one day Malaysia will have to sent her daughters and sons out to work as foreign labour. God forbid that that day should come but if we continue down this path of wanton abuse of our resources and widespread corruption without care for the rule of law then that day is not far off. For fear of being accused as a doomsday prophet or a pessimist, I will qualify that we - as citizens - can turn this around. Its not too late to turn the Titanic as we see the iceberg fast approaching.

Tell your aunties and uncles and cousins and colleagues to register to vote. Tell them that they can make a difference and that the country needs them more than ever. As I borrow from the great freedom fighter in US history:

'From the rivers of Sarawak, where there is no electricity to the hills of Pahang where Orang Asli are marginalised; from the peaceful city of Ipoh to the crime filled city of Johor Bahru and from the deep faith of Kota Bahru to the slums of KL; let freedom ring. Let there be a loud clarion call to change. Let justice flow like a mighty river across this land we call home.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Time for nation to go beyond race

The '1Malaysia' slogan was coined by newly minted PM Najib Abdul Razak. It was well promoted and the private sector adopted it into their corporate commercials and advertisements. Many Malaysians have said that '1Malaysia' is not a new concept or a place we want to be but is and has always been the Malaysia we all loved.

The re-branding of '1Malaysia' by the current BN administration and making it their slogan perhaps admits that the nation is more fragmented today than it was 30 years ago. The irony of '1Malaysia' is that the BN government herself is divided along racial lines. The three main races in Malaysia are each represented by their respective political parties within the BN government.

Each tasked with fighting for their own communal rights. Right to education in their mother tongue, bumiputera rights, Indian rights etc. The most sensitive issue in Malaysia is one of race and the rights to each race. Each BN component party fights for the rights of each of their own communities.

Recently, MP Ibrahim Ali founded a Malay right wing group called Perkasa. The BN government tries to distance itself from Perkasa but the truth is that MP Ibrahim Ali is a BN friendly MP. The patron saint of Perkasa is the former President of Umno and the longest serving prime minister of Malaysia; Dr Mahathir Mohammad. Few in Umno have come out directly to challenge Perkasa. In fact the deputy president of MCA has come out with the brilliant idea of forming a similar Chinese version of Perkasa.

The quiet Chinese community has looked cautiously upon BN's indifference to Perkasa as a sign that it is indeed perhaps a 'sub-contracted out' arm of Umno. The Umno newspaper Utusan Malaysia gives them coverage and consistently prints venomous racial articles which seek to raise the Malay temperature.

Sarawak and Sabah, two of the richest states in the Malaysian federation have always been the step childen of the BN government. Many of their citizens live below the poverty line and many of whom are bumipuetras. Their land taken away, their young forced into prostitution and their citizenship diluted by acceptance of foreigners as citizens. The two states are rich in natural resources, have beautiful tourists spots and their shores blessed with rich black gold.

However looking at the citizenry, you would never have thought their land amounted to anything. These two states are not only divided from the Peninsular by the South China Sea but are also politically and socially ostracised by the BN government.

So the '1Malaysia' promoted by the BN government is an irony in itself. It is likened to a father who drinks alcohol and then tells his son not to drink and warns him of the evils of drinking. BN is a house divided and its continuation depends upon the nation being divided. Within the BN, there is little genuine trust and love for one another. Many MCA leaders ask me who will look after the interests of the Chinese if the MCA is no more?

Must we continue to look after our own narrow communal interests or can we look after the interest of all Malaysians irrespective of colour, culture and religion? I recall prior to 2008; Anwar Ibrahim, the current federal opposition head said we must ensure that we 'ada kepedulian rakyat' (care for the rakyat).

It is sad to say that I do not think '1Malaysia' would ever return to the way it was 30 years ago under the current BN government. The man who first dreamt of the idea; Dato Onn Jaafar himself was a man before his time. A visionary who saw how it could be and how beautiful it would be. In 1951, after having failed to make Umno a party for all Malaysians, he left to begin his own dream.

He never succeeded in forming one party for all Malaysians irrespective of colour and religion. He was before his time. Dato Onn bin Jaafar would be proud to know that his dream is becoming a reality and that God willing, Pakatan Rakyat will be that party. If anything, there is more unity in Pakatan Rakyat (apart from what the newspapers say) than there is in BN.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

SRJK Chee Wen in debt but refuses a dinner funtion

Schools should be a place of learning and politicians must not hide behind this noble institution of education. The Federal Government has a ruling that all opposition politicians are not allowed to step into a school premise whether for an official or personal capacity. In the case of YB Hannah Yeoh she was not even allowed to enter her own alma mater as a former head prefect. Most recently it was revealed that a private fund raising function organised by DAP USJ1 was cancelled and the deposit refunded because the Board of Governors rejected it. This while the school apparently still owes Ringgit 1.5 million to contractors after 2 years since its completion.

Who owns the school? Is it not a public building and therefore owned by the citizens of Malaysia? In the case of SRJK (C) Chee Wen, who contributed to the building of the school and school hall? Was it not the tireless efforts of the parents, students and teachers of the past 5 years? In the beginning when the school first opened, there was not even enough tables and chairs and if not for the generous contribution of parents, some children would have had to sit on the floor.

The BN government at that time (pre 2008)was quite used to having the Chinese schools beg for money through their well connected, politically motivated, Board of Governors. The motivation to have MCA leaders in the Board was great as they could pull strings to fund various school projects. The school in turn gave them a platform for publicity and for the opportunity to advance politically and perhaps run for public office.

Things have changed. MCA leaders in School Boards sit in isolation and defending their positions hopefully until the next General Elections. Many still use this as a platform for campaigning and when school dinner functions and concerts are held, MCA top guns get to visit.

This is the sad case of todays vernacular schools. The nitty gritty of school children’s welfare and school life is over looked for much greater things like the next elections and how to keep DAP away from using the school halls etc. In the case of Chee Wen, I wish there was more done to keep the school clean, to find ways to lighten the children’s school bags, to establish well runned clubs and societies for the school kids and to find ways to allow our kids to engage with the community. This will inevitably draw more parents to volunteer their services and time.

It is time to reclaim our schools at the local level. No more politicians. The parents will decide which politician to allow and when. Not the political parties. Its time to clean up!

Some have asked who the Board of Governors of Chee Wen are. I do not know their political affiliations and maybe there are none but in anycase it does not make sense that a school in debt is refusing a dinner function that could bring an income of RM10,000 at least. What's wrong with the money?








Monday, January 25, 2010

Are we prepared to face the difficult times?

Published in Malaysiakini Letter to the Editor
28th January 2010

Following the 10th General Elections on November 1999, when the late Fadzil Noor of PAS became the opposition leader, I felt confident that one day we could see the emergence of a two party system. All we needed was a malay opposition leader and this would terminate BN’s racial games. As I told my friends, taxi drivers and ordinary Malaysians about this many looked at me like I was speaking Na’vi. Malaysians just could not understand how another political party could ever become the government of the day. To many they did not realize it was provided for by the constitution.

Today, 10 years later we are so close to having a true democracy where the people are able to have a real choice of 2 parties. This would inevitably put power back into people’s hands and bring accountability back into government. This is so desperately needed in our country today where there is no respect nor consideration for the Constitution and the courts or judiciary as seen in the recent “Allah” issue.

However, like the Reformasi movement birthed 11 years ago, it shall not come easy. We will have to ask ourselves as Malaysians if we are prepared to go through the birth pangs – the pain experienced at child birth. There will be sacrifices, even lifes may be lost – but how many great nations today do not have blood spilled over its history books?

As Malaysians we are not blind to the wanton waste, abuse, cruelty and injustice of the present leadership in our government. How many Malaysians at the back of their minds trully believe the spin and the many cases which the Attorney General’s office throws out? From the violent death of a Mongolian woman, the mysterious death of a groom to be, the missing jet engines from the RMAF, the billions lost in PKFZ, the death of a few school girls when the bridge at a 1 Malaysia camp collapsed and supposedly random attacks on our places of worship. We live in prison camps because our neighbourhood needs to be fenced up and guarded. We are worried about our children’s education as they struggle to compete globally. We are worried about the economy as it further spirals down and out of control. The state of the nation is in two words; “ not good.” What angers many Malaysian is that instead of providing leadership and fixing the problems or bracing for the difficult times ahead; our political leaders appear to be bent on regaining Selangor or playing politics with our children’s education and other matters that are so important to us.

So to say that the Barisan Nasional will be booted out completely in the next General Election provided the Election Commisssion limits their underhandedness; is not an unrealistic picture. However to say that the Barisan Nasional government under the present leadership would fight tooth and nail to retain power even through violent means is a very realistic picture. Afterall has it not been revealed that the May 13 racial riots were staged and if they were capable of doing that what else would they be capable of doing? A riot like atmosphere would be artificially created so that marshall law could be imposed. Parliament suspended and a curfew imposed. There will be a huge ISA swoop and cleanup which will include our opposition members and the media, especially the electronic media. Fear will once again be instilled in our hearts and Malaysia could be thrown back into the dark ages.

So the question is again; are we prepared to fight for democracy till the end? I am finding myself having to answer this difficult question. It is of course easier to be branded a traitor and leave for a more civil country where laws and the constitution are respected. I have a couple of years yet to process these difficult yet necessary issues.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Another new low for Malaysia

Church attacks - blame lies squarely on PM
Meng Yee
Jan 8, 10
I refer to the Malaysiakini report Three churches fire-bombed.

I write this after churches in Selangor and the Klang Valley were attacked. I as a Christian bear no grudge or hatred towards the perpetrators.

After all to Christians, we worship no idols and the buildings we worship in are nothing more than buildings. The church is the people whose faith is in the Lord Jesus Christ.

However, what is sad is to see our leaders in the government passively endorsing anti-Christian protests. Through yesterday's messages by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, Home Affairs Minister Hishammuddin Hussien Onn and Deputy Prime Minister Muyhiddin Yassin, the government endorsed all the actions taken by these attackers.

The responsibility and blame should now lie squarely on the shoulders of our PM and his government. If they had any sense of honour they should resign or apologise but of course we know that would never happen.

Malaysians have heard, and now have seen and I believe many are now disappointed with his so-called '1Malaysia' policy.

As for the almost defunct MCA and MIC, now is the time to speak up or forever become irrelevant. Now is the time to stand up against those in Umno who say the protests are okay and who reject the High Court's ruling allowing the Herald to use the world 'Allah'.

We want a strong statement from MCA and MIC and from the other component parties of the BN government. On the other hand, perhaps its better if you don't since you are supposedly representing race and your protest will be seen as a protest from the Chinese or Indians.

In actual fact ,we have had enough of racial politics - the entire BN government should take time to reflect on what they are doing to this beloved country of ours.