What do you make out of these?

Last 2 months, so much have happened that are not right:

first, a state government toppled through hopping

Then a group of youth members from a certain party went into Parliament to confront an MP..

Then photos of seminude pictures of a ADUN surfaced, photos taken while she was asleep

Then there is the use of Sedition Act against an oppostion MP, a former lion of Jeluton, giving a perception of selective persecution prosecution,

A would be contestant for a top post of UMNO was barred from contesting, while others under the investigated under the same offense were given warnings, giving a perception that there is selective punishment even for its own kind,

What do you make out of these??

The signs are there that a different style of government will be in place after the change over..

I have hoped (against hope)  that a more liberal and people friendly and fairer policies would be adopted… BUt looking at the above incidents in the past 2 months, i think my hope will not be realised and certainly there would be more control and suppression of freedom of speech . ..

I have posted the Iranian experience in my last post ( Lessons from a theocratic state)  hoping that the new incoming leadership  would learn something from it… That suppression of human rights and freedom of speech could not stifle the masses from changing the government….That a government cannot go against the wills of the people for long…. The Shah had ordered its army to shoot on sight and into the demonstrating crowd, but in the end, he was overthrown..

The best way to gain the trust of the people is to practise good governance, be more liberal and fair, cut down on corruption and abuses, manage the people’s money well, be serious in improving the standard of living… etc etc and not by adopting suppressive measures nor using the state apparatus to selectively persecute political opponents…

History has shown time and again, a corrupt government cannot last long…

Lessons from a Theocratic State

This year is the 30th Anniversary of the Iranian revolution.

I have written an article on “How Iran became a Theocratic State”. The whole paper is quite long, about 7 pages of single spacing , and so I would not post it here. I would however write a summary and my conclusions in this post.

There is a saying that ‘history is a mirror”. From history we can learn a lot of lessons. In particular, how Iran became a theocratic state can be a valubale lesson to all of us in Malaysia.

Iran has more than 70 million population , 89% of them Muslims, mainly Shiite Muslims. It has a history dating back to as long as 5 thousands years ago. In 632 AD, when the Muslim army defeated the Persian Army (Iran was formerly known as Persia) at the Battle of Al Qadisiyah, it had slowly revolved into a Muslim State. There were many dynasties over the years, and at the turn of the 10th centruy , it was ruled by the Qajar Dynasty.

In 1905, after a series of defeats by the Imperial Russian Army and the British Army, coupled with a very corrupt rule by the Qajar Shah, there was a massive revolt and protest by the people. The Qajar Shah had to give up his power of rule to save his throne and establish a Parliament and Iran became a Constitutional Monarchy…

In 1921, an army general Reza Shah ( the father of the last Shah of Iran) staged a coup detat and seized the power of the government, and became the Commander in Chief. He became the power behind the throne. In 1925, he overthrew the Qajar Shah, and became the Shah of a new Dynasty, Pahlavi Dynasty.. (** Note Mao’s famous saying: power comes from the barrels of the guns). Iran , however, remain a Constutional Monarchy.

In 1941, Reza Shah had to abdicate after British and USSR invaded Iran as Iran was siding the Nazis. Reza’s son, Mohammad Reza , became the Shah ..(The last Shah of Iran)..

In 1951, a new Prime Minister, Mohammad Mossadeq was elected as head of government. He immediately nationalised the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, a British company mainly, and incurred the wrath of both the USA and Britain. Meanwhile, the Last Shah and the PM clasehed over appointment of a minister of War. The PM turned to the people and there was a massive show of support from the people.

In the end, the last Shah had to back down. But in cohort with the CIA, they planned a coup and overthrew the government of Mossadeq….

After overthrowing the elected govenrment, The Shah suspended Parliament and Iran became a autocratic state with the Shah ruled with the help of his ministers…

Under the rule of the Last Shah, there were repressive laws and detention of dissidents without trials. There were wide spread corruptions, and the oil money and policies benefited only about a thousand families, and Iran was effectively a oligarchy..

There were suppression of the clerics, and Ayatollay Khomeni was exiled in 1964 after being put under house arrest in 1963.

The Shah also implemented certain rules that were not popular with the muslims population, such as allowing women the right to votes; a husband had to obtain permission fromt he wife before taking the second wife; and legal matter involving families were transfered to the juridiction of the civil court and not the religious court.

Because of the oil money and mismanagement of the economy, Iran had a run away Inflation, and people simply had  no money to buy things… There were massive demonstraions in Teheran and elsewhere, to which the Shah used not only tear gas, but live bullets. Army and police were ordered to shoot into the crowd.

Those around my age would recall the massive demonstrations of a few million people in Teheran and elsewhere in Iran late 1978 and January 1979. They made newspaper headlines for many days in a row, as far as I can recall..In December 1998, 3 millions were in the streets , and refused to move. The soldiers had by then refused to obey the shooting order, and many became part of the demonstrating crowd.

In the end, the SHah went on National radio to apologise and promise a new rule. But it was too late. He had no choice but leave Iran on the 6th of January 1979. Khomeini returned in February and establish a theocratic government , in which the president is subjected to the highest religious council called the Council of the Guardians, which became the most powerful council overseeing the President and the council of ministers. The Grand Ayatollah became the most powerful man and his word is the final law…

In conclusion, the reasons why the Shah was overthrown as I have analysed it would be posted below.. This can serve as a lesson to all of us in Malaysia that no matter how powerful you are and how much control you have of government apparatus, ultimately an unpopular government will be overthrown. These are my conclusions:

  • Unpopular autocratic rule. Since the coup de’tat supported by covert operation of CIA in 1953, the Shah had ruled as an absolute monarchy in a land that was a Constitutional Monarchy for many decades before. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely; the Shah’s rule led to abuses and corruption.
  • Suppression and Brutality. There was a total suppression of any dissent and dissidents were arrested without trials; many were killed at the hands of the secret intelligence service SAVAK. Demonstrations were brutally put down with army and police personnel asked to shoot into crowds. The populace came to regard the Shah as a tyrant and any resistance to this tyrannical rule was deemed to be better than the autocratic rule.
  • Poor economic management. Despite the fact that Iran was having an oil boom, few in the populace benefited from the boom. In fact, inflation was in double digits and people simply could not cope with their meager pay. On top of that, unemployment was increasing and a hungry person was always willing to go against the establishment. The Shah’s regime was in fact viewed as an oligarchy, with the economic advances benefited only a selected few, around a thousand families.Huge amount of money was spent on arms at a time when people were suffering from high inflation and unemployment. The widening gap between the few rich and the poor populace fueled more discontent. Shortages of food and necessities were commonly experienced by the masses, whereas the rich led a lifestyle of extravagance
  • The rise of the clerics. Because of the unpopular rule and the introduction of policies that were seemed contrary to the teachings of Islam, the mostly Muslim populace (89% of Iranians were Muslims) turned increasing to the clerics for direction and guidance. Those who died at the hands of the Shah were viewed as martyrs. The Shah’s suppression and attempt at modernization of the social fabric of Iran created the opposite effects of fuelling the conservative Islamic revival.
  • Foreign intervention. Iran before 1953 was a constitutional monarchy. It was overthrown through the cooperation of the Shah and the CIA via Operation Ajax, following the nationalization of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company by the then Prime Minister. The toppling of a democratically elected government effectively stifled the rule of laws and Iran became a classic case of ‘rule by man’ with the resultant abuses. The presence of foreign workers and more than 50,000 Americans in Iranian soil added to the anger and hatred towards the Shah.

Food stamps and other ways to tackle economic woes

Updated at 3.30pm

Spoke to quite a few people about the stimulus package. Most of them are quite disappointed about the package . there was a high expectation that this would do something to prevent economy from going into contraction, but on the look of it, it might just fail to do that…

In order to tackle this economic downturn,  I think we need to implement the following:

1. Cheaper access of funds. 

Lower the spread of the interest rates.. To enable people to have cheaper access of funds. This will help those with loans, either business loans and housing loans. In this respect, the bank guarantee fund does come in handy, but the spread needs to be brought down.

2.  Put money into people’s pockets.

a. Help  for the poor and the needy.. This can include food stamp for the poor, the unemployed and the old, as well as the handicapped. I will elaborate on food stamp below.

b. direct cash handout to employers like the Job credit scheme being implemented in Singapore. In Singapore, employers are given a maximum of S$300 for each employee employed, meaning that the State is now paying partly for workers’ pay.

c. Tax cut. This will help the middle class which will be badly hit by economic downturn.  Perhaps having a tax free year will help.

 

3. Stimulus spending on constructions , building of roads, schools and hospitals, technical colleges..

4. encourage private investments by having tax incentives (tax holidays for a few years) ; having a moratorium on the NEP to attract rich private businessmen to invest their money;

5. Set up training institution to train and retrain the retrenched workers for semi skilled and highly skilled jobs . Allowances should be given during the training years, to compensate for the loss of income. This will prepare the country for the ultimate upswing that will come when this recession is over..

Well, hopefully the government will take heed of the voices from the people and adjust this stimulus package to make it more effective…

…………………..

Coming back to Food Stamp. What is food stamp?

Basically it is an account that is given to the poor to help them to buy food, the most important of the basic needs.

Each account holder will be given a card, like the credit card. This food stamp card can be used in most grocery stores and supermarkets to buy food. It cannot be used to buy other things , such as tobacco alcohol, toothpastes etc…You can use the card until the amount in the account runs out, and it is some sort of a debit card… When the amount in the account runs out, you have to wait till the next month for credit to go in, and you can start using it again. All debits and credits are done electronically , and every time you make a purchase, the receipt will show how much credit you still have in the account. It is a good way to help the poor and a good way to prevent misuse of funds… which will happen if the funds are given as cash directly to the poor.It makes sure that even the poor will not starve.

For how the program functions in the States, please go to this overview.

……………………………….

For the RM5000 incentive for those with cars more than 10 years old and buying Proton and Perodua cars, is this the beginning of the return of Mahathirism?  Is this the return of big government? I hope not…..and i shall pray hard for this….

…………………………..

A reader from Australia, Taikohtai, has given a link in the comment section about how Australian government pays A$950 as cash handout to five groups of people. I will quote part of the article here:

Tax Bonus for Working Australians of up to $950 paid to every eligible Australian worker earning $100,000 or less. This will support up to 8.7 million individuals.
$950 Single Income Family Bonus to support 1.5 million families with one main income earner.

$950 Farmer’s Hardship Bonus paid to around 21,500 drought affected farmers and farm dependent small business owners receiving exceptional circumstances related income support.
$950 per child Back to School Bonus to support 2.8 million children from low- and middle-income families.
$950 Training and Learning Bonus paid to students and people outside of the workforce returning to study to help with the costs of education and training.

Mouth watering stimulus

Wow!

From the initial 10 billions, the second stimulus package has suddenly ballooned to 60 billions. It is about 9% of Malaysia’s GDP.

I welcome any stimulus package because I have mentioned many times before that I think this recession is going to be deep and prolonged. We the small men cannot do much except to keep cash and spend prudently . So any government initiatives must be welcome, afterall, the government is our representatives to handle all these things for us.

Having said that, any stimulus package, to be effective, must put money into people’s pockets, and must have a safety nettings for the poor and the unemployed.  I would have expected that a package so hugh would have given consideration to waive taxations, give cash incentives, direct unemployment benefits, etc.   There was none of this.

The breakdown is  roughly this ( from Anil netto blog-including his comments):

  • RM15 billion in fiscal injection  (RM10 billion in 2009 and RM5 billion in 2010). Fiscal deficit expected to rise to 7.6 per cent in 2009;
  • RM25 billion in guarantee funds (RM5 billion for SME Working Capital Fund, another RM5 billion for Industry Restructuring Fund and the rest?)
  • RM10 billion in equity investment (For Khazanah?)
  • RM7 billion for private finance initiative and off-budget projects (Where is this “private finance” coming from? Not out of the EPF, I hope.)
  • RM3 billion in tax initiatives
  •  

    Looking at the big package, I can’t help but think that this is mainly tailored to help the big corporations, and not so much the small men on the streets like you and me… What we get are the pittance like certain food subsidies and absorption of toll increase by the government… which are already in place..

    Those businessmen with connections , I suspect, will now be laughing all the way to restaurants and night clubs , to drink champagne  and celebrate.

    Foreign workers and the sick-to-the-core system

    20 years ago, I did some renovation in my exisiting house. We added a wing to the building, so that my parents could move down from penang to stay with me..

    The contractor was a Chinese called Ken… His workers then were all old Chinese men with one or 2 Indonesia workers.  The old CHinese men were called “Sam Hong” experts, meaning that they could build concrete buildings, able to do wood work for renovation and able to do water work, too. 

    The work was well done, and I had no problems with the added part of the buildings..

    The about 6  years ago, I did a minor renovation again. This time, Ken’s workers were all Indonesians.  My clinic also underwent certain renovations and again his workers are all Indons.

    I did ask him what happened to the old Chinese SiFus.. He answered that all the SIfus has either retired or switched to other jobs, because as SiFu they commanded quite high pay and contractors being business people, they naturaly choose not to call these SiFu but rather use those Indons that were trained by the SIFUs over the years.

    My friends in the construction fields are telling me the same thing. The old Chinese Sam HOng SiFU is now as rare as 6-carat diamonds..

    Most of those who work in the construction of roads, buildings, residential houses etc are all foreign workers.. Without these skilled and  semi skilled foreign workers, the skills being imparted by the disapperaing SamHomg SIFUs, the whole construction industry is going to grind to a halt.

    Recently, there were calls to replace all these foreign workers with local workers, since many of the local people are going to be out of job.

    Well, it is a correct move and no one could fault this call to reduce the local unemployment rate. With the service sectors, like restaurants and retail shops , this can probably be done quite easily. In the plantation sectors, this would be a problems, but if many of those who come from rural areas are out of jobs, i suspect they would not mind  going back to the plantations to work. SO it is not a big deal either, if the recession is bad enough, these people will have no choice but to go back to where they come from.

    But for the construction industry, the change cannot be done overnight. So much of local expertise have been lost that it would be a disaster if all the building projects are to be manned by locals.

    We have only ourselves to be blamed. When we are having sunshine, we neve thought of keeping umbrellas for the raining days.. It is exactly the case with the construction industry. While we were having impressive growth, no incentives are given to train local people to be Sam HOng Si FU, and when the storms come, we have no choice but still rely on the Indons and the Banglas.

    Another aspect which was told by the contractors is that Indons are much much more hardworking than the locals. If you ask them to be at some place at 8am, you can be assured that they would be there at 7.50am. BUt the locals? some will come at 8.30am and some will come at 9…and they will be the first to go off…

    Many of our policy makers do not see far enough. During periods of sunshine, they never think of the rain.  Perhaps , some of them see only the money aspect of any policy being implemented…

    The whole system is now sick to the core… One year after 308, the system is not much better, if anything , it is getting sicker now… And sadly, we do not see any real cure for all the ills  that we are facing….

    “Flu” and Common Cold

    Today I will touch on a health topic since some commentators are asking me about ‘flu’.

    2 years ago, I have written 2 posts on the Bird flu. Pls refer to this 2 posts   Bird Flu: the threat is real 

    A potential pandemic threat

     

    When we tell our friends that we are down with a ‘flu’, most times, it is not due to Influenza virus that causes the real flu.. Most of the ‘flu’ that we had, and which may have prevented us from going to work for a few days , are actually what we termed as ‘common cold’.

    Common cold is due to infection with the rhinovirus. Rhinovirus mutates very fast, and so that we can have repested infections in a span of a few weeks.. We will develop antibodies to that particular strains, but because of mutation, the antibodies developed agains tthe last one will not prevent us from getting a new infection again..So we get common cold again and again , and we attribute it to “flu”.

    Actual Influenza infection is much more serious and can be seasonal. In winter months, it can develop from an endemic state ( an ongoing infection within the commnity but not on an epidemic scale) to an epidemic.. It spreads throught the air, through the aerosols that we sneeze or cough out…

    Most of us will recover from Influenza attacks, but in some whose immunity are low, such as old and very young, it can kill.

    There are a few types of Influenza viruses, Type A ,B,C and afew others.

    Influenza can affect other mammals and birds… Normally, animal infections would not affect human and vice versa, but smoetimes, because of mutation and the close proximity, we may have the cross species infections. Cross species infections are usually seriupos, because of lack of herd immunity.

    The Avian flu H5N1 is a subtype of Influenza A, which normally affect birds, but have mutated to affect certain uman as well. But luckily, it is a mainly cross species infection and has not changed into human-human infection. But do not discount he possibility of bird flu changing from bird to human to humanto human, It can be deadly , given the lack of herd immunity and once it changes into a human to human infection, an epidemic as well as a pandemic may result, due to the fact that the wrold is now much much smaller and borderless, and spread via ari-travellers will make this a pandemic in no time..

    There are vaccines for influenza. But every year, the vaccines produced will be tailored to the existing prevalent strains . Since each year, the strains affecting the northern hemisphere and wouthern hemisphere will be different, so the vaccines produced for Northern areas and Southern areas may differ too..

    Vaccinations are advised to be given to those travelling to endemic areas especially the old,  the weakened and the young.

    But please note that vaccination may not prevent you against other strains of influenza viruses that may be present in the areas that you go to. So it is possible to get influenza even after the vaccinations. But it protets you against few strains that are more prevalent in those areas that you travel to.. 

    For common cold that you and I get a few times a year, unfortunately there are no vaccines, because rhinoviruses mutate too fast for any vaccines to be effective..So until there is an imporvement in antiviral technology, we have to bear with the discort of getting ‘flu’ sickness a few times a year.

    The way to contain any spread of influenza , for that matter any viral infection that spred through air 9 through aerosols that we cough or sneeze out, is to quarantine the source . So if you are sick, see a doctor and get away from your office for a few days. Wear a mask like the Japanese . Try your old mum’s recipe of “chicken soup”… Ya, chicken soup…

    A website not to be missed !!!!!!!!

    If you have no time to read my previous 2 posts today , never mind.

    If you are a son or  daughter to someone, or if you are a father or mother to someone, please, do go to this link and see the slide show for yourself..

    This is important, and pls send the link to as many as possible, your children, your parents, your cousins, your friends….Even if we cannot change what is outside  our family, we can certainly change this within and make the world a little bit more comfortable to our loved ones…

    I was moved to tears when i went through this slideshow, and I am not ashamed. My only sad  feeling is I have lost my parents who both died in my care about 10 years ago, all almost 90 yrs old. HOw i wish they are still around!!!

    Pls do g to this link no matter how busy you are, and this is one request that I seldom make…Do not disappoint me:

    click this link:   http://parentswish.com/site02/big.html

    (Thanks andy, for emailing me this link)

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